Blog Archives

Waiting is the hardest part

Yet-to-be-named Glow Bear testing out Sprout’s car seat

Products from our registry clean-up have started to arrive, like the car seat. That’s probably the most monumental item, although not the only one. It really does make me look at the living room and think, “Holy crap. We’re actually going to have a baby.” We also got a second-hand bouncer from a friend of mine that makes me feel similarly, although I’ve researched the car seat enough that I think that hit harder.

I probably am going to start posting less over here. I feel like I don’t have a whole lot to say that’s new. Most of what’s going on is a variation on a theme: My [everything] hurts, and I’m tired of people telling me “it’ll be over soon”. If you went to the doctor and said you couldn’t eat, sleep, drink water, or stay out of the bathroom and you have aches where you didn’t even realize you had body parts, and they told you, “Well, it’ll all clear up in about a month”, you wouldn’t find it very reassuring. You’d probably want to stab the fifteenth person who told you that.

I promise I won’t stab you. Just please stop telling me “It’s almost over”. It doesn’t help. It just makes me cranky.
This week’s big project has been clearing out the closet so we can turn the Office Closet into an Office/Baby Closet. We’ve unearthed tons of stuff, including a bunch of holiday gifts from last year that never got mailed. Let this be a lesson to you all: if you want a present from us, don’t live far away. Also, the step-sibs will probably be getting some amazingly good gifts this year, as they will be a combo of last year and this year. In fact, we will probably transform them into Megan’s Awesome Care Packs.

(For those of you who have received one of Megan’s Awesome Care Packs, you know what that means. For all the rest of you slobs, allow me to explain: it starts with a box full of a few things that are awesome. And then more awesome things get added in. And more. Until the box is nearly bursting. And then, we write up an inventory. But you know, since this is coming from me, that the inventory bears little resemblance to your standard list. Oh no. The inventory includes full descriptions of the items, the reason for their purchase, and suggestions for use. With my signature sassiness. These Care Packs are the envy of all who have not received one.)

I think the biggest thing that came out of the closet clean up was a sense of how imminent this all is. We started figuring we’d knock the whole thing out in a couple hours. A day and a half later, the entire house was covered in the contents of the closet, the office was unusable, and we both realized Just How Much Junk we’ve already managed to accumulate. We’re back on the upswing now — more things are getting cleaner than are getting cluttered. I think we’ve each purged about two-thirds of our college papers (do I *really* need to keep my terrible paper on the ethnography of a PA diner from my Communications class?), winnowing down to only the most important ones (Megan’s acting journals from Acting 101? Oh yeah, those are interesting).

We’re also finally getting all the pictures up on walls. That’s only taken a year and a half of living here to finish. It never ceases to amaze me how much a couple picture frames liven up a room, though. The bedroom is almost ready — one more box to go through, then adding the waterproof pad onto the bed. Otherwise, the floors are clear, and the birthing tub is in a corner, ready to be set up when it’s needed. The living room is covered in all the things we don’t know what else to do with, so that’s the next project. The office is still a disaster, but it’s definitely closer.

Emotionally and physically, I am very ready to Not Be Pregnant. I can definitely feel things changing — crampiness that Erin says is my cervix moving around and prepping, digestive nonsense as my stomach prepares, Braxton-Hicks (Erin finally was able to give us a definition that made sense, so now I know when those are happening, too). People talk about the baby “dropping”; Sprout is in proper position, but she never “dropped” because she forgot to lift up during the second trimester. So now… we wait.

Annoying Things About Pregnancy, Third Trimester Edition

So I’m eight and a half months now, or nearly nine which is weird because we hit 9 months about 4 weeks before the “due date”. Or, for those of you who, like us, now count your entire lives in weeks, we’re at 35 weeks. Or, if you’re the chick behind the register in the grocery store, we’re at None Of Your Damn Business, Just Finish Scanning My Groceries Please I’m Thirsty and I Have To Pee.

The floor is very far away now. It’s like they moved it, just to piss me off. And the cats want me to pet them in the middle of the room, but they’re SO SHORT.

People ask me if I miss my toes. I actually get to see my toes quite a bit. They’re useful for grabbing stuff off the floor. And just last week, I even managed to paint them (copper base coat with sparkly glitter on top). Oh sure, I can only touch them if I’m sitting, but now they’re all sparkly, which makes me a bit happier when I look down and see how far away the floor is. What I actually miss getting to see? My upper thighs. I’ve been assured they are still there, but I have no proof of this.

