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Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

There’s a pregnant woman in my SPIN class. She’s obviously in her last trimester and if I had to guess I would say she’s about 7-8 months along.

I can’t tell you how much I admire women who are not only able stay active throughout their pregnancies but are more than willing to do so. Six years ago I took the news I was pregnant as license to give Weight Watchers the ol’ heave ho.  I sustained my life and Autumn’s on a diet of pizza and ice cream and was very happy to have a valid reason to stop going to meetings. After all, Weight Watchers would not have let me continue anyway once it became apparent I was expecting.  My separation from them (once again) was blissfully guilt-free this time.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d had enough foresight to take better care of myself throughout my pregnancy. When I got pregnant I weighed right around 270. The day I gave birth I clocked in around 325. During my first prenatal appointment my OB cautioned me to not gain much weight but said little as the numbers on the scale crept higher and higher.

At the time I didn’t want a preachy OB getting on my case about being fat and I did ultimately have a stress-free pregnancy in spite of my size, but looking back I now realize I maintained an unhealthy, apathetic attitude about my weight right up to the end. Of course I hated seeing the scale go back up over 300 again, but I kept telling myself there was nothing I could do about it. I was having a baybeee, so of course I had to gain some weight.

I was really nervous about getting pregnant again after having Autumn. The thought of having another child and putting on even more weight finally gave me that healthy dose of fear that had been absent during all those months when it would have made a difference. I can’t get pregnant right now, I thought. I just can’t.

Then Autumn, Nathan and I fell into a pleasant rhythm and I started asking questions like, “Do you think maybe we could do this again?” Nathan said maybe but that I’d have to lose some weight first. I didn’t want to hear it and did nothing about it, but he was right and we finally decided to put the issue to bed once and for all just before Autumn turned a year old. Nathan had a vasectomy.

For the most part I’ve been happy to have tied that knot in the works. Another pregnancy has occasionally popped up in my dreams, sometimes manifesting as a warm feeling of rightness, as though all the cogs in the machinery of my life have gotten themselves back into working order. Other times the pregnancy is a setback, an interruption, a dark cloud of wrongness robbing me of any hard-won equilibrium.

The truth is, since Nathan’s vasectomy, I hadn’t felt the slightest bit emotionally or physically capable of handling another pregnancy until now.

Of course the kicker is I turn 40 in three months. And then there’s still the whole vasectomy thing.

I’m not saying I want another child.  That ship has sailed, but when I look at that pregnant woman in my SPIN class I know there’d be nothing short of bed rest or severe gestational issues keeping me from staying active and eating well this time around.

It is unfortunate that it took five years after a vasectomy and three months before my 40th birthday to get here, but I guess I’d rather be here and know I could handle it than stay where I was with a fear that creating another life would physically and emotionally ruin me.

That is progress, even it means we’ll always be a family of three.

 

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A couple of months ago I downloaded a silly little app for my iPod Touch called Period Tracker and it does just what the title implies. My cycles were never regular before I went on The Pill and they haven’t been regular since I went off it three years ago.  The irregularity has made for some unpleasant surprises over the years, the most memorable of which was walking up and down the Vegas strip and returning to our room at the Tropicana, expecting to take advantage of the mirror over the bed and instead heading back down the strip to Walgreens for some tampons.

As surprises go, that one served a very important purpose in the months to come because I was able to tell my OB with absolute certainty the start date of the last period before I got pregnant.

Since I was going to be traveling again, I decided to be proactive and download P Tracker (as it is so discretely displayed on my Touch) to help me get a handle on what my body does and when.  And according to that little program, I was due to start my most recent cycle the day we returned from our trip to Oklahoma.

The thing about the app is that even though its purpose is to track your cycles, you already should have a good idea how far apart they are in order to project your start date as accurately as possible.  Since I did not, I used the default setting of 28 days.

So my projected start date came and went. No big deal since I thought it was pretty early in the month for things to commence anyway. Even though I didn’t have the actual number of days between cycles nailed down, I did know it usually happened closer to the middle of the month and not the beginning.

But then a week passed and Nathan started asking questions.  He is, perhaps, more vigilant about tracking my cycles than I am and paid close attention to what P Tracker was telling us.  He asked if I was worried, which I was not.

