Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I think I may be depressed.

The daily crying jags were a clue, of course, but at first I chalked that up to late-pregnancy hormones. In the past week I've alternated between feeling really energetic and nest-y (in an anxious sort of way) and feeling horribly weepy and inadequate, which I figured was normal.

But, having survived four months of bedrest (and two months of restricted activity before that), having gotten through one of the saddest, loneliest, most miserable times of my life, now, with the end of it all within my grasp, all I can focus on is grief for what I've lost. Six months of my life, which I know in the grand scheme of things isn't very long, but still--gone. My ability to prepare the kind of home environment I want for my baby--stupid things, like curtains and artwork and a dresser that doesn't make her clothes smell like chemicals and even a chair to sit in while I hold her. My ability to do even the simplest things for myself--laundry, cooking, making the damn bed.

More importantly--my friendships, which in my heart are irreparably damaged by my resentment at how I've felt alone and abandoned this whole time. In the past couple of weeks I've suddenly been getting all kinds of calls and emails asking how I'm doing, how I'm feeling, and all I can think is, "Where the fuck were you two months ago when I was alone and scared out of my mind and needed you? My mental and physical health, which have deteriorated from four months of sitting indoors, unable to cook for myself or exercise or breathe fresh air or look at a goddamned tree or anything other than the same four walls day in and day out. Even my marriage has suffered--I resent my husband for being able to walk out the door, for working long hours and leaving me alone, for being able to enjoy life, for not truly seeming to understand how miserable I am. (He thinks, or hopes, that once the baby is here I will feel so much better. I am terrified that I won't.)

And oh yes, my ability to take joy in my coming baby. Beth wrote about this too. Yesterday I had my apartment cleaned--one last scrubbing before Bat Girl arrives--and the young woman who does our cleaning (a recent luxury, indulged in, of course, because I can't clean myself) said to me, "You must be so excited to be so close to having your baby. I can't even imagine--it must be like the anticipation from the best Christmas and birthday and everything rolled into one." I stared at her blankly and said something like, um, oh, yeah. The truth is, I feel no joyful anticipation. I want this pregnancy to be over, oh god do I want to not be pregnant anymore, but rather than looking forward to having my baby at last, I am filled with fear. I find it impossible to imagine that I will be any good at this. What if I don't love my baby? What if she doesn't love me? How could I possibly be anything other than a spectacular failure at breastfeeding? What if something I did or didn't do during this pregnancy has irreparably damaged her? What if I do something terribly wrong and something happens to her?

This morning, for example, as we were lying in bed, my husband remarked that it had been pretty cold in the apartment the night before, and we might need to get a space heater for the baby's room. My thoughts immediately spiraled into an out-of-control maelstrom of anxieties--but what if the room overheated and she died of SIDS? on the other hand, what if she got too cold and froze? What if being too cold or too hot makes her sluggish and she doesn't wake up to feed and she starves? What if OH MY GOD I WILL BE THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD----

In my better moments, I know, intellectually at least, that everything will work out somehow, that I am a competent person and I will not break my baby, that someday soon I will be able to go for a walk, snuggle my baby in the park, taste sweet freedom. The fact that some part of my brain can still understand that is how I know that I'm not too far gone. And yet, when I try to express my fears and sadness and anxiety to others--my husband, my mom--and they just say, "Oh, that will never happen," or "Oh, it will be fine, stop worrying," or "Oh, you'll feel better when the baby comes," it is exactly the wrong thing for me to hear. It fills me with rage and helplessness. And a feeling of, what the hell is WRONG with me, then, that I can't seem to shake this off?

And to the well-meaning person who emailed me a few months ago from this blog, saying, "At least be glad you're pregnant! I'd give anything to have what you have!"--I mean this in the nicest possible way, but: Shut up. I already feel guilty enough.

I don't want to be sad like this anymore. I'm so afraid that the sadness will take over and I won't be able to enjoy my baby. And after everything I've been through, that would be the saddest thing of all.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Full term

Well, I'll be damned.

