July

Today is my last day of the second trimester. I can’t really believe that is the case, but it seems to be true. I couldn’t wait for the second trimester, the golden trimester, where everyone promised I would be so comfortable and etc. And you know, it’s kind of true. Once I got over the fact that I am actually pregnant, and started behaving as such, it was comfortable. Also, you’re really, actually pregnant. The people around you know this, your belly sticks out it a cute and not too big manner, and your baby periodically kicks and nudges you from the inside as a reminder. In case you forgot, for even one minute, yes, you are pregnant.

I love being pregnant. I love having the baby with me everywhere I go. I love having an excuse to put my feet up on the coffee table and ask for a back rub and have an extra oatmeal cookie. I love the way my body looks, for the first time ever in my life. I love the kicks and nudges and knowing that for now, I am taking care of baby just right. He or she is getting just the right amount of food and just the right amount of sleep. He or she is safe in there, and warm.

This is why the last day of my second trimester caused a little panic, a little tightness in my chest. It’s almost over, I thought today. Yes, I am almost into the home stretch, the most uncomfortable period of my otherwise easy pregnancy. I am only 3 months away from meeting our little baby. The shower is a month away — so as not to conflict with any winter holiday celebrations — and we are already a tad late on the invitations. I am almost done, and then I won’t be pregnant anymore.

Instead, I will have to learn to love my squishy, imperfect, postpartum body. I will confront the postpartum depression that I am afraid of. I will have my little one, yes, but with it the knowledge that I will never be pregnant again. This is it. After this, I won’t be pregnant any more, ever again.

Once, when I was in college, on a hot July day, I was walking home from the pool. The grass had just been cut, and the air was hot and heavy and sweet. My hair was dripping down my back and my feet were bare. The sun was beating down so hard it was almost unbearable, probably would have been if I hadn’t just gotten out of the pool. But the light was a little golden, not quite white, the way it is at the end of the day at the end of July. And all I could think was, “I can’t believe summer is already almost over.”

I wish I didn’t do this, live so much in the future that I can’t enjoy the present. It’s hard for me, to live a happiness I know will end. Even if what waits on the other side is another happiness.

maternity clothes

After spending the morning with my non-maternity tights hanging off my ass as I walked to work, I thought I would share a little of what I have learned about maternity clothes shopping, now that I am halfway through my second trimester.  I was somewhat surprised by what worked and what didn’t, so perhaps I can save you a few dollars if you are still in the early stages of pregnancy, especially if you work an office/desk job like me.  Other pregnant ladies or moms, feel free to chime in.

Non-maternity clothes and belly bands

There are all these tips for expanding your ordinary wardrobe — hair tie around the button of your jeans, belly bands, etc.  These worked for exactly three days for me, then I found actual maternity clothes to be much more comfortable. The truth is that most of my early pregnancy belly expansion was due to bloat, not baby. This meant that expanding my ordinary clothes via hair-tie or leaving pants unbuttoned made me look sort of…. lumpy.  And muffin-top-ish.  Not a good look for anyone.  I also found that with the belly band, while it was nice when I hadn’t yet had a chance to get to the store for maternity clothes, it made the unhooked clasp or button of my pants dig into my skin when I sat for long periods.  Which I do every day.

However, wrap dresses and long non-maternity shirts have been lifesavers, and I am actually sitting here as I write this wearing a non-maternity pseudo-wrap dress from Ann Taylor. It’s from a few seasons ago so I definitely got lots of non-maternity use out of it before it became a maternity dress.  Here I am in it at about 19 weeks:

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It looks basically the same now, although the belly is bigger.  Stretchy material = straight hemlines.  This is something I have become obsessed with. I hate how maternity shirts and dresses are too long in the front if you aren’t yet big enough in the belly, and I hate how ordinary shirts and dresses are too short in the front.

Below-the-belly pants

One purchase I was super-pleased with early in pregnancy was this pair of pants from the Gap.  They weren’t very expensive for work pants (I got them on sale, so they definitely weren’t $55 — more like $30) and they were really comfy during the late first trimester and early second trimester.  Plus they are cute!

