Monday, April 20, 2015

The Motherhood Sisterhood

Late last year, somewhere in my second trimester of pregnancy, a pregnant panhandler came through my subway car. She was farther along than myself, looked to be in her third trimester, and she was in pretty rough shape.  She asked for food or money, and my heart just broke. Homeless people are always hard on my heart, but seeing this woman down and out while her body was creating a life just ripped at my every seam. I gave her a snack from my bag and she thanked me profusely while I tried to brush it off as no big deal.

She may not have even been able to tell I was pregnant in my coat, but I was painfully aware of our shared truth. We are both insatiably hungry while our bodies are undergoing total transformation, building new bodies. But I can pack snacks in my bag for the day to help stave off the hunger and cravings, and tonight I will go home to my house and my supportive wife. My friends and family will throw me a baby shower to help me get the things I need for this baby. They will ensure this baby is never in need, and if they didn’t, we have steady jobs and would still somehow be able to figure it out for ourselves. We are safe and warm at night. We can prepare for our child.

Who helped you make this baby and where are they now? Did you even feel you had a choice, or are you just left to deal with the consequences of someone else’s choice? Where are you sleeping tonight? What fears and anxieties keep you up at night as you feel your due date looming closer and have no one to turn to for help and advice? Do you worry that your child will be taken from you because you can’t provide proper care? Do you worry that your child WON’T be taken from you and you will spend every moment frantically trying to prepare for the next, worrying about how to keep your child safe and thriving? How do you protect yourself and stay safe as you become increasingly more vulnerable? Who helps you when your back and hips are aching so much you feel you can’t walk one more step, and yet gathering another few quarters makes the difference in whether you can eat tonight? I wanted to cry and scream at the injustice of the world, and also take her home and let her run a hot bath and elevate her swollen feet and be able to feel the wonder of the creation within her instead of the exhaustion and anxiety and loneliness I saw weighing her down.

Then a week or so ago, as spring finally turned the corner (how far away my spring baby seemed when winter was only just approaching!), I saw a fat squirrel sitting on a tree branch. In unspoken agreement, my wife and I always sit still in the car when we pull into our driveway and see cardinals in the backyard. This time there were a male and a female bouncing around from branch to fencepost to bush, and we watched them until they finally flew off. Then I noticed the squirrel on the branch of our tree, contentedly eating a nut. I was initially surprised at its rotundity after a long, harsh winter, and then after a few seconds it hit me that she wasn’t fat, she was pregnant! It seemed like a logical conclusion at this time of the year, and I just watched her in awe. I wondered if this was her first pregnancy and if she knew what was going on. Did she feel extra hungry and thirsty and tired? Did she start to notice more and more strange stirrings and squirming in her abdomen and wonder what the heck was going on? Or does she just go through life unblinking and not pay much attention to these changes when she’s just trying to survive each moment, focusing on finding food and safety? She’s so strong - she just goes through her pregnancy finding the next nut, lugging her heavy body up the tree. She can’t play the pregnancy card. Other squirrels don’t encourage her to just relax in the grass while they watch for predators or offer to fetch her an acorn. She’s just gotta keep going! She doesn’t know any different, and those male squirrels have no clue what she’s quietly enduring in order to propagate the species.

Pregnancy is the first nearly universal condition that has made me feel so connected to beings across demographics and even species. I wonder about the teen mothers I work with, both the reluctant and the intentional. I wonder about the experiences of people older than me, like my mother, my wife’s grandmother, and my rabbi (who adopted, but who I imagine experienced similar planning, anticipation, fear and excitement, and impatience waiting for her daughter to join their family). I feel so connected to all of these mothers, and also so curious about how different their outer experiences are or were within their own contexts despite the fact that exactly the same thing was happening inside each of us. Sometimes this breaks my heart and sometimes this lifts and moves me, but I’m always grateful for the connection.

