One Obligatory Picture

Over the years, I have become somewhat critical of all of the cliché things that pregnant ladies do, like taking excessive numbers of photographs of themselves holding their bellies. I am not one to memorialize my progress a week at a time, but here I am with an obligatory belly-holding photo at eighteen weeks.
160
Hopefully one photo will suffice. When I look at this picture, I still don’t see cute pregnant lady, I see lady who is going to need to pay for a breast reduction and lift in 2-3 years time. So yes, the posting of pregnancy pictures will not be abundant.

Nonetheless, we received good news from my amniocentesis last week. Not only did the FSH results come back clear, meaning no trisonomy 13, 18, or 21, but the microarray came back Friday completely normal too.  Today’s 18 week ultrasound came back the best of any that I have had so far, but we still are waiting for a few more test results as well as our fetal echocardiogram at 22 weeks to rule in or out other problems. Today, though, the boys were generally good and behaved themselves to get some good anatomy views, although twin A was doing some pretty terrible kicking of twin B in the head. Hopefully, that isn’t any indication of what things will be like when they are on the outside.

It feels good to make it this far and have some good news for a change, but I am still so wary of getting overly excited.  I think this is the lingering effect of so many failures and so much bad news, I am so nervous that I don’t know when it is actually proper to be excited. I just want everything to be well and the boys to be healthy.

This whole experience up to this point in time has taught me even more how important compassion is, though. Seriously, the range of things going through my head after the bad ultrasound when so many terrible things were possible – I just decided then and there, I will never judge a woman for the reproductive choices she makes. I just get so angry when people presume to know better than a woman who is actually experiencing all of these things, and whose body is the one who has to deal with the repercussions of those decisions.

The only other big decision (outside of work) that I am really allowing myself to deal with right now is where to go on our last trip that David and I will take together before the babies come. Unfortunately, since I am teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the fall, the trip is only going to be four days.  Also, my doctor told me I cannot travel out of the country, which totally disrupted the trip we were going to take to the new Westin resort in the Dominican Republic.  I really wanted somewhere hot and beachside, where I could be in a swimsuit most of the time. Of course, the Caribbean during hurricane season is not the best idea.  We were looking at some other Stanwood resorts in South Florida, but I have an inherent bias against South Florida’s beaches compared to the Gulf Coast. Also, I am just not the kind of person that really fits in South Florida, not with the elderly northeasterners that makeup the clientele of the St. Regis Bal Harbor in late September… (we have to complete our travel before 27 weeks, says my doctor who insisted on domestic travel only).

Yes, this is an obnoxious “problem” to write about, but in my defense, the amount of stress that I have shouldered with regard to this pregnancy this summer is deserving of some kind of release.

 

Water-Based Visits

Since I last wrote, I have been to Virginia Beach two times and to the sweltering nightmare of San Antonio.  The first weekend we went to Virginia Beach, it was for the fourth of July.  Our first evening there coincided with the arrival of some passing hurricane, that was so non-eventful, that I already forgot the name of it. I don’t think Atlantic Coast hurricanes compare to Gulf hurricanes in intensity or memorability, at least they haven’t so far in my experience.  There’s my judgmental view of things.

Nonetheless, the next morning we ventured out to survey the vast, catastrophic damage to the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Just who is going to lift that sign up again?

1128 Or lift that port-a-potty, for that matter?

1139

To paraphrase George Costanza, “The sea was angry that day, my friends.”

1148

Nevertheless, Knightley was rather unimpressed by the whole affair.

1136

We took an evening walk at a different beach and noted the mild beach erosion.

1172

In between Virginia Beach trips, I had to go to San Antonio for a work-related conference. Let me tell you something about San Antonio in July: it is terrible. Let  me tell you something about Texas in general: it is the worst. On the first day of the conference, I was attending some leadership training at the Marriott across the street from my hotel, the Grand Hyatt, and a friend texted me that someone was murdered in our hotel. Sure enough, I came out of the Marriott to go back to my hotel to find 40 police cars surrounding the place. Let me note, this was not some Motel 6 in a sketchy part of town. This was the Grand Hyatt next to the convention center. Basically, between this experience and my terrible experience with the Hyatt in Seattle last summer, I have sworn of the entire hotel chain. However, I have also sworn of the state of Texas with its lax gun laws that basically allow people to open the door to their hotel room and shoot someone and escape all criminal charges. 

When not attending the mandatory sessions I had to attend for the conference, basically I hung out at this place:

1179

Swimming a few laps in between conference sessions is always a good antidote to conference and networking fatigue (I will be honest, this year I did not have the energy to put into even a modest attempt at networking). Also, did I mention it was really hot? 

