Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


Better Living Through Chemistry

(It’s taken me two days to write this, so the time references are all off. I know you don’t care, but For The Record.)

This morning, during the twenty minutes that the Bean deigned to sleep not on me (not that it isn’t adorable, but pretty soon I’m going to form adhesions to the Boppy and the couch) I wrote my GP a thank you note.

Now, I am southern and everything, but I am not that devoted to the note-writing — I’m not caught up with the baby gift thank-yous (or COUGH the wedding ones) — but sometimes it is just Called For. And now, a few glorious days into my new life as a person who doesn’t spend six or more hours a day gritting her teeth and feeling her eyes protrude from the pain of invisible vice-grips on her nipples, now is one of those times.
In short: Nifedipine is amazing stuff. My GP rules. I am ever-more angry at Dr. Russian’s nurse, the practice as a whole, and, sadly, Dr. Russian herself.
(Ha! I just got back from several hours outside, where I walked around pain-free in only a tanktop! I nursed outside, even, without agony! Yes, it’s beautiful and warm today, but it is usually hot as blazes in our apartment at night, thanks to a very enthusiastic heater over which we have no control, and that never stopped my nips from seizing up for hours on end.)
In long: I started having vasospasms over a month ago. Or at least, that’s when I realized I was having them. It took me a little while to sort out that pain from the typical surface pains of early nursing and the pinching of Mr. Crocodile-Jaws’s lazy latching (corrected by the Hippy But Not Dippy LC), but those things don’t turn your nipples white even when you haven’t nursed in hours or leave you cussing like a sailor while clutching your chest in an attempt to warm them up through two layers of cloth nursing pads, two shirts, a thick sweater, a wool shawl, and a coat when it isn’t even properly winter any longer. Once I figured out that’s what they were, I told myself to be patient, that it was all due to an injury from a bad latch that was fixed now, that I was exaggerating. I also managed to repress that my mother has Reynaud’s and that we both have migraine, which is related.
After a week, I called my ob’s office and asked about nifedipine. The nurse called back, all patronizing and unhelpful. “Oh, we wouldn’t do that.” Why not? No reason, just vague admonitions about taking medications while breastfeeding. Use warm compresses. I am, I said, and it’s not helping. Use warm compresses. I lost it. Not pretty. Crying. Raised voice. Accusations that they didn’t care about my health — I’m going to stand by that one. The fact is that they did not care enough to, you know, do anything about the quarter or more of the day (and I mean out of 24 hours) that I was spending in pain. Only it wasn’t pain, I guess, since the nurse kept referring to it as “discomfort.” (This is the same woman who, when Sugar called in to ask if we should go to the hospital and I was having a terrible contraction in the background, told her that I “needed to calm down.” Because back labor is so much less painful if you’re quiet about it. Very helpful bitch, she is.) She called back later, probably because I was so obviously enraged, said she’d talked to the doctor (whoever was in that day), confirmed that they wouldn’t prescribe for me but here was the number of the LC around here who is also an MD…who doesn’t take insurance (reprehensible) and who charges you to read her website (seriously).
So I wrote to the HBND LC, and even though it was Friday afternoon and she takes Shabbat seriously, she wrote back immediately with a number of suggestions. I dutifully added more horse pills to the supplement brigade (calcium/magnesium and oatstraw in addition to prenatals, brewer’s yeast, folic acid, and vitamin D) and tried to soak my nipples in hot salt water (which is awkward as hell and just left me with a damp, salty baby nursing the non-soaking side while the first side went bananas the minute the air hit it anyway). I heated nursing pads in the microwave — they went from scalding to clammy in a nano-blink — and tried unsuccessfully to position a heating pad over the first boob without letting it touch the baby as he nursed side two, electric boogaloo. Eventually, I gave up everything but the supplements, dressing like a wrestler trying to sweat down a weight class, and weeping. I made extra-warm flannel nursing pads and layered them until I looked like I was stuffing my already ginormous bra. I tried not to scream at the baby for crying, although every time he did so, the let-down reflex made my nipples crush themselves. My efforts to avoid cussing while nursing met with mixed success. (Mother of the YEAR, I’m telling you.) I refused to leave the house.
At six weeks postpartum, I had my ob check-up, at which my mention of vasospasms was ignored. When, at the end of the appointment, I mentioned that I thought it would be nice if they made a postpartum phone call to check in before then, Dr. Russian treated me to a strangely vehement tongue lashing, complete with raised voice and pointed use of my first name. I was accused of wanting them to do things “no one” does, of asking them to follow up with the baby (which would have been strange, considering how many times we went to the Bean’s pediatrician for weight-checks). It was strongly implied that I had called the nurse too many times, despite the fact that every call I’d made had been for something on the hospital discharge paperwork, like a high fever, UTI symptoms, and a large and terrifyingly hamster-like clot. She kept returning to the idea that “this” was a job for family — “We’re not your family, Bionic, we’re DOCTORS” — as if I’d asked for emotional support rather than medical help. As it happens, many of my family members are doctors, and try as I may, I can’t imagine any of them behaving that way to a patient, no matter how pushy and crazy the patient was. It was horrible, not least because it forced me to admit that her similar behavior during labor wasn’t clever tough love intended to motivate me but just plain emotional instability. Farewell, Dr. Russian. I liked your shoes and your sass and your meat obsession, but if you aren’t family, I don’t have to put up with that shit.
As a confident, independent, properly-raised woman, it pains me to admit what a funk that visit left me in, but there you are. More weeping, more telling myself that this pain was something I just had to deal with, that it wouldn’t even bother a good mother. I wondered how soon I could give up breastfeeding without hating myself for doing so.
Eventually, my pissed-off, entitled side beat the weepy bit into submission. I read up on nifedipine and discovered that the bitchy nurse was full of shit — it’s perfectly safe for breastfeeding and plenty common enough that problems would have turned up by now. Even the NIH thinks so, and they don’t even think you should take aspirin because your baby might magically get Reyes Syndrome from the teensy bit that gets into your milk (not to mention that the Reyes/aspirin connection is not actually that convincing, says my father, whose field this is, after all). I trolled PubMed — and yes, I will totally be using this as an example of why my students should PAY ATTENTION on the days we spend in the library, learning database searching — and found several articles to the effect that Reynaud’s of the nipple is real, is serious, and ought to be treated, if only because it hurts like hell and will keep people from breastfeeding. (I suppose it is too much to ask that it be treated just because it makes the mothers’ fucking nipples fucking hurt, regardless of whether it might mean the babies get formula and therefore become dyslexic, asthmatic axe murders.)
I called my GP, whose receptionist told me to talk to my OB, but she agreed to see me anyway. (Meanwhile, Sugar went to see her ob/gyn, who asked after me. When Sugar mentioned the vasospasms, she said, “Why isn’t she on nifedipine?” She assured Sugar it was very safe and said I should come see their practice if the GP didn’t prescribe it. I had wanted to go to that practice in the first place, but they weren’t accepting new ob patients when I got pregnant. Now that I’m a plain old gyn patient again, though, I am so there.) At the appointment, my GP listened to my description and the logic of my self-diagnosis and asked, “is there a treatment?” I trotted out my notes; she copied down my citations and wrote me a scrip for the dose I had found in the articles.