Pregnancy Guilt

(Written in December 2014 for
After four failed cycles of intrauterine insemination, my wife and I conceived a few months ago. We’re elated, but during the time leading up to our pregnancy, we faced much uncertainty and anxiety. Before beginning insemination, I was tested for every possible fertility barrier and all of the test results were negative. This was a mixed blessing, since my insurance would have covered the $1900 per cycle process fully if I’d had even the slightest issue. But of course I was grateful for my health.
That was an incredibly difficult time, when hopes rose and fell. For support, we reached out to family and friends as well as our dear rabbi, who witnessed many tears and helped comfort and encourage us.
We also reached out to a couple of friends who, like us, were experiencing difficulty conceiving. We bonded intensely during that period, because we got each other. When a very close friend of mine became pregnant immediately, we struggled as we watched her abdomen grow every month and felt envious– like that’s where we should be too. With our friends who also faced difficulties conceiving, we were able to commiserate, share stories, and vent about our hurt.
And then we did get pregnant, and suddenly we were the ones struggling to figure out how to tell our friends who hadn’t yet conceived.
(Read the rest at the link below)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All the Sugar

Before the fertility clinic would proceed with our first cycle, they sent me for a one-hour glucose tolerance test to screen for prediabetes, due to my bloodwork having shown that my blood sugar levels are slightly elevated. I passed the test and all was well. When I had to take the same test around 29 weeks gestation, I did not pass and was referred for the three-hour test. I had read that many people who fail the one-hour pass the three-hour because many people’s bodies just need that little extra time to handle the sugar. Many people in my personal life confirmed this, telling me that they’d failed the one-hour also but then had been fine. So I went in pretty optimistic. I drank the nasty, syrupy drink and then, ravenous, sat and read a book while getting blood drawn every hour. The phlebotomist asked with each blood draw if I was feeling okay, and since I was, that also made me optimistic.

I was a little anxious anyway, just because I know I’m genetically predisposed to diabetes and have already had signs of insulin resistance since high school (rough, scaly dark patches of skin in my armpits and under my belly; some skin tags; cellulitis at 20 years old which took doctors forever to diagnose because it’s usually only seen in elderly, obese diabetics), but after hearing even my own mother and sister say they passed the three-hour, I kept talking myself down and convincing myself that I really probably didn’t have it. Then I got the call from my OB’s office saying my results were “abnormal” and I needed to call an endocrinologist RIGHT AWAY to schedule an appointment.

Heart in my mouth, I called the one they recommended who took my insurance and set up an appointment for the following day. The doctor was very warm and friendly. He showed me my results from the three-hour test, showing what levels are normal at each hour and how high mine stayed throughout. He asked me about various symptoms (excessive hunger and thirst, how many times I pee in a night, etc.), family history, etc. He explained why this can happen in pregnancy, and that since the placenta is the source of the issue, it will go away as soon as the placenta is delivered, but for now may worsen as the placenta grows. He said the baby is not harmed, but that the baby is overmaking its own insulin to counteract the high blood sugar flowing into it, and that high insulin can lead to too much growth and complicate delivery if the baby gets too big. Having the baby’s pancreas on overdrive throughout gestation can also increase baby’s risk of developing diabetes and childhood obesity later in life, so it’s important to regulate my own blood sugar so the baby doesn’t have to overcompensate for me.

Then he talked to me about diet change and handed me a whole packet with recommendations for meals and snacks, what I can have in unlimited quantities, what I can have in moderation, and what I can NEVER EVER have. Some of the never evers really surprised me – I mean bananas, really?? The “bad” things that I craved and had been indulging in freely were on that list, as well as some things I thought were really healthy for me (like watermelon and grapes).

He showed me my target range and what numbers should worry me. He told me to stick to this diet and test my blood sugar fasting and then an hour after every meal, fax in the results every few days, and then come back in a week to evaluate. If the numbers were concerning in that first couple of days, like my blood sugar was out of normal range even with diet changes, then I would need insulin and have to come back in immediately for that. He offered to show me how to do it then and send me home with some supplies so that I wouldn’t have to come back in so soon if that happened, but said it was my choice. I said, “No thank you, I’m feeling utterly overwhelmed as it is and would rather not have to learn injections on top of it when I may not even need them. I’ll come back in if I have to.” He told me to keep fat in my diet because now is not the time to be losing weight. Then a nurse came in to show me how to use the glucose monitor, which looked intimidatingly complicated at first use.

