Not a Whole Heart

I am the luckiest lady in the world.  I am healthy and happy and my biggest concerns are 100% of the first world variety.  My problems are of the luxurious sort; my grief is the easy kind of grief.

But no matter how much I believe that my grief is silly or my grief is selfish or my grief is self-indulgent, my grief doesn’t care.  I can squash it down for a while, or tuck it away in a corner, or rub it raw with my joys, or scrub it clean and sparkly, or run far away from it, but for some reason I can never seem to rid myself of it, not completely.

For even though I’m pretty sure we are done having children, and are more than content as a family of four, there is always a lingering tug.  At the mention of a loss.  During discussions of multiples.  It makes me grieve for those other ones.  The other three. Even though we did not hold them, did not see them, did not name them, it doesn’t mean they were not there.  They were still there.  I wondered what they would look like and who they would act like and I still do.  I just know better than to dwell on it.

Maybe it’s because we have it so good.  Two amazing little beings that we marvel at on a daily basis.  Two perfect specimen, exactly the same in terms of being healthy, strong, smart, kind, brave, cautious, silly, lovable, beautiful – but so not the same in terms of how they present those strengths.

Maybe it’s because we have a visual reminder.  Infant Grouch was going to be one of a triplet.  She’s the fighter who showed her strength not only by bruising me internally with her repeated kicks in utero, but simply by making it when the other two didn’t.  When she was born I gasped a bit when I saw the birthmark on her back.  Two-thirds of a heart.  Blood red.  It’s like she carries the fraction of the old whole around as a commemorative patch.

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I am not the same as I used to be, for a million, trillion reasons.  One of which is that I am a mama of two.  Another of which is that I am not a mama of five.

One of my all time favorite quotes from Regina Brett is, “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back”.  I believe that to be even more true than we can possibly imagine.

When I give both of my girls a bath, Toddler Grouch usually asks to see her sister’s heart.  Sometimes she says, “Ooohhhh” because she isn’t sure what to make of it.  I assure her, it’s okay.

That there is nothing wrong with having a heart out there for everyone to see.

10 Things Pregnant Women Do Not Want To Hear Coming Out of Your Mouth

It’s highly likely that you will encounter a pregnant woman at work, at home, at the gym or via your Facebook feed.  While she may enjoy engaging with you on topics such as hobbies, families, work gripes or nursery decorations, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that she may not want to engage with you on everything and everything under the “pregnancy topics” umbrella.

In order to prevent any mishaps (i.e. her hormonal self losing her shit and punching you in the face) – here’s a list of things she’s sure to NOT want to hear coming out of your face.

1) Oh my god, my labor was absolutely horrifying. Worst pain of my life.  She is perfectly capable of visualizing worst-case scenarios in her own head without any help, thank you very much.  No need to tell her some godforsaken story that will haunt her for the hours/days/weeks after she hears it.

2)  I only gained 17 pounds during my pregnancy.  I totally craved organic apples and rice cakes the whole time!  Yeah, you’re a freak of nature.  And also?  An arrogant braggart.  Step away from her and her Cheetos or she might place that crinkly bag over your head and strangle you with it. That is, once she creases the bag into a v-shape and finishes pouring the last of the crumbs into her mouth.

3) Oh my, your bump is getting bigger every day!  The cousin to the “You must be due any day!” comment.  Believe it or not, pregnant women are pretty attuned to their bodies and can tell when their skin is stretched to the limit, their organs are getting mashed and wedged into every available space inside their bodies and can really feel that extra 30+ pounds they are carrying with them every time they take the stairs.

4)  How long are you planning to breastfeed/pump/?  Or any other questions or advice at all related to the why/how/when/where she is going to nourish her child.  It’s none of your freaking business.  Until you’ve lived INSIDE her body and/or have analyzed her genetic makeup and/or lived through her exact life situation, you are in no position to offer unwanted advice or analysis.

5)  Are you supposed to be eating/drinking/doing that?  Unless she’s drinking a six-pack of beer or chain smoking cigarettes, I’d say it’s safe to assume that she’s making sensible decisions for her unborn child, based on advice from her doctor.  If you’re questioning something as ridiculously benign as feeding her baby salty/fatty Cheetos, refer to possible consequence as described in number 2.

6)  When I get pregnant I’m going to _________________.  (Insert eyeroll here).  Yea, shut it.  You have no idea what you’re going to do. Even if you’re already had one, the second (or third or…) time around can be a whole different ballgame.  In reality, you will do what the baby tells you to do. It’s nature’s prep for when the baby is here and is in charge in person.

7)  We’re out of donuts in the lounge.  The horror! The horror!  Even if she’s never enjoyed a peanut-covered donut is her entire life, there might be a day during her pregnancy when ALL SHE CAN THINK ABOUT is swallowing a peanut-covered donut, and hearing the news that the peanut-covered donut-eating-opportunity has been stolen from her can be devastating.  Don’t be the messenger.

