In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix

A little less than two days ago, I had what was probably the scariest experience of my life: At 36 weeks pregnant, I was involved in a car accident.

My car. Click to biggify and behold.

I won’t say much about the details, because I’m not certain of what legalities I need to be aware of in discussing this in public (before all insurance claims are settled, that is). But the bare bones of it is that I was driving on a city street and another driver pulled out of a parking lot in front of me. My car collided with the other driver’s.

As far as I know, the other driver was not injured. Both vehicles sustained damage. The other driver received a citation.

Me, I went on my first ride as a patient* in an ambulance. By the time the EMTs were loading me up, the husband had arrived. I asked if he could ride in the ambulance with me, but the EMT said, “No, the police need him to stay right here and take possession of your car. He can come to the hospital afterward.”

Having witnessed the understandably reckless manner in which the husband had arrived at the scene in his pickup, I asked, “Is he okay to drive?”

The EMT shrugged and grinned. “Well, he drove here.”

And that was that. In the ambulance, the EMT checked my vitals and stuck an IV and some saline in the back of my hand. Over the next 15 hours, I would come to hate that IV. But in the meantime, I lay there on the gurney, watching the highway recede between my outstretched feet, wondering what would happen if one of the cars following close behind us plowed into the back of the ambulance.

The EMT talked to me in a soothing voice, especially as he explained (after I asked) that hearing a fetal heartbeat through a stethoscope in a moving ambulance was practically impossible. I took the opportunity to practice my yogic breathing.

When we reached the emergency room, the EMTs took me straight up to labor & delivery triage. On the way there, we passed through multiple winding corridors and rode two different elevators. The EMT who had driven the ambulance looked at me said said, “After this elevator, there’s a set of stairs.”

I looked at him, looked down at myself strapped to the gurney, and looked back up. “You guys have fun with that.”

He grinned. “Oh, no. We’re riding. You’re carrying.”

I motioned at my belly. “I’m already carrying!” And I was even able to chuckle through my tears as I said it.

Once I was in a room, a nurse came in and started doing things. A fetal monitor was involved, strapped to my belly. When I said something about Braxton-Hicks contractions, the nurse said, “Oh no, these aren’t Braxton-Hicks. These are the real thing.”

I managed an askance look and a shaky, “Oh.”

The most beautiful sound in the world was our baby’s steady, strong heartbeat, loud and clear over the fetal monitor. The most beautiful sight was her snub nose and plump cheeks on the ultrasound. (This was when I finally truly stopped crying.) The best feeling was her regular, healthy movement inside of me.

From triage, they moved me up one floor to labor & delivery, where the husband and I spent the (restless but as restful as could be expected) night. Tuesday morning, my doctor came in, pronounced the baby’s condition “excellent” and my lessening contractions “normal for anyone who’s 36 weeks pregnant,” and sent me home to relax for the remainder of the week.

I see the providential hand of God in every moment of this entire, terrifying experience. I see his protection of the baby and of me. I see his kindness and gentleness in the ministrations and the humor of the EMTs. I see his knowledgeability, his efficiency, and his loving care in my nurses and in my doctor.

In the story of my life, God is always present — but in this particular chapter, he’s obvious.

Have a good day, dearies. And tell someone you love them. : )

___________

*When I was 7, my grandparents came to visit us in Germany. Parents, grandparents, and I took a trip to Berlin. On the way there, we were involved in a 10-car pile-up on the Autobahn (which word, by the way, is nothing more than the German version of “interstate”). My dad had to stay with the car and talk with the Polizei. As the only other German-speaker among us, I had to ride in the ambulance with my grandma. At age 7. But that’s another story and shall be told another time.

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

This just appeared randomly a few days ago. 15 week, 5 days.

A little late (but late due to a good cause), here is the second half of my “Baby Factory 10 Things” list. If you missed the first half, check out numbers 1-5 here.

