In case you’re wondering, a “stretch and sweep” is exactly as pleasant as it sounds.
In case you’re wondering, a “stretch and sweep” is exactly as pleasant as it sounds.
No, still no baby or imminent signs of baby. We’ve definitely reached the stage, however, where everybody feels like 30+ minutes of non-communication means that Bingo must have been born. Which means that I feel obligated to update everybody at regular intervals just to say “Nope, not yet!”
While we haven’t reached the point of desperation yet, we are trying to gently hand Bingo an eviction notice. Strategies for natural induction that I’ve tried include:
-Eating half a pineapple. Did nothing except make my mouth hurt due to a mild pineapple allergy.
-Eating a great deal of spicy food (thank you, Indian buffet). Delicious but ineffective.
-Walking, so much walking. And biking, too! Resulted in a sore ankle.
-The initial probe/exam by Herbal Tea. This was not a full stretch and sweep due to Bingo’s mystery position, but Herbal Tea has suggested one for Thursday/Friday.
Anything that you/your friend/your friend’s neighbor has tried that they claim has worked? I ask more out of interest than anything else, and can’t promise to take all suggestions. While I’m willing to eat pineapple or go for a walk, I also assume that Bingo will show up someday and I’m only up for interventions that require minimal effort/ingestion of unpleasant things.
Well, today was exciting.
No, still no baby. And no, I’m still not in labor. But today I had reason to get dressed and leave my house: an appointment with Herbal Tea. I had prepared myself for the usual 15 minute wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am appointment to which I’ve become accustomed. I decided that I was going to go and see Herbal Tea, go grocery shopping afterwards, and be home in time to cook a delicious lunch. Of course, by now I should have learned that as soon as I prepare myself for one thing something else happens.
To begin with, Herbal Tea seemed to be in an exceptionally good mood. She greeted me with a wide smile, and a reminder that today’s appointment was going to be featuring an internal exam. While I was glad that one of us was enthusiastic about this, I could think of about thirty things that I would rather be doing than getting up close and personal with Herbal Tea.
After reminding me about the internal exam, Herbal Tea left me in the warm hands of the student midwife. She had been tasked with instructing me in natural methods of labor induction, which meant trying to look comfortable as she suggested methods such as “making love” with Sea. I had read somewhere that sperm was a key ingredient in the effectiveness of this strategy (not heterosexism: biology/chemistry), which I asked her about. She stumbled through a response about how sperm was helpful but not the only useful component before moving on– with evident relief– to other strategies.
Herbal Tea reappeared just as we finished discussing spicy foods. The student midwife, followed by Herbal Tea, felt my stomach and listened to Bingo’s heartbeat from various points and angles. They looked at each other. “What?”, I asked. “The baby isn’t breech again, is it?” They paused. Herbal Tea smiled her widest, most reassuring smile. “I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell. Your baby may still just have a bony bum. Let’s see what we can feel from inside.”
Having just been told that Bingo might be breech, again, I was left to strip from the waist down. I lay on the exam table, oddly sandwiched between an absorbant medical pad and a purple cloth with a floral pattern that served as a drape. As Herbal Tea approached, snapping a rubber glove over her hand, her only words were, “Oh, baby.” (I believe she was talking to Bingo, but still.)
When I had been told that I would be having an internal exam, I imagined the variety that usually come with a pap test: a quick feel, nothing terrible. Instead, Herbal Tea seemed to be attempting to get her entire arm into my uterus. “Relax“, she told me, “I can tell that this is making you anxious”. The exam was actually not making me anxious. The thought that Bingo might be breech again, that we might be going headfirst (or, rather, butt-first) back into the world of inversions, inductions, c-sections, was making me nervous. The exam wasn’t making me nervous, it just hurt. The reason for this discomfort became clear as she removed her hand, saying in her permanently cheerful voice– the voice of a slightly overenthusiastic kindergarten teacher sharing a new book with the class– “I had a fingertip through your cervix! Look, you can see the bloody show!” I can’t actually convey how disturbing this moment was, but please trust that the image of Herbal Tea smilingly showing off the bloodied tips of her fingers may never escape me.
