The Breastfeeding

I have heard a lot of parents talk about how they assumed they would just put the baby to their breast and breastfeeding would be natural.  It would just happen.  Then they're surprised when it doesn't work like that.  I did not think it would be natural.  I was worried.  I watched this documentary about breast milk, called appropriately Breast Milk.  I read Ina May's Guide To Breastfeeding, which funnily enough has a forward by Ani Difranco.  Ever wonder what she's been up to?  She said fuck you to everyone and their untouchable faces, and then settled down to do some serious breastfeeding.  Both the movie and the book made breastfeeding seem hard.  It seemed to require an extreme level of hand eye coordination and also dumb luck.  You had to get this squirmy thing onto your nipple, while holding it, and tease mouths with nipples, and check latches, and you had to have enough milk, which it seemed like lots of people didn't.  I was worried about breastfeeding way before I met Baby Leif.

Do all this while holding a squirmy baby that will not be above the nipple as it looks in this picture.  You can't just drop your baby onto your nipple.

Do all this while holding a squirmy baby that will not be above the nipple as it looks in this picture.  You can't just drop your baby onto your nipple.

Baby Leif is born and he has a tongue tie.  This means the membrane under his tongue is tight so he can't get his tongue out all the way.  His was quite obvious because it was so tight that his tongue looked a little heart shaped at the front.

This is not actually my baby's tongue.

This is not actually my baby's tongue.

The nurse noticed it before we even left the hospital.  The midwife thought we should wait and see if it was an issue.  We go home and first night is all good.  We stayed in the hospital a very short amount of time, not even 24 hours because who wants to be at the hospital?  No one, that's who.  I should say, when I woke up the morning after leaving the hospital my pelvic floor hurt so bad I though we had made a horrible mistake leaving the hospital.  I had forgotten to take pain meds.  After I took them my vagina felt less broken... still a little broken.  Anyway, night number 2 the real feeding began.  It's called cluster feeding but what it meant was that Leif ate non-stop from 10pm till 6am.  Literally, I would take him off the boob and he would be asking for more.  He was a good strong, week and a half late, baby so is sucking game is on point but his tongue is dinky, little and stuck because of the tongue tie.  Baby's use their tongue to sort of coax the milk out of the breast.  Without being able to do this he is sucking way harder.  So hard that when he'd come off the breast he'd leave a suction cup mark... think like what a giant octopus would leave on your nipple if he'd been feeling you up.  Or she, whatever sex octopus had been feeling you up.  After two nights of this my nipples are destroyed.  They are cracked and bleeding.  I am using nipple balm and then covering my nipples in saran wrap.  This keeps them from chapping, but it still hurts so bad I wince every time the baby goes on, but I think maybe this is normal? 

So the third night home, my baby is 3 days old, he starts spitting up blood.  I freak out.  Why is my beautiful perfect baby spitting up blood.  I call the midwife and she tries to assure me it's my blood but I'm not believing her.  I actually pumped to see if it was my blood but no blood came out when I pumped.  I call my mom and we all rush to the hospital.  I realize almost immediately that BC Children's ER is the worst place on earth for a three day old baby.  It's like a TB ward in there with sniffing, coughing children, and one has a horrible rash all over her body.  Good news is they rush newborns through so we didn't need to sit in the waiting room.  When did doctors get to be younger than me?  The resident we get first looks like he is still the age to be a patient at Children's Hospital.  He examines the baby who is at this point totally happy and not at all sick looking.  Another doctor comes in and assures me the baby is fine and they've talked to a doctor on staff who has three children and breastfed them all and is sure that the blood is from me and not the baby.  It probably didn't show up in the pumping because a baby is better at getting milk, and blood it would seem, than a pump.  They send me on my way.  I have a vampire baby, no big deal.

The next day the midwife comes over and helps us work on latch and recommends a nipple balm to help with the situation.  I need a more intense nipple balm than I was using because my nipples are injured.  It was this one:

This is not necessarily a product endorsement because I have tried very few nipple balms but this one did work well.  Apparently it was designed by a midwife?  That's what my doula said.  For the first month and a half of breastfeeding I used it religiously.  Baby Leif is better at nursing now and I only use it when I start to get chapped.

One of the reasons that he is better at nursing is we got his tongue tie snipped.  The midwife referred us to a pediatrician.  I felt a little like we were letting the midwives down by getting it snipped... like it was a sort of circumcision of the tongue and frowned upon in granola circles.  I mean he was throwing up blood because of his lethal dinky tongue/vice grip latch combo, so it was probably necessary.  The pediatrician took one look at his tongue and was like, "Yeah we're going to snip that."  He did not cry, and he bled for like two seconds.  His latch was not immediately improved, or maybe it was but my nipples were so far gone at that point everything hurt.  With time his latch did soften so I think it was the right call.  You need to swipe your finger under the tongue 5 times a day for a week so the tie doesn't grow back.  Not a big deal.  I just did it when he nursed.  He nursed way more than 5 times a day, probably 18-20 times a day in the beginning, but that just meant I didn't feel bad when I missed running my finger under his tongue a couple times.

Now I have no problem whipping out a boob anywhere... it was not always like that.  I have to say in Vancouver I have never felt shamed for breastfeeding in public.  In fact one time someone at a Starbucks gave me a high five for breastfeeding and another time an elderly lady gave me a hug.  I'm not sure the hug was because I was breastfeeding.  She said it was because I was taking care of a little angel but I was breastfeeding at the time which made the hug both awkward and logistically difficult.  I think that honestly people who formula feed are more often publicly shamed.  I have heard a number of stories about that which is too bad.  Babies need to eat, and parents need to be able to feed them without fear or shame.

The first time I had to breastfeed in public was unexpected.  I fed him before we left the house and thought we could run our errands and get home before he'd eat again but he was only two and a half weeks old and ate all the time (see above).  He started screaming for milk at Kingsgate Mall.  It's a mall that is not the flashiest, and not aimed at rich people (which is fine because we are not rich) but I will defend it to the death as one of the most useful malls in Vancouver: pharmacy, grocery store, liquor store and a credit union debit machine.  It's still not where I would have chosen to first breastfeed other than house, but when a baby needs to eat and baby needs to eat.  Outside of the liquor store on Christmas Eve (so it was packed) I fed Leif.

Ana captured the moment for all time.

Ana captured the moment for all time.

As I was feeding the baby, a Christmas miracle happened, someone I knew happened along and also had to feed her baby and so I had this backup all of a sudden.  I was way less embarrassed once there was someone else.  I was no longer the lone breastfeeder but already part of the breastfeeding army that populate this country and this world.  People just doing what they do, nurturing the next generation FROM THEIR BODIES.  Breastfeeding is badass. 

The Birth

My labour was really long... really really long... I could say it was 48 hours if I wanted to be dramatic.  That is from first contraction to baby in arms, but since the first day or so of contractions were pretty low key... I think it's more true to clock my labour in at about 32 hours... which is still hella long.

So it's Sunday night/Monday morning and I'm up at 4:30 in the morning because I have the worst insomnia.  I'm anxious because tomorrow I have midwife appointment and I'm a week and a half past my due date.  My doula is telling me not to get a membrane sweep, but my midwife recommends it and they both want me to do acupuncture, which I am sure I will hate.  I'm watching The Mindy Project and I get up to pee.  I go to the bathroom and there's blood.  I think, this might be something but it might also be nothing.  I go back to watch The Mindy Project, which by the way is awesome.

I'm having these super mild pains every once in a while but they're really mild.  They are like period pains you wouldn't even mention because it would be karmically unkind to women who get real period pains and then the Gods of menstrual pain might smite you.  If you're from a Judeo-Christian background those gods are just God God.  I'm looking at you Eve.  Anyway, so I google "contractions and how do you know if you're in labour."  Basically everyone says there is no way you'll miss it, you'll know if you're in labour.  So, I think this isn't labour?

Thing is pains keep getting more and more intense but still not intense, but they're definitely a thing now.  I text my doula and let her know what's up.  I'm relieved because this means I don't need to deal with the whole membrane sweep controversy.  I have a cookie at Whole Foods, and go to my midwife appointment.  She tells me I am already 4cms!  This labour thing is easy breezy.  I'm like halfway there and I can still walk, talk and eat cookies.  My midwife tells me that the next two midwives on call have been informed I'm in labour and wishes me luck.  She won't be seeing me again until I have a baby because she isn't on duty till tomorrow at 6pm, so surely she won't be delivering my baby.  No way.  Heck no.  That's like 38 hours from now and I am already 4 cms.