8) How are you feeling? Pregnant. She’s feeling pregnant. Exhaustingly, whalishly, hormonally pregnant. She feels like shit and wants to stab everyone around her in the eye with a fork.  Even if she feels happy, she also feels like crying.  Frankly, it takes physical and emotional energy she doesn’t have to fake a smile and tell you she’s feeling just fine.  Don’t steal precious energy away from the baby by asking this question. Unless you want to harm her baby.  Stop harming the unborn babies!

9) Hi Mommy! Okay, hearing anyone other than your own flesh and blood call you mommy is just disturbing as hell. It’s not even sort of cute. Pure creepo, right there. If it’s said in a high pitched voice, it makes her think you might actually be psycho enough to try to murder her in her sleep. Stop creeping her out.

10) Shrimp. Raw chicken.  Mangoes.  Or any other word that conjures up even the notion of a smell so offensive that it makes her literally gag just from hearing the utterance. I realize you may not know ahead of time which word will cause this response (especially if it’s something seemingly ungagworthy, such as the word “dust” or “wall”), so just let the bobbing Adam’s apple be your guide.

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10 Things Pregnant Women Do Not Want To Hear Come Out of Your Mouth

10 Ways Infertility Prepares You for Parenthood

Infertility sucks.  But, while it depresses you, drains your bank account and almost kills you in the short-term, in the long run it can be good preparation for parenthood.  Some might say it even makes you a better parent than you would have become otherwise, if you let it. Here’s how getting the short straw before becoming a parent can be a benefit, once you finally are one:

Infertility prepares you for:

1.  All of the doctors appointments you’ll have once you’re pregnant, and for your new baby.  In fact, while other women are complaining about how many appointments they have, you’ll be rejoicing at the reduction of the number of times you have to go, and at the pleasure of going for such an awesome reason.

2.  The discomforts of pregnancy.   You’re guaranteed to not complain about the fact that you can’t ride rollercoasters or jump on trampolines and you’re less likely to dwell on the aches and pains you will experience as you morph into a whaleish host.  You may already have experienced nausea, vomiting, bloating, surgeries, and/or severe pain from all of the medications, self-injections, ovarian cysts and medical procedures you’ve went through.  Infertility removes any feelings of entitlement and you will be less likely to take things for granted. Even things like peeing through your pants when you sneeze.

3.  Unsolicited questions and advice.  You’re used to dealing with questions about when you’re planning to have children, comments about how you better not wait too long, and advice about how “just relaxing” will cause you to conceive within the month, so you’ll be well prepared for strangers asking you when you’ll “pop” (looks like any day now!), and telling you that formula feeding is basically the equivalent to poisoning your child.  Idiocy abounds.

4. Random stranger’s hands on your belly.  Just remember:  SO much better than the dildo camera.

5.  Dealing with any doubts or qualms about  becoming “tied down” with a child. Infertility gives you time to realize how badly you want to become a parent, so you don’t waste any precious time with your baby wishing you were still childless and “free”.

6.  How difficult parenthood is.  Infertility is hard.  Parenting is even harder.  The struggles you experience beforehand will help ease you into the time-consumption, expenses and exhaustion you’ll be graced with later.

7.  Working through with challenges and hard times with your spouse. Think of this as a litmus test for your relationship.

8.  The unknown.  Infertility reminds you that nothing is a guaranteed and any luck or happiness that happens to fall into your lap is a gift.

9.  All of the worrying. When you’re faced with horrible or scary scenario involving your child, instead of thinking that this is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, you know that the most horrific thing would really be not being in this situation in the first place. You’ll still panic (EVERY DAY), but at least there’s some sort of cosmic retribution for all of the anxiety you experienced before you had kids.

10.  Being a more empathetic person. People who have been through battles of their own tend to be kinder, more compassionate, more helpful to others. All traits any good parent wants to possess and model for their child.  Of course, this is only true if you don’t remain so bitter that you’re unable to see that others with different problems have had different battles to fight.

Infertility prepares you for parenthood in countless ways.

Infertility prepares you for parenthood in countless ways.

If you liked this post, you may also like my other infertility and pregnancy posts.

Emotional Stages: Discovering You Will Become The Parent of Multiples (And Then Not)

We struggled to become pregnant with baby number 1.  We tried on our own for two years before seeking help from a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), who informed us that I very likely was not ovulating on my own at all (makes it a little harder to conceive) due to my PCOS.   After a year of ingestible, injectable, and suppository meds, a combination worked and after a relatively delightful pregnancy and birth, Baby Grouch was born.  Huzzah! The whole process made me naively believe that, for me, conception was close to impossible, but pregnancy would be relatively easy.  Pregnancy Viking!

