Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Big Gender Reveal

I'm a mom.

I know . . . stating the obvious. But every day it catches me off guard with excitement and wonder. Every time I look at R (since my blog isn't private, I'm referring to her by first initial only), I smile and think to myself how awesome it is that she's ours. It's been two weeks with her, and we're certainly adjusting to this new and crazy world that is parenthood. I'm sitting here on the couch, listening to the silly noises she makes in her sleep . . . and I smile with each one. I know I should be sleeping since she's asleep, but unfortunately the last two weeks (and years of freelancing) have conditioned me for nights with only three hours of rest, and I'm just not tired enough right now (I will be, I'm sure, right as she wakes up for her next feeding).

So since I'm awake, I figured it would be good to get back to the blog and tell the story of our labor (excluding the TMI portions) and how the big gender reveal went down.

It became clear at our last few doctor appointments that our baby was taking his or her sweet ol' time. We were given the option of inducing on November 25 or December 2 (Thanksgiving falling in between the dates put a kink in the inducing schedule). We decided to stick with the second in hopes that the extra week would allow nature to do its thing and get my body closer to labor without having to do all the drugs.

But December 1 rolled around and we still didn't have a baby in our arms. So that day, eleven days after my official due date (we thought our date was the twenty-second, but it turns out it was never changed from the twentieth), we went to the hospital to start the process of being induced. I would have to be on a drug for twelve hours to get my body ready for the pitocin, which would move the contractions along, so we were told that we'd probably have the baby Monday afternoon or evening. We got to the hospital at 5:00 p.m. and finally got a room right around 9:00. The first drug was administered with the disclaimer that the doctor wanted it in for at least six hours, if not the full twelve, but I could have it removed at any time if I became too uncomfortable. I made it four hours. After three hours, I wanted to call it quits (and Mike definitely wanted me to call it quits after seeing me in pain), and it was only because I don't like failing that I was able to (uncomfortably) push myself for another hour.

As it turns out, the labor process had already started on its own, and I made it farther along in those four hours than most women do in twelve. (I'd also been having contractions all day, though I didn't think they were the real deal because they were in a different location than I had been feeling previous contractions, they weren't in any kind of increments, and I was able to talk through them--which I was told I wouldn't be able to do.) In fact, it was decided I didn't need the pitocin because my contractions were already steadily moving along. At 2:00 a.m. I caved and got an epidural. I wasn't opposed to the epidural, though I wanted to try to go as long as possible without it, especially once I found out that the hospital did not offer walking epidurals as I originally had heard (the idea of being bedridden for hours really wigged me out, and at the time, I thought I'd still have at least half a day of labor to go). Once I received the epidural (seriously, so glad I got it), I was able to get an hour of sleep before I started feeling the pushing pains. The on-call doctor came in at 4:30 with the news that I would be having this baby sooner rather than later . . . much of a shock to us. At 6:30 I started pushing, at 7:30 my doctor showed up (and our nurse said she was going to stay past her shift to see us through the end--she was so great), and at 8:05 . . . we became parents.

Now for those of you who had been following, we didn't know the gender of our baby. I've said for years (long before I was ever married) that I always wanted to wait to find out the gender--the reveal was one of life's greatest surprises and I always thought it would be more special after waiting nine months. Mike thought boy before I was ever pregnant. For the first half of my pregnancy, I also thought boy. But then something switched, and in my gut I knew the baby was a girl. Our nurse, Ree, said that she'd been guessing baby genders (when the parents didn't already know) since August and had gotten every single one right. She said she had to get a feel for the couple before she made her prediction, and right before I started pushing, she said she got a feeling and that the baby would be a girl. Mike, of course, thought we were both wrong.

When the baby was out, the doctor asked Mike if he wanted to cut the cord. We thought my mom would be in the room with us (as was originally planned), but since the labor happened so quickly, it was just me and Mike . . . so there was no one to take the picture. I made Mike pass the camera to me so I could take it (those who have known me for years will not find this surprising at all). And that whole time, I still hadn't thought, Do I have a son or a daughter? It was such an overwhelming feeling to know that I had a baby. That I was taking a picture of my husband cutting the cord of our baby. Labor really is labor. It's not fun, but the end result is so worth it. And it's also really hard to focus in the moments afterward. Not to mention, the doctor never said, "It's a . . ." (or if he did, neither of us heard it).

After Mike cut the cord, he looked at me and said, "It's a boy! We have a son." And you know what my first thought was? I was wrong? Yes, it's a downside to being a competitive person. I knew that when my gut switched to girl that one of us would be right and one of us would be wrong. And I didn't want to be the latter. So I looked at Mike and repeated, inquisitively, "We have a son? Really?"

