Most anticlimactic gender reveal ever

gender

So far, I have been pretty impressed with Canada’s public health system in terms of using it to navigate this pregnancy — we’ve never had to wait too long, staff have always been friendly, and even the weird “hospital” we go to (ie. the third floor of a Hydro One office building that’s been converted into Mount Sinai’s overflow space and therefore kind of feels like a movie set or a pretend hospital) isn’t too shabby-looking. But yesterday, when we had our anatomy scan and opted to find out the sex of the baby, I had my first moment of “Hmm, maybe this is where hand-holding midwives come in handy.”

The scan itself went OK — they got us in right on time, baby was kicking up a storm, the ultrasound tech was in a good mood. Halfway through, he said he needed baby to flip around so he could get a better shot of the brain and heart, so would I mind touching my toes for 5 minutes? I did him one better and ended up in a series of upside-down yoga poses (yes, while still in the ultrasound room), which actually worked. As he showed us some images on the screen, we got an under-the-bum shot and I was pretty sure I saw two little balls. The tech said nothing in response because he wasn’t allowed to disclose the sex. But later, I was pretty sure I heard him reference “his arm” when talking about its position. So fine, I had a bit of a hunch and was leaning toward “boy” anyway because of my slowly climbing betas and because all of you guys seemed to agree.

But here’s the deal: As the tech can’t reveal the sex, and the ultrasounds are performed separately from your appointment with the OB, the office staff basically just hand you a copy of the report at the end, which mentions the sex “somewhere near the bottom.”

So hubby and I take our piece of paper, ride the elevator back down to the lobby, sequester ourselves next to a random fern in the corner, and start hastily scanning for the words “boy” or “girl”. We look at the bottom, as directed, and the first thing we see are comments from the supervising doctor saying something about “isolated echogenic bowel” in the lower-right quadrant and how this can be linked to Cystic Fibrosis, Trisomy 21 and other conditions, and how we may want to consider genetic counselling. In the midst of totally freaking out, we scan up and see the words “likely male”. At this point, neither of us care. There is maybe 10% of us going, “LIKELY? Is there a penis or isn’t there?!” and then 90% of us going, “WHAT THE FUCK IS ECHOGENIC BOWEL?!” We open up our phones and start madly Googling and find a few semi-reassuring studies, but are still left standing in the lobby of a hydro building feeling pretty upset about seeing words like Cystic Fibrosis on our report and having NOBODY there to explain what this really means.

Skip to today: I’ve seen my OB and he said he encounters fetuses with echogenic bowel pretty much every other week (I have to say, I find this slightly hard to believe, seeing as it supposedly only appears in 1% of second-trimester ultrasounds). But that in itself is not a problem and usually disappears by the next ultrasound. Technically, however, it can be a marker for stuff like Cystic Fibrosis, Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), IUGRTORCH, etc. etc., so you just want to make sure to rule this stuff out. I already did my Trisomy bloodwork and the chances of baby boy having this are about 1 in 5,800 (fine). The baby was measuring on track, so pretty sure there’s no growth restriction (IUGR) happening. I don’t have any history of Cystic Fibrosis, but I guess hubs and/or I could be carrying it recessively, so we’re going to get tested, and same with the TORCH stuff. The rest of the anatomy scan was perfect and there are no other markers for anything scary, so basically we should try to relax about this. But still… I keep reading about there being a 5% chance of Cystic Fibrosis and that feels like a horribly high number. Will get results in a couple weeks.

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First nightmare

OK, so usually when people start telling me about the craaaaazy dream they had last night, I start rolling my eyes because other people’s dreams are not entertaining. Like, “Ooooh, your brain had some unusual thought processes? That NEVER happens! FASCINATING….” The one exception to this rule is my husband’s dreams, because they genuinely make for the most absurd narratives (one of my favourites was one in which he was walking somewhere, then looked down and realizing he was walking on crocodiles).

Anyway, my point is that I will make this entry brief, in light of the fact that it involves a nightmare I had last night — the very first involving my pregnancy being at risk. In short, I was at some haunted hospital, at night, and a nurse was moving the doppler on my stomach, and said, “The heartbeat is too fast,” then gave me a look that said, “This is totally over.” And so I rushed to the fertility clinic for a proper ultrasound, except my doctor was suddenly Christopher Lloyd circa Back to the Future, and he wouldn’t let me do an ultrasound because I apparently broke the machine last time when I kept giggling. So I was begging and pleading with Christopher Lloyd and swearing on my life that I wouldn’t giggle anymore and I just really needed to see my baby.

lloyd

And then I woke up. It sounds like the dumbest dream ever, but it was terrifying. I’m pretty sure what prompted this was something I read recently about how I shouldn’t be sleeping on my back because the weight of the fetus in my ute can compress some artery that, in turn, would make my heart rate slow down and deliver less blood/oxygen to the baby. And ALL last night, I kept waking up to find myself lying on my back, then panicking and turning onto my side. And then it would happen again, and again, and again (and this is especially weird because normally I hate sleeping on my back). OK, I’m boring myself now… so I’ll stop. But I think the lesson here is: Don’t ever watch Back to the Future. Or maybe also: Don’t freak out about every single pregnancy guideline. Take your pick.

