acupuncture, anxiety, breech, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

turn, baby, turn

I had a directional ultrasound yesterday and confirmed that bébé is breech at 34 weeks. Eek!

He was head down at every other ultrasound, and even two weeks ago when Em checked me she felt his head in my pelvis. But on Thursday, Em couldn’t find his head–it seemed that baby boy felt the need to explore upward. Now I need to do everything in my power to get him to head back down.

My childhood friend V is visiting and came with me to the appt at UCSF yesterday, which was with a certified nurse midwife I’ve never seen before and I’m pretty sure the one most people don’t like. After giving my urine sample, she rushed me to the exam room, saying she had to hurry to make it to her own doctor’s appointment. (We had been 5 minutes late after missing the exit in Daly City.) She got me on the table, lubed me up with not-warm lube, and the very second she got the image on the monitor said, “the baby is breech.” So, not a lot of mysterious waiting. Then I watched a series of baby images fly by on the screen as she confirmed his position (including seeing his boy parts for the first time–cool), and then she said things like, “I strongly recommend not having a home birth with a breech baby.” (My understanding is that due to recent legislation, midwives are forbidden from assisting home births of breech babies, twins, and any baby being born outside of 37-42 weeks anyway, and I obviously wouldn’t do it unassisted.) Then she flew out.

Mostly I was annoyed that we didn’t get the chance to leisurely gaze at my baby on the monitor. I was pretty sure Em was right after the appointment the day before–I’d been getting a little obsessed over the previous week with figuring out the position of the baby, waking up at 3am and going to http://www.spinningbabies.com to work on belly mapping. But I just could not figure out what was what. Big kicks here, little flutters there, what the heck is this bump? Now I feel like my intuition was telling me something had changed.

I called Em, and she gave me a bunch of strategies for the coming days as we have 2-3 weeks to turn this situation around. After doing a bunch of googling, I can see that these are pretty universal:

  • Lie on an inverted ironing board against the couch with feet up and head down for 15 mins, twice a day. (I tried it this morning and it sucked. I googled further to find people complaining about it but found no complaints…maybe I did it wrong, but it was the same old discomfort of being on my back which cuts off circulation, plus not being able to breathe, plus feeling all my weigh pushing down on my neck, plus my tailbone grinding into the board. This one needs work–I’ll try with just pillows.)
  • Take pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy–I took some last night.
  • Moxa: Chinese medicine technique of applying heat near an acupressure point associated with turning the baby: the outside pinkie toe (bladder 67). I’m getting some moxa from Em when I go to breakfast at her house tomorrow.
  • Acupuncture (same pinkie toe point–already had this on Thurs)
  • Lean forward, crawl around on hands and knees, do handstands and flips in the pool
  • Put frozen vegetables by the baby’s head and a warm compress near pelvis, coaxing him toward the warmth
  • Play music or shine light near the pelvis, maybe he’ll get curious and come on down?
  • Talk to baby, meditate, write out emotions, chant, recruit support and head-down vibes from blog followers

I won’t bother going into all the scenarios if he doesn’t flip by 37 weeks, because he will. He just will! (Visualization from V: I’m so grateful my baby flipped and I got to have a natural birth!)

Still, it’s upsetting, and my first lesson in a while in You Do Not Control This. This one is really up to the babe. I’m showing him every 5 minutes with my hands the direction to go, which is roughly counter-clockwise. Turn, baby!

I talked to my sister D last night and she said the same thing happened with her first–and she turned with plenty of time.

Yay, baby, yay baby!!!

family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

wellness and gratitude

After I got back to SF, I went to see my regular doc’s NP on Thursday with my same barking cough and story of woe. How can one really recover while traveling on airplanes at this time of year? She agreed that the original antibiotic seemed to only be kind-of working; no more ‘junk’ in my lungs but still wheezy. No fever, blood pressure normal (so glad). I switched to a Z-pack, Mucinex, and an inhaler and took the next few days to rest at home. So much for minimizing meds, sorry babe. All the coughing had resulted in pain in my rib cage equivalent to getting stabbed, my first-ever hemmorhoid (eek!), and a deep commitment to do whatever necessary to get well.

