07/20/2004

Finger up the ass: no extra charge

At last week's scan, a strange thing happened. As I lay on the table being rubbed all over with exotic unguents having my belly gelled up, I realized I wasn't scared and I wasn't excited. I felt only quiet. Patient, almost; calm, certainly — and expectant in the greater sense of the word.

When the midwife had a hard time finding the fetus with the transducer, I wasn't worried, and I didn't panic. Instead I felt this enormous sense of acceptance settle over me. Whatever would be, would be, and I knew I'd somehow be okay with that. I knew that if we didn't see a heartbeat, I would be devastated, of course, but I'd manage. Somehow. Like I have so far. Like all my strong friends have. We don't die from disappointment, much though we might sometimes wish it.

I felt peaceful.

And then we did see the heartbeat, and movement, and I felt excited again, almost elated. That wore off a few days after the scan, but the feeling of peace persisted. It's strange and comforting, and I hope to God it continues. I'm not confident yet. I'm far from fearless. But I've felt weirdly serene in the knowledge that I can take what comes.

...

Today I am ordering my first installment of maternity clothes. Although at 11 weeks it's way too early for me to be showing, I am, thanks to the diabolical complicity of Messrs. Ben and Jerry. I am well aware that the widening of my waist is due entirely to joyous overeating, since the fetus is now a mere 1.8" long. But whatever the reason, my pants are too small, and they'll only get smaller from here.

Starting later this week, you can expect to find me swaddled in some delightful pastel-colored confection, probably topped with a festive satin bow.

Or, bigger jeans.

...

The obstetrician put a gloved hand (or several digits thereof) inside my vagina to look for her lost car keys. Not finding them there, she apparently decided my rectum was the next most likely spot. Only after repeatedly clenching my sphincter failed to produce a telltale jingling did she grudgingly admit she'd probably left them up someone else's ass by mistake.

...

Today the doctor tried to hear the heartbeat with the fetal Doppler, but could hear only my heartbeat. She tried to locate it with a transabdominal scan, but could find nothing. "We'll have to do this the other way," she said.

The other way. The good way.

Again, this feeling of calm. I knew we might have trouble hearing the heartbeat with the Doppler because my uterus is extravagantly retroverted. I wasn't surprised that we couldn't see much with the transabdominal transducer because the nurse had had me empty my bladder. I didn't assume the worst. I lay patiently, splayed, admiring my own serenity, while the doctor sheathed the probe with a lubricious-sounding snap.

And my patience was rewarded.

Heartbeat: strong. Face: one. Head to the left, legs to the right, feet on the end as expected.

I was moved, of course, and thrilled. But more than anything, I wanted to take my child's chin lovingly in my hand — look at me, please, when I'm talking to you — and, in a firm but gentle tone, ask the little bastard where he's put the hamster.

Come February, someone's going to have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

06:16 PM in I've learned a lot...but I'm not sure it's worth it., Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (59)

08/06/2004

Back in the saddle stirrups again

I spent the last week at my parents' house. I'd hoped to spend more time with my mother, but between the boisterous presence of my nephews, who live down the street, and the arrival of my aunt, who brought my cousins up for a visit, it was seven days of nonstop chaos, instead of the relaxing interlude I'd imagined — you know, when I was in a heroin-induced fugue state.

Although I managed to sneak off under cover of darkness a couple of times to check in on a handful of blogs, I'm far behind on others, and way behind on correspondence. If you've sent me mail and I haven't responded, please forgive me; if you've asked to be put on the great big list of blogs, please look for an update over the weekend.

...

I am tired. It's the only pregnancy symptom I've had. No morning sickness, no breast tenderness, not even the crippling constipation Tertia has wished upon me. In the first several weeks, the fatigue took the form of sleepiness. Now I'm no longer especially drowsy, but my body tires easily.

