Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Bras

I have a momentous announcement: after much angst, I have finally found some bras that fit.

I have been on a serious quest to find bras that fit, but also seemed to have a little room to expand, since I don't want to be buying new bras every two seconds. I have been all over, to no avail. Everything I tried on just seemd to fit wrong, or was uncomfortable, or was $40 (I'm too cheap to spend $40 on transient boobs). I even went to a local bra store and looked into maternity bras, as I thought that might be the perfect option. After all, they're deisigned to grow with you. Alas, that didn't pan out, either.

It did, however, give me a good laugh. If you've ever been into a bra store other than Victo.ria's Sec.ret, you might have noticed that some of the saleswomen (most of the saleswomen?) are approximately 150 years old, and often no more than 3 feet tall.

Just such a saleswoman approached me as I was fondling maternity bras in this particular bra store, trying to determine if there was one small enough to fit me. It seems that most women have torpedo-sized breasts during pregnancy and the weeks and months beyond, and I have more like large oranges, or perhaps small grapefruits, on a particularly optimistic day.

"You don't want those, dear. Those are maternity bras." I must admit, in part I was pleased to hear someone say that, as I was wearing my last pair of pants that sort of fit (okay, I bought them after I was pregnant, and they are two sizes bigger than my normal size, and I have to unbutton them by the end of the day when I sit, but still. . .real jeans!) I turned to look at her. "Yes, I know." It finally dawned on her that I am pregnant, and she proceeded to ask me how far along I was. Then, she asked if I was planning on breastfeeding, then told me that she'd breastfed five children, then regaled me with the tale of how she's nearly gave up because it was so hard, and never would have been able to do it if it hadn't been for the help of her mother-in-law. Ah, pregnancy/motherhood advice from strangers. So indispensable.

Since breastfeeding advice seemed a bit premature, I asked for help locating a bra. She measured me, then declared they had hardly anything in my size. "Well, why do you need one?" she asked. I explained that none of my bras fit, and I desperately needed new ones. "Why?" she asked. "Did they get smaller?"

In the middle of a crowded store, no less.

As it turned out, the few bras she had to offer me were heavily padded options. She seemed perplexed as to why I, such an unendowed little thing, would turn down boobs of foam, so I left her behind and continued my quest.

Happily, a short time later I happened upon a sale rack at Ko.hl's where there were two bras called Near.ly Ba.re or something like that. Wide straps, no padding, plenty of support. . .I nearly cried with joy. They are the most comfortable bras I have ever owned. Or maybe it just seems that way because I've been free-boobing it of late.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Unexpected Moments

The last few years have taught me so many things: that I shouldn't expect anything, because I am so often wrong; that things don't always go the way we plan, despite all of our thought and preparation and desires; that people who should understand sometimes don't; and that comfort and strength often come from unexpected sources. So perhaps the big reveal at work today shouldn't have been so surprising, but it was.

The response I got was overwhelmingly positive, with lots of hugs, tears, and screaming. The HR person actually made ME cry, when I told her that it had been a long road, and she told me that she understood, because she herself had never quite managed to get to where I am. As her eyes welled up, I felt so sad for her. She so totally got it, and was so supportive of whatever amount of leave I want to take. As it turns out, I might be able to take additional unpaid leave on top of my paid leave, but I still need to sort all of that out.

The head of my division was genuinely thrilled for me, too--really, really excited. And the male supervisor that I was dreading telling, the one who I thought really wouldn't get it? He was in tears when I told him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The End of Vacation

Sigh. I have to go back to work tomorrow. Although we spent both weekends at the lake, which was relaxing, I spent the better part of the week hacking away at my never-ending to-do list. I made quite a bit of progress, although of course not as much as I had hoped. Even though it wasn't a "normal" vacation where we went off for the whole week (T. had to work for most of the week), it was still nice to be off from work. I am just so totally ready to move on from my current position.