BUT.  Now that I have a much bigger belly, I have found any of the “demi-panel” or below-the-belly pants to be super uncomfortable.  If you sit for a long period of time, which is pretty much guaranteed at an office job, they tend to dig in right at your hips/low belly.  Which, you will realize, is exactly where your baby sits.  This makes the baby super pissed-off.  My particular little one shows its irritation by first kicking and jabbing at the offending waistband, which isn’t very comfortable in the first place. Then, when this is ineffective, baby turns its aggression and frustration toward my cervix and bladder, which is decidedly less comfortable.  Once I actually peed my pants a little because of this bladder kickboxing.  Maybe that was baby’s goal, to get me to pee myself so I would go change out of those horrible pants.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved these type of pants early in pregnancy and will probably wear them postpartum as well (perhaps for a long time, because who doesn’t love an elastic waistband on otherwise really cute pants).  But I would say limit these to one or two pairs so you don’t waste a bunch of cash on things that are only comfortable for a month or two. {side note: I also have this skirt, which sits below the belly. Because it doesn’t have the super-intense waistband a lot of the below-the-belly pants have, it’s still comfy. I paid full price for it and am really happy with the purchase, even though around $50 for a jersey cotton skirt is crazy. This could also be worn post-pregnancy.}

Over-the-belly pants, maternity shirts, and maternity swimsuits

Although I was initially dismayed at the number of shirts with butterflies on them, there are actually a fair number of pretty cute clothes out there.  I generally find one or two things every time I am out shopping, and avoid the urge to “stock up” — partly because the belly size changes fast, and the weather changes faster, and partly because the odds of finding more than one thing I love at the same store at the same time seem to be small.  I have liked best Gap, Target, Old Navy and Motherhood Maternity.  I haven’t made it over to Pea in the Pod, though I hear good things about their leggings. I even got this cute swimsuit from Motherhood for our upcoming babymoons (yes, we are taking two – one as a family, and one as a couple).

Cross Back Maternity One Piece Swimsuit

For swimsuits, I generally just wear my normal two piece, but the kids are a little self-conscious about the belly hanging out there for public view, so I decided to get a one-piece maternity suit too.  I am not sure why they think pregnant ladies want to wear swimsuits with skirts, because it’s actually not my thighs that are pregnant. But, whatever, there are still cute one- and two-piece suits to be had, and now is a good time to get them on sale. The red one pictured above came in at around $20 with a great sale price and a coupon code.

The truth is, I have 2 or 3 favorite things that I just wear over and over again, and hope that if I wear a red necklace this time and a black scarf another time, it counts as different outfits.  I wear a lot of t-shirts to work with a cardigan or blazer, and am just happy to be comfortable, if not totally professional.  Over-the-belly pants are definitely the best (although they can be a tad itchy after a while), and real, legit maternity shirts are more flattering in terms of looking pregnant rather than just heavy.  Also, buy the maternity stockings. They are apparently worth it, if my walk to work this morning is any indication.

One thing I have appreciated about maternity clothes is that they are, for the most part, machine washable. I guess this is because they know you don’t have 2 weeks to lose while that shirt hangs out at the dry cleaner. Or maybe because of the high polyester content, not sure. It’s a lifesaver though, when you have 2 workable pairs of pants, one dress, and 4 shirts.

A quick note on underwear

I could not figure out why underwear was one of the first things I outgrew as my belly got bigger. My ass generally seemed to be the same size, yet my old underwear was cutting off the circulation. I went up a size and that didn’t do it either.  Then, I took a good hard look at my naked self from the side.  The thing about the baby belly is that it does not actually start at your belly. It basically starts curving outward right at your pubic bone. There is a lot more girth in your nether regions from this outward curving low belly area.  This is why the underwear doesn’t fit — you are bigger in the front than you were before, even down low.  Just go out and buy big-ass low-rise bikini style underwear. You will be so glad you did.  As my mom has always said, “Nothing goes right when your underwear’s tight.”  I never actually understood what the hell she was talking about until now.

One last bit of advice — people generally won’t notice (or care) if you wear the same 5 things over and over, but they will apparently notice if you wear the same shirt every Friday!

A cheerleader, a girlfriend, a big kid, and a sick, overworked mom

This last week, I have been siiiick. Just a cold, but it felt much worse due to 1) not being able to sleep well and 2) crazy working. My job is one of those jobs where if you stay home sick, all it really means is that you work 9-11 hours from your couch, rather than your desk. Wah, wah, I know. But it did result in some crazy googling of whether the baby could tell I had a cold (what if little poopsie also had a tummy ache and a stuffy nose in there?).

The big one has started high school, and has made the cheerleading team. At first my wife was opposed to this, because of misogyny. I agreed for this reason but thought that her finding something she enjoyed where she could make some new friends in high school was more important. She has really enjoyed it this far, and cheered in the first football game last night. I was proud of her – you could tell how hard she had worked. And the big smiles when she came home made it seem like this was the right move (for now anyway). Kids are hard.

