Bionic Mamas

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


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Items From Our Catalog

Hi, Internets.  I wrote you such a post yesterday!  Well, we can all believe it was wonderful, because the WP iPad app ate it, and only the good die young, right?  In the interest of posting something, anything, here are some items:

Current Events

  • Sugar did not get the promotion/new job she has been waiting to hear about since, oh, February-ish.  (The actual interview was in August, but that’s around when she started the application process.)  Waiting to hear has been a stressful situation for our family, and this news is, of course, even more stressful.  The job would have meant more money and the kind of title and responsibilities that make it easier to move to another good job elsewhere, so that sucks.  Then there’s the part where she is a great employee who has been in this small department for eight years, doing the work of this better job for most of a year, and generally feels pretty damn shafted right now.  “We sure hope you won’t take this as a reflection on how much we value your [tireless, underpaid-even-for-this-department, grant-money-attracting] work in your current position,” says her boss, who can eat ALL THE BAGS OF DICKS, as far as I am concerned.
  • Her boss gave her this news following a big meeting about how there would be a lot of work for the department in February.  She stayed after to tell him that he might need to assign extra staff to those projects, since we are expecting a baby at that time.  Nothing like getting additional rejection immediately after saying things like “I might need to take time off if it’s like last time, because my wife almost died.”
  • No, I don’t think that influenced his decision.  He is not a quick decider, just an asshole.
  • She isn’t getting fired, but it feels a little like that, because if they aren’t willing to promote her to management after eight years, yeah, it’s time to move on.
  • There has literally never been a better time to convince us to come be your neighbors!  Seriously, if you have connections in educational technology and/or public health, be in touch, huh?  We are open to leaving the city.  Probably not — full disclosure — for Indiana.
  • Sugar left early this morning to visit her parents for the weekend, so we get to be apart while processing all this.  Whee.

Democracy In Action

  • We voted in the NYC primary this week.  Sugar tried to weasel out of it by saying she wasn’t registered to a political party (required for primaries in this state), but ha ha, turns out there’s a website to check that kind of thing.  The Bean was putting up a fuss about going, but the return of the old voting machines (with LEVERS!) and the advent of never-seen-here-before STICKERS may have won him over for life.
  • I kind of can’t believe that in a field that included a lesbian and black man, I checked the box by yet another straight white guy’s name.  But, hey, at least he’s married to a lesbian.  And I’m married to a lesbian, myself!

Obstetrics and Midwifery

  • My appointment last week went well.  I saw the midwife again, and I wish she were an OB.  This practice has two CNMs who work with OB patients, but only the OBs deliver.  I’m not sure why this is the system, but I wish I could see this MW more often.  If nothing else, it was a nice break from grilling everyone about whether they are competent/emotionally stable, since I’ve already told her my deal.
  • I had told her about the postpartum anemia last time I saw her, but I hadn’t known for sure it was because of hemorrhage (as opposed to general pregnancy anemia).  I told her the numbers from the hospital records, and she said they would definitely have offered a transfusion.  That is reassuring, vis-a-vis hoping to not be that sick again.
  • She noted in my chart that I had had a postpartum hemorrhage, but said she thinks it is unlikely to recur, since it was probably mostly the septum doing the bleeding.  If a septum includes an artery, she says, “those things can really pump.”  I guess that explains why the doctors used up all the gauze in the room and the supply closet both, stuffing my vagina full of it and pulling it out again.  (Which hurt a surprising amount.)
  • I made a supposedly off-hand comment about how maybe none of this will matter anyway, if the placenta doesn’t move, since I’d end up with an automatic c-section.  She waved her hand, as if dismissing a joke.  “Please.  It’s marginal at sixteen weeks.  It will move.”  I think she is likely to be right, but this was still a nice antidote to my mother’s gloom on the subject.  (My mother generally seems to think I don’t take bad news sufficiently seriously, and so takes pains to impress upon me that bad news is bad.  I’m not sure where she got the impression that I am an optimist.)
  • The most surprising aspect of the appointment is that we did not have a fight or even a lengthy discussion about my plan to refuse the glucose tolerance screening this time around.  I told her how sick I had gotten last time, confirmed that I had eaten beforehand and still was neurologically wrecked for three days, and mentioned my low risk factors for gestational diabetes.  (I restrained myself from opening with what BS I think most of the things written about GD are, at least when it comes to bad outcomes among patients without pre-existing insulin resistance.  And since when is an episiotomy in the same category of outcome as a c-section, anyway?)  I was all set to argue, with data and citations and everything (thanks to Dr. J. F. Scientist and my mother), but she said, “We had a patient like you really recently.  Are you willing to do some monitoring at home?” I am — what’s a few more self-inflicted stab wounds for a fertility clinic veteran, am I right?  “I’ll bring it up at the OB meeting this week, but I’m sure it’s fine.  You’ll have to get a meter.”  And then she got out the doppler and we listened to Jackalope’s galloping heart.
  • I feel surprised, relieved, and perversely thwarted.  I have data, damn it!  Don’t you want to even look at it?  Please?
  • In general, the visit was reassuring on the “have I once again chosen insane care providers” front.

