Monthly Archives: August 2007

Are you sitting down?

The baby’s been kicking enough to keep me reassured. Last night as I was trying to go to sleep he found his preferred spot right on top of my bowel. Trying to remind myself I’d rather have that than nothing, but it’s difficult, and if he gets going too enthusiastically it can be, umm, a little embarrassing.

I’m kind of freaking out because I have to start showing my face in my department again. I haven’t been there in months and months. I’m taking a “job market skills” course that meets for half the semester. I’m anxious about all the comments about my obvious condition I’m going to have to endure. Fortunately or not, at least the office staff knows since Josh encountered one of my advisers in the office earlier this week and in her characteristic overly dramatic style, she made an enormous deal out of him and my state.

For practice, I went out in real public today. To the old coffee shop I used to frequent in this blog’s earlier days. I didn’t walk up the hill by myself – Josh drove me and then turned around and walked the two blocks back by himself. I did, however, walk back. And was promptly EXHAUSTED. But I sat and sort of worked for about 3 hours. It’s been a rough day because I’ve had this lingering headache since I woke up. I’ve had many more than a daily allotment of water, so it’s not dehydration. Simple pregnancy, I guess. I did write 2 pages of my chapter though – not much but not nothing either.

At the coffee shop I was involuntarily privy to a long conversation about one woman’s decision to work in the for-profit world because the idealism of her youth had given way to her desire for a comfortable life. Neither I nor her companion seemed to judge her for that, but she went on and on so long about it that she may well have convinced herself and less-experienced voyeurs that she really believed she needed to justify her decision. Not me though. Because I have listened long enough and carefully enough to public speech to realize that she said not an original thing during that conversation. Without judging her sincerity or virtue or intelligence, I can tell you that she repeated a litany of phrases and arguments I have heard so many times – and for some reason especially at that particular coffee shop at that time of day. If you go a few hours earlier, it’ll be all business – real estate folks and salespeople planning and meeting about their day. A few hours later, mommies and babies. In the evening to late night, students working either silently out of their law books or science texts or having group project discussions. And what fascinates me most is the utter unoriginality of all of their speech. Our speech. I’m not exempt. You’d think I would be more able to tune out the banal than the extraordinary, but instead, the more routine the conversation the more I can’t break myself away from it. The monotonous patterns compel me to listen.

I’m not just rude. These conversations are louder, too, and I think that also contributes to making them harder to ignore. But I try. I sit and stare at my screen, silently thinking, “shut up, shut up, shut up.”

Whoops!

I should have typed in my earlier posts that my placenta is anterior, and that’s why I’m having trouble with feeling. Can’t trust a pregnant brain for a minute apparently (thanks Kate).

I’m fairly free of anything else interesting to say today.

Cosmic Humor

In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. But really, whose bright idea was it to have a anterior placenta in this subsequent pregnancy? Because honestly, it’s not very comforting to have to wait until 4pm on a particular day (yesterday) to feel a single baby movement. Unfortunately for who or whatever out there was wanting to give me a nervous breakdown, we already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the afternoon. During which Dr. K kindly did a belly u/s to compliment the usual transvag just to see what was going on in there. And there he was, heartily punching and kicking away but because of the wonderful placenta which should continue to function properly please, I couldn’t feel a gosh darned thing. Until he popped his right thumb out of his mouth and punched me in the rib cage, above his little head. Very fun for the moment, and I am wrapping my head around the fact that there are simply going to be long periods of time where I don’t feel him because of the wonderfully functioning placenta (which has so kindly agreed this time to produce enough progesterone to sustain my pregnant state – needle driven or not.)

But enough, damn it.

Do you think the doctors and nurses notice that every time I leave the examining room, all the baby magazines have either turned around to face the wall or jumped behind Pause, as in meno-, magazine?

Cervix – 3.75 to 4.1 with Dr. K considering the 4.1 more accurate because of the view point.