The Boo is now in middle school and has… A boyfriend. A boyfriend that the big one tells us is not all that nice to her. They take themselves so seriously, even though they are only is the sixth grade, and their entire relationship seems to consist of texting each other the word “hey” a few times a day and the occasional slice of pizza on the weekends. And yet, it does seem like he leaves her waiting around a bit. And Boo is so quiet about things that it’s hard to see how she is doing with all of it. If it was the big one with the boyfriend, we would have already analyzed their relationship 10 times over by now. But Boo is more reserved. If he breaks her heart, which seems a tad inevitable, it’s going to be a tough job consoling the kid who doesn’t like to let on that she’s suffering in the first place.

Our little guy turned 9 yesterday. Nine! As in, almost 10. For his birthday, he has received so far some video game thing from his grandma, and what appears to be his favorite gift so far, a fake mustache from his babysitter. The girls also have him a Spider-Man graphic novel, which he loves and we love, because he’s actually reading something. Who would have thought I would have a reading-averse kid? I have to say that the weirdest part about having kids is that it sometimes doesn’t matter how much you chirp about your own values, or model things, or whatever. Sometimes they don’t like reading, and sometimes they want to be a cheerleader. Who are these little people living in our house? We got him a laser tag game, which we realized only after it arrived was actually a gun thing where you try to shoot your friend in the head. Whoops. Too late now – apparently we are also parents who buy toy guns for our kids. We’re giving it to him anyway after we get back from the other part of his present, which is a trip to the Renaissance fair this afternoon. Yes, we are that nerdy.

As for me, the only other thing that has happened, other than the cold and the working all the time, is this:

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My stomach has spent the week feeling very tight and funny, like the top of a drum, and then boom. Yesterday, I was hugely, undeniably pregnant looking. I have looked pretty pregnant for a while, but could kind of hide it in certain clothes if I wanted to, so it just looked like I was sort of fat. No more! Definitely a high, round, firm belly full of baby. Which had been delighting my wife and me by kicking and punching as if it’s already trying to bust it’s way out. At 21 weeks, we have had our anatomy scan. Over-analyzing of reasons for learning or not learning the baby’s sex are for another post. Continue reading

kicks

Over the last couple of weeks, I have felt our little one’s kicks, punches, and flips growing stronger and more regular.  This past weekend, my wife was out at the bar dancing with my sister and some friends.  I decided I would rather go to bed than go out dancing (go figure).  I was lying in bed, reading, when I felt the strongest kick yet.  I looked down at my belly, and a little bump popped its way out.  I could actually see it!  From the outside.  This wasn’t a “bubble” or a “flutter” or a “twitch.”  This was a FOOT.  I was so excited, and so sad that my wife had missed it. That was the first kick she could have felt.

It happened again a few times over the next couple of days, always at times she couldn’t feel it.  The more it happened, the more I found myself wanting to ignore my pregnancy apps and read about my baby.  Something about these very real kicks suddenly made the baby itself real.  This is not just a pregnancy, there is actually going to be a baby at the end of it. I know that sounds sort of obvious, but I guess it hadn’t really sunk in, despite the fact that we had talked about names (boy names are hard, y’all), and decided which bedroom would be our baby’s nursery. But I felt my shift focus over the weekend, from bad skin and big boobs and maternity shirts to the actual human baby that I am growing.

My wife did not seem that bothered that she kept missing the kicks.  Last night, she said to me something along the lines of, “I know I don’t seem that excited about the kicks. It will happen when it happens – there will be lots of kicks for me to feel over the next couple of months.”  We curled up to go to sleep, with her arm around me, and just like that, she felt one.  She laughed out loud.  It turns out she is going to have a real live human baby too, and one with a really great sense of timing.

the things that go wrong

My wife and I got married two years ago, next Monday.  Our wedding was beautiful, memorable, and filled with love.  It was also at our house.  On an island that is only reachable by a boat.  This seemed like a great idea at the time, but made for a logistical nightmare, and a lot (LOT) of pre-wedding stress.  

