Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Importance of Pronouns

Well, we had our anatomy scan today. I really wasn't nervous, even though I expected it might hit me while waiting in the waiting room. But I'm glad I didn't waste the energy getting nervous. Everything went fine. Baby is fine. Heart is fine, spine is fine, intestines are fine, etc, etc, etc. The only slight concern is that my placenta is anterior and "low-lying." The perinatologist said he is not worried at all about it and that it's really nowhere near my cervix, just "laying low." He said he expected it to move its way up over time. So, I'm trying not to worry about that. I know it could present multiple complications, including ending in a c-section. So I'll just hope it floats on upwards (and backwards? can it move posterior?).

But I am not "floating on cloud nine" as I was after our NT scan. And why ever not, you may ask? You have an extremely happy, healthy, baby and a healthy pregnancy. Well, when you put it that way, what I am about to say does sound really superficial and trivial and so I apologize ahead of time because by no means do I want to say that my problems compare at all to some of the news that parents are given at an anatomy scan. But here's my news that's gotten me a bit down:

Our "95% certain GIRL" has turned into a boy!

Yep. In the words of the doctor (who is "NEVER" wrong according to both him and my OB), "Your baby grew a Giant Penis!" Wow. That was the first thing he told us. The first thing he showed us in stark relief. Literally no denying his (HIS) maleness. And then we had the rest of the scan. I was trying to focus on just making sure the baby was ok, but my husband was vibrating with excitement next to me, gripping my shoulder in happiness and support (because he was imagining my reactions) and trying to blink back surprised tears.

So this is where we come to the triviality of my complaint. I have a HEALTHY baby. A baby who we watched danced around in 4D. (ha. I just smiled while thinking about it). But.....what happened to my GIRL? My girl I had named already and started to bond with and dream about and talk to and...well, the girl I had become attached to. I feel guilty even saying this, but I am sad. I've been walking around today in a bit of a fog trying to act like it's ok and it's "just a funny shock," but really and truly it is a big shock.

I took Monte to the vet today and they left me alone in an empty exam room with no magazines and a dead cell phone (a result of too many phone calls, texts, and FB posts about my new baby boy) and nothing but my thoughts. I tried to look calm and serene, but this is what was going through my head..."Okay, well, this is okay...boys are cool! Moms with boys are cool! Maybe mine will have curly, messy hair. Awww.... But, no dresses! No frilly cuteness! No daughter reading the same books I read when I was a girl. No little girl obsessing over horses with me. Wait a second, am I trying to create a mini-me? Am I too girly to raise a boy? How do you raise a boy? How do I deal with his penis?? I miss my little girl. What if I never have a little girl? I feel weird. I feel like I lost something...." And somehow, with these thoughts (x100) going on in my head I must not have looked so serene as I had hoped, because a passing vet tech asked me if I needed a glass of water. *sigh*

Bottom line is, I'm having a boy. And honestly, I would have been just fine with finding out this news right away (well maybe a tiiiiny bit disappointed), but it's just hard coming right now after I've had 6 weeks to begin thinking of this little baby fluttering around in me as a "she" and "her" and planning what "her life" will be like and imagining what "she" will look like. She had become real. I guess it's silly, right? This whole time it's been "him" fluttering in there and making me so sick. So...nothing has really changed. Just a few pronouns, right?

Anyhow, give me a few days and I will be fine. I can already tell that I will adjust just fine and get excited about little plaid shorts and rambunctious boy-life and all will be good. Just right now, I'm a bit sad. We leave for Mexico tomorrow for 11 days and so if I am behind on commenting on your blogs, I apologize, but we will be off on our Babymoon (what a cheesy term) and enjoying utter relaxation. And I will be playing a pronoun game and bonding with my little son.

p.s. My husband is over-the-moon with happiness. But I think he feels really guilty because he knows I'm feeling sad. He's treating me like I'm super fragile right now, but he can't help a grin from sliding back onto his face immediately if he doesn't pay attention. I know this is the very best part about having a boy. My husband will be the BEST father to a son that I can imagine. And yes, I know you all probably feel that way about your husbands...but I swear to god, mine would win in a contest.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Birth is As Safe as Life

Be prepared. Just yesterday I wrote a post about maternity clothes. And today I am - *gaSp* - posting again! Two in a row. And there is one more to come because on Thursday I have my anatomy scan. Too much babyness in one week. Oh well, grit your teeth and bare it. Because today deserves its own special post.

I had my first prenatal appointment with the Midwives! Now let me tell you, since we made the decision I've been feeling 85% excited and 15% like a lunatic who thinks she can fly to the moon using fairydust and willpower. But today, the appointment pushed me to 115% excited/relieved/validated.

I'll try not to bore you with too many details. But, here's a quick run down:

We showed up, they offered us tea, coffee or water. We were greeted by the same midwife we met with last time and a student midwife who would be participating. Hugs all around. We chatted about our upcoming trip to Mexico and how I've been feeling, etc, and then they transitioned into getting my health history. Wow. Extensive. Did I mention my doctor just asked "Is there anything I need to know about your health history? No? Ok, great." These women took me through everything. When they were done they both looked a little shocked and said, "Wow, you're really healthy." Ha. Then we talked about nutrition and they asked me to give them a run down of everything I'd eaten in the last 24 hours while they diagrammed how much protein, veggies, dairy, etc I've been getting (later I have to actually track a full week's worth of food). They explained that they never weigh women unless they are worried they are underweight. Instead, they focus on what the women is eating, the nutrition she is getting, how she feels and how she looks. They explained that every woman is different and numbers don't mean that much. They also explained they don't want to contribute to negative stereotypes about body image. Go midwives.

We also talked about our super-scary-bleeding-episode. Which the midwives informed us was not really that scary, but actually quite normal. They explained why it happened, why we were okay, and that we should definitely continue to have sex, just maybe "gentle sex." FYI, we have had sex twice since it happened. And definitely VERY-gentle-sex. I confessed to being scared that it might happen again while we were in Mexico and they said, "Well that is why we have a toll-free 1-877 #. Call us any time. And if you want, you can text us pictures of the blood and we will examine them for you." WOW. Above and beyond, ladies, but thank you very much because I might just take you up on it.

