Monthly Archives: December 2013

Eight weeks to go

Actually, seven and a half now. Not that I’m counting down or anything!

But I am. I’m just not sure whether I want time to speed up or slow down. One part of me wants to press fast-forward right to baby’s due date because I am tired of carrying around this extra weight and turning down booze and burping or farting every time I move. The more rational part of me would like to buy a few extra weeks, please, because holy shit are we really ready for this?

(Answer: no, not even a little bit. But we did assemble a Pack-n-Play and a swing this weekend. So that’s something….

packnplay

…and with that, the inevitable pile of baby crap taking over the living room begins.)

Aside from being a bit tired and uncomfortable these days, things are going fine. Still running, although I’ve noticed that 3-4 miles has become my new default. And my pace has slowed down even more, and walk breaks are becoming a regular thing. Also, I need new running shoes badly but I’m hesitant to buy them because what if my feet decide to suddenly expand? When I worked in running stores I remember pregnant ladies complaining about this. I don’t think my feet have grown at all, but I’m sure the second I decide to plunk down cash for new shoes they’ll spread out like pancakes.

At 32+ weeks, I am still squeezing in to most of my old running clothes too. Um, sort of.

32w2d_zpsbc0d9a4b

Because who needs fancy maternity workout clothes when you can look perfectly ridiculous in your regular ones? (On a related note, I’m sorry to everyone in Piedmont Park this evening who glimpsed the bottom of my pasty, vein-y, and slightly hairy belly. Hey, at least I wasn’t running around in a sports bra!)

I don’t even want to talk about how absurd my swimsuit is starting to look. Let’s just say there will be no locker room selfies.

Anyway. Other baby happenings:

– The fetus got her final TSA pat-down last week when we flew home from visiting my family for Christmas. We traveled a ton this fall and I’ve enjoyed all of it, but I’m also glad to be done with planes for a while. (In case you were wondering how to make a 5-hour flight in a cramped seat even less pleasant, set a 15-pound weight directly on your bladder, then proceed to drink every drop of water you can get your puffy fingers on because every doctor and midwife you’ve ever spoken to has harped on the importance of hydration when flying while pregnant. And hope you have an aisle seat.)

– According to my Mayo Clinic book, the last couple of weeks have been baby’s peak movement weeks, and I believe that! Sometimes I really wonder what the hell she is doing in there that requires so much thumping and squirming. Chill out, baby. And kindly unhook your wiggly little foot from the bottom of my ribcage, please.

– (But really, it’s pretty cool to feel her move around and see my stomach churn and twitch from the outside. It makes me smile. I have an anterior placenta and didn’t feel movement at all until quite late, like 23-24 weeks, so I’m enjoying it!)

– We had our childbirth class a couple of weeks ago. Yikes.

– We have our infant care and CPR class coming up this Thursday. Double yikes.

– Remember those icky Lovenox injections I blogged about a while back? Well, I have gotten used to them and now they are no big deal. Most of the time I barely even feel the needle and I am lucky in that I’ve only had a few small bruises so far. I still make my husband do it when he’s around, but mainly because I can barely reach across my belly to get both hands to the fatty part of my side where the shot needs to go.

And just so this post is not completely pregnancy-related, behold one of my favorite Christmas gifts of 2013.

CAH

I AM A CARD AGAINST HUMANITY.

Technically, I guess this is a gift I bought for myself. Did anyone else sign up for the 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit? I thought most of it was sort of meh but this personalized card alone was worth the $12. I can’t wait to have my name attached to porn jokes and Holocaust quips next time we play!

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and will someone please drink a couple of glasses of bubbly for me? Ringing in the New Year with that crappy sparkling juice that people pretend is Champagne is going to be a little sad.

Sigh. Eight more weeks. (Seven and a half….)

Full of cheer

According to some random newscast I saw recently, there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. (Fewer…than average, I guess?) The talking heads were all abuzz about how this is affecting the retail industry, but my thoughts immediately went elsewhere.

Six fewer days of horrible music assaulting my eardrums from the car radio, TV commercials, the loudspeakers at the damn gas station where I usually fill up….

Ugh. Christmas music.

I know I’ve written about this before, but Christmas music really is the worst. For some reason at this time of year, rational people who ordinarily have decent taste in music will voluntarily – and enthusiastically! – listen to hokey crap about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer and Alvin the Chipmunk whining about his hula hoop. Over and over and over again.

I don’t get it. They’re terrible songs, people!

