October 9th, 2013
33 weeks pregnant.
We had our bi-weekly visit with the midwives last Wednesday and everything is going well. I’m amazed that Wilder is growing exactly as he should be when I feel like he is growing at super-human speed. I swear my belly feels bigger every day now. We were seen by Cathy, which insured that she and Andy would spend quality time joking around with one another. I asked Cathy if she could tell the exact position of the baby, but she wasn’t able to at this point. I did some internet research and can employ a technique called “baby mapping” within the next few weeks to help me determine how he is positioned. But generally by the physical exam performed in the 36th week the midwives can tell. I can’t believe how fast time is going by. The weekly emails from BabyCenter instructed me to make sure to install the car seat and pack my hospital bag within these next two weeks. That is exciting and terrifying.
Speaking of health, Andy finally got the test results from his yearly physical. I practically have to force him to make an appointment to see the doctor, even though his insurance covers a once-a-year wellness visit. I’ve always been much more of a stickler when it comes to these things. If there is anything wrong with me, I want to know about it as early as possible. I think that Andy’s lackadaisical regard of doctors has less to do with fear and more to do with the inconvenience to his schedule. Regardless, I was able to get him to go in. Turns out he has a fatty liver and high blood pressure. I would be super concerned about the liver thing if I wasn’t sure that Andy is Hep C negative. I asked him to be tested a few years back when I received a false positive on a test and freaked the fuck out. The doctor said that both conditions are the result of his diet (he rarely drinks alcohol). I will admit that both he and I had a somewhat healthier diet before I got pregnant. I was predominantly vegan then and therefore he was too. Since the conception of Wilder I have moved to vegetarian with the occasional piece of fish. Andy has been a bit more thoughtless with his diet, embracing my pregnancy as a chance for him to eat with somewhat reckless abandon. I try never to tell people what they should or shouldn’t be eating, so I never judge him when he described his eating habits at work. Now we are both going to attempt to be more conscious about the foods we are ingesting. Eating healthy has luckily never been something that I begrudged, and most of my poor eating choices are more from lack of time than personal preference. I have definitely overdone it with the dairy and pasta, though (my Italian heritage). Hopefully we can make some simple changes and his liver will stop being so fatty.
In other health news, Herman Wallace passed away on Friday October 4th in the early morning. He was in the home of a friend surrounded by his loved ones. Although he will be missed by many, it is a true miracle that he was able to pass away as a free man. Jackie has been handling things like a champ. Andy and I attended her yoga class on Saturday where the practice was dedicated to Herman’s memory. It was a beautiful experience and although it was physically challenging (for me especially) I was truly happy that we were able to be a part of it. Herman’s legacy has taught me not to take for granted the simple freedoms that I enjoy on a daily basis. It has also reinforced the idea that none of us are truly free if the atrocities that he suffered go unrecognized. You can learn more about Herman Wallace, Jackie Sumell and solitary confinement at: hermanshouse.org
The weekend proved to be much more mellow than original expected. It was forecasted that we would be facing tropical storm weather, but that wasn’t the case. I had a wonderful visit with my friend and favorite photographer Gabrielle Chapin. She came by to pick up some books on pregnancy because she and her husband Jason are expecting twins! (She recently made the announcement on FB so I am excited to be able to write about it.) Before she had gone in for her initial ultrasound we joked about the potential of twins at my baby shower. I had stated that if they had discovered twins at my ultrasound I would have been completely overwhelmed. But when she told me the news, my first thought was that she and Jason will be excellent parents regardless of the number of babies. They are both so kind-hearted, fun-loving and laid back that I expect they will meet the unique circumstances and obstacles that come along with multiples with smiles on their faces. Also, I must admit I am completely fascinated by naturally-occurring twins. I don’t have any close friends who have been through this awesome experience, so I can’t wait to learn all about it from Gabby. I think that if a person or couple is planning on having more than one child, twins are such a time-saver. I am in awe that they have the determination to wait and be surprised by the sexes of the babies at birth. We had a really nice time talking about some of our own personal fears and expectations as well as our mutual excitement with the idea of becoming parents. I feel very lucky to have such interesting, unique people around me sharing in the experience of parenthood. It’s nice to have that support.