Tomorrow is the big day at work, however, so return I must. I will be telling them that I'm pregnant. I told a work friend of mine yesterday (then swore her to secrecy--I know I can trust her). She was completely shocked, so I guess that means that no one has been speculating about my expanding waistline. I feel like it's so obvious, as does T., but no one seems to guess that I'm pregnant. In fact, people just keep telling me that I look really "healthy." I guess that means that 15 pounds ago, I was a little too thin. I suppose I notice it more than most people because most of my work clothes no longer fit. It's amazing how a relatively small amount of weight can torpedo your wardrobe.

I am not looking forward to telling my immediate supervisor that I'm pregnant. He's nearing 50 and single, and never had kids. His priorities lay in chasing women, not family-building. I have seen how he has treated other women with families, and I haven't been impressed, to say the least. It's no coincidence that every single person who does my job right now either does not have any children, or their children are already grown up. There is literally not one single person in my position who has young children. It's pretty much been that way for the time that he's been in charge of my division, with the occasional exception.

Actually, none of the current supervisors in my division have children, and there is currently only one professional person that has a young child. It's more than a little weird. The hours are generally awful and the work can be very challenging, so it's in part self-selecting, I suppose. But if I weren't planning on leaving anyway, I would find it incredibly disconcerting that there are so few people with young families. It didn't used to be this way there, but it seems to have evolved over the last few years.

I am telling my office about the pregnancy later in my pregnancy than I had intended, because we ended up doing the additional testing. I didn't want to tell them if the news was only going to be bad. Hence, I will hit four months this week. Time is FLYING by!!! The good news for me professionally is that I am far enough along that the fall schedule is pretty much in place, and it's sort of too late for my supervisor to try to take anything from me. I am comfortable setting limitations for myself (like, I plan on asking for extra help for a project I have coming up in November, just in case my body doesn't do what I hope it will), but I don't want anyone else setting them for me. The winter schedule is just coming together now, and I've structured my work so that it will be March-April before I really need help, so they should have no problem working in someone to cover for me while I'm on maternity leave.

The only thing I've been stressing about with regard to my leave are budget cuts. I am entitled to 12 weeks paid leave for maternity leave, and I plan to make the arrangements with HR tomorrow, prior to telling my supervisor. I am going to freak if they give me a hard time about the leave, due to the current state of the economy. I have made a million personal sacrifices for them over the last few years, and I am not asking for anything that I'm not otherwise entitled to. The benefits are very clear, and in writing. Yet, I have a lingering fear that they are somehow going to try to cut my benefits, or give me a hard time about taking the time that I'm entitled to. Well, I will find out first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Open Letter to The Manufacturers of Maternity Clothes

Dear Maternity Clothes Designers:

I do not know what you are thinking. I do not like rayon or polyester. I do not like loud prints. I do not want my entire maternity wardrobe to consist of bright, happy colors simply because I am bright and happy these days. I do not want to wear tank tops that are skanky and flimsy at the top, yet at the bottom resemble a large circus tent. I do not want to wear stretch pants. In fact, I do not at all want to be reminded of my wardrobe from the 1980's. It was indeed bad enough the first time.

I would, however, like something that remotely resembles stylish. I have found approximately three black dresses that are simply fabulous, and I may resort to wearing them to work every day of the week. Perhaps it can be my maternity "uniform," as thought I am a pregnant Steve Jobs. But really, would it be so much trouble for you to make a stretchy, knee-length black skirt, perhaps cut on the bias? A stylish, monochromatic wardrobe of pencil skirts and decent pants and sweater sets, with the occasional pleasant color or vibrant-yet-sophisticated pattern mixed in? A jacket or two that could be worn to a business meeting, in a fabric other than the dreaded polyester? Something classic, something that works in a conservative office where people still actually wear suits to work? In short, business attire that doesn't make me feel--and look!--like a frumpy housewife from middleAmerica who doesn't belong behind my desk?

I would really appreciate it if you would heed my call, because I'm quickly outgrowing my own clothes, and I can't find anything of yours that I would actually wear. I will soon be left with nothing but the aforementioned black dresses. Sigh. At least they will accessorize well.


