Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pregnancy Denial

Pregnancy denial: Refusal to attribute clear pregnancy symptoms to being pregnant.
(aka, "I will not be like the billions of pregnant women who have come before me. I will be exactly the same me I was prior to being pregnant. Except I'll be growing a person. The only reason people will know I'm pregnant is when my belly pops out and hits them in the eye.")

For all the readers who are or have been pregnant, I'll let you catch your breath from the hysterics-induced asthma.

Over the last few weeks, I've begun to notice some odd behavior in myself that I have to question, but refuse to attribute to being pregnant. Probably because I'm pregnant and that makes you insane.

To add insult to injury, these are the exact activities that, in your head, when you met other pregnant women you SWORE you would never do yourself when you became pregnant.

Let me tell you from my new-found experience, intentions v. nature is an ugly fight. Nature will end up winning. But if you're as stubborn as me, I know I won't be able to talk you out of the best to you.

Increased appetite
Pre-pregnancy facts: You only need to eat an additional 300 calories a day when pregnant, not 10 additional meals.

My pre-pregnancy mentality: I will eat how I normally do and not deny myself the occasional snack when I'm hungry. There will be no sending my husband out for food at midnight; I will not live on milkshakes; I will not go to a party and have people see me go the buffet table and think to themselves, "get out of the pregnant lady's way, she has the crazy in her eyes."

Pregnancy A-Ha moments: For the past week, I have woken up at 6:30 AM and before I could pee, before I could let the dogs out, before I could say good morning to my husband, I had to get an enormous bowl of cereal in my belly BEFORE.I.DIED.I.SWEAR.TO.YOU.

Last night we went out to a late dinner (warning signal 1) after I had eaten a salad as an early lunch (warning signal 2). I couldn't be bothered to engage in, politely listen to or even absentmindedly nod at the surrounding conversations. All I could think about is how quickly would my food come and how come those people got their food already and wherethehellismyfoodgoddammit. Once the meals arrived, I kid you not here, I had hoovered in my burger and was eyeing my husband's before he had gotten in three bites of his.

Hormonal shifts
Pre-pregnancy facts: You may experience some mood swings as your hormone levels adjust to being pregnant.

My pre-pregnancy mentality: I will be the same sane, rational person I was pre-pregnancy. There will be no crying at commercials, lashing out at my husband for "not understanding what I'm going through" and there will definitely be no losing one's temper or screaming. I will embody the perfectly serene pregnant woman.

Pregnancy A-Ha moments: The dogs. Oh my God, the dogs. Why can't they wipe their freaking paws before coming in the house. Don't they realize I just washed the floors for the 3rd straight day in a row? And why must they bark at every single thing they see??? (Cue: screaming fits directed at the dogs, the husband, the innocent friends calling to say hi. Followed by bouts of hysterical guilt crying for yelling at everyone. Finished with soft sobbing and rubbing of the belly apologizing for the outrageous way I acted and coos of "I hope to God you don't inherit my crazy.")

This is the most amusing symptom to me because you think you are acting rational, right up to the minute you realize you have just lost your shit everywhere and are prancing around like the Queen of Loonyville.

It's the double meltdown effect. One meltdown caused by some external factor like dirty dogs, no yogurt in the house or the wind blowing leads to a second meltdown about how ill-equipped you are to deal with life and why in God's name did you think having a baby would be a good idea.

Pre-pregnancy fact: You will get tired throughout your pregnancy as your body expends energy growing another human being.

My pre-pregnancy mentality: I will not be the pregnant lady who falls asleep at 7 PM while eating dinner. I will go out and do everything I did before AND get the house ready for a baby. I will not use pregnancy as an excuse to leave parties early or not give 110% all day, every day.

Pregnancy A-Ha moments: I didn't feel an ounce of guilt when I got into bed at 6:30 PM the other night with the intentions of reading a little before going to bed a little earlier than usual and woke up the next morning having only advanced three words in my book.

