Friday, January 28, 2011

A Year Already?!?

I contemplated posting baby updates to this blog. Most of the miscarriage blogs that I found during my days of loss had morphed into mommy blogs by the time I found them. I should have found this encouraging. Yes, these women have been where I am and emerged with tales of no-sleep and poop. Instead I felt rejected yet again. Everyone gets a baby but me, even the ladies who are supposed to be sharing in my experience.

So no baby updates on the Peabody Project. In fact, no baby updates anywhere for the last year aside from a hastily scribbled screed about the first six months of life with Purvis.

If you have stumbled upon this blog after experiencing pregnancy loss, I urge you to return to the beginning of the story, the early entries and move ahead chronologically. Also, I am sorry, very sorry for your loss.

As for me, I still do think about miscarriage mainly when I hear of friends’ losses or when I post a baby-related Facebook update. I hope that my updates don’t cause anybody the icky conflicted murk of emotion that used to befall me when I saw my friends’ baby updates. I have never felt so alienated from my friends, family, and culture at large as after my first miscarriage. I existed in a shadow world of things that aren’t supposed to happen, a world where support groups are the only place of normalcy. I was the cautionary tale, the whispered story.

Friends who shared my experience told me that after Purvis was born I wouldn’t be able to imagine life without her, that in a strange way I’d be grateful that she was the one who came into my life because only Purvis can be Purvis and as great as Primo and Dewey may have been, she is the only child I can imagine. At the time, I didn’t want to hear it. How dare they speak of my lost ones like that, but now I feel the truth of that. I can’t imagine another smile, another laugh, another bugged out I’m-taking-a-crap face.

Yesterday we celebrated Purvis’ first birthday (which she celebrated by pooping in the bathtub. My girl likes to party ALL the time.). We reminisced about when I took what felt like the biggest crap in the world a year ago. (Please see the previous entry for more on that.) We are lucky. Purvis is the shine in my eye. But I still remember Primo and Dewey. I mourn for the lives they missed. I remember the story our post-miscarriage therapist told us about the souls of miscarried babies being protected by the Buddhist bodhisattva, Jizo. Jizo watches and protects their souls until they can be born into another body. One day, when we get our garden in order (which means actually clearing away 2 years worth of dead leaves and planting a garden), I plan to install a Jizo statue in honor of Primo and Dewey. I will tell Purvis about the ones who came before her even though they never really existed beyond the form of our hope and love.

Thanks to friends and family who have supported me, my family, my blog, and now my life with Purvis. May everyone find peace in and beyond Miscarriage World. May we find a way to talk about miscarriage that is sensitive, dark, funny, and true.

Peace out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Main Event


I call in sick Monday. I am beyond exhausted and starting to get freaked about our lack of a nursery. Despite my doubt of the whole nesting phenomenon, I apparently fell prey to it. My to-buy checklist goes mostly unchecked even after two baby showers. We haul ourselves to IKEA to put my jumpy mind at ease. I have faith that the Swedish are not as wedded to their gendering of décor as the pink v. blue Americans. I am not opposed to the pink and blue as colors, but the weight of their gender signifying ruffles my feathers. It’s odd that the choices seem to be pink, blue, or green. How did green become the Switzerland of gender colors?

As we peruse the walls of Scandinavian knick-knackery, a stuffed bunny rabbit driving a carrot catches my eye. I pick it up. I shake it. Rattle rattle.

“Look, hon,” I hold up my new furry friend. I shake it. Rattle rattle.

“Cute,” Mr. Crud says.

I put it back. Dare I fall in love with this bunny rabbit driving a carrot rattle? I pick it up again. Rattle rattle. I continue along the wall of stuff, directing myself back to the necessities: a rug, curtains, a night light. We peruse the curtain patterns. My mind is stuck on the rattle.

“Do you think it’s silly?” I ask.


“The bunny in the carrot? I mean it’s totally silly to get it for a baby. Yeah, I thought so. I mean it’s not like he’ll want to play with a rattle fresh out of the womb.”

Mr. Crud squeezes my arm. “Honey, you can get it if you want. You’re allowed to buy toys.”

I realize that I have been holding back on the toy front for the same reasons I got teary-eyed when my mother-in-law lavished us with baby clothes during their previous visit. Superstition. The idea of an unused rattle stuffed in a box makes me want to break down crying.

I rush back to the bunny and toss it in our basket along with a few other animals driving various household items. I let myself get excited.

That night I lay down to bed a little later than usual. I’m feeling crampy, more menstrual crampy than contraction, but definitely crampy. Shit, I shouldn’t have called in sick. What if I’m coming down with something? I have so much work stuff left undone. I imagine the piles on my desk.

“You okay?” Mr. Crud asks after my tossing and turning enters its second hour.

“I’m feeling kinda crampy,” I say.

His eyes go wide.

“No, not like contraction-y, more just cramps.”

He reaches for his book, The Expectant Father, and turns to the list of pre-labor symptoms.

“Cramps can go on for days or weeks before labor,” he reads, breathing a sigh of relief. “It’s a pre-labor symptom.”

“Or labor.”

“Probably pre-labor though.”

“Yeah, that’s probably what it is. I just hope I can go to work tomorrow.”

He massages my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Just try to relax and get some sleep.”

I nestle back in with my body pillow. The cramps aren’t exactly painful, just uncomfortable enough to keep me from drifting off. I have a few is-this-it-?!!? moments, but I reassure myself that the cramps would be getting stronger and more regular if this was indeed it. I look at the clock. 11:45. Mr. Crud is sleeping soundly. I resign myself to a sleep-deprived day at work. Then I feel a twinge in my gut. Probably more Braxton Hicks. My guts start to roil. Onward to the bathroom. Diarrhea. Great. Are the cramps getting stronger or am I psyching myself out? I return to bed and nudge Mr. Crud.

“I’ve got the cha-cha-cha-s,” I say.

He grunts, flaps his hand around for the light and his book. Groggily, he reads, “Diarrhea can be a symptom of labor or pre-labor.”

“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry about it. You go back to sleep. I’m heading to the couch.”

I grab my copy of Caveman’s Valentine and make a pillow nest on the couch. I might as well get some reading done if I’m going to be up. I try to focus on the words, but every few minutes I am pulled away by cramps. I read the same page over and over again. I glance up at the VCR clock. The cramps are coming in 1-2 minute bursts every few minutes. I think back to our birth class. Contractions start to last longer once you enter labor. They don’t seem to be getting longer. Maybe this is just some intense pre-labor. Could it be? Nah. Pre-labor. Pre-labor, for sure.

Then as if to finally, definitively answer my question I am sent to the bathroom again for another round of bowel emptying. I stand up and feel something gooey slip out of my lady parts and splat in the toilet. Hello, mucous plug.

“Oh boy,” I say to myself. I flashback to that fine May morning in the bathroom with my little pee stick. Here we go.

I hunt around for the folder with all the necessary numbers that I was supposed to program into my cell phone so I can bask in the temporary illusion of preparedness for whatever is about to happen to my body and life. I find the folder from the first pregnancy. Then the one from the second. Finally I find the correct thick folder with all my appointments and birth class information. Why didn’t I label these?

I try not to wake Mr. Crud too suddenly. Wouldn’t want to frighten the little feller unnecessarily before I terrify him by necessity. I nudge his shoulder.

“Huh wha?” He mumbles.

“It’s happening. I’m in labor.” I say.

“How do you-“

“Mucous plug.” I say and a stronger contraction grabs me in the gut.