Mike's mistake was innocent enough. In the excitement, Mike saw the umbilical cord stump and the swollen genitalia and thought it was the anatomy of a boy. (And to be honest, I wouldn't put it past Mike to joke in a moment like that, even if he had known it was girl from the start.)

It wasn't until Mike was in the side area with our baby and the nurses while she was being weighed and footprinted that I looked at Ree and said, "We were wrong. It wasn't a girl." Imagine the doctor's face when he heard me say that. He was pretty confused but then confirmed what my gut knew: "It's a girl."

And my first thought when I heard him say that? I was right! And that thought was shortly followed by my calling out Mike for being ridiculous with his original announcement.

So while the gender reveal didn't go exactly as planned, I'm still so happy we did it that way. And it was so much fun as family arrived to see their faces when we made the announcement that the baby was a girl (which didn't come as a surprise to anyone but Mike).

The next two days in the hospital were a whirlwind. The first night I spent hours just staring at R as we spent time skin to skin. It's so hard to put into words those first twenty-four hours as a mom.

Our first night at home was rough--she cried the whole night and wouldn't sleep anywhere that wasn't on my chest or in Mike's arms. Every time she cried, I cried. There were many moments when Mike took R and my mom took me (or Mike took me and my mom took R). And it's not that it wasn't expected--I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But there's all the emotion of being a new mom and having this life that you're responsible for and listening to your child cry and not knowing why. And the hormones. Oy, the hormones.

But since then? It's been pretty good. R is a pretty chill baby (knocking on wood). Sure, she cries, but it's generally when she has gas (it's so sad watching how frustrated she gets when she can't get the gas out). She isn't a fan of her crib yet, though I try to put her in there a couple of times a day just to get her used to the room. For now, she prefers the bassinet in the living room (and getting her to the bassinet was a weeklong struggle; she preferred only the car seat before that). So I sleep on the couch (so glad we have a great one now) and watch countless marathons during her night feedings (I'm pretty sure Law & Order: SVU is on twenty-four hours a day if you just flip channels).

Tomorrow (well, today), I'm going to my first mommy event to meet other moms in the area. And it's hard to believe that next week is Christmas. This holiday season has seemed so bizarre and different without the normal traveling preparations of years' past. But it's different in the very best way possible. And we certainly have so much to be thankful for this year.

It took a while for us to get pregnant. And it took our daughter an extra twelve days to make her arrival. But she was worth every minute, day, week, and month that passed before her arrival.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wait, the Second Trimester Is Almost Over? Time Flies When You're in the Car . . . a Lot

This has certainly been a hectic summer . . . and it's crazy how little of the chaos has to do with the pregnancy. The last time I posted about the pregnancy, it was week seventeen. I'm now at twenty-six weeks, which means I'm closing out the second trimester soon. Where did the last nine weeks go?

In the middle of June, Mike's best friend, Jay, and his wife, Holly, were in town. It also happened to be Brad's thirtieth birthday and Tessa's wedding weekend.

Me and Mike with the birthday boy!

Me and Jay at the Yankees game

Some publishing ladies at Tessa's wedding
The following weekend we were in the car and off to Delaware for a weekend of R & R with three other couples. It was great to go to the beach, play Cards Against Humanity with friends, and drink (virgin) Bloody Marys on the screened-in porch. Little did I know what the next few weeks would bring.

For Fourth of July we drove to Rochester for Adam and Pam's party. It was great to see them again just two months after visiting them in Australia. I also got to meet some more of Mike's high school classmates.

Greece Athena boys and some wives in Rochester
The second week of July we had a "break." Though that break was filled with some freelance work (obviously) and three hours at Buy Buy Baby registering (so not exactly a relaxing weekend).

The third week of July, Mom and I drove to Rhode Island for a short girls' trip. We did a lovely lighthouse tour and sat by the pool.

Getting ready to sail on our Newport lighthouse tour
The next two weeks were really hard--and I plan on blogging about them in more detail when I have a bit more time to devote to the subject. On July twenty-fourth, I lost my paternal grandmother, Grammy. She was the first of my four grandparents to pass away, and while her actual death came suddenly, her physical and mental health had been declining for the last ten years. My sister and brother-in-law got in a car Wednesday night with their son (ten months old), drove the ten hours to New York, picked up me and Mom, and then the five us drove to Florida on Thursday, driving through the night (twenty-three hours total). The upside to the sadness was the reunion of cousins--it had been four years since all six of us were together. And it was the first time all six of us were together with the three husbands who were crazy enough to marry into our family and with the three babies who are starting the next generation. It meant celebrating my birthday celebrating my grandmother's life, and with the group together, we began brainstorming the big cousin reunion for 2014 with all eleven Miller grandkids and five great-grandkids.

