Friday, November 6, 2015

Follow-up Anatomy Scan

At the initial anatomy scan for this pregnancy, the tech had some difficulties getting Baby to hold still long enough for all the measurements she needed to take. She asked us if we'd come back in 4 weeks, and we said "OF COURSE!". Last week we went, and although the tech was able to finally get all the measurements, she also couldn't avoid it when Baby wanted to give us the Full Moon view of his bottom half.

Despite wanting to be surprised at the birth, we now know that the McGill family will be welcoming a son in February! 

I'll admit, I feel a little bit disappointed to have found out early. I was truly looking forward to finding out at the moment of birth, to letting T see and announce it to the room. I also loved the thought that we'd head into the birth with a short list of names for both boys and girls, and decide once we met Baby officially. Although we know we're having a boy now, we still plan to wait and name him after meeting him. I can't help but feel a little bit like something was taken from us. I'm not heartbroken by any means, but I was looking forward to the experience.

That all being said, I have very strongly suspected since I was 12 weeks along that this babe would be a boy, even sure enough to only refer to him in masculine terms. It was strange; I never expected to be THAT mother who had a strong intuition about it, I figured I'd be clueless and anything I thought would be simply a guess. But at 12 weeks, the midwife struggled to find Baby's heartbeat with the doppler, so she did a quick ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. The moment I saw that little seedling, there was a voice in my head that said, "Ah, there he is." It didn't feel as if that came from myself, so I trusted that I was being told something by someone who knew more than I.

This is the best image from my 24 week ultrasound. You can see Baby's profile, with his hand up close to his nose. 

The other thing we'd kind of hoped to avoid by waiting to find out is all the commentary about his gender. Now we get comments about how "it'll be so great to have one of each!" and "Ahh, you're done now since you have a girl AND a boy, right?". We just really dislike commentary on our family being based on gender. If I were pregnant with a girl, she would be no less perfect for our family and we would be no less happy. We may not be done, either, just because we have a girl AND a boy. No, he isn't already a troublemaker/heartbreaker/or any other label people slap onto little boys without knowing them. We may frustrate everyone with our desire to not plaster our kid in "Lil Slugger" or "A Treat for the Ladies" onesies - so be it. In fact, this baby will wear a good number of his sister's hand-me-downs. Heaven forbid!

I don't know who this little person will grow into. But it will be his choice, and I will not allow him to be labeled as anything other than himself. He is a person first, and a boy second. And we cherish all the people in our family.

Yes, we are thrilled. But we're no more or less thrilled about him because we know he's a BOY.

Although it is a bit easier now that we can tell E she definitely is getting a brother. <3

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thoughts on pregnancy loss

Mid October is already upon us. I love fall, even though we don't really get an autumnal season here, so this month is an enjoyable time for me. E and I have been spending every weekend morning out in our front yard among our harvest/fall decorations, enjoying the cool breeze and being outside without risking a sunburn. This is the first year of E's life where I feel she GETS it better, all the birthdays and holidays and celebrations, so I just know it's going to be a glorious holiday season. She's decided she wants to be a fox for Halloween and she's probably the most excited about trick-or-treating and eating the spoils of her efforts.

This year's autumn is different than any other, for a couple reasons. Obviously, I'm pregnant, which is drastically different than any other year. But on a deeper level, it's a time of grieving and reflection for me because the baby I miscarried early this year was supposed to be born mid-October. Appropriately, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month. Since I lost that baby, my emotions have run the gamut. It's such a personal and private thing, to feel and know that my body lost a baby we'd waited and wished for so long. And yet, millions of women across the world are navigating pregnancy loss or infant loss, and the worst part is they're doing it alone. It's hard not to feel shame, to blame myself for what happened. I believe strongly that talking about it with our loved ones is important, if only so that the next woman it happens to doesn't feel shamed and lonely. 

Processing my grief has been a long road. I'm still working on it. When we learned that I was pregnant again, I had to process further. I guess I expected myself to get past the loss faster, particularly once my body was carrying another child. Why should I still long for the first baby when I now have this one who is growing so magnificently? Because they're not the same, I learned. I had dreams and hopes about the first child I was growing - that baby was already a person to me. And when I lost him, I lost all the things I'd been thinking of and wishing for that person. It's only natural that losing the first baby would affect my feelings about the next one, so when this pregnancy came along, I worried. I worried all the time, in every spare moment I had in which I wasn't sick or asleep. I tried really hard to be calm and trusting and accepting that my body could grow a healthy pregnancy, but I constantly would relive the profound sorrow of saying goodbye. In time, I passed the point I lost the first pregnancy and began to worry slightly less. Then I passed the end of the first trimester and started to really believe that a new family member would be born. Now we've passed our anatomy scan ultrasound and I've seen our little seal pup swimming inside me and it hits me like a ton of bricks that I love everything about this child. 