I thought it had abated, but this past week found me sitting helplessly on the sofa while my 60-year-old mother and my severely arthritic aunt prepared meals for 12 and shepherded five active children into an activity more productive than racing each other up and down the stairs, over and over and over. "You rest," my mother kept saying, shooing me into a kitchen chair while she unloaded the dishwasher for the third time in a day.

And I did, because I needed to, but, oh! The guilt.

...

I have completed the first trimester. Depending on how you count, I passed that milestone either a week and a half ago, at 12 weeks, when a major developmental phase ends, or yesterday, at 13 weeks 3 days, a third of the total gestational period.

I am supposed to feel home free, or close, but I'm still uncomfortable telling people about my pregnancy. I feel uneasy among the low-grade fuss that ensues, and it's hard to act as enthusiastic as people expect.

If I had to name my feelings, I could not accurately say I'm happy. "Happy" suggests a sunniness that I can't quite summon, an optimism that feels somehow immature given what I know. "Pleased" comes closer. "Relieved" is good, too, having gotten this far. I am pleased and relieved. Replieved.

...

I have convinced my nephews and cousins that Paul and I are going to name the baby Batman.

Nephew 1: What are you going to name the baby, Aunt Julie?
Julie: Well, that's a good question. I was thinking Batman would be a good name. What do you think?
Nephew 1: But what if Uncle Paul doesn't like that name?
Julie: Oh, we've discussed it and we're in agreement.
Paul: Yeah, I think it's a great name.
Nephew 2: Why?
Julie: Because we both admire Batman a lot. He's a hero who spends a lot of time helping others, and I think that's important.

[Silence. Time passes.]

Nephew 2: [Aggrieved and incredulous with a sudden realization.] What if it's a girl?
Julie: Even if it's a girl.
Nephew 2: Oh. [Remains thoughtful for several minutes.]

Little kids are kind of dumb.

...

Yesterday I took a 6:10 AM flight so that I could be back in town for a nuchal translucency scan. This is a detailed ultrasound used to measure the fluid behind the baby's neck. A thicker-than-usual measurement suggests the possibility of Down Syndrome and indicates the need for further diagnostics (if, in fact, you want to know for sure).

The scan took place on the same floor as my local RE's practice. It was the first time I'd been back since my baseline scan at the start of IVF #4, and I felt panicky just pushing the elevator button, returning to the site of so much sadness.

But yesterday I turned right off the elevator instead of left, and sat with a coterie of women in various stages of pregnancy, instead of with women in obvious states of distress. Need I say I did not feel at home?

The scan went beautifully. The nuchal fold measurement was normal. The heart rate was normal. The baby's growth was normal, measuring a few days ahead. We saw fingers waving; two hemispheres of a developing brain; and a spine that could be nothing else, knobbled with tiny vertebrae.

The tech couldn't find my cervix, so she thought I might have placenta previa, in which the placenta completely or partially covers the cervical opening. This is a complication you don't want; it can cause a range of problems from benign vaginal bleeding to preterm labor to — ulp — fetal and maternal death.

Not exactly the words you want to hear when you're flat on your back, jellied to hell.

The tech said she'd like to get a look with a transvaginal ultrasound, and went to show the pictures to the doctor while I emptied my bladder. When she came back, she said the doctor wasn't concerned, and that we'd try again transabdominally. Maybe with an empty bladder, we'd be able to get a better look.

And we were. There was my cervix in all its bendy glory, unthreatened by an encroaching placenta intent on achieving its Manifest Destiny. However, the placenta is still somewhat low-lying, which calls for careful monitoring. Because of this, I should have another scan around 18 weeks.

I should point out that every transabdominal obstetrical scan I've had has featured ultrasound gel brought to a comfortable temperature by an electric warmer. By contrast, every transvaginal scan I had during infertility treatment included a frigid dollop of gel born somewhere high in the tundra of the Rockies, then carefully stored on an Arctic floe.

If you're pregnant, you get nice warm gel lovingly slathered onto your distended belly. If you're infertile, you get an unceremonious poke into a cooter full of permafrost.

Make of that what you will.