**If anyone has any suggestions for sources of attractive, office-friendly maternity attire, please let me know, as I am getting rather desperate. I've found a few things that look like possibilities on eBay, but until they get here, I can't really be sure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

CVS: The Final Results Are In--The Baby is a. . .!

I have been completely unable to post over the last week, holding my breath until the final, full test results were in. We FINALLY got the test results today, and the baby tested chromosomally normal. And, we found out what it is!

But first, the rest of the week. . .T. absolutely refused to wait any longer to tell everyone. I wanted to wait until the final results were in, but he was fine with the FISH, and could not wait one.second.longer! So, I wrapped up the the picture frame for his mom, who was having dinner with his brother Wednesday night. Although his mom lives quite a ways from us, I had to be near her house for work on Wednesday, so I dropped off the wrapped frame, and asked her to give it to his brother when she saw him for dinner that night. T's brother just bought a house, so my MIL thought it was a house-warming present. The card that I put on it told his brother congratulations on the house, and asked him to hand the gift back to my MIL to open. It was the kind of thing that I knew they'd get a kick out of, and they did.

Then, I called my mom at about the same time they were having dinner, and told her she could open the package that I mailed her a few weeks ago. She immediately guessed that we are pregnant, and she was really excited for us. It meant so much to me that she was excited, because I wasn't sure what her reaction was going to be like. She's called a bunch of times since then, trying to get info about what the sex of the baby is. (We told everyone we'd know what it was once the final test results came back, so everyone has been waiting on pins and needles with us!) It's a good thing that my mom guessed that we were having a baby, because the letters fell off the frame in the mail! She had no idea what it was supposed to say on the back of the frame (it said "due in January"). It must've gotten too hot or something.

A while after I called my mom, the phone calls started coming in from T's side of the family. They were all thrilled.

Then, this weekend, we threw a huge cookout for my dad, brother, and a bunch of other family. We played lawn games, and the top three finalists got presents. The top prize, of course, was the wrapped frame. The recipient opened it backwards, so that the "due in January" was showing first, and as soon as his wife saw it, she jumped up and gave me a huge hug, all while it dawned on my dad's wife and she started screaming "are you pregnant??? Is she pregant? I TOLD you!!!", to which my dad replied "but did you buy the card?" Apparently, they've all been trying to guess about whether I was or not. One of the guys saw me last weekend and told his wife that I was in a bathing suit and he didn't think I was pregnant. (THANK YOU!!! I feel so bloated and misshapen right now!). Everyone was very excited (well, muted responses from my dad and brother, but those were to be expected, as that's just how their personalities are--I know they're excited for me, too.).

So, it was a really nice week of telling. My mother in law immediately called every person she knew. I knew that she would go overboard, and realized that in fact she had when she began listing all of the people she called, and then finished with "and the guy who's putting in my new stone walkways is really excited, too." Um, SURE he is! She's too funny.

But the icing on this wonderful week of love and postive thoughts was the call today from the genetic counselor: that the baby is chromosomally normal. I can't even begin to express how much this meant to me, and what a relief it was. Oh, and the baby? She's a girl. I was so thoroughly convinced that it was a boy, that it was a HUGE shock when she told us. It was really great, because normally I would have been an hour away at my office, and T. would've been off working. But, I'm on vacation this week, and T. came home to have lunch with me. The genetic counselor just happened to call while he was here, so I was able to put her on speakerphone, and she was able to tell us while we were together. It was awesome, especially because it was really such a surprise. I am so, so, so thrilled. I'm having a girl. I am really, truly having a baby girl! I can hardly believe it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The prelim results (done via FISH) came back normal for T13, T18 and T21. I opted not to find out gender yet. Full results will be in Friday or Monday, but so far, so good. Phew.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Test Update

I survived the test. It was uncomfortable, but not horrible. I'm feeling okay, and not having any cramping or spotting. They redid the nuchal fold measurement before the CVS yesterday, and it was still good. The MFM reassured me that she believes our test results will come back okay, based on the neck measurement. I am taking it easy and relaxing by the lake. We're doing FISH, so partial results will be in on Monday. I will write more about what the test was like when I'm home and in front of a real computer, rather than on my cell.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The week has literally flown by. Work has--mercifully!--been really crazy, with tons of things happening, so it has kept my mind busy.

