Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News from the Womb

We learned many things about our Scooter today:
  • The Scooter is limber.  Baby spent the whole ultrasound with feet right up next to face, which is some kind of advanced yoga move, we think.  We have amended our prediction from "soccer scholarship" to "yoga scholarship."
  • The Scooter is coordinated.  We watched in awe as Scooter did the most energetic thumb-sucking the world has ever seen.  So cool!
  • The Scooter has two kidneys, a brain, a heart, a diaphragm, a stomach, an umbilical chord, two hands, two feet, and long-looking arms and legs.  Based on the amount of heartburn I'm getting, we're also thinking that Scooter has hair (the ultrasound did not reveal anything to do with this. The war between my Scandinavian genes and Sean's hairy genes wages on unseen.)
  • The Scooter is terrifically uncooperative.  It turns out that impressive yoga positions are not the best for getting pictures and measurements of the spine.  We tried turning me over on one side, then the other.  Then some walking around, then some orange juice and graham crackers.  The solution ended up being the classic "dig the ultrasound wand into Mommy's belly as painfully as possible" maneuver. The radiology tech's comment: "Oh, the things we do for our children!"
While the Scooter's position was no good for spine-revealing, it was perfect for revealing other important parts of the body.  And, let's be honest, none of us were looking forward to this ultrasound and thinking, "I wonder what the baby's diaphragm will look like!"

The question of the day, truly, was this:


The answer is known and shall indeed be revealed, but a couple of thoughts, first (I'm just trying to recreate for you the experience we had this morning, when the ultrasound tech did every other possible measurement before giving us a blessed glimpse between Scooter's legs.)

First, I'd like to reiterate that "Scooter" is an entirely sex/gender neutral nickname.  It was, in fact, one of my nicknames.  Video evidence exists: during the epic Easter Egg hunt of 1986 one of the clues read, in part, "To the computer/scamper, dear Scooter."  It's also been a favorite term of endearment used interchangeably between me and Sean (see Seinfeld, "shmoopy.")  You can clearly see our preference for the nickname in these photos from the Edison-Albright archives:
Jersey Shore; Wonderland Pier; Circa 2007
Park Ridge, IL; Jewel; Circa 2009

So, no matter what we saw on that ultrasound today, "Scooter" is a nickname we will continue to use proudly and often. (More family name trivia: Sean's mom was nicknamed "Skeeter" by her dad. And my grandpa was named Kermit.  So, a rich precedence for Muppet-related names on both sides.)

Second, keep in mind that the ultrasound revealed our baby's sex, but not our baby's gender. (For more on that, scroll down to part II of this post, and read the excellent comments, too.)

I'm trying to think of other ways to stall, but I'm all out.  So, if you're still curious about the sex of our baby ...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It must be spring

Well, I’m still skeptical that we’ve seen the last of the snow here in WI, but in TVland, at least, it must be spring. Catching up on Hulu over the past week, Annie and I have seen the mid-riot birth of Shirley’s non-Chang baby, SNL’s fetal duets, and the false and true labors of Angela on Bones. And all of them served to remind and inform me of one thing – I’m not prepared.

I’m not talking about all the new vocab – Annie taught me vernix yesterday – or the nitty-gritty delivery room business. There’ll be time for all that soon enough. But time is running dramatically short on the very detailed process of preparing a nuanced and novel pregnancy schtick.

For as long as I can remember, whenever someone says, “I think my water just broke*,” my instinctive response has been, “Don't worry, we’ll buy you a new one,” dredged up by my subconscious from the sitcom-filled part of my brain where I should have been storing facts about dinosaurs. And so I know that one of my most important contributions to this delivery will be my reaction, or over-reaction rather, to the news the labor has begun.

Of course, my options are constrained; I’m no longer fighting-trim for pratfalls, though fatman pratfalls are the sweetest of all, and I’m at the distinct disadvantage of starting so late in the game – 106.5 billionth in line, according to Wolfram Alpha. Should I fall victim to a series of increasingly improbable but harmless mishaps? Completely misunderstand the situation unfolding around me? Run around the house, guano-crazy, shouting and looking for “the suitcase?” My options all just feel so terribly hackneyed.

Now, I hear that voice in the peanut gallery suggesting, “Perhaps you can be the hyper-competent, perfectly prepared father,” to which I can only respond, “Oh, Annie, you’re pregnant, what are you doing up so late?”

At any rate, I have some really serious decisions to make in the coming months, decisions which will affect Little Scooter’s future in ways I can't possibly imagine. Maybe I should buy a special hat?

