It wasn’t supposed to be this easy.
When we started talking about trying to have a baby I was a pessimist as always. I’ve been dealing with PCOS for several years now and I know that can make it difficult if not impossible to conceive naturally. My worst fear was that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant and it would break up our marriage, because Joe has wanted to be a father for a very long time.
He assured me that we would figure things out no matter what happened.
For a while we were sort of but not really trying and nothing was happening and I saw it all as proof of my worst fears – now that I had finally decided I would like to be a mother the universe had decided that all my waffling and bad choices made me unfit. So we stopped trying.
At the beginning of this year my PCOS came back full force. I had seen my endocrinologist during the winter and she was very happy with my progress, and then the summer hit and suddenly my life was not my own. I was living away, working 12 to 14 hours a day and ate what was available, getting no exercise. My weight went up and my period stopped and I started panicking about all the health issues associated with PCOS – cancer being the biggest thing on my mind, and infertility being number two.
And then, suddenly, I took a pregnancy test in April, for no real reason except to prove to myself that I, once again, was not pregnant, and it come up positive. By the end of the week I had taken three more tests and had them confirmed by my doctor.
And I still had my doubts. Until the first ultrasound all that was going through my mind was the thought that it must be ectopic. And once we knew it was a normal pregnancy, all I could think was that something would go wrong and I was going to miscarry.
And then I hit the end of the first trimester and she was still okay. In fact, as far as the midwife and the ultrasound technician was concerned, she was perfect and everything was going along smoothly. I am shocked that she’s still fine, that I have now entered my third trimester and I feel her every day moving around and all the medical types are still happy with her growth and her progress and everything says she’ll get here on time and in fine form.
And I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I’m not gaining enough weight, and I’m not showing as much as I expected to, there are days when she doesn’t move as much and I wonder all the time what’s going on.
I’m terrified about what will happen when she gets here, what will happen a year, five years, fifteen years down the road. I’m wondering how I will pay for this relatively easy pregnancy. I’ll worry about her always.
Today I read two posts about the difference between being childless and being child-free – or the difference between women who consider themselves childless or child-free. It’s an argument I have heard all about before and one I have never involved myself in because for most of my life I just didn’t know what I wanted.
Mostly I just wish that all these women would stop wasting time fighting amongst themselves and belittling other women’s choices.
When I was little I always assumed that I would find the perfect boy and get married and have babies and everything would be smooth sailing. From the time I became a teenager until I met Joe I had made the firm decision that I would never get married. I didn’t know whether or not I would ever have children and I really didn’t know if I wanted any.
And Joe changed everything.
We started dating in March and moved in together in August, and got a puppy in December. It took us a whole year after moving in together before we got engaged, but we both knew that was going to happen. We got married about two and a half years after we started dating.
As soon as I knew it was Joe, I knew we would have kids.
All my life I have relished my relationship with my grandfather while lacking that same relationship with my father. All my life I have watched TV shows and movies about fathers and daughters and the special relationship they share and I have longed for it. I always wanted to be daddy’s little girl, I wanted someone to be that protective of me, someone who looked at me as though I was something really special.
Joe will be that father that I always wanted, there has never been a doubt in my mind and I feel very special to be the person that gets to make him a dad.
As terrified as I am of having a little girl and all the things I will have to teach her (she WILL understand what’s going on with her body dammit, my daughter will not be one of those girls that writes in to Seventeen asking if she lost her virginity because she used a tampon), I know that she will be the apple of Joe’s eye, even if she doesn’t become Team Canada’s goalie at the 2030 Olympics.
One of the things I’m concerned about now that I know I’m having a little girl is my complete lack of knowledge where make-up and hairstyles are concerned.
So I’m spending a bit of time this weekend rummaging through my sorry little make-up case and reading Carmindy’s 5 minute face to see if I can actually get a handle on these things. Except foundation – I’m not even going to start with foundation – that’s just too complicated.
I have only worn substantial make-up and gotten my hair done (beyond a cut and blow-dry) once in my life, and that was for my wedding (twice if you count the trial).
That day was very strange for me. My make-up artist and hairstylist were both very good and very cheerful, but I still felt like I was playing dress up. When I think back I wonder what people thought of the dress that I loved but was a bit too traditional, a bit too lacy, with a big red bow on the back and a train that played havoc when I tried to dance. When I look back I feel as though I looked ridiculous in my white lace dress with the big red bow, and the athletic socks that I wore with my bright red converse, and the hair that got messy almost as soon as we left the mall and waded out into the wind and the rain. On the day I had no concept of being goofy, not that I remember anyway, I was just excited and I wanted to see Joe and get the whole thing over with.
