Sans Sonogram.

You know it’s been a long time since you’ve blogged when you’ve gotten a blog request.

Kids are working out their own problems in another room.  That’s a good skill to have at a young age, right?

Anyhow.  I’m now 19 weeks pregnant with our third child.  And we aren’t finding out the gender.  As a matter of fact, we aren’t having any ultrasounds at all.  Here’s why I’m blogging about this:  not only does it seem to bother people that we don’t want to know what the gender is, but the fact that I’m an ultrasound tech means that others don’t believe that I can go 40 weeks without scanning myself.

There are just a few things: first, Brock and I have agreed that there are very few true surprises in life.  This is one we want to get to experience.  We already have a boy and a girl.  We’re ready to find out at the moment of birth what our third child is.  I couldn’t possibly me MORE excited for that moment!

Second, there was an ultrasound at 5 weeks to make sure there was a heartbeat.  There was a heartbeat.  There hasn’t been a single other scan since then.  It has been 14 weeks since then, and the urge to look has all but gone away.  I feel plenty of movement, and know in my heart that things are going well.  The longer I go without scanning, the easier it is.

Third, I understand that I work in a hospital, alone, at night and I could easily scan myself without anyone ever knowing.  (*of course I would NEVER do that because it’s against the rules!)  But here’s the thing – I don’t have anyone’s expectations to live up to but my own.  And the only person that would be disappointed by my breaking down and scanning would be me.  I am the one that wants this, therefore I am the one that will ensure it happens.  There will be no scans.  Period.

At nearly half way through this pregnancy, I’m going strong.  I feel good.  I’m happy, powerful, and ready to birth another child.  I’m ready to breastfeed again.  I’m ready to hold a newborn and smell that smell and hear those sounds.  I’m ready.

Not tomorrow, you know… but in about 20 weeks.

Change of Pace

We have changed gears.

It is a funny situation when your whole focus, the point of your being, goes from doing everything possible to keep the baby in… to suddenly wanting the baby out.

Since around 27 weeks, I have been modifying my activity to be sure I didn’t cause contractions. I haven’t picked up my son, done laundry, haven’t vacuumed the living room or had sex with my husband. I have been trying to take it as easy as possible at work. All I could think about, every single day, was making sure I didn’t have a premature baby.

And then…

…and then we crossed the imaginary line in the sand. 37 weeks on Saturday and suddenly everything is okay. Suddenly, if she comes, we’ll be fine. She’ll be healthy. Everything will be okay. As a matter of fact, it you want her out a little sooner, go ahead and start – insert previously abstained activity here.

The change of pace is unsettling. On one hand, I want her in my arms… I want to hold her. I want to know she’s healthy and everything is okay. On the other hand, just because we have crossed that line doesn’t mean we are ready. I need a little more time. I can’t just turn my brain around and start working to get her here sooner than when she’s ready.

I need to pack a birth bag. I need to wash baby clothes. I need to get the carpets cleaned and buy a mattress cover for my bed. She needs to wait just a little longer. The numbers say it’s okay for her to be here, but my heart says let’s wait.

Of course, if I want to make sure that she won’t be here before Valentine’s day, all I need to do is go out and buy her a perfect V Day outfit… that’s almost a guarantee.

I Dunno.

Why do I even do this to myself?

Sure, go ahead and schedule a midwife appointment and a dentist appointment for your son on the same day.

You’ll probably get enough sleep the night before.

Everyone will be ready on time.

You’ll have someone to watch Ronan during your appointment, and traffic will be fine.

It wont be too late for nap time when you get home.

Ronan will go down for a nap easily, even though he’s over tired.

You won’t have to wake him up five minutes before his appointment, because he’ll already be up on his own!

A twenty month old boy will be an angel in a dentist’s chair, no tantrums, fits or screaming.

Does this all sound a bit like fantasy?  That’s because it IS.

In all honesty, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  But I don’t know why I do this to myself.

My midwife visit was amazing, despite being nearly 15 minutes late.  I never really feel like a whole month has gone by between visits, and I feel like we click so well.  I had a few questions today that I was seriously worried about, and she made me feel so much better.  She never makes me feel silly about asking them, either!  “If that’s how you want it, we’ll make it work.”  I don’t think I could possibly feel better about my choices or my care.