Mr. Crud pops up, immediately awake. I crawl into bed with him. Our doula and the birth educator assured us that first time labors take a long time. “Ignore it until you can’t ignore it anymore,” was the mantra.

Mr. Crud reaches for his book then another, hoping to find some universe where the passing of the mucous plug does not equal labor. It’s not looking good for his case against me being in labor. I climb back into bed and try to keep “ignoring” labor. I think of work and all the undone to-dos. Would it be crazy to run down to the office to tie up some loose ends? Yes, very crazy. But it’s on the way to the hospital. Still crazy.

I roll over and feel a trickle of water head down my thigh. The trickle gets gushier. “I think my water just broke,” I say.

We look at each other. Shit. It’s not just happening. It’s happening happening.

“What do we do?” Mr. Crud asks.

“First call the hospital,” I say, remembering that they want to hear from you if your water breaks. I roll out of bed, trying to walk in a way that does not splash the floor with fluid.

Mr. Crud flips to another page in his book. “What does the fluid look and smell like?”

“Um, water, I guess. Nothing?”

“They’re going to ask about it,” he says, a growing panic in his voice.

“I know. I think it’s fine. Just clear and odorless.”

I call the clinic. They transfer me to Labor and Delivery. As I wait to be transferred to the attending doctor, who I call Dutch because he reminds me of the same named character from The Shield, I feel a stronger contraction. I bend over and support myself on the dining room chair. Oh Nelly, this is getting realer by the moment.

“Hi Kt, I hear you might be in labor.” Dutch asks me the requisite questions—how far apart are my contractions, how long have I felt them, when did my water break, if the fluid has any smell or color.

“We’ll need you to come in to do a speculum exam to see if your bag of waters broke.” (I much prefer the term “water broke” to “bag of waters.” The latter makes me feel like I’ve got some saddlebags full of fluid hitched to my sides.) “It sounds like you can talk through the contractions so you have some time.”

“Good because we haven’t actually packed yet.”

“Oh! You better get packing.” He says.

“So you think we’ll be okay if we come in an hour or so?” I ask. I’ve heard many stories about going to the hospital too early and the resulting boredom and pressure for labor to progress. I want to keep with my ignore it until you can’t ignore it plan.

“An hour is fine. But don’t wait too long.”

I hang up. Another contraction. This one a bit stronger, a bit bite-ier on my sides. I catch myself on the hutch.

I call Dr. Awesome who asks many of the same questions and comes to the same conclusion as Dutch. I call our doula who assures me I’ve got time to pack. “You don’t need to rush.” Meanwhile Mr. Crud has dragged our suitcases up from the basement and commenced to packing.

Why didn’t I make a packing list? Why did I put off packing after numerous people and the freaking childbirth prep class urged us to be ready? Why didn’t we prepare our nursery in time? Shit. The contractor is supposed to come this Thursday to install the ceiling fan that looks like Earth from outer space, the one piece of décor that Mr. Crud was adamant we purchase.

SHIT! Purvis was supposed to marinate another week or two before making his appearance.

The next contraction sends me to my hands and knees. I remember our yoga teacher Tina’s advice to just let the sensation move through you and to move and vocalize in whatever way helps you deal with the discomfort. I rock back and forth and moan in as low a register as I can. Calling out in higher registers can cause the body to panic, the breath to halt so I remember to keep it low.

Mr. Crud dashes out from the bedroom. “You okay?” He kneels to my side.

The contraction passes. I catch my breath. “I’m fine now. This is really happening,” I say. I probably say some variation of “This is actually happening” (embellishing it with more curse words as the contractions strengthen) about a hundred times in the next 7 hours.

I pack as best I can pack, tossing a week’s worth of tank tops, pajama bottoms, sweatpants and underwear into my suitcase. I don’t forget the lavender room spray or my nursing bra. I pause every few minutes, drop to the ground and let the next contraction ripple through my body. For a few minutes we time them and Mr. Crud dutifully tracks them on the chart in his new bible, The Birth Partner, until we realize that it doesn’t really matter. We’re going to the hospital. My waters have broken and left the building. Well, not all of them. As I move around packing I have some more leakage and am forced to change out of a few pairs of my men’s boxer shorts and my red velour sweatpants. I get weirdly picky about which sweatpants I want to wear to the hospital. It’s not like I’ll be wearing them when Purvis is born, but I don’t want to completely abandon fashion. I flip through my pants in search of my “good” Lululemon sweatpants. And another contraction makes the sweatpants issue seem small and unimportant. I settle for the ratty Gap ones.

Mr. Crud brings a handful of CDs to me. “Which ones do you want?”

“I don’t know. All of them. I don’t care.” And the invisible contraction hand wrings out my mid-section once again.

I toss my bathrobe into the suitcase and tangle with the zipper. I have officially packed for an extended vacation. I feel something new in my nether regions. Oh my, is that pressure down below that I’m feeling? Why yes it is.

“Hon, we need to go now.” I yell. “I’m feeling the urge to push.”

“Don’t push,” Mr. Crud’s voice quivers ever so slightly.

All I’m thinking about is my friend’s friend who had her baby in the backseat of her Subaru en route to the hospital because she was too leisurely in getting out of the house when she went into labor. I know few things for sure at this moment, but one thing I do know is that I really don’t want to have Purvis in the back seat of our Subaru. I love a good story, but this is one best left to tell about friends of friends.

Things get blurrier here. Mr. Crud asks if I want to stop and get some Gatorade to help me keep my strength up during labor. No sir, no I don’t. The pressure in my perineum is growing by the contraction and I am not having this baby in our car. I think of Hamim as we zip down Powell Boulevard. He worried about traffic. Ha! No such problem for us. Even though the streets are deserted at 3 a.m., the journey feels like we are traveling by horse and buggy. After we descend the Ross Island Bridge we are caught at a stoplight. I stare at the pedestrian light for the road running perpendicular, praying for the blinking red hand that means our light will go green soon.

White walking man.

White walking man.

White fucking walking man.

If another contraction hadn’t ripped through me at that moment I would have yelled at Mr. Crud to blow the light. He felt my mental vibes. Later he says, “You wanted me to run that red light, didn’t you?”

“Oh hell yeah.”

“I mean it’s the one time we could use that excuse, but I was worried about getting hit. You never know…”

It’s true. Even on a deserted street, some jackass racing his douchebag buddy could come tearing out of nowhere. So much for our one time to have a perfect excuse to run a red light.

We wind up the hill to the hospital. (No snow. Yay!) Mr. Crud pulls up to the Emergency Room and grabs the most important of our overstuffed bags. He deposits me in a chair to writhe and moan through the next contraction while he talks to the woman behind the glass. “My wife is having a baby.”

A woman in a wheelchair wheels over from the waiting area and parks herself next to me. “You’re having a baby?” She says.

I nod and grunt, “Uh huh.”

Mr. Crud goes out to move the car. I await my wheelchair escort to Labor and Delivery. My new friend continues to chat like we are standing at the bus stop whiling away the hours.

“You barely look pregnant. I can’t believe you’re having a baby.” She says.

“Well, I am,” I say. If that’s not totally fucking obvious from the writhing in pain that I am doing. Now please go away.

“Is it a girl or boy?”

I shake my head. “Don’t know.”

She claps her hands together. “Oh, I hope it’s a girl. I don’t know why, but I really hope it’s a girl.”

The security guard looks up from his desk. We exchange a glance.

“Do you have names picked out?”

Another big one grips my uterus. My fingers dig into the cheap green plastic arms of the chair. “I’d prefer not to talk now,” I say. Why so proper, Ms. Manners? If I had one time when I could tell a looky-loo to move along in stronger terms, now is it. First the red light and now this. So many missed opportunities.

