Pregnancy in the Time of COVID-19

No one plans to be pregnant during a pandemic. This has by far been the most terrifying part of the pandemic for me. Now that we’ve all been stuck in our homes for a few months, we are beginning to see the inevitable surge of pregnancies. I want to be happy for you, I really do. But as someone who never would have planned for this, I need to explain the true reality of being a parent during a pandemic.

As a quick disclaimer, I understand that many of you don’t take this pandemic seriously. Many of you are still crying about graduation ceremonies postponed, beach closings, and wearing the dreaded face mask to Costco. Your feelings are valid. We are all allowed to grieve the things we feel robbed of. Some people do it in private. Some people find consolation in the shoulder of a loved one, some people gear up with AR-15’s and march up to the capital, some people block traffic to hospitals, some people spit on essential workers. Some people are fucking wrong and need to get over it. If you’re worried about your feelings right now, definitely don’t have a kid- and probably stop reading here. Moving on.

I learned that I was pregnant around Christmas. The pandemic was on my radar, because I watched it’s evolution closely, but this pregnancy was unplanned- and I never would have imagined the devastation that it would soon cause in my communities.

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With the exception of social distancing, I was lucky enough to have completed most of my prenatal testing by the time this pandemic caused widespread panic. I was able to receive my fetal anatomy scan on the last day of normal operation in my clinic. Everything went wonderfully- Ares even revealed his gender. But this was the start to a new normal. My husband was not allowed to be present for this milestone. We requested that our technician, the same technician who revealed each of our previous childrens gender to us, place a gender reveal picture in an envelope. Later than night we shared the experience together. There were no tears of joy, no balloons, no family surrounding us as the smoke cleared. It was just us.

Milestones are very important for first time parents. If you’ve ever had a child, you probably understand what I mean. Watching every movement on a monitor is mesmerizing. To hear the heartbeat of my baby for the first time was one of the most overwhelming feelings that I’ve ever felt. If the hormones don’t make you tear up, just watching the look on your partners face will make you lose it.

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I can promise you that you won’t be able to experience that the same way with your pandemic pregnancy. All of your check ups will be alone. You may never see your OB/GYN’s entire face, let alone shake their hand. You will not be allowed to bring your partner in for prenatal check-ups, fetal scans, genetic testing, anything. In some hospitals(military, specifically), the father of your child might not even be allowed into the delivery room- some require they wear PPE. You might even have to wear a mask as you sweat, scream, bare down, and push that baby from your womb. This is the new reality for people like me.

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I am lucky in many ways. This is my third child. I have felt the emotions before so it is easier for me to process them. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. Many couples try for years to have a baby- it’s a real struggle and I am so happy for those people that are finally getting their miracle. I am lucky that this was not my miracle baby. Ares is my bonus child, the one I always wanted but didn’t plan on quite yet. He is the greatest surprise, despite all of the terror surrounding birth planning. But I was never planning on renovating the den into a nursery for this baby. The joy of baby prepping has long since passed me by. I figured I would pick out baby onesies between toddler fits in the middle of Target. While that reality has changed a bit, the idea still stands- I was not nearly as affected as some moms.

Children are disgusting, careless, germ-magnets. As a mom, I can confirm this and I don’t need your science to explain how I’m right or wrong. I watched my 3 year old and my 1 year old have a steering wheel licking competition in a race car cart at the grocery store- 2 WEEKS BEFORE THE STAY AT HOME ORDER IN CALIFORNIA. Yes. They’re nasty af. Keep your dirty germies at home and wear a mask when you go shopping. It’s easier said than done, I get it. But for moms of multiples like me, this has sparked a fear I never thought I would have. I’ve always just accepted the inevitability of getting sick after kids birthday parties. I’ve always kept my kids home when sick, but not every sick kid shows symptoms- and it’s not always easy to keep a kid home when your husband is at work and you just ran out of milk and one of your kids is spiking a fever. You get your shit together, throw it in a diaper bag and make it work.

