The Baby Bean Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Not So Easy Anymore

I've had a pretty easy pregnancy thus far. I never threw up. I guess that's sort of the big thing I focus on when thinking about the ease of my pregnancy. No throwing up constantly for three or four months. Sounds extremely unpleasant. There are a whole host of other things I could have experienced, too, that I didn't, and perhaps because I didn't experience them, I don't remember all of what they were. But I remember reading about then in pregnancy books and from women on various bulletin boards. And I remember thinking, "Whew, I don't have to deal with that either. Lucky me." My biggest complaint in the first trimester was extreme fatigue. Luckily, since I don't work, I was able to sleep about as much as I wanted to, so that wasn't totally horrible. The biggest complaint in the second trimester was that my back decided to revolt against me. Other than that, pretty easy. At least that's how I remember it. Maybe I should re-read this blog and see if I'm blocking anything out. Another time, perhaps. Now I want to focus on my current situation, which sucks.

I dodged the first trimester and second trimester woes, by and large. But I seem to be getting hit with all the "normal" symptoms people experience in the third trimester. For one, I believe that my ankles have joined a witness protection program. I see them very infrequently now. Usually, they are buried under the fluid that has now taken up residence in my feet. I've never been particularly attached to my ankles, or at least I didn't think I was. Now I realize how much I really did love them. I realize that I had a lot of pride in my feet in general. I had very attractive feet. Now they are very bloated and pig-like.

And speaking of my feet, they have decided that I should only stand on them for a maximum of 5 minutes. After that, they start to hurt. And the pain escalates very, very quickly. By the time I've been standing on them for 10 minutes, I start thinking about sitting on the floor while in a check out line. I look around, and it seems completely logical that, rather than stand while the person in front of me has approximately 132 items put into bags, I should just sit on the floor.

A little bit on the unusual side, I have also developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Didn't know there was such a thing as pregnancy related carpal tunnel syndrome? Neither did I. But my pregnancy books and those bbs's confirm that I am far from alone. I guess what's going on is that all the extra fluid in my system (my blood volume has increased by 40-50% by now) has also affected that little part of my wrist. And it's not fun. My midwife tells me it will probably get worse but that it will also go away two to three weeks after I give birth. Uh, that's nine or ten weeks from now.

Have I mentioned the insomnia? My ability to sleep through the night has gone bye-bye. It's not about back pain or anything like that. It's about waking up at 3:00am for no apparent reason. Luckily, again, I don't have to work, so I can get up and watch TV or a movie or read a book for two hours or so, by which time I'm generally able to go back to sleep. But it is annoying. Just yesterday morning I was thinking to myself, "Oh, in two more months, I won't be pregnant anymore so then I'll be able to sleep through the night." Then I realized with horror that I probably would not be sleeping through the night again for THE NEXT YEAR OR TWO. Not because I would be incapable of sleep. Oh no. Because I'll have a little person WHO WANTS TO EAT.

This last bit might be more information that you would like, but too bad. I've also gotten hemorrhoids. This displeases me GREATLY. Not so much the fact that they're there, because they're not particularly symptomatic (not burning and itching very infrequently) but because I am getting to the stage of my pregnancy where I will start having internal exams. The last thing I want is to take off my shorts, spread my legs, and have my hemorrhoids out there for someone else to see. I would rather dig a hole in the dirt, crawl in, pull the dirt back over top of me, and not resurface until the hemorrhoids have retreated back to their designated place--namely, OUT OF SIGHT.

That's all I can come up with for right now. At least I'm in the homestretch. Sometimes that's a comfort. Sometimes it seems a long time away. Maybe women get so miserable in the last trimester so that we will be ready to actually have the baby just to make it all stop. Gets us over the fear of childbirth or something like that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Nursery

We spend last weekend putting together all the furniture for the nursery (courtesy of Ikea). We're not completely set on the location of everything, but we've pretty much got it sorted out. The spare room which has become the nursery doesn't have a door or a door way. See, this house was built in the late 19th century before indoor plumbing. So there were two bedrooms upstairs, and with the invention of indoor plumbing, a bathroom was placed in one half of the back bedroom. For whatever reason, no one ever built a door to the other half of the room. Anyway, this means that whenever I walk to the bathroom, I can see right into the nursery and all the baby furniture set up there.

