Grow Up without Giving Up

Mostly, I don’t think much about getting older. I don’t have a lot of fear about it – in fact, I spent most of my life wanting to be older than I was – even in those rarefied times when you are supposed to be in love with your youth. I’ve never had stereotypical beauty or a youthful body to be afraid of losing, and aging has it’s perks too!

Today, a facebook friend of mine – actually more of an acquaintance who I know through work (she’s a health teacher in a school where I often present) – posted about her 28th birthday. No big deal. She made some joke about ‘aging’ that I rolled my eyes at because, whatever, 28 is NOT old. I’m close to 28 . . .

Except, not really. I’m as close to 28 as someone who is 20, and I would absolutely say there’s a difference between those ages. I’m closing in on 36 – 8 years older than my friend. Not a huge difference maybe, but certainly not the ‘close in age.’ (I also sometimes think that 2008 wasn’t that long ago, so . . .)

Yesterday, a colleague and I were talking about age, and about how different you can feel at a certain age, depending on your life circumstances. We were sharing that we both felt like our families still treated us like the teenagers we haven’t been in decades, instead of the adult women we are now. When L and I see our families, we inevitably feel much younger than our siblings – even when, in the case of L’s brother, only 18 months separates us in age.

And I do think some of this is being queer. Building lives that – for a long time – didn’t include a narrative of marriage or normativity, choosing to build families and communities that look different than the traditional groups of friends I see my brother and cousins spending time with, having to form identities that aren’t reflected in broader culture. I think there is often something about queerness that keeps you young – although it isn’t inherent, of course. And even now that I’ve stepped into a lot of that more traditional narrative, the community I spend time with and am invested in continues to prioritize different values and aesthetics. I mean, I’m a 35 year old ‘professional’ with a septum piercing (that I had before it was ‘cool’ FYI. #aginghipster) and pink hair and half sleeves of visible tattoos. I honestly have no idea how old people think I am when they see me, obviously I’m not even sure how old I see myself.

Sometimes I want to aspire – sometimes I DO aspire – to some of the ‘grown up’ life I don’t usually want and have not been working for . . .sometimes I think I might like a bigger house, or a different kind of job, that I might want to just be a mild mannered almost middle aged white lady in a suburb. Yes. Really. But getting it would mean giving up too much that I love.

And sometimes I wish I was able to live more off the grid than I do – that I could be like some friends of mine who still just work part time jobs at bike shops or book stores, who work on radical political campaigns in their spare time and live in collective houses, sharing resources and making art. I have always craved comfort and stability a little too much to have ever done more than dip my toe in that kind of existence, but I’ve romanticized it nevertheless.

Maybe my unease is that I wasn’t able to commit to either of these ends of this self imposed spectrum? No one really lives in the poles – it’s something we imagine from the outside, right? To add structure to our lives, understand the place where we live and carve out an identity – this, not that.

I worry sometimes about where we’ll be in 20 years if we aren’t at the ineffable ‘there’ by now – our mid 30’s! – but I don’t actually know where I’d want to be anyway. I have a retirement account and am vested in a state pension plan, I own real estate, I have a master’s degree and $40K in student loan debt to prove it. Those things seem like pretty solid sunk adult investments. So, yes, I’ve grown up. But I also fully intend to get more tattoos, not less, and don’t want to give up the chosen family or aesthetics or values. I do sort of want my kids to think I am some version of cool when they get older. Not cool like them, but that kind of older cool that you sometimes see. A comfort with who you are, a willingness to keep being yourself in the face of enormous pressure to do anything but, a certainty that the world can still change.

A Clearing

Thanks for all the woo – It is definitely helping.

Today L had a biophysical profile/growth scan of Tiny . . .he is till Tiny, but seems to have grown appropriately. (??) His overall size is still two weeks behind (he’s measuring around 28w) but last week he was measuring around 27w so . . .I guess that makes sense? In any case, they want to continue checking his size – so we have another BPP scheduled for 2 weeks – but apparently he’s not “scary small.”