Hope and Stuff

I’ve written about how I’m finally giving myself some space to hope with this baby. I always follow it with a qualifier though. But there are practical concerns to be considered. We have a major conference we have to be at in early January that’s 500 miles away. I have to make arrangements to be there, even though it’s only 2.5 weeks after my due date. If I’m not there, well, I probably have to push my entrance into the job market off a year – many places do their preliminary interviews at this meeting. But, in case all the pieces fall into place perfectly or crash disastrously, we have to make reservations and such. And, as remote as it seems, I have to make those plans with a baby in mind.

Thank you baby, for kicking me just now because I was worried about talking about planning. That’s the thing. Anytime I write/talk/think about this baby, I wonder if it’s already over. And Natan didn’t die inside my womb. I still worry, though, that this baby will.

Last night we had some people over for a bbq preceding a bachelor party for a friend. Most of the guests were very much more his friends than ours, so that I’m not sure who among them knows our history. One guy, a nice guy who moved away a few years ago, was asking me about my pregnancy. I was probably coming across as the least enthusiastic pregnant woman ever, but the whole premise makes me anxious. I want to be able to talk excitedly, though, I really do. And sometimes, alone with Josh, I can. Or I think I did alright when Kate was here a couple of weeks ago.

I know myself, my mind, my moods fairly well. I sense that it might not be good for me to not hope or think about this baby as if he’s really coming until he actually does. I don’t want to be told that, however, and certainly not by a person who hasn’t felt this devastation. Because it’s certainly not easy, not a matter of simply deciding.

Small things. I’m crocheting a baby blanket and it’s turning out well. For someone with as poor fine motor skils as myself, that’s really something. For someone who’s not craft inclined, that’s something. But it’s a bigger effort than simply purchasing something already made and I wanted to do that. Although I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m not using some sort of consumer-model optimism here – I didn’t exactly grow the yarn from cotton seed or fashion the crochet hook out of sticks. I hope the baby will like it better than some machine-woven cloth, but we’ll see. In any case, it’s taking time, it seems like a maternal task, and I’m trying very hard not to think morbid thoughts about it.

Julia’s written about A’s room. Niobe about her twins’ room. Monica about making Jimmy’s room ready for Critter. And Meg about not having a room at all. We have a tiny apartment. We were/are just going to pack some stuff away, get rid of a few bookshelves and move the baby in. I cannot stand to be asked about it. I think, though, that that’s less about the “hope” feature than the fact that I’ve already been through that conversation. We’re already supposed to be even more crowded in here.

I complain a lot, I know, about the relentlessness of this journey. I know I chose to not prevent another pregnancy for longer than two months after losing Natan. On the one hand, it’s been great to get certain steps over sooner (would I conceive easily again? would I miscarry? how would I handle the cerclage? the progesterone shots? the weeks where I entered/suffered through PTL?). It’s very much in my personality to just keep on trying, over and over again, until things turn out better. But I’m not reckless.

Emotionally it’s incredibly difficult. And I hope I’m not scaring anyone off of a subsequent pregnancy with my neurosis. But practically there are reasons we did it this way. First, jobs. We wanted the baby to be born early enough to be able to be in daycare by the time we started them. Second, insurance. Not knowing if we’ll get those jobs and knowing our really excellent, free insurance will run out in August ’08, we wanted to get through a pregnancy at least, and hopefully through the earliest pediatric appointments while still on it. Third, proximity. My doctor knows the doctors from the hospital from last time very well, and thus fairly easily accepted their prognosis – other doctors may have wanted to go with the “fluke” diagnosis and not so easily acquiesced to the cerclage and progesterone.

Physically, it’s incredible. I went into my first pregnancy an exceptionally healthy 29 year old. Now I’m 30 years old and my body feels like a mess. I’m still healthier, I’m sure, than many pregnant women. Weight, blood pressure, etc., was still well within the normal spectrum for average. So that helped me decide it was okay. But my left hip is seriously aching, the limp is obvious, and my right knee is for some reason really sore. Lord knows what my overburdened abdomen will look like. I don’t feel very young anymore. Some women would have waited until they were in perfect pre-baby shape again, or followed the strictest recommendations of waiting nine months. But Dr. M. said it was actually just the most important to wait a few cycles to assess whether they’d returned to normal. And thank goodness, mine did. And it’s worth it to me. Even now, before I know the ending, I know I would rather be this mess than to have not tried at all. Again, that’s also something I don’t want to hear from someone who hasn’t been here.