Sugar and I go to the same GP, and at times we have wondered whether her willingness to put us on or take us off of drugs we ask about means that we like her for the wrong reasons, because she does what we want rather than saying no. But really, why shouldn’t she? We don’t come to her with frivolous or dangerous requests, for one thing, but also, shouldn’t we have some say in our own healthcare? If I want to try a drug that won’t hurt and has a good chance of helping, maybe my desire (and pain) should be important enough that my doctor is willing to learn something new. My GP didn’t do anything Dr. Russian couldn’t have done. Even if Dr. Russian and her practice do not generally treat vasospasms (which, PS, they should — 20% of women in childbearing years have some version of them), she could have listened to me, read the journal articles and/or consulted with colleagues, and done something to help, instead of turfing me to another doctor (on my own dime, too), and blaming me for needing help. As a child of doctors, I’ve spent a lot of my life arguing with people who claim that all doctors are arrogant. Besides my own family members, I grew up surrounded by doctors, and most of them were more like my GP than not. Most of them were like my father, who works insane hours seeing patients with tricky diseases, dictates notes late into the night, goes into the hospital every weekend (which requires sacrifices from families, too — no camping trips or even full Christmas Days together), and still finds time to listen to his patients and their parents and think more about their needs than his ego. It pisses me off to no end (though I will end this post someday, promise) when a doctor acts like such a stereotype.

