I've entered week 11 and we're just one week away from sharing the good news far and wide, so for my last week of relative pregnancy privacy I figured I'd share a smorgasbord of symptoms and experiences with the World Wide Web.
1) IRRATIONAL CRYING. I inherited my mother's ability to be very emotionally even-keeled, as well as her penchant for crying at tiny things like commercials. To my pleasant surprise, that emotional stability has stayed relatively intact throughout the first trimester. Although being pregnant and becoming a parent are constantly on my mind, I'm not kept awake at night by possible birth defects or the eventual college tuition bill. However, much to my chagrin, that ability to cry at virtually nothing has quadrupled. Case in point: one day about three weeks ago I was feeling pretty blah, so I stayed home from work and turned on the TV at the exact moment the sappy Disney movie Secretariat was starting. Within 30 seconds, someone dies and I cried from that moment on, the tears reaching their climax when the horse wins the Triple Crown. My next move was renting Seabiscuit on Amazon and crying my way through that as well. I texted my sister, who urged me to make it a horse trifecta by watching Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (I couldn't commit to that level of dehydration). I have always liked horses, but the hormones have decided they are my spirit animal. To further prove their dominance over my rational mind, last week the hormones somehow managed to get me to flip on the TV at the exact moment Secretariat was starting yet again. I started crying during the opening credits.
2) IN SICKNESS AND IN SMELLS. I have pretty minimal nausea which is really nice, but I retch violently anytime I smell body odor; strong perfumes; my dog's poop; garbage or food gone bad; cigarettes or any kind of smoke; and diesel fuel. Honestly just writing that list made me gag. In my area of the world – rural northern California with a strong marijuana presence and lots of locals who forego deodorant – it has been really hard to contain the dry heaving in the presence of some of these folks. Unfortunately there's no easy way to say, "Sorry, your personal odor makes me sick." Adding, "It's not you, it's because I'm pregnant!" really doesn't soften that blow. Fortunately when people see you coughing and gagging they don't take it personally when you cease conversation and walk away.
3) BRILLIANT ANTACID CAMPAIGN. Another semi-constant symptom is heartburn. One night I developed a theory that heartburn is a clever way to make sure pregnant women are getting enough calcium via Tums, which I eat like candy. I try to find silver linings where I can!
4) DOES THIS MAKE ME LOOK FAT? The answer is yes. Because I've gained 10 pounds, which is apparently normal and nothing to be concerned about what with all that extra blood my body is producing. However, since most people don't know I'm pregnant – combined with my less-frumpy summer wardrobe which doesn't hide as much – I'm pretty sure people think I'm living on ice cream and potato chips. I can't WAIT for my belly to "pop" so I can wear all my cute dresses with a cute bump to match.
5) I HATE THE INSURANCE COMPANY... I decided to work with our local birthing center rather than the hospital for a lot of reasons, one of which is that the Western system of medicine is like my Kryptonite. Don't get me wrong, we have a great local hospital and I was very grateful to the doctors and staff for their wonderful care when Carson's appendix burst, but in general I try to steer clear of all things medical, largely because our country's insurance system makes my blood boil. Two days before my first prenatal appointment I called my insurance company; I have a good job, yet my insurance doesn't cover ONE DIME of my expenses until I meet a $4,500 deductible. Oh, and if I choose the birthing center instead of the hospital, which is "out of network," it's $9,000. What about the state mandated blood tests, I asked? Nope, they said; they aren't preventative. I said, but they ARE preventative. Their response? Preventative for the baby doesn't count; it had to be preventative for ME. Hot tears of anger and impotence streaked my face as I hung up and called the birthing center.
6) ...BUT I LOVE MY MIDWIVES. Happily, one of the incredible midwives made me feel 1,000% better by 1) sympathizing; and 2) telling me they have cash programs that would take my bloodwork cost from about $2,000 to closer to $300. Hoorah! We were also able to pay the full cost of all my prenatal, birth, and postnatal services up front (thanks to my Health Savings Account) for a significant discount, and we won’t get close to the $9,000 deductible because birthing centers are so much cheaper than hospitals.
I had my first prenatal appointment at 10 weeks and 2 days, and it was glorious. We feel so lucky to live near Bloom Waterbirth and Wellness Center in Ukiah. The appointment was relaxed and friendly; it took place in one of the birthing rooms with me on the cozy bed and Carson stretched out on the couch at the midwife’s urging, since the appointment would be about an hour. We actually got to meet with both of the midwives as well as a student midwife, during which they gathered our medical histories, a bunch of information about my pregnancy so far, and six vials of blood. Most of it was for standard tests and we’re also getting the Harmony test, which will tell us the gender as well as rule out several chromosomal disorders. We find out the results later this week – cross your fingers that all is well!
Picture caption: Baby’s first picture? This was taken four days after conception at a friend’s wedding, long before we knew what was up!