Addled Brain, My

  • I am somewhat bemused to report that the one thing that would have irritated me about that appointment, in other times, namely the MW referring to the amount of weight I’ve gained as “not bad,” didn’t bother me at all, except in an impersonal, cultural-political kind of way.  Huh.  I realized that I never gave them the “please don’t bug me about eating/my weight” talk that led Dr. Russian’s practice to label me as an active anorexic (and therefore interrogate me about my diet at every opportunity, FAIL), partly because they have never told me anything dumb like some imaginary, ideal amount of weight to program my animatronic body to gain without exceeding.  Funny, how not setting a person up to think her weight in under surveilance is helpful in the not-feeling-under-surveillance department.
  • However.
  • I am not doing so very well in the “putting that birth behind me” category (the one comment from my last appointment with this MW that, while meant kindly, did in fact rub me the wrong way).
  • And so.
  • I have decided to look for a therapist.
  • I have very mixed feelings about that.
  • Bunny mentioned in a comment a few posts ago that she wasn’t sure of my feelings about therapy except that I had been utterly enraged by the Baby Factory’s requirement that we see their counselor.  For the sake of clarity, my feelings about Our Dumb Appointment are not my feelings about therapy in general, but are more to do with the screening-for-parental-fitness nature of that requirement.  Eugenics is so pre-war, darling.
  • That’s not to say I have no issues with the idea of going into therapy, many of which are conveniently wrapped up in my feelings about my mother, who is a psychiatrist.
  1. I prefer the convenience of boring and annoying my family, friends, and readership.
  2. My previous experience with therapy (in college) was deeply pointless.  I now realize that might have had more to do with my therapist being a 22-year-old intern from Alma Mater’s social work school than with therapy as a whole.
  3. A lot of therapists, however, are tremendous flakes.  I imagine it’s not a majority, but admit it: it’s a visible group.
  4. Therapy is the town pastime here, in a way that makes me feel ooky.  Woody Allen is much closer to a documentarian than I had realized when living elsewhere.  I am not interested in a lifetime commitment, let alone such an expensive one.
  5. While I think SSRIs and the like are very useful in some cases, I am unconvinced they are all they are cracked up to be for many people.  No, I don’t think you should stop taking yours, but I don’t want to start taking them, either.
  • However, I have to admit that while all the processing I’ve done here and elsewhere has been tremendously helpful (and you have been, you really, really have), I’m getting to a point where I could use some more help.  As much as it feels like heresy to claim this about a vaginal birth that brought me a healthy baby, I am beginning to think that the initials P, T, S, and D are not entirely inappropriate here.  I look at diagnostic checklists, and it’s increasingly difficult to deny that a lot of those boxes have x’s.
  • Thinking of this as PTSD and therefore a cognitive issue rather than only my special snowflake feeeelings makes me think that maybe I should talk to someone who has actually studied this stuff. Which brings me to more sub-bullets!  Criteria:
  1. No generalized wading into my feelings in a global sense.  I am not interested in analyzing my whole life and my relationship to food and my mother and the military-industrial complex.  I have a goal (not completely losing my shit as I approach my due date) and a deadline (my due date).  No quagmires.
  2. No support groups.  I have those, in a virtual sense (Hi!), and in-person ones I think will only feed my sense that what happened to me was not bad enough to feel bad about.
  3. No well-meaning idiots.  Or, as a friend put it, “you mean you don’t think talking to someone with no idea about how birth works and what you were going through will help you deal with feeling traumatized be being surrounded by people who seemed to have no idea how birth works and what was going on for you?”
  4. No “natural”-birth fanatics.  None of what happened was the fault of the epidural or modern obstetrics as a whole, and furthermore, I am planning to go back to the hospital, so I will thank you not to freak me out about that.
  5. Here’s the deal-breaker: takes my insurance.  This is hard enough without feeling I am spending money we don’t have on such a self-indulgent project.
  • So far, I’ve called one person, who has an opening at a difficult time for childcare.  Contrary to my desire, I did not spend the rest of the day hiding under the covers, but lordy, this is harder than I thought.  I can’t believe so many people do it.

And now it is past time to run off to the hippie food coop and cut the cheese for a few hours.  I’m going to publish this anyway.  Verisimilitude, all that.  Links later.