And so! Now that you’re all caught up, let’s proceed to…

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

6. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will not like it.
It will taste funny. It will smell like feet. Your favorites will suddenly turn into cardboard or charcoal and make you gag. (As an aside, brushing your teeth will make you gag, too.) Even the much-praised saltine, upon which you munch to keep something in your stomach at all times, will eventually crumble to ashes in your mouth. This is not happy.

The reason this happens is, once again, Our Favorite Friend Progesterone. It changes the chemical composition of your saliva, which alters the taste of food. This is MADE OF WEIRD.

This is also frustrating and demoralizing, and you will get in trouble with your doctor for losing 9 lbs. between Weeks 5 and 8.

7. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will crave it like a hyena craves a wildebeest.
The good news is that around Week 12, the flood of progesterone becomes less flood-ish. Bit by bit, things start to taste normal again. Sadly, some of your favorites will still taste and smell like feet. (I still mourn peanut butter.) But in general, you’ll start liking food again. Food will no longer bring on nausea at every longed-for bite. Suddenly, the vegetables you loathed in Week 11 taste like ambrosia in Week 14. This, my dears, is glorious, and you shall rejoice!

You shall also begin gaining weight like your doctor told you to do back in Week 8.

8. If this is your first, THEY are all experts.
THEY are women in your family. THEY are your female friends. THEY are your female acquaintances. THEY are women who’ve had babies. Sometimes, THEY are even women who haven’t had babies.

One and all, they will tell you what it is you’re experiencing. They will tell you how much they hearted being pregnant. They will tell you how grateful you should feel that you’re sick. They will tell you horror stories of bleeding and cramping — their own and other women’s. They will tell you all of these things even though you don’t ask to hear. And you will sigh muchly. And try not to freak out.

(The good news is that when you actually *do* request stories from some of them, there is much loving commiseration as soon as it becomes clear that this is what you need. When this happens, you will be quite glad to have so many experts in your life.)

9. At night, you will have an IMAX theater in your head.
Once upon a time, the husband said that because I’ve always has such vivid dreams, I must have an IMAX in my head at night. (He, on the other hand, is blessed with a calm, sleep-preserving, empty warehouse.) Well, Mr. Sandman seems to be taking hits of that famed, illicit drug Proges Terone — because now my dreams are more vivid and convoluted than ever. At times, I wake up to a flood of emotions that don’t even feel like my own. This, too, is a WEIRDNESS.

So far, the most memorable dream was the one where civilization had mostly recovered after the zombie apocalypse hit. I was waiting for my grandparents outside a convention hall because I was their driver. The convention was for The Church of the Protection of Zombies or somesuch; apparently, my grandparents had joined a cult that preached against the killing of zombies. Being a killer of zombies whenever opportunity struck, I disagreed with this religion and so chose not to enter the convention hall.

Yeah. So there’s that.

10. Your brains will fall out.
This, fortunately, has nothing to do with zombies — although it might seem like you’ve turned into a zombie, what with the bleary eyes, the slow shuffle, and the random bouts of feeding frenzy.

But no, what we’re really talking about here is the Infamous Pregnancy Brain. I guess it’s the hormones. Or maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s that your entire being is subconsciously focused on assembling a brand-new other being inside of you. Whatever the cause, the effect is that you can’t think straight, you can’t process information in a logical manner, and you can’t remember squat.

Except where the ice cream is located. You can remember this perfectly well.

The bad news, THEY tell me, is that Infamous Pregnancy Brain doesn’t ever really go away. It turns into Infamous Newborn Brain and from there morphs into Infamous Toddler Brain. By this time, I don’t think we can blame it on the hormones anymore, so it’s gotta be the lack of sleep. And THEY tell me this doesn’t stop until the kid moves out.

Will I recover my brain then? Some say yes, some say no. I’m banking on the kid turning out a nightowl just like me, in which case we should be able to let each other get as much sleep as either of us could possibly want.

