Almost there...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Buying for Baby

As we get ready to meet our little space alien, there's a lot of weird shopping for stuff I never considered buying before. There are so many things you *could* buy to be ready for the arrival of a baby, but one of the big conundrums is trying to figure out what you actually need.

Then there's the expense of the whole adventure. has a truly terrifying cost calculator available that's probably reasonably accurate. Although, I really like Cyrus's summation on the topic: "Babies are as expensive as you let them be, plus the cost of daycare." 

Then there's the needs vs. wants vs. how-cool-is-that!!! whiz bang factor that comes with some of this stuff. I mean, looking at strollers, you can get a pretty basic stroller for $50-60 or a jogging stroller (3 wheel style) for around $150. You can get a really super basic umbrella stroller for $10. You can also opt to spend $449 on a BOB stroller or $1150 on an Orbit stroller. And that's still not the top of the line. So the decision to draw the lines between need/want/splurge is kind of tricky. (We're leaning to getting a City Mini eventually since it folds up so nicely, is lightweight, and steers like a dream, but figure that can wait til next summer probably.)

On the plus side, I'm fairly certain we won't need to buy clothes for her for quite some time. Hand-me-downs have rolled in from every corner from Alex and Sherman whose daughter grew out of newborn things in the last 30 days to Dirk and Tracey, who still had boxes of clothes for 0-24 months when we visited Seattle (plus bonus boxes of board books!). For this, I'm intensely grateful. We've also acquired two hand-me-down infant carriers with car seat bases, a Snap-n-Go stroller that works with the infant carriers, a bouncy chair, an offer for a hand-me-down Ergo carrier and Pack-n-Play, an Infantino carrier, a Diaper Genie, a co-sleeper, and various pregnancy and birth books and DVDs. We've also gotten some truly awesome gifts like a beautiful quilt, Mickey Mouse onesies, the softest slippers ever, and plush Millenium Falcon and X-Wing.

You'd think this would put a huge dent in our buy list, and well, it has, but that doesn't make that list small exactly. I've been keeping everything on an Amazon baby registry list. I told Erik back when we agreed to do this thing that my final condition was that I demanded a glider rocker and ottoman, because the best times I've ever had with small babies have been in those rockers. It is on the list. Oh yes, it shall be mine!

The one thing I've splurged on so far was the crib set and it's matching window valence and changing table covers. I wanted to get those early so that I could paint walls to match. Once the walls are painted, we'll order and set up the crib.

Today marks 23 weeks. Only 17 weeks to go!

Monday, September 19, 2011

And Another Thing!

I thought of some other things I'd left out about being pregnant.

I have never been so tan. Tan and freckled. Apparently you're just more photosensitive when pregnant. I suspect that this is what many end up referring to the "glow" of pregnant women. You're just more tan. I've never been much of a fan of tan, especially since it usually has meant being painfully burned first. I look down at my arms now, and even though they get a daily slather of Trader Joe's enrich moisturizing face lotion SPF 15, they look dirty to me, but it's just tan. My chest looks like I've been doing Ren Faire all summer. Freckles on my face are much darker. This displeases me, but I'm just trying to be sanguine about things returning to vaguely normal next summer. It's not keeping me from a daily exercise routine at work that involves climbing all the stairs of the Clark Center at a minimum before going off the to the land of chicken taco and side of pinto beans. What amazes me is that day by day, how much more effort it is one day over the next. The difference between 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 hours of sleep is impressive, and "a little tired" is really much closer to really really woofed. My 4 p.m. meetings have been frequently experienced as struggles to remain conscious.

