Monday, March 9, 2009

Almost Paradise?

There is a weird thing that happens when you can't get pregnant when you think you should, for whatever reason. You start to think of the state of being pregnant as this sort of quasi-nirvana. I think it has something to do with the grass always being greener; you want the baby of course, but more than that, you crave -- what? The act of outgrowing your pants overnight? The loss of your appetite for three months? The overwhelming urge to fall asleep any time you aren't physically in motion?

Well, it all comes back to you pretty quickly. I was feeling pretty decent with this baby until the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. If you'll recall, when I'm in charge of Thanksgiving, there isn't turkey or cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie; there are mini crabcakes and cocktail meatballs and boiled shrimp and hummus and cheese spread and all the other things that I usually like about the three hours before Thanksgiving dinner. That's what we had this year, and I bit into a perfectly poached, perfectly seasoned, perfectly chilled shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, and my universe instantly changed shape. And not in a good way.

Goodbye, appetite. See you sometime in mid-February.

A partial list of things I couldn't/wouldn't eat while pregnant with Max: Yeah, I got nothing. My food aversions were not terrible with him. Cereal grossed me out a little, and dairy.

A partial list of things I couldn't/wouldn't eat while pregnant with The New Girl, only in the first trimester: ground meat of any sort, or really meat or poultry of any kind, dairy, citrus fruit, tomatoes or tomato products of any kind, nothing sticky or gooey, or anything sweet of any kind except for the possible exception, on very good days, of Sour Patch Kids. They actually were pretty great as far as a short-term cure for morning sickness. I pretty well subsisted on apples, diet Ginger Ale, saltine crackers, frozen bean and cheese burritos and Chef Boyardee ravioli.

Those illusions about how great pregnancy was flew pretty well out the window in the months of December, January, and the first half of February. I felt shaky and sweaty with a combination of fatigue and hypoglycemia pretty much all the time, had an overwhelming schedule of doctors' appointments with a variety of specialists and a brand new full-time job, and the three-and-a-half year old who lives with me couldn't understand why I was far more likely to fall asleep mid-sentence than I was to get down on the floor and play with him. I was not enjoying myself very much at all, and I'm pretty sure no one else around me was enjoying me at all either.

Right around the time that I experienced a brief but violent bout of the stomach flu--how's that for a kick in the pickle?--the morning sickness eased and I found my appetite again. It was really great, to be honest: food hasn't ever tasted as good to me as it has in the last three weeks, and after two and a half months of not even wanting to think about, look at pictures of, or discuss food, let alone eat it--well, sufice it to say, I've been a very happy girl.

In general, I am happier than I tend to be most of the time, to be honest. The cloud of low-grade anxiety that typically floats around me has magically cleared and despite my initial shock at the news that I am pregnant with a girl, I don't feel as much sheer terror at the thought of raising one as I thought I would. I never enjoyed traditional girlhood that much, not being really a big fan of clothes and makeup and dolls and stuff, and guiding someone else through it--well, the thought didn't exactly make me do the Snoopy dance. But I survived it, and it was not that much fun at the time, but I am basically no worse for wear because of it, and so will my daughter.

I am a little sad about all of the adorable little boy clothes that I am currently sorting through, all of the memories of 6-week-old Max, round and drowsy and adorable in the smallest baseball jersey I've ever seen. The fact is, we're not having another baby after this one--we can't afford it, for one thing. For another, it's a good round number--two kids, two grownups, and maybe a dog eventually. Nobody's outnumbered that way. So we just don't have the need of all of the boy clothes, and we've culled out most of the things like pajamas and things that are sort of unisex, and we're sorting things into too-tired-looking-and-stained-for-anything-but-the-trash, donate, and send to Kimberly and Michael for their little Sprout. It will actually be kind of great to see Sprout wearing a Nationals uniform, however deeply it will most certainly gall his Cubs-fan parents.

In the last couple of weeks, I have begun to feel The New Girl kicking, prodding, rolling around, and in general being as active as Max ever was. This weekend, I was sitting on the couch and noticed that she was kicking me hard enough for me to be able to see my shirt moving. I am looking far more pregnant at this point than I did with Max--I have all but given up on even my fattest fat-jeans, the ones I bought right after Max was born, ones that have been too big for me for two years now, and am splitting my time between maternity jeans and my most forgiving yoga pants. I am carrying this baby very high, much higher than I carried Max, and as a result I look far more traditionally pregnant than I did with her big brother, with whom I looked mostly just fat and never more than about six months pregnant.

Despite the fact that Max had his heart set on a "baby brudder" and there were several meltdowns on his part after the ultrasound that revealed girl bits--I really wondered about some kind of prescription sedative in a dose safe for a preschooler--he is as excited as we are about having a girl, and far less trepadatious about what having a 13-year-old girl around the house will be like.

The thing about second babies is that they're unpredictable. You learn your way around the first baby, figure out what they like and what they don't like, whether the bouncy seat makes them cry and the swing puts them to sleep, what kind of blanket they like and which they can't stand. Then the second baby comes along and you start fresh and you don't know anything again, except that you're still overwhelmed by love and a number of years older and more tired, and as it turns out you still don't know anything.

And that's really the thing that's causing most of my small amounts of anxiety surrounding this baby--I have no idea who this little stranger is. A week or so ago, I demanded that we decide on a name for her, because I couldn't bear that I didn't even know what to call her in my own mind. I suspect that I rushed Dan into making a decision, but in the meantime, I think all three of us have become a little more at-ease with the thought of a little person whose name we at least know.

So in general, I am very much enjoying this pregnancy. Despite the fact that I have "stranger danger" in regards to my own daughter, I feel good--energetic, most of the time, clear-headed, not too physically uncomfortable, my health is good. Basically, I don't have a lot to complain about. The grass, in this case, really is greener on this side of the fence, and I'm pretty relieved about that.

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