I should consider myself lucky, however: I only escaped a full stretch and sweep (which I’ve heard is about as pleasant as it sounds) because even after the internal exam, Herbal Tea wasn’t sure if what she was feeling was a head or a bum. She was nervous enough about this uncertainty that she– the least clinical of the midwives I’ve met– asked if I would be available for an ultrasound: immediately. Which is how I found myself back at the ultrasound clinic, torn away from my initial plans of a leisurely lunch. The ultrasound clinic at 11am on a Tuesday morning is a very different ultrasound clinic from the one I’m used to visiting after work hours. While the afternoon ultrasound clinic is filled with nervous pregnant people and their partners, the 11am one seemed to be exclusively visited by older Greek couples. Old men served as translators between their wives and the receptionists, pointing out where forms needed to be signed. A woman complained loudly on her cellphone about how waiting for a mammogram was a waste of time. And I sat uncomfortably among them, waiting to find out what our contortionist fetus/bumhead/Bingo was up to now.
I won’t leave you in suspense: Bingo is, thankfully, head down. It would appear that our fetus does, in fact, have a bony bum and is also determined to give both parents heart failure before being born. As for when Bingo will be born: who knows? Despite the excitement of today, Bingo is still firmly in-utero. Though 11-12-13 would have been an awesome birthday, I’m fine with Bingo staying put for now. If the kid can cause so much trouble now, just imagine what it will get up to with a little more time and space to roam.
Today is Bingo’s due date. As you might have gathered based on the fact that I’m posting, Bingo was not born today and I am not in labor. That’s okay: based on the fact that only 5% or so of babies are born on their due dates, and a very small percentage of first babies are born before their due dates, we weren’t really expecting Bingo to be born today.
The rest of the world, however, seems to think that Bingo is now running late for an appointment. Sea’s mother called her (at work!) this morning, her coworkers have been jumping every time she receives a text, and more than one person has texted me asking how today is going. An old friend even texted with the message, “_____ tells me that today is your due date! OMG I hope everything goes well!”
Sorry, everybody, that’s not how it works. Like us, you’ll just have to wait. Hopefully Bingo will be worth it?
(Also, let’s see if I can maintain this relaxed attitude if I’m still pregnant in a week!)
Yesterday, on the day when I kept repeating quietly in my head, “Bingo’s due date is the day after tomorrow. The day after tomorrow.” Sea and I went to a concert.
I won’t tell you which concert: if I did, anybody who didn’t already know where I live would, it’s also embarassing. I’ll just say that Sea has had a 15+ year obsession with a particular boy band: a boy band that you probably don’t even remember. Or, if you do remember them, you would say, “Really? They’re still together?”
So, we went to this concert. The audience was composed almost exclusively of women between the ages of 25 and 35. Between the line, the late start, and the concert, I stood for five and a half hours. Bingo’s hearing will probably be forever impacted by the high pitched screaming of hundreds of women too old for such an impossible decibel. It was ridiculous, hilarious, and also kind of fantastic. Though Bingo is still in-utero, and the concert surprisingly didn’t send me into labor, I’m still counting it as baby’s first concert.
(Also, because I’m 9 months pregnant I had to pee. Because of the concert’s demographic, the line for the women’s bathroom stretched well down the hall while men’s bathroom was completely ignored. Which is why Bingo’s first concert was also my first time– ever– intentionally using a men’s bathroom.)
Though Sea and I live in a city, we’ve been realizing more and more how much our neighborhood functions like a small town.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant, we told our closest neighbours that we were having a baby. Within a couple of weeks, other neighbors– people we had never spoken to– were congratulating us and fishing for details. I went from being able to count on one hand the number of people on our street that I knew by name to recognizing people from halfway down the block. And each person seems to come with their own set of invasive assumptions or questions.
There was the neighbor who chastized Sea for mowing the lawn, assuming that she was pregnant. A couple of neighbors have asked about our birth plan and told us about their birth experiences (often as their wide-eyed children looked on). Last week the older woman who lives a few houses down instructed us to have the baby on her birthday (we didn’t). So it was no surprise today when another neighbor stopped us as we walked home with the words, “Can I ask you something personal?”
