Announcing…

So… it’s officially official now. My OB today looked at the report and said everything looks “excellent.” I’ll take it. (I’ve also gained ten pounds, right on track, yay!)

Scary but so exciting to be so public all of a sudden. Felt like this time would never get here!

Our announcement:

After four long years, our first child is due to arrive planet-side in March 2018. We can’t wait to meet him ❤

Honestly never knew if we’d see this day 😀

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Think I’m Gonna Have a Son

I’ve always loved that song — Danny’s Song:

People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one
And we’ve only just begun
Think I’m gonna have a son
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove
Conceived in love
Sun is gonna shine above

And even though we ain’t got money
I’m so in love with you, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the morning, when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright

So our firstborn is gonna be a son! He looked great on the ultrasound (to me anyway — the ultrasound tech couldn’t tell me anything but gender and a few measurements), and I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow to get the final word. The tech couldn’t get any foot pics because he was kicking around so much. We said he’s practicing his soccer skills already.

To be honest, I’ve always envisioned having a daughter. I never really thought much about having a son. But since I’ve been pregnant, and kind of assuming it would be a girl out of habit (just a vision that started in childhood of having a daughter and handing down my precious garnet birthstone ring), every now and then I would remind myself, “It may be a boy, you know.” And every time, I’d feel a warm glow in my chest. The same warmth I felt when Ahmed asked me to marry him.

I guess my mother’s intuition isn’t as bad as my sense of direction 🙂

We didn’t get any really great, clear profile shots because the kid was either moving around or kind of bunched up most of the time. (He flipped all the way from head down to head up during the course of the scan.) I think this was the best one.

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Baby facepalm?

The heart rate was 136 (it’s been averaging about that lately on the home doppler), and he was measuring at 19w1d length-wise, which is exactly what he is, and ten ounces (though weight measurements — or rather, approximations — via ultrasound are notoriously unreliable; not sure why they bother).

I’m not going to post any junk shots. I think we all know what a baby penis looks like 😉

Not gonna lie. It will be an adjustment. I’ve always pictured a girl so clearly in my mind, and I had some awesome girl names picked out that I was really excited about. We also already have six grandsons (and zero granddaughters) on my side of the family, so “another boy” isn’t nearly as exciting and novel as a girl would be.

I also don’t know what the heck to get a boy that will incorporate his birth stone, aquamarine. Plus I have three little girl figurines, holding a golden 1, 2, and 3, to mark the first three birthdays. (I got 2 and 3 when I was a baby and found 1 at a flea market when I was in California for my embryo transfer for this little one.) I’m not sure if that will mean anything to a boy. (Of course, it may not mean much to a girl, either, if she doesn’t care about figurines the way I did when I was little.)

At least my stuffed animals are firmly unisex. 🙂 And my garnet ring was stolen by my brother’s friend’s unattended toddler a while ago (eaten? thrown out of a car window? buried? I’ll never know) when she toddled into my room and found it in my jewely box. By the time I realized it was gone, the whole family was on the road, and the ring was never seen again. I still have my engagement ring to hand down, etc., but I may yet have a daughter (or daughter-in-law) for that kind of thing.

It’s weird to me that I’m hung up on gender whatsoever. (By “gender” I mean “sex” here, but “hung up on sex” sounds like something else, so I’ll just use “gender” for clarity.) Gender doesn’t necessarily tell you much about a person at all. And it’s not like I’m going to suddenly change any major color schemes. I’ll choose colors based on what I like, or what looks good with the baby’s skin, not what gender the baby is. And a boy may like sparkly things as much as I do. (I’m a raccoon, basically.) And of course the kid would have had a built-in same-sex soccer role model either way.

And it’s not like I liked frilly dresses as a kid, though now I think little girls prancing around in dresses are so cute. I guess boys can prance around in dresses, too, if they wanna. Or not — up to them. 🙂

Just goes to show — life has a way of not coming out exactly like the pictures in your head. And that’s part of what’s wonderful about it. How many more surprises are still to come?