Yesterday I reached 37 weeks, which, I'm told, makes Bat Girl officially full term. How the hell did that happen?

Way back in July, when it seemed like I bled every time I moved, or in October, when I was contracting like crazy and being put on bed rest, if you had told me that I would actually carry this pregnancy to term, I would never have believed you. I would never have believed that having contractions every 10 minutes would become a way of life for months on end; that I would eventually get used to spending my days alone and not leaving my apartment for a week at a time; that I would be here, at the end of January, with a pink-festooned nursery (though I still choke on the word, "nursery") and stacks of baby clothes and diapers and a car seat/stroller that I can look at without making a sign to ward off the evil eye; that, in short, I would be here, at 37 weeks, with every indication that, hey, this pregnancy thing might just work out after all.

It's been a hell of a ride, that's for sure.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What are you doing here?

You should be here, congratulating Robbie on her brand-new babies!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nothing much to say

Except that I am currently 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant, a fact which continues to astound me.

Also, that yesterday was the first time in almost a week that I went a whole day without weeping, which I consider to be progress.

Also, that someone found my blog by searching for "frontal view pooping," which...ew.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What do you worry about?

Jo had a post on this subject, or at least something like it (um, scroll down past the sex rags part to see what I'm talking about), a couple of years ago. (Damn, have I been reading IF blogs that long?) And seeing as how I am currently consumed by worry, and how a lot of the (14 or 15) people reading this weren't part of the blogosphere when Jo wrote her original post with its fascinating comments, I thought I'd revive the topic.

I was never one of those green-tea-swilling, pineapple-munching, my-body-is-a-temple TTCers. I mean, it probably didn't hurt that by the time I started TTC, I'd already spent my 20s transitioning over into a diet of less meat, more beans/greens/grains, organic/hormone-free when I could, no high-mercury seafood, etc.; that I've never been a big caffeine consumer or fast-food addict; or that I'm smoke-free and, thanks to local ordinances, almost never come into contact with cigarette smoke anywhere in my daily life. But I drank (copiously) during my follicular phase, consumed refined sugars with abandon (except when metformin punished me for it), ate street food in Bangkok and slathered myself with DEET in Cambodia.

Once I got pregnant, it was a mixed bag. I ate as decently as I could, but several months went by when I couldn't force down a green vegetable if my life depended on it, and once freed of the bowel-churning grip of metformin, I never met a brownie I couldn't love. I've avoided the litter box (but really, when you have a totally indoor cat, pregnancy is just a convenient excuse to avoid a stinky task), but have had no problem eating slightly rare meat, smoked fish, soft cheeses (though I do steer clear of raw milk cheese), or cold cuts. Hey, when you are seven months pregnant and craving a muffaletta, nothing else will do. My doctor said sushi was fine, and if I'd been more mobile during this pregnancy, I would have eaten it nonstop. (Unfortunately, the only sushi place that delivers in my 'hood is slightly sketchy, and I'm thinking if I eat sushi, it should at least be good sushi.) I got a thimerosal-containing flu shot and haven't looked back. I have mostly avoided alcohol--just a few thimblefuls of wine through this whole pregnancy--but haven't been particularly militant about it. My husband makes the most divine sauces using wine or brandy and I'm not going to obsess over whether every particle of alcohol has cooked off (which I'm sure it hasn't).

Instead, I've gotten swept up in more obscure worries. (Incidentally, you know you have gone off the deep end when you identify with a parenting subculture written about in New York magazine, home of the repulsively overprivileged with too much time on their hands.) Phthalates, PDBEs, parabens in my personal care products, and of course the Dresser of Death. I've bought "green" cleaning products, an organic crib mattress, and glass baby bottles. In other words, I've basically ignored the things 99.999% of pregnant women worry about and zeroed in, laser-like, on the things only 0.001% of humans have even heard of.

(I am NOT, however, worried about the effects of ultrasound, as was a recent poster on the message boards who was freaking out over having had three ultrasounds her whole pregnancy and would it give her baby autism. Having had probably 20+ ultrasounds this pregnancy, I could only laugh.)