We then spoke a little about why we choose to do the birth center and what our respective parents thought about our decisions. I then asked some scary questions about statistics (how many years have they been open, how many transfers, how many emergency transfers and yes, even - how many deaths). They admitted they having had one infant death in the whole time they have been doing this. That set a chill over the room. I mean, I know that one baby is probably actually a "good statistic," but how do you have a good statistic when you're talking about something like that?

But then the midwife said, "You know, you just have to believe that birth is natural and part of life and that everything will be okay. All I can promise you is that birth is as safe as life. And life isn't perfectly safe."

That stuck with me. Now, I know that you might argue that that one baby might have lived had he or she been in a hospital. That might very well be true. But I don't know the story or the reasons behind it. I do know that babies die, even in the hospital. It really is about taking a leap of faith I guess.

Whoa, didn't mean to get morbid there. Sorry, I just wanted to share that what she said resonated with me. You just have to trust.

Anyhow. Then we proceeded to the actual prenatal exam. They took my heart rate, blood pressure, listened to my lungs, listened to my heart beat, checked my reflexes, checked my urine and felt my thyroid glands. And then? Up on the exam table. Any by exam table I mean lovely spa massage table. With a pillow under my head and a nice triangle-like pillow under my knees. Okay. The exam could not have been more different than the doctor's office. There was no high tech ultrasound, no fancy machines. I didn't get to see my baby. But somehow I felt way more connected to her in this appointment than ever before. Both midwives asked permission to feel my uterus and when they did so, they both said, "Hi Baby," in a quiet voice. They both smiled the whole time while touching my stomach. Then they showed me where my uterus was and helped me to feel it. Oh, and main midwife told me my uterus may be a bit hard to feel because I have such "strong abdominal muscles" - Go Me! Then she asked me where it was I thought I had been feeling movement (discussed earlier in the appointment) and I showed her. She nodded and said, "That's exactly where I thought I felt something." Sure enough, when they put the doppler on my stomach, that's RIGHT where they found the heartbeat.

Now, we've only heard the heartbeat once before, while at our NT scan. But that time the heartbeat was coming out of high tech speakers on the computer. This time, she had to get the doppler right ON the baby before we heard it and it felt like we were so much closer to where the baby was. It was so amazing. We could also hear the swooshing noises when she moved around. The student midwife kept giggling and said, "She's moving so much!!" It was so intimate and personal and I felt all three of us were so cared for. Exactly what I wanted.

So that's that. I am sold. Koolaid drunk.

p.s. I just realized I promised you a quick run-down, when in fact I had to stop myself from telling you more and more and more. Too much? Not enough? Anyone have any questions??

Monday, May 27, 2013

In Honor of Maternity Clothes

I feel like I haven't updated everyone in awhile on how my actual pregnancy is going. I will be 18 weeks on Thursday (that feels like a big one to me) and I am finally starting to feel better! I mean, I still get sick when I wake up, when I'm hungry, or when I'm too tired. But do you know what's different about that? Those are all things I can control! If I'm too hungry, I eat; if I'm tired, I sleep. It feels great to have a way to control this. Before, it was completely out of my control and the sickness was beating me. Now I'm winning! Oh, and I haven't thrown up in...two weeks? Maybe three? Just the fact that I don't know the exact amount of days since I last puked is miraculous.

Oh and I have more energy now! I mean, I still crash at around 10:00 at night, but I am able to get things done and I feel more cheerful (most of the time). In fact, I am catching up at work and I don't think I will be behind for the month of May. Hooray for me! As for my moods, I have noticed a lot more "mood swings" now. As in, feeling really sad or anxious or just depressed or...who knows what. Sometimes it comes for a real reason, as in thinking about Indy or stressing over What-Ifs, but mostly it comes out of nowhere, as in...just driving around and feeling mopey for no reason at all. Oh well. Again, it's manageable.

And the best thing?? I'm finally showing! Well, at least for me. I know that most people who don't know me probably still can't tell, but people who do know me have started to notice. Last week FOUR people asked me if I was pregnant. I told my husband how happy I was about this and he said "Well, I'm not surprised." When I asked him what he meant, he proceeded to explain to me that I am the type of person that needs to see proof of my pain. As in, if I stub my toe, I want to see blood to prove how much it hurts. At first I tried to deny it, but I actually think he might be right. Oh well, I guess I'll have to walk around holding my stomach so people know how pregnant I am.

I think I started showing while my mom was here visiting (perfect timing) at 16 weeks and I swear it happened overnight. When my mom showed up on Friday, she was disappointed that she couldn't really tell, but by Sunday she kept exclaiming about how pregnant I looked. I'm so glad that she was here to see it.

Oh and another fun and exciting thing? Maternity clothes!! My mom brought me some as a surprise and I ordered a bunch online (FYI Motherhood Maternity is great, Gap - not so much) so I went from having none at all to suddenly having a new wardrobe. I have read about how amazing maternity clothes were and I was sure people were exaggerating. I mean, how great can huge, stretchy, tent-like clothing really be? But oh my god you guys, I am totally sold. First of all, I'm convinced there is really no reason for any clothing to have snaps or zippers. Stretchy waistbands are great. I also think that maternity clothes make you look more pregnant. My regular clothes were too tight and just cut in in all the right places and made me look like a puffy muffin. But, maternity clothes embrace your pregnancy. They hug your love handles, gently hold your brand new ass, and, most importantly, they give love and attention to your belly.

I am going to post a random array of pictures so you can see what I mean (and also see my little bump!). Please forgive the randomness of the photos. I'll never be able to have a fashion-blog here. I tried to enlist my husband, but he's not very patient and is always running off, so...this is what you get.

First of all, this is a perfect example of don't-blame-the-photography. I literally took it in the bathroom at work. But I was SO excited that day because three people in a row asked if I was pregnant. So I took the picture to document the moment. The shirt I'm wearing is not Maternity, but is a shirt I bought at BCBG when I found out I was pregnant. The leggings are maternity leggings my mom bought me. I know you might think you can just wear regular leggings and I am going to try as long as possible, but these are different. They are wider at top, thinner at bottom, and have a great built-in elastic shelf for your belly.