Once my final conference session was done, I rented a car and headed up to New Braunfels to go tubing on the Comal River.  I needed another water-based activity, and the spring-fed water was actually quite pleasant. On parts of the river, you actually could spot some local wildlife.

1213

We also tubed past the Schlitterbahn, which to be honest, is where I really wanted to be. However, I figured I should play it safe with the whole pregnancy thing and avoid the waterslides, however much I love a good waterpark.

12241225

The Schlitterbahn might be the only reason I ever consider returning to the state of Texas.

I know it certainly won’t be for the rodeos. At the West customer appreciation party, they took us out to a ranch north of town to watch some rodeo action (and line dancing and other Texas-related nonsense).  Note the ratio of Texas flags to American flags:

1197

That picture could just about sum up Texas, with this document (the Texas GOP platform for 2014)as its accompanying caption. That document also sums up why I never want to return to that state. I cannot even begin to explain how terrifying the Texas GOP’s vision for the future is.

The trip to the ranch did provide me an opportunity to meet my favorite Texan of the trip -

1184

That longhorn looked as about annoyed with everything as I felt.

Luckily, in addition to the pool and the river, there were some good times with good people to moderate the fact that I was a sweaty mess the entire time I was there.  Here are a group of well-liked law librarians invading some hipster Texas bar, called “The Esquire Tavern” looking entirely out of place.

1178

What is Texas hipster? Tight jeans and large belt buckles, worn in an ironic way complement plenty of exotic animal taxidermy. 

On the last night, I did manage to eat at one legitimately good restaurant called The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, which is the only legitimate thing I can recommend about the entire city.

I will take Atlantic hurricanes any day.

Boys

I am using this new Jenny Lewis video as a way to announce that David and I found out at our amniocentesis on Monday that we are expecting two boys. (Assuming that all goes well and that both turn out to be okay, of course. Don’t you love how I always have to qualify everything?)

I thought this video was the perfect way to announce for so many reasons -

1. Owing to my fascination with the machinations of the British class system, I love how the actresses in drag are all wearing Adidas track suits. I would be lying if I didn’t say that one reason that I am excited about boys is that I can now buy a baby Chelsea home kit.

2. The lyrics feel entirely autobiographical. I mean the whole being rude to child brides bit and being the lady without a baby, yes, Jenny Lewis, I really get it. I really do.

3. I will have to adjust to living with a lot more testosterone than I ever have before. It is more than just not having a daughter to whom I can bequeath my hat collection (niece Phoebe will be the designee for that now), but the fact that I am not so sure how to handle boys, considering I didn’t grow up with any myself.

The boy thing will take some getting used to, but right now, my main concern is that we will get good test results back and that they will both be healthy. Whether or not they become Chelsea fans will just be gravy after that.

The Summer Hasn’t All Been Full of Anxiety

Although I have been full of stress and anxiety because of everything that is both known and unknown with this pregnancy (I had the amniocentesis on Monday and have to wait another two weeks for full results now), I have managed to have some good times. The day after the initial problem was found, Knightley and I headed to Mississippi to spend time with family. Although there were some mornings I felt so broken and sad I didn’t want to get out of bed, I did find some ways to cope. Chief among those ways, I took daily walks with Knightley and Jethro (sometimes Harrison too) through the woods and pastures.

1032

1063

1030

Unfortunately, Mississippi was incredibly rainy the entire week that we were there.  Because of it, the pool that my dad was trying to build was still sitting unfinished, and the giant piles of dirt removed for said pool to be built were giant mud heaps around the yard.  This meant several things: 1. Knightley needed almost a daily bath, much to his dislike.  2. Harrison, like most four year old boys, was an absolutely magnet for mud and dirt.

1038

And 3. These were the shoes that I most commonly wore every day just so I could hose them off and leave them in the garage before stepping foot in the house after my walks.

1062

In addition to lots of therapeutic walking, we also did some of my other favorite Mississippi summertime pastimes like picking blueberries.

1046

Heading over to Hattiesburg for a day “in town” that includes playing at the park.

1010

Gator ridin’.

1055

We were also able to enjoy time with more extended family.  In between passing thunderstorms we were out and about and all over the farm.  The big pool may not have been completed, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying other water activities.

1081

1089

I loved our inflatable water toys in the front yard.  It gave such a certain sense of sophistication and elegance to our family gathering.  One of my cousins is newly engaged to some classy broad from Southern California who drives a Porsche, and we were having a good time imagining what would happen if she came to our family reunion and spotted all of our white trash Mississippi accoutrements.

In between thunderstorms, there was also time for gator rides.

