Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In which I get hypnotized, not terrorized

So I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but I have what I might call an actual phobia about childbirth. I think that's one reason I was able to convince myself for some eight years that I actually didn't want to spawn at all, despite a lifelong obsession with babies. When it became clear that, having left the relationship with SeƱor Spawnless and found a (surprise!) willing partner, I did want to conceive, I found that the very idea left me sweating and trembling. 

Literally. I went to see my OB-GYN for a pre-TTC checkup, and I literally, literally shook and trembled on her table as tears sprang to my eyes. This is not like me, people. I am not a delicate flower. She actually hugged me and said "We're going to give you some good drugs, don't worry! We're all about having you use all this again [waving her hand around my crotch] after you deliver your baby!" 

My regular doctor told me that, with 9 months to get used to the idea, I'd be fine by the time I delivered, but now that I'm halfway to B-Day, I'm somewhat better -- but nowhere near where I should be. I can't watch the movies or look at photos. I have to squint at drawings. And if anyone mentions tearing, cutting or -- other stuff, I really do almost pass out in a dead faint. I've discussed this with my therapist, but heard good things about a very California concept that I just had to try: Hypnotherapy.

I know, visions of human chickens and blurted-out bank account numbers danced in my head, too. But I also know that "light as a feather, stiff as a board" really worked in seventh grade because we were highly suggestible adolscents. If pregnancy has taught me anything, it's that I'm emotionally still barely a post-teen. I took the plunge.

As it turns out, my hypnotherapist is from the Bronx and is haimisheh like me. I felt instantly at ease, though dubious. I really just didn't think I would go under, and she said that's okay; in the worst-case scenario, I'd be deeply relaxed and meditative, which would still help me in my quest for lower blood pressure and conquered fear. Okay. I'll buy that for ninety semolians. 

Going under, I tried to put aside my skepticism and really put myself in that highly suggestible slumber-party state. I did feel a physical frisson as she counted down from 5 to 1, but my monkey-brain (as we call it in yoga class) was still fussing, albeit more slowly than usual. Still, I bravely lay on the ersatz beach (yuck! I hate sand), hopped onto the imaginary cloud, and rode it to my woodsy safe place, squelching my instinct to ask if there were deer ticks in my woodsy safe place and requesting some pinchbeck Deet. I really tried to see the cool fountain and stick my feet in it. I just finished reading The Keep, so ancient stone fountains were on my mind; I managed. I really did.

But when it was time for my spirit-guide to show up, I remained alone in my woodsy safe place. Aggravating. "What's going on?" my hypnotherapist asked. "My spirit-guide didn't show," I told her. "How do you feel about that?" she queried. I sighed. "This is just so typical," I complained, from deep in my meditative state.

She led me through another visualization that was supposed to bring me to said spirit guide, and when I opened the door of the white room with the white shag carpeting (my hypnotherapist was clearly a child of the '70s, like me) and looked on the couch she said was there, I saw Jingles, my childhood dog.

I always see Jingles. She was the best dog ever, but really, she was my sister Sarah's dog, and there is no way she is really my fricking spirit guide! A black cocker spaniel-mix mutt? That was what my unconscious mind came up with? Someone else's dog? Guh, I can't stand my unconscious mind! I am so goddamn stubborn! 

I know what this was about. I hate, hate, hate depending on people; it's been the hardest part about being pregnant, feeling so physically helpless that I have to ask for assistance and can't do the simplest thing, like take out the garbage or run for the bus. Asking for advice, even from a spirit-guide who represents my superego, is anathema. Alternately, it could be this: Asking anything of my spirit-guide means depending on my own instincts. Well, my own instincts have proven themselves to be total assholes time and again; they were what told me to stay with the abovementioned Mr. No-Baby, and that was a total nightmare of a disaster wrapped in a burrito of crap. Spirit guide: FAIL.

