Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photo Hunter #53: Self

Belly Shot #1: 14 weeks, 5 days
Nothing to see here, check back in a couple of weeks

I'd like very much to claim that what you're looking at in this photo is a brand-new "baby bump" (ugh, I hate that term for some reason!) but it's pretty much just some tummy flab that was there long before Peeper was a sparkle in anybody's eye.

Over the past couple of days, though, I have started to notice that my lower belly seems to be getting firmer, so I think Peeper is finally going over the wall, my uterus is clearing my pelvic bones, and I should expect to start seeing something soon.

So, I figured I'd better go ahead and get a baseline "before" photo, before I start having something real to show off!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

It's Not the PowerBall, But We'll Take It

There are a few bills that I've been ignoring lately, because I didn't think that we really owed them money, so I figured if I just didn't pay them, they'd go away.

Oddly enough, that strategy seems to have worked. In spades.

First, there was a bill for $130-odd from the dentist. When I had all that work done back in January and February, they told me what my insurance would and wouldn't cover and I paid the difference up front, so I couldn't figure out how I still owed them anything.

I finally called yesterday to check on it and, whaddya know, I have a $0 balance, and it's all good. Woo hoo, victory #1.

Then I called the fertility clinic, about a couple of different bills that we've received lately, one for $75 to a pathology lab for my endometrial biopsy, and one for $707 to the clinic, for Shrike's prescreening lab work.

It was my understanding that all that was covered in the damn-near $40,000 that we paid them for the "all-inclusive" shared risk IVF fee.

When I talked to the donor IVF financial girl today, she explained that the $707 wouldn't actually be that much, because that was before they billed Shrike's insurance company. $6o of it was something that had been denied, but they ought to pay 80% of the remainder, so we should only owe around $200.

Okay, that's a big improvement, but I reiterated that I thought this was all covered by what we'd already paid.

"Oh no, that was for the IVF. The prescreening is separate," she told me.

"But we got the all inclusive plan, and paid you like $40,000, and that was supposed to cover everything."

"Well, I'm looking at your account, and you've got the $25,000 donor IVF, and $8000 prescreening and $6500 donor meds and, oh wait, hang on a minute. . . ."

After putting me on hold forever, she came back on the line and asked if she could look into it and get back to me later today.

Sure, no problem - because this was already covered and I don't want to pay $200 that I don't think we owe.

A couple of hours later, I received this email from her:

I wanted to let you know the update on your account. It looks like you had purchased the shared risk all inclusive program, included your donor's prescreening.

At this point, I'm thinking "Yay, we don't owe them $200!" but she continues. . .
What I should have done was only collected the shared risk fees of ivf & medications since Shrike had insurance for pre-screening.
Hmmm . . . .

So our supervisor is in the process of returning that $8,000 fee back to you and then you will just pay the balance of what Shrike's insurance will not pick up after being submitted.
No. Fucking. Way .

I called back to confirm that I'd understood that correctly.

Yep, they are cutting us a check for $8000 that we never should have paid them.

Out of that, we'll have to pay the $75 for my test, plus what the insurance doesn't cover of Shrike's tests - but it won't be 20% of $707, it will be $60, plus 20% of the "authorized amount" which is bound to be well less than what they are billing for. So, probably less than $200 or so.

With the rest of the money, we will pay off the home equity loan, and then still have about $2000 to pay on my car.

I am a bit annoyed that, by the time we get the check, we will have paid six months of interest on a loan that we never actually needed, but on the other hand, not only could they have just told me, "Oh yeah, you're right, that was covered," today, and kept their $8000 along with whatever Shrike's insurance company pays, but back in December they wrote off about $2500 in bills that we had expected my insurance company would pay but they didn't.

So, I don't suppose I've really got grounds to complain about less than $200 in interest charges.

Oh yeah, and they made us a baby, so you know, there's that.

As I said above, we haven't exactly won the lottery, and we're not exactly home-free, but we will be home-equity-debt-free, and that is huge.

We were only paying about $100/month on that loan (plus "found money" like tax refunds and "economic stimulus" checks) so it doesn't change our cash flow much but it does make it a little more acceptable to consider using that line of credit for upcoming Peeper-preparation expenses, and to help with over-all expenses while I'm out on maternity leave - especially since I'd like to take twelve weeks, but probably won't have but about a week of paid leave saved up (if that) plus my Aflac coverage.

So, I'd definitely have to say that this is the second best news we've ever gotten from the folks at the fertility clinic!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Crazy Time, Sprout!

It's been a little over two weeks since our most recent peek at Peeper, and there are four days to go til my next appointment (I don't expect an ultrasound then, but probably a listen with the Doppler), so it's about that time again.

You know, the time when I start freaking out because I've haven't had any proof at all for days - days, I tell you! - that all is well in there, so how could I possibly know that Peeper is okay?!?

Here's the basic pattern that I've been in for, oh, the past 10 weeks or so:

  • Consult a medical professional and see positive pee stick / positive beta / rising beta / ultrasound images of an actual live human residing inside my body.
  • Feel incredibly relieved and reassured.
  • Blog / email / tell the entire world that all is well with Peeper.
  • Coast for a few days, feeling great about things.
  • Be asked 534,322 times by well-meaning friends and associates, "So, how are you feeling?"
  • Answer that, "I'm feeling just fine. Quite normal, actually."
  • Begin to wonder why I'm feeling so damn "normal."
  • Wonder why I'm not having any of those legendary awful pregnancy symptoms that one hears so much about.
  • Begin to think that it's all been a cruel trick, an elaborate conspiracy, or perhaps just a pathetic fantasy.
  • Think about how completely stupid I'm going to look when the jig is up.
  • Fret, worry, act like a general all-around nutball.
  • Consult a medical professional and see positive pee stick / positive beta / rising beta / ultrasound images of an actual live human residing within my body.
  • Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Yep, it's big fun for all involved.

