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Week 4

My beautiful girl is having trouble passing gas. She turns bright red and breathes heavily every time she does it. She also screams. We try cycling her legs, lifting up her legs, and I give her a breast, but nothing seems to work well. And yesterday it felt like she had gas all day.

On Sunday I read somewhere that it could be my diet, but my diet is pretty limited. I don’t drink cow’s milk – only almond milk. I don’t know why. I started doing that for the gestational diabetes. I do eat lactation cookies, because they’re essentially oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious. I also have kale smoothies, Greek yogurt, eggs, salad and fruit. That’s pretty much it!

On Monday we went to her one month check-up. We asked about the gas, and the doctor advised we try probiotics. When we asked when and how to administer the probiotic, the doctor asked, “What time do you give the Vitamin D supplement? That’s when you can give her the probiotic.” And we were like, “WHAT VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT?!” She was very taken aback that we weren’t giving her a Vitamin D supplement, but we did not know we were supposed to be doing this. If you breastfeed, you are supposed to give the baby a Vitamin D supplement. Breast milk is magical, they say, but apparently it’s lacking one thing. My knees and wrists feel awful and standing is difficult – I am now wondering if I also need Vitamin D?

On Tuesday our baby was super alert. We gave her the probiotic around 5pm, and she was very alert all night, not pausing for a nap, and around 11pm she lost her mind, screaming inconsolably until around 2am. David fed her, burped her, changed her diaper, changed her clothes, but she would not be appeased. Tears streamed down her face, and it was devastating because we did not know what was wrong. Finally she fell asleep on me, with both of us terrified that in our fatigue she would fall off. They advise you not to sleep with your child, but these past couple nights she hasn’t been able to fall asleep in her bassinet. They say kids at this age sleep 16 hours a day, but that is not what we are experiencing, unless she’s napping with her eyes wide open like some kind of productivity master.

Now it’s early Wednesday.

Something else that has also happened in Week 4 is that David and I have been I-don’t-want-use-the-word-arguing-but-maybe-that’s-the-right-word. We have been debating pacifier usage, bottle feeding, and I have asked David to make breakfast in the mornings. He thinks I’m holding her too much, and I should put her down, which might be fair, but given how quickly these four weeks have gone, it has dawned upon me that these moments are fleeting, and should something happen to me, I want her to know or vaguely recall she was loved. He also asked why I was so committed to breastfeeding, and I shared that I read that when you breastfeed, the baby’s saliva communicates back to my body if she is fighting disease or needs additional antibodies, and my body creates them for her.

During the one month check-up they also administered a worksheet for me to fill out asking about whether I was “extra anxious for no particular reason.” The response options were: All of the time, Some of the time, Once in a while, and Never, and I was like, “I am anxious all of the time for VERY GOOD REASONS.” David agreed that my disposition had not changed from pre-pregnancy, and we filled in “Once in a while.”

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Waiting Game

They have been giving me pills to soften my cervix. My water broke, but I wasn’t dilated and as of Tuesday (two days ago) my cervix was in tact, so I’ve been taking low doses of some pill every four hours that is supposed to soften the cervix and bring on contractions.

It’s 3:49 am and I’m in pain, but that’s it. I don’t have much else to report.
I was not in pain from 12:30pm to 2am, so I’m kind of pleased to finally be in pain. I was having contractions according to the monitor earlier, but I didn’t feel anything.

I can see the other rooms as well on the monitor, and I’m a bit jealous that those ladies seem to be having more frequent contractions. I’d like to get this show on the road.

David’s sleeping in a pull out bed next to me. He’s doing well. Our parents have visited and people are excited, but I’m worried she’s taking her sweet time.

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Water Breaks

My water broke this morning around 10:35. Last night I thought I was having contractions, but since the pain was in my upper abdominal I decided to stay put.

So I was very curious about how I would know that my water broke and it wasn’t just me having light pees. Here is what happened: I peed a little. Then I leaked. Then I put on clean underwear and that got wet. Then I walked around and liquid I had no control over dripped down my thigh as I squealed in dismay, “I’m leaking in the apartment!”

Then I called the ob-gyn office and left a message asking what to do. Then I called the hospital to pay my co-pay, but no one picked up there and I left a message.

