Monthly Archives: March 2013

In Which I Contemplate Adopting a Small Hedgehog

February 20, 2013

I FaceTimed with my nieces and sister-in-law yesterday. I’d hoped to FaceTime with my brother, too, but his work schedule has been a little crazy, and he wasn’t sure how late it would be before he got home. I left him a voicemail telling him to call me later.

Actually, I FaceTimed with my nieces twice yesterday. It’s just that the first time was rather short. Emily answered when I called. I asked her to get Mummy and Felicity. Felicity was still practicing piano, so Jane came on.

“If you’re calling because you’re considering adopting a small hedgehog, you might want to wait until your brother gets home,” she said. I laughed. We agreed that she would call back in about an hour when the girls were nearly ready for bed and, hopefully, Matt might be home.

I’d gone to my parents’ for dinner after my intake appointment at Borgess. After Jane and I hung up, I looked at my mom and said, “She knows.”

“She definitely knows,” my mom agreed.

You see, eleven years ago, I left my teaching job at the end of the school year, got on a plane, flew to England, and spent a month at my brother’s house in North Yorkshire. On the days he didn’t have to work, we drove to ruined castles and abbeys, making the most of our English Heritage memberships. And on the days that he did have to work, I took naps and read books and walked into town to buy cheese straws at Thomas the Baker’s. And I cooked. A lot. (At the end of the month, Matt commented that the closer it got for my time to leave, the better the food got. I told him it was because he was going to miss having dinner ready when he got home from work.)

One evening, I was making fish cakes to use up some leftovers from the night before. He got home while the cooking was in progress, and the phone rang just as I was trying to flip each of the cakes. “Could you get that?” I asked. “My hands are kind of busy.” I was pretty focused on the task at hand, so I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to Matt’s end of the conversation.

After he hung up, he asked, “How do you feel about being an aunt?” He was grinning impishly.

I looked at him, spatula held upright in my hand. “Okay, there’s got to me more to that,” I finally said. Not that I would have minded. I could just tell there was more to the story than a baby.

“Jane’s parents were out for a walk and found a baby hedgehog trying to nurse off its dead mother,” he explained. They’d been wanting a hedgehog to control the snail and slug population in the garden, but adopting a hedgehog in Britain is almost as hard as adopting a human.

Because of the five-hour time difference, Matt had to wait until that night to call our parents. He and Jane and I were sitting in the lounge, drinking a digestif cocktail, when he finally called them. “How do you feel about being grandparents?” he asked. We were all nearly falling off the sofas as we laughed as silently as possible. Our parents were silent as they processed the information. (My mom says that her first thought was that Jane’s dress wasn’t going to fit come the wedding in September.) He did finally put them out of their misery and explain about the hedgehog, an adorable little thing Matt and Jane dubbed Pricklet.

So when Jane asked if I was considering adopting a small hedgehog, we knew that she knew I was pregnant.

An hour later, I was home, but Matt wasn’t yet. Jane called without him so that I could talk to my nieces. I showed them my recent ultrasound picture and told them that it was a picture of their new cousin who was going to be born in September.

“We already have enough cousins,” Emily mumbled to Jane.

“I hope it’s a girl,” Felicity said to me. “But we won’t find out if it’s a girl until September. What day in September is the baby going to come?”

I explained to her that the baby was due on a certain day, but babies come when they want to, not when we think they’re supposed to.

And in regards to Emily’s comment, yes, they do have a lot of cousins, but this is the first first cousin they’ll have. All of the other cousins they’ve played with are second cousins, my cousins’ children. When Matt called me this morning to congratulate me, we both chuckled over her comment. We loved growing up with a bevy of cousins and don’t believe it’s possible to have enough of them. She’ll be eight by the time the baby is born. Having to share Nonna and Gpa with a cousin will be new. And my mom FaceTimed with her today; she said that Emily excitedly announced that Zia Beth is going to have a baby. She’s already gotten over the surprise.

