Birth intentions.

Recently, in a Facebook group that I’ll call Sheer Llamas for the sake of anonymity, a member asked what she should tell a friend who had just had an unexpected and traumatic c-section.

“I would tell her,” another member responded, “that all births are beautiful”.

This answer hit a nerve in me, and I responded vehemently.  No, no.  Not all births are beautiful.  All babies?  Maybe, arguably.  But not all births.

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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.

 

 

#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.

Induction, Part 2 (or not).

Once again, as captured at the time.

7:59pm: We arrive back at the hospital, which is much less crowded than earlier.  The receptionist working the evening shift directs all of her questions towards Sea.  When she asks for insurance information and I hand her mine, she says “Oh, it’s you?”

8:57pm: I’m hooked up to the monitor again. I’m still cramping, muscles gripping in a way that reads (slightly) on the printed traces. The nurses are talking about food poisoning and heart attacks.

9:13pm: The nurse comes and reads the monitor’s printouts.  She tells us that the regular cramps are, in fact, contractions.  She’s pleased with this, but less pleased with the fact that Bingo seems to be sleeping.  She leaves and comes back with a styrofoam cup of too-sweet orange juice, which I drink/spill inelegantly down my front.

9:38pm: The doctor, the same doctor as before, comes to check my progress.  He looks at the recorded contractions, before doing a very uncomfortable, thorough internal exam.  I’m now apparently a fingertip dialated.  Contractions + dialation = enough progress to result in the cancellation of gel, round 2.  He summarizes: “Things are progressing… slowly.”  Sea and I are told to go home and come back either when labor picks up or at 10:30am, whichever comes first.

9:45pm: Sea and I are worried about the cancelling of gel, round 2.  On our way out we ask the doctor if he thinks labor will stop or progress overnight.  He tells us that he’s “impressed” with my progress, that earlier he had been sure more than one round of gel would be necessary, that labor could stop but that it’s more likely that it won’t.  Way to impress the doctor, Bingo!

So now we hurry up and wait, once again.  Our support people are on standby, and we’re home to try to sleep.  Contractions are coming frequently but not intensely.  We’ll see how much of the next 24 hours I can blog, but I expect they’re going to be big ones!

Induction, Part 1.

Yup, still no baby.  We’re briefly home between rounds 1 and 2 of gel. 

Round 1, as written from the hospital:

2:29pm: As Diet Coke pointed out at yesterday’s appointment, inductions are a lot of “hurry up and wait”. Though Sea and I were shuffled through the waiting room pretty quickly, past the crowd of bored looking pregnant women, I’ve been lying hooked up to fetal monitors for a pre-induction check for over an hour now. The paper tracking heart rate now stretches across the floor. I’m pretty sure the nurses have forgotten about us.
 
3:00pm: There’s no privacy here.  We’ve been listening to a schizophrenic woman behind the next curtain explain how her baby has probably died and her uterus is filled with worms since we arrived.  A medical resident has been left to convince her otherwise, but isn’t succeeding. The doctor finally appears. He’s friendly, but rushed in the way that medical professionals tend to be.  He checks my cervix and mutters, “I think she’s going to need more than one dose”.  He tells me to come back at 7:00am the next morning.
 
3:16pm: hooked up to the monitors again, this time for at least an hour. The gel burns and I’m feeling slightly crampy, but that might just be because four people have had their fingers in my cervix in the past week.

4:15pm: Sea and I are now the only people left in triage.  A nurse, who has been asking every single person who comes in whether they’ve had lunch comes to release me from the monitors.  She tells me to return at 8:00pm, which contradicts what the doctor had said earlier but confirms what Diet Coke had said yesterday.  The next 15 minutes are spent with the nurse trying to track down the doctor to determine who said what.  She finally reaches him, “The patient thinks she doesn’t have to come back.”  He sticks his head into the room and laughs at me, telling me that my cervix is still closed and that I’m just trying to avoid him.  8:00pm for round 2 it is.

4:25pm: Sea and I walk back from the hospital.  She asks how I’m feeling.  “Fine.”, I reply.  She presses for more details, so I explain that it feels like somebody just shoved a jalepeno pepper in my vagina.  She doesn’t request more information.

It’s 2.5 hours later now, and I feel slightly crampy but fine.  Sea is packing up our bag of distractions again, preparing for a romantic evening in triage.  “Alright, let’s go have a baby.”, she says. 

Alright, let’s.

Eviction notice.

While we were eating breakfast this morning, I turned to Sea and said: “I think Bingo has inherited my time management skills”.  You see, I’m perpetually late.  Ten minutes before I need to be somewhere twenty minutes away, I’ll be running around trying to find my keys and my right shoe.  I imagine that’s what Bingo is doing now: turning circles in my uterus, looking anxiously at a small watch, saying “I just need to…”

You see, Bingo is now eight days past due.  In addition to this, Bingo hasn’t yet dropped fully into my pelvis.  In addition to this, a biophysical profile done on Monday shows an… *ahem* hefty fetus, at an estimated 9 pounds.  Based on these facts, induction has been scheduled to begin tomorrow.  Sea updated her personal blog with the details of today’s midwife appointment, which I’m copying and pasting here in lieu of my own play by play.

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Bingo’s horoscope.

No, no Bingo yet.  No sign of Bingo yet, either.

After work, Sea came home with a copy of the free local paper.  “Read Bingo’s horoscope!”, she told me.  Today’s Scorpio horoscope:

“An issue you have been avoiding has now to be faced.  You have just four days to get your act together and resolve the situation- after that the matter will be taken out of your hands.” 

Ha!