Shut up, experts. Lemme have my delusions. They ain’t hurtin’ nobody. ; )

BONUS
11. When you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, you will sob like you did when Bambi’s mother died. Only happier this time.
: )

Death and Rape Threats

Today, I’d planned to post the second half of my top ten list about being pregnant. Instead, I read something this morning that turned my stomach and wore me out in a completely different way.

The something in question was “Let Me Tell You About the Birds and the Bees: Gender and the Fallout Over Christopher Priest” by Catherynne Valente.

Valente is a bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author. Priest is a sci-fi author who recently took quite strong exception to the nominees for this year’s Clarke Award. There was much virtual hullaballoo and whatnot over the vitriol with which Priest chose to express his opinion.

But his opinion per se is not what inspired the Valente post or the post I’m writing now. What Valente chose to focus on is the fact that this was his opinion. As in, a male opinion. And, she asserts, had the same opinion originated with a female author, the backlash against this female author would’ve been a lot stronger than just some online tongue-wagging and head-shaking.

Go read what Valente wrote. It’s pretty convincing. Especially the parts where she gives examples of female bloggers who’ve received rape threats and death threats simply for stating what they think.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of vocal women being targeted online. I believe my first exposure to it was this post by Shauna James Ahern. She describes how she once posted a recipe for soft pretzels. Moments later, someone commented, “I hope you choke on your own pretzels and die, you bitch.”

Really, people? Over pretzels?

No. Not really. It wasn’t the pretzels, and it wasn’t Ahern (who’s also received comments such as, “I hope the pedophiles are watching and I hope they get your kid.”). It was the fact that this is an outgoing, optimistic, vibrant, popular, outspoken woman. The origin of the thoughts was female, and she wasn’t shutting up when told to do so. She wasn’t going away.

There’s also this article, which describes websites glorifying the “war on women” and encouraging misogyny and brutality — both online and offline.

Back to Valente, whose post made me feel the need to hijack my own blog today. She writes,

Most women who blog or are active in the cultural commentary game know that they have to watch what they say. Always. It’s a horrible balancing act, and one I rarely see men having to do.

…The fact is, to be a woman online is to eventually be threatened with rape and death. On a long enough timeline, the chances of this not occurring drop to zero.

…I keep trying to think of what a male blogger would have to say about science fiction to have someone say they hope he gets raped to death. I’m not coming up with anything.

Misogyny in the West is coming up and it’s a gross, miserable, chthonic thing swirling at our feet. It’s getting worse, not better.

Valente is right. Now, those of you who know me IRL know that I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the news or to politics. The former is depressing, by which I mean that I actually do begin to have a dismal outlook on life when I regularly expose myself to stories of death, destruction, and cruelty; the latter simply disgusts me with its ubiquitous hypocrisy. BUT. There’ve been several news/politics stories that have caught my attention recently. And I can’t ignore them.

Have you been paying attention, my dears? Are you aware of the lawmakers who want to give employers the legal right to ask a woman why she is using birth control — and to fire her or not hire her if she’s using it to prevent pregnancy? Are you aware of the lawmakers who want to force a woman to undergo a vaginal ultrasound before she can have an abortion*? And require the doctor in question to perform the vaginal ultrasound before performing the abortion, even if the doctor doesn’t want to do the ultrasound?

And then there’s the old standby: Are you aware that a woman gets paid less for the same job a man does, even if her qualifications are the same as his?

Another old standby: Feminazi! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this term applied to a woman who dares express a women’s-rights opinion that steps outside the accepted norm. Over and over again during college, I heard this term applied to one of my most respected professors. Why? Because she had opinions. About women. About women’s rights. About how men treat women. About how women respond to that treatment. About the right and the wrong of it all.

And she wasn’t afraid to speak those opinions.

Feminazi.

Really, people?

A woman has a solid core belief system and dares to open her mouth and let others know about it — so you equate her with a person who committed the atrocities of rape, torture, terror, murder, and genocide?

Really?

