Sunday, March 28, 2010

1st Ultrasound and other Updates

The ultrasound... it happened! We now know (as I was suspecting) that I am at 16 weeks instead of 15. This does not change the due date, but it does make my weekly email from make more sense. For almost a month now I've felt like I were at least a week or two ahead of things. I started craving foods. Two weeks later I got an email saying I might have started food cravings. Parts of me got tender, I got an email the next week telling me to expect it. And around the time I could no longer wear my jeans, the email told me to start looking for new pants cause I'd want them in a few weeks.

I looked at this week's email and have found that it's right on. Development of the week? Nosebleeds! Not bad ones, mind you, but the weather is just dry enough and apparently my blood pressure is high enough so that I've been getting trace amounts in my nose/on my Kleenex at different times of the day. The email said to talk to a doctor if it gets bad, but it really hasn't. It's like when you blow your nose too much, only I haven't been.

But yeah, I saw it. It's still too early to say if it's a boy or girl. I'll probably have another ultrasound done in a month or so. I also have pictures. I'll see about uploading one later so ya'll can see what the squirt looks like.

In other news: my living situation. It has been decided that I will go home after the spring term has ended and move back in with my parents, probably until the baby is about 3 months old. It is in my plans to move back to Chicago, get an apartment and pick up classes again in the fall of 2011. Exactly how, when and where isn't that important right now. The problem will be finding ways to see Mengyao (before mentioned amazing boyfriend who is very supportive and understanding and brings me craving food), who has to stay in Chicago. But, there are trains and planes and automobiles... we'll find a way to work it out. And these plans aren't exactly set in stone. They're just the blueprints we're going to work with.

Oh, I should mention that I have been reprimanded by several people for saying that the glucose test was not worth the torture. Having mentioned that, I should furthermore say that it has been a week, and no one has contacted me to put me on insulin. Therefore, having noted and catalogued the opinion of the many, I proclaim my verdict: I win!

Coming soon: "What foods could there not be enough of?" "10 reasons to keep chocolate in the house," and "How my college tried to tell me pregnancy was not a valid excuse for dropping a class."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

B-Buckles and Zebra Stripes

The solution has come! For the first time in almost a month I am able to wear my jeans all day and not feel like I've stuffed myself into a denim tube. Introducing (drum roll)... THE B-BUCKLE!


A few posts ago I mentioned not being able to wear my jeans without looking like I'm wearing a fanny pack. Well here it is folks, the one and only b-buckle, made especially for pregnant women who no longer fit into their jeans. It attaches to your belt loops, and you can adjust it to fit your growing tummy! It's wide enough so that it covers up the unbuttoned button and the unzipped zipper.

"Wow, this seems like an awesome product," you say. "I'm going to go buy five of them!" Don't buy five of them. You really only need one. Also, this is no miracle worker. No matter what the pictures may say, this product will not automatically give you a good tan and a pregnant-hour-glass figure. But it WILL allow you to wear your pants well into your second trimester.

In other news...

I scar terribly. I have scars all over my back from when I had terrible acne in middle school, and stretch marks from when my skin couldn't keep up with the rest of me getting taller. So I imagine that this experience is going to leave its "mark." (Laugh please. You're all I have to entertain.) I read about a product called Bio-Oil, which is marketed specifically to pregnant women as an oil that will reduce the appearance of stretch marks. I bought a small bottle of it at Walgreen's, but it hasn't really been working. That's mostly because I haven't been using it. It leaves my skin feeling slick and clogged, the way one's face might feel after having worn too much makeup all day. And it's supposed to be used twice daily for the full effects. Testimonials be hanged, if it doesn't feel good on my skin, there ain't no way I'm using it.

This brings me to the grand decision of the week, which will change the way I look at myself in the mirror, and probably how I will view others in my life.

I do not have stretch marks. I have zebra stripes!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gestational Diabetes: is it worth the torture to know?

I finally went in to the clinic to get my 3 hour glucose test. This test is supposed to tell me whether or not I have gestational diabetes. To be frank, I'm not a very medically minded person (which may or may not be why I'm dating a med student). I'll most likely be corrected by before-mentioned boyfriend later on, but from the research I have done, the most severe side effects of gestational diabetes is a corpulent baby. Now, I'm going to recount for you the adventure I had today, and will conclude with a decision on whether or not it was worth knowing.

We'll begin with what I learned today.
1. Don't read interesting books while in a taxi
2. Cardigans make you feel less frumpy when you're wearing sweatpants
3. I can reach the clinic by taking the Brown Line to the Red Line
4. Someone sitting on the floor of a train car is not noteworthy to regular commuters
5. In the end, friends are the ones who save lives
6. That being said, have one come and get you from the clinic when you go in for 3 hour glucose test, and have them bring an apple.