Ronan napped well, but I had to wake him up.  I HATE to wake him up, especially for something as foreign as a first dentist appointment.  But the dentist was FANTASTIC, and they had a TV with story-book shows playing, so he just sat in the chair while she poked around in his mouth.  Good news… that gaping hole in his tooth is NOT a cavity!  So we get it checked again in 6 months, and stop worrying about what kind of terrible parents we are for only brushing his teeth once a day, instead of three times.

In other news, I am 25 weeks pregnant.  While I’m getting a little more uncomfortable, and seeing changes I remember not liking, I still feel great.  I have the urge to shave the fluff off of my belly (do any of you get fluffy hairs on your pregnant tummies?) I wish I could still see my… parts.  I feel bigger now than I did at 30 weeks with Ronan, yet not as ungainly.  And she KICKS.  Every moment, every single second I stop to think about her, there she is.  Kicking away, pounding at my insides.  I don’t mind.  I’m not tired of it yet.  I’m still happy to be pregnant.

22 Weeks.

I have found myself in a funny place.

I don’t remember being like this with Ronan at all.  I wish I were, I wish I had known better.

A sweet friend recommended to me that I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth… and so I did.  I had no idea how much it would change my life.  I honestly and very literally feel like it has changed the way my brain functions.

I had no idea that a woman’s body could be seen so powerfully.  I had no idea that we could be in control of what happens, and how, and why.  I had put complete and total faith in the medical system, believing that my doctors always had my best interest in mind.  I really did buy the idea that “a healthy baby is worth any means it takes to get it here.”

I don’t feel that way any more.

I am in love with the idea of bringing my baby into the world in the manner of my choosing.  It becomes terribly obvious, the more I read and the more I learn, that hospitals aren’t the BEST way to get a baby out – they are just ANOTHER way.  After hundreds of years of making and birthing children, women have lost faith in their ability to bring forth and also nurture their own offspring.

Now don’t get me wrong, there ARE women who need to have their children in hospitals.  There are ALWAYS situations in which mother and baby are better being attended by physicians who are away of the dangers and pathology of pregnancy.  But they are NOT the norm, and the other 80% of us mothers have been hoodwinked into thinking that we can’t do it without help of some kind.  Of all kinds.  Of far too many kinds.

I have found myself lately talking to my baby girl.  I never did this with Ronan.  I find myself telling her that I can’t wait to bring her into this world.  I can’t wait to feel the rush of labor, and the excitement of birth.  I can’t wait to hold her for the first time, and watch her has she nurses.  I can’t wait for a joyful, peaceful, comforting entry into our arms and our hearts.  I tell her this every day.  I feel myself becoming stronger, more aware of my body and its abilities.  The fear and trepidation I’ve had in the past at the prospect of a ‘drug-free’ birth has been replaced by excitement, and the desire to challenge it head-on; the knowledge that it’s not something I should do or have to do, but something I CAN do.  Never, in my life, have I felt more strength as a woman, more faith in my body and what I can do.

Never before have I known so fully and truly what I want to do, and who I want to be.  Ina May has guided my path in a new direction.

I want to be a midwife.

21 weeks.

I hate myself for not writing, sometimes.

I hate myself for not being more thorough.  I hate that I’ve told myself again and again that “I will remember this” and “no one wants to read this.”

Only, I write because I want to read it.  I write because I need to get it out and get it down.  Not because I want you to read something that you want to read.

I wish I could remember what I felt like with Ronan last time around.  I wish I could pinpoint exactly how much he’d been moving, and what sort of things were difficult to do.  I can’t recall whether or not we had purchased furniture for his nursery, or where we were in our name discussions.  How were my clothes fitting?  Did my nipples hurt this damn badly?

I don’t remember any of it, and I hate myself for not writing it down.

I’m having a hard time this time around too, and it kills me!  I think about all of the things that I want to say, what I want to write, and how I’m feeling… but I never get it out.

So… here goes.

I am 21 weeks pregnant.  I’ve got a pretty good little bump going on… as a matter of fact, this weekend one of my patients and one of my co-workers asked me if I was expecting!  That didn’t happen with Ronan until I was in my 3rd trimester, so I was thrilled.