Women, these things are not something we can ignore. They’re not going to go away. They are getting progressively worse. The world we grew up in is not going to be the same world our daughters and grand-daughters grow up in. I truly fear that our daughters and grand-daughters aren’t going to enjoy half the freedoms that we’ve enjoyed — and our freedoms haven’t been anywhere as numerous as they should’ve been. Are you going to let this happen?

Men, these things are not something you can ignore. They’re not going to go away. They are getting progressively worse. The world your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives grew up in is not going to be the same world your your daughters and grand-daughters grow up in. Your daughters and grand-daughters are going to live in tiny boxes made all the more confining by the knowledge that things could and should and used to be better. Are you going to let this happen?

I’ve been belittled, teased, and mocked because I’m female. I’ve expressed opinions and offered suggestions and been ignored — only to see those same opinions and suggestions be accepted when they came from a male.

I’ve never heard anyone say they hope I get raped to death because I said something they disagree with and in a way they disapprove of.

I am afraid to hit “publish.”

Will the threats start now?

And yet, I cannot remain silent. I will not.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

~Frank Herbert,
Dune

__

*No matter what my opinion about abortion itself (and I’m not going to discuss it here), a government should not be allowed to require a woman to have an object shoved up her vagina before she can have an abortion.

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

Hile, inklings!

As I’ve hinted in my last few posts, I have a few reflections to share about the joys of pregnancy thus far. In case you think this isn’t something you care to read, consider that the prepositional phrase ending the preceding sentence is a sample of deep sarcasm, which sarcasm might just be enough to make this post enjoyable even for you non-pregnancy-buffs.

Happily, the sarcasm is also an indication that I am feeling LOADS better. BANGERANG.

No baby bump yet. So here's a cute picture of my cat, instead.

So, to celebrate my return from The Nefarious Kingdom of Nausea and Exhaustion, I’ve put together a list of ten things that, if they didn’t surprise me entirely over the last few months, at least caused my expectations (expectations, get it? ha ha) to morph into something unrecognizable pretty much overnight.

As part of my celebration, I’m being rather more verbose than I’d anticipated, so I’m breaking up the list into two parts. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the first half:

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

1. It can be horribly scary.
Okay, so this one isn’t going to be funny, and it doesn’t apply to every pregnancy. But yes, this adventure can be scary. I already knew this, because I’d suffered a miscarriage back in 2006. So this time around, when I started spotting during Week 5 again, I was terrified. A visit to the doctor and a blood test showed low progesterone levels. Granted, my doctor hasn’t said the low levels caused the spotting, and she hasn’t said that I would’ve miscarried without progesterone supplements. But I took progesterone supplements through Week 10, and the spotting stopped, and I’m still pregnant at Week 15, so there you go.

Part of this scary experience is that, because I’m human, the fear trumped the joy at being pregnant. Ed and I let family and friends know what was going on because we desperately needed the spiritual and emotional support. Family and friends were spiritually and emotionally supportive. This was awesome.

Family and friends were also happy and excited. This was not so awesome for me, because although I was happy, I was not excited. I was scared, and it took all my focus to keep the fear to a minimum. Honestly, I couldn’t let myself start to be excited until around Week 10. In the meantime, everyone else’s joy sometimes felt overwhelming.

Hitting Week 14 some ten days ago was a blessing of ginormous proportions, because that was the start of the second trimester, in which the risk of miscarriage drops significantly.
Even so, I still get a little scared sometimes. Prayer helps. : )

2. It can be messy.
So. Progesterone supplements. You take one supplement per day. You do not take it orally. You also do not take it anally. And that’s all I have to say about that.