Now I just need to figure out when to tell my extended family. I want to make sure that happens before the blog post announcing that I’m pregnant goes up. They deserve to hear about the hedgehog in person.



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February 19, 2013

Today I had my first appointment at Borgess. (Yes, I’m still chuckling at the fact that I was in the EHR from when I was born.) I didn’t see any of the practitioners today, just the intake nurse. And while I had all of the paperwork they’d sent me filled out, we didn’t really go over any of it. Minimal discussion of family history, no discussion at all of my menstrual history. Sure, I’m pregnant, so that isn’t currently pertinent, but I always look forward to when a new practice asks me for what age the onset of menses began.

Me: Nine

Them: ….

And you can imagine the look, the raised eyebrows, the mouthed-yet-silent “wow”. Never disbelief, just a look confirming that I was young. But alas, she didn’t ask me that question, so we didn’t have that exchange.

Instead we talked about how I’m single and used an anonymous sperm donor. She thought I was awesome for making this choice. It was an incredibly positive conversation.

The question I wasn’t ready for was who was going to be my coach. I mean, at this moment, my goal is to just stay pregnant. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I said Nicki, maybe, since she’s a doula. Or maybe Heather, but I haven’t even TOLD Heather that I’m pregnant yet, so… She put them both in the computer. One of them she marked as my “partner”.

“Friend,” I corrected. “I’m single,” I reminded her. And straight, I thought. I think she changed it so that they’re both listed as “friend”, but I honestly don’t know.

And then came the fun part. My age. I’m still 34, but I’m not due until after my birthday. I officially have Advanced Maternal Age. So even though I’m only 10 weeks (well, 11 since my due date got moved to 9/10), I got to do a glucose tolerance test.

Oh, and I only have three Zofran left. I’ve been rationing them. I asked the nurse about a new prescription. No luck. I have to see the midwife first. Fortunately, she had an opening on Friday. I just need to last until then.

Of course, because I now have an appointment with the midwife on Friday, my bloodwork and one-hour, non-fasting glucose tolerance test had to be done ASAP. The lab was still open, so I went downstairs after my appointment and took care of them. I knew the glucose solution was pretty vile. It’s particularly vile when paired with morning sickness. I tried to focus on my book, but I discovered I could only do so for ten minutes before needing to take several deep breaths in an attempt not to vomit. (Seriously. I checked the time on my phone at ten minute intervals. I’d start feeling like I couldn’t last any longer, look at my phone, and ten minutes had elapsed since the previous time I’d checked.) The receptionist asked if I wanted some water. I told her that really wasn’t going to help. Sure, it would move the glucose more quickly through my system and rinse the taste from my mouth, but it also entailed swallowing, which so wasn’t happening.

It wound up being a really long afternoon. Now I just need to make these last three Zofran last until I meet Lydia, my new midwife, on Friday. Wish me luck!

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Ta Ta, GR

February 11, 2013

Today I got to say fare-thee-well to the fertility clinic. My mom was sorely disappointed that she was going to miss this appointment. You see, my parents have this other kid, and he’s got kids, and sometimes they get this crazy notion that they should actually go and visit them. (Love you, Matt, Jane, Emily, and Felicity!) But there was no way I was postponing this appointment until they got back. I did ask a couple of friends if they might be available to go with me, but being working adults (unlike my retiree parents), a 1pm appointment is at a really lousy time. But I knew this would be short and sweet, or as sweet as a transvaginal ultrasound can be, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal to go alone. Jenny wound up being free, but she would have had to bring the baby with, and it would be right over lunch and naptime, so I told her not to worry about it.

And it was a short and sweet appointment. He did the ultrasound. We heard the heartbeat. Okay, I could actually see it beating. The bump still looks a lot like an alien, but that’s what I expected. And then he printed copies for me, for my mom, and for Borgess. He determined my due date based on the ultrasound measurements. (It’s now officially 9/10.) I listened as he dictated my discharge letter, and that was it.

