Friday, August 15, 2014

36

So here I am, on *this* side of 35.
And here we are, on *this* side of 4 a.m.

***
I've never been melancholy on my birthday, but during the last few months I've found myself at the top of the world, taking in a deep breath of gratitude...then BAM, I get a glimpse of the straight drop ahead and my stomach is suddenly in my throat. I guess the only nice thing about emotional rollercoasters is that if you (and your understanding family) can ride it out, you're back on an even keel soon enough.

Last week, Syar turned 26. Do you guys remember when she was a precocious 16-year-old commenting here with all the wisdom and wit of a much more experienced person? Then how we blinked twice and now she's a grownup lady? It's so crazy how much she has grown but stayed the same. And how I feel like I know her, yet never have met her. Oh, blogs.

***

My mom has always taken the day off work on my birthday. I never understood why, especially when I still had to go to school. I mean, if she can't hang out with me--and this day is all about me, after all--then what's the point? Even now, 36 years later, she took the day to be home, cooking and shopping and who knows what else while I was dealing with conference calls and frantic instant-messenger requests and mounting email, attempting to solve problems.

But now that I may get to bring somebody new into the world, I kind of get it: My mother might just want a day to herself to think. Maybe remember all the stuff before I showed up and what she had to go through to get me out and all she had to do to make sure I even made it to 36. I wonder if 36 years from now I might take my child's birthday off to think about these months of bed rest and no carbs and having to walk around like an 96-year-old and only going to the store once a month (if they have a scooter/wheelchair). And how it makes my damn day every single time this baby kicks me to show me that she's doing ok so I don't freak out. Is it possible to believe you have a great kid even before you've met her?

People kept asking me what I had planned for today, and honestly, there was only one thing I can say for certain. There will be ice-cream cake. There is always ice-cream cake. It'll be one sad, sorry August 14 when my mom isn't around and there won't be ice-cream cake. It just doesn't taste as good any other day. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that she didn't disappoint.

***

In general, I have a pretty low threshold for decision-making. You know, decision fatigue, when you are supposed to be making a lot of important choices in a row, but the weight of all that deciding has piled up on you so you are standing in front of the refrigerator, paralyzed and frustrated because you JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO EAT. Just choose! Whatever you want! It doesn't matter, just pick something! Like, now! You haven't decided? Hurry up! Everyone is waiting on you! I feel like the world is my refrigerator with its French doors flung open to reveal thousands of delicious choices, and everyone is demanding that I make up my mind RIGHT NOW. Except I can't make my mind do anything at all, let alone make that final choice between spaghetti and soup. Because what if I take a bite of spaghetti and immediately realize I should have gone with the soup? Doesn't the world understand that scenario is a risk I'm just not willing to take?

What scares me is that I am soon going to have to make hundreds of decisions a day for a person incapable of holding up her own head. And I'm sure that by the time I actually figure out how to comfortably make those choices, she won't want me to decide anything for her anymore.

***

Being alone all the time is getting to me. All day, every day. Thank God for conference calls.

I hate to be alone. I would certainly be one of those people who were asked to sit in a room with an electrical shocking device for 15 minutes with their thoughts who ended up shocking themselves to avoid having to be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.

It doesn't matter if the other people are somewhere else in the house doing their own thing and not interacting with me at all; just knowing they aren't far is good enough. I used to lie awake at night in my dorm room, only able to fall asleep when I heard my roommate's key in the door. Perhaps that was because I worried she'd be jumped on the way home from the library, but still.

***

I just spent 15 minutes trying to put a cover on one of those snuggly, noodly pillow things that pregnant ladies cuddle in order to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time. About three-quarters of the way through that ordeal, I realized the thing already had a cover on it, which is probably why it was so difficult.

Pregnancy brain is real, people. And at this age, I don't think I will ever get my wits back.






Sunday, August 10, 2014

saturday night is all right

At 3:21 a.m. on a Saturday night 12 years ago, I was probably out somewhere in Greektown, eating a calzone trying to soak up the alcohol.