Sidenote: OBs are . . .hard. I was able to see midwives throughout my pregnancy, even after my pre-E diagnosis, and had midwives providing my care (in consultation with OBs, but the midwives were who I saw) throughout my lengthy induction, although obvs, an OB did my section. L has also seen midwives up until just a few weeks ago and I can say without a shred of doubt that we both VASTLY prefer midwifery care. The OB L has is nice enough, but she spent all of 10 minutes with us (after being 25 minutes late to the appointment) and hardly seemed to know L or her case. She answered questions, I just didn’t feel like she genuinely cared. I know it’s all preference and lots of people really like OBs and, of course, there are differences from one doctor to another but . . .if there is a baby #3, we’ll definitely be going back to midwives.

L’s BP was also totally normal. This means, basically, that she’s had 2 “scary high” readings (directly after we were told our baby was super small and then rushed off to the OB without much information so . . .maybe that had something to do with it?) and a couple of other slightly high readings that got her from the MW to the OB, but overall her BP has actually been fine. I’m not doubting the transfer of care or the diagnosis I’m just rationalizing to myself why I feel such relief. Basically I’m saying this: right now, L’s BP has been more normal than it’s been high, and that’s good news.

Her urine also only showed very trace amounts of protein. So . . .things are overall going well. We aren’t totally on safe ground, but it seems like the storm is clearing a little. I LOVE a good mixed metaphor. Maybe I should say, we aren’t out of the woods, but we’ve found a clearing.

We had a lovely weekend here in Seattle. Not the original plan, sure . . .but lovely nevertheless. We did some basic stuff like getting groceries (since we hadn’t for the week – expecting to be travelling), doing laundry and cleaning up the house. We also spent a day at Alki beach which was nice since it was one of the warmest days of the year so far. The water was still too cold to swim, but it was low tide so we played in the tide pools and dipped our feet in the frigid sound and played in the sand and looked out over the water at the mountains.19390938_10154749328546864_2842615082197903205_o.jpg

On Sunday, we walked in the Pride parade and hung out at the festival for a bit with some friends. I really think Pride festivals are for people who can (and want) to day drink and lay in the grass and don’t have any responsibilities. Because when you’re a gay mom, you just cruise the vendors for free reusable grocery bags and compost bins and complain about the noise and the crowd. Still, we danced to Mary Lambert live and saw some fabulous drag queens.19417224_10154753360951864_4444428788188203848_o.jpg

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On Friday, L has her first appointment at the OB practice in Tacoma where we’ll be transferring. It will be interesting to see how they approach her care. The initial appointment is just with a nurse, as that’s their protocol, but I imagine with the various diagnoses (PIH, IUGR) we’ll see a doc fairly soon. L has another BPP scheduled in Seattle just in case it takes some time to get all of the care transferred. Being in geographic limbo while 8 months pregnant – not recommended.

On the upside, thanks to scheduling issues we went to a different ultrasound office than usual. At all of the previous scans, they’ve given us CDs of the pictures which is . . .nice? I guess? But who has a CD drive on their computer anymore? I suppose we could have taken the CD to a print-them-yourself picture place but it was always too much of a thing for us to do. But, at this place (where they also have the 3D capability – the tech showed us a couple of Tiny’s face) they e-mail you a link to the pictures and you can download them. So, here’s Tiny!

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And here’s L at 30w! Looking fabulous in my humble opinion.

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The Tiniest

We were supposed to be sweating buckets in Indianapolis today.

We are not.

On Tuesday, we packed up A and headed to an ultrasound appointment to check on Tiny’s size. This was the first of the additional monitoring L would be getting due to the gestational hypertension diagnosis. At the US, I wrangled Ansel while the very sweet tech did her job, measuring Tiny’s head, his belly, his femurs – over and over again. She left once and came back, asking to get a few more pictures – just in case. She left and came back again and told us the radiologist was calling L’s OB because Tiny was . . .well, tiny. In the 7th percentile, to be more specific. The radiologist spoke to L’s OB, who asked her to go over to the OB office (located in the same hospital complex) so we gathered the family and traipsed on over.

Once there, a nurse set L up with a non-stress test and I took Ansel to get some sandwiches, since we were now definitely past lunch time and edging into nap time. We brought L back some food just as she was being released from the NST. We waited another 15 minutes for the on-call doctor to see L. Once called back, the nurse took her BP. It was high. Scary high. (I can’t recall exactly, but in the 170 over 107 type of range) We asked the nurse to use the bigger cuff, but she said that the one she used “technically fit” and then left to get the doctor. The OB came in, took L’s BP again (this time with the bigger cuff) and got a slightly lower reading, although still in the scary high range.