My laptop used to actually be usable as a lap-top. Also, putting a napkin neatly in my lap before meals? Totally pointless. Between the belly and the table, I look down and can’t see even a corner of the napkin. And if I actually want to use said napkin, it’s now stuck under my belly. But if I leave it on the table, I’m crass. Can. Not. Win.

Remember how I missed sleeping on my back as of the second trimester? Silly me. I didn’t know how good I had it. Now, I miss sleeping lying down. Or with a normal quantity of pillows.

Somewhere in the second trimester, baby is supposed to “rise up”. Little Girl did not get that memo. Effectively, she “dropped” in the fifth month, somewhere around 24 weeks or so. So people telling me now that “Oh, but she hasn’t really dropped yet. You’ll see.” is a little obnoxious. When I walk down the stairs, it feels like she’s going to fall out. Some days, I swear when I take off my underwear, I’m going to see a little hand poking out. If she goes much lower, she’ll be crowning. So unless you’re a midwife with hands on my pelvis, please refrain from telling me where you think my fetus is hanging out, okay?

We were at a restaurant recently that specializes in their tequila selection. The margarita side of the menu is extremely impressive. When our waitress was explaining the drink specials to us, she looked at me and said, “Well, of course you can’t have any of those, but we have a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks.” You know what, lady? There are studies that show an occasional drink now and then is just fine. It happens that the acidity of the margarita is more of an issue, but that certainly won’t stop me from tasting Ben’s. And, oh, right, it’s None Of Your Business.

Speaking of alcohol and pregnancy, if you take a look at some of the so-called “studies” out there, you’ll note most of them are based on junk science (repeat after me: correlation is NOT causation), or come to conclusions that expressly contradict their results (“We see that fewer than 4 drinks per week causes absolutely no harm, but there is no established quantity that is safe.”). Or, my absolute favorite, they’ll look at legitimate studies and conclude that women can’t be trusted to monitor their own alcohol intake and stick to a reasonable amount (“but what about the alcoholics??”), so therefore all women should be treated as if they were incapable of making rational decisions about their health.

MY body. Not your body. I don’t understand why this concept is so difficult. Don’t preach to me about what I can eat, drink, lift, or do. And DON’T touch me. MY body. MY belly. MINE not yours. If you have a concern, you can gossip about it behind my back like generations of catty people have done before you. I’m good, thanks.

I’m also getting tired of birth horror stories. We get enough of those through the media; can we agree that not all women are going to explode during labor? That it is in fact possible to have a normal, healthy birth without fear and suffering? That birth is a totally natural part of life, happens All The Freaking Time, and is actually less likely to kill me or the baby if we do it at home? (I have news for you: the infant and maternal mortality rates in this country are way too high for the teeny tiny percentage of home births to be responsible for them.)

Please don’t tell me I’m cranky because of hormones. I’m cranky because the world treats pregnant women like objects, because people insist on telling me how I feel, and because my own body is no longer a comfortable place for me to be. Wouldn’t you be cranky too?

Birthing Classes

We took the first half of our birthing class this past weekend. The midwives recommended three types of class, and after looking at information on all three, Ben and I decided to go with Birthing From Within. It’s got a lot more “get in touch with your feelings” hippie granola than we usually go for, but there’s a lot about it that appealed to us from the website, and from the quick description we got from an instructor who was at one of our community care visits. Besides, we figured if it was too laughably kumbaya, we’d at least have some inside jokes to share, and I’ve heard that laughter is good for helping labor progress.

We were really looking forward to the class: one of our first big, concrete steps towards “holy crap, there’s going to be a baby in our house” (the first came the day before, when Dad helped us move the guest bed into storage, giving us an actual baby room). Instead of a six-week course, we’re taking a two-day “intensive” (none of the full courses were available for good timing with our due date, either much to early or probably too late), with two other couples in the class.

When we arrived and had all introduced ourselves, our instructor asked us to write down a list of “True things about labor, birth, and parenting”. You know, something simple to warm up with. (Right.) Ben took the easy route with most of his list (“Labor has stages.” “Parenting is about teaching.” “Megan will have a baby.”), although towards the end he did dive in a little more philosophically. As I was getting kicked the entire time I worked on my list, I had more of a sense of…urgency about the whole thing, that it’s actually a real thing we’re going to do. I wrote:

  • This is going to be one of the hardest things I do in my life, and I’m going to do it.
  • My body won’t give me more than I can handle.
  • This one moment will forever change the rest of our lives — how we interact, how we schedule & plan, how we view ourselves, each other, and our relationship.
  • We are as ready as we can be for something that really can’t be prepared for.