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Bloody Business

Before I begin, I want to just say, in a small voice, how crushed I feel by May’s latest news, by the utter un-rightness of it, by how badly the universe is flubbing its lines. This is not how the story is supposed to go, dammit. I know we talk a lot about how unfair all of this business is, but sometimes the unfairness is just so fucking unfair. It is not the only thing that has been Not Right lately; that doesn’t make it any less wrong.

I am wondering if any of you happens to know what counts as a normal postpartum drop in hemoglobin and what doesn’t. Imagine you have this patient who, after two days of fairly heavy vaginal bleeding, arrives at a hospital in labor. Her hemoglobin at that point is 13; her hematocrit is 37.8. Following a vaginal delivery, her numbers are 7.3 and 21.7, a drop in the neighborhood of 44%.

Question one: Is that normal? If not, how abnormal?

Question two: Are there causes of postpartum decreases in hemoglobin other than blood loss? Does the placenta itself (or the baby) in some way count towards the starting number?

Question three: Do you do anything about those numbers, beyond suggesting an iron supplement? Do you do anything if the patient calls three weeks later complaining of continued extreme fatigue, dizziness, breathlessness, etc.?

Question four: Supposing a patient with this history is pregnant again. One likely source of postpartum bleeding (vaginal septum) is gone, though possibly the vaginal wall where it attached has scar tissue. Is postpartum hemorrhage in such a case likely to recur? Do you do anything in particular to lessen the chances of her feeling terrible for months again? Is there anything you can say to her to help her feel less frightened?

Question five: Is this patient a good home birth candidate? Just kidding.

My hospital records — the short version only — from the Bean’s birth arrived this week. I’d put off ordering them for a couple of years, which I guess is good, considering that I find myself a little taken aback anyway. This is just the abstract — test results and some nonsense from the lactation consultant, an extremely silly person. There are errors: I am listed as having a didelphic uterus (nope, not that normal), and hemoglobin and hematocrit are reversed in one place. (I flatter myself that a hematocrit of seven might have been more worthy of note.)

Also this week, I finally tracked down a picture I didn’t know existed until recently, of Sugar cutting the Bean’s umbilical cord. That is to say, it’s a picture of my crotch, post delivery but prior to the arrival of the placenta. I thought it might feel sort of empowering to see that, since I was scared to look at that part of my body for weeks after birth, not wanting to see all the stitches. Maybe it would have been, but I found it hard to pay much attention to my flesh, finding the pool of blood I was apparently lying in rather visually distracting. When I say pool, understand, I mean pool. I don’t mean the bed was a mess. I mean liquid. I mean depth. I mean volume.

I thought I was done finding new things to feel angry and scared about, regarding the Bean’s birth, but I guess I was wrong.

I haven’t written in much detail about how sick I was after the Bean was born, partly because at the time, I was filled with confusing hormones, alternately elated and distraught, and, well, sick. I’d been pretty thoroughly conditioned to believe that only people with (unplanned) c-sections were allowed to feel sick or sad after birth, anyway; the websites said I should be exulting in my all-powerful womynhood and resuming my exercise routine while teaching the baby French. All that matters, as you know, is that the baby is healthy. The vessel has done its job.

So, here: I was pretty sick after the Bean was born. For the first week or so, I had an annoying tendency to black out every time I tried to nurse him. The nurse I asked about it told me that was “oxytocin, filling your body with feelings of well being.” Later I realized that was the only time I wasn’t lying flat. I couldn’t hold him during the lactation class and was grateful that lesbian privilege meant I alone among the women there had someone to help. (Men weren’t allowed.) We left early because I couldn’t sit up anymore.

For the endless rounds of pediatrician visits for weight checks in the first few weeks, I took cabs. One day Sugar had a work meeting, and I couldn’t carry the Bean in his carseat. I could barely carry the car seat. We tried to take the subway once. Sugar carried the baby while I shuffled behind her, hips still entirely disconnected, like a troll aunt of some kind. (Sugar got lots of congratulations for her new baby in those days. She deserved them, but my own invisibility beside this gorgeous, healthy, thin woman and her perfect baby was sometimes hard to take. “Don’t worry, honey,” one woman said, “you’re next!”) Sugar went to the store for a different kind of iron supplement for me while I took the dwindling Bean to a lactation group. I remember feeling such utter hatred for the other woman there, so pink and healthy with her fat, pink baby, who was younger than the Bean. While Sugar was gone, I started shaking convulsively. I was losing my vision, trying to figure out how I was going to get myself onto the floor without dropping the baby, who was so, so heavy. Sugar arrived just in time, and held him while I lay my head on the desk and shook. No one asked if I was okay. I took a cab home.

