Hold my hCG

Said to Luffy last night as we were getting into bed:
I’m actually hesitating a little, on telling my family, because I feel too good. Like, am I really pregnant?

My body:
Hold my beer hCG


Yesterday, with the looming prospect of spilling the beans for the first time, I was taking stock of my body. At 5w4d, I had the following symptoms: tender breasts, hunger, and a bit of fatigue. And as I watched my boss yawn about 5:15 yesterday, I realized that I was actually losing the fatigue a bit. I went on to power through teaching a tough exercise class, putting an obstinate preschooler down for bed, and still outlasted Luffy come bedtime.

What if I’m not pregnant anymore?

Luffy suggested I take one of my leftover pregnancy tests tomorrow [this] morning and I happily agreed. Who am I to deny myself the entertainment of peeing on sticks?


I did indeed take another test this morning and gleefully reported to Luffy that not only was a I still pregnant, I had one of the mythical dye-stealers! That’s when your hCG level is so high, the test line steals dye from the control line and it’s like the holy grail of positive pregnancy tests. Satisfied, I went back to happily envisioning telling my parents this evening.

As per usual though, I simply needed to wait a bit. About mid-morning today, the “feeling too good” statement came back to bite me as I was sitting on the couch, trying to focus on my breathing and not hurl. It took herculean effort, as well as some Saltines and a gingerale, to bring the nausea under control. So much for being blissfully symptom free.

On the plus side, I feel crappy now, so I must really be pregnant!
said every crazy pregnant woman ever

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The Digital Age

I know there are many out there who claim to have been born in the wrong generation, but I for one am exceedingly grateful to be raising a child in the digital age. Do you know how many home videos my parents have from when I was a child? Zero. None. Zilch. I think they had one, at one point, of my brother and I at Christmas, but it got lost or destroyed. And sure, they have snapshots. Photos snapped with the hope that they turn out well, taken to the local WalMart for photo processing. They’re stacked together, loose-leaf style, in an envelope. Except when they’re not. My mom was pretty great about putting together photo albums until we got a little older and life got in the way. Discovering the photos now is always a guessing game of well your hair is longer/shorter/curlier or you had that dress/those glasses/that watch to pinpoint a year, but we’re really never sure unless some foresighted individual happened to date the back of the photo in 1994.

Me? The dumpling is 2.5 years old and I have literally thousands of photos and hundreds of videos. I have them effortlessly organized into albums, some for sharing with the grandparents and some just for us. The albums are sorted by years for easy access and reminiscing. I’ve put together little collages for decorating my office and a Father’s Day video for my dad. I’ve shared a picture, here and there, on social media. I’ve captured smiles and giggles and songs and quirks (his brief, yet passionate obsession with a pink umbrella). I’ve guiltlessly purged the bad. I’ve marked my favorites.

The ease and simplicity with which we document our lives is astounding.

And yet.

There are things that I fear I will forget. Because there are things we just can’t capture. The way his eyes light up when he sees me at his classroom door, reunited after a day of school and work. The way his body, still so small in the grand scheme of things, feels so solid and strong next to mine. The moment I pick him up and realize that he’s heavier than the last time I carried him. The moment he reaches for something and I suddenly realize he’s never been able to reach that before. The feeling of his arms wrapped around my neck. How he pats my back when I carry him or fiddles with my shoulder blade. The way he clings to me when he’s scared or melts into me when he’s tired. I hope to never forget those feelings.

I love the way he runs: up on his tippy-toes, shoulders lifted like he’s trying to fly. His hips wiggle back and forth like an excited puppy.

I love the sound of his feet as he pitter-patters across the house, always at full speed. Never slow.

I love the way he tucks me in, when he plays pretend, covering me softly with a blanket, offering me kitty or puppy.

I love the way he sings our goodnight song to me, taking care to change the words to “goodnight mama goodnight.”

I love the pride in his voice when he finally accomplishes something he was trying to do. “I did it!” he exclaims.

I love hearing his voice from the other side of the house when I bump into something. “You ok mama?” he asks in concern.

I love laying in bed and listening, over the monitor, to him giggle with his dada on the mornings Luffy gets him. They always seem to have some game going.

I love when he declares that kitty is sick. We take her temperature and determine that she needs snuggles. He takes such good care of her.

But probably most of all – and more un-capturable than all the rest – there’s this moment we share sometimes. He’s in my arms and our eyes will meet. And he just looks at me with the purest love. He’ll place both of his hands on my cheeks and lean in close, almost for a kiss. But no, he just looks at me like I’m his everything. Like I’m the most beautiful and mythical creature in existence.

My sweet, sweet boy. I hope I never forget.

A personal triumph

Guys. I have grown as a person. As an adult. I have learned the lessons that history tried to teach me. I have succeeded in the face of adversity, against a foe more determined and persistent than I.