1101

Note from the pictures above, in case you didn’t notice, boys far outnumber girls among our offspring.  My cousin Danielle has a girl that is the oldest, and Phoebe is the youngest girl, but aside from those two, it is six boys who were gathered among us (The disparate ratio may be set to further widen).

I think my favorite part of the afternoon though was when we all hopped into the back of one of my dad’s trucks and headed to the blueberry patch for more picking.  Riding in the back of Pa-Paw’s truck was pretty much our favorite Mississippi activity as a kid. He would drive us everywhere, most excitingly, to the store where we would stop and pick up a few push-up popsicles. Seeing the excitement on Harrison’s face when given the opportunity for a pick-up ride, it took me instantly back to that happy place and for a brief moment in time, I had no anxiety whatsoever. It was a great moment just to be in.

1126

So much happiness to be among the Streets.

1109

Things I haven’t wanted to talk about

Clearly it has been some time since I have posted anything. I took my trip to Mississippi and another to Virginia Beach to spend time with family. Those trips were lovely, when I was able to manage getting out of bed and not bawling my eyes out (for reasons mentioned next). However, the larger reason I haven’t posted anything is because my pregnancy isn’t going very well. In fact, there is a problem with one of my babies that doctors still haven’t been able to figure out. I went in for a CVS last Monday, hoping to finally get some answers, but the doctor couldn’t perform it because the placenta is in an awkward place and there was no place for him to put the needle to the placenta without it going through the amniotic fluid, risking a water break at this point in my pregnancy and losing both babies. So, I have to wait a couple more weeks for answers until an amniocentesis can safely be performed. Then, I have to wait a couple of weeks after that for the results of that and doing the anatomy scan at about 18 weeks.

Other than that boring explanation, I don’t really want to talk about it. For lack of a more eloquent explanation, it just sucks too much. Suck city.

Yesterday, I went in for my regular ob-gyn visit, and had bad results from my 1 hour blood glucose test too. I am in “prediabetes” for gestational diabetes. So more suck city.

Seriously, I said I wasn’t going to complain when I got pregnant, but I feel pretty much like the universe just decided to test me on that resolve. I could deal with the GD issue on its own, but dealing with these other issues about the health of one of the babies and how it affects the other one… well frankly, I am not at all equipped to deal with it an a healthy way, so I just don’t want to deal with it at all.

That is all I am going to say about it.

What Is Keeping Me Up at Night, Part II

I haven’t wanted to write much about what has been going on in my church.  In part, I haven’t wanted to write much because I will admit, I am scared.  I am scared that the things I feel and the things that I believe will be used against me by others, much in the way this article describes.  I don’t feel like I am having a crisis of faith, I feel like I am having a crisis of church.  I still feel the same way as I did yesterday about my relationship with Jesus Christ and with God.  I still feel the same way that I did yesterday about the kind of person that I want to become and the recognition of all that I need to do and improve on to get there.

In the past few years, I have felt so much hurt and pain trying to figure out who I am supposed to be in the eyes of God when I have felt like the messages that I have heard at church about what my “role” is supposed to be seemed to not fit with who I was because of something like the legal doctrine of “impossibility”. It meant that I spent a lot of time prayerfully studying or otherwise trying to communicate with God on my knees about what he expected of me and who he hopes I will become.  The personal confirmations that not only was God okay with me not fitting in to those “roles” but that he wanted me to be proud of who I was, the things that I have learned, and help others to realize that they are okay too.  I felt really strongly that God was telling me that there was something more for me, that he wanted me to lead in other ways, and that I should be patient and it would all make sense one day, but in the meantime, don’t listen to other people at church who tell me there is something wrong with me or that I am not good enough.

Unfortunately, at the same time, David and I have been in a ward where we haven’t quite fit. That is actually okay with me. I don’t mind not being like everyone else, I never have been. I don’t expect to go to church with a room full of people exactly like me.  We learn from other people through our differences and our different range of experiences.  However, what made it harder though is that within that ward, we had a leader who lied to our faces in regard to a situation that caused a lot of pain to members of my family and close friends.  It has been hard, because I felt like that leader did not treat me fairly because he took the side of the person causing the harm, because he was a “close friend” who happened to be male.  Then that person in turn felt empowered used the language of the priesthood to abuse people that I love.  That person moved away, that leader was released from his calling, and I thought things would get better.  Then, that person moved back, lied about where he lived so that he could go to our ward all over again, and immediately I realized, it isn’t going to get better.

So David and I are now attending another ward. We did this honestly and openly, communicating with our bishop about our reasons. I am not a liar, and the last thing I will ever have anyone call me at church is a hypocrite.  If anything, I am too honest to a fault.  This brings me back to the top.  I am scared, because I feel like this person is the exact kind of person that tries to hurt other people by getting them in trouble with church leaders. So by me being honest about my views that I think that we need greater equality for women in the church, that we need to treat other people nicer, or even that I believe that as a matter of civil equality all people should have the right to marry a spouse of their choosing, I realize that makes me a suspect person at church.