The double doors near the reception window swing open and a young fellow in blue scrubs helps me into a wheelchair, hanging my bags on the wheelchair handles. I rest on my left buttock. Somehow this makes the discomfort less uncomfortable. We navigate a maze of antiseptic hallways littered with gurneys and equipment. This ride also feels like it lasts forever.

Labor and Delivery. Hurray! A nurse emerges from the clump behind the desk.

“I’m Sarah. I’ll be your nurse.” She whisks me to a low-lit room, hands me a gown and a cup for a urine sample.

Once in the bathroom I peel off my clothes and attempt to pee. Another contraction. No urine sample today, I’m afraid. I pull apart the gown and try to make sense of the buttons and hooks to no avail. Even in non-labor conditions, I’d be hard pressed to figure it out. I emerge from the bathroom, naked with the gown in my hand. “I need some help.” Our doula told us that the less modest a woman becomes, the closer she is to labor. My usual level of modesty lasted approximately 5 minutes from the hospital’s sliding doors.

Sarah gets me dressed and on the table. She asks me the same questions everyone has asked me—Yes, I think my water broke, no odor, no color. Contractions are lasting 1-2 minutes, no complications so far, etc. She pulls up my file, and checks in on Purvis with the Doppler. His heart is thumping loud and proud. Thank g-d for that. Although I am fully aware that what is happening to me is to be expected, that it is what is supposed to happen and we are well within the time frame for normal, the fear persists. I remember Elizabeth McCracken’s devastating memoir about her stillborn child, how she had to give birth to her child fully aware that the only thing waiting for her at the end of her hard labor was devastation.

Mr. Crud reappears, checks on me, then puts in our chosen birth CD, Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports.” Our old massage therapist, the much loved and missed Francesca, played this CD during our massages and it’s always had a calming effect on me. He drags our over packed bags to a corner in the room. He squeezes my hand. We breathe. Here we go.

Dutch comes in with a medical student in tow. “Is it okay of Dr. Fresh-face observes?”

“Sure,” I say.

Another contraction takes me out of communication commission. They wait for me to finish.

“You have definitely progressed since we were on the phone,” he says. “You were still able to talk through your contractions.”

“Not anymore,” I puff.

Dutch tells me that they’ll be checking my cervix before the speculum exam to check on my bag o’ waters. I pray for a good result. What if all these contractions have been sound and fury signifying nothing? At least 5 inches, I think. C’mon cervix!

He checks me out. (Not with a tape measure or some tiny ruler contraption as I had once imagined. It’s done by feel.) “Okay, so you’re 8 centimeters dilated. I’m going to call your doctors and let them know that they should go ahead and come down now. We won’t need to do the speculum exam. You’ll be ready to start pushing very soon.” He turns on his heel and pushes back into the hallway, cell phone already in hand.

I detect a slight note of surprise in Dutch’s voice. I am surprised myself. This is really fucking happening and it’s happening right the fuck now.

(One of my big disappointments from the whole birth experience is that I did not exercise my license to curse with impunity. My sis-in-law remembers her temporary sailor mouth while she was giving birth to my niece. I had planned on letting the fucking-shit-motherfucker-cocksuckers fly freely, but it just didn’t happened. Please indulge my pottymouth now. As a writer, I must perfect in literature what failed me in life. I hope you read that last sentence with a la-dee-dah accent.)

Then I start to panic that Purvis will come before Dr. Awesome and Dr. Adorable arrive. Dutch and Dr. Fresh-face seem nice and competent enough, but I want my peeps here. I feel like we’ve been working towards this thing together.

“You better call Kelley,” I say to Mr. Crud. He is already dialing.

“She’s on her way.”

When a contraction comes I contract my pelvic floor, (don’t fail me now, mulabandha!) fearing Purvis might squish out if I don’t actively pull up. I groan. Mr. Crud holds my hand and lets loose a low “oooommmmm” whenever he hears my voice get high and whiny. People come and go. A group of nurses wheel in a gurney and move it to another part of the room that was previously closed off by a curtain.

“Is everything okay?” I ask Sarah, suddenly terrified that something is wrong with Purvis but they won’t tell me.

“Everything is fine. That equipment is there just to be safe,” she says, eyes on the computer screen in front of her.

I am both glad it is there and unnerved. The hospital’s job is to prepare for the unexpected, but it’s still freaky to see warming lamps and unfamiliar instruments.

Things get blurrier. Time gets elastic. Dr. Awesome arrives. Dr. Adorable is running late. Car problems, but she is working on getting here. Kelley arrives and comes to my side. “How are you feeling?” I had also been looking forward to all the bonus massage time I would get during early labor from Kelley. So much for that. I know I should not complain about a quick labor after hearing the horrific tales of exhaustion from friends and family who had long ones.

Another cervix check. “You can start pushing whenever you’re ready.”

It feels novel at first, the pushing. How does this work exactly. I press down. Ah yes, something is happening.

Oh there’s Dr. Adorable. She is visibly pregnant now and wearing it oh so well. She has the pregnant look that I so coveted—slim all over with a perfectly round bump.

“Hi Kt, I haven’t seen you in awhile,” Dr. Adorable says.

“And now you can see all of me.”

Always the comedian, even while naked, legs wide open, and lady parts hanging out for all the world to see. I have never been less modest than I am now, and, wow, I’m not even drunk.

Contractions come like waves and I ride them with Mr. Crud. The ooooommmms are my oars.

Dr. Awesome’s “Yeah, that’s how you do it” give me strength. She tells me at one point that she was surprised at how rectal giving birth felt. Oh, so it really is like pushing out the hugest turd of one’s life. That helps. My pushing gets more effective. All those tremendous craps that I took during my pregnancy sort of make sense now. I do hope they will end once I am no longer pregnant for the sake of my ass and our plumbing.

Purvis starts to emerge. “Your baby has hair! You want to feel the head?”

“NO,” I say. Somehow that seems gross to me. Also I worry that I will press too hard and injure Purvis before she is even born.

At a certain point, I enter the fog of birth. I just want to get this thing out of me, to end the agony down below. Although I am not a fan of the movie Baby Mama, I do concur with the character’s description of giving birth: It very much is like shitting knives.

I push and om and shit knives and cry and barf and spit and relax for one precious minute. Dr. Awesome tells me that she wants to do more fetal monitoring than we planned because Purvis’ heart rate isn’t in the range they hoped. Fine, whatever, let’s just do this thing. I writhe and Sarah follows my belly around. I get annoyed at the fetal monitoring paddles. I push. And then the pressure lessens.

“The head is out. One more push.” Someone says.

And then they are holding her up. “So is it a boy or a girl?” Dr. Awesome asks.

My eyes go to the umbilical cord and think, a boy. A boy with a huge penis. Did Jeff Foxworthy make some umbilical cord-penis joke? Sounds about right.

I look lower on the squirmy, crying purple bundle of joy.

“A girl!” Baby – 1, Intuition – 0. I guess all those dreams I had where our child was a girl were accurate.

I turn to Mr. Crud. “We don’t have to worry about circumcision! Yay!!” I realize how hugely relieved I am to not have to make that decision. Phew. Plus I have a daughter.

They put her to my chest and I gaze into her wide open eyes. Oh Purvis! You’re here. I look for any possible defects. Does she have Down’s Syndrome? (I remain suspicious that Purvis has some sort of defect that the doctors aren’t telling us about during our entire stay at the hospital. I reason that they wouldn’t let us go home without telling us about it so I finally relax when signing the discharge papers.) Does she have all her fingers and toes? Is she breathing right?

