Saturday, September 29, 2007

This I did not expect

Being a sensible, rational person, since getting pregnant I have spent a lot of time worrying about things like the RE having mixed up the embryos, Eggbert being born early because of my being elbowed in the belly by an aggressive middle-aged woman who REALLY wants a subway seat, or Mystery losing Eggbert at the mall. You know, the normal stuff. However, since the karyotype came back normal, and everything was going so well, more recently I've been focusing my attention on irrational worries about the birth instead. It's quite normal to be convinced that the baby is breach and that I'll need a c-section, and that the nurses in the hospital will then mislabel Eggbert, feed him/her so full of formula that breastfeeding is out of the question, and let him/her cry all night long, while giving us someone else's baby. Because that's pretty much standard practice at most hospitals, right?

I have been so busy worrying about things like that that I completely forgot to worry about Eggbert's health for the past few weeks. So, this morning when I went in for my "final" ultrasound before the birth, I was completely focused on whether the head was up or down. I was ecstatic when the tech put the probe on the lowest point of my belly and a little head showed up. I was even more delighted when he found two little feet on the top, two little hands down below, and a butt wedged under my ribs. I floated back down to the doctor on a cloud, only to be told that while Eggbert was measuring pretty much right on date at the 28 week scan, at 33w 4d, Eggbert's abdominal circumference is dating to only 30 weeks. So, in five weeks, my poor little Egg has fallen three weeks behind. The head is still measuring on date, but my doctor is now officially worried. The weight estimate is only 3 pounds 11 ounces, or less than two kg. I have to go back in two weeks for another ultrasound and a non-stress test, and if the results aren't improved, I'll be admitted to the hospital, and Eggbert may have to be delivered early and tiny.

Now I miss my irrational fears.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


So are you ready for another "life in Korea" post? Well, ready or not, here it comes. I've added a little pregnancy-related blah-blah in too, just to keep things true to theme.

Living in Korea is good and bad, fun and frustrating, inspiring and annoying. Kind of like life anywhere, I guess. I don't actually know what it's like to live in Korea as a Korean, though, so I really shouldn't make sweeping generalizations. I just know that as an expat I am routinely both delighted and horrified, often within minutes of each other.

One of the great things is how unbelievably kind and supportive my Korean friends and colleagues are. It really does amaze me how many different ways they find to express their concern and consideration for me. I can go to work, or to lunch, or what have you in the foulest of moods, and they never fail to make me feel warm and fuzzy within 10 minutes of my arrival.

One of the bad things is how unbelievably rude (from the perspective of a different culture) strangers are on the street. In the last week, I have been elbowed in the belly (yes, my 7-month-pregnant belly) TWICE in elevators by people who were in such a hurry to get in or out that they couldn't be bothered to notice that there are other people in the world. I also got into a shoving match on the subway with a healthy middle-aged woman who really thought that she deserved a handicapped/elderly/pregnant seat more than I did. There is a queue to get on the subway, and I was ahead of her. She reached out and shoved me out of the way as the train started to move into the station. I thought that maybe she didn't see that I was pregnant, so I just calmly returned to the queue in my original place. Then as the train doors opened, she shoved me again, and ran past me (with the agility of a cat--there is no way this woman was disabled in any way) to grab the last seat. While I was actually only going one stop, and therefore didn't much care about the seat, I made a point of going right up to her, looking into her face with an appalled expression (I can't communicate well in Korean, so I have to pantomime sometimes to get my point across), and then standing up and shoving my belly in her face. To her credit, she was absolutely mortified and then leapt up and offered me her seat. Still, I was annoyed for hours.

That wasn't really what I wanted to tell you about though. I promised a while ago to tell a bit more about my childbirth class, and my feelings about the class are very much tied up with my feelings about living in Korea as an expat. Being foreign, looking different, and not speaking the language isolates Mystery and me in many ways from the main flow of life here in Seoul. Nonetheless, I have assiduously avoided the "expat" scene since I've been here, since I don't like the idea of being one of those people who moves to another country only to surround themselves with people just like those in their place of origin. So, when I walked into the childbirth class for foreigners, it was the first time that I'd been around more than one or two non-Koreans at once in months. To my great surprise, I found the situation absolutely delightful. Not only was it thrilling to be surrounded by other big pregnant bellies and to be able to gush about my pregnancy without worrying about annoying everyone around me, but it was also delightful to be able to do so in fast English, without worrying about my manners. I hadn't realized until that moment how on guard I am every day to try to remember not to make comments about anything Korean that could be construed as negative to my Korean friends and colleagues. Many of these things aren't really negative at all, but I'm always so conscious of being a guest and so concerned about being a good one that I do make strenuous efforts to be polite. In this mixed group (a few Americans, several Germans, a few Koreans that are married to foreigners, a Kiwi, some Brits), I found myself exploding with words that have been kept unsaid for months. A lot of it was just the typical "you have leg cramps? me too!" kind of stuff, but I could also finally actually talk about the subway experience, or how kimchi feels in my heartburn-plagued digestive system (not good), and the difficulties that I've experienced in finding "normal" baby things here without feeling guilty. It was wonderful!

It was also embarrassing. I don't think I drew a breath for up to 15 minutes at a time because I was so anxious to release some of this impacted commentary. I also very much liked everyone there (fertile and oblivious though they were), so I was fairly frantic to make enough of a connection that it wouldn't be weird to invite them to lunch or whatever after the class was over. I was aware the whole time that I probably was coming off as desperate for companionship, but just couldn't stop myself.

Luckily, they were all quite kind, and tolerant of my irrational exuberance. I think I may have found some mommy friends in Korea at long last. Now if I can just manage to let them get a word in edgewise, I'll be in business.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Language again

Thanks so much for all of the helpful hints about strollers and preparations for the big event. Thanks especially to M-B for devoting a whole post to helping me out. You're the best! Mystery and I do LOVE the Xplory, especially the idea of having the baby up high, but they're over $1000 in Seoul, and that's just for the basic one without any of the fun accessories. If we decide to go for it, then we'll probably just buy it on our next trip to the US, which is scheduled for about 6 weeks after Eggbert is due. Is that completely insane?

In other news, yesterday I learned an important life lesson. As it turns out, it is not a good idea to let someone with whom you can't communicate at all cut your hair. My Korean really hasn't progressed much (or to be honest, at all) since I became pregnant, and as a result, I didn't have the vocabulary to truly describe what I wanted to the pleasant-faced woman holding the scissors in the salon yesterday. I thought that gestures should suffice, but as it turns out, either a) I'm not very good at charades, or b) she was annoyed and decided to punish me, because my head now looks very much like a Christmas tree. A big, frizzy Christmas tree. Not quite what I was hoping for.

On a happier note, I saw the doctor yesterday, and everything was fine. Eggbert's heart is still beating, my belly is the right size, my weight gain is right on target (her target, not mine, I didn't really want to gain those extra three pounds since three weeks ago), and my bp is still normal. I go back in two weeks for the FINAL ultrasound.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Still infertile after all this time

While I realize that this would be impossible to tell from my posting rate, the last week or so has been a whirlwind of activity here in la Casa de Eggbert. Mystery and I had a childbirth/baby care class three times last week, and while it was great fun, it also kicked my well-padded ass energy-wise. I'll post about the class itself another day (too many stories, too little time). In the mean time, I want to talk about infertility.

For the past few months, I'd been feeling a little post-infertility. I don't mean that I was suffering from amnesia, or anything as sinister as that. I will never forget where we've been, and will never stop caring about my infertile sisters and brothers and their struggles. I just meant that I have been in a phase of excited anticipation, rather than one of sadness and fear. Oh I still have fears, I fear that Eggbert will come too early, that Eggbert will spontaneously die for no good reason, that I'll be such a basket case of a neurotic mother that Eggbert ends up hating me, that Mystery will be so relaxed as a dad that he accidentally sets Eggbert on fire. You know, the normal stuff. However, I have now started to believe more and more firmly that there will actually be a baby in my life in a few months: two months and two days, plus or minus a week, to be precise. I even ordered a crib yesterday. An actual crib. Sleeping spot for an actual baby. Pretty much useless for anything else. So, I wasn't really in an infertility head-space, so to speak.

Then I went to childbirth class. The instructor was a mother of four, who clearly gets pregnant at the drop of a hat, as she regaled us with tales about how her last was an "oops". I was surrounded by big bellies and glowing faces. I heard crack after crack about how sex during pregnancy is fine, because "how do you think the baby got there in the first place"? I thought about raising my hand and saying "with the help of a team of crack embryologists and a big syringe", but thought the best of it. Had there been an opening, I suppose I should have spoken up. Part of me wishes I had spoken up. The other part reminds me that this falls squarely into the "too much information" category as an announcement to a group of complete strangers. So I just sat there and squirmed. It didn't help when the instructor went on at great length about how breastfeeding makes you more fertile (?!?), and the importance of using contraception while breastfeeding. Or when the other students started talking about what month would be best to conceive #2. For the first time in a good long while, I felt thoroughly infertile.

Being a pregnant infertile isn't a bad thing. It beats the hell out of being a non-pregnant infertile, that's for sure. I'm mostly very happy and at peace with my situation. However, it is still jarring to be reminded of how little the "normal" population understands about how infertility, and how off their radar we infertiles really are.

I've also (stop reading here if you don't want to hear something that sounds so ungrateful that it may make you want to club me over the head) found my mind wandering to a very wistful place whenever the topic of shopping for baby crops up (which happens a lot). My decisions about how much to spend and what to buy are constantly affected by the twin realities that a) We're unlikely to be lucky enough to have a #2, and b) We probably won't live in Korea forever. So, every object that I buy is likely to be used for only one child, and then will have to be a) given away or sold in Korea, or b) shipped overseas. So, rather than buying the perfect crib (I found it, for the low low price of only ~900 USD), I bought an adequate crib (~120 USD), and rather than buying a changing table, we're going to make do with whatever surfaces present themselves. As for a cute dresser for baby stuff? Well, how about a set of plastic drawers from the Korean equivalent of Wal-Mart instead? I realize that none of this stuff really matters. All that I really care about is a healthy baby. Still, I feel like I'm missing out on yet another one of those little joys of first-time parenthood. Each time these thoughts pop into my head, I can't help but spend a moment wallowing in the thought that this is likely to be the first and the last time that I ever get to experience pregnancy. That makes me sad. Still, I am so grateful to have had the experience once. It is enough. It may have to be.

We ARE going to buy a good stroller, though, dammit! Recommendations are very welcome.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Eggbert's new game

Last night, Eggbert discovered a new fun thing to kick. It's firm and round and full of pee (even 30 seconds after the last time I peed). Like a rubber ball. For added enjoyment, it makes me jump and squeal every time he kicks it. Fun for the whole family.