The Tiniest Capen

Pregnancy is fascinating. Recent observations:

This thing where I can hear my heartbeat in my ears half the day is annoying. It’s like tinnitus, but worse. I mean, I trust that my heart’s beating, so I don’t really need more reminders.

Once upon a time I could eat well all day and then snack in the evening and skip dinner. Now? HA. I just demolished a plate of room service potato skins at 9 pm because yeah. No skipping dinner.

Sitting in front of a full room of people listening to a panel discussion on which you are a panel discuss-ee while the Tiniest Capen practices swimming backflips is seriously surreal. Trying to listen while also trying to interpret the internal movement does not make me the most responsive speaker ever.

When I left home on Wednesday, I hugged Justin and said “I don’t want to leave you.” He asked why, and I paused. I thought. And I said, “I have no idea, so I’m going with ‘hormones’ as my answer.” Like I should stay home with him? Because we should be together right now?

I suddenly understand why the second trimester is the golden time. I feel fine. I feel good. I feel pretty great, actually. The first three months? Bleh. Later? Probably going to be awkward and uncomfortable, by all reports. Now? Pretty cool.

My body image is in bizarro land. I mean, I spent the last three years figuring out my asthma and joint problems, resetting my perceptions on food, losing 20 pounds, and starting to get stronger and healthier. And now suddenly I’m less resilient, breathing is harder, sleeping is harder, and my job is to eat all the things (but only the healthy things). So I’ve gained something like 12 pounds in the last 4 months, and it feels so instinctively wrong to let that happen without fighting it, but these are new and different circumstances. And here’s the kicker: If I gain a total of 30 pounds or more, I will break 200 pounds. And I will quietly lose my shit while I deal with that.

But generally? This is fascinating. An experience worth observing.

misc, The Tiniest Capen

And lo, the cycle of business travel begins again. This week it’s Albany for a SUNY Council of Library Directors meeting. Next week, nothing, but the week after it’s Niagara Falls for the New York Library Association conference. After that in early October comes another SCLD meeting downstate, then after that in mid-October back to Albany for a statewide library infrastructure meeting about information resources for NY libraries. And then in early November it’s Charleston, SC for the Charleston Conference. Then I’m done until after I have a baby, except for the meetings that are directly job-related that will inevitably pop up unexpectedly. My job requires surprising amounts of mileage. At least only one of them requires flying.

But for now, here I am in another Hilton Garden Inn. They’re nice hotels, if boring. This one looks precisely like the one in Salt Lake City, which is a little eerie, but I figure they were remodeled at precisely the same time. At least you know what they’re selling? And it’s super-conveniently basically across the street from SUNY Albany, where my meeting is. Which is good, because man, do I hate Albany. Always have, and haven’t found my reason not to, yet. Every now and then I wonder if sometime in my future there’s some role in Albany at SUNY administration, and then I think, “Except it’s in Albany.” Which is sort of a deal-killer for that particular musing.

And so I’m sprawled on a pile of pillows on a queen-sized bed with no cheerful bearded man next to me, no fluffy cat snoring next to me, and all sorts of ambient noise that isn’t my ambient noise pushing at my head. The refrigerator, the AC, the noise from the hall, the noise from outside… I can tune out the noise of traffic at home, but here… it’s all weird.

Also, pregnant. I had to figure out what to pack for this trip — I’m just here for a 5 hour meeting tomorrow, with other library directors who form an executive board with me, and usually I know what to wear for that, but nothing fits. I went through my closet today and put away all my clean laundry, and pulled out all the pants and skirts that don’t fit anymore. Pulled out all the tight shirts not made of stretchy fabric. Pulled out all the dresses that don’t have give or wraps to them. Seriously cut the list down, and reduces my options. I’m not used to having reduced options. Of all the challenges I’ve ever had in my professional life, not having something to wear has never been one of them. So that was interesting.