Here're two shots of the same dress. I ordered it online at Motherhood Maternity and I love it. It's really comfortable while still making me feel feminine and pretty. I can wear it on the weekends or maybe even to work with a cute white blazer. Oh, and you can see my bump! Right....?

Another Motherhood Maternity dress. My mom picked it out, but funnily enough, I already had it on my wish list. I love stripes and I love this dress. It doesn't show my bump yet (unless I'm holding it just so), but it has a LOT of room to grow into.

This is not a great photo (my aunt took it in her hotel room), but I'm posting it in honor of my new maternity jeans. They are hot. Again, Motherhood Maternity, and they are "early pregnancy" jeans. They don't have a band around the waist, but have elastic on the sides, kind of over the pockets that have a LOT of give. The elastic is cute and built into the style of the pants. Oh, and they make my ass look good. This shirt is not maternity and I probably won't fit into it much longer, but it makes my boobs look good when I go out for dinner ;)

And this is just a dress I bought for Mexico next week. I'm getting in the mood!!!

Oh, and one more funny update on the theme of how-my-body-looks-this-week. Do you remember my crazy landlord? Well, she stopped by this weekend and I needed to talk to her about the broken latch on our gate. I was terrified to confront her because I was sure she would refuse to pay for it or blame it on me or try to blame me for her romantic problems or some craziness. But I did it, and all went fine. In the meantime, while I was talking, she starting looking at my body and staring at me and then said, in her Russian accent, "But you are growing so BIG! Your stomach is grooowing and your hips and your butt are getting bigger! Why are you getting so fat??" I thought, wow, ok, so she must know I'm pregnant...and I said, "Well, because I am pregnant." She shrieked and hugged me and said, "What?!?! You are pregnant?!? Congratulations!! That is wonderful!!." But then she stopped and looked me up and down again and raised her hands about two feet apart and said, "But why are your hips and butt getting so wide and fat???"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lucky to Have this Problem

I've been meaning to write a post about how this pregnancy has already impacted my identity at work. Unfortunately I keep getting waylaid by sheer exhaustion, lack of motivation, and more interesting posts such as I-am-going-to-have-a-baby-in-a-day-spa!

This week seemed like a good time to sit down and finally write this post because I am finding myself struggling with being very behind at work and feeling like my performance is suffering and trying to accept that this is not the end of the world. Let me give you a little caveat first about myself. I have always been an extremely driven person. Doing "well" for me is not enough. I have do "the best." I am really hard on myself about mistakes or even "average" performance. I'm not sure where this comes from. No one in my family is an over-achiever. I'm sure it's somewhat anxiety driven, but I feel it has also grown into a part of my professional identity. I value doing things the right way, with integrity and care. This pregnancy has forced me to treat myself like a regular person. There was no way for me to be super-employee while feeling the way I felt physically. So...I let things slide. Unfortunately, in my job, everything is based on how many billable minutes you bill each month. When you are behind, that is NOT ok. And guess what? I have been behind for the past two months. Likely I will be behind again next month due to our planned vacation. And thus, this post.

So how has pregnancy "switched my identity?" Well, I think this is happening in two ways. First, on a day-to-day basis I am starting to feel differently about this "do everything perfectly" mentality. I have started to accept that maybe being "perfect" at work is not the most important thing in the world. For example, the day that I had bleeding and needed to schedule an emergency doctor's appointment, I didn't think twice about rescheduling an entire afternoon's worth of patients -something that I would have agonized about in the past. Also, I may not call people back the very day that they call me. I may wait until the following day. Or, um, later in the afternoon. Ha. It feels a bit like I am starting to value myself more and allow myself more time to be human within my role at work. Now, don't get me wrong. I still feel that stress pop up (as it is this morning) when I feel that I really am not doing all that I can do. This isn't an easy, fluid transition and I'm not sure I want to completely lose that anxiety that drives me to do well. But, if I am able to let go of just some of it...well, that's a good thing.

The other way in which I feel my identity changing is on a much deeper level. I'm sure this is the same identity crisis that every woman goes through when suddenly realizing that, despite what you are told, it is ridiculously hard to "have it all." I've always been a quietly passive feminist. I don't really go out of my way to broadcast my views or promote women's rights. BUT, for some reason, my professional identity crisis is bringing it all to the surface. I want to have a successful career. And not just, a job, but a lifelong career in which I move forward, grow, obtain recognition, and give back in some way. But, at the same time, I want to just relax and be a mom. We are at a point in our lives financially where I think we could make it happen that I could do just that. I could choose to stay home and just be a mom.

But really, as amazing as that sounds, I'm not sure it's who I am. It may be the kind of mom I want to be, but it's necessarily the type of person I want to be. Because my job, specifically, being a psychologist, is an integral part of my identity.

So that brings me back to my passively quiet little feminist voice inside. I feel happy that I have choices, but somehow resentful that it is a choice I have to make because I am a woman. Does that make sense? I know that it is illogical to say I am resentful of having a choice. Because it is a choice that didn't exist before. And yes, I know that men have the that same choice as well, but somehow, it's not as present or conscious for them. For me, I am fairly sure that if I give up who I am as a psychologist, I am giving up a part of myself. And yet, I want to be less-stressed, more present, more in the moment, more available as a mother (and yes, as a human) than I am currently able at my full time job.

I already feel the push-pull at work. For example, one of the things I live for at work is to train and supervise interns and postdoctoral fellows. When supervision assignments were made, I realized that I wouldn't be part of that this year. In order to take the maximum amount of time for my maternity leave (something I strongly believe in), I have to sacrifice a component of my job that I love. I can't provide mentorship and supervision to a trainee when I am spending half of their training year at home bonding with my baby! So, here it starts. You pick one thing, you lose another.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching about little things here such as missing out on opportunities at work, or feeling guilty for being behind on my billing. I am just bemoaning the fact that I can't have it all. In order to make this transition to being the type of mother I want to be, I need to relinquish my death grip on being a driven professional.

