The Baby Bean Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2005

So, Seriously, She's Pregnant

Now her period is officially late, and a home pregnant test this morning came up with a line that is suitably dark enough to reassure my partner. We had assumed that we would go in tomorrow morning for a blood test, but we can't get a good time for it. Tomorrow is pretty booked up already. In the morning we have a court date for Ella's adoption by my partner! It feels very special to be legally solidifying our family unit at the same time that we are expecting to add to our family. Then tomorrow afternoon, I have to take Chester to the place he stays when we go out of town. Then early tomorrow evening, my partner's cousin and her boyfriend are arriving from Chicago and we're all going to a party that night. Saturday, we're off to Minnesota to introduce Ella to my partner's family. We'll be back Tuesday afternoon. So she won't be doing the blood test until Wednesday morning.

So much is going on right now. Honestly, I'm still dazed and confused about this pregnancy. I feel a bit like Mariah Carey when she was interviewed about her second album and she said that it felt like a continuation of her first because she finished the first album and went directly to working on the second album without a break. (Don't judge me for liking Mariah back then. Those albums were pure pop, baby. PURE POP.) And I feel exactly the same way. Didn't we just end the pregnancy thing? And now we're right back on that pony? And it also feels like Ella basically never has been nor ever will be an only child. The next one is already there, percolating.

A big difference between this pregnancy and the first one is my view of the future. Don't get me wrong. I am so excited about this, and I can't wait to meet this baby and fall in love with him or her. But at the same time, I look forward to that day very differently than I did to the day that Ella would be born. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I was pregnant. I don't know if any first time parent does, especially if they are like me and had practically no experience with children beforehand. So my thoughts about her arrival were pure excitement. The reality of taking care of a baby is that she basically consumes all of the hours of the day. When she cries, I jump to her aid. I focus all my attention on her, and I follow her lead completely. How will I be able to give the same kind of devotion to our second child? I'll have a 10 month old to chase around the house and feed and love and play with. How will it be possible for me to jump to our second child's every cry--or to Ella's every need--while caring for both? I can't help but think, and fear, that both of the children will be somehow slighted by the attention given to the other.

At the same time, I know that can't be possible. Most people have more than one child, and they figure out how to love all of their children completely, no matter how many children there are. I've read the online posts of many women who are expecting their second child express the same concerns that I just have, and the mothers with more than one always write back and say something along the lines of, "Love is not finite. The more children you have, the more love you will have for your children." I hope that's true. Well, I know that will be true. How I will manage the practicalities of providing the physical displays of love that children need is still pretty foggy in my brain, however.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Holy Crap, She's Pregnant!

So we didn't wait all the way until this morning for her to take the test. She took one last night. She went upstairs to take the test, and then she came back and said, "Well, I don't think I'm pregnant." "No line?" I asked. She shook her head. I said, "We'll see. It's still early." Her period is not due until Wednesday.

I knew that she could still be pregnant, but I doubted it, so I felt a little disappointed, and so did she. We both focused on Ella, and although we were disappointed, I don't think we were devastated. I asked her how she was feeling, and she said that she was a bit upset because she didn't "pass the test." I thought that was quite funny, but then again, she did only get one question wrong on the SATs, and that one question still bothers her.

Five minutes later, we were both upstairs and she was changing Ella's diaper while I was doing something or the other, and I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. I came out, and she said, "Did you look at the stick?" She hadn't waited the full 3 minutes you're supposed to wait before reading the test when she'd looked the first time. I said, "Oh, I forgot." I can't remember my own birthday now that Ella's here (I mean that literally), so it's not surprising to me that the test had already slipped my mind. I went back to the bathroom and picked the test up from the edge of the tub where she'd left it....and there were two lines! The reference line was dark, of course, and the second, pregnant line, was quite faint, but it was there.

I went back into the nursery and said, "I see a line." She came over and looked at the test stick still in my hand, looked at the faint line, and then asked, "Does that count?" I said, "Yes, it counts! Was it there before?" She said, "Well, yeah, but I thought that was just coming up to show you where the line would be if you were pregnant or something." I said, "Honey, there is no 'line to show you where the line would be if you're pregnant.' That line is the pregnant line, and ANY line means that you are pregnant!"