I went in Tuesday and signed all of the consent paperwork, and also looked over the results from my screening tests. I have gotten great comfort from seeing my numbers, and then comparing them to women on the various boards who have had much worse results, but perfectly healthy babies. The doctors that I am going to are very experienced, and their miscarriage rate is very low--almost approaching that of amnio. That eased my mind a bit. I also learned on Tuesday that they likely will be able to take the sample transabdominally, rather than transvaginally, which is also some comfort to me, because the infection rates are thought to be somewhat lower transabdominally.

So, tomorrow morning is the big test. And then we wait. The results probably won't be in until Monday or Tuesday. I would get them in 24-48 hours if the test wasn't right before the weekend. Ugh. Hopefully, the test will go just fine, and the results will also be fine.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wedding Shower Gift?

We are having a totally fabulous, relaxing weekend. Just got another invite to the lake next weekend, which should also be a nice distraction after the test on Friday. Problem is, I will also need to attend a Jack-and-Jill wedding shower for the daughter of a family friend I don't know well. What's the best wedding shower gift you ever got, or saw someone else get?

Thank you, by the way, for the supportive comments on my last post. They have helped get me through the weekend.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I am in a very weird space--I know that the results of the screening test are not great, but I am trying not to stress about it. After all, it's just a screening test. Plus, the nuchal fold measurement was actually fine--it's the blood tests that came back wonky. The blood tests, by themselves, are only 60% accurate at predicting Downs.

I have been having a hard time reconciling the "85% (or so) accurancy" of the NT scan plus bloodwork with the 1/160 chance the genetic counselor gave us. I was trying to figure out if that meant that our chance of this child having Downs was 85%, and if so, where that left us in terms of the 1/160 number (because in that case, shouldn't the number be 85/100?). What the counselor told us is that the "85%" stat refers to the fact that if 100 cases of Downs were considered, the NT scan plus bloodwork would flag 85 of them as being at risk for Downs, and would fail to identify the other 15 as being at risk for Downs. So, the test essentially flags 85% of the cases that it should flag that are actually Downs. However, it also flags a lot of other cases that WON'T be Downs, which is why my stat is still 1/160, and not 85/100. She said that her hospital screens anyone with a risk of 1/260 or greater as "positive" for being at risk for Downs.

I am still a little confused about that 85% stat, because the three pregnancy books I have seem to have a different definition of what that stat means than what the genetic counselor gave me. Frankly, I prefer her definition. The books all seem to suggest that tests are 85% (or so) accurate at actually indicating a baby that has Downs. I hope I'm wrong. If you have a link or a book that clarifies, please send it along to me. You know I am an information whore, even if it's not positive information.

We weren't able to get scheduled for the CVS on Wednesday, as we'd originally hoped. They were completely booked already. I was disappointed about that, because if we'd been able to get in for Wednesday, we would have had results by Friday, which would mean just one more week of not knowing. Instead, we are scheduled for Friday morning (7/10), and will likely get results on Monday. The head of the department at a major hospital in Boston will be doing my CVS, which puts me somewhat at ease. I think the genetic counselor was a little taken aback by how adamant I was that I would only consider having a very experienced doctor perform the test, but whatever. Every study I have read about CVS has found that this is one test where experience matters enormously, and the risk of miscarriage from the procedure is significantly lower with a more experienced practictioner. I generally find that medical professionals are surprised by patients who have actually read the studies, and act as their own advocates.

