January 20, 2018

Dear Vale,

Today, we spent all day together. You fell asleep after eating at 6:30 pm the night before, and slept longer than usual. You slept until it was almost your bed time. I was concerned your chubby little ass would be hungry, so I woke you up at 9:45 p.m. to eat again before sleeping for the night. You ate vigorously, fell promptly asleep, and slept until 8:45 a.m. today. Again, I questioned how your usual gluttonous self could possibly still be going without food, and woke you up, all smiles, for breakfast, but you wouldn’t drink breast milk, after many heroic attempts.

I eventually gave up, and went downstairs to feed myself, but did not get past the coffee. You were a bit fussy, even though I gave you your doll and como tomo, so I got distracted from my own food and decided to try my luck with your new sippy cup (failure), and then with your Dr. Brown bottle (expected failure), and then I decided I might as well make a breast milk avocado puree with the 3 ounces I pumped at 11:15 a.m. during my mediation the day before. You made a mediocre attempt at the avocado puree, though I suppose I should consider it fortunate that at least half probably made it into your mouth.

Eventually, you were convinced into breastfeeding at approximately 10:45 a.m., two hours after you woke up. The moment you were finished, I whisked you off to run errands before hunger struck again. You enjoyed browsing the aisles at Target, where we used my gift card from work to buy face powder, shampoo, baby sunscreen, and a sleep sack (pink fleece, with owls, 50% off, only $5). We went to Ross next, because I was hoping to buy a professional-looking name brand purse large enough to occasionally hold pump supplies, but I didn’t find anything that wasn’t completely boring.

I tested the limits of your patience, and took you to Barnes & Noble, where I spent many days of my youth, so you could be exposed to books. We then cruised into Starbucks, where I craved sweets, since I still hadn’t had breakfast, but I resisted.

We went home and you weren’t hungry for a while, so I took you on a walk. I called Ana while we walked to catch up, and see how things are going with your buddy Luka. The goal was to walk 4 times up the steep hill by our house, but you got bored on round 3, so we went home and I did a few half-assed squats instead. After your next feeding, you seemed to have fallen asleep, so I left you to rest, and practiced a Chopin Etude. I started on the Fantasie Impromptu, when I saw you squirm and flail on your baby monitor – quite a short nap – not even 30 minutes.

The balance of the day was spent pleasantly. I strapped you to my chest and folded and put away laundry. You watched me eat pasta and salad for dinner with great interest (you should be jealous – it was damn good!) I read from your Tang dynasty poetry book, and started reading Madeline and the Gypsies, but you started to get bored. I put you in your jumper while I did some ab exercises.

Your daddy called from New York and I realized the whole day had slipped by and you had barely napped, so I put you in your sleep sack, placed you in your bassinet hoping you would go to sleep at 9:00 p.m., and turned on your mobile You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray… I went downstairs to chat with your dad on the phone and make some tea. I heard you yell and scream bloody murder, and let you have at it for a few minutes, but then you began to cry, and I felt bad, so I came back upstairs to check on you. I cocked my head to one side and examined your behavior for myself. I asked you what could possibly be so tragic and smiled at you. At this point, you couldn’t help but start to smile back, yet you also clearly wanted to continue your act, so for the next 15 seconds you involuntarily vacillated between smiling and wailing while I laughed at you.

I picked you up and we sat next to the heater for a few minutes to warm up, and I put you in bed. (Daddy spoils you this way sometimes, so I can too!) I sang two songs in Chinese for you, but you were still wide awake, so I started singing Hallelujah. I had not gotten past the first verse when you decided you were just a little hungry. You had a night cap, fell asleep, and that was the end of our lovely day.

Your daddy misses you tons and will be back tomorrow.

Preggo Complaints

I am making this list because I have read from more than one source that evolution is such that a woman conveniently forgets the discomforts of pregnancy and labor, because if she didn’t, she’d be less inclined to reproduce quite as frequently. This is concerning because I believe in making informed decisions, and if my own experiences and recollections are going to be erased, it seems I would not be making as informed of a decision as is ideal the next time around. I’m only coming up on week 20 here though, so surely this is not a comprehensive description and there will be more to come.

Peeing

I previously erroneously assumed that peeing at all hours of the night was only a thing once your belly was quite large and the uterus began to push on the bladder. I was disappointed to learn that waking up 2+ times a night begins almost immediately, because your body is in the process of creating more blood and fluids, and your kidneys are working in overdrive! This was certainly a surprise to me. The good news: It only lasted for 4 months, and for the last couple of weeks, I have been sleeping straight through the night again. Whew. I know, enjoy it while I can.

Bad Sleep

I am a champion sleeper when not pregnant. I have the ability to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and very few things can disrupt my sleep, including earthquakes, doors slamming, or my cats meowing for food. Sometimes, a cat has to give me a pretty good chomp on the hand to wake me up, and even then, I fall back asleep easily. It is only upon hearing one of my cats chew off a piece of our bed frame in hunger that I have felt guilty enough to come to consciousness (this has happened before). However, pregnancy has changed this. Obviously, waking up to go pee is partially to blame, but there are other contributors, like hormones, probably. I found that I often could not fall asleep, and/or would wake up earlier than I wanted even if I was extremely tired. Or, I would wake up to pee for the second or third time, and then not be able to fall back asleep for 3 hours. The good news: The body pillow really helped. In the last couple of weeks, I haven’t needed it, but I did find it of immediate use when I first got it.

