As promised, a pregnancy update!

This time, a pregnancy update, lest Powerball one day find this blog and feel totally neglected.

I’m now thirty-four weeks pregnant.

Despite my round belly, this shocks me.  In my mind, I’m eight weeks pregnant, or maybe twelve.  Just wrapping my head around the idea of having a second child… not wondering whether the regular Braxton-Hicks contractions mean that Powerball is preparing for an early exit.  But here we are, thirty-four weeks since my last period began on January 1st, 2016 in an auspicious start to the new year.

Some thoughts on pregnancy, v 2.0:

  • Depending on which app you ask, Powerball is now the size of a butternut squash, a bag of sugar, or a basketball hoop. S/he is, apparently, peeing a pint a day.
  • The “fun/cute” facts shared by these apps often disturb me.  My fetus has its eyes open?  Has fingernails?  Is covered in slime?  Thanks, internet, for emphasizing how gross the miracle of life actually is.
  • I still haven’t announced this pregnancy on social media, which has been an unintentional experiment with hilarious outcomes.  People who haven’t seen me in awhile stare openly.  Some ask, others awkwardly skirt the topic.
  • I’m not sure how anybody could miss the fact that I’m pregnant.  There are few beer bellies out there bigger than mine.  I’ve gained weight– 15 pounds or so– and nothing fits.  I’m regularly shocked by my own reflection.
  • My body is good at gestating.  Though I have nothing to compare to except other people’s stories, my pregnancies seem to be uncommonly easy. I can eat most foods, I can bike to work, I can stand up without taking a proffered hand.  Thanks, body.
  • There are a couple of things I can’t do: eat ice cream after 7pm, see my belly button, breathe after walking up my office’s winding staircase.
  • While I’m complaining, let’s talk about summer.  This summer has been hot.  Unusually hot.  Steamy, sticky, feels-like-a-moist-bathroom hot.  Though I’m only a month more pregnant than I was at this point in 2013, it seems to have totally killed my ability to cope. I get dizzy and nauseous. I am sweaty and red-faced and ungraceful.
  • While I lie in bed wondering if I’ll ever be cool again, Powerball flips and turns, raking elbows and/or knees across my belly.  S/he is most active between 3am-5am, and I worry about how this will be manifest in sleep habits out of utero.
  • Speaking of flipping and turning, Powerball appears to also be a Cirque Du Soleil baby.  Breech, then maybe breech, then not breech, now breech again.
  • If Powerball stays head up, s/he’ll be delivered via c-section in late September.  Otherwise, we’re not sure what will happen.  The plans for Powerball’s exit are shaped by uncertainty and a series of what-ifs that deserve their own post.
  • However and whenever Powerball comes out, we’re woefully unprepared for their  arrival.  When one of the e-mail lists that I use to remind myself that I’m pregnant cheerfully announced, “50 days left!” I felt genuine panic.  The baby clothes are still in the boxes they’ve been in for the past 2.5 years, the crib is filled with unfolded blankets, suggestions of a packed hospital bag are laughable.
  • Today marks six weeks until October 5th.
  • I am excited, then impatient, then distracted, then overwhelmed.  Then a small limb kicks and I’m excited again.

 

 

First time, second time.

Bingo’s conception and gestation were so well-documented here that I sometimes go back to the archives to remember what it was like.

Pregnancy with Powerball feels different, both than what I remember and what I wrote.

It feels less full of naivety.  With Bingo I wasn’t afraid of birth, I was enamored by newborns, and I was confident in my (then non-existent) parenting abilities.

Now, I’m nervous.  Less of pregnancy, but more of what comes after.  I think back to crashing hormones, my leaking body, sleep deprivation, the giant reality check of being responsible for a very small and wobbly-necked person.  I’m more aware of what a literal and figurative shit show parenting can be, and of my own many, many shortcomings.  I’m not totally convinced that having another child is a good idea.

