are you my moms?

the musings of yet another lesbian couple on the journey of mother(s)hood

Fear Factor February 5, 2012

Filed under: 1st Trimester,Pregnancy — areyoumymoms @ 4:26 pm
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I like to think of myself as someone who is relatively fearless.  I don’t mind walking alone in the city, will always be the one to look down from a tall height, regularly perform in front of large crowds, and am able to confront most horror movies and raw emotions with little hesitation.  Don’t get me wrong – if presented with a clown, I will find the nearest exit with my eyes closed.  There are things I don’t particularly like to do, but most situations don’t scare me that much.  This week I am confronting an entirely new fear, and one that I didn’t know could exist at such a cellular level.

Tuesday’s ultrasound had us on cloud nine.  Not even Wednesday’s broken water heater could do much to dampen our spirits.  But then came Thursday.  Midafternoon on a regular Thursday at work, I started bleeding.  Not spotting.  Bleeding.  A lot.  It was entirely out of the blue and the most terrifying experience of my life.  I called MKL and the doctor (in that order) immediately, and all parties concluded that I should get myself to the doctor’s office as soon as possible. Then I called a co-worker, who was also a bridesmaid in our wedding, and asked her to meet me in the bathroom.  I don’t know what I said, but she arrived with her purse and car keys in hand.  I have to take a moment to thank my dear friend who came to my rescue.  She’s just the person you want to know when a crisis hits.  The entire 20-minute ride to the doctor, her voice never rose above a whisper, quietly reassuring me every few minutes that everything was going to be ok, as she gently patted my knee.  All I could do was sob.  I didn’t even want to think about what was likely happening, and couldn’t think of anything else.

Meanwhile, MKL packed up the boy she takes care of after school and beat us to the doctor’s office.  She looked shaken, but was definitely trying to hold it together for her ward (who incidentally had no idea I was pregnant).  The nurses took me back right away, and put me on a scale.  What?  you want to weigh me at a time like this?  Bitch.  Then came a urine sample.  Urine?  Really???  It took a total of 5 minutes to complete both tasks (which, in hindsight, would give some clues as to the cause of the blood), but it seemed like hours.  I wanted to scream, “get someone in here and make sure our baby’s ok, dammit!!!”  Instead, I just sobbed as our doctor’s assistant came in to tell me Dr. B wasn’t in the office, and stroked my arm to tell me everything would be fine.  After an eternity, or about 6 minutes in real-time, the midwife came in.  She placed a doppler ultrasound on my belly and played our favorite new song, a sweet little rhythmic wah-wah-wah-wah-wah noise that signals the baby’s heartbeat.  And then MKL and I exhaled for the first time in a half an hour.  A subsequent ultrasound showed the monkey, safe and sound, dancing for us.  It also showed my sub-chorionic bleed.  My what?  Oh yeah…that little hemorrhage in my uterus that doc discovered in my 8-week confirmation exam.

Just a refresher: a sub-chorionic hemorrhage (also known as a separation, a bleed, or a hematoma) is a gathering of blood between the sac and the wall of the uterus.  We knew I had one.  We’ve seen it on 2 ultrasounds, confirmed by 2 different doctors.  Most women who have one of these little annoyances are asymptomatic.  Since I’d never had any signs – none – we thought I was one of those ladies.  At no time did it occur to me that this random bleeding was related to that.  I didn’t even remember I had it!  Once we heard and saw the baby, the rest was a blur.  The midwife was an angel, and the doctor who came in next was great, though I don’t remember hearing a word she said.  Thankfully MKL paid attention.  I’m on pelvic rest, and should generally take it easy.  No real activity until I’ve gone at least a week without any blood.

That night as the well-wishes and “phew – thank God you’re ok” sentiments poured in from our sweet friends, the bleeding subsided.  By morning it was nearly gone.  Somewhere in my head I knew it could come back.  So there’s no telling why it was such a shock to me when it returned yesterday evening.  This time my reaction was a little different, at least externally.  I didn’t sob.  I listened to the chorus of fears that played on a loop in my head and calmly rationalized with the voices, repeating a chant of my own: “I know what this is.  I know what this is.”  The fear loop won out a few times, but was eventually defeated shortly after midnight when the bleeding slowed and I went to bed.  Other than a brief outing up the road to our bff’s house to shower (still no hot water…grrr), Dr. MKL has confined me to the house today.  That means I’m cooped up with my own thoughts, which can be really dangerous.  I’m prone to scouring the wise internet in times of uncertainty, and there’s a lot of misleading information out there about sub-chorionic bleeding.  Surprising, huh?  The internet is usually such a reliable source of truth.  I choose to believe the doctor – this is a condition that hasn’t yet and won’t threaten the monkey.  It’s just a nuisance, and if the symptoms get worse I will call the office.