I’ve been having a ton of contractions lately.  I had been surprised that I’d made it this far with one or less a day, but they are a whole different breed of contractions I had the first time around.  Before, I had a tightening in my belly, barely noticeable unless I had my hand on my stomach.  This time?  This time, it’s as though my uterus knows what it’s doing.  They hurt.  They take my breath away.  They make me close my eyes and remember how hard labor is.  It’s been okay, though, because I’ve only had one or two a day… or less!  Until this week.  I’ve had more and more each day.  I’m not concerned… I have been down this road before.  They are just an annoyance, my body prepping itself for the big day.  But this is the week that I started having ‘more’.

This little girl in my belly… she moves ALL THE TIME.  I don’t remember it being this way with Ronan.  I don’t remember feeling him move while I was driving, while I was trying to fall asleep, while cooking and grocery shopping.  Sometimes I find myself getting irritated at whatever is twitching in my belly, and then I remember IT’S MY BABY, and I get a secret grin.  No one gets to feel her move the way I do, and it’s such a special connection.  I feel like she’s telling me that she’s going to come out running, and she’s not going to slow down.  I already feel like she has a different personality than easy-going, laid back Ronan.

We don’t have a name picked out yet.  We talk about it almost every day.  We have some names that we like, and some that we love.  We both feel very strongly about waiting to meet our little girl before we decide what to call her, just like we did with Ronan.  I know it’s TERRIBLY hard to be patient and wait to learn what her name is… but we’re waiting to learn what it is too!  I promise, we’re not just keeping secrets.

TMI warning… Nipples.  If they would just shrivel up and fall off… and that would hurt less?  Go ahead.  I know they’re kind of necessary, but we can figure that out when it happens.  I’ve never hurt so badly in my chestal-area before.  Not even when I was nursing.  Not even when we had yeast.  I keep going back and forth between trying to wear nothing but loose fitting clothes to see if friction is the problem, to trying snug fitting sports bras to see if hanging free is the culprit.  I can’t win.  They just hurt.  NO TOUCHING!

I feel like this is getting long.  But anyways.  I missed my 20 week Midwife visit because Ronan wasn’t feeling well, and have yet to set up a time to make it up.  But I’ve been feeling great.  I have put on between 5 and 8 pounds so far, and I’m just starting to get to the point where I feel like normal things are getting more difficult to do.  I know days of great discomfort are ahead of me, but I’m kind of excited for those too.  They all end the same way… with a brand new baby in my arms.  I can’t wait.  I smile as I write this... I can’t wait.

I am 21 weeks pregnant, and Ronan is 19 months old.

Nightmare.

I know that when you’re pregnant, hormones can lead to some incredibly vivid dreams.

I had one last night that is sticking with me, and it was terrible.

I dreamt I was having contractions (and I probably was) while Brock and I were putzing around at home.  I don’t know why, but I decided to “check” myself, and found that I could feel the baby’s head.  I looked at Brock, all excited, and told him it was time!  We had to get to the birthing center!  Brock had to find someone to watch Ronan, so I left without him.

But somewhere, along the way to the center, I realized that I wasn’t 40 weeks, but actually only 20 weeks… and this wasn’t a good thing.  I was about to deliver a non-viable, premature baby.  I made a detour to the hospital, and went in to the ER.  I told them I was 20 weeks, and the baby was crowning, and I needed them to stop it.  They didn’t believe me.  Finally, a doctor checked me and said that I was right!  I needed to get upstairs!

There was a lot of to-do involved in getting upstairs, included filling out paperwork and a helicopter ride.  When I got there, Dr. Shaver was waiting for me.  He told me everything would be okay.  I cried with relief, I had never been so happy to see another person in my life.  They were going to put the baby back in, stitch my cervix closed, and we would be fine.  I knew we were going to be okay.  He said he would wait in the operating room, and I had to be cleared for surgery.  I was sitting at some sort of registration counter, panicking because I was having contractions, and one of the nurses told me to lean forward.  There was blood everywhere.  They told me it was my bloody-show.  All of a sudden, I was in full on labor, and it was terrible.  I was crying out in pain, and they wouldn’t give me anything… not even Tylenol.

