We’re in our new place. Despite not being able to lift anything, I’ve still had my work cut out for me. You wouldn’t believe the weird smell that clothes and linens take on from being in storage for over three years. It’s a kind of musty, greasy smell. I’ve done about 12 loads of laundry this week, and I’ve aired out blankets, vintage silk saris, and other things that can’t go in the washing machine.
Luckily for us, DH’s parents have been generous with their time and energies. DH’s mom, especially, has done a lot. She’s packed, carried, driven, and shunted boxes; scrubbed, vacuumed, wiped; shopped, cooked, assembled furniture, and generally looked after me and my bump. She’s the best mother-in-law anyone could hope for!
The week of our move coincided with NP-SIL’s visit — she lives in North Carolina, but came to San Diego for her bridal shower.
Friday night, there was a BBQ at the beach, and I was a little nervous because it was the first time I’d be debuting my bump with people I know, albeit not very well.
One of NP-SIL’s friends, C, was 35 weeks pregnant. I flinched, but was okay. We entered the front yard and I was met with a squeal from another of NP-SIL’s friends, K, who immediately put her hands on my belly and said Congratulations! It’s a funny thing, I’d always imagined I would get very cross with someone doing that, but not only did I enjoy it, it’s what I needed to relax. Who cares if there’s another pregnant lady in the midst, I have my own little baby and how wonderful that someone is already celebrating her existence! (I haven’t had any belly rubs from a stranger yet, we’ll see how I feel if and when that happens!)
Of course, being a fellow pregnant lady, C came over and asked how I was doing. She’s also expecting a girl, but she already has two boys. I said I was feeling fine, but described the placenta issues I have. C smiled and said that so much of motherhood is about things not going to plan. You’re just getting a head start, mama! I admit I smiled. It made sense. In fact, my acupuncturist echoed this the next day. Turns out that she needed an emergency c-section with her first daughter — and I know that would have been a blow for her, because she’s all about natural birth. To paraphrase what she said: You just have to think of yourself as a vessel for this baby. I can’t even go to the grocery store with my two kids and expect the trip to go perfectly. It’s not about what you want anymore, you just have to do what it takes to make sure this baby arrives safely. If that means bed rest and a c-section, you can do it!
It was the first time seeing my sisters-in-law since April, so they were pretty excited to see my bump too. P-SIL said she hadn’t told my three-and-a-half-year-old niece, Little C, yet, but that we should that evening. It was a pretty cute conversation when we did:
P-SIL: C, Aunt Lauren has something to tell you!
Me: …I have a baby in my tummy.
Little C: Baby? In there?
Me: Uh-huh. So you’re going to have a cousin! Do you think it’s a girl or a boy?
Little C: Girl!
Me: That’s right, good guess!
Little C (to someone else): I’m gonna have a girl cousin!
DH later confessed he got quite emotional seeing Little C so excited. Then I got pretty choked up when he told me he got emotional.
Sunday was the bridal shower. Again, I was a little nervous, because although it wasn’t the first time a lot of people would be seeing my bump, I would be seeing extended family and other pregnant women, including someone who is due four days after me.
It was actually fine. I realise — yet again — that sometimes I live in my head a little too much. Most people are happy to acknowledge a pregnancy, or ask How are you feeling?, but the Spanish Inquisition I was dreading never actually happened.
Funnily enough, I was part of a group conversation about infertility. Someone, G, mentioned friends of theirs who struggled with infertility, then adopted, and then, wouldn’t you know it, got pregnant, and doesn’t that always happen! You just adopt! My heart began to pound, but I calmly said, I can explain that, actually. I proceeded to say that 8% of couples with infertility go on to spontaneously conceive — so 8% of those couples who adopt will also go on to conceive. The adoption has no bearing on whether the couple gets pregnant or not. G then said, Doesn’t relaxing also have a lot to do with it? I took a very deep breath and said, If that were true, people wouldn’t be spending tens of thousands of dollars to see a doctor specialising in infertility — they’d spend that money on a fabulous holiday, flying first class, and getting a massage every day! I then explained that as someone who needed a lot of help getting and staying pregnant, she might like to know that “Just adopt” and “Just relax” are two of the most hurtful things someone can say to an infertile person. I tried to be gentle about it, but I think my smile was a little forced. G didn’t say much other than Oh. I guess there isn’t much more to say. I mean, I shot her down, but I felt good about it. I stood up for myself. And, if not G, maybe someone else at the table will have learned something about infertility etiquette.
And, zomg, I outed myself as an infertile.
Curiously enough, that evening DH told me that his attitude was now I’m not going to tell everyone I meet, but if it comes up in conversation I’m not going to go to great lengths to lie about it. That’s exactly how I feel. I know there are some people who think their donor-conceived child ought to be the one who decides who knows about their genetic origins. It’s a logic I understand and respect. But I’ve concluded that that doesn’t make sense for our family. In the same way that parents who are open with their kid about the fact that they were adopted probably don’t create an atmosphere of You’re adopted, but it’s up to you who you tell, I think it’s more realistic, less stressful, and healthier for our family to simply say This is your genetic truth, most people in our lives know — it’s not a secret.
Because, as I said to DH, I am really proud of our decision. Proud of how we have come through this dark period, proud of our choice, our ability to make tough decisions, to make them quickly, and, above all, to have found a solution to a pretty big obstacle. And in the meantime, our struggles have, I think, brought our families closer in some ways.
P-SIL, having had two girls already, has so much stuff for me. She’s already given me a huge box of diapers, clothing, and a Baby Bjorn sling. I apparently have more stuff coming my way — two swings, more clothing, toys, more diapers. And as I left the bridal shower she handed me a bag of her old maternity clothes.
Here I am today in my new favourite dress, thanks to P-SIL:
And, just for fun, here’s Baby V moving around in my belly last night:
My conversations with Baby V go something like Kick! then, hand on belly, Hi baby! Keep growing, beautiful, strong girl.
Today I decided to make a note of every time I feel her move. It’s at least once an hour since 4:30 a.m. for up to 15 minutes at a time. Mainly kicks and rolls, but quite a few brief bouts of hiccups, which I think is so funny! Anyway, I don’t know much, but she seems extraordinarily active for one so young? Some studies say this means she will be an irritable child. I just refer to her as my little Disco Mermaid.
We reach viability next Thursday July 24th. This is the milestone I’m currently fixated on. The next day will be our follow-up ultrasound, which will plot our course for the rest of this pregnancy. This baby girl is already so loved and eagerly awaited by so many. I just have to do what I can to keep her safe. I think I can do that.