dating, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

boys

Now that I know I’m having a boy and it was instantly pre-destined and perfect the minute the blue(ish) onesie came out of the box, the whole world is offering boy generalizations and ideas and advice (and clothes, thank you A!!!). Before I knew what I was having, my stated line was that my whole family is girls, we know girls, we would adore a girl, and a boy would be a whole new exciting and mysterious adventure. I never had a brother or even a nephew. I don’t have that many close guy friends, don’t keep in touch with exes, and have gravitated more and more toward female communities of SMCs, pregnant ladies, midwives, and moms. The only man in the house is still in utero. I have a lot to learn!

And I guess I will learn it all from him. The generalizations are sweet and well-intentioned and probably grounded in some truth but may not apply to all. For example:

  • Boys love their mamas. While my brain instantly plays devil’s advocate and says, “well I love my mama and I’m a girl,” I know that this is really getting at what is unique about the mother/son relationship–they complement each other as opposites, the nurturing feminine and the protective masculine. I really know so little about this and am going off what people are telling me. I love the idea that the baby chose me and we already love each other a lot.
  • He will love going backpacking with you in national parks. I like to think that my kid would dig this either way, and maybe there’s an equal chance that he or she wouldn’t. But it’s a smidge easier to picture a boy getting deeply excited about tearing up a muddy mountain trail and encountering wildlife and learning how to start a fire. (Even if not, I’ll probably force him to go anyway…)
  • Finally, someone to carry on the family name. With all the girls in my family, our surname is perceived to be in some jeopardy. But it is important to notice that I am carrying on the family name by giving it to my son and have no plans of changing it, ever. My single sister seems to be in no hurry to ditch her name in the near future either. So let’s not give this boy all the credit just yet!
  • He will come out with a crown on his head. This one is from J, who was the last-born in a huge family of mostly girls. I think that when his family looks at him, there is indeed a crown on his head. When he goes to visit his family in Venezuela, his grandmother starts crying days before he gets back on a plane to the US. However, even with all us girls, my parents have never once even minorly alluded that they ever wished for a boy or anything different than who we are, and their reaction to this boy is no different. This boy will not be treated as royalty but instead as the fantastically perfect addition to the family that he already is. Period.
  • Yay–I won’t have to go through the pink, sparkly, fairy princess phase! As much as I would like to believe this is true, I know that my boy might be girly. If he wants to grow his hair and wear a skirt, you know me well enough by now to know that I will let him. I guess I’m glad that at least if he goes this direction it will be a sign of individuality rather than conformity, and I won’t say more since I may have another baby and it may be a girl who is obsessed with Disney!
  • Boys are more of a handful as kids and girls are more of a handful as teenagers. Really? It just seems like every phase of development has its challenges, some easier to handle than others, and it’s totally different for every kid. But if you subscribe to this one, tell me why.
  • Boys are pretty straightforward. I get a lot of reassurance from thinking this is true although, again, they didn’t seem so straightforward whenever I was dating them. Are they pretty straightforward and I’ve been overcomplicating things? There’s a good chance this is true (hoping so).

All I know is he is a boy and he has a sweet face and a fight-the-power fist and is thumping the heck out of me right now. I really do picture a soccer player which everyone says but it’s hard not to when you’re the soccer ball. Em has encouraged me to set up daily “fetal love breaks” where I sit and connect with him and count his kicks and develop an intuition about how he’s doing. So far, even through all my illness over the holidays, I’ve always felt like he is thriving in there and a happy little bug.

I’m in the phase of making epic lists, mapping out projects on the calendar, and feeling like time is growing short… I did, however, learn that the third trimester starts at 28 weeks, so that bought me a little more second trimester time to be really productive. Still feeling good (minus the killer charleyhorse from 4 days ago that still has me limping!).

Here is my growing boy at 25 weeks in the Dolo, courtesy of Ms. R:

25weeks

Grateful for the opportunity to learn how to raise a good man for this world.