Enough ranting for the moment. The nifedipine is wonderful. The Bean is wonderful, too. He’s smiling more and spending a higher proportion of his waking hours not screaming. We take baths together every night, which I love — I haven’t had a good bath buddy in 25 years. This morning, I think he really saw one of our cats for the first time. I’m so happy to be out of pain and able to focus on having a good time with him and bombarding my friends and family with pictures of his every move. Since you’ve been so good as to suffer through this interminable post, allow me to bombard you:


A Boy and His (Very Patient) Cat


Notes from Week 36

Item: Thank you for the nice comments on Sugar’s painting. The likeness is a tad off, but the boobs are exactly accurate. Um, Sugar? My face is up here.

Item: We had our last growth scan on Monday, and all is well. As Sweet Sonographer covered my midriff (sounds too cute…mid-raft?) with icy glop, I said lightly that she ought to make them buy her a fancy glop-warmer, like they have over at the high-risk place down the block. “Oh, I do have one. It’s over on the counter.”

I still love Sweet Sonographer, and it was cute that she tried so hard to find something adorable for us to see at this scan (we settled for hiccups, since the Bean’s face/dragon snout was obscured by its low position in my pelvis), but I must admit that her halo is a bit tarnished by this revelation.

Item: According to the u/s, which I understand has a remarkably enormous margin of error, the Bean weighs in at a respectable 5lbs. 7oz. at 36 weeks, which means it’s been listening to my chanting “over 6, under 9” at it. Good Bean.

Item: It has recently come to my attention that “0-3 month” size clothes (of which we have a respectable number) are not the same as “newborn” size clothes (of which we have none). What the hell is 0 months if not newborn? Do we need newborn clothes? How in the hell is a person supposed to figure these things out, anyway? And what hope have I of managing the actual work of raising not killing a baby if my limited brain power is being wasted on stupid clothing sizes?

Item: Thanks to Schroedinger, there are at least some diapers in the house. Lord knows if they’re the right size, but diapers I know where to buy.

Item: Group B Strep test was also Monday. The GBS test involves a vaginal and anal “swab,” which caused me much worry on Sunday, as Sugar had celebrated Valentine’s Day early by giving me the GI bug she’d had on Saturday. (Sub-Item 1: despite what you may have assumed, bouts of diarrhea are emphatically not improved by having someone kick at your intestines throughout. Sub-Item 2: Nor by things-we-are-not-calling-hemorrhoids.) I needn’t have worried. I scarcely noticed the butt part, so distracting was the vaginal aspect. “Swab” might be better described as “vigorous scrubbing with what appears to be an old mascara brush.” “Just wait until the cervix checks,” said Dr. Russian, with an evil grin.

Item: Dr. Russian loves shoes. On Monday, she was wearing black patent leather platform stilettos with wide ankle straps. They did complement the mood, I must say.

Item: I will not be in pretty shoes any time soon, as it’s all I can do to waddle around in clogs. Speak to me not of stairs, either. I am even taking what elevators (not enough!) exist in subway stations, despite the aromas inherent in that process. Today, an old lady cut me in line for one, forcing me to wait for the next round. It was a blatant cut, too, no simple misunderstanding. Those hooligans think they can do whatever they please, all tricked out and speedy with their canes.


A Confession, A Rant, and The Rest

I keep thinking that if I wait, all these things in my head will coalesce into a real post, but it isn’t happening. So here comes a big mess. If you’d prefer not to see a bunch of mental clutter, here is an alternate post for you:

What should we be registering for that we’ve forgotten? Discuss.

Still here?

Okay then.

First, the confession part. It concerns birth stories. Yours and yours and yours and probably yours, too. Your amazing, beautiful, dramatic, powerful birth stories that you put so much care into and that I never comment on, even though I read them again and again and again. Even though I can see page after page of comments making it perfectly clear that all I have to do is say, “Amazing! Beautiful! Congratulations! Thank you!” and my work will be done, I don’t write a thing and (if you think about it at all) you must assume I don’t read them, since half the time I’m writing a novel in your comment box. I hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings.

