8w6d babymoon

J surprised me with a trip to the Cayman Islands this weekend!  Baby Z and I are packing up for a long weekend in tropical paradise.  This is the first time that I’ll be traveling while pregnant, so I’m a wee bit nervous.  For one, there will be no food served on our flight from New York to Miami, nor from Miami to the Cayman Islands.  Say wut?!  I remember the days in which a half hour flight from NYC to Philly gets you at least a sandwich and a handful of peanuts.  The good old days.  I was also a little nervous about airport body scanners and radiation, but I just read this article on the screening machines, and apparently they are no more dangerous than using my hairdryer every morning.  Good to know.

So Baby Z, you’re off on your first flight!  Yay!

8w5d on work and family

I’m convinced that my body is preparing me to have a baby by reminding me what it is like to be a baby.

I’m constantly hungry, I can be smiling one minute and throwing up the next, I need multiple naps throughout the day, I wake up multiple times throughout the night to hit the toilet, I cry when I don’t get what I want, and I cry when I do get what I want.

Baby Z, is that what you’re going to be like?  Well, mommy can totally sympathize.  Being a baby sucks.

On the bright side, because my body has forced me to slow down more, I’ve been thinking more deeply about things, such as, Should I have chicken soup or tomato soup for lunch?   Just kidding.  More along the lines of: Will I be a good mother?  What kind of mom do I want to be?  How will I find the right balance between work and family?

This last question has kept me up many nights since I found out I was pregnant (this and the pain in my bum).

Yesterday I read a thought-provoking article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011 and a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, on Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.  In it she discusses why many highly-educated, highly-motivated women, despite having made great strides in today’s competitive workforce, still struggle to find a balance between climbing the career ladder and raising children at the same time.

“In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be—at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long.”

It’s the same question that I’ve been struggling with myself: is it possible to climb the career ladder while being the kind of mom that I want to be for my kid?  Of all the professional women I know who have young children, they all rely on round-the-clock nannies, have a family member stay at home with their child, and/or have decided to leave their promising careers to stay at home.

I realize that to the extent that I even have the option to be a full-time stay at home mom puts me among a very lucky few minority of women. As Slaughter writes, “Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances. Some are single mothers; many struggle to find any job; others support husbands who cannot find jobs. Many cope with a work life in which good day care is either unavailable or very expensive; school schedules do not match work schedules; and schools themselves are failing to educate their children. Many of these women are worrying not about having it all, but rather about holding on to what they do have.”

I feel very fortunate to have a supportive spouse who can afford for me to consider my options.  At the same time, thinking about these options terrify me.  On one hand, as someone who holds a master’s degree in Education and who has worked on issues pertaining to early childhood nearly my entire career, I of all people know the importance of a quality early childhood education and a quality formative experience.  And this is perhaps narcissistic and arrogant of me to admit – I believe that I’m the only one who can give the best possible care to my child.  On the other hand, I’ve invested nearly a third of my life working and studying so that I may obtain an ivy league education and obtain a job in which I find great personal satisfaction and independence – only to what?  Retire at 31?

I know that leaving work may not be an all-or-nothing choice.  I can always join the workforce again after Baby Z is a little older.  But part of me is petrified that I will constantly be making trade-offs between work and family for the next 18 years – and I won’t succeed in being good at either.  Will reaching the top of the corporate ladder come at the expense of being at home every night for dinner, or missing soccer practices and dance recitals?  Or will being the kind of mom that I want to be come at the expense of settling for a less demanding career and forever clinging on to the middle rung?

In my mind, there is no easy answer.  That is, unless Baby Z can go straight from the womb and right into college.  Or I follow the Slate’s Guide to Womanhood and just GET OVER IT.

8w4d pain in the ass

I’ve heard it said (from my mother) that being pregnant is a pain in the butt (thanks, mom), but until this week, I had no idea that this expression can be all too literal.

For the past few days, I’ve developed a sharp pain in my right bum area that is exacerbated when I walk, sit, bend over, stand up, or basically move in any way that involves using my legs.  At first, I thought the pain was a direct result of my weekend of indulgence in front of the TV polishing off entire seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and Ben & Jerry’s, but now I’m not so sure.  As with all things now, I blame the pain in my ass on the baby.

I was prepared to suffer through the pain for the next 7 months, but after three days of watching me hobble around the apartment and having to do dishes and take out the garbage himself, J finally convinced me to call our OB last night.

Our OB didn’t have any definitive answers, but she offered some suggestions:

  1. It’s possible that I have a rather common condition known as pregnancy-related sciatica, which “occurs when a baby’s head presses against the mother’s sciatic nerves, which run down the spine and into the pelvis and upper leg area.” (babyzone)  But sciatica most frequently occurs in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, and I’m only in my 9th week??
  2. Try drinking tonic water, which may help alleviate some of the muscle spasms and cramps.
  3. Doing some light stretching exercises
  4. Putting a warm compresses on the buttock area (but not on the abdomen)
  5. Gently massaging the affected area

Is it wrong to admit that I was secretly hoping that the good doctor would just write out a prescription for a magic butt pill and ta da!  Pain in the ass be gone.

No such luck.

I guess for now, I’ll be sticking to the tonic water and hot water bottles.

8w3d craving!

My first craving!  (I think!)