Shrike and I have decided that the "other side" of Gestation Island (you know, over where the headhunters live) is Crazy Pregnant Land.

I like to head over there as often as possible.

Shrike's not so much a fan.

I think it's a combination of the general, all-around surreality of it all, the "you can't have a dream!" expectation that I tend have and, most concretely, how asymptomatic, and quite frankly, how damn (dare I say it outloud) easy pregnancy has been for me so far.

With so few symptoms, I've not got much to go on but the ultrasounds (and thank God there have been so many of them) so, while I know it's completely irrational, I do think that it's at least a little bit understandable (maybe?) that I would doubt the reality of the situation.

There's also this related prior experience that I keep being reminded of, which has to be contributing to my craz-ee-ness:

Several years ago, when MamaCat was just a WannaBeMamaCat (well, okay, I wanted her to be a MamaCat; she didn't have a whole lot to say about it) I fixed her up with a nice young tom cat (owned by a lady who went to church with LadyKay, so I knew he came from a good family) and arranged a little romantic rendezvous for the two of them.

Actually, first there was a brief, not-so-romantic visit at his house, during which she hid behind the couch for twenty-four hours, showing zero interest in him. We decided she was on her way out of heat, and I took her home to wait for the next round.

In a couple of weeks, the mood struck her again and this time, KittyDaddy CatDaddy (™ Shrike) spent Thanksgiving weekend with us, and let me tell ya, he had plenty to be thankful for by the time he went home - if you know what I mean, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

(MamaCat, maybe not so much. Do you know about the barbs? I'm assuming this is why she turned around and smacked the shit out of him as soon as he finished doing his biz-ness. Every time. Kind of kinky, those kitties.)

Any-whooo. Her paramour went home, and I assumed that: a> she's a cat, and b> she just had a long-weekend of repeated kitty-nooky, ergo, make room for kittens.

On the advice of my vet, I started feeding her kitten food and vitamins, and soon she started putting on weight (she was pretty skinny to start with), and didn't come into heat (typically, she was in and out about every two weeks) so I figured I was going to have some grandkitties in a couple of months.

As the weeks progressed, I did wonder when she was going to start getting a belly, rather than just generally "filling out" and when her nipples were going to "pink up" as my feline pregnancy calendar (what? you got a problem with that?) predicted.

Then, about six weeks into her "pregnancy," she started acting like she was heat.

What the fuck?

I took her to the vet, and he confirmed that she was in heat, and was not, nor had she ever been, pregnant.

(Two theories - either she didn't have enough weight on her to be ovulating, or CatDaddy wasn't quite ready for the big leagues, as he was still fairly young at that point.)

Because of logistical concerns, I waited a couple of weeks til her next heat, invited him back over, and nine weeks later BoyCat, GirlCat and two their brothers arrived.

In that situation, all's well that ends well, but I sure felt stupid that I'd been thinking my cat was pregnant - and telling everybody that she was pregnant - and maybe kind of wondering why she wasn't showing many signs of pregnancy, but still just going right along with the whol "she's pregnant" thing for weeks.

(The weight gain is easily explained by the kitten food, although I don't know why she skipped a heat cycle or two.)

Within a few weeks of their second honeymoon, her nipples pinked right up, her belly got all hard and round (I have a very cute photo of her a few days before they were born, standing up on her hindlegs, in profile, looking all the world like a furry little pregnant lady.) and I could feel the kittens moving around in there when we snugged at night, and sometimes I could see them moving - from across the room.

Yep, no doubt she was really pregnant this time, and I felt even stupider for getting tricked the first time around.

Now, of course, MamaCat hadn't peed on any sticks, or taken any blood tests, or had six fucking ultrasounds, by four different doctors at three different clinics (really now, could they all be in on the conspiracy?) so the analogy doesn't really hold up very well, but the whole "I'm being told that I'm pregnant, but not seeing the symptoms I expect" thing is just a little too deja vu for my comfort.

(Keeping in mind, of course, that I'm crazy. Which makes it much more understandable. Right?)

Of course, if I really go through the list of possible pregnancy symptoms with a fine-toothed comb, more and more do start popping up, that I actually have experienced:
  • Fatigue - more extreme in the first few weeks, better now (just like the books say)
  • Sore boobs - again, this is much less over the past few weeks (just like the books say)
  • Shrike tells me that my boobs are bigger (bras were already getting snug, so hard to judge)
  • I do seem to pee alot.
  • And cry alot. Over really stupid stuff. Like anything a little, tiny bit mushy on TV. Or in a song. Or a book. Or my imagination.
  • Shrike says I'm little grumpy. (Bitch.)
  • I suspect that Peeper may already be eating my brain.
  • Maybe, maybe, possibly, my pants might be starting to get a teeny bit snugger in the tummy, at least when I first put them on in the morning.
  • And, I suppose all those betas and ultrasounds ought to count for something, huh?
On the other hand: no nausea, no food aversions, no smell-sensitivities, my pants still fit, I could go on and on.

I know, I know, I know that I should count myself very lucky that things have gone so smoothly and been so easy, so far (especially given how damn complicated it was to get pregnant in the first place) and I should apologize to all the pukey pregnant gals out there for not fully appreciating it, but I'd like to think that I'd be a little less crazy (at least about this) if I felt more pregnant.

