Category Archives: physical deterioration

bumpwatch terror alert: week 21

this pregnancy is flying by. how am i at 21 weeks already?

i can’t believe i am already over 21 weeks pregnant! though i can kind of believe it because it has gotten rough. last week, jared & i decided to trade sides of the bed. we have lived together for over four years, & i have always preferred to be the one that sleeps closer to the wall while he sleeps closer to the door. i just feel more protected that way. like if a murderer breaks in, they will have to get through jared to kill me. though i am really putting jared at greater risk that way, because unless the murderer can be vanquished via heckling, jared will be the first to be slaughtered. but sleeping next to the wall means i have to wiggle all the way down to the foot of the bed to get up 9000 times a night, as pregnant ladies are wont to do (to stretch their leg muscles, to get a drink, to go to the bathroom). so we traded. we both found it very weird to be sleeping on the other side of the bed (jared more than me, because i always sleep on his side of the bed when he’s out of town; it makes me feel closer to him).

the next day, i was laying around in bed watching “roseanne” episodes on youtube. i rolled over & my expanded pregnant girth bumped the huge glass of milk i’d set on the windowsill, which toppled over & spilled all over me &…jared’s side of the bed, where i was laying. my side was untouched. we had traded sides fewer than 24 hours before & somehow i had already subjected him to a horrifying milk tsunami. so i had to strip off all his blankets & sheets & do some emergency laundry. thank goodness we have a washer & dryer in the basement & i didn’t have to lug everything to the laundromat at like 8:30pm.

when i went to get everything out of the dryer, i somehow wrenched my knee walking down the back porch steps. my knee has been bothering me for a while. the more pregnant i get, the more reluctant it is to support my weight. my left knee feels like a knee; my right knee feels like a pound of raw rotting hamburger–just kind of squishy. but this was agony beyond agony. i couldn’t even bend it, so somehow i was hauling this basket of freshly washed blankets up from the basement on a knee that wouldn’t work right. i was literally screaming in pain with every step. when i got inside, i burst into tears. i have been living with sometimes-severe chronic pain for nearly twenty years; my days of crying because of aches & pains are pretty much behind me, but this was different. it hurt SO MUCH. jared made me sit down in an armchair & he gave me a bag of peas to put on my knee. then he proceeded to remake the bed. i got up to help & he said, “what do you think you’re doing?” i said, “i’m the one that messed up the bed, i should be the one to make it, or at least help,” & he said, “sit back down & keep those peas on your knee.”

that night was rough. my knee feels a little better now, in that i am not sobbing with pain, but it’s still really bothering me a lot. i went to the library today & knelt down to get a book off a low shelf. i then could not get back up again. & it’s not even like i was deep in the stacks, where i had some privacy. i was looking at the new bookshelf, right in the middle of the library, with the info desk on one side, the circulation desk on the other, right where all the patrons have to walk by to get to the electronic card catalogue & the stacks. i had to crawl over to a chair & use it to pull myself back to a standing position. if shit is this rough at 21 weeks, how undignified is it going to be at forty?

not to mention, having an ever-expanding baby living in my ever-expanding uterus is no picnic either. i have been having a lot of pain that i guess is probably a mix of round ligament pain (ligaments hold up the uterus & they can stretch in uncomfortable ways as the weight of the uterus increases during pregnancy) & muscle pain (from the muscles supporting the uterus & having to contort in new ways as my center of gravity changes). it’s not as horrifying as the knee issue, but it’s surprisingly uncomfortable, & i can only imagine that it will get worse as i get bigger. i was so focused on how my body would handle the pregnancy as far as arthritis & mobility issues went, i didn’t even stop to consider the general aches & pains that are par for the course. that’s probably all this is, but i live in terror of pre-term labor.

i think i am really worried about pre-term labor because the baby isn’t considered viable until 24 weeks. if it was born at 24 weeks, it would still have a major uphill battle to fight health-wise, & it could still face permanent health conditions like cerebral palsy, just from being born too soon. but if the baby was born now, it probably wouldn’t live at all. i think being so close to viability but not quite there yet is making me really anxious. even though obviously i would prefer to keep the baby in until, you know, more like forty weeks. at least 37. i am not really at risk for pre-term labor, but that’s the magic of pregnancy: who knows what the fuck is going to happen, or when, or how it will all turn out? all you can do is keep plugging along & hope for the best.

but hey, we got our crib set up.

sorry so few lulz this time.