10:42 AM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (27)

08/10/2004

Fashion victim

I have learned with relief that one need not give up one's own inimitable personal style when pregnant. There are so many options available, so many looks to choose from.

And contrary to what you might believe, it doesn't even have to cost a lot. Why, for the paltry sum of $14.99 (jeans with imprudently placed faux fading, clearance rack, discount store) plus some timeless classics you already own (husband's roomy-but-grease-stained T-shirt; holey underpants stretched beyond recognition by years of wash and wear) you can look just like you always have, exactly like a hobo.

A bigger, zittier, exhausted-looking hobo. Look for me this fall on the catwalks of Milan.

10:40 AM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (23)

08/19/2004

Home free

I passed some sort of milestone. I am no longer assuming this pregnancy will fail.

I still fear it will. I rehearse in my head what I'd say to my parents. I contemplate asking Paul to go with me for the next live baby check — this afternoon — in case I need him to keep me from collapsing. I shave everything (well, almost everything) on the chance that I'll go straight to the hospital for a D&C.

I recognize that my thoughts are morbid. But they're not doomed. Or not entirely. It's progress.

It may be as far as I get. I am told that as my pregnancy progresses, as I eventually start to feel movement, my confidence will increase. And it may, but at the moment I'm all too aware that no one is ever home free.

Some women see two lines on a home pregnancy test and start picking out names, only to have their period arrive three days later. Some women breathe a sigh of relief when their second hCG test shows appropriate doubling. No heartbeat at 6 weeks. Or at 7. Or at 8. Some women see that heartbeat and jubilantly tell themselves, "Now my risk of miscarriage is less than 3%!" Yeah — now welcome to the lucky 3%. Some women pass the first trimester and think they're in the clear. And then.

We all know the stories. We're never home free. This vulnerability isn't limited to pregnancy — it's true for everyone, everywhere, once there's a child involved. It doesn't end with the arrival. A friend once told me parenthood is "like wearing your heart around on the outside of your body." Anything could happen at anytime, often without warning, usually at random. This is what we have to look forward to, a lifetime's worth.

This awareness is always with me. My own experience informs it, as do the stories of my friends. But where it used to paralyze me, at the moment it comforts me. You can either let the knowledge terrify you or liberate you. Because I am lazy and prefer to be comfortable, I choose the latter.

I'm still scared, but the fear has receded to a point where it's not in the foreground, where I can function, where I can hope, though not presume. I can live like this. It feels all right. There is a weird but welcome ease in knowing, okay, I'm not home free — but I'm also no more doomed than anyone else.

11:41 AM in I've learned a lot...but I'm not sure it's worth it., Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (32)

08/25/2004

Bush 2004

My pubic hair began the year held uneasily at bay. As I prepared to embark upon a series of IUIs, I trimmed it carefully to a neat length, less concerned about aesthetics than the very real possibility that the ultrasound probe would get irretrievably entangled if I left my pelt to its own fiendish devices. In my nightmares I saw my doctor calling for a hacksaw to free the expensive transducer from the malevolent clutches of my bush. So I trimmed. More properly speaking, I pruned, with my own hacksaw, in the privacy of my bathroom at home.

The garbage collectors charged me extra that week for the additional bag that I left by the curb.

During the months between March and May, however, I allowed my pubes free rein. Unchceked, my pubic hair reverted to its former glory, and a golden age prevailed (well, a dark brown, springy, kind of wiry age).

But, lo, there was to come a great and terrible yanking.

When I returned to New York for May's IVF, I immediately availed myself of one of the pleasures I'd sorely missed since my departure: an eyebrow wax. And as long as I was being partially denuded, I reasoned, why not go for the full treatment? A bikini wax ensued.

My skin is fair. My hair is dark. My bush is unruly, and resents such intrusions. The delicate skin of my upper thighs immediately broke out in angry pink blotches, blotches that did not abate until a heavy, prickly stubble had taken secure hold of the disputed territory.