1. Have baby; 2. Make millions of bazillions of dollars

Well, it’s Tuesday, aka the most boring day of the week (unless you’re, like, really into cheap movies), which means it’s the day I am most inclined to abandon work and watch YouTube videos of raccoons being like people or, even crazier, research local daycare options. We haven’t really figured out whether we’ll need daycare, or when, or how much we can spend on it, but hubby is insistent that we should at least put our name on a bunch of waiting lists just in case. Having written a fairly comprehensive article once on the state of daycare in Toronto (long story short: it’s insanely expensive and takes years to get your kid in anywhere), I felt I was starting from a knowledgeable place. But it’s still an overwhelming learning process — the city rates every one of its daycares on a MILLION different aspects, from toys available to how the room is decorated to how strictly the Canada Food Guide is adhered to, etc. Do you choose the daycare that rates high on learning or the one with a community garden and care providers who speak Croatian and Sinhalese? What about the one that gets really awesome ratings in nearly every category but is technically housed in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health? What about that private Scandinavian daycare that believes in “spacious simplicity”? Is that a euphemism for “room with nothing but a single rocking horse, which is actually a statement piece and not for playing with because children need to learn restraint”?

Really, I suppose I should just sign up for all of them and then make a call on a case by case basis when spots come up. But something keeps holding me back… I guess it’s the whole still-feeling-like-a-fraud thing, like I can’t believe we’ll actually have a baby that will actually need care. And there’s another thing, too — the fact that I have no idea what I’ll be doing once my “mat leave” (read: minor allowance from the government that essentially amounts to a couple of bucks, one Tim Hortons coffee and one complimentary renewal of my driver’s license) ends. On the one hand, freelance writing is a great career to have when you’re raising children — you can work from home, the schedule is flexible, etc. — but on the other hand, it barely covers the bills and you can’t really give yourself a promotion. I admire moms who stay home to raise kids, but our household income just doesn’t allow for that. I am quickly realizing that momma needs a steady paycheck.

So my plan has been: 1. Have baby; 2. Become a breast-feeding, diaper-changing zombie for at least six months; 3. Find a way to transition into a new career, like one that involves water coolers and dental plans.

Is this really dumb, though?? Should I have figured out a new career trajectory and established myself BEFORE getting knocked up? Will it be impossible to go on a proper job hunt and do interviews and impress people when I have so-called mommy brain (hate that expression, by the way) and spit-up on my clothes? I’m suddenly paranoid that I’ve screwed this up… so if any of you out there have managed to change careers after having a kid, please chime in and let me know it’s possible!

Oh, and here’s your Weirdest Google Image Result of the day:

juggling

Bump pics and delusional stroller needs

A’ight, so I’ve taken the plunge and added a “bump pics” page to Yeah, Science! — those of you who are experts at analyzing mid-sections for fetal presence are more than welcome to take a gander, while those of you who find this photo-documentation obsession unsettling can just take a pass. I decided I would wear the same thing in each photo, but don’t ask how I came up with this combo — I frankly NEVER wear yoga pants, let alone yoga pants combined with a dress shirt (?). But now I’m stuck with it.

On another note, I found my dream stroller last week while walking past a thrift store near my house. Are you ready for the amazingness? Ready? Bam:

pram4

How cute is it?? Don’t get me wrong — I am WAY too superstitious to actually buy a stroller at this stage in the game, but I’m obsessed with vintage prams and fell in love with it. It’s totally practical, too — can fit into any sized trunk, easy to navigate down the aisle of a streetcar, collapses into a car seat and weighs no more than a small avocado.