That’s right. I successfully dealt with a 4am smoke detector chirp without losing my cool.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I heard the dumpling cough. He’s got some seasonal congestion and I seem to be sleeping even more lightly than usual due to pregnancy, so I was just alert enough to catch it.

Chirp

[silence]

Chirp

[silence]

Chirp

[silence][crap]

We actually have some birds in the area that sound convincingly enough like smoke detectors going off, so at first I thought it was a bird. After realizing that the chirps were far too precisely spaced to be wildlife, I got out of bed to investigate and found that the unit in the guest bedroom was indeed emitting a low-battery chirp. I briefly tried to get to it with a step stool before relenting and dragging the ladder in from the garage.

Everyone loves 10 foot ceilings until it’s 4am and there’s a smoke alarm going off.

Anyway, thanks to my prior, hard-earned lessons in smoke detectors, I knew enough to not mess around with the stupid thing. I deftly pulled it down from the ceiling, disconnecting the A/C back-up power and pulling out the batter. You’ll remember, we replaced these things not two years ago (as the sticker on the side helpfully reminded me – Installed: May 2017). The batteries were supposed to be long-life batteries and the expiration date said June 2020, but what do I know?

My true crowning achievement this time though (besides knowing that pulling the whole thing down (a) is the only way to make it stop chirping and (b) won’t make the rest of the units sympathy chirp in search of their lost brother)? On Sunday’s to-do list was purchasing brand new batteries for the entire fleet. Six shiny, new 9 volt batteries were acquired. 5 were installed. (We need to borrow our neighbor’s 20-foot ladder for that pesky master bedroom one and they’re out of town.) I was not about to f*ck around with the rest of them. They were all installed at the same time, with batteries purchased at the same time, and I can just see the next 5 months of my life being taken over by random 2am chirping sessions.

No thank you.

Ahhh, feels good to grow as a person.

Pancake morning

If someone – a friend, a neighbor, a random journalist interviewing me – were to ask me for my top two parenting tips (Parenting hacks! Click here for 5 hacks you’ll never believe work!), it would be:

  • Always cut the sticker sheets in half, or quads, or hell, sticker-by-sticker.
  • Never, ever ask a kid what they want to eat. You tell them what they’re eating.

I have been burned so many times by asking the dumpling what he wants for breakfast. Especially back in the hellacious 18-month-old toddler-hell-demon phase, when he seemed primed for a tantrum each morning day night 24/7. Because inevitably, he’d say something we didn’t have (sausage!) or something just flat-out unacceptable (cake!) and I’d have to break his poor heart that we didn’t/he couldn’t have that. Mean mommy.

Luckily, he seems to be past that for the most part (though, as a side story don’t get distracted Belle! side story at the bottom*). This morning, he refused all of my offerings though until he spotted the syrup in the pantry (and that should be my actual tip up there – never let them see in the pantry). He decided he wanted syrup! For breakfast!

“What are you going to put the syrup on?” I reasonably asked him.

He pondered this for a minute before very seriously answering me.

“Pancakes.”


Now let’s pause here for a second. This right here is the type of situation that makes my working arrangement invaluable to me. My job may not have a lot of upward movement in terms of responsibilities or job titles (I’ve been doing the same thing for six years at this point), but I don’t care. They pay me well and I literally can’t put a price on working from home half the week. Because if I had to go into the office this morning? I would have had to say no to impromptu pancakes. If I’d had to go in yesterday, I wouldn’t have been able to take the dumpling for a walk at 7:30. If I’d had to go in Tuesday, I wouldn’t have been able to witness the dumpling sing-shouting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the neighborhood park. It’s wonderful to have more time with him in the evening (especially when he was little and had a 7pm bedtime), but the mornings are where the real perks lie.

Most of the mornings, I don’t have to rush him out the door, trying to make sure I’m not late myself. And if there’s one thing every parent knows, it’s that rushing a preschooler means that everything will take twice as long as they staaaaaaaaallllllllll. Fact. Instead, our mornings are leisurely spent eating breakfast, reading books, or watching Daniel. We’re able to be flexible getting him out the door, depending on his moods, which makes everyone’s morning a thousand times easier. We can take a walk or run an errand (I’ve definitely taken him to the grocery store in his jammies when I discovered we were out of milk). And I don’t have to worry about getting myself presentable for work because I just need to be dressed. That’s it! No hour-long commute or putting on business casual clothes. No making sure I have everything I need for the day before heading out (and I can’t tell you how nice that was as a pumping mother). Our mornings are far less stressful, and most times downright pleasant, because I work from the house.


“Pancakes?” I said, skeptical at first, “… that does sound pretty good. Can you help me make them?”

“YES,” he enthusiastically answered me.