The scariest part is, as Meira so eloquently pointed out in her comment to my last post (and BTW thank you, Meira, for saying EXACTLY what I needed to hear, both about the breakdowns and about the breastfeeding), and as someone said in the comments to Jo's post, even if we do everything "perfectly," there are no guarantees. You can have the purest diet, the healthiest lifestyle, the cleanest environment around, and have cycle after cycle after cycle crash and burn, or suffer multiple losses, or have a child with serious problems. You can eat nothing but McD0nald's for nine months and have a happy, healthy baby.

What do you worry about?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Still here

And still pregnant, which is a good thing. In fact, yesterday marked the magic milestone of 35 weeks. There was no fanfare, no champagne, just a sigh of relief that I have succeeded in NOT going into labor yet.

Rather than celebrate, I marked 35 weeks by having not one, but TWO emotional breakdowns yesterday. The first was when I accused my husband of not caring or being involved in this pregnancy at all. Let me just say, first of all, that I know I was being somewhat unfair. Just because he doesn't want to read 5 million pregnancy books or pick out crib bedding doesn't make him a bad father-to-be--of course I know that. I know that he will be a good father and that he is a good husband. But--oh, I've just tried to explain this three different ways and keep deleting it. It's too hard to get into, too private. Suffice it to say, that was breakdown #1.

Breakdown #2 was just a culmination of all the fears and insecurities that have been building up over the last couple of months. I feel like I can't manage to do anything right with this pregnancy. I've kept Bat Girl cooking until now, and rationally, I know that's the most important thing of all. But I haven't gained enough weight (I started out this pregnancy underweight and have gained less than 25 pounds) and I know I haven't had the best nutritional habits--yeah, I take my prenatals, but because of the bed rest have had to rely on packaged foods and takeout for, I'd say, at least 75% of my diet over the last few months. I've been going insane over the stupid smelly dresser and whether its continued smelliness (after my husband sealed the edges, it no longer smells chemical-y, but still has a strong "new wood" smell) will give my baby asthma or cancer or brain damage. And there are a million other things equally as silly to the outside observer--too many to list here.

I know that all these things are pretty minor compared to what less-privileged mothers have to deal with, and I need to just accept that I'm doing my best and let it all go--but I can't seem to do so, and then I think about how the amount of stress I'm giving myself is probably worse for me and my baby than all of the things I'm worried about combined, and I feel worse.

Then there's the very real worry about breastfeeding. I've read all about how PCOS can be linked to supply problems, and I'm prepared for the worst. I have very small breasts (AA) that have not grown at all during pregnancy--they've been sore and tender, sure, and may have grown a TINY bit, but nothing significant. I'm trying to line up the best support I can--I'm hiring a post-partum doula with lots of breastfeeding support experience, and calling a lactation consultant this week for a consult--and have all kinds of equipment (pump, pillows, books, etc.) ready to go. I'm reading obsessively. I may be pleasantly surprised in the end, but for now, I'm pretty pessimistic. I didn't get the conception I wanted, I haven't had the pregnancy I wanted, I'm not getting the birth I wanted, so why should I get the breastfeeding and post-partum experience I want?

So that's where I am right now. Three weeks (max) from Bat Girl's arrival, and still feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, isolated, and terrified. Good times! (Man, this blog has become a depressing place, hasn't it?)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Birth announcement (NOT mine!)

That sneaky MoMo...she just slipped into a comment on my previous entry that she had her baby--a boy--last Wednesday! HUGE congratulations, honey, and give us an update whenever you're ready!

Update: More facts, less panic

Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's panic-stricken post. I'm still reeling a bit, but I keep reminding myself that at 34.5 weeks, Bat Girl is likely to be fine. As far as preparation, well, I still feel totally unprepared, but we have a car seat and diapers, and a friend of mine has offered to do at least one load of baby laundry for me (we don't have laundry in our apartment, or obviously I would have done it myself already...and have I mentioned my husband has been working 14-15 hour days lately?) so we'll at least have an outfit or two for the babe. And we'll muddle through the rest.

