My new action packed belly…

Pregnant Nude with green belly by Egon Schiele This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 90 years or less.
Pregnant Nude with green belly
by Egon Schiele
This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 90 years or less.

I felt it move! At Week 18, as expected, I guess…

I had a sort of movement inside before, but it felt like a vein pulsing or a bit of gas finding its way around.

But 2 days a ago, it was somewhat different. You know when someone accidentally brushes against you? I felt that inside my abdomen.

And this morning, it was definitely there! It felt like a pulse on the belly, but a little more pronounced than usual. I thought if I touched my belly, I would feel it, but it stopped. I thought we would high five each other… Maybe still too early for that.

So this is what it feels like… a slight brushing inside…

The weird thing is, I am now getting bit by bit why everyone thinks pregnancy is such a great experience.

‘Le bebe’ is in me, close to me, and we are having “quality time” that we will not be sharing with anyone else… Because no one else is in my shoes, or in my belly :D No one else can know how exactly it feels to be so close to another being. And to have my body as a place of dwelling, a safe enclosure for a new life, a life ideally I am going to be responsible for…

Damn, I just realized I have gone all maternal…

It also scares me to feel the attachment grow by day, considering that I will be getting the amniocentesis results in a month and I might suddenly go from an aspiring mother to… carrier of a hollowed abdomen if I may be dramatic.

I am still trying to keep it as “scientifically cool” as possible, to be prepared for all sorts of amnio results, but it is not so very easy. Especially when pregnant women, mothers with tiny babies and baby stuff are jumping at my selective perception…

Especially when people keep asking me whether I know the sex or what name we have chosen… the name we have suspended the search for until the much anticipated results are ready.

Well, I will enjoy it while it lasts. Especially my new belly… It reminds me of the days when as kids we had a balloon, how at some point it ended up beneath our shirts… And do you remember how it moved when poked? As a whole. It feels like if I poke my belly, it will move around as a whole, as if unattached to my skin…

That’s it for pregnancy news on my part for the week… Will soon be back with more “action” inside!

After The War Part 3: A Rustling

Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog) by Walter Crane This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog)
by Walter Crane
This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

Based on the prompt on Today’s Author: “When the wind blew a certain way, it brought a scent that reminded him of his grandmother’s house.”

When the wind blew a certain way, it brought a scent that reminded her of her grandmother’s house. She had to stay on task but being back in this village so many years later, she could not help turn head. If she walked a little upwind, she was sure she would find the old houses in gardens with their tiny stalls lined up on dusty streets along the railroad.

The first time she spent the night at her grandmother’s house, she was woken up by the train passing by, shaking the whole house like a cradle. She was surprised to see her father still fast asleep.

While staring up at the ceiling, watching the shadow of the train pass by right through her room, she thought about her father’s childhood. He had mentioned a few times how he would run around bare foot, back in the days when he could not pronounce his “r”s. She imagined her own authoritative dad, had she known the word, she would have used charismatic, asking his “mothav” for “bvead” with “buttev” and “sugav”. She giggled.

Her silent laughter froze in mid-air. She sensed motion, the sound of rustling at the window by her bed, a presence. Her heart started thumping, filling the room louder than the train that had just passed. If only her father would wake up. He would know how to deal with it. He would take care of the “presence”.

Instead he inhaled loudly with a touch of snotty snore sitting on his nostrils. The rustling stopped. A second later, she heard it again, too close for her to lie still in her bed. It was touching her, brushing against her hair. She got up screaming. Her father woke up with an instinct to protect his offspring, turned the lights on and grabbed his daughter in a matter of seconds, throwing a threatening glare at the enemy.

In her father’s arms, she shut her eyes, trembling. When her father did not move, she opened her eyes to face the enemy… on the floor. Staring back at them, too afraid to move, except for its chin swelling regularly, was a frog. All this commotion, fear and anxiety was only for… a frog.

Her father let her go. Cranky that his sleep had been interrupted, he told her frogs were all over the place in this town. She could not be so jumpy, away from the protective high concrete walls of the big city. This was one of the safest places they could be, so she better go back to sleep.

After the speech, he caught the frog and set it free through the same window it had gotten in.

