Saturday, November 28, 2009


The last two weekends have found me in the same spot: on my living room couch watching re-runs of a show called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on The Learning Channel. Ignoring the fact that the last thing I should be doing during my own pregnancy is watching woman after woman giving birth to their babies on the cold, dingy floor of a fast food restaurant, this show has turned out to be one of those train wrecks that I can't look away from. And while the last 15 minutes of every episode has had me in tears, fearing for the life of a baby, I saw one episode last weekend that had me in tears, not just because the mother or baby could have died, but because that really could have been me.

This particular episode was about a women who was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) when she was 19 and she was told she would never be able to get pregnant. It was obviously hard for her to accept this diagnosis but her doctor was very firm in his decision and so she learned accept it. So, a few years later, when she started experiencing a lot of the common signs of pregnancy like weight gain, specific cravings, heartburn, and even movement in her abdomen she didn't think anything of it. Her and her husband even went so far as to jokingly refer to the movement in her abdomen (which she believed was just gas) as the alien in her belly. And when she began to experience excruciating pain in back she went to the hospital, but because her doctor said she would never be able to get pregnant they tested for everything but pregnancy and sent her home thinking she was simply constipated. Hence, the reason she ended up giving birth to her little girl in her master bathroom toilet.

Witnessing her story made me realize just how thankful I should be for my OB GYN who did not use the word "never" when she diagnosed me with PCOS. Instead, she told me it would be hard, it would take a lot of work and patience, I would have to lose weight and become a healthier person, but she put a lot of emphasis into the words "not impossible." It was not impossible for me to get pregnant, it was just going to take me a lot longer than most women.

The last 3 years would have been much more heart-wrenching, cold, and shocking had she told me it would never happen.

So, this passed Thanksgiving I had a lot to be thankful for: not just my family and friends, but the miracle that has been growing inside of me for the last 7 months and a very smart and dedicated obstetrician who put a lot of effort into telling me not to give up, that with the right resources and outlook I could reverse the side-effects of PCOS and my miracle could happen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Pregnant Wife, Part 1

Jon: "I need to take a night off from working in that room. I don't even want to set foot in there."

Kate: "I'm just going in there to pick up the tarps and clean up any paint you may have gotten on the floor."

Jon: "Really? You can do that?"

Kate: "What do you mean?"

Jon: "You can bend over?"

Kate: "Umm, yeah. Why wouldn't I be able to?"

Jon: "Well, you're kind of top heavy right now. You might fall over."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Didn't I Mention Psychotic Tendencies Before?

Since last night's post was obscenely long-winded I'm going to make this one short and sweet:

Tonight I'm going to a midnight showing of New Moon. What? Did you just ask if I'm crazy? No doubt about it! Almost 7 months pregnant and I'm planning to be out until the wee hours of the morning and I still intend to show up to work bright and early? Yeah, something like that, but the question still stands of how coherent I'll be.

Anyway, I figure people--pregnant women included--have done crazier things and I couldn't stand the idea of staying home watching re-runs of The Nanny on Nick at Nite while my best friends were out surrounded by tweens in pajama pants and Ugg boots swooning over Edward Cullen. That sort of yielding is just not in my nature.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Pregnancy

1. Morning sickness doesn't always include the relief of vomiting.
I was actually sitting in a booth at Applebee's, staring down a plate of french fries and a Fire Pit Bacon Burger with two bites taken out of it when I realized I needed to take a pregnancy test. The few weeks leading up to that moment were packed with tell-tale signs that my period was coming any day--irritability, extremely sore breasts, constant fatigue--but my barely touched plate of food made me realize there was one other symptom I hadn't acknowledged: I was becoming undeniably nauseous every time I ate. It didn't matter what I was eating or when I was eating it, it was making me sick, only I could never find reprieve from the nausea because I never had the overwhelming urge to vomit. I was just in a constant state of nausea for 13 weeks.

2. My dogs would know I was pregnant.
On the one hand it was very sweet to wake up in the middle of the night at 8 weeks pregnant and find Jack sleeping with his ear up against my belly as if he could hear the baby's heartbeat before any of us, or the way Macy always positions herself over my abdomen whenever there's too much rough housing going on between Jon and Jack or when there's a particularly loud argument brewing. On the other hand it's not so sweet having two dogs on a constant state of alert, watching my every move, and following my every foot step. It's almost as though they feel a sense of responsibility to make sure the baby and I are safe at all times. You're probably wondering what's so wrong with that? All I can say is it's kind of hard to concentrate when there are two dogs pacing, worrying, and sometimes even crying on the other side of the bathroom door because you might be in danger while you're "taking care of business" and they can't help you because you closed the stupid door. They also seem to find it very hard to sleep around me and I'm such a light sleeper that the slightest movement or click of nails on the hardwood will keep me awake for a very long time.