Okay, truth is, Annie and I at this point have willingly, gleefully, blessedly boarded the rudderless ship of pregnancy, and beyond the subtle adjustments of good nutrition and regular checkups, are completely at the mercy of the (to belabor a metaphor) sea on the ultimate course the journey will take. And that’s maddening. Uhm, maddeningly okay. If I twist my head around a bit and squint my eyes, it’s freeing, too, I suppose. And an opportunity for faith. But we are hope-filled and joyful and, most importantly, together, so hurry up Little Scooter and get here fast right on time!

*Admittedly, this has never happened to me, and I’m aware it doesn’t happen all that frequently to begin with.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I just happened to be in the neighborhood ...

You may recall that, at my last check up, a wonderful nurse told me I could drop by any time to hear baby's heartbeat.  Today I happened to be in the neighborhood, and by that I mean I called ahead and made a special trip to the clinic which is about 45 minutes away. 

I had no particular reason to be worried but I wanted a little reassurance. Scooter's heartbeat is as strong as ever and the nurse was impressed with the amount of scooting going on in there. She assured me that I probably am feeling the baby move and dismissing it as gas.  "If it doesn't come out," and here she did the cutest pantomime of farting I've ever seen, "then you're feeling the baby!"

She was so nice.  More crying, of course.  We already have pie at home from the pie auction at church, so I upheld the tradition and helped myself to a good slice when I got home. 

Then Hank and I took a nap on the couch in the warm afternoon sun.  I woke up, sat up awkwardly, drank some water and YELP!  Hank raised his ears and his eyebrows, alarmed.  We sat in tense silence.  Finally, I said the only thing one can say in such a moment: "Scooter, was that you?"

From the way it felt, I can only guess that Scooter did a forward roll into my bladder, simultaneously kicking as hard as a baby can kick.  We are speculating that this is the baby's way of saying "No more random dopplers, Mom.  Trust me.  I'm in here."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mozart for Scooters

On Saturday night I finished up my sermon (sermons written on Saturday night=maximum freshness) and asked Sean if he might be plotting something for Mother's Day.  He was. "Would you like to have Mother's Day now?"  Why yes, I would!

Hank the Dog and I made room for Sean on the couch (Hank sleeping on my feet is a very important component of sermon writing.)  Sean brought over a plastic bag promisingly full of gifts (unwrapped gifts=maximum freshness.)  I started with the card: the cover features an illustration of a very pregnant lady in profile and the words "Kick! Kick! Kick!" emanating from her belly.  The message inside: "Translation: Happy Mommy's Day from You-Know-Who!"

Voldemort?  Nooooooooo!  Run, Harry Potter!

Obviously, I loved this card even before I read Sean's message.  As you will see, I was about to love it even more.

Sean writes:
I was so excited when little Scooter asked me to share a few thoughts in this card.  What a wonderful mother you are and you will be! When I see you, so content, so happy, with your hands resting on your belly (not so big as the front of this card yet) I get such a thrill! Soon we will hold our little Scooter, but you are holding our little Scooter every day--what a wonderful, uncomfortable miracle.  All of my love x2.  Mwah!

You are maybe starting to notice a theme in these blog posts.  The theme is crying.  My happy crying woke up Hank, who was concerned.  After sniffing at my face a bit he sat down next to me very calmly and put his head on my belly.  From the way he lingered with his big ear there and the thoughtful look on his face, we wondered if he could hear the baby.  

We've read in our baby books that, at this stage, Little Scooter can probably hear us.  I am hoping Little Scooter likes my sermons.  Sean has started directly addressing the belly: "Hey Baby!" he says.  "I'm your daddy!"  There's a theory (not scientific) that playing music for the baby helps with brain development--Mozart, in particular, is a popular choice among fetal geniuses.  As I went back into the plastic bag of presents, I pulled out a three CD set of the Best of Mozart along with a pair of big, padded, new/old school head phones. Perfect.

After church on Sunday we set me up with the Mozart and the headphones.  At first, I couldn't discern any fetal activity.  Then I shifted the headphones down and to the side and some very noticeable scooting commenced. At this stage, the baby's movements feel like weird little internal tickles. In this case, the tickles seemed to say: "I'd much rather be listening to Jethro Tull, Mom."