i wouldn’t force this pregnancy stuff on my worst enemy

despite all my clever jokes, the pregnancy is definitely taking a turn for the uncomfortable & potentially worrisome. on sunday, i hit the pool hardcore while jared stayed home & did research. i usually try to do sixty laps at the pool, but my last session had been truncated by lightning, so i decided to try to make it up by doing one hundred laps. the other people at the pool kept me entertained as i water-trudged back & forth, back & forth. i saw another pregnant lady at the pool with her partner. she looked more pregnant than me. i kind of wanted to jump out of the water & say, “i’m pregnant too! want to come over for dinner sometime?” that is always my reaction when i see other pregnant ladies. i start daydreaming about how our babies will become best friends & we’ll watch each other’s kids so we can have date nights with our partners & we’ll hit the baby consignment sales together, etc etc. but i’m too scared to say anything because i still worry that i just look fat, not pregnant, or that they are pregnant with their seventh baby & are already all stocked up on mom friends, or that they’ll just have really different parenting philosophies & we’ll hate each other or something.

there was also a dad at the pool with two little girls. one was maybe six years old & the other was a baby, probably under a year. the baby was in a little baby innertube with holes for the legs so she could sit in there & be safe. he put the little girls in the lane next to me & did a few laps while they watched. the baby gnawed on her innertube & the older girl patted the baby’s head with water. i guess they were getting bored though, so he let the older girl ride piggyback while he pushed the innertube back & forth across the pool. so cute. i hope jared does stuff like that with our kid.

anyway, while i was walking home, i noticed that i felt weird. there was a strange, painful pressure around my pubic bone. i have heard of this weird condition that afflicts some women in later pregnancy, where their pubic bone actually separates because of the relaxin. apparently it’s incredibly painful. i started worrying that maybe this was the start of something awful. i asked about it in my due date club on the internet. one woman said it had happened to her during her last pregnancy & she was confined to a wheelchair until after the birth. another woman said that her first symptom of something being amiss was when her hip suddenly dislocated & she fell down on the ground screaming in agony. & these are women who chose to get pregnant again! holy shit! having a kid must be AWESOME to make someone risk their bodies like that more than once.

the pain i had was nowhere near that bad, but of course i woke up in the middle of the night worrying about it anyway. i called my doctor’s office & the nurse said that usually the dislocation thing is WAY more painful than what i was describing & it was more likely that the baby was just wedged up against my pubic bone in an uncomfortable way. she recommended stretches & liberal dosing with extra-strength tylenol (i have not told my doctor’s office that they really need to stop giving me the okay to take pills–the reason i’ve never experimented with hard drugs or heavy drinking is because i know i’m an addict at heart, as manifested by my grand love affair with over-the-counter sleeping pills). the baby moved the next day & now my pubic bone feels fine. though my ego is a bit wounded by the fact that jared’s response to this whole area of concern was, “haha. you said ‘pubic’.” that guy is going to paragon of maturity in the delivery room.

& then yesterday, jared & i decided to check out the new grocery store in east lawrence. it’s not technically new–just refurbished. it’s the closest grocery store to our house & used to be known as the “dirty dillon’s”. they tore it down last summer & completely made it over. this is why jared & i got a car, actually. this grocery store was close enough to walk to, but the other stores require a car, & we had to use the other stores while the dirty dillon’s was being transformed into what the local newspaper is calling the “dapper dillon’s”. it had its grand opening on sunday & it IS pretty dapper. there are now bulk bins, a “cafe,” a starbucks, an expanded bakery section, skylights, new carts that don’t have sticky wheels, way more express & self-check lanes…the produce is all displayed in a really arty way. we needed garlic, but it is now located in a faux roman pedestal bowl on top of a large display of various onions & endives. i almost couldn’t reach it with my big pregnancy belly getting in the way.

about halfway through our shopping trip, i started feeling crampy, clammy, & shaky. it got worse & worse & i noticed the crampy feelings were coming in waves. i actually had to stop & breathe through them. i haven’t felt anything like this all pregnancy. i bailed on jared when we got to the check-out & went & laid down in the car. sitting down immediately made me feel better, & by the time we got home, i was 100% back to normal. i assume this was braxton hicks contractions? it seemed too early, but i looked it up online & i guess it’s not uncommon for women to start feeling them this early. some women say they don’t hurt, some women say they do. i say THEY DO. it was probably nothing compared to labor, but the anxiety of experiencing a contraction at only 18 & a half weeks pregnant (baby won’t be viable until 24 weeks) definitely added to the pain.

