Can I Ever Stop Worrying?

So far, so good. I’ve been so lucky this whole time to have a pregnancy that has gone smoothly. Any of the ailments and warning signs have been accompanied with a heap of ‘wait and see’ or ‘we are just monitoring,’ and more often than not ‘this is a very normal symptom.’

Baby was measuring big at 29 weeks. It could just have been position, the fullness of my bladder, the different measurements of the two midwives, etc. But I did the 32 week ultrasound to check. He looked marvellous. But.

We got a call, which we missed, yesterday to tell us that although things are still technically within the normal range, they want to set up another ultrasound during week 33 (this week) because they are concerned about the amount of amniotic fluid. I Googled.

Could it be – a birth defect, inability of the fetus to swallow, gestational or maternal diabetes, … a bunch of other things? Could it lead to – premature birth, digestive issues for baby once born, overly large baby, prolapsed umbilical cord?

I head back to work this week. I’m not complaining. It was luxurious to have the summer off, busy as I was. But this coming month will be a race to the finish line. I know they have already hired my mat leave replacements (yes, several, since my subjects require specifically qualified teachers), but that also makes it hard to leave if I need to book off last minute with a supply to cover those classes.

Sleeping is hard as it is. I’m up 6-8 times to pee, to roll over, requiring all the shifting of pillows that my 6 pillow system involves. Add to that the worry that in the final 5-7 weeks, maybe there is something wrong. Maybe it’s nothing. But I should definitely check. And checking means an ultrasound in the very first week of school, making supply plans and leaving brand new classes in the hands of supply teachers, to attend an appointment that will be scheduled whenever it’s scheduled (no say from you about what is convenient).

Obviously, I want to do everything possible to make sure we have the info to make good decisions. But the last ultrasound was optional – ‘do you want to get it, just to be on the safe side?’ Of course, I said. What if I had opted not to? How many of these things are only discovered, only become worries, due to such close monitoring? What if it’s nothing? Would it be better not to know, if it turns out to be nothing? The level of care that we are receiving is tremendous, but it also means that I have a hyper awareness of every detail; whereas some women only have 2-3 ultrasounds, I’ve had 7 or 8. I love seeing his face, but it makes it so much harder just to trust that all is well, now that I know his face, have seen his little body so many times.

Crossing my fingers. Trying not to worry.

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Nesting

At the prenatal class they said that nesting is a sign that baby is coming (but what if you are already a compulsive organizer-nester?) and I should also anticipate a decline in my energy. I am defiantly filling the rest of August with things to look forward to.

I have gained 27 lbs and continue to feel pretty good, though tired. I am loving he distraction of summer plans with friends, like yesterday’s lunch at Queen Mother, dinner at Tabule and I have continued eating intuitively to keep both me and baby happy. He is a kicker and always lets me know when he is awake.

To Do List

  • Get a hospital go bag ready
  • Set up our cloth diaper service first delivery so nappies are ready and waiting
  • Prep to go back to work… and be ready to leave again when baby comes
  • Finish prenatal classes
  • Celebrate baby at our baby shower
  • Get all the little things organized (like today I put labels onto all the drawers and baskets in his room so it stays tidy)
  • Get rid of our sharp cornered coffee table (because I won’t want to do that when baby has already arrived)
  • Knock some more items off my to do list

Bumps and Strangers.

I had my first real ‘stranger’ conversation today about the size of my belly. On the heels of 10 days of travelling in England, with my mom, where everyone was so wonderfully kind and accommodating to this pregnant traveller, I’ve largely escaped any comment about the size of my bump.

I had a funny conversation today.

I enter the chiropractor‘s office and take a seat.

Him: when are you due.

Me: October.

Him: aren’t you kind of big for that due date?

Me: I’m quite a big person. I’m 5 foot 10.

Him: I guess October isn’t that far away is it?

Me: No just little over two months. And I had quite a flat stomach before this (I press my top against the outline of my body; wearing quite a billowy top gives the impression of a tent, somewhat).

Him: god has a plan for all of us.

Me: I find it mind-boggling that every single person on the planet started out this way.

Him: do you know if your having a girl or a boy?

Me: a boy. We’re very excited.

Him: do you have a name picked out?

Me: yes. Kingston.

Him: Kingston. Does that have a particular significance for you?

Me: yes, my parents went to Queens University and there. My grandmother and grandfather both went to Queens, in Kingston. (So far so good, he is nodding along). My wife was born in Kingston, Jamaica. (He is still nodding. A good sign).

Him: so it’s a perfect fit then. Queens is a very good school… did you go there, too?

…And so it continues, until I’m called in for my adjustment. That is how conversations should go. Assume positive intentions. Be yourself. I could have expected that this octogenarian, name dropping the Lord, might be less receptive to a lesbian ‘with child,’ especially with his size-based opener (it takes a certain kind of man to feel entitled to comment on a woman’s size and shape), but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.

