Monday, December 21, 2015

29w5d - Rambling Update

How many posts do I have to start before I realize that perhaps I don't have to write the most amazing post ever that perfectly encapsulates exactly how I feel in this moment about my son, pregnancy/future daughter, marriage, all friendships, work? The answer is 3. I need to start writing 3 posts and never manage to adequately express feelings that don't translate well to paper. Just get a freaking update out there, Amy.

Here's the "just get it out there" synopsis.

Henry is incredible. I love him more and more every day. He says hilarious things because he is 20-months-old and hasn't quite mastered the English language. He smells really good despite our lazy approach to toddler hygiene. He potentially smells even better than a newborn baby. I'll do a sniff test comparison in a few months and will report back. I am full of hormones and hate the smell of everything but toddlers. This weekend he started telling us, in full 3-word sentences, what he likes. It's as though he was just waiting for the language to come in and now can't stop telling us. "I like monkeys. I like puppies. I like snakes. I like choo-choos." Yesterday he told us, "Amo Abu house," which, in toddler Spanglish, means "I love Grandma's house." We're not actually raising him bilingual, though I always swore I would do that. We just use smatterings of convenient Spanish and he's picked up on it like he picks up on everything.
About 40 times a day I am struck by excitement to watch him be a wonderful big brother, immediately followed by a little sadness that he won't be my sweet one and only anymore.

The pregnancy is continuing, baby girl is constantly active, and all of a sudden time is really ticking down. At 28 weeks, it was confirmed that my placenta previa hasn't budged. Placenta accreta (placenta attached too deeply into the uterine wall) is still thought to be unlikely but cannot be ruled out. No bleeds to date. Since I don't have the option of willing my placenta into a safe spot up and away from my cervix, without accreta, and without the risk of the umbilical cord dangling over my cervix (vasa previa risk), then everything is truly going as I hoped it would. There's no drama, everything is stable if not completely "Ina May Gaskin, Let's Have a Baby on The Farm" ideal. A c-section has been set for 37 weeks on the dot to prevent me from going into labor on my own and bleeding out or some similarly unfortunate fate. My OB will check again at 34 weeks to see if there's any further movement and, if so, then the c-section will be cancelled. Or, in the event of the development of vasa previa, done immediately. I'm now at the point where I have my mind so thoroughly wrapped around the idea of a c-section on February 10th that I would be completely thrown if I was told that labor and a vaginal birth was back on the table. A scheduled c-section is exactly the opposite of what I wanted for Henry's birth but it's what's been presented to me as the only safe option for this time around. Additionally, the Type A in me is reveling in the exquisitely planned nature of this whole ordeal. Granola me got her chance last time. I realize this sounds kind of awful. I should just want whatever is best for the baby and, statistically, a vaginal birth is best. I should mourn the loss of that. And I think I did but I started doing it 10 weeks ago and I've long been done. I've moved on. I'm outrageously excited to meet my daughter and I'm sort of loving the degree of planning I can do. I mean, I've scheduled a hair cut for the afternoon before because I can. Fucking weird.
As an aside, by "planning" for the second I mean that I need to buy tiny diapers, decide which of Henry's newborn and 0-3 clothes are either gender neutral or so soft/cute that I don't care, drag out the burp cloths, swaddle blankets, cradle, and get my hair did.

One of the great things about having kept a blog last time around is that I can check in and see how I was feeling about things at whatever trimester milestone. I was somewhat comforted to see that at this point last time, I was completely overwhelmed by work and feeling like I was flailing around helplessly. So at least I'm consistent. I'm a proud feminist, always have been, but there is something to be said for the fact that 46% of your brain mass gets replaced by cottage cheese in the third trimester. My hips hurt so I don't sleep well and I'm always tired and hungry. It becomes more difficult to be super awesome all the time. It just does. And that makes work harder to enjoy because it's hard to enjoy feeling like a mediocre employee.