I was spectacularly sick last night--clean up required a mop.  After getting me cleanly and safely to bed, getting Hank into his crate and getting a bucket for me and another bucket for the mop, Sean commented, wryly, "One thing we know for sure: the baby does not care for Mozart."  As sick as I was, I was more happy and content in that moment than words can tell.  I put my hands on my little baby belly and said about a thousand thanksgivings.  What a wonderful, uncomfortable miracle!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This date, last year

Soon I will post a very cheerful synopsis of Mother's Day, 2011 ... but today my mind is lingering on Mother's Day, 2010.  These past few weeks have been full of difficult anniversaries ... I would wake up and think, "a year ago today is when it started," "a year ago today is when it happened."  A year ago today I posted the following note on facebook, titled, "Why I'm Celebrating Mothers Day."  I'm posting it again here because I do want to mark these anniversaries somehow; I want to remember where we were and think about where we are now.   This is posted with thanks to The Bean--you taught us so much in such a short time. 
I always knew (on some hypothetical level) that this day is difficult for a lot of people. I imagined what it would feel like for those missing moms who have died, for those missing children who have died, for those who are actively dealing with infertility, and those who can’t or choose not to have children (for a range of reasons, with a range of feelings about it.) This year I am one of “those.”
Sean and I lost our first pregnancy last week. We were still in the first trimester, but as cautious and aware as we were of the usual risks and statistics, we were already pretty attached to The Bean. I had this (hormone induced?) feeling that there was something good happening, there—that this was a very good Bean indeed. Even knowing that this kind of miscarriage usually means that there was something inherently wrong, something that would have kept the Bean from ever developing any further … even now I feel like there was something good, there. Something worth mourning and missing.
Our first positive pregnancy test was kind of funny. The line was faint enough that we couldn’t be absolutely sure it was really there. We used to make fun of those commercials for the expensive digital tests that say “1 in 4 women can misread a home pregnancy test.” And there we were, among the utterly confused 25%, buying one of those expensive digital tests. When that came back solidly positive, we scheduled a blood test. And then another, for comparison purposes. When all that came back positive, we still wondered and worried. I said to Sean, “Pregnancy is rough for people who want instant gratification.” He laughed and said that I should try to get used to it, because parenthood isn’t really an instant gratification thing, either.
I wanted to know everything I could about The Bean right away: I wanted to know if it was a girl or a boy, what we’d name it, if it was healthy, if it was going to make it through to the 12 week mark, when we planned to tell our friends and family. If the pregnancy had continued, there would have been even more questions without instant answers. Not really an instant gratification thing, parenthood. It’s a risk, a constant question with no instant answer.
Being open to that risk, those questions, that ambiguity and lack of instant answers—that’s pretty amazing. That’s worth celebrating. So this Mother’s Day, with new appreciation, I’m celebrating my mom. And because these holidays are totally arbitrary, I’m celebrating my dad, too. My parents dared to hope for a miracle when they were told their only child had less than 6 months to live. When I was cured they realized I was still just a big bundle of risk and unanswerable questions: as the crisis ended, the questions and the risk remained. And continue.
I’m celebrating my friends—parents or not—who take the risk to offer unconditional love and care, without any promise of instantly gratifying answers. I’m realizing that knowing people doesn’t mean I know their stories—miscarriage is common, but talking about it really isn’t. And so I’m also publicly celebrating the risk Sean and I took as we tried to add to our family, a risk we hope to take again someday. It is worth celebrating in the midst of our mourning and missing.
“You may fear that you could never survive another loss. But you are probably more resilient than you think. And you will probably gather up the courage to try again” Deborah Davis, "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baby or Indigestion?

Had a good, quick and routine visit to Dr. M's office this Monday.  The nurse tech always makes me feel like I'm in good hands.  On this visit she said, "There are no proteins or sugars in your urine, so we know your liver and your kidney are doing well."  Kidney.  Singular.  She remembered!  That makes me feel very cared for indeed.

And then she made my day again.

Nurse C: Are you feeling the baby move?
Me: I can't tell.  I think so.  I can't tell if it's the baby or indigestion.
Nurse C: Does it make you fart?
Me: No.
Nurse C: Then it's the baby!
Me: Sweeeeeeet!

So, I think I've been sensing some movement.  A little scooting here and there.  Still can't say for sure, though ... I've been kind of overdoing it with the dairy products. 

Heartbeat: very easily found, hanging out in the 150-160 range.  I wonder if I'll ever hear it without crying.  Nurse B. said I could come in any time just to listen.  That's pretty awesome.

Other than dehydration, I seem to be "progressing well."  Get ready for some electrolytes, baby!  Next appointment is May 31--ultrasound!  If Little Scooter is not overly modest, we'll have some more news to share.  In the meantime, electrolytes.  Throughout the pregnancy so far my beverage of choice has been an extra large Ovaltine right before bed.  Sean captured these glimpses into our decadent, glamorous lifestyle.  Cheers!

A fine, chilled Ovaltine

OJ and Metamucil, stirred