I didn’t even make it to the car before tears were streaming down my face. I felt utterly overwhelmed at all that was in front of me – having to plan every meal and snack, having to avoid so many things I love and just am not sure how to replace at meals, figuring out the glucose monitor and remembering to take my blood and log my food choices after every meal. And I felt overwhelming guilt at my poor diet up to that point and how my baby had been having to work its poor little pancreas to death to try to make up for it. It didn’t matter that this was coming for me no matter what, and that people get it no matter how they were eating before and during pregnancy. It didn’t matter that baby was fine and not being harmed right now. I couldn’t stop blaming myself for not doing enough to protect my baby and keep it as safe and healthy as possible. I’ve struggled with willpower when it comes to food my whole life, and all I could think was that even my baby hadn’t been enough for me to change that, and how shameful that feels. I felt anxious and overwhelmed by the path ahead of me, the major diet overhaul and monitoring, and then ashamed that it felt so difficult. I called my mom to get it all out of my system, and then faced the challenge of figuring out where to go for lunch that wouldn’t make my first blood sugar check be elevated. (I chose Chipotle: brown rice, grilled chicken, tomatoes, guacamole – all approved items.)

As I sat at home and tried to remember all the steps for using the glucose monitor, stuck myself multiple times trying to figure out how to take the needle back out, and then tried to plan what I could eat the rest of the day and the next day at work, I let myself shed a few tears of frustration and then told myself that I would be a master in no time. This was all new and a lot to learn and figure out at once, but soon it would become routine. It just felt so unsettling to have everything in my daily life have to be looked at and managed differently, and to not be exactly sure how yet. Feeling incompetent is my quickest route to frustration and tears, and my instinct is to quit immediately (usually when it's something like assembling a product), but I couldn't with this. And I told myself, "You're going to feel this times a hundred when you're suddenly responsible for the care of a newborn, so you'd better humble yourself and get use to feeling this way and still functioning through it to get the job done."

My numbers were stable with the diet change so I didn’t need to come back in for insulin. This was and is my main motivator to sticking to the diet strictly, because I desperately want to avoid injections. I’m grateful that, while my body is clearly very sensitive to sugar (I’ve seen it spike just going from half to a whole wheat English muffin in the morning), limiting that has been enough to keep it under control. My fasting numbers are good, which they look at closely because blood sugar spikes overnight and is the highest in the morning, so some people wake up with high blood sugar no matter what they eat during the day and need at least nighttime insulin. Meeting with the dietician has been helpful, teaching me things like which foods equal how much of a serving of starch, how to pair a starch with a protein at every snack or meal (apple with string cheese, plain yogurt with blueberries) because the protein helps my body process the sugar, how to split up my breakfast (NO fruit in the morning when your blood sugar is most sensitive) into two small meals so that I stay satisfied without sending my sugar overboard, how to watch my patterns and what sets me off and what doesn’t so that I can find what works for me (“I hate telling a pregnant woman that any fruit is completely off limits – have a small banana and then check your sugar, it’s about what YOUR body can handle”).

I lost four pounds the first week. Actually, within the first four or five days. I was at a 13 pound total gain and went down to 9. I couldn’t eat enough butter, full-fat dairy, and nuts to keep my weight from going down. I called my OB’s office out of concern, and the nurse said that she was surprised the endocrinologist said not to lose weight because it’s impossible not to with such a diet overhaul, but that it’s only my own weight and I should just be focused on making sure I’m getting proper nutrition. She said as long as the baby’s weight is on target, they’re not worried about mine dropping. At our 32-week sonogram the next week, the OB confirmed that baby’s weight was perfect, exactly average, and that I didn’t need to be worried about my own. I stayed stable at this new weight for many days, and then slowly started gaining again, and I’m now up to 11 pounds total gain.

