In honor of my son being taller than me (5'7") and fast approaching man status, I thought I would share some of my favorite memories of his time in my life. I'm going to do it in segments, over the course of several weeks and thought it would be a great way of documenting the memories that still make me smile. I will also serve as a way of writing out and preserving those very special things about him and our early life together.
I had just about given up on the idea of having a child when J turned to me one night and said we should go ahead and try. I was 36 and was creeping into the "too old to have a child" body age. J and I had talked about having kids (one of the very first topics we discussed after getting the whole "when were you a Nazi" thing out of the way) and we knew we both wanted them, but it's hard balancing that need against the economic reality of producing, raising and supporting that child. We had just made the decision to buy a place of our own, which I expected to put our child on hold, but instead J surprised me by suggesting we try.
When J and I had first met, I had decided to have a child as a single-mother-by-choice. My previous relationship had collapsed due to my wanting a child then, rather than continuing our bar-hopping, alcohol consuming, party-til-dawn life. I didn't want to hang my hopes on finding a compatible person to share both my life and child rearing with, especially when I was on the other side of 30. (I thought I had found that relationship and when it fell apart, ironically because I wanted to have a kid, I was too devastated to thing about trying with someone else again). It was time. I went through the medical process of checking tubes and cycles and my inner habitat. The doctor assured me that I was capable, with the addition of a fertility drug to help lengthen my cycle. I took Clomid for three cycles (which completely and totally changed my metabolism) at which point I was ready for insemination. That was the same month my grandfather died, which threw me off kilter. Then my relationship with J got more serious and I was afraid that my being pregnant would derail us. It just seemed like too much all of a sudden and I decided to table the baby making thing indefinitely.
By 36, I had kind of given up, thinking the timing would never be right. I have wanted a child since I was very young. When I was 18, (after coming out) I had a reoccurring fantasy of having a boy and that dream never really left me. In my early twenties I played with the notion of having a child with a random stranger, but just could never wrap my head around doing what needed to be done to make it happen. Then I discovered the world of Artificial Insemination and decided that would be the way to go. Once J had given us the green light, it was a matter of a couple of doctor's appointments to get us in to see an Reproductive Endocrinologist.
When we met with the doctor one of the questions on the form was why were we seeking help for pregnancy and I wrote "we don't have sperm". Cracked the doctor up. He gave me a script for Clomid (again it completely freaked out my metabolism) and we were told to order sperm. He saw no reason not to go ahead and inseminate on my next cycle. Both times I went through this process, it seemed to happen very quickly and although I wanted to be pregnant, both times I felt buffeted by the speed at which this thing could happen. I think that emotional disconnect was as much a part of the reason to defer the first time as anything else. The second time, though, J was with me and we took the step together.
We picked a donor and a back up donor and placed our order. Can we talk about Sperm banks? We used California Cryo. First, they do a really great job of screening donors, have a fairly robust amount of information on the donor without revealing identify and have a large selection. They also charge a lot of money for the sperm. We made our choices, ordered two vials and got ready. Our first choice, a mid-30's man from Scotland with bright red, curly hair and green eyes, was no longer available and they sent our second choice: a early 20's, slender, dark haired, green eyed man.
Our first insemination was in June, but I knew we had missed the timing on the cycle, even though we had inseminated the morning of the Gay Pride Parade in Denver. I had already ovulated by the time the insemination was done and my inner clock told me it was a no go.
Then came July. The insemination was easy. After the doc left and I was laying on my back with my pelvis tilted toward the ceiling (I guess you need gravity to show the little buggers where to swim or they'll just fall out) I started my own internal chant to encourage the sperm. (When you are paying $400 for one ounce you want to encourage them as much as you can.) At random intervals during the next few days, I did my "cricket" dance (as J calls my flailing around out of time or rhythm with any music except my own internal soundtrack, which I really think, sounds like cats mating), which I renamed the "go, sperm, go" dance (Seuss really should have made that a children's book.)