It is an unseasonably warm day here in Atlanta.  68 degrees and sunny.  It’s the kind of day that puts us in the mood to pack up the dog, some snacks, and a few magazines and head to the park.  Or walk for a few miles around our neighborhood, soaking up sun and friendly “hellos” from the folks doing the same or prepping their yards and grills for Super Bowl parties.  But not today.  The closest I’m getting to that today is lounging around on the deck while I write this.  I’m even trying not to rock in this rocking chair…pelvic rest, and all.

I’m still scared.  It’s hard not to be.  But perspective comes in strange forms.  Today mine came in the form of a picture of one of my cousin’s almost-week-old twins, as taken from this morning’s feeding in the NICU.  Both she and the babies were in some danger, so they were delivered by emergency c-section, weighing in at around 4 lbs apiece.  We hope they will be able to leave the hospital in the next few weeks.  Until then, every day my cousin and her husband go to the NICU to hold their babies, and every day they go home without them, giving me a new model for fearlessness.

By the way, the fabulous friend who drove me to the doctor’s office Thursday also watched MKL’s ward in the waiting room while we were in with the doctor.  In her attempt to be as calming to him as she was to me, she inadvertently spilled our news and told him we’re going to have a baby.  He’s ecstatic.  If we don’t name the baby after him, he wants us to name it Wrangler.  After MKL’s Jeep.

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Pregnancy Etiquette & 13 Week Photo January 31, 2012

Filed under: 1st Trimester,Pregnancy — areyoumymoms @ 7:56 pm
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When did it become ok for male acquaintances to ask very specific questions of pregnant women like “do you have any cravings or food aversions?” or “why aren’t you showing yet”  I’m not sure it will ever be ok, at least not with me.  Now that most people have grown accustomed to the idea of their pregnant lesbian friend, they’ve stopped asking questions about the donor or using the phrase “turkey baster.”  Unfortunately this means we’ve moved on to another phase: invasive and awkward questions about the pregnancy itself.

Note that I don’t mind one bit when our friends ask questions, and am likely guilty of over-sharing with all of them.  I also don’t really mind when women who have had babies ask questions.  It’s always comforting to share symptoms with those who have experienced them before.

But if you are either a man or a woman who has never been pregnant (and aren’t a close friend or family member), there are very few things you can say to a pregnant woman that won’t prompt a hormone-driven snarky response, even if it never escapes our lips.  Some of the things you can (and are encouraged to) say:

  • Wow – your thighs look so thin!
  • Has your skin always been so lovely and acne-free?
  • No, you’re not moody at all.  You’re an absolute delight and I think you’re right…about everything.
  • Let’s all have a 3rd cookie!!

A male acquaintance of mine actually told me earlier today that I “need to get [my] waddle on!”  It is important to state that while he was telling me this and asking why there’s still no visible bump, this normally intelligent human being started stroking his imaginary baby belly and waddling back and forth like an idiot.  It is also important to note that I still have 6 more months to go, so there is certainly plenty of time for waddling.  I can assure you all that I will be big as a house by summer.

Moments after this bizarre encounter, I left to meet MKL for our 13-week appointment, where we also did our 1st trimester screening.  The 1st trimester sreening involved a lengthy ultrasound and blood work, followed by a regular visit with our doctor.  The results of the blood work won’t be in for a week, but everything on the ultrasound checked out fine.  No, it was better than fine.  It was amazing.  Back in December when Doc confirmed our pregnancy, I cried when we saw the heartbeat.  But that was nothing compared with hearing it.  Not only did we hear the heartbeat, we got views from all angles, saw all kinds of organs and once again watched while our little monkey squirmed around and did its very special dance just for us (and Sheila the ultrasound tech).  Of course the experience was not without a little humor.  Apparently the monkey is just as stubborn as its moms.  With all its fancy dance moves, it still took Sheila 15 minutes and some impressive twisting of the ultrasound scan to get our sweet thing turned for a proper profile shot.  But it finally posed for the following beauty shot, and we’re absolutely in love.

I'm pretty sure the monkey won't be this blurry at birth...