We both looked at each other. She was holding Ella by this time, the diaper already changed, and we hugged around the baby awkwardly. Frankly, we were both stunned. We had this look like I imagine a straight woman would have. You know, she's got a two month old baby and then whoops! She's pregnant again already! The look in our eyes was almost like, "How did this happen? Didn't we use protection?" Of course, we didn't, and we know exactly how this happened, but all the same, we weren't prepared. It just seemed like something we did to save ourselves a $300 storage fee, and now we're getting another baby out of it? WHAT? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? And perhaps more importantly, WHAT HAVE WE DONE?

Nonetheless, we have done it, and now we have to see if it sticks. As I wrote here and here when I tested before the arrival of my period, this pregnancy is still very fragile. She could get her period and therefore have experienced a "chemical pregnancy." (Read links for more details.) Her period is expected tomorrow, if it shows up. On Thursday morning, if it's still not here, she'll take the last test left in the box and then we'll call the doctor to go in for the official blood test.

Holy crap. She's pregnant. I'm going to be a mother! Again! We hope.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Test Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning my partner will take a home pregnancy test before going off on a business trip. I'm feeling rather relaxed about it. I was getting myself kind of worked up last week, but now I feel pretty calm. I'm inclined to think that she is not pregnant. She had been tired and feeling nauseous early last week, as I mentioned before, and my hopes really shot up. But I think she just might have had a bit of a bug. Several people I know felt a little off early last week. She's felt better since then, although she's still been tired, but there's no shocker there. Babies tend to make adults tired. Something about not being able to sleep anymore.

But anyway, on my agenda for the day is a trip to the drug store to buy a home pregnancy test. We'll know one way or the other tomorrow morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Seven and a Half Hours

That's how long Ella slept last night. It was amazing. And very exciting. But it was also bittersweet for me. This was really the first glimpse of adulthood from her. My little baby is growing fast.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I've Got Two in Diapers

Foxymama asked me how the dogs are getting along with the baby, and it is something I should address because--funny title of this post aside--it goes to the question of what changes when a baby enters your life and the choices that you end up making.

When Ella was born, I had four dogs: two little ones and two big ones. I haven't written about the little ones much because they are little and basically sane. The big ones, on the other hand, are big and missing a card or two in the deck. One of the big dogs, Blue, I've written about a couple times. Chester has gotten a lot more ink.

Blue was always a cause of concern for me when I thought about bringing a baby into the house. Blue has bitten me, my partner, and my mother. Not hard bites. He never drew blood. And I understood that he bit out of fear and uncertainty rather than true agression. So I was willing to work with him, which I did, and to his credit, he hadn't bitten anyone in a year (we've only had him for two years). But he is still anxious. Very, very anxious. And very high maintenance.

When we brought Ella home, all of our dogs were elsewhere, being taken care of by my mother and my friend Beth Marie. We had a plan to get them back on a staggered schedule. We got Chester back first, three days after we got home. He was fine with the baby, which we expected because the family that had him for the first 8 years of his life had kids. Chester pretty much chilled out and took it easy, even with the chaos of a new baby and inexperienced parents trying to figure things out.

Three days later, we got Blue back. Blue did not chill out. Instead, he got very worked up. When Ella cried, he got concerned and tried to push his way towards her. When we paid attention to her, he tried to get in the middle so that he would get the attention. When we walked Ella, he followed at our heels, so close that he bumped into us. And Chester, who had been content to lie down and relax, fed off of Blue's anxiety and took to pacing with Blue and mimicing other of his behaviors. My stress level went up. Way up. Taking care of Ella was all I could manage. I did not have the emotional or physical resources to meet her needs and assure Blue that all was okay. Within a couple of weeks, we made a decision: it was time for Blue to find a new home.

