Tuesday, April 29, 2014

au revoir but not adieu!

Today I had my first cry at the total loss of my wardrobe covering my austral regions. At home, I had taken occupancy weeks earlier over my husband's sweats and PJs and evicted him to his jeans to his increased chagrin but unfortunately I still needed to negotiate a fitting with my own wardrobe any time I emerged into the outside world. For some weeks, I had been indulging in the elastic trick (thank you R!),  with my belly progressively conquering its dimensions, but alas no longer.

Last night at dinner with friends, I felt so squashed that I had to escape to the bathroom and let my belly run free, discarding the elastic (in truth, a hair tie) and opening my fly to all its glory. While I physically felt better, it was a little disconcerting, albeit my shirt covered my entire fly, to engage in conversation with the group and stride post dinner along SoHo in a romantic promenade with my hubby back to the Village knowing there was no zip to my step. I shuddered at the thought of my trousers falling at any moment to astounded passersby and as my hubby related an event that I did not listen to but dutifully smiled and nodded (which reaction got me into trouble as I am usually not so docile nor understanding), I scrambled for the best appropriate response. I was looking for something more than "oops." Possibly, I could whisk my hair back, calmly bend over (although I have started to reflexively groan as I bend over my belly), pick up my trousers and nonchalantly say "the paleo diet really does work" with a wink. Alternatively, I could simply continue my stride, add some Fosse hip, wink and firmly state "everybody is wearing these in Milan." Or would simply doing the robot be a better alternative? I didn't have to conclude an option between my genius concoctions, as my belly did a fine job of keeping my trousers alert at their post until I collapsed on the couch with a groan and complained that my life was over. My husband shook this head and immediately went on Amazon. "It's time." I shuddered. "No, no, I still have a few weeks!" I yelled from the couch to no avail as I heard persistent clicking turn to silence and a few solitary clicks, knowing they tolled for my wardrobe.

So now my husband has regained tenancy of his sweats and PJs and en route are maternity pants for a belly that is marching onward in full stride.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don’t look that way or you will kill your baby!

Don’t look that way or you will kill your baby!

I wager there is a post on the internet with a dedicated audience that concerns that particular issue. I just came across a post that concerned the issue of whether an expectant mother could eat blueberries (oh, the peril!). The answer - blueberries are a great nutritious addition to your diet and good for you and baby, but cautioned that “there have been no studies on above normal consumption of blueberries.” So cancel the lorry of blueberries I ordered?

I voraciously, with increasingly ferocious nail biting read and read and read all the things that I shouldn’t do and all the things I must do and embroiled myself in all the contradictions (which resulted, as I related above in my first prenatal appointment, in ambushing my OB with a barrage of questions and was immediately prescribed a period of non googling). In fear and not wanting to give up one my guilty water-guzzling pleasures of taking a warm bath with himalayan salts and lavender oil, I decided to have a safe, lukewarm bath. I doubt the meddlers that advise you to take a lukewarm bath have actually undertaken this horrid deed by themselves. They would probably realize that not only does it take all the relaxation out of it as you are increasingly uncomfortable but a lukewarm bath gets cold fast - and then not only was I cold and uncomfortable, but freaking out that I was going to get a cold and harm my baby. So I quit baths for a while until I realized that a warm bath was not a devil to be feared and that a lot of what you read is bollocks. Jumping in scalding water is inadvisable and so is maybe getting into a hot tub, but a warm bath is a relaxation that is harmless and which you may well need.

And how do you even make sense of all this varied and often contradictory and mostly ridiculous advice out there if you wanted to be extra cautious, just in case? The way to follow without being overwhelmed is actually quite simple - think of all the things you want to do and strike a big line through it because you won’t be able to do it. Some studies say even thinking about getting in a hot tub will kill your baby. A glass of red with dinner? I don’t think so lady. Order your fillet mignon medium rare? Forget it. A herbal tea in the afternoon? What have you been smoking? A latte? Seriously, now, aren’t we getting a little bit lax, here? Some paté? Incorrigible. Mortadella? Do you even care about your kid?  Feta? Somebody call the police! Sushi? Murderer! A nice warm bath? Witch! Peanut butter? Certifiable. Continue with my yoga practice? Have you not heard of prenatal yoga, you selfish bitch? Continue with my ballet bar classes? Don’t you see it’s not all about you? Travel? Who the fuck are you kidding, fatty?