He seemed totally unphased by my status, thoughtful even about my answer regarding my due date. He told me he has for children in their fifties and sixties. Maybe he was just reminiscing and seeing how accurate his math/ memory are. No let a trace of homophobia.

On the day before my trip to England, twice – on the phone with people discussing coverage for pregnant traveler – I was asked if I might want to consult my husband, or if I wanted to check my husband’s policy number after being transferred to a new telephone operator – all separate cases of incorrect assumptions.

Sometimes I feel like screaming ‘it’s 2018!!!!!!!!!!’

But then I remember to be gentle with people and have the same patience with them that I do when I interact with the 14 to 20 year olds that I teach. Sometimes the way you approach someone in your

response makes all the difference. #warmthandkindness

here is the bump:

Glucose Tolerance Test

Round 1 and … Sadly… Round 2

Two days ago I went for the Glucose Tolerance test at the midwives clinic. I drank the drink. Waited an hour. They took the blood.

The One Hour Glucose Tolerance Test is a screening test (involving a sugary drink and blood work) that measures your body’s reaction to sugar and helps to catch signs of Gestational Diabetes. Being overweight (before or during pregnancy, being 35 years old, having it in your family or being from certain ethnic demographics can raise the likelihood).

I have a sweet tooth, but as my last post might suggest, I eat really balanced, good quality foods, too. I fared pretty well with the icky sweet drink (the woman beside me fanned herself for the 20 min. it took her to gag it down and she looked nauseated the whole time). I drank it in 5 minutes and sat to wait.

So bummed out. I thought I was in the clear, because I didn’t hear anything until.. 2:30 pm the next day. My midwife called, my heart dropped. I got an 8.9 (they prefer less than 7.8). I’m so sad. I feel like my body tricked me. I have none of the symptoms. Midwife reassured me that my habits don’t have any bearing on how my pancreas reacts to pregnancy. Fine. But I still feel let down.

So, now in a bit of a rush, I am trying to squeeze the more extensive diagnostic test in before heading to a cottage, then off to England.

Gestational Diabetes and Glucose Tests have been hot topics on BabyCenter and some reassuring comments popped up:

A lot of people fail the 1hr test as its not diagnostic. The 2hr test is much more accurate and a lot of people who fail the first test are perfectly fine and pass the 2nd. I wouldn’t worry too much. For the next test you’ll be fasting and accuracy will be there.” 

This, plus the fact that some women’s OBs send them straight to the test I’m doing, to avoid the false positives that seem very likely in the one hour screening test. I know it’s not the end of the world, since it’s manageable even if it turns out that I have GD. It also (almost always) goes away after pregnancy and treatment helps make sure the baby is safe and … healthy. All good things. I just get stressed about extra things to worry about.

So, I found out on Wednesday afternoon and promptly found a lab that opens at 8 am Thursday. Then I needed to fast from 8 pm, Wednesday,  until 8 am on Thursday. I woke up and booked it to the lab (to beat the rush!). Taking blood after the sugar drink on Tuesday made me feel a bit light headed, so I’m not looking forward to the next phase of this process. Here we go!

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Part 2: Thursday Morning’s Test

Fasting for 12 hours. Go into the clinic super early and sit for three hours. Blood drawn three times. Once before the drink. One hour after. Two hours after.

Friday:

So relieved to find out, after the long test, that I got a negative result. I do not have gestational diabetes. Big smile on my face.

So relieved to find out, after the long test, that I got a negative result. I do not have gestational diabetes. Big smile on my face.

Feed Me

Eating in pregnancy has been a challenge at times. I am turned off by foods I used to love (sorry, Hummus). I plan a meal and sometimes have no desire for it by the time I am ready to make it. I also have to eat small meals, frequently. This was tough on my work schedule, but now that summer is here I’m finding it a pleasure to shop locally and get fresh items as they pop into my head. Here’s what’s on the pregnancy menu:

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Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin and ricotta pasta with parmesan. Homemade gazpacho with avocado and tortilla chips on the side. Pork chop on the grill with roasted pears, apples, green beans and potatoes. Breakfast egg, asparagus and grapefruit.

I make batches of foods like frittata and gazpacho (I toss in whatever fresh ingredients I have and hide all the nutrients I can in the mix). I am loving the Oh, She Glows cookbook’s Gazpacho recipe and the local tomatoes and red peppers are making this a fave to drink straight from a mason jar.

