Archive for the 'Second Trimester' Category

A World of Pain!

Last week I was prescribed a steroid to bring my sinus inflammation down. As my nose dried out, I’d hear these little dolphin-like clicking noises emanating from my head’s nooks and crannies, as pressure released. The thing was, these sinus shifts brought on intense headaches for most of the day, hence my hiatus from posting.

In general we’ve been talking a lot about pain around here. Yesterday, the baby was dancing on S’s bladder, and, in her words, scratching her inside with his fingernails. Yikes! And more pain’s only on the way. S compared the birth to a “ship in a bottle problem.” We got him in there – all two pounds and growing – now how do we get him out? She sees pictures of newborns and doesn’t believe something that big could come out of her. That makes two of us.

Our midwives suggested we learn something called The Bradley Method. A book is on the way to enlighten us. All I know is it involves a lot of coaching on my part, so there goes my plan to hide in the bar during the birth. We were also told to take a class, but most of them are expensive and meet for several hours over the course of eight weeks, which neither of us have the inclination for. Besides, though most books rave about classes, we haven’t found anyone who actually thought they were that necessary.

So we decided just to take a one-shot afternoon seminar, taught by a yoga teacher we’ve both had before (and liked), about using yogic techniques during labor. Besides doing a lot of omming, S’ll learn about postures she can take to ease the pain of contractions and facilitate the birth, while I’ll learn how to hold and physically support her, and also spots to massage and rub.

Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky with a short labor and a baby that just slides right out. Ha! Though S had a dream about that last night. Well, one can always dream, and hope…

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Sex during Pregnancy

Ever since we found out the baby’s a boy, I’ve wanted to look S in the eye during sex and whisper, “How’s it feel having two penises inside of you?”

Gross, I know. But I haven’t had the chance, because we haven’t successfully had sex this entire pregnancy.

The last time we had a really good romp in the sack was my birthday, in mid-September, when we thought S was just feeling a little under-the-weather. Then the fatigue of the first trimester kicked in, and with it an aversion to touching. Even my smell turned her off, as her super-sensitive nose found my musky armpits and red wine breath repulsive. This came as a shock to me too.

After the fatigue, the aches and pains began: the sore legs, tender breasts, and tummy stretching. She started coming home tired, in need of a footrest or light yoga session, and then crashing quickly after dinner. Sex has been the last thing she’s in the mood for.

But I know, I know. She’s carrying our child. I shouldn’t be ganging up on her, blaming her for our flatlined sex life. Especially because I’m a part of the equation as well.

I’m a sensitive guy, and it takes me a while to get used to new things. While her changing body’s both exciting and beautiful, I haven’t always found it sexy.

In fact, sometimes I’ve thought it downright strange, like my lithe, petite wife’s been replaced by a heavier, clunkier woman. Even her bigger breasts – exciting in theory – threw me off. Instead of oogling and groping them like a horny teenager, I treated them more the way a scientist might a new phenomenon: noting changes in color, size, and feel, and then comparing notes with S. And maybe it was just a defense mechanism to being called stinky, but I swore she was the one who smelled different – more earthy and pungent. My desire shrunk in those first few months too. I wanted my old wife back!

Now I’ve gotten used to her new shape, but I find myself facing irrational fears whenever the desire for sex pops up. I worry that her water’s going to break while we’re doing it, or that I might slip and give her my full weight, squashing the baby. And I can’t stop thinking that we’re not alone, that there’s this other person inside of her witnessing our lovemaking, and somehow even taking part in it. The body must produce chemicals during sex that would permeate into the baby, right? It’s creepy.

And also completely ridiculous, but once those thoughts get in there they play on repeat, distracting me from the business at hand.

Despite all these obstacles, we have managed to get it on three times since my birthday, but I have to be honest: I haven’t performed to the best of my abilities. Men are like machines. The more we’re used the better we run, and the longer we’re able to sustain operation. You take a long enough break and the first joy ride’s bound to be a quick one.

