Announcement

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I was two days late and figured Father’s Day was as good of a day as any to take a pregnancy test. If negative, it would be no harm no foul, since we weren’t going to start until July. If positive, it’d be an excuse for why I didn’t get Boof a gift.

I quelled the urge to take the test in the Target bathroom, but instead I recruited my best friend to take me to the store to buy a test.

Positive.

I’m having another baby.

If all goes well, this is my last pregnancy.

So I’m resurrecting the mommy blog to chronicle this journey the second time round. Already I’ll say my experience is vastly different. Symptom free the first time, I’m experiencing 3pm nausea, mood swings that could land me on a Real Housewives drama, and sensitivity to smell, among the most heightened. Seriously, don’t sweat near me. Or fart. Or eat anything with onions. Or pump gas. Or throw away garbage. I will hurl.

I’m off for summer break, which means the first trimester will be spent hanging with Potamus. I’m so early, but have announced it like the giant blabbermouth that I am.

Fun things: my SIL is due 4 months before me, so there’s gonna be cousins close in age. My due date will allow me to take Spring Quarter off (I already have summer off) and that puts me at about 6 months of ‘maternity’ leave!

And isn’t Potamus such a ham? Look at him getting all excited about his new baby sister*

*sex won’t be confirmed until October. BUT I’m hoping for a sister. So I’m putting sister vibes into the Universe. Will you join me?

Let’s talk birth stories…

I love reading about birthing stories. Probably because the whole birth story thing didn’t really come into my consciousness until I was out of college. So when I got pregnant, I read A LOT. I love reading the Getting it Out Birth Stories over on Offbeat Families, and read many birthing technique books while pregnant. And I’ve read a lot of good stuff, but there was something so strikingly raw and real about this article S. Lynn Alderman’s Ugliest, Beautiful Moment (Or, Fuck Ina May) over on Mutha Magazine. I’ll be putting some excerpts here, but you really should jump on over and read the full article, it’s hilarious…

Six years ago, I set a goal for myself. And, technically, I achieved it. I had a baby and didn’t use any medicinal pain relief while she was born. And you know what I have to say about it? Fuck Ina May, that’s what.

I learned of Ina May Gaskin’s famous guide to natural childbirth while sharing homemade kale chips with a friend during a ConsciousMama moon retreat. Just kidding, that is completely untrue. I don’t know how I heard of it, but I bought a faded copy with dog-eared pages and told myself that lots of women had read it and had wonderful, peaceful birth experiences. I told myself that their good juju would magically pass to me as I gazed at the photos that they had also seen, of beautiful hairy women blissfully pushing out their babies, surrounded by other beautiful hairy women with half-smiles on their beatific faces.

I wanted my labor to be like this. The first pregnant women I ever knew was in my office post-college. She already had one child, and was pregnant with her second. She passed out candles to all her lady friends to light when they’d heard the news she was in labor. She said it would help her channel her inner light and focus during labor. She was a yoga instructor and so calm and I thought that image was beautiful. But my labor was so fast that there’s no way anybody would have had time to light a candle.  Having had zero experience with pregnancy or laboring, I tried to imagine myself like my former co-worker, blissful, meditating on light, calling up the mothers before me.

Except, that didn’t work.

But inside my head, I could not believe what was happening. How painful it was. How terrifying. I felt helpless. And degraded and humiliated by there being witnesses. And at the same time, I felt so, so alone.  I remember at one point saying, completely out of my mind, “I don’t understand why no one is doing anything to help me! Please help me!” Della reminded me that what I was feeling was the baby coming. That I was doing just what I was supposed to, having the baby, right then.

My labor was 4 hours long. 6 if you count the time we thought it started, and called the midwife to let them know we were on the way to the hospital.  My thoughts were racing by the time I was in the triage, and because I assumed that my labor would be twelve plus hours, when we were a few in  I thought that I would never get through it. I should have known that with a history of anxiety that when the labor intensified I would PANIC inside myself. I wasn’t prepared for the panic.

In not too many pushes, really, I finally got that baby out. And let me tell you what. I didn’t care if it was a human baby, a gorilla or a Cracker Jack prize. I just wanted that thing OUT of me. There was a hush. “Sunnyside up!” the doctor said. Instead of face down, like in 90-something percent of births, the baby was face up, with a bruised eye and forehead from pressing through my pelvis the wrong way. And then Luke said, “It’s a…girl!”

Was I flooded with love and amazement and whatever, cue swell of music? Yes! Did I gaze at that darling girl’s face for the next 12 hours, unable to sleep? Yes. Is she still, joy of joys, my precious, funny, hilarious Phee? Yes, she is. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sunnyside up was a telling beginning for her.

I am grateful that she and I were well and healthy. It is no small thing to have a baby, however routine it seems, since some woman somewhere does it every five seconds. It is an amazing thing, truly.