And the pregnancy excuse to leave parties...yeah...there may or may not be some abuse of that one. Firstly, I am legitimately tired. But secondly, when you're the sole sober person standing around listening to 20 different drunken conversations, going home to clean one's floors doesn't sound so bad. At least you can be in pajamas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When you wake up to discover the dog has thrown up all over the WHITE SHAG carpeting because she ate too many turds, it's probably best to just go back to bed and wait for tomorrow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rules Following...and Rules Breaking

There are lots of rules with pregnancy. Within these rules, there are 3 categories to be aware of:
  • 'Don't think about breaking these' rules (ixnay the heroin and no kick-boxing classes)
  • 'It would be nice if you could follow these' rules (avoid unpasteurized cheese and caffeine)
  • 'I heard this once from a totally unreliable source, but you should take it as the word of God' rules (don't get massages or travel--at all).
By nature, I am a rules freak. It's totally lame, but I love rules and guidelines. They let me know what I should be doing. Instead of wasting time making decisions, rules allow me to spend quality time thinking about what constitutes the perfect grilled cheese sandwich and all the possible uses of a paper clip.

Naturally when one is pregnant for the first time (and is an ardent rules follower), you (I) might tend to become a touch obsessive about following the rules. So you (I) don't break the rules. No matter how many people say a glass of red wine is fine, and go ahead and have that cup of coffee.

And this works well for me...usually. But this wouldn't be a worthwhile discussion if there wasn't more to it.

What happens when you've broken the rules unintentionally and unawares?

Dear Interwebs: I've been breaking the rules IN. MY. SLEEP.

Rule #3 in the "Growing a Baby" handbook (and coincidentally #3 in the "Common Sense Rules to Growing a Baby" cliff notes edition): Don't sleep on your stomach.

Pre-pregnancy my sleep position of choice was on my left side in a half-fetal position. Like so:

But with a little less fur.

Do you know what the absolutely perfect sleeping position for pregnant women happens to be??? CORRECT. That one!

I was unreasonably pleased with myself for the 5 minutes of this pregnancy I spent reading pregnancy books. "I already sleep in that position. How fabulous of me. I should celebrate with macaroni and cheese!"

Imagine my horror when for the *cough-hiccup-burp* night in a row, I've woken up flat out on my stomach like this:

This time with more fur.

Granted, I haven't "popped" yet, so I'm thinking that once there's a huge belly in the way, I'm going to be less inclined to sleep on top of a beach ball, but I'm also fairly sure The Bean (we're still auditioning pet names) doesn't want to be crushed under my not unsubstantial weight when it's barely bigger than an avocado.

So now I've taken to waking up in starts and fits until I "catch" myself sleeping on my stomach. At which point, I banish myself to the couch (aka: Detention for Unfit Baby Growers) where I play Scrabble on the iPad for 4 hours and fall asleep precisely 20 minutes before I need to get up and start my day.

Sleep deprivation v. guacamole baby. It's a tough choice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Time to Glow

Welcome Week 16 and what my doctor and the nurses told me were the "glowing" weeks of pregnancy.

If by glowing they meant no sleep, instantaneous fluctuations from freezing cold to sweating, bloating of ridiculous proportions, the whole no pooping thing and a desire to sit around and do nothing...then yes, I'm glowing.

There's a lot of hurry up and wait in pregnancy. You go to the doctor's office every 4 weeks for a check up to make sure everything is progressing. That sounds like a lot of visits...before you realize you are growing ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

I freak out over watering my plants...I'm pretty sure we should be checking in on a baby a little more frequently.

I had an appointment today. One I was anxiously awaiting since it had been 4 weeks since my last check-in and in the beginning of the second trimester you barely feel pregnant. (Who knew dry heaving could be so comforting?) So I wanted to get in there and hear the heartbeat doing its thing.

Here's what I spent 4 excruciating weeks awaiting:

8:45 - Check in with reception
9:00 - Nurse calls me in
9:02 - Pee in cup for 1 billionth time this pregnancy
9:03 - Blood pressure taken
9:04 - Vial of blood stolen
9:05 - Lay on table anxious to hear a heartbeat
9:06 - Heard strong, little heartbeat and is buttoning up pants
9:07 - Can't think of a single question to ask the doctor (apparently they've done this before)
9:08 - Scheduled next appointment
9:11 - In car ready to drive home
9:30 - Convinced I've ruined everything in the last 19 minutes and start to anxiously await next appointment

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And We're Back

After a lovely escape to Lake Tahoe, we are glad to be back home in Atlanta. Sweeping up a never-ending supply of dog hair. Cleaning dirty dishes. Working absurd hours. Doing laundry. Did I say I was glad to be back?

I had a lot of time to think on this trip. Mainly because I was unable to participate in many of the activities Lake Tahoe in the winter is famous for: skiing, hot tubbing, drinking and more skiing. But fresh air and good friends are always welcome, and I had plenty of both.