I know I'm being completely irrational, and that your logical arguments probably will not make me any more secure about Peeper's well-being, but I'd certainly appreciate any stories that anyone might have of a> completely normal, successful, yet primarily asymptomatic in the earlyish stages pregnancies, so I can be reassured that one can feel completely "normal" and still be completely pregnant and / or b> your own ridiculous, irrational pregnancy fears, so that I can feel a little less crazy, in comparison.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #63: Pirate Ships

There's a small airport near our home, which does a lot of skydiving. You can watch them from our backyard on pretty much any nice day.

Once, when our niece was about four, we were telling her, "Look at the parachutes!" and she said, "What pirate ships?"

So, now, that's what they're called at our house.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ten on Tuesday #33

10 Favorite Time-Wasters

  1. Blogging

  2. Reading other people's blogs
  3. Reading email
  4. Reading pregnancy-related websites
  5. Miscellaneous web surfing
  6. Watching my "baby shows" on TiVo (A Baby Story, Bringing Home Baby, etc)
  7. Watching political shows on TiVO (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report)
  8. Watching whatever else TiVO has found for me
  9. Hitting the snooze alarm
  10. My commute - it can't be avoided, and it's not something I do on purpose, but it wastes about 90 minutes of every day, which I really don't have to spare (see above - I've already pissed away all my other free time!)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Swimmy Pups

This is some footage from our walk today. I decided to spare you the groundhog carnage.

Manic Monday #34

  1. Do good things come to those who wait?
    No. Sometimes good things happen to people who've been waiting for them, of course, but sometimes good things happen right away, and sometimes they never do. I don't think that "waiting" has anything to do with it. That's just something we tell ourselves while we're waiting to make ourselves feel better.
  2. Your best friend's spouse is being unfaithful. Would you tell your friend? If so, how?
    I think I would stay out of it; it's none of my business.

  3. Which part of your body do you like the least? Would you change it through plastic surgery, if possible?
    My sag (everywhere) which is a result of my weightloss. I would like to have plastic surgery on at least a few parts (starting with my belly, because it's the worst and maybe my arms next, because they are the most "public." Or maye even the arms first, for that reason. Someday, after Peeper is weaned, I may pursue it.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another Beautiful Day

Today was pretty much a replay of yesterday - dog walking, trying to decide what to do with the rest of the day, shopping without much to show for it, that's about it.

I did take some video of the pups in the woods, and as soon as I learn how, I'll post some clips.

The actual posting, I've got down; I've done that before with video clips from my camera, but I have to learn how to use the editing software that came with the camera.

I'm afraid that might involve actually reading the instructions.

I think I may tackle that tomorrow, while Shrike's at work.

(I'm off tomorrow; she was off Thursday and Friday. That figures.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spring Planting

It's a beautiful day here in our neighborhood, and we made the most of it.

First, we finally got around to planting my veggies.

The three pots in the back row are tomatoes, the two in the middle row are red bellpeppers, and the trough in front will have onions, as soon as we buy some. (They were out the day we bought the others.)

The flowers in the front were birthday gifts - on the left are gerbera daisies, and on the right are violas, or "monkey faces."

The table they're on is actually a wood rack that Shrike built a couple of years ago. We no longer have any wood stored on it, so she suggested moving it onto the patio for the plants, so that they can get sunlight, but BigGaloot can't get to them. Genuis!

After that, we hung out in the yard for a while, and even took a little nap on a blanket on the lawn.

Then we walked the dogs down by the railroad track, and in the woods. No dog-created carnage today, but there was one casualty, when Shrike tried to show off by jumping from a bank about three feet high onto a big rock by the creek. (We'd climbed up the bank a few minutes earlier, after crossing the creek to track down the dogs.)

It looked pretty cool at first, but then she lost her footing and landing smack on her ass on the rock. I could tell it hurt then, and I've noticed her wincing several times, as she's sat down or moved the wrong way. I suspect her tailbone is pretty bruised, but I guess there's really not much to be done about it - other than make fun of her for being a dumbass.

(And a broken ass.)

Later we did a bit of shopping. We picked up some wood for a project Shrike's got in mind for Peeper's room - cubes to stack into rearrangable storage shelves; I'll report in on how it goes.

Then we finally made it over to Circuit City and used our birthday money to buy a digital video camera. Woo hoo!

I'll probably play with that a bit tomorrow, and will try posting some videos when I figure out how.

Then dinner and ice cream, and now we're home and about ready for bed.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Wild Night on the Town

Haircuts, then dinner with a friend.

We'll try not to get too crazy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shrike, on Baby Clothes

"I hate the flowers, I hate the bugs, and I'm not particularly fond of the giraffes."

"I hate this pink and brown thing you see everywhere. It looks like somebody shit in somebody's sherbet."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lucky Thirteen

I am thirteen weeks pregnant today, which means that by most reckonings, I am now in my second trimester.

(Can someone please make an official ruling on when each trimester begins and ends? I've read that the first goes through either twelve, thirteen or, according to one source - which I am ignoring as an outlier - fourteen weeks. Or maybe "three months." Aargh!)

Pretty much all I have to say about that is, "Wow."

And yet, I continue to type . . . .

I can't believe that I have been pregnant for thirteen weeks already.

Well, technically, Peeper's only actually been in me for ten weeks and two days.

And, technically, thirteen weeks ago, half of him/her was in a follicle in Shrike's ovary, and the other half was frozen in a vial with a bunch of Popeye's other boys.

And it was only eleven weeks ago that the two were introduced, thanks to our friendly neighborhood match-making embryologist / ICSI-expert.

The part that really freaks me out, though (other than, of course, Oh my God - I'm pregnant! What the fuck!?!) is that it's been nine weeks (yesterday, technically) since we had that first positive beta.

