Thursday, April 10, 2014

Freaking Diabetes

I've been actively avoiding blogging lately because I've been actively trying not to gripe about something.  I thought, it's probably just hormones making you this pissed, and if you give it time you'll see you're being ridiculous.  But you guys.  Time did not help, and the more I think about it the more frustrated I become.  And so:

Last week I failed my gestational diabetes screening, just like I did when I was pregnant with Lamb.  That first time, I obediently returned to take the fasting three-hour test.  I wasn't stoked about it, but I didn't feel like I had any say in the matter, so I showed up with an empty belly and chugged the nasty syrup and lasted one sweaty, miserable hour before I couldn't hold it down any more and tossed my cookies while the lab techs watched, disapprovingly.  That was humbling.  Through tears I asked a nurse what we could try instead; she said sorry, I'd just have to come back the next morning and do it again.  (Have I mentioned that I live an hour's drive from the hospital, one way?)  I shuffled greenly into the parking lot, sat down in my car, and cried again.  The next morning I gave it a second shot, pumped full of Zofran and with Tom at my side.  The lab techs made me lay down on an exam table for the full three hours.  I tried not to think about how uncomfortable I was, or embarrassed, or small.  Tom read to me and held my hand and took me straight to lunch when it was all over.  Only it wasn't all over.  Even after a nurse called to tell me that not only did I not have diabetes, but I was actually hypoglycemic, a feeling of insignificance lingered.  Something had shifted in my mind.  I felt so helpless, so removed from my pregnancy and the upcoming birth.  I kept thinking about the stupid test; I had nightmares about it.  It wasn't about the needle sticks or the embarrassment at throwing up or the nausea or the inconvenience.  What I hated about what had happened was being made to do something painful/embarrassing/nauseating/inconvenient to satisfy protocol, to create a test result so my doctor could check a box in my chart.  Really, the whole thing had nothing to do with me, which was the problem.  I was not a part of the decision to test and my medical history wasn't even considered relevant (I had no risk factors, no warning signs for diabetes and had struggled with hypoglycemia since childhood).  I had lost my autonomy, or maybe never had it.  I couldn't see it at the time but that testing experience colored the rest of my pregnancy and my delivery.  I felt like I didn't have any say in what happened to me, and that I couldn't even ask to discuss different options if I wasn't comfortable with what was happening.  Tom and I actually got into an argument in the delivery room because he wanted me to eat something and I was too afraid of breaking the rules, even though I was starving and shaky.  The nurses badgered me about getting an epidural, huffed about me not wanting to be tethered to an IV pole.  I felt sheepish about my decisions, even though they reflected what I really wanted.   I suspect my fear of their judgement and fear of what could be done to me without my consent prolonged my labor. 

This pregnancy, I want something different.  I want to have a say in my care without fear of being labeled a "difficult" patient.  Early on, we intended to have the baby in Alaska and I was looking forward to the option of a midwife and a birthing center.  But we had my 20-week ultrasound before we left and it revealed a low-lying placenta; there was a small but real chance that I would have to have a c-section to deliver safely, so the midwife idea was out.  When we returned to Wyoming I chose to return to my old obstetrician so that I could have the same practitioner whether I needed the c-section or not.  And I didn't regret that decision in the least until last week when I got a familiar call.  "You failed the gestational diabetes screening, so you'll need to come back tomorrow for your three-hour."  No.  Not happening.

I did some reading, and found that some practitioners think that bombing a fasting pregnant body with obscene levels of glucose is not actually a good way of determining how that body handles glucose under normal circumstances.  Hmm.  I called my doctor back to discuss whether at-home monitoring for a certain length of time, a week or two perhaps, would be an acceptable alternative for the three-hour test.  A nurse returned my call a few days later, saying that the doctor was fine with testing at home and that I would need to attend a diabetes education class. 

"How long will I need to test at home?" I asked, glad to have been able to have some input.

"Oh, until the baby is born, of course," she replied.  My stomach dropped.  That's two and a half more months of testing four times daily.  So if I refuse the three-hour test, I basically get slapped with a diabetes diagnosis even though a.) I have no symptoms or warning signs of diabetes and b.) I don't have freaking diabetes.  "Even if all my numbers are normal?  That seems a little extreme."

"Well, we want to make sure there aren't any complications, so the doctor wants you to continue until the birth."

