family, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

more on how it feels

As I sit down to write after an action-packed biz trip to NYC, I’m reminded of how I’d like to set a New Year’s intention to slooooow down. The evolving pregnancy will require it and I’m craving it. Fewer plans on the calendar, please. This whole fall has felt like a blur as work has required so much of my time and energy, with only the rare quiet moment to sit with my belly and contemplate the life ahead. I need time to be (we are human beings not human doings), especially as I approach 20 weeks and realize we’re already halfway through. And especially as I have a little being on the way who may have an agenda that goes beyond peace and quiet.

The trip was truly great–friends and colleagues all seemed delighted with my news, and for the record not one person who doesn’t know about my process ever asked about the father (sometimes I share, sometimes I don’t, but it’s nice that people are leaving it up to me). Also, not one work person has asked who is going to cover for me while I’m out, how I’ll handle this job with a baby, how long I’ll be out, or when/if I’m coming back. It’s all about how joyful the news is, how I’m feeling, when I’m due, and if I’m finding out if it’s a girl or a boy. Everyone says I look and seem happy. Which is always a lovely thing to have reflected back to you. I do feel happy!

One of my favorite comments was from my work friend JB (famously not a fan of kids) turned to me at the end of a drunken holiday dinner and said meaningfully, “I want to be the friend you turn to when you need a break from talking about the baby.” She also offered to take the kid out for her 16th birthday (she’s sure it’s a girl).

Meanwhile, I’m so aware of how this type of news can push all kinds of buttons for people, having been on the other side for so long. Behind the scenes, some are struggling to get pregnant, or are not on the same page as their partners about getting pregnant, or aren’t sure they’re with the right partner to have kids with, or aren’t sure if they want kids at all, or had a super-rough pregnancy/birth/newborn experience, or miscarried, or maybe some are where I was two years ago–definitely wanting it but with without the dad half of the equation. So I’m especially grateful to receive these joyful reactions, while feeling compassion for the inevitable mix of emotions people are experiencing, as I did while sharing in other people’s joyful news over the years while feeling like I couldn’t get my life to move forward. (I recently saw this Onion article, “Report: Everyone Starting New Exciting Stage of Life Except You.”) I also love how the reactions from parents (especially new parents, shout out to G) have a level of intensity that goes beyond words–tears, touching the belly, wanting more details, awe over what I’m about to experience.

And also the questions I get from women who haven’t yet had babies, because I know I asked these of friends in the past. “What does it feel like–is it so gradual that it just feels normal, or does it feel really new and strange?” I say both. This is a sensation and a time that I want to experience in the moment–there’s nothing like it, it doesn’t last forever, and I can imagine it would be hard to really re-access the feeling long after it’s over. It is so gradual that it feels normal–my flat belly seems like such a thing of the past (I find solace whenever I see a mom with a flat belly!). Yet the belly is new enough that I don’t know exactly where it is in space and I graze it against things like the refrigerator door. Squeezing past someone in the airplane aisle felt really weird today. It feels a lot like when you eat too much and your belly feels a little stretched (and when I eat too much now it feels super duper stretched). Also itchy. Today I noticed that my belly button is looking a little stressed. Mostly I can’t believe that my body is producing such a nice pregnant-looking belly, like in pictures. Everything’s in the right place.

I’m also so grateful that my body is embracing this process with ease so far. People ask me all the time if I’ve been sick or exhausted or had any number of weird or difficult symptoms, and the answer is basically no. I feel great. I eat more and sleep more and I have gone all soft where I used to be muscular, but I feel energetic and all bodily functions are doing their thing without any big problems. Second trimester rocks. After four nights on my friend’s pull-out couch, I was beginning to perceive achey hips but I’m going to chalk it up to the sofabed and start sleeping with a body pillow. I still can’t believe that UCSF put a microscopic embryo inside my uterus and now I’ve gained 15 pounds and there’s a moving baby in there as long as a banana. A miracle.

People also ask about the sensation of the baby moving. I monitored the feeling for about a week before I was convinced it was the baby because at first it just felt like the digestive clicks and rumbles that happen normally. But it was the same feeling in the same place with some consistency. Then it started getting stronger. It really feels like a tiny baby moving in my belly, literally. It’s usually a series of taps or a little shimmy. It’s easy to think it’s always a kick but could be a little fist or butt or head moving around in there. It’s always pleasant, and wonderful to know, viscerally, that baby’s doing fine. The strongest kick was during a company meeting this week in which I was sitting directly across from the president who was running the meeting, and I had eye contact with him when it happened–my reflex was to bend forward slightly and put my hands on it. It felt like more of a stronger swirl in the lower right, maybe two-footed. No one noticed.

I’m not craving any foods in particular but did have almost a whole glass of red wine over a period of a couple of hours last night, which was nice. After even one sip, I feel this nice glow in my extremities, and I swear the baby started doing a happy slow dance.

Just before leaving for NYC, I went to a holiday potluck of the SF Homebirth Collective. These people are rad. I have lots of new friends there who go to prenatal yoga with me and now there will be a dinner party at my friend N’s, with J, and M, and their nice husbands, and we’re all due in April/May. There is a LOT to talk about. Em walked in having just wrapped up a birth and looking sleepy but happy, and after giving me a hug she said my bloodwork results came back and all is normal. Next up is the anatomy scan on 12/23.

I couldn’t get an earlier date and you have to call the radiology dept precisely at 8am or they don’t pick up the phone! So, I am going with it–2pm on Monday, 12/23 and I fly to meet my family in Chicago at 6pm. I don’t have anyone to go with me, and this is a big one where they measure every single thing they can. Most people I know are either working or already on vacation, including my sister. Anyone have flexibility and want to come see my babe?

And, of course, this will be the big gender reveal! However, since I’ll be so close to seeing my family, and Christmas, I’m thinking I’ll have them not tell me and instead write it on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope to be opened later. I picture having my little nieces opening it on Christmas morning with the whole family beside themselves with anticipation. THAT’S going to be exciting.

This photo is overdue–here is me a week ago at 19 weeks, on my street, last Saturday, taken by dear friend C. Her little daughter S put her hands on my belly and said she feels it’s a boy (like almost everyone else!). 20-week photo to come soon. Lots of love to you!



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