This brings up two feelings in me. For one, I remember how when we bought this house two years ago, we always envisioned that this little room would be a nursery. At the time, we thought/hoped we would be welcoming a little one in about a year. With that in mind, we painted the walls a nice, bright yellow, and the ceiling fan that we installed has blades with different primary colors on it--designed for a kid's room. The artwork that we've put up in that room over the past two years is also child-friendly: drawings of animals and flowers and cars, stuff like that. It was a room waiting for a baby in a lot of ways, but not overly so. Up until recently, a futon lived in there and it served as a spare room very admirably. Even though it was whimsical in nature, it was still appropriate for an adult to spend time in or sleep in. Or so I thought. We've taken the futon (and then a bed that replaced the futon) out of that room, and it now has a dresser/changing table and a crib and a toy box, and it looks so right. It looks like what we always wanted it to be: the room for our baby. Seeing the transformation of the room brings it home to me how much and how long we've been waiting for this.

The other feeling I get seeing the baby furniture in there is that a baby is coming. It makes it real in a way that it hasn't been. There's baby stuff here. There's a place for the baby. A little nest, if you will. Our baby's things are going to go in those drawers. Our baby will sleep in that crib, and later in the toddler bed that it converts to.

I have to tell you, I feel so much better having that stuff in the house and set up. I don't even know how important it is, physically, but emotionally, I feel like so much better. Our baby is due in less than nine weeks, and we still have plenty of stuff to get and to set up--stuff that is probably far more important, like a diaper bag and car seat and stroller, etc. But when I see the crib there, I can't help but hear in my head and my heart, "Wecome, baby, welcome...."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Starting the Second Parent Adoption Process

Yesterday my partner and I went to meet with a lawyer to start the second parent adoption process. For those who don't know what second parent adoption is, let me explain it to you. It's when a non-biological parent--usually married to a biological parent--adopts a child and becomes a co-parent along with the biological parent. Did that make sense? In case it didn't, here's the usual scenario. A woman with a child marries a man who is not the child's father. If the child's father is dead or his parental rights have been terminated, the new husband can adopt the child as his own (providing the mother agrees). So that's the traditional use of second parent adoption. Gay and lesbian people also use it in the situation that I am in. I am giving birth to my biological child. My partner will adopt the baby and then become a legally recognized parent of my child. And for that, you need a lawyer.

Now that I'm just about seven months pregnant, it seemed like time to get the ball rolling, so we met with a lawyer that I know from the good ole days when I used to work, and she worked in the same building. She specializes in gay and lesbian issues and has done a bunch of these adoptions.

We can't actually start the adoption itself until there is a child to adopt and a birth certificate. But we are able to start a few things. First of all, we need to have background criminal checks done, and we also need to have some sort of child abuse check done to see if anyone has ever complained about either of us abusing a child. We're going to fill out the forms and get that done now, before the baby is born.

I was surprised to find out that I also have to go through the process. I had assumed that only my partner was going to have to petition to adopt the baby, but apparently we both do. The lawyer explained it to us, but I'm still not sure I understand it. Apparently, it has something to do with having someone adopt a child without terminating the parental rights of the biological parent. So in essense, I am joining my partner's petition to adopt. Or something like that. The nitty gritty is that I have to fill out the forms as well.

I particularly like the child abuse form. We have to list every residence we've lived in since 1975. As if that wasn't bad enough, we have to list every household member we've lived with since 1975. What a frickin' hassle. I've actually got the info on the residences because I had to figure all that out for a job I had with the Delaware Department of Correction. But every person I've lived with? And their current ages? I have no idea. I lived with a guy (as a friend) for a year 10 years ago. I think I can remember how to spell his last name, but as to what age he is... I just don't know. He was around my age, but other than that, I'm clueless. I guess I'll figure it out somehow or another.

