Wednesday, July 30, 2008

quad-screen results

I got a message from my perky, 16-year-old genetic counselor about my quad-screen test. She said everything looks fantastic:

everything is screen negative
risk for down's is 1 in 10,000
risk for trisome 18 1 in 10,000
risk for neural tube defects 1 in 970

I just looked up risk of miscarriage from amnio, and it's between 1 in 200 and 1 in 400. To my mind, this is a pretty good argument against amnio. I just have to do a little more reading to be sure, but it seems like I'm pretty safe.

The way I explained it a little earlier was: my heart knows everything is okay. my head, however, still worries. I still can't talk to my mom about any of this. I have to put it in an email tomorrow and let people read the links for themselves. I don't feel brave or foolish enough to be joyful quite yet. I feel like saying "I told me so." But sssh. Quietly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yay, it's my uterus! Also: Yikes.

So I had a great appointment with another midwife yesterday, Sue McDonald. (had a farm.) (sorry.) She was warm and gently stern. She showed me how to press down on the middle of my belly, starting waaay up almost at my sternum, and press down till I felt my uterus, about 3 fingers below my belly button.

I pressed. I felt. I measured. I found it! And then I looked down and yelled, "Oh, no, it's only 2 fingers below! I have a giant monster baby!"

"What's this here?" she asked me.

"Your finger?"

"And my finger plus your two fingers equals...?"


My hobby is frustrating health-care professionals. Anyway, I asked a million questions, and she told me my uterus is the size of a small watermelon right now, and Sluggo (according to Babycenter) is the size of a turnip, so apparently I can make some kind of weird stew. I asked, "So am I feeling the baby?" and she said, "What did I just tell you?!" So I said, "Okay, so that's my uterus, what is all this?" (Cue jiggly-wiggly activity.) 

"Oh, that?" Brief pause. "Fat and intestines."


Anyway, she took out the Doppler thingie (I totally want to steal one of these), and we listened to the heartbeat, and as usual I melted into tears when I heard it. Like clockwork, I do this. When I start feeling the kicking, I'm going to be a mess! The funny part was that it kept going "swish, swish, swish, swi-THUD! swish, swish, THUD! swish, THUD!" Apparently this was the kicking. And apparently this was a LOT of kicking. So: this should be interesting. Apparently I'm birthing a Rockette.

The worrisome part is that my blood pressure went a little higher. We checked it again at the end of the appointment, and ... higher still. This I don't like. But I can't get anyone to tell me quite what to do. The midwife said get more exercise, go to prenatal yoga, meditate. Online people said to cut down on salt and "try to relax." And I'm sitting here convinced I'm going to have a stroke. Of course, about a half hour ago I got ravenous and ate peanuts and a pop-tart. Clearly I've got my child's best interest in mind... gah! I feel like a polluted well. 

It'd be easy if I could just blame my workplace, and they HAVE been riding me like I'm Secretariat. But I had high blood pressure before. I have to do what I can; I just don't quite understand what that might be (besides lay off the fricking dry roasted peanuts, dummy). Staying up till 2am working on freelance assignments is also probably not ideal. Hoo, boy, I need to get a handle on things. 

Anyway, my stomach's been in an uproar all day, even before I ate crap. And I've been hoping and planning for a sextacular romantical evening. I should walk home and sweat all these toxins out of my system! 

Ha. That was a joke, Sluggo. Mommy's not going to make us walk up the big, mean hill. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ohm Shanti

My skin is on some kind of excited walkabout. I'm happy for it, because it just can't stay in one place, but it means I can't sleep. I was curled up in the tightest of spoons and had to first shift away, then kick off the covers, then sit up and slather lotion on every part of my body as, seemingly, swarms of ants descended from one end of me to the other.

The fog has swept across the valley below my terrace, and the lights there glow like dull sea creatures casting phosphorous light from yards below the surface. It seems sleepy except for the comets rocketing along route 280. That's what it feels like in my skin, like those fast orangey-yellow lights zipping across the gloom, waking up the sleepy landscape.

