Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Family is Born

On March 3, 2011, / braved a natural birth and had a Darla.  This is my battle story.

I thought my water broke at 9:30 PM on March 2.  (It turns out it was just a high leak, but that was neither here nor there in the end).  I was ready to finally start timing my contractions without fearing I was clocking my gas.   They came every four minutes and lasted anywhere from one to one and a half minutes.  Even if I wasn't in real labor yet, at least I knew they would have to induce me since I was pretty sure my water had just broken. (They won't let you go longer than a day without going into labor for fear that bacteria will pass through to the baby).

I texted my sisters and called my mom to give them an update.  I lay down on the couch and tried to watch TV, but couldn't focus.  I was going to meet my baby soon.  How could I be expected to pay attention to The Office with that kind of thought rolling around in my head? I wondered whether we would have anything to talk about. Would we have similar interests?  Would she like the same music as I?

By the time my sister, Bridget, and my mom arrived, I had taken a shower, rolled around the bed in significant pain for a few hours and ordered Greg to clean the house.  I had even gotten up a few times myself to organize some random piles of junk that were scattered about.  I was more nervous about my family thinking I was a slob than the potential increase in pain.

Once they walked in the door, I was ready to usher them right back out so we could go to the hospital. I couldn't bare the thought of having to ride in the car if the pain got worse.  It seemed unlikely that I could even sit still long enough should the pain, which already felt as if someone were squeezing and wringing out my uterus while I was having the worst cramps in my life, intensify.

As is never the case with me, I was packed (had been for at least a month) and ready to leave.  We hustled out, drove over in two cars and made it to the hospital in 8 minutes.

By 1:30 AM, I walked into the hospital, leaving Greg to figure out what to do with the car.  I toddled, with my mom in tow, right to the entrance to the maternity ward.  I stopped.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to go about doing this.  What do I say to them?" I asked my mom.

She shrugged.

I pushed the intercom button and said, "I think I'm in labor."  I was embarrassed about having to say this in front of the family in the waiting room.  In my head, I thought it would be mortifying to walk back out in front of them after the told me I was still in false labor.  They would probably say, "look at that jackass.  I bet she wouldn't know a contraction if it kicked her in the face."

The door buzzed and I pushed it open.  I stood at the counter in front of five nurses, holding my pillow awkwardly.  I waited.  I walked a step closer and one of the nurses finally looked up at me.

"I think I'm in labor," I repeated, as if she wouldn't remember buzzing me in.

She took my already-filled-out paperwork and ushered me into triage where I was given a gown.  They laid me down on the bed and administered the stress test.  My contractions were pretty hard, but when they checked me I was only 1 centimeter and not effaced by much.

I was dejected.  I thought all my hard work should be worth more than that.  I felt cheep and, apparently, so did the hospital.  They told me that I could either lay on the crappy triage bed for the next four hours until Dr Tomayo came in at 6:00 or go home.  I wanted to die and started shaking (and continued shaking throughout the rest of labor).  I didn't want to have to walk past that family sitting in the waiting room.  I pleaded my case.

"I can't go home.  Please don't send me home," I said.  "I know I'm going to get through this labor quickly.  In my family, when we get to four centimeters we go to ten really fast.  Please."

A few minutes later they had me talk to the doctor in between contractions.

"You're doing the Bradley Method, right?" She said.  "What would you like out of this labor."

"I want to be able to get in the shower and move around freely.  I don't want to me stuck on the monitor for the entire labor," I said.

"You don't want to labor at home?" She asked.

"I can't go home. 100% of the 21 births in my immediate family (12 for my mom, the rest for my sisters) have all been the same.  It takes us awhile to get to four centimeters, but once we get there we race through labor.  If I go home, I'm going to have to come back in a couple of hours," I said.

Ten minutes later, I was wheeled into a large delivery room and immediately got into the bed while my mom, Bridget and Greg sat around it.  The contractions were getting harder and I worked through them.  I rolled from side to side.  I tried to shower, but it was too cold. I was pissed about that one because it was so hard to dry off and get dressed.  I went to the bathroom frequently, supported by Greg.  Between contractions I closed my eyes, feigning sleep.  At one point, I started throwing up.

Greg stood by my side the entire time.  When I would roll over, he would pick up his chair, my barf trash can, a cup of ice and a wet towel and carry it all to the other side of the bed.  I squeezed his hand when the contractions came on.  He turned away from me, once, to adjust the volume on the music.  I reached out for his hand and it wasn't there.  I yelled for him.  I had never felt so alone.

In the midst of the madness Mary materialized out of the darkness.  I beamed up at her, relieved.  I wasn't expecting her to come.  My support system was complete.

I looked over at my sisters and mom sitting on the couch.  Their eyes were all closed.  I felt really guilty for being so quiet.  In my head, I assumed they were wondering, "why in the hell did we come? This is so boring."  I wished I could entertain them more.

Suddenly, a disturbing image popped in my head.  A video of a female who swings her newborn baby around dangerously played over and over in my head in between and during contractions.  I was getting increasingly upset by it and couldn't stop thinking about it.  I didn't know where the "stop" button was, so I had to just deal with it.

At 3:30, the nurse came in to check me.  I was only two centimeters and 50% effaced after two hours of hard labor.  I felt defeated.  I wasn't going to make it.  I let fear over take me.

"I can't do it.  I need the drugs," I moaned.

"You can do it.  We know you can," my support team said.  Or, at least, they said variations of that.

"I know I can," I said through gritted teeth.  "I just don't want to."

My family continued to encourage me, but I insisted.

Finally, someone addressed my request.  "You can't get it until four centimeters," Bridget said.  She had heard that once.  We had previously discussed how she could help me get through the labor naturally.  My only request was to hold me at bay for as long as she could. She helped me over this major hurdle.

The nurse, confused, asked, "did you want an epidural?"

I was in the middle of a contraction and didn't respond.  She took my lack of response as a "no."  She left the room and I continued to labor.  At 6:00, when Dr Tomayo checked me, I was only at four.

"Can I please get that epidural now?"  I begged.

She looked shocked and spoke sternly to the nurse.  "Why haven't you gotten her an epidural?"

"I didn't even know she wanted it," the nurse said defensively, just as shocked as the doctor that I felt they were holding out on me.

They immediately set me up with an IV, set it to the fastest speed and took my blood.  Cold washed into my arm.  I had to wait for the bag to empty and the blood work to come back before I could get my epidural.

I cried and moaned my way through the hour as contractions came one on top of the other.  It was nonstop.  When they would start, I would sit up in bed, grab Greg's head and pull his hair.  He stood there, completely unfazed.  I buried my head in his neck, biting him and repeating, "I can't, I can't, I can't."

After contractions, in the few seconds I had to breath, I said, "I'm so sorry I am being so loud."  I worried I would scare the other laboring women.

At 7:00, the new nurse, a sweet woman, checked me.  I was at eight.  There was some truth to the saying, "when we get to four we go to ten" that I had heard over and over again throughout my pregnancy.  The nurses rushed to prep for the arrival of our baby.

My sisters saw them turn on the warmer and bring in the swaddling blankets.  Both began to cry. They remembered what all this pain was about.  They were going to meet a brand new baby girl and it was going to be amazing.  It was all becoming real.

I still wanted my epidural.  I didn't trust I was almost done.  I looked up at the nurse, "I want an epidural."

She scrunched her face up, "Are you sure?"  I began to doubt my decision.

My desire to do it all naturally solidified when I heard the anesthesiologist come bounding into the room at 7:15.            

"Alright, everyone clear out.  I need to be alone with her for 20 minutes." the hulking woman said.

Panic ripped through me.  My support network was going to leave my side AND I was going to have a needle shoved in my spine AND I would have to be alone with this monster?  What if the baby was born and she was the only one there to witness it?

"I don't know if I want it," I whimpered.

"Well," the woman said, "If you don't want it, I have another woman who does."  She stormed out of the  room.  You would think she was volunteering and not actually one of the highest paid individuals at the hospital.

At 7:20, the nurse checked me.  I was at 10.

"Where is the doctor," I yelled.

"She is 40 feet away," said Mary, an answer which I accepted.

At 7:30, I felt like I had to poo and began to wonder where the doctor was.

"She is 20 feet away," said Greg.  Again, I accepted it.

"I am going to poo," I repeated over and over again and then it hit me, "I am pushing.  I can't help it."

The nurse said, "go ahead.  That's fine."

I began to push weakly, waiting for the doctor to come.  

At 7:45, Doctor Tomayo came in and was put in splash resistant gear.

At 7:52, I was in the position and pushing hard.

"Her heads right here, you can push however you want," said Dr Tomayo.  Bridget didn't believe her and she looked.  There was the baby's head.

I pushed and felt a ring of fire.  I pushed myself up to the head of the bed, trying to escape the burning.  Then, something Bridget said about her own labor popped into my head.  She said, "I realized I could push through the pain quickly or slowly.  I chose to push quickly."

I bared down and, after three counts of ten, the pain dissipated. I felt a complete loss of pressure and then our screaming Darla was placed on my chest.  Our baby was here and she was absolutely perfect.  We all cried.  I was so overwhelmed by the power of her energy that my face contorted in a tearless cry, a shit eating grin and awe.  The overall effect wasn't pretty, but it was significant.  The pain meant nothing.  All there was was her.

And she was crying in the warmer, ready to bring immense chaos, exhaustion and pure joy into her parents lives.  They swaddled her and handed her to me. I held her and we posed for our first picture as a family. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baby Bump Chronicles in a Nut Shell: the third trimester

Week 29- We finally found someone to rent the loft.  They graciously give us three days to clear out.  At seven months, we found a place to move into, packed up, repainted the loft and transported everything we owned to the new house.  We, also, managed to squeeze in our last New Year's Eve dinner as non-parents.  In the back of my mind, I was ashamed that I hadn't listened to the doctor's orders, but really wanted to move away from all the crackheads, partying college students and drug dealers.  I thought Darla would understand.

I had been having vivid the entire pregnancy, but they had become more anxiety inducing in the last trimester.  The one from this week was about me forgetting to feed Darla for three days.  I had this dream about four more times before the end of my pregnancy. 

Week 30- I went into nesting overload and unpacked our entire house in one afternoon.  I couldn't sit still.

At this point, I realized that, although I was able to do such heavy manual labor, I didn't have the energy or attention span for a full-time job.  With my sister, my boss Erin's, blessing, I cut down to part-time.  I had freed up some time to sleep.  

Week 31- My sisters along with our sister-in-law Michelle planned my baby shower at the Yacht Club in San Diego.  Darla acquired the chicest nursery furniture imagineable and the best outfits.

I thought back to that day months ago, when I went to Target thinking I could pick out all her nursery supplies in that one trip.  I looked at the cribs, got dizzy and ended up crying in the baby section.  I was grateful I had been able to make it this far with only a few more meltdowns. 

Week 32- I brought all my baby shower loot home, looked at it all in a pile on the floor of her nursery, felt my head explode and went to sleep.  I'd wait until that last few weeks to organize it all.

I had a private celebration since I had made it to the week at which her chance of survival, if she had been born early, was at 85%.  I had kept my eye on that prize since I went into the doctor with contractions from working too hard.

Greg and I started our Bradley Method Birthing Class.  I had decided to not hire a Doula AND have an unmedicated birth.  Greg had convinced me he would step up his game and be my birthing coach.  I am skeptical.  My sisters and my mom all have the same reaction.  They all said, "good luck" and laughed.

I hoped I would meet some friends at the birthing class.  I remembered too late that I had long since lost my ability to make friends when the class ended and the only person I had spoken to was Greg.

Week 33- I called up a customer service agent for Restoration Hardware and chewed her out because Darla's crib hadn't arrived yet.  Suddenly, I, who usually treated sales associates with the utmost respect, had turned into a high maintenance mother who needed everything to be perfect for her little princess.  She offered me a 10% discount, which I accepted.

I had another anxiety dream.  This time, it was about how Greg picked up Darla by the ankles.  I discussed this one with my sister Joanne.  She told me that I needed to sit Greg down and tell him why it's not ok to pick up a baby by her ankles.  I did as she said.  Greg wasn't pleased.

Week 34- During my bi-weekly check up, I found out that Doctor Yun was 33 weeks pregnant.  Her scrubs hid her pregnancy well; I made mental note of this for future pregnancies.

Her hostile attitude from my first visit made more sense.  She was in the first trimester, too, and was probably as miserable as I was.  I felt closer to her and was sad she wouldn't be there at my birth.  I finally was comfortable talking about going through labor without an epidural once I found out her last labor had been unmedicated.

She gave me the best information.  She said, "It doesn't hurt as much as being hit by a truck, but you will probably be able to go without medication if you're willing to be in a whole lot of pain."

The crib finally arrived and the delivery crew assembled it.  I tried to manuever the furniture around the room as best I could with a basketball shoved under my shirt, but felt I had lost all my ability to make aesthetic decissions.

Week 35- I managed to speak up during our birth class.  I spoke about how my mom had twelve kids, six of which she had naturally.  I impressed everyone there, but still hadn't made a friend.  The girl I had thought was the pick of the litter (an elementary school teacher whose sweater looked much like my own) barely returned my smile, but Greg informed me that he had spoken to her husband in the bathroom.  I hoped that, with this in, we might make it to the chit chat point.

Week 36- I had my third and final baby shower.  I wanted to keep it simple, so requested that everyone give me their favorite book.  My mom came up for the shower and helped me organize my closets and the baby's drawers.

I spent a lot of time trying to not think about the pain of labor, walking with my only pregnant friend and reading birthing books.

I went to what would end up being my last class and still had no friends.

Week 37- I had made it to full term without any problems.  I planned on going into labor that weekend after my sister's wedding in San Diego.

Although I had zero energy and felt my stomach tightening throughout the night, I didn't have the baby in San Diego.  In fact, I didn't start having really painful contractions until I made it back to Los Angeles.

I couldn't sleep that night.  I felt as if I had incredibly bad gas and horrendous period cramps.  I timed the pains, but they were too sporadic to mean anything.  I was nervous that I had been timing my gas and put away my timer.

When the pains didn't go away by that afternoon, I went to the doctor's office where they gave me another stress test.  The nurse didn't realize the machine was broken until 20 minutes had passed.  I wanted to kick her in the teeth for making me deal with that discomfort for nothing.  After they made sure the machine was working, they confirmed that I was having contractions.  Doctor Yun came in and checked me.  I was certain I was five centimeters dilated and fully effaced.  Quite the contrary.  I was 0 centimeters dilated and 0% effaced.  She assured me, though, that I would probably be in labor within three days.

Three days came and went.  It was my birthday and I was thoroughly depressed that I wasn't holding my daughter in my arms.

Week 38- I was still in false labor and had slowly grown used to the pain.  I continued to walk with my pregnant friend, hoping that it might help me go into real labor.

Greg had finally been offered a job, which brought us both a lot of relief.

I tried to go about my life as I normally would and even helped Greg pick out work clothes two days after he had been offered the job.  I was pissed off, very uncomfortable and at the end of my rope.  I sat in the dressing rooms, trying to pay attention to him trying on clothes, but could barely see straight.  I thought the contractions were getting stronger, but chalked it up to wishful thinking.

At home that night, I worked on my mom's taxes until my computer shut down and erased all my work.  I decided I had reached my limit.  I formally declared I was sick of being pregnant, felt a pop in my stomach and a small rush of liquid.  I was pretty sure my water had broken.  I texted my mom and sisters about this development and started timing my contractions.  I was relieved that I had gotten my haircut the day before.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baby Bump Chronicles in a Nut Shell: the second trimester

Weeks 13-15- I was still sick, but I dragged myself out of the house at some point to go to the beach. I was so proud of my baby bump even though there was barely anything there.  I thought I would be calling people for advice.  I had such horrible morning sickness that I completely isolated and relied on the Internet for all my information.  I still had my doubts that the baby was alive.  I kept that fear to myself. 

I did make it to my sister's wedding, where I spent most of the time in bed, being entertained my nieces and nephews.

Week 16- Another Dr's appointment, but no ultrasound.  I heard the heart beat, which made my own jump, again.  At least I knew the pregnancy was still viable.  I felt secure about it for roughly 10 minutes after I left the doctor's office.     

I started getting nervous about loving the baby so much.  My heart was in serious danger of being crushed, which was the most terrifying truth I had ever encountered.

I began to wonder whether this baby actually wanted to be born.  

Weeks 17 I went to see Belle and Sebastien with Greg, which is where I first felt the baby kicks.  I was relieved. I didn't have to agonize over whether it was alive. It would let me know. About 10 minutes after it started kicking, I wanted it to stop.   It really creeped me out. 

