Saturday, February 25, 2006

Generally Speaking

I'm feeling a lot less horrible. I still don't feel my best in the morning (or the evening for that matter), and always end up sleeping a few hours in the middle of the day. However, the reduced workload (and possibly the vitamin B6) have helped a great deal.

I still don't have the energy to do much of anything, even mental work, but I did manage to do my laundry during the week and even loaded the dishwasher once. Poor husband. Lucky for me he's such a brick, and tells me that I'm the one doing the work of growing the kid, so he's glad to do it. (He says.)

I'm certainly getting tired of being a slug, though. I don't feel overtly sick most of the time, I just feel nearly sick. It's still like I'm convalescing from something, and my belly always feels just a bit--off, I guess I'd say.

Last week I weighed myself on the sliding-beam scale in my office and found that I'd lost weight since the previous time, which worried me a little but I've seen enough references to it that I guess it's not that unusual. I think that will probably even out soon. I've been able to eat at least once a day each day this week.

My hair is growing like crazy, and so are my nails. Unless they really just grew gradually and I'm attributing it to the pregnancy. --But, no! Your metabolism does indeed speed up, so it would make sense.

We have an appointment to visit a midwife next week. I had to go through a lot of referrals and phone calls to find one, but she's associated with the Alternative Birthing Center. That's a big draw for me. I don't want pitocin, episiotomy, artificial membrane rupture, and so forth! No! Nonononono! ...And those things are a lot less likely with a midwife and in a birthing center than with an OB in a standard delivery setting.

If she doesn't seem to be what I want, I'll try the OB that one of my professors raves about. I don't know how insurance is going to take several practitioner initial visits, but there doesn't seem to be much choice if I want to check out more than one caregiver. I tried to schedule just a consultation, but they wouldn't do it. It's like you can't come in contact with any service without being hooked into the entire 9-month machine of someone's practice. I liken it to requiring me to commit to marriage before they're willing to go on a first date with me.

A friend of mine kindly drove out to visit me the other day (bringing a baby outfit and a mix CD). I tried to show how much belly I've grown, but she couldn't see it.

"Really! It's a lot bigger! See? I can't button my pants anymore!" I insisted.

"But I really just can't tell!" she pleaded. "It looks normal to me!"

(However, this is the same woman who refused to believe I wear a size 8 jeans (that large!) until I actually tried them on, and thereafter called me "Illusion-Body.")

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pregnancy Dreams

In the past, I've often had those odd anxiety dreams in which I have a critter or critters to care for, and I realize that I've left it/them unfed for days, or lost in the snow, or out in the sun, or whatever.

Once I began raising fancy rats, those dreams began to always be about baby rats, usually a whole passel of 'em. I guess baby rats are good metaphors for whatever helpless creature you can think of, as they are tiny, warm, pink, wriggly, and squeepy. And also very helpless.

So as you may well guess, I have begun having those kinds of dreams again.

I dreamed that I was leaving my old pre-marriage apartment, and I realized that there was a mama hooded rat bringing her young down to the lobby one by one. And apparently someone else's babies too, as there were several different developmental stages of babies in the pile. I was worried that they were too exposed, and people would step on them and kick them out into the cold without even seeing them. So I was trying to pick up as many of them as possible, and trying to find which apartment(s) they were coming from. Then I realized that there was more than one mama rat carrying babies down those stairs, and from different apartments, and I was never going to be able to return them all or get them safe.

I did also dream a literal baby dream, in which the baby was born but a month or two too early--a small baby, but looking like a proper baby. It was a girl, and I was trying to get her to nurse, but she hadn't been able to eat in days and we had to be transported to the emergency room by paramedics.

Now, the odd thing about these dreams, is that my husband and my sister have both been having them, too. Both of them dreamed about the baby being a little weird blobby/alien kind of thing that they had to save or resuscitate. (Of course, my husband had initially squashed his dream-nub unknowingly under a wire basket.)

There seems to be a theme with everyone of the baby coming out too soon, and another theme of it being unformed and sort of alien. I have actually read discussions (in my pre-baby life) about how a lot of society's anxiety about the pre-born seems cathexed on aliens, and our images of aliens often resemble our imaginings or nightmares of what fetuses look like. If you're H.R. Giger, it's definitely a nightmare--but just as definitely a metaphor (if you think what Giger's aliens do.).

