Showing posts with label Pregnancy Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pregnancy Stories. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hunger

Me, pregnant in L.A., March 2002

Today is Yom Kippur, the last day of the Jewish New Year, the holiest of the holy of the Days of Awe. Also a day when adults are commanded to fast, to take in no food or drink for the entire day, from sundown to sundown (how Jewish days are measured).

There is something lovely about this tradition, and I have always enjoyed the fast, especially how it's the perfect excuse for a delicious little afternoon nap.  Also, Jews being Jews, there is always a wonderful full repast immediately afterwards, a gathering of family and friends to break the fast with, because food is truly what we do best.

But I haven't fasted since 1999.  I married in 2000, at nearly 40. So, time being of the essence, we got "to work" right away in our attempts to start a family. Thus there were two years of trying to get pregnant and then two years of being a nursing mother, and since then, just being an exhausted mom of special needs / high maintenance kids.

Now that the boys are ten, it's feeling a bit ridiculous, the never-ending excuses; so today I am semi-fasting - taking in liquids only - easing into it as it were. Plus it's still my reality that I need too much energy to look after my kids to truly fast.

So I am experiencing some hunger today, which is making me think about past hungers in my life, and an amusing story from my life, that I have yet to tell you...

When I was about four months pregnant with the twins, I took my last business trip to LA. (although I had been a frequent visitor until then, I haven't been back since). My husband, Danny, came along, both to carry on some of his own business and take care of me.

He had also accompanied me on my (similarly last) trip to the Sundance Film Festival that January, and I had truly needed his help as the "morning" sickness combined with altitude sickness to leave me in bad shape some days. (See this post for my entertaining story about nearly puking in a famous actor's lap.)

So, back to the L.A. story... we landed in the late afternoon, and it took MUCH, MUCH longer to get the rental car straightened out than we'd planned. By the time we finally arrived at our hotel, I hadn't eaten for hours. I was famished in the way that only a woman pregnant with twins in her second trimester can be famished.

And then? And then? It turned out that our lovely hotel? Had no onsite restaurant open for dinner. (Breakfast through lunch "coffee shop" only. Grrrrrrr.)

It being L.A., we were expected to retrieve our car (10 minute wait) and then drive up and down the street looking for a suitable restaurant (15 to 45 minute process). Yet I, being about to start gnawing on the desk clerk, found that idea impossible. And might have said so in less than polite terms.

We were then directed to the joint across the street, the House of Blues. Nobody's idea of fine, L.A. worthy cuisine, quite truly a tourist trap. But I didn't care. At this point I was a ravenous, crazy pregnant-with-twins starving lady.

And of course: there was a wait for a table. And once we were seated: the service was molasses slow.

At the table next to us was a couple paying their bill, clearly done with dinner. And their basket of fresh cornbread? Untouched.

Yes, I swiped it. I ate left-behind food off a stranger's table in a restaurant. I had turned all Pregnant She-Hulk: MUST. FEED. BABIES.

And my dear husband, who normally would have been mortified by such uncouth behavior didn't bat an eye. (By this point in the pregnancy, he knew better than to get between me and FOOD.)

Also? He very gallantly manhandled a waiter into taking our order pronto and putting it in as a rush.

(Possibly because he saw I was eying the uneaten half of a steak about to be left behind by a different couple at the table on our right.)

That was truly the hungriest I have ever been, or ever hope to be.

And it's good to remember that right now, today, as 5 pm rolls around and I am feeling a bit peckish, impatient in my wait to return to synagogue; eager to hear the final notes of the shofar's blast reverberate through the sanctuary, echoed by the rumbling of a thousand empty stomachs (including mine), yearning to be filled.

L'Shanah Tovah, my friends. And have a Tzom Kal (easy fast).


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Dress


I'm clearing out my closets. Trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. Trying to lighten up our load, to dispossess ourselves of some of our excess possessions, the clutter that that has taken over our lives.

I could claim it's the children and all their attendant... things. I could claim it's autism, citing how long we have to hold onto toys Ethan has long outgrown, because Jake has still not yet grown into them, or is so fondly attached to and revisits from time to time the toys of a much younger child. (Thomas, anyone?)

But this would be a big fat lie.