The truth is that I don’t comment because your stories scare the ever-loving crap out of me. Half the time I have to have a little meltdown after reading them. The other half the time, I have the meltdown while reading them, to save time. I know enough to know that I shouldn’t say *that* in your comment box — I am hopelessly self-centered, but I am aware, in a conceptual way, of manners — and for some reason I can’t bring myself to say anything else.

So now you know. I read your story — and yours and yours and yours — probably more than once. And I was glad it was there to read, because I am an emotional over-packer, and I know that stories help me. So please accept my inadequate thanks for writing yours.

Two, the rant part.

Dr. Sears, please go fuck yourself sideways on something pointy.


Maybe I should start by talking about Wednesday’s birth class instead. This week was “Interventions and Things that Can Go Wrong,” and I have never been happier that we picked this class over the others we were considering. Although most of the class (at least the ones that talk about it) seem to be planning for unmedicated births — at least half of them in the local birth center rather than a hospital — and although the previous three classes have been all about non-medical ways to deal with contractions and so forth, both teachers were calm and even-handed when talking about monitors and epidurals and all that. One even went so far as to suggest that even though lots of people love The Business of Being Born, that possibly it had gone a tad far in its excoriation of pitocin. [Holy Moly — I just went to youtube and watched that part, since I’ve never seen the movie. Heart now racing. Talk about your scare tactics! What the hell is up with that cartoon?] Our favorite teacher talked about a patient of hers who had apologized to her when requesting an epidural and told us in no uncertain terms that she did not disapprove of that decision. The only editorializing — and it was announced as such — was a plea to please not ask for an induction for a frivolous reason, which seems pretty sound.

When we were shopping around for birth classes, I wrote to various teachers and explained that, due to the double-cervix situation, I am at a higher-than-average risk of needing a c-section, and that it was important to me not to set myself up to think of a vaginal birth as successful and a c-section as a failure. One of the major reasons we chose this class is because I felt good about the teacher’s response, and last night bore that out. The whole course has been about letting your body do its thing, asking doctors and midwives for all the options, etc. Our classmates are not the elective c-section type — if they were, they wouldn’t be in this particular class. But who can predict what will happen in labor? I loved that the screen of notes on c-sections began with “C-Section: An amazing, life-saving procedure” (or words to that effect).

None of that stopped me from weeping through the discussion of how emergency c-sections worked, of course. Possibly I have a little hangover from all the furious speed of egg retrieval day. We learned that, in the event of an emergency, the surgical team would work efficiently and fast, “just like NASCAR.” I can only hope the OR isn’t covered in logos for Laughing Clown Malt Liquor.

The whole evening, I was impressed with how calm and open the teachers were, talking about things that probably weren’t on their ideal birth list when they decided to become midwives. I’m sure they knew that the Other Pregnant Lesbian and I have been comparing notes on epidural policies at the hospital we’re both going to, because I have a nasty habit of being that person still shouting as the room goes quiet after break, but neither had anything especially bad to say about epidurals during that section of the class. They passed around an epidural catheter so we could see how slender it is and explained how to keep changing positions even with one in. It’s almost as if they meant it when their response to my email said their goal was,

“to offer childbirth education that focuses on making your birth experience a satisfying and joyful entrance into parenthood, no matter what twists and turns and challenges you face, no matter what your personal desires and goals.”

Go figure.

And then there’s Dr. Sears.

An old friend sent us a box of baby-related hand-me-downs recently, including the Sears’ Pregnancy and Birth books. I tend to agree with Dr. Sears on about 80-90% of things, and find the other 10-20% hopelessly nutso, but I decided to take a look. In a bookshop, early in the pregnancy, I’d been very impressed with how calmly and thoroughly he dealt with first trimester bleeding — most books just say “well, it might not be a miscarriage, but PROBABLY IT IS” which is silly considering how common it is — and rather turned off by his section on weight gain, which took the usual tack of assuming you are just itching for an excuse to become morbidly obese and added the nicely tuned guilt trip of “plus you are making your baby fat, you lazy cow.” But free is free, so what the heck. I turned to the birth stories section.