The day of our rehearsal, I finally started to relax and enjoy the event.  Then, we got to the restaurant where we had booked our rehearsal dinner.  More specifically, I had booked our rehearsal dinner.  And they informed me that I had actually booked it for the following evening.  As in, the day of the actual wedding.  Thinking back, I absolutely did do this.  I had said August 25th so many times in the wedding planning, that it did not actually occur to me that I needed to book the rehearsal dinner for August 24th.  They scrambled, and moved people, and made room for our rehearsal dinner, which went just fine.  But we sill laugh about that feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we realized I had, in fact, booked the rehearsal dinner for the day of the wedding.  A million other things went wrong, and they all make the best stories.  A week before the wedding, we still had to order alcohol, and our friend who owned a restaurant organized an impromptu wine tasting party in our kitchen.  Two days before the wedding, we realized we had forgotten about programs, and one dear friend designed them, while another with very nimble fingers tied hundreds of tiny bows so they would look just right.  My mom scrubbed the floor of our house on her hands and knees until her knees actually bled (I did not know this could happen) in the days leading up to the wedding.  These are the things we remember from our wedding — the mistakes that we made, and the hundreds of ways, big and small, that our friends, family, and complete strangers said, “Don’t worry. We got your back. Go get married and don’t worry about it.”  

In the last couple of months, I have backed my car into a parked vehicle (TWICE), bounced our mortgage check, messed up an obstetrician appointment time by an hour, and now, most recently, invited friends to our beach house on our anniversary.

When I backed the car into a parked vehicle the first time, my wife was amused.  When I did it the second time, she was a bit disappointed.  When I bounced the mortgage check, she was irritated.  When I messed up the appointment time (we were an hour early), she was a little mad that she had missed a meeting at work for it.  When I basically forgot our anniversary, she was pretty hurt and angry.  

I don’t know what to say to her. I am messing things up!  It’s hormones, pregnancy brain, whatever you want to call it.  I lack organizational skills right now (and also the ability to turn all the way around and see where I am going while driving backwards, apparently).  I’m sorry, and pregnant.  She is pretty forgiving.  She knows that our anniversary is important to me.  I love anniversaries, and Valentine’s day, and basically any other excuse for us to have a fancy date.  But still, I am annoying as hell to live with right now.  I guess I hope that a few years from now, we will laugh at all of this, and these will be our good memories.  Like, remember when you were pregnant and messed up all the things, right in a row?  Honestly, though, I kind of hope that this “memory making” part is over soon, before there are significant monetary or relationship consequences.

“vacation” (or, things that are much more difficult while pregnant)

Well, internet, I wish I could say that I missed you in the week that I was camping in the woods upstate, but honestly, I love a good technology break every now and then.  This one was driven less by a lack of cell service (which is my favorite kind of technology break) and more by a lack of chargers.  I’ll take what I can get.

We had the kids for vacation this past week, and decided to camp.  We ended up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  You want to know what is not as fun pregnant as it is when you’re non-pregnant?  Camping.  Getting up in the night to pee is always a pain in the ass, but it’s actually much worse when you have to get up, put on boots in the dark, walk through the mud up a hill with a flashlight, and pee in a cement building with spiders in it. While not waking up the dog.  Also, you realize that your children are actually very active sleepers when you are trying to fall back asleep afterwards to the harmonious sounds two out of three of them flailing around like fish out of water in their sleeping bags.  Also also, hiking at 1,000 feet of elevation is noticeably more difficult when you are pregnant.

I was honestly surprised I struggled so much with all of it.  Everyone says the second trimester is the best of pregnancy, and I sort of expected to feel more like my non-pregnant self.  I do feel better, but I am definitely still pregnant. This camping trip was a big reminder of that.  I move slowly, I tire more easily, and I need to eat more often.  Things that I used to do easily were a chore, and things that used to be a chore were basically impossible. So yeah. Still pregnant over here.  And bending over repeatedly to put up a tent?  Not all that easy while pregnant.

All complaints aside, there were some good moments.  The kids had apparently never walked on active train tracks before, and found it super-exciting.  Also, when they asked if they could climb down a muddy cliff by hanging on to tree roots to go swimming in a natural pool at the base of a dam, in violation of both park rules and common sense, they were totally shocked when the answer was yes, and my psychic-or-something wife had actually packed all of our swimsuits in the day pack. My wife, the dog and I also swam in the pool, and we had all just changed back into our clothes (except the dog, who wears the same fur coat no matter what she’s doing) when a group of teenage boys came careening down the same muddy cliff to illegally swim in the same pool.  Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of all of this, because let’s be honest. Carrying around a fetus and a water bottle on the hike was enough of a struggle; I wasn’t about to also be carrying around my camera.

The kids are still sort of working through their feelings about the pregnancy, so when we dropped them off with their dad for the weekend and met up with our old friends at the beach, it was a relief to let my guard down, relax and just be happy about it again.  Also, sleeping in a bed was nice.  Still, the fatigue of the week really caught up with me yesterday, and I was basically unable to do anything but lie around whinging about nausea and vague abdominal pains which may or may not be this “round ligament pain” I have heard about.