A soft touch on her shoulder brought her back to the present. It was time for lunch. She washed the soil off her hands and followed the rest of the volunteers into the food tent.

For lunch, they were serving a root dish she had only eaten at her grandmother’s house before. It was a dish specific to this area, a meal that required tradition in the execution.

Years ago, for dinner, her grandmother had cooked the root that only the locals knew where to find, how to cut and how to cook. The smell of the dish was still lingering in all the rooms long after they had sat in the common room, sharing fruits and eating the corn her grandmother had popped in her special pan.

When she went to bed, the root smell had mixed with popcorn, comforting her to sleep. She opened her eyes only slightly now when the train passed, and let it rock her to sleep with its regular “tuddum, tuddum” lullaby on the rails.

She still found rustling by the window somewhat distressing, but had gotten used to the animals she could not easily find in the city. If it was not a frog, it was a dog; if not, a cat, a sheep or once, even the neighbor’s donkey that had made its way out of the stall.

So when there was some rustling by the window, she did not make much of it. She closed her eyes and let her body waft into slumber in the arms of root and corn…

A hand suddenly grabbed her shoulder. For a split second she took it for her father’s but it was much harsher, and a lot less loving.

“Get down on the floor!” Her father woke up with fear in his eyes, staring beggingly at the man holding his daughter.

She heard thumping and her father painfully screaming, begging for his daughter to be left free while she was locked in an empty room.

Soon, her grandparents’ voices joined the choir of painful begging in between blunt thumps and fierce orders.

She hid under the bed. She expected her father to chase those men away any second, to open the door and hold her, to make everything right, turn everything back to the way they were a few hours ago, eating fruits and popcorn with her grandparents in a root smelling house, where the greatest disturbance was animals gone astray.

This was the last time she saw her father, her grandparents and the house itself. The same night, various other houses were attacked with most people either dragged away into anonymity or killed on the spot.

A greater part of the village was damaged first by the civil war and then by the bombings of origins too obscure and tangled to figure out.

She was dragged from one camp to another on trains and trucks until she was left at the porch of an old woman who took care of a small collection of orphans in her little home as if they were her own.

Now, a grown woman, she was back at this village of her childhood she could not recognize anymore, building a new town from scratch for the a little girl to live in safety with her family, in a house that would be smelling roots only her people could cook while the train scheduled to run again soon rocked their home in peace and only harmless animals slowly approached her window.

Word Count: 1030

3. Down’s Syndrome Tests: When “what if” comes very close to “most probably”: Amniocentesis

Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon by Robert Delaunay  This work is in the public domain in the European Union and non-EU countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years or less
Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon
by Robert Delaunay
This work is in the public domain in the European Union and non-EU countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years or less

On the day of the amnio, I got pretty selfish. Firstly, there was the fear of an amnio triggered miscarriage, something underlined, emphasized and highlighted everywhere I turned to for more information. On every page on the internet, whether scientific research or personal experience, the possibility of miscarriage differed from 1 in 200 to 1 in 1600. Moreover, the numbers apparently changed based on the hospital and doctor, a matter in which I did not have much of a choice.

As if all this was not confusing enough, the procedure itself was described as being very painful to a tiny pinch on the tummy. I am pretty scared of pain and needles so the idea of having a huge needle piercing into my belly and fooling around in me, especially so close to the fetus was not a comforting idea.

Still, the morning of the amnio, husband and I were the people we usually are in nerve wrecking foreign situations: funny. This helped to deal with the anxiety of the inescapable and tasteless procedure I was to go through.

In the procedure room, the nice nurse did an ultrasound to see where the fetus was… This was the second time we were seeing it, a sneak peek into my womb, the tiny thing’s dwelling. At first it was asleep; in contrast to the last time, it was completely motionless with only the red and blue interchanging colors showing the heart beat. While the nurse poked around to determine the best spot to insert the needle, as far away for from the fetus as possible, it woke up and started moving around. That was a heart melting, lactation stimulating, hormone invigorating moment. The thing I haven’t yet met in person was reacting to physical contact like an ordinary human being.

Then she left to fetch the doctor who was busy with another patient. When they came back and had a look again, the fetus had moved. Something I found surprising, since both hubby and I like to remain stationary most of the time. It also made the fetus more human than ever, with all these attributes coming together to make up the first aspects of a personality.