The stories themselves are what they are. Only one of them makes me actively gaggy. It is an induction story, and the second paragraph begins, “Dad likes having a baby this way.” (I’m all for having both partners involved and everything, but I’ve already told Sugar that any statements like that of the father Dr. Sears praises for saying “we had a vaginal exam” are…unwelcome. Unless she’s up for hopping in the stirrups alongside me for moral support.) Okay, I also want to do a consciousness-raising session with the author of “I Witnessed Myself Become A Woman — VBAC Water Birth,” but whatever.

Dr. Sears is a proponent of “natural” childbirth, by which he means no drugs. (I hate that term, personally — it’s a bit of an emotionally loaded dichotomy for my taste — but whatever.) I’m a proponent of letting women decide for themselves what they do and don’t want to be part of their birth. This is where we diverge. I expected that, but I didn’t expect quite the level of paternalistic bullshit found in the commentary on the birth story of the Woman Who Dared Ask For An Epidural.

“A Medically Managed Birth” is about a woman whose doctor tells her to go the hospital when her water breaks. Ten hours later, she gets some pitocin. Some time after that, things get intense and painful, and she starts to feel hopeless. She can’t concentrate on the baby, only the next contraction. She requests and gets an epidural, feels confident again, promptly dilates to 10, pushes the baby out — able to concentrate on it again, rather than pain — and feels happy about it.

How dare she! Incredulous, Dr. Sears, et al., “interviewed her about whether or not this style of birth [“American”] left her “less fulfilled” as a woman.” Rude much? She says no, on the contrary, she feels great about it. “

There was no doubt in her mind that she gave birth, and the fact that she didn’t experience the intense sensation of a drug-free birth did not lessen her fulfillment.”

Mother gives birth to healthy baby, isn’t hung up about it; everybody wins, right? Wrong. Dr. Sears goes on to remind us that she didn’t have the chance to have natural, gradual contractions — okay, fair enough. Everyone says pitocin sucks like that. It’s the closing that pisses me off:

“We wonder whether her Lamaze instructor mentioned the importance of taking the contractions one at a time […] thinking of the baby, not the next contraction.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the instructor did mention that, since the mother mentions the loss of her ability to do that after…chronology is a little unclear, but at least 12 hours, probably quite a bit longer. Maybe, just maybe, she was trying to do that and it was too damn hard. So she should have what, tried harder? What is the big fucking problem with an adult making a decision to use a very safe drug to lessen pain? Labor pain may be “pain with a purpose” or whatever, but so is the pain of passing a kidney stone, and no one talks about how virtuous people enjoy that.

I in no way mean to denigrate women who choose to give birth without painkillers. I really, really don’t. But I think that the important thing is that the laboring woman — not some moralizing jackass judging her story later — makes that decision. There’s so much B.S. out there about epidurals — most of which was either never true or hasn’t been true in 25 years — that the last thing I consider acceptable is telling a woman with no negative feelings about how her birth went down that she should feel bad.

You are all such clever people that you no doubt figured out 20,000 words ago what this post is really about: my fear that you’ll think less of me if/when I get an epidural. Even that “if” was a pretty big lie — birth is unpredictable, but the epi is in the plan, for sure. I’ve done my research, and I feel good about it from a scientific perspective: one reason I’m happy we’re going to Kips Bay Mega Hospital is that their epi policies are excellent. (OB anesthesiologist on 24/7. Standard use is light-dose, patient-controlled, which all the studies agree is the way to go in terms of pain relief and side effects if you have the staff. The intent at least is to keep the dose light enough that patients can go to the bathroom themselves. No “window” — you can have one whenever you want and the OB thinks is okay; Dr. Russian says I can have one now as far as she’s concerned.) If the cervices don’t behave and I need a c-section, I’d just as soon already have the epi in, and if not, I’d rather not be feeling every bit of my septum breaking, which it may well. Even without those special circumstances, useful as they are for shutting down any “your birth will be fine because mine was” stuff, I think I’d be leaning this way. I’ve experienced plenty of severe pain in my life, what with the migraines and the endo/GI situation, and I haven’t noticed anyone giving me a medal for the times I’ve done so without painkillers. Other people have had worse pain than I have and make other decisions; that’s okay. I’m okay with being a wimp on this one…

…as long as y’all will still be friends with me.