It really still feels like "we just found out" and "I'm just a tiny bit pregnant."

When I bemoan the fact that we have to wait five whole weeks until our next ultrasound (at eighteen weeks, when we hope to find out if Peeper is a he or a she!) I remind myself that we've already known for nearly twice that long.

Of course, we still have a long, long way to go til Peeper is fully-baked and ready to meet the world (on the other hand, if s/he's anything like his/her mommies, s/he may still be rather half-baked at full term) but getting through the first trimester is a huge milestone, in terms of being able to relax and feel more comfortable in announcing our news to the whole world.

(Ha ha ha - she says that as though there's anyone who doesn't know. Who didn't know before the ink was dry on the lab report from the first beta!)

It's all still feeling very surreal, and very theoretical at this point - despite the almost weekly ultrasounds.

I've said before, like a thousand times, and I'll say it again - if we didn't have all those photos I would not believe there was anything going on.

As I've also said before, I know I'm very lucky to have been so relatively asymptomatic so far, and I'm not complaining a bit, but I must say that I'm ready for some more tangible evidence, and to "feel pregnant."

We could start with some belly action. Sure, I could lovingly pat my pooch and call it Peeper, but we all know that's just flab that's been there since well before s/he even considered moving in.

Shrike told me, over the weekend, that she thinks she can see some difference in my tummy, but my pants aren't fitting any differently, so I think she's just imagining things. Or humoring me.

If I poke around on my belly while lying on my back, I might be able to feel a tiny bit of an area that's firmer than the flab, just barely peeking out above my pubic bone, but that could very well be my imagination.

Everything I read, though, says that the uterus ought to be clearing the pelvis about now, and starting to move bellybutton-ward. It seems to me that would be when one would expect to start to "pop" and begin to see a "bump" (although, for some reason, that term kind of squicks me out).

So, I've bought a couple of pairs of pants in the next size up and I'm eagerly awaiting needing them in the next few weeks.

As someone who has struggled with weight issues all my life, I must admit that it's really wierd to be looking forward to bigger pants, but it will certainly be nice to have someone else to blame for my bulging belly for a change!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Manic Monday #33

  1. If you knew that every minute of the next 24 hours of your life would be recorded on camera is there anything you would change about your habits?
    I think I'd make a concerted effort to avoid picking my nose or scratching my ass.
  2. If you could take a one-month trip to any single destination in the world and money is not a consideration, where would you go?
    Gestation Island. Have I explained about Gestation Island? It's where Shrike and I want to go for the next six and a half months, where no one will bother us about stupid things like work or bills or laundry or groceries, and we can just spend all our time together, not thinking about anything or anybody (no offense) but ourselves and our Peeper.

  3. What is the best example of “perfection” that you can think of?
    A newborn, before the world fucks them up.

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100% All Natural Hormones (Finally)

I took my last estrogen shot on Saturday, and my final prometrium last night, so Peeper, placenta and I are now flying free on just the hormones that we're producing ourselves - for the first time in months.

I was trying to figure out how long it's been, and I guess it depends on how you look at it.

For the IVF itself, I started on birth control pills January 18, then went right into few days of Lupron, then estrogen for a couple of weeks, then estrogen/progesterone for two months, then estrogen/prometrium for a couple more weeks - four solid months of hormones.

But, before that, I had only had a couple of weeks off after the estrogen and progesterone of the mock cycle, and before that, three cycles of Clomid and/or injectibles followed by prometrium, and even before that, two unmedicated cycles with a couple of weeks of prometrium.

So, basically, I've been taking some sort of hormones almost continually, with no more than a couple of weeks off at a time, since mid-July.

So, as crazy as my hormones may be over the next several months - I am at least happy to say that they are my own now!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Lazy Day

We've had a very nice, if mostly uneventful, Sunday here.

It started off great, by lying abed til mid-afternoon. You gotta like that.

Then we went for a nice, long walk with the puppers, along the railroad track, through the woods and down by the creek. BigGaloot did some swimming, and got a baby groundhog (we're oh, so proud) and Miss Thang spent most of the time shoulder deep in a groundhog hole looking for the rest of the family.

We actually went on without her, figuring she'd catch up, or come popping out of the woods, a hundred yards ahead of us, at some point, but after walking quite a ways, we found her in exactly the same spot on our way back.

When we got home, we sat out in the backyard for a while, just enjoying the nice day and watching our worn-out pups snooze in the grass.

This evening, we went out to dinner, where Shrike told not one, but two of the wait-staff about Peeper. (Which is fine by me, of course.)

The first, was as an explanation for why I was being so picky, and sending back our sliders that had ice-cold carmelized onions on them. The other was to explain why I was drinking water, to the waitress who was so proud of herself a few months ago, when she memorized our drink order. She walked by and said, "Hey, no sangria?" so Shrike told her.

Of course, they both congratulated us, and our little gay-boy waiter came back by to ask if we know what sex Peeper is, and when we'll find out, and if we have a preference and so on and so forth.

He also gave Shrike a free beer, for the trouble with the sliders. Of course, that had nothing to do with him, so we added the price of the beer to his tip.

After dinner, we had planned to stop at Target, as usually, but it's Sunday, so they were closing when we got there at 9 pm, so we just headed home.

All in all, it's been a very nice weekend, and it's a shame that it's almost over, and we're back to the old grindstone tomorrow morning.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Birthday Party

As I mentioned yesterday, we threw ourselves a birthday party this afternoon, and it went really well.

The plan was to be in the backyard, but the weather has been yucky all week, and was iffy all morning, so we went back and forth about that quite a bit.

What we ended up doing was setting the food up in the kitchen, as usual, but hanging out in the yard.