3. Not everyone acquires a glowing complexion.
I've been told countless times by friends, family members, and total strangers who like to chat it up with pregnant women in the grocery aisles that their hair, skin, and nails were never more luscious than when they were pregnant, and I have the hardest time not clawing their eyes out. My hair and nails are unbelievably shiny and strong and they grow like weeds, but my skin is a whole different story. My skin has reverted back to my teenage years. I have acne like you wouldn't believe. It runs all along my jaw line, down my neck, and across my chest with lone soldiers taking up sporadic residence on my nose, cheeks, and forehead. Prior to becoming pregnant, the last time I wore concealer was on my wedding day for extra coverage against the camera, but I wear it on an almost daily basis now or else I'd look like I let myself go in a really horrible way.

4. Psychotic tendencies a.k.a Niagara Falls times 300!
Of course I knew that pregnant women had a tendency to be irritable--who wouldn't when the size of your abdomen grows a little closer to that of a house every morning? What I didn't realize was it's not just irritability, there are some seriously strong emotions that run through me at every single moment. Some days I feel like a really big nerve ending that keeps getting poked at for the hell of it. I know no one is doing it on purpose. Hell, I even know it's all in my head usually, but that's never enough to make me stop crying. And some days, oh yeah, some days I don't even need a reason to sit on the couch and cry quietly. I'm overly emotional as it is but these hormones really take it to a whole other dimension.

5. Your taste buds experience an identity crisis.
My food goal during the first 13 weeks was to just find food that didn't make me feel terrible. I didn't worry about nutrition so much as fighting off the nausea, but I always figured I'd go back to my old, healthy eating habits once I got through the first trimester. It turns out I was wrong. It turns out that the last year I've spent developing healthy eating habits to lose weight and lead by example to my child can go away with the flip of a switch, or so it seems. Even though I don't get nauseous anymore, most of the foods I've been eating for the last year do not appeal to me in the slightest. I hate that I followed a much healthier diet before getting pregnant than I am now, even though it's so much more important now than it ever was. I'm finally getting to the point now that I'm able to force it again. I used to like carrots and broccoli. I eat them for the baby now, not because I actually want them, ever.

6. The thought: "Someone has to be the 1 in 250, so it's probably me!" never goes away.
I never realized how scary pregnancy was, how easy it was to convince myself that my life may end if my baby doesn't make it. It's amazing how quickly and completely you become attached to this little life inside you, and how paralyzing it can be when you realize how many things can go wrong. I've calmed down quite a bit especially now that I can feel the baby move, but those first few months were maddening. Not that I have to say anything about it in this blog because there are a dozen others in the last 4 months that are proof of how scared I was and sometimes still am. Like I said, I'm much calmer now that I can feel the baby move but the fears never really go away completely. I lay awake some nights thinking: what if I pushed myself too hard today? what if the cord is wrapped around his neck? what if he arrives premature? what if they missed something in the screening? what about SIDS? What I've come to realize is this is probably never going to go away. Even if, God willing, we make it through the delivery and infancy and toddler hood just fine, then I get to wonder about things like: what if he doesn't fit in? what if he loses control of the car? what if he never comes home? what if? what if? what if?

7. It's not just delivery that hurts.
This should probably be number one. This is the whole reason I started a list in the first place, but whatever. I've read/skimmed a dozen or so pregnancy books thus far and very, very few mention round ligament pains. My mother had 6 kids, my older sister had 4, and my younger sister has had 1, but not a single one of them mentioned round ligament pains. For those who have never been pregnant, round ligament pains are brief, sharp, stabbing pains, or a longer-lasting dull ache in your lower abdomen. It's caused by ligaments stretching to support your growing uterus. It makes absolute perfect sense once you've read into it, but believe me when I tell you that there is nothing scarier than simply turning over in bed too quickly and feeling like your abdomen has just been sliced open, even if it does only last for a few seconds. Or that time when I bent over to pick up a towel, stood up too fast, and fell right to my knees because it felt like my legs had just torn away from my body? How can something so painful and so scary not be printed in bold text in every single pregnancy book out there? I don't know, maybe I just have a severe case, but still. If you promise to tell me everything about pregnancy make sure you include the stuff that might make me think my baby has just died a horrific death but is really just typical growing pains. On the bright side, now I know why pregnant women move so slow; it's not because they're so much larger, but because it hurts too damn bad to go any faster.