My own mother told me that she felt weird and kind of icky about her babies when she knew they were in that little blobby alien stage. (Though she didn't use those words.) I am actually happy that my dream-babies have so far taken the form of baby rats and actual babies: creatures I find familiar and cute. I'm actually okay with the weirdness and biological-ness of this whole process, for some reason. At some point in the past 10 years I made peace with my own corporeality/ physicality (and therefore necessarily imperfection and ugliness), and I think that's a big part of it.

Plus, as silly as this sounds, I find I've been identifying greatly with those mama rats I used to care for. They were so cute and funny when pregnant--little furry water balloons with legs when they got huge. And they were so unselfconscious about their physical needs, lying splayed on their backs with paws all akimbo to cool themselves as their little metabolisms sped up. And I loved the little translucent warm babies--I could tell which ones needed to be rotated in towards the feeding zone, because the ones that were already full of milk had a visible white patch in their little see-through bellies.

Presumably mine won't be exactly like that.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

That's Better

Reducing work has helped a lot. Now I can give in to the impulse to sleep 16 hours (in chunks, not all at once) instead of fighting it, or trying to sleep at my desk. Now I need only go into school two days a week. (It seems like a lot on those days, though.) And my speculation has turned out to be true: reduced exhaustion has led to reduced nausea.

I do still have an overall feeling of being generally unwell, as when one is recuperating from flu. However, this is a great improvement and I am grateful for it. I want to go outside and walk around in the fresh air to get my energy back up a little, but it has been bitter cold here lately.

My eating is still somewhat "off", as now I associate pretty much any eating with how sick I felt and find myself reluctant to even think about food. I find I want primarily dry, bland, processed foods, especially salty things. I have bought a lot of fruit juices to tempt myself into a) drinking fluids and b) having something besides canned meals.

The books all say to not worry about damaging the little critter by having morning sickness, and to just eat whatever you can keep inside you. However, they all then contradict themselves by also saying that it's extremely important to eat all these various foods containing--I don't know--nutrients and things! At least I'm managing to keep up on the folic acid supplements.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You Think *You're* Sick of Work...

I have come to the conclusion that I am sick of work. Literally.

I was sort of thinking something along the lines of "if I could control this nausea and barfing, I could get back to my previously scheduled activities." But when I stepped back and stopped taking a symptomatic focus, I realized that the nausea is just the sharp tip of the whole exhaustion iceberg.

I realized that my weekly pattern has been that I drag myself to work (and do a substandard job because I'm so drained) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Then by Thursday morning I'm so exhausted that I go home in the afternoon and fall into a dead sleep that more or less lasts until Sunday. It takes me that long to recover. And the more exhausted I am by Thursday, the more nausea I experience during that recuperation time.

So this week I tried cutting out my clinical work (about 16 hours), and it's helped a great deal. I still don't feel perfect, but I've been able to eat every day and not throw up.

I think that it's not only the 16 hours of time (though that's considerable), but also the type of work I do clinically. This experience is making it quite clear to me that emotional work takes more energy than any other kind of work. By that I mean dealing with anyone's emotions, whether mine or others'. (Like when you feel whipped after talking to a complainer on the phone.)

I can't pull back that emotional involvement aspect and still do good clinical work (and there's the sheer time spent overall as well), so I think I will be withdrawing from clinical work for a few weeks.

Teaching is not as hard; I'll likely keep doing that. While it's great and energizing to bring that kind of emotional work to the classroom, I can still give a reasonably decent class without being a group therapist. (And no one is likely to go home and kill themselves if I make a mistake in class, unlike the kinds of risks possible in doing bad therapy.) Also, teaching is about 2.5 hours face time twice a week, as opposed to 16 hours at the clinic over three days.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Speak of the Devil...

TheLimey was reading bits of his pregnancy manual (The Expectant Father) to me over the weekend, in which it discusses couvade syndrome (I know you'll go look it up if you don't know).

TheLimey [Paraphrased]: "It says I might develop symptoms such as weight gain, nausea, and nosebleed. It might have the evolutionary advantage of expressing my bond and empathy with you in an unmistakeable way."
Me: "Nosebleed is a symptom of pregnancy?"