It’s hard to write this without feeling I am exaggerating things, but this happened. Other things happened, too, many of them good. I stayed conscious for the ride home from the hospital, even if I did have to go immediately to bed and so missed the cats greeting the Bean. Friends came over, and I sat and talked with them. But it was months before I could walk around the neighborhood normally. Going up the gentle incline of the train station left me breathless, my vision blotchy. I feel existentially queasy looking at pictures of me with the Bean in the early weeks, because I am so very grey.

I got better. The human body really does have amazing powers of restoration. But does the patient’s recovery mean the treatment regime was wisely chosen? The heroic medicine doctors, the bleeders and purgers and givers of mercury, thought their treatments worked because their patients often survived, when the truth is those patients recovered in spite of the medicine. Regardless of whether I should have had different treatment in objective terms — and I gather from google that sources differ on the guidelines for iron infusions and blood transfusions and so on — I feel sure the other aspects of treatment could have been better. Only one nurse, when I was already in the process of being discharged, mentioned my hematocrit drop and asked if I really felt okay. (Desperate to leave, I said yes.) The nurse practitioner at my OB office told me I should expect to feel tired when I described my trouble breathing while walking. At the infamous postpartum appointment, Dr. Russian didn’t know my hematocrit levels and dismissed my questions on the topic. None of that was helpful, even if it was the case that the best course of action was waiting for my body to rebuild itself. It’s a kind of gaslighting, I think, not to tell a patient that how she feels is not in her head or her weak moral constitution.

Besides angry, I feel a bit scared by these new documents, in particular the picture. My septum is gone and presumably won’t break and bleed again. I expect it caused some of the trouble, in addition to other tears. The midwife at my new clinic says that didelphic cervices can bleed a lot, and suggested they might try rectal cytotec in addition to pitocin if it seems necessary. (I haven’t talked numbers with her, just my experience of being anemic.) If the pre-labor bleeding was a placental abruption — and we’ll never know, since the head of the OB practice didn’t see fit to take it seriously — there’s a chance that won’t happen again, and a 100% chance I won’t let it be ignored this time. I have the reassurance that I did survive, however sick I got. But there is still that nauseating feeling of almost having been run down by a bus, not realizing it was even there until it passed.


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Happy Hour Items

Greetings, internets, from a local trendy bar that turns out to be more than capable of turning out something “fun and non-alcoholic,” if requested. I thought this order might reassure the woman giving me side-eye as I, well, bellied up to the bar, but it turns out that is just how she holds her face.

Nevertheless, I am looking rather fecund at present, even in the tent-dresses that are all I can tolerate wearing at present. I haven’t had much of the stretching and cramping and so on I had in early Bean-pregnancy since the first couple of weeks, but lately anything putting even nominal pressure on my uterus makes me sore and dizzy and nauseated. An ultrasound probe, for instance. I tried a belt for twenty seconds this week and was off all afternoon, and even my maternity jeans, which felt fine at first, caused trouble after an hour. Sure hope this sorts itself out before the weather turns.

The nuchal scan went well, I’m into the lowest risk zone for miscarriage, and my body is rapidly outing itself, but Sugar is interviewing for a new position at work, so we are in the odd position of telling people in real life but not on Facebook, where Sugar’s colleagues will see it, lest the idea of her taking time off in, say, February, make another candidate look more appealing. (Her job does not give “paternity” leave — or indeed maternity leave beyond six weeks of disability (stay classy, academia) — but she took unpaid FMLA leave when the Bean was born. Besides giving them invaluable bonding time, the leave was frankly necessary for my health, as I was in no condition to be left alone with an infant, being among other things rather deficient in the hemoglobin department.)

The not-telling has me a little blue, it turns out. I don’t mind waiting a little longer, but I sure hope they hire somebody before February. That concern would not seem silly if you knew how long it’s taken them to schedule interviews. Meanwhile, why does a group email seem so much more intrusive than a social media announcement? Thank heavens for you all.

(Speaking of, have I mentioned how over the moon I am to be pregnant at the same time as our beloved May? I am in danger of leaving orbit.)

Meanwhile, the nuchal. It went well! Despite my anxiety-fueled delusions of intuition, risks of trisomy 13, 18, and 21 are as low as the statisticians are willing to concede. (I gather that in some circles it is poor form to admit happiness at this news, but I am not in those circles. I would not bear a grudge against anyone happy to find she didn’t have the diseases I have, for one thing. For another, my father’s line of work leaves me without certain protective illusions.) Because I was too deep in denial to schedule childcare and because the timing of the appointment interfered with prime toddler napping hours, the Bean joined us. He was not exactly an advertisement for bringing a toddler to such an event, but with Sugar there to wrangle his truck beads, he did okay. We have not, to answer gwinne’s long-ago question, told him the score, but he clearly suspects something, though I don’t know what. There have been several pointed questions lately along the lines of, “What’s in YOUR belly?” (I equivocate. “Lots of amazing things, just like in your belly.” “My belly!!!” Fin.)