So yeah, it’ll be an adjustment, but I don’t think it’ll take me very long to adjust, and I know this little guy will steal my heart in no time. I’m alternating between calling him Cassini Dean and Julian Ali in my mind. (These are the only two names I’ve come up with so far for a boy, just offhand-like, and neither will probably work in the end, since it would be nice to have a name that works well in Turkey, too.) There will only be nicknames until the child is born, because the name has to fit the child, and we won’t know what fits until we see him.

Him. So that’s it. No more flipping pronouns back and forth. No more “it.” He. Our son. 😀

Crazy how much more real it seems all of a sudden…

Target Run!

I should cool it with the exclamation points, I know. I’m just excited lately.

And I realize pretty much no one but me is going to care about posts like this, but what the heck. It’s my blog. 😉

So I keep resisting buying anything “maternity” because (a) it’s kind of jinxy, (b) I’m not really far along enough to need it per se, except for my mammaries, and (c) I was kind of hoping I could make it the whole way without needing it at all — just wear baggy stuff and call it good.

But I finally got fed up with wearing sports bras that don’t fit anymore (and I pretty much refuse to deal with underwires right now), so I headed to Target to see what I could find.

And I may have gone just a little overboard. I just kept finding cute or practical things for really nice prices, and I ended up with two bras (one for going out, no wire, one for lounging that fits beautifully and is crazy comfy) and four shirts. Luckily it only cost a total of $85.

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This one I can wear even after I give birth, and it’s insanely soft.

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You gotta have at least one shirt that shamelessly shows off the bump. I can wear this with some cute flannel shirts for a layered look.

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If we end up going to a nice restaurant or something.

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Sooooo warm and comfy. Perfect for wearing around the house when it’s too cool for a t-shirt but not cold enough for a fuzzy robe. I can also wear it out of the house for an extra warm layer.

I am generally not someone who shops a lot, and certainly not someone who enjoys it. (I still have a lot of the clothes I wore in college. I’m known for spending all day in a mall, miserable, and coming out with, like, a pair of socks. Or some shirt I never end up wearing.) So four shirts (and two bras!) that I really love in one day — all for well under $100 — feels like a massive victory.

I guess all I needed was a pot belly for inspiration?

Movement!

OK, now there’s no doubt about it. I was feeling weird that I kept feeling the baby moving against my hand but wasn’t feeling anything internally. (Or at least it was so faint as to be much less certain than the movement against my hand.) The movement hasn’t been rhythmic like a heartbeat nor anything like gas moving. (There shouldn’t be any gas in my uterus anyway.)

But it was still fairly faint — and just possible to deny — until last night, when I felt either a little head or a little butt press up against my hand three or four times in exactly the way you see fetuses stretch up in ultrasound videos. (Yes, I’ve watched more than one 20 week ultrasound video to see what to expect.)

And then today it was like a switch flipped. And suddenly I can feel something like a little fishing wiggling around in my belly. It’s marvelous, and so reassuring. Of course my worry-mind occasionally thinks, “Oh no, maybe it’s in distress. Maybe it’s drowning and trying to get out!” And then my neocortex kicks in and rolls its eyes pretty hard. But even my rational mind is a bit anxious about Monday’s ultrasound. It is, of course, possible for things to go terribly wrong at this stage or shortly after.

But it’s more likely to go right, and I’ll do my best to enjoy the new sensations and the coming weekend.

I met with my doula for tea last night. For some reason I thought she lived up town, so I picked a place up town for us to meet, but we both live closer to 71st St (south Tulsa), so we both schlepped a long way for no good reason. (Well, not that long — a 15 minute drive at most. Tulsa’s a pretty compact place.) But we talked non-stop for more than an hour, and we have a tremendous amount in common, and I’m just feeling good and excited about the whole thing.

Among other things, she said most women who opt for natural childbirth give birth completely nude, even in the hospital. Which is a relief, as this makes the most sense to me and seems like it’d be the most comfortable. I’ll probably wear a sports bra for a good long while, just to keep things reined in, and a gown of some kind until things get really intense (just to make walking / dancing around the room less awkward), but Amy said the clothes come off pretty quick when you’re really in the zone, and at that point, modesty is the furthest thing from your mind.