We decided to hold off on telling our families until we are through this next bit. I definitely could not deal with the dichotomy of congratulations and CVS stress all in one week. I called my mom and asked her to just hold on to the package when it arrives. She was puzzled, but agreed not to open it. I also called my friends who were dropping off the package to my dad, and asked them not to give it to him. They promised that they wouldn't. T. also called his mother (who is eagerly awaiting a big announcement) and told her that there would be no big annoucement this weekend, and that she shouldn't bring it up.

Last night, we were able to stay completely distracted by having dinner with friends, one of whom I hadn't seen in a long time. It was really fun, and I got to catch up on tons of gossip, which is always nice. Today, we are heading into Boston for the day, and catching the Red Sox game--if it stops raining, that is! It has been raining for so long here in New England that I am starting to mildew. Tomorrow, we are headed to the lake for a massive 4th bash with friends and family. That's gets me through until Monday, at least.

UPDATED: I just found this on a medical center website that explains prenatal testing. It is going to carry me through the next few days, I think: Five out of every 100 women who take the test receive a positive result and are considered "screen positive." Most women with screen positive results will not have a baby with Down syndrome.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Other Shoe

I apparently was too positive too quickly. The genetic counselor called back today, and the news wasn't particularly bright and cheery. The nuchal fold measurement was fine, but the blood tests were not. We screened positive for Downs. Although, oddly, the risk at my age is 1/120, and our risk went to 1/160 after the test. Still, not so good. I already thought I wanted to do diagnostic testing, and this only cemented it for me.

The earliest they could get us in for amnio was 7/28. We decided that we didn't want to wait that long, in light of our screening results. We can do CVS on Wednesday if we go to Boston. So, we've got that in the works.

I freaked out a little, but I'm doing okay for the moment. I know it's just a screening test. I know that maybe everything is okay. But maybe it's also not okay. This isn't the path I would've chosen for myself.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Show & Tell: The Big Reveal, For Real

After much angst over when to tell and who to tell that we are pregnant, I finally decided that it was time to pull on my big girl panties, let go of my apprehension that something will go wrong after we tell, and let the cat out of the bag to our families. We hit 12 weeks yesterday, and it's just time. I have been waiting, waiting, waiting for each next milestone to successfully pass, thinking that I would feel better once it was behind me. . .bloodwork, ultrasound, gestational sack, heartbeat on ultrasound, heartbeat via doppler, NT scan, bloodwork. The reality is that after this long journey, there is never going to be a time when I feel completely comfortable with this pregnancy. It will never seem "safe" to tell.

Once I finally decided that I was okay with telling, I decided that I really wanted to tell all of our families at once, which is geographically impossible. Deciding who to tell first also became a challenge. My solution?

First, I picked up picture frames at a local discount store. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything bright and cute, so I went with sort of a classic look, square frames with a circular cutout. Then, I glued on letters I picked up at the craft store. Finally, I blew up one of the ultrasound photos that the tech was kind enough to make sure we got on Tuesday. And voila:

On the front, it says "Baby _____", and then on the back it says "Due in January." I wrapped each one up, and included a card with instructions for each one. I mailed one to my mom, who lives out of town, with explicit instructions on her card that she is to open it with her husband, and that she shouldn't call anyone other than me upon opening it (I want to tell my grandmother, etc. myself).

My dad is away at the lake, but some other family members were driving up to join him today, so I sent along his package with them. There will be a large contingent of family with him for the weekend, so his instructions were a little more explicit--he's not to open his until Friday (because my brother won't be with him until then), everyone is to be present when he opens it, and they are to call no one but me (we'll see how THAT works out!)

Then, we will see T.'s parents over the weekend, and will give them theirs then. My parents will probably find out a little before T.'s parents, but everyone will basically find out at the same time. Since we are seeing T's family in person this weekend, they surely can't feel bad if my parents found out first. I am sure to get some interesting phone calls at the end of the week, since my parents have no idea that we've been trying.

Want to see what everyone else is showing? Hop along over to Stirrup Queens and check out what the rest of the class brought with them this week.