Upon retrieval and transfer, the doctors took care to wear Kevlar gloves, lest they lose a finger or two to the razor-sharp booby trap that my crotch had now become. I remain convinced that the only reason I don't have twins is because one of the delicate embryos underwent a panicked lysis the moment it was brought into the same room as my deadly, deadly beaver.

And then we waited. My husband kept a respectful and terrified distance, not because of the proscription on sex during the two-week wait, but because...well, have you ever made love to a Garden Weasel?

Since May, my pubic mat has remained unmolested. It has regained its former exuberance and then some. There have been few noticeable changes to my body so far during pregnancy. One of the more alarming is the ferocious imperialism of my bush. Where it used to be confined to a wider-than-normal triangle at the top of my thighs, it has broken free of the arbitrary bonds imposed upon it by my genetic makeup and colonized the rest of my body, hair by single hair.

I now have a few stray hairs, unmistakably pubic in character, here and there on my breasts. I have several below my navel, not the fine down that normally dusts my belly from button to bush, but strong and kinky settlers, digging in, hardy enough to survive the winter. I have three clustered implacably on my inner thigh, at the midpoint between crotch and knee, marshalling their forces, ready to defend their new hold on the motherland.

I am unprepared to stop it from fulfilling its obvious Manifest Destiny. I can only try to hold it in check within the natural borders of my own body, hoping that like 19th-century American expansionism, it can be eventually contained by insurmountable geographic boundaries.

I dare not sit too close to strangers. Who knows what havoc could arise?

10:37 AM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (79)

08/30/2004

Vampire Batman

Julie: pasting from a baby site: Going forward, growth and refinement of your baby's existing systems and organs occurs. Your baby's ears stand out from his or her head. (More or less depending on heredity.) Unique fingerprints and toe prints are developing. Your baby is actually digesting swallowed amniotic fluid. At this time, fat deposits will appear under your baby's skin. This fat will help your baby to regulate his or her temperature after birth.

Paul: mm, fat deposits. cornish game baby.

Julie: Mom may be feeling the baby moving within her but you may not be able to yet. She may yell for you to quickly put your hand on her tummy, but you feel nothing. Don't worry - the baby has nothing against you. They play games very early! Humor mom, place your hand on her tummy and one of these days, you'll feel your little one - and your heart will be stolen forever.

Paul: first it sucks your blood and now it's going to steal my heart?!

Julie: be scared. be very a-scared.

Paul: don't worry. i am.

04:10 PM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (14)

09/03/2004

Rated G (brief nudity implied)

When I was 20, I had what an enamored girlfriend called "perfect maiden breasts." They were round and firm, small but full, and they sat perched atop my ribcage with enviable alertness. At 34B, I needed a bra, barely, but in that size the bras come in gingham, in leopard print, in demi-cups edged with eyelet lace. Frivolity holstered my breasts; matching underpants girded my loins.

And then, when I hit 25 or so, something happened. I grudgingly left my girlish 34Bs behind, assuming a more womanly 36C with ill grace. Goodbye, gingham. Hello, additional hook, you unwelcome bastard. My bras had suddenly become more adult, the kind of bras that pay the phone bill on time and discuss mortgages and health insurance at parties.

And then, around 28, something happened. One day I walked into Nordstrom an overflowing 36C, and left a trussed and cantilevered 38D. Anchoring my rack had become a deadly serious business. Not only did I now merit yet another hook, the shoulder straps now came wide and padded.

For the next few years I held steady, indulging what had become a voracious appetite for expensive foundation garments. But you shouldn't think my bras are fancy. They come in beige and black, period. They sport no lace. They are absolutely plain. And they cost the earth. On any given day, the bra I wear costs more than the sum total of the rest of my outfit. For faultless support, a pleasing shape, and a smooth line under my clothing, I happily pay. I was determined to wear these bras as far into my pregnancy as I possibly could.

And I did. And then something happened. My breasts began to leak out the bottom of my heavily engineered and underwired cups, like overrisen bread dough overflowing its pan. On top, my cleavage was breathtaking. On bottom, half my breast was making a break for it.