After a lot of rest, Harry Potter, West Wing (I’m on the last season), More Business of Being Born (did you know they made an additional several hours of documentary?), all those meds, Vitamin C, fluids, I woke up today with clearer lungs–the cough is improving. My ribs feel slightly less painful. I’m concerned though about a new symptom that I discovered last night. I was watching The West Wing and I suddenly realized that the theme song was out of tune, like it was being played by an amateur symphony. I thought something was wrong with my iPad. Then I turned on my computer and the notification sounds also sounded tinny and off. I thought–uh oh, maybe it’s my ears. I booted up iTunes and put on an Arcade Fire song. It sounded like it was being played on an out-of-tune old bar piano. If I plugged one ear it sounded OK, and when I plugged the other it seemed to go down in pitch by a half-step.

This has continued today. It feels like one ear is slightly plugged which certainly should be cleared up by the meds I’m on, but wow how weird. Even the notification that I have a text on my cell phone sounds flat. Voices sound fine. Did a bacteria eat my ear drum?

I am going to get out of the house today, after canceling many plans yesterday and the day before–at a certain point, it’s the inactivity that causes the discomfort. I’ll see some SMC friends and then go on a (mild) walk in the Presidio (if not raining) with my friend S who guided me through Glacier National park 2.5 years ago and is in town!

I woke up this morning and was reading on my iPad in bed, ending up going back in my blog to the beginning of last year. I reviewed last year’s resolutions which could be the same again this year word for word (I had frankly forgotten about most of them)–undercommit, write every day, get out in nature once a week, be on time.  I did OK with undercommitting, shifting into a more fertility-friendly pace. I absolutely did not write every day and almost immediately forgot that resolution as soon as I wrote it down. I mostly got into nature once a week-ish. I moderately improved on punctuality. These are still a work in progress! (Of course I did get pregnant in August, so no complaints here!)

Just after the New Year in 2013, I was also reeling from my 3rd positive that went negative, and gearing up for two more (ultimately failed) IUIs before going ahead with IVF: Mt. Everest looming on the horizon. I got so into the moment, reading those posts, reconnecting with myself a year ago and how it felt to be in that stuck and frustrated place, and then the baby would start kicking and I’d be zoom-fast-forwarded to my new apartment and my soccer-ball belly. I hadn’t looked back in a while and it was the perfect thing to do while sick because it made me enormously grateful all over again to be here with bouncing baby boy on his way, remembering all the hard work and patience and faith and money and time it took to get here.

Tomorrow I will be 24 weeks and on the precipice of the third trimester. Amazing–people have urged me to get lots done in the 2nd trimester and so I guess that ship has sailed. I am reminded that pregnancy is really 10 months–I am at 6 months and have 4 months to go. So, really, the third trimester is the longest–especially for first-time moms who go past their due date. Email me if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I feel peaceful about my birth plans–signed up for childbirth class w/ two friends, am just about to interview doulas, just need to rent the tub and order the birth kit. It’s everything else that needs a lot of work: rearranging my apartment (J and my parents and I came up with a new scheme in AZ–I’ll have a guest room, big bedroom for me and baby w/ heater, and dining room becomes living/dining), organizing my closets, finishing my registry, going through accumulated stacks of important papers, reading about babies (diaper system? sleep strategies? child care?), creating a living will, upgrading my laundry situation… etc. Swimming, yoga, meditation, walking, writing. But first: get well.

I know many of you are sick too. May you be well! May you be free from suffering! May you be grateful! Take good care of precious you.

xo

family, gratitude, homebirth, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

love

Merry Christmas! It is 6:30am and I’ve been awake for a while–jet lag seems to cause these random wake-up times lately–and I’ve already eaten, had some water, and been to the bathroom twice…I’m writing a blog post in my head so I though I’d actually write one. It feels like this period of my life is like Christmas, and now it’s actually Christmas, so there’s a lot of awesomeness to write about.

I dreamt tonight that I gave birth to a snake–and this wasn’t the first time. Is this a phallic dream that means I’m having a boy? The bigger issue in the dream was that it wasn’t time yet, so I was very happy to wake up to find myself not the mother of a premature snake and instead with a little moving pod still happy inside.

