Saturday, June 26, 2010

7 Months, Just Sayin'

It's getting more difficult to write ironic little anecdotes on my blog when all I want to do is sleep and eat and politely ask that everyone stay the hell out of my way. A simple trip to the grocery store or out to dinner is about the longest I can typically contain my anxiety, frustration, or outright pissed-off-ed-ness at nothing and everyone. I'm working on giving myself credit for the whole "making a person" thing. :)

Abe had an appointment this week and the doctor measured him right on par at 29 weeks. He's always been a very good measurer. Bonnie numbers have been fairly stable and Bonnie and Clyde are becoming a part of the family. I wake up, say good morning to Clyde (sometimes begrudgingly, because I'm not a morning person), say a quick hello to Bonnie (I know I'm going to see her again in an hour anyway), and then go about my day eating only the things that make us happy and healthy and completely miserable that we can't have cake. Most days I'm very excited for him to be here, but there are those days that I make a quick run to Target or the dogs bark maniacally at the UPS man when I think, "Crap. This is going to be really hard with a kid on the outside." I know, I know, just you wait.

On a "hey, that's neat!" note, we took a birthing class and a breast-feeding class this past week. (David did come with me to the breast-feeding class, bless his heart.)
Did you know that a baby turns itself into the right position twice during labor?! Yep. Once to fit the head through the pelvis and again to fit the shoulders through. The doctors don't even need to tell him to do that. He just does it. (Smartest baby ever already.)
And did you know that if you place a newborn on his mother's chest, eventually he will find her breast and start nursing on his own?!?! You don't even have to plug him on there. If only the La Leche League knew...they'd be scared out of their minds.
If nothing else, these classes have been a fabulous distraction amidst all the growing and spreading and eating. And the ridiculous students in class make it all worth it. You know, like the guy who asked if a woman can take Tylenol during labor for the pain. Yeah. I'd like to be there when you offer her Tylenol. (Can we all take a minute and picture it?) Or the guy who asked if caffeine/alcohol during labor might help relieve stress. Wrong on so many levels, I'm not even going to touch it. Or, my personal favorite, the girl who asked if there was colostrum (that's the sugary, clear stuff that comes out of the breast before milk) in baby formula. If I was the teacher, I think I may have just stared at her for a few blank seconds before answering, "Yes, sweetie. Yes, there is colostrum as well as magic."She's probably too far gone, anyway.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Someone suggested I name my insulin pen Clyde, a suitable partner for Bonnie. I like this. They're both a little bit evil, but they work together as such a good team. Inseparable, really.
I set up a pretty glass jar with all my needles and lancets and alcohol swabs next to my bed so that at least when it's time for Bonnie and Clyde to go to work, it seems like a sweet, pretty job. "Oooh! Good morning, Bonnie and Clyde! Look at the sun bouncing off your beautiful little jar." Honestly, Clyde doesn't hurt at all. He goes right into the side of my belly quietly and quickly. And he seems to be helping a little bit. My Bonnie Numbers have been fairly even over the past few days.
My fingers, on the other hand...Bonnie has mangled my fingers. Four pricks a day and sometimes I forget which finger I last used. They're starting to get sore and covered in little red dots. I need a better system. And a manicure.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Bonnie Numbers

After getting the gestational diabetes diagnosis, I had to wait more than a week to meet with the endocrinologist who would decide what the next steps were. This was totally asinine to me. Wait a week?? My baby could grow 7 pounds in a week and I could be one of those women in India with a 15 pound baby and no lady parts left to speak of.
My insurance company was nice enough to keep all arguments to themselves and send me a glucometer free of charge. It's really quite adorable.

