Family reunion

Yesterday, K, E and I attended an event that’s hosted by the reproductive endocrinologist who helped us conceive E. It was held in a park with a bouncy house and free ice cream from an ice cream truck, and was meant to be a sort of family reunion for families who have expanded because of the staff’s loving expertise. K and I wanted to attend because our lives had gotten busy and we had never gotten the chance to take E into the office and thank the staff.

It was a lovely park that we didn’t even know existed, and the weather was perfect for the event. Staff members ooed and ahhed over E and other babies in attendance. The oddest part was an unofficial receiving line of sorts where parents and babies waited to speak to the doctor. It felt a little bit like an unintended “meet your maker” sort of moment, but likely only because there were so many thankful parents (like us) who wanted to say hello to the doc.

The doctor’s practice is located in a very upscale nearby community, so K and I weren’t sure what sort of crowd to expect at this gathering. I was pleased that so many of the families seemed down-to-earth and friendly. We chatted with some of the parents about each other’s babies, milestones, etc. K and I confessed to each other later that we each spent time wondering about each of these family’s experiences with infertility. Thoughts of, “I’ll bet you were a cycle monitored, fertility med sort of family,” and, “IVF with egg donor for sure,” kept swirling through my head.

There was one family that was among the demographic I expected to see at this event: a privileged blond woman with her equally privileged mother and baby. They were, as K put it, a spectacle. The baby’s grandma clearly had a lot of plastic surgery and the entire family was decked out in a wide array of upscale clothing brands. The baby was cruising in a $5 bajillion stroller and had no short of seventeen toys dangling in front of her glitter beret topped head. I imagined that the mother had been married to a very wealthy older gentleman and, upon his death, had a doctor harvest his sperm so that she could conceive her miracle baby and secure a larger part of his estate for her and his postmortem spawn.

I wondered what others assumed our fertility journey was, and mused that they were all likely very far off from the accurate story.

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Commence heteronormative parenting group

The hospital system through which E was born offers optional parenting groups based on a baby’s age and family’s location. For six months, a group meets every other week for two hours – the first half of the session is typically dedicated to a topic of interest to the group and the second half is for social time. While we have a lot of rad parents and kids in our lives, we liked the notion of connecting with parents whose children are experiencing similar milestones and challenges around the same pace. K and I decided to be brave and enroll in one of the evening groups and our group started this week.

Birth story aside, I knew that we’d be the weirdos of the group, and I say that mostly with pride. Even most of our mundane parenting choices and preferences (cloth diapering, baby-led weaning, babywearing, baby with a hyphenated last name, etc.) put us on the fringe of most circles. Oftentimes, the knowledge of our stark differences leaves us with the expectation of needing to defend our identities and choices, which doesn’t make for a very comfortable setting. Still, we figured that we’d be interacting with mainstream parents eventually and decided to dip our toes in when we still had the option of dropping out of this particular group.

I was right in our assumption that we were rather different from other parents, but I was expecting more judgment or hesitation from the other members. Instead, we were greeted with warm smiles and friendly questions. I also expected more stay-at-home mothers in the group, but I believe all are households in which both parents work outside of the home, likely because it’s an evening group offering. I imagine that our group feels and looks a bit different from the groups that are offered mid-morning and likely attract only mothers. I was also surprised to see that one of our group members is a local elected official who is very progressive.

K and I are on the fence about whether or not we will eventually tell the group members about E’s origins. We plan on being very open with our baby, family members and friends, but when it comes to the rest of the world, we’re kind of the standpoint of disclosing on a need-to-know basis, and I realize the privilege in our ability to make that decision. Ultimately, I want E to have as much agency as possible with regard to the disclosure of his birth story, and that can’t happen if we’ve told everyone and their brother. With that in mind, K and I were a little nervous when our icebreaker was to tell our birth stories. To sidestep the issue of needing to get into something so complex with literal strangers, I opted to tell a very vague but hilarious tale surrounding E’s birth, when he made his debut and promptly peed an arc above everyone in attendance. “He has enjoyed making a big first impression since day one,” I quipped.

E was very social and smiled at parents and babies alike. I think he might have been the only baby present who didn’t cry at least once. He had a great time wiggling on the floor with some of the other kiddles, and when we took a group picture of the babies, E had his arms casually slung around both of his neighbors, as if to say, “I’m hangin’ with my bros!” (There is only one girl in the entire group!)