“She looks perfect,” Dr. Awesome says.

And she is perfect. 7 lbs, 20 inches, born at 6:59 a.m. on January 26.

I hear talk of Mr. Crud cutting the umbilical cord. I wait for the moment he does it to feel if it hurts. I don’t feel a thing. At least I don’t feel a thing umbilical cord-wise. Dr. Adorable is preparing to stitch me up and my downstairs is screaming in pain. Albeit less pain than a few minutes ago.

We attempt nursing. Purvis latches on a few times, which really fucking hurts. She gives me three hickeys on my left boob.

“She has a powerful sucking reflex,” Kelley says.

Oh my yes she does. And I will for the next three weeks have the burning nipples and visits to the lactation consultant to prove it. One doctor advises me to start pumping immediately and let Purvis feed from a bottle at night to give my boobs a break. Fearing nipple confusion, I do not heed this advice. Were I to do it over again? I would definitely heed this advice. All my crashing hormones and sadness is directed at my early troubles with breastfeeding. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong, I hear and read over and over again. While I’m sure there was an element of doing it wrong at first, I also think my nipples just needed to toughen up.

They check Purvis out and she is great. A little bit of a racing heartbeat but that is common with babies who have such quick births. Dr. Adorable sews up some minor tearing. Dr. Awesome shows me the placenta. Pretty freaking cool, but I have no plans to eat or plant it.

They take my order for breakfast. Uh sushi and a martini? Nope, crappy eggs and a biscuit, but okay, any food sounds good at this moment. I give myself permission to eat without thought to fat content for the day. I must have burned some serious calories.

Mr. Crud and I are wired on love and fear. I can’t pinpoint the moment when we started being afraid that our precious Purvis would stop breathing, but it becomes the principle concern of our lives. We do not want to put her down for even a moment. I barely sleep the first night (and second and third) as I feel the need to check her breathing every few minutes. Even now 5 months later after one of us checks on her, the other will ask “Still breathing?” I have woken Purvis up more times than I care to count doing a breath check. Does this make me an attentive or crazy mom?

We stay in the hospital one day. Nurses come and go, giving their spiels on breastfeeding and the early days of motherhood. Yeah, yeah, I’ll sleep when she sleeps (except she only likes to sleep in our arms and we aren’t supposed to sleep with her in our arms so we devise a pillow propped position on the couch and only lightly snooze for the first month).

My biggest non-breastfeeding challenge is trying to pee after giving birth. It feels like I shat knives and then had to pore alcohol on the wound. The threat of catheterization is the only thing that gets my bladder to get working again and pushes me to brave the pain. I get way too excited about perineal ice packs.

Don’t get me started on the blood. The blood clots. The crime scenes I leave after each visit to the bathroom. I should have taken pictures for Chloasma’s first album cover. For the first few hours I share a room with a woman who had a c-section. I’m glad that she doesn’t have to use the bathroom because I don’t think I can apologize enough for the gross state that I leave it.

Mr. Crud and I are giddy and exhausted. It finally happened after so much. I am hormonal and teary. I think of Primo and Dewey and feel more loss than I thought I ever would for them, my poor lost embryos, but I’m also so glad that Purvis is here, breathing and crying and dotting my tits with hickeys.

We call our parents. Surprise! We try to eat our hospital breakfasts. We gaze at Purvis and brainstorm middle names. Since I was so sure that Purvis was a boy (and would be born after his due date), we spent most of our time coming up with boy’s names. Luckily we had a girl’s first name picked out, but not a middle name. We end up naming her after a citrus fruit and the soda we drink our first night in the hospital. She was almost Pomegranate. (For such a gorgeous and delicious fruit, pomegranate is a hell of a clunky name.)

Now 5 months later, I can’t quite believe it all happened, that this little person so proud of her flipping over, who adores kicking on the changing table at diaper time to Girl Talk songs wasn’t always with us. It feels like she has been here forever. It seems crazy that we were once so worried that she wouldn’t arrive.

I still think about Primo and Dewey, most especially on Mother’s Day when their loss stung me anew. I’m so sorry you can’t join our family. We have such a good time. I think about the folks who struggle with miscarriage and infertility. I try to remember how it felt even as those feelings fade more with each passing day. I don’t want to dwell in sadness, but I want to stay connected in case I am called upon to be comfort to someone in pain. I don’t ever want to be the person saying “It’ll all work out” just because it did for me. Or worse, “It was meant to be.” But mostly I think of how to get Purvis to nap for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, watch her push up during tummy time and wonder when she’ll start crawling, and make funny faces at her so she will laugh. Mr. Crud and I are very much in the moment and most of the time, that moment is good.

**This may be my last post on this blog. Who can say? There is plenty to blog about with Purvis, but I haven't decided if this is the appropriate venue. Anyway, thanks to all of you who read, commented, emailed me with your experiences and words of kindness. We did it! Peace to all of you out there who experience miscarriage and infertility.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Final Countdown

**The first few paragraphs of this months old entry contain what they call foreshadowing. Sorry I have been remiss in my blogging duties, but I promise to have a GREAT excuse. To be continued... (sooner hopefully rather than months later).**


“You’re like a ticking time bomb,” my yoga pal says as we tug on yoga pants, mine barely fitting over the increased thigh-ass-belly area that is my own personal Bermuda Triangle.

“I know. I could pop at any moment.” I say. A fact that has started to worm its way into my brain. As Purvis will be my first trip to the birthing unit, I had assumed that she would be late. I was 7 days overdue. Or as Mr. Crud says, the due date was 7 days early. He is correct. Due dates are at best guesstimates.

Sunday night I lay in bed contemplating the tightness in my belly. Another Braxton Hicks (a.k.a. practice contraction) or is this the contraction that gets the party started? Oh shit. I am so not ready. My mind races to work and all the piles of unfiled papers, the documents on my computer that I’ve yet to transfer to a disc for my replacement, the snack drawer that needs cleaning, and on and on. I make mental to-do lists. I vow to at least get my affairs in order enough so that if Purvis makes his grand debut earlier than guesstimated, my office will not go totally off the rails. Fretting over work is so much easier than all the other great unknowns. Will Purvis be healthy? Did any of the genetic diseases we tested for sneak by the blood work and ultrasounds? Am I really the tough guy I think I am? Can I handle birth? Dang, we should have taken an infant CPR class before now. I don’t know how to use the car seat yet. How is this 8-pound thing in my belly going to fit through my innocent (well, relatively speaking) vagina? Ack! We don’t have crib sheets or diaper covers or breast pads or burp cloths! How can we take care of a tiny baby without a brother or sister-in-law to hand him to when diaper changing time comes around?

I toss. I turn. I kick Mr. Crud when he snores. How can he sleep at a time like this? I feel my belly tighten again before Purvis lodges himself under my right rib and wiggles. I contemplate what Purvis knows, what her consciousness is like right now as she curls into her favorite spot: head in pelvis, legs and feet tucked into my right ribs and hips. When I poke at him, he sometimes pokes back or at least wiggles around as if to say “Off my ding, lady.”

The first part of our weekend was more baby lessons. Mr. Crud and I arrive early and take seats in the back. One seat is covered with a thin pillow; the other with a blue-eyed plastic doll swaddled in a blanket. I move the baby to the floor. The blond woman in front of us looks familiar. She says over her shoulder, “I don’t feel right putting this under the chair.”

“Yeah, I guess you can’t do that with the real thing,” I say.