She talked about the stages of labor, which Ben and I have been reading about, and about the physical process that’s happening. She talked about positions we can be in to encourage the baby to move into a low, head-down position. When I tried them, our little Sprout, who never really rose up in the second trimester like everybody tells you they will and decided to “drop” at about five months, took these encouragements as a sign to venture into my rib cage for the first time ever.

And then we started talking about coping strategies and pain management. I wish I had been counting the number of times she said the word “pain”. It was a lot, as if she was drilling it into our heads, preparing us for how much agony we will be experiencing. She asked us to rate on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being “the worst pain you can possibly imagine”, what we thought labor would look like. When one of the couples said 100 and 200 (hers and his respectively), our instructor didn’t say anything reassuring, nodding in a way I’m sure she thought was non-judgmental but came across as approving. Telling this poor woman that yes, labor will be the worst pain she can possibly imagine. The man from the other couple, explaining his rating of 75, pointed out that he’d known people to pass out from extreme pain but had never heard of women passing out from the pain of childbirth.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect this to be a walk in the park (I rated it a 70). But this is something that my body is designed to do. More than anything else I do, honestly. My body is not designed to drive a car or sit at a computer, yet I manage that quite handily. But my body is designed to birth a child. That is, after all, why I have a uterus in the first place. I know there are a lot of things about the human body that are less than ideally designed. But I find it difficult to imagine that this one task, arguably the most important biological function, would be so poorly designed as to cause such unbelievable agony that we need technology to cope with it.

She had us walk through an exercise involving an ice cube to simulate pain so we could practice various coping techniques. The first time, I got fed up with feeling unnecessary discomfort, so I put the ice cube down before time was up (whatever that unexplained time limit was supposed to be). Little did I know that moment was to become my benchmark for the rest of the day. She’d have us try a new technique, then ask how it went. When I’d say I didn’t know how it worked for me or what I tried, she’d say “But you managed to hold it the whole time!” Well, yes. Peer pressure will do that, you know. But it was really hard to escape the feeling that the first round had been marked as “failure”, and now I had to prove that I was strong enough, tough enough to actually go through an unmedicated labor.

It’s also very difficult to use visualization of contractions as a wave, to “dive into the wave”, when the pain you’re trying to deal with is… an ice cube. Cold is a very linear type of pain: the longer you touch the cold object, the more intense it gets. And when you put it down, you instantly start to feel better. From everything I’ve heard, contractions don’t work that way; they build in a wave, and then ebb again, on their own time. And, more than that, they have a purpose and are actually accomplishing something.

After our midday lunch break, she had us work on an art project: creating a labyrinth (or Labor-inth, according to the website). We started by sketching the walls in marker according to the diagram she showed us. And then she dumped a basket of pastels on the floor and told us to “color it in”.

I hadn’t touched pastels since high school, despite the fact that I own a very nice set of them. It took a while to get my hand back in, but it wasn’t long before I found myself completely and utterly absorbed, back into that art trance I used to spend so much time in. I’ve always found that when I let myself fall into that, the part of my brain that processes words just shuts down. So when we’d finished with the pastels and she asked us to write down… I don’t remember what the exact directions were, to be honest. I was still working when she explained it, which meant the words were almost meaningless to me. I stared at the page for a long while trying to find words again. I had such distinct, coherent feelings. I knew exactly what I meant when I made the choices I made. But to write it down? To put words there?

I colored the path along the spectrum, starting at the beginning and ending at the center, because each step builds on the one before it. One flows into another, and you can’t just skip ahead. I blended the colors because the path is seamless. Maybe not smooth or consistently paced, but you do have to take each step to get where you’re going. It reminded me of a project we did in college, where we had to sand a block of wood, starting with 40 grit and working our way down, one step at a time, to 200 grit, then paper towels, then eventually toilet paper. The project was about process, and how you can’t rush a process or skip steps without hampering the final outcome.

More than that, though, I learned that the easiest way for me to access that monkey brain, that primitive part of me that needs to be in control for my body to do what it needs to, is to go back to art. This week, for the first time in a long time, I picked up a pencil and began drawing again. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing positions in labor and various other things that didn’t involve ice or, really, much in the way of new information. I’m still sorting out a lot of my feelings about the class. I walked in feeling so strong and confident, and when I walked out, for the first time I actually felt afraid of birth. Afraid that it’s going to be too much for me, that it’s more than I can handle. Afraid that I’m going to fail yet again, and need someone to bail me out of the mess I’ve gotten myself into. Most of all, terrified that we’ve got another eight-hour session coming up this weekend.