It also feels less consuming.  I have photos of my first weeks of pregnancy, vivid memories of Bingo’s early kicks, recollections of a carefully organized registry.  I always knew how many weeks pregnant I was, and how Bingo’s size compared to that of local produce.

Now, Powerball’s kicks feel more like background noise.  I feel them with my belly pressed into the kitchen counter, as I try to catch up on dishes and against Bingo’s raging body as she copes with the indignity of bedtime, bread cut at the wrong angle, or a second dessert denied.  In a life much more stress-filled than it was in 2013, weeks fly by at a terrifying pace.  I don’t know how eight turned to twelve turned to twenty turned to thirty-two.  I rely on apps downloaded on to my phone and weekly e-mails to tell me how pregnant I am and how large Powerball has become.  I don’t read the articles.

It feels more complicated.  We were (logistically) prepared for Bingo’s arrival: we had a spare room to convert into a beautiful nursery, organized finances, neatly folded tiny clothes.

Now, it feels like we don’t have quite enough of anything: space, money, time, energy.  Powerball doesn’t get their own nursery, just a converted corner of our bedroom.  We shuffle furniture around our room to try to make space but, realistically, there isn’t a lot.  We decide not to paint because we don’t have the time or energy to do it ourselves, or the spare cash to pay somebody else.  We tell ourselves that beige is a fine colour for a baby’s room (corner).  We assemble the crib while allowing cartoons to parent our already here child for a few hours, then fill it with the clothes that we don’t have time to sort and fold.  I quietly panic about where we will find time when Powerball actually arrives.

It feels unfair to Powerball, really, being shortchanged from the point of conception onward because of a parent (or parents– I think Sea’s experience echos mine in many ways) who is more cynical and more distracted the second time around.  This, for instance, was meant to be the prologue to a cheerful third trimester pregnancy update* and not a post on Powerball’s parent’s (parents’) shortcomings.  So I’m sorry, Powerball.  Here’s the little I can offer you in return:

You will have parents who know something this time.  We know how to hold you and have it feel natural.  We know that babies need to sleep, and that we shouldn’t try to keep you awake for as long as possible just because of your (presumably) cute face.  I know that the hormone crash will recede and that parenting you won’t seem like the terrible mistake that it probably will in the week after your birth.

You will have parents who know what’s coming.  I know, I’ve complained more than once about that future: diapers, sleep regressions, cries that resonate in my chest.  But I can also see all of the amazing things that will come.  When I looked at your big sister for the first time, I mostly saw a stranger.  I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to pick her from a lineup of babies if asked.  Now I look back at photos of her first days and it actually takes my breath away.  I see her in that red faced, pointy headed newborn: her facial expressions, the shape of her fingers and toes, her eyes.  I feel like I’ll be able to look at you and really see you: not as a stranger, not as a generic newborn, but as the first incarnation of yourself.

You will have an amazing big sister.  We finally told Bingo about you, when she announced that she was going to be a big sister because she was growing a baby in her tummy.  We were worried– whenever we asked if she wanted a baby brother or sister she would huff, cross her arms and respond with an unequivocal “NO”– but she’s thrilled.  She hugs you, promises to share her blueberries, and regularly asks when you will come out of my “you-tur-us”.  She tells me to be careful and gentle with you, and only kicks you occasionally.

So it’s true, this pregnancy won’t be carefully documented.  That the excitement will be tinged with both experience and uncertainty.  And, when you are born, you’ll have a different family than the one your sister was born into almost three years ago.  You’ll never experience life as an only child.  You won’t get to be the first, longed for, grandchild.  You won’t meet the fresh-faced people that your parents once were (seriously, we looked so young).  Your room corner will be painted beige.  You probably won’t have a baby book.  But for all of the things that you won’t have, or will have less of, there’s some advantage to being the second act.  You’ll be coming into a family that has more experience, more toys, more people, more perspective: a family that’s ready to meet you, even if we aren’t totally prepared.

*next post, I swear.

 

Diblings.