Today: typing with wad of toilet paper stuck in nose--alas, nosebleed does appear to be a symptom.

Still vastly better than barfing, in my opinion.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In the Immortal Words of Comic Book Guy...

"Worst. Pregnancy. Ever." (Okay, paraphrased.) But here's the good news:

I think it looks just like its daddy.

So, I've been to the OB-Gyn cattle-conveyer-type medical practice, which did at least include the sonogram. The critter is 16mm, which is just as it should be at 46 days of development. (What is that, Carnegie stage 18? I don't know if that system counts by weeks since conception [as it should], or the standard weeks since last menstruation.)

I have been terribly, terribly ill. Being on the computer makes me feel sick, being on the phone makes me feel sick, being in the car makes me feel sick. The smell of my own skin and hair makes me sick. Just being makes me feel sick! I've been sleeping most of the day, every day since I came home Thursday afternoon.

I haven't been able to keep down much food or liquid during that time, either. I can't eat or drink anything until about 5 pm, and then it takes me an hour just to ingest a little serving of something bland like cottage cheese and canned peaches. I sleep most of the day.

In hindsight I could have predicted this, as I already know that a) I tend to have a lot of whatever hormone I'm producing at the time and b) I tend to be pretty sensitive to whatever chemicals are in my system. I just hope that my body keeps doing things "by the book" and settles down after this month. I am making arrangements to take time off my clinic work for a few weeks, as it is simply too much.

I sure don't need to worry about finding nonalcoholic wine any longer, as I have absolutely no interest in any kind of wine. Also completely uninterested in tea and coffee. Even cheese is just too much. The nausea has completely overtaken the ravenousness. I even threw up innocuous fruit popsicles!

I had the doctor appointment on Friday, when I was feeling particularly awful. I didn't actually throw up there, but I kept thinking I was about to. And it was a three-hour appointment that involved a heck of a lot of waiting for various people to do various things.

I liked the doctor herself, but the overall arrangement was less than satisfactory. For one, it's a busy practice that's actually in a teaching hospital. So that pretty much answered my question about where I might be expected to deliver. Whereas I wanted to go to vet the practice and see what I thought of them, the expectation was that since I was there, I was "a patient" and I was already hooked into this big maternity machine.

My little list of questions to ask the doctor about the values and procedures of the practice seemed a bit moot when I had to see several other people first for all kinds of required procedures (taking various fluids from me, getting my health history, taking my insurance info, etc.)

Overall I felt the general message was "We're asking the questions, here, Missy." Also, I wouldn't get to see that particular doctor (or any particular doctor) with any frequency anyway, as it might be any of the doctors in the practice at any given time, including for the delivery. Also, during that whole three hours, not one person asked me how I was feeling (or had been feeling during the pregnancy), when I was obviously, visibly, feeling horrible. It just felt really impersonal all the way through.

I think I may be switching to another option at some point.

TheLimey seems to have been galvanized into more serious belief by seeing photographic evidence. It could also have to do with my lying completely inert on the couch all day, for days on end, in between barfing. He's been reading his Expectant Father book and going on shopping trips to get things that might tempt me to eat. Also generally fussing and worrying over me.

I can't imagine trying to do this alone, or--worse--with an unsupportive partner. I keep thinking about how cheating and/or domestic violence most often begin in pregnancy, and thanking my lucky stars for the good man I have.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


As of last week, I could close my trousers relatively comfortably. This week, I have had to leave them unbuttoned. It really seems like in a matter of days I went from having a bit thicker waist to looking like I'm developing a potbelly. The critter is supposed to double in size right about now, so that would make sense. It would also coincide with the exhaustion. If I'm growing a new body, this current one is naturally going to be tired when there's more growth occurring.

Today I saw this article on NPR.org. I'd heard about this a few years ago and was just mentioning to TheLimey that I now incorporate some of his genetic material in my own body because we've mated. But it's interesting to hear the kinds of theories that are coming out of it. (I sure hope the Good Hypothesis turns out to be the right one!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I have read that a somewhat common phenomenon for new fathers is to have an (acknowledgedly) irrational suspicion that the baby is not theirs. This is explained as basically self-doubt about having accomplished something so monumental. (Clearly not as much an issue for new mothers, for obvious reasons.)

