Just don’t tell me about the syringe you used.

Today was a busy day of telling.

It began with my aunt, who is more like a third parent. I called her this morning and, in thanking her for money she had given us a couple of months earlier, I told her what it had been used for and that I was pregnant.  She was thrilled.  She asked when we were due and whose eggs we had used (in preliminary conversations with family members we had maintained the possibility of using IVF with Sea’s eggs).  We answered the first question and not the second, and the call ended with many more congratulations.

Next we told a couple of friends, a friend couple.  Sea has a very locked down Facebook album with the ultrasound photo and one future baby announcement, which she gave said friends access to this morning.  Within fifteen minutes they had liked and commented on the photos and within twenty minutes they had texted to ask if they could come over.  An hour later they stopped by our house briefly with congratulations and this book.

The big announcement, though, was later in the day: Sea and I had agreed to tell my parents.  We had even agreed on how we would tell them—on Skype while they were both in the room, we would tell them.  Then only my mother appeared on my screen, and told me that my father was too busy cooking dinner to speak to us.  I refused this information, and told her to go and get them.  He reappeared without her, and we realized that trying to get them in the same place at the same time was a little too much like herding cats to be feasible.  So we told him first.  The conversation:

Us: “We have some exciting news.  We’re having a baby.”

Dad: “What?  You’re planning to have a baby? Or you are having a baby?”

Sea (muttering in my ear): “You explain it.”

A: “We’re having a baby.  I’m pregnant.”

Dad: “Who’s pregnant?  You?  A?”

A: “Yes, I’m pregnant.”

Dad (laughing, excited): “Bingo! [pause] Just don’t tell me about the syringe you used.  Don’t tell me anything.”

A couple of minutes later he went to get my mother.

Mother: “Dad tells me you have some exciting news?”

Us: “Yes, we have some exciting news.  We’re having a baby.”

And then we realized that my mother definitely did not know before that moment.

I actually captured the exact moment of realization in a screenshot: my mother’s arms in the air and her mouth a shocked “o”: I wish this blog wasn’t anonymous so that I could share it with you all.

My mother began squealing and oohing incoherently.  A few minutes later, slightly more composed, she asked if I was the one who was pregnant.  We confirmed that I was, and then the questions began.  When are we due? Did we use an anonymous donor?  A fertility clinic?  Whose eggs did we use?  How long was the process?  Why didn’t I tell her?  How could we have stayed in a hotel room together without me telling her?  Who else knows?  My aunt already knows?  Why did we tell her first?  Am I still riding my bike?  Is Sea feeding me enough green vegetables?

We had expected these questions and had answers prepared.  We’re due in November.  Yes, we used an anonymous donor and a fertility clinic.  We’re not telling people whose eggs we used.  The process took several months.  We weren’t telling anybody.  A couple of friends know and we told my aunt this morning.  The timing made it easier to tell my aunt first.  I am still riding my bike.  We’re both taking care of ourselves and each other.

A couple more questions followed, still in a near shriek.  She told me that she wouldn’t tell anybody, but that she would think of little else.  And then the conversation was done.  Sea and I high-fived and hugged.

And with that, in a single day, we’ve doubled the number of people who know.  I’m exhausted.

Passing on Passover.

Both Sea and I come from families with mixed religious histories: a quirky blend of Atheism, ambivalent Christianity and Judaism.  We celebrate Christmas, but also light the Chanukiah.  Sea eats Cadbury Creme Eggs with abandon, and my family (one of my favourite cousins) hosts a Passover Seder.

This year’s Passover Seder is a week away.  For those of you unfamiliar with its traditions, one of them involves drinking four glasses of wine.  My family’s Seder is a radical freedom Seder, which sacrifices a lot of the text and traditions in favour of feminism, queer-inclusivity and anti-Zionism.  One of the things it doesn’t sacrifice, however, is the drinking.  You can drink more or less than four glasses, but you will be drinking red wine.

To date, I’ve been saved from having to explain why I’m not drinking by the fact that I don’t drink ever.  I don’t like alcohol, and I don’t drink it in my regular goings on.  Passover is the exception: I have never refused the Passover wine.

We’re not ready to tell the cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and random neighbours who attend the Seder that we’re having a kid.  They’ll know eventually, of course, but not until some point in the second trimester.  I would rather they not find out from the untouched glass of wine sitting conspicuously at the side of my plate.

