Sunday, March 30, 2008

i look pregnant!

15 weeks

This is our first big night out in a long time. We head to the fancy schmancy country club for the big school auction, which translates to a huge drunk-fest-money-tossing-party for the parents (which makes it a really fun event for the teachers.) I get a few "you look so cute" comments and plenty of "congratulations!"

My biggest insult tonight, though, is somebody telling me I don't look pregnant yet. Are you serious??? My belly certainly did not protrude like that a few months ago!

Keep growing baby!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

carter quote

This will be quick. Carter is my nephew and he will be 5 next week. We haven't yet told him specifically that there is a baby in my belly but I've thrown little hints around to test out his reaction. Last week I was driving him somewhere in my car and I said, "Wouldn't it be fun if we had a baby at our house for you to play with?"

His answer: "Na, you might as well just get a a fish."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

yucky poo-poos

Yucky poo-poos is a phrase I invent to describe my morning sickness. I am feeling a trillion times better but I still have moments when the yucky poo-poos creep themselves back in. They usually come at night and usually when I am especially exhausted, either physically or emotionally. Today is one of those days.

I hear from Laurie today. Her email both brightens and darkens my day all at once. I am so relieved to hear from her. She is going to survive this.

She had a placental abruption which means the placenta detached from the uterus, cutting off the oxygen supply to her baby. By the time they got him out by c-section, he had already passed away. He was a boy. They named him Andrew Eugene (Eugene after his father.) He looked just like his big brother, James. She was able to get his footprints and keep some of his hair. The doctors say that if he had lived, he would have been brain-dead. The fact that he didn't have a life of suffering is the only thing that brings her any peace.

I am tortured by the reality of her nightmare. He was a real person, with real hair and real little feet. He had a name.

My past, present and future come together in a bare moment of grief. The wounds from my own loss are barely healed and I feel them tearing back open. I remember that shock. I remember that darkness. The hopelessness. The bare-boned loneliness. It's still raw in me.

The thought of my good friend experiencing these feelings right now this very moment (feelings even bigger than I can relate to) brings fresh tears to my eyes. Nobody deserves this. I hate this for her. I hate it.

And I think about the baby growing inside of me. I thought after the first trimester I could graduate to safety. Turns out there is no safety. You just never know. My baby's future and my future and my husband's future are all just as uncertain. Life has its own plan we have no control.

My friend who calls to grieve with me over Laurie's loss is Amy. She is a generation older than us and Laurie and I call her Auntie Amy. We love her. She's the kind of "auntie" whose lap you just want to lie your head on and tell all your problems to. This picture was taken of the three of us (with my husband) at my wedding last summer. I ask her on the phone how her chemo treatments are going. She tells me (in her always happy-positive tone) that the cancer has spread to her bones. She doesn't tell me much more but I know this is not a good thing.

Like I said, life has a plan of its own. And we have to accept all of it. We have no other choice.

It's kind of like accepting the yucky poo-poos, only on a much larger scale.

Monday, March 17, 2008

my growing belly

Let me preface this by saying that I have never posted pictures of my naked stomach on the internet before and I'm not exactly in love yet with my growing curves. Let's just say I am still working on getting used to it.

The first two pictures are actually from my 1st pregnancy. Today was the first time I got around to asking my husband to take one this time around.

And I am SHOCKED at how much my body has changed. I know I've been popping out of my clothes but I just didn't know it was this obvious. I just look fat! And my boobs are ginormous!!!!

4 weeks
good-bye flat tummy

8 weeks
hello bloat

14 weeks
belly (and everything else) is growing!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

telling my students

I wasn't planning to tell them so soon. But my boss slipped at a parent meeting and said that I would not be here next year. I'm certainly not retiring at age 31 and I know these parents are quick enough to put 2 and 2 together. I teach in a small neighborhood school where gossip travels faster than the speed of light. And I knew I did not want to be the subject of such rumors. So I decided to just come clean.

The timing of this is nothing less than ironic, given what's happened this week to my friend, Laurie. I feel funny about celebrating at such a sorrowful time. I feel a heavy burden of guilt and a strange question of betrayal.

On top of that, I feel worry. And I feel a responsibility to keep my students innocent. And now I know -- really know -- that there are no guarantees. This could all be taken away in an instant. I don't expect that to happen but the possibility lingers in the back of my head and in the pit of my stomach. This whole business is risky. And it scares me.

But I can't stay in hiding for 9 months. And I can't deny the joy of this pregnancy. I'm sure Laurie doesn't regret celebrating the 7 months she had with her child. I know I deserve to celebrate this and I know my baby deserves to be celebrated. My students deserve to share this joy as well.

So I tell them. We play "Mystery Message" which is much like Hangman or Wheel of Fortune, and they jump up and down for joy when the message is solved. It is a moment I wish I could box up and save forever. A little boy named Charlie stands up and yells out, "Oh my god! You're going to be a full-grown MOTHER!!!!"

Then come the questions (I wish I had done this on video!):

Will it have a penis?
Are you and your husband going to be the mom and dad?
How big is it?
How did you know it was in there?
When did you find out?
Why didn't you tell us right away?
Is it a boy or a girl?
When is it coming out?
Will we wake it up if we get too loud and wild?
Can you eat junk food? Candy bars?
Can you feel it kicking you?
Will you adopt it or keep it? (she meant put it up for adoption)
If it's waving at you in the picture, how could it see through your belly?

And here are my favorites:

If you eat a shirt, will it go onto the baby?
Will they cut you open or will it come out your butt?

