Medical Technology: The Cure For Pregnancy Paranoia

Just a brief note on ultrasounds. I’ve had 3 at this point, and I am grateful for medical technology, because I am prone to worst-case-scenario horror fantasies of the most paranoid sort. I’m usually pretty good at quickly and rationally talking myself out of these, but nevertheless, they can intrude upon my more logical thoughts at any time.

The ultrasounds I had done at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and then 20 weeks have been immensely reassuring, because as stupid as this sounds, despite my belly growing rapidly larger by the week, it does not otherwise feel like something is growing inside of me. Like what if the fetus is totally dead, and this belly expansion is actually due to ingestion of too many tacos and donuts? My arms and legs are expanding too, so maybe I’m just getting fat. Totally plausible. I’ve read stories about women whose bodies continued to grow and mimic a healthy pregnancy for several weeks, despite the fetus having no heartbeat. 

My friend who is also currently pregnant felt the fetus move at 14 weeks, which is early, but I’m at 20 and have felt nothing. It’s dead! No, it’s not, but the thought crosses my mind, which is why these ultrasounds are sort of amazing. At 20 weeks, seeing the fetus clench her hands, suck her thumb, and watching her renal arteries pump blood was a major relief.

My mind can get carried away, however briefly, with all kinds of unreasonable fears, so until they have a cure for neuroticism, ultrasounds and technology are here to save the day.

More Thoughts on Pregnancy and Work

Telling Your Boss

My office is a small, boutique operation, with my boss “Bossman” being the partner, and me being his right hand man… er, woman. Thus, I knew there was no way I could abide by the 3-month pregnancy announcement rule at work, even if I wanted to follow such a rule. That would just throw everyone into a panic, which is not very considerate.

Taking off months from work is already really hard on a small office, so I was not about to add to the burden by cutting short potential preparation time for everyone else. Anyway, we happened to have a meeting because we needed to hire an additional attorney, and Bossman was weighing the pros and cons of hiring a newb versus a more experienced attorney. I was not quite going to tell at this point (I think I was only like 7 weeks pregnant!) but I was aware knowing I’d be gone for 2+ months beginning in September would drastically impact his decision-making as to whom to hire, so I spilled the beans during this meeting. We ended up hiring a more seasoned attorney and it was the right thing to do.

Keeping it Under Wraps For Others

There was only a handful of people to inform at my office, and I genuinely like everyone there, so that is not an issue at all (I share all my ultrasound pictures and updates with them too). However, I am keeping it on the down low for as long as I can manage, as far as encountering others in the context of work. I am wearing boxier shirts to court and depositions, and will likely do this as long as I can get away with it.

It’s not that people are not supportive. I was at a deposition not 2 weeks ago, where 5 out of the 6 attorneys present were women, and the conversation turned to juggling work and children. I am so fortunate to be alive as a young female attorney today, as opposed to 2 decades ago, when this gender ratio and topic of conversation probably rarely occurred in the practice of law. In fact, the only male attorney there was the husband of one of the lady attorneys. They sat next to each other during deposition and during break told stories about their children; it was so very cute, and shows just how far society has progressed. In fact, I was the only person present without a child, and who had nothing to say about children. Even so, I did not feel comfortable sharing that I am pregnant. I don’t know why. Maybe I am shy; maybe I am weird. I have no logical explanation for it.

I will say one thing has crossed my mind in this regard: that my due date cold be construed as a weakness to my opposing counsel. I’ve met her but a handful of times. She recently became a grandmother and seems like a decent, warm lady. That being said, I have partaken in a conversation wherein one senior defense attorney indicated a trial continuance (“postponement,” in trial lawyer lingo) would not be favorable because, among other reasons, the main opposing attorney’s associate would be back from maternity leave by that time, and she was no one to fuck around with. I happened to be on the winning side of things that time, but I did not forget the implications. Now that I’m pregnant, some plaintiff’s counsel could equally be thinking, Hey, Bossman’s associate is going to be on maternity leave in September. That will be the time to slam them with discovery, or push for trial. Call me paranoid, but I think it’s a legitimate thing to be aware of.