Meanwhile, there's an emotional thing. Everyone gets warned about it, but most of the time I feel just fine. But when things get emotional, it keeps impressing me how little control I have compared to my usual demeanor. And how much it suddenly affects me. I feel like I'm overreacting all the time, and I don't see it coming til it's already happened. I end up crying at stupid shit - sappy tv shows, for example. It's really annoying. The big adventure with this was on the way to Ray and Rae's wedding. Early on, I'd thrown a big splotch on the calendar to block the date, not knowing what time the wedding was. Then, I knew I hadn't adjusted it, but the night before, I wanted to count back and figure out exactly what time we needed to be there. I was busy doing some stuff, so I asked Erik to double check on the wedding website. He checked the Google calendar, not realizing that I hadn't updated that. This led to us planning for a wedding at 1:30, and we were going to be there at least an hour before that. Unfortunately, the wedding was at noon. I got a call from Ray while we were already on the road asking when we'd arrive. I said, "Around 12:30, maybe a few minutes later, but should be plenty of time to trouble shoot any sound issues." He said, "Uh... but the wedding starts at noon." I looked at Erik and over the course of the next 60 seconds, figured out what had happened, freaked out, and sped up. I figured maybe we could shave 10 minutes off if traffic was kind. I was already crying before we got off the phone. I didn't stop for the next hour. And it got worse about 3 minutes later when we got pulled over for speeding. Yep, I was definitely speeding. I was supposed to be at a wedding that's 45 minutes away in less than 30 minutes. At this point in my life, I rarely speed much. I mean, I've had a Prius for enough years to track fuel consumption and realize I get far better mileage at 65 than 75, so my car has trained me well. I usually hover in the 65-70 range with a little burst here and there to navigate around other motorists. I was ready to burn all the gas it took to get there as soon as possible. That plan lasted for less than 3 minutes, and then we spent 20 minutes waiting for the cop to hand me a ticket. Sigh. By the time we got to the wedding, I still couldn't stop crying. This was starting to make me angry on top of soul-sick at my mistake. Friends hugged me and all I could say was, "I just don't have control of my emotions. I'm really sorry." And then I felt bad for making a scene at someone else's wedding, so that made me cry more. Suffice to say, I was definitely having a moment of just wanting to go hide away and beg the universe for a do-over on the day. But we eventually got the music up and running for the wedding and life went on. This weekend I closed that chapter by taking an 8-hour traffic school class on Sunday and mailing off my completion certificate to the Fremont Hall of Justice. Anyway, mood swings, check.

The other weird tricks I learned for getting past morning sickness are truly weird: get a prenatal vitamin without iron for the first 3 months and take B6. Taking B6 alone made a huge difference for me. You have to be careful, because you can have too much, but cut a normal tab in half and take it when things start getting dicey (or generally with my morning cup of decaf) and I'm pretty sure I managed to head off some bad days. The other thing that was recommended by a doctor, but that I never tried, was Unisom. Apparently it's good at heading off nausea. Go figure!

I noticed today that there are two Tums tablets left in my bottle at work. Heartburn is my constant companion. On the plus side, I guess I'm getting plenty of calcium! But generally, by about 4 p.m. each day, I can count on some heartburn. Some days, it's mild. Other days, it's epic. But it's always present. There's Tums in my purse, Tums in my desk drawer, Tums next to the sofa, and Tums in my travel kit. Sadly, they still taste like Tums. It'd be so much more convenient if Tums was suddenly tasty. Instead, it still tastes like snacking on chalk. Apparently, I can only look forward to this getting worse as we go along.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Baby-tastic Life

It's been an interesting weekend. On Friday, we decided it had been way too long since we'd seen a movie, so we opted to skip Friday Night Waltz in favor of Tomatina and Rise of the Planet of the Apes at the Mercado. Now it's getting close to Halloween, so the first movie trailer was a good scary one that made me jump and scream. Normally, that would be that, save for the giggling. But this apparently woke up the wee little space alien. She then spent the next hour doing a full 360 from her usual feet to the left position, to feet front, to feet right to feet back, and then finally settled back in her usual spot. When she was facing front, kicking like a champion, I thought, "Faced this way, I bet even Erik could feel this." So I grabbed his hand and put it down where she was kicking. She instantly stopped for a few minutes, then started up again just as I was about to give up. He whispered, "Is that her?" I nodded. Cue giddy soon-to-be-dad!!!

The next day we ran to Cupertino briefly to pick up an infant car seat, base, and Snap-n-Go stroller base for $20. All hail Craig's List and the buyer's market that is baby stuff. Now we have two infant car seats - one for each car - and a stroller that should last us most of the first year. Then we headed up to Dave and Ellen's for Sara and David's "Hippie Wedding Potluck." It was great to see everyone there, including other pregnant friends (twins! 46 chromosomes! yay!!!), lots of babies, some toddlers, and some school-age kids. Wow. When did I start hanging out with so many parents? Well, it's me soon enough, so it's probably for the best. Sarah was darling as ever. She's still one of those kids who convinced me I might be up for this challenge. She ran up and handed me a lei as I arrived and spent the day being awesome. Meanwhile, Kai has turned into a little boy. There's a magical moment where a baby's face changes to a kid's face. He's hit it. I saw him just a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't there, but there it was. Meanwhile, Fiona and Alanna are just a few weeks apart, and Fiona towers over Alanna. I'm expecting to have one more her size than super-sized. Josh and Magenta have the most beautiful, biggest kids I've ever seen!