So we set about making pancakes. I measured ingredients, he poured them into our bowl. We stirred and stirred and stirred, taking turns (mama stir fast? he’d ask me when it was time for me to do the real whisking). We got them into the skillet to cook and debated who should flip them. He, of course, got the first batch and ate them at the counter while I continued to make pancakes. Once Luffy got his (and took them to eat at his computer in the living room), the dumpling decided that he wanted to eat on his chair in the living room. So he hopped down and took his plate to dada for help getting set up in his chair. He adorably chowed down, asking for milk or help cutting up pancakes. I stayed in the kitchen, devouring my own plate of pancakes while also finishing up cooking the batter (I like to freeze any leftovers so that I can pull them out when he requests them later). I also took care of the dishes and was charmed when the dumpling brought me his empty plate to wash.

From the living room, I heard this exchange:

“Did you tell mama thank you for making us pancakes?”

“Yes,” he answered, but that wasn’t accurate and Luffy knew it.

“Can you tell her again?”

[pitter patter of a running preschooler]

“I love you,” he tells me as he peers at me around his tower.

[sound of my heart melting]

“Awe, I love you too sweet boy. And you’re welcome for the pancakes.”


Side-story: While he doesn’t make wild requests anymore (most of the time), we do run through this hilarious conversation occasionally:

“Mama! I hungry, I want breakfast,” he’ll say to me, rubbing his presumably empty tummy.

“Ok, let’s get you breakfast,” I’ll say, walking into the kitchen.

“Do you want yogurt?”

“No! I want breakfast.”

“Ok, how about crackers?” (meaning his Belvita crackers)

“No! I want breakfast!”

“Hmmm – a strawberry bar?”

“NO! I want breakfast!”

“Ok, what about an apple? Or applesauce?”

“NO mama, I want breakfast!”

“I know child! What do you want for breakfast?!” is what I always want to say in response to that sass. I abstain though. Go me.

A small milestone

It’s Thursday! I am still pregnant and spotting-free right now! Hooray!

Not that it means too much. I’m still just 4.5 weeks along or so. But still. Small things, right? When you’re looking at a process that extends 280 ish days ahead of you, you just gotta focus on the small milestones.


I went ahead and scheduled my first prenatal appointment for April 30th. I should be just over 7 weeks at that point. I’m looking forward to it and have to keep reminding myself to be patient. I want to go now! Screw patience! Then I remind myself that there’s truly nothing to be seen at this point. Just a dot, then a blueberry. It still won’t be much at seven weeks and change, but we should definitely be able to confirm heartbeat by that point. I mean, fingers crossed, if all goes well.


We haven’t told anyone so far. Unlike last time, we’re content to hold the news to ourselves this time. Part of it is the miscarriage, I’m sure. I can’t speak for Luffy, but I know another part of it, for myself, is that we’ve been through this before. We know exactly what lies ahead. I know how interminable the first trimester feels. I know how the third trimester will drag then seem to speed up as we hurtle towards the due date. Then time will come to a crashing standstill with the arrival of a newborn. All of that lays ahead of us, so what’s the rush in spreading the news?

All that being said though, my family has been planning to visit us for Easter for about a month now and I’m very excited by the prospect of telling them in person. I haven’t decided how exactly I’m going to tell them. Something big? Like an Easter “present”? Or should I go low-key and just blurt it out? Haven’t decided yet.

I had the thought that I should wait to tell them until after I visit the doctor, confirm the heartbeat and things like that. But then I realized that I didn’t exactly wait until after that point last time. In fact, I told them just a little earlier than I will end up telling them this time. So I suppose I have a pass on that particular source of guilt.


And that’s about it. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m yawning a lot more in the afternoon now. I have a bit of cramping (I’m actually sitting with a heating pad right now) and of course I’m visiting the bathroom a lot now. I have a touch of irritability, unfortunately. I hate that part. New this time around: each night before bed, my mind races with thoughts and … worries? Worries isn’t the right word. I’ll just be lying there trying to sleep when all of sudden I’m like did I close the garage door?! Or I need to return that library book, it’s due in a week, can’t miss it. Impending deadlines like that.

A mini comparison

I realized last week, when I was blathering on about how much more or less positive my pregnancy tests were/are, that I could simply show you guys. It never occurred to me, but yes, I do still have all the pictures. (I do delete all of the negative ovulation test pictures, lol, but I like having the pics of the positive pregnancy tests.) So! It’s time for a little comparison post!

Below, we have my very first positive pregnancy test:

It was taken at 11 DPO. It’s faint, but there, and the line would progressively get darker. (I seem to have shown remarkable strength and only tested two additional times, once with the same type of test to see the line progression about two weeks later and once with a digital. Though perhaps I simply deleted the rest of the evidence.)