Anyway, I did my best, talking to Jingles, and came away from the conversation with two very interesting conclusions:
  • Fear of childbirth, for me, is bound up with fear of losing my sexual self, which is the only self I've always been able to depend on. The only time I've lost it was when I was on antidepressants, and that was all part of the worst, most helpless and lifeless year of my life. 
  • I'm using my favorite body-parts as a baby highway. This would freak anyone out. 
Obvious as these points may seem, they had not actually occurred to me. Acknowledging them hasn't abated the fear, but has at least given me a way to get a handle on it. That's got to count for something.

I am pretty sure I'm mostly just plain neurotic and a lot of this is down-home wimpyness on my part. But I'm also pretty sure that if I go back a couple more times before B-Day, I might be able to at least not make things harder for my various doctors and midwives, which is really what I'm scared of doing. When I had deliriously bad menstrual cramps in high school, my mom taught me Lamaze breathing to keep myself from making it work; if it worked then, it's got to work now.

So, all this to say: I'm nuts. But I'm working on it! And it's a good thing there's doctors and hospitals and anaesthesiologists. YAY. 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In which we note that my nipples have gone insane.

This is definitely TMI, unless you are like me and have no boundaries.

The fact is, I've always had big nipples -- meaning they're round and sit atop my breasts like insistent raspberries, rather than lying flat like like polite little umbrellas. And now they are growing even bigger at an alarming rate. And they are leaking something, which gets crusty, so all last week they were rock-hard and painful as hell. You think you're squeamish reading this? I could barely stand to handle them; I'd poke gingerly at them in the shower, but the crust extended deep into the tiny holes that are, evidently, in there, so in a complete nightmare situation, it looks for all the world like frigging squiggly little worms were poking out of my precious boob-hats.

I am in my 21st week, people. This is still my second trimester, right? I mean, yes, I have always been an over-achiever who does things ahead of schedule. I was reading at three (so says my mom, anyway), I read Beowulf for a sixth-grade book report, and I arrived at college having placed out of all my 101 classes. But this is a bit much!

Someone finally suggested Lansinoh, recommended by La Leche League -- pure lanolin, I guess? It's imposible to handle -- never, never comes off the fingers. Like tar, but soothing. It's amazing. I glop it on after the shower and before bed, and ahh! My old friends are returned to normal. Sort of.

I got these little gel pasties, too, so it doesn't get all over my poor, abused bras. Of course, for a day I was walking around with the pasties in my bra AND still in the plastic holders they were shipped in, which I was supposed to peel them out of, but I am not an engineer, for God's sake!

Thanks to other advice, I also give said nipples a little tweak after they get their lanolin treatment. I know that sounds utterly bizarre, but I heard this from more than one person, I swear! It is, however, insane and weird. I told my husband I was doing this, and he said, "Oh! So that's why I hear you after your shower, yelling 'oh brad pitt!'"

And I was like "Brad Pitt?!"

And he said, "Yeah, and then you yell, 'Oh George Clooney! Oh, Matt Damon! Oh, everyone else from Oceans 13... oh, other Affleck brother! oh, James Caan's son! Oh, Carl Reiner!'"

So now when I tweak my lanolinned nipples I think of the 2000 Year Old Man.

Sometimes I really despair for this poor child.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yes. Fine. Okay. Babybrain.

I get it. Okay? I was wrong. There is such a thing as "baby brain." I have it. It's real. Whether it's hormonal or due to general "holy shit a baby is coming" overwhelmage, I don't know, but I disavow my earlier disavowal of baby brain. 

You happy?

Good. Frig you. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tiny little lady!

Someone I know went to her friend's ultrasound, and the tech said, "I think we have a princess! Yup, there they are, two little princess lips!"

My tech was more specific, less ephemistic, and very impressed: "Here is her vulva, and -- oh look! her cleetorees. It's very beeg!" 

That's my girl!

