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06/23/2008

Process of elimination

Contrary to what I've been led to expect, I find I'm enjoying late pregnancy.  I am large but not yet uncomfortable, and although I am mildly anxious it is more a feeling that we are not ready — is anyone ever? — than any unpleasant foreboding.  I am feeling the urge to nest, which in some women takes the form of, I don't know, alphabetizing a drawerful of onesies, but which makes me want to go out and pour a concrete slab for some unspecified outbuilding we surely must need, and now.  I am excited.  I am happy.

But I am noticing one unpleasant development.  Lately it's hard to get out of bed in the mornings.  I don't mean that I'm feeling the effects of interrupted sleep, although I am; I mean that it's difficult to move from horizontal to vertical without several intermediate steps.  Most people can easily go from lying down to sitting up.  With the recent changes to my body, I find I'm like a turtle on its back.  A most righteously pissed-off turtle, ineffectually flailing its scaly limbs, thinking, "Intelligent design, my immobilized shell-clad aaaaass."

I have been trying to work around this limitation.  My latest idea was that I would just...roll.  That I'd move seamlessly from supine-under-covers to feet-on-the-floor, kind of like a break dancer might.  But if you are reading this shaking your head, doubting my funky freshness, well, you are right to do so.  Word to your lovely mother.  Because it didn't work.  The body pillow I sleep with — the one I cling to, if you must know, as a corn dog hugs its stick — served quite effectively as a speed bump, only in reverse.  I tried to roll over it in cautious slow motion, and found I could not even crest its ridge.  I backed up, trying it a little faster, ignoring my niggling worry that I was about to break an axle.  No joy.  Finally I committed, Knievel-style, hurling my unwieldy body over the hump of the pillow, Startled Housecat Canyon, and thirteen Greyhound buses.  Scenicruisers, in fact.  Jam-packed full of very old nuns.

And it worked, after a fashion.  Sure, the pillow slipped at the very last moment, introducing an unforeseen element of surprise and mortal danger.  Sure, I misjudged the aerodynamics of the pregnant human form, forgetting everything I'd ever learned about Newton's immutable laws.  (Danke schoen for nothin', brother.)  And sure, I landed heavily on the floor, taking the brunt of the impact on the hip that had been aching for days from sciatica.  (Varicose veins, sciatica — Jesus, I feel old.  What's next, lumbago?  Dropsy?  Quinsy?  Gout?  Scrimshaw?)  But at least I was out of bed.

...

And what did I do once I was out of bed?  Peed all over my hand, of course.  Isn't that how you begin your day?

Despite the many opportunities to do so as the parent of a small child, I do not talk much here about matters scatological, in large part because I was brought up to believe that it's rude to dwell on what comes out of our bodies.  In my adult life I have apparently overcome any missish reservations that might fall under "vagina, issue therefrom," but I insist even I have limits. 

For example, I have not documented Charlie's toileting, and I will not do so now except to say that he does so successfully.  One day it simply clicked, and he has been comfortably underpanted since.  (Favorites: "Stingrays...with legs.")  Oh, he's not dry overnight, nor do I particularly care; plenty of time for that when he's confronted with that question on his college applications.  I don't know what finally did the trick, but I think it was nothing more than time and experience.  It certainly wasn't that Godforsaken Elmo video; he can't have seen it more than thrice because I couldn't bear it myself.  Think you're a better man than I?  Hey, well, knock yourself out [YouTube].  But before you congratulate yourself, consider this damning detail: Baby Bear calls excrement woo woo.

Can you see why I don't like to discuss this?

But I was going to talk about my effluvia, specifically my urine.  If you've experienced infertility, you are probably accustomed to handling your own pee.  You've baptized stick after stick, OPK and HPT.  You've probably carefully dismantled same to examine the urine-soaked strip up close.  And if you're lucky, you've amassed a phalanx of positive tests, which you keep for months, stale pee reek notwithstanding.  Infertility is not for the squeamish.

A high-risk pregnancy introduces a whole new level of urinary exposure.  At twice-weekly non-stress tests, I am asked to submit to a proteinuria dip.  At once-weekly doctor's appointments, ditto.  And once a day, because I am a nervous freak, I do it at home, too, admiring the pretty mosaic of peed-on reagent pads as I chant the count of seconds.  All of these maneuvers involve peeing in a cup, an operation that seems simple enough, but which is, in late pregnancy, fraught with any number of dangers.

Okay, it's fraught with only one danger: peeing all over your hand.  This was a surprise to me, so I will tell you this in the hope of saving you from a similar shock one day.  By the time you're in your third trimester, nothing down there is where you think you left it.  You can hold the cup where you think it should go.  But you will be wrong.  You will be performing the urinary equivalent of those infuriating games at the fair, where you try to shoot the clown in the mouth with a watergun, in hope of making his balloon-head swell and explode.  (Violent?  Sure.  But you name me a clown who doesn't deserve to get shot in the mouth.)

Despite my ever-so-ladylike reluctance to talk about such things, I find I'm not especially fazed by being caught wet-handed.  I swear a little, mostly pro forma, I wash my hands, I move on.  It is no greater indignity than any other, and a small price to pay for the reassurance it offers.  I certainly cringe less than I did upon watching Grover clutch his blue-furred crotch and break for the nearest benjo.

...

Could be much worse, after all.  Could need another date with the hat.  But there's been no hint that I do.  My blood pressure is fine — tending low, in fact.  No pain, no headaches, no visual disturbances (unless you count what might have been a hallucination, the vision of the normally tight-assed Prairie Dawn twirling to imitate the vortex of a flushing toilet).  And although I am swollen at the end of the day, with my feet resembling nothing so much as the tumid antlers of an inflated Bullwinkle, by the next morning it has resolved, and my ankles returned to their usual veiny enviable daintiness.

All is well.  33 weeks and counting.

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