It must have worked because seven days later I had a dream where I was facing myself. The other me said "You do know you are pregnant, don't you?" The me-me said, "No." The other me said, "Well, you are." Three days later I tested. I couldn't wait any longer and tested in the middle of the day, rather than first thing in the morning. It was also four days sooner than I should have. I looked at the test and there was nothing, so I set it down and went into the living room. I went back five minutes later and there was the faintest light. I freaked out and called J, who left work early to come home and see. I was shaking and in tears. Then I called my mom. Over the next five days I used all of the tests in the testing kit we had bought and each time the line got darker and faster. He had stuck.
I think the hardest thing about pregnancy is not telling anyone until you are sure the baby is going to stick (14 weeks). Because, trust me, we wanted to tell everyone. My mom was ecstatic and J's parents were not. Our friends were brought in on our secret and they were very happy for us.
Pregnancy was weird. I immediately could not tolerate pressure on my lower abdomen. In fact, I bought a couple of pairs of bib overalls and wore those almost exclusively through out. That and oversized pants with rainbow colored suspenders. And super large sweat pants. I was the height of maternity fashion. I never did purchase any maternity clothes.
Food became something craved or something hated, there was no in between. I only wanted to eat Mexican food and drink OJ. I went through a four week phase where the only meat I wanted was a Burger King Chicken sandwich with tomato and any other meat made me nauseous. I ate PB&J for breakfast, 2nd breakfast, 11zies and lunch. I went through a very short phase where the smell of cooking meat (pork and fish especially) was reason for me to lose my shit and bawl.
Hormones were another roller coaster I was emotionally unprepared for. I was angry for some of the time (blaming the testosterone hormones that formed the boy parts) and poor J got really good at saying "Yes, dear". J was great at riding out the highs and lows, of handing me Kleenex at Budweiser commercials, of turning her shoulder and circling (the way dogs do to avoid an attack) whenever I was unreasonable, frustrated or angry. She rubbed my back and feet every night for six months. She cleaned the litter box without hesitation and took me to Costco where I would ride on the pallet cart as she pushed me around the store. She went to every doctors visit, every exam and every ultrasound. She would lay and talk to the boy, stroking my belly and telling him funny anecdotes while he grew inside me.
We had a list of names on the refrigerator. A fairly robust list for boys and a shorter one for girls. When I was sixteen weeks along I had a dream. In my dream our child was about two, a boy with curly blond hair and blue eyes and his name was T Z. I woke up and told J about the dream and from that moment forward, that was his name. We had our first Ultra sound at 18 weeks and it confirmed that he was a he.
I think he spent his entire time with me upside down. And he only turned in one direction, so that when he was finally born, the hair on his head grew in one direction around the top of his head. It was wicked cool when he would stretch out his legs and I could see the shape of his foot through my belly. I would tickle the bottom of his foot, which would cause him to kick out at my finger. I sang and talked to him constantly.
As a pregnant woman, I was always utterly aware of his presence inside me. It was a profound time and I still struggle with words to express how it felt.
I fell down the stairs in our house twice. Once I tripped over the cat, missed the edge of the step and slid down a couple of steps on my rump. I was just at 20 weeks. I was bruised and shaken, but not hurt and T was fine. That first fall, however, taught me to brace both arms on the wall and rail on either side of the stairs when going up and down. The second time, I was at 32 weeks and I fell down almost ten steps. It was on my butt, but this time a much scarier prospect. I dislocated my left shoulder, dislocated ribs on my right side, strained muscles and created bruises. T didn't move for almost four hours and I was beginning to panic, when J laid down, put her head on my belly and called his name. His reaction put our mind at ease, as did the heart rate monitor we had purchased, but to be safe, we went in to see the doctor.
The baby was fine but my blood pressure was not. I was 160/104. My ob told me they were sending me to Labor and Delivery and I had an hour to get my BP down or they were taking the baby. That is not the way to make a woman feel less stressed. However, bed rest, elevate feet and water helped and my BP crept down toward normal. I was put on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I averaged a book a day, sometimes two. J would leave food for me in the bedroom and I would stay in bed except to go to the bathroom. Finally, at 40 weeks, I was showing signs of preeclampsia but no signs of labor, so they decided to induce.