Trial Scheduling/Planning Ahead

People tend to learn about the legal system from telly, which presents trials in short-form, leading people to literally think they get their “day in court,” which is quickly over and done in 24 hour or so. That’s not how litigation actually works. My easiest cases that get dismissed without settlement of any kind still take months to resolve. Courts try to set trial dates no longer than a year after the lawsuit was filed, but realistically, the trial date frequently gets moved beyond this time, and some bigger cases drag on for 2-3 years. If trial does end up occurring, it can take 2-3 weeks, and there is a lot of work to be done in the interim, so it can be a long and grueling process, like a war of attrition.

For this reason, my due date now has to be a big red flag on the office calendar, so we do not forget that I will not be around to do stuff at that time, and we will be one attorney down. Also, on the very unfortunate side of things, my boss was considering assigning a relatively straightforward case to try by myself so I could get the trial experience, but the trial as currently set falls right before my due date. Aiii. You really can’t have it all.

Books for Children: Reviewing the Moral Lessons of the Giving Tree

I’m going to a baby shower tomorrow, and I actually remember what I bought off the registry. Typically, when I browse a baby registry to decide what to buy, my head starts swimming at the unfamiliar, and admittedly boring, products: bottle warmers, bottle brushes, diapers, nipple cream, butt cream, baby shampoo, drying racks, other products I could not even begin to explain if I tried, etc. This has not changed since I became pregnant. I can feel my eyes glaze over as I scroll through these items, and I vaguely dread the day I will have to make a list of my own. How do you know what you really need? This shit is hard!

Except, for the baby shower I’m attending tomorrow, there were some items that got me excited: Books. There were many fantastic ones listed, and I ended up getting The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Where the Wild Things Are. Aside from these books, I also bought one other thing. A mat or seat or tray or something that might go in a car possibly. I have forgotten already. But that is of less importance.

Seeing children’s books had me contemplating what messages these books actually convey. While I love both The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, the contents of these books differ drastically. Where The Sidewalk Ends is a collection of short, fun poems that serve as a lovely introduction to poetry for children. My own father, who writes poetry, bought me this book when I was 7 years old.

The Giving Tree is where things get a bit more complicated. It’s wonderful in terms of illustration and story telling, but I do have reservations about the message it imparts at times. I remember being 15 years old and loitering at a bookstore with my best friend (one of our favorite pastimes), when I came across this book after not having thought about it in years. She told me she loved it and that it always made her sob. “Really?” I asked incredulously, because I literally had never cried from reading a book, much less a children’s story. She must have thought me equally strange, because she looked at me like I was the weird one for being skeptical of anyone crying at this book.

“I don’t believe you,” I insisted, and I opened the book and started reading aloud to her in the middle of the bookstore. Sure enough, to my genuine surprise, by the end, she was in tears and her face was red and puffy.

“Dude, fuuuuuck you,” she said. I looked around the bookstore awkwardly and felt pretty bad.

The Giving Tree is compelling because it is a tale of unconditional love and giving on the part of a tree, over the lifetime of a boy who eventually becomes a man. The boy/man takes everything the tree has to offer, until the tree has been stripped of her fruit, her branches, and her trunk, and she has nothing else left to give. Her love is apparently unrequited, because he never gives her anything in return. Seriously, he is sort of an asshole. I don’t think the book so much as depicts him watering her or providing fertilizer or anything.

When he is old and decrepit, she is nevertheless happy to see him, but laments she no longer has anything left to give. He states he does not need much at this point, and simply wants a place to sit and rest, to which she cheerily offers the only part of her left – the stump of her trunk that remains.