At 3:21 a.m. Saturday night nine years ago, I was probably sitting in the dungeon in the city, eating a grilled cheese sandwich from the cafeteria and emailing Jon in California.

At 3:21 a.m. tonight, I'm logged into work, knitting and listening to NPR on my headphones, waiting for the green light to finish testing a new system that just went live.

At 3:21 a.m. Saturday night five years from now, I hope to be sleeping.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

house arrest isn't so bad...most of the time

Today is 27 weeks for me and this baby. Hooray! The doctors are saying 28 is good, 30 is great and anything more than that is gravy. Of course, I am expecting we go the entire 40 together, but a lot of other people are not so sure we'll get that far. A girl can hope. I really just want a fully cooked turkey in time for Halloween. 

It's probably apropos that I bingewatched Orange Is the New Black during my incarceration, stuck on the upper floor of our house, only to be let out for doctor appointments and the occasional work meeting. You'd think that I'd be getting all kinds of bookreading, bootieknitting and bookshelforganizing done with all this *free time,* but I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm actually kind of sedentary, so I haven't really gained time.

Basically, I am still working kind of a lot of hours (trying to convince them I'm just as good from home as in the office), and I can't concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes, which makes me less effective at work. That makes me feel guilty and stay logged in for longer and longer.

And then there's the emotional rollercoaster (hello, hormones!), so I've tried to keep from coming here and whining, because I truly am so thankful and grateful for all that I have. In fact, there was a Facebook thing going around where people posted three positive things about their lives for five days. Because Facebook is so easy to use from my phone while lying down, there was no question that I would participate.

DAY 1: 
1) Jon. Each day I have more reasons to thank my 2006 self for taking a risk on something completely unknown and have it work out in the best possible way.

2) My mom. If any of you have the pleasure of knowing her, that's all I need to say. I strive to be half the woman that she is.

3) Cheese.
DAY 2:
1) What I've learned. My mom has always said, "people can take anything away from you but not your education." And this isn't just limited to book learning.

2) My job. My career path has certainly been a rollercoaster, but I ended up in a place working with and for some wonderful people. Some days I know that something I did may have contributed to saving a life, and that means a lot. Even if my job has never been represented by an animal in a Richard Scarry kids' book.

3) Well-written, brilliantly acted, thought-provoking, satisfying, leaves-you-hungering-for-more television programming.
DAY 3:
1) Having the good fortune to be born in a country where I have had so many opportunities and freedoms, and during an era where a woman of color like myself is not held back as we once were.

2) Clean, running water, available at varying temperatures any time of the the day in a climate-controlled home.

3) The Internet. Holy cannoli, how did we ever live without it?!?
DAY 4:
1) I grew up without any extended family on this side of the world, but I've been blessed with the most loving and supportive friends a person could hope for. They have gotten me through the very hardest of times as well as created some of my best memories.

2) Podcasts.

3) Glasses and contact lenses. Without them, I'd be stumbling around squinting since 1991.
DAY 5:
1) My family is in relatively good health.

2) My friends are in relatively good health.

3) I still have my health. Being healthy is WAY UNDERRATED.

I can't emphasize that last sentence enough.






 