My wife has gone on this diet with me. I did not ask for that, and in fact told her just not to eat things I love right in front of me (cakes, ice cream) but that she could do it behind my back and not tell me, just so I’m not tortured. And she could eat anything she likes that DOESN’T torment me (chips, hard candies). But she insisted that this is how we both should be eating and that she knows she is predisposed to diabetes too, so why not use this as our wake-up call to being healthier? She doesn’t have to be as picky with planned out snacks or about having fruit in the morning, but she’s made her own diet overhaul. She measures her starches at dinner and has the same amount I do, and has cut down on how often she snacks and the portion size of her snacks. She’s been losing weight too!

At my second dietician counseling yesterday, we were going over my charts and she asked if she could keep the most recent week’s. I had an immediate reaction that made me want to say, “No, it’s mine!” and I had to figure out where that came from and how to explain it rationally to her. I said, “I’d like to keep the originals. I have all the rest of them and it just helps me look at my own patterns.” So she made a copy for herself and gave it back. She had told me earlier in the meeting to keep trying to fatten myself up, to make sure I’m getting enough nutritious calories in, and said I could make my breakfast more filling by having a whole light wheat English muffin instead of a half. I’d had to go back a few weeks to show her where I had tried that and my sugar had gone right over. Clearly I can’t do that! But that reference point is important to me. It’s important that I could look back at all the times whole wheat pasta has been fine for me, and try to figure out why the fresh whole wheat fettucini made me go over that one day, and then realize that I’d used store-made Bolognese sauce instead of our own homemade sauce, which the dietician pointed out usually has starch in it to thicken it. I’m not just tracking numbers for a doctor to look at and approve or disapprove. I’m learning my body and foods that are problems for me and foods that work for me and how much I can tolerate of different things. I want control over that, because this is for me.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Home Stretch (AKA OHGOD are we there yet?!?)

I've been extremely comfortable with only minor complaints throughout my pregnancy. One of my friends teases me for it because she was miserable in both of her pregnancies: throwing up until the day she gave birth, swollen in her whole body, just very uncomfortable. When she sees me at work, she rolls her eyes with a smirk and says, "Oh here Rachel comes all glowing again. Haven't you thrown up yet?? Tell me when it gets bad, I don't want to hear anything til then."

I have a coworker due three days before me who reports utter misery and discomfort, and has from the beginning with little relief. I had another coworker tell me about a different pregnant coworker, "I'm glad I can see how much you're enjoying pregnancy, because if I was only seeing ____, I may never want to do it! She does NOT make it look appealing!"

I read a "humorous" pregnancy book recently where the author started off by saying that this book is not for the perfect, non-complaining pregnant women that seem to breeze through everything, but for the REAL pregnant women who deal with the REAL issues of pregnancy, which she then listed and most of which did not apply to me. I felt like I was supposed to feel this instant relief and sense of inclusion in the sisterhood of exhausting and uncomfortable pregnancies: "Oh yes, I hate those women who never get a varicose vein or a stretch mark or morning sickness or swelling! Who ARE they anyway??" I felt like a model starting to read a book that was meant to validate "curvy girls" by creating an atmosphere of comfort and laughter that I'm not a part of, but also know I'm privileged not to be a part of. Like maybe I should put this down since I can't sigh and say, "YES, I go through that too, isn't it awful?? I'm glad I'm not the only one! I hate those women who seem to have it easy, they make me sick!"

