Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oh right!

I recently heard about a friend-of-a-friend who had an emergency c-section several weeks before her due date. She's a grad student in New York and her partner works in Ohio, so her plan was apparently to fly to Ohio FIVE DAYS before her due date. You know, to give birth. FIVE DAYS. I'm sure she had her reasons, but... FIVE DAYS. That's CRAZY PERSON stuff, right? Because due dates are pretty much meaningless, right?

So there I was, thinking what an insane plan this chick had, when I suddenly realized: I'm three weeks from full term. While I've got a diaper or two and a carseat, so am tooooooootally ready for a new baby, I have shitloads of work-work that I keep putting off. Every week I look at my list and think eh, this week is so full of appointments and meetings, I'll just focus on these big, intellectually-demanding items NEXT week. BUT OH SHIT, there might not BE a next week!

Uh, not in the sense that the whole world might come to an end, but in the sense that I might run out of semester muuuuch sooner than I am imagining. I think the whole planned c-section thing leads to a certain inappropriate comfort with the notion that I will actually deliver as planned. Thanks, crazy lady, for reminding me that babies can come early.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just as I suspected!

I'd been feeling some mysterious twanging sensations coming from my uterus, so I decided to schedule an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay.

Sure enough....


Of course I was super relieved that Bun Bun is fine. But then it hit me....I have NO IDEA how to take care of a baby ukulele. I mean, what does a baby ukulele even EAT? But then I found this book:

So we're set.

*That's not Bun Bun, just some random internet fetus. And no, I didn't really have an ultrasound. Because everything's fine. Just extremely and hilariously TWANGY!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This does NOT get old

The other day I was googling fatigue during the third trimester, to get a sense of whether my deep and abiding exhaustion is normal. Before long I found myself in the land of hits that were not about being pregnant and tired, but were instead about being tired of being pregnant. Twee little remarks like ...and let's face it, you're a little tired of being pregnant by now... Wink! Nudge! We're all FERTILE WHORES girls here!

Watching some of you go through this, it's seemed pretty clear that the third trimester is nature's way of making sure you actively want to give birth, both in the sense of accepting that the amazing closeness of sharing your body with a fetus is ending, and in the sense of being ready to go through the experience of pushing him or her on out of there. And I knew that my happy days of skipping through the second trimester land of flowers and bluebirds would gradually morph into something that involved...waddling. Back aches. Exhaustion.

Well, the Time of Waddling is upon me, friends. As are the backaches. (I must say, even if I wanted to accomplish things at work, being unable to sit in a chair for more than ten minutes would make it difficult.) And the exhaustion--wow. I get up in the morning feeling groggy and shitty, and it's downhill from there. It's not the mysterious stunned-with-a-sledgehammer exhaustion of T1, either, it's more like being reeeeeeeally old. A million, billion, trillion years old.

I was relatively prepared for all that, and I'm prepared for it to get worse. After all, my body doesn't know it's getting a c-section, so it has to make me want to push a baby out rather than endure another day of whole-body discomfort.

But I was not prepared for this: I still can't believe I'm pregnant. It still blows my mind every damn day. Even as I get accustomed to having a frisky fetus poking me in all kinds of places, I still struggle to believe that this has actually worked. And while I acknowledge that this pregnancy has been completely trouble free (knock on every available wooden object)--no endless nausea, no scary contractions, no bleeding, no bedrest, no GD, nothing!--which doubtless has a major impact on my point of view, I just don't think I could become tired of the amazingness of the miracle.

Last night Mr. Bunny had his hand on my belly and said something like if only we could have a baby and keep this part too! I reserve the right to change my mind when I am crippled with pain in a few weeks, but for now, I wholeheartedly agree.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quilting for men

It was awfully encouraging to read about your experiences with the menfolk and their crazy ways. It seems that, personality differences aside, there are some common patterns, and the best approach is probably not to assume current behavior is entirely predictive of later behavior. Anyway, I wanted to present a contrasting picture to the one I painted of my charming husband last time (basketball watching, future-ignoring). It's also one that illustrates the basic point a lot of you made: if you ask for specific things, they will likely get done.

