mama's secret pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

Gestational week twenty-one, from BabyCenter:

2007.03.15. in a family way

grandma and hannah
Other than a few-week overlap between my second pregnancy and my sister-in-law Destiny's first, I've never been able to share pregnancy with my family before. And this pregnancy is truly rich in family, with my first nephew on my husband's side, born in January and the whole passel of pregnancies on my side of the family.

So today, mom was here for her weekly two-day stint as my hired help while Jonathan's in Kansas. It's always comforting having her here, even though she doesn't do things exactly as I (or, more often, Jonathan) would do them, she provides a nice balance of help from housecleaning to a quiet playmate for Everett to conversation for me.

In the afternoon, Hannah called; she was having her first appointment with Dr. Kehoe and wanted directions. It was a bit of a thrill sending my sister to my doctor; she talked to mom later and the report was she liked her, she was about 12 weeks pregnant, the baby was healthy, she had ultrasound photos. Due at the end of September, quite close to me.

Only a few hours after mom left, Destiny, Daniel and Nehalem stopped by for dinner. They were in town for the week and suddenly I was overwhelmed with how unusual and comfortable and timeless it is to be pregnant together with a sister-in-law. We compared notes on appetites, off-limits foods, and birth plans as we cooked dinner and watched the cousins play madly together. I began to imagine it, tangibly -- the birth of the twins, in June or early July, me huge, Destiny and Daniel living somewhere nearby (they're trying to move back, they want to live in a neighborhood close to us), picking up Nehalem for loud and happy playdates and delivering huge quantities of hand-knit items and milk-inducing meals, the camera ever-present.

It's not quite The Red Tent, but it's mighty close. As close as I'll get in this lifetime, I have a feeling. It's a blessing, it's a thrill, it's just the sort of thing I would have written had I been scripting our lives. How wonderful it is to be in the family way, with family.

2007.03.16. is it really, ever, ok?

my onesie, my color scheme
Today was an overloaded blur; I awoke early, and so did the boys, who'd slept bunches after an exciting Thursday. I managed to fit in as much work as possible before heading to NE Alberta to the lovely Close Knit yarn store for the early-morning photo shoot.

We were late, and they didn't really need us by the time I arrived, but I hung out anyway and the pre-opening yarn store was such a colorful place to keep my children from hurting themselves, or destroying anything, while I conference-called. I wandered around, occasionally finding a cartoon network game for everett or removing truman from a hanging yarn display, taking photos of lovely colors & things and hitting '#5' to mute and unmute my call. I don't know if I was ridiculous or admirable but at least I had a richly beautiful environment.

While I wandered around, I was in search of the perfect yarn to match the onesie Larissa bought for the baby the morning of the ultrasound. I finally found it, a pricey wonder: handpainted and in every color of my chosen rainbow, indigo and bright purple and orange and electric yellow with touches of red and green. I thrilled at my choice, and patted my belly with the satisfaction of having finalized the baby's color scheme (Everett: navy and orange; Truman: cobalt and dark purple). It was ok.

Larissa's friend Eden was there, and offered to shuttle us to the next photo locale, Caldera. We had to wait for several minutes while Larissa was getting gear packed up so we had time to chat.

Eden got pregnant at nearly the same moment as I did, right before Halloween, but immediately started telling Larissa that she "didn't feel it." There was no nausea. No pregnancy symptoms of any noticeable kind. She was worried.

A few weeks after my confirmation ultrasound, she had her ultrasound, and found that her baby hadn't made it past seven weeks' gestation. Just like my baby. I know that, in her shoes, I'd have mixed feelings about hanging out with me; the big belly, the two full-of-life boys, the wound still fresh.

But Eden said it was ok. She told a story of a dream she'd had, about the seventh week, when a little boy with brown hair and blue eyes had come to her, hugged her in the way a son hugs a mother, and gone limp. *Shudders.* She said that the dream, as well as her general feeling of detachment from the pregnancy -- she'd not even been sure she could get pregnant -- had helped her deal. And she certainly seemed ok. Her eyes were happy. She wasn't talking too brightly to hide tears. She was eager to try again, to see if the baby of her dream became a reality, another time, the right time.

I thought about my own loss, and that the pain has been nearly entirely erased by the brilliant reality of Truman, of my hiccuping kicking baby now. For me, it's ok now. As Niki said, maybe it was meant to be.

But is it ever ok? Is a miscarriage a pain that can heal completely, that can leave no scar? Does it depend utterly on what came after, on the baby born instead? Or is it true, as Eden believes, that the baby can come back to you in another time?

Maybe it's just that the pain of life is in a constant cycle, that what hurt so much in years past -- the lost baby, the flow of blood, the struggle to conceive -- is replaced by a new pain, a pain that overwhelms and arrests us, a good pain -- the worry of keeping our children safe, the fight to make their worlds happy, the struggle to be a non-terrible mom -- and it is only in moments of quiet contemplation that the old pain resurfaces, and in an instant, is lost in the flood.