Sleep is for Wimps. Healthy,well-rested wimps, but wimps nonetheless

Don’t you wish you could sleep like that?

Everyone keeps warning us that when the baby comes, we’ll never sleep again. Dire predictions of a sleep deprivation so bad we’ll go out of our minds with exhaustion, clawing our eyes out in a desperate hope to get just one hour of sleep.

Clearly, these people have forgotten what pregnant sleep looks like.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Week 33. Last night was a pretty typical night:

11:45 pm: Bed time! Ben is off work this week, so our schedule has gotten a little more lax. It took me about 15-20 minutes to actually fall asleep, which has been my pattern my whole life, so nothing new there.

Somewhere between midnight and 2: I woke up to roll onto my other side. See, the belly is now big enough that I can’t just roll over in my sleep anymore. If I try to roll using my ab muscles, I pull something in my side. So I actually have to wake up to roll over at night. Out of sheer determination, I kept my eyes closed and refused to look at the clock.

2:45 am: I have to pee. I lie in bed for about 5 minutes, arguing with myself if I actually do have to get up, because for the first time in a while, I’m actually comfortable. My bladder gets insistent enough that my whole abdomen starts aching. I give up and get up.

3:00 am: I’ve been back in bed for a while, but can’t get back to sleep. I can’t find that comfy position again, and now my nausea/heartburn is acting up, so if I lie wrong, I can feel the stomach acid start crawling up my throat. After tossing and turning to find a comfortable position (and failing), I take a chewable Papaya Enzyme tablet and worry about the damage I’m doing to my teeth. I definitely saw the clock hit 3:15 before I fell back to sleep.

Somewhere between 3 and 6: I roll over again. Same deal as before.

6:45 am: I get a text message from a friend in California who forgot about time zone differences. It’s okay, though because the pic she sends makes me unreasonably happy. Also, I send my reply at 10am here, which totally sounds like revenge to me. After I look at my phone, Lilit sees that I have an eye open, and makes a frog noise followed by rolling on her back. Great. 7am and she wants to play. Yeah, that’s not happening. I take advantage of already being awake to hit the bathroom again, and on my way back to bed, I tell Lilit to go back to sleep. She meows like a normal cat once, then lets me rest.

9:00 am: I had put a reminder in my calendar that library books are due today. Only I set it up as an appointment instead of a reminder, so my phone alerts me. Ben and I give up on the night (as my stomach starts grumbling and growling) and head downstairs to make breakfast.
Look, I’m not saying I don’t realize that I can get more hours in a row now than I will with a three day old infant. But there are a couple of huge differences between now and then. First, when we have a three day old, we will not have a to do list or a schedule of things to accomplish during waking hours. We will be able to take one hour naps at any point during the day that she lets us, so even if it takes 14 hours to do it, we can guarantee a solid 8 hours of sleep a day. (I said solid, not uninterrupted. I’m not a fool, after all). Second, I’ll actually be able to lie down in bed. Or on my side. Or on my back. Third, and this really is the most important part, we’ll have something adorable and new to look at when we’re lying there, exhausted and bored. I mean seriously, it’s going to take a while for “Look at how tiny her hands are!” to get old.

Besides, what choice do we have? It’s a little late to turn back now.

Privacy and Progress

I really was doing better about regular updates. I’m determined to get back to that, so please bear with me. I’ve been dealing with some big picture issues over the last couple weeks, and I’m hoping to get them coherent enough to write about, but I don’t make any promises.
Little girl is getting bigger, and, if possible, more active. I’m back to wearing the belly bands, which are now helping to support this ever-growing watermelon under my shirt instead of their old purpose, which was holding my normal pants together to stall a few more weeks. We’ve definitely decided on a name for her, which is really exciting, and makes her feel all the more real. But then it brings me to a lot of questions, like privacy, and the permanence of the internet. Sure, Ben and I have the right to use our names online however we please, but given than nothing posted online ever truly disappears, how can we decide for our little girl how much of her life is going to be for public consumption before she’s old enough to decide for herself? What sort of future consequences are there to having her completely searchable from babyhood?

So we’ve jointly decided that whatever her choices are as an adult, it’s not up to us to make that sort of choice for her. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop blogging about my experiences on this journey. It just means that my writing will be focused on my thoughts and feelings and my side of our joint experiences. Ben and I have jointly decided not only on a name for our little girl, but we’ve even picked her very first online pseudonym. Online, we will just refer to her as The Sprout.