I’m in the last hours of not knowing whether this babe is a boy or a girl and they feel sweet, almost bittersweet–I can already feel how all the beginnings bring endings and this first phase of pregnancy and not-knowing will soon be behind me. I feel love and protectiveness for this neutral as-yet-unknown being and sense that once the verdict is pronounced and the onesie is pulled out of the box, that connection will intensify. It’s not so much about pink or blue as anticipating the person who will be my new life partner, learning one big fact about the person he or she will be.

The ultrasound was truly incredible. My friend S and I had lunch beforehand and both got teary about the momentous event ahead. We stopped by the 7th floor so I could give a box of Christmas treats to the doctors, nurses, and staff I got to know so well over the past year and a half, to show my gratitude to them for their compassion and wonderful care. I was amazed to find all of my key players present and available (with the exception of Dr. Tran)–they ran out to greet me in the empty waiting room to ooh and aah over my belly, obviously this is the big payoff of their hard work and it was this hugely heartwarming moment. S snapped a bunch of pictures and, being a reader of my blog, intuitively knew the importance of a photo with Olga–here’s she is, thank you, ladies!

olga

Then we went downstairs to the 2nd floor for the ultrasound. We had a friendly woman named Marta and a big, quiet, dim room with a lotus flower on the ceiling. I told Marta the gender reveal plan and that if she saw something that was maybe but not definitely a problem, I didn’t need to hear about it–she assured me that as the sonographer she would not be interpreting. She would leave that for the radiologists to do afterward. I felt so much more relaxed after that.

She pulled up the images and I saw the many beautiful parts of this developing baby, in awe of a) how Marta could read various shapes and blobs like reading in a foreign language (gall bladder! liver! kidney!) and b) how somehow my body and nature and God had created a new person with all the key parts in the right places–the skull, the brain hemispheres, the heart chambers, the nostrils, the ribs, toes, femurs, and OMG the beautiful, beautiful spine! She had me look away when she measured the pelvis but S said she couldn’t tell what was what anyway. The baby was moving a ton. At one point, when the screen was mostly blank, we saw head-on a fist followed by a foot–punch-kick, kapow!

Toward the end, Marta swapped in a different camera and took a few photos of the baby’s face–at first obscured by a belligerent fight-the-power fist. I haven’t taken photos of these yet and I think they are in the room where my parents are sleeping so I will have to post later. It’s a sweet, sleeping baby face, snuggled against it’s little fist. It sure is different, and totally mind-blowing, to know that this little baby face is my own flesh and blood.

Marta printed the photos (including a souvenir shot for S!) and we were done. She handed S the envelope with the gender verdict. We went down to to the beautiful courtyard where I once sat with A after a sad ultrasound two summers ago, and I felt how far I have come since that time. I left S alone with the box of onesies, the envelope, and some tape. When I came back, I was totally tripping on the fact that she knew the verdict and I still didn’t! She just smiled mysteriously and gave me hugs goodbye. She carried out her mission beautifully and I’m so grateful!

My nieces here in Chicago are so lovey and intrigued with the belly. When the 5-year-old saw the ultrasound photos, she said, “The baby is really taking shape!” The 2-year-old decorated about a dozen presents for various family members and handed me each one, saying, “This one’s for the baby.” (Their responses are especially amazing given that they were seemingly so recently babies themselves.) The rest of the family is orienting themselves around the new year and the approaching due date–who can travel out to SF for the shower? who will be there for the birth and after? I feel how such a big life event can push the occasional button in the planning of it, and also feel strongly my family’s willingness to be there for me in whatever way I need. Plus I have an amazing supporting cast. Thank you, all of you–I couldn’t do this without the community that reads this blog.

Last night, my parents and I watched my midwife’s documentary, “My Baby, My Body, My Birth” (recommend) followed by “The Business of Being Born” (my third time–highly recommend). My dad and I cried over every baby born.

Celebrating a baby born is what we’ll be doing tomorrow (or at least that’s how it started!) and I wish you all a joyful day with your loved ones!!!! Love: that’s what it’s all about. xo

 

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!

19weeks

family, gratitude, homebirth, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

18 weeks

This week, I saw midwife Em and I got to bring my mom and dad to my appointment. She said they were welcome and I had no idea how it would go. We sat down and Em said she loves to get a chance to talk to the mom and asked her a lot about my birth. My parents did Lamaze classes in which my mom was empowered to refuse interventions in the hospital and to have faith in her ability to birth her baby naturally–her labor was fast and manageable and the overall experience was incredible. Em said that my mom’s experience bodes well for my own, especially since I was raised knowing my mom’s body could do it and therefore so can mine.