Coming home from the appointment contractions start to be intense like I have to stop and hold on to Ana every time they happen.  I am using my hypno-techniques though and things are going well.

Doula comes over that night and brings me a TENS machine.  It sends little electric pulses through your back and is suppose to help with labour pains.  I actually really liked it.  It was a nice distraction from contractions.  It kind of looked like Barbie's dream TENS machine but I can look past that because of the relief it brought me.

The doula thinks at this point she should stay.  That night contractions progress pretty well.  There was a lot of rocking on a yoga ball, she would get me to walk up and down the stairs, we would listen to hypno-tracks or Ana would read them to me.  Also, the apartment was softly lit with candles and one lamp.  Now, even seven weeks later, candle light reminds me of contractions.  Romantic dinners at low lit restaurants would be really weird for me.  Thankfully, that is not a thing we do too much these days. 

The next day things slowed down which was a bummer.  A midwife came over around noon and I didn't even have her check how dilated I was because I though it would depress me.  Quick side note, that at this point my midwife was pregnant, my doula was pregnant, and I was in labour.  Ana really was the odd one out by not being in the process of growing life.  Actually, the woman who taught my prenatal class was also pregnant.  Pregnancy was one big fancy dress party with very specific costume requirements.

This weird slowing down time on day two was for sure my lowest point.  I wasn't sure I could do contractions for a lot longer.  I had a little cry.  I was worried I would cave and need pain medication.  I also thought maybe I would just straight up die of exhaustion.  I knew that it was unlikely because I had never heard of that happening in labour and if it was a thing they would probably give you a heads up in prenatal classes.   

I took Gravol and rested... I wouldn't say slept but rested.  Gravol really dulled my contractions.  My doula went on a food run and got me soup which I ate.  At this point my doula was also giving me some sort of small round "naturopathic" thing to help speed up labour and deal with stress.  They were like little round sugar balls and when I asked her what they were she kind of shrugged me off.  My guess is tiny placebo sugar spheres.  Regardless, at this point I am progressing.  Things are intense.  I don't want to say painful but kind of painful, which makes me feel like a failure because in my hypno class they said if we did it right we wouldn't feel pain.  It was painful but I'm really in my body and really focused and it's not an unpleasant feeling because yes it hurts but I feel like a badass.  It's maybe 7pm on Tuesday night and the only way I can get through contractions is to imagine I am a giant tigress who is roaring as she gives birth or fighting off someone trying to hurt her cubs.  This isn't a metaphor.  That is literally what I would think of every time I had a contraction.

I am also making noises like a tiger and then while having a contraction on all fours in the living room.  I barf.  I barf and barf and barf.  To be honest the barfing was a welcome relief.  It was a different sensation after hours of the same.  My doula was totally on it and had a container for me to barf in.  At this point we are ready to go to the hospital. 

We get to BC Women's and my midwife is already there.  The same midwife who surely would not be delivering my baby.  That's how long I have been in labour.  She is at the hospital because another one of her clients is also in labour.  She examines me and I am all of a sudden self conscious about my tiger noises, so I try to tone it down.  The thing is you can't really do mama tiger halfway so it's pretty loud.  I'm already 9 cms dilated.  I go up to my room which is giant.  It's bigger than any hotel I have ever stayed in, with a tub the size of a small pool.

I have a bath with Ana.  I have some more contractions and then midwife checks me again.  I am 10cms!  The end is in sight.  She recommends breaking my bag of waters.  On TV the woman's water breaks and she goes into labour but it actually doesn't usually work that way.  Many women's waters don't break until active labour and some babies are born inside their amniotic sacks.  My midwife tells me I have the thickest sack of waters she's ever seen and that breaking it will move things along.  The main worry about breaking the amniotic sac is infection and since it is pretty much go time that's not a worry.  I let her break it and there is meconium in the fluid.  Meconium is a fancy science word for baby poop.  The baby has pooped already inside of me.  This is really normal for late babies, but this is where things get derailed a bit.

If there is meconium in your amniotic fluid it's hospital policy, at BC Women's, to monitor the baby's heart rate continuously.  Sometimes babies poo when they're in distress.  To do this they use two monitors and two straps to hold them in place.  This is not effective because it's hard for someone to move while keeping monitors strapped to your body and I want to move because the second she breaks my waters I have an urge to push.  I want to move around and try pushing in different positions.  Also, the baby is moving so it's like too much movement to be conducive to effective monitoring. I actually liked pushing because it was a welcome different sensation and it meant it was nearly baby time.  I borderline enjoyed it... except a lot of other stuff was happening during this stage of my labour. 

The baby keeps going off monitor and so my midwife puts a little electrode on the baby's head so they can monitor the baby that way.  This works but limits my movement to things I can do on the bed.  I can still squat with a special squatting bar.  The first time I try this bar the baby's heart rate takes a scary drop.  It takes a while to be normal again and then there is another drop.  The nurse freaks and calls doctors.  Doctors come and they take a look at what happened and tell me that it looks like baby is having a hard time.  We need to get the baby out fast.  It's going to mean forceps, or vacuum, or cesarean.  Yep, they said the c-word.  At this point I have full on mama hormones coursing through me and am pretty much, "Save the baby, take my life for theirs!  If you need to cut off me head, to get the baby out that way, fine." 

The only thing I remember being bummed about is that they tell me I will need to have an epidural because all the things they might do hurt.  I remember thinking, shit I made it like 47 hours labouring without drugs, and now I am going to be forced to have them?  Ana is more grounded and asks if we can have time to consider our options?  A little.  What will happen if we do nothing?  Could be really bad, could mean the baby dies.  Can you leave while we think about this?  Yes. 

Doctors leave and my midwife says, "If we push the baby out really fast maybe we won't need to do any of that."  Then begins some intense pushing.  Each time I get an urge doula, Ana and midwife gather around me and encourage me to push, not make noise, hold my legs back.  They also keep telling me how great I am doing.  The doctors (there were two) come back in the baby's head is already visible.  It's too late for a c-section and an epidural and Ana asks them to leave.  Which they do but as soon as they do the baby's heart rate takes a super big drop.  The biggest so far.  The midwife runs to get the doctors.  Baby needs to come out now!  It's too late for an epidural, they're going to use the vacuum.  They tell me not to worry it won't hurt more at this point with the vacuum.  I am pretty sure that was a lie because the baby isn't out yet so the most intense part is still to come but whatever.  Lie to me doctors.  They put this little suction cup vacuum thing on the baby's head.  They use it for three pushes and he starts to crown.  Baby's heart rate is doing fine at this point so they take it off the baby's head.  They let me push the baby out on my own, to save my vagina little.

My cheering squad has grown from 3 to 9!  There were 9 people in the room when baby was born: Ana, doula, midwife, 2 obstetricians, 2 pediatricians (for the baby because of the meconium), and 2 nurses.  It was 4 in the morning.  It was like we were having an after party in our giant room.  A really fucked after party.

Baby comes out screaming.  This is really good because sometimes they swallow some meconium and aren't doing so hot when they come out.  If this had happened I wasn't going to get skin to skin but it didn't happen.  They throw that poop covered baby right on my chest and yes he was the most beautiful thing I had/have ever seen.  We locked eyes and it was love, but I was still conscious of him being covered in poop and now me being covered in poop.  Ana cut the cord.  The baby was weighed and stuff.  When he came back he really zeroed in on my nipple.  My baby loves to eat.  My vagina was stitched up... I got two labial tears.  One was quite bad, and the doctor mentioned casually, that a piece of my labia might fall off.  Ah, well small price to pay.  What was I using it for anyway? 

This is us maybe 10 minutes after birth.

This is us maybe 10 minutes after birth.

Gradually people left the room until it was only Ana, baby, and I.  It was like wholly fuck, this is my family.  We're like a family now for real.  We made this little guy and now here he is, not just an abstract reason to put sperm in my vagina, or why I have nausea and heartburn.  He's a 7 pound 8 ounce, 52 cm, born male person.  His name is Leif Stanley Hyde-Chamgoulov.  I think it sounds like a heroes name but at this point I feel like the hero.

I feel really proud because I did it.  Without medication for hours and hours and hours.  I pushed him out really fast and avoided too much intervention.  I am a rockstar mama tiger.

Eventually Ana and Leif fell asleep but I couldn't.  I was too pumped up.  The nurse came in and I asked her to move Leif to where I could see him.  She rolled him close and I just looked at him and finally really fell asleep for the first time in 48 hours.

