She is back with a vengeance. Baby T, why do you make your mom so tired? What’s going to happen when you come out? Sigh, at least then, I can look at your cute little face. I wonder if S was a cute baby? I was. I had killer dimples until I was 12 which got veiled under layers of Wet N’ Wild for several years and then faded when I was in my mid-twenties.
For the last few days, I have had unusual feelings in my stomach. They shift from sharp pains to soothing stretches and occasionally, I lose my breath. Turns out this is completely normal and the result of my uterus expanding and moving and the ligaments around it stretching to hold it in place. Over the next 20 weeks a lot of shift is going to happen. Check out this cool tool for the week-by-week play-by-play.
I officially surrender my day to Baby T. Get it girl. You win again. I'm going to bed.
If I've learned one thing, it's to quit when I'm ahead. After a month of tossing and turning, I scoured the internet for a pregnancy-approved sleeping aid. Tylenol PM for the win! My research is over.
I popped 2 and fell asleep like a (my) baby last night. Alas, I woke up at 3:14 when the 5-hour spell wore off.
Back to sleep? Not a chance. Here's what's keeping me awake:
1. Do we have to get a mediator or run our Child Support agreement through court?
2. Who is going to take me to the delivery room? What if no one is home? It's close enough to walk. Is that a bad idea?
3. When do I (or we) start taking classes? What's the difference between them? What's Hypnobirthing?
4. Am I going to make it to PURE STRENGTH at 7:15 or should I cancel now to avoid a ding on my account? I am the last open spot.
5. Is S going to be my "coach?" I suppose I need to ask him and not assume. Is his mom going to want to be there?
6. How do you have a baby if you don't have a mom? Who is going to be excited and unconditionally full of love?
7. Baby bonding. If S does not stay with me the first 2 to 4 weeks, will she hate him? Who will take care of me while I take care of her?
8. Early custody. I can't let her out of my site. I hope he gets she needs to stay with me. What would he feed her?
9. Later custody. Am I really supposed to give him the baby overnight? UGH. He is the dad and I have to and am learning to trust him. I do trust him. I don't trust his cat.
10. Are we really going to end up with legal agreements? I like to think we are still working toward something. No idea. Has not been a recent focus of conversation.
I roll with these questions and then choose to get up. I promised my friend a synopsis of a book I am reading (God by Deepak Chopra) and I may as well get ahead of it. He knows I'm nuts. It's 4:14 and I really hope his ringer is off.
I do a quick mediation and head to the Y for a very, early workout. My 80-year old "boyfriend" is already there. He's a fireball. I love chatting with him and respect his commitment to be active and social. However, he is looking at me funny.
"Cynthia. Have you been eating too many cookies?"
"No sir. It's an actual baby, not a cookie baby."
"You've been cheating on me. Who's the lucky fella?"
"Well, he needs to decide if he's lucky. But, I still love you the same."
He comes close with tears in his eyes.
"I hope you know this is a miracle and the best thing that will ever happen to you. I have seen the world, had two amazing wives and the joy I have every day from my children is irreplaceable. Enjoy this time. It will all work out."
The unsolicited support slays me. I am clearly ahead and so. . . I quit. Happy Tuesday.
I learned a trick to deal with difficult situations. Pretend it’s your starring role and don’t let anything get in the way! This is my mantra for tonight.
When S invited me to Christmas Eve dinner, I was excited. I thought this was how he wanted to introduce me to his family, include me in a holiday event and to share the “good” news about the baby. Personally, I’d rather skip the pomp and circumstance and meet his parents over a casual lunch, but, this seemed important to him, so I made it important to me.
After another pivot during a chat on Thursday, I was pissed. The short story is that I asked how he wanted dinner to go and what he meant by “we are having a baby; I don’t want to date anyone right now.”
His response was very Cheshire Cat. Cool if you’re on an Auyahasca journey. Not cool if you are having a baby. In full transparency, I didn't understand his response and did not think it was worth trying to clarify before dinner. We are always working on communication and I couldn't see how sending a text or e-mail would help the process.
I decided to show up as the best version of me. I shifted my mantra to “be what you want to attract” and reminded myself that this is for her. She deserves to have grandparents.
After a fun workout, a blustery walk to get coffee and a game of Scrabble, it was go time. I curled my hair, put on a modest layer of make-up and donned a new, black wrap dress (with side-cinches for my growing belly). I slid on cranberry wedges with a delicate ankle-strap and for good luck--my mother’s pearls.