The ostensible moral of this tale is one of giving love without keeping tabs, which no one can deny is a positive way to go about life. Yet, something about the story never sits quite right with me, perhaps because the cynical part of me thinks this story glorifies suffering, martyrdom, and maybe even victimhood.

We are moved to tears until our hearts ache when we read stories or watch movies about unrequited, unconditional love, whether on the part of a lover or a parent, but the way it plays out in the real world is sometimes painful and ugly. Healthy relationships cannot endure an insistence on rigidly or constantly keeping score, but I would never want my child to be on the giving end of such a one-sided relationship. It’s not a recipe for a happy or healthy relationship of any sort. Letting someone constantly take without reciprocation at some point becomes a form of emotional abuse, doesn’t it?

Of course, this does not remotely mean I won’t buy this book for my child. In fact, I probably will, because it is stories like this that make life a bit more colorful. But as far as moral lessons go, it does leave one something to think about…

 

Work and Pregnancy: Be Careful With Your Professional Wardrobe

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling great. It was not awful, like it can be for some women, but I tired easily and would without fail start to feel nauseous in the early afternoon each day. Thus, unless I had to be at court or in a deposition, I started rolling into work in yoga pants and T-shirts. I’d like to say this is something I have only done in pregnancy, but that would not be true. However, the frequency of this certainly increased when I was pregnant. That’s one of the best parts about working in a law office 2 blocks from the beach – the casual atmosphere.

This worked out quite well for a couple of weeks. The night before I had a big conference to attend, I decided to try on my suits, just in case. Good thing I tried, because I found that in the 2 weeks I’d exclusively been wearing yoga pants, I had grown a belly in what felt like overnight. While I could zip up most my skirt suits and pants, I could not breathe in them if I sat down, which is not good for attending a conference during which you are sitting down 90 percent of the time. My shirts could be buttoned, but I was also pushing the limits in this regard.

I grew momentarily a bit frantic. Not only did I have a 2-day conference, I had an oral argument in court right after. Being suitless was not an option! Fortunately, I recalled a cheap suit I had from law school days, made of a stretchy polyester, which was up for the task. Lesson learned. This shit creeps up on you fast.

“I could barely button this shirt, but at least the skirt fits!”

Once I made it through the week, I immediately booked my ass to Ross and Target to buy some pencil skirts and larger shirts before the next stage in expansion caught me unawares. I found from browsing online that professional maternity wear is a rip-off, especially considering the fact I will be constantly growing for several months and will hardly get much use out of these items. I ended up supplementing my professional clothes with a mish-mash of shirts, dresses, and skirts from Target, Ross, and Wal-Mart. Some of these items were actually maternity clothes, while others I ordered were either a loose-fitting style or a larger size than I normally wear.

So far so good, but we’ll see what I’ll have to adjust once I get to 8-9 months. Or maybe it will be a good excuse to avoid court appearances and depositions? Just kidding.

Preggo Book Review

Expecting Better by Emily  Oster

This was the first pregnancy-related book I read. My husband picked it, and I loved it (not pictured above because he bought it for us in Kindle form). Emily Oster, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, describes her motivation in writing this book:

“When I got pregnant, I pretty quickly learned that there is a lot of information out there about pregnancy, and a lot of recommendations. But neither the information nor the recommendations were all good. The information was of varying quality, and the recommendations were often contradictory and occasionally infuriating. In the end, in an effort to get to the good information… I tackled the problem as I would any other, with economics…”

Faced with numerous studies on what to/not to do, drink, and eat during pregnancy, some of which seemed questionable or unduly restrictive, she decided to pore through the medical literature herself and undertake statistical analyses on a variety of studies. Her analyses included reviewing study reliability, sample size of subjects, and actual risks pertaining to everything from gardening, litter box cleaning, eating sushi, eating deli meats, drinking alcohol, sleeping positions, and weight gain, to c-sections, epidurals, continuous fetal monitoring, and beyond. Her goal was to paint a better picture of actual risks, advantages, and disadvantages, so women can make informed decisions, rather than subject themselves to discomfort and displeasure for 9 months based on faulty science and/or over-restrictive recommendations based on fear-mongering.