This is about 20 hours after delivery.  Sara, Ana, and baby Leif: my family. 

This is about 20 hours after delivery.  Sara, Ana, and baby Leif: my family. 

Gratitude:

Doctors- I heard a lot about how evil you were in books and birthing classes.  I heard how you wanted to cut me open to get the baby out in time for you to get home for dinner.  When you were brought into my birth you were super respectful of moving slow enough for us to make the choices we wanted.  You used the least invasive methods possible and were a funny and welcome last minute edition to my birth team.

Doula- You were with us so long.  You fed me, held me and told me I could do it.  You let me cry without shaming me.  I think because my labour was so long you barely made more than minimum wage when you break it down by hour.  Thank you.

Midwives-  I received the best healthcare I have ever received from anyone from you.  You answered my questions, calmed my fears, checked by blood pressure.  You came to my home and checked the baby's latch again and again (I'll get into this next time).  Urging me to push baby out quickly was a great call.  You also work so hard all hours of the night.  Your families must miss you.

Ana- You made sure that no one acted too fast or too rashly.  You were my rock and let me hang off of you while I roared like a tiger.  When I couldn't advocate for our choices you did.  You are the calm to my too busy head.  You are my partner but not like "partner" because we're gay married... well that too I guess.  You are my partner like when you have to pick one in gym class and you make eye contact, and quickly sit next to each other, because you know even volleyball drills will be fun if you do them together.  Parenthood will be fun together.  I love you.

 

 

 

The Photos and The Shower

I am really bad at documenting my life.  That is an odd thing to say as I write a blog documenting my life but, more specifically, photo documentation.  I just never think to take photos.  You have had to take it on good faith this whole time that I am even pregnant, because there has not been a photo of me in this blog since my first entry.  There has not been one single photo of my baby bump.  I haven't been holding out on you.  I don't have a week by week documentation of the growing bump.  There are no photos of my baby bump, or there weren't until three days ago.  In terms of photographic evidence I went from not pregnant to 37 weeks pregnant.

There still wouldn't be photos of me but my lovely friend Lauren offered to take photos of us, pointing out that even if we don't care now, we might care later.  She's right.  She is also quite a good photographer.  So I present photographic evidence of my pregnancy.

Look we're in love, and pregnant, and it is fall.

Look we're in love, and pregnant, and it is fall.

In this one I am hiding.

In this one I am hiding.

In this one I am sitting on a tiny stool in our kitchen.  There were other seating options but I chose this one.  I also look exhausted which is how I am a lot these days because I have given up on sleep.

In this one I am sitting on a tiny stool in our kitchen.  There were other seating options but I chose this one.  I also look exhausted which is how I am a lot these days because I have given up on sleep.

I always feel weird when people take photos and tell me to act natural.  I would never ever stand with Ana touching my baby bump, from behind, in a park, naturally.  That being said I made that my profile pick on Facebook and it has gotten over 200 likes!  It has likes from people I don't even know.  I don't know how strangers can even see the picture.  I feel like a Kardashian.  I would actually sit on the tiny stool.  That is a thing I do.

We also have had a baby shower.  I was unaware of this but baby showers have a lot of rules of etiquette they should adhere to.  If you break one of these rules women on my parenting board will tell you and question your level of taste and class.  Even though I know it is ludicrous for me to worry about the opinions of some faceless women on a parenting board, who go by names like VexyMommy3 (I guess there were two other VexyMommies) and TheGingerAvenger, I did.  TheGingerAvenger's photo is Black Widow from The Avengers and VexyMommy3 is super into World Of Warcraft so when they're not schooling people on shower etiquette they have other interests too.  Anyway, some shower rules to know, that I didn't, as expressed by internet moms due in November 2015.

1.  You can't throw your own shower.  This is very important because as showers are considered primarily gift giving events you can't throw one for yourself because it's basically telling your friends they have to give you shit.  What if no one throws you one?  Too bad.  You should be better at making friends

2.  You can't have your shower after 33ish weeks.  This is not so much an etiquette thing but at 33 weeks you will cease to be able to enjoy your shower.  You will be "too big."  Very big people are incapable of joy.

3.  You can only have one baby shower, ever, in your whole life.  If you have a second baby you should not have a shower because, again, showers are considered gift giving events and after the first shower you should have big ticket items and not need them again.  You may have a sprinkle which is like a shower but less so.  Gifts are not necessarily expected.  It is more okay to have a sprinkle if you are having a baby with a different person than the first time, if it has been an extremely long time between babies, or if this baby is a different sex than the first.  You will obviously need pink onesies as oppose to blue, so a small party to facilitate this happening is okay, as long as you don't plan it.

I was fine on almost all counts as friends threw my shower and this is my first baby.  Only misstep was that we had it when I was 35 weeks pregnant.  It was okay.  Turns out I was not too big to enjoy friends, gifts, and food.

There were only two requests I had for my shower.  The first was I didn't want a time when people had to watch us open presents because I hate that at showers.  Granted I have never been to a baby shower, when I say I am the first one of my friends to have a baby, I am serious.  I have been to wedding showers though, and it always makes me feel self-conscious about my present, it takes a really long time, and I start to get bored.

They look happy, but really they're all wishing this would be over, so they could go get another glass of wine.

They look happy, but really they're all wishing this would be over, so they could go get another glass of wine.

The second request was that we play no games the involve candy bars representing baby poop in diapers.  This is a shower thing.  "Guess the melted chocolate bar in the diaper" seems to be especially popular. 

Planning your own shower isn't classy but this, this is fine?

Planning your own shower isn't classy but this, this is fine?

I didn't want to do this because?  Gross.  There is going to be so much real poo in my life soon and also why make chocolate gross?  Chocolate is perfect and delicious and so few things are in this life.

At my shower Ana insisted on opening presents because she argued people like to see their gift opened.  It turned out fine.  We opened the presents very quickly, so quickly writing thank you notes will be very challenging.  I have only a vague idea of who gave us what.  Then there was a game that involved chewing chocolate bars and spitting them in diapers to look like poop.  Which, I might argue, is even slightly grosser than the guessing the chocolate bar game.   It was good fun though, and also I didn't need to either look at the diapers or spit into them.  All in all it turned out great.  I had such a lovely time and am very grateful to my friends who planned it... despite their disobeying of my instructions.

My guess date is only two weeks (and one day) away.  I can't believe it.  I still need to tell you about Hypnobabies and 3rd trimester symptoms.  I can tell you that I pee on my hand about four times a day while leaning forward to wipe.  You would think I would learn to do a precautionary pre-lean before going in for the wipe, and yet.  Thank goodness there is soap and water in most bathrooms so I don't walk around with urine hands. 

 

The Doula And The Placenta

I have been looking for a good image to go with this blog for about 25 minutes and I need to stop.  Let's just say when you're looking for artistic/pretty doula images there are a lot of water colour paintings of women with rainbows coming our of their vaginas.

These are all legit pictures that come up when you search for doula art.  Ana didn't want a doula but I did and since I am the one pushing the baby out of my vagina I get final say.  I also made a fairly good argument that having a doula would mean that she got to nap more.

A doula is sort of like a personal attendant during your birthing time, by birthing time I mean labour, but since Hypnobabies I don't call it that anymore because fear clearing, granola, and rainbow vaginas.  A doula can help make things calmer, she is trained in different positions for helping to relieve pain, she has seen many births and knows the general flow of things, and she can also advocate for your birthing choices.  All of those sounded like good things to me, but the main reason I wanted one, is that the more trained professionals (who aren't going to cut me open, or induce me) around me during my birthing times the better.  When I get scared about turbulence on an airplane I look towards the flight attendants.  If they're not freaking out I'm good, they've seen it all.  I want my doula to be my flight attendant who is calm even when I'm not.  Ana is convinced she can be my flight attendant but the thing is she's never been present at a birth.  I have no doubt she'll be calm.  She is really good at calm, but how can I trust her calm?  I couldn't trust a flight attendant who had never been on an airplane. 

Apparently flight metaphors are rampant in birthing because a mom at one of my works was telling me that during her birthing time she was freaking out and didn't think she could do it.  Her doctor said to her, it's too late, you're a pilot and now the plane is up in the air, and you're going to have to land it one way or another.  Landing the plane is birthing the baby.