My last note about this juncture of pregnancy: I am entirely bipolar when it comes to my marriage. I am either so ridiculously, high-schoolishly in love J and texting him about how blessed we are and yada yada yada or I'm plotting horrible things because he is being indecisive about what to watch on TV, has chosen the wrong night to watch a game with his friends, or he has lost something that I am sure I put in some very specific place. I get annoyed soooooo easily. On the other hand, J has been picking up the slack that I've created by passing out on the couch every night at 8:30. He cooks, cleans and walks the dogs way more than he used to have to do. We're not anywhere close to 50/50 right now and while he's been beyond wonderful, I know that it grates on him. Add my propensity towards being overly-critical and it's awesome. We spend a lot of time rolling our eyes at each other. And then he jumps on the other side of my hormonal bandwagon with me and we moon over how wonderfully blessed we are, how much we love each other, Henry and baby girl. If I recall, this goes on through infancy. Oh, we'll make it through. So long as we can ride those hormonal upswings together we'll be just fine.
Having a family is easy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Visit to the Principal's Office

Well, it's happened. We were called to the principal's office at daycare. There's actually no principal. So, the director? Or head of the early toddler room? A similarly weighty title. According to Dr. Sears and the gentler sources on the internet, I'm not supposed to call Henry a "biter." So I won't. Instead, I'll refer to him as a child who bites "excessively" - the apt word used by the daycare director. In the adult world, any biting at all is considered excessive. In the world of 19-month-olds, a bite or two whether given or received is par for the course. A handful of attempts per day and a few lucky strikes a week is excessive. I'd agree. Last Monday afternoon, I received an email asking me and J to come to daycare to meet with the director and two main caregivers to discuss Henry's cannibalistic tendencies. Given that he's flaunted his taste for toddler flesh for several months now, I figured that he had finally up and murdered a classmate. Thankfully not the case. Instead, the director decided it was time to work with us to make sure we had a unified front against biting both at home and at school. Fair enough and, as J said, about time.

The meeting was, despite Henry's attempts to divert our attention, very productive. The daycare workers have started a log of attempted and actual bites. They note what was happening, who he was playing with, his mood, energy, etc. It turns out that Henry bites or tries to bite more in the morning when the energy in the room is higher, more so in larger groups, and typically over a dispute over a toy. He is - and this is not an excuse, just a contributing factor in my mind - the littlest guy in his class. Not the youngest, just the littlest. He's not terribly tall and he's super skinny. While other kids physically maneuver their way out of sharing situations, Henry has found that his teeth are far more effective than his hands. His language is catching up but just not fast enough for his needs. Confrontation and frustration has become synonymous with biting for him. After this meeting, we are so much more aware of this at home. When he is particularly frustrated with a situation, he is calmed by chomping down on something. We've started offering him chewy objects when he gets especially worked up. It's only been a week since our meeting so no real results yet though I think everyone feels more in control of the situation now that we're closely monitoring the lead-in to biting episodes and not just lamenting during the aftermath. I should note that daycare has always been proactive in preventing biting but is getting consistently more effective.

Their advice to us is to watch out for any biting episodes at home and share the circumstances with them. Frustration is the driving factor at home though its not a huge issue since we don't share our apartment with multiple toddlers. The director encouraged us to enroll him in a park district class for toddlers, specifically something physical that involves taking direction and cooperating with other kids. She suggested soccer. 19 months seems a preposterous age to begin soccer or any other competitive sport but I can appreciate the rationale behind it.

Does anyone else have this issue? I know it's common but apparently the mothers of biters, I mean, "mothers of children who eat friends" (MOCWEF) don't flaunt their beloveds' charming habit. As for the suggestion that I bite back, I'm sure that worked that one time in the '70s on that one kid who bit that one time but I'm not interested in making a regular meal of my habitual biter.

It's frustrating because (well, for many reasons) the biting seems so incongruous with Henry's personality. He's a lover, not a fighter. Henry is a passive little soul, unfailingly affectionate with adults, children and animals, plays imaginatively both by himself and with others. He's very verbal, telling us constantly about fishies, his friends at school, his dogs and his family. I can't reconcile the behavior with the boy that kisses me and snuggles in my arms every night and asks me to sing to him. It's sad to watch him get frustrated to the point of biting and sad to hear him say, "Henry no bite. I sorry." And then I bang my head against the wall when he does it again the next day. Henry is still delighted to be dropped off at daycare every weekday and the kids and caregivers seem equally happy to see him. I know he won't be biting in high school. It's just my current mom-sigh.