But here is why I am mad. I also felt completely flimflammed. For all my preparing, I wasn’t prepared at all. And I felt ashamed about it. I felt that I let my daughter down by being scared.

I laughed when I read that she didn’t care if it was a gorilla or a cracker jack prize. Because that feels so true, but also I know I would have been sad if it had been a Cracker Jack prize. Because the crazy experience of love flooding through me as we put Potamus on my chest is unreal and totally worth the pain and panic and fentanyl induced dreaminess. As far as achieving my set out “goal” of unmedicated, I did not succeed, but it was a small blip on the radar. Not so, for many of my friends, who experienced emergency c-sections because of complications in their labor. To them I had achieved what they could not…a vaginal/natural birth. And for them, I wish I could say:

So I’d like to offer an invitation to any woman who wants to join a new team to take into birthing rooms or forest glens or wherever. A team called “That shit is totally crazy and you don’t have to ‘handle it’ because the baby is coming no matter what and I’ll be there to hold your hand quietly or to let you scream and that’s okay. However you get through it is a victory and I am so proud of you, sister.” Maybe something shorter.

So tell me, what was your birth experience like? Did you resonate with what this article was saying?

When You Were Inside Mommy

I bought this book awhile ago, in hopes to start the readings early with Potamus. I also bought a book about having another baby, but loaned that to a friend, since there’s no need for me to read a story about something that’s not happening lately. And it’s a book that Potamus has asked me to read a few times, sitting through the whole story, and patting my belly when I talk about how he used to live inside me. This is a very easy and sweet book for little ones to understand, but I have noticed so many feelings as I read it.

Because I never had books read to me like this. In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult, and working with a gal who was pregnant, did I really come into close contact with pregnancy. Nobody I knew was pregnant, nobody talked about pregnancy other than “don’t get pregnant before you’re married.” So reading this story, and seeing how connected Potamus is to it, it made me think about my childhood. How I was the kid who answered “offices” when asked “where do babies come from?” How I felt growing up that I had just sorta ‘dropped from the sky’ and had no physical connection to my mom. It feels so different with Potamus. I am sitting there, reading a generic story about pregnancy, and I’m nodding along like “yes, you were as small as a dot. yes, you were inside mommy’s womb, right there,” as I point where my belly button is. I just wonder if I had been read stories like this as a child if I would have felt less…hatched. And then I wonder if I would have just been even more confused, as to why I grew in someone else’s belly.

I know, now, that there are more books for young adoptees, though I’m often put off by the ‘special chosen child that God put in someone else’s belly for us’ storyline that they seem to follow. But who’s going to write a children’s book about a teen who gets knocked up and they decide to give the kid to adoption because they don’t want their families fighting over custody? Yeah, that one might be hard to pitch…

I guess I was surpised. I though that since I had been pregnant, and enjoyed it, and am bonded and love having had Potamus naturally, that I would have been peaceful and love reading that story. But it makes me wistfully sad for the connection in stories that I didn’t have growing up.

Any children’s books do you read that make you feel emotions you were unprepared for?

How Fallopian Tubes are like Holocaust Cattle Cars

Trying to conceive is a strange experience. The more I learn about my body, the more I realize that junior high and high school health/biology class are severely lacking in the information department. Or maybe I was too busy doodling the name of my dreamy crush on my pee chee. Or both.

But seriously, it was only this week that I learned how…um…dumb (for lack of a better description) the whole getting pregnant thing really is. I mean, you have unprotected baby making sex, hopefully at the right time for the stars to align, and when you’re finished you go and get a drink of water, or take a shower or eat a sandwich. And meanwhile, if you’re the lady, there are are these microscopic swimming things just…oh you know….hanging out inside you. I mean, that’s like something from a B level Science Fiction movie…from the late 80’s.

So there they are, microscopic swimming things, who we’ve all thought of as swimming as fast as their little metaphorical hearts can go to get to the PRIZE of that glorious golden snitch bursting from the ovary. But in fact, it’s a lot less Olympics or Hunger games, and seems more like a really slow, drunken frat party. Because, according to one website’s description, the sperm (which can hang out for a few days inside, waiting…um…creepy…) just ‘bump into’ the egg and thus fertilize it.

Wait. You mean to tell me that my son was born because some sperm just randomly bumped into the egg? It wasn’t even like “oh hey baby, you’re so fine, come over here and let me fertilize you.” It was more like the egg stumbling on the way to the bathroom and being forced to marry the first dumb jock frat boy who bumps into her. Talk about fate. And kind of a dumb design if you ask me. Couldn’t they (being God, or Supreme Being, or hell, evolution) come up with a better idea than THAT?

Then again, it does seem to be working, as our Earth is teeming with human bodies.