The reality is that I was turned off to the idea of most foods except simple carbs and had passing waves of nausea, but never threw up. It also only lasted a few weeks. I had smell sensitivity for maybe a week, with a few specific issues, but none that made me feel sick or have to leave a room. I haven't had insane hormonal swings where I've screamed at my partner or demanded she meet certain needs; I was just a little extra sensitive and more emotional my first trimester, and it's just starting to come back a few weeks into my third. My feet swelled for about two days, though I'm sure that can get worse later on. I haven't been constipated my entire pregnancy, which is supposedly one of the most common complaints, though I do the things naturally that are recommended such as drinking a ton of water and walking (I get a decent amount just in my commute) and eating lots of fiber. I haven't yet gotten stretch marks, though I'm pretty sure the last month will fix that. Discharge has been very minor and almost odorless (I know people who had to wear pads for it at this point in their pregnancy). My lower back started to ache around 28 weeks from carrying the off-center load in front, but I bought a pregnancy support belt that was recommended to me and wear it just during my commute and that has been a miracle. Nothing but my belly has grown or changed, so I haven't had to buy new underwear or change styles to find something flattering to my new shape. I feel very fortunate, and I also think I probably minimize the few inconveniences I HAVE experienced because they feel like just that, and I don't expect pregnancy to always be cushy and comfortable. Those same inconveniences have also always been fleeting.

The only one that was bad enough for me to complain much about was severe lower back pain that made me actually feel like I was breaking in half when I went from a lying or sitting position to standing. It was so bad that I needed to use my arms to pull myself by grabbing onto something, and then would have to stand hunched over and sloooowly come up as I stretched it out. This made commuting and midnight peeing a source of great dread and anxiety! This was happening for almost three days, and yesterday I became concerned and called my OB to make sure it was normal. I was told that it is, as long as I don't feel any cramping in my lower back, and that it will come and go depending on how baby is positioned, what he or she may be laying on. Today has been much better so I'm optimistic that it's not something that will be consistent for the rest of my pregnancy.

I still have eight weeks left, and I know they'll be the toughest eight weeks. So maybe all of this will start happening. But I feel grateful that I've made it this long feeling mostly comfortable. Even my   one main issue I feel I have well under control now, but that's a long enough story to merit its own post.

(Update: four weeks left and still feeling great!!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Bear Cub

The level of protectiveness I've felt while pregnant is unlike anything I've ever experienced. The first time it washed over me was as raw instinct. When I was about four months pregnant, one of my teen male clients was becoming very disruptive at the front of the agency, and as the supervisor, I had been called out to assist. He was becoming loud and verbally aggressive, so several people had gathered, and his social worker was there also, attempting to de-escalate him. He finally got around the staff to charge into the lobby, and I immediately stepped back behind a column, with my hand on my abdomen.

This may sound like a normal precaution for anyone to take. But I am not easily scared off by my youths' anger. They have plenty of reason to be angry, and if I know their personalities, their triggers, and their behavior patterns, I can negotiate the situation boldly and safely. This is a youth I've known for many years, and one who has never physically hurt staff. I honestly do not believe he would, and logically I did not feel in danger. I certainly did not feel like his target, and there is no part of me that rationally thinks he was going to head in my direction or throw something at me or do anything else that would put me and my baby in danger. But my instinct to protect this baby forming inside me disregarded all of that. Had I not been pregnant, I would have approached him, followed him, addressed him. Instead, I shot back the second I saw him shoot through the doors, and noted that his social worker was following so I knew it would be okay.

On a more regular basis, my protectiveness come through as hyper-cautiousness. When I walk through Penn Station on my way home every evening, I keep a hand over my belly. The evening rush is always more dangerous than the morning rush because no one wants to get home late and everyone needs to MAKE THAT TRAIN!!! People are just running amok. I've always just been part of it, but now I walk more slowly and I keep my hand on my belly because otherwise people and bags will just slam into it. I'm used to being prodded and slammed, and fat squishes and it's usually fine. But my baby bump is firm and sensitive and just so damn out there, the first part of me to reach any destination, and I find myself having to really ensure its protection. I walk further to the inside of subway platforms than ever before. I always grab railings on staircases.