It was kind of hard to say farewell to the staff. Carla wasn’t working today, so I’d already said good-bye to her at my last appointment. They told me to send pictures. I haven’t decided if I will or not. As you know, it’s been a roller coaster dealing with this practice.

And the amazing thing is that I wound up with a credit on my account there. As soon as I got pregnant, my insurance kicked in. I spent a lot of money to get pregnant, and in the end, they owe me.

And I have to say that I’m not going to miss driving to Grand Rapids in the dark of winter anymore. From now on, I only have to go as far as the hospital here in Kalamazoo. This is definitely starting to move from the surreal to the real.

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The Born Fiasco

February 10, 2013

I think that would be a good addition to the Jason Bourne series, don’t you? The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy, and ending with The Bourne Fiasco. (Please tell me you read those in your best movie-trailer voice. Or don’t tell me that you didn’t and go back and reread them that way. Makes me smile.)

My GP’s last name is Born.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before. I did something to my shoulder back in December. I don’t know what I did. It was fine, and then it wasn’t. I can’t raise my left arm above shoulder level. And it’s not getting better. So before I left for San Francisco, I decided that I should make an appointment to see my GP about it. I scheduled one for the morning after I was due to get back.

And then, Friday, when it was about 6am in San Francisco, my phone rang. I got all excited because I thought it might be the computer repair shop about my laptop. It wasn’t. It was the admin from my GP’s office. She was calling to cancel my appointment. You see, I haven’t been to my GP since 2008, so I’m not his patient anymore. I told her that this meant I didn’t have a GP. I could hear the shrug in her voice when she said she guessed I was right. I told her that their website says they’re accepting new patients. She told me that those were only for “specialty patients”. After we hung up, I called my mother. She agreed that this was unacceptable. Since I was three time zones away, she said she’d call the practice manager, who happens to be the doctor’s wife.

We still hadn’t heard back from her by the time I got back, so on Monday, I left her a message, too. I told her that it was very upsetting to be told that the person who’d been my doctor almost as long as he’d been in practice was no longer my doctor. I told her that it wasn’t right to drop young, healthy patients because they have the nerve to be too healthy to need to see the doctor regularly. I told her I was sure we could resolve this. And a few hours later she called me back. She said she was furious when she got my message. Neither she nor the doctor had been aware that the front office staff was dropping long-time patients simply because they were healthy. They’d been getting complaints from long-term patients (e.g. my parents) about how difficult it was to get an appointment with the doctor. They told the front staff to stop taking new patients so that they could better serve the long-time patients. The front staff, apparently, took this to mean that any patient who gets flagged by an insurance code as a “new patient” (meaning they haven’t had an appointment in more than three years), those patients are not to be accepted. She also told the admin that her nonchalant attitude had been unacceptable. And she made an appointment for me Tuesday afternoon. And now, of course, both she and the doctor are wondering how many long-time patients got dropped who didn’t fight back. They were both as upset as I was over the situation.

Anyway, my diagnosis is that my shoulder is impinged. (I had to Google that to find out exactly what that means. Apparently all the muscles in your shoulder can just seize up for no apparent reason. That explains why it was fine one day and not the next.) The treatment is physical therapy. Obviously no x-ray and no drugs because I’m pregnant. (And he apologized, too, for the fiasco. Yes, my GP is an awesome doctor. There’s a reason I didn’t want to find a new practice.) My first PT appointment was Friday. It’s going to be work, but I know it will get better.

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February 9, 2013

Yes, there is a big gap between my last post and this one. My motherboard died. Fortunately, it could be replace, which was a lot cheaper than replacing the whole computer. But because it died just before I was due to fly off to San Francisco for work, I wound up being computer-less for two weeks. Two weeks! Okay, I do have a smart phone, but I wasn’t going to try writing blog posts on that little keyboard. Do you know the last time I lived this long without a computer in my home? That’s right. 1983. It’s been thirty years. I was five. I’m about as close to a digital native as someone my age can be. And I didn’t have a computer. For two weeks. It wasn’t even so much that I had limited internet access; that was going to happen while I was in San Francisco anyway. (You know how it goes. The more expensive the hotel, the fewer the free amenities. You want free breakfast and free wifi, go someplace cheap.) I mean, we didn’t have internet back in 1983. But we did have a computer.