In the end, I delivered the baby, and they whisked it away so I couldn’t see.  They told me it wasn’t too bad, it was just a zygote, and kept showing me pictures of 4 and 5 days after conception.  I cried and cried.  I knew they were lying to me… I had seen my baby.  She was whole, and fully formed.  She had fingers, and hair.  She wasn’t just a clump of cells.  And I had lost her.

I woke up feeling unsettled and upset, and the feeling didn’t get better until I felt the sweet baby in my belly move.

I hate how good dreams are always so fleeting and hard to remember, but bad dreams stick with us even when we want to forget.

Perspective.

Funny how a new one will change what you think.

My first pregnancy was terrible – a sham.  I was so excited, so desperate for a child, so ready to be a mom.  I wanted to wonder and revel in every moment of growing a human being.  I used to dream about how magical the experience would be, I used to sit and imagine how amazingly my body would change.  Instead… I hated every second of it.  I was so unprepared for the discomfort, the changes, the reality of being pregnant.  I told myself I was just not a ‘good pregnant woman’.  I couldn’t understand how there were those that said they LOVED being pregnant, loved pregnancy.

And then…

…and then I had two miscarriages.  Two lost little lives.  Two moments of unbearable excitement and desperate pain.  A third positive pregnancy test… filled with hope and doubt, guarding my heart against another stolen dream.  But with each passing day, this baby grew – bigger, stronger, more complete – more real.

Nothing is different this time around.  The nausea, exhaustion, aches, fatigue, moodiness – it’s all the same.  Some of it’s even worse.  Only this time, I DO revel in it.  I allow myself to enjoy every single moment.

Because I am carrying a child.  I am creating life.  I am thankful.

And I LOVE being pregnant.

Ronan is 18 months old and I am 17 weeks pregnant.

That Funny Fear.

You know the one that I mean.

The one that sits in the back of your mind, and keeps telling you things are going wrong.  The one that makes you inspect every wipe of toilet paper for any hint of pink.  “Is that blood?!  Oh wait, no, that’s just a thread.  I’m wearing red underwear.”

The one that analyzes every single cramp or twinge.  “Gas, or bad cramp?  Normal pregnancy pain, or bad cramp?  Could that be a contraction?”

It’s not even rational.  It doesn’t even give you the chance to decide that you aren’t going to worry about it, because so much is normal.  You aren’t given the opportunity to ignore what may or may not actually be there.

You just worry.

This will be another one.  I’m going to lose another baby.  What do I do then?  What happens if I can never carry another child to term?  To the end of the first trimester?  What if we can’t get pregnant again?

Every day, I close my eyes and think around it.  I tell myself to stop, to calm down, to be reasonable.  I have no reason to believe things wont turn out perfectly fine, and I try to focus my energy on positive things – think about baby names, and new bedrooms and hand-me-down clothes.  Imagine what Ronan will be like next February, and taking another maternity leave.  Worry about the money, because that’s better than worrying about another miscarriage.

Don’t worry, Mandy.  You will survive, no matter what happens.  Everything will be okay.  Just breathe.

The Doctor Dilemma

During my last pregnancy, I had an easy time deciding which OB/GYN office I would go to.  I worked downtown, and would be there 40 hours a week, so I decided to go to a clinic downtown.  I figured chances were pretty good I would go into labor at work, and if not, the drive wasn’t so bad that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the hospital.

I picked a doctor that came highly recommended, and I absolutely loved her.  I had a great experience with the practice and with the hospital, but I didn’t automatically assume I would go there next time I got pregnant.  I didn’t work downtown any more, and it’s quite a hike to make just for an appointment.

So, in January when I came up pregnant, I ended up going to an OB office close to my house.  I knew the doctors and the nurses there, and was comfortable being seen.  I went through both of my miscarriages there, and started to feel like it might be the right place for me to go to deliver my next child.

Until Monday.

You see, Monday I called to make a New OB appointment, and I was informed by the scheduler that ALL patients must first have a ‘confirmatory’ GYN visit, where they do a pregnancy test and ultrasound.  Normally, and if I were a regular person, I would be very excited to get to have an ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy.