The fact is that my wedding day is such a strange memory for me because I long ago gave up on looking like anything but myself. I long ago realized that I would always be slightly off the mark. I was the girl who’s hair wouldn’t lay flat and who always had a stain on her clothes. I was mostly happy until I realized that I was supposed to be trying to get attention from boys, that I was supposed to be pretty – something I’ve never felt.
I think that if I lived in older days I would be described as a handsome women. I never wanted any more than that really – I got the lesson that smart girls can’t be gorgeous, I was also fat and I started wearing glasses when I was 13 all of these things combined to make me an undesirable geek. And then combined to give me my own sense of self. At some point I stopped really caring, or part of me did anyway – I got out of high school and I started finding people and places where you can be what you are – no matter how goofy or unkempt. The best of these places was the student paper in university, for the first year at least, and now the best of these places is my marriage.
I hope I can teach my little girl some of the lessons I learned from being the never perfect one. I hope she has the same scars on her knees and school pictures with her hair sticking up (which I also used as my high school grad photo). I want her not to read the same stories in Seventeen magazine and feel the same pressure. I want her to be the athlete that I wasn’t because I didn’t want to try and fail. The girl who isn’t too scared to take voice lessons or dance classes if that’s what she wants. And the girl who isn’t almost 3o and still afraid to try foundation by herself.
A year and a half ago, Joe and I were ready to leave the city so that we could both find jobs without worrying about knowing how to speak and write French. Then, through a whirlwind of activity, we both landed in jobs here – his permanent and mine continually extended until I became permanent by default.
I have struggled in my job at times – a lot at the beginning and now only occasionally – but I have been very proud of my ability to push through and figure things out for myself. A lot of the stuff I’ve done in this job was thrust upon me with little or no explanation and I, being me, was too bull-headed or embarrassed to ask how to do something or where to find something, so I just found a way.
Now I’m permanent. Cemented in this position and looking around to see where I might be able to move in this organization – but I still don’t like telling people where I work. When I meet new people I usually tell them where I get my paycheque from generally instead of where I work specifically, because I’m always fearful of that reaction – that look of mocking or disgust that could be there, depending on the crowd I’m in.
Even on Twitter, while I’m becoming more open about where I work and what I do, I’m still not ready for people to know exactly where I work and what I do. I don’t want to be judged and I don’t want people assuming that what I think is what my bosses think (or vice versa). I don’t want to get in trouble for being me and I don’t want anyone else to get in trouble for anything I say. If I could be a bit more vague.
I work in politics. The first day I went to work in January 2008 I stopped myself twice before I hit the elevator button. As far as I’m concerned, working where I do changes everything. It’s something I may be judged for during every job interview in my future (assuming I don’t stay with the party for the rest of my life). It’s weird for me to have my beliefs right our there with my ID badge. It’s weird that people assume that I subscribe to everything the party says or does – which I don’t, I don’t even understand how someone could.
There are days when I feel so proud. I go to work and something happens and I get to feel as though I’m making a real difference somehow. I’m doing something important. There are days when I feel very lucky to be so close to where things happen in Canada, and there are days when it does nothing but frustrate me. There are days when I feel very lucky to be involved so heavily in something I’m so interested in – something I have cared about for so long. And there are days when I wish I cared a lot less – except that the people who don’t care are the cause of most of my frustration.
And every day I hope that my daughter will find something that makes her as angry and as frustrated, because then I will know that she feels as passionate.
I’ve said before here that I’m terrified of having a little girl, this is mostly becuase I had a hard time growing up as a girl (though I admitedly never experienced growing up as a boy), and I have a hard time being a woman now, but I think there are a lot of things my daughter – getting used to saying that – can teach me, and a lot of things she can force me to learn.
I am going to have to take a look back to try and remember things my mother did right. I think we were two pretty good kids, my sister and I. We were certainly some of the less-troublesome teenagers that I’ve ever met, and I think we both grew up pretty well, with some bumps along the way. The thing is, I don’t remember a whole lot of specific parenting, we just lived.
But then too, I have to think about the chance that my daughter will be something completely different from me, a girly girl with lots of boyfriends who loves short skirts and make-up and everything else they talk about in Seventeen Magazine. A teenager who loves to party and breaks curfew (I didn’t even need a curfew).
There are basic rules that Joe and I have agreed on (we will be the parents who won’t yell at you for being drunk as long as you call us for a ride instead of getting in the car of anyone who was drinking with you), and things we will have to talk about (I’m pretty sure he’s not serious about the no dating until you’re 30 thing, but I need to make sure).