As you all know from avidly reading my blog, Bingo was conceived with the aid of an anonymous donor: the same one we used to conceive the still-cooking Powerball.  The donor is identity release– when Bingo is eighteen she can choose (or not) to find out his name and last known contact information– but for now he’s a man of mystery.

What I haven’t mentioned before is that we do know a small something about the other side of Bingo’s genetics. Continue reading

#bumpday

I usually bike to work, even/especially when I’m pregnant.  Recently though, a stolen bike and a heatwave have landed me on the subway more often than not.  And as I stand, crammed in a too-hot subway car, belly jolting and jiggling between stations, I’m reminded that I’ll never be the right kind of pregnant.

Nobody looks in my direction, let alone offers me a seat. People accidentally elbow my belly as they get off the subway, but never ask when I’m due. I don’t have a round belly, fashionably covered by a cute maternity shirt. People who know me offer an occasional congratulations, cautious in case they’re wrong, but that’s it.  The only comment from a stranger came a couple of weeks ago, when a homeless man gestured at my stomach and announced, “It’s a boy!”  I still frequently get mistaken for being a boy.  Nobody reaches out to touch the bump.

I get it.  I’ll never be cute pregnant.  I’m too fat, too masculine, too awkward in this changing body.  My belly is long, stretched from chest to pelvis.  I wear the same rotation of five oversized polo shirts, and spend most of my day hitching up the maternity pants that are somehow always falling down.

I’m a different kind of pregnant, and that’s okay.

The type of pregnant I am is strong.  I bike, hoist my daughter on to my shoulders, carry my own groceries.

The type of pregnant I am is calm.  Mostly.  I still worry about kick counts, iron levels, the impending reality of having to get a baby from inside to out.  Of course I do.  But I also don’t question everything I eat, worry about every twinge, or Google worst case scenarios.  I trust that my body is doing what it’s supposed to.

The type of pregnant I am is healthy. I’ve grown one strong person and am, as far as anybody can tell, growing another. I read about first trimester sickness, second trimester exhaustion, third trimester aches with interest but not much understanding.  I’ve made it through sixteen months of pregnancies almost vomit-free. I feel mostly the same as I did seven months ago.  I’m grateful beyond measure for my body’s ability to conceive and gestate with relative ease.

Even if the type of pregnant I am was none of these things, it would still be okay.  Good, even.

Today I’m done comparing my bump to an imagined one that (I’m fairly sure) doesn’t  exist.  I’m recognizing that I’m not the only self-conscious pregnant person out there, or the only one to feel far from the ideal.  I’m probably not even the only one on the subway car.  I’m accepting that every body, every bump, every pregnancy is its own. I’m taking the first intentional picture of this pregnancy, and celebrating my body exactly as it is.

Happy #bumpday, everybody.

It’s a… mystery.

Today I’m 20 weeks pregnant, and Powerball is the size of a banana.  Aside from marking the halfway point, 20 weeks is around when the anatomy scan is supposed to happen.  You know, the big scan: the one where the medical professionals look for all sorts of important things and, while they’re at it, count fingers, toes, and genitals.

Our anatomy scan was yesterday, at 19w6d.  For a reason I can’t remember, I had scheduled the scan for 8am: an hour where I’m usually still in my pajamas and struggling to find Bingo breakfast.  Also an hour at which we definitely don’t have childcare.  We spent the morning in utter panic, desperately trying to get ready while allowing Netflix to raise our child.  I ultimately had to leave Sea and Bingo to make their way to the ultrasound clinic themselves, while I headed out to get started with the scan.

As it turned out, we had plenty of time.  As the first appointment of the day, I was called in pretty quickly but the scan itself took a very, very long time.  A full hour lying in a dimly lit room with a silent ultrasound tech, listening to talk radio.  I looked at what she was doing, but the pictures were mostly mysterious grey and black blobs to me.  (Was that Powerball’s head?  Oh, maybe the torso.  No no, that’s my cervix…) Every ten minutes or so the radio host would announce the time: 8:10, 8:21, 8:29, 8:40… finally, at 8:52 Sea was called in for the show-and-tell part of the scan, the one where we would find out Powerball’s sex.