The past few years, in a way that I hadn’t even considered before have taught me we really have a long way to go before we can claim equality in our church. As a woman, there is a 0.0% of anything that you say or feel having to be taken seriously by anyone with any sort of ecclesiastical authority in the church. Sure, sometimes you have priesthood leaders that do care and listen to you, and that is great, but if you don’t, then there is no penalty for that priesthood holder in an earthly ecclesiastical sense, but there absolutely can be a penalty for you, the woman.

I don’t have it figured out, but every day I plead with God to help me know what I can do to make the church better in my limited capacity. I pray for church leaders that they might commune with God so that they can make it better too. In the meantime, I go to church, but right now I don’t feel like I am a part of anything. I am not really a member of a ward. I don’t have a calling. I just go and sit and hope that God still realizes that I am just trying to do the best I can with what I have, and that he won’t hold anyone else’s faults against me.

What is Keeping Me Up at Night, Part I

   As exhausted as I feel during the day, I find myself tossing and turning at night trying to fall asleep while one million anxious thoughts race through my brain.  Assuming all continues to go well with this pregnancy, I am starting to realize how much of my life is going to change and the parts of that change that I am not entirely prepared for.  Part of the reason for that anxiety is because I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around the fact that we are having two kids at the same time.  The financial, emotional, and physical ramifications for all of that are now hitting me hard, mostly when I am trying to fall asleep.

When you spend over $30,000 out of pocket trying to have kids, you think that is the financial tricky part.  But no, two kids at once means the cost of all those things I mentally calculated in my mind now just doubled.  Look, David and I should not complain when it comes to our financial situation. We both have good jobs and a decent income.  Does it just seem this daunting for everyone?  I mean, I don’t understand how people do this.  I was just ball-parking childcare the other day, using a highly rated facility close by to get an idea of the numbers. With two kids, it will cost us over $600 per week for day care.  We don’t live in a big city anymore, and I have no idea how people there pay for it because $600 in Durham probably means its like $1,200 a week in DC. At that amount, it is probably easier for us to just pay for a nanny, but how exactly does one go about finding a nanny?  I have 0 friends in the local area that happen to employ one. No one in my church congregation is helpful to me in this regard, because no woman works full time and has young kids. All of my professional women with kids friends live far away.

Look, I realize my hat and British high street clothing budget is about to reduced drastically to approximately $0 per month.  I realize that I am no longer going to be able to blow $500 at Nordstrom on skincare products just because someone nice is helping me and I possess an inability to say no to nice salespeople. I am okay with that. I am not going to lie, part of me is sad to realize that I am going to have to give up those things, but it is worth it for those kids (or at least it better be). I am not one of those people that thinks my kids will need every new thing, and I am fine with them wearing second hand clothes from other family members.  But it is still daunting to realize these two enormous expenses are coming at the same time. It isn’t even just the daycare. It is the fact that we probably now need a newer, bigger car. It’s the fact that our huge Bradford pear trees in the front yard now are diseased with fire blight and we will have to pay thousands of dollars to cut them down. It’s the fact that for some ridiculous reason this dumb country called ‘Merica still doesn’t have paid family leave, like every other industrialized country in the world, so I have to figure out how I can take as little time as possible off of work, which means the whole child care crisis thing comes back to the front of the concerns. I have to figure out how to preserve as much of my sick and vacation leave as possible to use that so I can get paid on my maternity leave.

I realize that this post might spark the kind of rage in people that this lady’s column did yesterday in the Daily Mail.  Again, David and I are not poor. We are incredibly privileged.  We don’t know what it is like to have to worry about food on the table, etc. Whatever problems I am complaining about in regard to having to worry about financially sustaining two new kids at one time is only a minor inconvenience compared to what most people have to face. Every day, I read about income inequality in the US, and it really makes me upset and I don’t want to equate my problems with the problems of people who have to do a lot more with a whole lot less.

Yet, it is still hard trying to fathom how all of these things work out.  It frightens me not to feel fully prepared for something, because I am an insane planner.  However, this isn’t like prepping for the perfect week in London. This is so much harder than that, because there are so many unknowns, and I don’t do well with dealing with uncertainty.  I feel like the whole infertility thing helped me be more welcoming to whatever life presented itself, but at the same time, that was just worrying about what David and I, two capable adults with decent full-time jobs, would do to be happy without kids.  And now, I have to plan for two little beings that are entirely dependent upon us. That stresses me out.