Finally, the dreaded moment arrived and the needle was prepared for insertion in latex wrapped hands. I started singing a tune I heard a few minutes before I entered the room to calm my nerves. The husband was playing with my hair like I had asked him to the night before to help me relax.

And pinch! That was it, like having an ordinary blood test… But when the needle went through my womb into the amniotic fluid sac, then I felt a bit of a cramp, as the doctor had warned me. I thought it would affect my lower abdominal like menstrual pain but I felt it more in my vagina, which was unexpected.

Then, I looked at the ultrasound screen and saw my fetus, just below the needle moving around. Once inside, the doctor withdrew the needle and what was left was the tiny soft tube to extract the fluid. This was done because as I could see on the screen, the thing in my womb, the fetus seemed to be reaching out to the foreign object in its surroundings, and a sharp needle could have caused problems. For the first time in its lifetime, it was encountering something so strange. And as the doctor said, “babies are curious whether they are in the womb or out in the world”.

In a matter of seconds, enough fluid was collected and the tube was taken out of me. What I felt was definitely not pain but more of a new strange sensation. That was it. All in all, the procedure was fast, the nurse and doctor were nice and comforting, and it was painless.

Once I got home to rest for the day, much more relieved than I had been for the last few days, with no major cramps, discharge or fever indicating miscarriage or infection, I thought about the fetus movements I saw on the screen. Then I thought about how long it usually takes for a baby to actually realize what is going on around it, much less react to stimulants with conscious movements such as reaching out for an object. Thus, I decided what I saw on the screen just below the needle, was nothing but normal motions the fetus was going through on a regular day and any other meaning I wanted to attribute to it was the motherly affection I couldn’t retain easily with my hormones.

Now is that “fun” part where we wait for the test results… One more month, and I will find out whether I will become a mother or not. The emotional and intellectual debate we are having in us will have to continue for yet another month. I have to say, I can now understand much better anyone who might choose to carry on with their pregnancy in spite of a genetical problem a test shows. Yet, for us the choice is the opposite.

By the way, on the ultrasound, there was nothing protruding from the baby’s torso… Can it be a girl?

2. Down’s Syndrome Tests: When “what if” comes very close to “most probably”: Brooding and Dilemmas

Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD by George Grie This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.
Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD
by George Grie
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Normally, when it comes to such matters, I consider myself to be logical and ready to act based on scientific facts and numbers, but I still couldn’t help crying for a while before going back to work that day after the clinic. What if the fetus really does have down’s syndrome? How about the 1 in 400 risk of a miscarriage after an amnio? What if I lose the baby – I mean fetus – and a month later, the results are of a perfectly healthy baby? How does one cope with that?

At home that evening, I was surprised and also pleased to see the husband, for the first time in his life, doing research into the ethical side of the whole matter. The “what if” he had been asking himself for the last few hours was what would happen once we got the results of a defected chromosome fetus. We have seen the baby – ugh, fetus – on the ultrasound, we have lived with it for 4 months and we have been making future plans for 3 people and despite all our efforts to prevent it, we have established a bond with the tiny fragile life in me.

One month later, once we got the “positive” results as in positive for defected chromosome, after 5 months of living together, we were supposed to end the life that depended so much on us to survive. At this point, we realized, that was exactly why we had to choose to interfere in the pregnancy. There was no way of knowing how severely our child would be affected and there was a chance it might depend on us for the rest of its life. Even if we were ready to give up on the future life we had pictured for ourselves, what would happen to the child once we were gone? How would he/she live on? Who would be there to help? What kind of a life would await him/her without us around?

I ended feeling close to what Dawkins meant when he said it would be immoral to bring a child under such conditions when one has a choice.

Thus, we made up our minds to go for the amniocentesis the next day.

1.Down’s Syndrome Tests: When “what if” comes very close to “most probably”

Arlésiennes (Mistral) by Paul Gauguin  This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
Arlésiennes (Mistral)
by Paul Gauguin
This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

On Tuesday September 23, on my birthday, I got a call from my obstetrician’s clinic. They had received my trisomy 21 results, the test showing the probability of me carrying a baby with down’s syndrome. I was expecting the results any second but I was not expecting a call… And definitely not an emergency appointment during a week when my own obstetrician was away on vacation and I would have to see another doctor.