I got up at 8 a.m. again, which has been happening with amazing frequency. I was supposed to be fasting, so I skipped breakfast (which was difficult because our living room and kitchen are just one room... the food was staring at me). I dressed comfortably for my day, but did decide to wear my cardigan with daisy buttons, just to make my life a bit more sunny. The taxi I called for arrived promptly at 9. So far so good. I gave him the address on West Howard Street in Evanston and off we went. I picked up the book I'd brought and apparently was quite engrossed because it wasn't until we were pulling onto Ohio Street that I realized I was Downtown. ??? He was taking me to Hubbard Street. (If you think about it, the only difference between a "w" and a "b" is that your mouth closes.)

So I had him take me to the nearest subway station and that's when the real adventure began. I called the clinic and had them tell me what the closest train stop was near them, and then took the Blue Line to the Brown Line to the Red Line all the way to Howard. I arrived at the clinic at 11:15, almost two hours after my original plan. Luckily I was just going back to the lab and didn't need an appointment, just a ballpark arrival time. They ushered me in quickly and I waited for my turn in the windowless room of torture. (At this point, it had been exactly 12 hours since I'd eaten.)

Finally in, it was explained to me what exactly would happen. "We're going to draw your blood now, and then have you drink this (holding up a bottle of orange flavored syrup), and then draw your blood every hour for three hours." So... that is what happened. They pumped sugar into my empty stomach and took my blood every hour for three hours. (I now have a bruise on my arm where they drew blood four different times.) Not much happened while I was at the clinic. I actually walked out the door thinking to myself, "well that wasn't so bad," even though it was already 2:30. Upon reflection, that judgement came a bit too soon.

It started with a dull throbbing in my arm where they'd drawn blood. I'd gotten myself back to the train station with no problem, and seemed to be fine on the Red Line train, albeit tired. It wasn't until I got off the train for my transfer that I started feeling ill, and suddenly, I was counting the steps to the nearest bench. I started sweating profusely, which must have looked absurd because the platform was quite breezy. I found myself thanking God for the mere mercy of the wind.

When the train came, I had to wedge myself into a crowded car and stand. After the fourth episode of falling backwards onto people, I found a wall to stand against. I probably could have used the "I'm pregnant, could I have your seat" thing, but was afraid the words coming out of my mouth would exhaust me too much to actually get into the seat. A very few minutes later, I sat on the floor. Just about when i could actually feel the sweat running down my back, I got cold. So there I was, a shivering, sweaty mass nearly passed out and huddled on the floor of an overstuffed train car. At that point, I called the college campus main desk.

I got lucky. I knew the person working, and was able to explain exactly what had happened. They knew someone on the school security staff and had them pick me up (thank you, Josh). The wonderful security man (didn't catch his name, but a thanks goes out to him, too) took me to my apartment and made sure I got through the gate. I walked through the door and grabbed the only thing I could think of that took no preparation: an apple. Let me tell you right now, that was the most amazing apple I have ever eaten. I almost ate the core. From there I moved on to a banana, a bagel, and (when I was sure I could do so without personal injury) I baked some chicken nuggets.

Now, nine hours after the experience, I am able to look back at my day with some smiles, some wisdom, and the knowledge that I've conquered the Tetris game on my phone (three hours in a waiting room had to get me somewhere!). But with all that knowledge, even with the amazing revelation of how wonderful an apple can be, is it truly worth it to know whether or not I have gestational diabetes?

I think no.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Better now, but why does the world smell funny?

I realized today that most of you out there probably think I am still in a comatose state. Not the case. On the 9th (day after I last posted) I went antiquing with my dad. That was good, got me out of the house, and we got to spend some quality time together, which we don't usually get that much of. I also spent a day with my mom shopping, got to have dinner with various cousins, and went to a family pizza potluck on Saturday night. Time well spent, I believe. Lots of free food.

I didn't want to come back to school when spring break was over. REALLY didn't want to come back. But I did. I have to finish this semester, or I'll feel like I've lost something. On Sunday my parents and I packed up my freshly done laundry and toted it all the way back to Chicago. They were good enough to help me unpack, which was awesome because if Mom hadn't been there to motivate me, I doubt it would be done yet.

