Monday, October 27, 2008

We grow people

Dave and I have been joking that he is going through sympathy pregnancy along with me for the past couple of weeks. I like to put my hands on his belly and wait for the baby to kick or put my head to it and listen to the baby talk. After re-reading that sentence, it looks like we need to make more of an effort to leave our house every now and then. As it turns out, sympathy pregnancy is real---well, other than the growing a baby part. Per one of my weekly pregnancy emails, "it is not unusual for the nonpregnant half of a couple to share some of the symptoms of pregnancy with their babies' mothers, including weight gain, nausea, food cravings or mood swings."

When I first started noticing Dave's symptoms, I was a little worried for him. I found him curled up on the couch propped up on pillows and covered in blankets and cheesy puffs. He was on his laptop stalking the Craigslist baby sale items and watching the food network for the sixth straight hour.

"Soooooonyaaaaaaaaaaaa! Come quick!" He yelled from his throne.

Although I had been busying myself drilling random holes and stringing wire to create the ultimate speaker system, I dropped everything and waddle ran to him, "yes, my dear husband, whatever can I do for you?"

"Can you hand me the remote?"

The remote control was barely two feet in front of him perched on the ottoman next to the couch. He must have noticed me eyeing it while the blood rushed into my face because he then sputtered, "but the kitty fell asleep on my foot and I can't move or she will wake up!"

Realizing quickly that he was absolutely right as usual, I reached for the remote and handed it to him. "Do you need anything else? I'm getting ready to paint the driveway orange and I won't be able to hear you outside."

He looked up from his laptop and pointed at the television where Paula Dean was folding the contents of a tub of butter into some chocolate mixture, "the baby needs brownies."

Oh wait a second, never mind. Reverse those roles. I was getting us confused again (pregnancy brain you know.)

Anyway, I'm thankful that he does have some of these symptoms because I get more brownies out of the deal this way. Like last night around 9:00 all I had to do was whisper, "I love brownies." And he shot up like a rocket and fired up the mixer. Meanwhile I laid on the couch and convinced myself that I could feel the baby moving.

Unfortunately, what I was feeling was actually round ligament pain causing an involuntary spasm on my right side every few minutes. I'm not a doctor, but I play one on my blog. I have to laugh at myself for thinking that what I was feeling was the baby. In a way, it was a good coping mechanism for lessening the pain. But I have to laugh because those first baby movements are supposed to feel like butterfly flutters or popcorn popping. They are not said to feel like a sharp pain to the groin. Apparently, in my mind I have a miniature Bruce Lee growing inside of me trying to karate chop his way out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fish heads

I've been thinking a lot about some of the weird symptoms of pregnancy that surprised me. I mean, it is well documented that pregnant women eat a lot, gain weight, often develop swollen ankles and feet, become bipolar, etc. But some pregnancy peculiarities made less sense to me---the bloody noses and the gums that bleed from routine teeth brushing for example. I would think that all of my blood would be in great demand growing a person and circulating and whatnot. I didn't realize that my head would become engorged with blood and it would look for all possible means of escape.

Not at all a symptom of pregnancy, but I must mention the fish flavored burps. Enduring the reoccurring taste of fish is the price I will pay for wanting a smart kid. According to recent studies, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential for baby's brain and seem to give the baby an edge in terms of early development. Not that I want to be one of those mothers that becomes obsessed with my child being the smartest kid that ever there was! But if I can take some fish oil pills and that will maybe help my child, why not? So as soon as I found out the little brain was starting to develop back in the early stages of pregnancy, I googled "pregnancy brain food" because I like to keep my searches as scientific sounding as possible. That's when I learned about Omegas and after confirming this info with my doc, I went out shopping.

There are several types of fish oil supplements to choose from, a few of which scream from their packaging, "No Fish Burps!" Unfortunately, these came at a premium price and I am a bargain shopper. My flawed thinking went something like this: I like fish + I don't burp a lot = I will get the cheap ones. I have since learned there are few things I could burp that would be more disgusting than fish oil. Vomit is the only thing that comes to mind.

The gross factor seems to revolve around the fact that the brain knows that it has not consumed any actual fish recently. Also, being that I take all of my pills (5 total) first thing in the morning, fish burps at 8:00 am are not exactly savory. Not that the time of day would change my opinion on this matter very much. What's even worse is when I attempt to get something else in my belly to mask the taste of the fish burp, like say Fruity Cheerios. The futility of this is much like masking the odors found in a bathroom (see I didn't actually say poop in this post) with Hawaiian breeze scented air fresheners. It is as effective as a hippy masking the non-showering aspect of their lifestyle with cheap patchouli oil. The burping is still fishy with an artificial cherry finish; it is mellow but still complex, a bit chewy. Perhaps aged in a cardboard barrel that once held a dead fish?