The bright side: spending time with my nephew

Mike, Bobby, and my dad all flew back home, leaving Mom, Nicole, and I to drive back with the baby on Tuesday and Wednesday (this time we stopped overnight in North Carolina). On Wednesday, July 31, about an hour from home, we got a call that my maternal grandmother, Mimi, was taken to the hospital. She had to have a knee surgery to fix an infection and is now recovering, thankfully. I got home from the hospital and called Mike, who was in the city, to find out that his grandmother, the last of his grandparents, had passed away. That weekend we got back in the car and drove to Rochester for Grandma's funeral. I am so happy that I got to know Grandma as well as I did over the last four years, and it was hard to say good-bye to another family member.

When we got back from Rochester, we were thankful to have a weekend at home . . . but it wasn't quiet. With the clock ticking on our apartment, we needed to find a new place to live--a dreaded task in New York. We spent six hours trekking around, but we did find a fantastic place that we're really excited about. And then the next day we went to the burbs to celebrate my niece's first birthday and to spend time with my grandmother in rehab.

What a year: S is one and her cousin's in my tummy.

Another week of work and then back in the car to Rochester again for a baby shower thrown by my mother-in-law. It was a great weekend, and the baby received a lot of fantastic gifts. We could not be more thankful.

We did not plan the pink and blue outfits. Shocking, I know.
So what's next? Moving. This Saturday we'll move to our new place, which brings with it all sorts of excitement and chaos as we start settling in and preparing for the baby. We moved into our apartment a couple of weeks after getting engaged, and now we're moving to a new place for the next stage of our lives. It's really crazy how time flies. Whether it's four years or nine weeks.

And then? Some relaxation. Some quiet. At least we hope so. Lord knows we have limited weekends of that left.

And now, an update on the pregnancy questionnaire:

How far along? 26 weeks, 2 days
Total weight gain: At my last appointment (24 weeks), I was up ten pounds total. So I think I'm doing pretty well!
Maternity clothes: Yep. Pretty much exclusively, unless it's a big, flowy shirt.
Sleep: Very thankfully, it's business as usual, even with the stress. Every now and then I'll wake up and realize the baby has been kicking, but it doesn't feel like I'm waking up because the baby's moving.
Cravings: Still no cravings and no aversions. Whoo!
Best moment this week: The baby shower.
Movement: Oh yeah. And I love every minute of it. Every kick, punch, and squirm catches me off guard and makes me smile. I spend a lot of time with my hand on my belly to feel the baby from both sides, and when I'm home I often roll up my shirt to watch my belly move (just little thuds; it's too soon to see which body parts are creating the movement).
Gender: We're still staying strong and keeping it a surprise. Though I think we both are leaning toward boy right now. (And at the shower, there were twelve votes boy to six votes girl.)
Labor signs: Nope. Phew!
Bellybutton in or out: Um, kind of nonexistent. It looks like the head of a nail that you would need a Phillips-head screwdriver for (I'm sure there's a technical term for that). Definitely not in, definitely not out. Just kind of a weird-looking slit.
What I miss: Sushi. Diet Dr Pepper.
What I am looking forward to: I really want to feel the baby's hiccups! And I'm looking forward to getting the baby's room ready in the new apartment . . . once we get furniture and all the other accoutrements.
Milestones: Feeling the baby every day.

 Weeks 18, 19, 20 21, 22, and 25. Weeks 23 and 24 occurred while we were at the funerals, so we ended up not taking photographs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Maybe I'm Amazed . . .

I wanted to write this post right after the Paul McCartney concert, but time got away from me. I couldn't not write this, though, so nearly two weeks later, here goes. . . .

You know when you have those dreams that you think are never going to happen? It's not to say you don't try to obtain them, or want to obtain them, they just seem highly unrealistic. Seeing Paul McCartney live was one of those seemingly unobtainable dreams. The tickets would be too high. He wouldn't tour. He'd tour but to a city I wasn't in at the time. I would have to live out the dream by watching the Back in the US DVD and listening to its accompanying CD.