Then ten days went by. Then twelve.

And then I started thinking about babies and how Marla’s sister has a friend whose husband had a vasectomy and still managed to knock her up. It happens.  It’s rare, but it does happen.

And I actually told Nathan it wouldn’t be bad if we have another child now, especially since Autumn might be starting kindergarten in the fall leaving us able to pay for daycare for a second child.  And sure, we’ve sold every bit of baby gear we ever owned, but we could be more conservative this time and not buy half the crap we bought for Autumn.

I had it all sorted out in my head, but as I was entertaining fantasies of a surprise pregnancy, my body had its own plans and I could feel it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. And sure enough, on day 13 I was back to being just another cranky woman on the rag.

I was relieved. I didn’t really want to be pregnant again.  Not right now. I’ve been doing very well on Weight Watchers, but I’m still heavier than I was the day I gave birth to Autumn.

But if the weight wasn’t an issue, I don’t think I would have minded being pregnant at all.

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We are three

Did you all hear that Jennifer Garner is pregnant again? I think the news has yet to be confirmed by someone other than former spy daddy Victor Garber, but from the pictures I’ve seen of her, it certainly looks like Violet’s mama is sporting a bump.

Jennifer Garner and I have a lot in common. We’re around the same age (she’s five months younger than me) and were both band geeks in high school. We each married tall, incredibly handsome men and became new moms right around the same time (her daughter was born two weeks after Autumn). Though I have never met the woman, I felt a connection to her that suggested we’d be great friends if we ever did meet.

But now she’s pregnant again and I sort of feel like I’m seeing my high school friend go on to college while I stay behind to work at the Quickie Mart. It’s not as though she can only be pregnant if I’m pregnant too, but that’s exactly how I felt when I heard the news. It was a melancholy moment for me.

I think I’ve written exactly one post about having more children. I only wrote that one post because a few months later Nathan and I made the decision that we were not going to have any more children. He had a vasectomy just before Autumn’s first birthday. I didn’t write about it then because it was a deeply personal decision that took some time to process.

For us, there were more reasons to stop at one than there were to expand our family. I got pregnant weighing around 270 pounds and gained over 50 pounds during my pregnancy. I was incredibly healthy throughout, but I never lost that baby weight. Ok, I did lose some during the months I nursed Autumn, but those pounds came back on and brought a few of their friends with them.

When we were still considering having another child, I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want to go through another pregnancy being fat. After my first ultrasound, my OB sent me to an office specializing in ultrasounds for high-risk pregnancies. There wasn’t anything wrong with the baby that they could see, but that was part of the problem. They couldn’t see as much as they wanted to because I was fat.

As I was filling out my paperwork at the specialist, I caught sight of the notation pertaining to my particular risk; obesity. Yuck. I hated that word. It wasn’t as though I was ignorant of my condition, but I sometimes preferred to pretend I was just like every other cute pregnant woman out there. But I wasn’t like every other woman who gets pregnant at a healthy weight. I had to buy every piece of maternity clothing online. I couldn’t go into the boutique maternity shops or even the stores in the mall. A good part of my maternity wardrobe was just plus-size stuff with elastic waistbands that accommodated my growing body.

When I started to think about having another child, the task of losing weight seemed so daunting, especially when I considered that I’d wind up gaining some of it back with another pregnancy. And how old would I be after I lost that weight anyway? I was in my mid-30s and the pounds weren’t coming off as quickly as they did when I was in my 20s. That first summer after Autumn was born I tried. I went back to Weight Watchers and I did try because I had stopped nursing and the pounds were piling back on. But I tanked. I tanked as I had so many times before.

My obesity isn’t the only reason we stopped with Autumn. There are a lot of other reasons that range from emotional to financial, but I knew that the limitations I experience as a fat parent would increase exponentially with another child. Being a parent is tough, emotionally and physically, and if you’re carrying around the weight of an extra adult on your frame you don’t have the physical stamina to withstand the emotional pummeling a child can dish out. Luckily I’m married to a man who was completely on board with me and we eventually had the discussion about the future of our little family.