In other news, my attempts at housewifery are going marginally better. I managed to plan out a couple meals, and then Ben and I put together a meal plan for the rest of the week. We’ve actually eaten regular meals, well-planned and mostly home-cooked for nearly a week and a half. We made pizza, stir fry, and meatballs. We’ve had leftovers available for lunch each day.

I’m feeling better about being at home most of the time, although it’s a little harder as the Due Date (due dates? It’s really more of a 5 week range…) looms ever closer. For one, my stomach is now apparently the size of a golf ball, and I’m dealing with a combination of heartburn and nausea, that starts off as a burning at the base of my sternum and crawls up my throat until it sits at the back of my mouth in that familiar, first-trimester nausea that won’t quit. Only where water used to help, now it just makes it worse. And since it’s not behaving like normal heartburn, the normal heartburn remedies don’t really work. For one, the meals that feel best tend to be the spicier ones. Second, what I eat doesn’t seem to matter as much as that I eat. As long as I’m actively putting food in my mouth, and for about 20 minutes after, I’m good. At this rate, I might actually gain the extra weight the midwives want me to.

The most tragic part of the expanding belly, however, is the effect it’s had on the cats. Neither one will curl up too closely against me anymore for fear of getting kicked. Poor Lilit used to sleep tightly against my stomach, but if she does that now, someone else takes an interest in her purring. A violent, punchy interest.

We’re down to only a couple months, which means preparing the house is the main priority now. We need to order the birth kit and get all the supplies gathered up. The guest bed needs to go into storage so we have room for all her things. We’re still sleeping on a full sized bed, with two of us and two cats, so I’ve been scrounging craigslist for a used queen bed frame that’s not too expensive, preferably a platform bed as opposed to those metal ones that require you to purchase a box spring as well. Seems like false economy to me, considering the price of box springs. There’s an absolutely stunning bed I found, but Ben vetoed it because it requires a European-sized queen mattress, and those are nearly impossible to find. Which, really, is a damned shame, because have you seen that bed? Ah, well.

Also, I think lighting just hit the parking lot out front of my house. What is with this weather?

Pregnant in the Summer?!?!

Can I rant for a moment? (Ha! Like you can stop me.)

Everybody I talk to, and I mean, like, EVERYBODY, seems to feel the need to tell me what a terrible idea it is to be pregnant during the summer.

A little math for you. Pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks. Depending on how you calculate it, that’s either 9 or 10 months. The year consists of 12 months, of which 3 are considered summer. So, theoretically, if you conceive PROMPTLY in early September, AND you have a regular, average-length cycle which falls at the appropriate time in the month, AND the baby doesn’t decide to hang in for 42 weeks, then the baby will be born sometime in late May. And that is the ONLY way to avoid being pregnant during the summer.

Okay, now I know what they mean by “pregnant in the summer” is “visibly round and pregnant while it’s hot outside”. Most people forget that the first trimester even exists, after all. But here’s the thing: even if you’re not pregnant, it’s still hot in the summer. And that late May baby? Well, now you have a tiny baby who’s complaining about the heat, instead of an adult woman who has been through many summers and knows how to dress for the weather. Or turn up the A/C. Or put ice in her water. I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to put ice cubes in baby’s milk. And if it’s breast milk, then… Yeah, let’s not go there. Ow.

Don’t forget the perks of summertime — the pools are all open, you can wear almost no clothing and it’s socially acceptable, and frozen treats are available at every corner. Really, if I’m going to be going through a period of my life when my body temperature is unregulated, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me. 

Besides, we’ve been having a 100-degree heat wave this July. If I’m having terrible hot flashes of pregnancy, I gotta say, I don’t think it’s any worse than anybody else this year. Ben has more trouble sleeping through the warmer nights than I do. And our little girl has very graciously decided not to become a little tiny furnace. There was one day I thought she might, but it was 102 outside and we had no electricity in the house, so it could have just been me feeling warm.

So please, to anyone out there who says, “Pregnant in the summer? Are you crazy?” or (my favorite) “You know, family planning could have avoided that”, please remember:

It’s none of your damn business when we decided to have our baby.

Self-Image

Megan in Asheville, 26 weeks pregnant

Before we began the trek up Mt. Mitchell in Asheville. Did I mention it was nearly 100 degrees outside? And that we’d been in the car for about two hours? And I was 26 weeks pregnant?

