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.)

 

Iron woman.

Returned from my travels to find a message from Diet Coke, the midwife: “Hi, just calling to let you know that the results of your glucose text were awesome.”  Take that, risk factors and doubters!  (I’m looking at Sea, who has frequently raised a judgmental eyebrow at my chocolate consumption over the past six months.)

Of course, a greeting like that is bound to come with a “but…”.  In this case, the but involved words like “hemoglobin”, “anemia”, “supplementation” and ended with Diet Coke cheerily saying, “I look forward to chatting with you about iron rich foods!”

I’m currently waiting for Herbal Tea to return my call (Diet Coke is on vacation) and tell me what this unyielding vegetarian should do to improve her iron levels.  I also welcome your expert opinions (bonus points if they involve chocolate).  I’ll work on becoming better acquainted with spinach while I wait.

Advice from my mother.

Since the visit to my family began, I’ve been inundated with a steady stream of advice.  Most of this has come from my mother, with the occasional contribution from my father (who has much less to say, despite having raised more than twice the number of children).  This advice has included:

-When on a plane, a pillow should be held in front of your belly at all times.  It’s like an airbag.

-Don’t lift things.  Anything.  That pillow is too heavy.

-Don’t eat chips.  They’ll cause birth defects.

-Home births are unsafe.  You need to go to the hospital the second your water breaks, or else you will become infected.

-Are you sure I can’t be present at the birth?  Are you sure?  Lots of people have their parents present.

-Your child is always a child.

Image

Articles that my mother has clipped from papers and saved for me to read.

Perhaps most persistently, however, she has been questioning me about whether we plan to breastfeed or formula feed Bingo.  I’ve refused to answer. Continue reading

Testing, testing.

Last Tuesday I went to visit Diet Coke, the midwife.  It had only been three weeks since our visit with the other midwife, Herbal Tea, but I had inconveniently planned two weeks of travel that overlapped with the next scheduled visit.

I walked into the clinic 20 minutes early, still trying to make amends for the visit when we had shown up horribly, terribly late and soaking wet.  When DC appeared at exactly the scheduled appointment time, she greeted me with an abrupt, “Did you have something to drink?”  Outside of my ability to pee on command, DC had never shown any interest in my hydration levels prior to this moment.

Me:  “I think so?”

DC: “When did you finish drinking?  We need to know exactly when you finished drinking.”

Me: “Uh, why?”

DC:  “The glucose drink.  You should have been given a drink to take an hour before your appointment.  Did you drink it?”

Me:  “No… HT told me to book the test with another clinic at 27 weeks.”

DC: “Oh! Well that makes things easy.”

I took my familiar perch on the burgundy bedspread in her office, as DC pulled out the exact paperwork on Rhogam that HT had taken us through during our last visit.  I explained my déjà vu, meeting with obvious scepticism from DC.  Defensively, I tried to scrape together the information from the last appointment.  “I did!  Blood product!  Donated by women in a remote rural community!”  DC’s scepticism shifted to annoyance at HT’s poor record keeping skills.  As she furiously made notes in my file, she could be heard muttering: “HT is a lovely person, but…”  She didn’t finish her sentence.

After quickly listening to Bingo’s heartbeat (still going strong at 140-something beats per minute), DC sent me on my way with a revised appointment for the glucose test: two days later.  I am apparently just full of risk factors: age (30!), weight, and family history (thanks, mom).

So Thursday morning found me up early, eating eggs for breakfast and drinking a lot of water.  DC had told me that these “tricks” would make passing the glucose test more likely.  I’ve always been an overachiever, and this test was one that I particularly didn’t want to fail, so I was willing to try any tricks suggested.  Two hours later I walked into yet another unfamiliar clinic for the test itself, where a bored receptionist handed me a bottle of bright orange liquid and a paper cup and told me to finish the drink within five minutes.

Image

I had heard a lot about this painfully sweet drink, and steeled myself to chug it down.  Though the sweetness burned my throat, it wasn’t as awful as I had imagined.  I had pictured something more… syrupy than this watery liquid that tasted exactly like a more heavily sweetened version of the bright, artificial orange punch that McDonald’s served about 25 years ago.   Finished, I was told to leave and come back in exactly an hour.

I went to run errands nearby, simultaneously trying to remember my grocery list and figure out whether I was imagining the beginnings of a headache.  20 minutes into this hour long exile from the clinic, Bingo realized that somebody had drastically altered his/her diet, and that glucose was fun.  I watched my stomach jump under my shirt and, now certain of the headache, appreciated that at least one of us was enjoying this experience.  I hoped that the headache wasn’t a sign that I was failing the test.

After an hour of running errands nearby, I returned to the clinic.  Its popularity had increased in the hour I had been away.

Image

The seats were crowded, a group of children stood against the wall, and another bored receptionist futilely instructed a belligerent patient to sit down.  Bingo and I were left to stand uncomfortably in the centre of the room until the bored receptionist, done with the belligerent patient, ushered me into a small room.

Image

The blood draw technician appeared at 10:57.  Taking my paperwork, she frowned.

Technician: It says here that you were supposed to return at 10:58!

Me: Yes…

Technician: It’s almost 11!

Me:  It’s 10:57.

After this strange foray into telling time, my blood was drawn.  As I headed out of the clinic, now with a pounding headache, I’m certain that I heard one of the staff members say to another: “She’s pregnant?”

But maybe it was just the glucose.

Stay tuned for the results!

Lists.

Expect an increase in posts as I spend the next two weeks visiting with my family.

Within minutes of stepping off the plane, I had been barraged with advice and concern (“Don’t lift that bag!”, “Did the flight attendants give you a pillow to hold over your stomach?”).  Soon after, my mother handed me a list of suggested/approved names.

Yes, an actual list.  The names are written in single file on one side of the lined paper.  On the other side she’s begun a list– titled RIP– of songs to be played at her funeral.

Continue reading