Here I am at 16 weeks. It’s important to note that this was taken in the morning. Had it been taken 8 hours later I would have looked 8 months pregnant. To call it bloating would insult the word bloating. But it at least gives me a good idea of where my pregnancy look is going. I am also wearing my former fat jeans here. The good news is that they fit like a glove now. The bad news is that on my feeling fat days, I have only a wardrobe of pajama pants to choose from.
I had my 16 week check up on Monday. Every time I go it’s a different doctor so I get familiar with all the doctors in the practice should my actual doctor not be available for the birth. Honestly it doesn’t matter to me who delivers the baby. As long as they have access to very powerful drugs and general knowledge of the location of my vagina, any doctor will do.
The first thing that the doctor did was hand me a screening survey for depression filled with questions about anxiety and feelings of sadness. My score for the test was zero. In other words, I have no sadness or worries. When the doctor reviewed my test she said wow, you are pretty relaxed. Not really but I am not worried. There is a difference. The way I see it, all kinds of idiots have babies in the world. I know I can do it - and do it better than them. Not only that but remember, I am of advanced maternal age. I am too old to be scared or depressed about this.
I did the token pee in a cup, they took my blood pressure then my weight. To quote the nurse, you’ve gained a few pounds. Thank you because my what feels like mammoth breasts and bloated stomach are not a daily reminder of that. But she is right. I have gained about 4 pounds since the last check up. That would be a rate of 1 pound per week which is common (and suggested) in the second trimester. Still, it freaks me out to keep stepping on the scale and see it going up with no effort on my part. It’s not like I sit around eating chocolate for breakfast and ice cream for lunch. All in all, I have gained nearly 10 pounds. I have never weighed this much in my life. Actually, 5 pounds ago I had never weighed that much in my life. By the end of this, I will have put on nearly an additional 25 percent of my starting body weight.
The doctor must have gone through a generic Must Tell At 16 Weeks list with me. She ran through a list of symptoms, each of which I declined. No, really, I feel pretty normal. In fact, sometimes I have a hard time believing there is a baby in there. Until she whipped out the Doppler again and a few inches below my belly button picked up a speedy whooshwhooshwhoosh of something unmistakenly alive.
Sounds like a happy baby, she said.
Sounds like at least zone 3 if you ask me!
Eventually, she got to talking about classes – there is a class for everything; breastfeeding, multiples, high risk, postpartum depression, Cesarean birth, infant massage, baby sign language, even grandparenting. There are also at least a dozen exercise classes.
So, I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you about prenatal aerobics?
Next, the doctor told me about the childbirth class. Since this is our first child, she told us to definitely attend a class. Plus, she noted that women who attend tend to be less anxious during labor. In her words, they don’t get freaked out by an IV. In that case, I am well ahead of the game - I've done Ironman. I've never needed but have seen IVs. I know what they do. There are so many choices for classes; 5 weeks for 2.5 hours, 3 weeks for 3 hours, 3 Sundays for 3.5 hours. And then…..the Preparation Marathon.
MARATHON! That's the key word! Sign me up for that. Yes, a marathon of 8.5 hours of baby googoogaga and all other scary things that come out of your vagina during childbirth. I WANT TO DO THE MARATHON!
When I told Chris about this class, he grumbled, moaned but did not get out of it. Honestly, this is more for him than me. I know what comes out, I know it won’t be pretty and things might tear/strain/hurt/bleed/ooze, etc but I am not sure he does or to what extent. There are things he needs to know. This class will be an eye opener to him.
Or, completely turn him off from sexual contact for the rest of our lives.
When I got home from the doctor, I had to register to give birth at the hospital. I am pretty sure I just signed a permission slip to open my legs wide in front of the world. Not only that but the baby can barely fit in the palm of my hand right now and I already need to know its pediatrician. Really? Even with this pre-registration the doctor told me to still expect 6 pages of paperwork when I arrive at the hospital. Excellent – I will totally be in the mood to fill out forms in triplicate while in labor. Sorry, kid, you got to wait. I’m only on page 3. I need more time.
I’ve started to read about giving birth. Of course everyone has advice. The best came from my college roommate, Ellen.
Take the drugs, you totally won’t regret it.
I thought for a moment about not taking the drugs because I want to feel the pain. I want something to put on my pain scale, ie, this rates somewhere between the Ironman marathon and scaling a wall with my tongue. In all seriousness, I know this will hurt. There is no need to tell me – I’ve heard it and I made an educated guess a long time ago that it will really, really, REALLY hurt. Point taken. I envision it to be something like running along at mile 22 of the Ironman marathon while my dentist performs dental work on my teeth and my husband chases my ass with a progesterone shot. On second thought, I want the drugs.