After some agitated negotiating, I finally got her to agree that if I tested from then until my next appointment, the doctor would review my results and we could discuss it then.  Since then I've been called three times by three different nurses, all of whom made a big deal about what an inconvenience it was to deal with my insurance company about a glucometer and test strips when I could just take the the three-hour.  It's happening again, this badgering so I'll do what checks the boxes instead of doing what is right for me.  I don't want to take a miserable, expensive, humiliating test only to hear what I already know.  I'm not an idiot, I'm not trying to make any kind of point, and I'm not trying to be reckless with my health or my baby's.  I just think it's wrong to be expected to forfeit my agency just because I'm pregnant.

My next appointment is Thursday.  Every time I imagine how the conversation with my doctor will go, I end up in an imaginary argument with her.  Probably I shouldn't think about it anymore so I don't show up next week expecting a fight.  Until then, I'm assembling my body of evidence.  I've never been so aware of every.  single.  thing.  I put into my mouth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I spent the morning cussing my washing machine.  I tried not to say too many salty words out loud for fear that Lamb would repeat them, but believe me, they were racing in all caps through my mind.  Stupid thing has a short in it somewhere so it runs a cycle until the final drain/spin and then stops, full of water.  For Tom, it works perfectly every time.  For the repair man, it runs like a dream.  For me, diddly squat.  I actually kicked the thing a few times, once in anger and some more in the hopes that I could get jostle it into working again. 


I called Tom at work, and as soon as he answered I launched into a tirade against all home appliances and insisted that we order a new machine that very second because my pissed-ness was causing me physical pain and I couldn't stand it anymore.  He reminded me that a new washing machine is already on our to-buy-when-we-can-afford-it list and that my attitude was making the situation seem much worse than it was.  Obviously, he was of no help. 

When we hung up I felt a wave of frustration wash over me.  There are so many things to get ready before our baby is born, and I can't accomplish any of them right now.  The road out to our land (and therefore our storage unit) is still impassibly muddy, so we still have no furniture beyond a few folding chairs and the cushions to the couch.  The crib, the fabric for the nursery curtains, the nursing chair and ottoman, the mobile, the nursery art: all in storage.  (Our living room furniture, silverware, kitchen gear, dresser, etc, is stuck out there too, but somehow those things seem way less important.)  I've been arranging and rearranging nursery paraphernalia in my head, hoping that having the nursery planned will give me the same peace of mind as having the nursery done, but... no.  I feel itchy every time I look at that side of the room, and it's the side of the room my bed is currently facing, so you can imagine just how much itching is happening here.

I know what this is.  This is the crazy nesting period starting, that manic need for cleanliness and order that overwhelms your sanity and better judgement before you have a baby.  I remember this from last time.  I must have vacuumed behind the couch 15 times in the month before Lamb was born.  I scrubbed under the fridge and vacuumed the novels and once my friend Jill walked in on me cleaning the back of the microwave with a toothpick.  The back of the outside of the microwave, mind you.  It seemed nuts to me later, but all of that stuff HAD to be done then.  Just like washing and rewashing our bedlinens and hanging the damn mobile must be done now.  Only I have to freaking wait.

When the mania subsides and I'm able to look at my compulsions objectively, I can see that having the nursery ready is not about having a place for a future baby to sleep months before he will even born (let alone sleep there).  It's about control, and about my knowledge that so many things in my near future will be out of my control that I must exercise every puny power I have to influence something.  The truly frustrating thing is, I know that no matter how many times I vacuum the ceiling in the laundry room, I can't guarantee that my baby will be born safely, or that I won't have to have a c-section, or that Lamb won't be heartbroken at having to share his mommy, or that Tom and I won't struggle again like we did after Lamb was born, or that I won't get mastitis again, or that I won't get depressed again, or that I'll be able to take care of Lamb when the baby is still small, or...

We can only control so many things, and the future isn't one of them. 

But I can unscrew the teepee to wash the cover, and arrange the spices by height, and scrub behind the toilet with a toothbrush.  And I can vacuum the ceiling fans, and hang up empty curtain rods, and plan down to the inch where I will hang the clock.

And I can wait.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Place to Call Home

Thank you guys for all your thoughtful texts and calls after my last post.  I thought awhile about what you all had to say, and came to this conclusion: we will transition Lamb to sleeping in one room with Tom, and the new baby and I will "sleep" in the other room.  Tom is going to have an important role to play in Lamb's transition to big brotherhood, and I need to let that happen instead of trying to minimize the change for Tom (which might be more than I can handle!).  They will both sleep better, and Lamb will have Tom all to himself when he needs something.  As soon as the weather dries up a bit and we can make it out to our storage unit, we will bring home the crib, dresser, nursing chair, etc, and get things all set up.