That way, if it had started raining, it wouldn't have been a big deal to move the party inside.

It did drizzle a tiny bit for a little while, but we stuck it out and it blew over pretty quickly.

We had a really good time, there were, I think, 13 adults and 5 kids. We mostly just hung out talking and eating, while the kids and the dogs ran around and played catch.

Even BigGaloot was a very good boy (except for stealing a hamburger bun from the table before the guests arrived, and some hamburger patties and/or hotdogs from it later).

We started with him on the tie-out kind of far from the people (which he handled amazingly well, considering that it's the first time we've put him on it), then tie him to a closer tree, where he could just almost be in the circle of people.

Later, Shrike brought him over, on leash, but then just let him run free.

He ran around with the kids, and did decide to join in on one piling-on incident, but other than that, he didn't jump on them or cause any problems.

We blew out the candles on the cake (which I'd sort of redecorated today - added more icing and different sprinkles, because it was very light on icing before) and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" (for the benefit of the kids, of course) so that was kind of nice.

Everybody left around six, and we've just been chilling out since. We don't have any real plans for tomorrow (except to try to get some planting done - unless we're going to grow tomatoes in a paper bag on the driveway) and I'm really looking forward to just being at home with Shrike.

In Peeper-related news: I'll be taking my last hormone injection in a couple of hours, and my last two prometria tomorrow.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Well, At Least It Should Taste Good

I made this cake for the birthday party that we're throwing for ourselves tomorrow afternoon.

Note to self: Plan to buy cakes for Peeper's birthdays.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drinking Liberally

Confession: I'm back-dating this post by a couple of hours, because it was almost 2 am when I got home.

Tonight was drinking (water) liberally, and this is probably the latest we've stayed out in several months. (Usually it's more like midnight!)

I took the newest Peeper photos with me, and as soon as I got there, I was passing them around to everyone. (Mostly the usual suspects, plus one new woman.)

A little while later, the new woman mentioned that she's a midwife, and a while after that, she asked where I plan to birth Peeper.

I told her "At OurTown Hospital, with Dr. B."

She said, "Oh, that's my practice!"

I asked, "What's your name?"

She told me, and it sounded very familiar, so I said, "I think I'm scheduled to see you in a few weeks. Oh my God, you're going to give me a Pap smear!"

Well, as it turns out, I checked my datebook later and I'm actually scheduled to see a different one of the midwives on June 2 for a Pap and a check, but I'm sure I will be seeing her - and she will very likely be seeing a lot of me - over the next seven months or so.

That's a little weird.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nuchal Translucency Scan

As you can see from the photos, things went great at our visit with the perinatologist this morning.

First, we met with a genetic counselor, who explained all about the first trimester screening, which includes the nuchal translucency scan and a blood test (finger stick - ow!) for a couple of proteins.

Together, these tests can screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, Trisomy-13, Trisomy-18 as well as some other, non-chromosomal defects.

We'll have the blood test back in about a week or so, at which point they'll give us the odds of Peeper having any of those issues.

Of course, the PGD (preimplantation genetic testing) has already given us a 90% assurancy that all is well, chromosomally-speaking, but this additional look-see certainly won't hurt.

We also went over some of Shrike's family history (nothing stands out as a concern) and they looked over Popeye's profile (of course, he's already been screened for anything of a genetic concern).

Then we had the ultrasound itself, which was pretty extensive.

We saw some great full-body views of Peeper dancing around in there, which was really cool to see, although I think might have been a bit frustrating for the ultrasound tech.

At least three or four times, just as she got all set with a profile view of the head/chest, and was about to measure the nuchal fold, s/he turned around to face the other way.

I told Shrike, "There's no doubt that's your kid - s/he's saying 'Stop looking at me!'"

She finally got the measurements she needed (Greater than 3 mm, I think, is a red flag. Peeper's is 1.2 mm, so that's great!) as well as close-ups that showed us both hands, both feet, the brain, stomach, bladder and umbilical cord, all present and accounted for.

Then we talked with the perinatologist himself for quite a while, about the testing, and family history, and my personal medical history.

He wants me to get a 24-hour urine and some other blood/urine work done, just to have a baseline of my kidney functions, to keep an eye on that, and will see me every few weeks until (I think) 32 weeks, at which point he wants to see me weekly.

Our next visit will be on June 25, at which point I'll be 18 weeks pregnant, and we should be able to find out the sex, unless Peeper is being shy and hiding his/her stuff.

Wordless Wednesday #60: Peeper Profile

Here are the photos from today's ultrasound.

More info in my next, word-ful, post.

Learn more about Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ten on Tuesday #32

10 Things I'm Really Good At

  1. Procrastinating

  2. Rationalizing
  3. Teaching people things
  4. Planning and organizing events
  5. Organizing people and getting them to do things
  6. Fundraising (sort of)
  7. Bullshitting
  8. Learning stuff
  9. Researching and planning and obsessing about my latest "thing"
  10. Looking like a doofus

Learn More About Ten on Tuesday

The Unibrain

Recently overheard on our couch:

Whozat: Something smart-assy, I'm sure

Shrike: Thump, thump

Whozat: Ow! Why did you thump me on my head?

Shrike: You're a melon-head. I was checking to see if you're ripe.

Whozat: Are you going to thump on my belly like that, when it's all big and fat?

Shrike: Because Peeper is a POW?

~ Pause ~

Together: Prisoner of the . . . WOMB!
I'm said it before, and I'll say it again: This is why I love her.

The Fugitive

Shrike emailed me at work today:

So, this morning someone rings the doorbell and I figure it is the FedEx man again. But when I am sneaking around the corner in my jammies, I see a cop car.