Friday, July 11, 2014

clearly at some point there will be bad news, but in the meantime

I have been told on the regular that I am a Negative Neddy. There's not a lot of proof to refute that, so here we are. Sorry this is long, but enjoy the positivity while it lasts!
  1. This baby is now at 24 weeks (the produce-size equivalent of either corn or a cantaloupe, depending on whom you ask). That is the furthest me and a baby have ever made it together, so each day is new terrain to discover.
  2. This cervix is holding steady, stitch in place. Steady enough that the specialist no longer thinks I need it checked via ultrasound every week. Let's not repeat that bit of news too much out loud or we may jinx it.
  3. This baby's heart has all the major components, and they look to be properly formed and working well together. This has always been a concern because heart defects run in my family. If this is the first you're hearing about that topic and you have 12 hours to kill, look up the label "brother" on the side rail and read the 111 posts about him. There could still be problems for the baby down the line, but for today, that ticker is in good shape.
  4. If it weren't for the cloud of terrifying possibilities hanging around--that wakes me and keeps me up for hours in the night telling me I'm leaking amniotic fluid, and interrupts all sorts of enjoyable television and not enjoyable conference calls with fears of contractions at every ache and pain--I would really enjoy being pregnant.
  5. This baby kicks me. A lot. And I'm grateful for each and every reassuring jab that she's OK in there.  
  6. People have been SO wonderful. 
    1. Strangers.
    2. Coworkers who didn't give a crap about me before.
    3. Everybody who doesn't judge me for my extremely, um, ethnic wardrobe of Auntie Patrol-approved muumuus. I scoffed when my aunts sent them for me and now I cannot live without them. (I may never voluntarily wear pants again.)
    4. Friends who send me cards.
    5. Friends who message to recommend books and see how I'm doing.
    6. Friends whom I have gotten to know better because they love someone I am friends with and have reached out with concern and much-appreciated advice about such a scary time from their own experiences.
    7. Friends who come over to spend some time with me, won't let me get up to be a proper hostess and don't make me feel bad about it. 
    8. Friends who bring their kids over so I can watch them run around and my baby can hear their happy little voices.
    9. Friends who don't bring their kids over so we can have an adult conversation. Or watch TV. Or both.
    10. Friends who come over and do stuff to help Jon. Even little things like keeping me company so he doesn't have to worry about dinner. And then he can have a few minutes to look at ESPN.com without feeling guilty that the dishes are piling up. Because now Jon has to do EVERYTHING. He has never complained once about it, but still.
    11. The "Police" (my mom and my husband) who don't let me lift, walk, use the stairs or pretty much do anything but keep my feet up. I could go on and on and on and on and on about how much these two have done to make my life bearable, but I'll spare you. They are truly my A-Team. The only thing I can hope to give them in return is this baby.
  7. The Police let me out on parole and took me to the fabric store for an afternoon. Best afternoon I've had this year. And not only because I got to drive around in the scooter.
  8. I have become a legitimate Facebook stalker. Seriously, the OCD is in overdrive and I need to read every single post. And repost. And pontificate about whatever social issue needs pontificating about--such as the overuse of the Oxford Comma. Also, I'm pretty sure I notified EB that her prom date was engaged about 30 seconds after it happened.
  9. Everyone but my brother pretends they are not annoyed by my Facebook activity, and some of them even enjoy my posts. Sweethearts.
  10. I have discovered Pinterest. I am desperately trying not to fall into that vortex. But I can only browse for about 30 minutes before looking outside at our weedy yard feeling unproductive and useless compared to the Pinterest prizewinners with their beautiful homes, yards and handmade goods. And apparently a lot of time.
  11. I have been knitting. I wish I were a lot faster. But then I worry about giving myself carpel tunnel.
  12. I have been working. A lot, but not too much. That is ok because:
    1. I would be going out of my mind alone all day every day. And worrying.
    2. Jon built me this awesome monitor-over-the-guest-bed-hanging-structure so I can truly lie down and work with a wireless keyboard and mouse. My brother gave me a practically new 22-inch monitor so I don't have to crane my neck. It rocks. 
    3. I'm trying to get all the crap I do at work in some semblance of order for the people who have to cover for me when this baby comes out. So I am learning to use Microsoft OneNote.
  13. I have probably seen more commercials in the last two months than I have in the last two years. The story behind this bored pp (though she'd never admit it) so I will summarize: We only watch dVR, Hulu or Netflix downstairs in the mancave. Jon sold the old jailbroken AppleTV upstairs before they could come out with a new one to make it undesireable. Then I got put on bedrest and can't go downstairs anymore. So unless I want to watch on a small screen in my lap, cable with commercials it is. DIYnetwork has the best ones. 
  14. Next week Jon's sisters, M and A (plus nephew Declan!) will be coming for a visit. Madelyn will also come back to hang out. It's always great to have them around.
  15. I am just really happy at this moment. 
  16. I was worried I complained too much on here, and nobody wants to read blogposts describing the circus in my head, so I will try to post more often now that I'm a little less scared out of my mind.