My ankles have started swelling. My fingers are all right so far, but I've begun worrying that I'm doing something very wrong. What if something else is making me balloon up this early in my pregnancy? What if the swelling in my belly is more than an avocado-sized baby and its liquid accoutrements? Nobody has taken my blood pressure in the past month and a half. They weighed me and drew blood, but nobody checked to make sure I wasn't pre-pre-pre-pre-eclamptic. Why didn't I think to ask them to do that? I have been so full of insistent optimism that I haven't left room for the possibility of --I don't even know what could be wrong. Ignorance isn't bliss, it's dirty gloom, and I wish I spent more time in the company of women who'd done this two or three times before. Well, I supposed I'll start doing that soon.

I worked loads of extra hours this week, spurred by dread at the possibility of being forced out of my job for committing the sin of having a priority other than the bottom line. As my skin shivers and demands my attention, I wonder what we'd do without my income. In the end, it's that, and not my skin or the aria of snores from my husband, that drives me out of the bed and here to the kitchen table. I'm working too hard, because I have to; keeping the job is swelling my ankles and bolting me out of sleep, losing it would mean less sleep and more stress. Well, I suppose it's no wonder I'm awake. But enough already. Sitting here with my eyes blinking like a Warner Brothers forest creature's isn't making things better. Baby needs a new dose of Zen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Palpating" is a terrible word

but I can't stop wondering WHAT is going on in there, so I keep pressing around on my belly to see if there's anything I can figure out. I read in one of the "here's-what's-the-haps-this-week" emails that my gyno would palpate my uterus to see where it was and how big. HOW COOL IS THAT. I want to know what she can feel and find out that way! I mean, ultrasounds are great, but this is the old-fashioned way!

So far, in my scientific discovery, I have determined that my belly is: lumpy and weird. And if I feel around too much, I decide "that must be my liver, and it's enlarged. and that must be my pancreas, and it's calcified, which is why I am thirsty right now, I clearly have gestational diabetes. And this must just be a large random tumor! That's why I'm showing so early! So um... unlicensed palpation, not really a good idea if you are me.

Two days ago I had my second blood test for the quad-screen; yesterday I realized, at about 11am, that I had missed an 8:30 doctor's appointment. I've never done such a thing. I felt like a total heel and rescheduled for Monday, but of course that's an afternoon appointment, which puts me right into the workplace cross-hairs: there goes old Preggie again, missing work for her ladyproblems... it doesn't matter that I was here till 9:30 last night, that's what they seem to see.

I'm so lucky that Sluggo's okay and the worst crises I have to deal with are annoying moms and irritating workplace issues... but i feel a little stressed out nonetheless. feh.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday

Saturday was my 41st birthday, and it descended upon me with its traditional black mood. The day was full of disasters: we forgot to get tickets to Batman in IMAX, the visiting wings of my family packed up and left town, and in the wake of the wedding, I was too exhausted to do much of anything but straighten up the house and then lie around and nap. It was, you know, The Day of Letdown, which is what it always is for some reason. Honestly, I think my favorite birthday was the year my Grandma Rosie died four days before, so I didn't have to pretend to have a good time, and anything enjoyable was a bonus.

Of course, it wasn't a total loss. I actually needed a day of slothful nappage, and though I left myself behind on my long list of chores, we ended up having a festive dinner out at a schmantzy place nearby. So, you know: quiet celebration.

But as usual, after the fact I'm staring quizzically at my bummer birthday and wondering, "What the fuck is my problem?"

I've always been like this. Other kids looked forward to their birthdays with eager anticipation; I just felt dread. I found out early that the middle of summer meant that my friends would be away at camp when I tried to throw a party. To make matters worse, I found (and still find) the Happy Birthday song to be a sort of dirge, always sung in several different tunes, syllables dragged out in a misguided attempt to make extend the "fun," almost always sung in the creepy flickering candlelight of the candles on what was (for me) always a cake made with whole-wheat flour and week-old blueberries, topped with the smallest amount of granulated sugar my mom could use and still call the cake festive. While everyone is staring at you. Staring at you! Oh, good lord, I know it's not cancer, but the happy-birthday song is just one of those modern you-SHOULD-like-it horrors that I just don't understand. Like American Idol and Titanic.