But, all of this enlightenment about how the sperm that actually fertilizes an egg, got me thinking about the rest of the experience. Like, how sucky would it be to be trapped in the fallopian tubes for up to 3 days. It seems dark, and crowded if you ask me. And you’re surrounded by a bunch of millions of other like-minded microbes, who really just want to survive and meet that egg, but are most likely going to end up on the wrong side of Fate’s hand. And I’m not one to throw out Holocaust metaphors, but that dark, cramped fallopian tube, with millions of sperm that will eventually die, seems like those cattle cars the Nazi’s used in WWII. And I wonder, do the sperm know the chances that they will end up alive at the end of the whole ordeal? Are they blindly optimistic to the chance that they will somehow live on? So every time we have sex millions of sperm die…in my body….gross. It’s basically the Nazi regime all up in my lady parts.

Have you ever been surprised to learn something that you were supposed to have been taught in high school?

Enough love to go around? YES. Enough patience? Now that’s the real question…

Google Image Search: expanding a family

We’re thinking of having another baby.

Gulp.

There, I said it, and didn’t put any fluffiness around it like, ‘expanding our family,’ or some such nonesense. No, we’re talking about trying to get knocked up…sometime this summer, hopefully, to coincide with my teaching schedule next year. While best laid plans don’t always go how we want (Potamus was an oopsie 3 months early), we’re going to at least TRY. But the whole ordeal is giving me major anxiety, because I’m struggling in so many ways AS IT IS, that it seems ridiculous to think about bringing another child into my world of wacky.

Now, don’t get me wrong, half of what I write about is my own perspective of the crazy, because Boof looks at me and says, “you’re a good mom,” and from someone who’s stingy with compliments, I know he means it. It means I’m probably a pretty good mom, to one kid, most of the time. But I wonder…how will that look if we add another munchkin into the mix?

So here are a few things that I’ve been mulling over, and talked with Boof about last night:

1. I want a daughter VS I want a sibling for Potamus

I know that most people are all about “oh, I want a happy healthy baby,” but I really would like a daughter. I don’t know why…maybe karmic replay of the relationship of my mom/me or my birthmom/me? Perhaps? Maybe I have fantasies about her being just like me and me getting to see myself growing up before my eyes and can provide a way for her to feel safe and nurtured and not like the epic weirdo. I see the relationships that my MIL has with my SILs and think, “hmm, that could be me someday.” Or maybe I think that pink onesies and Easter outfits and ballet slippers are SO FREAKING ADORABLE that they’re messing with my head. I want to be a mom of a son and a daughter.

Boof wants a sibling for Potamus.

Well, technically he wants a sister for Potamus.

While he admits he wants a girl, a daughter, he’s more selfless in wanting that sibling for our son. I think that having another child will be a potential side-perk for our son, but really, it’s because I want to have a daughter and a son, like I mention above.

Does wanting a daughter, rather than wanting a “healthy baby” make me sound like a horrible person?

2. Fear

I’m afraid of many things. Before we had Potamus I worried about being a mom and having energy, and now I see that I worried almost needlessly. I’m a pretty good mom. And Boof’s a pretty good dad. And we have a pretty good kid. Our life is lovely, right now, and I worry that the fear of adding another is clouding my ability to simply enjoy the moment as a family of 3 + dog. I also worry about #1 and think…if I had a son, I know I’d love him to bits, but I am afraid of being a mom of two sons. Two boys. Two boys + a husband. Two boys + a husband + a male dog. For a woman with a bent toward the masculine, anyway, that image makes me feel both exhilerated at the thought (YAY ROUGH AND TUMBLE, BOY STEREOTYPES!) and also push me into the opposite (there’s a reason I’ve showered and worn mascara every day since Potamus was born…I need to feel other like a mother and that, in my mind, is feminine and homemakery).

3. Love. Patience. & other Parenting things that freak me out…

I know I’m a mom, but the older Potamus gets, the more I feel like myself again…aka that introvert who loves sipping coffee and reading on the couch. I’ve gotten some time in the past week to do that and it feels SO GOOD. I worry that bringing another life into our family will mean holding off on all of those things, AGAIN, and that seems sad. And yet, on the other hand, really? Am I really thinking about not having a kid because I want to read some books? I mean, come on Monk-Monk, that’s just silly.

But there’s something, in my head, about being a mom of one that seems less threatening than being a mom of two. One kid you can reason with. Two means being pulled in two different directions. Twice as much mess and playdates and sporting events. That seems like twice as much work and cutting me in half, leaving how much for…me? Selfish, sure, but a worry I have.

The love, though, is something I’m not worried about (but previously was). We were laying there talking and it blurted out, “I’m not worried about there not being enough love to go around, but enough patience to go around.”