I remember when I was still trying to get pregnant, I wrote a post about feeling ready to let go and not care so much about work. About wanting to have something more important to care about. I still feel that way. But, now that it's rapidly approaching, I am quietly mourning the loss of a familiar role. Oddly, I find myself wondering if any of this will matter once the baby comes? And finally, I try to remind myself that all of this agonizing and deliberating is a luxury that most women don't have. I need to remind myself to be glad that I am able to redefine my role instead of being forced into one. In the past, I may have been pigeonholed into homemaker. Or, in a different life, I may be forced to work 60 hours a week and leave my baby with whoever I could afford. And so? I will keep on being aware of how I am changing and allow myself time to contemplate it, but try to remind myself that I am lucky to be able to have this problem.

p.s. I re-read this post before publishing it and I realized that most of you will probably be reading this and thinking, "Well why can't she just work part-time and take the middle road?" Yes, that is my ultimate goal. I'm not sure yet if that will be an option at my current job, but it is my hope. So, logically, I am planning and hoping for that. Emotionally, I am just stuck straddling both worlds.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Drinking the Koolaid

First of all, thank you all for your kind responses about Indy. With everything we have been going through with both of our pets, I have marveled at the caring in this community toward animals. My posts about my pets have gotten so many kind comments, it just goes to show how important pets are to all of us.

But this post is not about a sad story relating to pets - I promise! Instead, it is a follow up to my post about hospital birth versus a birthing center. This morning was our appointment with the Midwife. Going into it, I was feeling fairly certain that my goal was to find a way to have that "middle road" that so many people recommended. Namely, in this case, having the midwifery model of prenatal care, but still having my hospital birth plus doula. Read on to see if I wavered in that goal...

Let me start with walking through the door of the clinic. If you remember my first post about my OB's office, I was disappointed with the lack of art on the walls, baby-centered items, and just general sense of "pretty office for pregnant women." Well, this place is ALL of that and more. First of all, the reception area is a big store filled with items for babies and pregnant women. Picture brightly colored wooden toys, adorable baby bottles, colorful cloth diapers, nursing wraps, and a plethora of nipple-related items that do god-knows-what. Not to mention artful black and white photos of women (and men!) and their babies. The walls are papered with announcements about prenatal yoga, prenatal massage, and just general prenatal wellness.

Then we walk into the "exam room." Yeah right. Exam room? More like a therapy office. We sank into a plush, comfortable couch and the midwife handed me my glass of water and my husband his coffee (with agave, ha!). I took in the exam table that looked more like an aromatherapy massage table. The plants, the artwork, and oh-yeah, a few medical items discretely tucked into the cabinet. When she went to get us our drinks, my husband literally teared up a little (don't tell him I told you this!) from suddenly being in such a warm environment after the shock we've been through in the last two days with our cat. And trust me, he is a big, tough, manly-man. Well, normally he is a big, tough, manly man. In this appointment he was holding my hand, rubbing my neck and earnestly discussing the merits of a true "birth experience." Uhhh...who is this guy??

So what did we learn? Basically more of what I already knew about the positives of a natural birth, the negatives of a hospital birth, yadda yadda, thanks for the recap of a Business of Being Born. But we also heard about their contingency plan for hospital trips, the way in which they make those decisions (hyper cautious, planning ahead), and their statistics regarding transfers to hospitals (less than 1% emergency trips, 15% non-emergency transfers). Typical reasons to transfer would be if the woman decides no way in HELL can I do this shit without medicine, or more serious issues such as the baby's heartrate is weak/irregular, the baby's position is not conducive to vaginal labor, or the woman has been laboring for too long. The midwife spent an hour talking with us. She validated our dissatisfaction with OB care and offered to help us find an OB more open to natural birth if we decide to stay with a doctor. She listened about how sick I have been and then said, "I just really want to validate how hard it can be to be sick during pregnancy. You want to be happy and positive, but all you can do is barely make it through the day. That comes with guilt and confusion. It's hard." Thank you, I agree!! She also listened about the recent "bleeding episode." She approached it with such a calming, normalizing way that I can see why the "pregnancy is not a disease" model goes over so well. She scoffed at "no sex for the rest of the pregnancy" and wondered what the impact on our relationship would be of "no sex." Of course, she explained she had not examined me and all of these decisions would be based on my pregnancy, risk factors, type of bleeding, etc. Good to know she's not ALL touchy-feely.

Their prenatal appointments are one hour long (first appt is 1.5 hours) and include therapy-like discussions about transitioning into parenthood, your own experiences with your parents, your relationship, and your current experiences. Her words, "having a baby is not just about giving birth. It is an entire experience," really hit home with me. It seems to be a nice confluence of medical and emotional care. They DO do all of the same tests you would find in a doctor's office (gestational diabetes, blood work, etc, etc), which I liked. They do have a doctor who works with them and is able to meet them at a hospital in case of transfer (don't you like the way they use the word "transfer" instead of "emergency"?). Basically, they seem to have a thriving group practice with a dedication to quality, holistic care.

Oh and we saw the Birthing Suite. Hello, 5-star, baby-welcoming accommodations. The suite is a two bedroom apartment with 20-foot ceilings and floor to ceiling glass wall that can be retracted into the ceiling to let in the fresh air. Uhh nice? The living room is complete with comfortable couches and a full dining room/kitchen so your family can make you food while you labor. The bedroom has another couch (for hubby to sleep?), a queen size bed, and of course, the gorgeous, deep birthing pool. Oh, then a normal bathroom with tub and shower. Again, discretely tucked away you will see medical equipment including oxygen for mom and baby, resuscitation equipment for mom and baby, and who knows (I don't want to??) what else. The Birthing Suite is yours for as long as you labor until about six hours afterwards when they help you to transition home. Two days later they visit you at home to check in.