But I mean, I'm in a great place, this birthday. Imagine how miserable I'd be if I weren't pregnant. I'm so lucky! I'm so blessed! But all I could think was "uch, i'm 41 and pregnant, that is so old, and how will I ever have a second baby?" Honestly, this is what goes through my head. Not "yay, I love that this is my last birthday before Sluggo comes," not "wahoo, my wedding and now this," but "augh, disaster and destruction! and now to bed."

This is the kind of neurosis I'd love to save Sluggo from, but I mean -- what are the chances? Oy, kid, you're in for a lifetime of irritation.

p.s. my bump is harder, i swear, it's tightening up. especially on my left side. what's that about?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ask! Tell!

I'm having a love affair with my bump. The only thing that restrained me from ever taking my hands off of any of my friends' bellies was self-consciousness and, you know, boundaries. But I have no such boundary around my own belly. I can rub that thing all day and nobody's going to complain!

I also need to sit down these days. When I get on the subway, specifically. And I've been good about asking for seats, because I know I have the right to, but it's terribly hard. I mean, I'm pretty brash and ballsy -- er, ovaristic -- and I do come from the Land of Saying Shit. My 21-year-old stepson thinks it's hilarious and weird when I call people on their shit, and they just stare at me dumbfounded. "They have no idea what to do," he told me. "They're used to getting away with everything, and they just blink at you."

Today, an older woman asked, "Do you want my seat?" and I said "I don't want your seat," and glared at the mini gangster sitting next to her, who shot out of his seat quicker than you could say "why thank you, young man." Yesterday a little blonde wisp of a thing slipped right into the seat I was plodding towards, then buried her head in a GRE-prep book. I leaned down and intoned, "You'll be pregnant too someday, you know." Like Cassandra of the BART, I told her future, then repaired to the other side of the train, where I got a seat one stop later (I lived!) and stuck my own head in a book.

Here's the weird thing: This is unbearable. I get so -- it's so fraught. I need to sit, but then I feel bad about sitting; maybe because I'm not polite enough? But no, I thnk I'd feel just as bad! I just hate asking for things.

This is a theme in my life recently. Dishes in the sink? I do them rather than asking the various members of my household to do them. Backrub? I steam and stew and fume rather than asking for one, because I have decided ... never mind what I have decided, it is entirely too stupid. I hate, hate, hate passive aggressive behavior, but I am absolutely tortured by actually having to speak up for what I want, so I end up engaging in the very behavior i despise.

I've been told by those who've recently become moms that the horns come out within 8 weeks of the baby's arrival. "You will learn to ask for what you want. You won't be able to help it," they say. "You might be a bitch or you might just be firm, but you'l find your voice whether you want to or not."

I wonder if that's true. It sounds a little scary and out-of-control, but so does everything else.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

my bump's on walkabout

crazy: all of a sudden my bump has shifted from my lower abdomen up, up, UP to my upper abdomen. Apparently, I'm "carrying high." This means it's even more noticeable, which is aweseome of course, but so odd! when did it happen? I mean, I noticed it yesterday, and yesterday morning i was feeling some odd stuff -- you know when you are lying on your arm the wrong way, and you can feel your blood pulsing? It felt like that, but in my abdomen, and I rolled around a bit till things shifted and I took the pressure off it... but it was super-weird. For a while I lay there and pretended it was Sluggo kicking, which is just silly, but was really neat till I realized I was being more of a lunatic than normal.

I can't get over how much I love being pregnant. Someone joked that I'm crazy the rest of the time, and now I've got the right hormone level -- she might be onto something, but if that's the case, what do I do? Hire myself out as a surrogate? What my uterus loves, my vagina might resent! I do NOT want to give this up. 

I never thought I'd feel this way. I thought for sure I would have a dreadful time being pregnant. My entry into womanhood wasn't exactly auspicious. My first period arrived when I was 11 and away at camp; I was thrilled, but when I announced the exciting news via letter, I didn't hear back from my sisters or mom. When I got home, I found out why: mom had gone into emergency surgery -- ironically enough, on her reproductive system -- and everyone had been too worried and unsure to respond. My sisters felt awful, but didn't know what to say or do.
Over the next months, my uterus let me know with a vengeance that being a woman was NOT for the faint of heart. I began having the sort of vicious cramps that little girls whisper about at slumber parties: I barfed, I missed school, I developed a method of leaving my body while observing the searing pain from a distance. Over time, they happened less often, but were worse when they showed up, every six months or so. I just couldn't understand: what was the goddamn point of this regular, dependable, no-reason pain? I mean sure, if a tiger's biting my ass, I need to know about it so I can run away and nurse the ass-wound, but pain like that every month, signifying nothing? Whose grand idea for a cosmic joke was that? 