Em asked my dad about his experience and he completely choked up and couldn’t talk for a minute, and Em said her dad is the same way. Both parents expressed the mindblowing awesomeness of having their babies and how happy they are for me. Em said I am very strong and we’re going to have a great birth.

We did some paperwork stuff and then she took some of my blood for testing (the first bloodwork I’ve done since getting pg) and then we listened to the heartbeat, which she found right away. The baby’s strong heartbeat at 144 beats/minute, with my fainter and slower heartbeat in the background, created a mesmerizing syncopated beat. I looked over at my dad and he made a face like OMG this is so crazy.

Before we left, Em gave me a thick file that UCSF had sent over, most of which wasn’t useful to her. It included documentation of every ultrasound I ever did there (including the actual scans), along with doctors’ notes like, “Sx: a little emotional, some hot flashes, mild nausea.” Fascinated, and looking for subliminal love notes from Dr. T., I paged through the file when I got home. And suddenly I got to a page on which my eyeball perceived an “XY,” and I gasped and closed the file–the genetic testing results of my embryos, including genders! I had them black out the genders on my copy because I didn’t want to know early on…but what to do now, when the information was in my hands?

I decided not to look. The critical info is the gender of embryos #2 and #3 which were transferred together on the round that worked–if they were the same (two boys or two girls), it would be a definitive conclusion, but kind of an unceremonious way to find out. If they were different (one boy, one girl), I would still have to wait until the anatomy scan. And, while looking at the page, I would see the genders of embryo #1 (failed IVF#1) and, more importantly, embryos #4 and #5–I would really rather not have this info now.

So, a couple of nights later, I had a brilliant idea. I had seen a YouTube video of a woman who had the doctor write “girl” or “boy” on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelope, and then she took the envelope to a baker. If it’s a girl, put pink icing in the middle of the cake, and blue for a boy. Then she threw a party and everyone, including her, learned that it was a girl when she sliced into the first piece of cake and saw the pink.

Well, I wasn’t going to the trouble of throwing a party or ordering a cake, but I thought it would be cool to learn at the same time as my family, who are in town, with the exception of one sister who would be Skyped in. On Saturday morning, I decided to ask my friend J on our way to prenatal yoga, if she would look at the paperwork and first tell me: are the embryos the same or different? Then, if the same, I’d give her money to go into Natural Resources and buy one little pink or blue item and have it wrapped. Then I’d open it with my family.

I picked her up this morning with the paperwork in my bag. I explained the whole thing and that she could be the first human on earth to know the gender of my baby, and she was honored and willing to help. So, before we walked into our yoga class I said, OK–I want you to look at the paper before we go in. She did. And the embryos were one XX and one XY–different! Inconclusive! We have to wait.

It was a nice idea, but in a way I’m relieved that the eventual big news will come from a scan that I will see with my own eyes, rather than a code on a piece of paper. It will be totally conclusive and we can celebrate with certainty. So let’s give it another couple of weeks!

My sister took this awesome photo at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes. Prego sur la plage.  xo

photo_2

anxiety, donor sperm, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

full disclosure

I woke up this morning at 6:15am and was so awake (despite having gone to bed at 11:45pm) that I decided to get up and write. So, I had a bit of plain whole-milk yogurt and checked in on some blogs (my midwife just sent me her food blog with great recipes, it’s here), and I’m back in bed with my laptop.

This week I told my team at work the big news! For almost two years, the solo mama project has been kept entirely separate from anything work-related; whereas all my friends and family have followed my every step (largely through this blog), the work folks knew nothing. When they asked me what’s new, I made something up. I’m not used to keeping such a big secret, especially one that is so central to my life–as you know, I’m not the most private person in the entire world. Clearly, though, it was smart to keep this one to myself. Even if it was difficult through all the appointments, the disappointments, the tearing my hair out over wondering if a conference was going to overlap with my fertile window, etc.