I have always been this way, surrounded by too much stuff. Not quite ready to be featured on an episode of Hoarders, but not quite NOT either. If there were a show called "They're serious collectors and clutterers but CAN throw out paper and trash and WILL donate outgrown clothes to others who can use them" you could sign me up.

It doesn't help that we live in a small apartment, no longer have a storage space downtown, and both my husband and I have had recent parental deaths land a lifetime of memory-filled THINGS into our laps. What we release now is never coming back. There is no ancestral attic or basement for the detritus of our and their (and our grandparents') lives.

There is just one small, overstuffed apartment, that we also need to live in.

Right now I am coming to terms with the fact that I am unlikely to ever again be the size or shape that I was in my twenties and thirties. And so all the clothes in the back of my closet, the stuff that has survived twenty years of previous purges, has to go.

Even lovely favorites, filled with memories... I bought that shirt at my first Sundance Festival... I used to go clubbing in the 80s in that crushed velvet jacket... that's the sundress I wore when I met my husband on Memorial Day weekend at Fire Island, fourteen years ago...

It's too much to hang onto. 

And yet.. and yet... there's one dress I cannot part with.

This:


The green velvet dress I wore to Thanksgiving, 2001.

My parents were in town. We were at my in-laws. And I was in a foul, foul, horrible mood. Just despondent.

You see, I had done a terrible thing that morning, had cheated and taken a home pregnancy test. Even though it was still days before it would be accurate. Even though we had been admonished, in no uncertain terms, to NOT DO THAT by the fertility clinic. We were just 23 days into our IVF cycle, a week and a day since the embryo transfer. Too. damn. soon.

But the box of pee sticks in the bathroom cabinet had sung their siren song of temptation to me that morning. I had been feeling so pregnant, surely there would be confirmation on a stick.

Really, I had been floating on the air of rising expectations for days. There had been signs and portents that yes, the IVF was successful.

And then that Thursday, Thanksgiving morning, I was just plummeted into the black pit of despair. Once more, a lone pink line on the pee-stick.

I lay on the sofa moaning and groaning, in mourning. I barely roused myself in time to shower and dress for Thanksgiving dinner across town. But I made sure to throw on a beloved dress that I always felt good in: the crushed green velvet.

That year, unlike the one just past, I was not spending Thanksgiving with my beloved cousins, but with my husband's family - who I am thoroughly fond of, but much less intimate with, so I couldn't really talk about what was going on.

I didn't even tell my husband what I'd done, as it was so against the rules and I didn't want to admit to being bad, bad, bad. Explaining my mood, I just mumbled something about having an ominous feeling, and that I was starting to think that maybe the IVF hadn't been successful.

I managed to eat my dinner and engage in some minimal, polite conversation. But then right afterward I withdrew and joined my elderly father in the living room as he was taking his traditional post-turkey sofa nap. I don't think I even got up for dessert, feeling thoroughly rotten, thinking to sleep off my funk.

So why would I possibly be nostalgic about this dress then, commemorating such a dreadful day?

Because two days later, on Saturday morning I peed on another stick and saw the most beautiful sight in the world: two pink lines, one fainter than the other but definitely, undeniably, there.

I was pregnant.

Very, in fact.

(yes, the twins)

And suddenly Thanksgiving Day was cast in a whole new light...

My mood swings, sudden despondency, near hysterics? Clearly a sign that the pregnancy hormones were starting to kick in, big time.

My need to nap after dinner? That the intense first trimester exhaustion had likewise begun.

So the dress, to me now, has magical qualities, evoking the beginning of my noticeable pregnancy. I'm keeping it. If I can wear it again someday, so much the better (green has always been a good color on me).

But until then? It's going in a box, alongside a photograph of five two-day-old embryos, a pair of tiny blue hospital bracelets with "Baby A" and "Baby B" on them. And a little white plastic stick with two pink lines on it.

What? You didn't think I could throw THAT out, did you?


read to be read at yeahwrite.me
And, for the first time in a long time, I'm linking up with Yeah, Write because I sorta kinda like this post and hope you did too. (But I'm on the Hang-out grid, not the challenge grid, because I missed being one of the first 50. Because I had to wait 'til the kids were asleep to edit and re-write. Damn my perfectionist ways!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

10 years ago today...

