Friday, March 18, 2011

Baby Fate

As I begin this post, I'm sitting in a rather charming Chattanooga cafe. There's a Persian rug and some leather couches to my left, a bustling little business district view to my right, and some vaguely familiar indie rock playing on the speakers. I can't help thinking of a certain cafe in Ann Arbor, where I used to spend hours reading, writing and wasting money on cappuccinos every day. It reminds me of being in my mid-twenties. I'm feeling an unreasonable and unfulfillable urge to time travel. I am, again, nostalgic.

But whenever I get caught in one of these romantic snags, I always think of that line from They Might Be Giants' "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppethead" - truly, "it was not, not, not so great." I find comfort in that lyric, because I'm prone to painting that past grass greener than it actually was. I fixate on a good memory - a certain song, an outfit I loved to wear, or a fun day at an old job - and forget the often unpleasant context surrounding that treasured detail. Would I really want to relive that stuff now? More often than not, I must admit that the song didn't age so well, the outfit would be too girlish for a woman my age, and thank goodness I no longer work for that boss!

I have to engage in this internal dialog more often now that I'm pregnant. I haven't blogged specifically about this biggest change of my life thus far, so this is as good a time as any. I'm pregnant - hooray!!! Yes, it was planned, as much as it ever is. Despite my mother being a propagation pro (she birthed seven children, and is my chief go-to expert), I was actually worried that I might have trouble conceiving. In any case, I assumed I'd have to wait at least a couple months, like most women coming off birth control. Ha! I took my last pill on December 31st and was pregnant twelve days later. There's no shortage of surprises in life, no matter how much you think you've planned.

I don't think that any amount of time between quitting BC and getting pregnant would have prepared me for the overwhelming, overnight change that occurs when you realize you're sharing your body with another being. Suddenly, wine with dinner or the occasional cigarette was no longer an option. But that, at least, I anticipated. The decreased energy level, the need to feed myself on a very regular schedule coupled with the frustrating aversion to food - that's taken weeks of adjustment. And it hit me so fast! One day, I was totally fine working a job where I stood in one spot for several hours, cooking and dishing meaty tidbits for grocery store customers - I mean, it could get boring, but I took satisfaction in doing it very well. A week later, I couldn't stand there for more than an hour without wanting to puke, pass out and die. I didn't have the verve to hold myself up, much less perform my usual Jedi mind tricks. That was to be my last day of work.

I feel really lucky that my boss was so understanding, even offering to give me some work if/when I get my second trimester energy back. Kindness from others, especially other parents, has been one of the best aspects of this experience so far. As my friend M observed, "You get so much positive attention." I was worried it would be like getting married, when I got all kinds of unsolicited advice and questions about decisions that didn't occur to me (mostly because I didn't care). Or worse, would people bombard me with pregnancy, birthing and child-rearing horror stories, just like all those bitter freaks who decided to tell me all about their divorces right after saying, "Oh, you're engaged? Congratulations!"? Fortunately, none of that has happened. The thought of babies generally incites upbeat responses, even amongst those who don't want 'em for themselves. And my pals who've recently had babies have been especially awesome - check out this super sweet hand-me-down from new parents J and P ~

I especially value this sort of support as I've struggled to adjust to the new reality. Yeah, yeah, I know it's gonna be a helluvalot crazier for us when the kid is actually here. But for the pregnant lady, the "old" life is already over. I am officially, completely disconnected from mid-twenties me. I can't drink coffee all day and beer all night, which I don't want to do anyway, but as long as I want to be a healthy host to this kid, I don't have a choice. I used to sleep grudgingly, because I felt like I was missing out on life. Now, I'm a regular old napper. I foresee sleep becoming the next great fix, maybe even better than caffeine. But most daunting is the notion that every future decision of consequence will be considered with this child in mind. So, I find myself fondly recollecting when I was single... 'cause that was awesome, right? Actually, being single mostly sucked. I think the best thing about it was that I only watched the TV shows that I wanted to watch. But as I said, the urge to romanticize the past has always run strong within me. Now that selfish independence isn't an option, I find myself wanting it.

It's very easy to feel extra sorry for myself when I'm queasy and tired. Honestly, I've been pretty bummed for most of the past month. But a few recent developments have aroused my old pep and enthusiasm. A brief visit with family in Greensboro, NC reminded me that there are parts of the south that are much cooler than this town.* Verdant Spring, warmth and sunshine are certainly reinvigorating. I've got a new workout that increases my energy more than it makes me feel ill. Dan finally (though very gently) complained about my household laziness, which has encouraged me to be more productive. But the best occurrence was seeing our sonogram! Last Friday I experienced my first transvaginal ultrasound, which is sort of like a pap smear with a more pleasant instrument and a cool visual aid. I now know what my uterus and ovaries look like, but better than that, I got to see my little friend and hear its heartbeat - 171! That put so much in perspective. When my heart rate is 171, I'm in the middle of an intense cardio workout. Until week 14, this kid is going to be working that hard nonstop, which means I'm working, too. No wonder I'm so freakin' tired all the time!

I encountered a couple other revelations on Sunday. As I was laying in bed that night, I read that the cause of my recent constipation (according to my OB's info guide), "is due to a slowing of the bowels that allows an increase in nutrient absorption for the baby." In a sense, my kid is dumpster diving, finding nourishment in the stuff that my body was ready to throw away. Now that's a thriftiness I can respect! Learning that made the discomfort less bothersome. Still, as I laid in bed, I found myself feeling anxious and unable to sleep. My stomach wanted something but I didn't want to overstimulate it with food. Milk suddenly sounded like a really good idea (when I'm nauseous, it generally sounds like a really bad idea). I poured myself a glass, took a swig, and discovered a gustatory bliss I had not experienced in weeks. To me, right now, milk tastes like liquid Christmas cookies. It makes sense, of course - the baby wants calcium. But this was the first time I found that a food tasted better to me than it ever had before. I had no idea! That's a special bonus that the old me just didn't experience.

*Of course, there are plenty of great places in the north, but I heard about y'all's winter. I won't be ready to return to that for a very long time, if ever.

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