I had gifts for everyone and sat patiently waiting for S and texting a photo to my besties.
He is right on time.
“You look amazing!”
Our eyes meet. I look away. In that split-second my heart shifts. I am deeply affected by the compliment. I wonder if I have been a troll the last month. Have I been too selfish? Too interested in what is going to happen that I am missing what is happening? He might be equally nervous about tonight. I imagine his ex-wife was part of last year's holiday and that he will likely have a long, Christmas Day getting grilled on his, mine and our plans for the baby. In this moment, it is clear. I need to do better.
He opens my door and I greet his brother with a well-wrapped jar of homemade Russian Tea Cakes.
The drive is easy and the conversation light. Mostly about my birthday and his new back pain.
The hotel is gorgeous. A newly-built, Baroque-inspired hideaway in Del Mar. We are the first to arrive and are seated right away.
His parents show up within 5-minutes. I stand to greet them with warm hugs and a small gift of cookies and a hand-blown holiday ornament.
They already know a lot about me and it is pretty accurate. We talk about his dad’s recent driving experience at the Porsche facility in LA and my dissimilar experience at the location in Atlanta. I learn about their life in Germany and their "love story" which started in high school (adorable) and has taken them all over the world.
It is going well! And then, the light (but deep) questions start.
“So have you settled in to being pregnant? Are you excited?”
My lower lip starts to tremble and I feel the tears coming. What do I say? I try a few things out in my head.
“Yes, the best part is waking up most mornings around 3 am and freaking out about money, custody, my living situation or simply how she's going to get out of my body."
"What does your son say?."
“Of course! This is exactly what I want to do in 2017. My back-up plan was to spend 6-weeks in India. Snore.”
Instead, I string together some semblance of words to the effect of.
“Depends on the day. It was obviously unexpected. But, I have to trust and believe that it is happening because it is supposed to.”
And I do. I am cautiously excited about the baby and the changes and opportunities that she will bring. I am learning to be vulnerable and to accept help. I'll learn (and shape) how to fit into this new family and S will find his space within mine.
S and I excuse ourselves for a short walk. He can see I am having trouble or he needs to stretch his back. Either way, I'll take it. When we return, the next 2 (yes, 2) hours are quite lovely. I really like them.
Before we say our "good-byes" for the night, I give both parents another hug -- I can see his mom eyeing my belly.
"Do you want to touch it?"
She does. And she does.
Ooooof! Another zap to my heart. We step outside and I fall apart again. S loosely takes my hand and guides us to his truck.
Birth control is nothing new. Methods as early as 1500 BCE are recorded in the Ebers Papyrus of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt and include a paste of honey, acacia leaves and lint (yup) put in the vagina to block sperm. Ancient Roman relics dating back to 200 BCE show a bronze pessary to block the cervix. And the famous lover, Casanova, wrote about using a lambskin condom in the 1700’s.
It’s hard to know how effective these methods were. But, today, we have dozens of reliable methods. When used correctly popular methods are over 99% successful at preventing pregnancy. This number drops a few points when they are used “in real life (IRL).” For example, forgetting a pill and doubling up the next day.
Nothing (except abstinence) works 100% of the time and surprise pregnancies are pretty common. According to the Guttmacher Institute nearly half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are not intended. Of those, half of the women were using some method of birth control.
It took me a few months to be comfortable being pregnant. Now that I am, I got curious as to why. I was on birth control. So, I dug into the IRL behaviors that can reduce the effectiveness of the pill. Number one is obvi -- but two and three were new to me.
If you’re taking the pill and not keen on getting a “bump,” take a peek.
1. Be on time. There are 2 types of birth control pills. If you’re taking a progestin-only pill, you have a 3-hour window to dose or you’ll need to use a back-up method for 2-days! If you are taking a combination pill (estrogen and progestin) there is more leeway, but it’s best to stay on schedule. Learn more at Planned Parenthood.
2. Check for drug interactions. I had a Morton’s Neuroma removed when I was unknowingly 2-weeks pregnant. Before the surgery I was in a TON of pain and took Oxycodon a few times a week to deal with it. Oxycodon reduces the effectiveness of birth control pills, a back-up method is recommended.
3. Check for herbal supplement interactions. Ironically, the same herbs that soften cramps can soften the effectiveness of birth control pills.
When in doubt, ask your doctor or double-up on your methods.
I hate asking for help. My mom died when I was 18 and since then, I think that I am supposed to handle everything on my own. It's not true and it annoys other people. People like to help and it feels good to feel needed.