I'm in the second trimester and so far, you can have it: I'm bloated and fat and only those closest to me know I'm pregnant. Everyone else gives me dirty looks implying I should've not had that extra piece of pie over the holidays.

I'm mostly not sick, except those times when I am. The best part about those times: I never know when they may mid-sentence on the phone with a client. Ah, the dry heaves are truly the way to express client service.

Nothing fits quite right. Not regular clothes. Not my fat girl clothes. Not maternity clothes. All sweat pants, all the time.

The second trimester is all about the sexy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Don't Need Maternity Clothes...

Let me start by sharing a little fact about me: I hate shopping. Despise. Boiling abhorrence. Would rather stick pencils in my eyeballs and light them on fire than have to go shopping.

Like most women, I may have some body image issues. For example, when I'm fatter than I would like to be, I feel bad about how my body looks. Weird, right? My husband once found me in the women's section of Macy's bawling because everything I tried on was tight and made me look like a prize heifer.

This leads me to wear my clothes into the ground before I can bear facing the stores again.

Now I'm not just telling you this because it's confessional time and it's too expensive to see a therapist. Today I was at the breaking point and forced myself to go to the mall before all my clothes disintegrated off my body. Have I mentioned I'm pregnant? Oh yes, this was a trip I was really looking forward to.

I entered Macy's and gave myself a pep talk, "Take it slow and focus on tops first. You already know you need a large because your boobs exploded everywhere. We can worry about pants and dresses afterwards."

Oh, another awesome trait about me when shopping: I have completely unrealistic expectations regarding what works well on my body, which colors should be paired together and how different cuts make me look stunning and others like a bloated hippopotamus--and my inexplicable need to buy the latter.

I started off with a shirt and sweater combo that I thought went really well together, but I'm not to be trusted, so I found a saleslady to see if I was crazy. Turns out I actually paired things together that were meant to be together. Score one.

But then I spied a pair of jeans. I desperately needed new jeans. But jeans shopping could completely torpedo an entire day of shopping. "These look miserable; I'm never shopping again; bring on the fried chicken." So what did I do?

I picked up the jeans. In a size larger than what I normally wear since, after all, I'm pregnant and things are shifting around.

Guys, guess what???

I did it! I assembled an entire outfit that looked pretty good and I didn't want to smash the fitting room mirrors and burn the place down.

So then I got confident.


I've mentioned my boobs know, the enormous, gargantuan beasts that have taken over my entire body.

When it came time to try on dresses, we hit a slight snag. And by slight I mean enormous. There I was in a size [omitted by author: let's just say it was SIX sizes bigger than what I normally wear] and unable to make the dress fit over my boobs while I was swimming in the rest of the dress.

The hyperventilating was starting.

Five dresses later and nary a style, fabric or color was helping matters.

This was clearly not working well for me. And last I checked, there was not a porn star store in the mall where they cater to women of unique proportions.

But then it hit me. There was one store that might be able to help. But I swore I was not going to go there until my pants were popping open and all my tops became half shirts due to the unstoppable growth of my belly. Dare I do it?

Well, I did need to get a bella band anyway, so I could go pick that up and check to see if they had dresses that might work with size 800ZZZ boobs.

3 dresses later and I'm pleased as punch.

Screw it all. *I* don't technically need maternity clothes yet, but my boobs sure as hell do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maybe the Antenna's Broken?

* Since we kept this whole "situation" under wraps for awhile you'll notice I'll be jumping back and forth between current and past moments throughout the pregnancy. You're bright people; I'm sure you'll keep up.

For a person who makes a living conducting and analyzing research, I do shockingly very little of it in my day-to-day life. So when the little sticks from CVS kept telling me I really was pregnant, I did what any uninformed woman does: I called the doctor to make sure.

Once on the phone, I proudly announced to the receptionist that I had peed on a stick and it told me I was pregnant, but I wanted to make sure. How soon can they cancel all their other appointments to make room for my urgent need to know if the sticks were lying?

Imagine my shock when she told me, "Yep, you're pregnant. Those sticks are rarely wrong. Particularly when they tell you it's positive. We'll see you in six weeks."

I'm sorry. Maybe you can speak into my good ear. I'm pregnant. Don't you need to see if I look pregnant and give me a long list of stuff I can no longer enjoy? Maybe I should just go to Labor & Delivery now to wait the whole thing out?