Anyway, I am not a total grinch, I swear. Our tree is up and trimmed and our stockings have been hung with care. And I’ll admit that I get a little warm fuzzy in my coal-black heart when I look at the new one in the middle, embroidered name TBD.

stockings

I’m tempted to make a disclaimer about not turning this in to a pregnancy/kid blog, but let’s face it: for nearly a year now it’s been a nonexistent blog, and harboring a fetus is the Big Thing going on in my life right now. For months and months I didn’t post, largely because of all the shit that was going on related to acquiring and retaining said fetus. But now that we’re on the home stretch I’m feeling more chatty and open about the whole thing, so I’ll bring you up to date on the first 29 weeks of this little adventure.

Morning sickness: I never had it all that bad. There were several weeks at the beginning where I felt constantly nauseous, but as far as actually throwing up, that only happened a few times. I’m considering myself lucky here.

Food cravings/aversions: Sugar. Sugarsugarsugar. At one point I asked my husband to bring me a cupcake and when he asked what kind, I actually said “sugar flavored.” As I’ve always been a salt fiend and never really had a sweet tooth, this is bizarre to me. I’m just thankful I don’t have gestational diabetes or I’d be even more of a grinch right now.

As far as aversions, nothing. Well, nothing brought on by pregnancy. Pickles are still the epitome of disgusting evil, in spite of the pregnant-lady stereotype.

Weight gain: I didn’t gain at all for almost the first half of pregnancy. Or more accurately, I probably lost a little extra fat when I cut out the booze, which offset anything baby-related. Now, at 29+ weeks, I’m up about 12-15 pounds (net) and seem to be packing it on much more quickly. I swear sometimes my abdomen grows noticeably overnight.

Alcohol and other “banned” substances: Honestly, I haven’t missed the booze nearly as much as I thought I would. Beer sounds awful, not because of the taste but because I imagine it would quickly fill up what’s left of the real estate in my stomach and leave me a bloated, burping, reflux-y mess. I do miss wine, but I enjoy a small glass of that occasionally, just enough to scratch the itch.

As for the twelve-thousand other things you’re not supposed to consume while pregnant…eh. I do avoid cheeses that are obviously unpasteurized and while I can’t say that no raw sushi has crossed my lips, I do pass on the weird stuff that’s unlikely to turn over quickly. I was never a big eater of tunafish or deli meat, so that hasn’t been much of an issue.

I have been avoiding eating cat shit, though. As much as I love the daily feces hunt, my husband graciously offered to take that chore off my hands. Even though the risk of getting toxoplasmosis from our indoor-only cats is basically zero. I’m not complaining if he’s willing to deal with the cats’ dirty work for a while.

Running/exercise: I’m still running, slowly, a few times a week. 4-5 miles tops these days, and I always need to make at least one pee stop. It seems my bladder can take about 15-20 minutes of bouncing at a stretch. No pregnant marathons for this girl! (Seriously, that sounds so unappealing…I’d be out there for eons and I don’t even want to think about how many port-a-potties I’ve have to visit along the way.)

I’ve also been lifting weights a couple of times a week (nothing crazy, just maintenance-type stuff) and swimming laps occasionally. Swimming feels great and I would do it more often but the chlorine absolutely kills my skin, which tends to be dry and itchy in the winter anyway.

Nursery status/baby gear/crap we need to buy: We have done basically nothing on this front. I will spare you the details but we are having some not-fun-but-necessary work done on our house and the theoretical nursery is in the destruction zone. The whole thing is a disaster at this point. There may not be a nursery until after the baby’s born.

However, thanks to very generous friends and family, we’ve been baby-showered with the most essential items: car seat, pack-n-play, rock-n-play, swing, carrier, lots of cute clothes. So baby will survive, even if she has to camp out in our room for a while.

The “bump”: Lucky for you, even though I haven’t been blogging, I have been taking blurry awkward mirror selfies from time to time! Because what would kind of pregnancy would this be without them?

So here ya go:

belly

Merry Christmas. :)

I could’ve been a superhero

The nurse came in backwards, using her rump to bump open the door. As she turned around to greet me, I saw why: both of her hands were full, clutching an alarming number of glass vials. They clinked cheerfully as she deposited them in to a little basket on the counter next to me. There were at least a dozen and they all had my name on them. My palms started to sweat.

“You’re kidding me, right?” I squirmed in the hard plastic chair. “I’m not going to have any blood left in me!”

I don’t do needles well. I mean, judge me if you want, but I’ve never even donated blood. The very thought of it nauseates me. And here I had thought the standard few vials I had taken at the outset of the pregnancy were bad; they had nothing on this.

“You got plenty to spare, sweetie,” the nurse said.