I KNEW it. Of course, I KNOW a lot of things that turn out not to be true, but this is one case in which I'm just going to take the win. Everyone is kvelling their faces off; someone just emailed me to say this:  "You'll get to clean out a tiny vagina when it gets poop in it! You get to watch her fall head-over-heels in love with her dad! You get to watch her choose babydolls and more babydolls as you repeatedly present her with gender-neutral toys!" Ha, my friends are hilarious, and I can't wait for her to know all these amazing, funny, crazy aunties. 

What struck me during the ultrasound was -- when my baby sister was born, some 35 years ago, we didn't even know if she was a boy or girl till she popped out. Today, we saw her brain, her beating heart, her ribs, her femurs; we saw little legs crossed, ladylike, at the ankle. We saw hands curled against her face, we saw the umbilical cord at first ghostly-pale and then in lurid colors. We saw her turn her head away, and an ear peeking out at the side; then we saw her turn her face toward us and were able to make out eyes, mouth, skull. Her mouth opened and closed. We saw that her feet are as big as her femur (normal). We saw that her palate is whole, not cleft. We saw that her heart has four chambers and beats as it should, fast, like a hummingbird's, while mine plods along slowly. We know so much about her, it's almost unbearable that we won't meet her till January. At least they upped her due date by a week: she's a week bigger than she ought to be, and the tech eyeballed my 6'4" husband and said, "Well, you're not small."

I would do anything for her. I'm so irritated that I can't feel her yet. I want to talk to her. And I'm not taking any more chances like I did yesterday. Last night I felt like absolute shit, ankles swollen, nearly passed out at work and on the way home; I cried from exhaustion and was so afraid I wouldn't see anything when we looked for her heartbeat today. And for what? So I could put in face-time while writing about "valuable rewards?" I know I do a good job. I know I can do that good job at home. I'm 41 years old, I can not fuck around. I'm going to ask for a doctor's note to work from home 2 days a week at least, and I'm also going to see the doctor herself from now on. Midwives are great when you're not high-risk, but my uterus is a pre-war model! I think it's still lined with asbestos and has lead paint! I FEEL OLD. 

My self-same baby sister sternly lectured me last night to be a squeaky wheel. "You're crazy because you're supposed to be crazy," she said. "Embrace your craziness. Use it to make sure your baby's safe. What's the worst that can happen? People think you're crazy." They've been thinking that since I was born, so what's the harm?

I'm off to the doctor anyway, to see how my blood pressure is doing and whatnot. I'll post pics when I scan them in -- i was at the non-fancy hospital today, and their pics are printouts, not on a CD. But you'll see. You'll see!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beyond the Usual Crankiness

God, my knees are fat. How does someone have fat knees? Knees are supposed to be knobby. I feel like the baby's going to come out and go, "Oh, look at the little pulkes, I just want to bite them!" and I'm going to be like, "Wait, that's my line!"

There's something up with me the last few days. I feel very run down, very bad. Very exhausted, beyond the breathlessness I'm used to -- I can't just fix it by slowing down. I'm dizzy a lot and, worst of all, I'm angry all the time. 

Part of it is resentment. My job took away the best benefit I had -- the ability to work from home 1-2 days a week. Right now, this would make a huge, huge difference: my blood pressure's up, I'm dizzy and downright tired much of the time, and if I didn't have to drag myself on the bus and train two days a week, I'd have so much more energy. Worst of all, everyone else in the office seems to be able to leave work whenever they feel a little woozy, checking in from home with no splashback; because I'm pregnant, everyone expects me to be a lazy piece of shit, so I have to look like little miss busy beaver to avoid getting snippy, mocking comments from my higher-ups. 

But it's more than that. I'm downright unbearable everywhere. I got in a Brooklyn-style throwdown with a guy on the train this morning. Granted, the guy was a total stooge -- he had a pair of those walking-poles that look like ski-poles, and was waving them around as he walked, rather than actually placing them IN the special quiver that lay empty across his back. Bad enough he was doing this on a near-empty bus, but when he was squeezing onto a packed train with them, I had to say something-- but see, that's the problem. I had to? I felt like I had to. 