I know that disclosing a pregnancy at work is a pretty universally terrifying conversation. I’ve wondered why this is. I mean, how many managers really say, “How DARE you!” In my non-scientific sample size of friends’ anecdotes, the conversation usually goes fine, and managers are congratulatory. But I think it’s terrifying because it’s the very first time (of many) when this new child is inserting itself as an important enough priority to be discussed as something that will eventually conflict with work. And, knowing that this is a conflict that is essentially unresolvable, that, for the rest of our lives there will be tension between our careers and the needs of our children, breaking the ice on this just feels huge. HUGE.

So, I decided to tell my manager on our regular weekly phone call (she is in NY), with as unquavering a voice as I could manage as I paced around with my heart pounding. Once we had run through our list, I said, “Well, if there isn’t anything else, I have really big news from my personal life.” She said, “Uh oh.”

I told her I was 15 weeks pregnant. There was a pause. She said, “WHAT?!” in the most incredulous voice, then WOW!, then Oh my God, K, I am so happy for you! She asked a few questions about how I’ve been feeling as she absorbed this big news and I told her a bit more of the story, that I decided to become a single mom, used an anonymous donor, and couldn’t be more thrilled. We talked for a while longer, and she said how she knows I’ve wanted this for a long time (I shared this back when I was still dating) and she’s so impressed that I went for it and made it happen. She said she hoped I’d tell the rest of the team soon otherwise she wouldn’t be able to to explain her big, dumbfounded grin.

I got off the phone with a full heart. Ultimately, it felt like the disclosure wasn’t about work, or how this affects or fits in with work, it was purely about me and my life-changing news. I had kind of lost track of just how huge the news is, and her heartfelt reaction reminded me. It really couldn’t have gone better.

I went on to call the rest of my outside-of-SF team, one by one. They were all similar conversations and I realized that whether or not someone has kids, wants kids, or even likes kids, the story that rose to the top was that I wanted this and I made it happen, and they just loved that. There was only one co-worker who said, “I *thought* you had a lot of doctor’s appointments!” and I was like oh, honey, and I only called about a third of them doctor’s appointments!

The next day, I told the local team here in SF, and they had actually been speculating about my growing mid-section and all-day crunching at my desk. Apparently there was a meeting where I had my hand on my belly. They were less surprised but also extremely happy for me, some of the parents even got teary.

The release of all that held energy was so cathartic and also exhausting. I shared more of the back story. I sent my blog to a couple more people, although keeping a general boundary there (and my anonymity) seems like a smart thing to continue.

Life went mostly back to normal except now I can wear more form-fitting clothes and we talk about what fruit I’m  on (avocado) and people make references to how I won’t be needing drink tickets at our conference event.

Meanwhile, my midwife experience continues to be awesome (I’m going to her house for gluten-free crepes in a couple of hours), but my transition out of UCSF IVF and back into UCSF OB (as backup) has been a bureaucratic nightmare that reinforces my decision to have my primary care outside the system. I needed my medical records sent to Em, and the woman from whom I requested them was on emergency leave and no one checked her email–delay of 2 weeks. Then I called the OB dept and they couldn’t find me in their system at all, acted like I never existed and could find no records or scans, and insisted my midwife fax over my “file” even though she hasn’t received medical records from the IVF dept and had only had one appointment with me… Every time I called the OB dept and tried to get past the script in the call center, they blocked me–I tried dropping the midwife story and they just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had prenatal care before now, or that I haven’t done any prenatal testing (which I haven’t, outside of genetic testing of the embryos). Finally, Olga came to the rescue and I think we solved it (so far).

I have an appointment with a midwife on 12/4, I’ll get set up in their systems and can make my appt for the 20-week ultrasound. Also, at my midwife appt next week I’m doing a blood test but I can’t really tell you which one…I’m enjoying paying less attention to the testing. I’m going with it because by checking out, I’m not feeling too worried.

And finally (because I’m starving), I hosted my first SF Single Moms by Choice meeting yesterday. We’d gotten kind of out of the habit of monthly meetings, and now we’re back. My best SMC friends were all there (B, C, and R, minus JJ who we think was in labor across the street), plus friends I’ve gotten to know more recently (T, J, L) and others I met for the first time–a couple of thinkers, many tryers, a few pregnant ladies, and moms with 4 babies and one toddler. My place is party-ready! And it was great to catch up with everyone’s stories.