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Not anymore. We have an unprecedented amount of doomsday prepping that is quite frankly causing a larger issue. We’re running out of resources. I had to get a prescription for prenatal vitamins because I cannot find any in stores. You guessed it, scared people are buying those too. Somehow they’ve rationalized that ‘if they’re good for pregnant people, they are better than regular vitamins.’ I AM PREGNANT- WHAT THE FUCK. I NEED THIS. KAREN DOES NOT.

Moms can’t find diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, toilet BOWL cleaner, or detergent to wash bottles. Talk about a fucking struggle. Get ready to join it. On top of all the sold out huggies and back ordered babyganics gentle foaming hand sanitizer, I have entered the third trimester pain threshold earlier than expected. I’m 26 weeks and my hips feel as if they are going to separate beneath me. My stomach is cramping up like I’m about to go into preterm labor (for the third consecutive pregnancy-go me). I am straight up not having a good time.

I do not have many health concerns at this moment. But the anxiety of literally ALL OF THE ABOVE has caused bonus panic attacks, surprise blood pressure fluctuations that leave my head spinning, and BIG heart palpitations. I do not have any precursors that would have flagged me for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placenta previa, none of the big ones. I’m lucky. Read it again please. These are lucky circumstances. If all I have are contractions through out my entire 3rd trimester and some unfortunate, surging pain in my pelvis- at least the baby isn’t at risk.

For those of you who already have high blood pressure or a history of genetic issues, please be kind to yourself during this time. Focus on your own health before it no longer matters. Because I can promise you one thing, doctors give little to no fucks unless it puts your baby at risk. And this is difficult time to get into a doctors office. I feel like a surgeon generals warning right now but, for the love of God, if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, focus on your health. My first two pregnancies were full of morning sickness that landed me in the ER, dehydrated and unable to keep food down. You do not know if it will be safe to stop into the ER in a month or two. My assumption, based on our circumstances, is probably not.

This is a time for self recovery. Heal your mind and work on your body. Poor mental health will not help you get through a pandemic pregnancy. Neither will random yoga sessions and words of encouragement. To all the mamas and soon to be parents out there, stay strong. Hold your head high. Take those belly pics and share them as often as possible- if you feel like it. Rest- if you need it. Don’t do anything that isn’t necessary for yourselves and your babies. I support you and I hope you are surrounded by so many people who will love and support you too. And if any of you are in need of some nasty tasting prenatal gummies to get you through to your next stop at the grocery store, please let me know. They’re nasty but TheY’Re GoOd FOr YoU.

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A.

I Traveled Across the Country During a Pandemic

I left this post in draft mode for a month. Like many people in the United States, my life took a wild turn a few weeks ago as I planned my final days in California. The Covid-19 pandemic halted my move to Traverse City, rendered me homeless, and has taken my husband away from our family- indefinitely. There were a few weeks in March where I disassociated and can’t remember much. For the sake of sounding too dull, I’ll leave the details in the past- it’s not like I can remember them anyway.

Despite all the trauma and fear, there are a few wonderful things that happened- many of which I did not speak about openly on my blog beforehand. Life feels like a tornado. But the big news is that I’M PREGNANT. AGAIN. FOR THE FINAL TIME. I’M NOT DOING THIS SHIT ANYMORE. I had intended on rolling out this news story once we found out the gender, but we had our gender ultrasound during our move. So here I am, pulling this rabbit out of a hat several weeks later. He’s a boy. And we’re naming him Ares. We typically do not reveal the names of our children until they are born but since circumstances have changed, it feels inappropriate to keep the exciting (and typically, private) news to ourselves. The third baby has been far kinder to me than the other two. But he is due in mid-August and I hear Leos are not typically kind to anyone in their young years, so we’ll see.