Weeks 18-19- Still barfing, but had more reprieves in between. 

Week 20- This was the happiest day of the pregnancy.  During the anatomy scan, we found out we were having a daughter and were shown a 3D image of her.  I cried so hard when I saw this...

We already knew her name would be Darla, which we had decided on four years prior when we were certain we didn't want kids. We celebrated by eating deep fried mac and cheese balls at the Cheese Cake Factory and looking at baby girl clothes.

Week 21- After looking at all the baby books out there, I decided to make one myself.  I bought a plane, black photo album, some fabric, Mod Podge and construction paper.  I spread the supplies out in front of me and immediately had an identity crisis.  I had never even signed my name on a birthday card, let alone crafted anything.  Greg was very proud of me that day for actually putting forth a sentimental effort.

Week 22- I started to feel that burst of energy everyone talked about.  Greg and I scrambled to plan our Baby Moon.

Week 23-We take a very last minute trip to San Francisco.  Aside from starting off the trip by falling on my tailbone and freaking out that I had hurt the baby, the trip was a perfect.  We walked everywhere, went to museums, ate at delicious restaurants and relaxed.  Basically, we did everything we wouldn't be able to do with a baby in tow.   During this trip, Greg proposed.  He had spent weeks hunting down the perfect ring while I was sick and cursing him for leaving me alone.  It was a very emotional, lovely evening.

We were starting to turn into a family.  Every day, it became more real.

Next step, get Greg a job.  I would be damned if Greg got to be a stay-at-home dad while I worked.  I, unfortunately, had become pregnant during a recession.  We had to have faith that he would become employed before she was born. 

Week 23- I wrote my first letter to baby Darla.  I was worried that the ultrasound tech saw it wrong (I had recently seen an episode of 90210 during which this happened) so I addressed it "Dear Baby" because you never know.

Week 24- It was Thanksgiving week and we went to San Diego to see my family.  I was surprised by myself for not eating that much.  Come to think of it, I ate the same amount throughout my pregnancy as I did before. I felt disappointed with myself, actually.

Week 25- I was still working full time and not showing.  I would tell people I was pregnant and they were surprised to hear I was six months.  I wished I were showing because then people might give me special treatment.

Greg and I realized that loft living in Downtown Los Angeles was completely out of the question.  We still had another year on our lease, so we began to work hard to get a renter in there ASAP.  With only four months until D-Day, it's iffy whether we will accomplish this.

Week 26- In my mind, the baby bump is starting to get huge.  I had no idea how much bigger it could get.

Week 27- I spent the week working in the day and cleaning at night.  I had offered to host the BabyCakes' holiday party at my house and I, also, wanted to make the loft look good enough to show in the hopes of getting it rented out.  I slept little, was constantly on my feet and lifted heavy things.  I knew that I should have been more careful.  The week ends with me having contractions and going to the doctor.  I experienced my first "stress test" to measure contractions.  The doctor told me to rest and drink water.  I couldn't believe I had jeopardized my daughter's health like that, but at least the loft looked good.

Week 28- My high school friends surprised me with my first of three showers.  Baby Darla was starting to accumulate some possessions.  It's around this time that we stopped taking pictures of my baby bump. The pregnancy had started to bore us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby Bump Chronicles in a Nut Shell: the first trimester

Week 5- I had just found out about the baby and didn't know exactly how far along I was.  If I were to guess, it had happened about two weeks before taking the test.  Despite being surprised, overwhelmed and unable to comprehend how my life would change, I felt excitement growing in my chest.  I tempered this, though.  As one friend put it, the pregnancy could've just been chemical.  
I worried over how I'd tell my mom.  She was certainly going to reprimand me for getting knocked up so young and out of wedlock.  If she gave me any grief, I imagined I would just firmly say, "mom, I may be only 28, but I think it's time I start making my own decisions." 

I bought prenatal vitamins because I didn't know what else to do.  Morning sickness and fatigue kicked in a couple days later.  I thought the entire pregnancy was just in my head, but I quit smoking and told a few of my sisters about the imaginary pregnancy anyway.  All were excited and assured me my mom would be completely thrilled.  I thought it was nice of them to lie to me.

