From BabyCenter: Your baby is just a quarter of an inch long now and enjoying her first huge growth spurt. Although she still resembles a tadpole more than anything else, she's sprouting tiny buds that eventually will become arms and legs. Already her vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver, are in place and growing. That's why you need to pay close attention to your diet. Calcium-rich foods help bones, heart, and muscles grow — so don't skimp on milk.
2004.05.17 the pregnant couch
Tonight was my first night together with all my pregnant mama friends. Thanks to my recent news, we now have four pregnant women out of eight total mamas. The others are showing already, as they are due in October and November, and we all have needs that the average waitress at a hip bar just cannot comprehend.
We went out to Imbibe, a local hotspot, and it was unusually crowded for a Monday night. The waitress looked at us after most of our requests, uncomprehending. Sad when paying extra for spinach in pasta means three baby leafs? In raptures over cheesecake? Depressed when you promised a dessert and couldn't deliver? We're addicted to leafy greens, sugar, and Passion tea, you must deliver.
It's not her fault. She was young, slim, and completely ill-prepared to deal with the needs of the practiced pregnant. Next time we're going somewhere with waitress mamas. And lots of booths.
I really can't wait until later this summer, when all of us are big and cranky and nesting like crazy. Boy will we be a sight for southeast Portland. Maybe we can rival the "alterna-moms" at Picolo Park for uber-coolness.
2004.05.18 as always, worries
Today I realized how much I've invested in this pregnancy, already. I had one of those non-existent hormonal scares, where something completely nonsensical convinces the crazy pregnant woman that she's about to miscarry. They can happen several times a day in the first month...and I've never had the slightest (real) problem.
Immediately I move into crisis mode...I'll have to tell everyone I'm not pregnant anymore...the mamas will be so sad...but I had to tell them, they knew I was trying...and I had to tell my parents, because Jonathan tells EVERYONE... I go on like this for several minutes, wishing I hadn't already started a registry on Amazon.com (just for books! ok, and I got distracted by the double jogging strollers...).
Of course, there is nothing wrong, I'm just pregnant and crazy. Later I go to Babycenter.com and look up abdominal pain. I know I'm ok, but I still look it up. I learn:
Call your practitioner immediately if you have any of the following symptoms during your first three months of pregnancy or while you're trying to get pregnant: abdominal and/or pelvic pain or tenderness, vaginal spotting or bleeding, pain that gets worse during physical activity or while moving your bowels or coughing, dizziness, pain in the tip of your shoulder, or any signs of shock (like a racing pulse; pale, clammy skin; or faintness)
That's helpful. I have had 2/3 of those symptoms. Let's see, abdominal pain (probably from yoga, I know); dizziness; pain in the tip of my shoulder (well, I'm reading this in a funny leaning-over-my-computer-crosswise position, I also have pains throughout my back and my knees); racing pulse; check, check, check, check.
My "pain" is likely mostly from gastrointestinal nuttiness of pregnancy but still I worry. Do people really call their "practitioner" that often?
2004.05.18 obstetrician woes
I'd been thinking about calling to make an appointment with my obstetrician, the one I adore, who was so happy to hear that I was trying to get pregnant again, but put it off because I'm working out my insurance situation. I was terribly disappointed, then, to receive a letter in the mail today from Dr. Burton, stating that she was quitting her private practice to spend time with her daughter (born several months after Everett, and following a very difficult late-term miscarriage with her previous pregnancy).
I can't say I blame her...I can't imagine what it would be like to meet the stressful demands of an obstetrics practice with an infant. But I was so looking forward to working with Dr. Burton again, she was a sweet, caring doctor who really took time with me and even put up with my husband's nervous jokes. It made the doctor vs. midwife decision so easy.
So I called the office and made an introductory appointment with the one midwife who works there, stating that I would of course want to think about using a doctor as well. This is a really tough break, the last thing I'm interested in doing is building a rapport with an entirely new person in order to bring another new person into this world.
It does make me so happy that I have the friends and family that I have here in Portland. My mama friend Kate is studying to be a midwife and has already signed on to be the doula for all of us. My sister-in-law, due to give birth in late June, is also studying to be a midwife and was looking forward to my pregnancy so she could participate in the birth. The decision will be made for me, I suppose. The next thing you know I'll be giving birth at home!