of course the internet is of two minds. half the respondents in my due date club say, “same thing happened to me last pregnancy, don’t worry about it. just make sure to stay hydrated.” half say, “this happened to me last pregnancy, i ignored it, & then i went into preterm labor at 23 weeks & delivered at 26 weeks. call your doctor ASAP!” plus i’m still getting headaches, my feet are starting to swell (slightly) & i am scared of getting elephant feet, my hands feel swollen but don’t really look different (though i don’t wear jewelery, so it’s hard to judge), i’m congested all the time, i’m way too hot all the time…i’m just uncomfortable. already. & i still have 18 & a half weeks to get through before i am considered officially full-term (37 weeks). wish me luck, guys. on the plus side, i finished the top of my baby quilt:

it’s kind of messed up in places, but the baby will probably be messed up in places too. they’ll be a matched set!

it’s not cute to complain about pregnancy, but…

back when i was first pregnant, everyone kept telling me how much i was going to love the second trimester. “oh, it’s wonderful,” they said. “your nausea disappears, your energy levels are back up, your belly pops & you look super-cute, people on the street can see that you’re pregnant & they’re really nice to you, but you’re not super-huge & uncomfortable yet. it’s all the good things about being pregnant & none of the bad!”

those people lied.

on the first day of my second trimester, i was felled by a splitting headache. that headache has waxed & waned in intensity but it hasn’t completely gone away & it’s been literally like three weeks! staying hydrated doesn’t help. sleep doesn’t help. snacks don’t help. acetaminophen doesn’t help. laying in a quiet dark room doesn’t help. back rubs don’t help. it’s just a constant headache, sometimes severe enough to mimic all the great secondary symptoms of a migraine (nausea, vertigo, seeing spots).

i suppose my energy levels are back up. that would certainly explain why i can no longer sleep past 5am no matter what time i go to bed. i’m not even in that huge pregnant phase where i feel really achy & uncomfortable. well, except for sometimes when i stretch the wrong way & the ligaments holding up my uterus scream in protest & i have nightmare visions of my placenta detaching & my baby dying. but that only happens like four or five times a night.

i was dicking around in an internet chat room for pregnant ladies & a bunch of women who are freshly-minted second trimesterers were gabbing about how often they had to get up to pee in the night. because here’s another lie: supposedly your uterus rises during the second trimester, relieving the pressure on your bladder. so if your baby spent the first trimester snuggling up on your bladder like it was a damn bouncy castle, supposedly you get a reprieve during the second trimester before the third trimester comes along, the baby takes over all the real estate in your abdomen, & you’re back to peeing fifty times a day.

so these ladies were yakking about how they aren’t experiencing relief yet & are still getting up to pee two, sometimes even three, times a night.

fuck you, ladies.

you know how often i’m getting up to pee? i’ve started keeping track. my average is eight times a night. my record is twelve times in one eight-hour stretch of sleep during which time no fluids were ingested. another record is three times in ten minutes. actually “three times in ten minutes” is become my default setting. sometimes jared goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth or re-organize my collection of bubble baths or to replenish the hand soap & i want to murder him because he is standing between me & two minutes of bladder relief. don’t think i haven’t considered propping myself up on the kitchen sink. if it wasn’t a freestanding relic from when the house was originally built 90 years ago & i wasn’t aware that i’d be fighting in the “super SUPER heavy” weight class if i was a professional wrestler…well, let’s not finish this sentence.

but maybe worst of all for right now is the constant unbearable hunger. & yet, my nausea hasn’t disappeared as promised, so i’m on a constant seesaw of being so hungry that i’m nauseous, & then so full that i’m nauseous, interspersed with a few episodes of making poor food choices & inadvertently devouring something that made me feel really sick. apparently i can no longer eat sugar at all–even the thought of it makes me want to vomit–& root beer is my sworn enemy. root beer! i ordered it a few times at restaurants because it seemed like a healthier choice than regular cola. i was thinking,” no caffeine, that’s a good thing, right?” & as jared pointed out, it has such a healthy-sounding name. aren’t pregnant ladies supposed to be all about roots? but i have never been so sick as when i made the mistake of drinking root beer. i can handle all-natural sodium-free hippie root beer with no high-fructose corn syrup, but anything else is a catastrophe. & ironically, straight up coca cola causes fewer adverse effects than regular old water (which makes me nauseous…i drink it anyway though because i am terrified of becoming dehydrated & somehow giving myself pre-eclampsia, even though i don’t know if there’s a real link between dehydration & pre-eclampsia).

