Friday, May 27, 2005

Popular depictions of pregnancy

Today I tried to think of as many portrayals of pregnant women in mass media (movie, music, books etc.) as I could. This is what I came up with:
Generic woman running to the bathroom and retching.
Desperate housewife Gabrielle adding hot sauce to her salsa.
"The hand that rocks the cradle" miscarriage scene.
Padmé in Star Wars 3.
Sigourney Weaver with alien infestation (o.k., she's not really pregnant).
The virgin Mary (only annunciation pics).
Xena episodes in which she is pregnant
The Sheriff in Fargo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pregnancy doesn't make my body public property

I don't know why people assume that because a woman is pregnant, they have the right to touch her body UNINVITED. They do not. So far, this has only been a problem with male friends (maybe the female ones are smarter?). If it isn't appropriate when I'm not pregnant, it certainly doesn't magically become so when I am. It is doubly inappropriate from friends with whom you do not have a friendship that is physically expressive. Now, everyone has some friends who DO express their affection physically (in the NICE way - hugs, etc.), but the belly is not even part of that. If everyone was touching my shoulder because I was pregnant, it wouldn't bother me. But the belly (especially the lower belly) is not an area that is normally handled by anyone but my GP and my husband. I can understand people might want to feel a baby kicking, but honestly, I am very obviously parked in the first trimester right now, and I can tell you that the baby is only just starting to form bones. Even if I had a giant belly complete with motile baby, I would expect that friends would have enough respect to ask before touching, and to accept whatever answer I gave. The next person who greets me by hunting for my uterus with their fingers, will get their fingers broken. I am dreading running into people that I have told on the phone, because I am worried they will try to take liberties when they see me in person. My patience is wearing thin, and I know that the next person who crosses this line will be the recipient of my frustration, and perhaps also the aforementioned shattered digits.
There was a little ditty we learned in grade school that goes something like this:
"My body's nobody's body but mine/You run your own body/Let me run mine". There was also an accompanying video (and a set of steps like "Say no, go, tell someone!"), but I think the song is sufficient.

Checkup - 9 weeks

This afternoon's appointment was a simple checkup, of the sort that I will no doubt become very accustomed to receiving. The nurse takes my blood pressure, weighs me, and conducts a simple urine test. The urine test looks at glucose and electrolyte levels etc. and uses an indicator strip. All my results were normal. I have gained a small amount of weight since my last appointment, but this comes as no surprise. The rest of the appointment was a review of familial medical history, and discussion on genetic testing. We are not interested in genetic testing, so that was fairly straightforward. Our baby is considered to have a very high likelihood of being allergic ("atopic"). With my food allergies and eczema, and Greg's asthma and pet lergies, this was also not a shocker. She made sure to remind me that I am off peanuts for the duration of my pregnancy (which makes me wish I had a peanut butter sandwich), and that I should be very careful when the baby is born, to check the ingredients of any cremes I use on the baby's skin. Supposedly, there is a new hypothesis that allergens in skin cremes might contribute to the allergic disposition of the child. I already avoid almond-oil based cremes, so this is no problem. (As an interesting side note - I had a bad crick in my neck before my trip to the Thousand Islands, so I went in for a massage at Mom's spa. Apparently, they only stock almond massage oils. My masseur was surprised and miffed and went hunting for an alternative. Eventually he found a creme that was coconut oil based. I am not pregnant enough for the special pregnant woman massage tables, but I will admit that lying on my chest was somewhat uncomfortable). My GP ensured that I am taking my folate, and that I am not exposing myself to nasties. When I first became pregnant I read about the risks posed to pregnant women by kitty litter. Cats can excrete the Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite, which is bad news. Anyway - no risk of that with my cat-free lifestyle, but I will avoid petting the animals of strangers from now on. My next appointment is at 12 weeks - which is about 3/4 of the way through June. At that time I get a full physical (plus the usual weighing, peeing and blood pressure testing). The lab is going to run a urine culture test on today's sample, and I have requisitions for blood testing in mid June. These blood tests look at Hep B, HIV, parvovirus, syphillis, hemoglobin, hemocrit, white blood cells, blood type and rubella . I have no worries. I made sure that all my vaccines were up to date before I became pregnant, and I had a flu shot in the fall. Because we are not doing genetic screening, my next ultrasound is at week 18, at which point the anatomy of the baby is examined. At this point they can often determine the gender. I now know that while the heartbeat was measured at my last U/S, it was not possible to get the audio. However, this will be possible at 18 weeks. I think Greg will want to attend that particular appointment.