On June 10, I got to live the dream. And I was an emotional wreck.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike sent me an article about Paul McCartney singing some songs live that hadn't been sung onstage before. Reading the article turned into my looking up where he was touring . . . and it just so happened he was performing two nights at Barclays. And it just so happened that the prices wouldn't cost the price of our firstborn child (which is good, because I'm kind of in love with the little person growing inside me).

Mike immediately jumped on this opportunity and said he was getting tickets as an early birthday present. I think it will be hard to top this gift for the rest of our lives (but feel free to keep trying, bud!).

Walking up to Barclays and seeing the signs, I had a huge grin on my face, despite the rain coming down and the fact that the doors weren't open yet. And then once I stepped inside, I had to keep fighting back that overwhelming emotion of holding back the tears. You know the one: where you make the ugly "don't cry" face. It was the combination of realizing I was going to be in a room with greatness and the guilt of knowing that I was seeing Paul McCartney even before my dad saw him. Because if it weren't for my dad, I wouldn't have the love for the Beatles and, therefore, Paul McCartney that I do. It's a tale as old as time: father plays his music for child in hopes he or she will appreciate it; father succeeds; child starts stealing his music to listen to even when he isn't around.

It started with Abbey Road. Back in the day, before cars had CD players, I decided I was going to take my dad's CDs and record them to tape for a Father's Day present, this way he would have them in the car with him. My dad often played Beatles music in the car or while cooking, but I never really listened to it on my own. When "Come Together" started, I realized I knew this song better than I thought, and I found myself tapping my fingers against my leg, much like my dad does against the steering wheel whenever he hears a song he likes. And the tapping just kept going. (To this day, Abbey Road is still my favorite Beatles album.) When I got to "The End" I pressed stop on the CD player and ejected the tape. My dad still remarks how I cut off "Her Majesty." Oops. (But really, is there any better song transition/album ending than "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End"? It should have ended there.)

And since I was giving my dad the tapes, I just decided to keep the CD for myself. He no longer needed it, right? At the time, he didn't have any other Beatles CDs. I'm still not sure why. So I started collecting them for myself. And when I hear certain songs, or think of albums, I'm immediately transported back to the years of when I was first discovering the Beatles.

"Hey, Jude" automatically brings me back to driving in the car with my dad on 2920 when he first explained the meaning behind the song. "With a Little Help from My Friends" reminds me of the look of sheer horror my father gave me as we were driving down Louetta because I had said I liked the Joe Cocker version better. (I blame it on The Wonder Years; I heard it there first!) "Here Comes the Sun" reminds me of childhood summer days when rain would let up and one of my parents would start singing this song when the sun was coming out . . . almost as a message that it was time for my sister and me to go outside.

Rubber Soul reminds me of weekend cleaning days, when I had to dust and vacuum my room and clean the bathroom if it was my turn in the rotation. I'm not sure why this particular album reminds me of that specifically, but I remember listening to "Michelle" while dusting my dresser.

Revolver reminds me of the period after my great-grandfather died (not in a sad way—that had just been my most recent Beatles album purchase and I found comfort in). It also reminds me of the first time I ever had a job and had to file taxes—when it came time for my dad and I to fill out the forms, we started out by playing "Taxman."

A Hard Day's Night and Help! remind me of family movie nights and popcorn, since my dad rented the movies (back then, videocassettes from Hollywood Video or Blockbuster). The Beatles education was followed up by Backbeat (the only thing I remember from that was my dad's "Oops" when he realized there was some nudity in the movie).

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band reminds me of the high school journalism dark room, in which I spent a lot of time during my junior and senior years. We played that album often while developing film (lots of retro things going on this post, huh? Tapes, videocassettes, film . . . And there's still one more to come!)

The White Album reminds me of my eighteenth birthday, which was the summer before college. The two-disc album was a little pricier than the others, so I hadn't purchased it yet. My parents gave it to me as part of my gift and I listened to it that night on my Discman (there it is!) to drown out my dad's snoring (we were in a hotel in Arlington because the Yankees were in town the next day). But I had an introduction to The White Album long before turning eighteen; when I was eight or nine, my mom drove me to camp but wouldn't let me out of the car upon arrival. She had on the radio and told me she needed me to hear something. We waited. And waited. I wondered why I couldn't leave. Then the DJ wished me a happy birthday . . . and then nothing. My parents had called it in and requested he play "Birthday," but that part hadn't happened. So when I got home from camp that day, my parents played the song on my dad's record player. I always play "Birthday" on my birthday now.