10 years ago on this day, I was... 15 weeks pregnant with my babies. While other women might be just beginning to show at this point, I, carrying two, was quite past the "Is she pregnant or has she just been drinking a lot of beer?" look, and well into the strangers-rubbing-your-belly-without-asking phase of my pregnancy.

I was recently back from my last ever Sundance film festival, where I had encountered the delightful cumulative effects of "morning" and altitude sickness and thus nearly hurled on James Caan. But I had also had my pregnant belly rubbed for luck by charming actress Julie Benz (Darla of Buffy/Angel & Rita of Dexter) and yes, she asked first.

10 years ago today, I hadn't had my amnio yet, so I was sitting on tenterhooks, not knowing the gender of the two babies I was busy gestating. Boys? Girls? One of each? Waiting, waiting, waiting to find out.

I did know my life going to change, irrevocably and forever very shortly, and was working hard to study up and prepare for it. (Ha!)

One thing I would have been right in the thick of was planning a "minor" apartment renovation, mostly centered on the kitchen & bathroom, trying to make our small space livable with babies. That "3 week" renovation turned into a 3 month job, and nearly left me bringing my babies home from the hospital without a working kitchen.

10 years ago today, I was trying to work a little bit, but not too much, heeding the words of my very cautious, high-risk OB: "This may be your ONE shot at parenthood, don't blow it! Stop working at 25 weeks. Rest for a minimum of 2 hours each day on your left side. Rest. Rest. Rest. And drink plenty of fluids."

I never went to see my OB without having to wait at least an hour, maybe 2, occasionally even 3. She was always apologetic, but I was sanguine. My age, twin pregnancy and fertility status (these were IVF babies) we're what put me into her hands, while so many of her other patients had much more fragile, stressful, troubled pregnancies than I.

She would always say "Sorry, but there was an emergency." And I would always answer "That's OK, I'm just glad that *I* wasn't your emergency." And I always, genuinely, was.

Because me? I was one of the lucky ones: Never put on bed rest. Only developed a host of uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy, none of the dangerous complications. Delivered a pair of healthy seven pound boys at 39 weeks.

10 years ago, I was probably working on the plans for my father's 85th birthday party. My parents were still robustly enjoying an active retirement in Florida back then.

Five years earlier, I had gone down to Sarasota for my Dad's blow-out 80th birthday bash. But March 25th was into my no-fly zone, so my folks were coming up to my home, New York City, for this one and I wanted it to be wonderful. Memorable.

And it was. I rented the Hungarian House social hall for a Sunday brunch. Surprise guests flew in. There was a jazz band. Lots of hugs and laughter. And lox and bagels galore. Perfect.

10 years ago today, I was almost halfway through my pregnancy, poised on the precipice of the biggest game-changing event of my life. Everyone always tells you: "It will never be the same after you have kids."

Some mean that in a kindly way, citing the love and joy that come with creating a family. Others are more cautionary, thinking of years of lost sleep, the further losses of freedom, self, center, intimacy that can happen.

And like every blissfully ignorant pregnant woman I, would nod my head and say, "Yes, I know, I know."  Thinking my observations of my friends families and my mental projections of myself into motherhood had me well prepared.

But you know? (And if you are a parent you DO know, are smiling at my innocent folly.) I hadn't a fucking clue.

10 years ago today, I knew next to nothing about autism or ADD or special needs parenting or neurobiology. When I looked at our families trees, I had no idea these apples would be falling from them.

But that's OK, because if I had known, I don't think I would have had the courage to have children. Blissful ignorance is necessary, if a pregnant lady is to stop worrying and get any sleep at all.

10 years ago today, I probably fell asleep kicked back in the hideous blue rocker-recliner that I had sworn was ONLY in our house until the boys no longer needed to be rocked to sleep, but still squats in the living room to this day.

I dreamed of oceans often during my pregnancy, of waves and seashores and creatures of the deep, swimming and undulating beneath the sparkly blue surface.

10 years ago today, I placed my hands on either side of my rounding belly and thought great things about the tiny twin beings, slowly becoming human inside of me.

Tonight I kiss the sweet, damp, vanilla-shampoo scented heads of my nine year-old sons as I tuck them into their beds, and they drift off to sleep, dreaming their own dreams, and growing into lives of their own shaping.