I should say there are a lot of reasons to hire a doula that have nothing to do with being anxious about birth.  They are associated with lower rates of c-sections, pain medication, induction and the list goes on and on.  Anyway, so I won the doula debate and we interviewed a few doulas that were recommended.  I have never interviewed doulas before but my midwife said to make sure whoever we picked was in line with our birthing philosophy.  I wasn't sure what our birthing philosophy was so Ana suggest we ask them their birthing philosophy and see if we liked the answer.  I decided on the second one we interviewed and it had nothing to do with her birthing philosophy.  They all kind of said the same thing when we asked them that, birth is beautiful and natural, support the partner to support you, Ina May blah blah blah. 

I liked the second one because she was funny and a good story teller.  Once again I won because I am the pregnant one.  It will be weird when I am no longer pregnant and we go back to the standard power dynamic in our relationship.  It helped that this particular doula did placenta encapsulation and Ana has been trying to get me to eat my placenta forever.

When I say forever, I do mean for a really long time.  She definitely brought it up before we started trying to conceive.  Maybe not on our first, or second date, but I think within the first year of us dating.  She wants to eat her placenta, when she has a baby, so I just think her enthusiasm boils over into wanting everyone to eat their placenta.  If you don't know what a placenta is, it's actually really badass.  It's the organ your body grows just to support baby and it's full of blood, vitamins, and hormones.  You birth it after you birth the baby.

Anyway, Ana wanted me to eat it and I was totally grossed out by the idea.  Most mammals do eat their placentas but we're not most mammals.  Some differences: we cook our food, we drive cars, we wear clothes, and we don't eat our placentas.  To me eating the placenta was like a little bit of cannibalism... self cannibalism... like masturbation of the cannibalistic world.  Gross.  Try not to get a mental picture of that. 

I told Ana that the only way I would do it was if she could somehow trick me into eating eat so I didn't know.  She ran a bunch of ideas past me and finally was like, what about in a lasagna?  That was a great idea because it's not like I pay real close attention to the individual components of a lasagna.  Turns out a lot of other people had the same idea.  There was even a recipe for placenta lasagna in Women's Health http://www.womenshealthmag.com/mom/placenta-recipes.

Don't worry this is just normal lasagna... as far as I know.

Don't worry this is just normal lasagna... as far as I know.

The only flaw in this plan is that Ana has never once made me lasagna so, when the day after baby's birth, she suddenly has this delicious Italian treat ready for me, I would be suspicious and not fooled.  Doubly so because we discussed the placenta lasagna option beforehand.  In enters our doula the hero who does placenta encapsulation.  So now I can pop a pill of placenta instead of eating it.  A pill I can do.  Even if I am not totally sold on the benefits of eating placenta I take so many pills these days what's another one?  To be clear I mean vitamins.  I take like 7 or 8 vitamins a day.

Also, I am 37 weeks as of today which means 3 weeks left till my guess date, which is Hypnobabies for due date.  I am really excited and also not working anymore.  I will tell you more about Hypnobabies and my baby shower in the next post.  What I can say about the shower was that there were two things I explicitly didn't want to happen at my baby shower.  They both happened.

 

The Second and Third Ultrasounds

I am 30 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  That means only 9 and a bit weeks to wait, if the baby comes on time, but I think baby will be late.  A lot has happened but I am going to tell you about something that happened awhile ago.

So if you've ever been pregnant you know that you get a second ultrasound at about 20 weeks.  This is the anatomy scan where they make sure your baby has all its organs and parts.  It's also the scan where they can find out the sex of your child.  They don't tell you though, your midwife or doctor tells you later.

So on the day of this ultrasound we had a resident doctor start our ultrasound.  He was learning how to do them with a tech as his teacher, and he was pretty bad at it.  He couldn't find things and took forever.  I feel okay about how bad he was at it because I don't think doctors even usually do ultrasounds.  Which is good because as previously stated he was crap.  Then the technician took over.  She was fast and good.  Honestly, to me none of it looked much like a person anyway, more like a Rorschach test.  At the end they print you pictures, pictures like the below pictured adorable profile shot.

Or, a cute closeup on a lil' baby foot.

Or, a horrific cross section of your babies face.  Which the ultrasound technician thought was cool because you can see the iris.  It is also cool because our baby looks exactly like Skeletor in it.   Seriously, what parent wants an image of the inside of their baby's face?

Click through to see a comparison to actual Skeletor: uncanny.

So we finish our ultrasound and 20 minutes later we get a call saying we'll need to do another one in a couple weeks because they didn't get a clear picture of all the chambers of the heart.  I freak out that our baby doesn't have enough heart chambers and Ana isn't worried at all.  Ana is calm as a cucumber and not at all worried about Skeletor's potential congenital heart defect.

I try to calm myself by rationalizing our next ultrasound is scheduled for two weeks in the future.  Surely if they though it was bad they would want us in sooner right?  We have a midwife appointment the same day as our next ultrasound so we put off calling to find out the sex of our baby.  We can just find out at the appointment.

We go in for the next ultrasound and again we have a student but this is an ultrasound tech student and she is much better than the doctor.  They see the four chambers of the heart.  This technician is funny compared to the last one.  As she takes measurements of our baby she said things like, "This is baby's hat size," when she measured the head.  She also said, "This is baby's belt size," when she measured baby's stomach, which is ludicrous because babies don't wear belts.  All in all this ultrasound was more pleasant than the first.  Both of the techs, the one in training and the one not in training, looked young enough that I could have been their babysitter and like they are new pledges for Delta Zeta but they were extremely competent and professional.  Who doesn't like a capable and confident sorority sister?

Same day as the second ultrasound we have a midwife appointment.  Right away we ask the sex of the baby.  She's like, "You don't know?"  And we didn't because we didn't call because of the whole second ultrasound business.  I guess one particular midwife gets to do most of the calls about the sex of the baby because our midwife was beyond stoked she got to tell us.  She asked if we wanted her to make it fun?  We said no just tell us.  Then she asked if she should write it down and put it in an envelope?  We said just tell us.  She then got us to guess before she told us.  I kind of wish we had opted for the "making it fun" option.  Maybe she would have hidden the sex somewhere in the office with scavenger hunt clues written in code or something.  I am really good at scavenger hunts.  Even on our way out of the appointment she was beaming and said, "I can't believe I got to tell you."  This makes me wish they shared the job of sex revealing babies more equally around the Midwifery Group.  It's clearly something they all like doing.  Or she likes doing... a lot.

The sex of the baby is a secret by the way.  It is however a very badly kept secret so if you ask enough people you will probably be able to find out.  We just want to avoid the pink/blue tsunami of gendering that is baby clothes and stuff.  We have this tiny denim jacket for 0-6 months.  Seriously this is the cutest shit.

Here it is being modeled by Baby Dyke Bear.  Isn't that adorable?  Not to mention I have basically the exact same denim jacket in me size.  Baby and I can be matchy matchy.

Here it is being modeled by Baby Dyke Bear.  Isn't that adorable?  Not to mention I have basically the exact same denim jacket in me size.  Baby and I can be matchy matchy.

This jacket came with a tag that clearly stated it was a "Boy's Denim Jacket."  Seriously?  It is a completely gender neutral item of clothing to me.  There is no special penis space allowance in this jacket?  Ridiculous.  So anyway, in an effort to not participate in the genderfest that is newborn paraphernalia the sex is a secret but I bet if you ask three people in Vancouver one of them will know.

So that was our ultrasound experience and now there will be no more ultrasounds.  Most people only get two, so we already had an extra.  In current news we have just hired a badass doula, and Ana has convinced me to eat my placenta but we'll get to that next time.

The Symptoms Part 2

I think I am ready to give the lowdown on what symptoms I have experienced this, the second, trimester.  I have to say it hasn't been bad.  I mean it's been bad but I like not being sick and now I look pregnant so I get a seat on the bus (mostly).  Also, I got my first pair of maternity jeans and now I feel like a normal person and not someone trapped in legging purgatory.  I was going to say legging hell but that seemed a little extreme.  While I don't love wearing leggings everyday there's no way it's anywhere near anyone's perception of hell, otherwise no one would worry that much about hell; no fire and brimstone just stretchy pants.

Second trimester is famous for a lack of symptoms, and this has been sort of true for me?  My top 4 symptoms as illustrated by cats have been.

1) Heartburn

Get ready, because I am going to talk about science again, which always sounds made up when I talk about it. 

One of the hormones your body makes during pregnancy makes all your muscles relax, it is called relaxin (for realz, sometimes science makes things easy).  This sounds like a good thing, and it is when you're pushing a baby out, but it is one of the reasons pregnant people aren't suppose to do heavy lifting.  Your relaxed muscles are more prone to injury.  It also relaxes your digestive muscles and this can cause heartburn or, in my case, monster heartburn.  The above mentioned fire and brimstone?  Like that, but inside of me. 