A little later someone called from the hospital. It was a person to collect the co-pay! After paying, I told her my water broke and asked who to call. She transferred me, and now we are at the hospital in the labor and delivery room waiting to see the doctor.

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Week 39

Me this morning: David! I lost my mucus plug!
David: Oh! Should we buy you a new one?

David doesn’t know what a mucus plug is, which is fair. I didn’t know what one was until we got closer to labor. Losing a mucus plug is one of the signs of impending labor. You can lose it weeks before, so it’s not like your water breaking.

Other signs of labor are contractions and bloody discharge. Bloody discharge is not a great sign.

Yesterday the doctor was going to do a cervical wipe to help thin out the cervix, but she said I was so closed they couldn’t do it. The baby’s head is down and facing my back, which is how she was positioned last week too. Hopefully she stays this way so labor goes smoothly.

Movement has become quite difficult. Also there’s less room in my stomach, so I still love eating, but the next day if the food doesn’t come out, I feel like what I imagine labor will be like.

I got a pedicure and a manicure Sunday (manicure didn’t have polish, just made sure to trim down nails so I didn’t accidentally poke the newborn). And I uh…think I’ve decluttered? There is of course more to do. I think I’ve been secretly hoping the baby comes and someone else does the final cleaning for me. Or with a baby I don’t care about things anymore and just let David throw everything away, which is what he has been itching to do.

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Body Image

Me Yesterday Morning: I am an adorable pregnant woman. You can really only tell I’m pregnant when I turn to the side. My face remains slim and my arms – toned.

Me Yesterday Evening (after seeing several photos of myself): What?! Who is this chubby troll?!

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Week 38

Okay I’m getting super excited. Our place is in complete disarray, so we are not ready. But I’m getting excited. I don’t have a rainbow baby, but tempering expectations and general fear has been a big part of the pregnancy for me given how many years we’ve been at this.

Over the weekend it finally dawned on me that it wouldn’t be just David and me anymore. We’ve been together since 2007, married since 2011, so we’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other. Walking down the hall with him is the best. Driving places with him is the best. Movie nights are great. Eating at places where the food is delicious is amazing, and eating at places where the food is disappointing is super fun. Even the fight we had this morning over de-cluttering was entertaining for me. He hated it and thinks I’m a dirty hoarder. But I think we have a good thing going.

I’ve been drinking a lot of smoothies to help with the blood sugar. Starting the day off with a broccoli, kale, banana, and apple smoothie is pretty good for the metabolism. “Get away from me, your breath is awful,” he says, when I’m drinking it. “That smoothie you drink actually makes me love you less,” he declared this past weekend. Luckily he casually followed that sentence up with, “But I love you so much that it’s okay to love you less.” I don’t know if I got the exact words right. I think he phrased it more eloquently, which is embarrassing because I’m the aspiring writer, and he was just talking. But the gist of it was there: we have some wiggle room in our relationship. I’m thinking that wiggle room is going to come in handy as we welcome a new person in.

38 weeks means the baby is fully cooked. The best practice recommendation is that the baby comes out at 39 weeks and 40 weeks at the latest. A study of babies who were induced at 39 weeks versus ones who came out at 41-42 weeks revealed that babies who came out earlier were lower risk of C-section and overall had less complications or NICU requirements. So we plan to pick an induction date to make sure the baby is out at 40 weeks. I met with my least favorite ob-gyn yesterday, and she’s the one on-call for the last possible day. Luckily she has grown on me, so we are going to pick a date that…that…I don’t know. David wants to pick the latest possible date so we can continue to clean, but I am still worried I’m going to mess something up. So we’ll have to talk it over.

Here’s something else that is odd. Because we are considered high-risk (we’ve been high risk since the beginning, because of the IVF and my age), we now have weekly appointments at the ante-natal center. They measure the amniotic fluid and do a non-stress test for the heartbeat. BUT THEY DO NOT MEASURE THE BABY’S SIZE. They’re already there, looking at everything, so I don’t understand why they do not do this extra step. I’m especially annoyed they do not do it, because I am controlling the gestational diabetes with diet and exercise, but I know for a fact the devices that measure blood sugar are faulty. I did my own experiment where I pricked blood and measured using three different devices for a week, and they all threw out different numbers, and then when I did more research I learned they only have to be within +/- 20% range. My blood sugar numbers are close enough where if the device is 20% off, I should be on insulin. I’m sure I’ve written about this before. Anyway, all the high-risk facility would have to do as an extra check to know that it’s not affecting the child is to tell me how big she is every week. But they only measure every four weeks, even though I’m there being probed every week. Anyway, I’d like to know how big a watermelon I’m about to push out.

