The Question I’ve Come to Hate

“How are you feeling?”

I think it was about month four or five of pregnancy that I began to dread this question. Back then, it just felt repetitive and annoying. Now it feels like, “How do you think I feel, genius?!” It’s like asking how someone is when they’re at a loved one’s funeral. Do you really expect them to tell you the truth?

“I feel like the world has stopped turning. I feel like the earth has gone from beneath my feet. I feel like I can’t breathe, and that nighttime lasts forever. I can’t think of the next day, let alone the next year without my loved one. I feel angry at God.”

Nope, no one is going to say that. Most of us are well-trained circus animals that have been tamed into submission and taught to say something sociably acceptable. These days, my response to the dreaded question is one of two options.

“I’m fine.” This reply is reserved solely for those who I don’t know well, which is most people. For some reason, people start really caring about you when you’re pregnant. This has been one of the most annoying parts of creating human life: You didn’t care about me before, why do you care now?!

“Do you want the real truth, or the nice truth?” This answer is more suitable for people I know a little better – or at the very least, people I don’t mind sharing my private life with. It breaks the ice a little bit. And once the ice is broken, I can tell them how I really feel.

I feel like a water buffalo.

WB

Why a water buffalo? Because one day I was huffing and puffing up the fit trail at work and this was the first thought that crossed my mind. I couldn’t have picked a water buffalo out of a line-up, but somehow it sounded like the most appropriate way to describe my new lazy, bloated body.

Here’s how I feel:

  • My lungs are slowly being crushed. Do you know how embarrassing it is for a former cardio queen to gasp through everyday conversation? I feel pathetic and out of shape and gross.
  • My ribs are in some sort of vise at all times. I alternate between slumping, trying to sit and stand as tall as possible, and leaning at varying angles. It’s not because I’m being kicked there. It’s because she’s stuck her limbs inside and is slowly spreading my ribs apart like she’s a pair of pliers.
  • Queasiness has returned, except now it’s accompanied by uncontrollable hunger. As soon as my belly is empty, I don’t feel well. It’s enough to make me want to stuff my face at all times. And I do. And for all the pregnant women who say they feel oddly full after just a few bites? I wish I had that problem. My stomach fits the same amount of food as ever. It just regurgitates itself into my throat instead of digesting into my intestines like it used to.
  • I am a fire-breathing dragon. Luckily for me, my heartburn comes and goes. Once I get it, it stays like an unwelcome uncle. And then nothing will touch it. Water, bread, milk – everything makes it worse.
  • Nothing is coming out of me anymore. I eat and eat, and it doesn’t come out. I’m already at the maximum recommended weight gain for someone of my size, and I’ve still got a long ways to go. I’m not a particularly unhealthy eater – it’s really just not coming back out. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if I gain 50 pounds total. And because nothing is coming out, I constantly feel even more uncomfortably large and squished.
  • There are lightning bolts in my crotch. Yep, I had no idea I could conduct electricity, but I’m doing it. Sometimes it feels like things are ripping, other times it feels like Zeus is in my body. Sharp, stabbing pains. Ones that take your breath away, and it’s difficult to carry on like this in a workplace environment.
  • I feel like I finished a marathon but instead of being able to rest, someone is forcing me to continue walking for miles and days afterward. Sleep? What’s that? When every single thing on your body hurts and you can’t get comfortable, it’s pretty hard to come by.

I have been staunchly against inductions until this week, and now I think if my doctor offers to induce me for one reason or another I’m going to gleefully pounce and say, “DO IT.” I have so far to go, and I just want my own body back.

So how do I feel?

Fine. Just fine.

Baby-wearin’ Mama

Last night was our final childbirth class, aptly titled, “Follow Your Heart but Take Your Brain with You.” The five classes covered more than childbirth and included everything from breastfeeding to finding a pediatrician to envisioning our first date after baby’s arrival. It was fun meeting other moms around the community and opening important conversations with Erik; luckily for us, we have very similar ideas on many child-related topics. (Actually, it’s not luck: we thoroughly discussed many of these things while we were dating and engaged.)