That night after they left, I felt the baby move for the first time. This marks a drastic change in thinking for me. They tell me it's kind of early for me to be feeling that sort of thing, (I'm somewhere around week 13) but nothing in the world could have felt like what I felt the other night. It was kind of like, when you have one balloon inside another, and the one on the inside bounces against the side. It also could be likened to how a coke can might feel being filled with carbonation... So now when I think of my uterus, I imagine a coke can. But anyway, I felt it. It moved. It made itself known to me. I'm starting to get excited for this. I'm starting to feel this less as an intrusion on my life. I mean, it's a little person! It's a healthy change of thought that I am glad has finally come. It's a lot easier to deal with pregnancy now that I'm a little happier about it.

A few other changes are happening. I have to use the bathroom a lot. This change has happened, literally, overnight. Sunday, I felt normal. Monday, I used the bathroom at least every two hours and it's been that way since. So that's been... inconvenient. (Yay for kegels!) Another drastic change is one that has surprised me to no end. Both yesterday and today, when my alarm went off at 8 a.m., I got up. This isn't usual for normal me, let alone pregnant and usually sick me! And it's not a, hit the snooze, hit the snooze again, drag myself out of bed, consider lying down again and stumble into the bathroom kind of wake up, either. It's a genuine, "There's the alarm, I'm up!" feeling.

The third change is my middle, which has been gradually looking more and more like a fanny pack when I wear pants that button. Wearing jeans for long periods of time has become really uncomfortable, in fact the only pair I've worn in the past three weeks are what I consider my "fat jeans." I've finally ordered new lounge pants. I am now sporting fleece, velour and jersey in fashion worthy colors. As far as an actual bump, it's barely there, but there just the same. I've not noticed a difference in weight, but yesterday I took a soaking bath and definitely noticed a difference in water displacement.

The last change I am hoping is temporary. At first I thought it was something I was wearing, maybe some article of clothing or something I got on my hands. But after fifth person didn't smell anything, I concluded it must be me. All around me I can smell goldfish food. No joke! I've heard of this before, women smelling things during pregnancy. My roommate used the term "olfactory hallucination." It's most disturbing... and of all the smells to smell! I mean I could understand the smell of salt, musk, or perhaps even capers, but goldfish food? So that's confusing. If anyone could shed some light on that, it would be appreciated.

In the meantime, college is definitely back in full swing. Now I need to do some writing that will actually get graded. Ta ta!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nuclear Sound Waves

I blame estrogen for the title. In fact, if there were room the full title would be "Nuclear Sound Waves: How the first prenatal care visit screwed over the rest of my week and triggered an emotional breakdown." Being realistic, though, it's too long a title. I mean, really. Anyway...

I had my first visit to the clinic last Wednesday. Overall it wasn't a bad experience. I got Illinois public aid set up, which is awesome because my insurance doesn't cover any of this pregnancy business. The midwife "ordered" an ultra sound at the local hospital, but until I get my Public Aid card, I can't actually go and get it done.

Now, right around when I say "midwife" the people around me get this excited smile and ask if I've decided to have the child in my home. The answer is no. (This is mostly due to the fact that I have no idea where I'll be living in September.) See, a midwife isn't just a person who helps deliver children in people's homes. At least in this case, the midwife and the doctor work together with each patient. At my last visit, the doctor was unavailable, so I talked to the midwife instead. Now, I've not met the doctor yet, but talking to the midwife was NOT AT ALL like talking to a doctor. I mean, I understood most of what she said, she was able to answer my questions, and I didn't leave the office feeling confused. But, moving on...

Up to this point the appointment had gone well, besides the part where the midwife walked in to hear me saying, "shut up or I'll throw my shoe at you," to my boyfriend. (Who, by the way, milked it for all it was worth and almost convinced the midwife that I'm an abusive partner. Thanks, Honey. Thanks so much.) It had been mostly talk thus far. Before she moved on to the next patient, however, the midwife got out the sonogram-thingy, and I heard the baby's heartbeat.

I can see you, at the other side of the computer screen. You're making a cute face and are, if not saying, at least thinking, "Awwwwww!"

Shut up.

I'm going to have to get over it. No matter how much gravitas and doom I put in my voice while I'm telling this story, everyone always says, "Awwwwwww!" Well that was not my first reaction. See, up until then I had no tangible evidence that this baby actually existed; it was just urine tests and nausea. So while the midwife is looking at me with that same cute smile everyone else gets, saying, "Guess what, that's your baby," all I could do was close my eyes and say, "shit." I don't think she understood.

The rest of the day ended okay. I got a test to screen for gestational diabetes, which I am at risk for, they drew LOTS of blood, which is NOT my thing (wanted to pass out), I got lunch with my very understanding and good-looking boyfriend, and went home.

I was supposed to go to class that night. I didn't go.