I even read advice that you should detox after using your computer and mobile phone and keep your phone and computer activity down to at most two hours a day. Well that would all be well if I were a farmer, but considering my life is spent writing at a computer, I’m going to have to question the basis of your advice. Oh, you were talking to a ghost through a seance? Moving along... And for that matter, how did they come to the clear unit of O for alcohol intake for your pregnancy? It seems from my brief research that the studies that this purportedly sage advice is based upon involved binge drinkers and alcoholics. How exactly does regular binge drinking compare to a glass or even half a glass of red wine with your dinner each eve or a few nights a week? Are there studies that show that women that did everything else right, in fact, that they lived in a glass case eating only yoghurt (pasteurized of course), well cooked meats and various fruits and vegetables and who had a glass of wine with dinner had babies with learning difficulties, congenital defects or foetal alcohol syndrome? I would wager, possibly due to the fact that I am attorney and my mind is never far from the litigious aspect, that the real issue is doctors saving their own backs or being told by their insurance companies that they must uphold the zero tolerance rule. Another reason may be that as members of the fairer (read dim witted) sex, we are just not be trusted to have only one glass a night. As known lushes that can’t control our emotional impulses unlike the ruling sex which views itself as clothed by strict reason, albeit they have led the world to utter destruction, the patriarchal rule from on high is zero tolerance to prevent our predicted faulty reasoning that if one is OK, well surely, three is not bad?

The best doctor is your own body - when I nearly had a heart attack from a super stealth attack from my thyroid with an uncontrollably racing heart rate and before I knew I was experiencing anything but extreme fatigue, my body told me that caffeine and alcohol were out - a sniff of alcohol was intensely nauseating.

So go ahead and enjoy that glass of red with your medium rare steak. If you don’t like its taste or don’t feel like drinking more, your body will tell you. I know that I am satisfied with half a glass of wine and with half a coffee but that doesn’t mean that there should be a strict half glass policy. And if there were - pour into a bigger glass as my dad once said.


I have to protect my booty too.

No one is inoculated against the epidemic of giving out unsolicited advice ( by telling you to listen to your own body above, I just did it too- everyone is infected!) as to what you shouldn’t and what you must do during pregnancy and nursing, and probably to child rearing itself, although I have only had the privilege of being bombarded with mellifluously delivered malicious advice as to what I am doing wrong in my pregnancy. There is disturbing ownership of pregnant women in society with your belly becoming an object of public debate and censure and everyone entitled to comment and criticize. Indubitably, this control results from the continued prevalence of misogyny in our society. Growing life and giving birth remains the primary and essential difference between us and men that will never change. It is the one aspect of our society that they cannot control. So how do they remedy their biological redundancy? By controlling us. Well, fuck that. We own our own bodies and know what is good for us and not. There’s a reason nature gave this job to us. Can you imagine men going through all these emotions, all this fatigue and pain? We would probably have really good “maternity” leave though. And t-shirts.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

1, 2, 3...more?

One of the first things that my husband said to me when he found out I was pregnant, his goofy grin in tow, was to state that I was going to get dumb. I didn’t appreciate this comment and immediately countered that the “pregnancy brain” state was a chauvinistic myth conjured up by some misogynist with its tenacity attributed to the continued prevalent sexism in society. Pretty soon however, I hoped that this myth were true, because I had started having major moments of amnesia and outright stupidity. Walking to my friend’s place one day, a trip I had completed many times before, I stopped, confused, realising I had utterly forgotten her address. Worse, when my husband and I were talking about why a narrative poem I had written, which we entitled “Fred” in shorthand, might be a difficult piece for most readers, I scoffed at my husband for stating that “Fred” was a four letter word. I then proceeded to count out the letters on my fingers in support of my point, going all the way to “e” until I wished that there really were a hole that could suck you threw the earth and direct to China and preferably a panda sanctuary where at least I could have the company of cute little pandas for a while with whom I didn’t need to talk to and forget my increasing indiscretions.