Happy MLK Jr Day, peace!

xo

 

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

Buddhism, family, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

sick

Hi! I am out of the retreat as of yesterday and, while I don’t have time to write a full post, I am inspired by friends A and V who are committed to writing every day, even if it’s short. The short story is: I am sick.

At the retreat, about which I have lots to say but will have to be bookmarked for later, I started on day 2 or so with a dry cough which graduated into a hacking cough. It felt triggered by new climates and heaters and freezing cold. Then, on the last night, I caught a stomach bug that hit 3-4 of the retreatants, plus one of the teachers, Jonathan Faust (who detailed his ordeal in a dharma talk) and also likely his wife, Tara Brach, the teacher I flew there to see and who disappeared in the last 24 hours. Yes–on New Year’s Eve, I woke up to be sick every hour and sent a mental Happy New Year to each time zone in succession. The next afternoon, mere hours after successfully keeping fluids down, I flew to Phoenix. I ate six crackers and kept drinking water and my parents picked me up and I’ve never been so happy to arrive at Sky Harbor Airport.

I made it without incident! (aside from my exit row seat back which wouldn’t recline which was terribly uncomfortable.) Now my cough is worse and I have to go into my sales meeting tomorrow (mercifully shorter than usual, running from tomorrow night until Tuesday morning), a notoriously packed event and another petri dish. All this air travel is tough on the immune system, despite militant washing my hands, taking my vitamins, and drinking as much water as I can. Looking forward to being grounded after just a couple more trips.

Baby boy seems happy despite these trials, wiggling and thumping away, and growing. It’s a lot for one body, all this!

So, more soon on everything but I am mentally good and just hoping I get all healthy again soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to share the latest belly shot since I think I’m totally off my weekly schedule: my parents and I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, amazing blown-glass sculptures placed around the gardens and lit up at night. My dad caught this belly shot with a sculpture in the background like a fireball and a gorgeous Arizona sunset which didn’t quite come through:

22weeks

I’m going to breathe some more steam and then take my sick self to bed. Much love!

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

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

17 weeks

This photo is taken by my dear Dad! He and my Mom are visiting this week and for the first time they have their own room with a door at my place. I think we can agree that I am finally a grown-up!

We went out for a walk from my place through the Presidio at dusk yesterday and this is my Belly by the Bay, from Inspiration Point. Somewhere behind there is Alcatraz.

photo (6)

We walked down the dimly-lit Ecology Trail through the cool eucalyptus air and connected over to Lover’s Lane. I got 9,000 steps on my Fitbit and we emerged at Presidio Gate at dark.

Happy to be home from my business trip–saw many folks who have known me for years and didn’t hesitate to ask me about my new round belly (isn’t that always a no-no? at least they were right), including strangers like the taxi driver from Egypt who wanted to know if I knew the Arabic word for “pregnant” (it is “hamil”). After tomorrow I will take a long overdue and necessary break to relax and eat with the family. They are already being so helpful by cooking dinner, fixing the window that wouldn’t shut, and lighting the pilot light in the heater–lots more to do! Need to find room for the piles of baby gear that have materialized in my bedroom.

This week, I started feeling the baby move. Little hello taps, tiny punches–weirdest and best feeling ever.

Midwife appointment with Em tomorrow, bringing Mom and Dad. UCSF midwife appt next week, followed by the ultrasound big reveal!

Gearing up to give monumental thanks this Thursday for my pear-sized little love and so much more!

Actually, I’ll start today.

THANK YOU 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

anxiety, family, gratitude, outdoors, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC

11 weeks (w/ belly shots!)

I decided that since I see my sister B every Sunday, I could have her document the belly once a week. Coincidentally, Sundays are my pregnancy “weekiversary.” I sort of thought last week would still be baseline, but when I saw the photo I couldn’t believe how much rounder it looked than it actually felt. (note; I had also just eaten a burrito.) So, I have no photos establishing a baseline. Believe me when I tell you that I had a flat belly up until somewhere around a week ago.