It bothers me that it took so long for me to see it. I feel guilt that this babe might have somehow felt that I wasn't all the way on board at the beginning. But I'm ready for you now, little selkie child. 

The time during and after the miscarriage, I thought fiercely to myself that if I ever (no, not if, WHEN, WHEN) became pregnant again, I would force myself to be grateful every day. I would cherish the time I got to carry another person within myself, to be responsible for growing another being. Funny, how when this pregnancy came along it shattered all the expectations of how I'd feel - because I felt like shit. That certainly wasn't in the plans. Some days, it was hard to remember that I felt so terrible BECAUSE I was growing another being. I didn't have any room for logic and reason. I didn't feel grateful, I felt angry because clearly, I'd paid my dues already by losing a pregnancy, shouldn't this one treat me nicely?! Turns out, it doesn't work that way. 

Now, we're already more than halfway through. Today, I'm so much closer to my own self again and I really am grateful about that. I no longer hate and resent all food - I can even cook food for myself! I can tolerate the smell of cooking food! I can boil water without it making my stomach heave! It's miraculous. The baby happily obliges me by fluttering and kicking and squirming around much of the day. My belly has begun to swell and really look like a round pregnant belly, despite how all my clothes make it look different than I perceive it. E enjoys talking about our baby and the things she will teach the baby (like how to crawl on sand into the ocean and do Crazy Eye). She's very good about being gentle with my abdomen and can hardly wait to feel the baby kicking. E also has started telling us that she's growing a baby in HER uterus, and her breasts will get milk, too. We've covered Biology 101 with her, but that hasn't deterred her enthusiasm for having a baby of her own. 

Today I feel all the things I wished I'd gotten to feel with that first child. I feel all the happy emotions I told myself I would feel when I got to carry another pregnancy. It may have taken me longer than I'd like, but I'm glad I made it. I can't promise how tomorrow will go, but for today, that's enough. 

Friday, August 21, 2015


Summertime is always a very full time of year for the McGills. Birthdays galore, a couple of wedding anniversaries, a couple of death anniversaries. This year, for me, it's a time of contemplation.

T's and my birthdays both are during the summer months. Born in the same year, we're the same age except for those days between our birthdays in July and September. Both T's parents and a handful of friends all have birthdays during this hottest time of year. And lest we forget, our E and many of her friends have birthdays in the summer as well. It's a solid four months of splash pads and zoo trips, of sunscreen and melting frosting. The slap of little feet in flip flops across the wet concrete and echoing shouts of laughter. There's much singing of Happy Birthday to be had, and plenty of treats to go with all these lovely birthday wishes.

Then there's the wedding anniversaries. Ours is tomorrow; August 22nd. This year marks seven years married for us. The Copper Anniversary - which we love, as we are southwestern women at heart. My parents' anniversary is only a few days behind ours.

Admittedly, T and I haven't been very good at the whole anniversary thing since our first anniversary. Since then, life has gotten in the way and we haven't felt called to have parties or even do much by way of celebrating. I like to think that we celebrate each other daily, even if that's not always true. Seven years hitched and ten years together feels like a good long time. My wife is a foregone conclusion - in the very best way possible. She's my rock, my sounding board, my tether to logic and reason. Ever the sensible and responsible one, my darling lady. This year was a pretty special one though, in that our state recognized our marriage early in the year and then the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal nationally - this is our first anniversary that our home state "counts" us as a married couple. Able to file jointly on both state and federal taxes for the first time. Able to both have legal rights to our children. Able to own our home together, instead of her half and my half. We considered doing a vow renewal for our anniversary this year, to celebrate with those who we missed celebrating with seven years ago. Unfortunately we weren't able to make that happen this summer. It simply was too costly. Then I ended up pregnant and now I'm selfishly thankful that I'm not about to be photographed in my current "chubbily pregnant" state. Regardless of gifts and cards though, I've never been more grateful for my wife than this year. The pregnancy hasn't been easy on me, and I've relied upon her moreso than I would have wished. I know it's been difficult for her, and she has truly impressed me beyond measure with her ability to stay cool under the pressure of running our lives. Just to embarrass her for a moment, I want to tell you all that she's done 100% of the toddler wake-ups and drop-offs and probably 99% of her bedtimes. She's singlehandedly balanced our budget, gotten all our bills paid on time, undertaken all the meal-planning, shopping, and cooking. Oh, and did I mention, she also got a promotion at work during all this? And she's taken time away from work to attend our prenatal appointments. I know she knows I'm thankful, but it can't hurt to reiterate.

