A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 26th; or, Juxtaposition

I was feeling off-kilter and out of sorts all last week. We had our 25-week growth scan on Friday, and I was worried, as always, though it took a different form than usual. I found myself dwelling on early losses--reading stories, reliving the key points of our miscarriage experience, crying in therapy about how sad and awful I felt in late '09/early '10. Even with Smudgie obligingly thumping away against my pelvis and ribs--hard enough for Lawyer Guy to feel a subtle little kick for the first time!-- I still kept returning to the past.

It's funny how these obvious things suddenly click: Yesterday was the m&m's due date. The date I calculated myself based on my late ovulation that cycle. The date I've both never considered "real" because it didn't come from a doctor and the date that felt more real to me that any other during those painful seven post-miscarriage months. June 26th--it seemed like the perfect birthday to me then and it still does, even as I anticipate October with growing excitement, impatience, joy, and worry.

Maybe my bad, morbid mood owed more to the post-V Day crash in hope and enthusiasm I was experiencing and that I experience after every successful milestone, but I have to believe it was somehow connected to that tenuous little thread the m&m sent out into my life. In one sense, this is natural and right, I suppose. I loved that baby and bonded more whole-heartedly and unabashedly with it than I let myself with Smudgie. Miscarrying was like being hit by a truck when crossing what I thought to be a deserted street--shocking, devastating, requiring an entirely new perspective on the world and my place in it.

But at the same time, I'm still surprised. Perhaps because I never let myself play the would have/should have game following the m&m's death. I immediately deleted the "Your Pregnancy This Week" e-mails I signed up for from Baby Center (and I just realized I never signed up for them this time around, did I?). I as quickly as possible taught myself to forget what week I might have been at any point during that phantom pregnancy, and I succeeded. If called upon or inspired to figure it out, I'd resort to a calendar and some calculations and then quickly put both out of my mind again once the task was done. I've never once in the year since last June thought to myself "I should have an x month baby right now," because I never believed I "should" or "would" have had any such thing. I didn't have a baby. That was the end of the story. The rest was just pointless wheel spinning*

* To my friends who do follow their lost babies' wished-for progress, this is not in any way meant as a slight against you. It's just what I had to do to keep focused on my IF/loss path and the way my mind and heart wanted to handle things.

I didn't and don't think that any of these feats of amnesia helped me to "forget" the m&m or how much I loved that baby. That's not possible and wasn't even the point. But they did help me to cope, to move on with testing and treatments, to direct my thoughts toward the baby I hoped for rather than the one I no longer had.

But I could never erase June 26th. All I think of when I hear that date is my m&m. (This is probably why I refused to calculate an EDD for Smudgie until the Ob's office told me one at 10 weeks). I suppose that date will always belong to my first baby, the one who never had a chance.

It's strange to remember something so sad while living through something so happy and with such potential for even greater happiness. It's strange to lie on the couch crying as I remember the exam room where the ultrasound tech told us the heartbeat was gone while feeling my (apparently) healthy, strong, 1lb 11 oz karate master whomping on my upper belly. Other women have written much more insightfuly and movingly about the experience of mourning lost babies while celebrating the one that perhaps would not be here if not for the others. I don't even try to reconcile the two thoughts. I love my Smudgie. I can't wait for his or her healthy (pleasepleaseplease) arrival some time between late September and mid-October. And I'm also sad--not crushingly sad, somewhat wistfully and surprisingly sad--when I remember how ruthlessly my hopes and dreams of 20 months ago were dashed.

That may be all I can give you now, m&m. I hope it's enough.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Big Days; or V-Days

First of all, I need to shout a little bit in honor of VIABILITY DAY!!! 24 weeks! Yeah, baby!!

Now Smudgie, this is by no means an invitation for you to come out and join us just yet. Aside from the fact that we're not at all ready for you (and you don't want to sleep in a shoe box, do you?), you're not ready for the world yet. You need to stay in there and get nice and chubby and build up your lungs and learn all sorts of new tricks before you're ready to come out. I don't care how many times you kick my cervix, my stance on this is not changing.

With V-day upon us, it's time that I faced up to a few things: a) there very well might be a baby on the way in roughly 3.5 months, and b) we need to step up our efforts to get ready for him or her, regardless of how scared we might feel.

That being said, it's time for an update on out progress in the potential nursery. If you recall the last time I updated on the room, things were looking dire. Well as of this afternoon, the room looks like this. Brace yourselves:

On the off chance this image leaves you feeling less than impressed, I must point out that it took us three weeks to: try to sell the desk and twin bed on craigslist; realize that people are too afraid of bedbugs to buy things on craigslist anymore; call around to a bunch of charities in the city; realize that nobody wants FREE donated furniture either; call a moving company; have them haul the stuff out of here and to the Salvation Army; learn that the Salvation Army has higher standards than one would assume; have the movers dump it all.

So we wound up paying to have perfectly good furniture thrown away, which offends whatever frugal parts of my soul lurk deep within. But what else could we do?

Bella is mildly traumatized by the ordeal of watching her bed and favorite chair (in the living room) be carried out never to return. I'm mildly traumatized by the fact that the prospective doula we were supposed to meet with last night never showed up and still hasn't contacted us. But these are subjects for a less momentous Friday.

