If you didn’t pop into the Friday Open Thread last month, you may not know that my queer house spouse and I are expecting. Yes, I’m knocked up and it’s every bit as weird and fascinating as I thought it would be.
We found out on December 14, 2015, shortly after rolling out of bed in a cozy hotel room at the Wyndham Garden Chelsea in NYC. Our flight was departing in a few hours, so we were hazily pulling on clothes and cramming dirty laundry and travel detritus back into our luggage.
It was our third month of trying to conceive using anonymous donor sperm and IUI (intrauterine insemination). We’d only bought three vials to start, knowing we’d have to take a break and try again later in 2016 if we didn’t get pregnant before the end of 2015. There were about a million blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds and appointments and then we were ready to do the thing.
We tried to remain pragmatic about it, knowing that it rarely “sticks” on the first try. Still, the first time around, it was hard not to imagine that we might be one of the lucky few, that it might work right away. This was compounded by the fact that I’ve never been pregnant before and didn’t know what to expect. Also, I chose to use Clomid to stimulate ovulation, which had side effects that imitated pregnancy symptoms. So I was Googling: “early pregnancy signs cramping,” “early pregnancy signs neon yellow pee,” “first-week pregnancy symptoms,” “hot flashes pregnancy,” etc. etc. and I was cautiously optimistic that it had happened. It hadn’t.
The first and second rounds, my ovaries only released one mature egg each time, which is normal if you are conceiving without medical intervention, but we were paying cash money each time and we decided we needed to double down. (I never planned to use fertility drugs at all, but once we started actually doing this thing—and paying the bills—I changed my mind.)
By the time we got to round three, I was using a higher dose of Clomid to work my ovaries into hyper-drive and a HCG trigger shot to send as many eggs flying into the hopefully-fertile abyss as possible. I had three mature eggs by the time we went in for our third IUI appointment. Of course, I had a million weird body things happening this cycle: the weird pee, the uterine cramps, the dull aches, the hot flashes, the mood swings. Still, I was pretty sure it was all the drugs and hormones I’d been taking and convinced myself that it probably didn’t work again. I don’t like setting myself up for disappointment.
Waffle packed a pregnancy test for our NYC trip, knowing the last day of our trip would be the first day we could get an early positive. We didn’t think or talk about it too much over the few days we were there. We were seeing friends and religiously attending a theatre show we’re a little obsessed with. I rolled my eyes when he pulled the pregnancy test out of his luggage as we were trying to get ourselves packed and out the door. “Do you really want me to do this now?” I asked. I took the individually wrapped pee stick and hovered over the pristine hotel toilet. Waffle lurked outside the open door as though he was afraid to cross the threshold into my pee-area (which is unusual for us—we’re usually all up in each other’s bathroom space). “Don’t look at it without me!” he said from the doorway. It was kind of too late, though. As soon as I looked down between my legs, I saw two lines. Two bright, clear, crisp, assertive, happy-horrifying pink lines.
“You have to wait three minutes,” Waffle read off the back of the pregnancy test box.
“Uh, is two lines pregnant?” I asked.
“I wasn’t trying to look, but…I definitely see two lines.”
Waffle came into the bathroom and confirmed that I wasn’t having double vision or a brain hemorrhage or something. Then we tried to act normal while we were both clearly freaking out. It was thrilling in a terrifying way, like the moment just past the very top of the roller coaster when your stomach drops out and you lose touch with gravity. As much as we wanted it and paid hard-earned cash to make it happen, there was no way to emotionally prepare for this moment. Three rounds of IUI is the average for conception using IUI, but I’d had some timing issues with my cycle. After the first two duds, I’d convinced myself the third would be a miss, too.
Yet there were two undeniable pink lines on the used pregnancy test I wrapped in tissue and left in the hotel bathroom. (Sorry, hotel cleaning staff.) We’d need a blood test to confirm, but it was pretty clear. We kissed, stared at each other with ridiculous grin-grimaces on our faces, finished packing, and headed to JFK airport.
