Because several of our close friends are embarking on the absolutely insane journey called parenthood and have asked us to answer some important questions like: “How do I not walk around gagging and or throwing up every 15 minutes?” and “What do you mean I won’t sleep for months?”, I thought I’d share my own experiences of getting, being, and then getting over being pregnant. Here are the topics that I will discuss in the following guest-blogs:
1) How babies are made when you can’t make babies, and why that led to some surprise on my part
2) Why adoption might’ve sent us both to the loony bin, or Be Careful What You Wish For
3) When drugs are good, ‘mmm kay?
4) That glow is just a barrel full of eels writhing around in my abdomen, thanks anyway
5) How every health teacher everywhere lied about the human gestation period
6) Plans are for pussies
7) Why my kid will be Cawdor someday
8) Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt – it’s also a reason for your doc to tell you about his German vacation in vivid detail
9) When drugs are bad, ‘mmm kay?
10) Why people pepper you with platitudes that in no way prepare you to take care of your kids
1. How Babies Are Made When You Can’t Make Babies, and Why That Led to Some Surprise on My Part
You might have figured out from the pithy title of this section that I had a hard time getting pregnant. We tried for many long and entertaining years to get me knocked up, and only after a truly concerted effort that involved daily temperature taking, month after month of disappointment and an almost constant conviction that I was definitely pregnant this time, for sure, did I learn that there was no way I was going to pass on my mitochondrial DNA without a little boost from our fabulous pharmaceutical industry. Like many women, I have PCOS (feel free to look it up on google image) and, while mine wasn’t a terribly severe case, I did find myself in the rather shocking position of being told I was going to take Clomid for three cycles and that if I didn’t conceive that way that I would then come in for IVF treatments. Notice I say that I was told this is what would happen.
Here’s the first thing to know about making babies with the help of drugs: the first step is almost always to visit with a doctor who does this shit for a living, and therefore your sudden stunned silence at learning that you are defective as a woman is taken for tacit agreement that you’re going to spend bazillions of dollars to create a life that maybe shouldn’t be created, if you believe everything happens (or doesn’t) for a reason. You will continue to ponder this as you go every week (it seemed) to have a pelvic ultrasound and/or the morning after you were ordered to have sex (so they can check your partner’s sperm count. That’s right, he doesn’t even have to go to the office. That’s the definition of BULLSHIT, folks!) and often in the presence of one or more male interns who stand with arms akimbo staring at your lady bits while your (also male) doc can point to the blurry black and white blobs on the screen and say things like “Now, do you see the mass of partially matured follicles here? This is just a mess.” Sometimes you consider not shaving before these appointments, just to show him what a real mess looks like, but you never get bold enough to do that, because what if he decides he’s NOT going to help you after all? That might be worse. Anyway, eventually said doc tells you to take these tiny white pills for five days in a row, and that somehow that will fix it so that your body creates a life. You only sort of believe this, but you figure “What the hell? Might as well give it a shot!” which is a nice, normal thought to have before you make a baby that you will be responsible for for the next two and half decades, at least. Then you head home for lunch and have a pretty spectacular dessert and think nothing of it after a quick shower, ‘cause your life is still your own, it’s only the first round of said meds, and you’re not really sure that you want kids anymore anyway, but any excuse to have “dessert” is okay with you.
2) Why Adoption Might’ve Sent Both of Us to the Loony Bin, or Be Careful What You Wish For
I should mention here that while I was going to a fertility clinic and taking fertility meds in order to be fertile, my 18 year old cousin was busy getting pregnant instead of going to class and studying in her freshman year at college. This was awesome in exactly zero ways but she was the first baby that I ever loved and what was I going to do? Stop talking to her for months after she told me she was pregnant and that I was the only person she’d considered asking to adopt the baby until she’d decided to keep it herself? Yes. Yes, that’s what I wanted to do. But I didn’t. Instead, I told her what kind of prenatal vitamins to take, where to get them, took her shopping for diapers and baby stuff so she could see how much it costs, and decorated little teeny, tiny, organic cotton onesies with her so that we could both pretend for a little while that this was a happy time for each of us.