On the uterine front, I had my 24-week follow up ultrasound last week. It was really reassuring. I still have complete placenta previa. Placenta accreta looks unlikely but cannot be ruled out. It's simply something that the doctors will be very aware of when I deliver, whether via c-section or vaginally. I was very relieved to find out that, should a c-section be necessary, I would be induced at 38-39 weeks and not 34 weeks as is typical for confirmed cases of placenta accreta. The idea of delivering a purposely premature baby directly into the NICU while away from my perfect, healthy (albeit bitey) child was terrifying to me. In that scenario, I felt like I couldn't take care of Henry, I couldn't take care of my new baby girl, and I knew that I would need someone to take care of me following a cesarian-hysterectomy. Doable with the support of J and my family, but completely overwhelming to ponder. Because of the lingering concern about accreta, I will continue to have ultrasounds every 4 weeks. I love getting to peek in on my lovely, insanely active girl and can't say that I'm particularly upset about this intervention. The news of an at-term delivery has allowed me to let myself fall in love with the idea of my daughter. She is becoming more and more real as she kicks and squirms inside of me. She's big enough now that I'm starting to feel the hard lumps of her head and butt or the swish of a whole limb when she moves in specific ways. J and I laugh at what a crazy monkey we think she might be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Healthy Passenger, Engine Light On.

Ok, great news first. I have one, perfectly healthy baby girl cooking. She is definitely a girl with real lady bits and nothing dangling below. More importantly, she has a four-chamber heart beating away, two beautiful kidneys, one little bladder, a spectacular brain, ten fingers and ten toes. She is measuring exactly on schedule. This is the most important thing. I am baking a healthy little warrior.

Here's what's not so great. Probably ok, but not ideal and possibly kind of terrifying. I have complete placenta previa. This means that my placenta is growing directly over my cervix. 95% of cases of placenta previa at this stage move on their own (due to uterine expansion) and the issue resolves. This is not the terrifying part. It's not the best news but it's manageable news. In the event that my placenta stays put, I will have a scheduled baby extraction via c-section at 37 weeks.

This is the only condition that I for sure have right now. However, I am at risk for some related complications. There is some evidence of placenta accreta - not all the evidence they would need for a diagnosis - and so I am being carefully watched for this condition. Placenta accreta is where the placenta actually grows into the wall of the uterus and cannot detach following delivery. The "treatment" is c-section followed by immediate hysterectomy. Oh, and massive blood loss and transfusions.  Right now, my OB thinks I do not have this condition as A) it is excessively rare and B) I have only one of several indications needed for diagnosis. The Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist was concerned. She was kind of a freakshow and I would rather never see her again which, fortunately, I don't have to. So, placenta accreta. Let's just not. I am being carefully watched for this.

Finally, and fucking terrifyingly (not that placenta accreta isn't a total Halloween special), the location of the umbilical cord insertion puts me and baby girl at risk of vasa previa, a condition where the umbilical cord is draped over the opening of the cervix. In order for this to develop, my placenta would have to move the opposite direction of the cord insertion point which, for this pregnancy, is near the edge of the placenta instead of in the middle. If labor started spontaneously and my water broke, the cord would have no support and the baby would die a matter of 2-3 minutes. Hence, to avoid any risk of labor, standard practice for this is c-section at 34 weeks followed by what I assume to be gobs of NICU time.

To put it all in perspective, we live in a miraculous modern age where babies can be made in petri dishes. We can monitor the hell out of scary situations and intervene before there's any real danger. What's more, aside from the placenta previa, neither of these conditions may develop. Statistically, they probably won't. But the possibility is there, a little dark cloud hanging back in the recesses of my head. For now I need to learn to live with my cloud and not let it shadow the fact that this little girl is kickboxing me all the time, moving my stomach from the outside and generally letting me know that she's a little hell raiser. I can't wait for her to arrive, safe and sound, preferably with a minimum of drama.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