Re: a few of your comments: ChrisLM asked about getting steroid shots for Bat Girl's lungs. Even though I had talked to my doctor about steroid shots months ago, I was so overwhelmed yesterday that I forgot to ask again. But I did a little googling and it seems the shots are generally recommended if you go into labor before 34 weeks, and since I'm already past that point, I assume that's why no shots for me.

As several of you pointed out, it's common for women to be dilated for weeks before anything really happens--in fact, that happened to a friend of mine recently, she was walking around 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced for a full month before she delivered. I really, really hope that turns out to be the case for me. (I hope this whole damn thing turns out to be a false alarm, and we all look back from 38 weeks when Bat Girl is still stubbornly in utero and laugh and laugh.) What I forgot to mention in yesterday's post is that in the hours leading up to my OB appointment, I'd been having frequent, low, hard contractions--much more painful than usual. I guess it was that, plus the dilating and mucus-losing (and the contractions generally ratcheting up in frequency over the last couple of weeks), that made TheGoodDoc think the end is nigh.

The good news is, things seem to have settled down a bit. I had contractions 10 minutes apart (sometimes 4-5 minutes apart) all afternoon and evening, but this morning they've eased up to every 15-30 minutes. Let's hope they stay that way. In the meantime, I'm frantically trying to keep up with work (it's a deadline crunch week for us...ugh) and am stuffing my face in the probably futile hopes of packing as many ounces onto Bat Girl as possible.

Fingers crossed that we can make it another week and a half. 36 weeks would be delightful, really. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Speaking of not ready...

Just got back from the doctor. I'm fingertip dilated, which explains why I've been losing so much mucus (passed another big glob this morning). Although last week's fFN test was negative, TheGoodDoc thinks it's possible I may go into labor as early as this weekend. She's pretty certain I won't make it to my Feb. 5 scheduled section. She brought in the partner who's on call this weekend to introduce us and go over my case, and told her if I'm dilated to 2 or 3 centimeters to go ahead and do the section. I have instructions to call if the contractions get to 7-8 minutes apart for 2 hours.


However, we did also make an appointment for an office visit next Tuesday, in the hopes that if I take it really easy this week, I can make it at least until then. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

To doula or not to doula

Well, that's not really the question. I am definitely hiring a post-partum doula, which my mother has generously offered to pay for. The issue is figuring out when I will need one and arranging that time along with when my mom and my MIL will come visit. See, having a scheduled c-section is nice in that you can actually plan in advance--but then, because you can plan in advance, you end up thinking about this stuff in probably WAY too much detail.

To begin with: When I found out I was having a c-section, my mother asked me when I would be coming home from the hospital. I said, "Well, the c-section is on a Monday, so probably Thursday or Friday." She said, "OK, I'll book my plane ticket so I come on Friday then!" Mind you, this was less than an hour after I'd been informed I was having the c-section, so I was a bit overwhelmed, but I had the presence of mind to tell her to hold off until we'd had time to figure out what we wanted to do. See, I love my mom, and she is not a horrible or abusive person...but we have a complicated relationship, and she can be very critical under the best of circumstances, and she stresses me out like you would not believe. So as much as I know she genuinely wants to be helpful to me, I'm pretty sure that having her there from day 1 would not be ideal for my emotional health, my confidence as a new mother, or my general sanity level. (Especially since she definitely is one of those "don't hold the baby too much, you'll spoil her" types.) When she offered to pay for us to hire help after the baby is born, she said she would pay for a month, "since I can't come for a whole month." Of course, what I was thinking was that if my mother came and stayed with us for a whole month, someone--me, my husband, or my mom--would be dead before the month was out.

So: I told her that actually, it would be more helpful if she came about 5-7 days later, after my husband goes back to work, when I'll "really need" her--I figure that will give me time to gain a little confidence before she comes in and starts criticizing everything I'm doing. And I planned to have a doula come those first few days to help out.