8. You don't have to wait 9 months before the baby starts keeping you awake at night.
First and foremost I just want to say this is not at all a complaint. I wait for, enjoy, and relish in every single nudge, kick, or tiny little movement I get from my baby, but I never realized he would have a sleep and wake schedule before he was born and I especially never thought his schedule would begin and end at completely different times than mine. This baby wakes me up at 4:30 in the morning every morning. It's like clockwork. Even though I'm sound asleep, not moving, and even though it's pitch black inside and out, he begins kicking and stretching and my belly starts bumping my arms or Jack's head and it''s...well, it's hilarious! And who can sleep when something so miraculous and entertaining is taking place in your own body? Like I said, it's not a complaint, more like, why did I not know this?

9. Everyone has an opinion about your size.
In the span of a month I've been told everything from "You don't even look pregnant!" to "Are you sure there aren't twins in there?!" but the most common is just a simple "You're HUGE!" I let it upset me at first, but I very quickly learned that no one means any harm, they just aren't really thinking before they speak. I mean, c'mon, how many 26 week pregnant women who haven't seen their feet in what feels like forever are going to believe they don't look pregnant? My immediate thought was if I don't look pregnant then I must look a very strange sort of fat! And then the others who acted as though I was so massive the sheer force of my breath alone was enough to knock them over were really just making conversation, albeit in a very strange, borderline insulting way. I also noticed a trend pretty quickly: everyone who knew me before I lost 70 pounds thought I was running on the small side, and everyone who met me after the 70 pound loss thought I was gigantic. It makes sense when I look at it that way, but I don't know that it really gives people the excuse to talk to me/about me the way they do sometimes. No matter what, from this moment forward, I will always think twice before commenting on a pregnant woman's size. Wait. Scratch that. I will just never comment on a pregnant woman's size. I'm sticking with, "Wow. You look positively radiant."

10. Never ever ever use Google to self diagnose!
I never mentioned it here, but at my 20 week appointment our midwife discovered I have placenta previa which means I have a low lying placenta and it's covering my cervix. It's a condition that usually corrects itself by delivery, but in the rare case that it doesn't I will have no choice but to have a c-section. Attempting a vaginal birth with placenta previa risks birthing the placenta first which would cause massive amounts of blood loss and possibly death to both the baby and myself. Women with placenta previa are also more likely to experience hemorrhaging or to go into pre-term labor. It's obviously not a diagnosis to take lightly, but when I asked the midwife whether or not I should be worried she very specifically said, "Not yet. We'll do another ultrasound at 28 weeks and it should have corrected itself by then. If it hasn't, then we'll go from there, but we're not going to worry. Not yet." But did I listen to her? Of course not! The first thing I did after arriving home was Google "placenta previa" and read every single horror story about women hemorrhaging on their kitchen floors and giving birth to their baby at only 26 weeks. I read about so many women who went into pre-term labor and lost their babies that I had myself convinced the same thing would happen to me. Just when I'd finally reached a time in my pregnancy when I didn't feel fragile, when I was sure it was all going to work out for us, I was diagnosed with something that I was convinced was a death sentence for both me and the baby. I cried for a week. Jon banned me from searching anything pregnancy related on the internet and immediately advises me to call the midwives 24-hour help line whenever I have the urge to Google a strange symptom. The internet is a fabulous, helpful thing but I've learned that it's mostly women with the saddest, most heart-wrenching stories who post on pregnancy boards and I had to learn that the hard way, unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Turns out there's a downside to letting your husband handle all of the planning and communications with the animal hospital when your dog goes in for surgery: you don't find out that your dog isn't coming home that night until last minute. We're spending a night at home without Macy for the first time since we adopted her. It is definitely going to be an eerily quiet evening without the pitter-patter of her paws on the floor. We call Jack the silent assassin, but Macy is our noisy ox even though she weighs a few pounds less.

Anyway, we're told the surgery went well and provided everything goes well with her tonight she'll be home tomorrow morning. Then, depending on how long it takes her to recover--anywhere from 3-8 weeks--we'll start preparing for the next one.

Even though I haven't seen her, I'm feeling more and more confident that we made the right decision in going through with the surgery. It broke my heart to spend a few days trying to decide how much money a dog is worth. Our dogs have been our children for all of these years, but we have new priorities around the corner, and we had the fear of putting an old dog through too much in such a short span of time, but then I think about how defiant and head-strong Macy is and I know we did the right thing. I know that dog has a lot of fight left in her and I can tell she's already got big plans for the various baby blankets and toys that keep finding their way into the house if she could only reach them. She has an agenda and nothing is going to hold her back.