We had to bail on Toshi's birthday since I had traffic school on Sunday (to correct the speeding ticket on the way to Ray and Rae's wedding. D'oh.). But, we ran a few errands, and then dove into tearing apart the room that shall be the nursery. The house looks like an explosion of stuff, but the closet in the guest room closet is full of wine (thanks to Paul, Karen, and Crystal for the hand-me-down wine rack!), and the nursery is emptying out. A big haul will go up to the attic later this week. I spent most of the day in traffic school while Erik worked through what to do with a lifetime's worth of treasured knick-knacks that had little place to go but in a box. Sigh. Changes are big as we keep hurtling towards January. The wee space alien has been very very active all night, so there's no denying her presence. Kick, kick, kick. Yep, I feel ya little girl. Looking forward to meeting you, but not til January, m'kay?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Being Pregnant

So there are a few things you expect, and a few things that are never mentioned, and a few things that are not as advertised.

Yeah, morning sickness. The week before I got a positive pregnancy test, I was uncontrollably burpy. And a bit gassy. And certain things started sounding less good to eat. But mostly burpy, like I felt like I was belching every 20 minutes. By the end of that week, it was definitely cresting into vague nausea, but nothing that would keep me from doing my normal daily routine. Just a "hmmm, I feel a tad off today." Then we did the pregnancy test on Friday, May 20th. My temperature had not dropped that morning. My period was due that afternoon. And well, the test was positive. So we did a second one. Yes, still positive. Okay then. Project BorG has officially launched! Now what?

So I had a birthday party planned at Forbidden Island two days later. I figured this would either be terribly inconvenient or just the thing. Turns out, definitely slightly inconvenient. We grabbed Subway sandwiches before the Pirates movie, went to see Pirates 4, then headed to Forbidden Island. I was served my traditional birthday mai tai, which Erik surreptitiously drank for me. I enjoyed a virgin Missionary's Downfall and a virgin Painkiller. There were noshy bits and hanging out and getting massages from friends and generally a lovely day.

The next day, the morning sickness monster had me in its grips. I don't know if it was the Subway (which it turns out you're not supposed to eat deli meat when pregnant), or some noshy bit at FI, or just not staying sufficiently hydrated (most likely!), but I started my day feeling a bit off, sat down with my morning cup of joe and sipped it, reading email and waiting for the nausea to pass. Then I got up and went to the bathroom. Not feeling better. I figured if I sat very still and drank some water I'd be okay. Maybe a couple of nice pretzel thins. That didn't work, so I thought I'd take a little walk. Once outside, I decided to go lie down in the car for a bit. After being there a few minutes, I called Kaiser for suggestions. They suggested pretty much everything I'd tried that hadn't worked, so that wasn't good. I thought of going home, but didn't think I could drive. I called Erik to see if he could come pick me up. He did. I was in agony the whole way home. I tried lying in bed. I tried throwing up. It just kept getting worse rather than better. Finally, we called Kaiser back and they wanted me to come in to check for 1. ectopic pregnancy or 2. dehydration. Finally, after throwing up again, it started to ease off and Erik put some ginger ale in a glass and we shuffled off to Kaiser. Turns out, yes, I was really rather dehydrated. What isn't mentioned in a lot of stuff about morning sickness is that if you get dehydrated, it's going to be worse. Lots worse. And the trouble with that is, it's what you do the day before that really determines how dehydrated you get the next day after a long night's rest. Go to bed well hydrated and yes, you may wake up and pee three times in the night, but you'll likely feel better in the morning. After this little episode, my reusable cup/lid/straw combo became my constant companion. I took it to every meeting and out to most events. Virgin mojitos with Hansen's ginger ale, mint leaves, and lime became a nightly treat. And by and large, I weathered the first trimester nausea pretty darned well. I know it was also that I was just plain lucky. By week 9, I was feeling mostly back to normal and ready to get on with the rest of this adventure. There was one notable evening where I planned to make chicken and string beans for dinner, but opened the bag of string beans to find they'd gone moldy in the fridge and well... dinner was off. Eventually, I told Erik he could make whatever he wanted for dinner but that I wasn't having any. He said, "Well you have to eat something!" and I said, "I really don't." I spent the rest of the night curled up on the sofa and he eventually talked me into a couple of potstickers several hours later. But, all in all, two notable days of total tummy fail is just not bad at all. My recommendation: drink plenty of fluids. Lots and lots. Whatever it takes. It will probably save you.