We had the same super-nice doctor go over the results as last time. His southernness relaxes me. I find myself stifling the thought that if only I did have a high-risk pregnancy, I could see him. We talked for a while about my peculiar mix of normal and anomalous reproductive anatomy, and get this, he actually apologized at one point for asking too many personal questions! I told him that particular bar had been set rather low by the doctor who invited his receptionist in to see my vaginal septum, and he appreciated my stories about the look on the same doctor’s face when, after he told a fully-clothed me he was sure I didn’t have a septum, I replied, “I can put two fingers inside and they don’t touch.” (This diagnosis is not rocket science. Necessary equipment is two fingers and a functioning brain.)

ANYWAY, this doctor, who is not a condescending nitwit, delivered the happy news that not only were the ultrasound findings good, but this time, in contrast to last time, my blood count numbers were also all good. I find it cheering that my body or the placenta or whatever is in charge of whatever PAPP-A even is, is doing so much better this time (to the tune of about 85 percentiles higher than last time). Low PAPP-A is associated with a host of unpleasantries I was watched closely for last time, including pre-eclampsia and also IUGR, pre-term labor, and placental insufficiency, all of which also go along with mullerian anomalies.

I asked whether I should still be considered at increased risk for the MA complications, or whether my delivery of a normal-weight, full-term baby (albeit one at the low end of normal on both counts) meant my future risk was lower than MA baseline. I was pleased by the caution of his answer, which amounts to that it would mean that, if I had a more typical MA combination, but that my rara avis status means that there are no relevant statistics. (I found one case report of someone like me in the journals I searched, and the dominant theory of fetal development says I am impossible.). He is therefore recommending to my OB practice that I still have cervix-length checks and regular growth scans. I know some people find that sort of thing intrusive, but I find it very reassuring. Meanwhile, in a surprisingly decent move on my psyche’s part, I simultaneously feel much more confident than last time that things will work out, because they did once.

Yeah, I don’t know who I am anymore, either.

I am supposed to be using my time away from the house to work on another writing project, so I will have to tell you about the midwife at the OB office another time. Meanwhile, a picture, because pictures!

12 weeks 1 day

ETA: I just realized these aren’t even items. You must feel so cheated!


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Every Pregnancy Is Different

…or anyway, that’s what the OB on Monday said when I told her (in no particular detail, but with some emphasis on Dr. Russian’s behavior) that I was traumatized by the experience of giving birth to the Bean. That wasn’t quite to my point, frankly. Regular readers will no doubt be unsurprised to hear that yes, there are lots of things about labor that I hope will be different this time, but when you get right down to it, I am less afraid of the horrific pain, blood loss, and so on, than I am of being treated cruelly. So rather than “your next labor is very likely to be easier,” something she really can’t promise, I’d have preferred to hear, “neither I nor any of my colleagues is a raging bitch.”

Ah, well. She is young (or rather, hasn’t been in practice long) and I am willing for the moment to assume this is an issue of not quite hearing my real fear than of actually being a monster herself.

However, it does seem to be true so far that every pregnancy is in fact different. So far (knock wood and so on) this one seems mostly easier. For one thing, I didn’t begin the process distended from OHSS. That was a major improvement, and not just because I hate gatorade. By this point in my pregnancy with the Bean, I’d had weeks of spotting and several big scares, but this time, the only blood I’ve seen was evidently from a self-inflicted crinone applicator wound. Boy, not spotting is a whole lot less stressful than spotting, I tell you what.

I am noticeably tired, but I think it’s not quite as bad this time. There is a lot confounding that observation, though. Possibly I really am more energetic, or the unisom I take at night means I get more real rest then than I did last time. (I certainly get more rest than I would without it, since I was having fairly terrible insomnia.) Possibly planning a wedding is just more tiring than keeping up with a toddler. Or possibly I have just become so accustomed to exhaustion in the past (looks at ticker) two years, four months, and fifteen days that I don’t notice the difference.

Sadly, one thing that is the same is my utter intolerance for coffee.

And then I got exhausted and then I got a migraine and the long and short of it is, it’s been a few days.

Speaking of migraines, they are so far less frequent but worse, and made trickier by the extreme difficulty of calling in sick to a job that has no days off. Sugar stayed home from work this time to take care of the Bean, but that won’t continue to work if this keeps happening.