This would not do.

Yesterday I went to the maternity shop in the mall and browsed the racks, so to speak. I should have known this mission was doomed to failure when I saw that every single bra, no matter how capacious, had only three hooks at the most. Virtually every bra was composed of light, stretchy cotton instead of the heavily reinforced microfiber I have come to expect. And they cost no more than $15 each, available in white, white, or — if you're feeling racy — white.

I was appropriately wary. But instead of bolting in terror, as my lizard brain told me to do, I explained the problem to the saleswoman.

She was all of 20, with the perfect maiden breasts I left behind lo, those many years ago. (At least someone's using them.) I told her my 38D was no longer sufficient, grievously understating the magnitude of the problem. She suggested I start with a 40E.

Grievously understated. The 40Es were too small.

The magnitude of the problem. The 40Fs were too small.

"I don't suppose you have any Gs?" I called hoarsely from the fitting room, and made her look at me spilling forth from the bra.

"...No," she answered in appalled wonder, a tone I did not especially care for.

Now, one can acquire bras in a 40G; I know this from careful research on the Internet. But they come with frightening words attached, words like "minimizer," "rigid lace," "3-section cup," and "magic lift with back support." They look a lot like this.

Hold me. I'm frightened.

It was obvious that my Ds could do the job no longer. I needed some sort of restraint, so, imperfect fit notwithstanding, I bought what was available. I am now held uneasily in check by flimsy white cotton, ready to burst out of my moorings at the slightest provocation — say, a gentle wafting zephyr of a breeze.

In other words, I am well and truly F'ed.

12:47 PM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (85)

09/18/2004

B-b-bbb-bb-b-b-BAby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet

  1. On my vacation, I bought excellent bras, the largest Wacoal makes in my preferred style. I am jettisoning the crappy white cotton Motherhood bras I bought, the ones that don't quite fit. At last I am holstered (and tastefully upholstered) in seamless, stylish comfort. It was worth the forced march I had to endure through the Mall of America. Some things you should know about this tabernacle of commerce:

    1. It contains approximately five Gap stores, three Victoria's Secret stores, and — get this — one Glamour Shots for Kids. Imagine my surprise: I guess looking like a whored-up airbrushed big-haired hoochie mama isn't just for grown-ups anymore.
    2. It used to have a cereal theme park sponsored by General Mills where you could slide down a giant spoon into a pit of Cheerios. I was bitterly disappointed to learn this had closed, as I had long cherished a dream to wallow in oaty goodness.
    3. There is a Chapel of Love for those romantic souls among you who want to tie the knot between a Lenscrafters and a shop dedicated to selling baseball caps.

    And no, I did not go on the roller coaster, though once I'd acquired my new bras, I am pretty sure my breasts would have weathered the ride with nary an outraged quiver.

  2. I am officially nesting. For many women, this entails painting a nursery and lining drawers and folding and refolding tiny baby clothes over and over and over. This is an impossibility for me, because:

    1. the room that will be the nursery — which I have taken to calling "the b-b-bbb-bb-b-b-BABY'sroom," in a panicked stutter — is still serving as Paul's office;
    2. I have purchased no baby furniture and wouldn't line a drawer in it even if I had; and
    3. I have acquired no baby clothes, not a single soft wee garment.

    No, for me, nesting involves a compressor, an air nailer, a random orbit sander, a shop vac, and a pressure washer. The b-b-bbb-bb-b-b-BABY may have to sleep naked in a laundry basket in an empty, dingy room, but if she ever wants to lick the back deck, we'll be golden.

  3. I feel movement now. I wish I could say I am filled with awe and wonder, but it's more like horrified fascination. For me, pregnancy continues to be a little bit like watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, where you know the baby seal is gonna get bitten clean in half by the killer whale, but you just can't look away.

    I said a little bit.