However, there are several pregnancy weirdnesses no one ever mentions. Number one on that list is round ligament pain. I'd never heard of it, and then around 11 weeks in, I suddenly got a stabbing pain in my belly. Now, everyone knows, the first trimester is dicey. At any moment the body can say, "Oops, too many mistakes. Let's start over." and the game is off and you're back to ground zero. Getting stabbing pains seems like a bad sign. Turns out, it's perfectly normal, but rarely discussed. As the uterus starts it's truly bizarre growth, it pushes stuff out of the way and tips out and this ligament stretches and grows. This is one of those you're fine... you're fine... you're fine... wait, Ow! What the heck was that?! things. This isn't supposed to start until the second trimester, but I suppose I'm just lucky that way. Also, there are weird days where my belly button just aches. This is also apparently completely normal.

Really, the whole first trimester kind of sucks. First, you pee a lot. What's more, every time you pee for 90 days straight, you get to check the toilet paper to see if you're bleeding, to check if the whole thing has gone wrong. It's a tad nerve wracking. There you are, 20 times a day, checking, thinking, "Nope, still good." But every time, I wondered, is this the time? And then one morning I woke up and there was some spotting. I spent the day a wreck wondering if this was it. I scoured the web and found some things saying that this might be normal, but best to get it checked. I called Kaiser and got the "unless it moves from spotting to really bleeding, it's probably normal. Just don't have sex for the next 3 days." Still, all day, and the next, and the next, I wondered and waited. And it sucked. But then it was fine and we had our next prenatal appointment on July 18th, and sure enough, there was still a proto-human in there paddling around.

Another thing is that as your breasts get ready to be more than merely decorative, they hurt ALL THE TIME. I'm one of those people who get sore breasts when I'm about to start my period. It usually lasts two to four days, then things are back to normal. This time, that all started at the normal time, but then it didn't go away. It didn't go away for four months. For those playing along at home, that means instead of four days of discomfort, we're talking 110 days of discomfort. And what I learned here is that I hug a lot of people. And each time, for four months straight, it hurt like heck. Folks casually bumping into you is jaw clenchingly painful rather than "oops". Meanwhile, they're sore because they're growing. I went from a nice tidy little 34B to a 34D in the course of 90 days. Things have mellowed out for now, but there was a bit of fear about whether or not this was actually going to do this for the whole 9 or 10 months. Turns out, nope, it eased off starting with the second trimester. But yikes!

And remember the part about being burpy back at the beginning? Well that mild burpy, tootiness translated into full scale constipation a week later. The digestive system went on holiday and left me to figure out what to do next. Luckily, about this time, my usual lunch stopped appealing and I was driven to go visit an old favorite on campus - the Beckman Bistro. Turns out, the little space alien growing inside had pretty strong opinions about food, and she loves Mexican food. It's a rare day I go without it. My daily lunch became a chicken taco with a side of whole pinto beans. Luckily, the bistro serves that up for just $4, and I can build in a daily exercise routine to go with that. I climb all the stairs in the Clark Center - 8 stairwells, 3 stories up apiece - on my way to lunch. This means I get a least a 20 minute walk and stairs workout before lunch every day. It has done wonders for getting the system up and moving again, but early on, there were some desperate moments where all I wanted out of life was to move last week's food to the outside of my body by any means possible. Luckily, the space alien and I can agree on our love of pinto beans and all is better now.

On the subject of food, this is definitely different for everyone, but I have to say, I want nothing to do with a hamburger anytime in the near future. The siren call of the In-n-Out is dead to me for now. In the first month, we had several things spoil in the fridge - chicken breasts, sausages, ground beef - all because it never looked like the right thing to put together for dinner. Prior to this, we'd routinely had chicken breast with a thin slice of ham and a slice of swiss on top, broiled together for a few minutes with a side of broccoli for dinner. It was a satisfying, low calorie dinner. I haven't eaten that in 20 weeks. In general, any big hunk of meat appeals less than nearly anything else. I'd much sooner have pasta with veggies or a nice Indian dish than a steak. On the other hand, the traditional pickles and ice cream also holds no appeal and shows no sign of becoming interesting. Fish seems more interesting, but not shellfish. But Mexican food I could eat for two meals a day and never grow weary. There were a lot of taco nights at home in the first three months. Soy chorizo is also awesome for tacos - all the flavor with none of that pesky meat. Overall though, it's been remarkably easy to feed me, all things considered.

