Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kidney Bean

We have told the first non-medical person about our pregnancy. I told my brother over the phone the other night. He seemed very surprised; apparently, all our protests over the years that we would have kids when we were good and ready made my family convinced that we would wait another 10-20 years or something. He was a little disappointed that my pregnancy will prevent me from being able to fly out to visit his newborn in July (and somehow, I don't see him being willing to fly cross-country to visit us in September with an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 2-month-old) but I think he's excited that at least one pair of cousins will be close to each other in age.

Then, he totally crushed me by revealing their current top choices in baby names, which overlaps with the one girl's name that I've been thinking about lately, so I guess I have to hope that they have a boy.

In the mean time, our little kidney bean has stepped up the morning sickness. Blech.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I had a round of testing yesterday, which included the initial glucose screening. As I understand it, this screening is a bit easier and more pleasant than the more serious glucose tolerance test. It involved drinking 10oz of, basically, really bad orange soda, on an almost empty stomach, waiting around for an hour, then having blood drawn. I had to have blood drawn for many, many other tests yesterday as well, so they ended up taking 12 vials (yes, that's right, an even dozen). Other than when I've donated blood (which involved lounging on a couch with my feet up, then being fed ice cream, as opposed to yesterday, which involved an uncomfortable chair that I was immediately thrown out of and sent on my way) I don't think that I've ever given up that much blood at once. There was also the uncomfortable several minutes when the tech refused to draw blood for several of the tests that Dr. M. requested, because she wasn't sure what the tests were, and didn't want to bother finding out.

Tech: "I don't know what this says."
Me: "It says 'Tay-Sachs mutation carrier.'"
Tech: "I don't know what that is, so I'm not going to do it."
Me: "It's a fairly common genetic test. Can't you just draw blood for it and look it up later?"
Tech: "Um... nah. I think instead we just won't do it."
Me: "But, I really need it done, and my doctor requested it."
Tech: "I doubt that, because I've never heard of it."
Me: stunned disbelief....

I argued with her a bit more, and one of the other techs eventually came over to see what was going on, and went and looked it up and told her that he would run the tests for her. The tests in question are a series of 4 genetic tests that Dr. M. ordered, because my Ashkenazi background puts me in a high risk group. Now, I realize that there aren't a whole lot of Jews living in this area (that is certainly not news to me) but seriously? You're a blood tech and you haven't heard of the genetic screening for Tay-Sachs? I'm not the only Jewish woman around here! (Though honestly, the whole thing is probably moot. S. is not of Ashkenazi descent, and for all of the things I was tested for, S. and I would both have to be carriers for my carrier status to matter at all, so the odds are incredibly slim. Not to mention, if anyone in my family were a carrier, I would think that I would have heard about it by now.)

Anyway, this round of testing is done. The only thing that I'm worried about at all is the glucose test, because damn, getting gestational diabetes this early in the pregnancy would suck. As would having to take the tolerance test as a follow-up, since it involves true fasting before hand, twice as much bad orange soda, and several additional blood draws over the course of 3 hours of sitting around the lab. Just what a nauseous woman wants!

Also on the topic of testing... we need to decide by our next appointment what screening tests we want to do (eg, triple screen and the high-resolution ultrasound for Downs, Trisomy 18, etc.). S's view: these tests have zero risk associated with them (an ultrasound and a blood draw), and they give us information, so we should just do them. My view: the tests themselves have no immediate risk, but both tests have an enormously high false positive rate, which means that the results may send us into a panic, and require not-so-low-risk follow-up tests (eg, amniocentesis), even though everything is almost definitely fine, since we are already in such a low risk group for any of these conditions.

On the false positive rates: 5% of women will get abnormal screen results. Of those women, only 2% of them actually have a problem. So, if 1,000 women take the test, 50 of them will get abnormal results, but only 1 of them actually has a problem, leaving the other 49 in several weeks of panic and follow-up tests for no reason.

S argues that yes, that false positive rate sucks, but honestly, we'll probably be among the 950 women who test normally from the start, at which point we can be happily soothed that nothing is wrong. Which seems very reasonable. Now.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Blueberry

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a great website slide show. It displays, week by week, the approximate size of a growing fetus as compared to various types of produce. Five weeks along? You've got a sesame seed! Six weeks? You've graduated to a lentil! We are currently in the well-known blueberry stage, eagerly awaiting our advancement to kidney bean in just a few days.