Now that we know it's a girl, I have several friends who are pumped to clean out their garages and to pay the baby goods forward. It's time to start filling my garage and I need to pick up a crib, a "pack and play" and some other stuff so that my friends Pete and Monica can leave for the holidays with a clean garage.
I know this is one of those things I need to include S in. I also feel like I should be able to figure it out myself and prove my efficiency. I can get Trevor or Drew to help. I can shove it all in my Golf. But why? He's the dad. He has a truck and he needs to be offered the chance to help.
He calls me around 11. I am leaving the gym and headed home. We have non-specific plans which may include a hike (he's been sick). I lay this down as an option. He's in. He'll come by at 2 for a short hike, then we will get the stuff.
We climb through the "Mushroom Caves" in Solana Beach (super fun if you have not been). We stop to talk to some birders. We go to Starbucks (I have to pee all the time) and run into one of my favorite former co-workers from Equinox. S definitely sees my hyper and excited side (it's big) and he doesn't ditch me. Phew.
Pete and Monica live close to me and we wait for them to get home from their family photo shoot. They have two girls (ages 2 and 4) and the younger one was born when they were our age. Monica and I hang back while they load the stuff in to the truck. I am unexpectedly emotional and starting to fall apart.
I don't know if is intentional, but S distracts me with the plot of a Will Ferrell movie.
We unload everything in to my garage. We are both deep in our own thoughts and the physcial "stuff" makes the baby even more real. I don't want to look at it and we both need space. It's good -- it's just a lot to process.
I still haven't called S or anyone else. I am enjoying this private moment with my baby girl.
Then, reality check. My "Fuel" light goes on. The spell is broken.
I hate getting gas. Reluctantly, I pull in to the gas station and call S while I am filling my tank.
"We are all clear. There are no indicators for diseases. No Down's, Edwards or Patua. No indicators of Cystic Fibrosis. It's healthy and growing."
He is relieved. "What is it?"
I pause. I am not telling him on the phone.
"Listen, I can't tell you on the phone. One day, shortie will ask you how you learned it was an "boy/girl" and if your reply is "mom called me from the gas station" we suck. I'll come by after work."
"Where are you?"
"Literally, at the gas station. Then, I am picking up something for you and going to work."
"When will you be there?"
"Fine. I will see you there."
Okay. I stop at the bakery. I don't know if he likes chocolate or vanilla so I get both. I hit every red light on the way to work. I get nervous that he wants a boy. I am anxious that I am going to make him late for his lunch meeting. I am annoyed that I am worried about his reaction.
I park. I gather my stuff and he is beelining toward me. We hug and detour to the picnic tables. He is shaking. I hand him the cupcakes. He looks at me like I am insane.
"You want me to eat a cupcake? Now?"
He's a trooper. He breaks in to it and finds the pink. His face is the most beautiful collage of surprise, sweetness, acceptance, reality and love.
We sit for a few minute, then go our separate ways.
My day is a whirlwind. I tell a few people and everyone is pumped. Turns out, people love babies, and pregnancy. No one asks for details.
After work, I go to yoga and am excited for my last few solo days at home.
I'm watching "Jane the Virgin" when S calls. I'm surprised and obviously pick up.
He is on fire. He is excited (and a little drunk). He called his mom to schedule a lunch with her this weekend and ended up telling her. This morphed into telling his dad and a family text chain that ended with me joining them for Christmas Eve dinner.
I take this in. Obviously, I am excited and happy. I am also nervous. For some dumb-ass reason, I think that there is something is wrong with me because my parents are dead.
I shake that off and focus on what is right. She will have grandparents! This is amazing. I never had grandparents and I want this for my (eeek!) daughter.
We hang up and I throw down hundreds on Ann Taylor for a buffet of Christmas Eve dresses.
My second doctor appointment is at 10:30. I am working from home and trying to stay calm. I won't lie. It's been really stressful waiting for this day. It's when I get the results of the NIPT and learn if there are any risk-factors for chromosomal disease.
We went through the list of diseases to decide what indicators we'd talk about and what indicators we are okay with. If everything is clear, then I am sharing the news wider and owning the fact that I am pregnant and becoming a mom.
I am afraid that people will judge me for being single, pregnant and uninterested in marriage. I have this graphic "Hester Prynne" montage of shaming. Truth is, I am not ashamed. Likely I judge them for their lifestyles. I have never wanted "traditional" and neither way is right or wrong.
I go for a walk. Catch up on emails and send S a quick note. I will call him after.