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Week 37

It has been a while. These past few weeks have been busy, and my brain has slowed down significantly.

The thing that has taken up the most time is the gestational diabetes. Since I’ve been trying to control it through diet, it requires I eat every two hours. That might seem easy, but that means every two hours I have to find something healthy to eat. Even as I type this, I realize how silly this sounds. But to put things in perspective, I didn’t used to eat that often. I ate when I was hungry, upset, or it was dinner time!

I’ve also started making smoothies. Smoothies are a game changer. Here are things I put in smoothies:
broccoli, kale, banana, blueberries, almond milk or pea milk, apples, and ice. Sometimes I throw in some pistachio. And I also try to immediately wash the smoothie container, so it doesn’t get sticky.
I drink two cups and store a third cup for snacking later. They make me feel like I’m eating responsibly. That’s my smoothie story.

For the most part, I’ve been able to control the diabetes with diet and exercise. My morning fasting numbers aren’t great, because you have to eat a protein snack at night. I don’t think I’ve figured out the right thing to eat. Peanut butter is normally good.

Here are some other things that happened these past few weeks:

-We removed our fireplace, so we can move part of the office into the living room. By “we removed our fireplace” I mean we paid a contractor to do it, and then the county sent an inspector to make sure the gas was properly closed.

-My mom came over uninvited and cleaned our place. David was out of town, and she demanded I work at my desk while she cleaned our bathrooms, kitchen, bedroom and living room. It took two full days. I was embarrassed and grateful. The place felt so much better.

-On Tuesday, two days after my mother had done her cleaning, a contractor came over to patch the drywall where the fireplace was and fix up the floors. His vacuum exploded, emitting all the drywall dust and other materials in the vacuum all over our place, setting off our smoke alarm and leaving a solid layer of debris over our entire apartment. We rented a hotel for the night because of the questionable air quality, and David had cleaners come in Wednesday. I did not tell my mom this happened.

-We took several classes. In sum, we’ve taken a class for:
Infant CPR
Breastfeeding
Early childcare basics
Birthing
Hospital tour

Initially, our ob-gyn said the only class we needed to take was Infant CPR, because everything else we would eventually figure out. I hope she’s right, because I don’t remember a lot of the content in the classes, even though I took copious notes and asked questions in all of them. The birthing class was a two day class, and I think I came away from it more concerned than I was going in, which to be fair, was quite concerned. Did you know for a c-section they cut, pull your skin open, and then reach inside, move your organs, and pull out the baby? In the birthing class, they spent three hours describing a natural birth. It looks like the process involves writhing in pain for 12 hours and demanding massages and damp towels until you give in and request drugs or an epidural, but it’s too late by then because you’re too dilated, so you have to push the baby out naturally. Those three hours describing the natural birth process were not helpful.

Week 37 is a neat week, because it means the baby is technically at full term. So, any day now is okay for delivery. We are not ready for her yet though. Our place is still a mess, and I haven’t mastered taking care of myself, so taking care of someone else is still quite daunting. I think I’m moving just fine, but several people have commented that, “It looks like she’s having a hard time,” when they see me walking, so that’s rude. Those people are rude. Or those people thought I was an incredible walker before, possibly even a glider. They perceived my movements as graceful and effortless before.
Getting up and sitting down is hard, but I don’t think that’s what they’re referring to.

Our ob-gyn moved to North Carolina last week, so we have been scrambling to meet the other ob-gyns in the practice. I have two I like, and one who I have decided I do not like. If she’s the one who ends up being there on delivery day, I don’t know if I’ll have the restraint to avoid yelling, “NO, NOT YOU. WHEN IS THE SHIFT CHANGE?!”

In other news, we have book club on Thursday, and I haven’t read the book yet. Shhhh.

…..

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Week 31 (Looking back)

We’re on Week 33 now, but this post is about what I did in Week 31.