One of the first things that made me imagine I might be pregnant with the Bean was the cold sore visible from space that colonized the left side of my upper lip during the wait for beta day. I have gotten cold sores my whole life. Nearly all adults carry the virus that causes them, but some lucky people are more prone to getting outbreaks, a group that seems to include most of my mother’s family. They were the great misery of my childhood, when the only “treatment” on hand was ice. The discovery in my twenties that taking lysine supplements shortened the duration and lessened the severity of an outbreak changed my life not only because less of it involved embarrassing, painful, weeping sores but also because I discovered that treating them quickly also meant I didn’t suffer so much from the crippling depression that accompanies outbreaks for me. I like haivng less of that, but I even more feel relieved to discover that the depression is itself a real symptom of an outbreak for me; I had thought I was just upset because I looked ugly and am therefore a terrible and vain person.

Cold sores were a major feature of my pregnancy with the Bean, always in that same spot. Although the outbreaks responded well to treatment with vavacyclovir (which gives me a terrific headache but it still a miracle), the constant assault left that part of my face with nerve damage, such that I woke up every morning for the next two years feeling the tingle that used to foretell an outbreak but now just seems to mean, “your face is terminally borked.” Meanwhile, the damage there seems to have dulled my ability to feel an outbreak coming, such that it wasn’t until my lips began to swell this week that I realized (too late for effective prevention) that this pregnancy seems destined to fly the same herpetic flag. Yuck.

When I started writing this post, I would have said that a difference this time around is that I lack the voracious, all-consuming appetite that forced me up to eat substantial amounts of protein in the middle of every night last time around. But that kicked in on Thursday. Now the trouble is figuring out what to eat; I only want protein, and several of my go-to sources from last time (milk, cheese, eggs) are on the mild to severely revolting scale this time. All I want in the world is an endless supply of medium rare hamburgers, is that so much to ask? And Heinz ketchup, which I recently found myself thinking — in utter earnestness — may represent the pinnacle of mankind’s culinary achievements. Seriously, that stuff is just fantastic.

I’m still in love with salsa verde, one of my preferred foods during the nauseated times. Bland food makes me think to much about texture, and yuck. Salsa on grits with a soft-boiled egg has been my breakfast all week. Yes, soft-boiled. I suffered through hard-cooked eggs last time around, but nothing I’ve read makes me terribly convinced I need to do that this time. No increased risk of salmonella in pregnant women, say several reputable sources I am too lazy to find links for at present. Little danger to a fetus even if I do manage to get sick from eggs for the first time in 35 years. I’ll take may chances, thanks. I’m willing to take a break from homemade mayonnaise, I guess.

Also still wonderful and still a staple is coca-cola, and a good thing, too, given the few forms of caffeine that don’t send me directly to Yuck Island. Coffee and hot tea are both right out. Iced tea, mysteriously but miraculously, is just fine, and I am a dab hand at making it. Lucky, since I live in the north. Every greasy spoon, gas station, and grandmother in the South can make perfectly sublime tea, yet no one in the employ of a food service establishment here seems up to the task. It’s not that hard, y’all.

1. Use good tea. I wish we could get Luzianne here, but Tazo’s Awake is adequate for the purpose if far more expensive. I can’t believe I have to say this, but use black and orange pekoe tea, not some herbal nonsense you swept up from behind the onion drawer. Or at least don’t have the temerity to call that “iced tea” on the menu without some kind of warning about how it has no caffeine and tastes like straw.
2. Don’t brew it for eight hundred years; three minutes is more the mark.
3. Throw out what hasn’t sold that day and make more — this is really, really cheap stuff. (Okay, I keep mine for longer than a day, but I’m not charging for it.)
4. I think a little sugar is a nice idea, but I get that there’s such a thing as local culture, and I will work on respecting yours even when it is wrong. Likewise, don’t pointedly ask me if I want “iceD” tea should I trust you enough to reveal my culture of origin by omitting that unnecessary double consonant stop. It is the food of my people, after all, so consider yourself honored by this display of authentic oral tradition.

Lord, what was I even talking about? It’s possible that scatterbrained part has kicked in. Or maybe the heat is getting to me.

I am not tolerating the heat any better this time around, and there certainly is plenty of it. Last time around this proved to be not a sign of the extra warm body the books talk about but instead a lasting difficulty regulating my body temperature, which left me freezing cold all winter. By the way, do you know how hard it is to find a warm maternity coat? And how annoying it is to be told that your “bundle of joy will keep you warm!” Extremely, on both counts. I hope my tiny mother will again lend me her mysteriously enormous parka, because one of the reasons I suspected pre-beta that things might have gone my way was getting chilled to the bone during an afternoon picnic on a warm day.