& then there’s the emotional rollercoaster. right now i’m cresting a hill called “oh my god i just HAVE TO KNOW if this baby is a boy or a girl!” i had totally intended to wait until the birth because i thought that’s what jared wanted, & i thought he felt really strongly about it, & i wanted to collaborate with him on something that made him feel excited, & i also trusted that i could rely upon his dedication when i started to waver. & then he let it slip that he really didn’t give two fucks about waiting. the only reason he hasn’t expressed an interest in learning the sex in advance is because he just doesn’t care. i mean, he’s pumped to be a dad & everything, but he has zero feelings about the baby being a boy or a girl & he just doesn’t see the point in finding out in advance, maybe because he thinks it would be extra effort or something? i don’t know if he totally understands that there’s going to be a medically-indicated (ie, covered by insurance) anatomy scan in a few weeks & we can take a peek at the baby’s junk then if we want to.

i’m not proud of wanting to know, because of course i would rather sit on my high horse & proclaim that gender is a social construct & that my baby’s bits indicate nothing about its personality or interests or anything else, that a baby is a baby & i will not have society foisting its expectations upon it before it’s even finished cooking, & i am just too evolved to think for a second that the knowledge of a penis or a vagina would inspire me to feel more connected to the baby. but it’s just not how i feel. i want to know because i think it will help me connect with the baby & i feel like such a cop-out terrible feminist for even thinking that, let alone writing it down in a public space. i also want to know because i am seriously worried that if they lay a dude baby down on my chest after the birth, i will cry, & they won’t be tears of joy. if i am going to have any negative feelings about my baby’s sex (again, i’m SO not proud that this is even a dim possibility, but becoming a parent means confronting some of the worst parts of yourself & dealing with them post-haste), i’d really prefer to process them & get them out of the way well before it is born.

so i guess i’m going to schedule an ultrasound next week & within the next month or so, i’ll know whether i need to buy camo diaper covers covered in naked lady silhouettes or pink ruffled diaper covers to match the glittery fairy wings i will force my lady baby to wear. KIDDING. but hopefully i’ll have an educated guess on the sex.

the existential crisis prompted by filthy lucre

so, last week i talked jared into driving us to topeka to bask in the wonders of the baby industrial complex that is babies r’ us. but wouldn’t you know it? as soon as we pulled off the highway & into the city, the car started making this awful clunking noise & kind of shuddering every time it changed gears. i know next to nothing about cars & i figured we’d just driven over an especially egregious bump in the road, but jared knew better & suspected the worst of all possible car repairs: a bad transmission.

we tried to enjoy ourselves anyway, hoping that sitting unused in the parking lot for an hour or two would magically heal the car, but of course we both felt anxious, which made the babies r’ us experience even more horrible than it would have been on a good day. & trust me when i say that babies r’ us is a very depressing place. the topeka store has an especially distressing dollar store vibe to it. actual dollar stores can get away with being kind of plasticky & depressing because, hello, everything costs a dollar! but when i’m looking at stuff that costs hundreds & hundreds of dollars, i want a somewhat more luxurious environment. nothing says “aspirational consumer experience” quite like shopping for supplies for your first baby. so let’s see fewer pacifiers embossed with the words “future diva” & more silk-stuffed organic crib mattresses, please.

this all transpired last tuesday. on thursday, we finally got around to calling mechanics, & i was shocked when they all wanted us to make an appointment to bring our car in. & all available appointments were several days into the future. i’ve only had to take the car to the mechanic once, & they not only allowed me to bring in my car immediately, but they had it fixed & ready to roll within a couple of hours.

our appointment was for monday, & the mechanic finally called us late on tuesday with his diagnostic: bad transmission. he gave us the option of replacing a few broken parts & a fluid flush for around $1400, or a complete transmission replacement (with a used transmission) for $2200. bear in mind that we only spent $2800 on this car when we bought it. i know there’s probably some punk rocker reading this, feeling all smug because he gets around solely by bicycle, thinking the chickens are coming home to roost thanks to our yuppie asshole car-owning ways. when that punk rocker becomes an arthritic pregnant woman who lives three miles away from the closest grocery store in a town with very patchy public transportation that nonetheless is routinely 95-105 degrees for four months out of the year, maybe then we can talk about poor life choices, okay? we don’t use our car much, probably only about 2000 miles a year, but it’s helpful to have it for things like grocery shopping, going to the airport, visiting friends across town & not being beholden to other friends to give us rides, doctor appointments, etc.

luckily i have been hoarding money like a great depression survivor because i still have no idea how much all of my prenatal care & baby delivery is going to cost me out of pocket. the payment info i got my from my doctor said that an uncomplicated vaginal delivery costs $3000, & of course they will bill my insurance before they bill me, but that price doesn’t include any medications, anesthesia, hospital stay, IV fluids, prenatal care, sonograms, et al. & of course we will also have to buy a separate insurance program for the baby & hire a pediatrician, & i couldn’t even begin to guess how much that will cost. i doubt any of it will really plunge us into poverty (so long as the baby does not require the services of the NICU), but it’s going to require some shuffling around of budgetary priorities & i don’t know how bad the hit will be. the baby may also be eligible to collect social security as a child of a disabled parent, which would really help, but we still need to see a lawyer about all that stuff (another expense).