You read that right; we are back in Wyoming.  I tried to write a little update for you a few times since we've been back, but how I felt about being home was just too big to put into words.  We spent several weeks in Alaska, and loved it; Anchorage is vibrant and young, and there are sushi joints everywhere(!), and soooo many opportunities to play outside, and tons of cultural action... but in the end we knew we couldn't stay.  It took us getting nearly 3,000 miles from home to realize where home was, and to really understand what we had sacrificed by leaving.  Tom left some incredible job opportunities he could never find at another company, and we left behind a beautiful network of family and friends that make our life what it is.  Tom said it best to me as we were taking stock of our new life in Anchorage: "We will never be as successful as we were without the people who support us."  So true.  And while we were gone, we missed out on opportunities to support them.  There were funerals, and baby news, hospitalizations, career crises.  If we had stayed, we would have missed graduations and births and countless other important moments.  And as soon as we realized all that, we knew that even though we had just made this huge journey and found an apartment and signed a lease and maybe even landed a job, we had to go home.  We packed up that night, and left the next day.

And we haven't looked back. 

It feels good to be home, surrounded by our people and familiar things.  Tom's brothers and sister-in-law burst in one night and gave Tom a welcome-back tackle.  (They said I would have gotten one too if I wasn't so pregnant.)  Grandparents have stopped by for breakfast and we've bullshitted around bonfires with old friends.  I got back in with the doctors who delivered Lamb and they are taking excellent care of us.  We picked up right where we left off, except Tom and I have a new perspective of deep gratitude.  I just keep thinking, "I could have missed this," and shaking my head.  

Something else has changed, I suppose.  We are committed to being here, and it's changing our attitude from being "for now" residents to being open to being community members.  Tom helped play music for the community park fundraiser, and I'm babysitting a friend's daughter while she runs errands in the next town over.  These are small things, maybe, but I'm seeing a role for us here that I couldn't before, and I like what I see.

PS:  Being stationery has given me plenty of time to start getting anxious about the new baby.  I'm almost in my third trimester.  How the heck did THAT happen?!!  So I'll be back soon with pregnant pondering and requests for mama advice, I'm sure!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Small House Sleeping Situation?

How do you arrange two bedrooms to maximize sleep for one newborn, one light-sleeping toddler, one insomniac, and one early-rising snorer?  You guys, it's not a riddle.  It's my life right now. 

I originally planned to sleep in one room with the new baby while Tom and Lamb slept in the other room, at least until the up-all-nights have passed.  But I'm worried about Lamb.  I don't want him to feel replaced by the baby since sleeping close to me has always been his spot, and if one room is the baby's nursery and one room is just a bedroom, there is no special place for Lamb.  I'm getting to that I-must-clean-and-organize-and-prepare-for-battle stage of my pregnancy, and this issue is actually keeping me awake at night.  What to do?  Any advice?

PS:  I asked my friend Amy for advice since she has two boys already.  I asked her if I was high to think that both boys could nap in the same room.  Her reply?  "Haha!  You're high to think that both boys will be napping."  Thanks, Am.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

House Shopping: What's on Your Must-Have List?

When we first arrived in Anchorage, we made finding a place to live our top priority.  Looking around was fun at first, but it seemed like if I loved it, Tom hated it, and vice versa. We apartment shopped for three solid days, touring complexes and duplexes and houses and always walking away with the feeling that we were going to have to sacrifice something important just to not be homeless.  To narrow down the number of places we scheduled to see, Tom and I made a list of must-haves for "the one."  It looks like this:
  • safe neighborhood
  • wood-burning fireplace (to offset heat costs)
  • designated parking
  • at least two bedrooms
  • sunny
  • dishwasher
  • washer and dryer in the apartment (not just in the building)
  • fenced-in yard or large deck where Lamb can safely play
  • feels homey/welcoming
  • not too close to neighbors (tricky in a such an apartment-happy city)
We saw some places we RAN out of: a townhouse with floor-to-ceiling smoked mirrors and bamboo wallpaper, a straight-from-1971 duplex with a landlady that never stops talking, a split-level ranch with the landlord living in the basement bedroom (no separation.)  Yikes!  We found a handful that might do, and put in applications.  Fingers crossed, I guess.  In the meantime, we are staying at a friend's house and continuing the search.  

Mamas, I'm curious: what would the must-have list look like for your family?  Are we forgetting anything important?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Day, New Life

I woke up early this morning. 