We knew we wanted another child, so started trying on our own very soon after her birth. Naturally, the whole no ovulation thing meant nothing actually resulted from those attempts.  Who did we think we were?  Normal people?  Hah.  So, we went back to the RE, who put us on the same combination of meds that resulted in the first pregnancy.  And WHAMMO.  Pregnant the first medicated cycle! Crazytown.  Unfortunately, that ended in an early miscarriage.  A few months later we started our next medicated cycle. And can you believe it?  WHAMMO AGAIN!  The power of (correctly balanced) hormones is astounding.

In infertility terms, three pregnancies in a row (okay, in a medicated row, over a course of 21 months) is almost unheard of.  It’s like winning the lottery.  No.  That’s not quite right. It’s more like winning The Conception Toilet Bowl, since you’re comparing yourself only to the group of people who really suck at baby-making.  Whatever, you still get a prize in the end.

Immediately I could tell that this pregnancy was different.  It was so much MORE than the last one(s).   First, there was the uterus.  The uterus that I swear felt – POOF, and expand exponentially, instantaneously.  I seriously felt poochy 3 days after conception.  A week later I KNEW I was pregnant.   My body was heavy with the pregnancy already.   I alternated between feeling nauseous and ravenously hungry. I only wanted to eat Crunchwrap Supremes from Taco Bell, a food item I had previously disliked. But, what did I know?  I had only experienced the glimmer of a second pregnancy before, so maybe this is what it always felt like when you already had one child.

Then the data started rolling in.  My beta numbers were through the roof.  Whereas my beta over the summer was 70 (very much in the average range), my beta in the fall was 1270.  Honestly, still in the realm of possibility of a singleton, since HCG levels can vary widely, but the number was noticeably high.

I was sure there were TWO. I sent my  husband texts that said things like, “The babieS are hungry today!”.  I had a dream that we had twin boys.

Working with the RE, we got to have our first ultrasound at 7 weeks (how on Earth do you normal people wait so freaking long to see your baby?!).

The following stages are what we went through from the day of that first appointment, until now.

1. Fear – What if there isn’t a heartbeat?  What if I am just feeling so pregnant because I WANT to be so pregnant?  Water poured out of my eyes, as we waited for the ultrasound tech to get ready to give us a peek at my insides.  I was just hoping I could blame the tears on surging hormone levels.

2.  Elation –  There’s a baby!  With a heartbeat!  OMG there are two babies!!!!  Whumpa. Whumpa. Whumpa. Whumpa. Whumpa.  I turned to Mr. Grouch and said, “I told you!because no wife misses an opportunity to tell their husband they told them so.  Um. Three heartbeats!?!  Yes.  Three.  Holy Eff.  But, no matter how freaking crazy it might seem, once you hear your baby’s Whumpa Whumpa, you’re elated.  In this case, triple time.

3  Shock – The car ride home was mostly filled with silence.  Mr. Grouch broke it at one point to say, “We have to buy two new cars.  We won’t be able to fit our entire family in either of our cars“.  This was followed up with more silence.

4.  Denial/Disbelief – It’s so early in the pregnancy.  Anything could happen. There might not even BE three heartbeats anymore by the time we go back.  There was one little runt that was much smaller than the other two.

5.  Guilt – OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD please don’t let anything happen to my babies.  Please let them be alright!  Whumpa whumpa whumpa echoed in our heads.  A primitive, instinctual beat.

6.  Trepidation – How will all three babies get enough touch?  We can’t hold them all at once.  What will the psychological damage from this be?  How will Baby Grouch handle suddenly being the sister of The Triplets?  Will she feel left out? Holy hell, we can’t afford daycare for four children under the age of 2.  At least not without giving up groceries, heat, water and garbage removal.  We will never, ever retire.  How are we going to do this?  Oh, yea, don’t forget we need new cars.

7. Acceptance – We’ll figure it out.  We have a good support system.  We’ll beg and borrow for baby things.  We’ll be alright.

8.  Elation – We’re going to have a loud, obnoxious, messy house, plastered with Cheerios and dirty handprints and SO. MUCH. LOVE.  And drama. There will be a lot of drama.  Still cool.

At around 10 weeks we went in for our last appointment with the RE.  We stared at the screen as the ultrasound tech adjusted the wand until all three of our babies were visible on the screen. There they were!  Except they weren’t really all there anymore.  Not all of them. We immediately noticed that Baby A was still little.  Too little.

9.  Relief – So there are only two.

10.  Grief – So there are only two.

11.  Shock – When the ultrasound says, matter-of-factly, “I see one heartbeat“.  I inhaled sharply, and Mr. Grouch instinctively reached out to touch the only part of me he could reach – my foot. Since the very beginning there had always been more than one.  We had never imagined one.  And now she said “one“.  It was incomprehensible.  It was shockingly sad.