Week 10, Dolores Park (10/6/13):

10wks

Since we happened to choose such a beautiful and iconic San Francisco location for the first photo, we decided to keep it up. My belly will be like Flat Stanley only more like Rounder and Rounder Me. Today, we were in North Beach to have lunch and play Scrabble with our dear 80-something friend H and B took this photo of my belly with Coit Tower in the background when we were walking back to the car.

Week 11, North Beach (10/13/13):

11wks

I honestly didn’t think we’d be here already! I thought it would be weeks longer before there would be anything to see. It’s obviously very exciting and relieving to have emerging evidence that this is real and progressing. (And if anyone is holding on to maternity clothes waiting for the right time to send them my way, the right time is now! Thanks!)

A few big developments this week besides working my patootie off:

  • If all goes well, I am planning to have a homebirth. Inspired by my sister D, who gave birth to both her daughters at home (ask 2yo S where she was born, and she says, “the dining room!”), and my mom who had three natural childbirths in the hospital with no drugs, I’ve read a ton over the past year and feel well-informed and excited about this choice. I know it’s not for everyone–homebirth is still, as my midwife-to-be called it, “the fringe of the fringe.” But it is where I personally will feel safest, and I feel strongly that that’s exactly where every woman should be.
  • I met my midwife-to-be, I’m going to call her Bee. She came to my house for our initial consultation and I totally fell in love with her as I knew I would. She came highly recommended from every source I checked, including trusted friends, and her Yelp reviews had me sobbing, (“we consider her part of our family,” “we can’t wait to get pregnant again so we can work with her again!”) She is warm and has one of those smiles like a ray of sunshine. She sat cross-legged on my sofa and answered my carefully-researched list of questions one by one. She gave me a bear hug on the way out.
  • One of the coolest things about working with a midwife is that prenatal appointments are at home. She’ll come and check the same things an OB would, which takes maybe 5-15 mins, and then she stays for an hour and a half to chat about changes, nutrition, anxieties, and just to get to know each other and develop our relationship. I love that. For the birth, there will be two midwives, an apprentice, and probably also a doula, plus tbd family/friends/birth partners.
  • The amount of prenatal testing and ultrasounds I want to do is up to me, as is pretty much everything else. A big shift for me–the midwife presents the options and lets you decide.
  • I wanted to hire her on the spot but she more or less insisted I talk to others as well so I am an informed customer. So, I have another appointment on Tuesday but I can’t imagine liking anyone as much as her. I have calls in to five others but no one is calling me back, which I take as a sign.
  • On Saturday, I went to the free monthly Homebirth 411 workshop at Natural Resources, led by Bee. There were five other women there with varying size bellies. We watched a video of a home water birth in Sausalito which totally blew my mind–it was very calm and after the baby was born she was very playful, splashing her arms and legs in the water and looking around. Incredible.
  • As I was putting my shoes on to leave, this other pregnant woman J started chatting with me. I felt Bee kind of hovering behind us and when I said, “OK nice to meet you, maybe see you around at prenatal yoga or something,” Bee interjected, “See, now this is where you exchange contact info.” We laughed and exchanged info, and I ended up giving J a ride home, and we talked a lot and made plans to go to prenatal yoga together. She’s 4 weeks ahead of me. I haven’t even hired Bee yet and she’s already helping me create community = awesome.

And, to end this post with a bang: I WENT RUNNING yesterday. For the first time since before the embryo transfer in mid-August. I had just received my latest Runner’s Magazine and thought–it’s time. I had no idea what it would feel like.

It felt SO good. At first, a little rusty and sore. Even though I haven’t given myself an injection in over two weeks, the injection sites behind my hips were painful with each step. But not so much that I couldn’t enjoy it a lot, I got in the groove, and by the time I stepped into a eucalyptus grove in the Presidio, I just kept saying, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I’m surprised, actually, how fit I actually felt after being a slug for two months straight. I drank a lot of water and walked up most of the hills. But I was running again, in my same old running clothes, with a little teeny belly that no one would ever notice but me. I was completely wiped out the rest of the day. A little running will go a long way.