She wrote the book to provide women a better source of information to be able to reach informed decisions as an individual, and likened this approach to her teaching philosophy:

“…making good decisions – in business, and in life – requires two things. First, they need all the information about the decision – they need the right data. Second they need to think about the right way to weigh the pluses and minuses of the decision… The key is that even with the same data, this second part – this weighing of the pluses and minuses – may result in different decisions for different people.”

Oster’s book was immensely helpful to me, as I loathe the idea that a woman is a vessel for reproduction whose duty is to abandon her personal preferences and joys for over nine months with unquestioning obedience. If you are one of those so inclined to lecture others, as an example, in the following styles,

  • “It’s only 9 months of your life.”
  • “The health of a human being is at stake; don’t be so selfish.”
  • “It’s better safe than sorry.”
  • “Is it so much to ask?”

This book is not for you. Enjoy your 9 months of misery devoid of the smallest pleasures of life, in blind adherence to every single one of the absurd rules that blatantly treat pregnant women like children, idiots, or worse, objects. If you truly want to be safe rather than sorry, you are free to lock yourself in your house for 9 months, and become a prisoner in your own home and body. The rest of us would like to live in a more reasonable manner.

I read this book and decided I was fine with eating sushi occasionally (excepting fish prone to higher mercury concentrations), along with other foods associated with potential, but unlikely, food poisoning issues. On the other hand, I decided to forgo deli meats (I did slip up once at a party), hummus, and other foods linked to listeriosis, a much more serious condition. Oster’s work has generated some pretty severe criticism in the medical community, as she is not a medical doctor, much less an obstetrician (nor does she claim to be). However, it is also worth noting that most physicians, while experienced and knowledgeable in their field, are not statisticians. The beauty of this book is that it largely avoids telling you what you should or should not do, but provides the information so you can make an informed decision suited to your lifestyle and needs.

From the Hips by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris

My husband bought this for me. It is a self-described “Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, birth, and Becoming a Parent,” which is fairly accurate. It was indeed a good overview to the entire parenting process, and I read the bulk of the book while 3 months pregnant, then stopped when it came to issues of selecting an appropriate daycare, as I felt these issues were becoming too remote at my particular point in pregnancy.

This book covers everything from body changes to doctor’s visits, birth and delivery, etc. It is rife with personal anecdotes from numerous women, along with the practical pointers, such as what to pack for the hospital. This book was obviously less scientific and data-driven than Oster’s book, but it was a nice follow-up to my first read.

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vickie Iovine

This book honestly did not provide a wealth of memorable practical advice in terms of how to go about your decision-making in terms of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and parenting, but it was nevertheless useful in that it was hilarious and fun to read. The title says it all: this is a book that provides the gross, gory, and awkward details of pregnancy that only your friends would be willing to discuss in detail with you, including hemorrhoids and what Iovine describes as “pregnancy insanity:”

Keep this Girlfriend rule of thumb in mind as you read this chapter: CRAZY PEOPLE ARE OFTEN THE LAST TO KNOW THEY ARE CRAZY. Therefore, if you are tempted to skip to the next chapter because you don’t see how this one applies to you, think again; you may be crazier than you look… In fact, ask around, because you may be surprised to learn that you, too, are a victim of the Body Snatchers.

To illustrate,

You may spend the entire day fantasizing about wild animal sex with your husband…Then when he finally gets home, and he starts to go through the mail instead of studying the ultrasound Polaroids of the baby that you have taped to the refrigerator door, and you start screaming about how this is just one more sign that he is indifferent to you and your baby. By the time you have calmed down and might be able to think about sex again, you have fallen asleep in the bathtub.