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Clockwise from top left: Baby arugula salad with goat cheese, toasted pecans and strawberry with apple cider vinegar dressing. Shaved carrot, tofu, asparagus, goat cheddar on crostini. Homemade rhubarb and custard pie (thanks, Aunt Jan!). Strawberry salad with mustard dressing and fresh cracked pepper. Steamed broccoli, grated carrot, sesame tofu and snap peas in a peanut sauce with basmati rice. Mouflata (baguette with goat cheese, garlic, olive tapenade, basil and roasted red peppers).
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Clockwise from top left: Banana bundt cake with chocolate icing! Chocolate pudding with local strawberries. Pumpkin ravioli with sage and pine nuts, cranberries and spinach. Chicken spaghetti Alfredo. Fried chicken and waffles!

I am following an intuitive eating plan – I look up what I’m not allowed to eat, strike that from the record – and eat whatever my body is craving. Grapefruit. Steak. Broccoli. Asparagus. Cereal. Papaya. Peaches. Cashew butter on English muffins. Strawberries and cherries.

Baby is getting lots of good stuff. Plus I’ve found (thanks to my sister-in-law) a great sub for my daily icecream cravings: PC makes a fantastic Skyr frozen yogurt bar in three flavours (berry, mango and caramel) – they are high in protein and delicious. There are also great Motts fruit freezies in a variety of apple and berry blends.

I’m not saying no to foods. This has been a huge blessing. I am enjoying the full palate available and really giving myself permission to eat what I want, when I want it. What a nice, guiltless approach. Sometimes it’s not so healthy: “Babe, I need you to go get me Chinese food and a Dairy Queen Blizzard.” But more often, I’m eating fresh, whole foods and feeling pretty great.

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Clockwise from top: Banana flax bread. Zucchini noodles with avocado, pine nuts, tofu, tomatoes, nuts and dressing. Mushroom pizza and steamed broccoli. Butternut squash soup with croutons and veggie burger with cheddar and bbq sauce. Fresh bowl… again.

What are your cravings? What are your thoughts on how to eat well for yourself and/or for baby?

Weight for it…

I hear that the ‘touching’ and ‘comments’ get worse as your belly gets bigger. So far I’ve heard nothing but excited comments that my bump is now ‘showing’. I was a body skimming, baggier clothes person previously, so I could hide the less round stage at the start, but now, it’s out in full force.

So, what do you do when people say things like:

Oh my God! You are SO big!

I noticed this on the baby blogs and there are many women who hear this from total strangers. I agree with other commenters; pregnant bodies are amazing. People need to learn some manners, or at least be prepared for a less than sweet response to this blunt ‘observation.’

You’re making a human life!

I haven’t had people tell me I look bigger or smaller than ‘they expect’ but really… none of these people are experts or doctors, so what do they even know? I hear that it gets worse as people start to offer you advice on how to parent, feed, nurse, etc.  Maybe they need a dose of their own medicine, like if these moms just zoom in on some aspect of the commenter’s appearance and wait for the ‘wow, you’re big’ comment, so they can offer them some offhand comment in exchange for their

“Wow, are you sure you’re not having twins!?” …

Some mildly passive-aggressive to downright aggressive options, to respond to these unwanted belly-commenters:

“Yes, I’m enormous. And so is your mouth…”

“Thanks…And I hate your t-shirt/shoes/haircut”

“Hmmmm. I was just about to tell you how tired and rundown you were looking, but I’m trying this thing where I don’t offer unsolicited comments on other people’s appearances”.

These are the things I’d say in my head, but if someone really makes a shitty comment I probably won’t hold back from saying,

“That’s an interesting observation; what kind of response do you expect from me when you comment on my size?”

“That’s actually kind of hurtful, given how sensitive pregnant women are about their changing bodies.”

“Are you a physician? Are you accepting new patients? I would love to come by your office for an official consultation!”

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So, what does this new bod actually feel like and look like? A few updates:

9 Weeks: I am 5’10, 170 pre-pregnancy, and I’m getting a little tummy. I just wear floaty, loose tops and dresses that skim. Highlighting the parts that are still toned and distracting from the newly puffy areas seems to help. 🙂

I’m saying yes to everything I want. I just keep the portions small so I don’t feel queasy.

I’m always hungry but feel a bit nauseous. I eat often and avoid spice! Carbs and fresh fruit have been sitting well. Also boiled broccoli and green beans are things I’m craving.

20 Weeks:  I have gained 13 lb. But my boobs, which were small B cups are now a very plentiful C. Am I gaining it everywhere or just in certain areas? My belly is popping. I learned that you don’t just gain ‘weight’, in pregnancy there are many changes occuring; it’s increased blood volume, muscle around your uterus, water weight, and … boobs (in my case). Surprisingly, my skin has been the ‘good’ kind of pregnant. Mostly blemish free and even. I’m wearing SO much sunscreen. Moisturizing the belly and torso every night to minimize the stretch marks (if they come).