Despite the pain, and especially once I (finally) learned to manage it, I liked the whole communion-with-the-moon aspect of my period. No getting away from being an animal when you're constantly reminded that you're in a seemingly eternal loop of internal waxing and waning.  Nonetheless, it was hard for me to see it in connection to actual reproduction, which I relentlessly saw as: Not For Me.

You know, like the prom. Not for "girls like me. Marriage, a big wedding: not for "girls like me." Never mind that I made the prom happen -- I didn't go the right way, in a limo with beautiful people. Never mind that I had my princess wedding -- it felt like a bit of a sham, and I got divorced anyway. This isn't about reality, people; it's about perception, and my perception was that the great lives I saw my friends having -- stay-at-home moms with a passel o' kids each, with that cool kind of ease around things like boogery noses -- just wasn't for me. I wasn't breeder stock, I was pleasure stock. Or -- I don't know what my issue was, I was just convinced the stars would never align in the right way to anoint me someone's mom. I thought you had to be impressive, or at least "done." A "shipped game," as my babydaddy would say. 

Now I find myself constantly stroking my belly just to remind myself it's there. I honestly feel more myself, more at peace, than I've ever felt before. Things have locked into place physically, emotionally, hormonally, whateverly, and it's just very weird, because this was not what I thought it would be like. It never is. But really, it really really isn't. 

Anyway, stay tuned to see where my bump appears tomorrow! 

Monday, July 7, 2008

healthy baby! healthy baby!

I had a dream last night that I had a home ultrasound kit that I could just look at anytime, set up in a corner of my bedroom. I was just hanging out staring at Sluggo when I saw: a penis! and I was devastated. Devastated?! 

Uch, I am so IRRITATED with myself. I want: A healthy baby. My preference: none. There are charms to either gender, and I know for a fact that whoever looks up at me from that bloody mess will be the most perfect and enchanting creature. I swear, I do not have a preference. Or, my preference changes daily, hourly, and is not to be trusted. I use whatever pronoun is at hand, so that I won't develop too clear an image of one imagined baby over another. I refuse to play gender favorites!

So I will now commence feeling guilty over my dreamed negative attitude. That's good for me!

Incidentally, I've noticed this: when I refer to Sluggo as "he," people take it in stride. When I say "she," people go "Oh! You found out the sex?!" What's that about? The male is gender-neutral? Annoying. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Holy crap!

I thought my CD of images from my most recent ultrasound were the same as the printouts, but they are NOT! They are totally different! And check it out, Sluggo is blowing smokerings!!

Mother Night

Good lord, people. At 2:30 am, I was up like a shot, and stayed that way till 5. I don't know if it was the horrendous indigestion (I could feel the outline of my stomach, etched in burning red, all the way up my esophagus; i looked at the back of my throat, and it was like lighting up a Zippo), or just worry about the wedding planning (a certain someone's ex is doing all she humanly can to upset the kids around it), but here I was, staring out at the bay and playing endless games of Scramble on Facebook.

And I didn't even approach a new personal best. I scored like 18 every time.

I suppose that would have been a good time for me to be typing this, rather than now, when I'm almost a half-hour late for a job interview, but -- I really wasn't thinking clearly. A helpful night owl recommended that I dissolve some baking soda in water, and I had no idea -- no earthly idea -- where the baking soda might be. I JUST BOUGHT the baking soda. I'm the ONLY person who would know where it is. Nevertheless, the idea of finding it, and using it to ease my discomfort, was totally, totally beyond me.

I forced myself back into the family bed when the sun threatened to start rising, and my feet were cold, so I was stumbling around looking for those really good socks my babydaddy got me one time at the flea market. "Wuz goinnon overdere?" he mumbled, and I told him I couldn't sleep. "Notmyfault," he murmured. "I'm being verrrrry dulllll."

Thank goodness I was too sleepy to laugh too hard.