Despite my initial shock of how long I had to wait, do you think in those six weeks I scoured the internet and the bookstores to get myself acquainted with the concept of being pregnant and what I might expect? Exactly. I went to a number of Halloween parties, catered a wedding, participated in a Chili cook-off and forgot to do any research before my first doctor's visit.

Turns out the doctor does the same test I did to see if I was pregnant. I peed in a cup and she stuck a test in. Yep. Pregnant.

We're sitting in her office and she's calculating my due date when she's suddenly called away for an emergency delivery. "No problem" she says, "I'll send you for your ultrasound while you wait for me to get back."

"Excellent!" I say...then think to myself, "What the hell is she talking about?"

Off I go to ultrasound. No problem. I've seen this on those TLC shows and in movies. They get the wand. They get the jelly. They rub said wand over your belly and everyone gets excited looking at the TV screen.

Um...the wand...yeah...turns out it doesn't go ON your belly. Oh sure, it does eventually, but that's only after it's shoved halfway up INside you for a tour. Wish I had looked that one up.

But I act cool and don't act as though I've just been violated. "At least the nurse will let me see the TV screen soon and I'll see a baby, well just a zygote, but I'll see it. THEN this will all feel real. Why is she making that face? You know. That face you make when you drop a pin in the shag carpet and need to find it before someone steps on it. That face. I knew it! The sticks lied and I've just been gassy this whole time. I'm not even pregnant!"

The nurse then said a whole bunch of medical words like "elongated uterus," but I think I must've passed out from embarrassment because I'm quite sure my uterus has never been a topic of conversation before. She then tried the wand ON the belly technique and her eyes lit up.

I got excited, "Here it comes. I'm going to be able to go home and tell Michael how I saw a little tadpole or a fish or something!"

She turned the TV to me and this is what I saw:

Nurse: See right here (pointing at static) that's the egg sac.

Me: Sorry I blinked. Can you point it out again?

Nurse: Right here (pointing at static nothingness). See?

Me: (wanting at all costs to avoid looking like I don't see it)

Nurse: And right here (more static and fuzz), this is the embryo.

Me: (squinting because maybe it's like those 3-D pictures that pop out at you) That's amazing...

Nurse: And here (101 Dalmatians in a blender) you can see the flicker of the heartbeat already.

Me: (totally giving up) Yep. Wow. So it all looks good?

Nurse: Excellent. We'll see you in another four weeks.

Me: Great! What will be doing at that visit?

Nurse: Just a pap smear.

Me: ...goody...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wherein We Tell the World We're Pregnant

Sentimental is not a word people use to describe me. If it doesn't serve a functional purpose, I throw it away. Walks down memory lane are an exercise I do without. Emotions make me angry.

Telling people I'm (we're) pregnant is a wildly awkward situation I'd like to get over as quickly and painlessly as possible--it's sort of like going to the dentist. Charming, I know.

Naturally, this response leads to the absolutely most awkward and painful ways of telling people since everyone other than me wants to fuss, cry, hug and/or jump up and down over the news.

Don't believe me? Here's a sampling of how I handled telling people:

Telling the husband
When a month and week passed by with no signs of getting my period, I became suspect. Greenwich could set their clocks to my schedule. Since we were officially "trying" to get pregnant, I didn't want to get my hopes up and test too soon only to see a negative pregnancy test. So I waited.

It was precisely one week and three days after I was supposed to have my period when my resolve to take the test broke down. Unfortunately, before I was able to take the test the following exchange happened between me and my husband:

Husband: Time to get up. We have massages scheduled this morning.

Me: Uh...I'm going to pass. Why don't you take my session and get an extra long massage (Note of clarification: there's all sorts of conflicting rumors on the subject of massages in the first trimester of pregnancy. Since I had done all of no research on it, I didn't want to risk anything.)

Husband: Get out of bed you lazy bird. You are a stress ball and this helps you.

Me: (after numerous pleas of "I'll just sleep in" or "I don't feel that great", I gave up and spluttered out) I can't go.

Husband: Why the hell not?

Me: Because I might be pregnant and you can't get massages when you're pregnant. But I don't know for sure because I've held off on getting a pregnancy test. I was going to go buy one today.

Husband: ...