It’s genuinely funny and entertaining and brings a much-needed levity to the whole pregnancy business. Yes, she emphasizes her love for pain killers and medical intervention a little too much, and I entirely disagree with her recommendations on exercise, but she is neither a doctor nor a statistician, and the point of the book is not to help you make medical decisions, but to emotionally cope with pregnancy and the accompanying changes in your body and life.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Gaskin has serious qualifications and experience as a midwife, and her book focuses on presenting the labor and birthing process in a positive, comforting light. She emphasizes birth as a natural process that should occur without fear. Unfortunately, the first 80 pages of the book did not appeal to me at all and after reading the first 20, I skimmed the next 60 before I got to what I considered the more useful information. The first portion of the book is composed entirely of personal birth stories and anecdotes told in exaggerated, one-with-nature, tree-hugging, pseudo-psychedelic terms. For instance, one woman shared her experience thus:

I wanted to connect deeply with her and share my recent experience to help her relax and open. Pamela was naked, propped up on pillows on the bed, holding on to her knees. I took my clothes off… and crawled up on the bed with her. I laid next to her—head to head, breast to breast, womb to womb. I told her about my cave and ocean and the great rushing, swelling, and opening. I told her about surrendering over and over and letting go. We began experiencing her contractions together. We held each other and rushed and soared together. My womb, though empty, was swelling and contracting too. I could feel blood rushing out with the contractions, but not too much—I knew it was okay.

In retrospect, I wish I had seen this Amazon review, which was right on point: “To each her own, I suppose . . . but this is a little much for me. The thought of one of my BFFs coming to be with me during labor, stripping down, and telling me about her oceanic ‘yoni’ while I’m having contractions is, frankly, laughable. Call me unenlightened if you must.” I felt the exact same way while flying through the first 80 pages and wondered if I would gain any value at all from this book. “We held each other and rushed and soared together”? What in the actual fuck? Could I help myself to some of those mushrooms as well?

That being said, the rest of the book was quite informative in terms of anatomy, biological functions during labor and birth, and contained excellent advice for keeping focus, maintaining calm, and getting through the birthing process with minimal medical intervention. She provides a lot of detailed examples and explanations regarding the importance of the mind-body connection during the labor and delivery process that are unrecognized or ignored by the mainstream medical community (e.g. The chapter on “Sphincter Law” – it is as interesting as it sounds. Read the book!)

While the focus of this book is on home-birth and midwife-operated birthing situations, this is an excellent read for women seeking to give birth without medical interventions such as epidurals and c-sections, even if they choose to do so in a hospital. Gaskin has some harsh criticisms of the medical establishment, many of which are valid, but some of which may be a bit over-the-top and warrant further investigation. I also wholly disagree with her support for various state-sponsored interventions as it pertains to medical care and healthcare policy-making. That being said, overall, this book is a good complement to the information you will receive from doctors and nurses if you are hoping to avoid an epidural and c-section.

I am currently reading Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke, based on a friend’s recommendation. I am not too far in, but it contains useful meditation exercises and tools for relaxation and mental regulation during the birth process. This is particularly good for me, as my thoughts can be fast and erratic, and my tendency to play out worst-case-scenarios could use some regulation. So far, so good. More on this one later.

Being Preggo: The Good Parts

Doctor’s Appointments

Ultrasounds are fun! It’s amazing what medical technology has done for humanity. Just a couple of months in, you can see your little fetus bouncing around and waving her hand inside your belly. It’s neat-o. She looks like a little alien and sucks her thumb. By the time of the anatomy scan around 20 weeks, they have the ability to scan the entire fetus organ by organ, to ensure everything is in its right place and in developmental order. But don’t think for a minute this has eroded my rabid support for abortion and reproductive rights.

Friends

People are quite supportive and friends you may not even have been very close to will periodically check in on you, which is very sweet and thoughtful. Also, the bar is considerably lowered for you in terms of life. You will be praised for doing mundane things like actually wearing heels and not looking like a total slob when leaving the house, and people will ask if you are capable of a 15-minute walk. You will feel like a champion just for getting through the bare minimum requirements of life. Just kidding. This is actually not entirely a good thing.

