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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

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