Regardless of all the shit that keeps happening, I have had some amazing experiences that I would otherwise never have had. I’ve looked to government officials for guidance, our president for comedy, and the Department of Defense(DOD) for instruction. As a parent, I often find myself in situations where there are unfortunate and unfair options to choose from. In March, I was faced with the worst decisions I have ever had to make as a parent.I woke up early on March 9th. Grocery shopping is always shitty at the Commissary so I prefer to do it on Monday. I noticed it was busier than usual and many of the typical items were low. People were walking around in a daze in the Toilet Paper aisle- picking from the worst and most expensive options. I made light of it, choosing the shit-option to the inflated-options. The meat counter associate that I usually exchanged banter with explained that they were shutting down for a “remodel” and they were nearly out of all meat, poultry, and pork. The beans were gone- along with the rice, the water, and most of the paper products. I rushed through my shopping trip, cracking jokes with my kids to make them laugh. Their laughter makes me calm when I’m nervous.For the rest of the week, I feared the worst. I called friends and family and explained that it only took 2 weeks for Italy to shut down their country. I knew that our move was going to be impacted. Most of them brushed me off. On Friday, March 13th, the DOD explained their intentions of a travel ban that would not only stop our move, but prohibit me and the kids from leaving. The language of this travel ban stopped the movers from taking our belongings from our home that had previously been scheduled for March 25th. Our house was due to be sold and we learned that California offers no sellers protections to help them in situations like these.

The last 2 weeks in California were spent fighting with military housing, applying for apartments, requesting an appeal to continue our travel, and packing up our house. Since the DOD halted our orders to move, there was no sense in them sending movers out- so they left us with no options and no guidance. We learned that our travel waiver had been approved on March 24th. Our original move date was the 26th. Our house was being sold on March 30th whether we had our belongings packed or not. Thankfully, we were able to find a (shitty) moving company through the Navy’s resources and they packed our items (poorly) on the 26th.2 weeks from the date of learning about the travel ban, my family stood outside of our home and said our final goodbyes. Exactly 2 years to the date of purchasing our home, we were leaving it. It felt surreal to drive away from a place I poured my heart and soul into for years. It felt careless to be taking my kids across the entire country during the middle of a pandemic. It felt selfish of me to have my mother-in-law fly out to help me on the drive when I knew she could get sick just by being in the airport. But it has been 2 1/2 weeks since we arrived in Michigan. I self-quarantined with my children at my parents home in Mid-Michigan for the initial 14 days. Neither us, nor my mother-in-law, have symptoms of Covid-19. I am so thankful for her selflessness and concern in our travels. I could not have traveled 34 hours in 4 days without her. Not with 2 kids. Not during a pandemic. Not while being 20 weeks pregnant. 

“Why wasn’t your husband traveling with you?”


Well. The funny thing about the military is that, despite the pandemic causing an insurmountable challenge to civilian families and military families alike, the military will ultimately protect their most valuable assets; their service members. This does not include the wives and children of those service members- not the wives with a broken leg, about go into labor by herself, not the children with special needs- just the service members. I’m not saying this to be resentful, I’m just being honest. Although our next station is in Traverse City, my husband and I drove our separate ways when we reached the end of our road. He headed East for training while the rest of us traveled North to Michigan.

I mentioned difficult decisions and shitty choices earlier on. There was never an option for us to stay together. The day before our waiver was approved, we were informed that ships were going under quarantine indefinitely. This is fairly public news at this point, so I feel comfortable saying that. This does not mean that anyone is sick. But this does mean that I’ve watched many of my friends say goodbye to their husbands this month. I’ve cried over the USS Theodore Roosevelt multiple times and the lack of help for sailors who contract this virus. I’ve prayed to God for the safety of my own husband who spent the last few weeks quarantined on a military base. I’ve looked to the actions of people in Michigan with outrage and bitterness as they pretend the limitations of our civil rights has only impacted them. If they only fucking knew. If they only had the insight to someone else’s life and the impact this has made on our entire country. They are so selfish and so misinformed.

The travel ban is inevitably being extend yet I am thankful for so much in this new life I have. I have toured the country with 0 traffic jams. I drove through Zion National Forest in Utah. I woke up in Carbondale, Colorado. I witnessed my mother-in-law interact with her grandchildren for what is perhaps the longest she has ever been around them in their entire lives. I never took my children into a public space during our trip (with the exception of potty breaks). We arrived safely to our destinations. We are all in good health. My parents are kind enough to allow us to stay in their home while we search for another. And my house in California is sold!