Super high BP + tiny Tiny = L being sent to L&D triage and the doctor telling us in no uncertain terms we would not be flying across the country the next day. The doctor also said it was very likely that they would admit L for overnight observation and a 24 hour urine collection. This is, in fact, what ended up happening. I took A home to nap, then we returned in the evening with a bag full of clothes, cell phone charger and laptop for L. She dutifully peed in a container and got her blood pressure taken every two hours.

ALL of those BP readings were normal. Not even “high normal” they were like normal-normal. So, we were feeling pretty good. The OB in the antepartum unit, where L was admitted, also told us that Tiny’s abdomen and head size were small, but not crazy small (20-30th percentiles) it was his femur size that was skewing things. Apparently, when this is the case (average head and belly, short femur) it usually just means a “short baby” – not dwarfism short, just . . .short. However, since he was in the 40th percentile all around at the 20 week ultrasound, and because of L’s high BP readings at various points, they were going to need to watch his growth pretty carefully.

When she got released yesterday evening, we were feeling pretty ok about things. Normal BP readings, a reasonable explanation for Tiny’s tininess (sidenote: we nicknamed him Tiny and he ended up small; we nicknamed Ansel “Seafoam” and he ended up a pisces instead of an aries – maybe we have magic powers?!) Being in the hospital overnight isn’t pleasant, missing our trip to see family wasn’t awesome, but it seemed like things were ok.

This morning, L got a message from her doctor: the 24 hour urine collection showed small, but measureable, amounts of protein. Protein in the urine + high BP readings = pre-eclampsia diagnosis.

Pre-eclampsia is way more scary than pregnancy induced hypertension. It is especially scary at 29w5d. The only way to deal with pre-eclampsia, once it becomes serious (and it almost always escalates sooner or later) is to deliver a baby. There is a very real chance that Tiny will be coming before even the 37 week date we’ve been planning on. Maybe very soon. Maybe very early.

L will be having twice weekly NSTs, once weekly utrasounds, and weekly OB visits. We are also attempting to transfer care to Tacoma since we are moving in a couple of weeks, which also feels hard and complicated, especially in this scenario when things are not quite as simple as moving every other week appointments from one doctor to another.

I think we are both scared, but know the best we can do is just keep showing up for each other and the kid, do the next right thing, trust the doctors and medical care staff, keep our eye out for the signs of escalating pre-eclampsia (I guess it’s good that I had it so we know what we’re looking for? I’ve never felt lucky for having pre-E before, but I certainly feel lucky that I didn’t get it until 36 weeks) and pray that Tiny keeps growing and stays put for a while longer.

If you’re the praying type, we’ll take it. Or woo, or thoughts and prayers, or candles. Whatever you do, could you do it for us now too?

