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Open letter to my period, which needs to follow my demands for once in its stubborn life

Dear Period,

Remember how when I was 13 and all the other girls had their periods, I desperately wanted you to come? How I wanted you to bring your snobby friends–breasts and curves– with you and how they refused to grace me with their presence until I was 16 and the novelty of boobs and curves had worn off? Remember how I lied to Josephine and told her I got you about a year before I actually did and how I even crumbled that pink maxi pad paper in my wastebasket before she came over so I could prove to her that I wasn’t lying? Yeah, that was pretty psychotic.

But you didn’t answer my prayers. You came when you felt good and ready and consequently, while the other girls were being “felt up,” I would only go as far as kissing because I had nothing to feel up (so I guess that’s a good thing and I owe you one..but I feel I’ve reciprocated enough by enduring years of cramps and by making Mr. Midol just a little bit more wealthy. What have you done for me lately?)

And now here I am approaching 35. I understand where you are coming from—you’re tired and bored with me. You gave me one beautiful, healthy child. Don’t be greedy, you seem to be saying. Perhaps you are teaching me crucial life lessons?

Well, ain’t no one got time for that. I demand that you stop psyching me out each month by providing pregnancy-like symptoms and teeny spots that cause me to run and Google that mythical thing everyone calls “implantation bleeding” on the 22nd day of each of my cycles.

A second baby fits into my life plan right now. Not in one year, and certainly not in two. Get with the program, Period.

Sincerely,
Not Pregnant (Again) This Month

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In attempt to not jinx possible 2nd pregnancy, crazy woman drops $$ on size 4 dresses

The first time around, I became pregnant with K less than 60 seconds after my husband and I decided to try for a baby. But Baby #2 is being a real tease.

I am using the Clear Blue Ovulation kit ($25 for 10 sticks. So…$100 so far? Ouch). I have an adorable app called Pink Pad that lets me track the days I’ve been intimate with a romantic red heart. I refuse to learn anything about basal body temperature because that’s getting a bit too scientific for my liking, but I’m willing to do nearly anything else to get a move on this thing.

And every single month I think–

Oh, shoot. This feels different. I am cramping days–weeks–before my period is due. And I’m so hungry, all of the time. Is that spotting? Can spotting be dark yellow or am I just dehydrated? My boobs are definitely bigger. Let me ask my husband if my boobs are any bigger. Because that’s a question every husband wants to be put in a position to have to answer.

And this month, oh, April, you are so very different from the others. It was meant to happen this month because, according to the Pregnancy Due Date Calendar, which I religiously check, Baby #2 would be born on December 31. Can you think of a cooler day to have a baby? Plus, I will not yet have celebrated a birthday that puts me in the mid-30s age range, which I have decided isn’t part of my overall family planning plan.

And I’m feeling cramps. I am tired all of the time. This can’t just be because my schedule gets all out of whack when I watch Mad Men on Sunday nights, right?

Rather than think about the possibilities, last night I did what any woman who can’t face reality does. I shopped it off. I shopped for size 4’s and I shopped for stupid peplum dresses that could accommodate no pregnant belly on earth.

You will not have the last laugh, body. When my period comes in 7 days, I will greet it in peplum.

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All episiotomies are not created equal

What is an episiotomy, you ask?

For anyone who doesn’t know, take a deep breath as you read the following: an episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vagina and anus during childbirth to help speed up the delivery process and prevent excessive vaginal tearing.

I must have been living under a rock because prior to maybe my 33rd pregnant week, I had never heard of this nightmarish-sounding act of torture. And, of course, who winds up having to have 12 stitches? Yep. 12 freaking stitches.

Fast forward to 10 weeks postpartum. As I explained in a previous post, sex has proven extremely painful, so I made an appointment with my gyno to make sure all is ok down there. As it turns out, scar tissue can cause part of the vaginal wall to become thicker, and is thus to blame for painful intercourse. Aside from taking a culture and prescribing some sort of antibiotic, there is nothing I can do but wait.

Well, wait and research the cause of my misery – then become needlessly angry when I discover that, according to the Mayo Clinic and American Pregnancy Association, I may not have even needed an episiotomy in the first place.

Here are some of the reasons you may need the procedure:

Your baby’s head is too large for your vaginal opening
You need a forcep or vacuum assisted delivery (seriously? Do doctors still use these instruments?)
Your baby is in distress
Your perineum hasn’t had time to stretch on its own
You aren’t able to control your pushing
Did anyone’s gyno outline these facts for them? Or ask their permission prior to wheeling in a tray of scissors (which probably scared me more than the actual pushing part of labor)?

Why is the episiotomy such a secret?

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Signs that I’m crazy: I think my gynecologist is my BFF

Gynecologists always seemed like the anti-dentists to me. If you ever find yourself in need of dental work, shoot out a Facebook query and I bet you’ll get 10 recommendations in five minutes. But if you need a good gyno, don’t hold your breath. So when we women actually find a doc who doesn’t make our skin crawl, we loyally latch on.

I think I got lucky. Dr. G is young enough to still seem enthusiastic about his job and patients, but older than me – which, for whatever psychologically bizarre reason, makes me feel more secure. Throughout my pregnancy he was a calming force who understood my aversion to having metal things placed inside of me and went ahead in the gentlest manner possible. When he discovered my baby had an enlarged abdomen (which turned out to be nothing at all), he took the time to explain to me what it could be and what it certainly was not (like that she swallowed her twin – no joke, I actually said that out loud). Besides my husband and I, he was the first person on earth to hear our little K’s heartbeat – how can you deny such intimacy?

He even convinced me that my fear of pain probably wasn’t a good enough reason to have an elective C-section. If you think that’s not at least a tiny bit commendable, read this New York Times article about the nation’s burgeoning C-section rates: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/health/24birth.html

So yes, I grew fond of Dr. G and looked forward to seeing him every month and then every two weeks. And then, the day before my due date and the day of what I hoped was my last ob gyn appointment, I got a call from Dr. G’s receptionist.

“Dr. G will be out of the country this weekend. Can we reschedule your appointment?”

Um, no? Unless he was meeting with a team of insanely intelligent oncologists in some serious place like Geneva, this was completely unacceptable. I pictured him tanning in Ibiza — before that I didn’t even realize he had legs beneath that white coat — and my hormonal self became more hormonal. I calmly explained to the receptionist that I was giving birth any moment. I asked to meet with one of Dr. G’s colleagues instead.

I felt like a five-year-old whose best friend had chosen to play with a cuter, more interesting girl at the playground that day.

To make a long story short, Dr. G was not there for the birth of K – and many women have told me the same thing happened to them. And although I can’t remember the name of the doctor who was there, he got the job done and that’s all that really counts.

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Myth: You are born a mommy

Best slice of wisdom a nurse at the hospital shared with me the morning after I gave birth: “You aren’t a mother when the baby is born – you become a mother.”
I had been crying for the third time that day — the shaking kind of crying that only happens when hormones are involved — because I couldn’t figure out how to replicate the “hospital blanket swaddle” — a telltale sign that I would prove a dismal failure at motherhood.

I asked her how long it takes to “become” a mother. She promised me it would happen in two weeks.

“You wake up in two weeks and, all of a sudden, you know how to be her mommy.”

Two weeks. I could handle waiting two weeks.