So what did I decide? Well first of all, let me tell you, after his first misty-eyed moment, I knew my husband had drank the Koolaid. At breakfast after our appointment he said, "This is the most excited about our pregnancy I've been yet!" So cute. Me? Well I felt completely torn between two sides of myself. I don't know if I've explained this before (skim ahead if I have), but I grew up feeling like a creative, hippie-esque, open-minded, artistic person. THAT person would have dived in (no pun intended) to the birthing suite. That person wrote creative writing, studied philosophy, did water color, and wore Birkenstocks. Oh and makeup, what's that? Then I went to graduate school. They made me get grown-up clothes. They slashed through my reports to get rid of "creative writing" and leave scientific formatting. They made me believe in evidence, sciences and assessment of your effectiveness. So, sitting their at breakfast, both sides of me were at odds. My heart wanted to take the plunge and go with what feels oh-so-right and my brain kept thinking of risks and complications.

So what did I do? I jumped.

We have our first appointment in two weeks. I feel good about this. It feels right. Do I feel scared? Hell yes. But, ultimately, as my husband put it, it's really just delaying when you go to the hospital. When I want to go, we'll go. Until then, we'll stay committed to something we both feel is just "right." Also, if I decide two weeks before the delivery that I need to be in a hospital, then I'll be able to be in a hospital. In the meantime, I will move away from the care of a doctor that never really "fit" what I had hoped for. And I will give myself the nurturing, decadent care I feel I (and my baby...AND my husband) deserve.

After I made the appointment, the director called to assure me that I was now "under their care" and I could call 24/7 with any questions. In case of an emergency they will - listen close here people - come to my home if needed to check me out. They also sent me initial paperwork to fill out. At my doctor's office I filled out absolutely nothing. She asked me NO questions except, "Are there any serious diseases in your family history?" and "When was your last pap? June? Oh good, I don't need to do one then." In contrast, these forms are like a book. To me, as a therapist, they seem to be taking a family-systems approach to care. In addition to the extensive medical history for me AND my husband, they ask multiple questions about my mother, about her births, about her views on births and about my sister's views on birth (really??). They then ask about relationship history, whether parents are still married, my family's views on birthing outside of the hospital, my goals about my birth, etc, etc, etc....I can't remember it all. And what is really cool? My husband ALSO fills out a form about his views on natural birth, how he sees his role in the birth, his family's view on natural birth, etc, etc, etc. This is not just prenatal care here guys. If you are uncomfortable with self-disclosure, step back onto the paper-covered exam table.

So that's that. We're taking the plunge. And now that the decision is made? I feel giddy. In dialectical therapy, they say the best way to know if you are making a decision with your Wise Mind (as opposed to your Emotional Mind or Rational Mind), is to make the decision, give it time, and see if it still feels right. Well, it's only been about 8 hours, but I'm feeling pretty good so far :)

Please weigh in here. Thoughts? Concerns? Questions about what I didn't cover? Things I should follow up on? Cheerleading? Would you like a glass of the Koolaid??

Thursday, May 16, 2013

House without a Soul

So, with all the fight and struggle and energy into saving our nine year old dog from cancer, then fate hits us with a big ironic slap in the face. Last night we lost our cat. He was hit by a car. He wasn't even three years old.

Now I know to some of you, losing a cat may not seem like that big of a deal. Some people aren't cat people. Some people don't understand. But to me, a cat gives a house a soul. This cat, Indiana (Indy for short), was an amazing cat. He was, frankly, the best cat I have ever had. He had the right amount of playfulness, adventure, cuddlyness, beauty, grace, and just...personality. He definitely gave our house a soul. It seemed like, whatever we were doing, there he was. Wandering around the kitchen while we cooked dinner. Sitting with us on the couch while we watched TV. Purring on my stomach (lately I was telling him how much the baby loved it when he made her home vibrate). Greeting me in the morning. Sleeping on my pillow at night.

Normally he was an indoor-only cat. But recently, we've been breaking our own rules and letting him go outside a bit. He only ever went out for about 5-10 minutes tops, and we were convinced he wasn't leaving the walled fortress of our yard. Now, I hate myself for that decision.

Last night I was sound asleep, when my husband woke up me with a broken, panicked sound in his voice. "I think Indy was hit by a car." Somehow I just knew he was right. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep so it wasn't true. But I followed him outside. I came out the front door just in time to see him coming in our front gate, carrying Indy. I thought, "Oh good, he's okay." I don't know why I thought that. He laid him on the front steps....ugh. I can still see him. He looked like he was sleeping, except for the blood in his mouth. Just...sleeping. It must have just happened, because when I touched him, he felt like he was sleeping. He was so warm and so soft. I am sorry. I am going to stop myself here because I feel like I am going to give too many details of something that is still so fresh in my mind.

Long story short, he is gone. So quickly. No time to process it. Such a damn shock. I keep forgetting and looking to see if he's going to jump on the bed with me or walk down the hall to say hi. I keep thinking a half-thought, "Wait a second, wasn't there something I was supposed to remember about the cat?" And then I remember. He's dead.

We lost our cat of six years before we got Indiana. That was hard. But this is harder. For some reason, he wheedled his way into our family so much faster and deeper and now the house just feels empty. I know it will get better with time. But right now I keep feeling like I'm not sure how to process what happened.

Monte had a big vet appointment today. At the last appointment she had said she wasn't sure if he was responding well enough to the chemo and we may have to "make some decisions" this week. Both of us had the same thought - that we might suddenly find ourselves as a pet-less family. So my husband took the day off (I don't work Thursdays) to come to the appointment with me. Just in case. But luckily, we got GOOD NEWS. Monte is still okay.

Anyhow, thank you for reading. It feels good to just write about it to make it feel more real. Every time I start talking about it in real life I get so upset that I have to stop and distract myself or I'm worried it will be bad for the baby. Really, I don't think I was in the best mental state to handle this right now. So, thanks for listening.

I'm going to leave you with some pictures....

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Lilac Petals: A Post of Randomness

So this is just a quick, random update tonight. I just wanted to check in. First of all, I apologize that I've been behind on commenting on everyone's blogs. Please know that I am reading them, but just haven't had the energy or time to comment. When I read all of your blogs, I am inspired by how witty and thoughtful you all are. Yes, ALL of you. And then I sit down to write a quick little drivel.