So, I’m wondering now, how is this post about hope? I’ve been complaining through a lot of it. But I must have some because I’m certainly not prone to suffering needlessly. Somewhere inside me, I must really believe this will work out. Partly, it’s brainless optimism. Partly, it’s bitter naivety – defiance even. The universe will not do this to me again. Hell if it won’t though – I know that. Too many women I’ve met online have suffered more than once. And I’m still affected by the two little gravestones near Natan’s. Niobe posted recently about feeling that futility of wondering whether a glass is half empty or half full – she just sees that the whole glass shatters too easily. I flippantly commented that I wouldn’t consider the glass at all. But on reflection, that’s true. I refuse to be convinced one way or the other because it won’t make a difference for the outcome. For the moment, I’m just going to push ahead. I’m planning for this baby to come home, somewhat, simply because it doesn’t make sense to plan otherwise.

And my silly little crocheted blanket helps me make a practice of that.

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A diversion.

Aren’t you sorry you missed this? From the Chicago American, December 19, 1835

A cheese was exhibited in Troy, N.Y. a few weeks since weighing 1400 pounds.”

The funniest part is, I felt the need to copy that announcement into my notes over a year ago.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Edited to add: Um. One of our cats posted this. Seriously. I stepped away from my couch for a few minutes and when I came back, he was lying on my laptop and the message telling me my post had been published was up on the screen.  Apparently ooooo was all he wanted to say.

Triggers

I’m going through old notes to get prepped for writing my new chapter. I came across the notes from one book, that I remember very well that I was reading as I lay in bed in June of last year, unable to sleep because of my contracting uterus during the miscarriage. So I’d have a few minutes where I could read, and then even longer minutes of agonizing pain during which I might or might not drag myself to the bathroom to see what the hell was going on. Not a very good memory and I’m having a little trouble with the notes I later took from the book. While I laid in bed, I had a little piece of paper I was tearing up, making page markers out of. I don’t remember when I transcribed the passages from which I wanted notes. Clearly not that day. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s that important of a book.

So now I feel fairly miserable. I rarely think to myself that I ought to have a 9 month old infant now, because that memory has been so subsumed by the loss of Natan. I feel so much more strongly that I ought to have him. Like I’ve said before, I just kind of accept that loss as a painful, but inevitable event.  But when I see references to “your childbearing year” I can’t help but feel an angry, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” I saw some crazy public service announcement on TLC the other day that suggested only a selfish woman would have trouble giving up coffee and alcohol for that “very short time” she’s pregnant, and my pregnancy book tells me I might very well miss being pregnant. And, people we know are suggesting we’ll be unable to accomplish much on our work once this baby arrives. Again, I say, you’ve got to be freaking kidding me.

Now I’m not actually lamenting my lack of wine with dinner. I’m lucky to be pregnant. I’m grateful to be pregnant. But this hasn’t been a “very short time.” By the time this baby arrives, if I’m lucky enough to carry him to term, I’ll have been pregnant enough months to practically birth an elephant (an exaggeration only by a few months). My doctor gets it. You all get it. Dr. K is very conscious of how damn hard it is to have gone through three first trimesters, two second trimesters, a miscarriage, and the death of our son in a very short time. Losing Natan didn’t make my uterus or my stomach muscles return to their never pregnant state. Part of the reason I’m going to contract a lot in this pregnancy is that my body “remembers” labor last time. Oh that’s nice, could someone remind it that that was the WRONG decision last time? Well, that’s what we are doing with the progesterone, and it’s working and I’m in love with whoever thought of trying it out first. And when I do get up to walk, I’m limping, because my left hip hurts from all the time I’ve spent leaning on it.  I will happily deal with that issue when the baby arrives.

I’m aware of the risk of postpartum depression. I’m considering talking to Dr. K or a psychiatrist about a preemptive round of an.ti-anx.iety meds for that period. And I’m definitely prepared to go to counseling at any instant.

But, and here is where I know I may hear of lot of protestation. To the folks who think we aren’t prepared for the difficulties of managing work with a baby, all I can say is heaven forbid they ever have to try to get back to work without the baby. Now those are some tearful and sleepless nights.