My wife feels this in a whole different way - and she worries about both me and the baby! She gets so nervous about me going to work on snowy or icy days. I had my 28 week OB appointment this morning, which I planned to drive to and then drive to work, and she went into work a few hours late just so she could walk me out to the car before she got on the train, since our driveway was full of thick ice. She stays on the outside of me on any sidewalk or pathway. She texts me throughout the work day to make sure I'm okay and that I made it safely. She worries about BOTH of us, while also having the least amount of control over what's happening in a typical day and what I'm doing to keep us safe.

Many times I am disappointed by how people will watch me in late pregnancy leaning on a subway pole, my back and pelvic area just ACHING, and not offer me a seat. But recently I was surrounded by a pack of mama bears and that's what I will choose to remember for as long as I can. It was a holiday weekend (MLK Jr. Day?) and everyone was getting out of work early and there were train delays and cancellations because of ice. I squeezed onto a car where I literally took up the last standing space. There were a bunch of women around me, and one of them noticed my belly and said, "Oh dear, you should ask for a seat!" Even if I'd felt comfortable doing that, I couldn't have made my way to the aisles to do so. You could barely have thrown a jelly bean into that train car. So I said, "Thank you, but I'm comfortable enough to stand. I'm just worried about being pushed into people and protecting my belly, so I'll stay here where I can lean against the door." Someone said, "We're all women here, and we're going to keep this bubble around you. No one's going to push into you!" One joked that she was a nurse but didn't think she could do much if I went into labor. I said, "At least I hit 24 weeks, so I'm at viability now!" And she said, "Oh dear no, you aren't ready yet!!!"

As rushed commuters would come to the door and say, "Is there any room? All the cars are full, is there anywhere to squeeze so I can fit?" or would just try to slam themselves in, those mama bears would all yell at once, "BACK UP, we have a pregnant woman here, no one is shoving into her!" After a few times of that, a couple of the women just wanted me safely out of the doorway and started calling down the aisle, "we have a pregnant woman here, can someone please give their seat? She's going to get squished in this crowd!" And it was yet another woman who gave up her seat for me. She was down the packed aisle, and the other women formed a wall around me to get me there safely without having to squeeze into things. And when I got off to transfer at Jamaica (fortunately to a significantly less crowded train where I easily got a seat), those same women formed a barricade to get me out safely, and I thanked them and teared up as I got off. I have never, ever, felt such a sense of community and sisterhood. To feel so protected and cared for by complete strangers is something I hope I never forget.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Our Little Thumper

Just over two weeks ago, at 21 weeks pregnant, my wife felt the baby move for the first time. Out of respect for her privacy and just the fact that this is not my narrative to process and share, I will just say that she struggled a bit with insecurities in the beginning, not only as the nonbiological parent, but also just as the one whose body this was not happening in, which made her feel a bit excluded. I knew she had reached a point of connection when I woke up one night, around two or three months pregnant, to her hand rubbing my belly. I pretended to still be asleep so I wouldn’t embarrass her because I didn’t want her to stop and I wanted her to have that private moment of connection. But I brought it up sweetly and gently the next day, and she had no memory of it! She must have been doing it in her sleep, which is even more significant to me.

Then within a few weeks of my feeling the first flutters of movement, she started getting really antsy to feel the baby move. She would ask me at least once a day, “Can I feel it yet? When will I be able to?” and would say almost every time I remarked on movement, “Can you feel it on the outside? But just put your hand there in case. Just try.” This was inevitably followed by disappointment when I broke it to her that the baby could still not be felt on the outside.

About two weeks ago, after battling a cough for some time, my wife finally agreed to take the day off work to go to the doctor. I had been sleeping very poorly, as it is taking a while for me to adjust to sleeping on my side instead of my back, and decided after my alarm went off that I would take the day off as well to accompany her to the doctor. My wife was sleeping downstairs on the couch in an effort to keep me from catching her cold. I got up to use the bathroom, and when I returned to bed, I lay on the opposite side from the side I had been on before, and almost immediately felt some serious thumping. I knew as soon as I felt it that it would be able to be felt from the outside, so I put my hand down the waistband of my low-rise pajama pants where I had felt it, and sure enough, there was one and then two big throbbing motions. My heart racing, I walked downstairs, calmly fed the cats, and then woke my wife. I said, “It may have stopped by now, but I just felt the baby from the outside, if you want to come upstairs and lay with me to see if you can feel it.” She eagerly jumped up and followed me upstairs.