Little things, and bigger ones

  1. I got Ansel the cutest/weirdest shoes on sale online. We decided he needed some slip on non-sandal summer shoes, so I found these. Please take special notice of the sparkle poop emoji, which is really what sold it for me – although A’s favorite is the rainbow, and L is partial to the Unicorn. IMG_20170607_214702_281.jpg
  2. As much as I have longed for A to develop an attachment to a lovey, as I have fond memories of my own threadbare stuffed dog (Freddy), he has never really taken to a particular item. Until he found this yellow metal historically accurate reproduction diesel train at the hobby store. The train remains in his hand at almost all times. He now puts it down to put on clothing, and occasionally at other times when playing with other toys (usually this is because he actually forgets to hold it and then inevitably panics when he realizes he doesn’t have it.) He even sleeps with it. This is quirky and endearing, but in conjunction with a new toddler habit, has become sort of awful. Because Ansel has also started hitting and throwing (and less frequently kicking) when he is frustrated/upset/having big feelings. L and I, as well as the dogs, have all taken a train to the face. At home, we can take the train away when he hits with it (we do this for just a few minutes at a time to make the point, and now the threat of losing “Yellow” is often enough to subdue him) but when he’s around other kids, it’s harder. Yesterday he went to the sitter’s while L was at the OB and I was teaching all day. He apparently was super frustrated by the other kids and got jealous of the sitter giving them attention, and ended up smacking one of the kids in the face with the train, pretty hard. Obviously, the hitting/kicking/etc is the issue and shouldn’t be happening with an implement or otherwise. That’s a whole other thing I’m struggling with. But OMFG the train just escalates things so substantially. This is my kid in a microcosm: Quirky, cute, amazing and also so fucking destructive. Ugh. 20170611_122940.jpg
  3. L has been approved by the OB to fly to Indy next week! We haven’t seen the midwest fam in a year + so this is exciting (even though I am NOT looking forward to leaving my 65 degree perfect overcast weather for dripping Indiana humidity) Her BP was slightly high but not even above the cut off yesterday, and the OB seemed really pleased with how things are going. L is switching care to an OB in Tacoma, but this doc told us the evidence for gestational hypertension indicates induction at 37 weeks, so we are pretty well planning for Tiny to arrive around Aug 12th. That’s a Leo, for those of you who care, so I’ll be doing some woo processing about that for a little bit.
  4. Yesterday I received a really lovely surprise. My great-aunt recently passed away at 100 years old, and her daughter (my first cousin once removed) had found a blanket, crocheted by my grandmother, in her mother’s belongings. She sent it to me, and it’s beautiful and 100% my grandma. It’s made of that indestructable acrylic/poly yarn and will need about 100 washes before it’s soft, which is like all of the blankets she ever crocheted for me. My grandma died when I was in college and I didn’t have the warewithal to choose really solid things to keep from her estate, and ended up with her sewing machine and crochet hooks, which are lovely but also not very portable or endearing in the same way. So this feels magically special, especially so near to when my partner will be giving birth. I feel so grateful that I’ll be able to wrap A and Tiny in this blanket that their great-grandmother, who I adored and who really raised me in many ways, made so many years ago.19093062_10154713213106864_231555535228457196_o.jpg
  5. I have given so many condom demonstrations and talked about IUDs and STIs so much that I feel a little crazy. Looking forward to Friday when I’ll be done with the school teaching part of my job for a little bit. Also, fuck having to do anything with your brain at 7:25am, because that is inhumane. Especially when it isn’t dark here until 10pm. (on the upside, it’s light by 5am so at least the drive is more bearable . . .)
  6. Having to live in our shitty rental house for even a day longer feels excrutiating when we have such a beautiful house that we OWN. But, alas, shitty landlords and their shitty sneaky lease have us trapped, so we muddle on. We did get our refrigerator, washer and dryer delivered to the new house and OMG you know you’re an adult when that is the most exciting thing to happen in your week. I ❤ our new appliances and can’t wait to use them! Also: never ever take your dishwasher for granted!
  7. I have a few more things but I have to go teach some 6th graders about HIV so I guess I’ll catch you later . . .

June is Bustin’ Out All Over*

 

Ok, so . . .it’s been a few weeks and lots of things have happened!

  • Just a few days after my last entry, L mentioned to me that she’d had a mild but persistent headache for the last few days. “E-mail the midwives. It might be nothing but . . .” I was thinking of my own pre-cursors to pre-eclampsia and crossing all the things it wasn’t that – since she was just over 26w. Way too early for the fear of pre-E. She did, e-mail the midwives that is, and they told her to take her blood pressure at the drug store. She did, and came home to report it was 145/97 which was, you know, fucking high so she called the midwives again. “Come in to triage” they said. And she went. The realization that we now live very far away from our extensive support network hit me like a ton of bricks at that moment. Luckily, we do have a (much smaller) group of folks we love and trust here in the area, one of whom was willing to come over and hang at our house while Ansel slept so I could go be with L at the L&D triage. There, L was hooked up to monitors and her BP was taken every 15 minutes. As the evening wore on, it lowered steadily until at just before 11pm, it was in a normal range. They ran pre-E labs, all of which came back normal (thank 7 lb baby Jesus.) They asked her to come in that Friday and get the BP checked again.

 

That Friday, her BP was high again. This meant an automatic referral to the OB. That happened the following Tuesday. At the OB appointment, her BP was high again. The glimmer of hope that her care might be co-managed by the midwives and an OB was over. “You can forget about the midwives” the OB told her. And along with that pronouncement came a diagnosis: gestational hypertension. We learned that it was too early for medication, that bedrest actually isn’t that helpful, and that Tiny may very well come before September 2nd, perhaps even before 37W. L will be seeing the OB every other week, and getting additional ultrasounds to check Tiny’s growth.

 

Of course, this is all made exponentially more complicated because . . .