We met with three PP doulas today. Unfortunately, the one I liked the best is going to be out of town Feb. 8-11--exactly the days when I'll first be home from the hospital, exactly the days when I think we'll need help the MOST. Add to that the fact that my husband may need to go back to work earlier than we originally thought--potentially leaving me totally alone with an infant while recovering from major surgery.

Obviously, I need to interview more doulas and try to find someone who will be available earlier--though I really, really loved this one, and she also has lots of experience with breastfeeding support, which appeals to me because I'm very, very worried about breastfeeding (that's another post, though). Whether or not I find someone, though, if my husband can't guarantee he'll be able to be home 24 hours a day those first couple of days, I may have to give in to the worst case scenario and have my mom come after all.

If I didn't know for sure that I'm having a c/s, I might try to just power through and assume I can handle a few hours alone. But I'm honestly terrified of the c-section and worried about what the healing is going to be like, and I just don't think I can do it alone. I just wish that I had a better, more trusting relationship with my mother. I wish I had one of those awesome moms who I would definitely want with me, not one I feel I have to protect myself from.


It has sunk in that in four weeks or less, we are going to have a baby, and I feel totally unprepared. Our "nursery" looks like a crack den--bare floors and walls, crib in the corner with a bare mattress, dresser lying in pieces all over the floor. (I became paranoid about formaldehyde off-gassing from the particle board in the cheap dresser I bought online--seriously, I could smell it through the box--and am making my husband seal all the uncovered edges before he puts it together. Yes, somehow this seemed easier to me than returning the damn thing--we don't have a car, my husband works 70+ hours a week, and it's just too. damn. hard. By the way, do you know how hard it is to find nursery furniture that is made from solid wood, especially when you can't go to a store and look at it yourself? Did you know that even the expensive Pottery Barn shit is made almost entirely from MDF and plywood?) We have stacks and stacks of gear, clothing, bedding, diapers, etc.--all heaped up in a corner of the living room, unwashed and unorganized. I suppose if worse comes to worst, Bat Girl will sleep in her car seat--which, oh yeah, failed the Consumer Reports crash testing. Hey, I'm on a roll!

I actually started crying at my OB appointment last week when TheGoodDoc asked me how I'm doing. I couldn't articulate what was wrong--she interpreted it as fear for the baby, and reassured me that if Bat Girl comes now, she will be just fine. But actually, I am just filled with terror and panic and a deep sense of inadequacy. Two and a half years of hoping and planning and waiting, and now I really am going to have a baby, and I am not ready for this. I'm not sure I can even do this.


On the bright side, in just one more week I will reach 35 weeks and all my bedrest restrictions will be lifted. I think I'm still going to take it somewhat easy--as much as I'm eager to get out of the house, I would still like to hold out until 38 weeks. This morning I found a massive glob of mucus on the tp when I wiped, and the panic I felt at the idea that it might be my mucus plug is not something I would like to repeat. (I did call my OB's office--the doctor on call said that since it was clear--no blood--and my contractions were not increasing and I wasn't feeling increased pressure, it was probably OK but that I should hydrate like crazy and stay off my feet as much as possible. So far, all quiet.) But at least I'll be able to do some laundry and start getting the baby's room organized.

And I had a growth scan at the hospital on Thursday, and everything looked good. Fluid levels fine, baby developing OK--they estimated she is about 4.5 lbs now. I could see quite clearly on the screen that everything was measuring 4-7 days behind, but I guess that was enough within the margin of error that they were OK with that. It wasn't a very fun scan--no cute profiles or anything, just endless measurements of Bat Girl's head and abdomen circumferences. For some strange reason, I've been paranoid lately that the tech at my anatomy scan misread the results and Bat Girl is actually a boy, but I didn't have the courage to ask them to double check to make sure she's still a girl. I guess if she ends up being a boy, my baby boy will just have to live with pink sheets. At least the sheets will be clean.