Since my heartburn was so bad I was put on some strong meds, but these meds gave me trapped gas.  Gas that felt like stabbing all over my body.  Gas would get trapped in places where there shouldn't even be gas like the back of my shoulder and my sides.  The gas was worse than the heartburn so I cut back on the meds.  I still take them but half as much.  This makes the fire inside of me more of a campfire and less of a bonfire.  You could now safely toast a marshmallow over my heartburn.

2) Peeing

I pee all the time.  I pee all the time, but not a normal amount of pee comes out.  I pee few teaspoons at a time.  I pee so often that the fact that I peed only three times yesterday evening (we're talking 7pm on wards) is alarming to me and I am worried something might be wrong with the baby.  I can pretty much pee at any given moment now.  I have not wet myself, or peed because I laughed or sneezed, but those delights might yet be ahead of me.

3) Baby movement

I don't know this cat can feel her babies' movements but I bet she can.

I don't know this cat can feel her babies' movements but I bet she can.

So, I was a late bloomer in terms of feeling kicks.  I know at my 21 week ultrasound I still hadn't felt any real movement.  Some women talk about feeling their babies move at like 12 weeks (mostly second/third/sixth time moms).  I didn't and I really wanted to.  I would lie there and just try to feel movement and I would forget to breath and then feel my pulse really strong in my stomach.  I think I felt my first movements at about 22 weeks?  The best way I can describe the early movements I felt is like an eye twitch.  You know when your eye twitches because you're sleepy, or stressed, or just a twitchy mother fucker?  Like that, but inside your stomach.

Now I feel baby all the time but it's a blessing and a curse because it has given me something new to worry about.  I feel the kicks mostly at night, but throughout the day as well. I feel them all over my tummy and sometimes instead of kicks they feel like a fish kind of flopping around.  I like feeling them, but I don't like not feeling them.  Three days ago I had a quiet day and I didn't sleep at all because I stayed awake all night trying to feel baby moving.  The past couple of days I have awoken at four in the morning worried about baby and drank a big glass of juice and lay there to feel baby moving.  Juice or any cold liquid tends to get baby going, which I though was because they love delicious juice and and were dancing around, but actually is because they hate the cold of a sudden cold drink, and are trying to squirm away from it.  When my baby is wide awake every morning at 4am and crying I will only have myself and Ocean Spray to blame.

4) Eat all the things

 

I don't eat all the things all of the time, but I do eat all of the things some of the time.  In general my appetite has been largely unaffected by pregnancy.  I have gotten more particular about food.  Yes: ice cream, chicken katsu, and raspberries.  No: teriyaki, pizza, and potatoes.  The thing is sometimes I will go on an amazing feeding frenzy.  The other day I ate maybe 8 pieces of french toast and sausage.  It was for dinner.  I don't like french toast, and I haven't eaten red meat in a decade, and yet?  The other day I also ate all of the french toast, this time for breakfast.  After that baby didn't move for like a day.  I freaked out but baby seems to be moving like normal again.  Could baby have been suffering my food coma?  

So these aren't all my symptoms.  I sometimes have horrible dizzy spells, and my extreme fatigue seems to be on the way back but these were the major ones through second trimester.  I am two days away from week 27 which means I am about to enter the final trimester.  Another new symptom that seems to be getting worse is random outbursts of rage.  These are mostly directed at Ana.  The other day I stormed out of the room because she wouldn't watch a video on the internet with me.  This is Ana's most favourite symptom.

The Fear

I am someone who is scared of a lot of things.  Some of them are reasonable and some of them aren't.  I hate elevators.  A heavy box, full of people, held up by nothing but a few cables?  Terrifying.  I am constantly checking their maximum weight capacity and assessing those around me to make sure we're well under.  I get nervous if I've had a big lunch because that cookie might be what puts us over. 

I am struck mute with terror when I encounter an attractive stranger.  I can be charming as anything if I don't fancy you, but if I do it's like my mouth actually looses the power to speak.  It's incredible I harnessed enough bravery to talk to Ana, let alone ask her out, liquor helped.

Pugs creep me way the fuck out.  It's not because I am scared they'll bite me or anything but because of their loud asthmatic breathing.

It sounds like they're always just about to die and I don't want to witness a pug die.  Another one of my fears is dead animals.

The thing I am most scared of though is my health and getting sick/dying.  This fear has evolved over the years but it has been around since I was little.  It first manifested as a fear of poison.  In grade one I was so afraid of paste, the minty less effective alternative to glue, that I would cry in the corner whenever we made paper turkeys out of hand prints, or whatever craft.  This is especially funny because children have been eating paste since the dawn of time.  Baby brontosaurs were eating paste back in the Mesozoic era.  Fact.

So harmless and so so terrifying to my six year old self.

So harmless and so so terrifying to my six year old self.

I was so scared of things being poison the school sent me to a counselor but I cried so much they never made me go back.  I cried my way out of therapy.  Years later, with an adult perspective, it seems like the tears might have been a sign it was something I really needed, but it worked.  I grew out of the poison thing but I am still the worst hypochondriac I know.  My favourite things to worry about are anything that will kill me suddenly and is not super detectable: heart attack, brain aneurysm, stroke, and air embolism. 

I have been different amounts good at dealing with this fear.  Sometimes it's not an issue and sometimes it gets really bad.  I once called an ambulance after a CrossFit class.  I had been doing twenty minutes of wall balls.  You throw a heavy ball against a target high on the wall.  I am only 5'2 so this was a challenging task for me.  My heart rate just wouldn't slow down.  I though it was the end.  The paramedics showed up and asked me what was wrong.  When I told them my heart rate was fast they asked what I'd been doing.  When I said CrossFit they could barely contain their eye rolling.  I get it because having a fast heart rate after you exercise isn't dying, it's living.  It's what your body is suppose to do.  It's hard to explain how real my panic is about these things but it is intense.  I have called ambulances many times.  I go through the emotions someone would who was actually having a heart attack.  It's bad.

Then I go and get pregnant.  Being pregnant is a total body experience.  What with the puking, dizziness, bowel horrors, sweating, swelling, bleeding gums, stronger pulses, discharge, congestion and the list goes on but it affects one on every level.  The other thing about being pregnant is that a lot of actually scary things can happen as a result of it, including my big four:  heart attack, brain aneurysm, embolism and stroke.

Preeclampsia = fucking terrifying.

There is a special kind of hear failure women get only because of pregnancy, embolisms can happen in the birthing process and more.  I know Downton Abbey happened a long time ago but this is still a thing that can happen.  However, even though being pregnant makes me confront the number one scariest thing I can imagine, sudden and horrible death, we're going for it.  Most of the best things life has to offer come with fear.  I am not just talking about motherhood but all sorts of things.

Traveling can be scary and moving doubly so.  You are leaving everything you know and love for the unknown and what does the unknown have to offer you?  You don't know.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe terrors beyond your worst imaginings, giant pugs that one by one suffocate in front of you due to their purebred, too short snouts.  But also, maybe amazing growth, learning, and adventure.

Falling in love is terrifying.  First off it involves talking to good looking people, which I already stated I am afraid of, but also being vulnerable to someone else.  Letting someone hold all the parts of you, even the fragile and imperfect parts, even the parts that you don't like to look at.  It also means after you have given them all of this, the best and the worst, they might decide, meh not for me.  Or that you're too much work.  Or that they need something different, or somethings different. 

Performing can be terrifying for people, being expected to make someone laugh or cry or think. 

But obviously we can't stay in one place, alone, and never make art in order to not feel fear and the same is true for becoming a mom.  I want this more then I want to feel safe and okay.  I am so excited to meet this little person, and watch them grow from something dependent on me to someone independent and completely themselves.  I want to know that kind of love.  I want to know that kind of struggle.  So we're doing this, but I am scared, and that is okay.

 

 

 

The Things I Read

I am someone who likes to have a lot of information about anything they are doing.  If I am going on a trip I buy one or two guide books, read about destinations online, try to find blogs where locals talk about the best things to do, and when I am their I regularly consult apps like Yelp.  So in embarking on the journey that is pregnancy I was no different.  Here is a list of some of the things I have/do read.

1.What To Expect When You're Expecting

The day that I found out I was pregnant I went out and bought a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting.  It was the book I knew about.  I didn't know about any other books, blogs, or message boards.  I bought it full price from a book store.  This was serious business.