Later today, dear friend and mom-of-three J is bringing a car load of baby gear over and I hired two Task Rabbits to carry a heavy changing table up the stairs. Welcome to baby furniture.

As I share my story with more people and get it reflected back to me by people such as the call center operators at UCSF OB, I realize just how niche-y I am as an SMC who is planning a homebirth… So sue me! It’s going to make a fascinating book! And I gotta be me.

Must eat. Love to all and happy Sunday xo

Buddhism, family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

13 weeks

Hi guys,

I had the best weekend. Now I’m sitting on the couch listening to the wind in the leaves outside on this stormy evening, woke up a couple of hours ago from a 3.5 hour nap and ate a big bowl of pasta. Watched a West Wing episode in which (spoiler alert) Matt Santos won the California primary, now I’m listening to Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wild Side.

Started off with my beloved restorative yoga class which is geniusly timed at 6:30pm on Fridays and helps me let go of the work week and melt into a puddle (according to my teacher V, one class can make up for four hours of sleep). Dear friend C stopped by with amazing treats from Clement Street and we drank tea and caught up on the craziness of life–love it when friends stop by (please do).

On Saturday, I got up early and baked, picked up my laundry, and headed to prenatal yoga. It was only my second time attending and the teacher Jane knows my name and calls out adjustments to protect my lower back (which has not been doing great–I’m going to try swimming). I learn so much from the intros and what women at 26 weeks and 34 weeks and 19 weeks report is going on with their bodies, and the energy in the room is intense, pregnant mamas and dozens of gestating babies. We picture the babies, we connect with them. Namaste, the lights within me bow to the lights within you.

My new friend J is so sweet, it’s so instantly bonding to share the timing of our pregnancies, and I’m not just saying it because she started reading my blog! She brought her friend N, also on a similar schedule, also working with Em as her midwife, and we trekked together afterward to a potluck lunch of the SF Homebirth Collective.

We walked in, and there’s our yoga teacher Jane, midwife Bee, midwife Em, and it’s like I know everyone and am already showing up with two friends. All this has happened just over the last 2-3 weeks–I’m in a new club. After catching up with those three, we predictably camped out by the buffet and grazed. N tells me that Em will start having me keep a food journal so I am consciously enjoying all the bad stuff I’m craving (mostly lots of sugar, carbs, and dairy) while no one is monitoring me. (By the way, when I said Em strives for smaller babies I meant just not overly big babies, of which there seems to be a growing number.)

After being so strongly identified as a Single Mom by Choice and attending SMC meetings in SF, it felt really strange to have men around. These were doting dads, sensitive guys, the kind my sister would call “lesbros.” A whole different dynamic and sweet how the dads factored into the birth stories–the spiritual connection, the way the dad never really knows what’s going on until afterward but is in the birth tub doing his best to help. A different vibe, not alienating, just different, like oh yeah–men. I am part of these two niche groups–SMCs and homebirthers–maybe at some point I’ll meet someone who is part of both and meanwhile am just grateful for what I have in common with both communities.

We heard four different birth stories, each around 10-15 minutes each, each totally unique and beautiful and dramatic, each moving. MAN you just don’t know how it will go until it’s happening.  All the babies were there and doing great and the moms were teary and grateful. Their midwives smiled listening and filled in details when asked. One woman was in labor for three days, one had her water break at 34 weeks and had to be induced in the hospital, one knew she’d have a big baby and had choreographed and memorized the maneuvers for shoulder distocia–and then it actually happened and they did the dance as planned and got the 9.5-lb baby out in 1.5 minutes.

By the end of the lunch, I think J and N and I were saucer-eyed after hearing so much about pregnancy and then so much about birth and also seeing the babies and the kids and even an 11-year-old boy running around.  We needed naps. But I was off to the next thing.

First, though, J took my belly photo because my sister is out of town. I couldn’t crop my head without cutting out Sutro Tower, so fortunately a little cloud blew by and obscured my face as I strive to maintain online anonymity!

10/26/13, Twin Peaks:

10-27-2013 8-11-29 PM

If I had any photoshop skills I was going to make that a Halloween mask, but I do not. I did want to keep my happy smile.