19 Weeks as told by Bullet Points

A post in bullet points. Because it's easier and I don't need to organize my thoughts. Also, not a ton is going on.
  • That last post was bananas because I am often bananas. I can work myself into an anxious wreck over pretty much anything. Out of peanut butter? Let's freak the fuck out. The gender reveal, instead of being this happy, marvelous milestone like it was last time was, for whatever reason, a total anxiety trigger. My horrible, worst case scenario of they say it's a girl and then at the next ultrasound I'm told it's a boy, is not actually a tragedy of any proportion. It's incredible. Both options are. Option A: Vagina stays a vagina. Fabulous! I've always wanted to have a daughter. Super duper yahtzee. Option B: Vagina becomes a penis. I'm completely obsessed with my boy. I'd get to be obsessed with another amazing little boy. Love-splosion. 
    • My ability to panic is epic. I come by it honestly. Thanks, Nana.
    • Speaking crazy Nana, I received her gender prediction this past weekend. My mom is from Puerto Rico and I am the proud owner of a certified Puerto Rican witch for a grandma. If you're Puerto Rican, being a witch is not scary, it's awesome. For my family, it just means a lot of spidey-sense feelings about things, signs, dreams, etc. One thing we trust my bruja-Nana on is gender prediction because she's basically always right. The senior ultrasound technician of San Juan has predicted "a little girl. It could be a little boy but I don't think it is. I think it's a little girl." Those nondescript odds work for me.
  • As of yesterday, I am 19 weeks pregnant. 
    • That is almost the halfway point. Almost time for Janet Jackson to perform and have a wardrobe malfunction. Yesssssssss. 
    • says the baby is the size of an "heirloom tomato." That seems really subjective and has been rejected. It's like they've never been to a farmers' market.
    • says the baby is the size of a mango. Assuming we're talking your garden variety, grocery store mango and not one of the little subpar yellow ones. I can get down with this.
  • I'm finally feeling movement! I've been feeling recognizable movement for about two weeks. At first, very tiny blips and pops. Had I not done this before, I definitely would have written it off as gas. Fortunately, I'm a complete veteran - Two kids, who am I? Michelle Duggar? - and recognized the mini-Morse code going on in my uterus. The movements are still little but gaining strength and are less easily confused with gastrointestinal distress. This development has done wonders for my psyche. (See bullet point #1 re: being a basket case.) 
  • My God, pregnancy is so long. Why is it so long? I'm tired and bored, would like sushi, a bottle of Cab, and a handful of cold cuts.
  • Henry. That kid is so cute, snuggly and loving it absolutely kills me. I've trained him to kiss my belly which helps me pretend that he is a fully-willing participant in the family growing exercise. He is really what wills this pregnancy to go faster because he keeps me very busy and very in love. Here's what's up with him:
    • He talks constantly. His favorite topics of conversation are his dogs, Elmo, birds, books, daycare classmates, cars, his jacket, night-night, Mama and Daddy, his cousin (Juice's daughter) and Abu (my mom). Also, "no." Conversation is a very loose term. There's a lot of talking going on but my comprehension hasn't quite caught up with him.
    • He needs a haircut. He has stick straight, white blond hair and he looks like Rod Stewart had a baby with Jeff Daniels from Dumb & Dumber when we go too long without a trim. 
    • If he could eat whatever he wanted, it would be some combination of avocado, crackers, cheese, milk and sugar. Gross. Also, nutritionally complete.
    • He's going to be an elephant for Halloween. Why an elephant? Because I found an elephant costume for sale in my neighborhood for $10. Also, he does an excellent elephant sound.
    • He excels at Eskimo kisses. Which are not called Eskimo kisses anymore. Maybe Native Alaskan kisses? Better yet, how about "touching noses."
  • Henry has had a really bad cough for the past several days which is making night time sleep somewhat craptastic. No other symptoms, just hacking. Your typical daycare plague. He wakes himself up coughing every few hours and then, if we're all lucky, coughs so hard that he pukes. This interrupted sleep is making for a crabby kid come early evening. Thus, screen-free granola parenting has sailed out the window in favor of Sesame Street so that something, anything, can be accomplished between 5 and 7:30. Desperate times, desperate measures, thank you, Elmo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Le Reveal Sans Balloons & Cupcakes (I am so French.)

 Remember when I said I had so much less anxiety about this pregnancy than the last? It's still true. But barely. Apparently I can be thrown back into complete neurosis at any given time. I was pretty freaking cool, nearly cucumber-like, and then I started telling people at the 12-13 week mark and had to use the fetal doppler every 34 seconds because of the jinxing phenomenon.
Then things settled, my belly started popping, I started feeling cute and the day of the gender reveal arrived.