I was surprised to find how passionate I became about part of last night’s class: baby-wearing. The subject had never really registered on my radar. Sure, I had thought about in passing: We should probably buy some sort of baby-wearing system for walking around downtown and hiking and whatnot.

I was shocked at how much baby-wearing systems cost! K’tans and Moby wraps are $50 and up – for a piece of fabric! “Fancier” carriers like the Tula and Ergo are $150 and $120, respectively. There’s no doubt in my mind that these carriers are bomb and you get what you pay for, but we ended up registering for a carrier that was $30-40 and called it good.

One of my Facebook friends had tagged me in a video of a woman “easily” tying a carrier, and it looked extremely difficult. I knew I’d never feel comfortable tying a strip of fabric around my body and trusting that it would keep my baby from certain death.

Back to last night: a community mom came in to teach us about baby-wearing. Oh great, I thought, another hippy-dippy eye-roller! Sure enough, she came armed with homemade baby wraps (along with some other, more technical carriers) and a tiny baby wrapped snugly to her front. I immediately thought this wouldn’t apply to me and Erik shared my sentiment, but we listened and participated politely.

I don’t know how or when or even why, but as we watched a live human demonstrate how to create a baby wrap and then tried it out on our partners (pregnant bellies make it a little harder to wrap comfortably), something clicked inside me. It suddenly seemed fabulously easy – and cost effective – to wrap your baby to your body and be hands-free as you went about your business!

20160511_184954

Proudly sporting the baby wrap my belly wouldn’t permit

I was sold once again as the mom demonstrated how easy it was to use your wrap to modestly breastfeed baby. That could come in handy… I mused.

The final winning pitch was mom’s admission that baby-wearing often keeps strangers away! As she and the nurses shared stories about random people coming up to touch your baby in its infant carrier, or asking to hold your baby, and all sorts of the other nightmares I’m already dreading, I realized baby-wearing could be one of the greatest choices I make in the coming months!

“Oh, no, sorry, she’s sleeping,” I can say to anyone asking to see or hold baby while she’s safely nestled against my torso. And I can say it without a trace of genuine remorse!

So off we go to the fabric store to buy linen gauze and make a “hippy-dippy” baby wrap. If it will save me from awkward and annoying interaction after interaction, I’m going to embrace it to the fullest!

Freedom

Ahh… freedom. I just disconnected this blog from my Facebook page and I feel like I can finally write again. The last time I posted (this post about naming our unborn daughter), I became traumatized. Instead of recognizing that I had written yet another blog post, a bunch of crazies came out of the woodwork on my Facebook, “liked” what they thought was a photo (completely ignoring the post), and started throwing name suggestions at me!

So disgusted was I that I stopped writing. I was shocked that so many people couldn’t be bothered to read and figure out that it was a blog post accompanied by a photo; even worse, I couldn’t believe that people actually thought I would leave something so meaningful and personal as naming my first-born child up to Facebook. It was easy for me to crawl away back into my shell and cease life as an author.

But lately I’ve realized that this wasn’t the best solution. The best solution was to disconnect my blog from my Facebook page! Part of the problem is that when WordPress automatically posts your blog and it’s accompanied by a photo, it shows up in your timeline like, “Derziriff posted a new photo.” Even so, I can’t blame people’s overwhelming ignorance on that.

I’ll remain here in the safety of like-minded writers, thank you very much. It’s good to be back!

Naming Rights

One cool thing about having a kid is that you get naming rights.

One horrible thing about having a kid is that you get naming rights.

Back when Little Bean was just that – a tiny bean – it was easy to pretend there wasn’t a human in my womb and that I was sick and tired for other reasons. As my belly began protruding, and our one and only ultrasound approached, it became a fun game to argue over names. I was convinced we were having a boy, so we concentrated on boy names mostly. I was in love with the name Oren. Erik said it was awful and that everyone would call our kid “Orville Redenbacher.” I argued and told him that kids don’t even know who that is!

