Category Archives: pregnancy

This child

He is trying to push me over the edge, I swear. The freaking placenta is still preventing me from feeling much. Today at my weekly progesterone appointment I asked for the doppler because I barely felt him at all Sun & Mon. He’s fine, kicking away too from the sound of it. I’m doing the big glasses of cold juice. I’m doing the lie on the side with the hands on my belly. The nurse suggested putting music next to my belly to try to coax him to move to where I can feel him.

Any other thoughts? A doppler’s rather an expensive thing for us to consider & a possible stressor for me if it doesn’t work well – which it doesn’t because he goes crazy when you put in on my belly and so you know he’s alive but have a nearly impossible time getting a HB (we’re under a serious budget constraint – although I might talk to Dr. K about it next Tuesday if he’s still driving me nuts.)  If anyone else has experienced this, I’d love to know what worked to calm your nerves.

Good Boys Deserve Favor Always/A Cow Eats Grass

Or as the third chair cellist in my middle school orchestra put it: A Cow! Ew Gas! That wouldn’t leave my mind as I thought of this poetry challenge….The bass clef mnemonic. I will try again. I don’t do lyric poetry:

A boy cries, Don’t eat fine grub!

He isn’t joking: kind lemons multiply,

Not over pie, quarks rustle slowly,

Through underground vents, while xenogeneic yeomen zigzag.

I would go through the list of blogs from which I got this, but just check out Slouching Mom for the list if you’re interested.

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We went to a wedding last night that featured karaoke singing. I of course didn’t get up and sing. But I did become overly exhausted by just sitting in an uncomfortable chair for almost 4 hours, and once again felt somewhat guilty for failing to be a chatty pregnant woman. I wish I would have the chance to discuss anything BUT babies and pregnancy yet somehow the protruding belly makes that difficult. At soon as I arrived, people began coming up to me, crying “Oh!” or as one guy we haven’t seen since he moved across the country said, “Nice!” (as much to Josh as to me). I thought I might try to revel in the attention as if I were any old pregnant woman. That worked for about five minutes.

I don’t mind people touching my belly, really, at all. I don’t want to compare notes on pregnancies or children. And yet of course they are preoccupied by my pregnant state if I haven’t seen them in months or years or we don’t know each other well at all. I’m preoccupied by my pregnant state and I’m stuck with myself all the time. I just always hope that being social will allow me some time for distraction but instead it puts it in sharp focus.

I’m making the wedding sound as if it were awful, but it was fine. I just want people to be cooing over a baby in my arms, not my belly.

Today, I have been pregnant longer than ever.

Ack…Bedrest!

I apparently overextended myself today by getting up, making breakfast, straightening up the living room, playing with the cat, showering, and attempting to get ready for a meeting this afternoon because I began having contractions. I called the doc expecting to be told to just rest, and instead we were off to triage. The good news, the very best news is that they don’t seem to have done anything to the cervix, it’s still closed & measured 3.8 cm. Not the 4.5 I love, but that’s the longest they’ve measured it at the hospital. And they stopped with rest. So we’ll take it and be happy.

Bed rest won’t be that different from what I’ve been doing, but it will mean I’ll be even less social and less helpful around the house. And my poor lonely cats will have to deal with even less playtime.

Now I get to have the meeting I was supposed to have today tomorrow, at my house. That’ll be weird, to have my adviser as a guest.

I don’t feel nearly as grumpy as I could right now. I’m just feeling relief that the contractions stopped and all seems to be well. Very well, considering. And the resident this time was very nice and understanding, no patronizing or stupid comments.

And the baby is kicking up a storm. The ultrasound screen on the little machine in the room was very small, but we could see the baby’s butt bouncing around. Very cute.

22 Weeks

On another blog someone made a comment about how a woman who has had a miscarriage won’t start to feel safe until the baby starts moving regularly. Well we’re at the latter stage in this house now but the former feeling hasn’t quite kicked in. I wonder when that happens? Maybe in about 18 years plus 3 months? Or maybe when I die myself of old age and this baby and his children live on, then maybe I can feel like there’s a right order about things in the world.

Oh, it’s really not that bad. I’m doing fine. Some anxiety but not terrible. I’m almost energetic actually, which, although I used to feel it often, now seems quite foreign to this body. Makes me suspicious. That’d be a nice one for the doctor on call this weekend – help! I don’t know what to think – I’m feeling too okay.