So we’re a little over half-way through now, just past the 23-week mark. It feels like August 20th is a million years away, but it also feels like it’s going to be here before we know it. From now until the day Baby T. Rex decides to meet the outside world, I’m gonna write down some of the weird and wonderful and less-wonderful stuff I’m thinking, feeling, and over-processing, as queers do.
16 Random Baby-Making Feelings I’m Currently Over-Processing
1. Literally everything makes me cry
I’m not a crier. I’m a deeply empathetic person, but I also keep very distinct personal boundaries and I definitely don’t like to show emotions, like, on my face. I really resist the idea that hormones affect me because it sounds like patriarchal bullshit, but pregnancy hormones affect me. OMG. I teared up over a scoop of ice cream the other night because it was so good. I knew I could no longer deny it when I started crying, no, bawling when my favorite MasterChef Junior contestant was sent home. I felt the tears coming, which is usually where crying at TV or movies begins and ends for me, then I was sobbing. Like, gross snotting and sobbing and having to wipe off my glasses. Because this little girl was so sweet and just a perfect little cupcake too good for this world.
I wanted her to be in the finale so badly. She was the youngest contestant and the last-standing Asian-American contestant and I just like, imprinted on her deeply. I blame my overreaction completely on Baby T. Rex. I mean, though, look how perfect and adorable she is!
2. Puke free, baby!
I was one of the lucky ones. I never got morning sickness, ever. Thank fucking goodness, because I hate throwing up. I hate it so much. In college, I was one of those people who would hold it in when I was drunk or hungover, even though it would probably feel better to just let it all out. In fact, I think the last time I threw up was on my birthday 10 years ago and it was actual hell. Cranberry-pink-vomit-bathmat-destroyed-drunk-ugly-crying-in-the-bathtub-hell. I’m so glad my constitution has been strong.
3. Booties, booties, booties, booties, rockin’ everywhere
Waffle has gone into full nesting mode and is buying everything dino-related and/or adorable on Etsy. He bought four pairs of sneaker booties this week, which I believe strongly is four pairs of booties that Baby T. Rex is going to kick or pull off immediately. If they are anything like me when I was a kid (or adult), they are going to want to be as nude as possible as much as possible. The booties are pretty cute, though. Baby shoes are annoyingly adorable, in general.
4. Goodbye, sugar high.
I was diagnosed with prediabetes about a year ago and, like, honestly I just didn’t give a fuck. Like, I was supposed to meet with a nutritionist and I didn’t because I’m a proud fat girl and that stuff is triggering and weird for me and I just didn’t want to. Because of my prediabetes diagnosis, I was screened really early for gestational diabetes. Guess what? I have it!
At first, my midwives were concerned that I actually had undiagnosed Type II diabetes because early gestational diabetes usually means you are Type II. I was kind of scared, not that Type II is the worst thing, but just that it would make my pregnancy higher risk and it would mean a pretty significant long-term lifestyle change. However, after some testing and meeting with a diabetes nurse, it was clear that I just had plain ol’ prediabetes prior to being knocked up. It was a relief and a wake-up call, too. I’ve been able to keep my blood sugar normal, with no impact on T. Rex, through a carb-controlled diet and light exercise.
Being pregnant and having to carb-count is kind of the cruelest joke. It definitely takes the fun out of “eating for two.” If I’m honest, though, I’ve never felt better. I don’t feel hungry and I can sense a change in my energy levels.
Also, the emphasis of the diet isn’t on losing weight, as it would be if I wasn’t pregnant, so I’m not struggling too much with fat girl triggers. Any time I’ve dieted intentionally before, it’s made me spiral into negative self-talk and emotional breakdown. Surprisingly, this has been OK, though I struggle sometimes with having to plan my whole day around my six-meal schedule. I have to think about food, literally, from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I’ve gotten pretty good at the finger stick testing, though. I did it totally by feel in a dark movie theater the other day like a boss.