Anyway, we're starting the process. It will take about 4-6 months after the baby is born for the adoption to be finalized.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Week 30 Progress Report

Oh, oh, the big THREE-OH! Wow, week 30. It seems big, significant. Only 10 weeks to go. I'm three quarters of the way through...well, creating you.

At week 20, you were about 6 inches from crown to rump and you weighed in around 9 ounces. Since then, you've grown almost twice that in length, being around 11 inches now, and at about 3 pounds, you weigh five times what you did then.

The bones in your inner ear in have hardened, making it possible for you to hear both me and some of the noises going on outside my body. From what I've read, you should be somewhat used to the sound of dogs barking from hearing them in utero, which is a good thing. Supposedly, after you are born, if you are napping, you might sleep right through the ruckus that comes with the arrival of the mail (you will learn that the dogs think that the mailman is pure evil). I've got my fingers crossed on that.

Your other senses have also developed further. For instance, your eyes can now move this way and that way in their sockets; they can open and close; and it's possible for you to distinguish between sunlight and artificial light. With an early June heat wave here already, I've taken to pulling my t-shirt up to reveal my tummy to the air...and to the light. At first, this was a sure way to stop you from moving. You seemed intimidated by the red glow that probably filtered through to your newly sensitive eyes. But now the light doesn't seem to bother you as much, and you're willing to keep kicking. I have to admit that I love watching my stomach move as you stretch and kick and roll around inside me.

In addition to hearing and sight, taste has also developed with your taste buds, which allow you to taste, through the amniotic fluid, whatever it is that I've eaten. I have to admit that I'm concerned that you will be born with a sweet tooth. Apparently, I'm supposed to eat a lot of vegetables and other goodies like that so that you will develope a taste for them now. So I'll say it now: Mommy is sorry if you hate vegetables down the road, and you can blame her for that in about two years or so when you are capable of talking.

Since you were a fully formed little person at 12 weeks, you've been maturing your organs, especially your lungs. Another organ that has been busy developing is your brain. It started off being pretty smooth and homogeneous. Now it is getting more and more wrinkled as connections are formed between nerves and your brain becomes more powerful. As your brain grows, it's pushing your soft skull bones outward, but your body's growth is so rapid now that your head, even though it's growing, is staying in proportion to your body.

So here we are in the third trimester. Your main job is to keep maturing...and to put on weight. Mommy is very jealous that you will get to double if not triple your current weight in the next 10 weeks, and rather than being distraught, everyone will be estatic. You see, most of us spend our time trying to keep the fat off, not trying to put it on like crazy. You lucky little bean, you.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Completely Confused

I'm going to go off on a tangent here while I catch you up, but I want you to keep in mind that the confusion I spoke of in the title of this post is about what gender the baby is. So bear with me and don't be scared at the next two paragraphs. That all works out fine.

There was something I didn't write about in the aftermath of my last ultrasound. I made my post the morning after the ultrasound, and sometime that afternoon, I got a call from my midwives telling me that they had received the ultrasound report and something was "abnormal" with the baby's kidneys. Naturally, I completely freaked out. Especially since I got the news as a message on my machine, and then it was over an hour until I could actually talk to someone to find out what was going on. To make a long story short, no one at the birth center was concerned because the "abnormality" was something that occurred very, very frequently, apparently meant nothing at all, and would have no impact on the baby's life.

Being the pessimist that I am, I continued to worry that something serious could be wrong with the baby nonetheless, but then after a few days, I just felt this calm settle over me. It didn't seem possible that there could be anything seriously wrong with the baby. I just felt like the baby was fine. I was still a little scared, but as I thought about my conversation with the midwife, who laughed and seemed completely relaxed about the entire thing--and honestly perplexed at the plain panic in my voice--along with my feeling that the baby was fine, I pretty much stopped worrying about it. And, since the original doctor who looked at the ultrasound results had written that there was "very minimal splaying of the renal collection system" and then recommended another ultrasound, that meant that, yes, we would be able to have another ultrasound and have it covered by our health insurance. That meant that we would get another opportunity to find out the baby's gender.

