Pregnancy Journal: February 2008

February 10, 2008 (11 weeks, 6 days):

By now Robert's sister knows our good news, and we've also told most of our close friends--including Jef and Jin Yoon, Sarah, Debbie, and Cori. Incidentally, Cori expressed immediate jealousy that the baby will eventually occupy our current guest bedroom, which she said she had come to think of as hers.

But Robert and I are both kind of private people, and though we're excited, we are still awkward at announcing our news. We gave my parents and Aunt Mary the go-ahead to release our news to my father's family and to random people in the church, though, so everyone in New York is happy--and, apparently, not at all awkward about announcing it.

What little morning sickness I had seems to be over now, though I've had a few days with annoying twinging backaches if I'm not really careful about my posture, and a few other days with headaches. Otherwise, I'm just tired a lot--and, while I'm not technically "showing" yet, I've gained some weight and most of my pants and jeans don't fit very well right now around the waist.

Today I have my first real prenatal appointment with Kelley, our midwife. She comes to the house at 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon, takes my blood pressure, checks a few things, and we talk mainly about nutrition. She attempts to hear the baby's heartbeat but can't just then--s/he's avoiding the Doppler and burrowing deeper inside at the moment.

Here's a current picture of me--I'm actually sitting at the new electronic piano we bought, in part, because we'd always been meaning to get one, and because we realized that we would never feel like we had more space or time or it than now.

Februrary 12, 2008 (12 weeks, 1 day):

If the rest of the pregnancy goes well, with no complications, today will be our last real "medical" appointment and our first and last sonogram. Robert thought it would be nice to do at least the first-trimester screening offered by the CNM at BU, so we report this morning to BU Medical Center for an ultrasound. Our day is filled with challenges (it's completely like we're in a quest in Warcraft, actually, and there are little snags in our path): only one elevator out of a bank of four in the lobby of the main BU Medical building seems to be working, and there is a crowd of about thirty people waiting for it. We find the stairs instead, but then they only take us up one level. We zig-zag down a hallway and find another stairway, but after we climb a flight, it tells us we have only then arrived at the second floor. We climb another flight and reach the 2 1/2th floor. Lovely. I point out that I really hope they don't need to take my blood pressure at this appointment (they don't).

We eventually arrive at the fourth floor only to discover that the appointment was actually for 10:30 tomorrow. At first I feel like an idiot, but then I recall specifically telling the woman on the phone that I could take any Tuesday or Thursday, and her telling me "Great, how about Tuesday the 12th?" which was what I put in my calendar. It doesn't seem to matter at all, though, because they take us at 10:30 anyway with no particular fuss. Robert and I are both disturbed by the other people in the waiting room ("Why do they all look so weird?" he whispers to me. "Uh, maybe because half of them are teenagers?" I reply), but thankfully we are ushered into a cubicle fairly quickly.

The tech does the ultrasound, and my goodness, I completely understand how women get addicted to unnecessary ultrasounds. It was amazing! Part of me had wondered if I'd imagined everything so far, and to see an actual baby moving around inside of me, sucking his/her thumb and waving his/her arms around, was a truly thrilling experience. I never really understood before why all our friends who've had kids stuck their ultrasound print-outs up on their refrigerators--but wow, it is very moving. We hear the heartbeat (a good healthy 165), and the tech says the baby measures 6.4 inches from crown to rump, which is right on the average for--she checks the computer--12 weeks and 1 day. Hm. . . . (When I mention this to Sarah, she points out that the baby is apparently so far like his/her mother: right on schedule.)

Then the tech gets the baby to move into the position she needs him/her in in order to measure the fluid at the back of the neck. Basically all babies at 11-14 weeks have fluid there, between their skin and the base of the skull, but a thicker deposit of fluid sometimes correlates with Down's syndrome. Our measurement is 1.0 or 1.6--they measure it at a couple different angles to be sure--which is completely normal and in the low-risk group. We weren't particularly worried about Down's syndrome, but it's still nice to hear that.

Robert, ever the odd-question-asker, asks the tech, "What's the fastest you've ever seen a baby flip around at this stage?" and, momentarily stumped, she finally says, "Oh, really fast, sometimes they do somersaults if you get them at the right moment." "So, 1-2 seconds?" he persists. "Yeah," she says.

I have blood drawn too, but when the receptionist tries to pressure me to schedule the next round of screening and the next round of medical appointments, I hedge and we leave. They're going to mail me the bloodwork and the results of the scan, which is just fine with me.

As we leave, Robert essentially says, "That was nice, and I'm glad we did that, but we don't have to do that again." He had been nervous before, and I think it really eased his mind to see the baby move, to hear the heartbeat, and to realize that everything really is okay.

Another nice thing that came out of the ultrasound was Robert's staggered realization that babies in utero look a lot like aliens. "Of course!" I said, pointing out the enlarged head, the spindly fingers, the transluscent skin, the large eye sockets. I thought everyone knew this--I thought cultural critics had written at length about the connections between the common conception of aliens and reproductive politics--but apparently it was new to Robert.

After the appointment, we walk over to Flour Bakery and Cafe, one of the first places we went for fun when we first moved to the South End seven years ago, and have a nice lunch together. We then stroll over to Chocolee Chocolates off of Tremont and buy a couple celebratory chocolates before Robert goes into work. It's a good day, and at the end of this week I'll be done with the first trimester--very exciting!

February 22, 2008 (13 weeks, 4 days):

Robert's Uncle Don hasn't been well for awhile, and he can't really travel outside of Chicago, where he lives and has dialysis. Having looked for an excuse to get to Chicago and see Uncle Don, we leap at the chance to go to the Chicago wedding celebration of our friends Rik and Dee, and we plan to see Uncle Don, Aunt Loretta, and cousins Dave and Candy while we're there. Unfortunately, a snowstorm in Boston interferes with our plans, and we end up making a bunch of phone calls to Chicago tonight and unfortunately missing the wedding and weekend away entirely.

By now I've told people at school and officially filed for maternity leave for the fall semester; my plan is to teach through the end of the first (optional) summer session at the end of June and then have July, August, and all of the fall semester off. I'll be back full-time in Spring 2009, starting mid-January, at which point the baby will be almost five months old and will likely go to day care four days a week.

By now I've also read more than a dozen books on pregnancy, labor, and breast feeding, and am constantly giving Robert little tips and pieces of information. ("Did you know the baby's fingerprints are fully formed by the end of this week?" I ask today.) I look extremely lumpy in my clothes--I'm very self-conscious about it in part because I realize that realistically I just look fat, not pregnant, at this point, and I'm eager to move beyond this stage. On the other hand, though, it may be just as well: I'm currently teaching several books that deal with themes of abortion, pregnancy, motherhood, etc., and I'd just as soon my students not actually realize I'm pregnant until we're done with these books--I don't feel the need to be the Pregnant Woman in the classroom weighing down the discussion.

Back: January 2008 | Continue: March 2008

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Created: 2/25/08. Last Modified: 4/8/08.