The Babies!

Friday, June 26, 2009

No More Sucking It In (16w2d)

It's a fact that we women spend most of our lives sucking it in. "It" meaning our stomachs. Whether a size 2 or a size 22, most women suck it in without even thinking about it. We've been conditioned since childhood to pull those stomach muscles in lest we look fat. The woman who doesn't suck it in is either very self-confident, very drunk or very skinny.

I am neither a size 2 (ha!), nor a size 22 (though I might be by the time this baby is born), but I'm as guilty of sucking it in as any other woman who grew up reading Seventeen and graduated to Cosmopolitan. No matter what size I've ever been-- and it's been quite a range over the years-- it's been an unconscious reaction to pull in my stomach when I stand up. But now, at just over sixteen weeks pregnant, I have discovered something:

I can't suck it in anymore.

I know, I know. I'm pregnant and I don't have to suck it in. What can I say? Old habits die hard and without the obvious baby bump, I just felt fat.

Even though I've only gained 7 pounds so far, it's been at least two weeks since I could suck it all in. There is a noticeable bump below my bellybutton now and there is just no sucking it in. But up until a few days ago, I still had the ability to suck in my upper stomach. It didn't really make much of a difference, but there was some comfort in that reflexive motion that let me know I was still in control of my body, even if there are bizarre changes going on inside.

No more. Baby is in charge now. He probably always was, but at least I had the illusion of control for a little while.

I bought my first real pair of maternity pants yesterday. I know I'm pregnant, but that single act kind of slammed it home for me. I'm only going to get bigger. I strapped on the fake baby bump (which simulates three months of additional baby growth) and I was huge. Ginormous. Frightening. I'm not ready for that.

I guess I'll have to get ready, since apparently that's what I'll look like in three months. Right now, I'm just trying to get used to the idea that I can't suck it in anymore.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Quest for Maternity Clothes (15w5d)

I can't find maternity clothes anywhere. I have been looking for over two weeks now and have so far determined that babies in southeast Virginia must be delivered by storks. How else to explain the fact that maternity clothes are as rare as rainbows around here. So far, I have tried Old Navy, Target, JCPenney, Dillard's and even Sears. I was willing to skip the department stores and hit the maternity stores except the Motherhood Maternity in the mall I shop at most frequently has closed. Seriously. A three-story mall that has not one single maternity store but has no fewer than four stores dedicated to babies and toddlers. Unbelievable.

Only one local Old Navy has a maternity section and it consists of a few racks of stretchy pants that look more like workout gear than anything I'd wear in public, a few pairs of maternity jeans with that ridiculous band at the top (no under the waist jeans) and a few tops that don't look any more maternity than anything else in their store. I found exactly three racks of maternity clothes at Target and the only thing that wasn't hideous were the maternity tanks. So I now own one maternity tank top to wear under the non-maternity tops I own (which came from Old Navy, actually). JCPenney and Sears had a few measly racks of picked-over clothes in bad styles and patterns. Dillard's doesn't even have a maternity section.

I still haven't checked Macy's and a store search revealed there are a couple of local Motherhood Maternity stores, including an outlet in Williamsburg. There are a few "maternity boutiques" in Virginia Beach, which means over-priced clothes in sizes I can't wear. There is always the mail order option and I have thrown a bunch of stuff into shopping carts at Old Navy/The Gap and Motherhood. But I hate mail order-- nothing ever fits and I end up returning things and paying postage. I'd much rather have the option to try things on and take them home now rather than having to wait a week to find out I need a different size/style.

I'm glad I started hunting for maternity clothes early. I am still squeezing into a few pairs of pants and most of my tops fit fine, but I'm not more than a week or so away from absolutely needing maternity pants. I hate having to buy clothes I'm only going to wear for a few months-- especially since I'm going to go from summer to fall/winter maternity clothes, but wearing yoga pants or sweats in public is just not an option.