Next, feeling very sleepy, I drove across the Bay Bridge to Oakland to see Thich Nhat Hanh. He is an 87-year-old Buddhist teacher from Vietnam who looks maybe 63 and has had an extremely long and influential career (e.g. he convinced MLK Jr. to come out against the Vietnam War)–he has over 800 monastics in Southern California and France, many of whom were on stage behind him. TNH (or Thay (pronounced Tie) which means Teacher in Vietnamese) is a diminutive, handsome man with a twinkle in his eye. He has a very soft voice which matches his humble demeanor and a Vietnamese accent that reminded me affectionately of Dr. Tran. Despite his quiet voice, his words were so powerful and poignant. At one point, I started crying and had to hold my breath to keep from inappropriately sobbing in the theater. It’s all OK. It’s all going to be OK. Some highlights:

  • Our mother, our father, and all our ancestors all live within every cell of our bodies. Even after your grandmother is gone, you can apologize to her for something you said that was unkind. You can let her know you’re sorry and you won’t say something unkind like that to anyone else. And you can see your grandmother smiling to you, forgiving you. In this way, you can transform the past.
  • TNH gestured to the sunflowers beside him on the stage and said that they were evidence of the kingdom of God, that the kingdom of God is available to us every moment of every day if we are mindful. What is the sunflower made of? Non-sunflower elements: the sunshine, the rain, the minerals in the soil. What are you made of? Non-you elements: your ancestors, your experiences, your community. And what is happiness made of? Non-happiness elements: and this includes suffering. You cannot know happiness until you know suffering.
  • And this is where I lost it, because it feels like all the imperfections and frustrations and challenges are part of the road to happiness–we’re all right on track. He said that experiencing suffering makes us more understanding and compassionate to others, and when we share our suffering it can ease the suffering of others. This is when I thought of my blog. It seemed to bring so much meaning to what I’m trying to do here.
  • TNH said that when we send our children to places where they are too sheltered from suffering, they won’t learn the elements of happiness. They won’t learn how to be understanding and compassionate. And this is the cause of so many conflicts and crimes…
  • He told a story of a German woman who came to one of his retreats. She was married to a business man, very happy at first but then he was away and working all the time. She needed surgery in the hospital and he couldn’t even be there. He said that he was planning, in two years, to transition out of his job and spend more time with their family. Then their son was in the hospital and he couldn’t be there again. Soon after that, the husband was killed in a car accident. A reminder to not lose sight of what’s really important–money and fame and prestige are not what bring happiness. Love and understanding bring happiness. Time with family.
  • He talked about how couples communicate and that you can’t love someone you don’t understand, “Darling, do I understand you well enough? If not, help me to understand you better.”
  • Another theme was consumption–think about what you eat. Think about what you read, watch, listen to. If you watch scary shows, it might exacerbate your fears. He said there are different seeds–and we should practice “selective watering.” On the way home, I listened to jazz instead of junky pop.

I ended this epic day at the beautiful new house of M and P and their two kids under two–they made an amazing dinner of which I certainly ate more than my share.  M can’t wait to give me all her mom and baby gear as soon as she’s done with it (last night it was post-pregnancy clothes and a boppy pillow), and I’m so grateful for her generosity and also those who heard my plea and offered me maternity clothes, thank you A and L and D!

Today I had no plans, a luxurious gift. Big week to come: my first midwife checkup is on Tuesday.

Grow, baby, grow!

Lots of love and Happy Halloween to you xo

family, gratitude, homebirth, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

12 weeks

Today my sister and I went on a hike through the Presidio, with a cold wind blowing in from the ocean adding a chill to the sunny and previously warm afternoon. I was glad I brought my fleece. She remembered that Off the Grid takes place on Sundays in the Presidio–dozens of food trucks pull up all around a green space overlooking the water and it’s a huge picnic with a DJ, tiny kids playing everywhere, and guys in ties pulling little wagons full of bloody marys, champagne, and buckets of beer. What’s not to love?

I started with lemon ricotta doughnuts and then moved on to fancy pork nachos that made my belly happy. Then we took this week’s belly shot (yes, I seem to time this after eating) with the festivities in the background. I know, it looks big–I swear all I do is relax for the photo. It also kind of inflates throughout the day. Goal is to cover this with cardigans and jackets at the office for two more weeks at least.