We’ve talked and thought a lot about strategies for helping each other stay productive with an infant around. We both have no obligations other than writing and caring for him and each other.  All of this of course assumes that the baby is born healthy, without a need for significant NICU time or other physical demands. But given that ideal situation, I think we’re going to be fine. Not because we’re naive, but because if anyone in this world has thought about what it means to have a living baby in the house, it would be us.

Days go by

I’ve been waiting for 2:30pm to pass today, only to remember that day light savings is in effect so I should actually be waiting for 1:30pm. But of course the whole waiting question is absurd. Yet somehow I feel compelled to mark how much further along I’m getting in this pregnancy without going into labor hour by hour, day by day. When I was in the hospital, 2:30pm each day marked another day I’d made it without giving birth. What’ll I mark when I pass the hour that means I’ve now been pregnant longer than ever? Because as much I as know there are no promises – even if I reach 40 weeks – I still have to admit I now have some hope. Something is working differently this time.

Thoughtfree

Julia wrote a stunning post yesterday about her day at the beach. I was incredibly jealous of her description of swimming out to a catamaran to get a picture of her daughter and husband. She talks about the “risk aversion monster” – this great problem we now have of being hyper-aware of all risks. Certainly I am that way – I commented that I’m nervous every time Josh goes out on his bike, that some crazy SUV driver is going to take him out. But I’m not new to risk awareness. It’s the fear that’s different in me.I never thought I was exempt – I just never cared so much when the only person at risk was me. In less than a week, this baby will be viable (barely). Soon he’ll begin to hear and have something of a memory. I decided to have another pregnancy knowing it would be high risk. I decided the risk was worth it. I’m no so sure it would be again. If he’s born early and has special needs as a result – we will have decided it was worth the risk to make him live life, we will be the ones insisting that doctors try to save his life. And we’ll all be living with the results. But mostly him.

When other people say they know it’ll all be fine, I wonder if they believe it. Why do people think things will be fine? What do they mean by that?

If this baby is born early, and has a disability as a result, there will be people, even in our families, who will regret that he survived. There are people, even in our family, who never even acknowledge our firstborn son because he didn’t.

What I want to know, but can never know, is whether they suffer because of their limited vision of life. Am I better off because I know what it means to love someone who was born too soon and then died? Or am I suffering more because I acknowledge him as real while they’re getting off easy by denying it? Are people who run from anything less than “perfection,” and even perhaps secretly despise it, hurt? Or do they just not think about it at all?

Our relatives, and the various relatives you all are struggling with, is their coldness costing them anything?

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I thought I’d be an hysterical crying mess these few weeks. Instead I’m distracted and confused. If I try to write, I stare at the screen blankly. When I read, my mind is racing, thinking of anything besides the words on the page. Early on I had a smart strategy for avoiding worry – not calculating gestation dates. Not working anymore. And of course there’s a plethora of new worries. Dr. K said I’m doing well considering, and that may be true, but unfortunately it’s not so much a signal of my optimism as a sign that I feel resigned. This baby’s either coming home alive or he’s not and of course I’ll do everything I can, but will that matter? I’m going to be destroyed if he doesn’t though.

Two days from when I entered the hospital with Natan, I feel fairly confident I won’t be in the hospital on Wednesday. With a cervix above 3.5 cm, I don’t think we’ll be delivering this boy at 25 weeks. Dr. K said this morning she doesn’t want me on strict bed rest since the cervix isn’t changing much, but that I’m just to rest when contractions come. I’m still going to take it very easy though, and see where I am at my appointment next Monday.

Random Events

I received the following job-posting yesterday afternoon. Leaving out the school and other details, I find the ambiguity of the position rather amusing:

Teaching responsibilities consist of U.S. history surv.eys (1500s-1877, 1877-present), Southern history, North Caro.lina history, Colonial Latin America, and courses in fields of expertise….This position will be linked with the Inter.national Studies Program. [School name] seeks applications from people representing diversity based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, ethnicity, religion, national origin, career and life experiences, socio-economic background, and geographic roots, as well as from members of the Reli.gious Society of Fri.ends.