A few months ago I decided I'd better make a quilt for Bun Bun. I don't enjoy making quilts, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't whip one up. The part I hate most about quilts is the design. Design is not my thing. I'm not good at it. But Mr. Bunny is. He's got a good eye for color and shape, and enjoys messing about. So I asked him if he'd like to collaborate. He'd do the design and cutting (horrible parts!) and I'd do the manufacturing (slightly less horrible parts). He agreed with enthusiasm. Then he sat on his ass for a while, until I began hinting that it was time to get cracking. Then he did a little work on it, and sat on his ass for a few more weeks, until I began asking him every other day if he'd finished. At last the design was done, and he nervously presented it to me. I loved it! I loves me some tree--it's one of my favorite design elements! And I loved the way the strips are staggered horizontally, as it means I have nothing to painstakingly match! He picked out some fabrics, including one with the most awesome grumpy owls, and then commenced to do the math necessary for the cutting. In Figure 1 you can see his hilariously marked up design. There's just something so...MALE about it, particularly the way he converted from centimeters to inches for every individual piece.

Figure 1. Grumpy owls!

And then he did all the heinous cutting, while I ate ice cream. In Figure 2 the strips that make up the front have been sewn and are waiting to be assembled. I love the way it's coming out. And I love the idea of it being a joint project, and of us setting a plump little Bun Bun down on it, in just a few months.

Figure 2.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How do partners prepare for parenthood? I mean, DO THEY AT ALL?

Several people have given Mr. Bunny books for expectant fathers. He has not read them. (I have: an all new take on the patronizing bullshit found in the books for ladies, now with added bonus misogyny sprinkled on top!)

Last week when we were talking about how much time he should take off post-Bun Bun, he made some remark about men of his acquaintance being desperate to get back to work because they're so damn bored. Wow, NOT what seems to be typical for women.

And my complaining about Mr. Bunny checking e-mail during infant care class, and seeming generally under-invested, appeared to resonate with some of you.

Leading me to wonder: WHAT IS UP WITH MEN?

Okay, I know men are actually individuals, with their individual ways of preparing for things and dealing with things. I happen to be married to what is sometimes called an arousal procrastinator: in order to get his ass in gear, he needs the impetus of a looming deadline. So while he stresses about things for months in advance, he doesn't actually do them until he gets to a certain point in his timeline. (Which drives me crazeeeee, as I am more or less a non-procrastinator, and can't fathom why someone would want to go through all that unnecessary stress.) I am also married to someone who is not into information seeking. For me, the only way to soothe anxiety is to do research and make spreadsheets. For him, assuming things will work out okay is enough (because, as I've noted before, he's also optimistic). So his approach to preparing for parenthood has been to pretty much leave it all to me (with some charming exceptions that I'll write about later). I've got the checklist, I've scheduled the classes, I've done the research, I've gotten all the little things around the house that needed to be fixed fixed, I'm the obsessing, listing, ordering, nesting one. He's the March Madness enjoying one. (Non-Americans: it's a basketball thing.)

This approach is totally consistent with his personality, and totally consistent with his behavior during our IF treatments. Leading me to think it's just him. And that when you've got a personality like mine and you marry someone with a personality like his, you're getting wonderful things (like some mellow to balance your crazy), but you're also signing up to feel a little alone and unsupported at times.

And of course I keep reminding myself that if I'd left it all to him and none of these things had gotten done, there's an excellent chance we'd be totally fine. That all you really need for a baby is a car seat (and hell, we could walk home!) and some rags.

Still, perhaps because I've read too many obnoxious, stereoytyping books, I'm also wondering if it's not just him. If maybe it's a MAN thing. Or perhaps even a PARTNER thing? Have any of you got partner who was a real partner during treatments, never making you feel the burden was all yours for an instant?* Have any of you got a partner who behaved this way during the run up to parenthood, however achieved? Is there any correlation between pre-parenthood behavior and parenting skillz? Do I need to just take a fucking chill pill on this whole subject?

*Warning: I might have to come beat you up  if you say yes and get all smug about how awesome he or she was...

Monday, March 14, 2011

More getting schooled

There were two other moments in the Infant Care class I wanted to share because they are such priceless gems that you will surely DIE if you do not get to hear about them.

