Make Mine a Double

Well, the cat is officially out of the bag. I’m pregnant. With twins—a boy and a girl (to be officially confirmed at the anatomy scan). To paraphrase something a friend told me when she found out: getting pregnant with twins on the first try is the most Chelsea thing to ever possibly happen. When I went in for my fancy, formal ultrasound at 9 weeks, the tech immediately asked me if I’d had embryos transferred, and when I said no, asked me what medications I’d taken. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect of, “Nope! This is just…my body!”

Before I got pregnant, I spent like six weeks abusing Dr. Google, terrified that I wouldn’t be able to conceive (even after my actual doctor very kindly ran fertility tests and told me point blank that I wouldn’t have any trouble getting pregnant), and of course I got twins right out of the gate. I definitely didn’t expect to get pregnant on the first try—I assumed it would take several months, which is why we started sooner than my original timetable (I wanted to have a baby at age 30 and ended up conceiving at exactly 29 and a half). I feel so incredibly lucky, and even though I’m absolutely terrified at the prospect of double the babies and double the work, I’m so grateful that they’re happy and healthy in there. I know plenty of people that have had a hell of a time conceiving, and the stress is real.

I’ve been interested in birth and parenthood for years, but since I didn’t know if or when it would happen for me, I ignored the topic for years. I can’t tell if I was punishing myself for not being up front with my husband about how much I wanted a baby, or if I was preserving my feelings until I was truly ready to be a mother. In retrospect, I am so, so glad that I didn’t attempt to do this sooner. Even a month sooner, I wouldn’t have been ready. I needed the time to get in tune with my body and my emotions. I needed to work through my issues and traumas (shout out to therapy!) so that I could show up for my kids as the best version of myself. I thought I would spend the rest of my life on antidepressants, and now I’m not taking anything (other than prenatal vitamins and B6 for nausea). I’m not knocking meds (I’m sure I’ll be back ASAP), but I do feel like a badass for doing this au naturel so far.

sonogram at 11 weeks, 3 days. the top picture is of the lower baby, who’s measuring a WEEK bigger that his/her gestational age, and the bottom picture is of the upper baby, who’s measuring exactly on track. i have a feeling by the time they’re reading to come out, i’ll be carrying around minimum 13 lbs of baby.

I’m sure I’ll have more insightful things to say about this journey moving forward, but I’m honestly still processing. I didn’t have morning sickness (so grateful for that), but the first trimester is still awful. It’s exhausting, and at least if you’re me, you’re constantly worried about miscarriage. And YES, I got my first shot of the COVID vaccine while 14 weeks pregnant. My bubs are swimming in antibodies as we speak.

If any other preggos or aspiring preggos are reading this, this is the stuff that I read/used/bought during my first trimester.

  1. A word to the wise—if you just found out you’re pregnant and haven’t even had an ultrasound or talked to a doctor yet, please do not watch The Business of Being Born. I spent 90 minutes panicking thinking I would literally die during childbirth and that the doctors would go against my will and do a bunch of unnecessary medical interventions. Obviously, I was being completely hysterical (pregnancy hormones will do that to you), and in hindsight, I’m really glad I saw the film. Even though it’s really tough on the medical establishment, I didn’t think the portrayal was unfairly biased. Birth is so shrouded in mystery—women are given basically no information about it until they’re actually pregnant. I considered myself really well-informed before, but I had no grasp on the history of obstetrics.
  2. I’ve been listening to Dr. Elliott Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy Podcast non-stop. I especially loved Mandy Moore and Hilary Duff’s episodes, since you know I have stanned both of them for 20+ years #millennialicons. I will admit that it’s making me super bummed out that I can’t have a home water birth, but between insurance, dealing with people’s opinions, and the fact that twins are higher-risk, I kissed that dream goodbye a long time ago. I still want to give birth naturally with no meds, but every time I say that, I kind of feel like that meme of the person painting on their clown makeup. I’ve also been listening to Conscious as a Mother.
  3. I’ve already made my registry because I am a full crazy person. I’m still editing it a lot, and don’t think I’ll actually really share it with anyone until I’m past 20 weeks, but it has been so much fun dreaming of their nursery, gear, and gadgets!
  4. Books in my queue: Bringing Up Bébé, The Danish Way of Parenting, Nurture, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and Real Food for Pregnancy. I also have The Bump and the What to Expect apps, so I feel pretty prepared for the physical stuff, if not yet for the actual reality of somehow birthing and raising two babies at once.
  5. I justified a second pair of Birkenstocks because the bulk of this pregnancy will be during the summer and mama is not about to wear proper shoes and socks.
  6. But that being said, I did buy compression socks. I already have huge feet (size 10!), so if they grow and I can’t wear any of my existing 5,000 pairs of shoes, I will throw myself off a cliff.
  7. A neighbor of ours donated a massive pregnancy pillow to me, which has helped a lot with my tossing and turning. I don’t actually know which pillow it is, but it looks just like this one. It’s really huge though, and it takes up more than half of the bed, so I got this one for the time being.
  8. Of course I had to get a maternity set from Girlfriend Collective. I got this bra and these leggings.
  9. I’m taking the Ritual prenatal, which I love, but word to the wise, you’ll need to supplement with extra iron.
  10. This is a random one, but I feel it’s my duty to inform you that Trader Joe’s finally made a potato chip version of its Popcorn in a Pickle and they do not disappoint! I know pickles are SUCH a basic pregnancy craving, but I never said I wasn’t a PSL-loving, Ugg-wearing basic!