Don’t worry, though — if someone happens to purchase it before I do, there’s a back-up plan in place. It’s called this:

pram1

Or possibly this, which I have on hold at Etsy:

pram3

16 weeks, aka the “awkward phase”

Well, the good news is that we still have a heartbeat! I realize this isn’t really news at all, because why on earth wouldn’t we have a heartbeat at this stage, but frankly I’m still kind of amazed. My OB is a wiz at locating it with the doppler — the first time, he didn’t have to move it at all, just knew exactly where to place it like he was some kinda fetal psychic (also known as spending upwards of three decades finding heartbeats, I suppose); this time, it took him about two seconds to locate it, and let me tell you, that first second was the most terrifying second I’ve ever experienced and felt like an ETERNITY. But it was there, and lovely. They weighed me and it turns out I’ve gained a single pound in the past 3 weeks (is that normal? I seriously never weigh myself and have no concept of what a pound really means). Blood pressure was miraculously low. Finally, the doc asked if I had any concerns and I said, “Oh, you know, just that the baby is dead…” and then he said — he actually said — that I could come in and listen to the heartbeat any time I wanted. Now, maybe this is common in the U.S., but in the land of public healthcare, anything that is even remotely unnecessary just isn’t accommodated — they’re not even doing routine physicals, breast exams or pap smears anymore. I gave him a shocked look and was all, “Um, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be wasting tax payers’ dollars on quelling my totally unjustifiable fears.” But he insisted it was fine. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that it was all right that I still didn’t have any sign of a growing tummy, and his response? “Oh no, you definitely have a bump!” Erm, excuse me while I put that in bold. I tried to explain it was probably just my breakfast and lack of exercise he was noticing, but he sounded pretty adamant that it was firmer than last time and most definitely growing.

This is a weird phase of pregnancy to be in, I have to say, because on the one hand, I love that other people can somehow detect a roundness down there even though I can’t; but on the other hand, I’m almost certain I’ve been this bloated before and it really just depends on the time of day and the meals I’ve eaten and so forth, so it’s almost insulting when it gets pointed out to me (like, you wanna point out how big my boobies are too, Mr. Acquaintance I Barely Know? Didn’t think so). I also feel this need to avoid the awkward transition phase by either wearing tight pants and sucking in or doing the exact opposite — consuming a buttload of carbs and pushing it out so there is no mistaking it.

Just FYI, I have been taking bump pics (8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks) in my shitty bathroom mirror, but I seriously am hesitant to upload them here when all three look THE EXACT SAME. I don’t know… should I just toss them onto a “bump pics” page anyway? Or maybe wait until 20 weeks, when there is sure to be some sign of real progression??

P.S. I was going to try and post a funny comic or image or whatever about looking preggo when you’re really just bloated, so I Google Imaged “burrito baby” because this is the term I always use after having eaten a lot of Mexican food and feeling as though I’m going to give birth to a burrito. Anyway, this is what turned up in the results:

burrito1

burrito2

burrito3

burrito4

That’s not even a burrito — it’s a taco! Gawd, get it right, people.

Calming myself with a (non-tequila) sunrise

Our 16-week appointment is coming up, which is totally NOT a milestone of any kind, nor should it be any cause for concern, but of course because it’s been three weeks since I last heard the heartbeat, I’ve started panicking. Again with the fears that Right On Time Fetus is dead, again with the obsessive-compulsive thoughts about how it maybe just stopped growing. Distraction, as always, is so damn important — and it was great last week because I turned 34 and was easily able to distract myself for a few days with other, more selfish fears of aging and disease. Then I had to pay my taxes — the infertility meds came in handy for easing the financial strain this year, but it was still a major blow to the bank account having to write those cheques. The only upside was that it proved to be another great distraction as I replaced baby fears with fears of The Tax Man coming to my front door and threatening to audit me and take even more of my monies.

Finally, I decided this weekend to attempt a form of distraction that did NOT involve fear (wha? huh?). Rather, it involved escaping to my parents’ new cottage two hours north of the city, perched right on a beautiful lake. It was my first time sleeping over there and — because it’s east-facing and still doesn’t have curtains or blinds — I was woken up at 5:45 a.m. by the sunrise. This is what I saw from my position in bed:

Sunrise

Normally, I would have been irritated at anyone waking me up at 5:45 a.m., be it a friend, stranger, or ball of fire in the sky. But I figured I should probably get used to this if there still is a heartbeat inside my abdomen, as it will eventually make for a pretty sleepless fall/winter, defined largely by wailing and pooping. And so I took a few moments to appreciate the insane peace and tranquility of a Muskoka lake before anyone else had woken up (and if Right On Time Fetus was awake by that point, well, good for him/her. Wait, can fetuses even open their eyelids at 16 weeks? Gawd, nevermind).

Anyone have any other calming rituals I might be able to borrow in the days leading up to these tests, scans and appointments?