But as of early this afternoon, it’s back. It’s functioning properly. And, again, it was much cheaper than buying a new computer. So now I need to get caught up.

I was in San Francisco for work last week. I was not a very exciting person. Between the time difference and being pregnant, I went to bed around five each night I was there. I was able to meet up with Heather, one of my KAMSC classmates (not to be confused with any of my other friends named Heather), for lunch. We generally see each other once a year, at this conference. As always, it was nice to get caught up in person and not just on Facebook. (Yes, I told her that I’m pregnant. The truth was the easiest explanation for why I needed to go to bed instead of dinner at 5.) It was nice to see her in the middle of the day when I was awake and able to eat. Despite all the beautiful food to be had in SF, I ate a lot of Starbucks this trip. I’d pick up a yogurt or fruit cup in the middle of the day to have for dinner after the conference that evening. Yes, despite the drugs, I still feel sick. The good news is that I don’t feel sick 24/7. The bad news is that the Unisom/B6 combination wears off before it’s time to take the next dose. But an hour or so each morning and each evening of being miserable is far preferable to throwing up in the middle of the night because I’m so sick.

The high point of the conference proper? Definitely Margaret Edson giving the final plenary session. For those of you who aren’t massive theatre geeks, she wrote W;t. And if you aren’t familiar with W;t, I highly recommend you become so. It’s a beautiful play, well adapted into a film. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It’s better than Cats.

And on Monday, when I was back to work, I told Connie that I’m pregnant. I was sure she’d already figured it out. It’s not as though Dr Z is particularly subtle. I was exhausted from my flights home (delayed, took 12 hours door-to-door) and said something about already being exhausted because I was pregnant. So now the two people I see the most at work know.

And the other major thing that happened while my computer was out of commission? It’s a post unto itself. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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Zuppa di Pomodoro con Mozzarella in Carrozza

January 24, 2013

We had the best cafeteria food when I lived in Rome. There’s this saying: There are no bad meals in Italy, just some are better than others. Our cafeteria proved that out. We had full, proper Italian meals. Soup or pasta for the prima, a meat or vegetarian seconda, a vegetable side (mmmm… rosemary roasted potatoes), fruit or yogurt for dolce (even though we all argued that we should be allowed fruit AND yogurt because they belong to different food groups). There was also a salad bar, which was the only thing that was hit or miss, but tomatoes go out of season in Italy, too. Yes, it was a proper cafeteria. Although these were individual courses, they were all on our tray at the same time.

Now, when I say we had “soup or pasta for the prima”, I mean that we had a choice between the zuppa or the pasta. Most meals, I opted for the pasta. So did most of my friends. (We always whined at how the servers doled out the ravioli. If I remember correctly, we each got three. But again, it was just the first course. And once everyone was served, we could always go back for seconds.) But some days I didn’t particularly want the pasta option, or the soup sounded particularly delicious. And when I had my annual upper respiratory infection, all I ate was the zuppa. (Chef knew I was feeling better when I came in and asked for the pasta one day at dinner. It was a weekend, so he was the only person working the cafeteria that meal.)

The seconda was a crapshoot for those of us who aren’t big meat eaters. That was how I learned to love eggplant. But if there was no seconda that you wanted, you could always ask for a ball of mozzarella or a can of tuna. If the tomatoes were good that day, you could usually make a decent caprese and be quite content. One of the dishes I’ve never had in quite the same form before or since was mozzarella in carrozza, a slice of breaded, fried mozzarella. Yes, essentially a big mozzarella stick, but the crust wasn’t like any mozzarella stick I’ve eaten anywhere else. It was very, well, bready.