Of all the possible complications of pregnancy I might have imagined before I got pregnant, I never thought finding maternity clothes would be one of them. Sigh.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Normal (15w1d)

We got the final CVS report on Tuesday. All of the chromosomes are normal! I was anticipating that result after the preliminary report, but still nice to hear. I love the genetic counselor. She always makes a point of saying, "I'm calling with good news" when she leaves a message. I've heard that three times now and it always makes it easier to call her back. Of course, I don't know what she says when it's not good news-- and I don't want to know.

So, the baby is normal-- at least chromosomally speaking. I can't speak to how normal he'll be with us as his parents.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Raising a Boy (14w2d)

I'm wrapping my mind around the idea of having a boy. Not that I'm upset-- quite the contrary! Boys rock! But for some reason I had always thought "girl" when I thought of having a child-- at least until about 7 weeks ago when the baby fairy started whispering in my ear, "Think boy, think boy..."

So now I've put aside thoughts of raising a girl who is so not a princess in favor or raising a boy who is a rock star (like mother, like son).

Honestly, I thought my biggest challenge in raising a girl would be trying to avoid the pink princess crap people would foist on her when she was five and being vigilant about keeping her out of the hyper-sexualized clothes she'd want to wear when she was thirteen. I never really thought twice about how I would raise a tough, fearless feminist girl-- I just figured she'd pick it up through osmosis by living with me.

Of course, I don't really know how to raise a girl, the idea just comes more naturally to me than the idea of raising a boy. Raising a boy is a whole new universe for me. Of course, I still want him to be tough, fearless and most certainly a feminist. But I also want him to be sensitive and nurturing and well-rounded. And smart. And happy. And creative. And, and, and...

I have years to figure it out, but it's already something I'm thinking about, worrying about. I suppose over the next couple of years my biggest concerns will be not getting peed on during diaper changes and dressing him in something other blue, black and brown clothes embroidered with footballs, baseballs and basketballs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Preliminary CVS Results (14w0d)

The genetic counselor called this afternoon with the preliminary results from my CVS procedure on Monday. This part of the test is called FISH, or fluorescent in situ hybridization, and is used to detect abnormalities in chromosomes 13, 18, 21 and the sex chromosomes. The benefit to FISH is that it's quick-- it only took 48-hours to find out.

The preliminary results are NORMAL! Lauren (the counselor) said these results are about 98% accurate and I should have the final report (with all of the chromosomes examined) in about a week. Even without the final report, today's news brought a sense of relief. I'm fourteen weeks today! I have made it through the first trimester and, genetically speaking, the baby appears to be healthy! Good news.

The other bit of information she was able to share with me-- with 100& accuracy-- was the gender. She asked if I wanted to know and I told her I'd been having "boy" feelings since I was about seven weeks pregnant. I even had a vivid dream last night where I watched the chromosome results appear on a sheet of paper and heard someone say, "It's a healthy baby boy!" My dream was right. We're having a boy!

A boy. Wow. I haven't felt this stunned since I took the pregnancy test.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Tale of CVS (13w6d)

So, I had the CVS procedure yesterday. The best thing I can say about it is that it goes pretty quickly once they get started. Meaning, once I signed the consent forms and had an ultrasound to make sure the placenta was in the right place and had the doctor go over everything with me to make sure it was what I wanted and then prep me for the procedure. I was glad Jay was there but kind of wished he'd been home for the earlier, more fun appointments.

The actual procedure consisted of swabbing my stomach with disinfectant, giving me a few (three, I think?) shots of Lidocaine to numb the area and then pushing a long needle through my stomach and into my uterus and collecting a sample of the chorionic villi in the placenta. The shots of Lidocaine were nothing-- didn't hurt or sting the way the doctor said it would. The needle was something else-- it was this jarring sensation of having someone forcefully punch a needle into me. I wasn't prepared for that, but in retrospect I guess I should have expected there to be some force behind it since it had to go through a lot of layers of muscle.