suffice to say that i have been a little bit freaked out about money lately.

i am reading this personal finance book that is supposedly, according to all the reviews i’ve read, really life-affirming & not scary, etc etc, but right now, just thinking about money even in the abstract sense is scary to me, & the book isn’t helping. it asks good questions, like, “what do you want your money to do for you? are you spending your money on what you truly value?” the author is trying to get readers to rethink the traditional wisdom that you should be spending like 45% of your income on housing & transportation costs, for example. maybe you value having a large/expensive home less than you value being able to travel, so maybe you can downsize into a less expensive home & use the difference to travel. it’s good advice, but housing & transportation (even accounting for occasional catastrophic emergency car repairs) is only costing me about 22% of my income. compared against the approximately 30% of my income that goes straight into a savings account for emergencies. i did try to use the book to figure out what i value & what i want my money to do for me. this is the boring shit i came up with:

i want to be able to pay all my bills without going into debt.
i want to be able to buy whatever i want at the grocery store.
i want to be able to go out to eat pretty much whenever i want without worrying too much.
i want to be able to buy a monthly pool pass.
i want to be able to pay all my baby-related medical bills without going into debt.
i want to be able to buy all the start-up stuff we need for the baby without going into debt.
i want to be able to do all of this without dipping too heavily (or at all) into my emergency savings.

this kind of makes me feel like a loser. i don’t have bigger dreams than this? i don’t want to, say, spend a week in paris before i’m 35? or have the funds to self-publish a book? or even buy a family membership to the kansas city zoo or something? my only “experiential” expenses (which experts say inspire more happiness that object expenses) are going out to eat (by which i mostly mean being able to order pizza like once a week) & going to the pool. i mean, the pool is awesome & pizza is delicious, but damn. life has beaten me down & the bar is now very low. i basically just want to be able to afford to put one foot in front of the other without leaning on my credit card. a worthy goal, to be sure, but also a very quotidian one.

are you fucking with me?: a guide to modern manners

sometimes i really wonder what in the hell is the matter with people. i’ve had a few brushes lately with staggering (if unintentional) rudeness.

it started with a comment on this very blog. so, it’s not a secret that i have some physical disabilities. i was born missing some of my lumbar vertebrae, which led to scoliosis, & eventually the breakdown of a lot of my joints. when i was seventeen, i was in a workplace accident & suffered significant nerve damage in my spinal cord. i now have limited mobility in the right side of my body & have lived with severe chronic pain for half of my life. naturally i have wondered how these issues will impact a future pregnancy & how i’ll integrate parenting responsibilities into my life when the time comes. i started seeking out resources on parenting with disabilities, but mostly all i have found is stuff on parenting children with disabilities. i’ve written about it a bit on the blog.

someone–a stranger to me–found that old entry & left a long & obviously well-intentioned comment trying to encourage me. she wrote that she has some of the same physical issues i have, as well as two children to whom she feels she is a great, involved, & active parent. but the comment struck me as incredibly condescending. she included lots of tips on eating well & managing pain through exercise–because clearly, having lived with these issues for two decades, i have no idea how to take care of myself.

it struck me that disabled people are constantly subjected to other people’s scrutiny when it comes to their physical health. a (seemingly) able-bodied person can bop through life doing whatever they want in terms of diet & exercise (provided, of course, that they appear slim, because fat people are subject to this same constant oversight on the part of strangers), but the second you mention that you live with physical disability, everyone comes out of the woodwork to tell you how to best manage your condition. the general consensus seems to be that you obviously don’t know how to take care of yourself physically if you are so dumb as to be disabled. she capped her tips with a little aphorism she used to use with the kindergartners she worked with: “can’t = won’t = impossible; but can = endless possibilities.” it’s like keeping tinkerbell alive with the power of your thoughts–obviously, if i just BELIEVE that i don’t have pain & mobility issues, if i just TRY A LITTLE HARDER & of course eat lots of snacks high in antioxidants, everything will be magically fixed!

she also took me to task for referring to myself as a “disabled person” as opposed to more “people first” language of “person with disabilities”. because clearly the semantics are really the issue here. not the disability or the culture of oppression that makes it okay for strangers to condescend to me & treat me like i’m an idiot who probably disabled herself with poor snack choices & self-oppressing language.