Slowly I am transforming into one of those annoying people that announces they do not like fish because it tastes "fishy." I never quite understood it before, but now I get it. Those people have taken cheap fish oil supplements too. I bet their kids are geniuses though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

History repeating

Dear Baby,

You have picked a very eventful time in history to be born. Right now, you are about 4 months cooked and the world is in the middle of an economic crisis. The cost of food is rising. Unemployment is rising. People are losing their homes; some are victims of circumstance and some were greedy and made decisions they did not understand. The US is fighting two wars overseas (your uncle is currently back in Iraq, but he'll be getting out by the time you are born). Banks, insurance companies and brokers are shutting their doors or being bailed out by the government. People that have saved money all their lives in hopes of retiring soon, may have to put off retirement because their investments have lost so much value. In a recent poll, 89% of Americans think this country is headed in the wrong direction.

But don't worry too much about all that because there are some positive improvements happening as well. People are starting to become more responsible---for their impact on the earth, for the gas they consume, for the waste they produce, for the water they waste. They are striving to become more efficient, in an effort to conserve what we have. More and more people are growing their own food and getting back to basics like sewing and carpentry. Generally speaking, people are starting to become more self-aware and less selfish in their decisions. I guess we are all worried about the future and that is driving us to be better. No one wants to be part of the problem when they can be part of the solution. Most exciting of all, we are exactly 2 weeks away from electing a new president in the US.
Your father would like to add, "the good news in all of this is that there is a lot of positive energy and a lot of people in this country that are hoping to turn this country around in a more positive direction." He just attended a rally and James Taylor concert in downtown Raleigh today, and "came away with a very good feeling about our chances on making a difference in where our country is headed on election day."

As of right now, it looks like the US will elect the first black man in history to be president of the United States. His name is Barack Obama. And your father and I are very excited by the possibility that he will win, although the election is not over yet. Regardless, I am starting to worry for this man and his family. I'm afraid there are some people in the country that not only do not want Obama to be elected, but they are also making threats against him. You see, these people have the wrong idea about Obama. They have been told that Obama has terrorists for friends and they blindly accept this as fact. These mistaken people think that Obama is a Muslim, an Arab, a Socialist---all sorts of things they have deemed terrible. I can't imagine how much this must hurt good people that are Muslims, Arabs or Socialists to hear these modifiers being thrown around like insults. I'm frightened that obviously ignorant people armed with misinformation and driven by anger will do something rash. Essentially, these people are transforming into zealots, much like the zealots they hate so much in other cultures. They rightly despise the people in the Middle East that scream "death to America", while they themselves yell "off with his head" at a domestic political rally. So let this be the first lesson to you baby, do not blindly believe things that people tell you---especially politicians and people on TV. Always check the facts before you act on anything.

Look kid, none of this is meant to scare you. As a wise man once said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I just think it's good for you to know the world that you were born into. I hope by the time you can read and comprehend this, that the world has improved for the better. I hope from the vantage point of the future, you can look back on 2009 as the year everything changed. In the meantime, your father and I are trying to do everything in our power to support the most rational and thoughtful course of action as possible to secure your future.

The people who fed you cake last night

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letter in the mailbox

Dear Emily,

Thank you for your letter and lovely drawing of all of us. I hope you don't mind me posting them up here, but they made me smile so much that I had to share them with everyone. I don't think a letter has ever made me laugh so hard and that's saying a lot, because I know some very funny people.

So to answer your question about whether the baby will be a girl or a boy, we are not sure right now. Which one would you prefer? Let me know and I'll see what I can do. For example, if you want it to be a boy, I'm pretty sure if I eat nothing but hotdogs until I go to the doctor, I can still make the baby be a boy. Likewise, if you want the baby to be your niece, I could eat nothing but blueberry muffins for a couple of weeks. Don't worry about it either way, I like both hotdogs and blueberry muffins enough to give this a try so you get the baby you want. I can't say for sure whether it will work of course, but it's worth a try!

