Thursday, August 30, 2007

Telling my parents

Ever since last Friday, when I found out I was pregnant again, I've wanted to talk to my mom. Here's how I imagined the conversation would go:

Me: I'm pregnant!
Mom: Oh, yay! Wow, that is exciting! How are you feeling?
Me: Well, to be honest, I'm finding it a little harder to get excited this time around.
Mom: (would say something empathetic and consoling and supportive and help me feel All Better because that's what Mommies are supposed to do.)

The truth is, I'm not as excited as I want to be, and I'm feeling frustrated (and yes, a little guilty) that I don't seem to be able to control those emotions. I want to be as thrilled and obsessive as I was last time around, and sometimes - for a few minutes at a time - I manage to capture that feeling. For the most part, though, I'm just not as invested as I'd really like to be. And I wanted to talk to my mom about that, and get some comfort and consolation and pats on the back. Why do I never seem to learn that she is not capable of that?

Last night I finally managed to get ahold of her, and after a bit of small talk, I broke the news. Surprisingly, it was actually hard for me to do - my gut was telling me to wait. Not surprisingly, it didn't go as scripted.

Me: I'm pregnant!
Mom (as if I'd told her I'd just been diagnosed with cancer): Ohhhhhh. (She barely managed to choke off the "" of the "Oh, no" she was obviously working towards.)

She later asked me how far along I was. "Almost five weeks," I replied. She made a Marge-Simpson-like noise, as if this was definitely the wrong answer. Then she said, "So, have you been to see a doctor yet?" Now, in print, that looks like a pretty innocuous phrase, doesn't it? But that's because you didn't hear the subtle emphasis on the word "doctor". As in, Have you been to see a doctor yet, or are you going to kill this baby too?

My dad, fortunately, had a much better response right off the bat. He was nearly jumping for joy. "Oh, my girl, that is just such wonderful, wonderful news! I'm so happy and excited for you! You and Chris must be over the moon." I basked in his joy and pride for a moment before he said, "Now, you're taking really good care of yourself this time, right?"

These implications are really, really offensive to me. I take better care of myself than anyone else in my family, and am very proactive about both my mental and physical health. Contrast that with my mother, who has refused to go to the hospital when she has broken a limb. Hearing these veiled accusations that I am not taking the best possible care of myself and my future baby - and the subtle suggestions that my lack of care is responsible for losing the first one - makes me seethe. I really thought we were done with the doctor-versus-midwife debate, but apparently not. I'm so emotionally vulnerable right now, though, that I don't feel prepared to fight this battle again. And all I wanted was for my Mom to be on my side for once. Isn't that what Moms are supposed to do?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Testing, Testing

My experiences with pregnancy tests have been a bit weird. The first time around - last March - I only took the test because my best friend talked me into it. Sure, my period was two days late, but I was *sure* I wasn't pregnant, so why waste $12 to confirm what I already knew? He (yes, my best friend is a man - it's 2007, get over it) reasoned that taking the test and getting a negative that very day meant that my hopes wouldn't get any higher than they already were before being crushed. This made sense to me, so I took the test.

It was positive, though, and I was completely stunned. I remember looking at the second pink line, which had appeared seconds after I peed on the stick, and wondering if it was going to disappear before the alloted 3 minutes I was meant to take before reading the results.

It didn't, by the way. And three minutes later I dragged my husband into the bathroom and ... did I announce joyously, "You're going to be a dad!"? Did I gesture dramatically at the test and shower him with kisses? Did I put into action an elaborate scheme involving tiny coloured baby booties planted all over the house so he'd get the hint? ... no. I pointed numbly at the test and mumbled, "Um, what do you think that means?" Then followed this up with, "I mean, we shouldn't jump to any conclusions, right?"

The summer was a blur. After miscarrying, I became incredibly focussed on getting pregnant again. In June, I took a pregnancy test with a perfect balance of fear: I was equally terrified of a negative or positive result. It was negative. In July, I was desperate. I needed to be pregnant. I took the test as soon as I possibly could, five days before my period was due. It was negative again. I got furtive and squirrely. I'd buy tests in the middle of my cycle, so I could feel emotionally detached from the public declaration that I was a Woman of Reproductive Age. The awkward conversations with cashiers seemed less awkward when I knew I couldn't even take the test for two weeks.