It is a good day and I don't regret telling. I am still heartbroken for Laurie, though. That won't change. But I realize I can feel heartbroken and hopeful all at the same time. I am sad and happy and scared and relieved. All at once. And I know that celebrating my pregnancy (in the privacy of my own life) does not in any way disrespect Laurie's loss or make the hurt I feel for her any less.

I probably won't ever celebrate with Laurie. But in some ways, I think honoring the baby growing inside of me honors the baby she lost even more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

when bad things happen to good people

Sometimes there simply is no answer to the question why.

My friend, Laurie, and her husband, Gene, are good people. They are generous and warm and both have the beautiful gift of making people laugh. You almost can't not laugh when you are around them.

But I don't think they are doing any laughing today.

I see an email in my inbox today from Laurie. I haven't talked to her in a few weeks and am excited to hear from her. She is about 31 weeks pregnant and due in May. I know this because she was exactly 4 weeks ahead of my first pregnancy and I haven't stopped counting. She was actually one of the very first people I told about my first pregnancy. I sent her a picture of my positive pee stick and asked her if this was a good sign. She wrote back immediately -- we were going to have babies together!!!!!!!!

Six weeks later I lost that pregnancy. It was hard for me to talk to her. It was hard for me to talk to anyone. Especially anyone who was pregnant. She gave me some space and we didn't talk at all for a month or two. When I found out I was pregnant again in January, my husband and I went to Vermont. My husband went snowboarding with Gene and I visited Laurie. She was showing and glowing and happy. And so was I. We were going to have babies together after all.

But now it turns out we're not. The message in my inbox is not from Laurie. It is from her husband. She had some complications this morning with her pregnancy and he brought her to the hospital. She had to have an emergency c-section. The baby did not survive.

My heart drops. I am devastated for them. How does this happen? Why?

I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to lose a baby at 31 weeks -- to feel it move inside of me and show my belly off to the world and decorate a nursery and buy little tiny baby clothes. And then have it all taken away. How does this happen?

I know there is no answer but I can't stop asking

I can't put myself in her shoes and I will never pretend to understand what she is going through. But I can relate to parts of it. I know what it's like to resent all pregnant women. I remember it like it was yesterday. You want to be happy for the pregnant people around you but you can't help feel that jab every time you even hear the word pregnant.

And now I'm one of them. I'm the reminder of all that she's lost. I'm that bittersweet slap in the face. Suddenly the tables are turned and I realize neither side is very pretty.

I don't have much more to say. My heart breaks for my friend and for her family. And I will never understand it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

12 weeks!

What a milestone! Our appointment yesterday is wonderful. Of course I am nervous and the ultra-sound tech immediately points out the heartbeat. 167 and strong! The baby is upside-down and sleeping at first. The tech pushes on my belly a little bit and wallah -- the baby is awake! It flips over and starts swimming around all over the place. And it keeps waving at us. Yes, those are its tiny little fingers in the air. So of course I wave right back! My husband and I are glued to the screen and we are both smiling ear to ear. She takes all the measurements and tells us the everything looks perfect! Music to my ears.

Later I ask my doctor our chances of a miscarriage now and her exact words are, "very very unlikely." More music.

Enough music, in fact, that I've been dancing ever since.

Monday, March 3, 2008

cat is out of the bag

Hello world, I AM PREGNANT!!!!!!! And it's no secret anymore. Here is the email I send out at work today:

I know some of you are getting suspicious so before the rumors start flying -- I am not just getting fat and I have not had a chronic stomach bug for the last month and a half. I am excited to let you know that I am about 12 weeks pregnant and due in September. I am planning on taking next year off, although I promise to be back to visit with the baby. I have not yet told the kids or parents but I plan to probably before conferences. Thanks for keeping it quiet until then.

The responses start coming in immediately. I am overwhelmed by the all joy I feel surrounding me. I feel so blessed to work with such wonderful and supportive colleagues.

Yesssssss! I am so happy for you and Phil. You will be wonderful parents. I'll keep it a secret! D

Such happy news...congratulations!

At first I was worried about you because you were looking pekid and low energy, then I started to get suspicious because you were back to looking really happy and bright - so I'm so glad to hear this news! You must be thrilled! Your secret is safe and many, many good wishes.

I have tears in my eyes! I'm sooo happy for you.
Karen G.

Yipee! Congratulations!
You are going to be a fantastic mother!

Andra!!! Mazel Tov. That's wonderful news and I wish you all the very best!! It's a pleasure to be involved in planning showers for you...bridal and babies and more, oh my! We'll miss you next year (you are so lucky to be able to give that 'gift' to your new baby) and look forward to your return. You're a GREAT teacher and of course, you'll be a terrific MOMMY! Lots of luck and happiness! Bonnie

There are a bunch more but you get the gist of it. There is also a congratulations in my inbox from Karen. I've mentioned her before. I am told in confidence last week by another teacher that she just lost her third baby. I am devastated for her. I really worry about how the news will feel to her. I lose sleep over it. The last thing I want to do was cause her any more pain. But I also know in my gut it is time to spill the beans. I cannot hold it in any longer. Literally.

I am glad I do it the way I do. There is no big production thrown in her face. I respond to her email and thank her and let her know I am thinking of her and that I hope her journey leads to a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. What more can I say.

Because that's really all I know. And I know it about every woman struggling with a miscarriage who happens to be reading this. I know how dark the tunnel is and I know how scary the turns can be. I can't tell you how long the tunnel will be. But what I can tell you is that there is a light at the end of it. This I can promise you. So hold on tight to whoever is riding along with you and just keep moving forward. It's really the only way to go.