So, what do I do?  Again, this isn’t an occassion where simply saying, “I’ll skip the wine” is kosher.  I could:

a) Lie and claim to be on antibiotics, which will lead to nosy relatives asking about my health.

b) Bring grape juice and try to sneakily pour myself a glass in the kitchen.

c) Sacrifice tradition, pass on the wine, and hope nobody pries.

d) Do something else that I haven’t thought of, that one of you brilliant people will suggest.

And yes, I know that one glass of wine is unlikely to stunt our fetus, but I’d rather not get something the size of a blueberry drunk.

Thoughts?

The twenty-ninth/first ultrasound.

Sea’s neat writing on the calendar marked today’s big event:

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This morning was the first ultrasound.

Confession: I had spent most of yesterday terrified, convinced that I was going to see blood every time I went to the bathroom, worried that we wouldn’t see anything today.  But this morning I woke up less afraid and more excited.  We had breakfast, packed up the holy water, and headed out the door.

We were called in for the ultrasound quickly, by one of the ultrasound technicians I rarely see.  The room was the same one where I had had my first Clinic One ultrasound, months ago.  Under the dim lights the piles of paper sheets and endless baby pictures taped to the walls looked the same, only now the ultrasound technician was smiling and Sea was coming to sit in the chair beside the table.  I quickly took a sip of the holy water and went to lie down.  The ultrasound technician found the sac and, smiling and making approving noises, began to take measurements.  A couple of minutes later she turned the screen towards me and Sea: she pointed out the yolk sac, the embryo and, then, the beating heart.  I may have said “wow”.  I may not have said anything.  I don’t remember: all I remember is that pulsing dot on the screen.  Too quickly she turned the screen back towards her and finished the measurements.  As I sat up, I told her that we had wondered about twins given the high beta numbers and that, honestly, I was relieved to see just the one overachieving embryo.  “Hmm, let me take another look”, she responded, practically shoving me back down on to the table.  She did another scan of my uterus, but the embryo remained a lone wolf.

As I pulled my pants back on and Sea and I turned to leave the technician pushed a printout into our hands: “Here, take your baby.”

After that we met with the fourth doctor, Dr. Text having decided not to show up to work today.  The fourth doctor seems somehow less competent in comparison to the bored professionalism of the others, and I watched skeptically as he fiddled with the paper due date calculator on his desk.  According to the fourth doctor, we’re due on November 10th (though all calculators I’ve used say the 11th).  We’re to come back in a week for another ultrasound, and then for another two weeks after that.  NT scan at 12 weeks and then a referral to an OB.  I told the fourth doctor that I would be seeing my own doctor next week, and that we hadn’t yet decided between an OB and a midwife.  He took this in stride and sent us on our way with a quick congratulations and instructions to get another blood test to check my TSH levels.

The woman taking my blood asked me if I was a Catholic and talked about Sunday mass, while cheerfully taking blood from the back of my hand.  Then we were done.  We left Clinic One and headed to our respective offices, that first photo tucked neatly into the front pocket of Sea’s purse.

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Total Ultrasound Count: 29/1

Expectant mothers.

About six months ago I told my mother, half-jokingly, that I wanted to go to a theme park for my 30th birthday.  Immediately enthused about the possibility of a mother-daughter trip, she had started researching and making plans.  Every week she would call me and ask if I had decided on the trip and I would deliberate, procrastinate, and promise to tell her the following week.  Then January’s cycle failed and, convinced that my uterus was a barren wasteland, I told my mother that I wanted to go.

Six days before the IUI that worked, my mother booked our tickets as my 30th birthday present.  Six weeks pregnant, I found myself sitting next to her on a plane as she asked about when grandchildren would be forthcoming.

You may have gathered that Sea and I have been deliberating about when to tell people.  Sea is a lot more cautious than I am, and would rather wait until 12 weeks before telling anybody.  I agree with her generally, but think that there are exceptions to every rule: doctors, a few close friends, the internet, my parents (Sea’s parents are a totally different story, for many reasons).  After some discussion, Sea and I agreed that we would tell my parents.  Though we decided that we would make the announcement jointly, she left me to decide whether the announcement would happen before or after the birthday trip.

On the plane, my mother took a break from telling me about the minutia of her daily life and asking about grandchildren in order to use the closet-sized airplane bathroom.  The stranger sitting on the other side of me turned to me and said, “You’re such a good daughter, sitting and listening to your mother talk”.  In that moment, I was so relieved that Sea and I had decided to wait until after the trip to tell my parents.  Spending four days alone with my mother– several hours of those days sitting next to each other in the confined space of the plane’s cabin– is overwhelming enough without that reveal thrown into the mix.