I was jerked awake by some way-too-vivid, anxiety-riddled pregnancy dream, the likes of which dominate most of my nights.  The dream fog, slow to clear, left me shaken.  I could hear Lamb breathing steadily beside me, though, and turned my thoughts to him.  I started thinking about how glad I am that Tom and I haven't been afraid to let Lamb sleep with us.  It's been such an awesome experience, allowing us to travel easily and camp in cold weather and nurture our parent-child bonds even when Lamb is busy being two all day long.  And it's so damn sweet.  In his sleep, Lamb reached out and touched my cheek with his hand, resting it there.  I thought about all those gooey mom things one thinks about in such a tender moment... and then I realized that the sweet gesture of unsolicited affection was actually a foot tossed over my face by the bed-hoggiest kid I've ever known.  Sigh.  He was directly perpendicular to me, his head on the pillow I put next to him to keep him from rolling out and his feet, well... 

I removed the offending foot and gave Lamb a 90-degree turn back onto his pillow.  I checked the clock:  6:07 AM.  Not offensively early, but too early for this girl.  Maybe a bathroom break.  I attempted a surreptitious slip out of the covers, but a sleepy voice behind me croaked, "Put your head on your pillow, Mommy."  Damn.  I sank back down and waited for him to drift off again.  There was silence in the house.  Tom would be waking up soon, getting ready for his temporary job doing demo for a home renovation company.  He is far overqualified for the job, and I asked him yesterday if it was a blow to his ego at all.  It was work, he said, and there's honor in all work.  That had made me proud.  He has been shamelessly networking and looking for a reasonable position, one where he can make enough for us to live comfortably but not one where his job takes over his life.  It will be a new experience for us, and a welcome one.

We only have one vehicle, so I planned to drop Tom at the construction office so I would have the pickup for the day.  I felt gross anxiety creeping into my mind.  I hate driving that enormous thing in traffic, and driving has been especially tough in Anchorage since snow and ice obscure the lane markings.  What if I got lost?  Anchorage is bigger than any city I've ever lived in, times a bazillion.  What if...?  It was no way to start a journey, let alone a day.  I reminded myself that the weather has been bright and clear, the people friendly.  It would be okay.

The baby in my belly started his morning somersault routine, pressing against the mattress.  There was no going back to sleep then.  I rolled over to inspect the ceiling.  What would Lamb and I do all day?  The three of us have spent the last three days solid apartment shopping.  We have never lived in such an urban place, and the prospect of apartment complexes with shared yards and tight parking lots just plain freaks us out.  We finally toured a place yesterday evening that checked all our boxes: fireplace, garage, washer and dryer, dishwasher, little fenced yard for Lamb, more than a foot between our place and our neighbors'.   It's a funny little two-bedroom house tacked onto the side of a larger split-level home, with the garages of each house sharing a wall.  The owner said it would be taken before Wednesday, and I can only hope we called/applied early enough to be considered.   

I mulled over our options for the day.  We could try to find the public library and go for a field trip.  Or we could find a place to get Lamb a haircut.  Or...  Or!  We go to Fred Meyer and go grocery shopping!  There's a Starbucks, and every grocery item imaginable, and clothes and shower curtains and who know what all else just begging to be perused!  It makes me feel so backwoods, but every time I walk in that place I feel like Julie Andrews in the opening scene of The Sound of Music.  It's a far cry from the tiny mom-and-pop groceries of our former Wyoming life.  AND there's coffee.  Sold.

The thought of coffee finally baited me out of bed.  I rolled, beetle-like, out of the nest of covers and stumbled to the bathroom.  A new day of our new life, begun.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Maternity/Nursing Tops That Don't Make Me Want to Fork My Own Forehead

If you don't already know how I feel about maternity clothes, try this:  take your lunch fork, point the tines toward your forehead, and give 'er six or so good jabs.  THAT'S how I feel every time I walk into a maternity store to go shopping.  It's all so spendy, frumpy, and goofy.  And don't even get me started on nursing shirts.  There aren't enough forks in the world.  But you have to wear something, and I'm reaching the point in my pregnancy where none of my non-maternity stuff is even kind of cutting it.  Ugh.

But recently, I ran across an Etsy shop that might have me changing my tune.  (Ooh, was that a fork pun?)  Modern Mummy Maternity has an amazing line of before-and-after maternity tops and dresses that adjust to fit/function as nursing wear after your pregnancy.  Here's the idea: 

Easy, right?  And no doofy flowers or floppy bows or ruffly bullshit in sight.  I love the MACY Shirt above, and here are a few more of my favorite styles, just for fun.
The MEL Shirt:

And the CARO Shirt:

I think I can put my fork down now.  :)

Images from: