Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 19 Weeks

Elizabeth 19 weeks.jpgIt's official - the world can tell I'm pregnant! I hadn't really noticed a difference until two friends in one day commented that I was finally showing.

I had a minor meltdown on my first day in Los Angeles (if you recall, two weeks ago I wrote about taking 11 teenagers to LA for a college access retreat). I was tired from traveling, hot, probably dehydrated, and had just checked into my dorm room which included cinder-block walls, a plastic mattress, and no air conditioning. I was also stressed out because I had experienced zero feeling in my gut for two days; normally it's a pretty active scene of weird cramps and sharp pains, so I was starting to get worried. I texted my midwife, who immediately called me and calmed me down during a 20 minute conversation. When I asked if she thought I was crazy, she said, "Nope, you're a mom."

After I got back from LA I had a prenatal appointment and Mae's heartbeat was drumming away at 130 beats per minute. We also talked about their post-natal care, which includes six weeks of home visits. SIX WEEKS! I continue to be blown away by the incredible services offered by Bloom Waterbirth in Ukiah. If you live anywhere nearby, do yourself a favor and check them out. I can't tell you how much stress I have avoided knowing that everything is included in one very reasonable cost. When they fit me in for extra appointments, and even when I go for a normal appointment, I know I won't be getting a bill with all sorts of charges on it.

While in LA I had the chance to see a bunch of my extended family, who threw me the sweetest surprise baby shower. I was beyond touched, and it also reminded me that I'm almost halfway through and it's time to get moving! I've been working on my registry and also finally starting to think about the nursery. We've been remodeling our kitchen so that is all I have been able to focus on, but I'm shifting gears.

Apparently Mae is hiccuping, yawning, moving a ton, and listening to everything I say. However, I have a very short torso and all of my organs are in front of my uterus (says the midwife), so I'm not feeling much of anything since she's pushed toward the back. I'm sure she'll assert her dominance soon by pushing my bladder out of the way with a swift kick. Until then I'm still enjoying relatively good sleep, minus the bathroom breaks.

I'm not going to lie, my second trimester has not been as easy-breezy as it is for some women. I feel some combination of dizzy or nauseous almost every day, my heartburn is a daily companion, and out of nowhere I started puking which didn't happen once in the first trimester. Good times.

I am usually pretty good at taking things in stride (my doula friend recently told me I was well suited for labor because I'm good at tolerating discomfort, which I think is true based on the many international plane rides I've endured in coach) and in any bad or sad situation I generally want to be left alone. The problem is, people want to be helpful and comforting - which is a lovely human inclination - and it's really hard to explain that what's most helpful for me is to be ignored. What's NOT helpful is the constant stream of comments, questions, and - worst of all - suggestions. Nothing I've done has helped stem the tide. I have tried everything; responding with short answers; responding in a terse tone; ignoring the person entirely; and even, on a few occasions, getting aggressive.

For example, last week I had to get up sort of early to go to an event, and within less than five seconds of arriving someone I barely know asked me, in a high, singsongy tone - borderline baby talk - "How are you FEELING?" I was feeling tired and grumpy but I didn't want to unleash on her so I replied, in the nicest tone I could muster, "Honestly, I'm feeling tired of that question." What I should have said was "fine." But I knew that would have opened the door to more questions and I couldn't fathom having to engage further. But, engage further we did. Her next response was one of shock: "Oh dear, WHY?" Sigh.
"Well, I have to answer it about fifty times a day and it gets old."
"You must not be feeling very good if you're answering it like that," she clucked at me. I think I might have clenched my fists.
"I FEEL FINE I'm just sick of being asked the same thing over and over!" At this Carson gave me a sympathetic glance, both of us willing her to shut up.
"Well it's just people who care about you that want to know how you're doing." Did I mention this woman barely knows me? I decided to stop engaging, made angry eyes at Carson, and started talking to someone else. A few minutes later, she was back at it.
'You're VERY pregnant," she said to me in the world's most obnoxious know-it-all tone. I lost it.
"I need you to stop making any comments about my pregnancy, in any way, immediately," I said in my loudest, firmest voice. I've been told I can get scary; I think Carson was scared. This woman was not.
"Well, I'm just saying, your reactions are obviously those of a pregnant woman. I should know, I had five." I have perhaps never heard a more smug tone in my life. I longed to choke it out of her. This time I yelled.
"Then based on my initial reaction, do you really think that was the best thing to say to me?!" I didn't give her a chance to react. I stomped over to a friendly ally who had witnessed the whole thing, muttered through clenched teeth that I couldn't be responsible for what happened next if she didn't leave me alone, and was rewarded with the validation I desperately needed in that moment. "You're great, Elizabeth," my friend said with a grin. "And she deserved it."

Photo: This bikini hasn't seen the light of day for three years. It probably never will again because the top is disintegrating, but it was fun to wear for one last hurrah. (Note the hole in the wall next to me - the kitchen remodel is still underway!)

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