As was driving four hours to Albany. I had an audiobook, and the Toyota with its AC and good cruise control, and snacks, but man, it was hard. I wanted a nap about six times. I ate Starburst instead. (Hey, baby: learn to like candy.) I’m also having an interesting collection of random but normal 2nd trimester pains, so those are distracting and vaguely annoying while driving. I mean, there’s not a thing I can do about them, but when I’m driving I can do even less. Anyway. I got here. I have a dress and boots in a suitcase. I’m across the street from where I’m going. This bed is pretty comfy. I’ll be home for bedtime tomorrow. I’ll be in my office on Thursday. And I’ll do it all again in 2 weeks.

Life.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

Private journal again.

August 3.

I woke up with a headache today and desperately want to pound some Excedrin and coffee. Instead, I’ll remember that I heard a heartbeat yesterday at the OB, and make a fruit smoothie and go walk on the treadmill.

It’s just an interesting challenge to consider that my body – which is full of challenges to start with – is now also responsible for another human. I dunno. Can we do this, my brain and my body? I guess we can. We can keep trying, for sure. I started a new, more aggressive blood pressure med yesterday, since mine was high when we got to the OB appointment. I didn’t think to tell the nurse that Justin and I had been arguing on the way over, which was undoubtedly part of it. Now, today, at home, with the first dose of labetalol in my system, I’m good and low – 104/79. So we’ll see. I’d rather not have pre-eclampsia. That thought terrifies me. And today I get to do a 24 hour urine collection for testing, also for pre-eclampsia. Charming. Never say my life isn’t full of new experiences.

August 6

Today I was not nauseated at all. I feel like I won the lottery. 11weeks, 5 days. Ta da!

August 9

Visiting Liza and Betsy and Molly and Mark. Feeling very human, almost normal. Justin says “the parasite has adjusted its environment and settled in.” Pretty much…

I drove the 7 hours alone, and did pretty ok. I stopped for a 15 minute nap, which was both awesome and effective, and got here just fine. Another triumph of normalcy over pregnancy.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

From a private journal.

July 23.

Burlington today to do more tests on Justin’s arm. Inconclusive, still. Frustrating for us both. And I was absolutely exhausted; it was really hard. We went to get Magic Pizza, and they said there was no pizza for 2 more hours, and I nearly cried there on the street. All I could think was that I just wanted to go home and lie down… And then, after struggling for 45 minutes, I suggested going to Starbucks. One iced coffee later, my headache was gone and I felt human. Holy random pregnancy symptoms, Batman.

The pizza was fantastic. So was sitting in the park and talking. Unfortunately I think I’m also starting to get motion sick when we drive around. Bummer. That sucks.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

July 18, 2013

I woke up this morning, checked my calendar and my email, and thought, “Huh. I don’t feel shitty. That’s interesting. Maybe eating those chocolate chip cookies right before bed wasn’t indulgent, it was strategic.” Then I sat up. Oh. Well. There it is. I now live with a bag of Stacy’s pita crisps in my nightstand drawer. Woohoo simple carbs! And my morning routine now MUST include packing a lunch, and a morning snack, and an afternoon snack, because while it used to be good for me, it’s now essential to my survival. I want to eat all the things, and if I don’t I feel sick. Charming.

But I got up and did yoga for 20 minutes anyway, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is all going to hurt, a lot. My collagen is already defective, and my joints are already loose, so relaxin is going to do me no favors. I spent an hour with my bodywork chiropractor yesterday and he said “I’ve seen you tight, but nothing like this.” My entire right shoulder and arm were in spasm, from the scalenes in my neck down to my fingers. I’ve also nearly fallen three times in the last 24 hours alone — losing my balance, my foot not being stable, whatever. So that sucks, and reinforces the need for me to stay strong and active so that my body doesn’t tense into one giant muscle spasm in its attempts to hold my joints stable. Crunches and corework and lots of front-body stretching, that’s my new life… very similar to my old life except with more nausea.

I had my first doctor’s appointment on Monday, and met with the nurse in the practice because my OB is out on maternity leave. She’ll be back in 2 months. Okay. The nurse was great, very chill, very “you know we do this all the time, right? and mostly there are no crises?” which was great. I said “culturally, we tell women to be afraid of babies and pregnancy.” She said “And it’s dumb.”