Based on the questions that we get asked most commonly, we assumed that she would follow this with “Boy or girl?”, “How did you do it?”, “Known or unknown donor?”, or “Birth plan?” Instead, she asked, “Are you both planning on breastfeeding?”
Well, neighbor whose name I didn’t know until about a month ago, who I’ve only spoken to a handful of time, whose previous interactions with me consisted of “Hello!” and “Good morning!”, that is quite a personal question. Too surprised to be coy or clever, Sea simply answered “Uh, no.” We then stood awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot in synchrony, as the neighbor told us about her breastfeeding experiences.
They say good fences make good neighbors. Clearly we need a taller one.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve slowly stripped my office of all things personal. I’ve pulled down notes and cards from my bulletin board, I’ve deleted years of e-mails, I’ve recycled an impossible amount of paper. Today I shoved the last of my stuff into three bags, shut down my computer, said goodbye to the people I share an office with, and stepped out into the cold. Aside from the three extra bags, it felt a lot like leaving on any other Friday. The big difference, of course, is that I wasn’t just leaving for the weekend: I was leaving for 6-12 months* of parental leave.
My parental leave is partially funded. While Sea and I will be taking a (significant) financial hit, this partial funding means that I’m able to have more than the weeks or scant months away from work that so many of you have described. I feel lucky to have this time, and even more lucky that Sea will be able to take a full two months away from her job. I’m looking forward to spending time together in our little family, really getting to know Bingo.
At the same time, I’ve worked in the same organization for a very long time. My work is meaningful (to me), engaging, and something I’m truly passionate about. Stepping away from it, even temporarily, involves stepping away from something that has defined a great deal of my adult life. Today I joked with my manager that I couldn’t handle being “cut off”, and that I would probably still be checking and responding to work e-mails when I went into labor. Except I wasn’t really joking: I don’t know how to let go. Confession: I’ve even had moments of resentment and jealousy as I’ve trained my (truly lovely) replacement.
I’m sure that I will let go of my work, likely stop thinking about it entirely, when Bingo is here. I’ll forget how to log in to my work e-mail, I won’t wonder how things are going in my absence. Right now, pre-Bingo, that’s hard to imagine—but I’m sure it will happen. And I’m absolutely sure that this new job will be even more meaningful and engaging under this new pint-sized boss.
(Side note: As I was readying myself to leave, a co-worker asked me if I was looking forward to my “break”. Though I only have a theoretical understanding of what parenting a newborn will like, I still felt like hitting her for treating parental leave like an extended vacation!)
*I don’t know exactly how long my leave will actually be. Sea might end up taking part of the available time. We’ll see!
With less than a week left until Bingo’s due date, there are a couple of things that I hear quite frequently from friends and acquaintances alike. The first is the never flattering, “Oh, you’re still pregnant?”. This sentiment is also conveyed through the disappointed looks coworkers shoot me every time they walk by my office to find me still there. The other thing that I hear on a daily basis is, “Are you ready?”
I don’t have any good response to this question. My answer varies based on who’s asking and my mood at that given moment. Sometimes I’ll breezily respond that we’re so ready, sometimes I’ll be more honest and answer “not quite”, more often I’ll just stare at the person asking with a look that I expect reads as something between confusion and panic. This response is based in a combination of not knowing what “ready” means, not being convinced that “ready” is an attainable state, and the fact that (nine months in) I have yet to really process the fact that I’m gestating a fetus that will soon be a baby. Regardless, in a more practical sense, we’re ready in many ways. We have enough diapers and onesies to dress quadruplets, enough toys to stock a daycare, and a nursery that’s quickly become the nicest room in our house.
The nursery is entirely Sea’s doing. As she summarized in her post of 20ish weeks ago (!!) capturing the transformation of the third bedroom from cat room to plain white room, “as PartnerA has been working at creating a mini-human, I’ve been working at creating a livable space of the third bedroom.” In the 20 weeks (!!) since then, the room has been transformed into much more than a livable space. Sea would occassionally ask me about colors or accessories but, given my general attitude towards decision-making (indecisive is an understatement), it really all fell on her. The results? I’ll let you judge for yourselves.
You should know I’m not great at recordkeeping. Over the years I’ve started dozens of diaries, only to abandon them after the first couple of pages. The calendar that hangs above my desk at work has been declaring it August since mid-July. All mementos, photos, letters and other archives of my life from birth to present are haphazardly shoved into a cardboard box.