I’ve been getting a lot of books on pregnancy and childbirth from the library. It’s a great way to try out a book and see if it’s worth owning, or in the case of many, deciding it’s a great reference, but not worth a second read. For instance, Our Bodies, Our Selves: Pregnancy and Birth turned out to be exactly the book I wish I’d had starting in the first trimester. In fact, as I said to one woman who mentioned to me that she was in the pre-conception phase, throw What to Expect out the window and get this book instead. It has radical concepts like diagrams and non-judgmental medical advice. I mean, it doesn’t compare your fetus to the produce department on a weekly basis, but it does have a diagram that shows where your liver got shoved off to. And instead of all that “sympathy” over nausea (“Morning sickness? Talk about all day sickness! Ugh, right?”), it actually gives strategies for relieving it. So yeah, good book. But, honestly? It’s a great library book, because I really only need it once or twice.

I digress. I had found a new book I wanted to look at (actually, one that was noted in Our Bodies, and by the same author as another we’d read and adored, The Birth Partner). The library had it, but not at our branch, so I placed a hold/transfer request on it before remembering I was going that afternoon to the farmer’s market at another branch. Because pregnancy makes you stupid.

So before hitting the market, I stopped in the library to talk to the lovely ladies at the desk about the hold and to see if I could get the book directly, saving them a transfer. Turns out the hold request I saw online was for the OTHER person who’d requested the book and mine hadn’t been processed yet. Oh well. I still got peaches, so it’s hard to be upset.

At any rate, the point of all this is my walk into the library. I wish I could find a picture of the front entryway, because that makes the whole thing make a lot more sense. Imagine a big, wide hallway with mirrors along the left wall. There are also glass panels perpendicular to the mirrors in such a way that throws off your sense of perspective, but without distorting the images. The effect is that of seeing twice as many people in the entrance, but walking in the opposite direction. So as I entered, I caught a glimpse from the corner of my eye of a very pregnant lady exiting the library. I probably took at least five full steps before I realized that image was my own reflection.

Just for clarification: I didn’t recognize my own reflection while walking past a mirror.

I’m still processing that one, honestly. I’ve definitely found myself having difficulty reconciling the self-image in my head with the reflection I see in the morning, but this was an entirely new level. Not just a disconnect, but a total lack of recognition. I saw a stranger walking towards me. Not even “hey she kind of looks like me”. Just “Oh, another pregnant lady.” In fact, I think it was even accompanied by my usual “At least I’m not that big yet.”

So when I had that first real peach of the season yesterday afternoon, and it was so good I completely forgot I was pregnant for three whole minutes? Yeah, there’s a reason I wrote about that part of the day instead.

Twenty-four hours from now, we will know which flavor of baby we’re having. Instead of “that tap dancer on my bladder”, it will be “our son” or “our daughter” or “our uncooperative little weasel”. We’ll take one step further towards Reality, away from Theoretical.

Right. Like we’re going to end up living anywhere near Reality.

I find myself actually kind of nervous about the whole thing. I mean, what if they find something wrong? What if there’s more than one in there? What if it protests the whole ultrasound thing and decides to bust on out through my belly button? (IT COULD HAPPEN.) Or even worse, what if my baby is ugly??

I just don’t know if I’m a big enough person to love an ugly baby.

As if in preparation for this monumental step we’re taking this week, someone seems to have provided it with a baseball bat. I can’t figure out how else to explain the THWUMP THWUMP that makes me lose my breath, that, more importantly, it should still be way too small to make. It must have help. Or an accomplice. I blame Nimitz.

We have undergone a shift in weather and hormones as well. Up until this week, I was never warm. Never. No matter how many layers of clothing, how warm the room was; if I was comfortable, it meant the room was *entirely* warmer than it should be and everyone else was sweating. And then this week, we hit 80 degrees outside. And it hit about 140 in my shirt. Okay, that’s really just today, and it’s probably because I spent the morning wrestling with Linus (one of Mom’s cats who needed to go see the vet because of an injured paw. Nine pounds of cat should not be able to produce that much resistance, especially because, you know, INJURED PAW WRAPPED IN BANDAGE.). After a solid 45 minutes of fighting with him and exchanging several impolite comments (he started it), I was breathing pretty hard and my heart rate was up pretty high. The Beast Within did not enjoy that and made its discomfort known, so there I sat, on the floor in Mom’s bedroom with a growling cat under the cedar chest, trying to get my heart rate down enough that I wouldn’t lose my bladder and its contents to the Rage Kicks inside. Then, back down to pull the cat out (which would be easier if I could BEND OVER ANYMORE). I’m still not entirely sure how I finally got him — part of me figured if I hurt him, I was taking him to the vet anyways so screw it, so I may have just started yanking harder. Putting his sister in the second carrier was much easier, partly because I was not Having Any Of It anymore, and within two minutes we were out the door and miraculously made our appointment.