Seems they were looking for someone who drives a yellow car who forgot to pay for their gas at ConvenienceStore.

ConvenienceStore figured it was a mistake on your part (not on purpose) because you went inside to pay for the Mac and Cheese and the Latte. (The cop had a copy of the receipt.)

I am only telling you this, because I am going to stop by there on my way to work and pay it and I want to make sure they don't try to get you to pay it next time you go.

Should I ask how your day is going?

I love you

You see, here's what happened.

Yesterday morning, I stopped to get gas. And (decaf) coffee. And breakfast. And lunch.

Since I was getting food, I selected "pay inside" and pumped my gas, then went inside and ordered my food (touch screen kiosk) and got in line to pay.

In line behind about 10 people, because there was one checker at 8:30 am. (Excuse me, 8:32 am, according to the police report.)

By the time it was my turn to pay, I'd seen at least two or three shiny things, and completely forgot to tell the cashier that I had also had purchased gas.

They noticed later.

More from Shrike about the visit from the cop:
He was nice. And he asked me if I knew this car. (He also had still photos printed from the security camera, of me in my car and of me at the counter, I believe.)

I said "Is it yellow?" He said, yes and he explained the situation. That everyone though it was a mistake. He also seemed to think it was ConvenienceStore's fault. I think because they allow you to pump without paying anything.

He was attractive for an older fellow. He was probably our age though. (See above, re "older fellow.") And did not have that jackbooted thug attitude.

He told me I could take care of it and just tell them it is the yellow car. And he was fine with all that. Didn't take anything down or anything.
Luckily, he had woken her up, so she was too sleepy to jump to any terrifying conclusions about why there might be a cop at the door, or why he might have photos of me and my car.

It was very sweet of her to offer to stop and pay for it on her way to work, but I told her that was silly. It was my mistake, and I could take care of it.

(Besides, what a great excuse to get another decaf sugar free caramel sugar free dark chocolate mocha latte and mac & cheese for dinner right?)

They were very nice about it when I went by this evening. They said that they "give everyone the benefit of the doubt" and always assume that it was an accident when that happens, but then if the person doesn't come back to pay, then press charges.

Of course, as often as I'm in there, I'm sure that as soon as they saw me on the security camera, they probably said, "Oh, don't worry. I'm sure she'll be back!"

Before I left work, Shrike said, in an email, "Call if you need me to bail you out."

I told her, "You'd better. You don't want our child to be born in prison, do you?"

She said, "No, 'Peeper' is a tough name to live down in the Big House."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Manic Monday #32

  1. If the statement, 'You are what you eat' were true, I would be a big bowl of chocolate-covered macaroni and cheese.
  2. If you had to have one piece of music (softly) playing in your mind for the rest of your life, what would you want it to be?
    Ew, that's a tough one, because my "favorite" song changes pretty often. There are a lot that I might choose for entertainment purposes, but for overall calming, inspirational and, I dunno, meditative(?) purposes, I think I'd go with Peace, I Ask of Thee, Oh River, as sung by the women who attend the annual adult reunion at my summer camp.

  3. What is the most important thing in any relationship?
    Love, communication, understanding, blah, blah, blah. Beyond that obvious stuff, what I've found very helpful for us is that we both have a sense of humor about things. I think that if you can manage to not take each other, or yourselves, too seriously, and to see through the anger or hurt or whatever of the moment to recognize how foolish you look in the big picture, it really helps.

Learn more about Manic Monday.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Little Music For The Occassion

You Say Its Your Birthday
The Beatles

A Pirate Looks at Forty
Jimmy Buffet

John Eddie

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Congratulations, Anonymama!

Two At-Large Seats

**Guy Anonymama Was Running "With" 1,633 votes - 43%
**Anonymama 1,334 votes - 35%
Other Person 433 votes - 11%
Other Person 402 votes - 11%

Woo Hoo!!!

Good Luck, Anonymama!

As I mentioned before, Anonymama is running for school board in my hometown (after 18 years in office, then 9 years out of office) and the election is today.

If the voters know what's good for their children, things will definitely go her way (hmm, that was meant as an endorsement, not a threat!), but however things turn out tonight, I just wanted to say how proud I am of her.

Not only for everything that she's done for the community and for the students of that district in the past - as a PTA mama, school board member, founder/officer of the public school foundation, etc - but for being willing to take on the (physical, emotional, financial) challenge of running again, especially now that her children and grandchildren are all out of school (except Peeper, of course, who will go to school up here, anyway) and she no longer has a personal stake in the success of the schools.

But the thing is that she does, because it has become personal for her that all of the children of the district get the best education possible, not just her own.

And that, as much as anything else - and there is plenty else - makes her, by far, the best qualified candidate on the ballot today.

So, if you're reading this blog from back home (or know someone who lives there), please don't forget to vote today, and remind your friends and neighbors, as well.

And if you're checking in from elsewhere, your postive thoughts, good vibes and lots-o-votes mojo are greatly appreciated!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Our friend LiPA is participating in a yard sale this weekend, and she was kind enough to give us first dibs on her baby gear - and then refused to even let us pay her for any of it.

(We'll get you back for that. You just wait.)

We stopped by her house after work to take a look at the goods, and ended up with a pack and play, changing table pad (to turn a regular dresser into a changing table), high chair and a box of toys and books.

Oh yeah, and a bag of dishes and silverware that her daughter J brought out to us, before we even got all the way up the driveway, and handed to me, announcing, "These are for the baby."

(How sweet is she!)