On Tuesday I had my follow-up with the nutritionist to see how the GD was going. She did not look like how I think a nutritionist should look, and she advised me against eating salads. I told her about how the insurance company could not send me a blood testing kit for 8 days, and the strips that came with their provided OneTest had sold out. I also shared how ridiculous it was that there were so many unique brands for the testing kits and how my insurance company asked that I research devices and select the one I wanted while on the phone with them. I also lamented about the state of the healthcare system, she said, “How do you think I feel? I hear about this all day!”
I wanted to say, “Um, excuse me, this is my time.” Anyway she looked at my chart and sent me on my way.

On Wednesday I had the follow-up with my ob-gyn, who chastised me for using the Ketosis strips. She shared that the office believes in evidence-based medicine, and urine does not provide real evidence, hence why they never collect a urine sample from me. Then she told me I shouldn’t beat myself up for eating cookies once in a while.

So something I did not understand about gestational diabetes that I needed spelled out: I have not harmed the kiddo. I’m the one with the diabetes right now. The harm would be if I kept eating sugars and having high blood sugar and the kiddo got too big. So I can eat treats – I’m only hurting myself. This was something that took me a while to understand.

Anyway then we went to New York. On Friday night my friends ordered dessert that I could not partake in because I wanted to save my treat count for a meal later in the weekend. David whispered, “This must be very hard for you,” as they all raved that this was the best dish of the meal, and I declined to eat it. I almost cried. I love dessert. Of course it was the best part of the meal, I thought. DESSERT IS ALWAYS THE BEST PART OF THE MEAL. I held it together though, and after that decided to indulge a little. I can control the blood sugar with walking, so there’s not much reason to hold back. Also I might hate those friends now.

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Week 30 Part 2

My birthday happened in Week 30, so this week gets two posts.

Exactly one week ago, I got the automated email letting me know I had failed the second gestational diabetes test. We were watching Euphoria, the new HBO show that is compelling but terrifying if you’re a parent of a teenager, I think. Anyway, the next day David got the call from the nutritionist, but he did not pick up. For some reason our doctor’s office has his number – the emergency contact number – listed as the primary number to call. I’ve tried to correct this at least 12 times. Even though I know it’s not David’s fault, I got mad at him for missing the call and forcing me to call essentially an answering machine multiple times a day to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist. I thought every minute I was not speaking to a specialist was threatening our baby’s life. “What a luxury to be a man and able to not pick up the phone!” my eyes said via my glares at him.

Anyway, as you know, I finally became less angry when the nutritionist scheduler called me back and I signed up for a 1pm class on Tuesday. I showed up later to the class than was recommended because a work meeting ran late. I checked in, near tears (this is my general disposition now), and I heard someone say my name. It turned out Katie, an old friend, was one of the instructors! She said I wasn’t late, and in my head I thought, “The lord has blessed me with Katie in this moment of anguish.” But to Katie I just quivered, “I’m so happy to see you here.”

The class was super informative. Here’s what I learned:

1) A carb is bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, peas, corn, fruits, cereal, granola, yogurt, all sorts of things with sugars. You might be thinking, “Duh…” Well I didn’t really know fruits were carbs, and I eat a lot of fruits.

2) Proteins and fats are not carbs, except for beans. Beans are carbs and protein.

3) Gestational diabetes is not the same as diabetes. You need carbs for your baby when you are pregnant, so you cannot cut carbs out of your diet. You have to have a mix of foods.

4) For the diet plan, carbs are assigned points or choices based on approximate grams of carbs. A banana is 2 choices, because it has around 30 grams of carbs. A large apple is 2 choices!

5) You need to test your blood sugar two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You need to snack two hours after meals as well. And you can only take in as many carb choices as allotted on your worksheet. The choices allotted are based on your pre-pregnancy weight.

In the class, the instructor gave an example of breakfast:

Instructor: Okay, so you have a piece of toast, an egg, and a cup of milk. How many carb choices is that?
Me: Two
Instructor: Okay, great, so you are allotted two carb choices for breakfast, but you are still hungry. What do you do?
Me: ….Cry?
Instructor: The correct answer is to add more protein…from the allowed proteins list.