12.  Anguish – After losing three of our babies in a matter of months, it was hard to concentrate on the fact that there was still one beautifully healthy looking 10-week-old fetus intact. We both left the office in tears, trying to stay positive and appreciate the good news we had been given.  But, we could hardly look at on another other because our own grief was reflected on each other’s faces.

13.  Guilt – How dare I be upset about not getting THREE when so many do not even have ONE?  I should not feel sad, I should not be so greedy.  We’re getting one, which was what we set out for in the first place.  But, no matter how many times I reprimanded myself, I was still heartbroken.

13.  Anxiety – We graduated from the RE to the regular OB.  The wait between appointments was brutal.  We had lost Baby A and Baby B, without warning.  What made us think that Baby C would be okay?  The thought of losing yet another was too hard to imagine, yet impossible to push from my mind.

At our OB appointment, we explained our first trimester history to the nurse.  She saw the anxiety on my face, and she measured it with the blood pressure cuff. She told me she’d try to find the heartbeat as soon as she could.  She moved the doppler around, “That’s your intestines.  That’s your heartbeat“.  She kept moving the instrument around my abdomen.  Tears started to leak out.  Where was the heartbeat, where was it?

14.  Gratitude –  “There’s the heartbeat!  There it is!” Her relief was almost as obvious as mine.  Except my elation was exposed in the form of uncontrollable sobbing, right there in the office, in front of the nurse.  After our appointment, I played with Baby Grouch, and when she was in bed, I snuck into her room and just watched her sleep.  Mr. Grouch and I turned in, and Mr. Grouch wrapped his arm around me, caressing my belly, simultaneously saying goodbye to A and B, while sending love to C.  Gratitude wrapped in a thin veil of grief is still gratitude.

15. Elation. We’re having a baby! The happiest words ever uttered.

So, that’s the news.  We’ll be keeping the cars we have, and Baby Grouch will be a Big Sister in June.

Badges of Honor

I have been practicing yoga for almost 5 years now – I began on the recommendation of my family doctor, when I was struggling with anxiety.   From the moment I started, I was surrounded by teachers I connected with and have missed very few weeks without attending a session ever since.  It has changed my life; it has made a tremendous difference in improving my anxiety and mental health.  It has also tightened and toned me up a bit, which is not my purpose for practicing but is a nice added bonus.

I practiced yoga throughout our struggle to conceive, and was lucky enough to be able to continue throughout the entire duration of my pregnancy with Baby Grouch. For as much as I practice, I oddly only have one yoga shirt, which I love.  It is long and fits perfectly, so I never have to think about it, adjust it or mess with it.  Or rather, it used to be that way.  I stretched out the belly from practicing while carrying the baby, but haven’t yet found a suitable replacement so I’m still wearing the same coral shirt I’ve had for years.

The only problem with this, is that now, when I’m in shoulder stand, my shirt, that used to stay snugly on my hips, now slides up to my boobs and exposes my belly. And there’s not much I can do about it, once I’m in shoulder stand, other than stare right up at my stomach, since my hands are pinned to the floor and turning your head in this posture can damage your neck.  So, at least once a week for the past year, I’ve had a few minutes to stare at my post-baby saggy pooch.  The fat underneath my belly button has been stretched out, so when I’m upside down, the skin sort of crookedly hangs a bit over my belly button.  It’s not very pretty.

I think everyone’s heard the cliché about mothers who are “proud” of their stretch marks, their flabby underbellies.  They’ve “earned their stripes” yada yada yada. It used to annoy me, and still does, a little.  I can understand being proud of your children, or proud of who you are as a mother, or the choices you have made.  But, what’s the deal about being proud of your inability to get back into pre-baby shape?  I didn’t get it.

And now I sort of do.  Except, I still don’t think PRIDE is the correct term.  You can’t really be proud of something you have so little control over.  The timing of your conception, how easy or hard your pregnancy was, and how long you were in labor are not anything to be proud of, in my opinion, since our bodies, for the most part, are going to just do what they do.  For the most part we did not earn anything, other than being able to truly appreciate a cold salami sandwich and a stiff drink after 9 months of abstaining.

Pride isn’t the right term, at all.  But, honor is.  What an honor it is, to have the privilege of becoming pregnant, to carry around your baby as he or she grows inside you.  What an honor to feel every kick, every hiccup, every movement.  What an honor it is to give birth to a child, no matter how laborious or exhausting the process.  And a stretched out pooch is my mark that resulted from me being able to experience all of those positive things.

It’s an honor to have a child, to be exposed to her freedom, to experience her joy and to witness her little personality emerging before me.  To be humbled and honored by the process and the person does not mean that conception, pregnancy, or labor are not difficult.  And we all know that parenting is hard…..really hard.  So, it’s okay as a mother to take a moment to honor myself, and my mental sanity, even if that means exacerbating the paunch by indulging in Doritos and wine on a semi-regular basis.  There’s something to be said about making sure to honor the part of you that demands to be happy and satisfied.

So today at yoga, I was reminded not to dwell on the pooch or be disgusted by the saggy skin.  But, to embrace it and remember that I am honored and lucky to have stretched out my favorite shirt, as well as my abdomen.

What’s your badge of honor?

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Secondary Infertility: What I’ve Been Telling Myself

It’s no secret that Mr. Grouch and I have been trying for Baby Grouch #2.  We’ve been “not not trying” since she was only a few months old, and we started seeing our reproductive endocrinologist again back in May.  As we embarked on this journey for a second time, I told myself I’d maintain a positive attitude.  That I wouldn’t get sucked back into a self-pitying hole.

I’ve been telling myself  that I should be grateful for my family of three, when so many others are struggling to become parents for the first time.  I am grateful our process wasn’t as long, expensive, or invasive as what many others have endured. I am so very, very, lucky and I tell myself not to be greedy.

I’ve been telling myself that no matter what, I’ll be happy with the family that I end up with, whether we can ride as a group in a small sedan or if we require a van to haul us around.  I have a smart, interesting, silly, happy, curious and delightful one year old who amuses, thrills and amazes me each and every day.   She defines beauty, inside and out. And, if she’s the only child I am able to have, I couldn’t have been blessed with a better little human being.

Yet, a nagging whisper coming from inside me keeps saying But I want one more….If one is this good, two can only be better.

So, as we’ve begun the second round of fertility treatments, I’ve been telling myself that we got pregnant using this combination of meds the last time around, so it should work again this time, and that I just need to be patient.

I’ve been telling myself that I should relax, and if the upcoming blood draw turns out to be a big fat negative, that it will be okay, and we can always try again.

But, apparently it doesn’t matter how much I tell myself those things, however true they may be.

As the two week wait comes to a close and the blood draw date looms ahead, I can’t help but feel incredibly anxious.  I can hear my heartbeat and feel it in my throat.  My face is shiny, sticky, slick with sweat.  My hands are shaky, my knee won’t stop bobbing when I sit. My breath is labored, shallow, my lungs are tight.  My high pitched voice barks at those around me and while I try to rein it in, my responses are often short, brash, sharper sounding than I want them to be.  At first I couldn’t pinpoint my anxieties, but now I know why.

I don’t want the test to be negative.

And even though I have no control over the outcome, and my rational self knows “if not this month, maybe next month” the horrible dark little corner of my heart whispersmaybe never...  And it chews little holes inside me with those words, turning my insides to mush, and squeezes my juices out of the corners of my eyes.

I guess it isn’t just this test that I’m anxious about.  My overreactions, which at first glance appear to be over a relatively trivial event, are really projecting my true fear. Going through this process again (for how long?) with maybe nothing to show for it in the end, other than mountains of bills and valleys of disappointment.

But, just continuing to go through the treatments in an indication of hope, isn’t it? That I must think it’ll work out in the end, and that, in the not-to-far future, my heart will be doubly full and this will all be behind us.  So louder than the dark voice, I keep telling myself.Don’t give up

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secondary-infertility – what i’ve been telling myself-300×300 (Photo credit: Argyropoulos)

If you liked this post you may also like: The New NormalTop 10 Things Infertiles Want You To Shut The Fuck Up About, and the other pieces in my Infertility/Pregnancy page.

Parenting: Reasons To Panic #1 – Jogging With Baby

So, I’m trying to get back into shape.  Pre-baby shape.  Which I’m quite sure is a fairy tale notion.  My core is a disaster.  My pelvis is broken.  (Full disclosure: It’s really NOT.  It’s just offset enough to FEEL like it’s broken and there’s nothing that can be done except steroid injections, which I haven’t yet tried, but am quite sure I will have to if the pain gets any worse.  Inhale. Exhale.  Complaining completed.

Bah.

But, I figure I should do what I can before Baby Number 2 starts cooking, if we are to be so lucky, because if things are this bad NOW, I can only imagine how I might feel after 9 additional months of swelling and enlarging and hormoning.

So, I decided to get off my ass and go jogging.  In the heat of May.  Something I don’t typically do because I overheat in anything above 55 degrees.  My running season is October to April.  My aerobic activity of choice is running outside, whilst catching snowflakes in my eyelashes.  Once it hits 50 degrees, I’m stripped down to a t-shirt by mile 4.  But, I figured I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, I should be able to go for a short, 6 mile trot.

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...

Of course, I had the baby with me.  “No problem, I have a stroller/jogger!  I’ll just bring her!” I thought this was a grand idea until I started to panic about the following:

The baby is going to overheat!  I was ROASTING.  Granted, I always overheat when I run, but mid-way through I started to panic that Baby Grouch would combust.  How much do babies sweat?  How much of a breeze was she getting?  How hot IS IT out here?  How long does baby sunscreen last?  When you run you usually feel about 20 degrees hotter, right?!  It’s not really as hot as I FEEL, right?!!!  I started sprinkling her with ice water out of her sippy cup.

The baby is going to get Malaria!  There were approximately 83 billion mosquitos out.  I don’t want my child to get infected with Malaria or West Nile or Yellow Fever.   I had to walk a few times and dump water on my head and gasp for breath, and each time I panicked because the mosquitoes were swarming my child.  I flailed my arms and batted away.  An ungraceful, maternal, totemic dance.

The baby is going to get fussy!   I started to panic about mile 2.5.  How on Earth did I think a LOOP made sense?  There was no shortcut home.  I’m dying of heat exhaustion and this run is going to take me for-ev-er!  Of course at this point, Baby Grouch was sleeping.  But, still.  What is she woke up screaming?  Around mile 4.5 she DID start throwing her hat/toy/burp cloth out the edge of the stroller.  I ran over her doll once.  At one point I was jogging while holding all three items in my hands.  NO TIME TO STOP.

The baby is going to get sunburned!  Her arms are showing! She keeps pulling off her hat – her head is showing!  The canopy isn’t QUITE long enough – her face might get burnt!  The canopy is too long – I can’t see the baby!  The baby needs to be covered with a blanket to protect her from the Sun! The baby is overheating, I need to take the blanket off! I figure all the bending over and rearranging, though panic-driven, was probably good core work.

The Baby Is Going to Get Hungry/Thirsty!  I was worried about overheating so I offered Baby Grouch the sippy cup with water once every mile or so.  This may or may not have been a good idea, seeing as she puked up water and strained squash out her nose about 14 minutes after we got home.  My eyes burned as sweat poured into them while giving her a bath, and were still doing so while I cleaned the carpet.

OMG, Running is SO HARD.  I hadn’t ran in 3 weeks, and I could feel it.  My legs felt great, but my head felt fuzzy and lightheaded and horrible.  My face was abraisive to the touch, gritty with salt.  I tried to just focus on my legs. I had thoughts like, “Once you stop running, you have to start completely over again” and, “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I’m so not cut out for running”. And, “You can’t stop running because you have the BABY”.  Also, I got a blister on my hand, which was a first for me, as far as running injuries go.

I hope I don’t see anyone I know! The temperature outside was ovenlike.  I had to take off my shirt, despite the jiggly pouch.  And the early 90’s tribal tattoos on my back.  I had to roll my capris into bootie shorts, despite the expansive thighs.  You know how you look at someone and McJudgingly think, “Why are they wearing THAT?” This was exactly what people were thinking of ME as I was undulating down the sidewalk, pushing the stroller.  I crossed my fingers and hoped I didn’t see any students or parents I knew, but I took the risk because if I didn’t cool my chubby body off enough to keep moving, my child my overheat and get Dangue Fever and starve to death.  

Whew.

Ever had a jaunt with baby that scared you to pieces?

A Comprehensive Pre-Pregnancy To-Do List

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy preparedness: Things you’ll want to do before you get knocked up – in no particular order.

1.  Start telling strangers in line at the grocery store and strangers you’re connected with on social media that you are pregnant and that you are  planning to formula feed.  Take notes when they give you loads of valuable advice about infant feeding.

2.  Stare at your naked self in the mirror and pinch the flabbiest part of your belly.  Sneer at it in disgust. Then, try to imagine that your flabby belly will never again be this toned.  Pat your (soon to be thought of as toned) flab and tell it you’ll miss it.

3.  Google childbirth worst-case scenarios.  Develop extreme anxiety.  PANIC.

4.  Stock up on your favorite seasonal treats, since you don’t know what will be available when you crave it most.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat your Thin Mints.  You will need them later.  TRUST ME. Scavange boxes from your friends and family if you can.

5.  Drink copious amounts of vino.  You’re really gonna miss this stuff.

6.  Attend a natural childbirthing class and ask questions like, “What is the herbal equivalent to an epidural?” and, “How many six packs do I need to drink to help my milk come in?”

7.  Keep a box of tissues in your purse at all times.  When you want to be pregnant, everyone else around you will become pregnant. Teenagers, nuns, your eccentric uncle.  EVERYONE.

8.  Go to yoga.  You’ll need the core strength to sustain a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.  You’ll need the breathing exercises to offset the breast-feeding advice, childbirth horror stories and immaculate conceptions going on all around you.

9.  Kegels.  Yes, you need to do them.  Start ’em now.  Do them in the car, do them at work, do them when you empty the dishwasher. You’d better get used to multi-tasking.