My partner and I wanted to know for sure what gender our baby is. Since my grandmother's death last summer, I have to admit that I had a slight preference for a girl. Sort of a continuation--a cycle of life symbolism--of losing my grandmother and then giving birth to a girl. But we were also happy to have a boy. The preference for a girl outweighed the preference for a boy by 55%/45%. Nothing big.

But the chances of having a girl seemed slim because of a variety of reasons. Shall I list them? Why not?

  1. For heterosexual women getting pregnant via intercourse, you've got a 50/50 chance of having a girl or a boy. But that's not how I got pregnant, as you know. When a woman gets pregnant via intrauterine insemination (IUI), the odds of having a boy rise to about 75%.

  2. Our sperm donor has two other children (as a result of his "donations"), and both of them are boys. As you know, it is the sperm which determines gender. One of these children was even the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) as opposed to IUI. Unlike IUI, babies born as a result of IVF have a statistically higher chance of being girls. So the fact that this donor has produced two boys, one of which was statistically more likely to be a girl, led us to think that he's just one of those guys who produces male children.

  3. The kidney "abnormality" that our baby was diagnosed with is almost always associated with boys. In fact, when I spoke to the midwives about what it meant that the baby had "very minimal splaying of the renal collection system," both of the midwives said, "All it means is that you're having a boy."

These reasons made us believe that we were, indeed, having a boy. And that was fine with both of us. Like I said before, the preference for a girl was only a slight one. Over the last few weeks, my partner and I have almost exclusively talked about the baby as a boy when we speak of the baby and had even started to tentatively use the boy name that we've picked out when talking about or to the baby. We weren't 100% certain that the little bean was a boy, but I'd say we were 90-95% convinced by the evidence above.

Today was the day of the second ultrasound. It was at a different place than the first place (which I hadn't been overjoyed with). This place was the place you go when there either is or might be something wrong with your baby. There was no waiting at this place until the next day or next week to find out the results. You talked to the doctor right after the tech did the scan. Naturally, I was looking forward to hearing from a specialist that everything was fine with the baby in general and his/her kidneys in particular. But more than that, both my partner and I were looking forward to finally knowing for sure if we were expecting a boy....or a girl.

We told the tech that we hadn't been able to find out the gender at the first ultrasound, so we were hoping to find out this time. She obliged by trying to find out for us. The baby was still being a little bit difficult about revealing this information, but at last the tech got an angle that worked for her, and she said, "You're having a girl." And she showed us this picture:

See those two almond shaped lumps? Beside the top one, the tech typed in "GIRL PARTS." Anyway, she said that was the two sides of the labia. There's no penis there. The tech seemed completely sure. I even mentioned to her that I'd heard many stories of people who had been told they were having a girl only to give birth to a boy. She dismissed this. She was confident.

I was stunned. So was my partner. We just couldn't believe it. A girl? Really? We'd convinced ourselves that the baby was a boy. I hadn't even let myself consider that the baby might be a girl for months. I just didn't want to get my hopes up for something that seemed so unlikely.

Soon after, the tech left and told us the doctor would be in shortly. My partner and I sat there (well, she sat, I remained on the table), holding each other's hands and whispering to each other again and again, "A daughter? I just can't believe it."

Then the doctor came in. The first thing she said was that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the baby's kidneys, so whatever the first doctor had seen had resolved itself in the past 10+ weeks. Everything with the baby was completely normal except that the baby was on the big side. But the doctor was happy about that and said that it indicated that the baby was getting plenty of nutrients and a good blood exchange from the umbilical cord. (To myself, I was thinking that was fine and dandy and I was happy to hear it....but the baby had to come out at some point, and having a baby on the large side seemed less than ideal to me, and more specifically, TO MY VAGINA.)

