Wednesday, March 31, 2010


About a month ago, I got two lines on the pee stick. For the second time, it seemed, I got pregnant the first cycle of trying.

Yesterday I went for the dating ultrasound and discovered I had what's called a blighted ovum, which means the fetal pole (thus the embryo itself) never developed: I had a fetal sac and a yolk, but no fetus.

It's too soon to know exactly how I feel about this. I mean: I feel what I feel now, but who knows what I'll feel about it next week or next month or next year. Mostly, at this point, I'm surprised by how not surprised I am. On some level, I knew it. I had a bad feeling about this pregnancy, and some part of me is relieved to know for sure that it went wrong, to be able to move on rather than continue to worry about it. Of course, if the ultrasound had showed a squirmy little proto-human with a solid heartbeat, I probably would have shaken off the bad feeling and chalked it up to second-time-around jitters. You don't tend to know a lot about what can go wrong your first time. But then the second time, you know more mothers, and you've heard more stories.

I find myself comforted by the fact that an embryo never developed. There's something less tragic about a lost possibility than a heart that stopped beating.

It drives me crazy that there's no way to phrase it that doesn't lay the blame, at least grammatically, on me. I miscarried, or I had a miscarriage, or I lost the pregnancy. There's no the pregnancy failed, or the embryo lost itself. Even the word "miscarriage" tells you it was the carrier who fucked it up. English language FAIL.

I find myself dwelling on some really stupid details. Like: hey, now I can clean out the room where the cat boxes are so Andy doesn't have to do it. (Andy hates the cats, and I forgot to set him up with a minimally gross set-up to take over catbox tending while I was pregnant -- pregnant women aren't supposed to mess with kitty litter because of the risk of toxoplasmosis.) Like: crap, now if I get pregnant again ASAP, I'll end up delivering and racking up hospital bills on next year's deductible instead of this year's.

B., my nurse practitioner, said in terms of my health and well-being and future ability to conceive, it's about six of one, half dozen the other between letting nature take its course and having a D&C. In both cases, the risk of infection is around 7-9%. Which surprised me: that's a pretty high risk for a thing that happens so frequently. And this kind of infection can be extremely dangerous. The temptation to do the surgery is to have it all over with sooner and to skip the worst of the gore, though even with a D&C, you still have some bleeding and cramping. For now, though, I'm planning to let things just happen, with an option, of course, to go for the surgery if it's not happening fast enough or if it's too unpleasant. There's a considerable gross-out factor to the mechanics of miscarriage. B. said that because there's no fetus, for me it's likely to be more like a very heavy period. Let's hope so.

People who mean to be sympathetic and kind tend to say things about how nature gets rid of its mistakes or something, how miscarriage happens because the fetus wasn't good enough. I understand this impulse, and I certainly appreciate that it's kindly meant. But it's pretty stupid, and I wish people would think it through. Would you say that to someone mourning a person who died from a genetic disease? That it's somehow less sad because the person obviously wasn't made very well? Yes, it's true that many miscarriages are caused by genetic abnormalities. But that's not particularly comforting, especially because with current technology, some would-be mothers may actually know for a fact that that's not what caused their loss. They may have very strong, very complicated feelings about what did cause their loss, whether it's genetic abnormalities or something else. Plus, honestly, what seems comforting to one person may seem like minimizing to someone else, like: you shouldn't be so upset, because here's this information. In my opinion, the thing to say is the same thing you'd say to someone mourning any other loss: "I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do?"

I cried on the table at the ultrasound. I cried in B.'s office. I cried in the car. I've cried a little here and there since. But mostly, so far, I'm ok. I know that I have physical discomfort and unsettling gore to look forward to, plus the hormone crash at the end. But for me, mostly, this feels like a very annoying roadblock between us and the next wonderful member of our family.

(One quick request: I'm going to link this post at Facebook, but I'd really prefer that people not comment about my miscarriage on my Facebook page. Comments here are fine, or feel free to contact me some other way.)

Friday, March 5, 2010


35 lbs this kid weighs! Which is spot-on his growth curve and all and not a means for concern, but good grief, he's a bit of a lot to lift and tote. And that was a big part of what spurred us to move him from a crib to a toddler bed this week.

If we hadn't happened to buy a crib that converted to a toddler bed, I would have no truck with toddler beds, and would have put him right into a single bed, or possibly just put his crib mattress on the floor. But lo, the wonder of Ikea.

Sadly, and maybe for the first time, Ikea let us down. When we took the bars panels out and went to take the top panels off the headboards, it became immediately clear that there would be no detaching and reattaching the decorative cap pieces. They didn't have a flush, flat-to-flat join; they had some kind of grooved thing that was on no account A) going to come apart without solvents or B) going to attach to the bottom panels of the headboard without sawing and sanding. Naturally, we began this process about forty minutes before the kid's bedtime, so power tools were not in the cards. We left the bed with no decorative caps, which means it has a sad, unfinished edge with weird holes. Meh.

I had intended to get a pair of those bed baffle things to keep him from falling out, but I forgot, so instead we put a big dog bed right beside. The bed's only about six inches off the ground, anyway. I wondered if he might not end up preferring the dog bed, and if so, whether it was my duty to discourage that.

I had searched for toddler bed linens online, and found two mutually exclusive categories: the ugly and the ruinous. One advantage of moving your kid out of the crib while he's still this little is that he has not yet developed an attachment to any licensed characters, so there was no tempation to yield to the ugly in the form of Elmo or Thomas or Spiderman in their poly-blend luridness. Nor was I quite willing to shell out fifty bucks for Dwell Studios' precious hipster 100% cottons. Besides, I didn't think the kid was going to be able to manage the top sheet + comforter; it seemed like a recipe for tangled child. But that was the only formula available from Target, which I quickly realized was my best bet for spending under rather way, way over fifty bucks.

So, Ikea. Which sells toddler pillows and duvets, and then sets of duvet covers and pillowcases (because for pete's sake, if you already have the crib, you already have fitted sheets!). But which doesn't ship its kid bed linens. I did actually consider the idea of tossing the kid in the car and driving three hours to New Haven. I'd have arranged to meet my mother, so it wouldn't have been thoroughly crazy, but still. She offered to go instead, and that was a much saner plan.

So. It only remained to see whether Ben would accept this transition or raise holy hell. Would he pop right out of bed and bang on the door, screaming? Would he rampage through his bureau or pull all the books out of his bookcase? We took the space heater out because he has a desperate fondness for buttons, so at least he probably wouldn't burn the house down. He's a pretty mild-mannered toddler, so odds were in our favor, but then he's always been an iron-jawed sleep resister, so there's that.

There was some initial yelling, but he didn't pop out or fall out of bed. And he settled down pretty quickly. We've now put him down for three bedtimes and two naps, and there's still a little outrage, but it's short-lived and appears to be on the way out. There have been some wake-ups, but no more than in the crib. And we're not out of the woods, I'm sure -- he could decide to rampage at any moment, after all -- but I think it's not premature to call the experiment a success.

But I would never jinx us like that.