Some of the comparisons are a little bizarre. I don't know about you, but telling me that I've got something the size of a rutabaga in me actually tells me nothing at all, since I very seldom examine rutabaga. And something that I will eventually need to push out of me should never, ever be compared to a pineapple. Because seriously: ouch. (As opposed to a stalk of Swiss chard; that's easier to imagine giving birth to.)

For the most part, though, the comparisons have been a lot of fun, and surprisingly helpful for S. and me. As I was feeling increasingly sick last week, S.'s refrain of "Blame the lentil" often managed to bring a smile to my face. And telling S. that "The blueberry wants more chicken soup" turns out to be more effective than asking him to get it for me.

So, after kidney bean, we need to get through grape and kumquat before our next appointment (11 weeks, also known as "fig"). So I still have a little time to figure out what a kumquat is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Things We're Not Doing

Even though things are going well (two pink lines? check! heartbeat? check! fatigue and nausea? check and check!) I can't quite shake the fear that something might go wrong. S. and I have several times mentioned things that we will eventually have to do to prepare for a baby, then quickly agreed that it is much too early to do anything yet (there's been lots of talk about the counting of chickens and their yet-to-be-hatched eggs). Among the things that we are completely avoiding at the moment (me, so that I don't "jinx" anything, and less-superstitious S. because, well, I think that he just doesn't want to):
  • Telling anybody we're pregnant. Including our parents. Including my brother, who told me about each of A's pregnancies when she was only 5-6 weeks along.
  • Discussing names. I've started glancing at baby names books in stores, but can't bring myself to buy one yet. As a result, I've started to tell S. that I think "Huckabee" is a pretty name for a little girl.
  • Looking into buying a new car (which we will eventually have to do, because no way I'm carrying a child in the old, tiny little death traps we're currently driving).
  • Emptying out the "library," which will eventually be converted into a nursery, but will first need to be emptied of several hundred books. (For the record, emptying out that room could easily fill 6 months or more of our weekends, so we really can't afford to stall on this one for very long.)
  • Thinking at all about what we will need to purchase (crib, clothes, car seat, etc.).
  • Child care. Since I plan to go back to school after a one quarter maternity leave, we will eventually have to figure out child care. Day care? Nanny? Sharing care with a friend? Dunno....
  • Religious rituals. There's a good 50% chance that we won't have much say in this. If it's a boy, there's no question that we will have a bris, and since it happens on day 8, it would have to happen locally. We will have to pick a mohel, though... not that we have any experience with that. If it's a girl, we have more flexibility, and thus have more decisions to make. Naming ceremony at our (local) synagogue, and hopefully a few family members can fly in for it? Or wait a few months until we fly to visit my family, and then have my childhood rabbi do it at my parents' synagogue, like my brother did for his daughter? Dunno....
So, yeah.... Originally, I put all these things off until after our ultrasound. With that behind us... I'm thinking we should wait until the end of the trimester. Even though it seems silly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flicker Flicker Flicker Flicker ...

All systems go. We had the first prenatal appointment today, at 7 weeks exactly, and were rewarded with a beautiful ultrasound. One little embryo, one little yolk sack, both measuring exactly what they're supposed to, positioned exactly where they're supposed to be in the uterus. And, most exciting of all, a little fluttering heartbeat, right on schedule, that we couldn't take our eyes off of.

I know some people talk about feelings of maternal warmth and excitement and utter amazement upon seeing the first fuzzy ultrasound images. I guess I felt those things, too, but mainly, I felt overwhelming relief. I've been feeling sick enough that I knew I wasn't just imagining that I was pregnant, but still... a blood test showing elevated hormone levels seems so abstract, even if it is accompanied by very real nausea and food aversions. Seeing a little heartbeat, though... that seemed to show me something much more concrete. Proof that I'm actually building something in there. (S. and I have been joking for weeks that all my energy is going towards "creating infrastructure," but it's a whole other thing to actually see the infrastructure in black and white.) And for the record, it seems that S. felt many of the same feelings that I felt, in his own muted sort of way, but was mainly fascinated on a technical level. I suppose that's probably normal; people have told us that a woman starts to be a mother the moment she gets a positive pregnancy test, but a man doesn't start to be a father until he actually sees the baby after delivery.

Dr. M. used his little spinny wheel thing to calculate a due date, and came up with September 11. (I had calculated September 9 myself....) I cringed and asked him if he really needed to record the date as 9/11. He offered to write down the 10th instead, but S. actually took the opposite side and asked to keep it as the 11th. ("It's an easy date to remember!" Yeah, but for the wrong reasons....) The ultrasound computer calculated it to be the 8th, plus or minus 2 days, so I think that I'm just going to stick with the 9th. So there it is. 9/9. Our next appointment is in 4 weeks, when I'll be at 11 weeks even.

Also, because of my family history of diabetes, Dr. M. wants me to take the gestational diabetes glucose tolerance test early, as in sometime this week, as opposed to week 24 or so when normal people do it. I'm a bit nervous, because I don't want to give up my beloved anti-nausea saltines.... But overall, I'm just thrilled that things look good. Now, S. and I are actually moving on to a discussion of how long we want to wait before we tell our families!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


We're back. The trip back turned into quite an ordeal. We initially made it to the airport with plenty of time, but the first plane ride was horrible. We were on some sort of discount European airline, and I think that it was the oldest airplane I've ever been on. Everything about it screamed delapidated. Peeling paint, creaking parts, worn upholstery. And, worst for me, a horrible smell permeated the entire cabin. The crew was terrible, too, and twice just skipped our row entirely when bringing around drinks, so I couldn't even get water or ginger ale to try to settle my increasingly roiling stomach.

We landed in Madrid with barely enough time to make our connecting flight, especially since we had to go through passport control and re-check in. We made it okay, but one of our bags didn't, though we didn't find that out until our next layover.

Our flight from Madrid to Atlanta was long but unremarkable, except for how sick I felt the entire way. Happily, I managed to sleep more than I did on the way out, but all of the food on the plane disgusted me, so S. ate both our meals, and I limited myself to ginger ale, a dinner roll, and saltine crumbs over the course of the 9+ hour flight.

We had a planned 3.5 hour layover in Atlanta, so we sat down in a restaurant to get something to eat. I managed a little plain chicken before needing to flee the restaurant for the bathroom because of the nausea. By the time we boarded the plane, it was snowing (yes, snowing in Atlanta), and since it only snows there 1-2 times per year, they're not exactly set up to handle de-icing of all the planes. We ended up sitting on the plane for more than 4 hours before finally getting de-iced and being allowed to take off.

So, we finally got home at almost 2am. We dropped the bags and immediately fell into bed, though being horizontal set off another bout of nausea for me. I finally fell asleep at 3, then woke up every hour to pee, and was up for good when the phone rang at 8am (they found our bag, which is great news, but it couldn't wait a few hours?).

So, I'm munching on saltines and trying to stay awake for the day, in an attempt to nip the jet lag in the bud and be back on track by tomorrow. Meanwhile, S. is stunningly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and is taking on all of the unpacking and laundry duties. Before we left, I was barely feeling the effects of the pregnancy. Now, less than 2 weeks later, I am fully aware of my first trimester status. I'm hoping it eases up a little once I am better rested, but for now, I'm just looking ahead to the 7 week appointment on Tuesday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Travel Fatigue

Checking in just this once from overseas. The trip has been an interesting one. We had a long but relatively uneventful trip here -- it totaled 24 hours of travel time, and I wasn't able to sleep much on the plane, but overall not too bad. I drank lots of water and ginger ale, peed a whole lot, walked up and down the aisles of the planes (and a few airports), and was able to check into the hotel in pretty good shape (and then slept for 15 hours).

Things started off smoothly -- it was easy to find food that I could be sure was safe, including lots of dairy (yogurt and milk, and some cheeses, though I'm being extremely careful) and we've gone through almost a dozen 1.5 liter bottles of water. I was a bit tired during the first day of the conference (Monday) but it felt more like jet lag than anything pregnancy related.

Tuesday, things started to turn, and by today, I am definitely confident that I am feeling pregnancy effects much more than lingering jet lag. It is impossible to get through an entire day without some sort of rest around 4pm or so. Walking even a few blocks at anything faster than a slow ramble immediately tires me out and often gives me abdominal cramps. I feel sick within half an hour of getting up in the morning, or anytime I haven't eaten in more than 2 hours. Saltines are starting to lose their effectiveness at relieving the nausea. I haven't actually vomited, but I burp regularly with such ferocity that it often brings up bile (TMI, sorry). And I wouldn't say that I'm actually getting food aversions, but certainly the site, smell, or discussion of some foods definitely turns my stomach, often very suddenly, and often when they were fine the day before. The tiny crepes I've been having for breakfast every day this week suddenly appeared disgusting this morning. S. had to cover up his slices of ham as well, because the site of it made me ill. You can imagine how pleased I was when he ordered an anchovy pizza for lunch (averting my eyes was thankfully enough).