When The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 came out, I bought it for my dad for his birthday. We were exchanging gifts at home before heading to Chicago for Thanksgiving. I handed him the wrapped package, and he just started laughing. I wondered why he found it so funny before even opening the gift. He then left for a minute and returned with Hanukkah gifts for me and Nicole (the joys of both holidays—presents twice!). My package was the same long rectangle shape . . . we had bought the same thing for each other.

So I have my dad to thank for my love of the Beatles. And I have Mike to thank for getting me to the Paul McCartney concert. It was amazing and everything I thought it would be. I cried only three times (a lot less than I thought I would). First for "All My Loving" because I was too hyped up for the first two songs to really settle on the fact that I was seeing Paul freakin' McCartney. By song three, the emotion truly hit me, and I lost it. Mike just looked at me and laughed. I totally get the images of screaming and crying girls from the sixties now. Then it was "Maybe I'm Amazed," because that's the song Mike and I walked back down the aisle to. And finally "Let It Be," because, well, I cry listening to that song for no reason on a normal day.

Paul McCartney played for three hours. He interacted with the crowd. He told stories. He played two encores. At seventy-one, that man still has it. Mike, who likes the Beatles but loves the Rolling Stones, said at the end of the concert that as cool and momentous as seeing the Stones in December was for him, Sir Paul put on a better show. I couldn't agree more.

"Something" for George.

And on our way home from the concert, something else happened: I felt the baby. Nothing sharp or definite, but one of those "Hmmm, that's a new feeling" movements. And it just made me think of how excited I am to pass on a love of the Beatles to the baby. Road trips as a kid were filled with books and music: a tape/CD of the kids' choosing (generally a soundtrack of some sort), then one of the parents', and so on till Nicole and I fell asleep in the backseat. I can't wait to start this tradition: to rotate whatever nonsensical kids' music is out there these days with my Beatles and Mike's Stones. And perhaps our son or daughter will want to hold on to our CDs the way I keep telling my parents not to, for any reason, get rid of my dad's Beatles records.

Two very happy campers after an incredible show.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oh, So That's Not Just Fat?

I may be one of the only pregnant women who looked down and thought her baby belly at seventeen weeks was still just normal belly fat. I've never had a flat stomach (the closest I got was after my backpacking summer; man, those were the days), so I've always been used to seeing a bit of mass when I looked down. For the past week or so, I knew my stomach looked a little bigger, but I thought I was just bloated. Yeah, I was totally wrong. (Obviously.)

Our work cleaning lady has been on vacation for five weeks, so I haven't seen her since before I left for Australia. When she came back and saw me, she looked at my belly and asked if I was pregnant. I was wearing a dress that I've worn many times before because I didn't have to worry about sucking in my stomach while wearing it (I'm a chronic-stomach-sucker-in-er). My first thought was, Thank God I can say I am, because that would be awkward (been in that position before; it's no fun). Then I started to wonder, Am I showing? Is it not just fat? When I told my coworkers this story, they told me that I had been showing but they hadn't said anything because I thought it was still just normal belly. When I told Mike, he said, "Yeah, when you kept saying that it was normal fat, I knew that didn't seem right because it seemed a little too fat to be normal for you." I FaceTimed with Nicole and showed her different angles, and she just laughed at me.

Apparently I needed it pointed out to me. And once it was, I looked down and saw something so much better than normal belly fat. It's still an adjustment to watch my body change like this and to not suck in my stomach out of habit (though I realized I can't anymore--that probably should have been a sign, no?). I've embraced the belly and wore my first maternity dress yesterday to a friend's bridal shower.

17 weeks
A friend of mine filled out this survey during her pregnancies, and I always thought it was fun. So I'm stealing it for my blog (thanks, Kerri!). 

How far along? 17 weeks, 2 days
Total weight gain: I'm actually still down a pound overall since finding out I was pregnant.
Maternity clothes: The dress in the picture and a pair of shorts, but mostly just my prepregnancy flowy dresses.
Sleep: For the most part pretty normal. I really miss sleeping on my stomach, which I stopped doing as soon as I found out I was pregnant because I knew it was going to be hard to break a twenty-eight-year habit.
Cravings: Not really. No aversions either (at least not yet). I have found that I like my water really cold now and with lots of ice, which I used to forgo before.
Best moment this week: Realizing my belly is a baby belly and feeling a few flutters after I ate.
Movement: I thought I felt the first flutter after the Paul McCartney concert earlier in the week but wasn't sure (but I really wanted it to be true because that just makes that night so much cooler). Now that I've felt a few more, I'm pretty sure those flutters are, in fact, the baby.
Gender: Don't know and not finding out!
Labor signs: Nope.
Bellybutton in or out: Still in.
What I miss: Sushi.
What I am looking forward to: Feeling the baby move more often and firm enough that Mike can feel it too. Non-baby-related, I'm looking forward to my friend's wedding next weekend and the upcoming trips we have this summer.
Milestones: Baby belly and flutters: pretty big milestones for me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the Aftermath of Yesterday's Post

The responses I received yesterday after my post were overwhelming. I heard from close friends and from long-lost friends who are either going through what Mike and I went through, have gone through it, or have gone through far worse but still understood what I meant by the feeling of bitterness.