The office is the same--friendly and efficient. I pee in a cup, get weighed (down a pound which makes me nervous), strip down and don my paper gown.
Today, I meet the doctor (last time, I saw a nurse practicioner) who is equally rad and might deliver the baby (if she is working that day). She knows how nervous I am and assures me that she does this all day.
She reveals the results of the tests. We are clear! There are no indicators of disease. I am so relieved -- I didn't realize how stressed out I was until the burden was lifted.
There are no "Y" chromosomes present. It's a girl! Her heartbeat is a fierce 160 bpm. She is healthy.
Deep breath. Ohhhhhhhh. . . this just got real. I am growing a baby girl. She is the size of a plum and completely reliant on me and my choices to blossom in to a person.
I dress, schedule my next appointment and am set free to go. Where? I sit outside for a few minutes to let this soak in. This is worth celebrating! I decide to go to a local bakery for pink-filled cupcakes.
It takes exactly 7 minutes to walk from my house to Swami's beach. I love the walk. It is through a pumpkin patch, an orange grove and then a quick hop across the train tracks, Pacific Coast Highway and voila! Swami's!
Today, it takes me 15-minutes. I feel dead inside. I don't have a desired outcome. I don't have an ideal format. At least I am prepared. I have printed both our emails in case he wants to discuss them. I have also printed the California Child Support Guidebook and Calculator. If he is out, I want to be sure he has this information so that he can make a financial plan.
I am early. I sit on a bench facing the ocean and close my eyes. The sun feels amazing. He slides in next to me. I don't have words. I find them.
"How do you want this to go?"
"I'm here. I will do what you want."
We walk down to the sand and sit. He’s better looking than I remember and it feels so normal.
We talk about divorce, depression, loneliness, fear, judgment, fear of judgment, communication, our needs, what “all in” means, what “space” means.
I swear, it is a 10-minute conversation and we are good. Clear. On the same page.
We go for a walk on the rocks. We go downtown for coffee. I show him the old schoolhouse and the “Ship” apartments. We talk about trivial things. My writing. Krav Maga. Yoga. His business. My work.
We go to my house. We keep talking, laughing and getting to know each other. It is a great day. We clarify what “space” means and negotiate something that works for both of us. We decide to work on a friendship since we've obviously nailed sex. We decide to connect Wednesday after my doctor’s appointment and to see each other next Sunday.
Sunday is back.
1. What if I miscarry?
2. Am I eating too much canned tuna?
3. What do I tell my coworkers? Is my boss or HR going to spill the news?
4. What do I do in June? Do I move out? Does Drew move out? Where would I go?
5. Should I move to Wisconsin?
6. How do I find day care? Do I find a nanny? In-home? Facility? How will I pay for it?
7. Will I have any free time when the baby comes?
8. What if it likes the day care person better than me?
9. What if it never meets its dad or grandparents?
10. Is Botox really off limits?
11. What if I freak out in labor and can't do it?
12. Who will be in the room with me if S is out of the picture? Do I still keep him informed of the "medical side?"
13. Will I have to go to court and get child support through the state?
14. What if I can't find day care and can't go back to work and don't have any money?
I am no heavy – needler but I do dabble in Botox a few times each year. Sure, I am a low-maintenance lady who prefers jeans and flip-flops to fashion trends, but that doesn’t mean that I am down with wrinkles.
My last treatment was in March and my eyes could use a touch-up. Maybe they’re dragging because I am not sleeping well (see why here) or maybe it’s because I am 43 and gravity is doing its job.
I call my local Medical Spa and make an appointment. I arrive on time. Fill out the paper work and sit patiently.
Service denied! Snaps to them for being concerned. Surprise to me (that will be obvious on my face for the next few years.)
Turns out, Botox is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Although the injection is localized and the dosage is tiny there is VERY little research about cosmetic procedures during pregnancy.
"Nobody really wants to study drugs during pregnancy, unless it's something that's life saving, this is because you'd always worry there may be some bad outcome for the baby." Says Roxanne Guy, the former president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
I get it. No company in their right mind is going to fund a study on pregnant women for an elective procedure to see if it damages the fetus.
I stop for a coffee (translation: decaf cappuccino) and do a quick search on anti-aging serums. I swear I am not this vain. I am simply surprised because I never considered Botox would be contraindicated.
The gold-standard ingredient in anti-aging products is Retinols. Also off-limits.
I do find a helpful article on safe skin care products but decide to take this as a win. I just saved $150 and will stick to my simple routine of Cetaphil and Birch Box samples.