Pregnancy has also exacerbated my absent mindedness. I have put keys and my wallet in my fridge before (in a mad rush, as I was wont to do, I left a cake in a box in its bag, which also included my keys and my wallet, which was of course the last place I looked) and other like occasional mishaps but now my short term memory is more goldfish than human. Tell me a joke and then tell it to me again and again - I am perfect practice for nervous first time comedians. To battle my memory lapses, I have loaded up on ammunition - a post-it is always near to utilize against the enemy. If I turn my air purifier off (the joys of living in New York, include surviving on air humidifiers and air purifiers in order to breathe soundly) or low for an important phone call, I have to write to myself “you turned me off!” and stick it on top. If I go to get groceries and I don’t have a list, I completely forget why I’m there (although I always seem to find something to buy). One other reason to thank the genius that came up with writing.

Never having a bladder with any sort of stamina, I knew I was in trouble from the beginning. I didn’t notice much of a difference in the first few weeks, probably due to not having a bladder with any work ethic to begin with, but the last couple of weeks of my first trimester have certainly taken the bathroom trips up a notch. Instead of getting up once in the middle of the night, three or four times is my new norm. I can hardly do an hour exercise class without busting by the last few minutes during ab exercises (by which I am supposedly toning down what is going to balloon anyway, but hey, at least I get the endorphins). The repeated nightly trips as well as the 3 am fridge raid does impinge somewhat on my sleep, as does the fact that I do not find it comfortable to sleep on my right side anymore, but the consolation prize, apart from the drooling of course, which is just another bonus to add to the bucket, is the post-lunch pensioner nap. I collapse about 13 30/14 00 daily and when I do wake about an hour or an hour and half later, I emerge a somnambulant who growls and squirms like the rise of the living dead until I finally enter waking reality, albeit enveloped in the nebulous, soporific cloud that is the constant mental climate of the first trimester.  No wonder I have no idea where my keys are. They should really make beepers for these things.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hunger & Hormones! The Musical (now with tap dancing sailors)

Food is an altogether different experience when you’re pregnant. I wake up with immense ravishing nauseating hunger unlike I’ve ever experienced before and I’ve never been a shy eater. I am also not in control of my menu. I wake up knowing I must have eggs. I know that I must eat spaghetti bolognese for dinner - whatever the delectable and varied choices on the menu and ones that I would normally go for, such as ravioli ripieni con crema di gorgonzola e noci, tagliatelle ai porcini e tartufo any my favourite pasta - cacio e pepe! Il re! The decision had been made before I even went to the restaurant - an inner voice that tugged at me and commanded that I go to an Italian restaurant, that I have pasta and that I order the bolognese. If a food comes to my mind, I need it right away, as if I was privy to an epiphany for a noble mission.

Digestion also flipped a switch with me. The burping I could handle as unladylike as it was - I had no teas scheduled with the Queen. However, the constant companion of constipation caused me some misery. I had always had very punctual and efficient bowels and now these fuckers just hung up a “closed” sign and went on a backpacking holiday around South America leaving me in the lurch. When my husband at first suggested Metamucil, I rolled my eyes and held my hose high, immediately conjuring the commercials of middle aged people taking long walks in the sunset wearing suspicious smirks. However,

I was soon shuffling with head lowered and my tail and then some between my legs to my new saviour. Now we’re best buddies and I haven’t looked back.

Dreams are wacky when you’re pregnant. I’ve always had vivid dreams, but being prego takes it to a whole new level. It’s not so much the dreams themselves, but their affective power - you wake up and you feel as if you are still entangled in the web of your dreams. One morning I woke up crying because I dreamt that a doctor with a bleeding head (not by obstetrician) was delivering me and telling me I couldn’t have natural labour and I would have to have a cesarean, but when he got out his knife and I looked at my stomach, the whole thing just deflated and I started screaming, asking where my baby went. He then cut me open but there was nothing to set free. In consolation, the hospital gave me a manicure. When I woke up, I burst into tears not seeing any humour in the absurdity and woke up my husband, who then had to console me as I continued to be a blubbering mess garbling questions such “how do we know the baby is all safe in there?”, “how do we know we won’t have a stillbirth?” and other like questions until my husband arrested my thought process by asking me whether the hospital had given me a good manicure. I thought about it. I couldn’t lie - they did a pretty good job. Feeling guilty that I liked the manicure (and here I must point out that I almost never get my nails done and in lieu take care of them through a rigid process of neglect save for regular chewing), I burst into tears all over again. I would continually burst into tears that day, thinking of my dream - which brings me to the our next topic.

