A Pregnancy Finished

A story two years in the making that I finally have remembered to share… I started writing this in the summer, planning to post it as a “we’re expecting” announcement and it just never happened…

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In August of 2012 I was doing everything I could (and potentially not everything I needed to do) to get promoted at work. At the time there wasn’t a real position between shift supervisor and store manager, as the assistant store manager was a training position for store managers. The way that’s supposed to work is that you’d spend 7-10 months as an assistant store manager and then you’d get your own store.

The way the recession affected this is we had to stop expanding the way we were expanding and even close some stores that were in bad locations. This means we had far fewer openings for store managers, which in turn meant the field to become an asm was now far more competitive. This is why I had been trying to get this promotion for over four years, and I finally felt like I was close.

Then Bunny and I actually sat down and talked about kids. My life plan had always been to be a store manager for a few years, save up money, and then go down to part time so I could be primary caretaker and avoid expensive day care costs. The recession really fucked with that plan, but we sat down and decided we weren’t going to wait for that to happen anymore. Our life had been on hold for work reasons long enough. Now the issue with the way retail life works is timing: ideally we wouldn’t want her to have a baby only to return from maternity leave in the middle of the holiday season, so that meant we wouldn’t start trying until 2013.

Trying to plan for the worst has served me well over time. And I noticed that if I got promoted in September as it looked I might, at best I would only have been a store manager for a few months before Bunny would give birth if we got pregnant right away, and then I’d want to step down to part time. If I did that after all the money and planning that would go into promoting me I would burn the vast majority of bridges I had at the company, so I had to do what was right and take my name out of the running. My district manager at the time loved that I’d thought about it from his point of view and thanked me for being so considerate.

The difference between trying not to get pregnant and trying to get pregnant is poetically ironic. My high school education on the subject focused extremely on what could happen versus what was likely to happen, and when you’re in high school that’s really what you need to know. You don’t need to know yet that half of all pregnancies aren’t viable, because when you don’t want kids, any chance is too big a chance. For some reason there is this perception in our society that you don’t talk about miscarriages, and as a result you don’t understand how common they can be as well.

Bunny has RH negative blood, and I have RH positive. Only 15% of white people (and far less in other ethnic backgrounds) have RH negative, and in the cases like ours where the fetus has been RH positive, the mother’s immune system can attack the fetus and cause a miscarriage and other complications. This is what we think happened. We also had a “miscarriage” just after we bought our house, and this is the kind that happens all the time, so early on that the hospital was surprised the home test gave us a positive result. Tests are so sensitive now that you can catch these almost-pregnancies that don’t implant if you take them at just the right time. The real miscarriage was two months in and was not fun. Others with RH negative blood have had very similar experiences but we’re not sharing their stories without permission.

I’ve always thought of miscarriages as quality control, which with the whole RH blood thing is a grayer area, but even so, thinking soon you get to hear a heartbeat for the first time only to miscarry the next day is rather devastating. Being unable to get a hold of the doctor while it’s happening is even worse. Before that they didn’t have on file that Bunny was RH negative, so it wasn’t something they were looking out for. She was far along enough that she had contractions when she miscarried. So that was interesting. They started during her district holiday meeting, and that night she still held two store meetings because they had to be done.

After that we went a while without anything happening that we could detect. The big miscarriage let me know I wasn’t sterile, but it’s rather defeating to be trying for over a year and to have nothing good to show for it. When this round finally happened I found out on my father’s birthday, but after what happened last time we weren’t about to let anyone know for a good long while. Doctors had to tell us things were looking good before we even told our parents.

Apparently I never finished it either. But here is the tale of how we finally ended up with Liam.

He was on track most of the way through, giving us a need to check his mass only in the last month. They can’t get this data accurately before birth, but our main ultrasound tech prides herself on having a margin of error of only half a pound. With a month to go, Liam was already at 8 pounds give or take, and the topic of cesarean delivery came up. Generally when the fetus is over 4.5kg (9lb, 15 oz) they encourage cesarean deliveries because the likelihood of something going wrong that has higher risk/worse recovery than a cesarean goes up exponentially.

We had another weight check scheduled in two weeks and with a different tech. This tech put Liam at 8.7 lb when we expected 9.8 at this point, so we looked in the clear, but she couldn’t detect as much amniotic fluid as she expected, so we had another ultrasound four days later with our usual tech. Again, this tech prides herself on her accuracy, and therefore trusts no one else’s data, so she checked the weight again, and found 10.2 pounds…..