And that sums it up. Feeling tired, hungry, and so grateful.

Have a wonderful week, my dears xo

anxiety, Buddhism, dating, family, gratitude, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

fearless

I came really close to writing this at 3:45am as I was in the living room having a middle-of-the-night snack for the third night in a row, but wisely decided to go back to bed. Now it’s 8:25am and my living room is blazing with sunlight. I’m sitting in my purple loveseat in the corner bay window with my back to the sun–it’s not high enough yet to shine onto the screen. I can see the shadow of myself on the sofa across from me, twirling its hair, thinking.

Yesterday, I went on a glorious hike at Lands End with my friend K. She told me about attending a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh recently and how she had multiple epiphanies while there, realizing that she never has to be scared again. Then, as soon as the wheels of her plane touched down at SFO, real life came rushing back with all the fears and stresses of real life, and rather than staying mindful she found herself spending hours and hours catching up on the final season of Breaking Bad.

This sparked so many important thoughts for me. In a flash, I sort of had the same epiphany–we’re stuck in the mire of fear-thinking so much of the time, and for what? Does worrying make anything turn out differently? Does anxiety give us more control? I awakened into that moment–to my own fears, to the warm, sunny air, to the vibrant colors of the ocean, the cypress trees, the families out walking, the parking lot closed due to the federal shutdown. As long as we are mindful, we can choose; and we can choose not to be afraid.

In the next moment, I started cataloging my fears and realized just how scared I am, all the time, about so many things. Absolute baseline is: is the baby OK? I just read in What to Expect that a common feeling in the third month of pregnancy is, “Still, a sense of unreality about the pregnancy (‘Is there really a baby in there?’).” Symptoms are real, and also maddeningly variable, but the interpretation of what’s actually going on inside is extremely virtual. After seeing the heartbeat, it’s much more real, confirmed by medical technology. Then, as time goes by between appointments, more and more uncertain. I find myself making bargains with whoever’s in charge, “If the baby is OK, I can deal with anything else.”

But let’s discuss the everything else, because it’s not insignificant. While it would be imprudent of me to write in detail here about work, let’s just say that in the past week it has become clear that my job will be exponentially more stressful and difficult between now and the end of the year. I really wish this wasn’t happening now, but it is, in my first trimester, and I have to power through. There is no partner to lean on or less stressful job to apply for, this is the deal, this was part of the bargain. I can do it, and I will, but it makes me tremble like a little girl with monsters in her closet.

And what about once the baby is here–what if I can’t do this job? What job will I do? Recently, new SMC mom C who runs her own business looked at me across a café table and told me how well set up I am with a corporate job and benefits. Yet what about the travel, stress, long hours? So many trade-offs. I dream of a more flexible work schedule but remind myself that I choose to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Of course I think I deserve a year off to figure it out… (Kickstarter campaign? Move to Canada?)

Then there’s the wildcard of–what if I never meet a dude? K just told me about a woman she met who was 4 months pregnant as an SMC when she met her husband on match.com. Now their kid is 14. I am taking exactly zero steps to solve this given its relative low priority at the moment, but it’s still big fear that somehow I will continuously make wrong turns and not bump into him for decades longer.

As I sat in the dark at 3:45am wrapped in a blanket, eating cereal, and looking at my laptop blinking on the coffee table, this post started to form in my mind, in the voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. A small, vulnerable, scared voice. I am scared of all this! And I didn’t even add in all the random terrible things that can happen, to me or those I love, that are the inevitable last stop of the fear spiral.

K and Thich Nhat Hanh remind me that everyone, EVERYONE, lives with these fears, about money, work, health matters, relationships, family issues, etc etc and if you don’t then it’s because the bottom has never dropped out, and it always drops out eventually. We all have a choice when we’re mindful and present. Am I OK, right now? OK. Call off the fight or flight. There is a lot to be grateful for.