I also heard from some on the other side of the spectrum, those who got lucky the first or second time around.

I just want to clarify that by sharing yesterday's post, I was not trying to offend anyone on any side of the spectrum, least of all those who did get pregnant quickly. (If you know me, you know that I spend a lot of my time looking for ways to not offend people, especially family and friends.) 

My family is quick to remind me that I do not hide my emotions well (either on my face or in my writing), so if at any point in the last year, I made friends or family uncomfortable because my unfortunate bitterness came through, I am sorry. It was never my intention then or now. And while I may have been bitter, it didn't mean I was any less happy for your situation. It's always hard to walk in another's shoes, and if you did get lucky with pregnancy the first or second time around, I hope that the next time you don't have to walk in mine. But if you do, know that I'm here for you as a sympathetic ear.

I also heard from friends who had troubles with their first or second pregnancies but got pregnant immediately when they started trying again. So that's always good to hear that what happened for us this time may not happen the next time around. And if it does, it does.

Last, if you read the comments I posted about things people say to married women and thought, "Did I say that?" or "Did I say something similar?" or "Did I offend her?" or something along those lines, let me say that we've all been there. While the things I wrote sound very specific, for the most part, they weren't said to me just once and you can substitute words in and out to get a variety of the things that have been said to me. I've heard a lot of questions like the ones I posted over the last two and a half years; it's just only in the last year where they affected me more than usual. I'm sure I was guilty of dancing that line before; it's only because of my experiences that I have learned to watch what I say in these situations, and I was merely trying to educate others to possibly do the same. I acknowledged that the people who asked me questions such as the ones I mentioned didn't necessarily know we were trying. To them the conversations were harmless and friendly and they certainly never meant them maliciously or in a way to offend me. But that didn't change how I internalized it.

Yesterday's post was a way to share what Mike and I went through with my family and friends. To let them know that if they're secretly going through something similar, that we know what it's like. Over the last year I read many message boards, trying to find the support and advice I was looking for. But I had a hard time identifying with the women on there. They were strangers (and a lot of them wrote in "text talk" or used poor spelling and grammar, which just made my inability to connect greater; let's call it an occupational hazard). I wanted to put myself out there for my friends and family so they had a face, a name, a personal connection to someone they could talk to if they ever needed to. That's all. If I upset anyone in the process, I am sorry.

At the end of the day, all I want is for people to be happy. (Eek, what a Miss America response; perhaps I should tack on world peace while I'm at it.) And regardless of what stage of life you're in, or where you fall on the pregnancy spectrum, I hope that you are.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Message to the "Bitter"

On Sunday I got to announce some really exciting and long-awaited news: Mike and I are going to be parents! It was news that the optimist in me thought I'd get to share much, much earlier. And it was news that the pessimist in me thought I might not get to share for a very, very long time.

By most standards, our road leading up to pregnancy was standard—all the websites say that most couples conceive naturally within a year. Well, we made it in just under the wire. And despite starting the process of tests to make sure everything was working correctly, we did, in fact, conceive naturally.

I struggled with the idea of writing this blog because, although I clearly like to write about my personal revelations, this seemed a little too personal, a little too TMI to share with the online world. But then I thought about all the people I know who've gotten pregnant in the last year or two who did so on the first or second try, and I wondered why I wasn't hearing about people who had to try for a little longer. Was it just because they weren't out there in my inner circle? Or was it because they just didn't want to talk about it? (I mean, it's not like it's something you share on Facebook: Yep, just took my ninth pregnancy test in as many months, nothing new.) I certainly understand not wanting to publicly talk about it.

While some of our friends and family knew we were trying, we didn't exactly rent out skywriters and billboards announcing the news. And after a couple of  months, those friends and family members stopped asking about it once they realized, yep, I'm still drinking wine, and nope, I'm not talking about any upcoming due dates.