I want her to have her freedoms, I want her to be strong and grounded, I want her to be smart – I want her to be all the things I have learned along the way, all the things I have grown into, I just want her to get there faster than I did. But I’m sure she’ll show me whole new ways of becoming an great adult.
But it’s a girl.
And now I have a lot to think about – partly because I dwell on the future in a generally pessimistic way and partly because in my mind I was sure it was going to be a boy (until a week or so ago, actually).
I’m not sure yet if I thought it was a boy because I kind of wanted it to be a boy or because I legitimately thought it would be a boy.
I wanted it to be a boy for a few reasons: 1) I know how hard it is to grow up a girl, 2) There’s a lot I don’t know about being a girl and a lot I am suddenly responsible for teaching, 3) Joe’s parents already have a granddaughter, and I kind of wanted them to have a grandson, but most importantly…
4) If it was a boy, we were going to name it after my grandfather. While I think we have chosen a beautiful name for our daughter, I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to honour my grandfather and his family by giving him the fifth generation Perry in our family.
My grandfather is a kind and thoughtful man who has mattered more to me than everyone else in my life (and I think Joe accepts and understands that, in fact before he proposed he went to Gramps to ask for his blessing – a fact that may have meant more than the proposal itself). It is very, very important to me that my grandfather knows just how important he is to me, and I thought naming our child after him would be one way he would accept as a tribute.
Maybe we’ll have a second baby, and maybe it will be a boy, but I guess for now my tribute will be to love this little girl as wholly as he loved me, and to be the rock in her life that he is in mine.
In just a couple of days we’re going in for the 18-22 week ultrasound. This is the one that lasts a little longer and they will finally be able to tell us whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Every time I feel the baby kick (which seems like a lot sometimes) I think about the upcoming ultrasound and which name we will be assigning, and all the fears that fill my head when I think about it being one or the other.
And then I think about a friend of ours.
I know someone who happens to be going through a female-to-male transition at the moment, and when I think about the excitement of finally knowing which name this baby will wear for the rest of its life, I also feel a moment of guilt for assuming anything at all before I’ve even met them.
It has crossed my mind that someday this child will come to me tell me that they’re gay, and I know I wouldn’t think twice about it. I know that when this friend told us of this major change in his life we were both excited, simply because it was clear that this was exactly the right thing. But if a child that I raised came to me and told me that they needed to be someone different than what I was used to – than the person I am starting to build up in my mind already – how would I react?
These are questions I want to answer for myself because I don’t want to hurt my child by trying to figure it all out when it’s happening. I don’t want them to feel the pain of that pause in which they will assume the absolute worst. I want my child to come to me and tell me these things without a moments hesitation. I don’t want them to live in fear of sharing their real self and real life with me. I’ve seen too many friends go through too much to ever, ever want my baby who I am growing to love more and more (despite the kicking) to ever go through that pain.
Being pregnant for the first time, without having had much experience with pregnant women, I have searched out books and websites to gather as much information as possible about everything I can think of. Part of this information seeking has involved signing up for a few mailing lists, specifically from BabyCenter.ca (it still bothers me that BabyCenter Canada doesn’t spell centre the Canadian way) and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I get emails from BabyCenter once a week, and What to Expect once a day. Some of the links they have sent me have been interesting, helpful and informative – I really enjoy the BabyCenter email because it tells me about the development stages – but there is something I’ve been noticing about the What To Expect emails that has really been getting on my nerves.
The What To Expect emails seems to include topics like this every day: “10 Ways to Boost Your Body Image and Feel Sexy,” “Beauty Tips for Busy Moms,” “Q&A: Safe Sex.”
Seeing these topics day after day makes me feel as though there’s something wrong with me for being more worried about the baby and what the baby needs and my health and getting ready for the baby and the birth – and also work – than about how sexy I feel or how I’m supposed to look.
It annoys me that these emails that I signed up for hoping to get help with this one aspect of my life seems determined to let me know that I am failing at being a sexy, vibrant, beautiful pregnant women.
If I wanted beauty tips, I would probably turn to Cosmo or Glamour or Marie Claire or another one of the many magazines that I stopped reading because I was sick of the focus on beauty and sex, hair and make-up and men, because they just stopped speaking to me. I did not sign up for the What to Expect While You’re Expecting email newsletter to get these tidbits, to remind me of one more thing I’m too busy and confused and bewildered to focus on. I do not want to read these tips and look at my husband – who seems perfectly happy, and tells me just that – and wonder if I am missing something, if my focus on the pregnancy is already taking away from my marriage. It’s added pressure that I could do well without. So I say, screw you What to Expect While You’re Expecting, you’ve lost a subscriber.