I also felt like I had to snipe at the lady in the shoe-repair place yesterday, who was taking ten years to explain to me that my card was declined (yes, I get it, I GET IT, HERE IS THE CASH, STOP TELLING ME HOW BANKS WORK), and that I had to elaborately over-apologize to the coffee guy yesterday for saying "large" when I meant "medium." ("Have a nice day, ma'am.") My skin is so thin, it is essentially nonexistent, and I feel like I'm going to dissolve into wracking sobs at any moment. 

I have no idea what to do. I know I'm not supposed to feel this way, but I also don't know how to impress upon others that I can't bat back their badminton-shuttlecocks of small annoyances right now. And, you know, they're all small. Individually, they don't seem like much. But I feel much more easily overwhelmed these days. And it doesn't help that every time I ask for help and get it, my instinct is to follow up with "But I could have done that myself." I know I have to work on my end, too, and pipe up for what I need even if it means I'm rewarded with a martyred, disappointed face. 

Eh, I'm going to own my unbearableness for today and talk to my doctor tomorrow. well, my midwife, and then I'll see if I can get my hands on my doctor. I know I'm not supposed to feel like this. I love being pregnant -- it's just everything else that stinks right now. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sorry, kid!

Dear World:
No, I am not carrying fucking twins. Okay? I just carry big. Also: I am short. 
Signed, PeeGee.

Also: My blood pressure is not kidding! This past weekend, I got really upset about a confluence of events, and I seriously got sick for all of Saturday afternoon. And now I can't stop thinking that I hurt Sluggo in the process. 

See, this is why my friends call my blog "exhausting." But if you think it's tiring to read about my worry -- try being in my head for an hour! The horror. The. Horror.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Things On Which You Can Put Peanut Butter

Here are some things I have put peanut butter on in the past week:

- Oatmeal raisin cookies
- Oreos
- Frozen wedding cake

I have to report that the wedding cake is best, because the frozen chocolate mousse interacts with the peanut butter in a very Nutella-like way. Oreos are second best because: OREOS. You don't realize until about the third chew how amazing the taste sensation in your mouth is. The oatmeal raisin cookies bring up the rear, because wtf. Oatmeal and raisins are breakfast, not a cookie. 

I was thinking about the earlier Mary Wang piece, about her hair falling out after her baby came, and I only just noticed how odd it is that my hair is *not* falling out. I have thick, chestnut-red hair (thanks, bottle!), and usually, you can find me by following a trail of stray hairs around the house. I'm like Rapunzel, but horizontal, and grosser. 

Once the baby comes, it's all going to happen at once, isn't it? Plus, I might have actual more-than-that baldness going on? I'd better start sewing pillowcases.

Anyway, I finally took my first prenatal yoga class last night, and holy moly, what a difference. I feel like a million bucks. Fine! Fine, I'll do prenatal yoga! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mary Wang is back!

I love this woman! Maybe you remember her from a dozen or so posts ago, writing about the "wintering of her body" after the bursting spring of her pregnancy. I have such a writercrush on her. I want to find her, damn her and her web absence!

Today, she talked about breastfeeding in public, and how she moved from self-consciousness to devil-may-care. I found myself irritated recently when I complained about people squeaminsh about public breastfeeding, and found even more squeamish people in my company. I asked (knowing that one of them had "danced" with her breasts out professionally) if they were also uncomfortable on topless beaches, and they said that no, it was all about context. 

Blurg. What better context? Granted, the story I was relating was about a woman who sort of absent-mindedly had her breast out for a while (like, a minute) before getting it into her baby's mouth. But for shit's sake, she was probably sleep-deprived and... whatever. I get really irritated, big surprise. Mary Wang seems more sangine across the board. Her baby's named Scarlet. I love her. 