Patience is not really my strong suit. I hate waiting, which is why WAITING to even get pregnant is driving me insanse. I’d rather plunge into the unknown, otherwise I sit in a puddle of anxiety. But seriously, when we say my “patience is wearing thin,” I think of life with two kids. Does patience, like love, expand to fit when more enter the family brood? Is patience a finite resource that I might use up the day before our new potential new baby enters the scene?

I realize that my impatience is the space between what I want to have happen and what is actually happening, so I wonder if I dial back my expectations and give up the idea that sleep is important, that my patience will expand to meet the demand? I don’t know, I worry about that, though.

For all of you two+ families, how did you make the decision to add to your brood? What were your fears? For those of you in a similar place or having decided “one’s enough, thanks”, what prompted you to make that decision?

On Housing a Football Star in My Womb

I’m not really sure what moms-to-be really mean when they say they all felt “flutters” as the first kick, because let me tell you…Baby Boof (now that we have established that it is, indeed, a gentleman baby inside of me) was certainly not dainty like a butterfly. The first kick felt distinctly like a finger-thwack from the inside, as if to say, “hey lady, just wanna let you know I’m in here,” or maybe he loved/hated what I ate for dinner that night and was asking for more of it or to never have it again. It’s hard to tell what a certain alien-like creature inside me is really trying to communicate, since English hasn’t yet begun, and I don’t speak Thwack. Although, perhaps I could teach him the lost art of Morse Code?

Now, at the beginning of 25 weeks the kicks have become more distinct and I am always wondering what the hell is going on inside of me (and why he prefers the right side of my belly to the left) and then I got THIS ultrasound:

Well golly gee, doesn’t that just explain it all? Though help me decide…is my uterus currently a USC football field with Baby Boof as the star quarterback scoring the winning touchdown (notice the Heisman pose he’s got going on there) or am I birthing a 70’s throwback to John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever (referencing a movie I’ve never actually seeen, and am only guessing at the star actor. It could have been Kevin Bacon or Dean Martin for all I really know).

So here I am, trying to live a normal existence as a pregnant lady, and my child is throwing a dance party inside my womb. Brilliant.

Mom jeans…I haz them.

I spent FAR too long trying to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy pants. Sure I wasn’t REALLY showing until about 22 weeks along, and had falsely assumed that since I had lost 22 lbs in the past year, that I would be good to go wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans/capris/skirts until I had at least gained the same amount of weight from Baby Boof. Clearly, I was wrong. I bought a belly band to ease the transition from fully buttoned pre-pregnancy pants to unbuttoned goodness (which came with a lot of fear of exposing my lady-bits when getting out of the car).

And then, one day (it fel like this, anyway) I woke up and had busted out of EVERYTHING that I owned. Well, I did have ONE skirt I can still fit into, and clearly my leggings/dress combos are roomy enough to expand throughout this whole journey, but pants were out. Most skirts were out. And I am in a world of hurt.

So I noncholantly waltz (read: waddle) my pregosaurus body down to Target and Macy’s and several other random stores that have aproximately 5 maternity clothing options hanging pathetically in the darkest corner of the store. Surely I am bound to find something to fit my long-legs, right?

Clearly being pregnant has messed with my mind, because I had failed to realize that shopping for maternity clothes is just as, if not more, difficult than shopping for regular clothes. If we aren’t all built the same when we are not pregnant, what made me think our expanding bellies would even out our leg length and I could shop at sweet little shops like “A Pea in a Pod?”

At any rate, after a mild panic attack, I did manage to find a grand total of THREE pairs of maternity pants that are long enough at Kohls. And the sheer magic of putting these pants on is beyond any words the English language could describe.

WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG? Why did I believe the What Not To Wear nonsense that “comfort is bad, fashion is good?” I am now strategizing ways to a) stay pregnant forever to wear these amazing jeans, b) stay fat forever and somehow justify to Boof that these pants are eternally sexy or c) find an equivalently amazing pair of MOM jeans that feel the same level of comfort or d) create a non-pregnancy jean line that convinces the masses to embrace pants without waistbands…and thus uttering in World Peace on a grand scale.

It’s a good thing I’m having a gentleman baby so that he won’t be AS embarassed by my eternal MOM jeans.

Juggling Motherhood, Career and Personal Life

As sweet as it was to get Mother’s Day cards this year, I still don’t consider myself a mother…yet. So while I am in the process of becoming a mother, as little “chip-monk” grows (this is what Boof is now calling baby), I am still finding that it is difficult to juggle the balance between almost-motherhood, my career and having a personal life.

It doesn’t help that I started a new job 1 second after I learned about the pregnancy, or that the job is as a crisis-counselor. Granted, this stress is cognitively better than the stress that I was enduring at my last job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is an easy process for me. And I wonder…at this point I am only balancing the theoretical idea of motherhood, and my career, and life…what will it be like when I am having to do it for real?