What to say? First of all, I've been taking care of my little sister a lot lately. She's going through some significant pains in her chest/rib cage area, which was really scary for awhile, but the doctor says her heart and lungs are okay and the chiropractor diagnosed her with Costochondritis, which I'm still not really sure what that is and I'm not really sure her doctor does either. Ha. Anyhow, with no health insurance and no real answers and a lot of pain, this has been terrible for her and frustrating for me. I just want to sweep in and help. She's also having a lot of associated anxiety and panic and of course I want to help with that (that's my job, damnit!), but I can't treat my own sister. So...what did I do? My husband and I decided to treat her (and me) to a massage at Burke Williams (for those of you in LA, this should mean decadent). I dunno if it helped her at all, but it helped me a little to be able to do something for her.

Speaking of massage, has anyone ever had a prenatal massage? That was my first one and it was...interesting. You lay on your side, clinging to a body pillow like the women in those advertisements for preggo-pillows and you try to relax while the masseuse tries to get to all the parts of your body that she would normally be able to massage with ease. I had a harder time relaxing because I couldn't really just "let go" of my muscles. And I wanted to just flip onto my stomach so she could really do her job. That being said, I think if I were farther along and have more pregnancy-related pains (rather than just my normal extremely tight shoulder pain), it would have been perfect. Oh, and we splurged on the 80 minute massage. Let me tell you, that is TOO long for a pregnant person to go without peeing.

What else? Hmm. I'm starting to come out of pregnancy fog. At least a little at a time. Actually going on outings. Dinner with a new friend, Griffith Observatory with some old friends, out to lunch... It's breaking me out of my mini-depression to actually get out and do things again. (Side note - my husband at the planetarium show was so absolutely adorable. He decided he wants to be an astronomer and learn everything about the cosmos. I can just see what kind of Dad he is going to be and want to learn everything with our kids so he can teach it all to them). My husband and I are doing ok - normal - in our relationship. We feel very united in the pregnancy now. Like it's real to both of us. I feel really lovey-dovey toward him. The only wedge is that we've been doing a lot of taking care of my sister (she's stayed over a few nights as well) and still taking care of me so that doesn't leave us much time for taking care of him. Oh, and still on the no-sex abstinence diet per Doctor's orders. Blech.

I bought this Prenatal Yoga video from Amazon. I decided it was time to start making myself do something active again. But I wasn't quite ready to dive into a real-life prenatal yoga class, given that I've never done yoga in my life and am one of those people that can't even touch her knees, much less her toes. That being said, I really liked the video. I made my sister do it with me. It seemed like it would be good for her chest/back/ribcage issues. And all of the stretching and opening up your back did seem to be good for her. I lost her on the Kegel exercises part of the video though. If you are an expert or even kinda-experienced at yoga, the video might be too boring for you. But, for me, I thought it was just right. They show modifications for each trimester, which was nice, and it includes a relaxation component at the end. Oh, and my calves are sore today. Of course, that isn't saying much as I haven't exercised since February.

Oh! And in somewhat-exciting news, a random person at work asked me today if I was pregnant! For real? You guys saw my bump picture, right? I am literally not showing at all. And she noticed when I was sitting down, which I would think would be harder to spot. But she literally gasped and said "OH, how far along?" Now this woman is known for her lack of verbal inhibition, so I actually think it's a pretty stupid thing to do. I mean, not to sound conceited, but my stomach is flatter than hers is, so how could she tell? I told her I was surprised she noticed and she said, "Oh well, you're always so thin...I can just tell." My husband said she was probably just referring to my boob size and that "thin" means "flat-chested." Ha. Either way, I got a kick out of it.

Finally, Mother's Day. I read everyone's posts about Mother's Day. I didn't do much commenting. Still wrapping my head around trying to contemplate others' pain whilst experiencing my first semi-Mother's Day. Either way, it happened. My sister and I couldn't decide what to get our Mom for this mother's day. I am really terrible at this. I usually do something generic like flowers or a gift certificate to a spa. Anyhow, this year, I had just found out my husband is going to Vegas next weekend with friends and I was trying to figure out a way to pamper myself a little bit. Knowing that my sister and myself have both been going through hard times physically, I realized that we both need our mommy. So I asked my husband how he would feel if I spent some money on myself while he spent some money on gambling. Final product? I'm flying my mom into LA this weekend, to stay with her girls. We'll get some much-needed mommy-time.

And that's it. That's my random update. I will have another post to write on Friday after my consultation at the Birth Center. OH - I almost forgot to thank you all SO MUCH for responding with such wonderful comments to my last post in which I desperately begged you to give me your opinions on the birthing center idea. You all helped so much because, surprisingly, everyone seemed so middle of the road and supportive of finding a middle ground and way to incorporate both of my value sets in one experience. I felt so supported by all of you and got a lot of helpful information. I will update you on Friday after our consultation regarding how it all went.

I also have another blog post percolating in my brain which is NOT completely pregnancy related (yes, I'm trying to think of posts that are not so baby-focused) and deals more with my identity in my career and something deep and meaningful about feminism and career goals. We'll see if that post ever actually comes to fruition. Be warned, it could be replaced by something equally as important, such as "Can you believe how long and strong my nails are while I'm pregnant??"

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These were my Mother's Day Flowers from my husband. They were delivered to my work on Friday. I was shocked. Totally unexpected. Lilacs are my favorite flowers. They don't grow in LA. And even where they do grow, they only bloom for a few short weeks. But the smell...the smell brings me back to adolescent daydreams. I still have a dried chain of lilac petals that my husband made me in high school and left upon my bed. Gag me, how romantic.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Your Opinions Wanted

First of all, thank you all for your comments on my last post. That definitely has been the scariest thing I've dealt with since...well, maybe ever? I don't know. It was just awful. Anyhow, everything seems to be better now and back to normal. We had our regular OB appt on Monday and she didn't seem concerned (more on that later) and baby looked great (lots of fist pumping).