1. During the intros, one woman said I'm so and so, I'm due on June 6th, and this is our third pregnancy, but the first time it's going to term. Of course my first reaction was to totally love her...but she turned out to be really annoying. Oh well, no new best friend for me! I was also a little taken aback. I believe we should all feel some obligation to educate people about IF and loss, but I can't imagine airing my past in that particular forum. It somehow feels like a pointless place to do it. (Not that her goal was necessarily education or anything.) But maybe loss is different from IF in that particular respect? Or maybe she's just got a 100% open door policy on her reproductive life? Anyway, have you said something like that in such a forum, or can you imagine doing so when you are finally, finally there, as I fervently pray you will be?

2. In the middle of the class, we had to go up to the front of the room and select our plastic practice baby. By the time Mr. Bunny and I got to choose, we were faced with a quandry: On the table were a few white babies, all quite hideous, and some much more attractive babies of color. We didn't want the ugly white babies. But...could we take a baby of color? What if that meant one of the non-Caucasian couples who had yet to pick ended up with a white baby? Would they think we were assholes for stealing a child of their race, like old time slave traders? Or would people think we were trying to make some kind of statement about our our racial sensitivity by not immediately grabbing a white baby? Even though our child will presumably be white? (Barring a mixup at the clinic...) In the end we just grabbed an ugly white baby, but the experience gave me a tiny glimpse into the complex world of transracial adoption, as ridiculous as that might sound.

Next came c-section class. I didn't learn much, but that's just because I'm over educated about the whole thing. I did get to watch an awesome video from the 80s that was careful to remind me about how dreadful and baby-destroying c-sections are. (Thanks for that!) But it was helpful to ask about specific things so that my list of questions for my OB will be more streamlined. And I did find the extent to which I HAVE ALREADY HAD THIS SURGERY reassuring. I mean, yes, there will be a baby this time, which is awesome, and recovery will be different, because...BABY!...but otherwise it will be delightfully familiar. And because I am 100% fixated on the fact that I won't get to immediately hold my child (which is why he or she will not breastfeed and will grow up to be an asthmatic monster) it was good to get as much information as possible about how quickly I can be reunited with my Bun.

It continues to feel weird to imagine a real child coming out of my body, but I think it's just one of those things that can't be properly imagined.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Bunny Family Goes to School

Last night Mr. Bunny and I went to our first HOLY SHIT PREGNANCY CAN RESULT IN A REAL BABY class, Infant Care. It was strange on a number of levels for a number of reasons.

First, we were both grumpy, having worked all day on not enough sleep. Since the class was at the hospital across the street from my office, we foolishly chose to meet up for dinner at the hospital cafeteria. The revolting fare further soured my mood, leading to a mini squabble in which I blamed him for not wanting to be there. Just another reflection of my anxiety that his more relaxed attitude towards planning and information-seeking indicates that I will be all on my own when it comes to raising Bun Bun. (Recall the housedress, fried bologna, dead fridge on porch vision...) Then I started freaking out because we were going to be the sullen couple everyone would feel sorry for because we were clearly on the brink of divorce. WOW. Anyway, we apologized  to each other several times, but I was still extra annoyed every time he checked his phone or sighed with exhaustion during the class. I mean, FUCK. If I can gestate our fetus, the least he can do is sit through a class with some goodwill.

Second, this class marked a transition from baby as Highly Theoretical to baby as Quite a Bit More Concrete. While I certainly try to visualize Bun Bun as a real screaming, shitting, refusing-to-feed-properly entity (I mean, I visualize the good stuff too, but that comes easily), there's something about a bunch of photos of newborns that makes it all seem more real. Newborns with their hideous and yet quite standard rashes and blotches and assorted blemishes. And of course the whole point of the class is to help people start making that transition, getting hip to the reality of, you know, infant care. Still, it was our first brush with the less romantic, more serious aspects of this whole project, and it was...exciting, and yet...sobering.

Third, this class involved Other People. Mr. Bunny said afterwards, It was weird being around other people! Which is very true. We rarely interact with other people as a couple these days. And these people were all pregnant couples, which made us feel like we were on a new planet. And some of them were kinda awful. I particularly hated the guy who, when asked to list a major anxiety, said he'd been with his partner for eighteen years and that they knew each other very well and that he had no anxieties about parenting at all. I mean, BULLY FOR HIM, but I secretly hope that he discovers knowing your partner doesn't inoculate you against sleep-deprivation fueled screaming and weeping matches and misunderstandings and late night episodes of terror. (For the record, my major anxiety: I'm afraid that my baby will die. The Other People seemed a bit taken aback by that.)