In terms of enormity, I suspect I may be on my way. I certainly have a noticeably rounder shape than I did pre-pregnancy, though I have returned to a familiar weight now, having recovered from vacation eating at a place with magnificent food. I will not mention numbers, because I am extremely sensitive to going into emotional tailspins upon reading what other people consider normal and large weights. This current number is the top of what I considered my normal range pre-Bean. It is considerably more than I weighed at my first OB appointment with that pregnancy, but, see above, I had been quite sick. So this means I either did or didn’t lose the “baby weight” from that pregnancy, a conversation I intend to quash pretty quickly if the new practice asks. As with that time, I intend to eat when I am hungry — because frankly, I don’t feel like I have much choice — and encourage those involved in my care to back the hell off unless we are talking pre-eclampsia levels of sudden weight gain.

Meanwhile, the uterus is, just as they say, stretched out and ready to go. After more cramps in the first two weeks than I remember the first time around, things have been mostly comfortable, if you don’t mind going to the bathroom five times a night (not an exaggeration).

The other thing they say happens earlier the second time is the sensation of movement, and I don’t blame you for disbelieving me, but I really think it’s started already. I felt some distinctly uterine tickles about two weeks ago, and last night I felt more definite fluttering. Whoa. That feeling does not get old, I tell you what. (Except a little bit when it’s all up in my already injured ribs, if memory serves. I will try to skip the injury part this time.)

This seems to be really happening, y’all. Maybe I should make a ticker.

AlternaTickers - Cool, free Web tickers

PS (and I’m not even going to try to find a place to make a nice transition for this, because you already aged reading this, am I right?) Any suggestions for books, websites, etc., about either raising siblings or about managing the whole pregnancy/tiny baby lark with an extant older child?

The former because Sugar and I are both only children and have no idea what we are getting ourselves into; the latter because reading about pregnancy is part of how I (mostly) avoid oppressing the rest of the world (besides you lucky people) with my need to feel like a special snowflake, and the books I have, with their cheerful suggestions of massages and savoring the last days of adult freedom are not quite getting the job done.


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It’s Alive!

That’s about what I have the wherewithal for at the moment. It seems that I don’t respond any better to having blood drawn on an empty stomach than I ever did. But that’s the important part, anyway.

Thank you for all the hand-holding. I can’t tell you how it helped me. A very great deal.

Our wonderful friends insisted on taking the Bean after all, and he clearly had a great time, including his first non-mom co-bathing experience. I wish I could have been there — they are a very appealing pair — but I suppose it’s good for him to have some adventures without me. Even if they are adorable adventures.

I was quite taken aback when I came into the office, as it has been severely renovated since my last visit, to the extent of replacing most of the drippier naked lady paintings with aggressively green poppy wallpaper and adding an additional floor. Then came all the rigmarole about being out of my insurance network, the end result of which was my charging an astronomical amount to my credit card, 80% of which I very much hope will be coming back to me (although even 20% is significant). I have made peace within myself about this problem, but lord if every new receptionist and billing person doesn’t have to process with me about it.

The doctor was nice enough. I’m not sure I love her, but that is more a once-burned situation than anything I can pin on her. I imagine I will come to like her fine. She said the right things and didn’t rush us, she just also didn’t emote at me the way my main doctor here did when I told her about my adventures with Dr. Russian. On the other hand, I also wasn’t crying, shaking, or refusing to make eye contact. So her response was fine for the situation. Sugar does not seem concerned, and she is a better judge of this sort of thing.

The blood draw was for the nuchal business, which is coming up very soon. That scan will be at the high-risk place with the fancy machine. Assuming all goes well (and I am too relieved right now not to enjoy that assumption for a bit), perhaps we will get a better picture than today’s. Well, maybe better isn’t the word. Limb-ier. The critter does seem to have limbs and even to be able to wave them about, but that view was not committed to ink and paper. I suppose we will just have to actually remember it, imagine that.

PicsArt.com


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Southern Comfort Food

Happy Monday, internets. I hope you are well.

I am well but nervous. I’ve done a pretty good job, I think, at just relaxing and practicing belief and all that jazz vis-a-vis this month without medical reassurance of this probable pregnancy. It would be untrue to say I haven’t fretted at all, but most days, I’ve been okay. Fertile people do this all the time! And they are fine! But today is the day.

I am nervous for all the reasons you’d expect, gentle readers. I am afraid I am not really pregnant. I am afraid I’m being pregnant wrong. I am afraid this doctor, whom I have not met before (the known nice one wasn’t available for this appointment because of our travel schedule) will yell at me. I’m afraid I will get bad news in front of the Bean and never stop crying.

A friend has offered to watch the Bean, but I’m afraid to take her up on it because it will surely mess up her own toddler’s evening schedule and then she will hate me.