The Argonauts

I’m taking my first ever Women & Gender Studies class this semester (prior to this spring, I was just learnin’ from the school of life). When I looked at the course offerings for Spring ’18, it seemed very on-brand for me, plus I really like the professor. If you’re not familiar with the discipline, well, neither are any of its scholars, really! It’s a controversial field that is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on literary studies, history, sociology, anthropology, law, psychology—you name it. Honestly, we can’t even all decide on a name (Women’s Studies too narrow? Gender Studies too broad? Are we being inclusive enough?)

In my class, we’re reading all the hits! Butler, Rubin, Crenshaw—all the rad ladies that you’ve come to know and love if Gender Studies and intersectionality are indeed your jams. We recently read the 2015 “theory memoir” The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, which was a pretty fascinating read.

check out my goodreads review here!

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The Argonauts tells the nonlinear tale of the romance, marriage, and journey to parenthood of Maggie Nelson and her partner, artist Harry Dodge. Although, conceptually, if a romantic partner texted me lines of Barthes, I would vomit and leave that person, it’s a cute look on others.

The writing and organization of the book read a tad pretentious, but it’s clear that Nelson has a brilliant mind for theory—the theoretical passages, paraphrased or quoted, are woven seamlessly into the narrative. Since I have to co-lead a class discussion on The Argonauts, I thought I’d post some of the questions that came up for me while I was reading:

  1. What is the benefit of the book’s organization (or lack thereof)? What, if any, are the detriments? While I found the lack of structure frustrating at times, it made for a very fluid read—but even if I took a ten-minute break, I had to backtrack slightly because I always felt I had lost my place. Is the form deliberately “deconstructed” to mirror the methodology of the critics whose work Nelson employs?
  2. Is the genre-fluidity of the novel a comment on gender-fluidity and of the way we are conditioned by society to categorize?
  3. Is it ethical to share so much about someone else’s journey? Do you feel that Nelson has appropriated Harry’s experience for the purposes of her writing? Obviously, as they are spouses, she had permission, but is it possible to meaningfully capture or understand the experience of the other?
  4. Nelson describes in detail her unconventional journey to pregnancy. Despite how unconventional her family is and journey was, is there anything essentialist about her portrayal of pregnancy and motherhood?
  5. The section about Nelson and Dodge’s wedding occupies only a page and a half of the book. Is that a visual representation of the author’s views on marriage? Is Nelson commenting on the heteronormative nature of the institution of marriage and how, like gender, it doesn’t work as a prescriptive one-size-fits-all for every family?
  6. Bonus Question: Would you find it romantic or insufferable if your significant other texted you lines of Barthes?

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image source

Further Reading:

Object Lessons, Robyn Wiegman

Gender Trouble, Judith Butler

Embodied Avatars, Uri McMillan

Exposed, Stacy Alaimo

Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader