Friday, April 20, 2012

Bradley Class #1

We had our first Bradley Class this week. I'm not completely thrilled with our choice yet. Really, if the method weren't so highly recommended to us, there is no possible way I would have chosen to go to a class on "Husband Coached Birth". Nor would I buy a book about it. But alas, it seemed like the best choice. Hopefully we were right.

There were about 5 different classes in town and they were all starting around the same time (remember A's entry about emailing the instructors?). Evidently this isn't the norm, so our class only has us and one other couple... and they have already taken the class. It just feels a little awkward. I guess I should just count myself lucky because we basically get a private class for the cost of the group class. Our instructor is interesting. She is a chiropractor and the classes are at her practice. I like her, but it is obvious that some of her chiropractic views contradict with what she is supposed to teach.

For our first class we watched some old birth videos, talked about pain management and nutrition, and went over the exercises.

I keep putting off doing the food journal. It just annoys me. Really, right now I'm just trying to find *enough* food. Lately nothing sounds good and it makes it really hard to eat more spinach and kale. I think A is as annoyed with it as I am. Regardless last nights dinner had a large serving of spinach, as will this morning's smoothie.

I guess I'm just feeling overwhelmed and cynical this week (anyone who talked to me yesterday can attest to my volatile state). Hopefully next week I will be able to focus and be more open to the class and what it is trying to teach us.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I am going to do some editing and then I will post some of the photos my lovely wife took last weekend since we are 20 weeks (half way there, woohoo!).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's in a name?

While I was growing up, my immediate family all had the same last name.  Granted that there were just the four of us (me, my brother, Mom and Dad) but I remember loving it when we received gifts that said our family's last name.  In elementary school I had a project where I was supposed to design my own version of our family crest and I was glad we all shared the same name, because the kids with two names struggled.

I didn't realize, truly, how much that meant to me until we got married and were suddenly faced with a dilemma.  Who changes their name?  Should we both change our name to something new entirely?  Or should we just hyphenate?

In the time leading up to the wedding, we got this question approximately eight hundred million thousand times:

"What are you going to do about your last names?"

Which is a totally fair question.  After much debating, finagling, and rehashing the subject we just gave up and said, "Screw it.  Let's just each keep our own name."  We got married, kept our own names, and life went on without much excitement about the names.

About a year and a half passed us by without my giving the name debate much thought.  But then I began having a crazy desire to make babies and started thinking about the fact that no baby of ours would be biologically related to both of us - so whose name will our babies have?  Will we burden them with a hyphenated name?  What are we going to do?  And I began to be filled with dread over our family not sharing the same name.*  I stressed about it, and the more I read and researched the legal rights a non-biological lesbian mom would have over her kids, the more I worried.  There are no rights to be had, by the way, if you aren't genetically linked.  It became all the more important that we all share the same name, to at least lead people to perceive us more as a family.

T already had her bachelor's degree by the time we were married.  I didn't then and I don't now have any degrees.  I never really had done anything that it was important to me to keep using my family's last name; and always anticipated changing my last name anyway, so why shouldn't I just become a McGill?  Something in the thought resonated with me and once I had it in my head, it wouldn't leave.  I wondered if I'd actually be able to get away with changing my name through Social Security Administration due to my marriage of a year and a half before - of course, the snag comes because it's a gay marriage, not recognized by the state of Arizona.  I figured that there was really only the one way to find out, so I headed to the SSA office.  I waited in line twenty minutes, I presented the clerk with my marriage license and my name-change form and it took him about five minutes to change my name in the computer.  He gave me a receipt of name-change and told me to expect a new Social Security card in the mail.  We still don't know if it went through because T has somewhat of an androgynous name, or if the guy just didn't care or if he thought it should be easy... and we will likely never know.  But I am thankful for him.

I left the office in a daze... could it really have been that easy?  It was official - I was a McGill and our family really was going to share the same name.

Fast forward a couple years.  Before we were licensed as foster parents, I got a somewhat random text from my mom one day.  It was something to the effect of, "If you guys ever have a daughter, you should name her Everleigh!"  She'd seen the name somewhere, some celebrity named their daughter Everley or Everlee or whatever.  Naturally, my mom and I are very attached to the -eigh ending of names because that's how my name ends!  My childhood was filled with sayings like, "Bee Happeigh".  My pet cockatiel was named "Birdeigh" (after naming the bird Ginger, only to discover the bird was male and thus he gained a new moniker).

At first, I wasn't sold on Everleigh.  I thought it might be too weird.  I mentioned it in passing to T, who didn't seem sold either.

Interestingly, over time, the name really attached itself into our hearts.  It had special meaning to us because my mom suggested it first, and the -eigh ending.  At some point, we thought it would be just perfect to use the nickname Evie for Everleigh.  We really fell in love with the name/nickname after that.

When we first started planning to try to conceive a baby, we began poring over our already well-loved Baby Name Book.  We went through a lot more girls' names, and tons of boys' names.  We spent some time wondering about what a good middle name for Everleigh would be.  We thought it would be best if we chose a single-syllabled name to go with a longer, more complicated first name.  Jane came up pretty quickly; and it's also T's grandmother's middle name!  Double score.  The icing on the cake is that the baby's initials would be E.J.M., which are T's dad's same initials.

Over the next year, we considered other names.  We lengthened and shortened the list.  But always, we came back to Everleigh Jane.

Then just last week, we learned that T is growing a baby girl in there.  A daughter.

Our very own Everleigh Jane.  She's really coming!**

*I want our family to share a name - I don't want anybody to feel that my desires in any way place judgement on the way they choose to name their own families!  To each their own.

**The name is not set in stone; we absolutely reserve the right to change the name once we meet her if we think she's somebody different!

This is a wooden sign T's father made when he was in middle school, I believe.  His family had it up at their house for awhile, and then it got passed back to him as he got older and had his own family.  Recently, it was passed on to us in celebration of our family name.  By the time I got my hands on it, it was in rough shape.  I cleaned it up and painted it, and now it's just waiting to be hung up in our home!  Isn't it great?  I love it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Little Easter Egg

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Ours was busy, but that's the way we like it.

Saturday morning we got to sleep in a bit. When we did get out of bed we talked about what we each wanted to accomplish during the day. The list was quite intimidating and overwhelming. Eventually I resorted to writing it down and we dove in. Since our weekends are rarely spent together, I pouted and insisted until A agreed that we would do our errands together even if it meant not accomplishing as much.

We started with taking the truck for an oil change. While we waited we made a menu for the week and shopped across the street. We came back home and got a bunch of clothes and some of our old nursery stuff to a second-hand store. It was going to be quite a wait so we ran to Wal-Mart (yuck!) to buy some under-the-bed storage containers. We got some cute onesies while we were there. When we got back, they had finished and only wanted 3 of the things we brought. We left the rest of the clothes for them to donate to charity and took the baby things to sell on craigslist. I found a pair of jeans and a shirt, which are both desperately needed.

We dropped the unsold baby things off at home and took the truck to the car wash for a bath. By the end of this I was exhausted and we headed home. A detailed the inside of the truck and took pictures so we can start pursuing selling it and getting something with better gas mileage. I, however, laid on the couch and read a book (which is not about pregnancy!).

By this time the sun was setting and it was time to head to my parents house for our weekly craft night. My goal was to do taxes and A was excited to see some pottery she had glazed that would be coming out of the kiln. Unfortunately, it hadn't cooled off enough to bring out yet, but we were greeted with a much better surprise...

For our nursery we decided not to get a set and just make it ourselves. We want to get vinyl wall stickers of birch trees and put them on the wall that the crib will be on. I really wanted to make or buy some kind of moon wall lamp. We also wanted to incorporate owls into the theme somehow. It turns out inspiration struck my mom. She spent the day carving an amazing snowy owl out of clay that lays over a ring that will hold a piece of fused and slumped glass for our moon light! It is amazing and I can't wait to see the finished product.

After the excitement of the lamp wore off we got some food. By this point it was getting sort of late and we hadn't accomplished any crafting. We had brought some washable markers and I asked A if she wanted to decorate my belly or do something else. We found some chairs that were good heights and she started her belly art. At this point I should mention to those of you who don't know me, or somehow missed this information, I am incredibly ticklish. I have almost lost friends over it, I have an actual physical scar from it, I really, really hate it when people tickle me. Markers on my belly tickled a lot. Somehow I made it through without any injury to my lovely wife and with a great Easter belly!

Everyone took pictures and laughed at my belly (and laughed more when I laughed and the egg changed shapes!).

Saturday was dedicated to visiting A's family in Gilbert. We slept too late, took a while to get out of the house, and needed to stop and take care of the cats we are cat-sitting for the week. We finally got to Gilbert in time for a late lunch. When we came back I worked on our taxes a bit and A and her mom started getting things together to dye eggs. This year we both independently found articles about dyeing eggs with natural dyes, so that seemed the way to go. We brought cabbage for blue and turmeric for yellow. We had some pomegranate and cranberry tea for red, but forgot it at home. The article A found showed how to use pieces of nylons to hold leaves and flowers on the eggs, so that was what we were going to do.

Other than the awful smelling kitchen, the eggs turned out amazing. While they were steeping, my brother-in-law, H, showed up with his new girlfriend, S. We chatted with them for a while and then pulled the eggs out of the pots of dye.

and our favorite--

We had a great dinner and got to just sit in the living room and tell stories and get to know S. I don't think we scared her away, which is a good thing. After they left I worked on our taxes some more so my father-in-law could help me with the part for our business.

We finally left around 10:45 and headed home. It was a great weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Centering Pregnancy

Wednesday evening, we headed over to the Birth Center (I drove as T scarfed down a gluten-free english muffin with an egg in it...) to attend our first Centering class.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Centering Pregnancy and Centering class(es) refers to the same thing. It's a program through the Birth Center in which women of similar gestation and their partners regularly meet together under the guidance of a midwife and a nurse.  This program takes the place of the majority of our remaining prenatal appointments.  Instead of having a routine prenatal appointment every four weeks, we have a Centering class every four weeks.  (Until the appointments would be closer together, at which time the Centering sessions get closer together, and so on.)  *I'd like to point out here that there are still a couple of appointments, for the Glucose Tolerance Test/RhoGAM shot, and one to go over our birth plan.

Centering Pregnancy advocates for women to take a larger responsibility in their own prenatal care while simultaneously providing them with a community of others going through the same stages in their pregnancies.  At every session, each couple has individual time with the midwife to talk about questions and concerns, hear the baby on the Doppler, and have the baby belly measured.  At the beginning of each session, every pregnant participant weighs herself and records her own blood pressure - a nurse takes it, but we have a chart that we keep ourselves and write everything down in.  The midwife inquires after these vitals during the one-on-one time.  During the time the midwife is with each couple separately, everyone else eats snacks and chats and gets to know one another.

Centering Pregnancy is a program that is nationwide, and is supported in many other birth centers and hospitals across the country.

So, our night, our first session.  We arrived and everyone was shepherded into the Community Room, where chairs and couches had been set up in a circle.  The nurse, Jennifer, handed around markers and nametags, and then pushed her blood pressure checker machine thing around the circle and took all the blood pressures - of the pregnant women, not the rest of us!  She handed out binders to everyone with all the information for all 10 sessions.

There was the obligatory "Let's go around the circle and introduce ourselves!"  Which is always fun, when you're T & A.  T made sure to refer to me as her wife, so others would know how we identify with each other, and told everyone that we're expecting our first and that we'd just learned that we are having a baby girl.  (Joy!  I'm still filled with joy.)  I assumed ahead of time that we'd be the only lesbian couple, and I was correct.  Everyone else had a husband.  T was the only one with a wife; what a lucky girl she is.

The midwife introduced herself, but really the informational session was headed by the nurse.  Nurse Jennifer.  Who, incidentally, is also pregnant and due in September, which I thought was cool.

We discovered that there are 10 sessions in Centering, but the last one is actually a reunion, held in October after all the September babies have arrived.  The 9th session is 2 weeks after T's due date, and the 8th session is ON the due date, LOL.  The midwife assured us the 8th and 9th sessions are mostly review sessions and opportunities to commiserate and ask any remaining questions.  If we're that concerned, we'll just review the material in our handy dandy ... NOTEBOOK!  (Blue's Clues, anybody?)

The information in this first session is nothing we didn't know already.  One of the curses of being super duper excited about babies and reading everything I could get my hands on before we were even trying.  This session was about nutrition.  I'm already tired of hearing about it; I can't imagine how T is tolerating it.