I am also incredibly fortunate in that I have many friends who are pregnant at the same time as me (it’s an “we’ve hit the early thirties” thing). They are there to share experiences and advice, give good book recommendations, and be positive when I’m not feeling so sure (or to reaffirm that they are not so enthusiastic about the same things, either!). I have 5 other friends having babies this year, so I feel less alone in this. This kind of support is priceless.

The Angst

This was on the complaints list as well, but there’s an aspect of this I suspect I have missed, and I somewhat welcome its return. It’s nice to have a head full of thoughts and ideas, however disjointed, nonsensical, and fleeting they are. I had two moments, one involving Donald Trump, and the other involving a lost cat that incited in me a uncontrollable word-vomiting in the form of angry blog posts. It’s not the best in terms of emotional regulation, but having been dry on ideas for some time, it was refreshing to be reinvigorated again.

I entered two poetry contests for absolutely no reason. I do not even write poetry but my husband’s cousin posted a link of random free writing contests for the month of March and one thing led to another. Since I can’t blog about beer anymore, I flipped through journals from 12 years ago and sorted through my thoughts and words from what seems like a lifetime ago, to turn them into blog posts. It was like a 20 year old me left behind pieces of a puzzle for 32 year old me to put back together. If I really want to keep this up I have 12+ journals worth of junk to sort through, but we’ll see what whims strike next.

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. 

How I Found Out I was Pregnant

This is a true story and it could happen to you. My brother was in town for the holidays, and I planned some brewery hopping for a Friday night. It was a really nice, sunny, warm day in December (23rd), even by San Diego standards. I ran stairs at the beach after work, went home and showered, and we were ready to head out the door early evening. Before we left, I decided to take a pregnancy test, because ever since going off birth control, I thought it was a good idea to take a test before decadent, booze-filled nights out. I was down to my last test and strangely, after peeing on it, I realized it was broken. Seriously. Instead of the little lines that show up on each window of the stick, both windows remained completely blank, even after about 15 minutes.

I had never heard of this happening before, and I felt vaguely ripped off by Target. These things are not that cheap, after all. I was not too concerned and decided I could always stop at a grocery store and grab another one on the way to the first brewery. We made a quick stop at Vons for this purpose and then were on our merry way.

The first scheduled stop was Burgeon Brewing, a new brewery nearby which I had not yet tried. Like so many breweries these days, Burgeon is a sort of warehouse facility located in an industrial park, with 30-foot ceilings and hipster lighting.

I ordered a flight of beers, which were served on a tree-trunk-shaped taster holder. Based on the picture of their menu, if I had to guess which beers I ordered, it was likely the Carlsbad Crop IPA, Thuja IPA, Mixed Greens Double IPA, and the Moo Moo Farm Milk Stout.

Halfway through the taster, I was able to pee again and snuck off to the bathroom to take the test, which turned out to be positive. Barely. The blue lines were faint, yet unmistakable. I cannot say I was shocked, because at this age, I’d have to be an imbecile to be unaware of how pregnancy comes about, but I was still a little surprised. I did not want to return to the group and announce this to a table full of people, so I tried to text my husband while in the bathroom stall, but the reception was exceptionally poor and I failed. Finding out you’re pregnant in the bathroom stall of a brewery and texting your husband while on the toilet has to be about the most romantic and classy way to break the news, if you ask me.

 

I had no choice but to emerge from the safety of the bathroom stall and return to the table. Once I was able to discreetly pull husband aside and share the somewhat surprising news, continued indulgence in beer was no longer an option, so I opted for the cold brew coffee on nitro. This cold brew was smooth and delicious; it was practically a dessert, even though it is not sweetened. Thus concluded my beer adventures for approximately 9 months, and began an adventure of different sorts.