Below, we have the positive pregnancy test from my miscarriage:

It was taken at 8 DPO. EIGHT DAYS PAST OVULATION. Do you see what I mean now? There’s just no way my hCG levels should have been that high at eight days past ovulation, what would be, at best, one to three days after implantation. Most resources say that implantation occurs 7-10 days after ovulation, so you do the math. For further comparison, a test I took Sunday, at 13 DPO, looks very similar.

Below, we have the first positive test from my current pregnancy:

It was taken at 10 DPO. It’s super, super faint, but there (especially in person). Also, notice how it’s lighter than that first pic up there, the one from my first pregnancy at 11 DPO? That made me really happy.

Thanks for being my sounding board. Lining them up like this really does highlight how incredible that January test was, for whatever reason. Let’s just say that I’m happy my current tests follow my healthy first pregnancy much more closely. Here’s to some happy thoughts that this little bean sticks around!

Please bear with me

… as we dissect the minute details of my menstrual cycle. It’s basically a compulsion at this point, since I had a miscarriage last time. I keep comparing my cycles, where I am now versus last time, and I finally decided to put it out on “paper.”

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the calendar from my miscarriage cycle:

And here is the current calendar:

I know it seems anal retentive to lay it all out like this, but I think it’s really helpful. For instance, I realized that the day I started spotting in January (otherwise known in my head as the day after my Well Woman’s exam) was CD 30 or, more importantly, 13 days after ovulation (DPO = days past ovulation). 13 DPO was yesterday, for this cycle, so yay! I’ve already passed one milestone of sorts. This layout also makes it clear that I miscarried 17 days past ovulation last time, which is this Thursday. Another hurdle to get through.

I can’t say why exactly it makes me feel better to know I’ve already passed the point in which I started spotting (which is honestly probably truly the day the miscarriage began), but it does. Because it was hazy in my brain (was I 4 weeks along? 5 weeks? how many days was I pregnant again?), it makes me happy, in a way, to see that I never reached 5 weeks. (5 weeks along is about 21 DPO, just in case you were wondering. I know, I know, there’s so many variables to keep track of.)

Anyway, I like having it all laid out in front of me.


Obviously I’m still pregnant. I have no worrisome symptoms to report at this point. The fading breast tenderness that I worried about last week has come back with a vengeance. I definitely don’t remember having this level of tenderness when I was pregnant with the dumpling. In fact, I recall feeling distinctly normal in the early weeks, though the fatigue set in pretty quickly. I will be very interested in comparing these two pregnancies – assuming that this little bean sticks around.

(And yes, I feel like I’ll make that caveat nearly every single time I write. Again, it’s a compulsion. Though my archives tell me I had it last time too, so perhaps it’s just a Belle thing.)

Looking at the calendar, I’m actually thinking about delaying my first OB visit until the beginning of May, when I’ll be almost 8 weeks* along. My doctor always does an ultrasound the first visit (yes – even at that one from 4 weeks precisely). I had originally planned to just delay until I’m at least 5 weeks along – no point in going to see him if I’m going to miscarry early again. However, it got me thinking about what my ultrasound looked like last time, at 6w3d – a blueberry. And while we were able to confirm a heartbeat at that point via the tiny, pixelated flickering, it would be kind of nice to wait until the point where you can hear the heartbeat and the fetus looks less blueberry-ish and more baby-ish. Like I said, I’m definitely not calling until after I pass the 5 week mark, so my resolve may fade by then as I anticipate getting a look, any look, at the baby. We’ll see.

Also, you’ll notice an asterisk up there by 8 weeks. I already have a due date conundrum on my hands. If you plug my LMP into a due date calculator that doesn’t take cycle length into account (which is likely what my doctor’s office will do), it says I’m 5w1d along, with a due date of December 8th. However, I ovulated on CD 23, a full week behind the “average” cycle. When you plug that information into a due date calculator, I’m 4w1d, with a due date of December 16th. Now, I know due dates aren’t an exact science, but it does feel a little odd to not know exactly how far along I am, especially since all of the pregnancy apps break it down day-by-day.

Speaking of apps, I used two with my last pregnancy: Ovia Pregnancy and BabyCenter. I plan to use them again this time, but I realized TODAY that they don’t number the days the same and I’m not sure I can deal with that dissonance. For instance, Ovia Pregnancy calls the first day of the week 4w0d and goes 4w1d, 2d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 5w0d. BabyCenter on the other hand, calls the first day of the week 4w1d and goes 4w2d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 7d, 5w1d. I… don’t know how I missed this last time. I really hope, for my own sanity, that it was a software update by one of them because how did I go 38 weeks of heavy usage last time without noticing?! Luckily, I don’t think I’ll be as obsessive about checking them this time around. Plus, it’s not like I know precisely how far I am either, so what’s a day +/-?