5. Baby T. Rex is already making me a better person and I hate it
Speaking of making lifestyle changes, it’s so me that I’m suddenly doing things that I haven’t ever been able to do before, like find time for 30 minutes of exercise each day. I am kind of horrible at taking care of myself physically, emotionally, etc. I’ve always had a habit of putting other people before me. I work in social justice and helping fields. I’m always overcommitted and falling behind. Self-care is a constant challenge for me. Even though T. Rex is still a part of me, not a separate person, somehow being responsible for their health and development has flipped a switch for me. Suddenly, I can find time for exercise and say no to yet another evening meeting after work and plan ahead to cook meals at home. I hate that it takes being about this little fetus dinosaur for me to actually do these things. I’m hoping I can continue to do them for myself after T. Rex is born because it feels really good.
For some reason, Baby T. Rex loathes broccoli. I love broccoli and I keep forgetting I can’t eat it. I’ll have a couple bites of broccoli and everything will be cool, then I’ll take another bite and like, ABORT ABORT NO SWALLOW AHHHHH!!! It’s very sad because broccoli is delicious.
7. Clear Eyes, Full Bladder
The last time I was both this over-hydrated and dehydrated all the time, I was at A-Camp. I’ve never liked drinking water and now it’s all I do all day long. Also, peeing in every public restroom I come across in my daily travels, out of necessity. Also, almost peeing my pants or actually kind of peeing my pants on the regular.
8. Fetus storytime with the boi
Waffle and I have this thing now where every Sunday he reads me my weekly update from a pregnancy website. It usually happens late at night before we go to bed. The site is kind of heteronormative, of course, so some of the stuff about “my husband” isn’t applicable, but straight women don’t refer to their partners as “non-gestational carriers,” either, so… Anyway, it’s neat-o to review together what T. Rex is doing this week and what my body is doing in relation to that. Like T. Rex can hear now and it can taste what I eat and it can sense light. WEIRD SCIENCE! I hope T. Rex likes all this hot sauce I’m scarfing. As you can probably tell, I’m a low-key pregnant woman, so I’m not really into the fancy pregnancy apps or taking stylized bump pics, but this is one baby-making tradition I enjoy with Waffle that’s just between us.
9. Gestational Diabetes Test Kitchen Score Sheet:
wheat bread plus fruit: A+
wheat bread plus tortilla chips: B+
wheat bread plus wheat pasta: B-
wheat bread plus potatoes: B-
lentils plus basmati rice: A+
lentils plus potatoes: C+
lentils plus pasta: D-
brown rice plus beans: A+
brown rice plus lentils: B-
brown rice plus fruit: A-
injera plus lentils: C+
injera plus collards: B+
pizza: surprisingly B+
white bread: surprisingly B+
white rice plus literally anything – FAIL FAIL EPIC FAIL GAME OVER MAN
10. Arm stumps and alien face
Waffle thinks our baby is already the cutest baby ever, based solely on ultrasound pics. Honestly, I feel like all ultrasound pics of babies kind of look the same. Like, it looks like a sea monkey, then an alien, then a larger alien. It’s pretty cool to see it move around and listen to the heartbeat and all that, but it doesn’t look “cute” to me yet. Waffle strongly disagrees. That said, the name “Baby T. Rex” comes from our first ultrasound, at just seven weeks, when the fetus looked like a little swimmy fish with arm stumps and a tail.
“It has my T. Rex arms!” Waffle (who is part dino-boi) whispered to me as we were checking out at the front desk, sending me into a giggle fit. From then on, it was Baby T. Rex. Its arm stumps have grown to a longer length and it lost its tail by the next ultrasound, but the nursery will be dino-themed.
11. I need Isabel to Google some stuff for me
Google is your best friend and worst enemy when you’re preggers. Every time I feel something weird or think I do, I’m on Google looking it up. How did pregnant people do pregnancy before internet forums? I lurk, but reading the experiences of other pregnant people (OK, typically very heteronormative moms) is mostly reassuring. I can lose hours scrolling through forums, though, just making sure that this weird cramp I’m having is OK and Baby T. Rex is not in danger.