And for anyone who is interested: fresh belly pics await.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sizing Things Up; or, Brand New Body

A changing relationship with our bodies (and body-image) is one of the central aspects of the experience of pregnancy, and yet I've written very little about it. Partly, that's because when I'm feeling down I don't want to come across as a whiner or as ungrateful and when I'm feeling up I don't want to come across as gloating. But there's a lot more to this evolving relationship with ourselves than just weight gain. A few recent events have highlighted that more than ever.

Two-thirds of the way through my second trimester (wow!), I'm feeling fairly strong and healthy and great. None of that first tri nausea, bloating, discomfort, and exhaustion. I wake up refreshed--even if I don't get enough sleep--and feel ready to physically and emotionally tackle the day.

It's hard sometimes to remember that I am under an unusual physical strain, and because of that, I often overtire myself. Last week, for instance, I decided it would be a grand idea to take a 30+ block walk from the restaurant where I met a friend for lunch to a midtown department store where I planned to buy new bras. To put this in perspective, 20 NYC blocks is roughly one mile. Being a New Yorker, I walk a lot and a trip of this length is really no big deal--I have frequently walked much farther than that, especially during the summer.

Of course, it was also mid-day and 98 degrees. Which feels like 115 when you're surrounded by pavement and bodies and glass buildings. Despite the bottle of water I diligently sipped during the walk, I was sweaty and exhausted before I reached my destination. And yet after that leg of my shopping trip was over, I continued running errands, hopping a subway down to the West Village to take care of ordering my sister's wedding gift and meandering around shady but circuitous streets for forty minutes. By the time I returned home, it was all I could do to crawl to the couch.

And about that bra-buying expedition: I'd put off buying any new bras until that point. I hadn't wanted to spend money on new bras at 15 weeks only to have to buy more at 24, so I was almost 23 weeks by the time I bought any. I'd been wearing my 34 B-cup bras on the widest settings for several months.

Turns out, I'm now a 36 D. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and selected a few cheap, comfortable, underwire-free bras in my new size, I was able to reflect on the fact that squeezing the girls into a bra two sizes too small probably had a lot to do with the massive red underwire welts that had start appearing on either side. No bueno.

Walking too fast, turning in the wrong way, or certain yoga moves all have the potential to set off a bout of sciatic nerve pain (which three weeks ago rendered me immobile for three days). I'm lucky enough to have never suffered a serious or chronic injury or dealt with long-term pain (something for which I'm newly grateful), and it's strange to have to be so physically careful.

Ultimately that's what this post is about: not that I worry I'm gaining too much weight or too little (both of which have applied at different points in the pregnancy) or that I feel I'm no longer attractive or am even more attractive (both of which I have also felt) or that I dislike being uncomfortable or love feeling physical proof that Smudgie is growing and that I'm pregnant.

Simply put, this is the first time as an adult that I've had to reacquaint myself with my body, and it's a disorienting and alienating experience. I don't like or dislike my new body--or rather, I like some things about it and dislike others. It's strange, both from the inside and the outside, to identify it as mine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Obligatory Freak-Outs; or, My Reunion with LaWanda

I suppose it was inevitable I'd eventually make a freaked-out emergency call to my doctor's off-duty line. Maybe I should feel happy it took me 22 weeks to get there.

On Sunday I was having a lot of uncomfortable cramping. Nothing super painful and not accompanied by any spotting or unusual discharge, but strong and consistent enough to worry me. The cramping started around 10 am, and by the time we got home from our weekend out at the beach (about 5:30ish), it was still going. I didn't think I was feeling any contractions, but since I don't know what they feel like, it was hard to tell. And Smudgie was a bit less active than usual. My worry was ratcheting higher and higher with every ache (and--I have to admit--with every webpage I consulted after googling "signs of preterm labor").

At 6:30, feeling like a fool but too scared to stop myself, I broke down and called the answering service. A few minutes later I got to speak with one of the doctors at my practice (the only one I've yet to meet in person, actually), and explain what was going on. The doctor was understanding and helpful. He said the symptoms didn't sound overly concerning and that the pain was likely due to a growth spurt in the fetus/uterus that occurs around this time and that I should rest. He said he would contact the office to get me in for a cervix check and ultrasound just to give me peace of mind. With this news, I felt my blood pressure lower and was able to send LG off to his baseball game and settle on the couch to watch The Bachelorette.

I went in yesterday morning already feeling a lot better. The cramping had subsided and Smudgie was kicking away. Lawyer Guy had a work meeting, so I went alone, which was fine, though I had to silence that little inner voice that whispered this was when things were going to finally go wrong. Smudgie's thumps and bumps on the ride over helped.

So, after a glorious reunion with my old friend Wandy and a quick abdominal scan (during which I managed not to see any baby genitals, hurray!), the upshot is that my cervix is long and closed and the fluid levels look good and the heartbeat is good and everything seems positive.


The doctor I met with after the scan said to keep an eye on the cramping and to not be afraid to call if something worries me again, and I will. Better to go in for no reason than to stay at home fretting or not go in when there is a reason.

In celebration last night, I ate my weight in sour gummy peaches and reassured myself that I'm not an anxious freak at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maybe?; or, Hoping for the Sun

On days like today, when for some crazy reason I start to think I'll really be holding a living, squirming baby in my arms come October, I listen to this song and cry. A lot:

(Couldn't embed the original version, but I think Colbie is a good substitute).