    In fact, this utterly natural process of gestation seems strange and almost upsetting to me when I think about it, so I try not to think about it. It should not surprise you that I'm finding all of this somewhat unsettling. After all, you're talking to a woman who is freaked out by eggs, any eggs other than chicken or sturgeon, including and perhaps especially her own. I mean, what could be weirder than having a live creature doing a front giant into a one-and-one half front salto south of the goddamn Equator?

    Wait, don't answer that. In fact, I absolutely forbid you tell me what other disturbing surprises pregnancy has in store for me. I might lose my nerve entirely.

09:58 AM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (43)

09/21/2004

Halfway

I turned 20 weeks on September 20. I am halfway through. Today I had a doctor's appointment, complete with ultrasound, primarily to check the placement of the placenta, which was low-lying as of 13 weeks, but also to look in on Batman and see how she is. (I am giving the pronouns equal time, regardless of what I may or may not know about his or her wee tiny genitalia.)

The good news:

The baby looks dandy. A whole mess of vertebrae, two hemispheres in the brain, assorted kidneys, and enough arms and legs to take it wherever its little four-chambered heart desires, once it has given its umbilical cord — complete with three blood vessels — the slip.

The bad news:

Complete placenta previa. The placenta is completely covering the cervical opening. If it were going to move, it should have started by now. Instead, it seems implacably perched, unlikely to do much locomotion. Even a slime mold can ooze across a forest floor with mucusy abandon, but my placenta remains defiantly stationary.

The best-case scenario is that I'll have amniocentesis at 36 weeks, then undergo a C-section shortly thereafter, delivering safely before my due date with no further complications.

The worst-case scenario is a lot grimmer. We are going to ignore the part about possible maternal death, because LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA, and also because it's exceedingly improbable, given that I'll be closely monitored. Instead we'll move to the things that are mostly beyond our control: the possibility that I'll have a freshet of terrifying bleeding, might require hospitalization, could go into premature labor, and might — LA LA LA LA LA LA LA — face a severely premature birth.

The upshot:

I've been told to avoid intercourse, orgasm, and other maneuvers that could cause contractions of the uterus. (This only three days after the first sex we'd had since I left for New York in May. Yeah. Funny. We're laughing our celibate asses off.)

I've also been told to avoid strenuous activity. So far I haven't been milking this pregnancy at all since I've felt perfectly well the whole time, but I'm pretty sure I will immediately begin reclassifying hateful household tasks ("Turning your socks right side out, thereby being forced to touch that skeevy polyester terrycloth part: way strenuous. I spot just thinking of it.") and hiring a phalanx of flunkies to do my bidding.

I don't even know how worried I am or should be. What I do know is that I don't care how this baby gets here — never have — as long as it does, strong and healthy. The C-section doesn't concern me, as I have no romantic attachment to the idea of a natural birth. No, I'm hung up on the live baby part. That's the only part that matters.

11:58 PM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (60)

09/25/2004

Swellegant

My parents were visiting this week, so I haven't been writing much. It is difficult for me to type the word "fuck" when they are within a fifty mile radius, much less in the same room. I will get it out of my system now: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fucking fuck.

That is how I'm feeling at the moment. Warning: I am now going to further alienate all of my infertile friends and readers by complaining about this pregnancy. Here goes:

After Tuesday's OB appointment, my mother and I engaged in long conversations about what constituted strenuous activity. We agreed that my digging in the garden was a bad idea — there goes that major renovation I'd planned for the front perennial bed. We surmised that painting rooms, however, would probably be okay, as long as I didn't make it the three-day marathon I normally do. And we were sure that housework was all right, as long as I got Paul to carry the vacuum up the stairs.

Yesterday, after their departure, I called the nurse to confirm my assumptions. How wrong I was, how wrong! I have been forbidden to:

  • Vacuum, mop, or scrabble around on my knees, crablike, scrubbing bathtubs;
  • Lift or carry anything of any significant weight, such as a laundry basket; or
  • Paint, hang blinds, mount a stepladder, or do anything else useful and handy.