10.  Drink more wine.  Relish it.

11.  Research baby products and read each and every review.  Buy fifteen books reviewing the products and then buy three more books reviewing the reviews. Create an elaborate wish list.  Go register for products and get so annoyed with the process that you just scan the first two items on each shelf. (*Note – those choices will work out just fine).  Pass along books along to the nearest pregnant sap.

12.  Sex it up.  If you’re struggling with conception, sex will quickly turn into a chore you have to complete in between laundry and online banking.  Once you get pregnant, your husband will worry about poking the baby.  Right after having the baby, you’ll worry about breaking your pelvis.  When the baby is older, you’ll both choose sleep over sex.  It’ll be a couple years before you’re both in the mood (and that’s when you’ll start trying for your next baby).

13.  Read up on the importance of infant schedules and sleep training.  Try to do 100 pull ups, walk across hot coals, and hold your breath for 4 minutes under water.  These three tasks will better prepare you for the inevitable realization that carefully planned schedules and techniques won’t work out for you in any way, shape or form.

14.  Start slathering on the cocoa butter.  If it doesn’t prevent stretch marks, it’ll at least smell like coconuts and make you think of the beach.  Once you’re pregnant, keep using it but know that you’ll feel less like a Hawaiian Tropics girl and more like a beached whale.

15.  Start spending time with other people’s kids.  Their whining, incessant chatter, tantrum throwing and disgusting drooling will prepare you for what is to come.  Let me remind you that evolution has programmed us to love our own so much more than our neighbor’s.  Don’t be afraid, your own will be amazing.  A science refresher is always valuable.

16.  Relax.  Because we all know that unlike ovulation, balanced hormones or healthy uterine linings, this is the true key to conceiving.

Any other advice for those who want to be parents?

Dream #14 : To Burn Or Not To Burn

DREAM:

My parents, sisters and husband are running through the city.  There are “bad guys” dressed in military style garb scattered all about – on street corners, in buildings, driving tanks.  It is noisy and chaotic, people are yelling and screaming.  We get captured and are taken to sit around an outdoor fire pit.  There is an enclosure around the benches we are sitting on and the fire keeps swelling, getting larger and larger.  We have been instructed to sit there and not move, but if we don’t move, we will all burn.  (Apparently this is what the bad guys want – for us to burn).  My gut instinct tells me to RUN! ESCAPE!

Somehow I know that if we stay put, we will not all burn at the same time, one of us would go first, then the next, etc… and the idea of being the only one burning while the rest watched or being the last one to burn and watching the rest burn before me are equally revolting.  If I went first, would I try to suppress a scream, to make it less torturous to the rest of my family?  Would that even be possible?  How could one just sit there, watching your own skin bubble up and blacken?  I think we should run.  My mom thinks we need to just stay and burn, because what awaits us if we escape, and are caught, is much worse than being scorched alive.

ANALYSIS:

FIRE:  Dream Forth tells me that to dream of being burned by fire suggests that I need to reign in my emotions. They tell me, and I quote, “Your temper is volatile”.  HA!  This is the most dead-on dream interpretation I’ve found yet.  Um, hello?  I’m Irish AND Italian.  Which basically means my innards are comprised primarily of volatile emotions. Volatile emotions sprinkled with a boatload of garlic and a healthy dollop of whiskey, and that’s about it.

Dream Moods counters with the argument that dreaming that I, or someone else, is being burned alive suggests that I am being consumed by my own ambition. I’m not even sure if being consumed by one’s own ambitions is a good or a bad thing.  On one hand, I have days where I am ambitiously (and sometimes manically) working on one of my several projects that I have going on, while at other times my greatest ambition is sitting my ass on the couch with my feet up,  consuming entire half-gallons of Chocolate Moose Tracks entirely independently.  Per usual, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal.  No real gray area with me.

ALTERNATIVE ANALYSIS:  Preggo me has turned into a raging inferno that is emitting absurd amounts of body heat – so much, in fact, that my own body-generated temperature may cause me to have a dream about being burnt to death.

FUN FACTS:

1)  My husband is a human furnace.  I occasionally call him “Furnaki” an English-Greek hybrid of a word that I made up in college, which means “cute little furnace”.   Since his internal thermostat is so high, and  his manly-Greek-pelt is so thick, he cranks up the air conditioning to blast-o-matic levels in order to cool himself down to a temperature that will not allow his brain to cook.

2)  The old me used to sleep in long pants, tank top and hooded sweatshirt, snuggled underneath two blankets or comforters.  Yes, even in the summer (see air-conditioning above).  I’ve always been a “cold hands, warm heart” kind of person.  But now?  Now, I sleep with my shirt pulled up to my boobs, a cold-pack resting on my side, with no blankets touching me whatsoever.  Since I am usually awake between the hours of 2.30a.m. – 4.30a.m. anyway, I swap out the warmed cold pack with a fresh one.  The cold hands are a thing of the past, and some would say maybe I didn’t really have a warm heart to begin with…so there probably hasn’t been much of a shift there.