And while a lot of those same people offered support when I opened up about it, I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to who would really understand. Of my friends who are pregnant or have kids, either they got pregnant easily or they've had very complicated pregnancies, not all ending in the birth of a child. I felt like I was stuck in between two worlds—there were those who wouldn't understand the disappointment month after month, and there were those who I could never talk to about my "struggle" because compared to theirs, mine was nothing, and I certainly didn't want to be insensitive. It got to the point where I even went to therapy for a bit (gasp! How New Yorker of me!) because I just felt so lost and defeated. (For the record, after about a month of hearing some of the things I was internally thinking said out loud to a stranger, I realized where I needed to start making some changes. Therapy wasn't quite the venue for me in the long run, but I'm glad I tried it.)

So though parts of me still cringe a bit about putting this very honest and very real part of me out there, the other part of me wants to put it out there for those who might be going through what Mike and I went through. I even shared this post with Mike before publishing it because I wanted to make sure he was OK with it too. After all, it was our path to pregnancy, not just mine.

My mother has always said that I am a planner, and I am a perfectionist, and while I work hard for things, they generally seem to come to me easily. So I thought this would be just one of those times where I would get what I wanted when I wanted it because I had put my mind to it.

Nope. Lesson learned. This wasn't something I could completely plan the timeline for. I had to stop thinking in terms of "Well, I might be pregnant then" or "We'll see if I'm able to do that at that point." This wasn't something I could map out in one of my notorious color-coded Excel spreadsheets. (And in hindsight, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I stopped trying to plan my life around the what-ifs, and therefore I got to experience something awesome: our trip to Australia. If we had gotten pregnant when we started trying, or if we kept considering the future based on what level of pregnancy I might have been in, we would have never taken that trip. So sometimes you just have to play the Polly game. [Yes, I know it's supposed to be Pollyanna, but in my family we were much bigger fans of the TV movie remake with Phylicia Rashad, so it's always been the Polly game in our household.])

On our first day in Sydney for what would end up being our babymoon.

And as many married women know, once you've been a wife for a bit, people start wondering when the next step is . . . sometimes they think it out loud and straight to your face. Over the last year I heard things like:
  • While at a bar and drinking a beer: "Are you pregnant yet?" (To which I silently raised my beer glass and gave one of my dad's should-be-patented "Are you a [expletive] moron?" looks as a response. By the way, that person's follow-up was "Well, that doesn't mean anything." Um, yeah, it means I'd be a horrible mother. But moving on.)
  • "You have no idea how expensive things like daycare are, seriously. No idea." Yep, I do, actually, because Mike and I have been financially planning for the next stages of life since before we were actually trying. But I'll just smile and nod and pretend like I'm clueless to all things parenthood related because I couldn't possibly think about those things before I have kids.
  • "When are you going to start having kids? You know, you're not getting any younger." (For the record, I am nearly twenty-nine and, in my book, that is still very young for having kids. I never personally felt the age pressure at all.)
  • "Now that X and Y are pregnant, I've decided you should be too." Well, God, if it's that easy, thank you for giving me that blessing. Oh look at that, now I'm pregnant. Thanks so much for fixing it!

Then there were the people who knew that my sister was pregnant last year . . . my younger sister. And, oh my God, how did I feel about that? And did I feel the pressure to also have kids now? And well now I have to have kids so her kid has a cousin. And blah blah blah. (My sister will probably be the first to tell you that I didn't always handle her pregnancy well, even though I was super excited for her and about being an aunt. There were times that I was jealous—but not, for any reason, because she is younger than me. It was just because she had what I wanted, and I didn't know when it would be my turn . . . and I was ready for it to be my turn. I remember holding my nephew when I had a private moment with him and my dad in the NICU, and I just started crying. Part of it was the awe of loving that little guy so much already as his aunt. But the other part was the fear of not knowing when I was going to get to have that feeling with my son or daughter.)

I realize that for most people, the questions, the jokes, the discussions were just friendly banter, but for me, it was just another reminder of what wasn't working and what I desperately wanted. These people didn't necessarily know we were trying and not having success. But knowing that didn't make me feel any better. And with each stupid question, I would get a little more bitter. And that's silly, because there was really nothing for me to be bitter about. But nonetheless, I was. It's the honest truth. 

And with every person on Facebook who announced their pregnancy, another notch in the bitterness belt was marked. It didn't matter if I talked to that person regularly or haven't talked to that person since high school, I was bitter. So although I was ecstatic to finally share our news, a part of me wondered which of my friends and acquaintances saw my announcement and got a little bitter themselves? And so to you guys, if you're reading this blog, I just want to say, I know how you feel. Maybe not to the same degree, because I know I couldn't possibly begin to understand some of the more-difficult journeys people go through to get pregnant. I realize that Mike and I are lucky, and I hope we continue to be throughout the pregnancy. And I hope that you find luck somewhere along the way, whether it's naturally or through the miracle that is modern science, but until then, know that you're not the only one who didn't get lucky the first, second, third (. . .) time around, no matter what your Facebook newsfeed tells you.