That evening was a clusterfuck. We got hit by torrential rains leaving J stuck on the highway in gridlock traffic. Knowing that there was basically no chance he'd make it, I called my sister and she hightailed it across the city. In addition to wanting an adult buddy, I also needed help with Henry who I'd already picked up from daycare so he could witness and fully grasp this momentous occasion. I was really glad my sister was able to be there. I am not my own emotional support. I rely on family, friends and strangers to fulfill that role in my life. Hence, this blog. Henry, while glad to see his aunt, insisted on lying on my chest, whimpering with his feet on either side of my belly while the ultrasound tech probed and prodded. The probing and prodding went on for what felt like forever. It really wasn't that long, just so markedly longer than with Henry's gender reveal. Moms of boys have had this experience: the tech swivels the probe around and there, between the legs, are giant floating balls and penis. It's the most obvious thing in the history of things that are obvious. This time, no balls. Also, no real cooperation on the part of the baby. Baby kept its legs crossed at the ankle and would spring up and down occasionally providing a momentary glimpse but nothing sustained. We kept getting flashes of nothing between the legs, then flashes of the infamous "three lines" and vacant space below but they were quick. The tech said she was fairly certain but needed her senior tech to confirm. The senior tech came in and was able to get a clearer shot very quickly. Ankles still crossed but there it was. Three lines. No balls.

It's a girl!

It's a girl? For real? Are you kidding? I wanted a girl, I want a girl but I was so completely thrown by the declaration. Tech said she was absolutely certain.  I walked out of there totally stunned despite the fact that all arrows had pointed in that direction from the time the ultrasound jelly hit my belly. I had tossed the pronoun "she" around in my head before this, looked at girls' clothing, but kinda didn't think it would happen.

So am I excited? Yes. I am. Do I completely believe it? No, not yet. I have the 20-week ultrasound coming up in mid-October and am absurdly anxious for a peek. I keep worrying that I'll give my heart to the idea of a girl and then be one of those people who is told they're having one gender and then delivers another. Seriously, I can't stop googling "wrong gender ultrasound." And, like googling "cancer" and "miscarriage," the interweb world is more than happy to share their stories of mistaken gender on ultrasounds. As are my mother and the housekeeper at my office. So I vacillate between happy and an emotionally-guarded nervous wreck combing the Internet for fetal vagina pics. They look like my fetus' vagina but still. BUT STILL. I just can't bedazzle one half of the nursery with glitter and flammable pink fabrics for another 3 weeks. You know, because that's what one does for female children. 

So that's where I am. 25% excited, 15% skeptical, 60% a ridiculous mess of nerves. 

As always, I invite and encourage your comments. HOWEVER, if you share a story about your cousin who had all three children's gender misindentified at an ultrasound, I will find you and kick you in the nutgina.*

*Nutgina - A common physical anomaly often misidentified on ultrasound as the wrong gender.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

16 Weeks and Such

Sixteen weeks today. Feeling like shit. Horrible headaches that make me nauseous, general feeling of being woozy and light-headed much of the time. This pregnancy is kind of a doozy. Cooking Henry was relatively easy, I've come to find out. Things that are keeping me from lying on my bathroom floor and simply moaning: I'm developing a cute little beer belly; I'll feel movement soon. I felt Henry flipping around for the first time at around 19 weeks and, if it's true that you feel the second pregnancy sooner, then I'll feel something or other in the next couple of weeks. One pick-me-up coming in the very near future is the big gender reveal. We went to a Peek-A-Crotch ultrasound center at 16 weeks with Henry and, true to form, will be doing it again this week.

I find myself thinking about gender so much more during this pregnancy. There are two reasons for this. First, when I was pregnant with Henry, I was so totally sure that he was a boy that I didn't really feel like I needed to think about what gender was living inside me. Because basically, I knew. So when the ultrasound tech swiveled around to show a prominent set of twig and berries, it just didn't feel like a surprise. I was elated - I had grown genitals out of petri dish emulsion, J's sperm and my egg - but I felt like I'd known the whole time. This time I don't have that gut feeling. The pronoun "she" wanders into my head quite a bit but that's not the same as the feeling I had with Henry. I've dreamed about having this baby several times and each time, the gender switches. Equal ticks in the girl column and boy column.