Where do I know her from? Then it hits me. Sara, our genetic counselor from the days of Primo and Dewey. She had the misfortune of counseling us for our two miscarriages, but somehow wasn’t in the office for our one success. Wow. This really is a walk down memory lane.

I lean forward. “Do you work as a genetic counselor?”

She turns to face me. “Yes.”

Recognition. “You were our genetic counselor. Last year. I’m Kt Crud.”

“Hi! Wow! It’s great to see you here.”

“We made it,” I say. Tears start to come to my eyes as I remember the last time we saw her, the box of environmentally friendly tissues she gave us to accompany us to our next stop to have blood drawn in preparation for my second D & C.

Mr. Crud returns and conversation shifts to our upcoming babies, the familiar laments about all the gear there is available and how we’re really not ready. The other couples filter in, most of them are from last week’s childbirth classes. Today’s mood is lighter, more optimistic. We’ve symbolically moved through the pain of childbirth and are on to the world of purple-faced wailing infants beyond. The fellows pick up the dolls and hold them in the crook of their arms while pregnant partners take the pillow seats.

The jinxing thought has the audacity to cross my mind: no Hamim and Azana. today. Right on cue, they shuffle into the room, taking the last seats as our teacher continues her introductory spiel about the benefits of breastfeeding. Mr. Crud and I exchange a look. Oh well. Here we go.

We watch videos of breastfeeding mothers and silently cheer when the babies successfully latch on. I am 100% pro-breastfeeding but my prudish side gets squirmy when I think of how my boobs will go public in the coming months. How will it feel to whip out a tit with my mom in the same room? Not to mention my father-in-law. My friends and sister-in-law breastfed with such aplomb and style that I feel I will be imitating them in the early days, faking it until I make it as the personal motivators say. How big will they get anyway? I’m still reeling from my first official bra fitting when the perky clerk hauled out the 38DDs. Moi?

The teacher warns us of growth when the milk comes in. “One guy said he went to bed with his wife and woke up with a porn star.”

A leaky porn star who had no interest in sex, but I get the idea.

We break for lunch. Cautiously I peer into the break room adjoining the conference room. No Hamim and Azana. Not that they aren’t nice people and all that, but it would be tempting to kindly request that they read a few pregnancy books and maybe not rely on the hearsay of their friends so much. Most of Azana’s questions begin with “My friend tells me…” and end with some claim about babies crying for 12 hours straight. “This is normal?”

Rachel and James, the couple Mr. Crud and I identified as people we’d most likely know otherwise in the class, invite us to join them. Rachel is high-risk. She knows her due date because she has a scheduled c-section. I am curious but I let it be. Are they fellow travelers in Miscarriage World? I’ll let that bummer ride for now. Now is the time to talk about crazy family invasions and incomplete nurseries and more wide-eyed holy shit moments. I jump the gun and imagine us as new parent friends. Rachel and I would meet for tea while our babies snoozed on our chests. Mr. Crud and James would exchange dude tips about supporting their ladies during the hellish first 2 weeks when a baby must feed every 2-3 hours. (“You mean we have to wake them up to feed them even if they’re sleeping?” a classmate asks. The teacher nods with curled lip. “Yep.”) At the end of the day I will trail Rachel and James to the elevator, wondering if I should ask them for their phone number and try to extend our birthing class comradery. We reach the elevator. Rachel veers off to the bathroom. James takes a seat and looks out the window at the foggy afternoon.

“Good luck,” Mr. Crud says.

James nods. “You too.”

If Purvis is a week late we may see them again. Guess we’ll be letting the chips fall where they may.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Getting Schooled


Is being busy being pregnant a worthy excuse? Not really, but I shall play the pregnant card as my reason for not updating the PPC2 lo these many weeks. Not that I haven’t been thinking about it or taking ever opportunity to flog myself for being so lax.

The typical scenario goes like this: I pull up ye olde Finder (yep, I’m a Mac user but not an insufferable one convinced of superior computing powers) to open a document. Peabody Project.doc looks me in the eye. Shit, how long has it been now? I really need to write something. But first I have to (insert lame unimportant work shit) and then update m my Facebook status and read that one thing about the thing on that one website. Another scenario involves me waking up in the middle of the night. I lie awake writing a blog entry and vowing to put it to paper the next morning. And I don’t.

An incomplete list of topics that have bubbled to the service in the past month and a half:

• Circumcision decision: For cultural (Mr. Crud is a member of the tribe) and health reasons, we have decided to circumcise the theoretically male Purvis. (Nope, we still haven’t opened the envelope to the frustration of our parents—and occasionally Mr. Crud—and the surprise of all who learn of the envelope system.) But what form the procedure takes has been a point of contention and negotiation. Mr. Crud would like a more traditional bris to be held 8 days after Purvis’ birth in our home. I have other, non-traditional ideas. We’ve talked to our doctor, who herself had to make this decision as she is a gentile married to a Jew. We talked to each other. While tears have been shed and uncomfortable silences endured, I think we’re coming to a mutually agreeable decision. Then again, Purvis may just be a girl in which case this was a great exercise in parenting, right?
• Dreaming of Purvis: In my dreams she is always an adorable little girl who can already talk and start telling me about all the things I did wrong while I was pregnant. Methinks this is not premonition speaking but rather my unconscious mind. I still haven’t dreamed that I gave birth to a cat or small animal. “Maybe we should say that we’re hoping for a dog,” I say to Mr. Crud. “Two birds with one stone.” “I was hoping for a slender cat,” he says. Our new line is that we are having a baby because we wanted a dog but weren’t sure if we were up to the responsibility of taking care of one. I plan to use this with the nurses as a humor litmus test.
• The early bird gets their crib on time, and then there’s us: During the winter break, Mr. Crud and I get serious about baby shit. We look at cribs, we work the Baby Bargains book so hard the pages curl. We learn the harsh truth that ordering a crib 5 weeks before your due date causes raised eyebrows in the baby boutique community. “They take 8-10 weeks to come in,” the clerk says. We agonize. We return to Babies R Us in hopes of finding something good enough that is also in stock. Every BRU crib seems to appear on Baby Bargains’ This-Crib-Will-Kill-Your-Baby list. We get depressed. Friends reassure us that we won’t need the crib for the first months of Purvis’ life anyway since we plan to sleep with him/her in a bassinet in our room. We feel a little better. We order the crib. Mr. Crud still harbors hope that things may come in early. “You never know,” he says. “Yeah, but Purvis could come early too,” I say.

The thought that Purvis could arrive before the 40-week mark didn’t really hit me until last weekend when Mr. Crud and I attend “Childbirth A – Z,” the hospital’s cram session for everything birth. As we go around the room, introducing ourselves we are relieved to find that we are not alone. Due dates in late January account for half of the crowd.

“I thought we were far behind,” Mr. Crud says. “We’re February 1.”

We commiserate about the holidays messing with our childbirth preparation. The teacher claps her hands together. “Some of you could be giving birth anytime now.”

Oh boy. Oh shit. I spend the rest of the weekend scrutinizing every Braxton Hicks. Could this be the one?

Mr. Crud and I are the only couple who do not know the sex of their baby. I wonder if this crowd would appreciate Mr. Crud’s sociology humor: “We don’t know the sex yet, but we’re going to gender it male.” Dr. Awesome laughed at least. We are also the only couple who have already hired and met with a doula. About a quarter of the 10 couples don’t even know what a doula is.

“I guess we’re the hippies of the group,” he says.