And then came the day that word trickled through the cafeteria line. The soup that day was zuppa di pomodoro and mozzarella in carrozza was one of the seconda options. Yes, we could have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was second semester. All of us who were full year students hadn’t seen tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches in five or six months. (And, yes, most of us were from the Midwest, so this was a childhood staple. We did have Joseph with his sweet New Orleans drawl to give us something resembling diversity.) I don’t know what the second semester students chose, but almost all of the full years opted for zuppa di pomodoro con mozzarella in carrozza. We dipped the breaded mozzarella in our rich tomato soup and relished every minute of it. It was probably the only real American food we discovered we’d been missing.

And when I got home in May and my mother picked me up at the airport, she asked what I wanted for dinner. She was surprised when I said, “Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.”

And you know what? I have a feeling I know what I’m going to want to eat when I get through this morning sickness.

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Quoth My Father, “Alleluia!”

January 21, 2013

I finally got my ultrasound today. I swear, waiting for this ultrasound has been almost as nerve-wracking as waiting for my pregnancy test. And while I would have preferred to spend a very snowy paid holiday at home, at least I didn’t have to use PTO for this appointment. And my mommy, proving that she is the best mommy in the world, offered to drive. I have been absolutely exhausted since I got pregnant, so having someone else drive to Grand Rapids and back, through the snow, was very nice.

And, yes, the weather was terrible. We left at 11 for my 1pm appointment. It took us nearly the full two hours to get there. Yes, it is still winter in Michigan. Icy roads, low visibility, not nearly as many cars in the median as one might expect (although at least one was facing the wrong direction, so you know they were driving way too fast for the conditions). But we got there safely, and that’s really all that matters, at least as far as travel is concerned.

Today, the doctor’s ASD had a hint of sadism to it. He started the ultrasound. “There’s one…”




My mother and I were both sitting there waiting for the “and”. “And?”

There’s one. My hCG was high. That’s all. There’s only one. My mother and I both breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank, God!” I can do this. I can go grocery shopping without either finding a sitter and taking someone along with me. I can get the baby and the diaper back and my work bag to the car and back in one load. There’s only one. (Unless it’s identical twins. He did offer that possibility. Like I said, there was a hint of sadism to his ASD today.)

And that was that. He told me what date to schedule my last appointment with him. He said that once I was discharged my job was to find him more patients. (You’ve all been reading this blog. I leave it up to you to decide if this is the fertility practice you want to deal with. Not that there are many other choices if you’d rather see someone else.)

Fortunately, Carla was available because this morning sickness thing cannot continue as it is. I have to fly to San Francisco next week. I get airsick on a good day when I’m not pregnant. I need drugs. She gave me the usual spiel: eat dry foods, try to keep food in your stomach all day, etc., etc., and so forth. I told her I did know that, but I was having a hard time eating anything. Standard morning sickness drug protocol turns out to be half a Unisom and vitamin B6 twice a day. She said that I could replace the prenatal vitamins (that have stopped staying down) with a children’s chewable and folic acid twice a day, smaller doses to digest, and easier on the stomach, plus I won’t have to try to swallow those horse pills that are prenatal vitamins. We asked about Bonine, my motion sickness drug of choice. Clearly, Carla is not One of Us because she’d never heard of it. (It’s awesome! Lasts 24 hours, non-drowsy, and it’s chewable! If you get motion sickness, and have yet to discover Bonine, I highly recommend it. Plus, its patent has expired, so you can buy the generic now! I just can’t remember what the generic name is for it.) The doctor is not One of Us either because he’d never heard of it and was, therefore, uncomfortable approving it as safe for pregnancy. Instead, I got a prescription for Zofran. And that’s okay. (It’s sublingual! I don’t have to try to swallow it when all I want to do is throw up!) I’ll save the Zofran for next week when I fly and for when I desperately need it. Hopefully, the Unisom and B6 will work for me.

Once we were on the road for home, I called my dad to share the good news.

“There’s only one,” I said.

“Alleluia!” he exclaimed. Yes, I think he summed up how all three of us (well, four if you count the bead) were feeling today.

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