3. You run a triathlon. Every. Stinking. Day.
Since the advent of Week 12, this part has improved somewhat.

But between Weeks 5 and 12, the level of exhaustion was un-freakin’-believable. I spent anywhere from 10-14 hours per day asleep; or, if I wasn’t asleep the whole time, I was sprawled languidly on the couch or in bed, continually debating whether or not the pressure in my bladder was worth the effort of dragging myself vertical and down the 100 miles of hallway to the bathroom. Twenty minutes of conversation left me feeling like I’d just spent two hours doing high-impact aerobics. The ten-minute car ride to the doctor’s office was the equivalent of a BodyPump class. Said doctor tells me, “You need to be walking every day.” I meekly nod as though in agreement and think to myself, Doc, you are a funny lady.

4. You will want to slice off your boobs.
Hormones! Ah, the joys of them! One of the fabulous things they do is make your boobs hurt. And when I say hurt, I mean HURT. Hugging people is painful. Stretching is painful. The touch of clothing is painful. Putting on your bra is painful. Taking off your bra is painful. The only thing that’s not painful is sitting still whilst wearing said bra. Lying on your stomach is a thing of sheer impossibility. The torture does not stop, and you will want it to stop badly enough that removal of your breasts starts to sound like an attractive proposition.

There will also come a time when you’ll need a bigger, better bra. And that’s all I have to say about that.

5. The baby is an interior decorator. Or maybe a Third Culture Kid.
The kid is growing. Yay! That’s what s/he is supposed to do, and that is a glorious thing. And s/he is not shy about making sure there is enough room in your torso for the accomplishment of all this glorious growth.

In a nutshell: Your interior organs get moved around, and it starts happening pretty early on. I almost don’t have the words for it. The closest I can come to describing it is pressure in odd places. It’s like somebody’s putting their hands flat against the inside of my abdomen and pushing out. This is not the baby’s kicks I’m feeling; it’s too soon for that. No, this is the stretching of uterus, the stretching of ligaments, and the rearrangement of intestine location. It’s WEIRD. And sometimes it keeps me awake at night.

If you don’t know what a Third Culture Kid is, here’s the brief lowdown: A TCK is a person like me who has grown up in two cultures and combined the two into one unique personal culture. This carries with it a host of odd quirks too numerous to go into now. But one of those quirks is the desire to move across the country (or across the world) every few years. When I can’t do that, I rearrange the furniture — just like this kid is rearranging my insides.

Okay, thus ends Part 1! Come back on Friday for the second round!

Stop and Smell the Everything

Threads of joy turn to strong, protective cables.

I logged on to my blog’s dashboard, intending to tell you dear inklings a few things about my NaNoWriMo shenanigans of the past ten days. But before I started penning my post, I checked Twitter and got distracted by @Chief187s Candice Smith’s latest blogpost on Simple Joys.

Pop over and read Candice’s heart-warming post about her family and her appreciation of the little things, the Simple Joys that keep us all going even when we don’t realize it.

Maybe especially when we don’t realize it.

Candice’s post prompted me to record these thoughts:

We all need frequent reminders to stop and pay attention to the little things that infuse small threads of joy into our hearts. Those threads wind and bind together until they form a powerful net of joy that catches the negatives of life and casts them back out, keeping our hearts safe and protecting our joy, protecting our appreciation for life and love and the world around us.

One of the things I’m appreciating most about these ponderings is that they give me an excuse to use one of my new favorite blogpost tags: “entropy takes one in the kisser.” BANGERANG.

Simple Joys. Simple, tiny threads of pleasure, happiness, contentment, hope. If we let them, those tiny threads will turn into solid, powerful cables that will never let us fall.

Take a page out of Candice’s book: What are your Simple Joys?

Sometimes, a Lady’s Just Gotta Get Naked

This is a Naked Lady, aka Amaryllis. She grows, she changes, until she becomes what she is meant to be. She is vulnerable to her environment, but she is strong in joy over being what she is meant to be. She is naked. But she has no fear.

Thought of the Day:

To get what you want, you’re going to have to change.
 

 

 

 

You can’t keep doing just what you’re doing and expect to achieve a final destination that’s not at the end of your current path. You know what your current path is and what it leads to. You know it leads to something other than what you want.

So, to get what you want, you’re going to have to change.