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I am so happy that families are spending more time together. I am thankful that people are compromising and learning to be more self sufficient. I am proud of my generation for stepping up and forfeiting their conveniences and learning to live life at a lower means. We all are sacrificing for the greater good. Please continue to do what is best for the whole as opposed to the few. Please prioritize the health of others over your modern conveniences. In order to protect the few, everyone must continue to do the safe thing- stay inside.

A.

PS DO NOT FUCKING TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I DID THIS BECAUSE I HAD TO, NOT BECAUSE I WANTED TO. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO STAY THE FUCK HOME AND NOT BE AN IDIOT. 

New Year, Same Me

Happy almost New Year!

I don’t really make resolutions. I honestly think they’re silly. Keep making your ads though, Planet Fitness, I’m sure someone else in this country will buy it.

Instead of focusing on all the negative about myself(theres a lot), I’m just going to focus on all the things I’m thankful for.

First, my family. My daughter and my son have really become the best, shitty friends to each other I could have hoped for. I don’t understand the sibling rivalry because I’ve never had one to rival with. But the pettiness is honestly laughable and simultaneously provides me with constant frustration. My daughter is in the slapping phase. So she can dish it out, but she certainly cannot take it.

Second, my health. Shit has been all over the place lately but somehow my health, and the health of my kids, have been good this year. In past years, I suffered with chronic pain, back problems, rheumatism, dental woes, and blurry vision. Obviously my eyes aren’t getting better any time soon, but many of the things on this list haven’t been a bother this year.

And third, my journey. This is the sappy one. This is the part that I have a hard time being thankful for most days. This is the one that scares me and excites me all at once. In a few short months, we will be selling our first home in San Diego, California and moving across the country to Traverse City, Michigan. Most people have mixed views on this. People from San Diego meet this news with criticism about the weather in Michigan. Actually, people from Michigan talk shit about the weather in Traverse City as well. But they also talk about the city’s beauty. And if there’s one thing that people in Michigan hate more than the snow, its California. In general, people have mixed feelings about our next move.

As the mover, this puts a lot on me. I have to create my own enthusiasm- not just for me, but for my kids. They have never endured a Michigan winter and have had very few run ins with snow. What Michigan offers in plenty during the spring and summer, it takes away completely in the winter.

In short, 2020 will be a year full of risks- much like the rest of our years have been. In 2019, my husband and I decided to rekindle our faith. I’m not sure if Ben ever had any, but I had stopped feeding my relationship with God long ago. It’s something I don’t necessarily regret but I am happy to have again. There are seasons in everyones lives. I needed to stray from Him to find my way back. And it’s helped me grow tremendously by allowing me to accept the things that I cannot change. I no longer make mountains of my downfalls. I’ve found confidence where I used to pick and scratch myself to pieces.

For these reasons, I do not intend on being “better.” I am not perfect. There’s a lot going on that I wish I could change and decisions I made that I’m not quite 100% sure about. But I’m not starting out my 2020 with regret and self doubt. I’m leaving that in 2019.

A.

Christmas Trees and Credit Card Debt

‘Tis the season, man.

I love it and I hate it. Maybe it’s because this is my first Christmas with two children, but this is NOT my year- ok, let’s be honest, is it ever my year?

Money is always tight in December. I know this is true for everyone, but it gets a lot harder when you add on the heavy expenses of family trips, holiday events, and the ever-growing lists for Santa.

When does it all slow down? Has it gone too far? How much is TOO much?

If you’re asking yourself those questions, the answer is: yes. All of it is too fuckin’ much. All of it is over the top. And you should probably slow your ass down.

Here’s a couple tips on saving money on Christmas this year(Amber style).

1. Give the gift of your children

I mean this literally. Send those monsters to Grandma’s house and leave them there. This is what everyone wants. If you can’t do it because of distance or swine flu or whatever, do the next best thing. Send out their Christmas lists. This costs you nothing and allows you to skimp out on gifts.

You might think this is a dick move but try to remember Christmas for what it used to be. Christmas has exploded with access to online shopping and with that, expectations are unrealistically high.