Mama’s Losin’ It

I'm linking up with Mama Kat who prompted us to start a post with the phrase “Ten years ago on this day, I was…”

I'm also linking up to Maxabella's I'm grateful for... because I am so grateful for my wonderful boys.



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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

Thanksgiving is such a peculiar holiday, actually all about food and family gathering, as opposed to some other thing that is the excuse for that stuff, that is really at the core of most holidays anyway.

Also, it's impossible to approach this day without reflecting on Thanksgivings past, especially if you are someone who is as prone to rumination as I am. (What? Don't tell me you haven't noticed that about me.)

Two years ago, Thanksgiving Day, 2009, was the last time my father came to my home. He was clearly ailing, not himself at all.

The deterioration from September to November was stark, startling. He spent most all of the day sleeping on the sofa, didn't come to the dinner table, woke only to accept a slice of pumpkin pie.

Dad, asleep on our sofa, Thanksgiving 2009.
Dad in a borrowed wheelchair, too weak to walk
Less than two weeks after these pictures were taken, he was in the hospital, and it was the beginning of the end.

Last year was the first Thanksgiving after my father (and my husband's mother) had died. I wrote a post about it on Thanksgiving morning, Regarding a Table Half Full, anticipating a difficult day ahead of us, working hard to find the glass-half-full perspective, connect to my optimist self.

Three generations at Thanksgiving 2011
The day played out pretty much as I had expected it to, was mostly about about getting through it, with a few lovely moments.

The drive was hellish, dinner was delicious. Jake was very well behaved, Ethan was only occasionally obnoxious, and only spilled water.  I had my one glass of good red wine and took my post-turkey sofa nap.

My Mom only looked lost and teared up once or twice, was glad overall she came. But she was missing Dad something fierce, I know. I was too.

But I have also been thinking of Thanksgivings past; the distant past of my own childhood, my early years with Danny, the many Thanksgivings we have had with the boys...

One particular Thanksgiving stands out in my memory: Thanksgiving 2001. It was a tense, intense time for a couple of reasons. First, we live in New York City and a scant two months had passed since the destruction of the twin towers on 9-11.

And on a personal front, I was in the middle of the notorious "two week wait" after our first ever IVF attempt. To say I was on an emotional roller coaster, sitting on pins and needles that month would be a massive understatement.

After an initial bout of optimistic euphoria, I was then feeling anxious and worried that the IVF hadn't taken and growing more and more concerned that I wasn't in fact pregnant. I couldn't count on how I was feeling, as nightly injections of progesterone were masking any hormones my body might be producing (or so I had thought).

And then on that Thanksgiving morning? I committed a big no-no. I snuck a home pregnancy test into the bathroom with me and peed on the stick. Never mind that it was ridiculously early, my retrieval and transfer having taken place just the week prior. I couldn't help myself.

Nothing. The same one line I had been seeing monthly for over a year. I was deeply disappointed.

Part of my brain knew it could easily be a false negative, but I took it to heart nevertheless. Lay around on the sofa moping all day, barely dragging my ass into the shower in time to get dressed for dinner at the in-laws.

Somehow I did manage to toss my favorite crushed green velvet dress onto my body and cab crosstown with my husband. But it was hard to shake my funk. I'm sure I was not the most gracious guest. And right after dinner? I parked myself on the second sofa, kitty-corner to the one my elderly father had claimed after the meal for his traditional postprandial nap, and took one myself, thinking I needed to sleep off my bad mood. 

In the perfect 20/20 vision of hindsight, I can see: it was the pregnancy hormones kicking in. Because two days later on Saturday morning? I cheated again.

And this time... TWO pink lines! The most beautiful pee-saturated piece of plastic encased fiber the world has ever known, the first time ever I saw that fabulous sight.

And the following year? Twin baby boys at Thanksgiving.

Also? Bringing up Thanksgivings past?  A chance to throw in some gratuitous photos of my beautiful children at Thanksgiving.  Here's a few from 2006 when the boys were four and my father still a sprightly 89 (same age my mother is now):

E & J getting silly with cousins
Jake, commandeering my rain hat
Mom, Dad & Ethan on the sofa
I am expecting this year it will be a little easier than last, the grief tempered by time, by the now normalcy of my mother being the sole representative of the elder generation at the table. And we will raise our glasses in a toast of remembrance of those no longer among us.

Happy Thanksgiving, Dad. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


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