The news of my pregnancy has now spread to the elderly faction of the inlaws. One of the members just called now and “can only wish [me] the best of luck.” That’s fine as well. She’s not the prayer-offering type, and really, luck is fine. But there was a funny moment in the conversation. She was asking how my work was going and commented, “So I heard you changed your major again.” Huh? Yes, actually, now I’m going for a Phd in electrical engineering….How do these rumors get started? The first problem with the statement reveals a fairly common misunderstanding. Grad students don’t have “majors.” I’m getting a Phd in history. I’m not doing coursework in anything else – my major was American Studies in college but I graduated 8 years ago. No changing it now. Second problem – I’ve been an Americanist focusing on the early period (colonization through the Civil War) since I entered grad school in the fall 0f 2002 and haven’t changed. My diss topic has been the same since I started it 2.5 years ago. So I haven’t changed anything. It doesn’t matter but it’s weird to think there’s discussion going on out there about me changing. It’s not that surprising, however, because it seems every time I talk to my father-in-law and he asks about my dissertation topic, he responds as if it’s the first he heard of it. It’s as if I’m the most fickle scholar/student in the world, when really I’m quite consistent.

Two weeks

Two weeks from today I will be at the gestational date with this pregnancy where I went into ptl with Natan. I’ve been trying NOT to be aware of that point but seeing as my body is determined to work like clockwork in some respects (I know, that’s usually a blessing) I always know that Saturday/Sunday marks a new week in either a cycle or a pregnancy. And I remember that I went into the hospital on a Wednesday.

So I feel distracted and hyper-aware of everything happening with my body now. Yes, I’m feeling fine and the cervix was good as of Sunday. But I feel a palpable dread. Will we make it to the other side? Can this possibly go well?

What to say

When Msfitzita first commented on my blog, she said she wished the losses had stopped with her Thomas. It’s been almost three months since Natan was born/died and over three months since I went into pre-term labor. It still seems so present to me that it seems impossible that other couples would have already had time to lose their infants. We should have been the last. But then it occurs to me that given statistics, I wasn’t even the last on the day Natan died. It was early in the morning on January 3rd, so there was time for probably seventy other babies to be born still or die in the US on that day.

I wish the deaths had stopped with Natan. What a funny thing to say, since I wish the losses had never started in the first place. I can’t bring Natan back, and at this point, we can’t bring back the babies who’ve died since. But while wanting our babies back might be wishful thinking, wanting the losses to stop is hope.

[This post was inspired by my stumbling onto “Vegetarian Mom with a Vegan Baby” and realizing her Birdie was born two months after Natan. Why why why]

Bread and Puppet Circus

Their bus is parked outside my house, with a big poster promoting their show, “How to Turn Distress into Success,” in its window. Unfortunately, I’m too late for that. It already played. But I do have time for “Everything is Fine Circus.”

I’m still thinking about Rebecca Walker’s Baby Love, and another quote from the article about it.

“[F]or Ms. Walker, being a stepparent or adoptive parent involves a lesser kind of love than the love for a biological child./In an interview, Ms. Walker boiled the difference down to knowing for certain that she would die for her biological child, but feeling ‘not sure I would do that for my nonbiological child.”

Indeed, it is an especially bizarre statement given that in a previous relationship, Walker’s female partner gave birth to a son whom they have raised together. Now that she has a new child, from a relationship with a man, she says about her other son, “The good thing is he has a biological mom who would die for him.” What does this say about fathers? Does their sperm do enough to create a similar connection? I doubt the two mom families I know would distinguish this way between their children.

Is parenthood some sort of bizarre cult of Romeo and Juliet?

I don’t understand how “dying for” your son, or anyone else, is a measure of your love for him. It seems like an empty, melodramatic and self-serving statement, and I hope/doubt she will ever have to live up to it.

I would die for a child of mine, but I would also die for other people’s children. So would my brother-in-law, who’s a police officer. We’ve both risked our lives for other people’s children – although obviously he’s done it more than I have. When I taught kindergarten in Jerusalem, we had to be careful about security. Once after school had ended, as we waited for parents to pick up their kids, a man parked his car on the sidewalk and ran off, right in front of the building. Given where I was, we all immediately assumed the worst. In fact, my ovaries twinged sharply in this weird way they do when I get a scare. The four kids still there all ran to the gate to get a look at the car, and I ran after them, shouting, and knew right then that I would use my body as a shield if it came down to it. I loved those children with a fierceness and I felt an anger at the threat to them like I’d never known.

The other teacher was still inside, and saw it from the window, but couldn’t get out fast enough. Thankfully, the car didn’t explode and I got the children inside, where they stood around confused as we actually threw up into the short little toilets. It turned out to be a recent Russian immigrant’s car, and as I’ve since learned, sidewalks are parking spaces in Russia (in response the fence is now a reinforced cement wall).

That’s as close as I can come to imagining having to “die for” anyone. I can’t imagine very many situations where it would be a conscious rational choice, where we had time to consider. I moved without thought to protect those kids, and I’m just a teacher, not a hero. Walker’s words seem trite to me – “Oh that son of mine, he’s to die for. And so are those shoes.” I don’t know why her description of her love has to be about trumping someone else’s. Utterly unreflective of parental love.