 

Early Morning Stream of Consciousness January 15, 2012

Filed under: 1st Trimester,Pregnancy — areyoumymoms @ 8:17 am
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As it turns out, I kinda suck at keeping up with this blog these days.  In the past few weeks I’ve had plans to write posts about New Year’s resolutions, the surprising side effects of pregnancy that you don’t read about much, our first visit to my regular ob-gyn (the fabulous Dr. B), and the fact that our dog seems intent on crawling into my belly.  Since it seems I don’t have the motivation to write any of these posts individually, here’s everything in one long stream of consciousness…who knows when I’ll have the energy to do this again?

First, a resolution.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always struggled with my weight – a topic that typically comes up at the start of the new year, when it seems like everyone around me is talking about getting in shape.  But despite the best efforts of Janet Jackson, Marie Osmond, Jennifer Hudson, and (an unlikely new entry) Charles Barkley, I will not resolve to lose weight this year.  I will remain committed to eating well, though I have somewhat abandoned my former diet of lettuce and water.  Dr. B saw a reduction in the size of my sub-chorionic bleed and gave me the green light to start exercising again – yay!  But I still will not lose weight.  I will happily watch my belly grow, and for the first time in my life, try to let go of the guilt that typically comes with it.  I will also allow myself to eat a piece of office birthday cake and the occasional piece of fried chicken.

Today marks our 11th week of pregnancy.  Just 2 more weeks until the end of the 1st trimester.  14 more days until, as legend has it, my nausea and headaches will turn off like a light switch.  This has now become the most anticipated 2-week-wait yet.  Everyone asks, “how are you feeling?”  After working so hard to get to this point, it seems terribly ungrateful of me to complain about being completely devoid of energy, or the constant queasy feeling, or the blinding headache that seems to come out of nowhere and consistently overstays its welcome.  So I usually just answer: “Pregnant.  I feel pregnant.”  All the books and websites seem to tell me these symptoms are normal.  What I’ve read about less, but is by far the most nagging symptom I’ve had is insomnia.  Since my bar-hopping days are long since over, there is really no reason for me to be awake at 4:00 on a Sunday morning, is there?  Dr. B said I could take the occasional Benadryl or Tylenol PM, and I’m hoping that as I get back into a regular exercise routine, this will just work itself out.  But for now, I’m sleeping about half as much as I did pre-pregnancy.  And it blows.  At least this morning I have had the good sense to get out of bed and do something productive – like pay attention to the blog that has been ignored for the past 3 weeks!

Stella the Protector

I can tell it’s early morning.  Our sweet dog, Stella, got up with me and looked as though she’d curl up at my feet while I typed.  But after a brief trip outside, she yawned, gave a nice long stretch, and thought better of herself.  So she’s back in bed, snoring in adorable unison with MKL.  This kind of pup-free moment is rare for me these days.  Stella has been following me like…well…a puppy.  She cozies up to me on the couch with her head in my lap, sleeps at my feet in the bed, and sniffs my belly.  Constantly.  We’ve started telling her there’s a baby in there; we can even ask her “where’s the baby” and her nose goes straight to my midsection.  It’s pretty cute, and more than a little strange.  Whether it’s the hormonal shift, elevation in my body temperature, or just an innate sense of maternal protection, I know she knows what’s going on.  And I love that she won’t leave my side…in normal waking hours, that is.

Last week we had our first official prenatal visit and 10-week ultrasound.  Dr. B has been MKL’s and my doctor since he operated on her a few years ago.  Every year when I go for my annual check-up, I look around the waiting room and it seems like everyone else is pregnant.  It isn’t true – this is a huge practice and lots of other women are there for non-child-bearing reasons.  But when you desperately want a baby, it seems that every woman around you has what you crave.  I’ve always eyed their bellies with envy, but this time I looked to compare notes.  I felt like a member of some secret club, and it felt good.  Going back to the exam room felt even better.  Dr. B gave us just the news we wanted to hear – everything looks great.  The little monkey is growing just as it should and looks less like a blurry shrimp and more like a baby.  We saw a heartbeat right away.  The harmless, but nonetheless scary, sub-chorionic bleed was healing itself, and I could get back to the gym and even wean off the progesterone supplements.  All of that was enough to make us smile and stare at one another with teary-eyed relief.  And then it happened.  Dr. B said, “Hey – look there.  Movement!”  I had expected to see a heartbeat, and had rather hoped to see a more recognizable baby figure on the monitor, but at no time did I expect to see the monkey’s arm and leg buds wiggle at us!  It may seem naive, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that the monkey was dancing around in there yet.  But now that I’ve seen this sweet little jig, I can’t stop thinking about it.  So here’s the 10-week glamour shot…I only wish it was a video:

The sun is up, the house is stirring, and it’s time to start the day.  Until next time…which I hope won’t be pre-dawn.

 

 
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