25 Weeks:  I have gained 17 lb. My lower back is starting to hurt. The belly isn’t low or high. In the middle and pretty round. My ribs feel like they have to start spreading and by the end of the day my lower abs are exhausted. It feels very tight. My hips are really sore (icepacks and heat packs) in the morning and end of day. Heartburn is CONSTANT. It’s better when I don’t drink water with my food, leaving about an hour before or after meals to drink liquids; otherwise I risk throwing up as the water sits on top of the food and my gag reflex is as much a pain as the acid reflux. Ranitadine tablets are helping, but I only take half of one at midday. Nothing pressing against my stomach, please. I am wearing things below or pulled up and over the bump. Very dry skin on my limbs (the babe is sucking all the nutrients and moisture out of me!).

I have my Gestational Diabetes test this coming week. How are your pregnancies and TTC been going?!

Don’t worry, Don’t panic

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(Image from Greatest)
I feel panic often (usually not about the baby, but about other things… which I think are really about the baby if I’m being honest). It would be weird NOT to be apprehensive. It’s a major responsibility and huge life change.
I am excited, but also scared… because it’s really important that I do a good job with this – it’s a lot of pressure and I always try, in those moments, to remember why I wanted this in the first place and keep my mind on that.
All the hormones and unpredictability make this time exciting, but also scary. People who don’t normally have anxiety often develop it in pregnancy – so for those who have it already, it can feel constant… and overwhelming.
I have been trying a few things to keep it in check:
1) watching tv and movies that don’t ramp up those feelings (so, no more insidious, back-stabby dramas)
2) using meditation tracks nightly before bed and a sound machine to lull me to sleep
3) baths, not too hot
4) diffuser in the bedroom, with baby-safe scents
5) saying ‘hi’ to anxiety. Naming it and acknowledging it when it pops up. Talking to my wife about how I’m feeling and what I was thinking about at the time
6) yoga – not doing enough of that right now, but that will change (promise!) when school’s out
7) focus on positive things: I got an amazing email from a 15 year-old boy in my class (terribly typed and punctuated, but really sincere and sweet) talking about how I inspire him, how confident he felt in my class and how he respects that I teach about treating all people kindly and being into ‘equity’
8) spending time with people who make me happy and confident. At pride this weekend, I ran into a former coworker from my gay-bar-server days. She was so sweet and had the kindest things to say about our time working together. I need to remember that for every ex-I’d-rather-not-see there are so many people that put a huge smile on my face and vice versa.
9) recognize a spiral as it’s happening. When I start to perseverate and think of all the conversations I want to have, how I’d handle X if Y happens… thinking of the worst-case scenarios… I need to take a breath. Sometimes the spiral starts because something bad has actually happened. I have lots going on (we all do) that can make me feel like bad things are lurking… like the twerp student who outed me on social media and suggested that people ‘come for me’ if they aren’t happy about rainbow flags flying at our school (yes, this really happened, but it’s a long story). On one hand, this kid thinks I’m mighty powerful if, at 5 months pregnant, I shimmied up the flagpole to personally affix the rainbow banner. And somehow made it to all the schools in our board. This personal attack felt shitty. But… the outcome involves an upturn: my colleagues and my students were amazing. Outraged, they stood strong beside me. In the end, it reminded me we have work to do, but we also have an army of people who know right from wrong. Admittedly, I felt really down about this incident, but I did what I could, and tried to recognize what I couldn’t control: that crappy person may never change their mind, and letting myself be dragged down by that one aspect of the situation would put more emphasis on the crap and not enough on the wonderful reaction from my community. Change the thinking!
10) Invest in myself: from new maternity jeans, to ice cream when I want it, from cooking yummy meals to buying books about anxiety and mindfulness… I am feeling really positive about framing my actions and thoughts around happiness.
These things don’t always make it go away RIGHT AWAY… but it makes living in the present and celebrating all the good stuff MORE of the focus. There is so much to be grateful for, which  – when I consider where anxiety comes from – is exactly why anxiety is powerful. I love my life, family, job, … and the idea of that all falling apart is scary. It is a mirror to how much I value those things. But – I’m stealing joy from myself if I let the worry and negative thoughts impede the enjoyment of all the things I worry might be taken away. I’m alive. I’m employed. I’m loved. Baby is good. Could things go wrong? Yes. Can I handle it? Probably. Is it bad/unmanageable? Not yet. Not now. What’s the worst that could happen? I lose the job I love? Sure. But then… I’m still alive. If I’m alive, it’s not as bad as it could get. This is some pretty basic, facile logic, but it really does put it into perspective (once I’ve talked myself down).
So… mantra to myself:
I’m alive and that is the goal. I’m putting out good into the world and doing my best. There is no reason why your world, more than anyone else’s, will come crashing down. You are strong and resilient. And if you need help, you have people who will help pick you up and dust you off.
It’s okay to be happy.
What are your worries? How do you cope? Do you have a nice, one-line mantra?