While I don’t regret our decision, I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes wonder what a little boy of ours might look like and if Autumn would pick on him as much as I picked on my little brother. And then there’s the whole diapers thing. I don’t have to buy diapers anymore and that just seems inconceivable. I don’t have to monitor diaper sales and cut out diaper coupons. I don’t have to toss stinky diapers in the garbage or clean up the remains of stinky diapers that Molly pulled out of the garbage. I don’t have to do any of that anymore and it seems like there’s this great big hole where the diapers used to be and I’m left wondering…is this it?

While I have no friends who are pregnant at the moment, I know some of them are struggling with these same questions. Is this it? Do we keep going? Do I want to put my physical and/or mental health at risk and deal with an uncertain financial future for the sake of adding to our brood?

When I think of these questions and how Nathan and I have answered them with that decisive and very final snip, I also have to think about how lucky we were to have been blessed with Autumn in the first place. Without her, we would never have known it was even possible to want more.

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Way back when I started this blog, I had one of those tickers pasted to the top of my page that showed how many days I had left before my child would make her appearance. The thing really pissed me off at the end since the kid waited TEN WHOLE DAYS after my due date to grace us with her presence, and even then she had to be evicted.

Aside from being a bit cutesy and infuriating to the over due, that ticker was also static. No life, no animation, just a gradually developing fetus advancing towards some arbitrary date on the calendar. I’d seen many, many similar tickers on the various sites and message boards I visited throughout my pregnancy.

Then the other day Casey left a comment here and the link back to her blog, which I visited and saw the coolest thing ever:

Get the <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/baby-ticker”>Baby Ticker – The Baby Countdown Pregnancy Ticker</a> widget and many other <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com/galleryhome/”>great free widgets</a> at <a href=”http://www.widgetbox.com”>Widgetbox</a>!

How freaking sweet is that? Makes me want to go out and get knocked up just so I can add it to my sidebar. Just looking at it makes me feel all peaceful. There’s baby gently floating around in the amniotic fluid and you can watch him grow like a sea monkey until the day he tears you in half.

Ain’t motherhood a lovely thing?

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728 days later

November 6, 2005 was the day my doctor told me my baby should be born. I know it’s not an exact science, this due date calculation thing that they do, and that the nine months gestation is really more like nine and a half months. By the time your due date rolls around all you can think about is that the baby needs to come now because you cannot stand one more night of getting up three times to pee and not being able to sleep on your stomach.

Autumn was ten days late. I sometimes wonder how much longer she would have stayed in the womb had she not been evicted via a scheduled induction that led to a c-section. I’m pretty sure she would have made it to my birthday. I’m two years out now and the thought that Autumn and I could have shared a birthday seems kind of nice. My mother’s birthday is two days after mine and I’ve always treasured that connection with her. Back then, however, the thought of sharing a birthday with my daughter was exactly what I did not want.

But here we are, two years later, and I have a little person running around my house, throwing pieces of pork chops on the carpet and purposely spilling chocolate soy milk in her lap (seriously, what is with the obsession with spilling liquids lately?). I worry about her every day and whether we’re giving her everything she needs to be healthy and thrive. I worry about the rest of the world and the horrible people who do horrible things to little children. I worry about accidents and the things no one ever thinks will happen to them or their families.

Two years ago I wanted her out. I wanted the back aches to end, my feet to return to their normal size and to be able to go just one day without popping some Tums into my mouth after a meal. I wanted to ditch my maternity wardrobe and finally be able to sleep on my stomach again.

And now? Now I wish I had as safe a place to keep her.

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Yesterday I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning.  As the hygienist was walking me out afterwards, she told me she wouldn’t be around for my next appointment in January because she was going to be on maternity leave.  I figured she was pregnant but didn’t ask because I didn’t want to open my mouth and make a fool out of myself if she wasn’t.  To paraphrase Dave Barry, you only assume a woman is pregnant if you can actually see the child emerging from her womb.

We chatted for a couple of minutes during which the hygienist revealed that she’s having twins.  I congratulated her and then opened my mouth and made a fool out of myself anyway.  “Did you freak when you found out?” I asked.  At the time I thought it was a pretty legitimate question.  The hygienist was very polite and said both she and her husband realize they have a lot of work ahead of them and are preparing for it.