Nausea

Mine wasn’t even that bad, and part of me thinks I don’t even have a right to complain. But it still sort of sucks and even though I did not throw up, for several hours a day, I would feel carsick. Foods I usually loved sounded disgusting. The only things that sounded remotely appetizing were gummy bears and white bread (super healthy). There are still foods I don’t want to eat now because I ate them while nauseous and they continue to seem unpleasant, two months later. The good news: I thought forgoing beer would be difficult, but it turns out the idea of beer is rather vile when you feel constantly carsick.

Fatigue

Even when I did sleep enough, there were 3 weeks where it was really difficult to get through the work day. Every advice column says to be liberal with naps and to take them as needed, but this simply isn’t realistic. First of all, I have always abhorred naps. I am not able to cut them off at 30 minutes to an hour, and I wake up 3 hours later in a dazed, foul, mood, feeling like I’ve wasted my life. This meme accurately captures my feeling about naps:

That being the case, I’d theoretically be open to naps under these new circumstances, but honestly, who takes naps at work? I have a nice private office, but there’s no couch, and I’m not going to sprawl out in the office lobby sofa to snooze for 20 minutes while everyone else goes about their business. That is not comfortable, and I probably would not be able to fall asleep under those circumstances anyway.

By the time I got home, getting the motivation to work out was pretty much a fantastical notion. I just wanted to sprawl on the couch and do nothing. A sedentary activity like reading was tolerable, but sometimes I would fall asleep while reading. This was the time I really needed a nap, after slogging through the work day, but does it really make sense to take a nap at 6:00 p.m., wake up at 7:00 p.m., then go to bed two hours later? Because that’s about how late I was able to stay up regardless of how much sleep I was getting, so why waste one more hour of the day being unconscious?

Overall, I really felt like I needed 10 hours of sleep a night to sort of feel normal the next day, get through work, and not need to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. Even when I did get enough sleep though, I lacked energy overall and could not do the things I wanted to do, or enjoy things I normally enjoy. Everything seemed like a monumental task, even activities I usually like. Fatigue cast a bland, dull pall over the luster of life. Everything was tiring, boring, or too much. I ended up watching a lot of telly, and then hating myself for it, because I hate telly and felt like a waste of life. Good times. The good news: This was only really bad for like 2-3 weeks and in this time, I tore through My Man Jeeves; Right Ho, Jeeves; Rebecca; and Expecting Better (a highly recommended read for preggos).

Exercise

Within 3 weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I felt like I aged 10 years. Hills I previously sprinted with regularity had me huffing and puffing. I could not even finish running up one particularly steep hill I used to jog frequently with no problem (had been doing it for 3+ years). The boring, 20-minute jog we usually do became too much, and I had to stop and walk in the middle. This was very frustrating, as it felt like I was working out 3-4 times a week only to increasingly grow out of shape.

Getting Fat

This needs no explanation. You can’t control it. You’re supposed to gain weight, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. I crave foods I don’t normally crave, and am open to ingesting all kinds of desserts I never touched before. I rarely used to buy ice cream. If I did, it would be a small container once, at most twice a year, and it was exclusively Haagen Dazs’s rum raisin. But when I was about 10 weeks pregnant, we were at CVS with a friend picking up pain medications after his vasectomy (isn’t the juxtaposition beautiful?), and I suddenly wanted cookies and cream ice cream. Really weird. I thought my weight gain would be slower, having cut out approximately 1,000 calories in beer a week, but I was sorely mistaken. There were weekends where I probably ingested more calories in sugar and desserts than any thing else. A new and unwelcome phenomenon.

Itching

This does not seem to be a common complaint, as far as I can tell, and maybe it was exacerbated with the dry winter weather, but I itch all over.  I have read it is caused by stretching skin, but I find myself frequently scratching my belly and boobs like a monkey. Super attractive and fun.

Angst

I have not felt this angsty since  I was 19. I cannot pinpoint it as anything other than a generalized feeling without a specific rational basis. I feel the need to write and vent a lot, as evidenced by my frequent, rambling, posts beginning March 17.

Fear

I’ve been quite honest with people who ask me about my thoughts, and have offered that I feel fearful. I’ve been reassured that I will make a “great” parent. While I’m not sure about “great” (though I’ll surely try), I do figure I am reasonably competent and responsible enough to you know, not totally ruin or kill a human being. That’s not really what I’m worried about.

I’ve never been anyone but me, and never lived a life for anyone but chiefly myself; quite frankly, I’ve been quite content this way, and now it all feels like it is coming to an end in some ways. My freedom will be significantly diminished, friendships and relationships are prone to change, and priorities will undoubtedly shift. Although I’m getting used to the idea, in the first month, I felt very much like I’d leaped off of a cliff without looking below.

My mother was a published author before I was born. Fuck. Is there some – or a lot of shit I gotta get done in the next 5 months? Goddamn.