I've decided to name her Bonnie Bloodchecker. I call her Bonnie for short.
I didn't know how to use Bonnie when I first got her and because my appointment was over a week away, I felt like Bonnie and I couldn't yet forge a friendship. But, as it turns out, my sister-in-law just happened to have an odd affinity for, close to an obsessive love for, glucometers. It's a very strange and lucky twist of fate that I married into a family that happened to have someone with the ever-elusive Glucometer Fetish. She showed me how to take my blood and check my sugar and I started doing it on my own twice a day. I had no idea when to check my Bonnie numbers, but I figured some numbers were better than no numbers when I met with this week-away doctor. I also started keeping a detailed food journal so that I could see patterns between my blood sugar and what I ate. And every time my blood sugar went higher than 130, I had a decent-sized pity party.
Finally, the day came to meet with the endocrinologist. Somehow, I thought that if I had all this information with me (the food journal, my Bonnie numbers, detailed questions, meal plans, exercise regimen, etc) in a neat little folder, she would tell me everything is fine and not to worry. So you can imagine it came as quite a shock when she complimented my dedication to health and wellness in one breath, and prescribed me daily insulin injections in the next. Insulin injections?! But I'm doing everything everyone in the world has recommended and I'm even writing it all down in my neatest handwriting. How could I be reliant on insulin at 28 weeks?! I'm the perfect patient and the picture of self-care!
I'm sure she could tell I was about to cry, and David told me to take a deep breath. I whispered, "Deep breaths make it worse, shut up." She assured me that we were being preventative, and Abraham would be completely fine if we kept our awareness high and stayed preemptive with our treatments. She told me insulin would never hurt Abe and that he was at no risk for having diabetes after we was born. I, however, now face a 50% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Great. So my kid is fine, but his mom will be in a diabetic coma by the time he graduates high school. Not helping.
The sweetest nurse ever taught me how to administer my daily insulin shots. She gave me paperwork to fill out everyday with my Bonnie numbers and instructed me to fax them twice a week so that the doctor could determine when my insulin needed to be "upped". I have to get my Bonnie numbers 4 times a day and shoot insulin twice a day. That's six shots a day. Six needles. Everyday. You're jealous.
In the elevator on the way out, David smiled. "We got this." That helped a little bit. Then he went on. "Come on, babe. You've got too much panache to have a normal pregnancy! We had to shake it up a little bit somehow!" Then I laughed. He's kinda right.
So here it is, my insulin injector pen. It does not have a name yet. I'm open to suggestions. Anyone?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just You Wait

Dear Blog, 
I'm sorry it has been a week since I've written. It's been rough lately, but I'm getting back in the saddle. I gave you a little makeover in hopes that would make up for my absence. Thanks for always listening.

I'm beginning to think that the trouble is not that no one understands how difficult it is to be completely exhausted at 7 months pregnant in the dead of summer with gestational diabetes and lower-back pain that feels like a leprechaun is following me around with little daggers in his hands, continuously tripping on his own hooked shoes and shouting, "Oops! Oh, sorry again, m'lady." No, I'm beginning to think that people enjoy watching a pregnant woman suffer. Why do I think that? Well, it's the only conclusion I can reach when everyone's favorite thing to say to me is, "Oh, you just wait..."
If I had a nickel...
Oh, Erin. You have no idea. You just wait!
Wait for what?
Is the next step having my baby, feeling little to no excitement for having had him, and feeling resentful of the fact that he keeps selfishly waking up to eat?! After all this support and love, does my husband decide to leave for a younger woman immediately? Do all the people that have volunteered to help us by cooking meals and doing our laundry for the first month after Abe's born suddenly back out because they totally forgot they have to "be somewhere"? Am I guaranteed that no matter how difficult and frustrating life feels right now in my never-ending search to feel normal, I will STILL have it worse AFTER my baby is BORN?!?!
I don't think people are considering just how inappropriate this reaction seems to the already irrational pregnant woman. Imagine if we applied this logic to other difficult times in life. The last time you got a paper cut or were in a minor car accident, did your friend look at you and say, "Just you wait. It gets worse"? No. Because you would smack your friend in the mouth, or at least apply a devastating wet willy to their ear. Or if you were diagnosed with a mild case of shingles, would it be everyone's first reaction to say, "Just you wait. Those shingles are only the beginning of your suffering and strife." You'd rub your shingles all over them and run away laughing and maniacally shouting, "NOW YOU WAIT, SUCKAH!"
Bottom line is some women float through pregnancy and others trudge the way soldiers do in the thickest jungles of Afghanistan. (This is an exaggeration, for the soliders out there; thank you for serving us and keeping us safe.) I am not a floating pregnant woman. I'm a trudger. And at no time does someone insinuating that my future is much less bright than my present help me find the will to get to the grocery store today and ensure my husband has food in his belly when he gets home tonight.