2007.03.17. feeling the effects

feeling my belly
Last night I nearly fell over, so tired from the week of uneven sleep and the day of running around, running after boys, carrying a heavy load. I fell asleep with both boys, napping guiltily in the early evening, then with great difficulty awoke to get them dinner and keep them clean until finally I put on Sagwa, filled the bottle, changed the diaper and went to bed.

Everett wasn't ready to sleep, yet, when Sagwa had finished and came in to pester me for Thomas. I tried to put him off and return to my slumber but his insistence had me wide awake, and I began to realize why I couldn't sleep deeply; an unknown dull pain throbbed somewhere in my belly, not gas, not placenta, not Braxton-Hicks, something else. I couldn't figure it out and I couldn't shake the worry that something was not right. Even after Everett finally gave up begging and fell asleep, I stayed awake, drowsily worrying.

When I awoke today, everything seemed bright and wonderful. I had forgotten the pain and felt rested, even at an early hour. The boys woke soon after me, and in no time we were on our way up to Mt. Tabor again for the final shoot -- Larissa had been instructed to capture the front of my wrap in addition to the gajillions of gorgeous photos we'd gotten of the back on Wednesday. Martin picked us up from Starbucks, where I nibbled on a breakfast sandwich and sipped a cinnamon dolce latte (one pump, still too sweet). The boys gobbled.

The day was spectacular for photos, grey and luminous in a way only Portland can be, cool under the trees but beginning to be just-warm-enough in the open. The boys were happy to be up on the mountain, and ran up, ran down, ran around, me chasing at whatever speed I felt necessary while the morning's other shoots were accomplished.

It was my turn, finally, and I put Truman in Sebastian's stroller with a water bottle to play with and set Everett to sword-fighting with Martin. I was required to stand still while my "luscious lips" (so said Larissa, I still haven't seen them), chin, and chest were photographed. I turned my head just so. I raised and lowered my arm. I put my finger awkwardly near the closure.

And suddenly I began to feel hot, in a light shirt and the airy wrap, in full shade. The sun had only begun to give a little more warmth to the open areas, and I was in possession of a breeze and the perfect garments for the weather. But my back hurt awfully from the weight of my belly; my face felt flushed; I began to feel dampness spreading in my back, up my neck. My belly was hard, it hurt, I couldn't quite breathe deeply. I thought about yoga but my head was dizzy, I couldn't focus on breathing.

"Can you move your right arm up just a bit?" asked the photographer. I did, and heard the shutter snap three times and suddenly the heat swarmed to my head and I could barely see. "I need a drink of water!" I gasped, and walked shakily toward Truman's stroller, taking off my wrap. His water bottle was empty. "Do you have water?" I asked Larissa and Eden, desperately. They didn't. I sat down, panicking, feeling foolishly like one of the 19-year-olds on America's Next Top Model who tried to subsist on an energy drink and a nibble of grilled chicken and passed out on set.

After a few minutes of sitting down and a handful of almonds and, finally, water, I was better. The shoot was over, we were taken home, I showered and washed the unfamiliar makeup off, washed the sweat and smell off, and I was fine. I took the boys to the back yard and we played in the suddenly-brilliant sun while petals from the plum tree's blossoms fell around us like fat fragrant snowflakes. I planned dinner for the next night. Everything was well.

All afternoon and evening, feeling hiccups and cleaning and working and IM-ing and blogging and cooking, I feel fine, I am fine. I'm 21 weeks; five or six away from the all-clear bell, when a baby born early would have an excellent likelihood of surviving. For a minute, I worry, and then I embrace the feeling of watching Everett and Truman catch petals under the plum tree and am wonderful.

2007.03.18. frenetic

truman in the backyard, before the big clean
Sunday was a truly remarkable day. I was filled with the most awesome energy, I couldn't be stopped. Despite my strange episode the day before, I awoke early feeling well, with a mental list of a million things to be done. Instead of being overwhelmed or cowed, I just began, cooking breakfast, taking the boys for a shopping trip, suddenly feeling the urge to clean up the yard. I filled a garbage bag with various trash and dangerous items (this lighter fluid has really been out here all winter?), which inspired me to take out every iota of trash and recycling in the house. This leads to organizing the recycling area and cleaning up the front porch, and then Everett finds a scooter so we go to the park.

We play for a few hours, running and once again showing off my lensbaby to a jealous papa and meeting the sweetest little girls who might be in Everett's kindergarten class (Sam and Gianna).

Then it's home, and I clean the bathroom, I start the dishwasher, I make a healthy dinner for six. Larissa and her mom are coming over, and Abby. They arrive and we eat, vegetables of all sorts and chicken breasts and the most amazing campfire pie. The kitchen is a huge mess. It is late.

I don't fall asleep. I don't give up. I clean the kitchen again. I take out the last bit of recycling. I don't even watch my usual adult shows. I am supermama.

I fall into bed exhausted, but happy, only to dream that I'm disappointing my colleagues and missing deadlines at work. Evidently, my mind, it can't win.