Anyway, I think this was a necessary stage to pass though, I'm just struck by how much one little class can reveal about my inner demons. This weekend is our (private--no Other People at least...) C-section class, so we'll see what that one reveals. Tip: put your money on feelings of massive inadequacy and sadness about not being able to deliver vaginally.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This cereal is the SHIT! And other assorted oddments.

1. A couple of weeks ago, the grocery store was out of my normal not-really-that-appealing high fiber cereal, so I was forced to switch brands. I'm so glad I did, because this new one tastes a million times better, and is also considerably more...effective. I know the blissful second trimester period of easy bowel movements may end soon, but I am hopeful that my new buddy here will prolong it for as long as possible.

2. I'm taking a break from working on my research statement for my tenure file. (By the way, the process lasts about A YEAR, so don't expect any I'm tenured! announcements from me any time soon.) When writing about my future research program I'm listing lots of projects like breastfeeding successfully, taking walks to get gelato with Bun Bun, lying in the back yard with Bun Bun... Do you think that might create the impression that I'm not really too committed to my job? 'Cause I totally am. I swear.

3. I'm really enjoying this song. (It's folky. You won't like it if you don't like folky music.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bun Bunery, Phase 2

Last night I dreamed I'd had a miscarriage in the first trimester. That instead of having this squirmy fetus, I had nothing at all. I woke up very distressed, but there was some nice, solid, wiggly evidence that that it was just a dream. I fell back asleep, but kept finding myself in the same dream--no Bun Bun. An awful, heart-wrenching feeling.

So today I made some curtains for the Bun Bunery. Here are a few shots of the progress we've made over the past couple months.

First, Phase One: A mostly empty room with a few crucial items. Crib, changing table, some newborn-size onesies, stuffed snail. (The last being the most critical.)
Then I assembled some fabrics from my collection. The red one has frogs. I had to use red because Mr. Bunny choose the changing table with red drawers. Anyway, there's a rug that brings them all together.
Then I made a slipcover for a cheap and hideous Target ottoman that's been lying around. Then I made curtains. With blackout lining.

If you look out the window you can see my snow covered vegetable garden. Some day it will be spring again! And I'll probably have a baby.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bitching is good for you.

Loss of interest in hobbies or goals, lack of all positive emotions, and contemplation of death.

That's how some women describe the experience of postpartum depression. (Also ...loneliness...loss of control, guilt, diminished concentration, fear that life would never be normal again...)

I read somewhere that women who have gone through infertility are some-shocking-percent more likely to experience postpartum depression, and I've become increasingly curious about that vaguely-remembered claim. So I decided to find out more. 'Cause Lord knows what I need to be doing with my time is reading about depression.

I didn't find any evidence of an increased rate of PPD in the previously infertile (or subfecund--don't you love that one?) relative to the rest of the population, even in a meta-review (i.e., a summary of a whole bunch of studies). I found one study that compares depression scores in an infertile population pre and post baby, and finds no change. However, that study made an interesting suggestion. The researchers found that this population had decreased marital satisfaction post birth (no shit--that presumably applies to all women, not just the subfecund), and also an increase in something called the "divided self". This is a phenomenon where you act like you're all happy while actually feeling like shit, resulting in dissonance. The women who scored high on measures of this phenomenon also scored high on depression measures. Here's how the article puts it:

The researchers can't claim that a divided self leads to depression, and the study didn't compare this measure in fertile and infertile women, but here's what I take from it. I've watched many of you struggle with your feelings post-pregnancy (witness Al's lovely post about her sister's pregnancy) and I've certainly struggled with mine. I've read your many caveats along the lines of my whole body fucking hurts but I'M NOT COMPLAINING BECAUSE I'M SO HAPPY TO BE PREGNANT and I've certainly written my own. For what it's worth, I think this little data point suggests that honesty (though not necessarily at all times or in all places or with all people) is the best policy. And while this particular finding is about the pregnant-after-infertility population, I can't help but imagine it applies to all of us.

Therefore I direct you one and all: Go forth and vent.