Hormones! Show me a peanut and I will cry. Never a bastion of calm before pregnancy, I am now an active volcano, stirring all sorts of emotional seismic activity. I have been cuddling with my husband one moment and then shouting at him the next, although, at least thankfully for me, since my memory has also gone kaput, I have no idea what for and am blissfully unaware of the episode the next moment, baffled my husband’s flummoxed expression. Mainly, I cry a lot. My husband can make an obviously sarcastic comment and I will burst into tears. I am a constant cryer throughout any film in which scenes do not involve happy people singing and holding hands. Sometimes, I will burst into tears and have absolutely no rhyme nor reason why. The joy of hormones!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

enough about the baby, what is going to happen to me??

One of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant was to dive into all the pregnancy books that I had and abuse the google search engine. A lot of the info concerned the baby, but I skipped over that minor detail and went straight to the grit of it - what the hell was going to happen to my body??? How much weight was I going to gain? Was my skin going to attack me? Was I going to swell and look like a jumping castle? Would I get to be too intimate with my toilet bowl? So many questions and yet the answers were mixed and somewhat worse than I had feared. When my first prenatal visit came, I asked the doctor so many questions and looked so pallid, that she immediately prescribed me a google-free period for at least a few weeks, warning that people that had bad experiences loved to go on diatribes on the net, while the people that just hummed through it were busy doing other things (and humming through them supposedly) and couldn’t care to type just how great their experience was. I was skeptical about the humming, but I took her advice, lowering my google intake of information, although I was fast becoming a target market for all things maternity for even the most lethargic algorithm.

The first prenatal visit is quite charming. I had mine at five weeks. They swab you, prick you and have to go the intimate route to view the baby. We were on the lookout for a heartbeat. My husband spotted it before the doctor. I was so excited to see a pulsating little dot on the screen, that I began to laugh. You do not want to laugh when the doctor has something jammed up your wazoo. Not fun for the doctor and certainly not fun for you. There is lots of fun during the visit though - you see your baby for the first time and they get you high - for free! And I’m not talking about the excitement of seeing your baby. I’m talking about floating in the sky and being a blubbering laughing mess until you pass out. It was the first time anyone had taken ten vials of blood from me - and it just flowed. The nurse taking my blood had a magic touch but boy could I feel the effects after she finished. I was completely zonked out. I kept staring stupidly at my Bugs Bunny bandaid, forgetting that I should have voiced my allergy to band aids before the incendiary device was placed upon my inflammable skin and tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get up off my chair. Finally, giving up, I recovered in the room, slumped over my concerned husband, who looked as if he had also lost blood merely by looking at how much they had taken from me. After a while, I began to laugh uncontrollably and he decided it was time to go home. It was one of the coldest days in a particularly ferocious winter and we couldn’t get a cab anywhere. So my husband took his high wife on the mid afternoon subway wherein I laughed, then slumped down and passed out and then stumbled out of the subway, laughing all the way home, greeting our neighbours with a suspiciously wide grin proclaiming “I don’t even know what’s so funny”, until I fell on the couch and passed out.

And so the glorious ride of the first trimester began….

Monday, April 14, 2014

There should really be a t-shirt

I am nearly done with the first trimester - woohoo! There should really be a t-shirt. I’ve received t-shirts for going on hikes, for bungy jumping, for graduating high school, even for attending a weekend conference- I really believe that the labours of pregnancy (which include more than just the mammoth finale) deserve some cloth and at least one exclamation mark. Believe me, when I say it’s deserved and I am only about to begin my second trimester. I’ve had my circus of ills, from broken bones (yes, you can break your nose on a rollercoaster and snap your arm in two during a handstand!), to torn ligaments (I kickboxed the shit out of my meniscus, tore both my scapholunate ligaments during a pole dancing craze to the point that an x-ray showed that the pain I felt every time I made a fist was due to dislocating my bones, to breaking my coccyx while finalising a major paper), to the wonder of various diseases, including scarlet fever and glandular fever to amoebas, and the comforts of pregnancy are right up there. So I’m going to make my own damn t-shirt and wear it with a big grin.