The latter part is a fairly typical statement of diversity, just extended beyond what we usually see, but that combined with the job description which could basically read: “Candidate should specialize in all of North America for all time, but also have idiosyncratic knowledge of our state,” makes me laugh. I’d like to meet the ideal they have in mind.

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So I sent an email off to the cantor last week about G. She responded as I expected: I need to bluntly tell her I want no more contact whatsoever. Hinting at it doesn’t work, ignoring her doesn’t work. And she added the usual I’m being too nice when I need to think of myself and the pregnancy first. She also said to tell G that the synagogue can help her find appropriate help. If my telling her directly that I want no more emails, absolutely no phone calls, and no gifts doesn’t work, the rabbi and the cantor will step in. I was afraid I might sound crazy to the cantor, but she seemed completely unsurprised that G would act so strangely.

I always think it has to be my fault somehow when other people’s behavior makes me uncomfortable.

I’m a sympathetic person, which helps me be a good teacher. I’ve helped students who are pregnant, had a bad breakup, are struggling with classes, are sick, are lonely or are friendless get help, and I always find myself very concerned about them, but am so glad that I can defer to campus resources for undergraduates.  The boundaries for instructors and undergraduates are so clearly defined. I love that I know exactly when it’s not my place.

I think I must have inherited some trait from my father that makes me attractive to people who need help. He’s retired, but for thirty years taught the most profoundly behavior disordered teenagers in our half of the state. The program he taught in was supposed to be just for our city’s school district, but other districts without resources could send their students to him, and a hospital for mentally ill teenagers also happened to be close by. And when a kid got kicked out of every other classroom in that program, he or she (overwhelmingly he though) got to be with my dad. He was really the last resort. People used to ask him if he had any great “success” stories – if any of his students ever went on to college. He’d laugh and say he considered it a success if they never murdered or sexually assaulted anyone. His most triumphant cases could live in a halfway house and hold a menial job. He taught them to read job postings, shovel snow, and coached them on socially appropriate behavior. For example, if a girl smiles at you at the mall, that doesn’t mean you can follow her into the bathroom and drop your pants. Or, if you happen to be an autistic savant who memorizes long strings of numbers and one day when you’re in the school’s office you glimpse a list of staff phone numbers, you cannot call them all every day all day, even if it’s a weekend or a holiday and you miss school. Oh, and by the way, if someone is kind enough to give you a job shoveling their driveway, you only need to shovel their driveway, not their entire yard as well as all their neighbors’ yards and driveways.

I didn’t inherit his abilities, however. That’s probably not fair – he wasn’t born knowing how to help, he spent years learning. But I didn’t inherit the motivation to do it. I’m not suggesting at all that G is that extreme, but my dad is a magnet for any even mildly disordered person. I’m sure that if they were to meet, within 5 minutes, totally unprompted, she’d be telling him her entire life history. He would know what to say, though, and how to set boundaries. Strange, now I’m asking myself why I didn’t think to ask him about her. Probably because I still often forget he’s more than just my dad.

Emily will be here in half an hour to help me learn to crochet! I have one goal – a baby blanket.

How’s that for a start

Tools for a pleasant day on bedrest: comfy couch and pillows, helpful husband, affectionate cat, and a few good books.

With that in mind I had to laugh as I started my morning reading with this sentence, “The issue of delegitimation raises a second objection, which concerns the subgenre of forbidden books called libelles–slanderous attacks on public figures known collectively as ‘les grandes.'” Leave it to an historian to open a discussion about revolution, royal sex and pornography in the 18th-century with a sentence like that. But I liked the book, actually, in the end. So I could simultaneously enjoy reading and pretend it’s work. I don’t work on 18th-century France, though, so I only needed the gist of the book, but oh well. I’ve read almost all of it. I say almost all because there’s no way I can convince myself that reading the actual 18th century French porn and tracts of political libel included in the appended anthology is justified. I’ll leave that for break time.

Shortly after I finished reading, Kate, Theo and Max arrived! No pictures though, sorry folks. You’ll just have to believe me that we all really were in the same room.

Today: rest and read about Christian evangelical publishing 1789-1880. Not nearly so much fun.