As she was reassuring us that the kidneys were fine, we told her that we hadn't been that worried about the "abnormality" but instead were looking forward to seeing the baby again and hoping to find out the gender. "Oh," she said, squirting my stomach again in order to do more imaging, "let's take a look." I guess I hadn't been clear that the tech had already told us.

She looked around but had a hard time getting a good shot of the baby's....well, the baby's genitals. Then I mentioned to her that the tech had thought the baby was a girl. The doctor kept looking around, and then she found a bit of an angle. She said something like, "I guess the tech must have seen this, but I certainly wouldn't paint the room pink based on this information."

What the doctor was looking at wasn't as obvious as the picture the tech had given us, so I showed the picture to the doctor and said, "This is what she saw."

The doctor looked at and said, "Well, I wouldn't paint the room pink based on this, either. She must have thought that was the two sides of the labia, but what are those black parts in it? Those could be testicles. At this point, they might not have descended, so instead of having one scrotum, you could have something that looked like this."


I see.

Why is this baby being so difficult? I don't know of anyone who was not able to find out if they were having a boy or a girl at their 20 week ultrasound. I felt that we were unlucky that time. Surely we wouldn't strike out twice! But we did. I guess we're just not meant to know this information.

So we're back to square one. Could be a girl. Certainly. But apparently, it could also be a boy.

Actually, a better description might be that we're back to square zero. At least before, I felt confident that the baby was a boy. Now I feel like it could really go either way.

Even though we didn't find out the gender for sure like we had both really wanted to, it was still good to hear that we can completely put the kidney thing behind us. At one point while the doctor was doing her ultrasound on me, she went to take a look at the kidneys, and she said to me, "Look at the left kidney. Isn't it just perfect?" I looked at the grainy image on the screen that held absolutely no meaning to me and said, "I'll take your word on it."

I'll end this post with the other picture we got, a picture of the baby's face. It's not incredibly clear because the baby's face was buried in my cervix, but I like it. It looks kind of like an impressionist painting to me. FYI, the baby's face is sideways, the chin pointing to the left and the top of the head to the right.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Goodbye, Rings

You will probably not be surprised to learn that I don't wear a lot of jewelry. Here's what I do wear: a wedding ring, a gold chain necklace, and a belly button ring, which I've written about before. Okay, at first glance, that seems like a decent amount of jewelry. Not too much, not too little. But the other requirement for my jewelry is that I don't have to take it off and it doesn't change. I've got a couple of other rings that I sometimes wear, and when I want to fancy it up, I put on small earrings. But other than that, the jewelry is on and doesn't come off. Until now.

I'm not sure if my fingers are swelling due to being pregnant (a common symptom) or if it's those 35+ pounds I've put on that have made my wedding ring not fit at certain times of the day. But after two mildly frightening experiences pulling off my wedding ring, I've come to the conclusion that it's probably better off, well, off. So now it lives on my necklace.

It's quite weird not having the wedding ring on my finger anymore. It's been almost three years now that I've been wearing it, and I like wearing it. I like having that public display that I am in a committed, loving relationship. I like feeling it on my finger, and staring down at it, and thinking about what it means. Because of that, I've actually considered buying another, larger ring just to wear until I can put my original ring back on. Something simple and inexpensive. But I think I probably won't do that. I'd rather spend the money on cute things for the baby. And the real wedding band will be back in three or four months, I imagine.

The other ring to go was my belly button ring. I made it to 27 weeks with it, which had become my goal. My belly button hasn't popped out yet. And it's not completely flat either. But I could feel the skin around the ring stretching a bit, and it was causing some discomfort from time to time, and I just decided that it was going to come out. I'm not sure if I'm going to take any active steps to keep that piercing open. I could just try to squeeze my skin back into an approximately normal shape and then feed the ring through the piercing from time to time. But other than that, I don't think I'll do much.