Given my ever increasing nausea, I am rather dreading the trip back (we leave tomorrow morning). I wore sea bands on the trip here, and it's not clear to me that they had any effect other than giving me bruises on my wrists. I guess I'll put them on as an extra "shield" against nausea, but I'm not all that hopeful that I won't vomit on the plane. Either way, it will be good to be home. I'm at 6w3d today, and my first prenatal appointment is Tuesday, when I'll be at 7 weeks even.

Other than the flight, my only real challenge between now and then will be dragging my jet-lagged and pregnancy-exhausted butt out of bed on Sunday in time to watch the Packers in the NFC Championship game....

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I must apologize. This blog seems to be leaning heavily to the boring these days. Not that I'm complaining -- the lack of interesting things to talk about is a side effect of finally being pregnant (hence no emotionally wrought tirades about failing to conceive) and, happily, having very little to report about the pregnancy. No real morning sickness yet, but I have been feeling increasingly queasy, especially in the evenings. Still tired, though not as bad as last week. Incredibly bloated, which I attribute to my sudden desire to eat tons of salty foods (though I am trying hard to cut back, and to drink as much water as I can swallow). And then there's my breasts. Holy cow, my breasts! Definitely tender to the touch, particularly around the nipples, and swollen beyond recognition. I'm barely into my 5th week, and I had to go buy new bras, one cup size bigger. Wow.

We leave tomorrow morning. I probably won't update while we're gone, unless I suddenly start puking my brains out.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


So far, so good. I'm lucky that I haven't had any serious symptoms so far... rather, I'm feeling things just enough to keep me reminded that I really am pregnant. I'm sleeping more than usual, and I get tired really easily. I get ravenously hungry every few hours, but then I feel totally full after just a few bites. I feel a little queasy every so often, but having a little something to eat makes it go away. (I'm munching on saltines, which my mom says she survived on during her pregnancies.) And, the last few days, I've been getting cramps on and off, centered slightly on my left side, accompanied by a weird "pulling" sensation that the book says is the stretching of ligaments around the uterus.

We're starting to get ready for our trip on Friday. I'm panicking a bit about what I'm going to be able to eat while we're gone, since the main cuisine includes lots of pork and locally-made unpasteurized cheeses. I'm also a little concerned about mosquitoes. I've read mixed reports about the safety of bug repellent during pregnancy, but at the same time, there are travel warnings for where we're going because of the threat of both malaria and West Nile virus from mosquito bites, and consistent use of bug repellent is suggested. I bought some non-DEET repellent today, and I'll just cross my fingers, wear long sleeves and pants as much as possible, and use the repellent sparingly on just my neck and ankles.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Results of the blood test are in, and I am really truly officially pregnant. Still in shock, but holy cow I'm happy.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Oh my goodness, we may have done it!

I spent Friday and Saturday feeling totally wiped out, and unnaturally hungry. I attributed the exhaustion to our recent travel, and the hunger seemed unusual only because I was actually not nauseous for the first time in weeks. But Sunday morning, the HPT was positive. I stared at it in disbelief for a few minutes, then woke up S. (at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, way earlier than his usual 10am wake-up time). He mumbled something along the lines of "That's nice," then pulled the covers back up over his head. When he woke up a few hours later, he had to ask me whether he had dreamed it.

I spent the day in a bit of a dream state, really happy, but also in a bit of disbelief. I'm trying not to get my hopes up until everything has been confirmed (I had a blood test on Monday, but with the New Year's holiday today, I won't get the results until tomorrow), and I'm leery of doing anything to "jinx" it during the first trimester, particularly since it is still so unbelievably early, but I couldn't resist running out and buying 2 pregnancy books. And peeing on yet another stick yesterday, to make sure that it wasn't a fluke.

Pointing towards this being the real thing: I took an hour-long nap yesterday afternoon, but still could barely stay awake until midnight for New Year's Eve. I slept for another 2 hours this afternoon, and I'm still feeling exhausted. And I never (I mean, never) normally nap.

So... I leave for a business trip next Friday. After I get back, we have the first prenatal appointment, on January 22, when I'll be at 7 weeks. My due date is September 9. Not that I'm getting ahead of myself at all at this stage....