We did get a pretty good look at Powerball: the ultrasound tech took the time to show us different views, pointing out Powerball’s face, arms, legs, and beating heart.  She even paused to count out five tiny toes on one foot.

She also gave us a clear view of Powerball’s tightly closed legs.

Powerball, it seems, has already grown frustrated with the associations made between assigned sex and gender and sees the makeup of his/her genitals as irrelevant information to share with his/her parents.  With some violent jiggling of my belly, the ultrasound tech was able to get Powerball to begrudgingly offer a slightly more open view, and the tech made a guess.  But that guess was couched in “probably” and “I really can’t say”.  So Powerball’s sex remains a sort-of mystery.

As do the other results of the scan.  The ultrasound technicians at this clinic (and possibly all clinics) are fiercely trained to say nothing– good, bad, or indifferent.  So we know that Powerball has one head, two arms, two legs, and at least five tiny toes.  For everything else we’ll have to wait.

No problem: only 20 weeks left to go.

(My views on sex and gender haven’t shifted a lot since 2013.  If anything, I know a lot more small children and can see even more clearly the multitude of ways that these things can meet, diverge, shift, and play out. But we do have different name choices, so would like to know Powerball’s sex.  As this will probably be the last ultrasound, we might just not find out until October.  Oh well!)

(Side story: I forgot my phone in the clinic and had to go back about half an hour later to get it.  The ultrasound technician invited me back into the room… where a couple had just finished their scan.  The pregnant person was still sitting there in a gown, and I had to reach UNDER HER to grab my phone from where I had left it on the exam table.  Awkward.)

 

Pregnancy milestones. 

I’ve missed a few milestones it’s true. I can’t even tell you with any accuracy when I felt Powerball’s first flutter*. But, for the sake of accurate recordkeeping, let it be known that today- 17w2d- was the day I gave up trying to button my pants.

*14 weeks, maybe? It was early and I blamed an active imagination instead of an active fetus.  Sorry, Powerball, I promise to pay more attention once you’re here. 

Told you.

The list of people we’ve told about Powerball is pretty small: my parents, 2/4 of my siblings, our closest friends, a couple of coworkers, relevant medical professionals, you.

This list shouldn’t be confused with the list of people who know about Powerball, however.  Somehow that list has spilled outwards, further and further away from our control.  Thanks to loose lipped friends and family members (I know who you are), the list of people who know about Powerball now includes: my aunt, my other aunt, an unknown quantity of cousins, a nosy coworker, several Russians, approximately 43% of our acquaintances, my real estate agent, and my real estate agent’s assistant.

Guys, my real estate agent’s assistant knows about Powerball and Sea’s mother doesn’t.

I’m torn between appreciation for the enthusiasm surrounding Powerball and frustration that we haven’t had a say in what gets said. I’m sad to have not seen/heard the reactions of the people I love, the moments replaced with congratulatory e-mails with hints of hurt feelings that all begin, “I heard the news.”

It’s making me not want to announce at all, really.  To issue a retraction, maybe (“What we assumed was a fetus was, in fact, an alien invader. We apologize for the confusion.”) To keep Powerball off Facebook until s/he graduates from fetus to person, or maybe even from small person to legal adult.  To tighten our grip on whatever bit of control we still have.

Still, we had better tell Sea’s mother before the real estate agent’s assistant lets her know.

Powerball update: I’m 15 weeks pregnant.  Powerball is now the size of a canary, and flutters in a convincingly birdlike way from time to time. I’m denying the fact that my shirts are too short and my pants are too tight.  I’ve started a (secret) Facebook group for queer folks expecting babies in the fall.  If you want to join, send me an e-mail at beginningfromthestart@gmail.com.