2. Let that shit sit for a day

If you are an online shopper, take a step back from your cart for a day. Let it sit. Think about it hard before you buy it. It’s time to step away from the stocking stuffer obligation. All you’re doing is buying shitty gifts that no one actually wants. Fuck the bathbombs and the pop sockets. If you really want to spend money on something, try putting that $5-10 in the stocking instead. Money doesn’t replace gift giving, don’t get me wrong. But it’s time to do away with the necessity of it.

3. Spend this time with Family

Family is more important than price tags or pretty Christmas wrapping paper. I’m not talking about your shitbag uncle that falls asleep on the couch after dinner, I’m talking about the people who matter. The ones you go out of your way for and the ones you want to spend the holidays with. Don’t let your relatives bully you into wasting your holiday season arguing over the Trump Impeachment.

4. Recycle your shipping boxes for the love of God and all that is fucking precious to you

Seriously, I’m not going to explain this one but do your part in saving our world. Even if Amazon and Walmart and all the other shitty companies are only contributing to its downward spiral.

It literally wouldn’t be “me” if I didn’t end it on that note.

Happy Everything! Enjoy this guilt, driven season with delight and merriment! Hallelujah.

A.

No one

no one would blame me if i couldnt find the energy to get dressed today. being a mom is tough. who cares what i look like anyway? no one would blame me if i crashed as soon as the kids went down for a nap. they are SO exhausting. no one would blame me for ordering takeout tonight. how can i cook when i barely get a chance to breathe?

no one would notice when the dark comes creeping in. it happens at night, when the kids are mine and no one elses.

no one would notice when i am too busy to answer the phone or text back- must be changing diapers.

or suffocating.

no one would blame me for being sad. its “normal.”

but when everything is black as night, and there is only one way out-

everyone will blame me.

blame me.

– ppd

A.

Parkinson’s

He is old. Shaking his finger at the credit card keypad, like he is scolding it for not remembering his pin.

My son is young. Twisting in the cart, his face is sour- “I want you to GO, Mommy.”

invalid entry

“Be patient.”

invalid entry

“Can’t you just GO?!”

invalid entry

“No baby, we have to wait our turn.”

invalid entry

“MOMMY!”

invalid entry

“I need you to have empathy, please.”

transaction approved

Teach your children big words. They will surprise you. I promise.

A.

Alive-ish

hey whats up im back. i had a baby. got real sad.

i dont know what they call it anymore. but here i am.

i didnt kill myself.

i wont hide from my notebook anymore. i unburied it from all the bukowski and poetry until it was all that was left on my nightstand. i miss the way my pen feels between my fingertips and i hate that my silence is louder than my presence.

i want to write about it but my heart wont pump the ink out. but here i am.

alive-ish

luckily there is no shortage of bullshit going on in this world to piss me the fuck off.

i live for the rage on my worst days. but most days, i live for me. and the beauty that my life can be. thanks for waiting.

A.

True Entitlement

Spoiler Alert: It’s not generational.

 

I get so tired of hearing shit like, “well, I didn’t know her husband was hitting her-” or “he didn’t act suicidal” whenever bad things happen to the ones we love. I’m even more exhausted of the retort- “well, how did you KNOW THEY WERE REALLY HAPPY? Why didn’t you physically implant a tracking device into your friends’ asshole until you were certain?!”

Ok. Maybe people don’t really say that last part. But it’s increasingly apparent to me that the only time these dialogues take the stage is when something doesn’t go as planned. This is what true entitlement is. It’s not a millennial thing.

It’s a social thing. Entitlement is a learned behavior that is caused by watching billions of people over share tiny pieces of their lives through social mediums. This isn’t a conspiracy. I’m not going to site Michael Moore here. This is how we, as a culture, forgot how to see with our eyes. This is how the majority of a population became so distracted by filters that they evolved to see things more pleasantly than reality ever intended. The bottom line is that we are not entitled to the most intimate details of someone’s life. You do not get to use someone’s instagram account to justify when good/bad things happen to them.