I was weirded out, no mistake. I spent most of my time in my living room eating toast and playing solitaire. But I didn't really realize how it had effected me until Friday. I woke up with a touch of nausea, as usual, and was contemplating the positive effects of a hot shower when my phone rang. It was the clinic, calling to inform me that the test they had drawn all the blood for had been inconclusive, and would I mind coming in for a three hour test on Monday? Well, the problem is that this week is spring break, and at the time I was planning on being in Michigan starting Saturday. I explained this to the doctor on the phone, who asked, "Well, have you eaten anything today? I could get the test started in an hour."

Okay. Let's take a moment to analyze the situation. 1) I had just woken up. 2) "Wait, I'm not supposed to eat anything? How do I keep from getting sick?" 3) I don't have a car. 4) The clinic is in fricking Evanston! "NO I CAN'T COME IN TODAY!!!"

That's how it sounded in my brain. In reality it sounded more like, "I'm sorry, I have class today. Could it wait until week after next?" Which was met with an irritated, "Well, when are you leaving tomorrow? We open at 9." I finally got her to accept an appointment on Monday, the 15th. I thanked her, (why?) and hung up the phone.

Right about then, my roommate walked in. All she saw was me hang up the phone, then hurtle something (I think it was a pen) across the room, and fall back on my bed in a soggy mess of tears and sobs. (My poor roommates.) She was great about it, gave me a hug while I explained between sniffles, and got me a tissue.

So that's when the crisis began. It's the, "I don't know if I can do this," "This has messed up/will mess up my life in so many ways," "What happens after the baby is born," "Don't you dare tell me to suck it up while I have a kitchen knife in my hand," kind of crisis. I called my mom about an hour later, looking for some motivation to finish all the things I needed to do. In her words, I "melted into a nuclear puddle of tightly wound springs." (Might not sound like the best metaphor, but trust me...) She came and got me that night.

So Saturday I spent talking to my mom in the car. I spent half of Sunday sleeping, the other half planted in front of the TV in my pajamas with a rather glazed expression. Today I spent most of the day planted in front of the TV with my bead box making bracelets, and at some point I put on a bra. So I guess things are... progressing? Tomorrow I'm actually going to leave the house.

I guess I'm just coming to terms with all of what this means. All of this is a big shift to my life. I'm just realizing what this will mean, for college, for my career, for everything. This ordeal is no longer just a pregnancy. Something is going to happen afterward, too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pregnancy Glow?

I like to think of myself as an every–day person. Take my morning schedule for example. I usually wake up a half hour later than intended. I then take a quick shower, which consists of shampooing and conditioning my hair, using St.Ives apricot scrub on my face, and running a loofa over my body with a bit of body wash. Immediately after towel drying, I clean my ears, blow dry my hair (sometimes I use a smoothing serum), and then take my time getting dressed. I also put on a small amount of makeup, which includes light eyeliner on the bottom lid only, loosely applied face powder, maybe some eye shadow (no outrageous colors) and some blush. This is called the “natural” look. In other words, every single day, with the exception of clothing changes, I look exactly the same as the day before… or so I thought.

Today was a rather ordinary day. I overslept, I showered, I dried my hair and threw on the same makeup I wear every day. I have been wearing the same black velour lounge pants for three days straight, by the way. The only thing different about today was that instead of putting on a good shirt, something that I would like people to associate me with, I grabbed the first wrinkled t-shirt I saw. Turns out it was one of the shirts that I’d “modified,” meaning I cut off the collar and shortened the sleeves without re-hemming anything. I felt rather like a slob… not that I cared. If I cared I would have worn something else.

I got so many compliments today on how great I looked. I was told that my skin looked great, that my eyes seemed so bright… in short, I apparently look amazing. I look in the mirror and don’t think I look any different; in fact I think I look tired, worn out, and spent. Is this pregnancy glow?

That’s what my grandfather thinks. According to him, I look “absolutely radiant” and that it absolutely due to the “aura that comes with pregnancy.” My mom even went so far as to say that I look like I’ve slimmed down (which I KNOW is not true) and that my face looks flushed and healthy.

Just to top it all off, I was riding the Brown Line from the Quincy to Kimball last night (after spending four hours on a train, sleeping and stuffing my face with Raisinetts) when this guy walks up to me, says, “I’m Steven,” hands me his number on an old transit card, and walks out the door. He wasn’t some creepy old geezer, either. He was quite good looking, tall… so I’m confused.

I can’t seem to find any valid information that this whole “pregnancy glow” is something to be accounted for. Every article I read makes references to oily skin and acne, not glowing skin and radience. Does anyone have the answer???