But today I need to enlist all of you - yes ALL of you...even you lurkers!!! - to comment and give me your opinions. I am absolutely terrible at making decisions and now find myself faced with a big one. You see, last weekend, I finally watched The Business of Being Born and all four follow-up episodes. Yes, they really made four more after the original documentary. For those of you who don't know (I think most people do know?), The Business of Being Born was produced by Ricky Lake, a talk show host who somehow became an expert on natural childbirth after giving birth twice. You can tell she's an expert because her own birth video is part of the documentary and her expertise is clearly on well as her enormous breasts, naked self walking around her kitchen while she moans desperately, and her placenta/afterbirth staining her bath water red. So yeah, I guess she's an expert?? Anyhow, the point of the documentary is to discuss the United States over-use of medical interventions in an effort to avoid pain, complications, and legal liability. However, the use of these medical interventions creates a cascading effect, resulting in a cyclical need for more interventions. That is "The Business" in a nutshell.

Now let me say, I am a research-driven, science-based woman, who happens to have been raised by free-spirited, hippie parents. Needless to say, the two sides of me often clash. Watching this documentary brought up both sides for me. Clearly I wanted to instantly decide to revamp my birth plan so I could have my baby in the most natural, healthy way for myself and my baby, including water birth under the stars....well, no, not quite, but you get the idea. But at the same time, I cringed at the clearly biased, one-sided documentary which did not present the positive side of modern medicine and the risks involved in home births and lack of good accreditation and management outside of hospitals in the U.S. My husband, on the other hand, did not seem conflicted at all. He literally LEAPT onto that bandwagon. He was all, "Yes! Totally! Doctors and hospitals are out to twist us into their little schemes! We can't let them take away your amazing, natural birth experience!!" Ok well, not really that bad, but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, after we watched the documentary, I had another appointment with my OB. Now, when I first went to visit her, I wrote in my blog that my doctor's office wasn't all that I'd hoped it to be. There were no pretty pictures on the wall, no nice interview sitting in my doctor's private office prior to the exam, no wind chimes...well you know. But I did say that I liked my OB because, and I quote myself, " The whole interview was filled with laughter. And, even though I could tell she was rushed, she felt present." Ok, well now, I don't know if I was just trying to hard too like her. I mean, I DO still like her, but she is ALWAYS rushed and I am always waiting. She always feels like she needs to be at the next appointment and our appointments only take about 15 minutes, tops. Is this normal? I feel like she puts the ultrasound machine on me, checks if the baby is alive, and then says, "See you next time." I was especially disappointed after having the bleeding when the appointment was a whole of three minutes just to make sure there was a heartbeat. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because I knew she squeezed me into her schedule and assumed we would talk about it at my regular appointment, just three days later. But no, she didn't seem interested in following up, even when I expressed how terrifying it had been and asked if it was normal. "Yep," she said, while squirting the gel on my belly. And that's about it. Then there is the fact that the first time I met her I had the sense that she would want me to go ahead with an epidural and wouldn't quite understand doing it "naturally." This time, we brought up the question of a doula (yes, probably spurred by our documentary-marathon). Her response? "Um, if you want. But I don't see the point." She also said, "Well I guess if you really want a natural birth, you should get a doula, because she could help you with that." Implying that no one else present would be supportive of that? I don't know...maybe I'm reading between the lines too much. Anyhow, STILL I was (am?) ok with her. She is knowledgeable, kind, smiles a lot, and I trust that she would deliver my baby safely. Everything was fine.

Until last night. My husband decided to sit down and have a heart to heart with his friend and friend's wife (who is 6-months-pregnant) about their experiences with their midwives at their Birth Center. He came home gushing with stories about how how their prenatal appointments are an hour long, how the midwives are caring and kind, how they check in about EVERYTHING that is going on with you physically/emotionally/spiritually, how the birth center is beautiful, relaxing and tranquil, and how amazingly happy both of them have been with their experiences.

So yeah, I was instantly jealous. It sounded like therapy for your soul as well as really good prenatal care at the same time. They stated that they instantly feel at peace when they step into their waiting room. Wow. But.....shit. That brought up two major problems for me. First of all, I have always wanted a hospital birth. The idea of a birthing center just sounds a bit like tempting fate to me. What if something goes wrong? Mostly, what if something goes wrong with the baby following the birth? Could we get to the hospital in time? Also, are these people qualified and able to do what an entire hospital of people can do for me? The part of me that has a PhD was screaming inside at the idea of the touchy-feely-unscientific side of all of this. But the part of me that has been exhausted, sick and scared, just wants a care provider who, well, cares and who will take a holistic approach to this pregnancy. Not to mention a provider who will not push me into interventions I don't want.

I mentioned two problems. The second may seem a little silly. But, well, I can't imagine "firing" my doctor. I mean, there are things about her that I wish I could change, but overall, I think she is good, capable, and probably better than most doctors out there. I am a person who is not very good at confrontation and likes everything to be "nice." So the idea of "firing" this doctor who has done nothing wrong sounds awful to me.

So what do I do?? Do I continue as planned, hope for a natural birth in the hospital and accept that the prenatal care isn't exactly what I dreamed of, but it is empirically valid and high quality care? Or do I go with the other side of me and sink into the beautiful birthing center that has candle-lit birthing rooms with beautiful decor and a team of midwives waiting to inquire into my overall health and well-being and give me the time and attention I so desperately am craving right now??

This is where I am at right now. I feel I want to decide as soon as possible, because the longer I wait, the harder a transition would be. Sooooo we scheduled a free "consultation" at the birthing center. Can I just tell you guys, when I called, the damn receptionist was so nice and caring that I wanted to cry? She gushed about my first pregnancy, consoled me about how hard the first trimester has been, and gave me hope that it could get better around 16 weeks. I wanted to make my decision right there. Oh, and the FREE consultation is an hour long, 1:1 with a midwife, followed by a meeting with their clinic director to discuss additional questions. Wow.

But now I need your opinions. Is a Birth Center (basically a home birth with a bit more structure and just a BIT more medical supplies) an absolutely crazy and maybe irresponsible thing to do? Am I throwing away my belief in science just because I've been so sick and tired and want a little coddling? Right now, I'm leaning toward trying to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds. Maybe I can have the midwives do prenatal care but somehow keep my doctor as a back up doctor? Meet with her occasionally or something? And decide later on if I want to do the hospital birth or not? According to their website, they are very open to "supplementing OB care," but I have a feeling my doctor may not be too keen on it... Anyhow, OPINIONS WANTED. Be honest and let me know what you think. Oh, and please don't try to introduce too many additional options, I really am overwhelmed enough as it is. Oh, and before you ask (because everyone does), LA does not seem to be good at the combo of alternative and standard care and doesn't offer options such as birthing centers within a hospital setting. I looked into UCLA Midwives program but that didn't work for logistical reasons, and that seemed to be the only option that combined the two. It seems to be one or the other. And here I am, trying to have the best of both worlds.