So pregnant women, unite. The next time someone says, "Just you wait," I want you to look them dead in the eye and say, "I know. It's going to be absolute hell when I give birth to the person I grew inside of my stomach and get to hold him in my arms everyday, watch him learn, and experience all the ups of downs of parenting with my unbelievable partner who has chosen to go through it all with me. You're right. It's gonna SUCK!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Floor

While all of these tests and test results flew in and out my life, my husband rested comfortably on the beaches of Aruba. You think I'm kidding, right? Ok, perhaps he wasn't resting comfortably, and maybe he didn't spend much time on the beach, but he was away on a business trip in Aruba. And for that, he will forever pay.
Not only was it emotionally taxing going through all of these changes and potential complications, it was worse doing it alone and then trying to sleep in a big, empty bed. I suppose it falls under the heading of, "When it rains, it pours." My husband did his best to provide empathy and sympathy through chat dialogue and spotty Skype service, but none of it came close to the big strong arms that hug me when I'm scared or overwhelmed. In a word, it sucked.
While all of these emotions swirled around my house like an angry tornado, frustration began to build on top. No, not frustration over "the diabetes" (said in a deep, southern accent). Frustration over the amount of things I can no longer lift, move, and/or carry. And because of this, there are an inordinate amount of things on the floor of my house waiting for my husband to come home and move. The dog's giant bag of food is currently sitting next to the giant dog food tupperware on the floor outside of the laundry room. Abraham's awesome new swing only made it to the bottom of the stairs in its original box (dragged, like a dead body). The new carseat and stroller lay all willy nilly on the garage floor waiting for someone to place them somewhere with more dignity. The giant bean bag chair in the living room remains shoved up against my husband's grandmother's old dresser where the dogs somehow pushed it while trying to reach a tennis ball under the couch. Oh, the dogs' tennis ball is under the couch. They've been whining for 5 days.
It's incredible that turning the "third trimester" corner so quickly resulted in my inability to do 50% of the things I could do last week. Now, if everyone reading this would please tell my husband that he is never allowed to leave the house, let alone the country, again until Abraham is at least might come across better from all of you than an overly-emotional, irrational whale who can't reach her favorite hair clip that rolled under the bathtub on Tuesday and ALL I WANT TO DO IS PULL MY HAIR BACK IN MY FAVORITE CLIP.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Same Nurse, Different Day

Well, she was nicer this time when she called. I'm not sure if she knows I'm the one who ratted her out for being an insensitive mouth-breather, but she sure did deliver the news carefully and kindly.
"Erin, I've got your results. Are you ready?"
"Um, yes."
"Well, ok, here they are..."
So, I've got the gestational diabetes. I passed the fasting blood sugar test, but when it came to that unreasonably sugary drink, my body was thrown for a loop. The diet changes are going to be very minimal, since I already eat a fairly low-sugar diet. And I get one of those glucometers, for free no less! That should be fun at parties.
I have to go see an endocrinologist, different from the reproductive endocrinologist I was seeing before (you may remember Dr. New York?). I wish I could just go back to the doc I was seeing before, but I guess in order to properly treat me they have to keep things as complicated and uncomfortable as possible.
Am I sad? Yeah, pretty sad. And I'm fairly scared. My best friend gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, perfect little boy yesterday. I want that more than anything in the world. But I have to admit, the selfish side of me also just wants to have a freakin' normal moment for once. I keep having those pitiful woe-is-me thoughts: "First I can't get pregnant, then I finally do get pregnant an I'm sick as a dog for the first trimester. Sure, that's fairly normal, but then I gain more weight than I expect and I have to start watching my calorie intake instead of happily feeding my face the way most pregnant women do. Now I've got gestational diabetes in the third trimester and 'fetal demise' is floating around in my head like an angry balloon on a windy day." Then, of course, I feel guilt for not worrying more about my unborn child and too much about myself.
I'm fairly certain I'm going to be a good mom. But why does it all have to be so difficult? And why does the most challenging part of my life have to come precisely at the time I have virtually no control over my irrational emotions and while the only thing that really helps quell the sadness is a Snickers bar?? This is a cruel trick. Cruel.
Is this because I never finished converting, God?