We will go back to the doctor the day before Halloween to find out if you get a niece or a nephew. I might need you to do me a favor on that day to help us out though. I need you to keep your fingers and legs crossed as much as possible on that day. And maybe I'm making this up, but my thinking is that if you are crossing as many of your body parts as possible, then that will mean the baby will UN-cross its legs so we can see what it is. You see, the baby is the one that has to let us know if it has boy parts or girl parts. And since you are the closest family member to the baby in age, you're the only one that can do this job for us. Let me know if you think you can take on this challenge. You do have to promise me that it won't affect your schoolwork though---so no telling the teacher you can't write because you have to keep your fingers crossed or anything. Just keep the other hand crossed and that will be enough.

On Halloween, I'll be sure to post the answer here, along with more photos. Only two more weeks of waiting!

Much Love,
Your Sister

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Toilet humor

Sooner or later, I knew it would come to this. I've eluded to it before, but now is the time to just be frank. I can't poop anymore. Okay, I CAN, but it....takes a lot longer than it used to. Long ago, my secret pride was my efficiency in this area. As a matter of fact, I have lived with people that were convinced I did not possess the pooping function. Being pregnant is a different story though---I have no tact anymore. I now proudly announce to my husband when I have successfully gone to the bathroom such is my excitement. Perhaps I am just preparing for the inevitable pooping on the table during labor, so this is just my way of gaining momentum for that big event.

This is kind of a gross subject I realize. But part of my purpose in writing this blog is to document my pregnancy, so I will never do this to myself again (I'm joking! I think). But I see a lot of moms out there that do not remember much of their pregnancy and I want to remember all these little details---even the horrible constipation. Why? Because I think it's funny and so should you.

Still though, I remain shy and private about the actual process. So fear not, I will not show up at your house and poop on the new rug in your living room or anything. What I mean is I'm shy when I'm in a public bathroom, which can be difficult considering the amount of time it now takes to work things out. Unfortunately, the bathrooms are shared between all of the offices at my work, so there are constant interruptions when business is being conducted in one of the stalls. And women, in particular, have a hilarious way of dealing with business interruptions---we freeze until the intruder exits the facility. Not all women live by this code of course, but I always thought that at the very least we all understood it.

Fortunately, we have fantastic music piped into our office bathrooms. The new property managers have even switched the station from classical to jazz. And while I admit I miss the thrill of peeing along to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, it always felt a little wrong. I don't think he created such a powerful song to entertain the modern worker as she relieved herself. The switch to jazz makes me feel more relaxed and hip about going to the bathroom though. Plus there is no more fitting place for the scat singing of a jazz vocalist than in a bathroom. Ahh, scatological humor warms the soul.

So today, I found myself in an extended stay situation in the bathroom enjoying some Ella Fitzgerald tunes when a stranger walks into the stall right beside mine. As it is my duty as a woman and out of respect for this stranger, I freeze. It occurs to me she probably notices my feet and therefore has a good idea of what's going on. Either that or she thinks I've fallen victim to Elvis Presley's fate. Regardless, I pass the time thinking about why it might be that I am so constipated. Is it that I am living solely off of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup? Or is it that the baby is getting lonely and has taken comfort in hugging my intestines, thereby making it impossible for me to pass anything?

I hear the toilet beside me flush and she exits the stall to wash and dry her hands. Once finished, rather than leave the bathroom like a normal person, she (let's call her Sherlock to protect the innocent) doubles back to the last stall, where I am. I want to yell out, "ummm, can I help you?" or "did you lose a contact?" but all I can think about is the fact that I have chosen the only stall with a non-locking latch. There is another door that leads to a shower, but you have to know the code to get in. I hear the beep beep of her hitting random numbers because apparently she has lots of time on her hands and enjoys torturing me. And then I hear the creak as the door to my stall lurches forward towards me. With the reflexes of a fat ninja, I thrust my hand forward and the door slams back in the closed position while I emit a long, "geeeeeeeeeeeez." I wish I could have thought of something better to say. Sherlock replies, "uhhh sorry" and quickly rushes out the door.

I realize nothing exciting happened during this story, but I'm still trying to figure out why she opened the door to my stall when there were 3 other empty stalls in the bathroom (not to mention she had already gone to the bathroom). Was she a peeper? Did she think I was dead? I suppose I will never know. But the moral of the story is, if you fear the person in the stall beside you is dead, simply call out to them, "hey you in there, this is going to sound like a strange question, but you wouldn't happen to be dead would you?" If they don't reply, then and only then should you proceed with a visual inspection of the stall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A womb with a view

We had a fantastic experience with Duke Perinatal last week, even though I was not far enough along to have the full Level 2 Ultrasound. First, they sat us down with a genetic counselor and spoke much more in depth about our nuchal translucency test results. Just to recap, the baby's measurements were good it was my blood work that messed up our results. The counselor also told us that our Trisomy 13/18 screening (a more serious condition than downs) came back with great numbers.