The rest of that appointment was about options, but in no way pressured us to do the cesarean. The biggest indicator of how much the OB wanted to was that if we went for it, she would schedule it within 48 hours. The big reason for this is they prefer to do the operation before labor starts if possible. We thought about it a lot (since we hadn’t up to this point), and decided to go with it before the end of the day. When Bunny called her OB back, she had a massive sigh of relief over the phone, and we understood how much she hadn’t been pressuring us for an operation she thought was absolutely necessary.

The big thing with that as I said is that there’s no real way to know the child’s mass before birth. So while if the estimates were accurate this was definitely the best course of action, the OB has gone this route before only to have a normal sized baby come out of it. And at Liam’s weight deliveries can go smoothly, but the risks are just higher. She had done such a good job not pressuring us that we were worried the cesarean wasn’t going to be considered medically necessary, and therefore that insurance wouldn’t cover as much of the costs as it would for a natural delivery. Once we confirmed that it would be considered medically necessary we scheduled it.

It is very, very surreal for something you have been expecting to happen at any moment to suddenly have a scheduled appointment to happen instead. Excellent for planning for someone to deal with Willow, but still extremely surreal. Everything moved at that scheduled pace before the operation, and once they were all set up they brought me in, and I was only in the room for five minutes before Liam came Lion-King style out into the room (the OB did this on purpose so i could see from behind the screen). At this point it feels both so recent and also so long ago, and while the story doesn’t quite feel finished I think it’s good enough. Plus he’s waking up, and I want to go spend some time with my son.

Primary Caretaker

IMG_3255My life now consists of constant change, which remains in the forecast for at least two decades. I made the transition to “stay-at-home-parent who works half-days most of the week,” and the results so far have been interesting. Sure, it’s not like I hadn’t been taking care of Liam before a week ago, but being home alone with him and the dog really changes the perspective. The need to do yard work but being unable to do so is quite distressing.

The day tends to be spent prioritizing what needs doing the instant I can put him down, and trying to take care of that list in a mad rush every time it happens. Food tends to be interesting. Today, like last Monday, I have really lucked out in that he’s been cooperative in the mornings. I’ve been able to eat, do laundry AND dishes, and get all the trash out of the house before pickup tomorrow. Mondays also have the privilege of being one of the two days where I must bring Liam with me to work in order to get any hours, and Bunny must pick him up on her way home. We have a 45 minute window to make this happen. This means that twice a week the dog is left alone in the house, able to destroy whatever her heart desires without interference, so I have to get her favorite targets out of the line of fire before I leave. Usually when I have done so, nothing else is worth her wrath. Today I forgot to throw away a paper towel core, and she used it to illustrate her displeasure.

That being said, her wrath is something that has been growing of late. Liam is still too young to take with when walking the dog, so it just doesn’t happen. There’s too much going on before one of us leaves for work, and the skunks are too active (and the parent who has been home needs a break) afterwards. 70-80 degree days can’t get here fast enough, and I know that after a week it will be 80+ because we don’t really get spring or fall anymore. I’m trying to make do in the meantime of going out back and throwing stuff around for her during some of Liam’s naps, but anyone who has tried doing this with Willow knows that she gets bored within five minutes. Something here must change, and I haven’t figured out the fix yet.

Oh look, time to put laundry on a rinse. It’s actually kinda nice to do laundry pretty much every day. Sure, I have enough diapers and clothes that I don’t need to, but once I have enough for a full load I might as well get it over with. Also I prefer my bathroom/kid’s room/house to not smell like piss. I’m still wondering if I’ll get used to this before it changes. I’m at work so little that I just feel like I’m fucking around there versus actually working, especially since my reduced hours limits my ability to impact the store operations. It has suddenly become crystal clear why they require a minimum of 24 hours a week for my position, and I almost wonder if that’s even enough. Granted my boss was out last week so that may be part of that feeling. It’s also a very different situation to run the afternoon and close the store, versus coming in after 90% of business is done and close the store. I have to remember that others don’t do steps in the same order I do, and Task C being complete doesn’t mean A and B are.

“Leisure time” as it can exist when dealing with the kid tends to be reading/watching Clone Wars/playing one-hand or controller-based games. I am going to rip through “Lords of the Sith” faster than you’d believe if you knew my reading speed (clearly in a Star Wars kick right now but that’s a different post).

Also, in case anyone in the movie industry accidentally comes across this: I would like to see Avengers w/o the need for a baby sitter, since I’m not a big fan of the theater experience to begin with. Give me something I can watch in my own home (at my leisure and pause when necessary) for the price of two movie tickets or less like with The Interview, and you will have my money within 15 seconds.