One thing that I greatly dislike about the group relates to the hospital’s organization of it. At the time of each baby’s birth, the hospital promotes the parenting groups and gives everyone the option of signing up if it sounds interesting to them. Before we were discharged from the hospital with E, I sent an email to the parenting resources coordinator at the hospital to sign up for the group. In my email, I relayed the requested information including my full name, my husband’s name, our location and our baby’s date of birth. When the group was formed, K – not me – and a list of clearly all women received a mass email with the details, even though I had never sent his email address to the parenting resources coordinator. Then, the night of the group, our volunteer facilitator passed around the group roster, saying that this information was provided by the hospital, and asked us to update or change anything we needed or wanted. Luckily, she handed me the roster first, which allowed me an opportunity to black out inaccurate/inappropriate information before others saw it. The roster was a bolded list of all women’s names, including K’s legal/given name (again, I never disclosed that to the parenting resources coordinator), their contact information, babies’ names, and husband’s names with the word “father” in parentheses after the men’s names. E’s last name was listed as being K’s last name, which isn’t on ANY paperwork anywhere, and my name, which was in the “husband” area (not labeled, but clear that’s what the intention of that spot was) had parentheses with nothing inside of them, like they couldn’t even figure out what my relation to this family was! Now, it’s clear to me that the parenting resources coordinator used health information on file at the hospital instead of the information provided to them by the parents as they were signing up for the groups, and that does NOT sit well with me. I plan on reaching out to the coordinator right away to let them know that we are displeased by this fact and that we never consented for this information to be relayed to others.

For now, K and I plan to continue going to the group unless or until we decide it isn’t meeting our needs, or if the downsides end up outweighing the benefits. Hopefully, there are more interesting anecdotes to come..!

Hangin’ at Triage

We went to our 37 week OB visit and were about 15 minutes late due to a terrible highway shutdown. Before we arrived, K received a phone call from the office, saying that our doc was called to the hospital for an emergency situation and that we’d be seeing the other doc.

We started with a repeat ultrasound, since Falco was measuring so huge the last time. This time, Falco measured 8 lbs, 9 oz (95th percentile) with a ton of amniotic fluid.

K’s blood pressure measured pretty high and he had protein in his urine for the first time during this pregnancy. The doc was concerned about possible pre-eclampsia and wanted a repeat blood pressure after the exam and cervical check (still 3 cm, 80% effaced).

Bp was still high, and since it was the end of the day on a Friday and lab work wouldn’t come back in a timely manner, the doc sent us over to the hospital for triage and assessment.

So far, baby isn’t distressed, but K’s bp has been all over the map (including quite a few normal readings). The bloodwork came back normal but the protein in K’s urine was still pretty high, so conservatively, the doc is admitting K into an antepartum room for a 24 hour urine collection and analysis. If those results show that he meets the criteria for pre-e, they’re definitely going to induce labor.

Here we go…?

37 Weeks

I keep meaning to write a post but I feel like all I would be doing would be complaining about being 9 months pregnant.  I’ve felt pretty upbeat and positive most of this pregnancy, but these past two week has really knocked me on my ass.  I keep thinking that I have 24 days until the due date, and as you’ve probably read from C’s previous posts,the doc thinks Falco may be coming earlier.  Here’s a little update from the preggo.

Hard things:

I’ve been so sick these past weeks, probably sicker than I have been in years.  I think the most stressful part was the constant intense coughing which gave me days worth of braxton hicks contractions and kept making me barf and pee myself.  😦

I’m tired as hell.  Walking to my carpool at the end of my workday I feel so weary.  I walk soooo slowly. And I feel HUGE.  It’s seriously getting hard to get comfortable driving (sleeping, sitting, etc.)  Plus I wake up every 45 minutes to pee all night long.  Really….it is that often; I check the time!

I am feeling a ton of early, early labor symptoms this week (cramping, bad lower back pain, extreme pressure (it really feels like I am walking around trying to hold a bowling ball between my legs) lightening/baby dropping, crazy bowel movements, an increase in cervical mucus).  All this stuff is a bit overwhelming emotionally.  I’m trying to just make a note of what is happening, and not pay too much attention to anything or read too much into anything.  Easier said than done!

I have absolutely ZERO desire to wear clothes.  I’ve been sleeping naked and am hardly dressed when I’m around the house.  I no longer give a shit what I look like or wear to work.  Some of my man-ternity pants don’t even fit me anymore, and I don’t even care.  I just cycle through the same 3 or 4 outfits and think to myself, at least I’m still working.

Good things:

The nursery is done!  It’s so cute and cheery and makes me happy every time I pop my head in the room.