Again, thank you all for your prayers, your time, your kindness and your love.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

growing, changing

My brother moved out of suburbia to the city a few weeks ago. I think after having lived on his own for years, he'd had enough of his (and my former) roommates asking if he'd eaten, whether he'd be home for dinner, where he was going and if he needed his work pants ironed. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, but to each his own, I guess. Even though I didn't see him too often when he lived in the next town, I now miss him as if he had up and moved to New Mexico. Especially because I am on limited activity (they won't let me drive and going up/downstairs is for when I get to leave--only for work), I feel kind of trapped in the house. 

This week, Madelyn loaded up all her stuff into a van and moved to the city. The door to her room is usually closed, but now it stands open. The room is bright and so, so empty. It makes me a little sad. But I walked in there after she had left and immediately got the feeling that yes, this should be the baby's room, something I hadn't really let myself think about too much.

Last week I had a little freakout with some odd, shooting pains and went into the hospital. Turned out I was having contractions, but they were so mild they barely registered. While I was feeling guilty about scaring everyone, the peace of mind knowing that all is ok was totally worth it. I have started feeling little taps from my belly; a crazy, amazing feeling. It blows my mind that I'm walking around with a separate person inside of me who will have its own dreams, opinions and ideas. 

The day all of Madelyn's stuff was boxed up in the living room and being loaded, Jon and I went to see the doctor for our baby's 20-week checkup. We had to wait a long time to be seen, and I kept telling Jon that they only attend to you right away if something is really wrong. My cervix looks to be healing nicely and staying together at a decent length. The baby is measuring to be right on schedule to come out around October 30 if she stays in there that long. That's right, we are growing a little baby girl.

People have babies all the time; it's happened billions of times, actually. But I've never gotten this far before, and everything seems so insane and amazing as if it's happening for the first time, just to me. I'll bet everyone feels this way. I don't know what it is, but finding out the gender of the first baby made things hurt all over again, and finding out the gender of this baby makes the whole thing seem different, somehow, and very very real. It's harder not to think about the name, or the nursery or what kinds of stuff I can manage to make for the kid before she emerges. I'm trying to rein myself in, but it's tough.

I just hope everything goes ok. Thank you all for your good wishes and love.  


Thursday, June 05, 2014

hotdog bun

So they've been monitoring me very closely. This time. Finally.

And thank God for that, because last Thursday I went in for my every-other-week (why does "bimonthly" have two meanings?) ultrasound to check cervical length. Basically, a long and closed cervix points up toward your baby. It keeps your kid and the bag your kid is in on the inside of you. If it starts to shorten or open up, the bag can get pushed out and even pop. Last year they never did figure out what happened; my cervix looked closed after that baby's amniotic sac burst. And then the second child came and went. Plus, I'm of "advanced maternal age" now. Thus, the monitoring.

The last few appointments have gone great. I almost felt silly hopping on the table for two minutes, the technologist taking measurements and then some quick peeks at the baby, then the doctor saying everything looked great. I was assuming the same routine for this last check, but as soon as my insides showed up on the monitor, I knew something was wrong.

Normally, my cervix kind of looks like a closed hotdog bun with no hotdog. But this time, it seemed as though some curious little person wanted to see what was inside the hotdog bun and started prying it apart. And that curious little person was now vigorously sticking its little feet and legs into that opening, using it as a springboard to launch itself around.

The tech was tightlipped when I asked if that was normal (knowing it isn't) and she said I could discuss it with the doctor in a few minutes.

The doctor said that my cervix hotdog bun was "funneling," and that kids--she called mine "the little dickens," which I love--have a tendency to stick their arms and legs where they don't belong. And oh, if I hadn't eaten a huge, dairy-laden lunch, do I think I can go straight to the Operating Room?