I also contacted Ellen for some advice this past week as well. As always, Ellen reassured me in her humorous, non-judgmental way. It’s nice to have people to turn to when you have personal issues like the one I experienced. Those not interested in my sex life can skip the rest of this paragraph. This past week when Andy and I attempted to have sex, it was a penetration failure. Sex has become its own twister-esque activity recently due to the fact that many positions are either no longer comfortable or nearly impossible to get into. We were going for the old standard doggy-style (which I’ve found to be appropriate in all stages of pregnancy thus far) and it just didn’t work. There was no amount of lube or physical adjustment that was going to rectify the situation. It literally felt as if someone was stabbing me in the cervix and that all the room in my vaginal canal had been reduced to the size of a peephole. After a few unsuccessful attempts at making things comfortable and pleasurable, I threw in the towel. As expected, Andy was completely supportive and loving about the situation. I, on the other hand, felt like a complete failure. I know my reaction wasn’t necessarily the “right” one, but I found myself sobbing and feeling terribly uncomfortable about the whole experience. Is this what it feels like to be a man who prematurely ejaculates? The combination of not being able to control my body and its reaction, combined with the frustration of not being able to enjoy something that is such an important part of my life left me feeling strangely sad and ashamed. I also immediately resorted to thinking that if my body can no longer accommodate a penis comfortably then how the hell am I going to birth a child (with the goal of a natural birth at that)? I was sobbing to Andy, “He’s never going to fit out of my vagina.” Pure sexy talk right there, folks. After I calmed down, we decided that we definitely need to begin incorporating some perineal massage into our schedule soon. I admitted that it is hard for me to accept that for the next few weeks massaging my vagina won’t always be an act of masturbation. I am struggling with identifying my vagina as an outlet for a baby and not for a receptacle of pleasure.
When texting Ellen later about the whole mess, she provided me with the assurance that I am not a complete freak of nature and that my body will be able to birth my son. She reminded me that there are a lot of very pleasurable alternatives to penetration and that I should pursue those. After laughing at each other’s responses to the abrupt changes that occur during pregnancy and then as a parent, I felt a lot better. Later that evening though I found myself still pondering why I had experienced such a strange reaction of feeling so uncomfortable about the situation. I have never felt uncomfortable in any sexual situation with Andy. After some introspection and strong consideration, I think my initial reaction was in part due to the sexual abuse I experienced years ago. That experience was the one time I can ever remember feeling pain and fear in a sexual encounter. I think it is important for me to understand this skeleton in my closet so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on my childbirth experience. Thank God I majored in psychology all those years ago.
I ended the weekend by shooting with a photographer friend of mine, Dave Rodrigue. I had shot with him back in February of 2013, right before getting pregnant. I wore some of the same clothes and it was comical for me to see just how much bigger I am now at seven and a half months pregnant. We had an excellent time and the few photos he has sent me are quite awesome. I was showing a couple to Andy and commented on how the photo looked asymmetrical because one of my nipples was hard and the other wasn’t. He said “Thank God you aren’t a porn star; you are way too critical about the little things.” I had to wholeheartedly agree. He and I then went and saw the film “Gravity,” which was interesting. It appears that I have developed a new super sensitivity to sound. This can be a straight up pain in the ass while watching a movie, as I learned this weekend. Ah, the ever-revealing joys of pregnancy.
Yesterday two friends of ours were married and they had their reception at Flanagans. Andy and Ellen worked behind the bar after he and I had attended the wedding at Preservation Hall. The ceremony was short and sweet and the entire wedding party looked fantastic. It was really nice to see many of our friends and acquaintances at the reception. I had an excellent time, even without partaking in the free drinks. Fall is surely my favorite time of year in New Orleans and it was nice to have a fun event to drag me out of the house. Looks like the rest of this month is going to be a fun, busy time.