Boys are from Mars; Girls are from my Uterus

ultrasoundEver since the day I whizzed on a stick and sealed my fate, I have been concerned with one thing: what gender will my baby be?  I am the type to read the endings of books (magazines, pamphlets, sometimes even paragraphs) first, because the anticipation drives me insane.  I need to know how things will go down, immediately.

People always ask if we have a gender preference.  They expect us to say “no, as long as it’s healthy.”  Both my husband and I think “no, as long as it’s a healthy girl.”  We already have a daughter, so it would be kinda nice to reuse the clothes (at least the ones we didn’t have to cut off her body due to explosive poop).  We also liked the idea of giving our daughter a little sister.  But the idea of having a boy is tempting, too.  One of each.  A matching set.  Boys love their mothers.  But whenever I think of raising a boy, I remember when my friend brought her twins to our apartment.  Her five-year old boy ran around the place like a Gremlin fed after midnight, literally tearing stuff up, while her daughter sat quietly in the corner and played with a crayon for two hours.  While there’s the novelty of a boy, I’ve never been eaten by a Bengal tiger and yet I still know that I would prefer not to get eaten by a Bengal tiger.

Of course, having a gender preference definitely meant our baby would be the opposite.  I did what any curious mom-to-be would do: I went online and took the Chinese gender predictor test.  I did not like the outcome.  I took it again, randomly changing my age, due date, and the lunar calendar, just to see.  Same outcome.  And since the Internet is never wrong (except when Web MDs said I had meningitis when I really just had a head cold), I guess we were having a boy.

Forget morning sickness or heartburn: true suffering is being kept in gender suspense until the 20-week anatomy scan.  A routine check-up that measures all your baby’s vitals, it was the first legit glimpse I got of my fetus’ naughty bits.  First, we had to sit through countless images of barely-identifiable baby parts, each one looking like the telltale gender clue.

“Ooh, what’s that?”

“That’s your baby’s femur.”

“Ohhhh.  I thought it was…well anyways.  What’s that giant thing between the legs?”

“That is the umbilical cord.”

And we kept staring at the screen, pretending to be interested in the skull circumference, while secretly wondering if he will end up looking like the gelatinous mummy he appeared to be.  The technician switched the screen to measure blood flow, (or to show us how our baby would look if viewed by Predator).

Finally, our technician offhandedly remarked, “And that’s your daughter.”

Our what, now?  All ten Chinese gender predictor tests can’t be wrong.

“Are you sure?”

She got snappy.  “Listen, I know what I’m looking for, and I don’t see it.”  The tech pointed to a random gelatinous blob.  “There.  That hamburger shape shows it’s a girl.”

While I wasn’t thrilled with my daughter’s lady parts being compared to fast food, it was still thrilling to have another piece of the puzzle revealed to us.  High-fives, all around.  My husband and I gave each other credit.

“Good job, hon. It was your X chromosome that made this happen.”

“Well, it was your idea to watch ‘My Little Pony’ while you ovulated.”

And on the ride home, as I grew relieved that our next-born would never pee in my face, play professional football, or be named “Thor,” my mind drifted to training bras, awkward dating talks, and the Kardashians.  Suddenly a boy didn’t seem like a bad option.

Why I Never Plan to Give Birth

milestonesPeople like to hear stories about milestones.

What’s the story?  How did you two meet?  I love that bar.  Well, it’s a good thing they didn’t cut you off.  How did he propose?  He put the ring at the bottom of the breadstick basket at the Olive Garden?  So romantic. Where did you get married?  I know that place; my neighbor’s orthodontist’s son got married there.  I’ve never been, but I hear it’s nice, if you like things that cost money.  How did you find out that you were pregnant?  You barfed during a Dave Matthews concert?  But how did you know it was the pregnancy?

People like to hear stories about milestones.

No one wants to hear your childbirth story.

No one cares how many hours you were in labor, or if you remembered your breathing techniques, or what color your amniotic fluid was.  If you even mention the word “episiotomy,” women’s reproductive organs shrivel up and die.  The only people who will ask about it are other mothers who want to one-up your story with their own traumatic tales, or the mothers who then demur about how they only had to push for ten pain-free minutes.

Now, most of my knowledge about childbirth comes from television.  I know that I need to have my hair and make-up done before entering the hospital in case my doctor looks like an A-list actor.  I know that labor only lasts as long as a Queen song.  I know that my baby will come out squeaky-clean, and approximately the size of a six month old.

One night, I was painfully set straight when I hung out with my friend Lori and her group of new mothers.  The topic inevitably turned to childbirth, and the night became “Survivor: Pregnancy Edition”.  Each tale was more gruesome and incredible than the last, with mothers emerging as triumphant battle-scarred warriors.

“I had to push for three days.  The pain was excruciating,” a mother of a 6-month old shared.

“Um, could you have gotten an epidural?” I asked innocently.  She looked at me as if I had suggested that she should smoke crack during labor.  My friend Lori, who had had an epidural, remained quiet.  When pressed, she insisted that it was administered “against the wishes of her birth plan,” which I know is false, since her birth plan included the phrase “knock me out and wake me when it’s over,” as well as a request for Roy Rogers fried chicken to be fed to her immediately after the cord was cut.

Another woman piped in: “I know someone who had an epidural, and her labor lasted for two weeks.”  This definitely seemed unlikely, but it awed the group into silence, each woman thinking that she would never get an epidural (except for me, since two weeks of pain-free labor sounded better than two days of wishing I was born a man).

As stories emerged involving vacuum suctions, giving birth during a pilates class, pincers, and pots of boiling water, I realized that there was no good way to have a baby.  Considering women have been going through this since the time Eve found herself eating apples for three, I am astounded that technology and science have not found a way to make this less traumatic for us.  No matter what method we use to have this baby extracted from our insides, we all share the common bond of not enjoying childbirth.  At all.  And wanting to relay that story to the college kid sitting next to us on the bus.

So I am hoping that when my time comes, I will push for ten pain-free minutes, my amniotic fluid will be rainbow-colored, and my doctor will be played by George Clooney, circa 1995.

Does This Muumuu Come in My Size?

pregnancy-styles2I am not one of those cute pregnant women who, from behind, you can’t even tell are pregnant.  I am one of those women who got asked when I’m due three months before I actually conceived.  Neighbors I’d meet in my elevator would ask my due date, look me up and down, and then remark in horror “But that’s still four months away!” My friends suggested that perhaps dressing like an actual expecting woman would make me feel better.

I had reached a point where the only clothes that fit me were my Patrick Swayze “Double Deuce” t-shirt (which my husband requested I stop wearing to bed because it made his dreams uncomfortable) and a shirt my sister-in-law got me that says “Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?”  Neither option is appropriate to wear to work.  Or a social event.  It was time to explore my options.

I find it very hard to spend money on things I will only use for a short amount of time (snack foods and gym membership notwithstanding).  Ideally I’d love to purchase cute non-maternity clothes that I could continue to wear post-baby.  And considering my pre-baby style could best be described as “casual casualness,” how hard could it be?

In a fit of self-denial, I stumbled in to Forever 21.  This place had some nice maxi-dresses that, on me, made excellent maternity t-shirts.  However, I was starting to feel like a bull in a china shop.  I needed to head to a more welcoming place, a place with crackers and water, and the only free bathroom in Midtown…

Destination: Maternity!   After prolonging the inevitable, it was time to buy maternity pants.  For the past few weeks, I’d been pulling a move called the “Thanksgiving” (leaving my pants unbuttoned and wearing a long t-shirt over it), and the one pair of maternity pants I had from my previous pregnancy was worn down in the thighs (my husband informed me that, contrary to popular belief, crotchless maternity pants were not hot).

The dressing rooms came equipped with a fake pregnancy bump to simulate the fit of pants when you’re farther along (although I preferred putting the fake bump under my chin to see how clothes would fit me if I had a goiter).  The 22-year old male dressing room attendant informed me the $300 jeans I was trying on made me look “fabulous in all the right ways,” which I interpreted to mean “25 lbs lighter and a head-turner at the local discothèque.” On further inspection, I think he was definitely trying to up-sell me. So I purchased the $30 jeans, which had the designer’s signature stitched over the back pocket, Cabbage-Patch style, and ended two inches above my socks.

Armed with my new purchases and a new confidence, I walked past the Rosie Pope line, and the heels-clad Heidi Klum cut-out.  I ignored the skinny jeans with tummy panels, the empire-waisted halter tops, and the wide-toed stiletto boots.  I returned home, put on my jogging pants and my husband’s Superman hoodie, and headed out for a night on the town.

Old Questions from Confused Men

rookie-mistakesThe Most Ridiculous Questions That Men Ask Expecting Women

Q: Why do women want babies?

A:  The answer to that question is threefold:  To have someone to take care of us when we’re old and incontinent.  To have someone to wear our clothes when they suddenly come back in style in 20 years.  And to clean the chimney.  It’s a narrow space, and we’re too damn big to fit up there.

Q: Why do you have to wait three months before telling people about the pregnancy?

A: It is standard to wait three months so that the woman can enjoy an occasional beer at a barbecue without being shamed.

Q: Does taking a giant dump feel the same as delivering a baby?

A: Yes it does.  Especially if your bowel movement is surgically removed through a hole in your abdomen.

Q: Will your boobs get bigger when you get pregnant?

A: Yes, they will.  But then they will get small again when they are drained by a hungry succubus.

Q: How can you get a baby to stop crying?

A: If you find out the answer to this question, please let me know.  It is 3am, and I am running out of animals that Old MacDonald has on his farm.