I’ve found a couple forums for lesbian moms (which I’m not, but close enough) and once in a while I come across a pregnant dad in a thread, but there isn’t a lot out there that is for queer parents. Even the lesbian moms can be kind of…gendernormative and like, not my people. I guess it’s why we started our own queer family blog way back when, though I’ve really got to get back to updating it. I did join a feminist parenting group on Facebook and that’s been kind of a nice safe place to find other parents who want to smash patriarchy.
12. Moving and kicking, but not screaming yet
Feeling a baby kick you from the inside is kind of like having your first confirmed orgasm. Like, you’re not sure if you had an orgasm until you really have a good one and then it’s like, “OH YEAH THAT WAS DEFINITELY AN ORGASM!” I’d felt little tiny maybe-movements-maybe-gas since about 20 weeks, but this week Baby T. Rex went into full active mode. And won’t stop moving. It’s similar to that flippy feeling your tummy gets when you go over a hill on a roller coaster. Before, when it was just once in a while and very light, it felt like popcorn popping or light tapping. Now it’s, like, most of the day, every day, tummy flips and pronounced poking. It’s pretty wild. It’s definitely weird. Like, what is even happening with my body right now? I don’t hate it because it’s somewhat reassuring, but oh boi, this kid is going to be as hyper-active as I was when I was a tot. We’re in for it!
13. Does this make me a hippy?
I’m drinking apple cider vinegar like a crunchy mom and I’m really into it. Supposedly it brings down your blood glucose numbers if you have diabetes. I don’t know if it’s actually helping metabolize my glucose or whatever, but I do know it’s delicious with fresh lemon juice and stevia. I found a pasteurized version with the mother intact at Trader Joes, breaking the family moratorium on shopping at Trader Joe’s. (Waffle works for a competing grocery chain.)
14. Going to Lowe’s is the best way to start a fight with your partner
So far, we agree on the major baby-planning questions and decisions. We did manage to get into an almost-shouting match in a suburban Lowe’s over paint color, though. I actually didn’t care too much about what color the baby room was as long as it was bright and generally gender neutral. I thought we both agreed on a jungle green color, then Waffle brought orange into the mix. I was like, “OK, fine, I guess, if that’s what you want.” Waffle wanted me to have a strong opinion one way or another. I just didn’t have a strong opinion. I was like, “This is your thing. I don’t care,” which was definitely the wrong thing to say. This resulted in us passive-aggressive poking at each other until we were on the verge of an epic blow-out, over paint.
15. Belly worship
Being a self-proclaimed fat girl, I feel like people can’t tell I’m showing unless they know or see me every day. Like, I already have kind of a nice, round, protruding belly. I love my belly. The shape has changed in the last few weeks. It’s hardened and is more “up” than “out” now, but I don’t necessarily look pregnant to the untrained eye. Well, I guess I kind of always look pregnant to the untrained eye. When I was trying on maternity clothes a couple months ago, I didn’t need the bump padding they have in the dressing room to imitate a second-trimester bump. My body is naturally bump-shaped.
I both love and hate that showing off my stomach is now socially acceptable because I’m knocked up, because being pregnant is the ultimate heteronormative act and suddenly my body is desirable and fertile instead of gross and offensive. It’s liberating and infuriating.
That said, a lot of my regular clothes work well as maternity clothes because my body mass hasn’t changed too much yet. Speaking of, maternity pants with the belly panel are my new best friend. Why was I not wearing maternity pants before? Why are they not marketing these for non-pregnant people who want to be comfortable and have pants that stay up over their belly? I’m a lifetime convert. I’ll be damned if I go back to regular jeans.
16. Pickleback, hold the whiskey
My cravings are salty, more than sweet. Since I’m on a gestational diabetes diet, this is actually ideal. I could drink a whole jar of dill pickle brine every damn day. Oh, geez, now I’m craving pickle juice. Ugh. BRB.