So speaking of Subway, the whole admonition to avoid deli meat (and a host of other things) is pretty much par for the course. It seems like every week comes with a new thing you're supposed to avoid doing for the remainder of the pregnancy. The list started with: foods (soft-serve ice cream, sushi, deli meat, unpasteurized cheese, some fish, smoked seafood, ceviche, raw meat, raw eggs, etc.), alcohol, ibuprofen (or any other NSAID), Sudafed (or any other decongestant), and more the 100-200 mg of caffeine per day (which varied by source). Then add in things you're not allowed to do: roller coasters (or other amusement rides), soak in a hot tub, get a massage in the first trimester, dye your hair in the first trimester, sleep on your back after the first trimester, do sit-ups after the first 8 weeks, scoop the kitty litter (um, okay, that one isn't so bad), dig in the garden, wash the fruits and vegetables (as in, get someone else to do it, not just skip it), and the list just keeps getting longer as time goes on and depending on how excitable the resource you're looking at is. Some say no artificial sweeteners at all. Some say they're fine. Some say no more bouncy exercise after the first trimester. Others say game on until you don't feel good doing it. Some say to give up the underwire in your bra. Others say that there's nothing that bears that out. You could go crazy trying to sort through all the freaky crap. Or you could go crazy with worry if you found out you're not supposed to do something right after you did it. Like, y'know, eat a Subway sandwich because it could lead to certain doom!

I'm personally trying to refrain from the crazy, but I'll be darned if it isn't lurking around every corner. I mean really, my breasts finally started giving me a little relief three weeks ago, and rather than thinking, "Whew! Glad that's over." I first thought, "Oh no! Is everything okay? Has something gone wrong and my breasts are the first sign?" And then after smacking myself in the head and dragging myself back to the land of sanity, I thought, "No wonder people go completely nuts during this process!" Every inch of the world is to be second-guessed and every action checked against a reference. I myself enjoyed reading Pregnant Chicken more than most other things. This was the snarky resource I wanted that would tell me it was fine to exercise and if I really wanted to jump in the bouncy castle, then go right ahead with your bad self.

Now we're about halfway through the second trimester (21 weeks today!) and I've been feeling the wee miss kicking away for about three weeks now. This is remarkably reassuring. In the first trimester, there's a whole lot of things you can do wrong, and a whole lot of things that can just go wrong, nothing you can do about it, and no way to tell until things have gone sideways. We had prenatal appointments at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and amniocentesis at 15 weeks. Each time, we got to check and make sure that there really was a fairly healthy looking person in there. But about 3 weeks after each visit, I'd start wondering again. Was this really happening? Is everything okay? I'd talk myself down with just waiting a week if need be and chilling the hell out. I was just starting to get a little itchy again when it suddenly became very clear that that sensation was not just gas (which is still alarmingly common at the moment), but instead it is definitely someone kicking me from inside my body. Last week, this reached a new level when I was in a meeting and she landed a kick squarely on my over-full bladder. Yes, I know that needs emptying, and thank you for the not-so-gentle reminder. Apparently I got a look, because the project manager stopped by later to check on me. All signs point to that just continuing to get weirder for the next 4 1/2 months. At Pacificon, Rob told stories of being kicked in the back by his daughter while sleeping next to his wife, months before she was born. That is some creepy shit there, let me tell you. But for right now, it's nice to get notice several times a day that the space alien is alive and well and feeling quite at home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby Tracker

For all things baby, there is an overabundance of cute available if you want to participate. Today's case in point:

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Pregnancy tickers

There are also more informational, less cute options as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Getting Pregnant

WARNING: Grandma should probably skip this one. Heck, that goes for anyone who doesn't want to know that I have sex and occasionally drink alcohol. For anyone actually trying to get pregnant, this is my collected knowledge.

Let's be clear. I've spent a great deal of time learning how to AVOID getting pregnant. But over the course of a few months, I actually learned a lot about how to get pregnant, and the weird part was that, at least at my age, it's a little harder than you'd expect.

First, there are details. As it turns out, almost all lube is toxic to sperm. Some kills them dead. Others just make them immobile. Little did I know that all these years I'd frequently had an extra line of defense. This led to our first surprise in that we had some time off between quarters around the holidays, and we entertained ourselves with the teen boy's fantasy world - sleeping late, lots of sex, movies, video games, and hanging out with friends. Honestly, we were just a little surprised when our activities did not lead to what seemed inevitable if you behaved like that as a teenager. But there we were. So, I started doing a little research, and quickly figured out our likely issue.

A quick trip to Amazon showed two options: Pre-Seed or Conceive Plus. I figured we'd order that now, and be able to use that next time around. This led to an Amazon fiasco where my little purchase was shipped from Belgium, got held up in Customs in New York, and made it's way to me after 29 days. So, we kind of missed that window just a bit.