Also, I would like a nap.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

From emails I sent during the “it’s a still a secret” phase.

July 8, 2013

So, last night, as I was staring sort of helplessly at the unmade bed, saying, “We never remade the bed and I’m TIRED right now”, Justin started to laugh and said “I like you so much right now” before he retrieved the clean sheets and helped me make the bed. I am, apparently, in my a) exhaustion and b) queasiness, a much nicer human. I replied with a smile, because I knew what he meant. I can’t control any of this. Not how I feel, not what I can and can’t do or deal with, and I shouldn’t even try. So I can only control how I respond, and I’m trying to be pretty zen about it. I feel like crap, but my body’s really busy. I need help and to reset my expectations of myself, and it’s Justin’s responsibility to respond well when I do. Me? I’m gonna read a book, accidentally nap on the cat, do the essential household paperwork, and cook when I feel like it. I can be busy later.

It’s kind of lovely, really. Except for the queasy parts.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

Today I was a giant ball of hormones. I started to cry when I told Justin how stressed out I was by, get this, going to get gas for both cars at the same time. Yes, some logistics involved, but not a crisis worthy of tears. And I was nauseated and my back ached and ohpleaseIjustwanttofeelfunctional. Too much to ask? Too much to ask.

Fortunately Justin gets it. He kissed me, took the SUV for gas, turned in the recycling, and suggested we reschedule our trip to Massena until tomorrow. Then he put the XBox controller in my hand and left me alone. I played video games, took a shower, and sprawled on the couch to work, feeling miserable.  It worked. I can cope with miserable if I also feel supported and loved, and I can cope with my own feelings of useless if I know no one minds.

But seriously, dude. Hormones. What the hell.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

This morning, on Facebook, I wrote,

I’m not sure why pregnant women are suddenly public social property, but I’m not taking it. I’m not the punchline in a social joke (“better sleep now! hahahaha!”) and I’m not in need of endless fearmongering ‘advice’. On a more positive note, feel free to ask how we’re feeling, if we’re excited, or scared, or tired, or inquire about our future plans, or share your experiences. But also accept that we may change the subject and protect our privacy. As we are entitled to do as autonomous human beings.

All of that was prompted by my friend Mary writing elsewhere that her sleep habits during her (difficult; hyperemetic) pregnancy aren’t really making her all that happy, and a couple of well-meaning and kind people immediately responding with variants on “sleep now! You’ll need it!”

First, I know those people don’t mean any harm. I know that. I believe that. But more than that, I’m pretty sure there’s not a pregnant woman in America who doesn’t know that having babies equals getting very little sleep. Because we aren’t stupid. We aren’t so hormone addled (though we are hormone addled) that we missed that particular memo. So you don’t actually need to say it as the reply to every single thing we say about being pregnant.

Because here’s the thing: when the default conversation around being pregnant comes back to trite and jokey comments about how shitty and hard having an infant is, it ignores and belittles the experience of being pregnant. A coworker said to me yesterday “I don’t know what happened to the Goddess cultures, but if we had it still we’d all acknowledge that you are doing and amazing and powerful thing right now”. She’s right. This being pregnant thing? Totally amazing. Fascinating. My body is constructing another human being while also maintaining all my life functions. And I can still think, walk, talk, love, live while it does it. Absolutely amazing. Also, exhausting.

And limiting our discussions with responses like “don’t forget your prenatal vitamins”, “stay away from deli meat!”, and “sleep now, the baby won’t let you later!” belittles and ignores the realities of pregnancy. It’s hard. It’s amazing. It’s exhausting. It’s wondrous. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating. It’s real, and messy, and true, and necessary, and interesting. It’s more than trite jokes at the expense of new mothers, and warnings about all the ways we might fuck up our children by eating a bite of the wrong food. Give us the respect of responding to what we’re saying with honest reactions, meaningful conversation, and useful stories, and we might have a really heartfelt and interesting conversation about this thing that some women experience, and the unique and personal things that make each woman’s experience different.

But whatever you do, skip the jokes at our expense.