Our bags are packed, and virtually everything left on our to-do list is crossed off.  C and I both busted our butts this weekend.

I have finally finished my contingency plan for my leave after Falco is born–A detailed 5 page document outlining the status of all the projects I oversee, coverage plans, and alternate contact info, etc.  I have a draft of my work email away message ready to go!  This makes me feel so much better.  As much as I want to spend a ton of time home after the birth it’s going to be really stressful for me to be away from work.  I really love and enjoy what I do and it is going to drive me a little nuts to feel disconnected from the studies I manage and work on.

I’m 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced at about 37 weeks.  This means nothing EXCEPT it makes me feel like SOMETHING is happening.  My body is getting ready and sooner or later we will meet this little one.

 

Like sands through the hourglass…

I can’t believe we’re nearing the finish line here. At yesterday’s appointment, our OB gave us the “it’s important to have your bags packed” and “if X happens, you should come to the hospital” speeches. I think it made the whole thing very real for K, who has been hearing from me these past couple of days, “No, really. We have to finish up these preparations soon because Falco could arrive whenever!” We’re on the weekly OB schedule now, for Pete’s sake!

We also heard that our 35+ week fetus already weighs approximately 7.5 lbs. You read that correctly. When the ultrasonographer referenced that estimate, I quite literally screamed an obscenity loudly enough for patients in the lobby to hear. BabyCenter’s weekly email says that our 35 weeker weighs approximately 5.25 lbs, whereas Everyday Family’s weekly email states that the baby is about 6 lbs. Even if the ultrasound is off, which is apt to happen, our kiddle is clearly bigger than average.

K’s blood pressure was also higher than normal (which I’m sure would never occur when one finds out their baby is already that large with ~5 weeks to go). Between the bp and his swollen ankles, the doc was really concerned about the possibility of pre-eclampsia. The OB ran some bloodwork and promised to call us with the results last night. We never heard from her, so we’re working on the hope that no news is good news. My thought is that K’s bp is elevated from being so miserably sick and taking a ton of cold meds, which have the tendency to raise one’s blood pressure.

I’m so glad the OB prescribed K some antibiotics, which he clearly needs right now, and I’m hopeful that they’ll start to kick in very soon. I think that it should be a biological impossibility for someone in their third trimester to get sick. It’s just cruel! It’s hard for K to breathe as it is, with Falco taking up some much real estate, and the congestion is making it so much worse! K keeps pitifully coughing and, every single time he does, he ends up having Braxton Hicks contractions.

I sure hope this little one stays put for a little while longer, but I’m starting to feel skeptical. I sure wouldn’t mind an Aries baby instead of a Taurus. We could use another fire sign in this family.

An open letter to my baby at 33.5 weeks

Dear Falco,

Lately, you’ve been doing the weirdest things and have caused us a lot of laughter, head-scratching and slight concern. I’m writing to ask that you please stop torturing your Papa.

We’ve discovered lately that the consumption of sugar – and we’ve been consuming a LOT of it with the baby shower bonanza – really makes you hyper. When Daddy has a piece of cake or a delectable brownie, you pretend that you’re Michael Flatley a la Riverdance. I sure hope you don’t expect this trend to continue when you’re out of Papa’s belly, because we’re going to be “those parents” who make sure you’re consuming very balanced meals.

You hate when your Dad places things on your belly, and I understand your need for space, but it’s not very nice to kick the TV remote or laptop off of your Daddy’s tummy. We need to watch as much crappy reality television as we can before you make an appearance, when we’ll be too sleep deprived to do much beyond feeding you and changing and washing your diapers.

You’re getting SO BIG and the exertion from carrying you around in his belly is exhausting your poor Papa. A few nights ago, because space has been so cramped in your Dad’s belly with you taking up so much real estate, Daddy went directly from a loud snore, into a Homer Simpsonesque belch, and back into a snore. It was equal parts gross and hilarious. I’m not sure about the exact physiological reasons for this phenomenon, but I am certain that it’s somehow your fault.

Since you’ve been head down for weeks, your Dad and I had assumed you’d likely stay that way for the next few weeks until you’ve made your debut. Always one to keep your parents on their toes, you decided to make the most epic flip of all last night and are now wedged horizontally in your Papa’s abdomen. We know that there’s still plenty of time for you to get back into the appropriate position, but you must realize that your parents have the tendency to be anxious, especially as it relates to your wellbeing. As such, we’ve spent a lot of time researching ways to get you back into position. Please make it easy on us and put your big melon back down where it was before. You’re making your Dad’s bump a little lumpy, and that’s never a good look.