What To Expect When Your Expecting has been around since 1984 and you can see the covers evolve from pregnant ladies wearing pink muumuus in rocking chairs, to pregnant ladies on the go, in deep v-necks and kicky little boots.  On the french cover the v-neck is pink ou rose, for some inexplicable reason.  Now, I should say, my midwives told me they don't like this book.  They find it alarmist but I quite like it.  I like knowing about things that could go wrong and I like how comprehensive it is.  I also like that millions of women for the past 3 decades have read this book.  It's like I am sharing an experience with mothers who have come before: a book club that transcends the boundaries of time.  Also, it makes no judgements about choices around birthing, it just lays out a lot of options.  That being said it could be alarmist for some people.  It goes over everything that might happen, the good, the bad, the bloody, the stinky, it even explains how you might birth a baby if you had to do it entirely solo.  At first I read it religiously but now I keep it in the bathroom and only read it when I enter a new month of pregnancy or am having a very long poop.

2.  The Girlfriend's Guide To Pregnancy

This book was highly recommended by the internet so I bought a second hand copy.  It's like a book by your sassy girlfriend (not girlfriend like lover, but girlfriend like gal pal) where she dishes the honest truth about pregnancy.

If Vicki Iovine was my gal pal we would need to sit down and really deconstruct her heterosexism, judgement around home birth/midwives, and judgement around women and body size: "Any woman that starves herself or eats only trash foods should be permanently ostracized from the community of Girlfriends, if not from the universe."  She said that.  But Vicki what about poverty and food politics?  What about mental illness?  What about the fact you are not the supreme judge of who should be ostracized from the universe.  THE UNIVERSE!  If you're a modern, socially aware, progressive type you will find this book old fashioned.  If you are a radical activist and/or queer and/or real real granola you will hate this book.  You will find it infuriating and you may throw it against a wall.  I will say it seems like her advice on maternity clothing might be solid?  I have yet to follow it, but am planning to and will get back to you. 

3. the bump

It's not a book it's a website/app and I go there all the time.  It is a site to follow week by week what is happening with your pregnancy.  It tells you what size your baby is on a fruit scale.  The fruit scale is a good reference but also flawed in the fact the same fruit can be different sizes.  For example a few weeks back my baby was the size of a peach, and the following week it was the size of a lemon.  For my money lemons are smaller than peaches, which would mean my baby was shrinking.  Maybe it's just because I live on the West Coast and peaches are grown not so far away?  I never though of Okanongon peaches as being monstrously huge, but they are way bigger than lemons.  That being said I actually like the articles and updates provided on the bump.

What I don't like are the message boards.  Well I do like/use them but they get really intense.  Women get banned all the time for insulting other women, or posting inappropriate stuff.  Women are always making pleas to be nicer to one another.  They have very intense opinions about baby shower etiquette.  God help the woman who posts and ultrasound picture and wants people to help her figure out the sex of the baby.  You will also be attacked if you re-post about something that has recently been posted about.  The term "special snowflake" gets thrown around a lot.  I am worried I will somehow be banned from the board for writing this.  Also, there aren't a lot of queer parents on there.  There is a LGBTQ message board but there was some sort of coo in the past and everyone left it.  I don't know why.  I arrived too late on the scene, but from what I gather the gays left en masse and only a few of us remain.

4. The Longest Shortest Time

I just found this but it is amazing.  It's a podcast, not a book, but it's all about parenting.  My background is in radio.  I was a radio host for 5 years and plan to return to it post-baby.  It's my favourite medium.  My dream job would be working for This American Life and I stumbled across The Longest Shortest Time while listening to TAL. 

It's all about parenting and is really honest and hilarious.  I just recently listened to an episode about raising children with mixed-racial identities which is great and super relevant as we're having a baby with mixed racial background.  I haven't mentioned that yet, SURPRISE!  We'll get into it later in the blog, but it's something I think about a lot.  Also, listened to a series of episodes about sex after babies.  One of them got into raising boys within rape culture and our responsibilities around that.  It's great and I think interesting enough non-parents would dig it too.  It's also an app, facebook group, and website.  Also it really pays tribute to different kinds of families and ways of getting pregnant.  AMAZING!  There are great links to other resources through their website: http://longestshortesttime.com/

5. Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea

This is a blog/series of articles that I found through The Longest Shortest Time.  It's a long blog and I am working my way through it backwards.  She is a queer writer, which maybe everyone knows except me?  Her and her partner started trying when Michelle was 40, and started just like Ana and I, but then needed fertility treatments and a lot of them from the looks of it.  The series follows several years, various attempts, a miscarriage and eventually the birth of their baby.  It's great.  If I had found this blog when I was first looking for resources I might never have started mine.  You can find it here: http://www.xojane.com/family/getting-pregnant-michelle-tea.

That's kind of it.  Those are the things I am reading, but I read them a lot because I am the first of my friends to get pregnant and my mom is basically the only real life person I talk to who has been pregnant.  It actually has made me feel slightly lonely.  I should mention facebook has some amazing groups I have joined and they are great too.  I would love to hear about more so please post anything you have found that is interesting/funny/scandalous in the comments.

 

 

The Ultrasound

This happened forever ago in pregnancy time.  Pregnancy time is like normal time but it passes much much slower.  I swear I have been pregnant for like a year and a half.  At week ten (six whole weeks ago) we had our first ultrasound. 

I have had one other ultrasound in my life, and I wasn't good at it.  It had nothing to do with pregnancy but it was in the same area.  They tell you to come with a full bladder and, since I am and overachiever, I had like six giant mason jars of water.  I had to pee so bad by the time they started the ultrasound I was crying from bladder pain.  So, then I had to go empty my bladder most of the way.  Then there wasn't enough water.  I could tell the technician was really disappointment in me/they probably didn't care at all.

That was my context going into the second ultrasound of my life.  So, while I did drink water, I didn't drink too much water.  The first thing they asked when I checked in at the clinic was if I had a full bladder and I was like, "Yeah, pretty full.  I'm not sure.  How full is full?"  She told me if it wasn't full enough the technician would let me know but I ran to the bathroom and drank a cup and a half more of water anyways.  I think I care too much about pleasing people.

I go in and Ana is with me but the technician asks her to wait outside for the beginning part.  I don't know why.  My guess is that sometimes it can take awhile to see baby and the partner freaks out? 

She starts the ultrasound, and sees the baby, and this stranger woman looses her shit talking about how cute the baby is.  She is more stoked on the baby than I am.  I am all like, "My baby isn't especially cute.  Don't they all look the same?"  She is like, "They all look the same but they all come out different.  They all grow into different people.  It's the miracle of life."  For real.  She said that.  That's how stoked she was and she must see hundreds of fetuses a week.  That woman is in the right line of work.  She explained what exactly she thought was so cute.  My baby was using its egg sac as a pillow.  The egg sac is what they use to eat before the placenta is grown.  Eventually it is completely absorbed by the baby, so by now my baby has lost its pillow.

The circle is not a second transparent head on our baby... phew.

The circle is not a second transparent head on our baby... phew.

So Ana came in and our technician exclaimed some more about the miracle of life.  Seriously, this woman should give talks in high schools about loving what you do.  We heard the heartbeat, a lot of women cry when they hear the heartbeat.  It was amazing.  I didn't cry.  I think that's okay.  I am not much of a crier.  Even in really sad movies I don't cry.  In Marley & Me I didn't cry.  This caused some people to call me heartless, but I mean the dog didn't really die.  It was an actor dog.  It was actually five different actor dogs.  Why would I cry because five dogs didn't die?  Anyway, I was excited, thrilled, fascinated, but I didn't cry when I saw and heard my baby.  I have decided this is no reflection on what kind of mother I will be.

So this was six weeks ago.  Now the baby is the size of a navel orange/avocado, depending which fruit scale you're using.  I see the baby again is a little over a month.  I am stoked for that.  My breasts are enormous (way bigger than an avocado on the fruit scale) and none of my pants fit which I am less stoked on. 

The Midwives

The first time I called the midwifery clinic we're using someone with a thick, probably Scottish accent picked up.  I started to explain I was calling about using a midwife and she said she'd take my info but she wasn't the receptionist and didn't know what to do.  Who was this mysterious Scot and why did she answer the phone?  We will never know.  No one ever called me back.  I waited a week and then I called back and spoke to the receptionist.  The call went fine but I did do this weird thing where I said, "I am pregnant, and am interested in working with your group to birth the baby."  Working with your group?  I don't know, should I have said booking a midwife?  Hiring a midwife?  Using a midwife?  Whatever, I said "working with."