This week I went shopping for some new clothes. I still fit into most of the old ones but I am anticipating the waist will tighten to discomfort any day now. I refuse to shop at a maternity store because I figure there is a 100% mark up on something just because it has an elastic band. Instead, I hit the sale racks at some of my favorite I-know-I-am-too-ol-to-shop-here-but-you-try-finding-something-that-fits-when-you-are-5’2” stores; American Eagle, Gap, Old Navy. Sometimes I even shop at Aeropostale. I also like to read People magazine and have Flo Rida on my iPod. If that makes me a moron and you a genius, I’s Doesn’t Care.
Back to the doctor’s visit, this time they did not do an ultrasound. Instead, it was scheduled in another 4 weeks. But, I lucked out because I had another appointment set with the perinatologist on Wednesday. They wanted a follow up just to be sure the baby was not experiencing any ill-effects from Kell antibodies. There would be an ultrasound. I waited like a child for Christmas for over 5 weeks for this ultrasound. Because I knew if the baby cooperated and the technician was willing, they could tell me the gender.
And yes, we want to know.
I got home from teaching on Tuesday night and thought to myself – tomorrow morning I get to meet my son or daughter for the first time. Sure, I have seen them but until this time it was just an “it”. Baby. Knowing the gender make everything feel more real, to me. Names can be chosen. A nursery can be painted. Your dreams become that much more tangible. When my sister-in-law was pregnant, one of the most endearing things was that she and the father called the baby not only by its name but by its future nickname. They hadn’t even met this little person yet already they seemed to be connected, “when Aubbie gets here….” By the time she arrived, I felt like we already knew her. They had been talking about her for months!
Wednesday morning, I went to the perinatologist. I was giddy. THIS IS IT! Let me tell you the best thing about the second trimester – no more transvaginal ultrasound! The technician got to work on moving the wand over my belly. And….wow!
Compared to 5 weeks ago, there is definitely what looks like a little person in there! The baby was face down my uterus but the profile was amazing – there is the spine, the legs, the umbilical cord, the head. And, before I knew it, little hands moving all over the place. The mouth was moving, probably talking to itself just like Chris does sometimes when I catch him reciting his favorite movie lines outloud to himself for a laugh. And, the heart was beating at 149 bpm. She scanned the legs and from the looks of it, those legs look ready to put out 5 watts/kg. Give or take.
Then, she pointed to something small. Really small.
Looks like you are having a boy.
I let out a little yell and then said I KNEW IT! Really, I did. And, wouldn’t you know the Chinese Gender Prediction Chart and Aunt Linda were right, too!
All of a sudden, everything became more real. Those are his legs. His little hands. That is Chris’ son moving around in there. He did a complete flip in my uterus (early flip turn training for sure) and was now laying face up, hands still moving wildly and still talking to himself. She took a picture of his face and my first comment was – that is freaky but looking closer it is a little face, that is my son's little face!
He weighs 5 ounces right now.
Wait a minute…doing the math if he weighs 5 ounces how the hell have I gained 10 pounds? And, if the baby has 7+ more pounds to go what the hell does that mean for me!?
The technician left the room and I waited for the doctor. Immediately I sent Chris a text:
It’s a boy!
He is moving around like crazy.
He is going to be a wild one.
He has your chin. But he has a really small penis.
That is from your side of the family.
The doctor eventually came in and said that everything looked good. Confirmed it was a boy. And then I left.
Walking out, things felt different. More specific, more real. I know who is in me now. I can talk specifically to them. I can call them by name. I thought ahead – perhaps parents do this where your mind starts spinning years from now, what you’ll do, your dreams, their reality. I thought about how exciting it must be for Chris to know there is a little man that will look up to him in a different way than a girl would. A little pal – well, at least until he is 12 and too cool (though I am sure nowadays, 8 is the new 12).
But what I was really thinking about was Ragbrai 2028. When this boy will be pulling an entire team of boys and their getting-too-old-to-be-drinking-and-riding-their-bikes-fathers – with the same turbo-charged V8 engine power that his father has. And the coach in me started thinking of a training plan. As soon as this kid is old enough to mount a tricycle, we are doing big gear repeats, with sand-filled tin cans attached to the back so he gets the feeling of pulling dead weight.
Game on, Ragbrai friends, game on.
And now, the real work can begin – preparing not just for baby but for baby boy. Blue or green walls? Monkeys, frogs or trucks? Cars. Roughhousing. My daddy's recovery wattage is your daddy's FTP onesie. The fun begins...but...oh crap. I just realized that come July my house will be 75 percent smelly boy. And there is a very good chance I am going to get a lot of urine sprayed in my face.
Must buy for changing bed: ski goggles.