another incident took place on one of the TTC messageboards i frequent (where i have admittedly met some really awesome ladies, including several that share my politics & subcultural interests–pretty cool!). i was telling some of the ladies about all the confusion regarding the positive-looking test i had last week, followed with the negative blood test. several of them thought it was likely that i had a very early miscarriage–not that i’ll ever know for sure. one of them (who is already in her second trimester) said, “well, at least you know you can get pregnant.”

can we all just sit down & come to an accord about how you should NEVER EVER say that a person who is struggling to get pregnant? it doesn’t matter that you CAN get pregnant if you can’t carry a pregnancy to term. suffering repeat miscarriages is just as devastating & not getting a positive test at all. plus, i already knew i could get pregnant because, hello, i had an abortion four years ago. (not that i bring that up too often on TTC forums–lots of those women are incredibly religious & have a lot of fucked up feelings about abortion. i’ve mentioned it a few times though, & bonded with a few ladies that are also TTC after abortion.)

in another recent incident, a woman with whom i’m acquainted got engaged. she invited me to her bridal shower but not to her wedding. i’m not upset about not being invited to the wedding–we don’t know each other that well, we’ve never hung out as a one-on-one duo, i’ve only met her fiance once or twice. but i felt weird about being invited to the bridal shower. my understanding is that the bridal shower invite list should be limited to people that are actually invited to the wedding. complicating issues is that it was a “crafty” bridal shower, with all of the guests making origami swans & tissue paper flowers for the wedding ceremony & reception. you know, the events to which i’m not invited. i think it’s a little bit rude to try to press someone into service making decorations for an event they have not been invited to attend. i did not go to the bridal shower.

& then we have the most recent incident. i have been doing a goofy little project in which i take a photo of jared & charlotte every day & post it to facebook. i kind of expected a lot of people to drop me as a facebook friend or remove me from their newsfeeds because–you know. a daily post in which i just say, “look at my boyfriend & my cat”? kind of weird. kind of exactly the solipsism that makes facebook so annoying. but to my surprise, people have been really into these photos. i’ve only gotten positive feedback, & rather a lot of it, so i keep doing it.

i posted a photo this morning & got a comment right away from someone saying that the photos gave her “an intense need to redecorate [my] home.” she also referred to the wooden folding table we use as a bedside table as a “TV tray”.

i have no interest in enlisting anyone to redecorate my home. i think my home is gorgeous & perfect just the way it is. all the art on the walls was made by our friends or artists we like. the furniture is old & doesn’t necessarily match, because we live on a disability income combined with a grad student TAship & get most of our furniture from thrift stores or friends. everything is generally clean & relatively tidy, save for the teetering stacks of books & papers that come out when jared is immersed in an intense school project. our house is a well-maintained little cottage built in the 1920s, & some of the floorboards are warped & sometimes the paint cracks. our quilt is handmade, i try to keep fresh flowers in the kitchen, & everything is mismatched, but it’s all utilitarian, practical, & functional. it’s a home where people live, not a spread in a shelter magazine. i can’t imagine what exactly this person would want to “redecorate”. it’s obvious that we don’t have a lot of money for new furniture, & what we’ve chosen isn’t exactly modern, but it works for us & makes us happy.

none of these incidents was in any way a personal attack. all of them were comments or actions from people who felt they had the best of intentions, i’m sure. but all of them made my jaw drop because i couldn’t believe how rude people could be under the guise of being helpful, or friendly, or polite. it’s no surprise that people don’t think before they speak, but maybe we could all try a little harder on that front? i’m sure i have said some seriously goofy things to people that made them cringe & grit their teeth. just a month ago, i was talking with a woman who had been trying to conceive for several years. her most recent medicated cycle had failed & i, like an idiot, asked if she had ever tried an IUI (intra-uterine insemination). what was i thinking? of COURSE someone who has been trying to conceive for like four years has tried an IUI! i felt like a total asshole.

hopefully these people also kind of feel like assholes for their remarks & actions. but hopefully we can all take those feelings & learn from them, think before we disgorge our unsolicited opinions & stop snacking on our feet all the live-long day.

hopefully i’ll still be alive at the end of the month

i woke up yesterday in absolute agony. my entire upper back & neck were locked into place. i couldn’t look side to side or up or down without excruciating pain. i am no stranger to chronic back pain, but this is a new one for me. usually my pain is concentrated in my lower back & hips. i’ve had a few sore neck incidents, but i don’t remember anything like this.