The next week or so will mostly be consumed by con prep. Today’s goal: go to Target and find me a maternity swim suit. We will be staying in the hotel, which has an awesome indoor/outdoor pool, and I plan to get into it at least once.

I’m ending this post here on this nice abrupt note because I think I need to pee again, and I have a One Pee Break Per Post rule.

Whoaaaaaa, We’re Halfway Theeeere….

So, I am super excited to have finally transitioned from “Hey, lady, back away from the cookies!” into “Holy crap, are you having a baby?” (Answer: Actually, we’re about five months away from that stage, and the little bugger better stay in there till it’s good and fully cooked!). But with this new-found waistline expansion comes with it a more difficult prospect: feeding the ever-growing beast inside me. Who craves protein. But is nauseated by animal flesh. (Seriously, kid?! Make up your mind. I cannot continue to eat this much peanut butter. It cannot be healthy.)

I am also now living in terror of Pregnancy Brain. This is where the higher orders of thought just cease to exist and are instead replaced by “Oooh, fruit snacks…”. (Also, we are out of granola bars. Wait, I had a point I wanted to make.) Case in point: last night, I decided to turn our three aging bananas into banana bread. (Seriously, if you need a good recipe, we have found The One.) I made it a few weeks back because in addition to the other symptoms, I’ve been having the sort of digestive problems that are best alleviated with rice and bananas (I promise I won’t get more graphic than that. Maybe.), so we tend to keep a lot of bananas on hand (Yay fiber!)*. The first go-round, it turned out amazingly well. I mean, Ben has never praised a banana bread so highly. So when we had three spotty brown bananas sitting on the counter (that I could SMELL as soon as I walked in the ROOM, thank you Super Sniffer), I decided it was time once more for Banana Bread. Ben was home, so I put him in charge of Banana Mashing and Bowl Stirring. No problem.

This is where the Pregger’s Brain comes in. Everything went fine with adding ingredients (well, ok, except I grabbed 1/4 tsp instead of the 1/2 tsp I meant to, so there was less cinnamon, but I don’t actually measure bourbon or vanilla, so it all evens out) until we get to the very last one: flour. I pull out the container, measure out 1 ½ cups, and stir it in. Ben goes to put the container away, and then says, “Did you use the smaller container here for the flour?”

“Yes,” I say with mild annoyance, as that is indeed the one I used, which he should very well know since he picked it up off the counter.

“That’s the pancake mix.”

Oh. Right. Oops.

So our banana bread turned out a little more delicate than planned, although it rose a whole lot more thanks to double leavening. It is instead more of a delicate banana cake than a bread, so I made a peanut butter glaze (because The Beast Within demands protein) and am eating it with a fork, waiting for my brain cells to once again resume functioning.

And we’ve got another four and a half MONTHS of this????

 

* Have you noticed even more parentheses than I usually add? Me too. I think it’s a symptom of Pregger’s Brain. Mostly in that I have these little side notes to make ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

How long does it take to establish residency in a Socialist country?

I am so, so tired of getting screwed around by big companies.

I have spent at least five hours on the phone with Carefirst arguing over who has my health insurance and why can’t I have it. At first, I discovered it had been completely and illegally cancelled without any sort of COBRA notification, only to find out three days later that that’s actually legal as long as they mail me the paperwork and promise to turn it back on with no lapse if I just give them 50% of our current income because really, it’s no problem to increase the premiums by more than 50% while at the same time losing half our income, right?

So I asked about individual plans and got the run around for quite a while until I finally managed to track someone down who could transfer me to Sales and Marketing (because, you see, if I am applying for a new plan, I am no longer an existing customer, but am now once again a NEW customer; nevermind that I have been with Carefirst for five years on four different plans). And so they transfer me yet again, only to discover it is now 5:02 on Friday and Sales goes home at 5.

That must be nice.

After a whole entire weekend of waiting and nail-biting (and seriously, these nails are fabulous, so it’s really not fair to chew them), I finally get to talk to Sales on Monday, at which point the first of the seven people who I have spoken to mentions that, yeah, I could get you on that plan but not until you’re uninsured for at least a month, but oh by the way it won’t cover pregnancy anyways. None of them will. Didn’t you know that? Also, she hung up on me.