It will be so nice to have someone in the room who sees childbirth as routine, natural, and healthy and not “a medical problem waiting to happen.” If a medical problem does happen — hey, that’s why I’ll be in a hospital. But it’ll be nice to have at least someone who’ll just be shepherding the process that my body will be going through (and that women’s bodies have successfully accomplished from time immemorial), not merely looking for something to poke, prod, or cut. (I’m sure it’ll be a mix of both.)

Way back in 2014, when I was just starting to realize we might have a long fertility “journey” ahead of us, I attended a four-day silent meditation retreat in rural Oklahoma. I wasn’t in the best place then, and it really helped me. I’m in a much better place now (and will continue to be if Monday’s ultrasound goes well), but there’s still so much to work on. I’m so grateful I’ll have the opportunity to do it again next week. It’s such a spiritual breath of fresh air. I hope it’ll set me up to really revel in the rest of this pregnancy and what comes after.

P.S. The baby was super active that night, and I put Ahmed’s hands on my abdomen. I could even feel it through Ahmed’s hand! He was amazed. It’s still so crazy to think about a living thing squirming around in my abdomen!

Happy 89th, Grandma

This weekend was Grandma’s big 89th birthday shindig in my home town of Stigler (pop. 2500), and 2 of 3 of her living children and 6 of 11 grandkids and their spouses and kids showed up, plus friends and a neighbor kid, and it was quite a crowd. About a dozen kids in all, and it was a gorgeous day so they (we) spent a lot of time playing outside, riding bikes (with and without training wheels) and Hot Wheels and playing basketball and throwing a small football around. Not an electronic screen in sight. It really reminded me of my childhood, and I was happy to see it carrying on into the next generation.

There was only one girl in the entire crowd (other than my cousin Andrea’s tiny baby girl — and it was great to finally meet her!), and she just joined in with the rest of them and even briefly organized a game she made up herself (Sneaky Sneaky Fox), even though it was really just Red Light Green Light with a different name. She also really wanted to be able to go out into the road on the bike she was riding (it had training wheels and was a bit too big for her), but she insisted I push her both because it was a bit hard to get traction on some of the gravelly parts and because “I’m afraid I’ll fall over and bonk my head.” She was too cute.

My grandmother — whom everyone says is my doppelganger — is reasonably mobile these days, but not speedy by any means, and she was content to preside over the proceedings from comfortably indoors. Mom got her a great big white sheet cake with whipped cream frosting, and we all had cake and ice cream after a huge lunch of slow-cooked beef and pork, potatoes au gratin, and some kind of maple bacon green beans that have been nicknamed “crack green beans” (because they’re super addictive) by the cooks who make them at E’s Hideaway (the nice restaurant in town — a couple of the dishes were catered). There was so much food we took two big cartons home and made a couple more meals out of it, and there’s still enough for Mom and Bill to probably eat all week.

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This was at my wedding in 2013, but we all still look the same!

The cake was surprisingly good for a supermarket sheet cake. Tasted like something from a fine bakery, to be honest. Kudos to the chefs at the supermarket formerly known as Shelton’s.

Most people already knew I was expecting (I RSVP’d on Facebook “Plus one and a half”), and it was nice to be congratulated and also to see a few people light up when they heard the news. My brother’s youngest was born two Marches ago, Andrea’s girl was born last March, and my little is right in line to be next. There are still a couple of cousins who haven’t procreated yet, so mine may or may not end up being the very youngest of the great-grandkids. (My brother’s excited that his six boys will finally have a cousin of their own! Well, I guess they have cousins from my (half-)brother’s other half-siblings, but a cousin on this side of his family.)