Once the needle was in, it felt like he was digging around inside me. I tried to watch the monitor, but I opted to look at the ceiling and at Jay and try to breathe. It was over in two minutes, if not less, but it was a long two minutes. The doctor showed me what they had collected (kind of neat, actually) before going on his merry way. He was nice enough and had a droll sense of humor, but it was the ultrasound tech who really took the time with us. Oh, and there was a medical student observing the procedure for the first time, whom I could have cared less about once that needle was inside me.

After the procedure, the ultrasound tech cleaned me up, slapped a Bandaid on my puncture wound and was nice enough to do another ultrasound so Jay could get a better look at the baby. (The first time around, we only saw the head and an arm.) Baby was sleeping this time around, so not bouncy and moving like the last time. But the heart rate was whooshing along at 173 and we got a nice view of everything. Always reassuring.

Now we wait for results. I should get preliminary results about the 13, 18 and 21 chromosomes in 3-4 days. (Trisomy 13 and 18 are rare, but catastrophic; Trisomy 21 is Down Syndrome.) The final report with a complete view of the chromosomes will come in about 10 days. We can also find out the gender in just a few days-- something I didn't think I wanted to know when it was based on a 20-week ultrasound (and therefore not necessarily 100% accurate), but now I think maybe it would be nice. I keep having these "boy" feelings-- so it's tempting to find out if I'm right or if I should stop saying "he." Ultimately, all I care about is having a healthy baby and this procedure will help give us a clear picture of at least the genetic health.

Recovery hasn't been too bad. I was told the pain would get worse once the anesthetic wore off and would feel like menstrual cramps. Obviously they have no idea what my periods are like. Cramps with fibroids are a living hell, so this really hasn't been so bad. I left the Bandaid on to remind me to be careful, but I still manage to bump that spot and it hurts. I have to take it easy for a day or so and be careful to watch for signs of infection. There is a risk of miscarriage over the next several days and I worry about that since this was an elective procedure. But everything went well and I feel pretty good today, so I'm just trying to think positive and look forward to hearing some good test results soon.

In the meantime, Jay finally got to see the baby for himself and we have a couple more pictures to add to the collection:

Friday, June 5, 2009

End of the First Trimester? (13w2d)

Okay, so depending on which source I use, I'm either out of my first trimester or nearly so. Some books say 12 weeks, some say 13 weeks, What to Expect When You're Expecting says 14 weeks is the beginning of the second trimester. In any case, I'm about a third of the way through this pregnancy and I have to say it's been pretty easy so far. It would be lovely if I could still stay that in 27 weeks.

I am finally scheduled to have the CVS procedure done on Monday. The good news is that Jay is homeward bound even as I write this, so he'll be here for it-- and to see the baby on the ultrasound for the first time. Good news! (Though I am not looking forward to having a large needle shoved in my stomach).

I have completed the first part of the sequential screening and the numbers are good, but I need the reassurance of the CVS results instead of just a risk assessement. The nuchal translucency scan, which measures the fluid behind the baby's neck (too much fluid is considered a marker for chromosomal abnormalities) , was 1.28 mm. Less than 3 mm is good, less than 2 mm, even better. Combined with the blood work and factoring in my age, the risk for Down Syndrome is 1 in 840 (as compared to the 1 in 50 I started with, just based on my age) and the risk for Trisomy 18 is 1 in 10,000.

Despite the good numbers, I'm still going through with the CVS. Jay and I have agreed that the small risk of miscarriage (comparable to amniocentesis, which can't be performed until after 16 weeks) is worth the peace of mind of knowing the baby is genetically healthy. Of course, Jay isn't the one who has to have the big needle shoved in his stomach! (I found a rather disturbing video on YouTube of the CVS procedure being performed in the UK-- it did not reassure me.)

I feel like I should be baby blogging more than I am. It's not as if I'm not thinking about it all the time. Even with the lack of symptoms (and my fatigue seems to be fading-- yay!), I'm still constantly reminded of what's going on inside me. But there are times when I feel like a fraud. For the last week or so, people have been congratulating me on being out of the first trimester (clearly having read those other sources) and I hedge and say I'm not quite there yet. It just seems like it's going too well, too easy. Maybe once the CVS results come back, I'll be able to relax. Maybe.