Week 6- I went to my first appointment with Doctor Yun.  I chose her because my friend assured me that all the women there were very pretty (they were) and I didn't have the wherewithal or energy to research OBGYNs.   Dr Yun wasn't particularly friendly, but she confirmed that I was, in fact, pregnant.  She administered an ultrasound and found nothing.  It was still too early.

I shook as I called my mom to tell her.  My sister's were right, she was happy.  She said, "children are always a blessing."

I felt weirder than ever.  Apparently, I was old enough to have a baby and have it not be  tragedy.  

Week 7- Life continues to happen around me as if nothing were different. I went to work, barfed and helped customers through gritted teeth.  With no belly to speak of, I wasn't afforded the special treatment usually reserved for pregnant women.  For all the bakery patrons knew, I was just an asshole. 

Week 8- Still had overwhelming morning sickness and was back at the doctor's office, feeling miserable and confused.  She did another ultrasound and found this peanut.

It didn't even look like a baby, let alone a tadpole, so she had to label it for me.  I felt disappointed with myself for not having an emotional reaction to that picture.

Weeks 9 through 11- Nothing of interest happened beyond not eating, barfing up everything I did consume and sleeping. I didn't even have a baby bump to show for it.  I had my doubts that it was even viable at this point.

Week 12- I saw the baby and heard the heart beat for the first time at my third Dr's appointment.  My heart jumped.  I started to realize that my baby was really coming and that I'd probably really love it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Start

The best way to start off any good pregnancy is with a vodka filled watermelon, a pack of cigarettes and a dangerous, late night bike ride home to a neighborhood frequented by gun toting drug dealers and mentally unstable homeless people.  This was July 4th 2010, one day before I popped two false positives and a one accurate negative on First Response pregnancy tests.  I would later replay this foot-loose-and-fancy-free day with a cringe as I rubbed my growing baby bump. 

Two weeks prior to this holiday, I had lived in a deep state of denial.  I was mildly worried about my boobs, which had literally grown from a C to a D overnight.  Greg, my then boyfriend, now fiance, insisted I take a pregnancy test.

"Don't worry," I said.  "This is probably just the new thing my boobs do when I'm about to get my period.  I know my period was going to be here any day now."

The next day, I said it was definitely coming the following day.  When the following day came and went with no period, I was certain it was coming tomorrow. This went on for twelve more days, until July 5th, the day after my last day of youthful freedom that I was far too old for anyway, when  I decided to take the test to prove to Greg that there was nothing about which to worry.  

I took the first test.  My pee spread across the little window and left a plus sign in its wake. 

"Hmmm..." I shouted to Greg from the bathroom of the Downtown Los Angeles loft we shared.  "It's positive, but it's so light that I don't think it's true. I'm taking the second one."

The second test was even lighter.  We were making some progress. By the third test, my urine had become so diluted that I popped negative. I went to bed that night feeling confident that the last First Response was the only one worth paying attention to.  Tests don't register negative if they're supposed to be positive, I reasoned.  The other plus signs one came about because I had peed on the stick too much.

The next day, my confidence diminished when my period still hadn't come.  I insisted Greg pick up a digital pregnancy test and bring it to the bakery I helped manage.  It was only a two block walk, but it took him over two hours to show up. By the time he arrived, I was shaking and practically ran to the bakery's bathroom.  I waited the whole two minutes to trust the results, despite the fact that the words "PREGNANT" popped up in bold print within a minute.

I walked out of the bathroom like a zombie, my face even paler than it usually was.  I grabbed Greg's arm, led him outside and, among the crackheads and thugs of Skid Row, told him the news.  We were going to have a baby.  We sat in silence and I chain smoked (I reasoned that I should be allowed that privalige for the first day-a decision I would later regret as I agonized over whether I had caused the baby permanent damage).  We shook our heads.

"This is so weird," I said to a trembling Greg.

He nodded his head and I walked back into the bakery.

It was then that I realized I had forgotten to throw away the pregnancy test.  By then, the news of my little seedling had already spread throughout the bakery and everyone looked at me suspiciously.  The baby was already becoming a part of my reality.

I thought back to a few months prior when Greg and I fostered a puppy.  It kept us up all night with its incessant need for food and attention.   I went to work the next day with sagging eyes and declared, "I am never going to have babies.  I am not cut out to be a mom."  Obviously, the universe had other plans.  I was going to be a mother.