12 weeks: Presidio Off the Grid (10/20/13)

12wks

I ran into a guy friend on the street whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, and when I told him I was pg he said, “I was going to ask! I mean, I wasn’t going to ask, but I was wondering.” My first indicator that other people can see it and internally speculate.

So, in totally surprising news, I met the second midwife and loved her even more than the first one. The fact is that you don’t know what you don’t know–by meeting the second one, we’ll call her Em, I learned about many aspects of her practice that I didn’t know were possible. I also felt overall that she was authoritative, professional, and very confident. Not necessarily the bear hug Earth Mama, but warm and practical and…almost fierce. Fiercely in love with what she does, and her opportunity to help empower women to trust themselves and their bodies and open themselves up to this life-changing experience. Here are some things I learned about her practice:

  • She has “caught” over 1100 babies in 28 years.
  • She’s a certified EMT in addition to licensed midwife (midwives here are certified by the Medical Board of CA)
  • Based on her experience, she believes that good fitness and nutrition during pregnancy lead to smaller babies and faster labor.
  • Due to this theory, she offers monthly cooking/nutrition classes, monthly hikes, weekly Zumba classes, and twice-monthly new parent groups–all included in her fee. (And you get a fitbit!)
  • She has an office. I thought I was into the home visit but ultimately liked being in her office which had sunlight streaming in the window and a little exam room in the back. Legit.
  • She has a website full of helpful links, testimonials, and a personal blog (I learned that she just married her female partner of 19 years in July) and she handed me a folder with articles on home birth, stats from research studies, how to make pregnancy tea from scratch, and post cards with a montage of all the babies she helped be born in each calendar year.
  • She will set me up with an intake appointment at UCSF (less than 10 minutes away from my apt.), which is where I would transfer, so I’m in their systems and they will be prepared for me if I show up. (The vast majority of hospital transfers are first-timers who are failing to progress, exhausted, and/or wanting pain relief.)
  • She was delighted to hear that I’m across the street from a hospital, where we would go in case of emergency.
  • She supplies a list of volunteer doulas looking to boost their hours and experience. (The doula is important because she will arrive in the early hours of labor and stay focused on the mama the whole time.)

I walked out of there completely blown away. I learned so much. I had no intention of changing my mind when I walked in, but by the time I walked out I felt more secure with Em, like I will be in the most experienced and capable and confident hands. My decision was made. I slept on it for two nights, then I let them both know my decision.

Bee of course was gracious–after all, she had nudged me to talk to more than just her. Fortunately, she happens to be Em’s backup so chances are very good they will both attend the birth, and I’ll probably see them both at a homebirth collective potluck next Saturday. My initial appointment is a week from Tuesday and I can’t wait to get into the fitness and nutrition program after weeks of sitting on the couch and eating ice cream and crackers for dinner.

Yesterday, I went to my first prenatal yoga class with the famous Jane Austin. Wow, she deserves her glowing reputation. I went with my sweet new friend J whom I met last week at the homebirth workshop. She is 16 weeks and we both felt relatively self-conscious about being more flat-bellied than the others so it was easier going together. There must have been 50 women in the room with every size and shape belly possible. We went around the room saying our names, # of weeks, and how we’re feeling. I learned a lot just from that. Somehow Jane remembers everyone’s name. Also, the actual yoga kicked my ass whereas I thought it would seem too easy (I guess limiting my “exercise” to restorative yoga, which is basically shivasana 3 ways over 75 minutes, means that even gentle yoga is going to feel like an intense workout.) I went to a lovely Indian brunch with my SMC friends B and R and baby S, and came home to a heavy nap.

Today I canceled some plans to take it easy… feel like I’m overscheduling myself somewhat and I want to be sure I’m getting enough rest and have the energy to put my clothes away and run the dishwasher and feel at least semi-prepared for the week.

One more plea for maternity clothes. I got a huge bag from M (thank you!) and some jeans from E (thank you!) and my sister is shipping a box (thank you!). Who else is sitting on a goldmine? I went shopping and everything was just so stinking overpriced I didn’t buy a thing. I won’t ask again, just want to help make more room in your closet if possible 🙂

This definitely feels more real all the time. Baby is only the size of a lime but is supposedly dancing around in there gleefully in his or her sensory deprivation tank. I was telling my sister it must be one of the best times of life!

For me, too. xo