But never fear! I am allowed to:

  • Walk;
  • Climb "a single flight of stairs here and there";
  • Drive; and
  • Stand "long enough to prepare a simple meal."

In other words, I am benched. I'm not on bed rest, but I'm also not likely to get much done. My dynamo days are over, at least until I'm no longer pregnant. But you shouldn't think I'm upset on that score. I'm not annoyed by the forced inactivity, because I will do (or not do, as the case may be) everything I can to keep the baby lodged neatly in place for as long as possible. Rather, I'm frightened by the need for it.

...

I told a friend in e-mail that I was forbidden both intercourse and orgasm, asking whether blowjobs would be considered strenuous activity. (Of course the only possible answer to that is, "Yes, if you're doing it right.")

She said, "Nope, no blowjobs. None for me means none for you, bucko."

Now let's just hope Paul doesn't decide that no lifting laundry for me means no lifting laundry for him.

Bucko.

I will say that I have no qualms about Paul's ability to keep the house in good running order (with the help of a few carefully selected professionals — fair's fair). One of Paul's most attractive qualities is his competence. He doesn't vacuum the way I vacuum, but good enough is good enough, and he is cheerful and willing, even better.

There are women who complain that their husbands aren't involved in their pregnancy because they don't exhibit an intense interest in every symptom, don't volunteer to attend every checkup, or don't know the textbook definitions of lanugo, vernix, and meconium. (I think those were the names of the Magi, coincidentally.) I am not troubled by any of this: Paul proves his very great investment by working every day to make our house ready, patting me fondly at frequent intervals, and, now, showing solicitous concern instead of annoyance about my physical limitations.

Surely a little blowjob wouldn't hurt.

...

It was such a nice visit. I was made much of by both parents, especially once my condition proved itself to be more delicate (which I like to pronounce with a long a) than I'd wanted to acknowledge. My mother dug in my garden while I sat in a lawn chair, and cooked about two dozen meals for my freezer. My father helped Paul move some furniture out of the b-b-bbb-bb-b-b-BABY'sroom to make it ready for the painting that now won't happen. They showed their concern in countless concrete ways, bringing me to tears more than once.

My dad stood behind my chair and massaged my shoulders, saying, "I've never had a pregnant daughter before."

I did not ask, "What about the other two times?" It didn't seem appropriate.

I've been thinking of you all, but particularly of some of my friends who are adopting, whose family members haven't yet gotten caught up in the enthusiasm of welcoming a new child. My shy enjoyment of my parents' attention was colored by the awareness that you're missing out on some of the celebration that every family-to-be deserves. It seems so wrong, so sad and wrong.

...

Before my parents arrived, I went on a tear. Not only did I spend two full days on my feet cooking and cleaning; I pressure washed the deck, cleaned out the two-car garage, and mowed the back lawn in preparation. (I didn't mow the front because I ran out of time — there is only so much a girl can do in the span of 72 hours.)

My feet hurt, but I didn't give them much notice; I thought it must be that my soles were tender from standing on hard surfaces for such a long time. It wasn't until I was getting dressed before their arrival that I discovered the problem. My feet and ankles were so swollen that I couldn't put my shoes on. My hands looked like a set of overinflated surgical gloves. And it hurt.

I completely overdid it. On Tuesday the doctor confirmed that I was as plump and juicy as a Christmas turkey, poking my shin and saying, "You're even denting all the way up here." I was denting! (Paul would spend the next few minutes poking me experimentally here and there. I poked him harder in retaliation. We are a fun couple.)

The doctor assured me that since my blood pressure was normal, she wasn't concerned about pre-eclampsia. It was garden variety edema, brought on by nothing more alarming than my own stubborn insistence that I was no different from the slave women who gave birth in the fields, then kept on working — that I was ten kinds of mighty badass, every bit as capable as ever, just pregnant.

But then what could be more alarming than that?

11:40 AM in Jesus gay, I'm pregnant. | Permalink | Comments (27)