The only real pregnancy news I have (other than the top of my uterus getting super close to my belly botton, and finally starting to show a bit, though in my usual baggy clothes no one would be able to tell — I still mostly just look a bit thick around the middle) is that I heard the baby kicking today on the doppler for the first time. I still can’t really feel anything, and it’s frustrating, but it was fun listening to the little wiggle worm bop around. Those kicks are surprisngly loud. Like (very) loud staticky record scratches, much louder than the heart beat. Hurts the ears, really. It does seem a bit odd that this is the first time I’ve ever heard them, but maybe I tend to check in while she’s sleeping?

Just six days until the Big Ultrasound. Can’t pretend I’m not nervous. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the teeth to finally get this far only to… But I’m trying not to go there. Being busy and hearing the heart beat on a semi-regular basis has gotten me this far. Just six more days, and hopefully it’ll be reassuring news. And hopefully I can finally stop having to say “he or she” all the time and can settle on some kind of vision in my head.

Right now it just keeps flipping between a cute little brown eyed girl and a cute little olive-skinned boy. The sex shouldn’t matter that much — all kids are awesome, and having a kid of a certain sex doesn’t necessarily mean anything about preferred hair length, hobbies and interests, what they’ll wear, or how big and sweet their eyes are. But it’s interesting how hard it is for me to picture a kid without knowing the sex.

Mainly I just want this little one to be healthy. Keep on kicking, hun. We’re almost halfway there.

IMG_1075Another random wedding pic 🙂

Citizen Ahmed

He passed his citizenship interview with flying colors. He could have answered all 100 questions correctly, but only needed 6 out of 10. He answered the first 6 correctly, and that was that. Otherwise they just went over his application quickly to make sure everything was still accurate, gave him a simple test to make sure he could speak English (um… he regularly beats me at Scrabble), and sent him on his way.

Much ado about not much, really. Just felt like a hoop to jump through. Even though it took more than four years and roughly $3,000 to be offered the privilege of jumping through it. (Not super easy while we were spending all our money on fertility treatments at the same time.)

All that’s left is the oath ceremony in a few weeks (a formality). Whew!

Welcome to America.

It’s kind of a mess right now…

In other news, today I told him about the fetal heart rate monitor. On the way to get burritos, I asked, “Can I tell you something that may make you angry?”

“What?”

“Well… a Facebook friend offered to send me a doppler monitor, and I got it, and I’ve been listening now and then. It’s really been helpful. I don’t think I could have made it to the next appointment otherwise.”

He just said, “Yeah, I kind of figured. You usually don’t give up that easily, and you’ve been way too calm lately.”

Heh. He knows me too well! 😀

Week 17

17 is my lucky number. I think it started because the Disney Channel was channel 17 when I was a kid. We never had it, so it was always this unreachable, almost magical thing. Plus it’s just a pretty number. A lovely shade of emerald green. (All letters and numbers have colors to me. Not sure where that comes from. I was at least ten years old before I realized not everyone saw letters and numbers as having inherent colors.)

Things are still going fine, and God help me, I’m starting to really believe in this. Part of it is just feeling my uterus creep inexorably up toward my belly button (and out a bit, though it can hardly be called a “bump” quite yet).

Also — and this is where I’ll find out if my husband is reading my blog or not — a friend from the CC Facebook group offered to send me a fetal heart rate monitor for free, and how could I resist that? I couldn’t, that’s how.

So I’ve been monitoring the fetus’s heart rate three times a week for about one minute each time, and it has been an absolute sanity-saver. It’s such a relief to hear the little thumping beats and see them stay right in the sweet spot of 120-160 bpm. Usually right at 140, but as low as 135 and as high as 150. (It’s normal to vary a bit depending on your activity level and the fetus’s.)

S/he mostly hangs out on the right, but I found her closer to the center once and off to the left another time. Once she even danced away from the probe, and I could hear the beats fading out. It’s so nice to get this little “peek” into where she is and what she’s doing.

I took a risk in allowing my FB friend to send it to me. If it had stressed me out, I’d have had to either swallow the stress and say nothing or tell my husband and feel like a giant ass. Instead, I’m just a giant liar by omission. But a happier and less stressed-out one. My sweet husband, who’s right about most things, was wrong about this (at least so far).