Thank you my love, for being a supportive and endlessly understanding partner during our whole relationship - but particularly the last two months.

In September, we also take time to remember the family matriarchs whom we've lost. T and I both mourn the deaths of our maternal grandmothers in September. Both strong women, forces to be reckoned with in each of their respective clans. Both grandmothers struggled with our relationship, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that I regret they departed this life without knowing the depth of joy and love we've found, and without having known their great-grandchildren. In many ways, this feels like a too-abrupt ending; a cliffhanger without a sequel; a novel whose writer never finished. I cannot believe that either one would have wished to miss out on our babies. I hope that in their own ways, perhaps these absent grandmothers get to witness our family growing and to know our children, even if from a great distance. You are both missed.

All these things cause me to reflect. I'm 14 weeks pregnant now, with likely the only pregnancy I'll carry. I know that come March, I'll be alone in this body once more and forever. I know and have said often to myself that I need to try and relish this time, to celebrate the life growing within me. But I frequently find myself firmly mired in each moment, thinking only of my discomfort and wishing I felt better. Then I feel guilty for not cherishing every second, even the ones spent vomiting or with a cramping stomach.

I've spent the better portion of these last two months either being sick, uncomfortable, or asleep. I've thought only of what I must force myself to do that minute, or the next. There's been little time to daydream about this baby. As you might imagine, this isn't exactly how I envisioned pregnancy going for me. Thinking about the last two months makes me feel very sad and full of regret, and yet I cannot see how to have done it differently. I've had this conversation (if you will) with a few people, and some seem to find it distressing that I'm not the happy, glowing pregnant woman they want me to be. I think this is probably just the first of many times that I'll disappoint my adoring fans with what they feel must be inappropriate feelings or reactions, but I've come to a conclusion. It's just too much pressure to try and feel joyful all the time. Sometimes, the fact is, it sucks to feel sick and that must be acceptable.

Now, all that being said - I seem to be feeling better and less volatile this week. I'm glad. So very glad. Bring on some new kind of pregnancy torture - this "morning" sickness is for the birds. I'm looking forward to our Centering classes starting in September, and I'm also excited for E's and my birthdays. We're extra fortunate this year to be able to take E to visit my great aunt and uncle for the first time in Iowa, and I am so happy. I'm waiting patiently (NOT) to feel the babe begin to move, and I am so excited for T and E to feel it, too. Our anatomy scan is scheduled in October, just after a good friend is getting married. Truly, I feel like we're on the brink of some grand adventures and I'm glad to put the first trimester behind us. I hope to find a little bit more of myself in the second.

To sum up: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Happy memories! Happy life!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Announcement

Yesterday was our deadline.  By yesterday, we were supposed to come up with some clever photographic announcement.  Yesterday came and went and still inspiration was lacking.  Instead here you go---

We are going to have another baby!!!!!

A is almost 12 weeks pregnant and due mid-February.  We are very excited and rather exhausted.  It's interesting to have swapped roles and go through her first pregnancy while chasing an almost-three-year-old.

Yesterday was our second appointment at the Birth Center. We arrived and were brought back to an exam room pretty quickly.  We were going to meet one of the few midwives we didn't know from my pregnancy. For the first time, we had to wait. And wait.  It was the first time we actually had to wait to be seen, so we were a little impatient.  Eventually she came and asked us the usual questions.  Then the part we were waiting for- the heartbeat. Since we know the date of conception, we skip the dating ultrasound and have to wait to hear a heartbeat on the Doppler.  Once we heard the heartbeat we would feel comfortable announcing to everyone and making it "Facebook official," so to speak. 

So the midwife dug around A's abdomen with the Doppler again and again. After a few minutes, I started getting nervous. Its not uncommon to have a hard time finding the baby this early, but it still was hard to not fear the worst.  She asked if we wanted to wait until the next appointment and try again or do a quick ultrasound.  We opted for the ultrasound. 

It only took a bit of searching to find our little one squirming around, heart happily beating away. And then it was over. And we didn't have the cute little print out to post in lieu of the clever announcement photo we were still lacking. Oh well.

So in case you're wondering how we got here, I've been blogging all along, and saving them to post when we made our announcement.  If you start at this blog, and read "Newer Posts" from there, you can read about the journey we've had over the last 6 months!