So... Mom is altering my bridesmaid dress for Anne Marie's wedding. I went over yesterday so that she could stick pins in my tender flesh. Previously, we had determined that a hem job was required, but also that the bodice could be taken in a bit. Well, now it is just a hem job. This makes Mom's life easier, but on some level is a little disturbing to me. Par for the course, I expect.
I am just kicking myself for owning so many pants which are loose in the leg, but fitted through the butt/waist/tummy. I mean, sure, they looked great - but add a few pounds and they're nasty and uncomfortable. Oh well. I can exploit the skirt/dress portions of my wardrobe a little more. This is fairly easy to do now that we are entering summer weather.
If only I could wear my Taekwon-do uniform every day. It is so comfy!
I am beginning to wonder whether I am developing a pregnancy-related aversion to cranberries. It's a little hard to tell, but I am vigilant.
So far, still no barfing, just the nausea. I guess that's good. When I wake up in the morning, I have this nasty nauseated feeling and I am convinced that if I don't eat, I will hurl. So, mornings are dominated by this sense of urgency.
I have yet another medical appointment today. Details to follow.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Night ramblings

I have always talked in my sleep. I also sit up in bed, move around, and sometimes travel short distances within my room, especially in retrieving objects. These objects end up back in the bed. Usually this isn't too bad as the things I retrieve are small (hairbrushes, mirrors etc.). The time it was a spider plant, was not so good. This nocturnal activity never disturbs *my* sleep. But it is a cross to bear for poor Greg. The talking is often loud enough to wake him up (to say nothing of the laughing that sometimes also happens). During graduate school I was extremely stressed, and at least once a week, I would wake Greg up with screaming. I'm lucky I didn't give the poor guy a heart attack. Sometimes I would even wake myself up (it doesn't sound logical, but it's true). At any rate, at those times I was plagued with the night terrors that I have had on and off since childhood. Since I completed graduate school, I rarely have night terrors (I have to go on Greg's word for this because unlike nightmares, night terrors aren't remembered). I watched an episode of "DaVinci's Inquest" with Dad earlier this week. Part of the episode revolved around a couple who had separated because the husband had night terrors and refused to seek treatment (i.e. Valium - which FYI is addictive). Anyhow, the husband started living out of a vacant house he was trying to sell and hung himself in the basement. I have never taken Valium for my night terrors, but... I have taken Valium for anxiety to get through an annual with my GP. Worked like a charm. I love my clever GP. My old GP, while pleasant, was all about the muscle relaxants. Quite literally, muscle relaxants never worked on me. Muscles were in fact, but a symptom, while the mind was the source of the problem.
Now to return to the topic I actually intended to discuss... Since becoming pregnant, the frequency of weird dreams has increased, and (according to Greg), the sleep talking has also increased. He is trying to have fun with it now. He plays along with what I'm saying and he asks questions. This week there was something about a bed-eating dog which apparently was funny. Greg says that without fail, if he questions the rationality of anything I sleep talk about while I am sleep talking, I will get huffy and go back to sleep. I have had many strange dreams about babies. In every dream, the baby is a girl. This is probably because I had a very strong dream of the baby, around the time of conception, in which it stated its name. The name was a girl's name of which both Greg and I are fond. Ever since that dream, I have an unshakeable feeling that the baby is a girl, and it colours all the subsequent dreams. Of course, the reality is, the baby could be either boy or girl, and I should stop making assumptions until I have some proof. That kind of information isn't even possible to discern by ultrasound until the middle or late second trimester. Right now, Greg and I refer to the baby as Smudge. This is due to the quality of our first ultrasound picture. So, for example, if I take an extra helping of something, it's because Smudge was hungry.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Thinking ahead: Hallowe'en!

I hope that I have a costume party to attend this year (normally I do). I am ready to exploit a prego-belly for the purposes of an amusing Hallowe'en costume. I could be Mary. I could be a pregnant nun (Sister Chastity perhaps?). I could go the Star Wars episode 3 and be Padmé. I could go for an "Aliens" type look. Predictably, I did some internet explorations on this topic. Some women paint their bellies like a pumpkin and then "carry it". I saw a picture of a lady who painted her belly like a basketball. It was amazingly realistic and almost could not be discerned from a real basketball! I don't think I'm really of the "paint it and bare it" variety. There are many full-body costumes that might also work. Maybe I should just dress as a killer whale (or a beluga - although a beluga is far less interesting). I refuse to be a pear though.