A recent development: I want to eat ALL THA FOODZ. I’m so excited to eat that I have to be careful not do overdo it and end up bloated and completely miserable. (So. Bloated.) It’s really hard to moderate when food is so delicious all of a sudden. It’s like I’m high all the time (without the high — just the munchies). Last night I had to stop myself from posting on Facebook about how excited I was to be planning on eating Mexican food the next day. It was like Christmas Eve.

(And this evening, when I suddenly craved boba tea, I just went out and got some, and it was seriously heaven in a cup. Until I came to the end of it and felt so indignant. I could have drunk that stuff for hours.)

We went to the Mexican restaurant to meet with my dad and tell him the good news. (My parents have been divorced since I was six, FYI.) He was delighted, and went straight home and called his brother in Texas to tell him the good news before I could, haha. But now my aunt and uncle and two cousins down (further) South know, and they were really happy for us, too. (I’m sure my mom has long since filled in most folks on the other side of the family, but just to make sure, we’ll also announce it at my grandmother’s 89th birthday next weekend. Hopefully I don’t steal her thunder too much.)

Whew. Really starting to get real, little by little. Of course, they still might find something awful at the anatomy scan. It’ll be a huge sigh of relief if that one goes well. If so, it’ll be time to make it Facebook official.

I’ve decided I’ll probably just do something simple, like a shot of our cat with its paw on an ultrasound photo, and a caption that says, “After four long years… Mateo is finally going to be a big brother. Baby [girl or boy] due in March. We couldn’t be more over the moon.”

I spoke with some folks on Facebook about how much to reveal, and when, about the origins of the child. Most people — including donor conceived and adopted people and parents of donor conceived kids — said there was no particular need to bring that up in the announcement. After all, most folks don’t lead off with how their kids were conceived. Just the happy news that a child is coming. Any further details can be filled in later, as appropriate.

I guess the drive to over-share comes from being a little bit dismayed how many people are coy about assisted reproduction, which paints an unrealistic picture of what’s really going on in the world. It makes people who need fertility help feel that much more isolated. I’m not ashamed of it — I’m proud of getting through all we’ve gone through — and it feels like something I should share when I can.

But it is completely up to each family at the end of the day, and as one adopted person put it, she has no shame about being adopted, but she also doesn’t lead with it every time she introduces herself. And to some extent, it is her right to decide when and how to bring it up. So we certainly won’t try to hide it, but we also won’t be the first to bring it up very often. To people we’re close with, we’ll be honest and straightforward about it. But Joe Schmoe doesn’t have any pressing reason to know, and God knows neither I nor (probably) the child will want to go into a whole spiel about the science and sociology of donor conception every single time they meet someone new.

All in all I’m not worried about it, and I hope that sense of ease will rub off on the kid. But if they do have unease about any of it, of course I’ll respect that and do my best to help them work through it.

Anyway, speaking of 17, Ahmed has his citizenship interview on October 17 (yay!), and if all goes well he’ll be a citizen several weeks afterwards. We’ve been studying the civics questions they’ll ask — 100 questions, of which they’ll ask about 10, and he has to get at least 6 right. Examples:

Do you know what happened at the Constitutional Convention?

The Constitution was written!

Do you know what the Declaration of Independence did?

It declared independence!

Not all questions are that comically simple, but all in all, I think he’ll do fine 😉

So yeah. In the midst of a 2017 that’s been so horrific for so many people, it’s been lucky and lovely for us so far (and full of 17s). Our biggest worry at the moment is finding out soon what kind of gutted, over-priced insurance plan we’ll end up with next year.

I don’t take that for granted for a moment, and we’ve done what we can to contribute to those affected by various disasters. But we are most definitely counting our blessings with profound gratitude.

Sending love and strength to all those struggling in so many ways, fertility issues absolutely being one of them. Most disasters at least don’t last three or four or more years at a stretch… I will never forget how hard those four years were, with every day and month that passed feeling like a mark scratched onto a prison wall with no end in sight. It’s so strange and unfamiliar to see and feel a little bit of light again. And it still feels so tenuous sometimes. But we’re enjoying it as much as we can.