3)  I guess we can add this to the ever-growing list of how pregnancy is turning me into my husband.  But no, in case you are wondering, he does NOT sleep with his shirt pushed up to his boobs.

My friend Rob tells me my blog is really “girly”. I imagine this post is no different.  Sorry, Rob!  Maybe there will be more bloodshed and porn in the next one.

How Pregnancy Is Turning Me Into My Husband

Here is a list of my pregnancy transformations so far:

1.  I’M A SASQUATCH:  Okay, disclaimer:  I have always been a hairy girl – with hairy arms and hairy eyebrows.  Have you seen my 7th grade picture yet?  HAIRrendous.  So, naturally I married a beautiful Greek man, who has big brown eyes, a strong jaw, and very healthy hair follicles.  In other words, a true man.  Hair growth occurs in cycles, and falls out in cycles.  This balance of growing in and falling out results in you ending up with a relatively constant amount of hair.  BUT.  Fun pregnancy fact:  Hormone changes result in less of the falling out phase.  Which means….SASQUATCH hairiness ensues.  All I can say is I am glad I had a tad bit of laser hair removal in the past – and I can totally see mommy-daughter hair removal sessions in my future.

2.  I’M SLEEPING WELL:  Ok, that’s sort of a lie.  BUT,  I’m sleeping better. Even though I’m still waking up constantly throughout the night, to pee, to guzzle my liter of water I keep on my night stand, to move my restless legs, or just …. because….I still have felt more rested, and I have noticed a significant reduction in the number of dreams I’ve had.  My husband has zero issues sleeping or feeling rested (even though I am quite sure he has sleep apnea – he has broken his nose several times and not corrected the break, so he cannot breathe through his nose – and I can hear him snoring, and his breathing stop and then re-start all night long).

3.  MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS WHERE IT SHOULD BE:  Even though I work out regularly, maintain a relatively healthy diet and am within the normal range for body weight, my blood pressure has been pretty damn high for about 5 years.  So, I’ve been on blood pressure meds for that time (which, I will point out, coincidentally matches up with about the same length of time I’ve been married.  Coincidence?  Hah).  Even with the meds, my blood pressure has still been a little higher than the standard metric of 120/80 – more along the lines of 135/85.  My husband, however, who works out some, who eats healthy sometimes, has always had incredibly good numbers in the diastolic and systolic department – usually around 117/70.  Now that I’m pregnant, my blood pressure has been matching his.  Maybe it’s the new pregnancy-friendly meds, maybe it’s lowered stress, or maybe it’s the 2nd trimester honeymoon period, where blood pressure tends to drop a bit anyway.  Since I’m considered high risk due to the blood pressure history, let’s hope that keeps up!

4.  I’M A COUCH POTATO:  During my first trimester I was instructed by my doctor to not work out and to sit on the couch.  At first this was due to several large ovarian cysts on my left ovary, a side-effect of the fertility drugs.  The cysts were so big that when the doctor first saw them in the ultrasound, he thought they were on my right ovary – but in reality the weight of the cysts had dragged my left ovary to that side.  Later in the trimester I had some significant bleeding (scary!) and was put on “couch rest”.  Which my husband LOVED since his favorite hobby is watching t.v. and movies.  Now I am working out, but not nearly as much as before, and am resting more than ever.

5.  I GAG WHEN I BRUSH MY TEETH:  My husband can only use one type of toothpaste.  Most toothpastes make him gag, which I always thought was really odd.  Even the one that he can tolerate will occasionally make him gag; I have heard him at the sink and it kind of creeps me out.  We have our own separate toothpastes in our own drawers.  But now, I can only use HIS toothpaste – all of the other toothpastes make ME gag.  Even his does, sometimes.  I really can’t complain though, as this is the closest I have gotten to morning sickness throughout my pregnancy.

6.  I HAVE A BELLY:  It’s not a huge round basketball belly yet, but my goodness is it bigger than before.  MUCH BIGGER.  Crap, it might be as big as his….

7.  HOSTESS DONETTES:  What?!  Who eats those things?  I mean, besides my husband?  Fake, processed, bite-sized packaged donuts with a hard, waxy chocolate coating, that could probably last for decades without molding.  Typically if I am going to go for a processed goody, I’ll choose something like Cool Ranch Doritos, or Pretzel and Cheddar Combos or cheddar popcorn.  Something salty.  Apparently this baby has my husband’s taste buds.

8.  I’M GASSY:  I’m pretty sure all husbands are gassy.  But I never understood how guys could just fart.  All. Day. Long.  And special ones in the morning.  Until now.  Now, I get it.  It just can’t be stopped.