Dear Rebecca Walker

In last week’s Sunday New York Times, the “Sunday Styles” section included two articles that caught my interest (beyond the wedding and engagement announcements which I for some reason have to read first every week). The first article was about an “Easter Dress” sold at the St. Louis Woman’s Exchange for the past fifty years. If we have any more children, they won’t ever dress for Easter, but they might very well wear this dress on another occasion. Especially if we have another son, I want the boys’ version.

The second article, “Evolution of a Feminist Daughter,” was not nearly as fun. Rebecca Walker, the daughter of Alice Walker and Mel Leventhal, has written another book to follow-up on Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, titled Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence. She writes in the book that motherhood is “the first club I’ve unequivocally belonged to.” That’s fine. I wish my own membership hadn’t been revoked. But then she goes on to state in an interview,

You need to plan having a baby like you plan your career….Because we haven’t been told that….I’m supposed to be…this feminist telling them, ‘Go achieve, go achieve.’ And I’m sitting there saying, ‘For me, having a baby has been the most transformational experience of my life.’

Walker has an ambivalent relationship with her own mother – the two are currently estranged. I have benefited from Second Wave Feminism’s emphasis on career and self-fulfillment, but I was not the daughter of two famous public intellectuals. Nor did my mom drag me around the country, resenting me and privileging her own ambitions above my happiness and security. I know perfectly well that my parents sacrificed some of their ambition for us, but I haven’t been plagued by their regret.

Even still, my entire life I have also heard on television that I can have it all – but I didn’t hear it as more than the silly slogan that it is. I’ve never felt it would be easy, or wouldn’t take planning. In fact, I think the emphasis on planning is unfair because it exaggerates our responsibility and ability to influence the future given the current state of medicine, especially obstetrics/gynecology.

If we aren’t told that we have to plan for having a baby, why would searches for “pregnancy” and “motherhood” bring up over 146,000 books on Amazon.com? If you search motherhood, the first book to come up (as of today) will be The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It. Walker is spouting tropes. Watch one day of the View or a few sitcoms and you’ll realize that we are constantly being told about the difficult but life-changing wonders of parenthood. In fact, a few weeks ago while watching the View at the gym, I learned that I won’t be a “real woman” UNTIL I’ve stayed up nights with my sick baby (I didn’t get the feeling that babysitting or sitting with nieces and nephews counts).

It has never been okay for women to forego motherhood. While childlessness no longer makes us automatic suspects of witchery, we have not gone so far as to encourage it. Have you seen the commercials for Dead Silence? The trailer includes these lines from a poem: “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw; she had no children, only dolls. And if you see her, do not scream, or she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam. Women who don’t have children are not an admired demographic.

If I hadn’t known I was supposed to plan for motherhood, I wouldn’t have gone on prenatal vitamins and folic acid 4 months before trying to become pregnant. I wouldn’t have given up alcohol, coffee, soft cheeses and sprouts. Or purchased an armoire, crib, travel crib, “aquarium series” swing, and so on. I don’t regret being conscientious of course, but I wish I had been more prepared for the reality that the most careful planning promises nothing. I am exceptional, I realize, because of my background, education, privilege and medical insurance but Rebecca Walker’s primary audience is the female undergraduate. She is talking to younger versions of me – young women who should get the knowledge they need about pregnancy without this bombardment of information from others about what it does/should mean for them to become a mother. Information that is somehow commercially shallow and reductive.

Apparitions still won’t leave me alone

I decided to listen to music while working today, and a particular song came on – a song I sang along to while pregnant (only if I was alone). Out of nowhere, I felt a fluttering kick sensation in my stomach. Just for a second, and then it was gone.

Information – Updated

So, I still can’t find the exact article that I read, but I did find abstract references (as in “In some studies, hospitalisation for bed rest led to an increase in preterm birth” — why can’t they cite the freaking studies?). These two sites refer specifically to bed rest in the hospital; not at home. The study I read referred generally to bed rest.

The first article is “Preterm labour and prematurity,” by Parland, Jones, and Taylor in the October 2004 issue of Current Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I can’t link to it directly because I gained access through my university library account.

This is the layperson’s version:
http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/pregnancy/pregcomplications/208.html

The evidence seems to be extremely contradictory and the studies I found today usually ended with “more research needed.” I need to stop looking, though, because it’s very depressing. I wish I could find it, because actually I’d like to show it to my doctor. None of what I’ve been reading describes the circumstances around Natan’s birth at all. I guess that’s why it’s something of a crapshoot.

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In my post yesterday, I referred to a study I read which said bed rest may actually aggravate pre-term labor. I should have first, remembered that women on bed rest (or might be eventually) are reading this blog, and thus, second, cited the study. But I read it a few weeks back, probably following a link from a link, and didn’t take note of its source. It was in an online medical journal.

I remember it said, specifically, that lack of activity may hinder a pregnant body’s ability to handle the increasing amount of blood. Does anyone out there have any ideas about where I might have read it? I’m going to keep looking, but thought you all might have some clue.

Thanks. And I promise never ever to write scary information again with citation.