So tonight will be a peaceful night. We'll have a quiet dinner without the fear of a dog stealing the food from my plate, and Jack will get to remember what it's like to be an only dog. Of course, he has to stop wandering around the house, searching aimlessly for Macy first. It should be interesting to say the least.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saving Macy

Did you know a dog could develop breast cancer? Yeah, me either, but that's exactly what our vet diagnosed Macy with almost three weeks ago. From what I gather breast cancer is fairly common in female dogs who have not been fixed, and although Macy was spayed before we adopted her it wasn't until after she'd had at least one litter of puppies, making it much more likely for her to develop breast cancer than if she'd been spayed at a young age.

So what do we do? Well, she goes in for her first of two surgeries tomorrow in which she will receive the equivalent of a doggy mastectomy on her left side. It will be a one to two month recovery time and then she goes in for the second surgery to have the right side done. If all goes as planned she'll be fully recovered right around the time that, well, the baby gets here, and then we turn her world upside down and inside out by bringing yet another little life into the house that she'll feel responsible for keeping track of at all times. Needless to say, life is about to get very interesting, provided that she survives.

Wait. That sounds really dark, doesn't it? Provided that she survives? Fortunately, the vet doesn't seem the slightest bit worried that she'll pull through the two surgeries, the healing process, and the stress of bringing the baby home all in a three month span, but of course Jon and I have our concerns. We don't know how old she is--she was a rescue--and we don't know her past history with illness other than she was severely emaciated when she and her son were discovered in an abandoned home. We don't know for sure that she's got what it takes to get through the next few months, but we do know that she's not acting like a dog who's ready to call it quits, and the vet believes we'll be buying her another four to five years of active life if we go through with these surgeries, so we're doing it. We're going through with the surgeries and we're hoping for the best. We're hoping to not only give her a longer life, which is what we feel we promised her by signing the adoption papers, but we're also hoping to have the same animated, hard-headed, and loving dog we've come to know in the last three years.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been a hard judge of character where Macy is concerned. I'm extremely guilty of playing favorites between her and Jack--my first baby--but when I stop and look at what her life has brought her through and the fact that she still loves me and protects me as if there is nothing more important in the world, my heart aches for her, and I can't imagine life without her.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Team Work

Jon went grocery shopping on his own last night. I can count on well, two fingers, the number of times he's done that. You see, my husband is a very kind and giving man, but he is far from observant. He will gladly give you the shirt off his back but you have to tell him that you're cold and naked first. In other words, he's not likely to notice that we've run out of orange juice, or that we're down to the last roll of toilet paper until it's too late. For this reason the grocery shopping has always been left up to me, and I'm okay with that, usually. We've run into some problems with my pregnancy, however, in that our house was not built for bringing home groceries. Our garage is located below the main floor and all boxes and bags have to be carried up a full flight of stairs before finding their way to the kitchen, so if I'm shopping and unloading on my own I usually run into the problem of either a) carrying too much at one time and risk hurting myself or the baby, or b) taking so many trips up and down the stairs that I tire myself out very quickly. So in the last few months it's become apparent that I need Jon there to help me, to get the heavy items in and out of the cart at the store, and to lug them all up to the kitchen once at home.

The plan for last night was pretty simple: I'd be armed and ready with a grocery list by the time he arrived home from work and we'd hit the store together, but it didn't quite work out that way. I made out a quick, not quite complete list and then accidentally passed out on the couch. By the time he got home at 8:30 I was in no condition to do anything but make my way to bed. Just before I closed my eyes, I remember thinking how annoyed he was going to be when he came home and found me sound asleep, and I remember mentally kicking myself for being so damn tired because if ever we needed more food or supplies in our house it was yesterday, but I couldn't help myself, and I was sleeping heavily before I knew it.

Fortunately, Jon wasn't annoyed at all by my inability to stay awake. He was actually apologetic for getting home nearly an hour later than he'd planned, but to my surprise, he was perfectly willing to take the grocery list I'd made and head out to the store on his own.

I couldn't believe it. I couldn't have been more thankful. And the best part? He even remembered the green tea I forgot to include on the list.

Like I said, my husband is a very kind and giving man, but he was out of his element when he stepped into that grocery store without me last night, and he did it anyway because he's suddenly become very sympathetic to my pregnant condition. And on an unrelated, but equally swoon-worthy note, he's agreed to go see New Moon with me since everyone else I know is going to a midnight showing.

I had my doubts in the beginning as to whether or not he and I would be able to survive this pregnancy together, but he's proving me wrong in many subtle, but powerful ways.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Putting it all in perspective

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but here goes nothing:

I weighed in at 201 pounds at my 24 week appointment on Thursday.

