Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Babies are Made...or, A Recipe for Risotto

Every woman has her story about how and why a kid. Some are sudden, some are planned, some are full of wonder or heartbreak. Ours is very roundabout.

In early 2011, after a decade of extreme PMS cramping, I finally bit the bullet and scheduled a laparoscopy to get to the root of my lady issues. Dutifully, I showed up at the surgicenter on an early March morning, filled in forms, signed my life away.

"Okay," said the nurse. "I just need a urine sample and we should be good to go."

After passing the sample through the door, I stayed in the restroom to gown up. Not 30 seconds later, a knock on the door. "Hang on, sweetie," said the nurse. "You're pregnant."

My response: "No, I certainly am NOT!"

Her: "Yes, you are. And it's STRONGLY POSITIVE." I suppose I've always been an overachiever.

Needless to say, the procedure did not happen that day. My husband and I went home completely bewildered, and figured out I was somewhere around Week 11 or 12. I had not a single symptom. In fact, we had just returned from a week in Spain where we ate and drank our way around the country. Great.

Two days and a blood test later, I found myself in my ob/gyn's office getting an ultrasound. He found nothing. "My guess," he said, "Is you miscarried somewhere around Week 3 or 4 but never noticed it since it would have seemed like a normal period. Well, normal for you."

Until that week, both my husband and I were 100% ambivalent about parenthood. We truly could have taken it or left it and either would have been fine. Over the last five years, we've both asked the other to just make a decision because my ovaries weren't getting any younger, but neither of us could. Therefore, my miscarriage was not a tragedy -- in fact, it was a blessing in disguise. Some may say a nudge from beyond to make a freakin' decision already.

After 72 hours of pregnancy, we made a decision. We actually did want to give this parenting lark a go.

My body didn't heal completely until May. Then the summer was busy and we had plans. "After Hawaii," I told the husband. "Then we'll really start trying."

Three days after returning from Hawaii...boom. Conception.

I forced myself to wait until Day 29 of my cycle to pee on a stick. I fully woke up exactly 15 minutes before our 8am alarm (miraculous, considering I am not a morning person). I already knew, and said knowledge had been supported by the Magic 8 Ball That Never Lies and told me "It is decidedly so."

Indeed, it was. Those tests are supposed to take two or three minutes. Mine popped positive in less than 30 seconds. STRONGLY PREGNANT, again. Just a blastocyst, but the size of a poppy seed.

Week 4 became a blur of reading to understand our little Poppy Seed and it's associated swirl of hormonal side effects. Phone calls to make appointments with potential ob/gyns and midwives (my beloved gyn has sadly retired from OB work). I learned that most providers don't want to see you until Week 8, yet the most dangerous time for birth defects is Weeks 5-8.

"What do women who aren't as nerdy as I am do?" I angrily asked my husband. "What if they don't have access to quality websites or can't afford books?" It's a mystery I still don't understand. Fine, don't see me until Week 8 -- but why not fax, snail mail or e-mail a few "do this/don't do that" instructions to the newly pregnant?

I insisted on "meet and greet" appointments during Week 5. So far, this is the smartest thing that I have done and I encourage any newly pregnant woman to do the same.

At this moment, I am at Week 5, Day 3. Our Poppy Seed is now "the size of a grain of arborio rice" (the children...they grow so fast!). Therefore, our nickname for it is now "The Risotto." According to a lovely nurse practitioner I met with this week, we have the Lima Bean, Gummy Bear, and Alien phases to look forward to next. Aside from a little breast tenderness and a whole lot of digestive cramps, I'm feeling fine. No morning sickness. Yet.

(You will notice I have no problem calling the embryo/fetus/baby an "it." For many reasons, we are not finding out its sex until it appears on the scene. For sake of easy pronouns, "it" is it.)

Today, we are telling our parents the news. The husband's family lives overseas, so they will get a phone call in an hour or so. As for my parents and brothers...we are actually off to Las Vegas this evening for 21st birthday craziness with my baby brother. Our over/under re: them guessing the news is approximately 20 seconds after I order a club soda instead of a cocktail.

After years of my "when/if" indecisiveness, I know my folks will be over the moon over the news of their future grandkid. We're kind of excited to know him or her, too.

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