My mother.  My mother loves me intensely.  She refers to me and her sister as her two favourite people in the world, ignoring the fact that she also has a husband and another child. She talks constantly and cries easily.  She calls me every week and wants to know every detail of what I’ve been doing.  When I came out, she sent me a pair of rainbow socks and a card saying, “You’re different.”  She resents Sea, though pretends not to.  She would, and does, give me everything.  She wants more from me: more affection, more communication, more attention.  She is incredibly giving and incredibly needy.

To summarize my relationship with my mother, let me tell you a story: a few years ago my mother asked her lesbian friend how said lesbian friend’s son had been conceived (I forgot to include, my mother is also nosy).  The lesbian friend told my mother that she had gone to a feminist sperm bank in California– nowhere even near where we live.  Telling me about this, my mother enthusiastically informed me that I should do the same when the time came for me to have children.  She also told me that she would go with me, and that we would make a vacation of it.  I had to explain to my mother that one’s partner, not one’s parent, is usually the one there at the moment of conception.  She seemed disappointed.

And now I was on a plane, wedged between my mother and a sympathetic stranger, listening to my mother talk about how she wants a grandchild (complete with suggestions on how to procure said grandchild).  I was also five and half weeks pregnant and headed to a theme park where every ride came complete with this warning:

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Going to a theme park and foregoing all rollercoasters was fine: there were plenty of stationary attractions to enjoy and I get dizzy easily.  More harrowing was travelling with my mother who still wanted more—more conversation, gratitude, openness, affection, just more.  Also harrowing were my attempts to dodge the questions of grandchildren.  We’re in no rush, I said.  Before we’re 40, I said.  We have two uteri and plenty of eggs, I said.  There are lots of options in terms of how we’ll do it, I said.  I evaded at points and lied through my teeth at others.  One morning, flipping through channels on the hotel’s TV, I found myself watching a show about people who didn’t know they were pregnant until they went into labour.  After, my mother asked me what I had learned from the show: “Did you learn that you might be pregnant?” Trying not to stammer, I told her that I would have a lot of explaining to do if I was.

That explaining will start soon.  Tomorrow is our first ultrasound.  Assuming everything goes well, we’ll be telling my parents this weekend: I can only imagine that my expectant mother will have a lot to say.

Cheesy.

Despite my ridiculously high beta numbers and suppository-induced progesterone high, I haven’t experienced morning sickness.  I know, these are still early days and I’m probably cursing myself by the very writing of this post, but so far the occasional moments of queasy are as bad as it gets.  Unfortunately, I also think I’m developing my first food aversion.

I should preface this by explaining to you my relationship with cheese.  I love it.  All cheese.  Strong cheese, soft cheese, cream cheese: all delicious.  Brie?  Yes please.  Swiss?  Yum.  Cheddar?  Pass it over.  When Sea begins slicing cheese to make dinner, the cat and I are suddenly both at her side and I’m asking for “a piece for my mouth, please”.

But then, a few days ago, I realized that melted cheese didn’t sound all that appetizing.  And yesterday, putting cheese on my sandwich seemed like a dubious choice.  And today– well, today.

I’m far from home for the next few days, travelling with my mother*.  One of the most disappointing things about the city where I live is that it is no longer home to my favourite restaurant: a particular restaurant with big bowls of salad and unlimited breadsticks, with which you may be familiar.  But the city we are visiting does have this restaurant!  Joy!  Excitement!  Breadsticks!  So my mother and I made our way to the restaurant.  I was feeling slightly blah after an early morning and long day of travel, but still greeted the menu with fair enthusiasm.  Until I realized that almost everything on the menu sounded too cheesy.  Being stubborn, I decided to embrace the cheese.  Maybe it was good in practice, if not in theory?  Maybe it was me, not the cheese, that needed to change to make this partnership work?  I unenthusiastically ate half my meal and then gave up.  It was just too cheesy.

Too cheesy?  Saying that goes against my very nature.  I judge people who don’t like cheese in the same way that I judge people who don’t like chocolate.  I often use cheese to explain why I am not a vegan.  Yet here I am: simultaneously hoping that today’s cheese aversion was a fluke and wondering how else to fill tomorrow’s breakfast omelette.

*Yes, I am travelling with my mother.  Who does not know that I’m pregnant.  Who asks about grandchildren approximately every 30 minutes.  We also happen to be travelling to a theme park.  This deserves its own post.