Then last week, my period was late. I was hyper-aware of exactly how late it was, the minute it was overdue. I waited a full 36 hours before deciding what I was going to do about it. Again, I didn't want to get my hopes up. But on the other hand, my period was actually late, and I was having a variety of odd symptoms. I didn't tell anyone about my suspicions, not wanting to get their hopes up either.

On Friday afternoon, I stopped in at the drugstore between my office and my house. Unfortunately, they didn't have the brand of tests I'd become familiar with since the Spring. I looked at the two they did have available, and thought to myself, "Well, pee on this stick, pee on that stick - how hard can it really be?" I got home and peed on the stick and got an answer to my question. Not all pregnancy tests are created equal, and let me tell you, ambiguity is not what you're looking for when you're desperately trying to interpret the results. Add me to the ranks of women who despise the "Clearblue Easy" test, whose only honest syllable is "blue".

There was definitely blue on my test, but was it a cross or just a line? Hold it this way, it's a cross ... the other way, it's a line. I felt like a bit character trying to decipher Da Vinci's code. I ended up calling the 1-800 number on the package to get some assistance - who would have predicted I'd be *that* woman?

Naturally, the helpline won't say, "You're pregnant." What they do say is, "That's considered a positive result." Denial set in, just like last time. "How can she say it's a positive result?" I wondered. "She doesn't see how faint that cross-line is, or how it fades when you turn the test a certain way. What does she know!"

Of course, there was nothing else for me to do but to take another test - hopefully the good one, the right one, the easy-to-read and always accurate one, aka First Response. One line equals not pregnant, two lines equals pregnant, I'm familiar with the process, no crosses or other bizarre hieroglyphics to decipher.

Peeing on the First Response stick felt like coming home.

But before I could do so, I had to procure said test (a trip to another drugstore, and did I mention this is all on my lunch break from work, and that I don't have a car?). Not only that, I had to generate more pee.

I sat at my desk at work and slammed a full litre of water in 15 minutes so I could end the suspense.

And then there they were ... the two beautiful, perfect pink lines.

As soon as the denial started to fade, my thoughts turned to how to tell my husband. Since we only plan to have one child, this is likely to be the last time he gets this news broken to him. I wanted at least to improve on the incoherent panic of last time. Fortunately, I had a few days to figure it out, since he was out of town and wouldn't return until Sunday. And my best friend was due to arrive for a visit, so he and I could conspire all weekend to figure out the "perfect" scheme.

We decided on a balloon bouquet, but had a hard time figuring out where we should put it. Mike suggested the bathroom, which seemed weird until I remembered that that's where *I* got the life-changing news, why shouldn't he have his own special bathroom moment? In the end, though, the balloons along with a "Daddy to be" card were waiting for him in the bedroom - where I happened to be hanging out and folding laundry - when he arrived home.

Such a lovely artifact of the experience - a balloon ("Congratulations!"), a card, a snuggle with your smiling wife. Future aunties and uncles and grandparents get a happy phone call or email sharing the news. But for the mother to be, it's a whole different picture - madly hunting down the "right" test, drowning herself in bottled water, then crouching over a pee-stick to find out where lies her fate. Just a beginning to the glamourous life ahead.

Hello, Hormones

Almost five weeks along now. Looking back at my journal entries from last time, I learn that during this week (4-5) my appetite returned, my sex drive disappeared, my breasts continued to be sore, and morning sickness - nausea, if not vomiting - began.

That is pretty much where I'm at right now. My appetite finally returned yesterday around 11am, when I felt the first hunger pang in almost a full week. I celebrated with grapes. Later, I ate the veggies I'd brought from home, and later still, I had to leave work early (no matter, as no one else was in the office) as the hunger pangs finally ended their week-long embargo on lunch and I had to head home for some lasagne.