We knew coming out of the US election in November that Barack Obama would be making a push for a new healthcare system down south, something akin to Canada’s healthcare system (just don’t call it socialized medicine).
As soon as that push started, we in Canada suddenly started hearing all these arguments against our system from right-wing Americans, left-wing Americans and Canadians themselves. I’ve heard a lot of these stories about the horrible ways socialized medicine has cost Canadians from people arguing that the current American system is better, and while I have never experience healthcare through the American system, I have been dealing with Canadian healthcare for 28-plus years and I am very confused by some of the things I am hearing about how things work up here.
Number one, which I heard for the very first time last week, is that Canadians can’t choose their own doctor. Now, I’ve heard before that when you have insurance through an HMO in the US, you get a list of approved doctors that work with that HMO. I have never heard of anything like this in Canada, anywhere -unless you’re talking about going to a walk-in clinic.
When I was born, my mother chose our pediatrician and then, when I was about 8 or 9 I started going to see her doctor, who I still see now. I know that there are many cities and towns across Canada that are facing doctor shortages, and I know in a lot of those places you take what you can get in terms of a personal physician, but no where in our system does it state that you have to use a certain doctor or not get healthcare at all.
The other big argument against a Canadian-style healthcare system is waiting lists. In my life I have had a CAT scan, multiple x-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other tests, and I’ve been sent to see specialists (an allergy specialist, endocrinologist to name but two) none of which I have had to wait long for (not any longer than a couple of weeks). I know that there can be a wait for some treatments, but my understanding is that if someone is in any kind of serious danger or pain, they move to the top of the list.
I am also very happy to have my midwife covered by my provincial health insurance, and when I give birth with my midwife in the hospital, I will not be thinking about hospital bills because it will all be taken care of through taxes.
I have known at least one person who had a disease, something pretty bad, that we didn’t have treatment for here – and her doctor sent her to Philadelphia to get the treatment, which Ontario health insurance still paid for.
Our system certainly does have its problems, and that is a debate of our own that we have to have in the not-too-distant future. People are pushing for prescription plans to help with high drug costs, and in Ontario a few years ago eye care was de-listed, which makes life very difficult for those of us who wear glasses. (Luckily I now have dental, prescription and eye care coverage through work. Living without coverage was very difficult). I think there should be insurance for these types of needs for people who don’t have insurance through their jobs, but the basic skeleton is there and it works.
I am very nervous about this pregnancy. There is no way in the world that it should have been this quick and easy for my to get pregnant – women with PCOS are supposed to have a difficult time, and often need fertility treatment – and so I sit in wait for the other shoe to drop.
Everything is going really well so far. I have been nauseous and uncomfortable for months, but the baby is growing and moving and doing just perfectly according to our midwife. I am confused by this, because I am a pessimist, and a pessimist with reason to be pessimistic about this pregnancy.
I couldn’t believe that I got through the first trimester without a miscarriage. Every time we go for an ultrasound I expect the baby not to be moving, every time we go to the midwife, I expect there to be no heartbeat, but this baby just keeps swimming along. And kicking me.
I’m fascinated that I might be able to have a reasonably good pregnancy. I mean, I’m not too happy with the way my body feels 80 per cent of the time – I’m tired, achy, itchy, nauseous, grumpy and rather likely to cry at the drop of a hat – but the baby is all good. In fact my midwife is very happy, and so are all the tests we’ve been doing.
Of course, all this good news means that I take everything that might be bad to the extreme so that I have something to worry about.
Mostly right now, I’m worried about my weight – in a whole new way. I haven’t gained any weight yet, despite the fact that I am showing and the baby is growing. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had any kind of trouble gaining weight and it’s incredibly frustrating. The only thing I can think is that all this estrogen in my body is reversing the effect that the PCOS had, and helping me lose weight, but the baby is keeping me level.
The midwife hasn’t said anything about my weight yet, and other women I’ve talked to that have been pregnant tell me they experienced the same sort of slimming and it probably just means that the baby is taking my nutrients and getting what it needs, which was good to hear, but then I get these emails every week. The emails from Babycenter.ca tell me once a week how much weight I should have gained at this point in my pregnancy and I am not hitting any of those targets, which makes me very nervous. Now I’m trying to eat healthily, and I’m finding it very difficult to eat very much at one sitting (I fill up very quickly), so I have to eat more often, but when I’m at work that’s not always possible. And then I feel guilty for not treating myself well for the baby.
And then I worry about how the stress is affecting the baby.
It’s a nice little circle I’m building for myself.