For the past two days, I have not been able to get through an hour without at least a handful of these bad boys:

But then again, I think I was pretty into these bite-sized cheesy goodness even before I was preggars, so maybe these cravings are not baby-induced?  I don’t know.  I just know that I WANT THEM and I WANT THEM NOW.

8w2d baby le pew

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t experienced many of the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy, such as morning sickness or nausea.  When I asked my doctor about it last week, she said that if I haven’t had morning sickness by now, it’s likely that I probably won’t experience it at all for the duration of my pregnancy.

Before anyone starts congratulating or cursing me for my good fortune, I would let you know that I would gladly (I think) take bouts of morning sickness and nausea in exchange for the one symptom that I do have in abundance:  GAS.

I cannot, for the life of me, stop farting.  It’s disgusting.  I’m disgusting.  I also sit in an open office environment at work so every time that I have to let one rip (which is often), I need to scramble out of my seat and scurry down an empty hallway so that my coworkers won’t find out that it’s me that’s been polluting our communal oxygen supply.   I’ve come to dread elevators, meetings, subways, business lunches – basically any and all  places that holds me immobile for any length of time.

It’s not quite as bad at home because J just wiggles his nose in disgust but doesn’t dare say anything in fear of one of my frequent weeping spells these days.  But Henry, our 2-year-old dog, is not quite as subtle in masking his distaste.  I frequently catch him giving me these sad, horrified looks:

So yes, I think I’ll take that morning sickness instead, thanks.

8w0d: the most beautiful sound in the world

Your pregnancy: 8 weeks

New this week: Webbed fingers and toes are poking out from your baby’s hands and feet, his eyelids practically cover his eyes, breathing tubes extend from his throat to the branches of his developing lungs, and his “tail” is just about gone. In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. (Source: BabyCenter)

Two weeks ago, J and I went in for our first prenatal expecting to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.  We were excited and anxious (J the former and I the latter – if you know us, this should not surprise you).

The first twenty minutes went the way of the expected:  I completed some forms, peed in a cup, undressed and sat on the exam table while our doctor asked us general health, medical history and lifestyle questions.

(Sidebar:  I’m convinced that peeing in a cup is one of the most stressful experiences known to a woman.  How far out do you hold the cup?  Too far and you risk splattering all over your hand, too close and you risk splattering over the paper label on the cup and have to spend the next ten minutes frantically blotting and blowing to make your name legible again.  So good people of the internet, if you find a good solution to this conundrum, this inquiring woman wants to know.)

When the doctor finally got to the transvaginal ultrasound, J and I were feeling quite reassured – after all, we had just told the doctor that we led a healthy lifestyle and were relatively healthy people ourselves with no history of medical problems on either side of our families. So when the doctor did the ultrasound, we were shocked when the first words out of her mouth were:  “I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything in there.”

No heartbeat.  No little fingers and toes.  No blueberry.  No kidney bean.

No baby.

My mind went blank.  I vaguely remember J putting an arm around me, our doctor giving me a gentle pat on the leg, and getting dressed, but the rest was a blur.   Later J filled me on what our doctor said (I wasn’t aware that she had said anything else).  Our doctor told us that it could be too early on in the pregnancy for the ultrasound to pick up the baby’s heartbeat, although she at least expected to see something.  But all hope was not lost.  She wanted to monitor my blood levels for the next few days and she also wanted us to make another appointment with a diagnostic imaging center with state-of-the-art ultrasound scans for a second opinion.

The next three days were torture.  I went back to the doctor’s office to give more blood, dragged myself through work, watched entire seasons of Modern Family, cried, called my mother, and cried some more.

By the time Friday came around and it was time for the second ultrasound, I was a mess.

J met me at the imaging center, where he filled out the necessary forms (I was in no state to do anything except to nurse my cup of decaf coffee and stare at the clock).  An interminable hour of waiting later, we were finally ushered into a dark room by a no-nonsense technician.  Immediately, I could tell that this was going to be an all-or-nothing affair – either my baby was in there or it wasn’t.   If these enormous, fancy-looking machines and large HD monitors could not find my baby, then I didn’t know what else could.

About five long minutes into the exam, our no-nonsense technician (who had yet to say a word to us at that point), finally said, “I don’t…”

I grabbed J’s hand and took a bracing breath.

“Wait, I see it.  There is your baby in the corner.  And this is the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.”

Thump, thump, thump…

It was the most beautiful sound in the world.

I would tell you what else happened afterwards, but frankly, I just can’t remember.  I may have floated out of the building and floated back home (ok, I took a cab).  I’m not even sure where J went afterwards.  I think he went back to work.  Hmm.

In any case, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my little expert hide-and-seeker, Baby Z.   (aka white blob on the bottom right)

It’s funny, because up until the moment that I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to become a mother.

Scratch that.  If I’m honest with myself,  I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a mom.  J and I had just started trying to have a baby when I became pregnant – I thought that I would have more time to mentally prepare myself.   After witnessing many of our friends struggle for months, if not years, to conceive, I just assumed (and secretly hoped) that I would be no different.

But after the experiences of the past couple of weeks, I can honestly say that while I’m still not sure that I’m ready to become anyone’s mother, I do know that I want to be this little fluttering heart’s mom.

So Baby Z, I can’t wait to meet you.  I hope you turn out to have your dad’s brains, my offbeat sense of humor, and a beautiful heart that flutters to a beat that is uniquely your own. Oh, and if you hide from the ultrasound again, you’re grounded for life.

Love,
Mom