I am surprised and pleased to note that the other couples seem to be about our age. (Unless I am delusional about what 37-year-olds look like.) I had assumed we would be the oldy oldersons of the childbirth classes although I’ve yet to be the memaw of any of the mommy groups of which I’ve been a part. I guess all those articles about motherhood coming later to a large portion of the population aren’t whistling Dixie. The other couples also seem to be of a similar social milieu: educated and middle class, and mostly white except for the sore thumbs of the group, a Pakistani engineer couple, Hamim and Azana. I can’t calculate how many minutes Hamim and Azana add to our childbirth class with their constant and frequently repetitive questions, but I’d wager to guess at least 45.

The first question comes early. “Are you going to talk about epidurals?” Azana asks.

“Yes, and when do you know you need one?” Hamim adds.

Our fearless, willowy childbirth class teacher Aurelia nods. “Those come tomorrow in the interventions part of the class.”

This doesn’t stop Hamim and Azana from interjecting more questions about epidurals and whatever other tangential topic crosses their minds throughout the day. Yes friends, I have found my bete noirs.

Aurelia suggests that we test our powers to breathe through discomfort by holding a bag of ice.

“Ice? Where do we get this ice?” Hamim asks.

“You know, ice. From your freezer or a convenience store.”

Okay, I’m being unfair to Hamim. He did, in fact, ask where one could procure ice, but this may be a communication-language issue instead of the engineer couples’ typical MO: they obviously have not cracked the binding on a single pregnancy and birth book before this class. For us and the other couples, a lot of what we are talking about feels like review. I’ve read about the stages of birth, the white hot hell of transition, the ring of fire, and other such fun contortions that my body will find itself going through sometime in the next month. I know about positions to alleviate pain and strategies for coping. (“Yoga breathing! Yoga breathing!!” Mr. Crud will holler in my ear.) Aurelia adds a few tools to our box, but mostly the day feels like reinforcement of the reading I’ve done at home.

The other couples are patient during the first day. We smile when Hamim cracks a joke. We don’t roll our eyes when Azana steers the teacher off-course once again with a question about epidurals. The second day, the muttering and hard glances at our spouses set in.

“So what if the husband wants epidural and the wife does not?” Azana asks. “A friend of mine said that her husband wanted her to get one even though she didn’t. Can husband tell the doctor to give her one?”

The women in the room go wide-eyed. Aurelia takes a deep breath for diplomacy. “We won’t give Mom an epidural if she doesn’t want one. Her partner can ask for one but we’d at least want a nod from Mom.”

“But what if she is crazy with pain and can’t make a decision?” Hamim asks.

“It is still her decision.”

This leads Aurelia into a discussion of how in birth we won’t be magically transformed into different people. “If you don’t like baths now, you probably won’t like a bath when you’re in labor.”

Thus, I’m fairly certain that I won’t be going the epidural route.

“You hate taking aspirin when you have a headache,” Mr. Crud says. “I don’t think you’ll be going for heavy pain medication.”

Agreed. For both of my D & Cs I opted for super strength ibuprofen and anti-anxiety meds rather than deal with anesthesia. My motto tends to be that I can take pain as long as I know that nothing is really wrong with me. The more I learn about epidurals, the more I feel confident that I won’t be calling for the anesthesiologist. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Sure, I’m being a little macho about things, but mainly I am freaked out by a needle being stuck in my back and the possibility of a 2-week epidural headache. I’m not going to say never, but I’m hoping my doula and years of yoga will serve as my meds. I also plan to curse a lot.

After a break, Mr. Crud and I return to the conference room where our class is being held. I notice the name on the office door next to the conference room: Jill, the counselor who talked to us after we lost Primo. I feel slightly odd to be back in the office where both of my D & C’s were performed. It’s no Center for Sadness & Disappointment, but my memories of the Women’s Health Center are tangled. When we walk down the hall I crane my neck to look in every examination room. The site of Dewey’s extraction could be any of them.

“It’s kind of weird being back here,” I say to Mr. Crud.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to mention it,” he says.

Over the last month I’ve had a few moments of sadness over Primo and Dewey. I know that they were embryos, balls of genetic material, but I still mourn them and in a way, feel sorry for them that they didn’t get to grow into Peabody. My miscarriage books say that the birth of a child may bring up these issues. I don’t dread the return of thoughts of Primo and Dewey. I wonder what form these thoughts and emotions will take, the shape of my ghosts. The miscarriage days feel so far gone. It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago when we were in the late mourning period for Dewey. I still worry for Purvis. I can’t 100% shake the stabs of fear that come when I haven’t felt her squirm or kick at my hip for a long stretch. And I still conjure horror scenarios, but they are a much smaller piece of my baby thoughts than I ever imagined possible. These days I’m thinking about nursery room colors (purple), which outfit Purvis will wear home from the hospital, whether it can even be true that I’m fitting into a 38DD bra (I still keep looking at the tags in disbelief), how long it will take for Purvis to breastfeed away my ample hip-ass-leg region, and when-when-when will we meet this mystery baby. The question of most immediate importance however is about tomorrow’s Breastfeeding Basics workshop: will Hamim, Azana, and their litany of questions be in the house?

RANDOM: Mr. Crud amused himself during the many Hamim Q & A moments by making a track list for Chloasma’s first album, The Bloody Show. Favorite: amniohook.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY NOTE: Both Mr. Crud and I felt weird about our Hamim-Azana annoyance. Was this cultural? Oh hell yes. At one point, after Aurelia stressed for the hundredth time that doctors would not perform any procedure without the patient’s consent, the epidural discussion degenerated into a disagreement on the American medical system.

“Some things should be imperative then there’s a second level where the patient makes the choice.” Hamim said.

“That’s not how it works.” One of the frustrated fathers-to-be in the room said. “You always have to consent.”

“What if you make the wrong decision?”

“Then you make the wrong decision. That’s life,” Mr. Crud said.

“We could spend all day debating the American medical system, but let’s get back to epidurals,” Aurelia said.

On the drive home we agreed that cultural differences can be annoying. Also that engineers need social skills training. I wondered what Hamim and Azana made of the rest of us in the class. Did they find us incurious? Arrogant? I got the impression that they were so in their own world that they didn’t much think of us at all.

Maybe just maybe I am using Hamim and Azana to avoid having to delve too deeply into the reality of my coming experience. Annoyance is a great distraction from facing a total life transformation.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turning Point


Yesterday’s yoga class is full. The famous Tuesday rush that my yoga buddies and I puzzle over. Why Tuesday? Is it the one day of the week that isn’t too close to either weekend? When I was in college Wednesday signaled the start of the weekend for me or at least provided the first good reason to partake of the sweet nectar, malt liquor. How can you miss Beverly Hills 90210 and how can you make it through the parade of rolled-eye Donna sighs and Brenda side-eyes without a 40 of King Cobra? Impossible.

As a result of the full yoga class—yes, I was talking about yoga before I got sidetracked by lusty thoughts of getting liquored up—my bound baddha konasana puts me in a tight position. I pull my feet together and try to find a space for my long ass legs. My knees poke onto the mats of my fellow yogis. My teacher catches my eye.

“Maybe I should skip this one today,” I say.

He shakes his head. “No way. You’re pregnant. You get to take up some room. You’re practicing for two.” I’m glad he said it and not me. What good is the pregnancy card if you have to pull it out of the deck yourself? I much prefer it when people just make way for my slow-moving (wider than usual) ass without me having to throw any “cracker, please, I’m pregnant” glances.

The yogis on either side of me adjust their mats to make way for my knees.