I recently stepped away from social media. Not entirely, I’m not a living in my basement with the lights off- don’t worry. I didn’t delete all of my accounts. I didn’t stop checking in on my friends. But regardless, I still felt the break was necessary. I suffer from a disorder that you might be familiar with- it doesn’t have a name, to my knowledge. However, it’s characterized by feelings of frustration that are often triggered by people who overshare stupid details of their lives that I don’t give a fuck about. Let me know if you think of a word for that kind of thing.

(I say this ironically, of course, because I’m nearing the 1 year anniversary of my blog- ya know, where I share intimate ideas and details of my life with people I don’t even know. But even here, you will not find me sharing details so intimate that they would be better reported to a therapist. I digress.)

The reason for my stepping away from social media is quite simple. I do not feel compelled to share my life right now. It’s partially because I’m pregnant and I am enjoying the last few months of privacy before I have none. But it is also because I find life difficult to focus on when I’m preoccupied with the happenings of others.

I don’t believe in much, but I believe in myself. It’s hard to believe in myself when I’m focused on everyone else. A friend recently opened up to me about their difficulty being “present” in their life. I can see this exact issue in myself, whether it’s because I’m messing around on facebook, distracted with housework, planning a family trip- I’m never exactly where I say I am. I’m trying this new thing where I don’t let funny memes distract me from the importance of the moment I’m living in. I’m going to continue my absence online in hopes that I can become more present in life. I hope this means that I will be writing more, but I also hope this means I’m away from my desk more.

A.

 

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Morning Sickness

I am pregnant. 22 weeks + 1 day. Maybe I should have written about this sooner- just to give my readers a little more insight as to what is happening in my life right now, but you’ll have to forgive me. Because I’ve already forgiven myself.

As a pregnant woman, growing in the age of social media, I have found myself trapped in one of the most unforgiving stages of my life. I’m not quite sure how it became this way. I have heard stories from so many women of past generations, speaking about how they lost themselves in pregnancy: the most guilt-free period of their lives. I wonder when that period ended.

I have been “blessed” with morning sickness, a diet of saltine crackers and bile. If you’ve ever had morning sickness, you know that it does not end once the clock strikes twelve. It ebbs and flow with every smell that passes your nose, every change in temperature or increase in humidity. It comes back when the sun gets too bright and when your husband touches his fingers to your skin. It wakes you from dead sleep and pleasant dreams. Every sound too loud will send you sprinting for the bathroom. It makes it impossible to gain weight for your baby, clean, cook, go to the grocery store, work, or change the toddler’s diapers. But you have to. Because you are a mom. And you have been “blessed” with morning sickness.

I spoke out about this a lot with my first pregnancy, begging for relief, suggestions, compassion:

“Try ginger tea”
“Try ginger candy”
“Try ginger ale”
“… Crackers, water, bread”
“Just eat whatever you can to feed the baby”
“Just smile through it, you have too many obstacles ahead to start complaining now”

Doctors told me it would go away after 13 weeks. In my first pregnancy, I was “let go” from my job for having missed one day of work. I stayed home, vomiting bile when I couldn’t hold down water. I sat in a dark room, cringing at the sight of any bright light, any scent other than my own. At 13 weeks it got worse. I was prescribed medication that I could not take for (proven) fear that it would give my baby heart defects. More advice:

“Go out for a walk”
“Stay out of the sun”
“Talk to your doctor about ____ medication”
“Aren’t you worried that drugs will hurt the baby?”
“Try smoking weed”
“Weed will give your kid brain damage”
“Why can’t you just suck it up”
“I wish I was that thin when I was pregnant”
“You should really be gaining more weight…”

The last time I got sick during my first pregnancy was 35 minutes before my son was born. It was just water. My son weighed 5 lbs 12 oz, born at 39 weeks. I gained 10 lbs throughout my pregnancy. I lost 3 of them during week 37. I walked out of the hospital weighing 5 lbs less than I did before I got pregnant.

I am 22 weeks + 1 day today. I have gained 2 lbs since getting pregnant. And last night I broke blood vessels throughout my entire face while vomiting. I have been “blessed” with morning sickness. And no, I have not found relief. I do not want your suggestions. And most of all, I do not expect compassion.

A.
Morning Sickness