We came up with some good ones, though: Ernest Bertram, shortened to Ernie Bert; Stubert; a score of other horrible names we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.

I began to realize how difficult choosing a name would be, since we couldn’t agree on anything in all seriousness. I accused him of liking “boring” names. He accused me of being stubborn. True on both accounts.

During the anatomy scan at 19 weeks, 5 days, we could no longer deny we were having a baby. There it was, up on the screen! Of course, the tiny flutters I felt in my lower abdomen also had something to do with the newfound conviction that something was indeed alive in there.

Soon after we found out our Little Bean was a girl (to my shocked delight), the Question began to recur:

“Do you have any names picked out?”

Oh God, we have to name a human?! Like, a name she has to have forever – or at least until she’s a legal adult?! *bleep* That’s hard. We can’t do this! We tabled the discussion.

Because I’m so impatient, it wasn’t tabled for long. We decided to make the choice last night. We both came armed with a list of our top ten. Actually, Erik forgot his at work but I whined and said, “You promised we would do this tonight! I’ve been thinking of this all day!” He “remembered” what was on his list – otherwise we would have driven to his work to pick it up.

So there we were, armed with our lists. I wrote them carefully in my pregnancy journal. Then we agreed to cross out any name we just couldn’t live with, choose any we thought would be OK for a middle name, and rank the ones we liked. Each of us ended up with two middle name choices, four first name choices (two of which were common to each other’s lists), and four crossed out. Fair and equal!

Next, my anal-retentive nature begged me to write each name on a post-it note so we could move them around on the wall.

IMG_20160302_173523

The name game

We made combination after combination, eliminating ones that didn’t work and starring ones that did. By 6pm (just one hour later – we’re efficient!), we had it narrowed down to two choices: Josephine Violet and Adalynn Grace.

“How are we supposed to choose?” I cried. “I really like Adalynn but I’m so afraid if we don’t go with Josephine, I’ll regret it forever.” I imagined calling my daughter Josie or JoJoVi and couldn’t get it out of my head.

I stared at the post-it notes harder. Adalynn was a great name, but something was wrong. As lovely as Adalynn Grace sounds, it didn’t feel right to me. If I was going to give up Josephine, I had to have Violet. All my friends know I’ve been stuck on that name for a few months now.

Finally I stood up and changed the post-it notes to read Adalynn Violet. “I’ll do Adalynn if I can have Violet,” I declared.

“OK, that’s good,” Erik replied.

“Really?” I made him sign a document in my pregnancy journal – this is what you do with your husband who changes his mind every five minutes – and it was decided: Adalynn Violet. I yelled the name in different threatening tones, just to test it out. I said it endearingly. I used Addy as a nickname. It seems like a good choice.

Erik said, “Did we have this much trouble choosing Lady’s name?”

“I thought we did this well! You know how much people fight over this stuff?” I answered. “Good work, team!”

At least now we know our future teammate’s name: Miss Adalynn Violet.

It Follows: A Review

Earlier this year, by hook or by crook (but most likely via Buzzfeed), I heard about It Follows and was immediately intrigued. The reviews I read said that it was a purely psychological movie, unlike so many of the horror movies nowadays that rely on gore-porn or jumps.

Psychological horror is my jam! What more do you need than for someone to plant a seed in your brain? If you have a wild and crazy imagination, it’s easy to let that seed grow all the way into a massive [creepy] tree.

Yesterday as we bumbled around Walmart, I remembered I should buy Straight Outta Compton (yes kids, it’s true: we do not have a Netflix account… we’re not “movie people”). As I locked eyes with the first side of a movie display, there it was: It Follows. For the low price of $9.96, I carried my treasure home and prepared to watch it.

“Can we watch this tonight?” I asked Erik. “I’d rather not sleep tonight than tomorrow when I have to work in the morning.”