Emergency gingerale

I played volleyball at noon hour and decided I would eat lunch after the game.
A mistake. After is too late, even with a whole Gatorade in my system!!!
I was nasty queasy. I came very close to barfing in the workplace.
I had to get gingerale to help calm down my system. It's amazing (or psychosomatic, frankly, I don't care), but after the first sip, the queasiness receded.
Thank-you gingerale.

The clothes pile

Last night I went to sleep at 10:30 and woke up at 7am. I was exhausted. As usual (well, the new usual), I woke up in the middle of the night to go pee. It was a morning like any other lately - feel queasy, eat something, feel less queasy. Before departing for work, I had another round of feeling queasy. That was disturbing and I hope it does not indicate that my current solutions are becoming obsolete.
I am developing a clothes pile now. These are the clothes that no longer fit comfortably (or at all). It is a little frustrating to be entering this situation. Obviously, I'm not going to buy maternity clothing this early in pregnancy. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and get some clothing in a larger size. But who knows how long they will last?! Anyhow, right now, the pile has one of my favourite summer dresses, two pairs of pants and a few other items. I know why these items have landed in the pile. They are all pieces that become too tight if I gain a few pounds. And well, I guess I have gained a few pounds. I just don't want to wear the pants anymore - they are too uncomfortable. As for the dress, well, it's a bustline issue. The zipper won't do up across the middle of my back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

First ultrasound

I had my first ultrasound today. An hour before my scheduled appointment, I had to drink 1 litre of liquids. This is much harder than it sounds. For starters, you stop wanting to drink at about 350ml. But you have no choice. Unless your bladder is full, they can't see your reproductive system easily. Anyhow, I thought I would take the first 1/2 litre as milk. After that, I wanted to be sick (of course, being nauseous every morning already, this was not a big shocker). Therefore, I decided to take my second 1/2 litre as gingerale. That seemed to help, and since it is far more interesting and tasty to drink, it wasn't too hard to consume. Still, by the time I was done (and it took a while), I just wanted to die. Dad took me to the clinic, and we sat in a room filled with women in various stages of pregnancy. Most were in the third trimester (from all appearances). Of course, it being a medical clinic, taking me on time was out of the question. All I wanted to do was pee. But I couldn't. I was trying so hard to keep my mind on other things. Finally, it was my turn. The technician squirted the ultrasound gel on my belly and started pressing hard with the ultrasound handheld device. It was like she was trying to force the pee out of my bladder. However, it was still far more comfortable than my ultrasound experiences for my breast tumors (which hurt a lot). This was just a little awkward. I was able to see everything on a screen across from the chair I was lying on. It was all black and white and very difficult to interpret. She measured all my important reproductive bits and pieces with lightening speed, as I tried my best to discern textbook shapes on the monitor. It was amazing to me that she could figure out what everything was (let alone take measurements), but then again, I had learned through my experiences in microscopy, that you do develop an eye for these things. Then she focussed on the baby itself - which was apparently in the right location (seemed like dead centre). Mostly, it looked like a big black circle with some flickery grey and white stuff in a corner. The flickery stuff was the baby, and she measured the length multiple times. This is used to obtain precision on the dating. She also was able to measure the heartbeat - 132 beats per minute. I was told that the size of the baby and the heart rate were both normal. She also referred to the baby repeatedly as a "peanut". She gave me a freebie photo (the ultrasound clinic actually charge 3$/photo print, 5$ for 2!), but I think she was willing to give me the freebie because right now the baby is a flickery spot and the best defined object on the photo is the yolk sac/amniotic sac, which looks like a black, fan-shaped hole. Then, thank God, she told me where the washroom was. As a result of the ultrasound, the projected due date has not changed. It is still January 2nd, 2006. It seems like a long way away.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Hungry = Queasy and Full = Queasy?!

It's a problem... if I don't eat my meals at the same time every day (especially breakfast), I begin to feel really queasy. But by the same token, aften devouring a meal (and I do mean devouring), I also feel queasy because I'm full. I just came home from watching Desperate Housewives with my sister in law. I was incredibly thirsty, so I had a glass of water. There was nothing special about it, except that now, I feel sick to my stomach because I have a belly full of water (it was only one glass!).
I get asked if I have cravings. I don't know quite how to answer that. I've always had cravings. Doesn't everyone? I don't think I am having any weird cravings, although lately I want to consume large volumes of dairy products. But frankly, nothing out of the ordinary. Nor am I experiencing aversions to foods I like or problems with smells.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The benefits of exercise and ginger