Even though you’ve caused a lot anxiety and comical moments lately, I sure can’t wait to meet you, snuggle you and sing you lullabies. You are already my favorite tiny human, even though you’re still a stranger.

Love,
Mommy

P.S. Cut it out.

Almost 33 weeks

Hey everyone.  I haven’t posted much in the past few weeks, mainly because things have been going pretty well.  The first few weeks (28, 29, 30…) of the third trimester have been pretty chill, but all of a sudden I feel like I’ve hit a wall.  I’m just feeling really exhausted and really irritable.  My body is irritating me, my emotional/mental state is irritating me, and worst of all—the world (people in general) are driving me nuts.  

Here comes my complaint session:  

Between my desk job and daily 2 hour commute my back is feeling really messed up.  Before I was pregnant I would get strange upper back pains, cramping and muscle spasms which I attributed to years of binding my chest.  This has been getting worse and I’m thinking about looking into prenatal massage or chiropractics or something…?  

I’ve also been feeling a lot of pelvic pressure.  Every time I stand up it’s like “Whoa gravity!”  I really just expected pregnancy to feel like being fat/fatter.  I’m serious!  I’ve been lots of different weights in my life so I just assumed pregnancy would just feel like getting bigger.  I’m not sure why I didn’t consider that I’d mainly be getting bigger in one area…lol  I’ve gained about 25 pounds so far and it all currently feels like it’s in my uterus and pressing on my bladder and pelvis.  This is concerning at 33 weeks since this kiddo hasn’t even dropped yet!!  

I’ve also been having insomnia.  I wake up at around 1am and stay up until about 4am.  I have no idea why, because it’s not like I’m anxious or stressed or in pain when I sleep.  Actually sleeping is one of my favorite things to do lately.  So, I get up and hang out in the baby’s room in the rocking chair and read for a few hours.  

I’ve also been having strange food/eating issues.  I was crazy and picky in the first trimester.  I felt like I ate normally in the second trimester.  Now, I’m hungry all the time but don’t want to eat anything or cook anything or even try to figure out what sounds good.  Food in general makes me grumpy.  I pretty much only want to eat fruit, crackers, and smoothies (which I guess also falls into the fruit category)  I’m trying so hard for Falco to get my veggies and proteins in!!

Lastly, being annoyed with people in general really makes me sad.  I feel like I’m a pretty patient person and normally I genuinely like people.  But…..these days the smallest thing makes my head spin.  I don’t want to be that person and I am really trying to take some quiet time each day to breathe and relax so I can face the world and all it’s stupidity with my normally kind heart.  

With 7 more weeks until the due date I better get used to some of these uncomfortable ailments.  I know it will all be worth it in the end.  

Thanks for listening to me whine.  

75% Cooked

As of this week, K is 30 weeks pregnant and we officially have about 10 weeks left to go. It amazes me when I think of how far we’ve come. At this point, I feel like the majority of our large preparations have already occurred.

Our choice of cribs kept being reduced in price at every vendor we visited, but because we thought one of our family members, or even a group, might consider purchasing it from our registry, we kept putting it off… until it was even more greatly reduced on Zulily. We took it as a sign and snatched it right up! The crib arrived on Friday and I assembled it late last night while K and the dogs slumbered together on the couch. My parents purchased the crib mattress from our registry, and it should arrive next week. I can’t wait to post photos of the nursery, which should be completed soon!

The invitations to our family shower are officially in the mail, albeit wayyyyyy later than what makes me feel comfortable (or, notably, than what is considered polite to guests), but hey, I’m not planning it. My teammates at work indicated their desire to throw me a work shower, so now I am attending a total of four baby showers in seven days:

  • 3/10 – our friends shower
  • 3/15 – my work shower
  • 3/16 – our family shower
  • 3/17 – attending the shower of some friends
  • 3/18 – taking a random day off work to recuperate from the whirlwind

It has taken forever and a day, but Lowe’s is delivering the new washing machine today. I’m really thankful for this fact, as hauling a week’s worth of laundry to a laundromat is getting exhausting. I intentionally did it alone this week, too, because K’s getting more tired now that our little Falco is getting larger and putting a lot more pressure on K’s back. I have to wait until at least Monday for the rental agency to send someone to actually install it (NO clue why Lowe’s doesn’t install it), but the end is in sight!

So many things on the horizon: the showers, another OB appointment, a meeting with the doula, and further Falco preparations. I am looking forward to documenting it all for you all!