TheLimey and I have discussed this delusion, and if he's experienced it, he's certainly not letting on. However, he did experience some doubt the other day about the actual existence of the pregnancy. I had to reassure him that not only have I not menstruated since mid-December, but the tests (hey, I had an extra and I used it up just for kicks) came out positive.
(Type I errors are just not very common with pregnancy tests, unless you're taking fertility drugs that include HcG.) I admit I had trouble believing it for a while myself, and had to remind myself of those facts from time to time. But at least he was reassured. Lucky for him.

So as I left the bathroom this morning, shaky and teary-eyed from hanging over the toilet, he quipped: "Are you sure you're pregnant?"

Now that I'm reading another of my massive tomes on pregnancy, it looks like this is also a common reaction for men (the doubt, not the bad jokes). There is a section with quotes from women who were terribly disappointed that their (male) partners simply did not believe it, or refrained from getting excited, until there was some official word from a physician.

Which is actually kind of...well, insulting. They don't believe you about important personal matters until an authority figure backs you up? Or are men so out of touch with their bodies that they can't imagine being able to know what's going on in your own body? Or what is it, exactly?

As I said, [ominously] it's lucky he believed me.

Also Officially

Have now gone from just nausea to retching! This is not entirely unlike having a permanent hangover, with the happy exception of not having any headaches.

Actually, the retching kind of helped. I didn't think it would, as it's not about some bad substance I've eaten, but rather about hormones circulating. Nevertheless, it did give me some relief from the nausea.

Have had a hard time eating or taking vitamins the past few days. Bluck.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Officially having to unbutton work slacks now. These slacks always were a bit snug, though.

On the other hand, I had to unbutton my jeans over the weekend, too. Er, that is to say, over the weekend I had to unbutton my jeans.

I hope they're going to listen for a heartbeat this Friday. You'd think they'd send me an introductory packet or even just an outline of what to expect, as it's bound to be different at every place.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I wanted dearly to be one among that tough 20% of women who don't get nausea during pregnancy, but it wasn't to be. I've been pretty consistently ucky this week, though no actual barfing or even retching. The wives' tale about nausea indicating a strong pregnancy would make sense, as the same hormones that maintain pregnancy are the ones that are nauseating. It lasts until about noon or 1pm, and then I'm usually ravenous. I hope it does indeed diminish around week 12 or so as it does for many.

Also I have been increasingly exhausted. I came home Thursday afternoon and have been awake only in the evenings since then. Only in the evenings! This makes it hard to get any work done, obviously. I am wondering if there is an element of anemia in this, although I've been downing the blackstrap and potatoes-with-peels and things cooked in the iron skillet and so forth. Today I wasn't particularly hungry; I seem to be losing my appetite to some extent.

Luckily, I have my first OB-Gyn visit next Friday, as this will be week 8 so I can get prenatal visits now. I'm sure they'll take blood and perform all kinds of diagnostic things, and can see if I'm anemic or not. It could be that I'm just going to be exhausted for a few weeks.

Still haven't worked out the midwife business, but at least I have seen some news that the governor signed some legislation last fall making insurance companies pay for nurse-midwives.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Screamapillar by Any Other Name

We thought of a boy name that we both liked pretty quickly. This, even though TheLimey completely rejected both "Han" and "Lando". (However, he sure offered up "Leia" pretty quickly!) The accepted boy name involves the name of a friend of his as a middle name. (I also suggested we should simply steal the names of that entire family for the sake of convenience.)

But girl names have seemed a lot more difficult. Basically, it's a choice between Blandy Beigette and Frillinia McFrumpstress--simple names are so plain as to be ugly, while the pretty and/or fancy names are far too froofy. (Some, of course, are froofy and ugly.) I even printed out the lists of the 1,000 most popular names for various decades and tried to find some that way.

Oh, and he also rejected my science-name favorite, which is Conifer. (I don't think he'll even consider Aquifer.) He furthermore disliked--even as a middle name--Slytherin, for some reason! (And Hermione.)

However, when I suggested the name of the restaurant where we met as a middle name, we found we both liked it. It just looks like an unusual spelling of a typical girl name, anyway.