Today, I am back in my beige cube in Manhattan, slogging through the workday.  It’s tough to say that it was a “good” vacation, which is what everyone asks you when you come back from a week away, given the emotional drama with the kids and the unexpected difficulties I had with the camping trip.  But I did have time for the blister caused by my work shoes to heal, and I did actually have a day to lie around whinging without any work to do, so I suppose in that sense, the week away from work was a success.

twelve weeks, and also thirteen

I am a bit behind on the posting, not because nothing has been happening, but because so much has been happening.

1.  I hit 12 weeks, and had my ob appointment with the man doctor.  Surprisingly, I very much liked the man doctor.  He spent over an hour talking to my wife and me about our various genetic testing options, how the pregnancy was going, and who even knows what else.  So we have decided to stay at our current ob practice, and I am so grateful I can cross this stressor off the to-do list.  The sonogram portion of the nuchal translucency screening put us well into the normal range, which was a relief.  The man-doctor also noted that I have a “very prominent uterus.”  I think this means that it sticks out.  I knew this already, because I could feel it in my tummy, well above my pubic bone, and also, at 12 weeks, and only 4lbs of weight-gain, I looked like this:

12 weeks selfie

Normally I avoid the following: (1) selfies taken in a mirror with an iphone, (2) crappily lit pictures, and (3) pictures that show how messy my room is, but whatever. I look pregnant!  Also extremely tan.  I promise it’s all from an hour here and there on the beach, with sunscreen, and not from unnatural sources.  I just tan sort of naturally.  Anyway, that is the picture I have, so that is the picture you get. My mom tells me her belly was “prominent” early also, which is weird because when I asked her what she remembered about pregnancy, the only thing she could come up with was that her hair was very tangled.  Now that I am actually pregnant, and I mention symptoms or pregnancy goings-on, she always says, “Me too!”  I guess, given that 30 years have elapsed since her last pregnancy, things are a little fuzzy.

2.  On a high from the doctor’s appointment, we decided to break the news to the kids.  They were… not pleased.  Well, at least the Big One was not pleased.  I am sure you can imagine that this is a vast understatement, as thirteen year olds generally manifest displeasure in a rather dramatic fashion.  We’re trying our best to help her work through it, but if you have ever tried to communicate with a teenager about something they don’t. want. to. discuss. you will understand the difficulty we are having.  The Boo is generally silent on these topics anyway (“these topics” being her thoughts about things, or her feelings), and our Boy Child just wanted to know that we were going to ensure it was a boy so he could have a brother.  I am glad that the Boo is headed off to Denmark today, as it will give her some time and space to process how she really feels about the baby with someone she feels safe with, and without her sister trying to convince her it’s horrible and her parents trying to convince her it’s great.  Not that we have been anything but supportive of however she feels, but she’s not stupid. She knows we want her to be happy and excited about the baby, like we are.  Our little boy is just relieved that some of the tension in the house has dissipated, so that he can get back to what really matters:  going to the swimming pool.  It is summertime, after all.  Let’s not ruin it with a lot of stomping around.

I have to say, it’s disappointing that their reaction was so negative.  Pretty much everyone else has been happy-to-ecstatic about the baby, and obviously we are, too.  And yet really, when it comes down to it, the only people whose reaction I care about are these kids.  I hope that they can get used to the idea, and even become a little excited. At least my mother is over the moon. She is actually knitting booties. I didn’t even know babies wore booties anymore, but our little peach will have some, courtesy of grandma.

3.  Week 13 started yesterday, which means that I am officially in the second trimester.  I also got the full results of the nuchal scan from my doctor’s office – everything is fine, and I am considered very low-risk.  With this great news, and the fact that I have needed to wear maternity pants all week, I decided to tell my office that I was pregnant, even though we don’t get our full genetic test results back for a week at least.  My first boss asked a million questions, most of which I thought you weren’t allowed to ask.  Like, whether we used an anonymous donor.  Really!  I wanted to tell him that the donor was David Crosby, but I think he would have actually believed me, and then the joke would have been wasted.  I just answered with as little information as possible, saying that we used an anonymous donor through our doctor’s office, and then he proceeded with his list of questions you are not allowed to ask. Telling my other boss went fine – no inappropriate questions were asked, and the whole thing took about 2 minutes.  And now here I sit, officially Pregnant At Work.  In celebration, I bought a bunch of relatively ugly but work-appropriate maternity clothes at Target.  Okay, not that ugly, but, you know. Not really cute either.