I think this was our longest ultrasound yet. And can I just say that Duke's facility is posh---warm jelly posh! They even have a monitor set up on the wall opposite the gurney I was laying on so Dave and I could watch in comfort. I'm making it sound like I normally get my sonograms done by a crazy homeless man in the woods huh?

In other news, someone needs to stop me from making crack cocaine jokes during my ultrasound when the tech remarks on how hyper the baby is. I think this is related to my habit of making heroine jokes while blood is being drawn, such is the pride I take in how prominent my veins are. But the crack joke during the ultrasound, I've done it twice now. I think I need some new material.

Most exciting news of all is that we have a better idea of the baby's gender now. Nothing is carved in stone and we haven't slapped paint on the nursery walls or anything, but we have a real indication. And for now it will remain a well guarded secret until we can confirm at the end of October.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Luck be a baby

After a strange turn of events, I have an appointment for a Level II Ultrasound that I didn't schedule. I'm guessing there was a conversation between the doctor and some nurses that I was not present for and they went ahead and scheduled an appointment for me for today. I found out about it yesterday and was trying to explain to them that this was not my idea and I wanted to understand how this appointment came to be. The nurse said that the doc recommended it, so there's no arguing with that. Plus, Dave and I would never pass up an opportunity to see the bean. I will update as soon as I can---everyone keep as many body parts crossed as possible!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gambling the odds

Amazing what a difference 24 hours can make. One of my coworkers, whose wife is also pregnant came into my office and asked me how I've been feeling lately. Although I normally don't get into specifics, today I decided to share my testing info because of his recent experience with this stage of pregnancy. They apparently decided not to do any testing at all because they knew they could never abort, so what was the sense? I now wish we had followed that route too after getting back our results that put us at greater risk, and will therefore cause more worry. But I told him we were trying not to stress too much because the odds are still on our side.

"Pick a number between 1 and 86," he said.
"Seventy-two," I quickly replied.
"See, that wasn't my number," he confirmed, "your odds are better than you think."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snuff out the worry

So this parenting thing is already proving to be quite a challenge in terms of tough decisions that need to be made. I got a call from the doc yesterday that our nuchal translucency screening came back abnormal. Based solely on age, most 32 year old women would have a 1 in 435 chance of having a child with downs syndrome. And while the baby's measurements during the ultrasound were good, my blood work came back with abnormalities. The doc said that my stats are now that of a 41 year old or our child has a 1 in 86 chance of having downs syndrome.

But these are just the results of the screen and false positives (frankly a misleading term since we are talking about a screen and not an actual test) are common. The tough decision though is where to go from here? The doctor warned us before we started the screening process that if we were to get a positive result from the screen, it was unlikely we would get off this ride without further testing. So we can decide to proceed with further testing, a CVS or a amniocentesis, which are both invasive tests and have a low risk of causing miscarriage. Or we can do nothing and simply live with the heightened risk.

The question I have to ask myself is what would we want to do if the amniocentesis came back with a positive result? Would we want to abort like 90% of parents that get a positive result? Would we still proceed with the pregnancy? I can say that my instinct tells me I would choose to keep the child, but it's not my decision alone. And I think this would prove to be a more difficult decision based in reality than it is hypothetically. We all want to think we would do the "right" thing, but do we really have the courage to do it?

As of right now, I do not want to proceed with further testing and Dave seems to be in agreement. We live with the heightened risk and snuff out the worry. Who knew the path was going to split on us this early and we'd have to start picking our way through the maze. At least the idea of picking out the "perfect" baby gear now seems so inconsequential. In that sense, I am very thankful to god for giving us some perspective.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

3-D Bean

Dave and I went to the doc for a nuchal translucency screening to test for any chromosomal abnormalities yesterday. Our numbers look good, which is a relief.

I'm already impressed with how well behaved our little person is. At first, the bean was squirming away from the doc and I was thinking we might either have to put off the testing or just not test at all. But once the doc started calling the baby names like, " little turkey," the bambino started cooperating. So note to self: when trying to get this kid to do what you want, call it harmless bird-related names. Also, note to baby: show us your private parts at the end of October ok? It's very hard to think of multiple ways to say "genderless baby" without calling you an "it". Don't make me pull out my bird identification book!

But even greater news than that is that the bean has two arms and two legs! Our little fetus has an intact abdominal wall and skull and a little bum! These are the clearest images we've seen in three ultrasounds, so it was a very exciting day indeed.