Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sharing the Big News

This isn't my favorite photo, but here's the bump
After I'd reached the twelfth week of my pregnancy, we knew the little bean was likely to stick around and that we could share our joy/fear/apprehension/explanation for my strange behavior with Sydney friends and colleagues.

Mickey was eager to tell the world, but I felt much more reluctant. I knew our friends with children would welcome us to their club, but I felt I was somehow betraying our friends without children; I guess I didn't want to tell them that we were leaving their club. However, people have a way of surprising you and defying your expectations.

I was sure that my friend Jennie would have guessed my news because she's incredibly astute and I was sure she'd have noticed that I no longer had a wine with dinner. She hadn't noticed, though, and was delighted. Likewise, our friends Bryan and Lisa (who aren't planning a family) were nearly ecstatic to hear that we were expecting a baby. Their pure joy was quite touching to me.

Telling my boss was a bit of a funny story. We were en route to a meeting when I was feeling very ill. I warned him, "Jack, I might throw up in your car and I've brought some barf bags, but it's because I'm pregnant." He's been very understanding and supportive. In fact, I walked into work yesterday to find a new, fancy chair at my desk. I've experienced some back pain in recent weeks and this ergonomic upgrade couldn't have been more welcome.

Telling my family was still nerve-wracking, but fun. Of course my mom is overjoyed and wants to talk about the baby daily. She's been incredibly good about never once asking us in four years when we would have a baby, though she really wanted to be a granny. My Aunt Tina's reaction was one of the sweetest. She began to tear up and embraced me and said, "I don't want to let you go." She said to my mom, "our baby is having a baby!" I'm nearly thirty, but I guess I'm still their baby.

Telling Mickey's family was different. I didn't feel nearly as nervous because I feel like it was his news to share. I felt like I could sit back and just wait for the words of congratulations. Mickey's parents and sister are really excited for us and I've been grateful for my sister-in-law's advice. She walked us through the baby aisles of Target and explained what all the baby gear is for. Other members of Mickey's family seemed to have a 'we guessed it already' or 'it's about time' sort of reaction. I wasn't thrilled with those responses because they almost cheapened the experience of telling them.

There will always be cultural differences between me and my in-laws, though, and they have a slightly different attitude toward starting a family. For lots of Mickey's family and cousins, having a baby is simply what you do after you get married. Perhaps they viewed our moving to Switzerland and Australia as unusual diversions from a proper life path.

In their own ways, everyone has expressed their happiness for us and that in turn makes me happy. Many people mentioned some really high expectations for our little one. People generously say that our babe will be beautiful, smart and kind. Are they just being nice or do they really believe that? I worry that s/he won't be able to live up to those expectations. If our baby is just average I know that I will still love her, but maybe other people would be disappointed.

I'm expecting the little one to be born red and squished like lots of newborns. I imagine my biological instinct/hormones will help me love the little alien creature right away, but that she might grow cuter to others as she gets fatter and less red. That's my hope anyway. 

I refer to the baby as 'she,' but I do not actually know the sex of the baby. Though Mickey would rather know now, we'll be surprised when it arrives.

the Big News

Reserved parking outside one of Google's buildings
I've ignored this poor blog for too long because what I most wanted to write about (my pregnancy!), I wanted to keep a secret until I had shared the news with friends and family in person. But now that the word is out, even on Facebook, I can describe the journey that I've been on for the last 21 weeks.

Mickey and I had been married for four years when we finally decided, yes, now might be the right time to try for a baby. It was a tough decision because, fortunately, our lives as a couple felt content and fulfilling. We have good jobs, friends and enjoyed our relatively carefree lives in Sydney. On the one hand, the question as to why we should interrupt our lives involving travel, dining out and spontaneity with the challenges of raising a child was a good one.

On the other hand, I think Mickey and I both have a lot of love to give and have always wanted to build a family together. When you have nearly everything you could want, sometimes you want to push your luck and explore what else life has to offer.

So, we began trying for this babe in May, knowing that if it worked right away, we'd bring the little one to Nic and Kat's wedding the following May. If it didn't work right away, we were hoping we could eventually get lucky and I'd show up to the wedding pregnant. Of course, there were a couple months of conflict and that's when this babe decided to stick around. My due date is literally the day before Nic and Kat's May 27th wedding and there is no way we can attend.

I've shed a lot of tears about this, but nothing can be done now. I'm grateful that Nic was extremely generous and understanding; he's really happy about his niece/nephew and not mad that we cannot make it.

Week six of this pregnancy marked the beginning of a devastating daily battle with "morning" sickness/nausea. I've put quotes around 'morning' because initially I felt awful at all times of the day and then settled in to feeling worst in the afternoons and evenings. I told Allison my news right away because I knew that she'd find a way to help me.

In a matter of hours she had called her pharmacist in Virginia and asked them to send her last refill prescription for Zofran, a powerful anti-nausea/vomiting drug designed for chemotherapy patients, to California. CVS filled it right away and I began taking the drug that afternoon. It's unfortunate to admit that I'm still on Zofran, but I've dropped the dosage way down and am feeling worlds better than I did. It cost Allison only $10 for a bottle of 24 four mg tablets. I pay $54.95 for a packet of 10 four mg tablets. And we wonder why health care is a bit of a problem in the US!

Unrelenting nausea is a strange and miserable feeling. Dealing with it for days on end felt a bit like depression: you stop caring about everything else because you can only focus on this crummy feeling. From an evolutionary perspective, nausea makes little sense. When pregnant moms most need nutrition, they experience food aversions and in some cases cannot hold food down.

Cravings make a bit more sense to me; the mom's body sends a signal to her brain indicating what the baby needs. I was far too sick to crave anything for a while, but now cannot get enough fruit and fruit juice. I seem to crave food and drink that are sweet, but haven't desired desserts (cake, pie, ice cream, chocolate) as I once did. I suppose that's healthy!

When people complimented me on looking great for being X number of months pregnant, I would lean over and whisper, "my secret is the vomiting." It doesn't make for pleasant dinner conversation, but it was true. Now that I've improved, I've gained a bit of weight (probably 10 lbs.) and am sporting a fashionable bump.

I bought some maternity clothes to outfit the bump and recently my friend Estee loaned me a huge bagful of hers. I was grateful to add more variety to my wardrobe, but am now concerned about where to put all of my old clothes, the ones that won't fit for a while yet.

In fact, space issues weigh heavily on my mind these days. We live in a furnished two bedroom apartment with limited closets and storage space and no garage. Where is all this baby stuff going to go? I've always been a tidy person with little tolerance for clutter and I think that a big part of mentally preparing for baby will involve accepting my space with a lot more stuff in it.

It's amusing that first world babies "require" so much gear. Indeed, most new moms and dads these days cannot imagine life without diapers, wipes, cribs, strollers, baby carriers, bottles, pacifiers, walkers, bouncers, swings, high chairs, etc. We watched the French documentary Babies over the holiday and were reminded that billions of people raise bubs with almost none of that gear. I can't get over the image of the Namibian mom in the documentary wiping her baby's dirty bum on her knee and then cleaning her knee with a corn cob. Ah, so there's one substitute for diapers.

There's much more to tell, but I'll leave it for another post.