Getting back into the game in February, our last shot before the dreaded December 7th and January 1 due dates, I'd just started temperature tracking. This is one of those weird things that you hear about and it seems too weird to be true. Every morning, you wake up, and first thing, before you budge an inch, take the thermometer off the nightstand and check your temperature. (Some say you need to do it at the same time every day, but just when you wake up is fine.) Sure enough, I am 97.0 degrees when I wake up for half of the month, and overnight it jumps to 97.8 and stays there for the rest of the month. We didn't have even a full month of data in February, so we didn't really know when the right timing was. Beyond that, this was also when Pixel got sick, so our attention turned to him, and to not shaking the bed, rather than to our future planning. Tracking temps did help us successfully miss the December 7th and January 1 due dates though, so that's good!

Then there's other things, like yes, a guy makes sperm all the time, but it's like product rotation at the grocery store. What he's shooting today can actually go back up to 3 months. So that hot tub trip that killed a good number of them may actually hold down sperm counts for quite some time, rather than just a day or two.

Then there's stress. Stressed out and you may not ovulate. Stressed out and you don't produce as many sperm. Tricky that.

Then there's the basics that don't apply to us: don't smoke, wear boxers instead of briefs, and start taking a multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of Folic acid right away. Then, give up alcohol. Yeah, both of you, just while you're trying. Also, drink lots of water and avoid dehydration.

But then there's that temp tracking thing. Now that we were ready to tackle this project again in May, I had 3 months of data! So, you look for the day of the spike, and plot it out. There are online tools to help do the math. Once you know it for the next cycle, put it on the calendar. We did! (Which led us to question just how many people we'd shared our Google Calendar with... la la la.)

They say to try for 3-5 days before the temp goes up and 2-3 days afterwards. We adopted a metaphor about this one night: milkshakes. Now I like milkshakes as much as anyone, but say for example you're required to drink a milkshake every single day for 8 days straight. By then end of it, a milkshake, no matter how good they can be, just doesn't sound all that appealing.

There's some debate about whether or not it's best to try every day or every other day. I can't speak to that, but we tried to split the difference and pretty much hit it at least every 24-36 hours. The temp spiked on the predicted day, and we'd done our due diligence, and continued for 3 more days. For better or worse, we'd actually started a few days early since it was a nice lazy weekend and we were just in the mood. Little did we know that 10 days later how much effort drinking a milkshake would be. It's okay. It's good to know your limits. We're a two or three times a week, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, kind of couple. Ten days in a row was... daunting.

Luckily, you're also supposed to lie still, not bound out of bed to the shower, to help the little swimmers get where they're going. An enforced lazy snuggly nappy time was just lovely.

Then there's the annoying waiting phase. You wait 2 weeks and see if anything happened. If it did, great! If not, start over. You're back at the starting line. Oh, and in the meantime, if you treat yourself to a nice glass of wine or a mai tai, you're spend the next 9 months wondering if you inflicted harm on your new little person, so no alcohol at all until you're bleeding!

Which led me to write a post I never ended up actually posting in mid-May on Project BorG:
People keep asking what I've been up to lately. There's been a bit of this and that - working with Arielle on the 4th of July Parade stuff, prepping for Erik and my birthdays, getting the Gaskells mailing list up and running, taking some Google certification tests, using The Daily Plate to lose weight (down 14 pounds since Christmas!), running off to Los Osos to see Ray and Rae's new place and talk wedding stuff, keeping Stanford Ceili running, and generally enjoying the whole new world created at home with two happy (drugs are awesome!) kitties. But it feels like there's something missing from that list. It feels like there's a big project looming out there that I keep working on but not really talking about, and that's taking up the bandwidth usually occupied by a big future state project, but this one doesn't feel like normal.

I realized that it was Project BorG. Unlike most projects where I work to a defined conclusion and that all of my efforts necessarily support (to greater or lesser degrees of success) that final culmination. In this case, I don't know which combination of actions will actually bring this project to a conclusion (or to it's next phase, I suppose). I can try to do all the right things, but ultimately, there's rather a severe lack of control here. And a lot of waiting. I hate waiting. It's do all the right things, then wait 10 days to see if it worked. If it didn't, do it all again. It's very very odd, and not the way I like to run my projects. I can see why so many couples go utterly bugnuts during this process. There's so much effort and anticipation that it's hard not to let that turn into disappointment. So, ultimately, my current focus is on not going crazy in this process. Also, I'm trying to decide if I can take this out of uber-project status mentally and emotionally and let myself have an alternate uber-project that I can invest in and talk about. While no one really wants to hear about your dieting plan and how that's going, it's perhaps unsurprising how many more people really really don't want to know about your efforts to have a baby. Baby making is boring even to people who do want to talk about sex, which is already an extremely limited subset of folks. Oh sure, I could wax on for at least an hour on all the stuff I've researched and found out and tracked and so on, but really, not even my mom wants to hear it. What's worse, even if the project is a potential success, you don't get to talk about the potential success with anyone for at least 3 months, which kind of kills the "Woohoo! Go team Woodbury!" aspect of it. By the time anyone else says that, I'll be kind of over it, well ensconced in the next phase of the project.