Only, my insurance isn’t great.  And they’re not going to pay for an extra ultrasound.  When I told her that I didn’t want the ultrasound, I was informed (over a period of being on hold for nearly 30 minutes) that it is clinic protocol, and EVERYONE must have that ultrasound.  I politely informed her that it was MY RIGHT as a patient to refuse any medical test for ANY reason, and that they couldn’t force me to have an ultrasound I didn’t want.  She told me that if I didn’t want to have the ultrasound, I would have to talk to her manager.  She then transferred me to her manager, who didn’t pick up.  I left a message, and my call hasn’t been returned.  Since Monday.

Quite frankly, I’m disappointed.  The customer service was awful, and it left me hanging up the phone feeling entirely pissed off.  If they had accepted that I didn’t want the ultrasound, they would have been out, what, 200-400 dollars?  But now that I’ve chosen not to deliver there, they’re going to be out the whole cost of my pregnancy.  Just for the record, Ronan’s delivery came to greater than 14,000 dollars, of which we paid 3500 out of pocket.

So, now I’m left with the question of where to go instead?  My instinct is to go back downtown to the doctor that delivered Ronan, but there is some bad mojo there.  One of my former coworkers (that hates my guts) is very good friends with my doctor’s nurse.  That nurse and I had worked together, and moved downtown together, and became close friends.  We used to go out to lunch together every week.  She was there for Ronan’s delivery because my mom couldn’t be, and I wanted someone there that cared about me.  But I haven’t heard from her since I left my downtown clinic.  She’s never returned my calls or texts.  I hate the idea that going there will bring up bad feelings, or even worse, that she would talk about me with someone that dislikes me after my visits.

I honestly believe she’s above that, because she’s a sweet, wonderful, caring person.  I guess all I can do is call, make an appointment, and find out.  If it doesn’t work out, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I’m not very good at handling confrontation.  And I hate the idea of trying to find a new practice.  But no matter what, it will get done, because I don’t really have a choice.

A Secret.

So many words in my head…

I don’t know exactly how to get them out.  I never know where to start.

You see, I have this problem.  I want to keep a secret.  And I’m terribly, terribly bad at keeping secrets.  Almost as bad as my mom, who frequently asks, “do you want to try to guess what I bought you for Christmas?  It’s really, really great!  You’re going to love it… … … Okay, I’ll tell you!”

I want to keep a secret, because after having two miscarriages, I’m not prepared for a third.  After experiencing the joy of finding out we were pregnant, and sharing the news – but then having to inform everyone of our loss afterwards – I feel like my legs were constantly cut out from under me.  I would be fine, no problem, happy until someone would look at me sadly and say they were sorry.  I was great, over it, moving on until someone would walk up out of no where and give me a hug.  I was getting on with my life until a lady in the check out line asked me how old my son was, and upon hearing he was 15 months proclaimed, “Well!  It’s time to try again!”

I was tired of being reduced to tears and the smallest of things.  I was tired of feeling that twinge of jealousy over friends that were finding out they were pregnant, or having babies.

So I decided to keep everything a secret.

Only… it’s on my mind.  All the time.  Every moment of every day, all I’m thinking about is my secret.  All I want to blog about is my secret, and related stories.  It’s all I can do not to shout my secret from the rooftops.

I told Brock last night that I can’t write, I have nothing to write because I can’t write about it.  His reply? “Well, then tell everyone!”

So here you have it:  I am pregnant.

Mom, I’m sorry you find this out here.  Jane, I’m sorry we didn’t tell you this weekend.  We were trying to keep it a secret!  To tell everyone once we were out of the first trimester, once we were out of the danger zone.  And then I realized… that’s not what I do.  I write about the good AND the bad.

The good.  Brock and I are pregnant again.

The better.  This time, we have a heartbeat!

The bad?  It’s been touch and go for a little while, with spotting and a subchorionic hemorrhage by ultrasound.

But I am seven and a half weeks pregnant, farther than I’ve gotten for sure with either of my last pregnancies.  I am sick as a dog, tired all the time, excited and feeling positive.

Please, keep your fingers crossed for us.  We’re hoping that this one sticks.

Also, if you work with me… outing this on my blog is the same as going public.  So feel free to talk about me behind my back.  Or to my face.  Whichever.