So a lot of people have asked me why a midwife.  I don't actually have a great answer.  I like the fact that in general there are less medical interventions with midwives.  I like the long empowered female history of midwives.  I like that there's a lovely clinic in my neighborhood.  I like the option to have a home birth (I'm not having a home birth but I like the option).  I also really like that show Call The Midwife.  So for all of those highly scientific reason it's the route we've chosen but things could change.

My only regret is that my midwives do not wear maroon cardigans and kicky little hats.

My only regret is that my midwives do not wear maroon cardigans and kicky little hats.

It's not that midwives can't deal with some complications because they can.  It's just that I am someone who worries A LOT about health stuff.  For example at this moment I am worried I have per-eclampsia, breast cancer, and meningitis.  To be clear at this moment all signs point to me being healthy and fine.  If it looks like anything wonky is going on with this pregnancy I will switch to an Ob-Gyn but if everything seems low-risk and like smooth sailing? I am stoked to work with my midwifery group.

Something you might not know is that you don't get a midwife.  You get midwives.  This is not the case everywhere but in Vancouver, where I live, every midwife organization I looked into worked in teams.  This means one of four women will catch my baby.  I love that they work in a team actually because it means that they can sleep, have days off, take vacations, and all that stuff you want for your midwife.  So she can be a rested, calm, collected person.  The team aspect doesn't mean some stranger will show up at the hospital to catch my baby.  I get to meet all of them before baby time at various appointments.  Appointments at their lovely clinic, that looks more like a hippie friend's apartment then any kind of medical establishment.  It's got mosaics, and artfully hung fabric, plants, soft lighting.  It's the kind of place where you could imagine smoking marijuana cigarettes and singing along to folk songs, because that's what hippies do. 

Not this, but almost this.

Not this, but almost this.

So far I have only had two appointments.  They were mostly conversations with a little blood work requests and test results sprinkled in.  Also, they have been super queer inclusive.  They don't even need our donors name which is great because he wanted to be anonymous.  They have all of Ana's info down as the other parent.  Midwives, so far, are the shit.  Now I am going to go eat chicken strips.

The Test

So about 8 weeks ago my friend was coming over for dinner.  He offered to bring wine and I was like, "No, don't bring wine because it's the part of the month when I can't drink it anyway."  Then when I got off the phone I realized it was far enough along in the month that I could take a pregnancy test and thereby potentially have wine (if the test was negative).  I peed on a stick.  I checked it after a minute and there was just the dreaded single line.  I was kind of bummed.  So I cried to Ana we were never going to get pregnant, and maybe I'm infertile, and this is so hard.  Then I composed myself - at least I can have wine tonight.

I went into the bathroom to throw out the test, and what do I see?

Is that a...?  Maybe?  But it's so faint?

Is that a...?  Maybe?  But it's so faint?

I see a second line.  Or maybe?  It's so faint but it's definitely more of a second line than I have ever seen before.  Fun fact about pregnancy tests: false positives aren't really a thing.  So if you have any line, no matter how faint, unless you drew it on yourself in Sharpie, you're most likely pregnant.  The way the test works is it looks for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your pee.  We'll be hearing more about this lovely little hormone in future blog entries.  Your body only makes it when you're pregnant, so if the test is picking it up at all, you're pregnant.  There are a couple of exceptions, like some women undergoing IVF and other fertility related treatments might test positive even if they're not pregnant, but in general it means you're pregnant.  So no wine for me.

I am not someone who ever felt good about barely passing a test.  I am an over achiever so over the next three weeks I did a lot more tests.

Not all tests done are pictured above.

Not all tests done are pictured above.

I actually did five tests in all but one was a digital test: very satisfying because it simply says "yes" or "no", none of this faint pink line BS.  It's pass fail and I got a yes/pass.  The battery in that test has since died though and the blank screen was not worth including.  See that bottom test?  It has a darker pregnancy line than test line.  That means I had so much hCG in my pee it used up more of the ink than the test line did.  This felt like a big win for me; when I got that result I stopped testing.  In all honesty if we count all the pregnancy tests and ovulation tests I have done, since we started this process, I am pretty sure we've spent over $300 for me to pee on sticks. 

So I'm pregnant but now what?  Thing is about being pregnant is you don't get to tell people for a long time.  So you wait and you wait.  You go to appointments, ultrasounds, you dry heave like it's going out of style (which it should be, dry heaving should never be stylish).  Friends ask how the process is going, they tell you how much they love your blog, and send you fan art. 

Tehya MacKenzie drew this.  She is a talented photographer, fashonista, and lovely human who lives in London.

Tehya MacKenzie drew this.  She is a talented photographer, fashonista, and lovely human who lives in London.

My friend Tehya sent me this a week after we found out.  I loved it so much and I wanted to tell her immediately I was knocked up but I didn't.  It's an egg and sperm.  In actuality those sperm are going to be disappointed because that egg is clearly already inhabited by a single quotation mark.  Seriously though, it's such a lovely image.

I am 11 weeks along so we're announcing even a little early, but I am not good at keeping secrets, and this one has been a chore.  Fun fact: when you're pregnant you get to count two whole weeks when you weren't pregnant to your week total (give or take depending on your cycle) .  They count from the first day of your last period.  This means that no one is ever two weeks pregnant because at two weeks pregnant you are not pregnant at all, no sperm has met no egg, and made no baby.  This felt really awesome at first because I was a whole month pregnant when I first found out.  It seems like less of a big deal now. 

Expect future blog posts to come fast and furious.  The dam has been opened. 

The False Alarms

Every single symptom you can imagine is a sign of early pregnancy.  I say this as a person with an exceptional imagination.  If you can dream it, it happens to someone in the early stages of their pregnancy. 

In the window between my pregnancy attempts, and the time when I can test, every symptom means something.  I decided to test this theory by entering random symptoms followed by "sign of early pregnancy."  I typed in ringing in the ears and nose bleeds.  I haven't had either.  Both, according to the internet, can be signs of early pregnancy.

I have gotten more jaded about thinking I'm pregnant as we've been trying.  I've also stopped letting myself google symptoms (except for blog research).  The first month we tried I was totally sure.  I was sure because of my poops and feeling dizzy all the time.  I won't get into the poops but let's just say they were atypical.  Let's face it, if I had a kid for every time I had atypical poops I would have thousands of children.  That would be a child for every single time I ate beans.  I was dizzier than usual but maybe I just needed a sandwich, or one less turn on the tire swing.

The next month I was convinced I was pregnant because I was having weird dreams.  That's also a sign, in particular weird sex dreams.  It's hard to know where the line is for "weird" sex dream, but in at least one of the dreams I had crossed it FOR SURE. 

One month I got a monster pimple.  I am talking the Mount Everest of the pimple world.  It was so big I was worried it would leave negative space in my face when it erupted.  Glad to report that didn't happen but  pimples are also a sign of pregnancy.

The other thing about early signs of pregnancy is that a lot of them are also things that happen right before your period.  A common one is swollen breasts but my breasts do that every month.  Mood swings and bloating are also signs of pregnancy.  Basically the lead up to your period is one big trick into fooling you you've conceived.  I get it.  It all has to do with hormones and the same hormones are involved in both processes.  It would be great if instead of period symptoms when we were pregnant our bodies... (here I was going to write examples of other symptoms, that would be different than period symptoms, but every symptom I could think up is already a "pregnancy symptom").

To be totally honest I did find one symptom not linked to early pregnancy, which was "sudden fear of spiders."  Though that search did lead me to read an interesting article about how arachnophobia may develop before birth in crickets.  This is not so relevant to my life or theoretical baby but independently fascinating.

http://www.livescience.com/9808-fear-spiders-develop-birth.html

The onset of arachnophobia is out, but a sudden fear of heights?  Can be a sign of early pregnancy.  I'm serious.

 

The Timing (Ovulation)

I googled  "cute ovulation" images for this blog and the images weren't cute at all.  Some of them were like something out of a horror story.  I think they were really close up pictures of the cervix.  I am not hating on my cervix but I also won't post those pictures here.  Then I tried "ovulation cartoon" and the first one that came up was this.

I don't get this at all?  Do you get it?  Does it have something to do with tadpoles looking like sperm?  Also why is she a princess with no eyes?  Frog has eyes, but not her.  Anyway, I share it because it is so perplexing and also a frog is going to come up later and I love motifs.