 

  • We bought a house! In Tacoma! Which isn’t that far from Seattle, but it’s far enough that we do not want to be driving up for frequent appointments, nor do we want to be that far away from medical providers if something happens. We aren’t officially moving until mid- July, even though we now 100% own the house, which further complicates things. We will be talking to the doc about this conundrum at her next appointment.

 

But . . .we bought a house! The whole process went incredibly smoothly, minus the fact that, as a former Colorado resident who has purchased property in the past, I expected the closing of this transaction to look like the ones before. Accordingly, I cleared my calendar for yesterday (the day we were scheduled to close) and even readjusted our travel plans to Denver, since we originally were scheduled to fly home yesterday (so we switched Monday.) Last Friday, our lender called to tell us about a couple of small hiccups – one of which was that we hadn’t “signed” yet and it needed to happen 24 hours in advance of the closing. I assumed this was some Washington specific thing, but that it was a piece of paper that needed to be signed. It worked out, and they sent a mobile notary to our house – she arrived 10 minutes after we got home from the airport and was, unfortunately, witness to the post-travel hot mess that was our family that night. In between feeding Ansel bites of hummus while Team Oomizoomi (A’s new fave) played on the laptop, L and I (I later learned) signed ALL of the mortgage and real estate documents necessary! WEIRD. I only found out this was the process because I sent a text to the lender asking when the closing was scheduled and she told me we’d done our part. So bizarre!

 

(Those of you for whom this is the norm: In Colorado – and other places, I think? – you go to a scheduled closing appointment time where you, the seller, the Title company officer, your lender and all the real estate agents sit around and sign everything, and the wire goes through and at the end, you get your keys.)

 

Last night, though, we met up with our lovely realtor at our new house (!) and she gave us the keys! She also gave us these beautiful ceramic travel mugs with a map of Tacoma with “Home” written inside. You all .  . . Tacoma might not be “cool” and it might have a weird reputation, but people who live there LOVE it, and we feel SO welcomed and so excited to be a part of this community. I got a little misty eyed when she gave us the mugs and told us “Tacoma is a better place because your family is here.” Swoon.

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  • Did I mention that we went back to Denver for the weekend?

Oof. It felt like a VERY long weekend, even though we were only there for a few days.

The GOOD: We got to hang with some of our besties, M + L, who adore A (and he adores them!) and they threw us a very small, super queer, baby celebration at their house (complete with lots of smoked meats for my meat loving pregnant dandy!) and stood strong at the family baby ‘sprinkle’ the next day. We also got to spend two mornings at the pool in my parent’s neighborhood, which was lovely. We saw a lot of our friends at the various celebrations, got a bunch of beautiful, creative, thoughtful hand painted onesies, as well as some gift cards and cash to spend on necessary baby gear, and Ansel got a big brother gift that he is enchanted by (Minnie Mouse + Trains = heaven)

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The HARD: My parents recently moved from the house I grew up in to a brand new home (in the same housing development as my brother and SIL) which was, ideally, supposed to be helpful for them (since they went from a 2 story to a ranch) but in actuality is maybe not, since the house they moved into is GIGANTIC (with the finished basement, it’s over 4000 sqft. Yes, I said four THOUSAND. That’s close to 4 times the size of our new 1200 sqft house) and does not seem to have alleviated the excessive cleaning and caretaking, except that the yard is now smaller. In addition, my parents have limited experience with littles other than my 4 year old extremely cautious and very verbal (not physical) nephew – which means they were basically super freaked out by Ansel’s interest in and ability to get into fucking everything. My mom even made some insinuations that he was a “bad” kid/ something was “wrong” with him (while also ignoring the fact that A was excited to swim – mostly without support – in the deep end of the pool while his older cousin wouldn’t go past the 1 ½ ft zone even while being carried) which made me feel deep RAGE. Also, things are generally hard with my mom (ex: I call her 1x/week and know all the details of their move; she didn’t know about the seizure disorder/ L’s high BP/our move until we were there all weekend to tell her, because she never asked about my life and ended the conversation on the phone every time I started telling her.)

 

It was exhausting and we are all still recovering from emotional intensity, long travel days, bad naps and shitty food (why do I eat so badly around my parents? UGH.)

 

That’s the deal, team. It’s a lot. Some hard, some bad, some good. But always this guy. ❤

(who is kissing his own belly good night while wearing his new favorite Minnie Mouse PJs)

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*Extra Credit points to the reader who can name this musical theater reference