At one point, another person due on the same day as T was talking about lunchmeat and do we *really* need to heat it?  The nurse suggested to just heat it until it's steaming, and the woman made a face and commented that it sounded really unappetizing that way, because "who really wants a pile of steaming meat?"  Which I thought was a point well-made.  She had all of us laughing so hard.

There are five other couples, in addition to us.  Twelve people total, in these sessions, and I guess our group is a large one.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all the other couples were easy to talk to and it didn't feel awkward to be gay in that room.  I find that to be sometimes a rare commodity when first meeting a large group of new people who share only a pregnancy in common.  However, nobody batted an eye and everyone was very friendly.  Yay for that!

I fear that to combat potential awkwardness, my response is sometimes too pushy, too loud, or might seem like I'm trying too hard.  Before I knew it, we'd told stories about how we came up with baby girl's name, about our unplanned/unknown horse pregnancy, and about our gay family practice doctor.  In addition of course to stories about our ultrasound and about how excited we were to be having a daughter.

I did try to ask other couples questions and steer conversations their way, but I guess sometimes I'm simply too hilarious and charming and the conversation comes right back to me.  Rather like a boomerang.  What to do, what to do.  I will try to step back a little in our next class (if I can remember; it's not for another month!) and not seem terribly overbearing or needy.  Yikes.  Sorry, T.  I can be an embarrassment at times, haha.

Finally it was our turn to have midwife-time.  Naturally, we were last because I was busy chatting everyone else up until they'd all left... We got to hear little girl's heartbeat in several different ways, which was totally awesome.  We heard the heartbeat through her umbilical cord AND from her little body, both close up and far away.  Or at least as far away as she can get in the space of a uterus.  I didn't realize that you could hear a baby's heartbeat so many ways!  The midwife was more than happy to move the Doppler around and demonstrate the different ways to hear it.  She also pointed out that the squiggly noises were from darling daughter's movements!  Very cool.  T said that she was kicking away during the class, and she was certainly very active when the Doppler was looking for her.

And that was it.  All in all, we had a lot of fun meeting everyone and learning about their families.  As we suspected, the information isn't really anything new but we can always find something to take away from it.  That's the same experience we had with our foster parenting classes, as well, and both the foster classes and the Centering sessions are for 10 weeks - how funny.  Centering isn't 10 consecutive weeks, though.

I've blathered on long enough.  That's all for this evening!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Anatomy scan!

Last night was a very restless night. I slept wrong the night before and my shoulder hurt, I was also worried about work things. A was sneezy and I think I kept waking her up. Plus, it was like Christmas when you are 7 years old and you just can't wait to wake up and tear through your stocking.

We met my mom in the parking lot at the hospital (our midwives have to send you to the hospital for any ultrasounds and testing). The ultrasound tech seemed very capable and once we were brought back to the room, she started right away. I asked if we could get a copy of the video and she was a little taken aback. She said that she would print us out pictures and the video stayed in my medical record. I pointed out that it is *my* record and I have a right to it. She agree and said she would talk to her manager about the actual procedure when he was back from vacation next week.

It was amazing. For us. I don't think the baby agreed. There was a lot of chasing the baby around my abdomen and TONS of kicks and punches. It was crazy to feel a kick and then see the little foot on the screen move.

The first attempt at seeing the sex was semi-failed. I think the tech could tell, but she wanted a better shot. A has been looking at so many photos on the internet of sonograms that she had a guess, but I missed it. The tech said she would come back and hope the baby's legs were open more.

She continued with measurements of the abdomen, and different angles of the heart, counting fingers and toes. You know, all of the actual medical things that make it a diagnostic tool that insurance will pay for.

the foot and a little bit of the umbilical cord

waving so we can count the fingers

Next she tried to get the brain measurements. This was the point where the baby decided to play tricks. Every time the tech would get close to the image she needed, the baby's head would move. She would use the ultrasound probe to shake my belly around, she had me lay on my side, she would dig the probe into my abdomen as hard as she could (I had to hold onto the side of the bed to keep from sliding or rolling back over), but she couldn't get the brain measurements. After a few minutes of this she stopped and told us we were in trouble because our baby was a stinker. Ha!

Eventually she got the necessary measurements and tried for the sex again. She sighed because the only image she could get was really not obvious (unless, like A, you have been studying them online). Just then, the baby moved and gave her the perfect shot.

We are having a GIRL!!