As in so many respects, Sea is my complete opposite. Every stage of her life has been neatly recorded, labelled and then filed away for later reference. The calendar that hangs on our fridge is promptly changed over on the first day of every month. I’m fairly certain that she began keeping a diary when she was a fetus. As such, it was no surprise that about three days after Bingo was conceived Sea announced that we needed a baby book.
If left to my own devices, years from now Bingo’s birth certificate would probably be shoved at the bottom of a bag with a handful of crumpled receipts and half of a chocolate bar and I’d have no idea what his/her first word had been. I agreed with Sea that a neatly organized book filled with important dates, adorable photos and pertinent details would probably be better. But then there was the matter of finding a baby book.
For months, Sea and I looked everywhere for a suitable template. We went to the trendiest downtown bookstores and flipped through everything from the sentimental to the ironic. But no matter how many books we looked through, every single one had pages for Mommy and Daddy firmly sewn in. What was daddy like when he was a baby? What did daddy think when he found out that a baby was on its way? What names did daddy like? Etc, so on, so forth. Sea and I contemplated clever scrapbooking or the copious use of White Out , but neither strategy was ideal.
Online shopping had provided more of the same—gendered books reflective of one narrow reality. Even single parents were out of luck though I suppose they, at least, could have carefully cut along the seams of irrelevant pages. Then Sea hit the jackpot and found this book.
This book was exactly what we had been looking for. As the website so succinctly says, it really is suitable for all families. Its neat metal rings can hold any combination of pages. Have a mommy and daddy? Fantastic! A mummy and a mama? Great! A papa and a dadi? Wonderful! Something else entirely? Lovely—order a customized page! Sea and I ordered the relevant pages (mummy and mommy, in case you’re interested), along with an extra “our donor” page. We chose a plain white cover for the sake of simplicity, though the available dinosaur option was high on my list.
For now the book is sitting empty in Bingo’s room, but I know that Sea’s neat writing will soon be filling it with the memories and details that I might otherwise forget. And when those memories are entered, I’m sure that it will feel even more important to have a book made to fit our family as opposed to a book that our family has to bend to fit.
(As with my first “favourite things” post, I haven’t been asked to review this product or write this post: I’m still not important enough to be bribed. I’m sharing only because I know just how impossible it can be to find anything that works for our quirky, queer families, and just how important these things can be.)
For the past eight and a half months I’ve prided myself on being a non-whiny pregnant person. (I still don’t count the two weeks pre-IUI as part of the pregnancy, regardless of traditional counting methods, and you already know how I feel about the ten month pregnancy tally.) I stand up and sit down without assistance, I carry things for myself and when people ask how I’m doing, I consistently smile and tell them that I feel like rainbows and butterflies. Or something to that effect. Luckily this very easy pregnancy (though I have nothing to compare it to, I gather this is pretty much as easy as pregnancies come) has made my embargo on whining possible.
But now I’m sick with a very minor cold. My head feels foggy, I’m tired, and my throat hurts. And the combination of being sick and being exactly one week away from my due date makes me want to do nothing but curl up under a very heavy blanket and whine.
And that’s all I have to say for today. So this, friends, will have to count as NaBloPoMo Day 4.
(And yes, I would like some more whine with that cheese. Thank you very much.)
Thoughts From The Other "Real" Mom
Lesbian IVF and other stories
Dutifully transcribed by the Overlord's attendants.
Story of twins a month apart.
Adoption, Down syndrome, 2 moms, and our random life adventures
Gift ideas you can actually buy in Canada
The adventures of two lesbians, four dogs, and one little boy named Simon!
Adventures in Trans Parenting
raising a rare girl
the true tales of my life
a journey to familyhood
a babymaking story
the journey of our little family
A little family, a little home, a little romance. The adventures of an immigrant interracial lesbian couple and their adopted children.
There's no 'I' in fetus.
shamelessly queering the traditional family
Two lesbians walk into a fertility center.....
Two (Wannabe) Moms on a Journey to Parenthood
Raising our fairy princess, blogging about our adventures after a long infertility journey.