Assuming that the baby had been moving so furiously after being sloshed around with my getting up and then back down on a different side, I swished my hips around while standing and then moved from side to side a little once I got into bed in an effort to agitate it again. I lay on my wife’s side of the bed because I knew I had to be on my left side in order for her to have her hand on my right side where I had felt the movement. I told her to be patient and warned her gently that it may not happen again, maybe not even for days. We just lay there in bed, without the pressure of having to get up and ready for work, her hand on my lower abdomen and my hand over hers. After just a minute or two (that felt like ten), there was one, big, very distinct THUMP on the palm of her hand before it settled back down and nothing more was felt like that for almost a week. The smile on my wife’s face was priceless. She said, “Oh my God, what WAS that????”

I felt so, so grateful that this happened while we were both home to share in it. If it had happened while I was at work and then not for another week, I know my wife would have been so frustrated and antsy. She was eager to feel it again, but was content with having felt it this once, and earlier than we had braced ourselves for. Since that morning, she has been talking to my belly nonstop, putting her face right next to it and saying, “Buuuuuuuggy, wake up, Bug! I love you!” It has happened a few more times (and mostly at home, luckily!) where I’ve been able to call my wife over to feel the baby move just a few times before it settles down again, and it provides such powerful connection for both my wife and the baby, as well as for the three of us at once.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

20 Weeks

I'm at 22 weeks now, but never posted after our 20 week sonogram. Even though the excitement of it has died down a bit (just in that it's already a distant memory), I really want to remember these things later. I am the type to read my old posts over and over because I love re-experiencing moments in my life.

The 20 week sonogram is for an anatomy scan. They do it now because everything is formed that they need to see, and baby can still move around a lot so they can get the different views they need. Because they have a long list of things they have to check for, you get a nice chunk of time watching baby on the screen! I had been waiting for this sonogram impatiently for eight weeks, though the last two weeks I was less antsy since I could now feel the baby. Feeling it gave me a lot of the reassurance and connection that I look to sonograms for. 

As soon as we saw Bug on the screen, it was just like this beautiful sense of peace and contentment. Oh there you are, little one, hi! The legs were bicycling like crazy, and I said to my wife, "See?? See why I'm feeling so much movement already??" The radiologist did something to highlight the bones white, and it was so cool to see little baby skeleton! She also did something to color blood red and blue so you could see what was going in and what was going out. She checked the brain and the four chambers of the heart and each little limb and bone. She said, "your baby is perfect," and what a relief that is to hear! She also said that our baby was stubborn - well, we knew that from the 12 week sonogram! It stopped turning around and they needed a different angle to finish checking the heart. They had me lay on each side for several minutes, go to the bathroom, walk around, and after each time the baby was still in the same position. The radiologist said that stuff usually works, and she was getting anxious because she needed to finish the scan and couldn't. She said, "okay, one final effort - let me get you a lollipop, and walk around while you give it sugar." That did the trick!

HOLY CRAP HALFWAY THROUGH PREGNANCY. When we realized a couple days ago that we were almost at 22 weeks and only had 18 left to go, it was such a shock to know we had less time left than what we had already gone through. It doesn't seem like much when I think of all we need to do to prepare, but at the same time, it feels like such a long time til we meet our baby! I always thought I'd feel grateful for the many months I had to enjoy peace and sleep and "us"-ness, and that it would go too fast. But honestly, it already feels like the baby is part of our family, and it feels strange to not be able to hold it and see its face. What are you like, little bug? What does your face look like? Are you a boy or a girl? What makes you content and what makes you cranky? What does your laugh sound like? Who are you??