*insert huge sigh here*

Because what I really need is to create more stress for myself, right?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Red on White

As you know if you've been reading my blog, I've been very lucky so far to have a really healthy pregnancy. No complications, no spotting, overly positive results of my NT scan. Great stuff. Well, last night I realized that you're really never safe from the utter and sheer terror of pregnancy.

After I wrote my post last night about cooking dinner like a real human being, I was on a roll. I decided hey, why not keep it going? So my husband and I managed to have really good Tuesday-night-sex. Apparently too good. Because right after we finished my husband looked down and said, "Oh my god you're bleeding." The worst words to ever hear while you are pregnant.

I looked down and saw heavy drops of blood down my thigh and bright red droplets on the white sheets. Red on white. I instantly got very calm. I told my husband that it was ok, that this can happen during pregnancy and could he please get me some toilet paper? I felt so proud of how calm I was being, until I realized that, unbeknownst to me, there were tears streaming down my face.

My husband dealt with his panic and anxiety by going into fix-it mode. He brought me fresh tissues, discussed the quality/color of the blood (I know, weird in any other situation), changed the white sheets, held me, reassured me, everything active. I, on the other hand, just sat there holding tissues to myself, checking the blood every few minutes seconds, and literally and figuratively "trying to hold the baby in." I kept saying that to him, "I'm just trying to keep her in" and "I just want to see her right now."

We didn't know what to do. Everything I knew about bleeding during pregnancy was that bright red blood is not good. And that what was on the toilet paper. On the sheets. Google said bleeding can be normal after sex in the second trimester, but to call your doctor. We didn't know what to do at 12:00 at night. Call our doctor?? Go to the ER? Wait it out?

We decided to monitor and wait. I didn't have any pain, no cramping, just the blood. It kept coming for about two hours or so? It felt like forever. I finally fell asleep with nightmares of empty ultrasounds or worse, ultrasounds that showed something disfigured or missing or just very, very wrong with my baby.

The next day I called the doctor's office as soon as it opened and my doctor said she wanted me to come in that afternoon. Ok, good. But of course, part of me wished she had said, "Oh no big deal, just wait until your regularly-scheduled appointment on Monday. This is normal....don't worry." But she didn't. She said, "come in."

So I made it to work, went through the motions like a zombie, and cancelled my poor, neglected clients and then rushed back out the door around 1:00. When I got to the doctor's office they made me wait. I waited and waited in excruciating agony. Being at work was better. Sitting in the waiting room, listening to call after call in which the receptionist reassured other bleeding women (seriously 3 calls in the 1.5 hours I waited...why is pregnancy so terrifying??) and trying to hold myself into the chair so I didn't float away.

Finally, the nurse took me back. They have this little "Lab" area where they take your blood pressure, vitals, etc. It's basically just a hallway with other patients, nurses, etc, walking by. The nurse doesn't greet me or anything, just says, in a brusque, rushed way, "Are you still bleeding?" Heads turned to look at the poor pregnant lady who might be losing her baby. My head snapped up and I looked at her in shock and dismay before I could get my expression under control. She realized her mistake and went to escort some people out of the area. When she came back I quietly told her that there was still some blood but it was brown, old blood. She cut me off and just said, "okay."

Finally, after more waiting, the doctor. I was hoping for information, answers, reassurances. But she was clearly rushed and had fit me into an already busy schedule. She was doing her best. She said that some bleeding is normal because the cervix is very sensitive during the second trimester, but she seemed surprised by the amount of blood I described (like a light period). She thanked me for calling and said, "Whenever someone is bleeding, I want to see them." Well, sounds like a good policy to me. And then she popped the ultrasound wand out and went to business. You guys, there was one terrifying moment where I thought I saw a big empty cavernous sac with no baby and then BOOM - there she was. I was still frantically searching for her heartbeat when the doctor starting laughing and smiling and saying "everything looks great - wonderful heartbeat -and oh look! she is sticking out her tongue!" And she was. In and out like a little lizard. Like she was saying, calm down Mom, everything's fine. You're being too serious.

And that was that. The appointment was over. No internal exam. Just checking the baby and placenta to look for heartbeat and lack of bleeds (I guess?). She prescribed no sex for 2 weeks and then "we'll see how it goes." And then she rushed me out the door and onto her next appointment where I'm sure the next women was having her own equally emotionally-laden moment. I wanted more, but she was satisfied and Baby looked content and happy and so that's what I got.

I'll tell you what. As my husband said, this was a completely "horrifying" experience. Sitting in the middle of the night, hoping a piece of toilet paper will hold in our dreams, feeling terrified and shocked....all after just starting to settle in and feel safe. I realized that it's no longer about "losing a pregnancy." It's about losing our baby. This baby. Not a baby, but this baby. The one who has a gender, and a name, and has become a real part of our family. I felt like the bleeding wasn't happening to my body, but to my baby, and I wanted to keep her safe and had no idea how to do it. And the funniest thing is? The part that made me feel most like a parent? The only thing that made me feel better - that comforted me - was my baby herself. Sticking her tongue out at me and laughing at me like, hey, Mom, get over yourself. I'm just over here, doing baby things.

My husband is a wreck too. He didn't get to come to the appointment today (no way with his work schedule last minute) and he is still reeling. He is struggling with feeling responsible and frightened and powerless. Both of us assumed different roles last night. I know those roles will only continue to solidify until we actually meet our daughter and fully become parents, but I will tell you what...I feel a lot closer to being a Parent today than I did yesterday.

Sorry for the terrible photo quality here (picture of a picture), but I have to say, this is my favorite ultrasound photo yet. I really feel like it screams comfort. She's curled up, snuggled in, and if you look close at the actual picture, you can tell her tongue is sticking out. We are so, so lucky to have that picture.