So as not to leave a resoundingly negative impression at this early stage of things, I have to say that there are some things that make me feel a whole lot better!
One is ginger. Ginger (for some unknown reason), helps combat nausea AND should you succumb anyway and puke, well, gingerale (especially if flat), is the best thing to drink afterwards. My Mom gave me some Mighty Leaf ginger tea as a gift This is the tea that they use at the spa where she works. Luxury does not begin to describe it. This particular tea is a ginger twist (lemongrass, orange, mint, ginger, apple, papya, lemon and licorice). The mighty leaf company has these huge, beautiful silk tea pouches (the term tea bag does not apply here), so that the teas have the benefit of the entire leaf (not a broken or crumbled leaf) or herb or what have you. Decadent! Anyhow, my morning ginger tea is my hero.
Exercise. Well, of course I'm tired, BUT... the volleyball season has begun. I was out practising today (temp: 4 degrees, sunny but wind chill at -1) and I felt invigorated. This is what I've been missing out on these past few weeks! Tonight I am going back to Taekwon-do, but it will be Taekwon-do "lite". I had a conversation with Mr.Fu on Tuesday night where we established what I can and cannot do in class. The idea of doing "half-assed" martial arts at the third degree black belt level was somewhat repugnant to me, but now all is well. Soft Taekwon-do is still better than no Taekwon-do. Besides, I recognize that whenever I feel the blues, exercise is the best cure. Now, if only I had practised Yoo-sin even once in the last month...

Week 7 or 8

If I don't eat my meals on time, I end up spending the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the work day in the washroom, utterly convinced that I am going to throw up. But I don't. Maybe it's mind over matter - I just don't want to barf in the office. My daily vitamin seems to be the thing I consume which is most likely to propel me to the nausea epicentre.
This is the second time that I've created this blog. Every time I make an initial entry I decide it is kind of pointless and delete the whole thing. But this time I am sticking with it. I tell myself that I might enjoy reading it sometime later, or that it might be of interest to friends.
I am tired a great deal of the time now. I nap after work and I fall asleep early in the evening. There are so many things I want to do, but I just don't have the energy. Sometimes, in the early afternoon, I can't concentrate on my work. I just want to sleep. There isn't a whole lot I can do about that - especially without caffeine. I usually go somewhere a little chilly in the building, to wake me up.
I miss eating sushi and I miss having a reasonable complexion. But mostly, I miss medication. I miss advil - both the migraine and the regular variety. I miss sinus tylenol. I have had muscle issues in my trapezoids since last week that I know would have been resolved much sooner if I could have resorted to something other than massages and A535.
This week, when the temperature rose to high twenties, I wanted to wear this gorgeous black dress that I received from Sarah during a clothes exchange (especially since I'm never cold anymore), but I couldn't do up the zipper over the middle of my back. My chest is too big. It reached that PMS size and never looked back. To be fair, that dress was always snug over the chest. This also creates a problem when I sleep. I have always worn a sleeping bra to prevent pain. In the past, this meant, that once a month, despite this measure, I would wake up a little sore. Now I experience this discomfort virtually every morning. I have yet to find a sleeping position that helps minimize the problem - I don't believe it actually exists.
I get up in the middle of the night to go pee. I have to pee all the time. I am also thirsty more often, and my stomach is almost perpetually annoyed with me.
My temper has been better. Physical discomfort has always shrunk my patience, and this is no exception. I either kick up a fuss or lapse into indifference when things are not going according to plan. Beyond that, there are so many different feelings within the same day that I would need to be an air traffic controller to keep tabs on each one. There are times when life feels overwhelming.
I worry about ectopic pregnancy despite the fact that the chances are extremely low for me. I studied this subject in my honours year when I took pathological chemistry, but a head full of science seems to be cast aside at these times. The worst part is knowing that I am being irrational, but feeling powerless to control it.
Other times I worry that I am not sick enough. I worry that just being nauseous is not as good as actually puking. I worry that certain smells aren't making me gag, that I have no problems with my sense of taste and that I don't have enough symptoms. This is, of course, ridiculous.
I think I worry the most about the new job I am starting at the end of May. When I went through interviews, I wasn't pregnant. I didn't really think I would get pregnant on the first try. I didn't find out I was pregnant until after we had agreed on a starting date. Anyhow, although I know I work in an enlightened organization and that I am entitled to maternity leave, I am dreading what my new employer's will say when I tell them I am leaving at Christmas and not returning for an entire year. I want so badly to make a good impression and justify their faith in my abilities. It seems like a poor way to start things. I also worry that they will think I deceived them.