Recommended schedule:
7:30am – Urinate on keytone strip (to make sure not in ketosis); Prick finger, test blood sugar
8:30am – Breakfast: 2 carbs (26-35 grams)
10:30am – Prick finger, test blood sugar
10:35am – Snack: 2 carbs (26-35 grams)
1:00pm – Mid-day meal: 3 carbs (41-50 grams)
3:00pm – Prick finger, test blood sugar
Between 3 and 5:00pm – Afternoon snack: 2 carbs (26-35 grams)
8:00pm – Evening meal: 3 carbs (41-50 grams)
10:00pm – Prick finger, test blood sugar
10:30pm Evening snack: 1 carb (11-20 grams)

For a total of 13 carbs per day or 199 grams of carbs.

After class we were provided a glucose meter and some strips. We were instructed to call our insurance companies to see which kits they cover, and once we know that, ask our doctors to put in orders for those kits. Well I did that, and this process is ridiculous. Here’s how the call went:

Me: (Calling company, annoucing I have gestational diabetes, asking about meter)
Insurance company: Let me connect you to our partner who provides that.
Partner: Hello, yes, your insurance covers the Accu-check Guide Me Meter, Accu-check Aviva Plus, and Accu-check Performa. Which one do you want?
Me: What is the difference?
Partner: (Rattles off a list of features, none of which seem related to blood sugar, all of which could have applied to a smart phone)
Me: Which one do you recommend?
Partner: Ms. I don’t know, you have to decide.
Me: Which one is the cheapest?
David: (overhearing question) NO. THAT IS NOT HOW YOU CHOOSE THIS!
Me: Which is the easiest? You mentioned one has blue tooth – I do not need that. I just need it to tell me the blood sugar.
Partner: You can look up the differences while I wait.
Me: (Trying to speed read about the devices. I pick the one that seems most straightforward.)
Partner: Okay we will send you a free kit so you can try it, it will arrive in 8-10 business days.

I’m not one to waive off free, but WHAT IF I DID NOT HAVE A STARTER KIT AND I NEEDED THIS DEVICE RIGHT AWAY? Insurance is insane. Politicians say people want to research and pick their devices and procedures, but I don’t know who these people are that are interested in undertaking research projects in the midst of an ailment. I don’t want to research procedures and devices. This was a nuisance. I’m still unclear on the differences, and I ended up walking over to CVS after the call and just buying extra lancets and test strips for the starter device the nutrionist gave me, which I’m going to keep using.

Anyway, the same evening as the class, I happened to be meeting my college friend Kim for dinner, who also had GD. She gave me pointers on how to use the needle and dispose of the needle. I hadn’t seen Kim IN YEARS. When I saw her, I thought, “The lord has blessed me with Kim in this moment of anguish.” But to Kim I just quivered, “I’m so happy to see you,” and gave her an uncomfortably long hug to stop from relief-crying.

The day after the class was Wednesday, my birthday. We spent this day eating healthily, testing for blood sugars, and ending it with a movie. David made salmon and rice and he did all the dishes. Thursday was America’s birthday, and we went to two barbecues, where I ate poorly and had a high reading. The readings have been good since then. I’m back to biking and continue to take longer walks. I also lost some weight, which you’re not supposed to do in the third trimester. Hopefully it is okay because I’m controlling the blood sugar. She has been kicking, so I think she’s okay so far.

In other news, the U.S. women’s team won the World Cup today, so that was super nice. My mom was excited too. I also read this piece, which is the best love letter I think I’ve ever read.

Here’s my favorite passage – it’s in the section where she talks about Megan-goggles:

I swear, it was like the most amazing thing happened: It was like the entire country, all at once, for this so improbable but also somehow very very very possible moment….. PUT ON MEGAN GOGGLES.

It was like the entire country, all at once, said — Soccer? YES. Women’s soccer? YES. An openly gay superstar swagging out with two goals and batsh*t celebrations and leading us to a huge-ass win in women’s soccer? YES. That same openly gay superstar not just taking some preapproved level of pride in her sexuality, but actually being the world’s biggest most kissable goofball queen and literally crediting her sexuality for those two goals and her batsh*t celebrations and our huge-ass win in women’s soccer? YES.

This is the American flag now, someone tweeted — and it’s a photo of my girlfriend, BEAMING ear to ear, smiling her BOOBS off on a football field, mugging for the camera, weirdo dye job and all — just totally and completely over-goddamn-flowing with excellence? YES.

After the game, I went out to lunch with my parents. It was a nice way to end Week 30.

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