Still More Of Me To Love

Greetings from your favorite dugong! Not only is my physique tending towards the marine mammal look (though I look considerably less svelte than a real dugong, I’m afraid), but my attempts to forestall rib pain by keeping my arms close to my chest may soon result in their becoming flippers.

Still feeling like I’m being stabbed and rather peeved at Dr. Russian for not really listening to me about it. She says it’s a bruise (though how I am supposed to have hit the bottom of my ribs with anything, given the significant convexities surrounding that area, I’ve no idea) and to go easy on the meds. I say it’s a torn muscle or pissed off cartilage and it hurts like heck. Since the treatment is the same for both theories — wait, wish, and pray it gets better before the Bean can kick that high up — I suppose it doesn’t matter. I mostly have stayed off the percocet, but some nights (like last night, for instance), that’s just not possible.

Ah, well. Dr. Russian is, after all, Russian. Disregard for non-lethal injury is as inevitable a part of her character as the praise she heaped upon me for eating meat. I will gladly accept her boredom with my ribs, given that she is similarly unbothered by my having already gained as much weight as the practice “wants” me to put on over the course of the entire pregnancy.

I’d be lying if I said the weight gain didn’t bother me at all, but I’m doing my best not to worry about it. I don’t think there’s much I can do about it — I’m hungry most of the time, and we eat pretty reasonable kinds of food. I guess I’m just one of those women who gains a lot in pregnancy. My weight has mostly been stable in adulthood, so I hope that losing it won’t be too terrible.

At any rate, one member of the household seems pretty happy with the situation. (He’s usually more of a boob-man, but those are getting pretty sizeable, too — and don’t think he doesn’t cop a feel.)

More of Me To Love

More of Me To Love

Now that’s my kind of Perfect Moment Monday.


Items From Our Catalogue

Item: This post is coming to you from my dismal office, as I wait an hour for the next bus to ferry me to the train station, the first step of my 2+ hour commute. It will be even longer tonight, because I missed the early bus. I had (somewhat irresponsibly) let class out early so I could catch it, and then I spaced out and missed it anyway. Is this “pregnancy brain” (gag) or ordinary incompetence?

I have become too lazy/dull/generally pathetic to participate in my own meme. Will this be in the DSM-5?

Item: You should check out (and submit to, in all senses of the word) starhillgirl’s very fun new tumblr blog, Lunch. Make your lunch famous on the internet! I’m going to pull a fast one and call my Thanksgiving Sandwich entry my Come And Eat post for this time.

I made half as much sweet potato pudding this year, since Sugar had requested a savory sweet potato dish. I should have made more pudding — it was gone in a day, and I only got one sandwich out of it. The savory option is currently dying a quiet death in the back of the fridge.

Item: All that frantic eating seems to have led to another growth spurt. Internets, I am certifiably enormous. I am back to running into things every five minutes. I am in denial about the fact that turning sidewise to slip by objects or people has become comic in the extreme. (Imagine it — I, not un-wide, approach a narrow passage. I pause, turn 90 degrees, thus rendering myself twice as wide, and proceed to shove my way through.) I would say picture to follow, but I think we can all agree that said picture is more likely to actually happen if I don’t make any promises.

Item: While spending a very nice weekend with friends outside of Boston — and the fact that I can call the weekend very nice, despite how much of it was spent dealing with a teething toddler, a sudden lack of heat and hot water, and an obstreperous landlord ought to give you some idea how wonderful these friends are — I discovered that I could cleverly heft my (considerable) self out of their comfortable but very low armchair by pushing down on its arms and hovering my butt in the air such that my legs swung perfectly underneath me. I was very proud of being strong (and short) enough to manage the feat and performed it more than necessary.

Pride ever goeth before costcochondritis, as it turns out.

This is plenty bad, but how much worse it would be without Dr. Russian, who was on call last night when I left a tearful message with the answering service, after a day of increasing agony. “Take the percocet!” quoth she. Good doctor, that.