I'll spare you the rest of this riveting conversation and leave you with this: He went and got his massage and I texted him that I was indeed pregnant. Welcome to the technology era.

Telling my mom
Where I lack in sentimentality, my mother makes up for it three thousand fold. She will gladly show you every item I produced from birth until last week. Milestones are meant to be celebrated with much pomp and circumstance and as much attention as possible.

I felt a ridiculous amount of pressure telling my mom that she was finally going to have a non-furry grandchild. She has been waiting roughly 32 years and 11 months for this announcement; so I needed to make it brilliant, charming, full of sentimental mementos she could cherish.

I told her over a plate of lasagna after trying to find the "right moment" all day long.

Telling my friends
Well, I started this blog...

Oh You're Pregnant? Let Me Ask You This...

The general population is familiar with exactly three symptoms of pregnancy. Thusly, when you tell others you are pregnant you are greeted with one of, but no more than, the following three questions:
  1. Do you have morning sickness?
  2. Are you tired?
  3. What have you been craving?
    * Answers below because I know you’re dying to ask them yourself.

And while I never (read: always) get tired of answering these queries, I think there are far more interesting side effects of pregnancy to be discussing.

Are those your boobs or are you having twins?
I was always a well-endowed woman prior to being pregnant—since we’re not holding back here: a 36D. Within ONE MONTH of being pregnant, I was wearing a 38DD…and apparently, these things KEEP GROWING. You. Have. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

Now some of you mean-spirited people are probably thinking, “Hey Jen, lay off the ice cream.” I’ll have you know, I’ve lost 5 pounds since being pregnant (which by my calculations means I really lost ten pounds, but gained 5 back in my boobs alone).

Now my husband and I are in great disagreement about the new pregnancy physique. Apparently he doesn't mind if I look like some ridiculous cartoon character drawn by a hormonal teenage boy ("I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way").

How’s the pooper running?
Pre-pregnancy I was not one to discuss to my “import/export” system—not with friends, not with my husband, if I could I would opt to ignore that portion of my life completely. However now, it refuses to go unnoticed.

I would like for you to imagine eating how you normally do for an entire week. Now throw in the IMPOSSIBILITY of going pooper—because it ain’t going to happen. Then, much like the Bible, on the seventh day God said let there be pooping (I may or may not be paraphrasing). Let me tell you…that seventh day is a bitch.

Because I care about your well being, I’ll not discuss in great depth the associated gas, cramps and (what I’m sure will be on the horizon) hemorrhoids.

Why is everyone treating you as though you have a debilitating disease?
You got me. I tried to move a chair—a regular ol’ kitchen table chair—and you would’ve thought I had suggested tightrope walking across a lava pit filled with alligators (just go with me on this one). At least three people yelled at me to sit down and rest.

News alert: I’m pregnant; newly pregnant, in fact. A time when doctors encourage working out and increased activity because the fetus is more protected now than it will be at any other stage of the pregnancy. I know this because I’ve managed to fall down and throw myself into traffic on at least three separate occasions since discovering I was pregnant and everything is still fine.

I’m lazy by nature, so when the time comes I’ll be more than happy to let you do everything for me. But for the time being, please let me continue to be a normal human for as long as possible.


My instinct is some poor soul must have asked these questions and received honest answers from a pregnant woman and spread the word to only ask the three “safe” questions.

1. I’m growing a human being inside of me. Couple this with my penchant for forgetting to eat and you have the precise formula for feeling queasy.

No, it is not limited to the morning.

It’s less “sickness” and more “nasty gagging and dry heaving I have no control over.” Things that make me gag include, but are not limited to: noxious smells ranging from the trash to roses, standing up too quickly, seeing dog poop, having to clean up cat puke, bending over to put on my sneakers, walking up a flight of stairs and thinking about anything at all.

Yes, it’s starting to abate as I enter my second trimester.

2. I work between 60-70 hours a week for my “day” job. I also had the bright idea to start a catering business which I continued through my first trimester of pregnancy (did you notice the usage of past tense?). Catering took roughly 90-100 hours a week. By my calculations, that left me with approximately -2 to 10 hours of free time each week. Tired doesn’t begin to describe it, but it had very little to do with being pregnant.

3. Sleep and a day where I don’t gag.

Honestly, I haven’t noticed any real cravings just yet. I’ve never been shy around food so a sudden desire for artichoke dip or a cheese sandwich with pickles is not out of the question—pregnant or not.