We found a family in New Jersey who wanted him, and after meeting them a couple of times, we drove Blue across the Delaware River to his new family. They like him, a lot. They say he's doing fine. But I still worry about him. I wish that I had a friend who was willing to take him, because then I would really know what kind of people he was living with. Although this family in New Jersey seems nice, they could be anyone or anything. I barely know three things about them. I have been keeping in contact and getting reports on how Blue is doing--at least as much as I can. Talking to my friend Beth Marie yesterday, who asked about him, I realized I haven't gotten a report on Blue in two weeks. Time just keeps going by.

That brought our dog total down to three, which was much more manageable. And then Chester started to display some incontinence issues. He's always had some, but the accidents had been limited to a very specific time: right after he had played fetch and was very tired. Part of the reason his incontinence was manageable, too, was that I was able to read his cues and jump up to let him out when he felt the sudden urge to go. With Ella, I can no longer do that. I cannot be at Chester's beck and call and Ella's, and sorry Chester, Ella wins that battle, and she wins it every time. So Chester started leaking. More and more.

I was about at the end of my rope. I could not imagine finding a new home for Chester. First of all, he's the only dog who likes me best. He's my dog. The others prefer my partner. Secondly, he's 11 years old. And his health is declining, although he's still in great shape. Who would want to take on such a dog? No one. And again, I wouldn't want to give him up. But I also cannot spend my time letting him out every half an hour and also cleaning up his messes when I can't jump at his command. So Chester is now wearing diapers, too.

They're not serious diapers. Just there to catch the leaks. They look like this:

But they've made all the difference in the world. I know that Chester's problem will continue to get worse, and we might have to move to something more substantial at some point, but for now, we've found a good solution.

The decision to find a new home for Blue really highlights how parenthood has changed my priorities. I used to make a lot of sacrifices for my pets. I would sacrifice myself quite a bit, both my personal happiness and my financial well being. But I'm not willing to sacrifice my time with my daughter or what is best for her. So Blue had to go. For now, we've found a solution for Chester, and I hope we can continue to do that in the future. The face is that there is only so much of me to go around, and the vast majority of me goes to Ella.

I heard an actor interviewed once, and he was asked how having his first child changed his life. He said that he and his wife had a dog before their baby, and the dog had practically been the center of their life. Their dog was their baby. Then their child was born, and all of a sudden, their dog was just their dog. I think about that often. It's true. Very true.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Two Month Letter

First, I must give credit where credit is due. I am completely ripping off Heather B. Armstrong's Monthly Newsletters to her daugher, Leta. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I hope she will not mind.

Secondly, the word "Ima" is the Hebrew word for "mother" and is the word that we have chosen for our children to call my partner. I will be Mommy (and eventually Mom). So when I refer to "Ima," you'll know who I'm talking about.

Dear Ella,

When you were just a couple of weeks old, your Grandma Kay flew from Kansas City to Philadelphia so that she could meet you. She and I were talking one day, and I must have said something about how you had changed—already!—from what you had been just a week or so before. Then she said to me, “The thing about children is they keep disappearing.” It took me a second to understand what she meant, but ever since, I can’t get that sentence out of my mind.

When I met you on August 16, 2005, I loved you. I didn’t know you, but I loved you and I wanted to protect you and hold you and make everything okay for you. But it was a couple of days before I fell in love with you. You have to know someone to be in love with them, and everything I learned about you made me fall more and more in love with you. I could feel my heart melt every time after you finished eating and you would fall back, completely limp, looking like you were thinking, “Wow, what a meal! I’m going to sleep this one off!” And when you slept, I just stared and stared at you. Honestly, I was afraid to sleep myself. I wanted to make sure that you were still breathing, so I stayed awake just about all night, every night, watching you breathe…and loving you more and more with each second that went by.

But that little baby, she disappeared, and rather quickly. Maybe more quickly than I was ready for, because I loved her dearly. A new baby appeared in her place, and although I missed the you that existed for that first week or two, I found that I had fallen seamlessly in love with who you had become. The new baby was a bit more cantankerous—I’m not going to lie to you about that. You wanted more than to eat and to sleep. You wanted to be carried and walked—a lot. Jiggling is what you craved, and Ima was the one to do most of it because I wasn’t able to at the time. Even though you were quite the dictator, I loved it the opportunity to bend to your will.