So ovulation is that thing that most female bodies of breeding age do where they release an egg (or sometimes more than one).  That's when the sperm need to do their baby making thing.  It's a big deal for us because Ana and I don't have sperm at our disposal all the time.  We need to be accurate.  If you have a 28 day cycle then ovulation is often around day 14 (counting from the first day of your period).  You want to try to get pregnant in the days leading up to, and including, ovulation.  Spoiler alert: I don't ovulate on day 14 and many women don't.  It's not just the gays that worry about ovulation, most couples trying to get pregnant track it in one, or a few ways.  We do a few different things.

There's an app for that

There are a plethora of apps out there to track when you ovulate (more than 20).  I have two but I only use one.  It's called Clue and I like it because it is pretty and there are no pop up ads.  You can enter a few simple details and track your periods and ovulation.  For the keeners out there, you can also enter more details and track other things related to your cycle like cramps and stuff.  The other one I have is called Ovulation Calculator from Mobile Mom and has pop up ads for online dating services... which is maybe really weird on an app about getting pregnant?  Or maybe really progressive?  Families can look a lot of different ways.  Clue is better looking anyway.

The icon for clue is a virtual iPhone mandala of fertility.

The icon for clue is a virtual iPhone mandala of fertility.

Basal body temperature

Another way to track ovulation is your basal body temperature which is a euphemism for taking your temperature with crust in your eyes, still half asleep, and prior to any caffeine.  To get this basal temperature you're not suppose to have even have sat up in bed.  Right after sleep is the lowest temperature your body is all day, and it is slightly higher when you ovulate.  Straight up, Ana knows about this and not me.  She charted my temperature, I had no idea what was going on but she had an Excel document and everything.  All I was responsible for was putting this guy in my mouth every morning.

This is Charles... this is what he used to look like.

This is Charles... this is what he used to look like.

We called him Charles.  There is no funny story he just looked like a Charles to me.  In the interest of full disclosure Charles no longer looks like this because he got left on the heater next to our bed and he melted into a J-shape.  Ana threw him out.  I nearly wept.  Don't personify thermometers.  Lesson learned.

Ovulation tests

You know how there are pregnancy tests?  There are also ovulation tests.  They are completely identical to pregnancy tests except you buy nine of them at once.  You can take them to check if your math is solid, your app accurate, and Charles' data is reliable.  I love ovulation tests because I have failed every pregnancy test I have ever taken, but I pass ovulation tests every month.  They work the same way too.  One pink line for not ovulating and two for ovulating.  Every double line feels like a mini victory.

The only thing I don't like about ovulation tests is that because they look so much like pregnancy tests I have gotten dirty looks bying them.  I'll set the scene.  I was going to pick up a few things at Kingsgate Mall, the mall that has everything you would ever need: grocery store, drugstore, liquor store.  I had been to the liquor store and bought some beer.  Then I went to the drugstore to get a box of ovulation tests, and like I said, unless you read all the text on the box, they are identical to pregnancy tests.  I am walking through Shoppers with this bag of beer, and box of ovulation tests and I got so many dirty looks. 

This is a dramatic reenactment and not the actual bag of stuff from that day.  The box wasn't open.

This is a dramatic reenactment and not the actual bag of stuff from that day.  The box wasn't open.

I hear people judge a lot of things about pregnant women, what they eat, their physical activity, their birthing choices so I should probably just get used to this.  Anyway ovulation tests are great, and from all these data sources we have determined... I ovulate around day 16 of my cycle.  TA-DA!

So my eggs are a little late to the party but at least they brought beer.   

 

The Tools

I have been met with nothing but enthusiasm as I have been telling people about Ana and me trying.  Thank you.  Well, enthusiasm and curiosity.  Never before in my life have people been as curious about what was going on with my lady parts.  This could seem really intrusive but luckily I have never been so happy to talk about what was going on with my vagina.

I'm not going to get way way into it (tee hee... way into my vagina... funny) but I will tell you about the tools that we're using.  So, the title of this blog is a misnomer because there's actually no turkey baster involved.  I think you can use a turkey baster.  I know at least one full grown adult who refers to being a turkey baster baby and she's not prone to false claims.  Clearly I am. 

The thing about turkey basters is that I have an irrational fear of getting air bubbles in my blood stream.  I thought the root of this was the movie Clerks and some girl having sex in a hot tub and dying from an air embolism.

1994-poster-from-clerks.jpg

Seriously, this has been a big thing in my life and the reason I waited an entire extra year in my teens to have sex.  They should teach about embolisms in high school to scare kids into abstinence, because you know what's scarier than gonorrhea?  An air embolism.  After some extensive googling it turns out that the Clerks memory is fictional.  The girl died swimming in the YMCA pool.  It was of an embolism but not because of anything sexy.  Doesn't matter because either way I am way paranoid.  I just can't see how you can effectively get the air out of a turkey baster.  So we're using a syringe, sans needle.

It's a 10 mL so this is smaller than actual size.

It's a 10 mL so this is smaller than actual size.

It's pretty easy to flick it with your fingers and get all the bubbles out... almost all the bubbles.  Honestly I still feel a little nervous about it every time, but I try to remember that people have sex all the time. The world is full of air, and most people survive sex, despite this lethal combination.  It still feels like a miracle when I live though this process though.  Science was never my subject.

The other thing we use is a receptacle to transport sperm.  My bid was for a medical sample containers (like the ones you pee into at the doctor's office).  Ana's bid was for stubby mason jars, which we already owned.

Look how sterile and official looking.

Look how sterile and official looking.

The thing is, try as I might I couldn't think of a reason not to use mason jars.  The main requirements were that the containers were air tight and easy to sterilize, and mason jars were solid on both counts.  My main objection was that mason jars are for jams, pickles, homemade scented candles, and hipsters drinking beer.  They are not for sperm.  In the end mason jars won out.  They really are exceptionally easy to sterilize, and also there was something so satisfying about using a mason jar for something even Pinterest couldn't dream of.  You'll notice the little bows on both the syringe and the jar.  Those are for your benefit.  You're welcome.

Perfect for jam and/or sperm.

Perfect for jam and/or sperm.

That's it.  Those are the tools.  Nothing you can't buy at a medical supply store and wherever you go for your home canning needs.  It's still a lot more tools than most people need, and we haven't even gotten into the transportation of the the sperm, or as I like to call it, The Incredible Journey.

The Couple

I guess first thing's first: who are these people who even want to have a baby?  Ana is my wife, and my name is Sara.  We met at a queer dance party years ago.  It's a much longer story that involves a lot of facebook stalking, and deceit (mostly on my end), but regardless of my methods I got the girl and she married me so pretty much I won at love.

10517341_10152226104985216_6390907549525457393_o(1).jpg

I am the one in the white dress.  I chose this picture because we look adorable, happy and very very wholesome.  We look like the kind of queers that people argue should be able to get married and have babies.  We're virtual poster children for queer rights.  I want to make it clear this is not always how we always look.

Sometimes we look like we have badass dance moves, are a little drunk, and more than a little sweaty but not as sweaty as my friend Quinn in the background (blue tank top).  Also, we look like we are so good at dancing neon green light shoots out of our arms. 

We realized pretty early on in our relationship that we both wanted kids.  It came up when we were talking about life goals and relationships, which was probably on our second date... lesbians... we're the worst.  What started as a nice night of drinking craft beers and talking about life devolved into tears.  The basic theme of the conversation was that we both wanted kids.  We both wanted kids so badly that we had come to the difficult decision we would have kids with or without a partner, and now - horror of horrors - here we were in love.  This put a hiccup in our plans of having kids no matter what, because two people in love who both want kids is not two, resigned to single parenthood, moms.  Which is what we had both envisioned for ourselves.  It is a loving couple with kids.  It is an almost traditional family.  I mean look at that white dress!  If Ana had a penis there would be no reason to read this blog at all.

It sounds like this should have been a loving moment of connection and shared future goals but really it wasn't.  I know at one point Ana uttered the words, "I trust you with my heart, I just don't know if I trust you with my babies."  I get it.  You want to vet the person you raise kids with and she hadn't had time to vet me yet.  To risk having your heart broken is one thing, but to risk raising kids with someone who might teach them to pull cats' tails, leave balled up wet towels on the bathroom floor, and not to accept and love themselves for who they are - that's a big risk.

I hope in the years that followed she accepted me as a potential co-parent.  I think I passed the test since we're on month three of trying to impregnate me.  Fingers crossed.