Even without a t-shirt, I am glowing. The doctor says it’s the increased blood flow, but it’s my elation at finally being done with this bitch of a first trimester. I’ve heard the second trimester is the honeymoon period, so I am gleefully watching my days tick over into second trimester goodness.

I never looked forward to pregnancy. I knew I wanted a kid, but I certainly wouldn’t have raised my hand to carry and give birth to all the kids if nature had a keener sense of justice - I mean half is fair, no? And I certainly would not have raised my hand first. If my husband and I could draw straws or do a rock, paper, scissors contest (and if I lost the first one, best out of three), I would certainly have opted for that option. But unfortunately, nature has graced only the female sex with this wonderful task - a little bit like Alien, only the alien comes out of you in a slightly less disturbing manner.

The one thing that I consoled myself with before pregnancy and would reiterate to my husband nearly every month was that boy, would I be glad to not have a period for nine months. None of the emotion, cramping, headaches, fatigue, bloating and sometimes constipation that came with the uninvited monthly visitor. Little did I know that the first trimester, at least for me, would feel like one very persistent period, bar the bleeding. I was so ignorant of this possibility, that the days before I found out I was pregnant and believing I was about to have  particularly pernicious period, I was in company with some good reds and my grandfather’s homemade loza and huddled my Bloody Mary the morning after. Somewhere between my red and my promiscuous and not so holy Mary, holding my bloating stomach and complaining to my husband about the crap hand women got in the biological card game, I told him he better get his boys in order and get me pregnant so I could have some respite from the monthly madness. Not my most glorious moment, but thankfully forgotten in the nebulous haze of a night out.

The night of my 31st day, the longest my natural if utterly confused cycle had gone, my husband and I took Chinese takeout and my particularly prescient cookie foretold that “a new friend {would break me out] out of an old routine.” My husband, grinning like a madman, said that we should take a pregnancy test right then. He looked so happy, I didn’t want to disappoint him, knowing a deluge was about to appear and I convinced him to wait till the morning. The next day, my husband hovering around me, I put my pee to the test. While the instructions said to wait two minutes, the dipstick immediately began to turn and my husband exclaimed the good news that I could well see but continued to remained a little incredulous of. Surely there were false positives, I reasoned. I couldn’t understand how I was bloated and cramping but pregnant. My husband, ever helpful with explanations, pointed out I wasn’t a doctor. Sure enough, when we went to our first prenatal appointment, the doc just laughed and said “oh, yes, that happens.” Ladies, there is a conspiracy going on to keep mum about the absence of the consolation prize. Be warned. In fact, as I will relate later, there are a few consolation prizes, including of course a baby but more importantly and of immediate concern, the pregnancy card! (but you can’t really use it in the first trimester, at least not outside of your husband and immediate family, sorry - just be sure to really exercise it with the people you can load it over to compensate for this injustice).

During the days I was “late” but due to a cycle undergoing some major identity issues, ranging from 25 to 31 days in a completely haphazard manner, not late enough for me to suspect that I had a tenant in my midst, I kept running to the bathroom in a desperate effort to avoid the effects of a deluge and nothing would come. That and the bloating convinced me that my period was just around the corner. However, in hindsight, there were a few signs that a precocious individual would have raised an eyebrow at. Although never a light eater, I had never consistently woken up before with a raging, nauseating hunger at 4 am causing me to raid the fridge. After which, I would flop into bed and sleep in, growling when I had to get out of bed (again, a peculiar habit for an early riser like myself). I also had the delightful symptom of raging heat and would walk about the house in a sweat, complaining about the heat to my flabbergasted husband, who had before resigned himself to our perpetual thermostat and covers war, in which I was forever on the attack to raise the heat and bolster the covers and he was ever trying to lower it and kick them off. I was a sweating, raging heater the week before I found out about my pregnancy. So much so, that when my husband hugged me one time, he said I felt like a furnace and he couldn’t hug me much longer.