Based on the manner the appointment was scheduled and the mere fact that I had gotten a call from the clinic, I could have worried myself to tears for the next two days but husband and I decided to see it as a standard procedure where they would be calling anyone whose results were ready in order to avoid any possible complaints from patients although I knew the likelihood to encounter otherwise was high.

And yes, on Thursday I did find out that the results were not so bright. The trisomy test gives you a certain percentage as to the possibility of your fetus having down’s syndrome. And this possibility rises with age, and of course your body’s age. I was 33 when I got pregnant and turned 34 this week. Normally, I try to eat well, though not a crazy sports fan exercise whenever I can, I don’t smoke and in fiercest weeks, I used to drink a glass of wine per day. So I was surprised that my blood test proved my body to be that of a 36 year old woman and that my possibility of carrying a fetus with down’s syndrome had risen from 1 in 500 before the trisomy tests to 1 in 200 afterwards. The threshold being 1 in 300, I was offered an amniocentesis.

While all this information was being poured on us, both the husband and I were trying to take notes on our notebooks like good little students but I was jotting numbers in a meaningless order because no matter how much I had prepared myself for the worst, I still hoped to hear “your numbers are just fine, and you do not have much reason to worry about anything”.

Waiting for that very sentence, staring blankly at the ob, trying to digest the info, relying heavily on husband’s skills with numbers and probability theory, I watched as the nice ob I was seeing for the first time in my life arrange an amniocentesis for the next day at the hospital giving us the option to not go if we chose to have the baby no matter what the chromosomes may show. Before doing so, she also added that couples who chose to have a baby with down’s syndrome after getting the amniocentesis results had a better chance of staying together in the future than those who refused the amnio only to have a down’s syndrome kid while expecting a perfectly normal one.

Numbers and words floating in our heads, we left the clinic and came the time to brood and fight with dilemmas…

The decision that follows “What if”

The Difficult Decision by Stefano Novo This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.
The Difficult Decision
by Stefano Novo
This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.

Yes, the ultrasound and seeing that tiny being in my belly doing disco moves incessantly, being astonished by how magically the human body, or any living creature’s body functions was groundbreaking and eye opening for me.

However, 5 minutes later, while I was wiping the semi-liquid thing off my belly, hubby and I were asking questions about the trisomy (Down’s syndrome) tests…

You see, I could get the trisomy test done right then and there, but what all the receptionists, the hospital officials and the nice assistant asking me whether I would like the ultrasound done blah blah forgot to mention was that for the trisomy test to be conducted along with the ultrasound which itself cost 130 dollars, I would have to be paying an extra 400 dollars.

So, being not so poor but definitely NOT rich, we said, no thanks, we would rather get the free state supported trisomy test done.

But apparently, to receive the results for that test, we would have to wait 6 weeks!

Naturally, hubby asked the question resonating in my head: would it be too late?

Too late for what? I had to put it into words, “to terminate the pregnancy”…

You see, I have always been pro-choice, not being pro-choice never even occurred to me. When I heard about so many Americans being anti-choice, I could not believe it, a country that is supposed to be “the centre of all sorts of choices” (this opinion of mine has quickly been vanishing, as I find out more and more about the USA, now living so nearby)… Every woman should have the right to refuse to give birth to a baby they believe they cannot take care of… No matter what their circumstances may be, whether the baby was conceived in as terrible circumstances as a rape, or during a light hearted love affair that ended with a “woops”.

I felt weird, having to say “terminate the pregnancy” when I was marveling at my tiny baby a few minutes ago, but, although a child with certain congenital diseases may grow up to be a healthy member of the society, I also had to watch a few of my mother’s friends give up on their own lives so that they could carry their child to the bathroom several times a day, feed them, change them and make up a life for them, all the while the child seemed to be unaware of anything going on around them.

Therefore, rather than selfishly permit a possibility for such hardships to affect both our lives as parents and our child’s, I would rather have an abortion and give everyone a better chance at a fully lived out life…

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