2004.05.19 sickness is coming
One of my friends from college track would always say when the weather got terrible and colds started spreading throughout the dorms, "sickness is coming!" She said it with this air of inevitability, as if she was defenseless against the coming virus. As if, we drink our orange juice and chew our cough drops, but the sickness will come, and it will find us anyway.
Well, the phrase takes on an altogether different meaning to me now. After crowing through eight months of easy pregnancy with Everett, this pregnancy is heading down a different road. Today was probably the worst it's been; I felt nauseous well over half the time. Not that nausea that sends you running for the nearest toilet, but aninsidious, knawing, quiet nausea that simply sits there in the bottom of your stomach and doesn't let go. Sickness is coming.
The worst of it is, I have made a concerted effort to be much more healthy this pregnancy, having kept my body in tip-top shape for the past few months, increasing my vegetable and fruit quota, keeping the alcohol to a bare minimum, tipping the beverage ratio away from coffee and heavily toward herbal tea, drinking lots of water. I started a yoga schedule, committing to at least two classes each week, and have made a big deal of eating breakfast.
So I headed to my yoga class today, yogurt and banana waffles in my belly, a full water bottle in my cupholder. That knot of sickness deep in my stomach wouldn't stop, no matter how deep I breathed or what energy I brought in up from the earth or down from the sky. Those chakras seemed to be full of stomach acids.
I ate healthful, filling food and drank green tea. I jogged to track practice, the chakras still churning in my belly. I had some relief for a few hours in the late afternoon and it set in again. Sickness is coming.
I know I still have it easy. I just hope this sickness is not harbinger of a bigger, more daunting sickness, coming my way, inevitably.
It was the track team's Varsity district championship today, and I had two athletes with the potential to place in the top two in their events and qualify for state. I haven't told anyone except for my mom's group and my parents that I'm pregnant yet, and I keep wanting to tell my track team and the other coaches about the impending baby - but it seems too soon.
It also seems as if it might distract the athletes from their competition, and as my guys and girls are terribly distractable, that's enough of a reason to keep it to myself. So I go through the meet today with my growing knot in the bottom of my stomach, not even feeling up to vaulting over the railing separating the stands from the track, as I usually like to do. And keeping it to myself.
Ayan, a freshman with an incredible talent of which she has only an inkling, a greatly comparative style ("what's your best jump?" she asks of the other competitors, as I wince), and a long way to go in muscle tone and joint strength, is jumping for her future today. Ayan is my best hope to go to state - I love her attitude (generally), she does her best to listen to me, and she really wants this.
When she goes up to jump at the critical 4'10" height, I use all of my powers of mental focus and positive energy, and she clears it easily on the first attempt. I pull out all the stops on her next jump at 5'0" - I am focusing so hard my fists are clenched. I tell her all the right things. I attempt to bring energy from the earth, through my belly, from the sky. She doesn't quite make it.
All of the jumpers are mental today, and it turns out that Ayan's jump at 4'10" was the clincher - the rest who cleared 4'10" did it after one or two attempts. In high jumping, when you tie, the missed attempts are the tie breaker. Of six people who cleared 4'10", she's the tops. She qualifies for state.
When I hear the results announced I scream and jump up and down, hugging Everett. Ayan does backflips. And I am glad I kept my news to myself, for a little while.
The oddest thing about this pregnancy is the way I feel when I get stressed. I'm usually a cool cucumber, calm in a crisis, always ready with a list of possible solutions. But today, every time I think about money woes, or forget something important, or face an uncomfortable situation, my heart contracts and my lungs feel squeezed. My breath gets short.
Now I know what hyperventilating is all about. My heart hurts just thinking about that feeling. I forgot my computer power cord at work today, and had to run back to the office. I waited until I ran out of power, around 8 p.m. When I got to the building, it was locked in all the key places. I tried knocking on different doors for 20 minutes, and it was terrible - I had visions of not getting in all weekend, my computer was completely out of power, I felt so disconnected.
And my heart did that thing. I had Everett with me, he was having a great time, "wunning" and "jupping" and I wanted to sit down on the sidewalk and start sobbing. Only my lungs wouldn't let me take breaths that deep. Once I got him back in the car, I had to sit there, letting the car warm up, and control my breathing, before I felt it safe to drive.