april is off to a pitiful start so far. sunday was jared’s first full day home from the environmental history conference, which was in some ways great, but in other ways–it’s tough for a grad school widow, you know? your partner is always packing up & leaving town, which forces you to come up with your own little tricks for managing the household by yourself. & then your partner comes home & screws up your system. jared woke me up from a nap on sunday, not once but twice! i overlooked it the first time because he had just come home from a soccer game. he had no way of knowing that i was asleep. but he woke me up again coming into the bedroom for a robe after taking a post-soccer shower. & i wasn’t taking some ordinary everyday nap that’s no big deal. i was that kind of tired that you get sometimes where you’re actually crying about how tired you are. chalk it up to the progesterone supplements i have to take.

he then multiplied the crime of waking me up by moving my typewriter off of the kitchen table (where i had stationed it with the best intentions for catching up with all my mail–totally did not happen, by the way) & on to my desk. even though the typewriter clearly belongs on the bottom shelf of the living room bookcase. my computer goes on my desk. i was in the bedroom watching “roseanne” & trying desperately to stay awake until 9:30pm when it would be acceptable to turn in for the night, so when i brought my computer back out to my desk, i had nowhere to put it because the typewriter was in the way. so i moved the typewriter & plugged my computer back in…but it didn’t start charging. i started freaking out in a really exhausted, low-key way, wondering if the power cord had finally given up the ghost. then i realized that jared had simply unplugged my charger to plug in his own. rather than unplugging, i don’t know, maybe the gratuitous floor lamp that we turn on maybe once a year when all the bulbs in the overhead light burn out at the same time.

so i had to share my feelings, which consisted of saying, “i’m so aggravated,” & then i burst into hysterical sobs. i’m also going to blame this one on the progesterone supplements. they can make a person a bit emotional, especially when she’s so tired that watching “everybody loves raymond” is starting to seem like it might be a good idea. jared did his best to escalate things into a real fight (“these are tiny problems that aren’t even worth mentioning, but i guess to you they’re evidence of what an asshole i am, huh?”) but i was too tired to take the bait & instead, i just cried.

okay, i will blame it a little bit on grad school widowhood. every time jared leaves for a conference or a research trip or something, i miss him so much & am simultaneously in vacation party mode & completely at loose ends until he gets home. sometimes i feel like a housewife from 1962 because i have taken on so many of the responsibilities for managing the household, just because i know i will probably be around to handle them–i don’t have to leave at random intervals in order to further my career. so i pay all the bills & take care of a big chunk of the housework & have a mental calendar for recycling day & whether we need to stock up on cat food & laundry detergent. i don’t mind it because i’d probably be stressing about this stuff anyway even if someone else was taking care of it, but it does start to feel feminine mystique-y sometimes. more than once, jared has been accepted to present at a conference or won a fellowship on the same day when my biggest accomplishment was that i cleaned the litterbox.

anyway, yesterday i woke up with this stiff neck situation. i couldn’t even sit up from laying on my back because i couldn’t move my neck that way. i had to roll on to my side & push myself into a sitting position. i spent most of the afternoon laying flat on the floor, listening to “this american life”. then i drove across town for an emergency massage. the massage therapist said my neck muscles all felt like rope, which is apparently not good at all. she always does a little stretching with her massages, & it usually feels nice, but this time i actually screamed in agony. pretty embarrassing. she worked on me for an extra half hour & knocked $10 off my bill, & sent me home with a bag full of some weird icy hot knock-off called biofreeze. she suggested a heating pad, but it was over 90 degrees yesterday, so that wasn’t happening.

also yesterday, i cut my leg on this part of the car that i fucked up by driving into a tiny pole, i smashed my left hand in the front door, i hit my head on my bedroom door jamb, & then i hit my head on my car window. i don’t even know how i did any of this stuff, but i did openly sob about it in public.

today my neck is still killing me, but truthfully, i think it’s a little better. i at least felt motivated to take the car to the car wash, as it’s probably more disgusting filth & schmutz than car right now, but wouldn’t you know? literally the second i pulled into the parking lot of the car wash, the sky opened up & it started pouring. so i turned around & went home. it’s like my life is a stand-up routine from 1986. “you know the difference between white people & black people?…melanin, probably. i don’t know. so, sun-dried tomatoes, am i right? what else can the sun dry, i wonder?”

tomorrow me, my stiff neck, my sudden predisposition for injury, & my constant sobbing are going to a yoga class for the first time. it should be pretty exciting. i can hardly wait to trip over a pile of mats & fall down the stairs & cry in front of some more strangers. tomorrow is also jared’s birthday. i think he intends to celebrate by doing lots of schoolwork & being incredibly anxious. but i’m going to make him a flourless chocolate cake, whether he asks for one or not.

back to square one

(this isn’t something originally written for my blog, which is why everything is capitalized properly. see, i can do it! this is about infertility & it’s pretty detailed, so you may not want to read on if you don’t give a rat’s ass about my sisyphean quest to get pregnant, or if you can’t handle hearing about blood. i don’t really care. i needed to write this stuff for myself, & because i KNOW there are other infertile myrtles reading this, even if they haven’t spoken up.)