It might be a tiny change, something so small that you are the only one who notices. It might be so small that even you don’t see its ripple effects until years and years later.

Or it might be a change so obvious and so radical, it makes your inner circle sit up and pay attention.

It might even be so ginormous a change that your inner circle turns on you for being different. It might be so great a change that they cast you out of their hearts.

Either way, to get what you want, you are going to have to change.

You just have to decide how badly you want it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Go do something fantastic. : )

Will You Be My Fracquaintribe?

Caveat emptor readtor:

This post might mirror my life: jumbled, disorganized, exhausted, frantic. (And yet, there’s a tranquil part, too, because I am SO THRILLED TO BE LIVING IN A HOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1996!!!)

You’ve been warned. ; )

Word cloud generated with Wordle.net

*ahem*

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the definition of “friend.”

I really started thinking about it when I first joined Facebook four years ago — and people started “friending” me. Not be-friending, mind you, just friending. Suddenly, “friend” could be a verb that didn’t require a prefix.

Friend Me! I’m Friendly! And I’m Not a Psychopath!

And it didn’t require close connection with the person in question, either. We got rid of the “be-” and, at the same time, got rid of the need for knowing someone before we call them a “friend.”

On Facebook, I discovered, friends were friends. Acquaintances were friends.

Annnnnnd…total strangers were friends! What?! Upon a friend-friend’s recommendation, I found myself friending someone I’d never met in person or even online. I trusted the friend-friend not to steer me toward a crazy person, so why not?

So. “Friend” no longer meant “person I spend lots of time with and trust with most aspects of my life.” In this brave new cyberworld, a friend was someone with whom I had a connection either through personal experience or through decent referrals.

How cozy.

Along Came Twitter

Since May 2010, I’ve been a Twitterer. Or a Tweeter. Over a year, and I don’t know the nomenclature for what I am. Identity crisis aside, I’ve been tweeting and re-tweeting for 14 months now…

…and, wonder of wonders, I’ve got better connections with my tweetlings (as I call them!) than with the “acquaintances” and “total strangers” whom I have friended on Facebook.

My tweetlings tweet and RT (read: re-tweet) about me, and I about them. I help them out; they help me out. There’s a lot of give and only a little take. Whereas Facebook “friends” will opine and argue (sometimes discourteously), tweetlings tend to be polite.

From what I can tell, the rule on Twitter seems to be:

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

I kinda sorta like that a lot.

Tribe Hummus*

The newest part of my What’s A Friend? Saga is that Dino Dogan of DIY Blogger NET invited me to join Triberr.

You can click through to read the whos and whatsits — but basically, Tribber is designed so that individual tribe members can automatically retweet each other’s blog posts, thereby giving each member access to the others’ followers.

I’m too new to tell, really, just how much Triberr is extending my reach…but extend my reach it does. When I tweet my blog posts, 339 followers see my tweet.

But through the members of my Triberr tribe, my posts reach 6,785 Twitter users.

That’s a lot of free advertising. ; ) It’s brought me some new connections, and I’m pondering setting up my own tribe. I’ll blog more about that in the future — so prepare ye for updates! ; )

Triberr members promote each other; simply by being a member, I’m doing something good for three other people. And by being members, those three people are doing something good for me.

Friends do that.

Fracquaintribes

So. What do you think of all this?

Ten years from now, will we still have friends?
Will we have acquaintances?
Or will we all be members of tribes or clans, less and less individualized and more community-minded?

Is any of this pointing toward a sort of hive mind?

Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated. All of this re-defining of relationships is interesting…but how far will it go before the intellectual exercise turns into a humanity we present-day Twitterers, Facebookers, and Triberrs no longer recognize?

If you’re reading this, you’re pretty much already in my fraquaintribe. So let’s talk. : )
______________________
*As I pondered the heading for this section, I Googled the word “tribe” for fun. “Tribe hummus” was one of the auto-complete options; it made me gigglesnort, so I kep’ it. ; )