Announcing Pregnancy

Everyone knows the 3-month rule. Due to the higher chance of miscarriage in early pregnancy, many, if not most, like to keep things under wraps until the second trimester. I did not follow this approach for a few reasons, however.

While the risk of miscarriage in known pregnancies is, according to Dr. Google, 10-20 percent in the first 20 weeks, the odds still appeared to be largely in my favor. I also considered the fact there are no known miscarriages in my family and I’m pretty healthy. Whether these are scientifically sound reasons for being optimistic, I can’t say, but that was my thought process.

I balanced these odds with the absolute certainty that within a week or two, I’d find myself at a party, uncharacteristically without an alcoholic drink, and would face questions about being pregnant and have to lie. I knew this with absolute certainty, because there was one occasion on which I attended a baby shower after a night of brewery hopping. As I had indulged sufficiently the night prior, I decided to take it easy on the alcohol at the baby shower. I was one of the earlier guests, and actually did help myself to a mimosa, but after that, I refrained with the exception of a virgin Bloody Mary, which is nice the day after drinking. Also, I hate vodka and love tomato juice, so I always drink Bloody Marys virgin, but I do not do this frequently, so not many people know this.

Subsequently, my husband received several text messages from his friends insisting they “knew” I must be pregnant, because none of the girlfriends or wives saw me imbibe alcohol at the shower, and in fact, saw me order a virgin drink. The texts were so adamant my husband actually called me on the way home from work to ask tentatively, “You’re not pregnant… are you?”

So I had a pretty good idea that any time I’m caught without alcohol, there would be questions. I am not a good liar and I could see myself being really awkward with this. Further, I’d have to make up a lot of lies if I was seeing people or being invited places over the course of 3 months.

Additionally, while you never know until it happens to you, I did not think I’d be the type to be completely devastated if I miscarried. Surely, it would be frustrating, but I suspected I would tell myself it was my body’s way of rejecting an organism not meant to be born, and doubted I would become a total emotional wreck. I balanced the relatively unlikely possibility of having to tell multiple people I miscarried with the absolute certainty of telling many awkward lies, and decided the awkward lies would be worse for me.

We told parents and family almost immediately, followed by close friends. Everyone else, we told if they asked or if it somehow came up. We did not go out of our way to share on social media or make any type of formal announcement. To be honest, for me, the beginning was characterized by a certain level of anxiety, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to put on an act for everyone about how exciting and joyous this all is. Maybe that makes me weird, but it’s the truth, and I was not inclined to put on a fake show. You can fool the world, but you cannot fool yourself, nor should you try to.

[Note: pictured above indeed is our little fetus, not a cat sitting on a plank, however appropriate that might be.]

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.

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.