And all of it more than paid off when on September 21, 2005 (six weeks and three days old), you smiled at me—really smiled. At me! I was in the kitchen when you woke up in the living room and started crying. I had to dry my hands or something that kept me from getting to you for about 30 seconds. I got there as quickly as I could and I bent down over you and started to talk to you, and you smiled as if to say, “Great! You’re here!” I fell hard for you then. I scooped you up in my arms and kissed you and kissed you all over.

Since then, you have gotten more and more alert. And you can hold your head up when we carry you. You look all around and you seem like such a grown up baby to me. Yet again, the baby I knew had disappeared to be replaced by another, and wow, do I love the new you. You look at me all the time, and every day I get smiles from you. I particularly like it when you smile really big and make your tongue pointy and stick it out just a little bit. You are so adorable!

You seem so interested in the world around you now. You want new experiences. New things to look at. You want to be a baby on the move, so Ima and I try to keep you on the move as much as we can. And on October 9, 2005 (seven weeks and five days old) you made a discovery that still brings you delight: your hands! You can bring them up to your mouth and try to suck on them, and do you ever love that. It is as if you are welcoming back an old friend. We have ultrasound proof that you sucked your thumb in the womb. And here are those hands and fingers and thumbs again. You seem to be asking, “Where have you been? I’ve missed you!” Unfortunately, although you can manage to bring your hands up to your mouth, they refuse to stay in place and you are often left gulping at the air. Cruel, cruel world! Sometimes Ima or I try to keep them in place for you, but you often reject that. It’s just not the same.

I’m enjoying the current you as much as I can right now, because I know that she is sure to leave me sooner rather than later. I am ready to fall in love all over again.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Television Debate

Ella has started to be interested in television. She's two months old, and she likes to watch those fast-changing images flicker across the black box. Just like Mommy. In fact, Mommy loves television. I've got the TV on just about all day long. I'm not watching it necessarily all day long, but I like having it on in the background. I'm like an old person that way, except I don't have my TV defaulted to CNN or MSNBC. I prefer ESPN. So in some ways, I look at Ella watching TV and I think, "Aw, she takes after me."

On the other hand, I don't think that children should watch TV all day long. They should be doing other, more productive, more active things. Of course, I should be doing other, more productive, more active things too, but that's another issue.

At the same time, when she's happily watching TV, she's happily doing something. I love it when she's happily doing something, doing anything. Especially if that something does not involve me carrying her and walking her around. Which is nice and all, but this girl is heavy and I have a bad back. So sitting together, rocking on the rocking chair and watching Sportscenter is quite pleasant.

But I know, I know, I've got to limit it. How much exactly, I'm not sure. My cousin-in-law allows her 2 year old to watch half an hour of television a week. A WEEK! I don't know if I can manage that or not, but perhaps some middle ground.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Keeping My Mouth Shut

I'm pretty impressed with myself. I have hardly mentioned the possible pregnancy to my partner. It's come up in a round about sort of ways a couple of times. For instance, last night she woke up and was about to take some Advil. I said that she shouldn't take it--she should take Tylenol instead. And on Friday, I asked her what she wanted to do as far as alcohol was concerned with her father coming to visit for the weekend. Should we have some in the house for him and thereby end up drinking a little too, or did she want to try to avoid the entire situation. But other than that, I haven't said a word.

I'm quite impressed with myself for that because, of course, I have been thinking about it. If the egg was fertilized last Tuesday, then sometime between now and Friday, it will try to implant in her uterine lining. She's upstairs sleeping right now. And she's had this headache all day. And I had headaches my first trimester. And I was exhausted my first trimester. So I can't help but wonder if these aren't signs? But I do have to bring myself down to earth with the reminder that I did not develope headaches or exhaustion until I had been pregnant for a few weeks at least, so it's probably unrelated. But I can't help myself. I want to ask her, "How do you feel? Are your nipples sore? Felt any cramping? Anything unusual at all?" But I don't ask her these questions, and I'm going to do my best to keep my mouth shut for another week. Then she can take a pregnancy test and we'll know one way or the other.