After hanging out and playing with the kids for a while (J invited Shrike up to her room to play Polly Pockets, then the dog asked to go out, so Shrike took her and J for a walk, and then LiPA's son T started handing out gloves and balls and we played some catch in the yard) we finally let them get on with their evening plans, and we went out for another birthday dinner.

(Red Robin coupon for a free burger and sundae - all we had to pay for was a beer for Shrike!)

Then we came home and went to sleep, because we're pathetic.

I set the clock to get up around midnight for a prometrium (but not a shot this evening!) and now, guess what? I'm awake!

This wouldn't be so bad, except that I have to work in the morning. Ugh.

But, we have a bunch of baby gear in the back of my car - for free!

So YAY!!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Peeper Update

I had my first prenatal visit with Dr B this morning, and everything went very well.

At first, they weren't quite sure what to do with me (those were the nurse's exact words), because typically, you have a "confirmation ultrasound" around 6 weeks, then come back for an hour-long appointment with a nurse to get a full history, then start the monthly appointments.

As it turned out, they just did the whole pee / weight / blood pressure thing, then Dr B came in and talked to me really briefly, and said, "We really don't actually need to do anything to you."

I asked, "Can we at least take a listen with the Doppler?"

"Well," she said, "We could, but we might be able to hear anything with it yet. But we could try an ultrasound."

"Yeah, I'll take that!"

So, she rolled in the ultrasound machine and I hopped up on the table and - this was new - I got to keep my pants on!

Well, I did have to unzip them, and pull them down a bit, of course, but she was able to do the ultrasound abdominally, which was kind of milestone, after God only knows how many encounters with the dido-cam.

Her ultrasound machine (and especially the printer) isn't as fancy or high resolution as the one at the fertility clinic, and the photo really doesn't do justice to what we were able to see on the screen, but here it is anyway:

This photo is just kind of a blobby shape that maybe you'll believe has those parts, because they are labeled, but on the screen, what we saw was - get this - a baby.

An honest-to-God, actual, human-shaped (mostly), baby-thing, 4.39 centimeters (1.7 inches) long, with a beating heart (they are conveniently see-through on ultrasound) and two little legs kicking back and forth and very possibly waving an arm at us.

(Shrike said, "S/he's saying, 'Chill out, Mama, I'm fine!'")

This is the first time that we've been able to see actual see Peeper moving in there (other than the beating heart, of course) and that was incredibly cool.

I really wish that there were a way to show what we actually saw, rather than this crappy still photo.

We had been hoping to have video of next week's nuchal translucency scan (we're buying a digital camcorder with our birthday money) but I called to check and they don't allow that - but even with just the stills, I'm expecting much better photos from that, because a> Peeper will be a week older/bigger/more formed and 2> they have the really good machine.

Of course, they'll be posted as soon as we can get them scanned.

In other upcoming-appointment news, I'll go back to the OB on June 2, for the history-taking.

Dr. B said "We'll get a complete family history, and . . . ." so I asked her, "So, do you really need me there for that?

Actually, we'll have to discuss Shrike and Popeye's genetics (I'll bring a print out of his profile - of course, he's been screened for anything important) and my medical history, in terms of things that would affect the pregnancy - my history of kidney disease and hypertension, my gastric bypass, the fact that Anonymama almost certainly had gestational diabetes, although it wasn't diagnosed at the time, etc.

(Anonymama says they should schedule my history appointment for 90 minutes, rather than an hour, since we'll have to discuss three parents instead of two!)

After that, I'll see one of the midwives (I believe) for a check of - well, I'm not sure what all they'll check, but I guess whatever it is that they check each month.

I'm guessing we'll take a listen with the Doppler at that point? Unless I can sweet-talk them into ultrasounds . . . .

I will have appointments with the OB practice (sometimes I'll see Dr. B, sometimes another OB, sometimes a midwife) every four weeks, until I get to 28 weeks. Then I'll go every two weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly until Peeper is born.

Since (I think) the perinatologist will want to see me every four weeks as well, I'll try to stagger the appointments so that I'm getting some sort of check every couple of weeks, rather than two back-to-back and then nothing for three or four weeks.

That should be often enough keep me relatively calm and reassured. Relatively.

Of course, once I start getting some belly action going on and, later, actually feeling Peeper move, it will be a little easier to believe that there's something going on in there.

I know I'm very lucky that I've felt so good - I'm almost to the end of my first trimester and other than tiredness and ouchy boobs (and that's much better now - if I had bras that fit, they probably wouldn't hurt at all) and that thing about not having had a period since February, I've really experienced almost no pregnancy symptoms at all.

(Ok, I may be a bit more of a cry-baby mush-ball, but that's a tough call, because I always have been.)

I'm certainly not complaining (especially not in front of any woman who's suffered through weeks or months of "morning" sickness) but if it weren't for the ultrasounds (five, so far) I would seriously be wondering if this was real.

Little kicking baby-person on a tv screen, though?

That's pretty fucking real.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #59: Mothers' Day

I think these are our first official Mothers Day gifts (not counting those from the pups and kitties in past years).

They are from LadyKay and her kiddos (thanks!) and arrived yesterday.

(Oops, were we supposed to wait til Sunday to open them?)

We're assuming that the "Mama" one is for me, and the "Mommy" one is for Shrike, since that's what Peeper will call us, respectively.

(Until s/he is too old/cool to have a "Mommy," then Shrike will be "Mom").

However, upon further consideration, it occurred to us that, personality-wise, they fit better the other way around, because I'm the bossy, controlling bitch and Shrike is more likely to be randomly pissed off and making everyone else's life hell.

(Love you, honey!)

So, I guess we'll just share them both, as we do everything in this way-more-enmeshed-than-can-possibly-be-healthy-but-it-works-for-us-so-fuck-you-if-you-don't-like-it life of ours.