At times like these, nothing will do like the comfort of food.  I did not want to eat at all, but some small, beleaguered zone of rationality in my brain informed me, repeatedly, that this was a very bad idea. It moved my body around the kitchen until iced tea was in my glass, new water in the kettle to refresh the supply, grits* and eggs were boiling in their pans. The fretful majority of my grey matter distracted me into overcooking the egg (I favor a five-minute one with grits), but the rest survived. A little leftover salsa verde from this weekend’s trip to the Red Hook ballfields made everything go down easy; bland food gives my stomach too little to think about, and it starts making up problems.

image

And so, onward. Eight hours to go.

*I do not appreciate whatever Yankee wiseguy programmed Autocorrect on this phone to replace “grits” with “gross.”


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The Bendectin Story

Hello, Gentle Readers. Greetings from thank-God-we-are-finally-pulling-out-of-St.-Louis, aboard Amtrak’s Texas Eagle. We are running late, which I would be more annoyed about except that Sugar flew home yesterday and was so much later in so much less pleasant a way. She spent most of the day in the Detroit airport, spent $100 on a cab home from Newark, ate a soggy tuna melt from an all-night diner at midnight in our kitchen, while discovering that the freezer door had been just slightly open for the last two weeks. In contrast, I was fed a steak dinner and gelato and lay on a reasonably comfortable bed and read A Bargain For Frances to The Bean during our delay. Advantage: Amtrak.

The other reason trains rule with toddlers: no seatbelts. “The cars and trucks are going to meet their friends,” he says. (This wholesome, wooden-toy moment brought to you by several hours of puzzles on the iPad.)

The cars and trucks are going to meet their friends

Thank you for your spotting reassurances. It hasn’t come back, and there was so very little that my working theory is self-inflicted crinone-applicator wound. Mad skills. I has them.

I should have written sooner to tell you, except that I’ve had my hands full managing my father at my in-laws and wrangling the Bean. I’ve also been quite drowsy, thanks to my new best pharmaceutical buddy, doxylamine succinate, AKA, Unisom.

I’m not taking it for insomnia, though I have been having trouble sleeping for several weeks. I’m taking it because remember how I was puking in trash cans? Well, it turns out this stuff is a whiz at sorting out nausea, and, get this, it is category A for pregnancy. Category fuckin’ A, y’all. Do you know how many things are A? Not bloody many, thanks to the difficulty of ethically arranging the kind of studies the FDA requires for that designation; it’s pretty much folic acid and this stuff.

So why didn’t anyone mention this to me (or maybe to you) before now? Doxylamine in combination with B6 used to be used by 40% of pregnant Americans, as a drug called Bendectin. There were at least 25 studies and two meta-analyses, which basically say: this does not cause birth defects. But if Bendectin wasn’t a teratogen, it was, says a friend of my father’s, a lit-ogen: that is, it caused law suits.

According to dad (whose business this is), about 3% of babies have a serious birth defect of some kind. No one likes that. A certain number of parents sued the makers of Bendectin. And even though the science is absolutely, uncommonly clear on this subject, law suits wear a company out. Eventually, the drug was taken off the market simply because its maker tired of defending it in court.

Meanwhile, some corners of the popular press believe that smoke always means fire, and jumped happily on the Blame-Bendectin Bandwagon (also the name of my new ska band). Bendectin is used in a third of pregnancies of children with birth defects! Well, if it was used in 40% of pregnancies, excuse me if I think that’s good news — if 40% of all pregnant women took it and it’s only present in 33% of cases of birth defects, that almost sounds protective, the was I figure it. Anyway, the magazines said, you can make something just as good at home: just combine half a tab of doxylamine with some B6…. *headdesk*

Folks, I gotta tell you, this stuff is great. I haven’t tried combining it with B6 yet, because I haven’t been able to find the B6 in small enough doses. But half a unisom a night, and I have almost no nausea, let alone reasons to defile public transit property. Twice now, most recently two days ago, I’ve decided to stop taking it, and both times my body has made me aware in no uncertain terms what a stupid decisions that was. Morning sickness definitely still in effect, when not masked.

I keep re-googling this, convinced that anything I’m getting this much benefit from must be terrible for babies, even if I did learn about it from my OB’s website. Eventually, I asked myself why I was so anxious about it, given that I take my nightly singulair without concern, and there’s hardly any data at all on that one. I think the answer comes down to thalidomide and the curse of Eve.

Did you see a lot of thalidomide documentaries as a kid? I did, or at any rate, the ones I saw made a big impression. And I think my psyche stored away somewhere the idea that what happened to those children was not just a horrible accident but a judgement of sorts on their mothers, for trying to escape a natural but unpleasant part of pregnancy. Chalk that up to one more subtle way ideas of the natural as applied to women’s experience are always ready to become a cudgel.

The unisom is kicking in now, and Little Rock comes early in the morning; I must to bed. But y’all: what we need more of is science.