So Jon and I went upstairs to the OR, they gave me a spinal sedation, they flipped me nearly upside down and my physician did a surgery to put a stitch in the cervix, in the part that was still closed so that it will stay that way. Hopefully. The whole thing took less than an hour.

The entire time, the anesthesiologist and I were having a very detailed discussion about great dining in the city of Chicago (He wants but hasn't been able to get into Schwa, but enjoys the housemade sausage at Table, Donkey and Stick. I sang the praises of The Bristol). The nurses call him Dr. Justin Timberlake, and I can see the resemblance. I kept looking at my doctor squintily (no glasses), and for all the OR gear, all I could see were her eyes behind a shield. She has some of the most beautiful eyelashes I have ever seen, and doesn't look to be using mascara at all. Then it was over. Doctor said she could see the baby bouncing around in there. I wasn't going to be able to feel anything from the waist down for a while, so they kept me overnight for observation. I didn't sleep, and for all my whimpering and the aggressive air conditioner, neither did Jon.

The last week has been pretty much bed and couch rest; they wouldn't let me even go downstairs. The pain is pretty much gone now, but they did have me on some anti-contraction meds the first few days--apparently when they monkey with your business down there, your body may go into labor. That which they were trying to prevent (cervix opening, baby-bag bursting, contractions, labor, delivery) is possibly what happened with the first baby.

Today I went in for a checkup and everything looks good, if you think a hotdog bun that is flopping open on one side and pinched shut on the other looks good. We saw a little booty wiggling around in there, and the doctor said I don't have to be on bed rest, but I can't really do anything, either.

Jon keeps telling me, and I keep telling my parents, this procedure is a GOOD THING. They did this to keep bad things from happening. But I will be honest, I am scared as hell. I don't want to think about a nursery color theme, I don't want to pick out a crib, I don't really want to think of names--at least until we make it to 24 weeks, when I know he or she has a shot to survive outside of me. I really don't want to think about the alternative.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

5-22-13

The death of your baby is certainly not something to celebrate. But it was the day of her birth, too. And it doesn't seem fitting to just go about life like she never happened. So I came home with a cinnamon cake.

***

Now that the newest bump is too big to hide, I've had many well wishers ask if this is my first baby. Is it? I don't think so, but I'm not entirely sure what to say. I mean, I went through the entire delivery process (I wasn't going to get to keep the kid, so I went for the epidural), even if I never got to hear her cry. Does the second child--who was gone from a chromosome defect pretty much right after we realized there was even someone in there--count? Those are the things that go through my mind when I'm silently nodding, Yes, it's my first child. These people are sharing their good wishes; it'd be cruel to bring them down.

***

I hadn't heard that John Legend song "All of Me," until I was pregnant. I don't know if it's the hormones or what, but I cry every time I hear it.

***

My brother has had a tougher past year than we have, if you can believe that. Everything that could go wrong, pretty much did. I try my very best to be supportive, but one time when he got really, really down, I yelled at him instead. There are so many kids out there born with a heart defect that don't make it. And he has had to fight every second of every day, but he got to be a grown man. For him to just roll over after all that would be a slap in the face to all those other kids who never got the opportunity to live.

***

Jon's sisters gave me a necklace to remember Baby with a footprint charm, an emerald pendant and a gold piece stamped "5-22-13." I haven't taken it off since the day I got it.

***

My mother remembered that I had been so sad when my dad let the siding-replacement people cut down the beautiful clematis plant that had grown nearly all the way to the roof on an airplane-cable trellis. She got me the same kind--and made sure we could take it with us if we ever move.

***
 
I shouldn't be pregnant right now. Hell, I shouldn't have been pregnant three times in one calendar year. Instead, I should be sleep deprived, changing my daughter's diapers and watching her roll over. I am terrified that something is going to happen to this baby, too. But at the same time, I'm beyond excited. I can't wait to be sleep deprived. I am dying to watch my child blink, smile or roll over. But I won't forget. I am pretty sure that when the son or daughter growing inside me today (and any future children) even think about giving up, I will remind them how lucky they are to be alive. Their sister never got the chance.

***

Thank you all, for your continued love and support.