A Quick Sono Update and Fret

Oooo, lordy, it’s been too long since we’ve written here. The cliff’s notes are that things are fine, my back/legs/hips are starting (already! crap!) to be a problem but I otherwise feel good, and that we got a big, sudden freelance job that is keeping us busy for a couple of weeks but will provide a few bucks for the “what in the hell will we do when Bionic isn’t working, and have you seen the cost of health insurance these days*?” fund. I’m supposed to be transcribing an interview right now, so this will be quick and sloppy:

We had the anatomy scan last week, at which Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian fussed that it was too early to see things well. (At least they didn’t blame me for getting the date wrong, since it was someone at their office who told me to come in that day.) Nevertheless, they eventually saw what they needed to. I am beyond relieved to report that the Bean’s heart has four chambers. A friend had to terminate after that scan because of a heart problem, and she is in our thoughts often. I am further thrilled that the Bean has a spine! My father was born with a slight spine problem that isn’t considered spina bifida but is close enough for my mother to have been fretting about that since the pee dried on the stick. Likewise cheering were the ghostly images of a two-hemisphere brain, a three-vessel cord, and the dark circle of a bladder.
As before, Sweet Sonographer could find only one cervix, but they were happy enough with it to take me off of incompetent-cervix-watch.
From an “Awwwww!” perspective, some parts of the scan were rather unsettling. We had a brief view of the baby’s face, and boy, do I hope my impression of “terrifying dragon creature” proves to be unfounded. Or at least that it’s a good Dragon-Bean, friendly with the cats and not constantly setting the furniture on fire.
The cutest part was when Sweet Sonographer found the feet. The Bean was wiggling up a storm in there, but keeping its feet neatly together, like so:
19 Weeks -- FEET!
I giggled as the picture was taken, which accounts for the extra toes. I think there are only ten, not multiple rows like shark’s teeth.
You’ve probably noticed the continuing use of “it.” Upon MUCH reflection, we decided not to find out the sex yet. We’re happy with that decision. We’re only just getting to know each other, after all, and Sugar and I don’t think of sex as an essential characteristic (gender, yes, but that’s not visible on ultrasound just yet).
Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian did see something they didn’t like the look of in the abdomen, which is the subject of today’s fret. Dr. Russian said she couldn’t tell if it was a dilated blood vessel or just a cyst, and has referred me to the high-risk clinic with the fancier u/s machine for a follow up today. She said not to worry over it, and mostly I haven’t. But as the hour approaches, anxieties creep in on little spider feet. The Bean keeps kicking and wiggling, though, which is reassuring, even though I know it doesn’t mean nothing is wrong. It is just so hard to believe that anything could be — and harder to believe that I think that, given that my feelings were the opposite for so long.
That was the second time I saw Dr. Russian, whom I quiet like, despite a bit of brusqueness. This time, after announcing my (substantial) weight gain and then taking something of a pause before saying it was okay (Good doctor; you’re learning), she asked after my diet. (Note to self: asking to be left alone about food made them think you are an anorexic and has led them to ask you about food constantly. Dumb move.) I said I thought we ate well and turned to Sugar for help. Sugar said that we cook all our own food, that we eat a variety of things, lots of vegetables. And then she said something I thought was a bit strange:
“We eat meat every day.”
We do eat meat every day, I thought, but what an odd thing to mention. But Sugar is wise. Dr. Russian immediately brightened and began heaping praise on us and meat. “Eating meat is so good! Lots of red meat, and chicken and fish….” She carried on in this vein for some time — it was certainly the longest topic of discussion at the appointment.
Later, I remarked to Sugar how cheering I find the fact that Russians love it when you eat meat. (My college roommate was a vegetarian Russian major, and the department never did take to her; her many wonderful qualities never quite compensated for that essential failing. On the other hand, when she’d take me to the Russian Department lunches, the professors would fall over themselves in praise, just because I’d eat the sausages and cured meats they’d brought in.)
Sugar replied, “I know. That’s why I told her that.”
Clever girl.
*Anyone have the Aetna POS 90 plan? It is by far the cheapest premium on the list. What’s the catch? And why is this confusing?