“And you get to eat whatever you want,” whispers the yogi to my left, a mother of two who zips through her practice every morning so that she can make it home in time to wake her boys and make them breakfast. “That’s what I liked about pregnancy the most.” She makes an mmmm sound then jumps back to chaturanga.

If only it were true. If only the preg-literature advised the pregnant lady to eat twice as much as usual instead of an additional 300 calories. 300 calories I can eat in a single handful of Trader Joe’s Oh My Omega Mix. Not exactly the license to eat I had been hoping for. No, for that I must wait for breastfeeding. The NY Times recently published an article about how breastfeeding is the current in vogue way of losing the pregnancy weight. Many of the women interviewed scoffed at the idea that their dedication to breastfeeding was related to anything but the health of their children. Hmmm…I wish I could be so selfless. I plan to breastfeed because of the benefits to Purvis, it seems a shitload more convenient than mixing up formula, and, yes, because I want an all-you-can-eat-without-guilt ticket to the buffet.

My acupuncturist asks me how my sleep is, interrupted sleep being my main pregnancy (and life) complaint.

“Not so good. I woke up in the middle of the night the past two nights.” I say.

“Are you uncomfortable? Is it the heartburn?”

“No, not really. I know it sounds weird but it kind of hit me the other night that I’m actually going to have a baby in a few months and I haven’t done anything to get ready.” I say.

She laughs and puts her fingers on my wrist to take my pulse. “You just need yourself and your breasts and you’ll be fine.”

But what of the car seat, the stroller, the crib, the changing table, the diaper covers, the baby carrier (Moby or Maya? I think we’re going Moby.), the socks, the bottles, the butt wipes, the diaper genie, the diaper service, the nursing bras, the swaddling blankets, the burp cloths, the high chair, the gliding rocking chair, the baby monitor, and the infinite trinkets that seem to trail a birth announcement like cans on a newlywed’s car? I awake in the middle of the night, my mind spinning with all the preparations, most prominent being preparing a nursery in what is currently Mr. Crud’s office (or The Dungeon as we call it). And those are just the cosmetic changes. Then there’s the whole business of having another person in the house, replacing our dynamic duo with a trio. I guess I should have had some of these thoughts before hitting the 30-week mark, but somehow they got pushed back into a corner, stuffed behind all the worrying about miscarriage.

“I’ve officially transitioned from worrying about what will happen if something goes wrong to freaking over what will happen when things go right,” I tell Mr. Crud over dinner. “Not that I want things to go wrong,” I quickly add.

“I know what you mean. Totally.”

Then he assures me that he’ll start clearing out The Dungeon over the next few days.

We’ve started to wade through the mountains of baby crap that we are supposed to buy. We consult Consumer Reports and the dog-eared copy of Baby Bargains we inherited from Max and Kathy Crud. We leave our first trip to Babies R Us empty-handed, but wiser. When did strollers become tanks?

My acupuncturist advises me to make a list so that I can spend the wee hours of the morning snoozing rather than worrying. I do prefer this brand of worry to carting around a stone of fear in my stomach that something is wrong with Purvis.

RANDOM: The first album of Chloasma, my pregnancy metal band, will be called “The Bloody Show.” Seriously, pregnancy shit is made for metal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shower Me


My internet pregnancy buddy, Ruby, emails for my take on the whole baby shower thing. Are we having one? Will there be painful games involved? Yes and no. Mr. Crud and I always planned on having some sort of do to celebrate the impending arrival of Purvis. After attending a lovely affair to welcome our friends’ mystery baby, we were both 90% less averse to the idea of baby showers. (Side note: Mystery Baby is one of the cutest little girls I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Last time we saw her she cozied up to me like we were BFFs from way back. Her mom said, “She loves pregnant ladies.” Mystery baby sat on my lap and cuddled up to my belly saying, “Baby in?”) Their shower had belly dancers, wine, and tasty nibbles. Ladies, gents, and children of all ages were invited. There wasn’t any of the strained smiles or forced laughter that I associate with most showers. Bawdy jokes flew without the wink-wink-nudge-nudge-we-know-you-totally-did-it undercurrent that I’ve experienced at other showers. Granted most of the other showers I’ve attended have been work-related since many of my friends aren’t the reproducing kind so my sample is skewed. I have a hard time getting comfortable at work events of all kinds unless copious pours of alcohol are involved.

Anyway, Mr. Crud and I know we don’t want any games, to involve baby pictures of our guests, or to exclude any of our friends based on gender. What we know we want: Middle East food (catering from Hoda’s has been the one thing we’ve known we’ve wanted since the get-go); petit fours (why I hunger for a treat I last ate at a senior year French club meeting, I don’t know but they are one of my shower demands); and to see all the friends we’ve been neglecting since I peed on the stick and we became more hermit-like than usual.

We figured we’d be throwing our own shindig (see above hermit-like behavior), but my yoga buddy Mirjana has kindly offered to host our pals in celebration of Purvis. (My new boss has also offered to host a workety shower, which is slightly more dangerous. I’ll give Mr. Crud a pass on this one. Painful games may be involved. Baby pictures too. May G-d have mercy on our souls.) The only workable weekend for Mirjana’s shower is a mere 2 weeks before my due date. In light of my superstitious inability to actually go through with buying anything baby-related (we are still car seat-less), the close proximity to my due date may be a good thing. At that point I will be able to graciously accept baby presents without mentally hissing “kineahora!” to ward off the evil eye. But how many times have I said that?

“After this ultrasound, I’ll be able to relax,” I say.

Mr. Crud pats my shoulder. “Good.”

“After this doctor’s appointment, I’ll relax,” I say.

Mr. Crud cocks his head to the side. “You think so?”

“After I hear the heartbeat, I’ll be able to relax.” I say.

“Really.” Mr. Crud says.

No, not really. I have stopped setting arbitrary benchmarks when this mystical relaxation will take over and I will become completely confident that everything is fine with Purvis for once and for all. I am improving.

Last night I dream that I break down and have a whiskey sour (a drink of choice from the 90s when whiskey was still my poison). The next night I have a straight up shot of whiskey. The next a glass of wine. I somehow keep forgetting my indulgence of the previous evening and keep drinking the sweet forbidden nectar. Then one morning I awake to no jabs in my belly. No kicking. Nothing. I rush to the hospital, crying. I wake up with a racing heartbeat.

“Well that’s no way to start a Friday,” I mumble to myself as I stumble from the bedroom to the bathroom.

I wait for a jab, a flop, any movement from the Purvis region. For the first few minutes of my day my belly is still. I set the timer for my morning meditation. I ease myself onto my cushion, cross my legs, and start relaxing my body part by part all the while the fear of Purvis stillness pulses in the background.

Relax eyebrows. Relax jaw. Come on, Purvis, one kick, one jab, one floop. Relax ears. Relax throat. Relax neck. Are you in there, Purvis? Is everything okay? I know it was just a dream and all, but come on, one kick for Mama. Relax shoulders. Relax elbows. Wait! Was that Purvis or is my stomach growling. One more, Purvis. Like you mean it this time. Relax back. Relax hips.

By the time I reach my toes Purvis has given me two good kicks in the right hip area, her target of choice. I try to focus my mind on the business of relaxing, then the quiet “so hum” of my breath with little luck. Even when I’m concentrating on one thing my brain splits off onto another spiral. I experience the Tuvan throat singing equivalent of meditation, which only tempts me into breaking off into a third layer of thought about what a crappy meditator I am.