So on Valentine’s Day, instead of wine and chocolate and sex on slippery sheets, we’ll be heading out to our favorite burger joint for an early dinner of comfort food, and then home for a movie. Then we’ll settle down in bed, me propped up because I can’t seem to shake a sinus cold, S nestled in a bunker of pillows as she tries to keep comfortable, both our heads full of fantasies for the summer, when the baby’ll be too young to know what all those noises are coming from mommy and daddy’s room.

I’m sure we’ll be able to find plenty of opportunities to get busy with a newborn, right? Right?

Just patronize me, and say yes.

Looking Back

I ran into a friend on the subway the other day, and he asked how S was doing. I told him about how she’s “popped out” and how when the baby moves he causes her stomach to jiggle. If I put an ear up to her I can hear him in there thumping around, and I swear I even pick up a heartbeat every now and then.

He said, “That’s crazy man, that she’s so far along. It feels like yesterday we were celebrating the news.”

It’s true time has flown by, but my friend and I both clearly remembered celebrating that night. And I realized then how many moments I’ll remember from this past year.

Last February 12th, S and I walked downtown through a gentle snowfall to Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. The snowflakes were so big I could see their crystalline structure when they landed on the sleeve of my coat. Downtown was muted and empty, but the City Clerk’s Office was crowded and overheated – today’s the last day you can get a marriage license to use on Valentine’s Day. We were asked a few times if we planned on coming back on the 14th, because after the ceremony we could our picture taken with the Borough President, but we didn’t have a plan for when exactly we would tie the knot.

Even getting the marriage license was a spur of the moment decision. S woke me up that morning and said, “Come on, today’s the day we get this ball rolling.” She held out the treat of Jacques Torres hot chocolates as a motivation to get me out of the house. (I like looking at snow, but not walking in it – I don’t have good snow boots for that reason.) With our license secured in her jacket pocket, we sipped chocolate and watched snow fall on the Manhattan Bridge, before trudging and (on my part) sliding our way back home.

It was a beautiful day. More so even in retrospect, because we had no idea that it would be the start to a year of changes, with more soon to come.

State of the Economy

This morning S had to drink a small bottle of gross stuff that delivered fifty grams of glucose to her bloodstream in one quick punch. She said it tasted something like bug-juice, only a lot sweeter. After chugging it down she went off to the midwives to get a blood test for gestational diabetes. We await the results.

I was concerned that the rush of sugar might make her feel weird, or nauseous, or light-headed, and I urged her to take a cab. She pooh-poohed me, arguing that the subway was faster and safer and that I had an exaggerated idea about how the drink was going to affect her, which I did, it really didn’t bother her much at all. But ultimately she thought that a cab was a waste of money.

In our relationship as a whole, and the pregnancy in particular, we argue the most about money. (He writes, listening to the president talking about the government’s budget crisis on television.) She didn’t want to go on an expensive honeymoon because she thought we couldn’t afford it. I waged a long campaign, wooing her to agree to a more extravagant vacation than we’ve ever had. More recently, I won her blessing on a belated boy’s night out to celebrate the baby and our marriage. While she hasn’t gone to get a massage even though she would love to have one, because it feels like “frivolous spending.”

I’ve encouraged her to get a rub-down every few weeks. “What’s a couple of hundred bucks over the course of a few months?” I argue. We live frugally on a day to day basis, why not spend money on things that bring you deep pleasure — going out to the theater, or seeing a concert, or getting a massage.

These are all frou-frou past times, I know, but I’m also the one bleeding a thousand dollars a month for an MFA (the most impractical degree ever), digging himself deeper into debt with loans (I still haven’t paid off the ones from college), and who seems to have developed an allergy for anything like a paycheck (I haven’t worked in 2 years). Sure, my tutoring brings in good pocket money, but there’s no long term interest in tutoring on my part, and come the fall I’m excited about being a parent, not about finding any sort of part-time work to help make ends meet. The idea that my writing might become financially viable, that I might sell my novel or write essays for my favorite publications, is a pipe-dream. I’m the most selfish of spenders right now, bleeding money, motivated only by what I want to do (rather than what I should or need to do), and urging others to do the same, as long as it isn’t irresponsible (though many might say that I am being irresponsible).