It's a good thing I know I'm pregnant.
2004.05.22 moods and bathrooms
Today was the monthly family dinner hosted at our house, where my sisters and brother and their spouses, my parents, and my sister Hannah's step-kids come for dinner and chatter. Typically, it's my biggest cleaning impetus of a given month.
This month was no different, and I hadn't scrubbed the mold off the bathroom ceiling for a long time. The bathroom is officially "my chore" in our household - Jonathan does the laundry and most of the floor cleaning, I do the bathroom and the diaper changing.
So after yoga, and after our stint chaperoning the church youth group, I came home with a mission, cooking and cleaning with amazing focus. By 4:30 I had the lasagne sauce completed and the noodles boiling, and I was doing one of my rare deep cleans on the bathroom. Everett was hanging out upstairs too, playing in the other room.
It wasn't long before Everett wanted to come and play in the bathroom, and for a while he happily scrubbed the side of the tub with a watery brush. Then he had to start climbing on my back while I tried to scrub the floor beside the toilet. Then he wanted to play with the plunger. I yelled for Jonathan to relieve me, but he didn't hear over the history channel.
This was my serious melt-down point. By the time I had finished the bathroom, while Everett screamed for mommy on the stairs, I was screaming myself, an emotional wreck. I completely melted down.
Twenty minutes later, I was fine, balanced and energetic, assembling lasagna and putting together my late mothers' day gifts for the mamas in my family. From then on all was peaceful. Of course Jonathan did walk on eggshells for a while...
It takes a lot to get me over the edge, typically. I just don't understand why husbands can't figure this emotional roller coaster thing out and jump to the mama-to-be's aid more quickly, more proactively, read her mind. Let's step things up, guys, this roller coaster goes down way more quickly than it goes up!
2004.05.22 of babies and really tiny babies
I decided not to wait to tell Everett about the pregnancy - he loves babies and he's my little soulmate. I tell him everything. He took the news without much fanfare. What he does get excited about, however, are the clinical drawings of fetuses in my "Pregnancy Week by Week" book.
So there is a drawing of an ectopic pregnancy on week five. Not one ectopic pregnancy, actually, but four ectopic pregnancies, with little fetuses and amniotic sacs positioned everywhere an ectopic pregnancy could occur in one reproductive system. Everett loves this drawing, shouting "baby! baby!" every time I accidentally flip through the book.
I tried to divert him with other pictures, but they all seem so clinical and un-baby-like. I guess Everett was more open than I - he could see the beauty in the 4-week-old fetus when I only saw a tadpole.
And Everett seems like he understands completely that there is a baby inside of me. Somehow I thought that would be a foreign concept - how can a baby be inside mama's belly? But maybe it's just that he's so much closer to that world than me - it was less than two years ago, after all, when he was in there himself. Maybe his memory of the womb is still strong enough so that he understands completely.
2004.05.23 don't cry out loud
What is it about our culture, that refuses to permit parents to expose a potential grief to the public eye? Since I'm only six weeks along, I'm not supposed to be telling anyone that I'm pregnant, I'm supposed to keep it to myself until all likelihood of miscarriage is passed.
The theory goes something like this: if I tell people now, then it will be painful for me to tell them about something going wrong, and I won't want to hear people asking me how my pregnancy is coming along when I just miscarried. I won't want to expose my sadness to others, especially not anyone who works with me. I want to keep it inside.
Not that silence is an option for me, no, not with my exuberant, heart-on-his-sleeve husband. I guess I'm like that, too...I keep hearing about these elaborate ways women tell their husbands they're pregnant. Me, I just up and say it, right away! I couldn't possibly hold it in that long.
So those of us who wear our hearts on our sleeves are stuck seeming off-the-cuff, risky, careless with our secrets. But if I have a blow as devastating as a miscarriage, I want everyone I care about to know. I want all my friends and my family and yes, even my boss, to understand why I'm an emotional wreck. I don't want to go through it alone.
In a culture where 20% (or maybe, more that we don't know about) of women have post-partum depression so severe that they require medication or other intervention, it seems that we need to get this out in the open. We need to understand what our friends and colleagues are going through. Maybe, it could help us all be better human beings.
I won't force my philosophy on you. I won't keep my life a secret for long, however. I can't keep it inside like that.