(And on that note, when I do decide to post about my pregnancy or if I decide to share belly photos, I'll be doing so via the blog. So if you are interested in that kind of thing, you'll find it here. And if you're not, you don't have to worry about another person on your newsfeed sharing only baby-centric posts.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All You Need Is Love

Writing for me is very therapeutic. Often times my brain is thinking of things to write instead of things to say or do. However, those times seemed to have vanished; writer's block had taken a permanent residence in my brain (yes, for more than a year). And then something happened. This morning at five, when I woke up and was unable to fall back asleep, my mind started writing this post. It was like getting a visit from a long-lost friend. I can't explain the feeling I get when my mind just starts writing, but it was incredible having that feeling back.

So what was it that got my gears moving again? Well, it had everything to do with yesterday, with the flood of red and pink on my wall. Toward the end of the day, Mike posted an article with the headline: The Red Marriage Equality Sign on Your Facebook Profile Is Completely Useless. I stopped reading there. I was annoyed and appalled. How could Mike post that article? When I got home, we discussed it, and his first question was: Did you even read the article? To which I sheepishly admitted I hadn't (because upon hearing his tone, I knew he was going to tell me I should have). It talks about the passive activism that happens in social media, that some people think just posting something or changing their picture will change the law.

Now, did I think that changing my photo yesterday was going to change in any way, shape, or form, what lawmakers think? Nope. But I didn't think it was useless either. I did it as a continuing show of support to my gay and lesbian friends. I did it so those who maybe don't agree with marriage equality would have just one more person flooding their news feed with red and pink. And you know what? It felt good. It felt good to scroll through Facebook throughout the day and see those colors. It felt good to see people I wouldn't have suspected on this side of the argument change their photos. And it felt good to see some of these statuses (I hope my friends won't mind my copying and pasting a few here):

"It's pretty incredible to see all these people change their profile pics. Kinda makes up for all those times I felt ashamed of who I was."
"I love that as I scroll through my friends list, I see a sea of red . . . brings a tear to my eye and gives me hope. Thank you."

"Wow. It's crazy to see how much has changed from my days in the closet. . . . Classmates, college roommates, lifelong friends . . . even those I thought would be the last to support equality . . . all stepping up today! I'm so fortunate to have such an amazing network of friends and family who believe my love is equal to their love. One of the most awesome feelings ever!"

"Thank you to all the str8 allies who went with the red today. We love you!"

Though the sea of red and pink on Facebook may tell us otherwise, not everyone is on board with marriage equality (shocking but true). And I'm guessing those people don't have gay and lesbian friends, because if they did, how could they not want to see their friends happy with the person he or she loves? I don't get it, but I don't have to. Just like they may not get it. But you know what? They don't have to. However, just because they don't get it doesn't mean marriage equality shouldn't be around.

Why are we even still talking about this? If marriage is so sacred, then why are people allowed to get married and divorced multiple times? We don't have a say in that, nor should we. If someone wants to marry and divorce until their dying day, that's his or her prerogative. 

If marriage is so sacred, then why do we allow straight people to get married for, like, a nanosecond? (I know it's a tired example, but I'm talking to you, Kim Kardashian, who is still legally married to her husband but pregnant with her boyfriend's baby--yeah, that's classy and a totally normal upbringing for a child, which just gets me all sorts of agitated when I think about people who say kids will be messed up if they're raised by gay parents. Seriously? Kids are going to be messed up if they have bad parenting, which has nothing to do with the gender of the kid's parents. Sure, let's listen to the Duggars talk about adopting so they can expand their brood with a twentieth child but let's keep Bill and Joe or Nancy and Sue from having a couple of kids and loving those kids with all their hearts. Also, in a publishing plug, My Two Moms is a perfect example of a kid raised by two women who really has his sh*t together, so take that, naysayers.)

But what Mike read in that article about passive activism is true, too. We have become a society where we think posting something online is good enough. It's not. I'll admit that I have slacked in my GLBT ally duties. Before legalized gay marriage was passed in New York, I attended rallies and events in support of marriage equality. But it's been a while. And there's still a lot of fight left. So do something. Change your profile pic, sure, but let that be the start of your action, not the end of it.

All you need is love.