For now, I spend most of my days scribbling away, and my nights at home, regenerating and quiet (and saving money), testing the mettle of one of America’s most fundamental myths: that if you work hard enough, sweating away on what you love, no matter what else others may think or how financially viable it is, good things will come. It’s happened before in my life, I think. It can’t be wasted work. It can’t be.

But still I’m twisted between bourgeois “carpe diem” ideals and the good ole’ working class thriftiness I was raised with. As always, the middle path is hard to find.

Oh, How Times Have Changed

The pub was noisy and smelled like stale beer. Around nine thirty, just as the crowd was thickening, a couple came in with their little baby.

A year ago I would have thought them bad parents. Babies don’t belong in bars!

Two years ago, I would have went off about all the breeders in this neighborhood, and how babies ruin your life and there’s already so many of them, who needs more.

Last night I raised my glass and said, “Good for them!”

Levity

I tutor a tenth grader, and the other day he asked how pregnancy has changed my life.

“It’s changed it a lot,” I said, thinking of how my relationship with S has changed, and our house looks different, and the new priorities, concerns and worries we have. He wasn’t satisfied with this vague answer, so I pulled a teacher trick and asked, “How do you think it might change a guy?”

He wondered if I had a new sense of connection to people, knowing now that we all grow in our mother’s womb, and a greater love for humanity, and hope for the future.

I had to tell him that honestly, that wasn’t the case.

Though I thought that was sweet question to ask, and a lot more interesting than the people whose response to the pregnancy is to gush about how happy we must be, as if being pregnant is like being on a paxil.

Sure, we’ve had our quiet bits basking in the glow, just like we’ve had jolts of excitement and moments of philosophical musing, but S and I are pretty practical people. We tend to keep our eyes focused on the day to day, the immediate reality that there’s a baby growing inside of her who will need our care and support in about three months, which we need to prepare for.

I’ve spent more time thinking about what it will be like having the three of us home during the summer and whether or not we’ll get on one another’s nerves than I have pondering my shared connection with humankind.

After a few messes – uh, senior year in college anyone? – this is how I’ve learned to cope with transitions. I look for problems and I solve them, one by one. If it’s nothing I need to worry about today, then I don’t. If there’s a snag that’s out of my hands, then I let it go. I’m usually well-prepared and cool under pressure, grounded. But as the posts on this blog attest, I also get stuck among the trees, obsessing over small details, analyzing the minute, making lists, setting schedules, losing the ability to rise up and see the forest, the big picture view.

Sometimes, I think I need to let myself go a little. Jettison the worry and the routines that I’ve developed to deal with it. Step away from the computer. Put the calendar down. Try to fly a little, so that I can see the forest. Look ahead to where the road is going, instead of down at my feet.

This is at odds to what comes natural for me. I feel I should be more serious over the next few months, preparing for baby while working to complete my thesis. I’m on a deadline here, people! But as I’ve written before, often the best things in my creative work and my life happen when I go towards the tension, not away from it. Engaging in what feels wrong gives me a new perspective, which ends up feeling all right.

In other words, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Sleep Notes

We’re grateful that, for the most part – knock on wood – the baby’s energy level match our own.

He wiggles around when S is happy and full of food (two states which seem directly connected), and stirs when there’s loud noises, like me reading this post out loud right now. More importantly, he sleeps on our schedule, which is unusual – our books say that most fetuses are active at night. Every morning before the alarm goes off and after the cat has woken us up for his breakfast, S and I lay entwined together, coming in and out of sleep as the room lightens. Some mornings, like today, I’ve felt the baby moving around inside of her, maybe stretching as he wakes up.

I’m glad he doesn’t bother her at night, as she’s having enough trouble as it is. She’s reached the stage in the pregnancy where she can’t sleep very long on her back, so spends most of the night on her side, using all the pillows in the house except mine to prop herself into a comfortable position. We’re hoping that this sleep pattern continues throughout the pregnancy, and, hope of hopes, into infancy.

As for me, I’ve resolved to help S get to sleep by giving her a little back rub each night. It’s the least I can do, especially since my son’s being so considerate.