This ambiguity keeps me thinking about the gender but more so it's the future picture of my family. I think I'm done after two. It was hard to get here and I can't imagine my body will keep responding well to IVF hell. What's more, I don't think I want to be pregnant a third time or have a third child. I want parenting to be a man on man game. Children should not outnumber adults or it's total anarchy. J doesn't feel the same way - he'd like a third, he's one of three kids - but that's a discussion for the future. A discussion in which he doesn't have a uterus and doesn't pee a little when he sneezes. (I know. Kegels.) When this topic does come up, he asks me if I think that his youngest brother, was a mistake. Um, what? The question is not, "Should we eradicate all third-born children from this earth?" My answer to that question is, unequivocally, "No, they can stay." It's hard having completely irrational debates. I don't mean to shrug off J's hopes and dreams for our family, I just know that the onset of the second trimester isn't the time to make sweeping decisions.

I had this little moment of clarity the other day regarding the gender. It's totally sappy and not really like me but it's made me excited and given me a sense of calm. We're just finding out who's meant to be cooking in there. I told you. Sappy. But I'm pregnant and cried while watching a 2015 Cubs highlights reel. Sappy is my thing right now.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My Semi-Annual Typing Exercise. Also, News.

You guys have probably been checking my site daily, or more likely, twice daily to see if I've updated a damn thing since October 2014. And, until today, I hadn't. I got all excited about my Tim Gunn-make-it-work career moment which didn't really happen and then nobody wants to follow up with a "just kidding" post. There has been progress on that front but not in the fireworks whiz bang way I had hoped. It's kind of hard to go all pyrotechnics with your life when you're largely financially responsible for the lives of two real people and two real dogs. Dog food ain't free. More on that in a bit.

The big, BIG news is that I'm pregnant! Again! Parenting is the best thing ever, Henry is the best, cutest kid ever, and we are greedy and want more. Here's what did not happen: conception as a result of intercourse. Here's what did happen: we went back to Dr. M, I took copious amounts of drugs, had a disappointingly lackluster cycle that somehow rebounded enough to produce two meh-looking embryos, we put both in with dampened hope, and then one of them hung on and grew. J and I feel like we totally tricked the system because we got knocked up as a result of only one cycle of IVF. Like it was soooooo easy. And then we remember that most people get pregnant by having sex and we shrug and still feel like we won the lottery for the second time. Does that even happen? By reading the interwebs, I see that people do indeed have multiple children, but still I'm amazed.

I'm 12+ weeks if anyone is counting. Feel free to file this in the annals of obvious things, but second pregnancies go much faster than first pregnancies. They also make you marginally less psychotic. For example, I've only diagnosed myself with listeria ONCE in 12 weeks. My diagnosis occurred yesterday as a result of some fresh-squeezed juice but I'm over it now. My fetal doppler is used twice a week instead of twice daily. I'm chalking it up to a mixture of being busy smothering Henry with love and some vague faith in the process. My uterus worked once, it might work again. Last time around I was very dedicated to my post-work schedule of lying on the couch, lamenting my fatigue and thinking about fetal demise. This time I can't really do that until 7:30 or so and then I usually fall asleep before I really get going. Plus I have to eat. There's simply no time. My due date of March 2nd seems horrifically far away when I think about slogging through a Chicago winter but I know that somehow the time will zip by. The first trimester did, now there's only 2 left to go if I've done my math correctly.

Now, the Tim Gunn part of things. My bestie, S, and I decided to start an interior design company called Gild & Wit. Up until the present, G&W has existed between Boston and Chicago with 99.9% of the work taking place in Boston as I am still working full time. Now S is moving back to Chicago with her adorable family in tow and, hopefully, I'll be more in the mix of things. We have a blog (obviously) though at present S is writing most/all of our posts. More from me in the future, I promise. I've just been kinda sleep-pukey lately. I don't know where this ends up. Hopefully with absurd wealth and our own line at Target. Or just happily dedicating all of my work time to being creative instead of some of my work time. Who knows. In the meantime, please check our site out