After much excitement yesterday with a positive-looking test, I woke up at 2am with what looks like the start of my period. It’s 4:30am now. Can’t sleep. Too disappointed. Even Jared, who just does not get excited about stuff, saw the test from yesterday & declared himself “cautiously optimistic”. But now I’m having some bright red bleeding that would be classified as a little bit more than just spotting, & some cramps, &…I just know this is it. Game over.

So I guess I’ll try this again. I’m doing 50mg of Clomid again, CD5-9. I’ll start some kind of generic progesterone supplement once I get my sustained temp rise. I don’t know if I’ll do OPKs again…it might just be a waste of money considering that I ovulate anyway. Maybe I’ll skip it this time. Staring down the barrel of my eighth cycle trying to conceive, I need to try to save some money where I can. I can’t just keep throwing money at this problem like that’s going to be the solution. I don’t know.

This time around, I will not obsess my way through the two-week wait, & I will not break out the big guns to start testing for pregnancy until 14DPO. I made it to 13DPO on my first round of Clomid–a normal luteal phase, for once. If I’d just been patient & waited until after the average person misses her period, I wouldn’t have wasted any tests or been crushed by the excitement of a positive followed up with bleeding.

I’m going to to try to go back to bed now, but am taking the day off from everything. I’m going to go get a massage (I already had one scheduled; how lucky is that?) & then do absolutely nothing. I need my Day of Mourning before I get back on the ball.

I’m thinking of taking my Clomid in the morning this time. I took it at night last time & it sucked because the only side effect I had was hot flashes, & they always woke me up. I’d prefer to have hot flashes during the day.

(a few hours later) My doctor is supposed to call me this morning to schedule a blood test since I had that faint positive yesterday morning…I guess I’ll have her call in another round of Clomid & progesterone instead.

I think the worst part about this is feeling like I don’t know or can’t trust my own body. I have been feeling so nauseated in the last few days. & it didn’t come on until after I had a day or two of really minor brown spotting. A few days before that, I took a long bath & thought I’d made my peace with whatever outcome I was going to get this cycle, but the nausea & the brown spotting (I’d never had anything like that before) started to raise my hopes. & then my temps started going back up…& then I got that test with a pink line…I mean, all signs pointed to “pregnant”. & maybe I really was & it’s just an early miscarriage, but the result is that I feel like I can’t trust my body.

& add to this the fact that I am disabled & have a chronic pain condition. Trying to get to a point of feeling trust in my body has been a really hard row to hoe. When you spend eight months in physical therapy when you’re only 19 & are hobbling around with a cane by the time you’re 24, but everyone from friends to family to doctors keeps telling you that maybe you’d be okay if you just tried harder, your x-rays aren’t showing any more degeneration, maybe just try to get more exercise, everyone has the occasional aches & pains, etc etc…You really start to wonder if you can trust anything you feel. It’s crazy-making.

I feel like I am whining. There are women out there who have been waiting for so much longer than I have. That’s another hard part of this: my laser focus on getting pregnant is distracting me from everything that is wonderful about my life. Every now & again, I “come out of the fog” & take a good look at where I am & what I’m doing & I feel so fortunate & loved to have such a beautiful home, such a supportive partner, such brilliant friends, I could go on. I worry sometimes that I have become so fixated on getting pregnant (because it seems so impossible) that I won’t know how to shift gears & prepare for parenthood when it finally happens.

I went to midwifery school with a woman who was simply obsessed with getting & being pregnant. It was all she cared about. She had five kids, all under the age of five, & she wanted more–not because she loved kids (she admitted that she found them boring), but because people made a big fuss over her & treated her like a queen. I saw in person how she treated her kids, who were just the sweetest little things. They’d say, “Mommy, I drew a picture of you!” & hand her the cutest little drawing they’d made while she was in class all day, & she’d say, “Get that away from me, it has your germs all over it.” But she was trying to get pregnant again, even though her youngest was only eight months old. & she was upset because all her other kids were much younger than eight months when the next-youngest sibling was conceived.

I think she’s an extreme example, but I think about her & don’t want to be like her. This whole getting pregnant thing is turning into a major ordeal, but I’m really trying to remember that it’s only the first step toward a complete transformation of my life, & THAT’S what I need to focus on.

But I’m also thinking that if I don’t get pregnant this time, I might take a little breather from trying. Just for a month. This is really, really stressful.