So suffice to say, it's weird. Really weird. And I'm still wondering how exactly this ended up sounding like a good thing. But now that it is a good thing, can we just get on with it already?

There were other things, like start earlier in your cycle if you want a girl, later if you want a boy as the boys swim faster but the girl sperm last longer. Or there's eat acidic things for a boy or take calcium to get a girl. Or make sure the woman has her orgasm first if you want a boy or second for a girl. Theoretically, these can change the ph and tilt the odds in favor of one over the other. I will note that Athena very helpfully gave me a bottle of calcium supplements, knowing I wanted a girl. Erik thought this was dirty pool, but luckily didn't believe it had much of a chance of working, but here we are having a girl, so who can say whether that's chance or something more. Personally, with Erik being one of 3 brothers and his dad being one of 2 brothers, I didn't think we had a shot at a girl. I'm just thrilled we lucked out. After watching me get stabbed for amniocentesis, Erik said that it was okay that I won that little victory. I was taking the hits for the team on this one and if I got the girl I wanted, that seemed more than fair.

So that's basically it. If you've got questions, feel free to ask. I can probably point you to an online resource or something. Because now, now I know way too much about this. Hopefully it's useful to someone.

Friday, September 09, 2011

You're Doing What? Wait, what?!!!

So there was this shiny new toy called Google Plus. It has what I like about Facebook, plus longer posts, and an absence of obnoxious ads. It's funny, but this coincided pretty neatly with another big event in my world, announcing a massive life change, and being able to do it selectively. It was a ticking time bomb of congratulations as folks have joined Google Plus over the last 10 weeks. But here we are at the half-way mark, and the second ten weeks went far more quickly than the first ten weeks, and I don't expect that to change. There are a few bits and pieces I'd like to get down in what I perceive as my personal record of things that are just me, that a few folks still deign to read. A few folks, including my grandma, who I'm guessing isn't ever going to join Google Plus (or Facebook, or anything else). It's also still the most conducive place for long format posts. So here goes.

We're having a baby. Well, that's the big plan anyway. Sometime around 20 weeks from now, we're expecting to be in a hospital, I'm expecting to be in a lot of pain, and at the end of it all, we expect to have a little baby girl.

Now for those of you who missed the memo and are now staggering around going, "Wait, what?!!! But you said no kids. What gives?" Well, there's always been a small reservation, infrequently voiced and never expected to be acted upon, that for the right partner, I could see having one kid. It seemed such a dim possibility, that it nearly faded out of existence.

Remember the part where I also said that there were two reasons to get married, thus getting the government involved in your love life: 1. Because it's important to you for religious reasons or, 2. Because you want to have kids. Well, remember that whole getting married thing last October? Remember how I haven't had a sudden religious conversion? Yeah, it was all down to the "One-Child Compromise" (TM).

When Erik and I first met, lots of folks said, "Wow, you two have such great chemistry." And then they implied a lot of relationship potential. Meanwhile, we were both happily ensconced in other relationships. I knew that it could never work between us because having kids was very important to him. So, nice as he was, it was just never going to happen.

Then things changed. Rick and I broke up. Marissa divorced Erik. Suddenly we were both single, saying, "Well that was never supposed to happen." When we first started dating, more than one friend counseled suggesting that this could only end in tears because he wanted kids. We lived with the elephant in the room for a few months of dating. When it became clear we were both pulling back on playing the field and spending an awful lot of time together, we acknowledged the elephant. He said, "So where is this going?" I said, "Well, I've always thought maybe I could do the one with the right person." Erik looked like I'd lit off fireworks. I said, "BUT! I don't know if you're that person. You might be, but if you push me on this, I'm going to do what I've always done and bail." I suggested that he had a PhD to finish and that he wasn't really going to be making major life changes between now and then, so how about we enjoy what we have, and when the ink is dry on the bottom of the degree, I can have an answer to the kids/no kids question.