Anyway… we watched the movie. About 30-40 minutes in, I declared that I already didn’t like it (by which I mean it was definitely scaring the shit out of me) and looked at the box to see how long my torture would last: a mere 100 minutes.

it-follows-main

Photo courtesy of denofgeek.com

The reviews I had previously read were pretty spot on. They said the entire movie had an ominous feel, and it did. The suspense continually mounted, only to have nothing scary happen… yet. The main characters never seemed happy, even before anything happened. And of course, it was set in Detroit. Need I say more about the atmosphere?

So basically, the movie is about a sexually-transmitted… umm… thing. Once you’ve received this thing, It follows you on foot wherever you go. You can buy time by driving away, but It will find you eventually. It looks different every time, but always like some creepy horrible person walking after you. The only way you can get rid of It is by infecting someone else and hoping that person doesn’t die; if the person you infected dies, It comes right back after you again.

Which is why, I suppose, you can’t just infect a hooker and have your problem solved. It appears that if you don’t know about It, you wouldn’t understand something was wrong with the “person” following you until it was too late and you were dead. The main character, Jay, even tries to get rid of the curse by having sex with some boaters, only to find It coming after her yet again. It seems your best chance for survival would be to infect someone you trust so that you can both watch your backs for the rest of your lives.

Of course, in true psychological horror style, there’s no telling what It is, either. The only person who can see It is the infected person (and the person infected before them), which leads to extreme paranoia. So no one else can see It, but It seems to be able to hurt other people regardless. It has a one-track mind and only wants the infected person, but if someone else gets in Its way, It has no trouble pushing them away or hurling something at them. Toward the end of the movie, someone throws a blanket over It: so apparently, It’s invisible but very much real. It can’t go through walls or doors but It can break windows and climb into your house and bang on your bedroom door until you unsuspectingly let It in. *shudder*

Overall, I really liked the movie. I liked it so much that I woke up at 1:19am and decided to sleep on the couch with the lights on, watching Friends. I’ll be watching it again at some point, just to find even more creepy nuances that escaped me the first time.

As I explain again and again to everyone who thinks I’m a freak for loving horror movies, some people get their thrills from amusement parks. I get mine from horror.

The Rusty Hobby

Sometimes, the guilt of neglecting to write keeps me from writing something new. Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s like, “Well, I haven’t written in this long… why start now?”

Then I remember that most people wouldn’t notice such a thing, and I have the courage to start again!

I’m not sure why I’ve fallen off the wagon so severely. I used to blame it on the zombie-exhaustion of the first trimester, but that’s behind me now and I’m still not writing. Work has been really busy and that certainly doesn’t help me to want to sit behind a computer in my spare time. And then of course there’s my paranoia that cut-out people are reading my blog – why? Because I sure as hell would do it to them!

Oh well. All of this is to say that I’d like to get back at it before I’m old and gray.

Look, I just did.

Thoughts from the First Tri

Trimester, that is. Today marks the official beginning of my second trimester, and I’ve noticed a marked improvement in many of my symptoms already – thank goodness! In honor of this momentous occasion (and because I made the choice to keep it mostly private for the first trimester but kept thinking about how much of this would make a good blog post), I thought I’d write about my experience thus far.

Warning: some of this is TMI.