And whom do I hate? Old Navy Maternity, that's whom. All I want is jeans. Jeans I can wear without feeling like a mummy-mommy. I tried XL, then L, then M, and they had no S jeans -- I was swimming in all of them. And I am not petite, people. I think they just equate pregnant with fat and leave it at that. I need something that fits in the butt and thighs but leaves room in the belly -- is that so hard to figure out? Uch, I must have lugged two dozen pairs of jeans down to the dressing room (not even on the same FLOOR) and my head was spinning by the time I was done. All for nada. And when I tried on their regular non-jean maternity pants, everything was too SMALL. So someone's hitting the glass pipe over at the gravy, and now I  have no pants and am reduced to wearing a hippie skirt to work. Halp.

I did find a highly-recommended hypnotherapist, though. I seriously think this is what I need to get past my crankiness, worry, irritation, terror, worry, high blood pressure, worry, and worry. I'll go call her now. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What a Pain in the Back!

I got myself good and freaked out on Sunday with some awesome crippling back pain! Hey, I wasn't exactly smart about things. Faced with a day in which I could do anything I wanted, I chose: laundry, dishes and cooking (creating more dishes), and baking bread. After being cooped up all day, I was cranky and dragged my stepson out to the top of Bernal Hill for a brisk plod around the dome. Honestly, with folded laundry, a well-fed family and two loaves of warm bread in my kitchen, I felt great! 

Till I sat down to rest, noticed the rabbit wanted out of his hutch, stood up to let him out -- and fell over, nearly paralyzed. Nice to be FDR! I eased myself back down and stretched, and later Husband rubbed my back (I think seeing your darling wife waddle around like Burgess Meredith really motivates a fella), and there were no other scary symptoms of miscarriage (hi, my name is RatedPeeGee and I'm a what-to-expect-aholic), so I walked it off and was fine by morning. 

But jeebers. What is going to happen later? Seriously, I'm like the perfect pregnant size right now: big enough that people give me a seat on the subway, small enough that I can still reach all my parts when I'm showering. My whole job right now is to get bigger. I'm really pleased that I've had so few of the normal pregnancy complaints -- but this aching back is really going to cause problems. 

I know, I know: Get my ass to prenatal yoga, keep doing the stretches I learned, elevate my feet when I sit, put a foot up on a stool when I stand for long periods of time. Add to that: bend at the knees (even if I am worried that I'll end up stuck in mid-squat), get out of bed the way my mom learned after back surgery (roll onto side, then push up), and stop with the heels already (oops -- after today -- these pants need shortening!). 

Meanwhile, I've come to realize that one of my favorite things is the Babycenter weekly email's assessment of my child's size in food terms. I think I noted this last week. Now Sluggo is a bell pepper. My co-worker said, "Well, do they mean heirloom, organic, tiny bell pepper or hybrid, disease-resistant, huge bell pepper?" I have no idea! The bell pepper that's bigger than a turnip and smaller than whatever shows up in my inbox next week! 

My god, I'm ravenous. I'd better post this before I lose control and eat it. 

Friday, August 1, 2008


Nothing makes you think more about your pants than a big, swelling belly (and butt) making them all sorta uncomfortable. I had myself convinced they weren't that uncomfortable. Then I bought a hideous pair of actual maternity jeans for $9 at Maternity XChange. They are spectacular. Spectacular. I want twelve pairs, and wearing the other ones with a ponytail-holder and a Bella Band just ain't cutting it anymore.

Just sayin'.

Also, I told my mom my test results, and she immediately launched into a lecture about how I have to worry about weight gain and gestational diabetes. I'm not even kidding. She didn't even pause to say "oh great" before launching into this new assault. So I've been feeling so amazing all day, thinking I have never felt more myself, more pleased with my body, and now all I can do is worry that my doctor doesn't have enough horse-sense to tell me I'm a fat load. LA LA LA!