Learn more about Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ten on Tuesday #31

10 Places I'd Love to Travel To (That I Haven’t Gone to Yet)

  1. Amsterdam

  2. Australia
  3. New Zealand
  4. The Pacific Northwest
  5. Hawaii
  6. Italy
  7. Vancouver (make note, Katr & Roro)
  8. California
  9. Those new Disney parks besides the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (been to those)
  10. Provincetown, Mass. when it's not the dead of winter (been there, done that)

Learn More About Ten on Tuesday

Monday, May 5, 2008

Manic Monday #31

  1. What name would you want have if you were the opposite sex?
    Well, if I actually had been a boy, I would have gotten the name that BabyBro ended up with a year later. It's not a bad name at all, but that's kind of wierd to think of.

    (Weirder: Had BabyBro been a girl, her name would've been a variation of Shrike's which would've just been creepy. On the other hand, I never actually call Shrike by her name anyway, so maybe not so much.)

    (Is that all correct, Anonymama? Other than the creepy factor. I know that's right.)
  2. Would you share the tooth brush of your spouse/significant other? Why or why not?
    I don't think so. That's dumb, because we swap spit all the time, but still. Ew.

  3. What is a song that you love to hate?
    You know, I don't think I have a song like that. I'm easy, really. If I recognize it and I know the words enough to sing along without embarrassing myself too badly (especially if it's an "oldie" - you know, from the 80s) then I kind of like it.

    Shrike could probably give you quite a list though. Starting, I'm sure, with anything by Steely Dan.

Learn more about Manic Monday.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Small Game Hunter

Friday evening, when I'd first gotten home from work and let the dogs out, they were barking around the shed like crazy, so I figured they were after something living under it, but didn't think too much of it.

Anything under there would have to be smart enough to stay put, right?

Yeah, not so much.

Later, when Shrike got home, we went to let them in, and BigGaloot was carrying around something furry . . . and . . . limp, and . . . bloody.

I told Shrike, "I don't think that's his teddy bear."

She went out to check and, sure enough, it was a partially-disassembled groundhog.

Somehow, she got him to drop it and come in, and she told me that she'd go out and dispose of it in the morning, before letting them out.

Yesterday morning, I asked her if she'd gotten rid of it and she said, "Um, I didn't have to. There wasn't anything left."

(Evidently, they'd been outside with it for a while before she checked.)

"Did he eat it? Are you sure he didn't just bury it for later?" I asked.

"Well, I suppose that's possible," she admitted.

Later, we were getting ready to go out and do some shopping, and Shrike went out in the yard to bring the dogs in.

I noticed her looking at something on the ground, so I went to check it out.

Near each other on the ground lay what seemed to be the three remaining parts of Mr. Groundhog:

  1. About 2 feet of intestines
  2. A tail (this was actually kind of cute, in a Davy Crockett hat kind of way)
  3. Something that, while we can't be sure, we strong suspect might have been its penis
While we were out there, Galoot picked up the possible penis, which we were both totally squicked out about. But then, he dropped it, and had no interest in actually eating it.

That's kind of wierd, dontcha think? It was almost like he knew what it was.

(Or, maybe it wasn't, but that's what it looked like to us. Not that we're experts or anything . . . .)

As it turns out, those weren't actually the only parts left, because later that evening, when we were asleep (with the clock set for my midnight shot) we suddenly heard a "crunch, crunch, crunch" sound coming from beside the bed.

Shrike wanted to ignore it, but I figured that, groundhog bones or not, nothing that crunches that loudly is good for him to be chewing on.

Shrike managed to bribe him with a hotdog and get him outside, so she could dispose of it, but didn't look at it closely enough to identify exactly what it was.

Later, when we were both up and wide awake for the shot, she went into the bedroom for something and came back carrying what looked to be a piece of a rib.

There's really nothing quite like have the circle of life happening right in your own backyard.

And bedroom.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Photo Hunter #52: Time

This is Shrike and BigGaloot, and they are very cute and all, but notice the alarm clocks on either side of the bed. Evidently we sleep on the International Date Line.

(And, no, setting my clock thirty minutes ahead does not get me anywhere on time.)

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Five on Friday #11: On the Boards

  1. What types of board games do you like to play, if any?
    I'm not so big on games of chance or game of strategy. I prefer games of brains.

  2. How often do you play board games?
    Rarely, but I generally enjoy it when I do.

  3. What is your absolutely favorite game?
    Taboo or Cranium

  4. Describe your Monopoly strategy.
    I haven't played Monopoly in years, but I generally goet my ass kicked when I did, so I don't suppose I have much of a strategy.

  5. Do you feel that board games are becoming obsolete with the rise in computer and video gaming?
    I hope not, because board games seem to be a much more social activity.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Parts, Parts, Parts

I am now ten weeks and a couple of days pregnant, and Peeper is officially a fetus!

According to my research (and I've done lots of it) s/he has basically all of his/her parts and organs and such in place, and just needs thirty more weeks or so of growing, developing and maturing.

That's insane.

Of course, the boy and girl parts all look the same at this point (that's crazy, too) but s/he has little teeny gonads, and if they are of the testosterone-making variety, they've already started producing it!

Fingers and toes are no longer webbed, and are developing nails.

S/he is beginning to get taste buds, which means I'll have to start trying to get a veggie or two into my diet on occassion, so that s/he will taste them in utero and like them later.

(Seriously, recent research indicates that babies have a preference for foods that mom ate during pregnancy.)

His/her tadpole tail is gone, and s/he is starting to get real skin.

Coming soon: More differentiation of the boy/girl parts, reflexes, bile!