With this post, I am manually shifting into feeling more like a strong woman who acknowledges her fears, her almost complete lack of control of outcomes, her commitment to doing her best with whatever arises, and her faith that things find a way to work out. And things are great today. I woke up 10 weeks pregnant. I put my hands in prayer to say THANK YOU for another beautiful day in my amazing apartment with a baby on the way and everything I need, including you, my dear readers and community of lovebugs.

May your Sunday be fearless. xo

.

anxiety, family, IVF, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

how it feels

It’s a sleepy Saturday night. I went on a gorgeous 5+ mile hike today with my friend C in the hills north of Mt. Tam–more exercise than I’ve had in weeks. Afterward, I had high hopes that I would come home and be wildly productive in my apartment but have only managed to nap, eat a box of mac and cheese, get halfway through making soup, and watch a West Wing episode. I am so low energy. I think it’s curtains for tonight, I’m on my way to bed after this post.

I’m not yet feeling licensed to be overjoyed and also not completely drowning in fear but somewhere in the middle, somewhere in the process of gradual acceptance and gratitude for each day. It’s natural to be cautious and realistic and also have moments of bursting joy. I also know, objectively and scientifically, that my stats are great and this is most likely a go.

I visualized the heartbeat scene so many times beforehand–either way, I would obviously burst into tears. But when it happened I was quite simply flooded with so many emotions that I was almost incoherent. As I waited on the table for Dr. T. to come back into the exam room, I tried to breathe and calm myself but some tears escaped early. He came in and the next thing I knew he was saying, “there’s a heartbeat!” and I registered that these were the magic words I was dying to hear and pushed myself up on my elbow to survey the screen full of abstract shapes while he pointed out the flicker (so so so tiny). Then I don’t know what happened but I laid back down and put my hand on my forehead and he asked if I was going to hyperventilate. I said I didn’t think so.

In the follow-up conversation, my sister caught everything important that the doctor said and I remembered almost none of it, That’s why it’s really important to have someone with you at these and all emotional doctor’s appointments–how are you supposed to track data when your world was just hanging in the balance and somehow didn’t come crashing down?

So when people texted me afterward about the joy of seeing the heartbeat, I responded that my predominant emotion was relief. I also saw the beginning of the second embryo’s gestational sac with nothing inside it so there was a moment of loss even in the joy and relief and overwhelm…also a sense that I narrowly missed both the heartbreak of putting only the one that wouldn’t have worked, and also the double-joy and double-anxiety of having twins. Mixed with immense gratitude and love for the fighting spirit of my embryo with a strong heartbeat and perfect measurement.

Tomorrow I will be 7 weeks. Babycenter says it’s the size a blueberry now and all the organs are forming, the beginnings of hands and feet and eyes. It’s truly hard to comprehend, in the way that it’s hard to comprehend the universe going on forever. And of course I just hope that it’s all happening as it should.

Pregnancy symptoms are in effect. On Monday after work, I was reading on the bus when all of a sudden I had to promptly get off at the next stop to get fresh air and walk. So far, the nausea hasn’t gotten too bad and is just a signal that I need to eat–of course I had always heard this from friends and it’s kind of fascinating to feel this unique hunger/nausea (although not pleasant). I may be honing in on a specific craving as today I noticed I had pizza for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and mac and cheese for dinner. Bread and cheese anyone?

Beyond that, I’m just going to bed early, not exercising much at all besides walking, munching on snacks throughout the day, and feeling pretty incapable of doing anything else besides work. Sometimes I accuse myself of using this as an excuse to be lazy, but when I find myself dry heaving or falling asleep at 6pm while getting dressed to go on a walk, I know I’m really not making this stuff up. My body is trying to grow a human. Thanks to Dr. B for giving me permission to prioritize rest over exercise and also to eat whatever sounds good rather than trying too hard to be healthy.

On the other hand, I really REALLY want to get my place in order and if anyone wants to come over and help me hang pictures and/or organize my closet, you are welcome anytime and will be given ice cream.

xo