As it turned out, this was the best deal I've ever made. Many times, it stopped him from pressing the issue. It also provided him a big motivation for finishing the darned thing. For me, it gave me the breathing room to measure things, knowing that I'd have to have an answer, and I'd have to be ready to walk away or to go forward on an adventure I never planned for. Things bore a lot of scrutiny. Every good thing, and each slight or failing was judged against how that would affect not only me, but what if we were raising a child together? No pressure, eh? And it went on for months, which for me meant plenty of time to collect data and plan a future state, and also plenty of time to imagine how this could work. In the end, Erik finished his PhD on August 7, 2009. I was officiating Alex and Sherman's wedding on August 8th. So there we were waltzing at the wedding, and I said, "Y'know, the ink is dry. And I've thought about it." And there was a sort of "oh dear god" hanging in the air - here? now? Um, yes. "And I can go for the one."

A lot more discussion was had later as we embarked on our big vacation together, headed to Yosemite the next day and Disneyland afterwards. What if it doesn't work? What alternatives are we willing to explore? Should we get married first or try for a kid first? (Because ostensibly, knowing how important this was, if it wasn't going to work, then why would I block him from finding that joy with someone else, and why make him a two time divorcee in the process, right?) So that's when it comes back to a great moment in our early dating period.

At Bad Movie Night at Tracey's place, Sam pulls me aside and says, "I think I've got a solution to your problem with Erik, but you might find it offensive." Now, Sam, bless his heart, is inadvertently offensive to folks with some frequency. That he knew this would likely be offensive, and wanted to preface it that way was a pretty good measure of just how offensive this was going to be. Deep breath, rub hands together, and say, "Okay, I'm ready. Lay it on me." And Sam says, "Well see, Erik wants kids, and you don't, so you could just get your tubes tied and it barely leaves a mark, and then he could try and try, and then when nothing happened, and it didn't work out, it's not like he's going to leave you over it, right?" And I say, "WOW!!! Sam, you're right, that's REALLY offensive." And I laugh really hard. Because, no, I could not even conceive of starting a relationship on a lie of that scale. Eventually I even told Erik this story. He took rather a less humorous view of it, but here we are on our way to Yosemite, and he says, "Y'know, really, fundamentally Sam is right. It's that you're willing to give this a go, and if it doesn't work out, we'll do other things. But that you're willing to go down this path with me, to potentially change your life this much to spend your life with me, well, that means a lot." And so it was decided - marriage, attempt One-Child Compromise (TM), and see where we end up.

Well, turns out, once you do everything you're supposed to (more on this in another post), getting pregnant, even at 37, can be remarkably easy. Like, um, first time you give it a serious try and pull out all of the road blocks. We very specifically avoided the potential December 7th and January 1 due dates, giving things a try in time for the January 27th due date. At our amniocentesis, they adjusted our due date by a whole 1 day, so now we're officially due on January 26th. That means that last night was our official half-way mark. We took our first baby belly picture last night. I'm finally starting to look a bit pregnant rather than just plain fat.

We did opt for amniocentesis as it's recommended to everyone over 35. At 37, my chance of a trisomy (47 total chromosomes, where one has 3 copies instead of 2) is 1 in 125. Next year it gets worse again. Not liking those odds overmuch, I wanted some assurance that if I was going to all of this trouble, I wasn't growing a creature that might or might not make it to birth and then might live less than a year, because yeah, some of the trisomies are just that bad. I mean, in reality, Downs Syndrome is the *good* trisomy. At least, it's the one that you can survive. Most of them are tragic. So I met with a very nice geneticist named Sharon at Kaiser and she ran me through the options and we opted for amnio. As Erik said, "Have you met my wife? Have you ever her seen her pick less information over more information?" On the plus side, you get an extremely detailed ultrasound (in our case, with a totally awesome ultrasound tech) that checks that everything is in the right place - heart with 4 chambers, and blood flowing in and out the right way, with no leaks. Full digestive system. Two little kidneys. Feet with five little toes apiece. Brain connected to the spinal column. Spine inside the body. Lots of things to go wrong, but everything looked alright. It also looked a lot like a little girl. Then they stabbed me, and sucked up a bunch of fluid. That part was not so awesome. Sharon called 12 days later to give us the good news that indeed, the wee little alien has 46 chromosomes and is definitely a girl. Here's her photo from 5 weeks ago:

Now we're on to other adventures - comparing strollers (and we really like the City Mini and the Britax B-Agile) and cribs (looks like we're going for the Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib) and deciding on nursery themes (Space! With a side of geek!). We got our crib set in the mail today.

Suffice to say, I've been a bit quiet here, and there's going to be some serious download about pregnancy and baby stuff in the near future, so I'm sure I'll likely drive away my last few readers, save for my grandma. But like I said before, this is for me to have a place where I write it down and have a history. And for that, this is just perfect.