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm Guess I'm Just Sweet

Between 24 and 28 weeks, pregnant women are asked to participate in a glucose screening. There are several different ways to conduct this screening, though the most common is to first arrive at the butt-crack of dawn at a neighborhood clinical laboratory. Then, while maneuvering around a number of different levels of sickly people, you approach the sign-in area. Once at sign-in, a nice nurse or phlebotomist hands you a small bottle of juice. Remember the little, plastic juice bottles we used to get in school with the foil top? It looks like that. Oh, except that it tastes like someone poured artificial flavoring, water, 50 grams of sugar, and a little bit of feet into the bottle instead of juice. You have 5 minutes to drink this concoction, and you can't vomit. Then, you sit and watch all the crazies come and go for an hour while your body starts screaming and throwing itself into walls, trying to deal with the ridiculous amount of sugar you just ingested. Then they take a bunch of blood while you crash in the chair and you drive home (though, you might not remember the drive home). Sounds like fun, right?
This test is probably the most arbitrary, archaic thing I've experienced during my pregnancy so far. I learned from my nutritionist the numbers chosen as the "normal range" were arrived at after a sample of about 20 people. Compare that to the millions who take it every year. And it literally takes an act of Congress to change those numbers. If you fail the test by even one point, you can be diagnosed diabetic or, in my case, a gestational diabetic.
So, if normal is 130, my results were 202. For those who aren't paying attention, that's frackin' high. But the worst part was not how high the number was. The worst part was the nurse casually called me to tell me that I would have to go back and take the test over again, only this time I would have to drink MORE of the drink, stay for THREE hours, and have my blood drawn four times. That's right. I'm not metabolizing sugar correctly so the western medical world's response is to feed me MORE sugar, and then take more of my blood. Oh, and when I asked what some of the risks were, she told me I could be forced to take insulin later in my pregnancy, as well as being at risk for fetal demise. Yep. Fetal demise. Say it out loud once so you can hear just how scary it sounds. That nurse told me that my baby could die in the same breath as the fax number I needed to send my information to the lab. Remember bedside manner? She didn't. Needless to say, that was a bad day...
If anyone wants that nurse's direct phone number or home address for any reason whatsoever, just email me directly and I'll be sure you get the information you need.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Beautiful Name for a Beautiful Boy

When I got married, the rabbi blessed my family members with Jewish names. I began the process of converting to Judaism through practice and classes, but I am not Jewish (I prefer to think of myself as a little Jew-ish). Nevertheless, our very progressive rabbi agreed to welcome myself and my family into the Jewish faith during our wedding ceremony. It was an honor to say the least. I was given the name Ariel. My mother and father were aptly named Abraham and Sarah. (This is how the lineage of Jews-by-Choice is often written.)

My father died when I was 7. I remember it vividly. While I didn't know him all that well, I feel like I got to know him as I grew up through family, friends, and a little psychic connection. I'm told I'm a lot like him.
Plenty of stories are passed around the table when his name (Gene Arthur) comes up. Sometimes folks are laughing at what a grumpy old coot he could be, but most of the time people reminisce about his Rennaisance Man-like life. He grew up the son of two Lebanese immigrants who came straight through Ellis Island. He took over his father's businesses, went bankrupt, and clawed his way out to become an extremely successful business man who provided for an entire family. He had a wine cellar to be reckoned with, he carved his own beef out of half a cow on the kitchen counter (much to my mother's dismay), and he had no trouble floating on a pool chair and enjoying a cold beer at the end of a long week. When my brother married an incredible woman and their son became the next to carry on the Salem name, I think my father was probably pleased. But when my brother went on to honor my father by naming his son Gene Arthur Salem, I think my father was probably overjoyed.

Two years after we married, my husband and I learned we would give birth to a baby boy. I immediately asked that we name him after my father. Knowing that our son would get David's surrname, I felt that Gene Arthur Salem Cohen would be a bit much. Besides, my brother took some of the pressure off; dad's name would live on in a brilliant young man already. And so, in homage to my father and with honor paid to my husband's lineage, our little boy inherited my father's Jewish name, Abraham.

Abraham Cohen.

(You can call him Abe.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Name that Baby

I completely respect people who don't want to know the sex of their babies before they're born. I'm sure it's super exciting in that moment the baby pops out that not ONLY do you get a baby, but you get to find out who he/she is!
I could never do this. It's so fun knowing there's a little boy in there. I feel like I know him so much better because he has a name and an identity. It made it so much easier after a must-quell craving for P.F. Chang's last weekend, when I insisted that David and I spend the rest of our date NOT at a movie but in Lowe's, to pick out paint colors for our little boy's room. But knowing the gender does mean that I get one extra question from every stranger who notices I'm pregnant.
1. When are you due?
2. Is this your first?
3. Do you know what you're having?
Bonus Question: Do you have a name picked out?

Well, the answer is, yes. I do have a name picked out. And it just doesn't feel right that the postman knows his name and you people don't. I like the postman, but I doubt he's a devoted dec-O-blog reader.

The only trouble with telling people his name is gauging their reactions. It's hard not to take it personally when someone's response is, "Ooooh." No smile. No giggle. Obviously, you hate my baby's name.
Or, "Oh, I haven't heard that one lately." Translation: Way to pull a name out of 1965.
Here's one I love: "That's nice. Is it a family name?" Translation: No one would ever name their baby that name unless it was a family name.

Please, people, when a pregnant woman tells you her baby's name, or anything else about her pregnancy for that matter, just smile and say, "That's wonderful," in a genuine tone. It's your only job in that situation.

So, I'll only tell you his name if you tell me it's wonderful and then smile.