A week to go, a week to go. I hope it passes quickly.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The All Clear

Ella has given us a few scares. Well, more accurately, doctor people have given us a few scares. Some of you might remember the 20 week ultrasound where the doctor thought there might have been a problem with her kidneys. I wrote about it here, after the fact, after we found out from another doctor that her kidneys were fine. And I am repeating that pattern for some reason. I don't know why I don't write about potential problems with Ella when they happen. I guess I fear that if I write about them while they are uncertain, my writing about them will make them real, will make them happen. So I don't write about them, and then voila! I find out later that she's fine after all.

Basically, when she was born, she had a crooked foot, her left foot, and the doctors thought it was possible that she had a club foot. It was either that or her foot had just been crammed up against the side of my uterus for a couple of months. When I told my mom about it, she said, "Oh, don't worry about it, you had the same thing." So I didn't worry about it...much. Then we took her to her pediatrician when she was 8 days old for a weight check (no problems there, I assure you--this girl can EAT!) and the pediatrician thought that perhaps her entire left leg had been jammed and possibly the leg bone which connects to her hip had formed outside of the hip socket. This would require that she wear a cast over her hips for several months and/or have surgery. A club foot would require one or both of these things as well, but just on her foot. The idea of her being in a hip cast really upset me. Of course, my hormones were completely out of whack still at that point, so it didn't take much to set me over the edge.

Well, first on the agenda was to get a hip ultrasound to see what was going on there. Everything was fine. Her hips were completely normal. Thank god. It was traumatic, because she had to be held in place for about 15-20 minutes while the tech did the ultrasound, and Ella SCREAMED like I have never heard any baby ever scream. But at least it's over and her hips are okay.

Then on Wednesday, we went to see an orthopedist to have him look at her x-rays from the hospital and her actual foot. We got good news again: it's not a club foot. As it turns out, the same thing happened to her that happened to me: her foot got scrunched up against the side of my uterus, pushing it up so that the top of her foot was pressed up against her shin. The doctor said that this was often genetic, and I said, "Yup, I came out the same way." All it means is that (like me) she'll probably end up walking with her toes pointing slightly out. Not freakishly out or anything like that. Just a bit. No one has ever looked at me walk or at my feet and said, "My god, woman, what the hell is wrong with your feet?" In fact, I never knew that I had a "condition" until the doctor looked at my feet and said, "See? You've got [insert long, complicated medical term here]." So there's nothing wrong with Ella's feet, although her future as a track star is probably dim, but I've never understood people who run for pleasure anyway. My philosophy has always been that I don't run unless somebody is chasing me.

So as I stated originally, my little bean is perfect. And thankfully, the scares are over and nothing looms on the horizon. At least for now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I Did It

Well, today was the day. And the cool part is, I got to do the insemination myself! With the doctor's direction, of course, but it was cool. I expected to get the opportunity to push the plunger, but I did not expect the opportunity to put the catheter into her uterus myself. But I did.

It was kind of surreal. I've been through an intra-uterine insemination (IUI) three times myself, as I wrote here. But now I was the one watching and supporting...and actually performing the IUI. As you might recall (or if you read the linked post now), my partner did not want to push the plunger. She was concerned she would "mess it up," which was kind of silly, because how can one mess up pushing in a plunger? But I knew then that I would push the plunger when it was her turn, and I did. Getting the opportunity to insert the catheter, too, really did make me feel part of the conception process. I've always thought that women who said that pushing the plunger for their partner's insemination was a bit like fooling themselves. I mean, really, they have very little to do with it. But now I have to admit that I feel a bit different. I stuck it in her and deposited the goods! And amusingly enough, the type of catheter used for IUI inseminations is called a "tomcat." Here's what it looks like:

Of course, the event wasn't anything sexual. It was quite clinical. For one thing, I got an up close and personal look at my partner's cervix. That was weird. It looks like it does in books. And it was open, which is a good sign. Means that ovulation is or has happened at some point in the near future or past. But seeing a real, live cervix, let alone your partner's cervix, was a bit on the strange side.