At four months pregnant, I was being tested for a smattering of obscure-sounding disorders and genetic abnormalities that I’d never heard of, and none of which were necessarily indicated by the perfectly healthy baby growing in my belly. No, these were the ghosts of pregnancies past, of those months where cells had joined and multiplied and progressed enough to turn a pee stick pink but never made it much further.

Habitual Aborter, that was what the diagnosis on the paperwork said. Naturally I was highly offended the first time I saw it, until I realized it was simply the clinical term for recurrent miscarriage. You’d think they could come up with a better way of saying it. Oh yes, my bad habits, I had chuckled bitterly. Picking my cuticles, forgetting to replace the toilet paper, and aborting fetuses. 

I closed my eyes as the nurse tightened the elastic band around my arm, my nails digging into my clammy palm as I obediently clenched my fist. I couldn’t bear to watch her stick me. I knew it wouldn’t be painful, but it was just…gross. Needle in my flesh. Ew.

Initially, I had bristled at my doctor’s suggestion that we pursue these blood tests, known as the recurrent loss panel. Why does it matter now? I had asked. I’d just come from my big 20-week ultrasound and seen our perfect little fetus – a girl! – wiggling and kicking away. All her pieces and parts were in their proper places. I didn’t want to revisit the past, those clusters of cells that never made it. I wanted to focus on the one that eventually did.

They just wanted to rule out any possible problems, the doctor had explained. A clotting disorder. It was unlikely, of course. But just in case…

So I had agreed.

As it turned out, the lab nurse was correct and I did, in fact, have plenty to spare. Life went on normally without those dozen vials of blood. A couple of weeks passed. My belly grew rounder; I started to feel the baby thump and kick, hard enough even for my husband to feel it from the outside. We giggled and marveled as I’m sure all first-time parents do at such milestones. I was 25 weeks when I got the call that the labwork was in. At that point, I’d almost forgotten about it.

“There are a couple of things we should discuss,” the doctor began.

That’s not how these conversations start when everything’s fine.

“You have a genetic mutation, heterozygous MTHFR,” he continued.

The what? The motherfucker gene?

“And you have a functional protein-S deficiency.”

A protein deficiency? But I eat lots of protein… 

“Taken on their own, neither of these things would worry me much. But when we look at the whole picture, including your history, I believe it’s possible that you may have a genetic clotting disorder.” He paused, perhaps to give me time to process. I flipped through my copy of the lengthy document provided by the lab, pages of acronyms and unfamiliar terms. Someone had pen-marked each of the offending parties, the motherfucker gene and the delinquent S protein, with a circle and a sloppy asterisk.

Genetic mutation. It was the stuff of comic books and superheroes, of fantasies on the evolution of the human species. As in: somewhere, deep in the bowels of her coding, a switch gets flipped and all of a sudden she can fly! Or regenerate wounded flesh! Or snap pencils with her mind! By comparison, having slightly thicker-than-average blood seemed not only disadvantageous, but downright mundane.

The doctor went on to explain the course of treatment for clotting disorders, which he recommend pursuing as a precautionary measure for the rest of my pregnancy. It was a pros-vs-cons game, of course, but the lineup on one side had some pretty heavy hitters: low birth weight, late-term miscarriage, stillbirth. The opponents were fairly flimsy: bruising easily, inconvenience of dealing with a daily injection of blood-thinning medication….

Of course I would treat it. Even though the treatment would involve needles. It wasn’t even a question. I caught my first glimpse of what parents mean when they say they’d do anything for their kids. I would jab myself with oodles of needles every single day if that’s what my little girl needed to grow properly and come out safely.

Still, it is unsettling to learn that there may be something wrong with you when you feel perfectly fine. I mean…seriously, blood clots? Never crossed my mind. I’m healthy. This pregnancy has been easy and uneventful. I run and I eat my vegetables. How can there be something wrong with the blood that circulates my veins and arteries completely unbeknownst to me?

It seems so nefarious and unfair. But I guess that’s the nature of symptomless diseases.

We still don’t know for sure whether I actually have a disorder. Pregnancy hormones, it seems, can mess with the contents of your blood and make these things difficult to diagnose without a baseline. Next year, after baby’s born and the pregnancy hormones have left my system, I’ll see a hematologist and figure out what’s going on, whether this motherfucker gene and defunct protein thing is for real.

But for now, every night before bed, I close my eyes as my husband sticks me in the side with a thin, inch long needle. It doesn’t actually hurt much, and I can do it myself if I need to, but I prefer not to watch. Old habits die hard.