I'm trying very hard not to worry unnecessarily about my weight during my pregnancy. The last thing I want is to have an unhealthy relationship with food when I have a very important responsibility to make sure that my baby is getting enough of it. Instead, I'm trying my very best to keep a healthful perspective by understanding that putting on too much weight could be dangerous for the baby, but not putting on enough could be even worse. That's how I justify a 29 pound weight gain anyway (10 of which were gained before I even knew I was pregnant).

It is a little disheartening, however, when I look back to this time last year and see how very hard I struggled to get below that 200 pound mark. It was nearly impossible with the holidays and constantly being surrounded by delicious food that I refused to deny myself. I just did the best I could to avoid overeating and I worked out like a machine. I don't think it was until late December or early January that the scales finally tipped to 198 pounds, and it wasn't until mid-January--when all of the leftovers had disappeared--that the scale remained that low. Of course, then I spent the next four months slowly, frustratingly shaving off another 26 pounds, and when the scale just wouldn't go any lower than 172 pounds for the entire month of June I stopped paying attention and took a break from dieting.

Little did I know my body was creating a cozy little home for an embryo and I had been pregnant for most of the month of June.

I never once thought I'd get pregnant before I reached my goal weight, not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't truly believe that I would get pregnant even after reaching my goal weight. I didn't think it was ever going to happen for us. I would lie awake at night wondering how horrific the argument would be when Jon decided to approach me about adoption and I would have to finally admit that I didn't want to do it. I would have to be that terrible person who said we either have our children, or we don't have children at all. There's a story and fear behind my feeling this way, but it's for another time. Bottom line is, Jon always said if we exhausted all avenues and I still couldn't get pregnant, then we would just adopt children, but I have yet to muster enough courage to tell him that I don't think I ever could adopt a child, and I've always feared that because he wanted children so badly, this conversation could be the end of our marriage.

So, here I am, at 201 pounds. Full of baby, full of life, and full of food that I've denied myself for a very long time. I'm thinking back to the days when a 29 pound weight gain would have made me snap, and I'm doing it while quietly sitting on my couch and watching my belly jump as our son kicks me from his womb. And I'm looking back at an entry from almost one year ago today and laughing at the irony:
"3 more pounds and I’ll be under 200. October was an absolutely terrible month weight loss wise. Damn you McDonald’s and your evil Monopoly pieces--Ronald should be hanged!"
"Dear God, it’s not like I have to get pregnant right now, it’s just, you know, a sign that I’ll be able to give birth sometime in the foreseeable future would be fabulous. Love, Kate."

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Up

Last night I started crying as if the bottom had finally dropped out. All of the sadness, the fear, the anger, and every other negative emotion I've been feeling for the last 6 months boiled to the top and I couldn't stop the flood of tears that hit me like a tidal wave on the way home from my mother-in-law's house. What was I so upset about, you ask? Oh, well, you know, I was exhausted and it was only 8 o'clock. I hadn't been awake for 12 hours and I could barely keep my eyes open. How is that fair? How am I supposed to get anything done when I constantly feel like this? Life is never going to be the same and I can't do anything but cry about it. So I did, and I think I did it quite well.

Jon listened quietly from the driver's seat while I threw my soggy fit. He simply nodded and comforted me every time I found something new to cry about. He didn't take offense when I told him we were going to be terrible parents, and he refrained from laughing at me when I claimed there were conspirators in our lives who were anxiously awaiting our first parental screw up just so they could rub it in our faces. Jon comforted me as best as he could as I cried because there isn't enough love in this horribly ugly world that I'm bringing our son into and there is nothing I can do to fix it.

It's the moments like this that scare me. It's the moments like this that make me wonder how I'll ever make it through the next 16 weeks, and if I'll ever be able to submit myself to this mental torture again. The physical pain sucks but the emotional turmoil is debilitating.

I don't doubt this is all perfectly normal, in fact, I know it is. I've read, witnessed, and related to countless accounts of moments eerily similar to this one and the many others that have crept into my pregnancy. I am an extremely emotional person. I feel things strongly, especially sadness, anger, jealousy, fear, and I feel them HARD even without these raging hormones, and so I suppose it's acceptable that I'm nearly paralyzed by them now...even if it something as little as feeling tired.

I suppose the only thing that really matters is that I'm a good mother when this is all said and done, so please, Dear God, let me be a good mother. Oh, and God? I'd appreciate it if you helped my husband refrain from putting me in the loony bin. I know he's tempted. Thank you!