But Purvis is okay. And at least I don’t panic or go off to the locker room shower to weep when his kicks aren’t as kicky as they were yesterday. I remember my last pre-doctor’s appointment panic and tell myself that everything turned out fine. Purvis is tired on Fridays like me. Because for the time being we are drawing from the same body, the same energy source. Purvis kicks around like nuts on Sunday because we are well-rested. At least that is my pseudo-scientific explanation of the day.

Random Updates:

Still biking along, but growing slower by the day. I’m thinking I have at least 1-2 more weeks of cycling in me before my ribs get too crowded and my balance too wonky. In other balance news, while crouching to pick the largest, thickest brownie from the New Seasons display I tipped over onto my ass without warning. Only harm done was to my ego. Isn’t yoga supposed to keep me from such random topples.

When I’m not dreaming of Mr. Crud abandoning me, I dream of alcohol. Sweet sweet wine and whiskey and dry martinis. I walk the aisles of the Fred Meyer wine section salivating over the bottles. Sometimes when I muse over Purvis’ birth, I fantasize more about my post partum meal of sushi and wine than holding the squirming bundle of joy. However I am not fantasizing about smoking so maybe that monkey is finally off my back for once and for all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All is Well...Again


The moment when Dr. Awesome presses the Doppler stethoscope to belly never fails to get my heart racing. Are you in there, Purvis? Everything okay? The day of my appointment sends me into further fear spirals, culminating in a sobbing session in the locker room showers when I’m sure that all is not well in there, that Purvis has fallen victim to the latest iteration of my bad pregnancy luck.

The big moment arrives. I recline. Dr. Awesome measures my belly. “27 inches and you’re 27 weeks. Perfect.” She drops the measuring tape and grabs the stethoscope from its jumble on the counter. She goo-s up my belly and rubs it with the cool metallic circle. Purvis’ swift gloob-gloob-gloob-gloob sounds loud and clear. I breathe my (now ceremonial) sigh of relief.

“About 140 beats per minute,” she says. The steady beat slows and quickens. Wait! It changed! It slowed down a bit. Shit. Does that mean??? My mind races. I try to keep my eyes from widening horror movie style.

“You hear how it’s varying? That’s good. It means the baby is moving around and the heartbeat is responding to the activity. Was that a kick?” She presses her hands over the space above my belly button.

“I don’t know,” I say.

“Did you feel that?”

“That I felt.” I’m not feeling all of Purvis’ kicks, which may explain my recent panics. Dr. Awesome encourages me to start counting kicks—just as all the preg books predicted she would—and I feel a mixture of excitement and dread. What if this kick counting becomes another way for me to freak out with worry? Don’t blame the kick counting, lady. This stream of worry has been hunting for an inlet before you ever heard the words kick counting.

“I think the kick counting will reassure you.” Dr. Awesome says. “Put your feet up and just tune in.”

Fast forward to Monday, my first official day of third trimester-dom. Yahoo!

“You think I can do my kick counting while reading the newspaper?” I ask Mr. Crud.

“You’re supposed to just concentrate on the kicking so you don’t get distracted,” he says.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re right.” But who has time to just lay back and wait for kicks? I have a precious 4 hours between the time I get off work and my early bedtime to get my own kicks, i.e. read the newspaper, cook dinner, read some Stieg Larsson, and catch a little TV. Now I gotta drink a cold glass of water—which will surely lead to increased midnight bathroom breaks—and do nothing? Sheesh. Some of the preg books advise kick counting in the morning and the evening. I wonder what women of leisure have the time to do that. Lest you think I’m being flippant about a vital part of my fetus’ health, the jury is out on kick counting. It’s been shown to have little effect on pregnancy outcomes, but still most doctors recommend it as a way to hopefully catch any problems with the fetus.

I compromise. Reading the paper is too distracting, but I can handle mindless TV while feeling for Purvis’ 10 kicks. They come quickly, number 10 jabbing my right hip about 10 minutes into The Soup.

At the appointment, I ask Dr. Awesome about my size again. “I keep seeing these women who are as pregnant or less pregnant than me and they look huge compared to me. I just look like I have a beer belly.”

“You’re tall,” she says with a shrug. “All women show differently. I can sympathize. I was small for my pregnancy and people weren’t afraid to let me know it. It has nothing to do with the size of the baby.”

Why am I so hung up on appearances? The right kind of pregnant look is one, which connotes a healthy mom and baby, yes? People aren’t giving me a hard time about it. Some say I look small for the six months of pregnancy under my belt, but nobody has gasped in shock at my small-ish bump.

Plus I’m feeling pretty good. At prenatal Pilates I do not chime in when SATC lady complains about her squished gall bladder or night sweats. All in all, I’m feeling fine. And in my feeling fine, I feel a little left out of the pregnant lady club. “Well you can join my club because I felt great too,” my mom says.

“You’re lucky,” Dr. Awesome says. “Enjoy it.”

I will. And I will look forward to when the prenatal Pilates conversation turns to the inevitable H1N1 vaccine because that’s an annoying situation that all of us can relate to, both whether or not to get it and, if we want it, where to find it.

Of all the questions I pepper Dr. Awesome with during our appointment I forget the one that comes up every morning and night: bicycling. When should I say when to my commute option of choice?

My older coworkers are clearly worried. “You be careful,” one grandfatherly prof says every night when I head out. “You’re biking for two.”

The worry is rubbing off on me. I start to imagine scary scenarios where I slip on leaves, lose my balance and fall into traffic, or stop short and go over my handlebars. I remind myself that all sorts of activities can be hazardous to the pregnant: cars, walking, the f-ing flu. (I’m set to be jabbed H1N1 style tomorrow afternoon. Yay?) In fact, I’ve had the most close calls with falling while going down steps in boot cut pants. Somehow my foot is adept at finding a way to get caught in the hem. I now approach staircases warily and take a wide-legged stance like a bow-legged cowboy before descending.

In the locker room a woman overhears me telling my locker room buddy of my cycling dilemma. She pops around the corner. “I couldn’t help but overhear.”

She was round and proud at the time when I was just starting to embark on pregnancy number 3. At the time I wondered if she would become my sister-in-motherhood or a reminder of another failed pregnancy. She cycled until she was looking very pregnant. I sent her silent “right on-s” every time I caught her mounting her bike.

“How long did you ride?” I ask.

“Until midway through my third trimester,” she says. “Then she was pressing on my bladder and I couldn’t make it home in time.”

She suggests I check out a discussion thread on a local biking blog. The thread is linked to an article about cycling with a bump, which is vague and conflicting in its recommendations. Some ladies stop after the 12th week since the pelvis can no longer provide complete protection for the fetus. Some ride on until their bellies are bumping against their pedaling legs. One respondent tells how she rode her bike to the hospital. Probably not OHSU, I think. That’s a hell of a hill.

I feel reinforced in my decision to keep on biking for the time being. Purvis does find her way to my bladder quite often but it’s not yet unbearable. I take it slow and easy. I hum the B-Sharps hit of yesteryear, “Baby on Board.” I cycle like I am riding for two. Because as elder prof reminds me, I am.

This week in preg-dreams: While I still await my dream of birthing a cat or alien, my unconscious is batting around my apparent fear of abandonment. When I’m not being rejected by high school beautiful people all over again (when will those dreams end?), Mr. Crud is abandoning me in various ways, leaving me pregnant and wandering the streets of Portland in search of him. “But I’m pregnant,” I bleat. The next morning I tell Mr. Crud of my latest version of the abandonment dream. He reassures me that he isn’t going anywhere. Then I do my best to not take out the dream residue of hurt feelings on him throughout the day. (“But it wasn’t ME who left you,” he says. “I know!” I say, still eyeing him warily.)