In the car on the way back home, I finally realized how stupid that question was.  It was the kind of question that prompts readers to write in to Ann Landers with stories about clods who insist on asking the most insensitive questions.  Sure, the prospect of having twins would freak me out, but that doesn’t mean having twins would freak her out.  If that hygienist can make a living scraping crap off people’s teeth, I’m sure taking care of two babies at once doesn’t seem all that scary to her.

I think there’s a kind of prurient interest when people hear a woman is carrying multiples.  It’s one of those things that’s both fascinating and frightening, like being abducted by aliens.  You sure as hell don’t want it to happen to you but you’re pretty interested in those it does happen to.  When I was pregnant, my dad’s friend Jim kept trying to freak me out by saying I could be carrying twins.  He thought that joke was funny enough to repeat just about every time he saw me.  Even after I assured him I was only carrying one, that the ultrasounds revealed only one and that I could only feel one child moving around in there, Jim insisted on pulling out the twin joke.  “You never know,” he’d say, “one could be hiding behind the other.” 

In spite of the initial shock and adjustment, I imagine parents of twins have an easier time than parents of two children spaced years apart. When you have twins, your life is chaotic from the start and having two children around is natural.  Both kids are the same age and go through the same things at roughly the same time.  Parents who have one child and then another a couple of years down the road face a different set of challenges, the first one being getting used to tending to more than one child.  Both children have different developmental needs and the inevitable sibling jealousy sets in when the older child realizes he no longer has mommy and daddy’s undivided attention.

Nathan and I have talked a little bit about the prospect of having another.  At times I’ve been pretty sure that I wanted another but now I’m more of the mind that I’m done.  Every time I see a little baby though, something tugs at my uterus and I remember Autumn in her teeny newborn size diapers. She’ll only be little for so long.

So when is a good time to decide you don’t want any more children anyway?  Menopause?

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I always check in on Autumn one last time before I go to bed.  I’ll go in and stand over her crib and watch her sleep.  I imagine at some point it will start to freak her out.  I know it would freak me out to have this huge shadow standing over me while I tried to sleep.  If she’s really still, I’ll stroke her cheek or lightly poke her in the belly to get her to move.  I don’t think I’ll ever get past being worried about SIDS, at least not until the girl can sit bolt upright and say, “Stop it Mom, you’re driving me nuts! Go to bed already!”

Last night she was on her back and looked very comfortable.  I thought how nice it must be to be able to sleep so soundly and not have to get up to go to the bathroom.  I looked at where her diaper bulged underneath her pajamas and envisioned the kind of peaceful bliss that must accompany letting it all flow out whenever it needs to.

Last year at this time I was getting up at least once during the night to pee.  Towards the end it was two times or more.  I understand that’s not bad compared to what other women go through (hourly!) but it still sucked.  I inherited my mother’s bladder and pregnant or not, when I need a bathroom I need one stat.  My mother and I know where all the bathrooms are in every store, restaurant or business in town.  Target seems to have the pee pee affect on both of us because every time we go there we have to bolt to the bathroom before getting in line at the checkout.  I wonder if there’s a clinical term for that.  How about Retail Induced Urination?  That sounds about right.

When I was in the hospital about to give birth, the nurses were prepping me for the c-section and told me they were going to insert a catheter.  They said they usually save this procedure until after the patient has been given an epidural or a spinal block but since they were all there anyway…Well that right there should have been a clue that getting a plastic tube shoved up my urethra was not going to be a walk in the park.

Let me tell you though, that catheter was like a gift from God.  After weeks, nay months, of being a slave to my bladder, that little plastic tube was worth every second of excruciating pain I went through to have it inserted.  For nearly thirty-six hours I didn’t have the urge to pee at all.  The nurses would come in and change my bag and I was very happy to let them.  When it was time for me to get up and start moving around I was told the catheter needed to come out.  It was like saying goodbye to a maid or a babysitter or some other laborer who does all the hard work for you while you go out and cavort in the Land of No Bathrooms.

So in my dream world I’d be in front of the TV on a comfortable couch.  “Law and Order” would be on every channel and they’d never show repeats.  I’d have an endless supply of Snackwell’s cookies and Costco cake and a catheter so that I wouldn’t have to miss a second of Jack McCoy’s riveting closing arguments.

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