When she was eight months pregnant, her baby-daddy (or The Inseminator, as my folks referred to him) decided that he didn’t want to do this whole baby thing after all and if my cousin didn’t put the baby up for adoption then she would need to find a new place to live because he was going to kick her out on her waddling, uneducated little butt. When she told me this I felt a whole range of things, not the least of which was elation that this might be the universe telling both of us that I was meant to be her baby’s momma after all!
When my husband heard me plead with her over the phone not to feel like she had no options other than to leave The Inseminator and go home to her mother to raise the baby and to remember that we were always here for her, his head snapped up and he spent the rest of the conversation staring at me with that inscrutable look he gets when he can’t decide whether he’s appalled, thrilled, or just has to go to the bathroom.
Nothing was decided during that phone call, but the next afternoon I got a text from my cousin asking what we’d name her (the baby) if we adopted her. I literally dropped to my knees and thought I might pass out because that question meant that she was actually considering having us adopt her baby. Suddenly, the reality of the situation hit both of us. We’d need to arrange leave, child-care, insurance, a nursery, adoption papers (do we need a lawyer??) and there was so much we didn’t know about babies and how to care for them! Oh my GOD, what did I do, and this is CRAZY! What if The Inseminator changes his mind after we’ve already taken “Lilly” home? My aunt is nuts, what if she changes HER mind and wants the baby, even though she’d been begging my cousin to consider adoption since she got pregnant? The only way this was going to work would be if we cut off all communication with that part of the family, at least for a few years, but could we really do that? In short, Holy Shit. We Might Be Parents In a MONTH.
Eventually, after many many, conversations with my cousin during which I attempted with every fiber of my being not to pressure her one way or the other, it came to the point where she had to decide. She was two weeks away from delivering the baby, so, you know, we needed to know one way or the other. She agreed to take the weekend and just spend it thinking and weighing her options, and I agreed to go to the beach with our friends and not think about it at all.
While I spent the weekend soaking up the rays and many, many margaritas (“hahahah – boy, it would be just my luck that I’m pregnant right now! Yes, barkeep, I WILL have another!) my cousin came to her decision. When we returned home and I checked my messages, she’d left a text letting me know that she was going to keep the baby.
While I knew this was the most likely outcome, it still felt like an elephant had suddenly landed on my chest. I mean, we tried really hard not to get our hopes up, but my husband had been playing “Punk Rock Girl” and “That’s My Daughter” on his guitar for the last two weeks, and it hurt to know that yet another child would be brought into the world and raised by someone other than us. My God, did it hurt. We both went to bed quiet and drained (after a couple more beers and the better part of a bottle of raspberry Absolut) and snuggled into each other as we had for the last eight years while we waited for the sun to rise.
The next morning I woke up and laid in my husband’s arms, squinting in time to the pounding in my head and felt something . . . new. Something sure. Something was suddenly correct and right with the world. I slipped out of our bed, brushed my teeth and put my flip flops on, then drove to the grocery store for a pregnancy test.
It was early and no one was out on the roads. I took the back way past these gorgeous, rolling cow pastures where black angus dotted the hills and the sun slowly burned off the mist left from the rain the night before. I sang along to Faure’s Il Paradiso and smiled as I drove a little to fast along the curves back toward our house. Then I climbed quietly up the stairs and peed on a stick, set it on the sink in the bathroom and walked away.
By that time, Cort was up and in the shower in the master bedroom, but he still had no idea I’d even left the house, much less what I was doing. I went downstairs and started the kettle for tea, then, unable to wait the full two minutes it clearly said to wait on the pregnancy test box, I went back upstairs to the bathroom and just peeked at my peed on stick. Finally, there were two lines where there’d always been one before. I was pregnant.
Oh FUCK. How many drinks did I have this weekend???