  • How did you know you were pregnant? This is a question I’ve wanted the answer to since I got on birth control. Being a paranoid person, it never put my mind at ease that pregnancy symptoms are eerily close to PMS. I asked every woman I ever knew who got pregnant and the best answers were vague ones, such as: “I felt like I was coming down with something.” Not very helpful! I had two methods of being able to tell before I ever took a test:
    • I charted my basal body temperature. This is an extremely useful way of trying to conceive, and it’s also a hormone-free method of birth control. I knew that I might be pregnant because my temperature wasn’t falling when it normally did.
    • I’ve always been in touch with my body. When my “PMS” got worse and worse and I felt like I was going to get the world’s worst period (I even had a mega-cramp that woke me in the middle of the night), I knew something was up. For someone who hardly ever has severe or even mild PMS, something felt very off. And for someone who consistently spots before her period, the absence of any blood was peculiar.
  • Can I brag for a second? I ran my first half-marathon this fall – and I was pregnant! I hadn’t taken the test yet, but I knew. And Lord was I tired, and emotional, and felt like death at the end of it, but I did it. Here’s a photo of me crossing the finish line with my invisible passenger:
    Half Marathon 7
    Interesting side note: Runners get weirdly competitive about dumb things. See that Forrest Gump girl behind me in the yellow? At the beginning of the race I decided I didn’t like her for whatever reason and was determined to beat her. After the numerous walking – staggering – breaks I took, I was sure she beat me. Imagine my surprise when several weeks later I downloaded my race photos and saw that I STILL beat her! Pregnant lady 1, Forrest Gump lady 0.
  • It shouldn’t be called morning sickness. At least, not for me. I called it queasiness. It was real, and it was all day and all night. It was hard to find food that would be enjoyable, yet as soon as my stomach emptied, I’d feel miserably sick. All I wanted was junk food. Vegetables? Pfftt. Fruit? No way. Pizza rolls? Yeah! Pepperoni? Fo’ sho’! One of the hardest parts of the first trimester was adjusting my food schedule and intake. Normally I write my meals on a chalkboard and grocery shop each week accordingly. Well, that all went out the window with queasiness and food aversions. Slowly I’m getting back into it.
  • Speaking of going out the window… exercise? Yeah right. Try exercising when your body insists that you go to bed at 6:30pm. One of the ways I knew the first trimester was coming to an end was that I stopped waking up drunk-tired. I’ve even gone on some walks and “runs!” The fatigue was by far the most miserable symptom.
  • You count everything in days and weeks. Each week becomes a countdown to the next week. You are like a child proclaiming he is four-and-three-quarters-years-old. All you want is for each week to roll into the next one and get further into your pregnancy without complications.
  • Vivid dreams are real, and some are really terrible. I had a dream last night that I miscarried and birthed my deceased child into the toilet. I was terrified for the rest of the night and wouldn’t get up to pee in case it really happened.
  • Speaking of being terrified… peeing. Every time you pee, you obsessively check the paper (and your panties) for blood. I’m starting to relax a little on this, but only very little.
  • Lady Gaga should be off limits. Just kidding, Mother Monster! I used to tear up when I listened to Lady Gaga, simply because her music gives me all the feels. Now I sob, tears rolling down my cheeks, and can’t sing along because I’m crying. I just went to the Hallmark store to buy an anniversary card for my husband and nearly started crying in the store because the cards were JUST. SO. TOUCHING. I cried all through The Peanuts Movie when we went to see it. In fact, I started crying before the movie because a preview for The Good Dinosaur came on. Are you sensing a pattern? Me neither. There is no rhyme or reason, just many, many tears.
  • I want my bump! I still weigh in multiple times a week – don’t want to be surprised at the doctor’s office if they scold me for gaining too much weight. And I’m happy to report I’ve only gained between 3-4 pounds, and I’m still wearing my normal clothes (sometimes the fly is unbuttoned, but still wearing ‘em!). But I really want my baby bump. I can’t wait until it pops! I can’t wait to tell people to keep their hands off! I can’t wait to actually look pregnant and not just like I’ve had too many Hot Pockets.

I’m sure there’s more but… pregnancy brain. It’s a real thing. The best advice I’ve heard so far is, “Don’t make any major life decisions when you’re pregnant.” Being pregnant makes you don rose-colored glasses. It’s like drinking after a break-up. Actually, being pregnant is a lot like being miserably hungover. That’s how I’ve described it to several friends now.

Onto the second trimester! Bring on the bump, new energy and a 20-week anatomy scan (for lo, in my small and rural town, doctors prefer to do things the old-fashioned way unless there’s a problem… no 6-week confirmation ultrasounds for me)!