So now we are onto the two week wait (more details about that here). I find myself on the other side of this experience, too. My partner does not think that she will stress or obsess about the two week wait the way that I did. It will be interesting to see if I obsess about it all on my own. I am going to try to avoid mentioning the topic to her unless she brings it up. That means that this blog is my outlet, should I need it. Of course, this blog should be used to such treatment. My outlet is what it has always been.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Are We Crazy? Oh, Yes.

Today we were back at the office of my former reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) to see when my partner will be inseminated. Will it be today? Tomorrow? Wednesday?

Come again? I don't think I read that right, Oz. Isn't Ella fresh out of the oven? What on earth is going through your mind, woman?!

You've got some good points. If my partner were to get pregnant, the two children would be 11 months apart. Pretty close. Why are we doing this? Well, we sort of had to make a decision last year about what to do with our extra sperm sample. Let me explain.

Shipping semen is extraordinarily expensive--$275. Because of that, we ordered two samples at a time, knowing that I might get pregnant with the one and then have the extra sample. From our sperm bank, each sample costs $240. That's right. The semen costs less than the shipping. So we had a choice of paying $515 per month, assuming that I would get pregnant: $240 [semen] + $275 [shipping] = $515. If I didn't, we would buy again for $515, bringing a two month total up to $1030. Or we could pay $755 up front for two months, thereby saving us $275 or spending money on a sample I might not need: $480 [semen x 2] + $275 [shipping] = $755. So that's what we did. I got pregnant on the third attempt, so we had one sample left over. (We bought two at first, and I didn't get pregnant either time. Then we bought two more, and I got pregnant on the first try [i.e. third try], leaving one sample left.) So what to do with the extra sample?

We could have thrown it away or we could have stored it. Storing it costs $300 per year. Now, even if we bought two at a time again at a cost (including splitting the shipping charge over two samples) of $377.50 per sample, it was more cost efficient to pay the storage fee of $300 rather than buying again fresh--if we were going to use the sample within one year. If we were going to wait more than a year, that would bring the storage fee up to $600, which is obviously more than $377.50.

I've always wanted to have the children be close together in age. I knew (in the abstract way of knowing that you have before you are a parent) it would be difficult to have two such young children at once. But I thought that the hard work would pay off eventually. And I sort of had the idea that we would just get all that out of the way at once. Sort of like ripping off the bandaid instead of pealing it off slowly. The work is going to be done, why not do it all at once? That's what I was thinking. And hopefully the children would like each other and play together well and have a lot in common because they would be close in age. I do know that there's also a possibility that they could be very competitive and therefore hate each other. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Anyway, last year we talked about what to do with this sample, and we decided that we would go ahead and store it and therefore use it within a year. So it's kind of a one shot deal we're doing here. If she does not get pregnant, we'll wait for the next attempt until next spring, probably try again in May. But it looks like tomorrow is the day when we will put the ingredients all together in one place and see if we end up creating another human life.

It's a bit weird going into the process this way--knowing that it's just one attempt and then we'll shut it down and wait another six months. It's like a shot in the dark instead of, "We're starting on a journey together."

Then there's also a little bit of uneasiness. Now we have a baby and we know how hard it is, how much work, how much attention she requires. How will I (because I'm the one who will stay at home with the kids after my partner takes off her 12 weeks) manage two tiny children at once? Handling one is pretty all-consuming as it is. Nonetheless, I'm very excited. After all, I am also the one who really would like the children to be that close in age. If she gets pregnant, I'm going to be estatic, please don't get me wrong about that at all. But I think that if she doesn't get pregnant this time, both my partner and I might--just a little bit--breathe a sigh of relief.