My breasts, for their part, are sore like crazy. I recounted to Chris last night that early last week, before I'd taken the test, I took my bra off one afternoon while getting changed and my breasts reacted with what can only be called violence. They hurt so badly, and so suddenly, that I really should have known. Even in the first pregnancy they were not this tender. I'm already finding it uncomfortable to sleep naked, and have taken instead to wearing a sports bra to bed. So unusual for me.

The biggest change in the past few days has been the arrival of the hormones, as evidenced by the appearance of Crazy Laura. Last night I lay in bed for over 30 minutes steaming and seething, too angry to sleep. Angry enough that if someone had offered me a wall to punch or an important document to destroy, I'd be eager to comply. It was quite unpleasant to say the least, and I can't imagine how much I was annoying Chris. It seems his technique for dealing with pregnancy hormones is "avoid wife at all costs", which just annoys me more, because I really feel like I want to talk to him and work through some of the stuff that's upsetting me, and he's only around for mealtimes (during which he wants to watch a movie and/or read a book) and bed.

This morning the anger has subsided (for now), but I am wary that it will return. According to my previous journal entries, the hormone-rages peaked at between 5 and 6 weeks, so we've got a ways to go before we're over the hump.

In other news, today is the day (according to that the blastocyst becomes an embryo. So, that's pretty cool. If only because "embryonic" is a much cooler word than "blastocystic".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ready or Not

I'm finally feeling ready to blog about this. It took me a few days. And look, I'm already getting ahead of myself.

Last February I got pregnant. I was just shy of 12 weeks when I miscarried. Since then, I've been trying to get pregnant again. Except for last month, when I realized ovulation was going to happen when my husband and I were on vacation - a vacation not at a five-star resort with a king size bed, which some might say would be a perfect conception holiday, but a vacation where we'd be sleeping on the futons and air mattresses of various friends and family. And I think having sex in other people's houses is a bit rude, unless you're going to invite them to join you, so I stopped charting and stopped paying attention and tried my very very best to stop worrying and stressing about it.

Naturally, I got pregnant.

(Ok, ten days without having sex with my very sexy husband was just too much to manage.)

So after months of planning and scheduling and utterly un-spontaneous sex, all it took was that totally not planned but still extremely well-timed night of passion (or compromise of my principles, whichever you prefer). And the weird thing about this is, I can't seem to get excited about it.

I want to be excited, believe me. I want to be full of smiles and secret satisfaction the way I was last time around. I want to be bursting with joy over sharing this news with friends and family. But I'm really, really not, and I haven't been able to figure out exactly why.

Here are some theories:
- I don't want to emotionally invest myself because I'm afraid I'll lose this one too.
- I'm bored by the concept of the first trimester, because nothing very interesting happens (no hearing the heartbeat, no feeling the baby move, no picking out cribs or layettes or names).
- I've already been through the boring part, and am annoyed that I have to go through it again. Last time, I was just getting to the good part, dammit. Can't we skip this?
- I'm really freaking tired. I don't know if this is really a reason, but it kind of colours everything right at the moment.
- Endlessly obsessing over "how big is the baby now" is less interesting when it's not new anymore.

I obviously still have a lot of unresolved feelings about the miscarriage (I told a girlfriend tonight that one of the emotions I felt at the time was embarrasment at having to call back friends and family and "take back" the happy news I'd given them just a week earlier. I know embarrassment is not a rational reaction, but there it is). For the months since the loss, I've thought that as soon as I got pregnant again, all those conflicted emotions would go away, and that I would be "right with the world" again. I think I held off blogging on this - and believe me, I've had this blog name registered for a couple of months now, just waiting for the moment I got a positive test - because I wanted my first post to be full of joy and excitement and anticipation, and I kept waiting to feel that way.

It took a day or two to remember that one of the reasons I blog, perhaps the most important, is to help me work stuff through. It's a way of having a conversation with myself, since I don't know anyone else who could possibly listen to me this much.

So, it's okay, it's valid, it's reasonable that I am not as excited as I'd hoped to be, or as excited as I was last time, or as excited as the few people I've told so far seem to be. And it's okay if this doesn't turn out to be quite the blogging experience I expected it to be. Honestly, calling pregnancy "expecting" is such a misnomer, since nothing about the experience so far has ever been what I expected.


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