During all of this time on the phone, I have probably cried about fifteen times. See, here’s the thing about pregnancy hormones: it’s not that I’m emotional, it’s that I just feel everything REALLY STRONGLY. And when I feel things REALLY STRONGLY, said emotions have a tendency to come out of my eyes because they have nowhere else to go. I’m actually rather proud of how well I’ve held it together, finding out I am not only unemployed and pregnant, but unemployed, uninsured, and pregnant. Oh, right. And not just uninsured, but uninsurable.

I called the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, whose phone line is staffed with people who are really lovely but hampered by quite a lot of red tape. The upshot is that I could qualify for a plan because I was disqualified due to pregnancy, but only after the COBRA election period has expired, because having to pay 50% of your income qualifies as having access to a health insurance option (in the interest of saving rant space, we’ll just let that one go). In other words, I have to wait seven weeks to apply and then another five to actually get insurance, which is a total of twelve weeks AKA three months to get insurance that will cover pregnancy, a condition which only lasts for a total of forty weeks, AKA nine months. So I need to wait A WHOLE TRIMESTER. They do understand that pregnancy is a *temporary* condition, right? Because really, if I were very much further along in the process, I would nearly have to wait until I was no longer pregnant to be covered for being pregnant. At which point I could just apply for the insurance I’m being denied.

So my best option to get covered for health insurance is to get a new employer-sponsored health plan. Except I am now visibly pregnant, enough so that I got asked by the lovely lady at the farm stand when the blessed event was. And I said, September, which is why I would like some of your local honey because I am denied my anti-histamines and it appears to be one of the nastier allergy seasons out there. And she said here you go at a fabulous price, and also would you like some local asparagus?

Ahem. I digress.

So I am now quite visibly pregnant, having been asked three times in the past three days by different people who do not know me well enough to notice a change in silhouette. Which means as soon as I walk into an interviewer’s office, the first thing that will leap out to them is not my witty banter, nor my competent air of organization. Oh no, his or her first thought will be, “MATERNITY LEAVE. OH HELL NO.” And then out I will be, still unemployed.

Never mind that I’m unemployed because of an employer who oh-so-illegally created an extremely hostile work environment enough so that not one but *two* long time employees pointed out they were trying to force me out. And yet, I live in a state where corporations are being courted for their headquarters locations (and associated taxes, or really lack thereof, because who taxes corporations anymore anyways?), so even if I had a MOUNTAIN of evidence (of which I only have a small, well-documented mole-hill), I could not actually take them to court and succeed in getting anything other than a pat on the head and a “Hurrah, nice try.”

Right. That.

So today, we took my unemployed, uninsured pregnant self down to look at car seats because what I should have spent the afternoon doing was looking at grainy black and white pictures of my insides and finding out whether it’s a little boy or a little girl who is currently screwing up my life but will someday make me oh so very happy but instead I have been jerked around by insurance companies and had to reschedule for a week and a half later (which doesn’t sound very long, but seriously, it hurts, ok?). And by pure sheer happenstance luck, we ran into an amazing lady who does not actually work for the company but used to in the SAFETY department and currently is a CAR SEAT SAFETY TECH. And while she is not allowed to make any particular recommendations on a particular brand and/or model, she could very firmly point us in the direction of the appropriate safety studies (or lack thereof) and not-suggest-but-you-know-what-I-mean a couple things to research. And most importantly, she could answer my ever-burning question of why can I not find any blasted SAFETY data on a car seat (I do not care how well it fits in a shopping cart; how well does it prevent INJURY and DEATH while inside a CAR? I want a CAR seat, not a SHOPPING CART seat. But while we’re at it, does anyone happen to know if the shopping carts are actually tested for their baby safeness?)

If you’ve read through the rest of this rant, I’m sure you can probably guess the reason. Because, in this country, (say it with me now) corporations have more rights than individuals. So when data came out that six child seats went flying off their bases, NHTSA was not allowed to publicize which models. Oh, also, NHTSA is not actually responsible for most of the testing. I think. I’m a little fuzzy on that, because in my research, I have actually yet to figure out who IS responsible for safety testing of car seats. I think it might be the manufacturers, and we all know how well that works within the food industry.

And so now I’m awake after having been asleep for only about three hours because I’m having dreams comparing the relative safety of a convertible carseat versus a food processor, since really, that’s about the level of safety data we have out there, and honestly, I could put my child in a crock pot strapped to the back seat as long as it’s rear-facing, because WHO HAS ANY DATA TO PROVE ME WRONG?

Oh, did I mention our power got cut off today? It turned out it was for routine maintenance, but we were concerned it was for nonpayment since, well, we haven’t gotten a bill since November and they can’t tell us where our bill is or who’s been paying it. They’ll get back to us on that one.