It’s a Velociraptor!

Day’s Verse:
Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it.
Then you’ll acquire a taste for good sense;
what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.

Proverbs 5:1-2

We had our 20-week ultrasound today. Ian got to see the little person for the first time, and the baby obliged by doing babyish things like sucking a thumb, opening and closing its mouth, and generally wiggling around a fair bit (which I could already have told you about, since I’ve been feeling that for the last week or more). The ultrasound gal said the baby was being coy and not letting us easily tell if it was a boy or girl, which is what we really wanted to know.

Eventually, however, enough prodding finally did give us what we were looking for:
It's a Velociraptor!
It’s a boy velociraptor! Isn’t he cute?? He’s 20 months, 3 days old and weighs 12 ounces. He’ll definitely grow up to have Ian’s height, although he’ll probably inherit my speed.

OK, OK, you’re right. I know promised I wouldn’t post ultrasound pictures, but I mean really, when the nurse saw that little velociraptor in there, she nearly fell off her chair. There’s me and Ian, and we’re sitting there clearly mammals… and yet we’re having one of the most terrifying reptilian predators ever to roam the earth! I plan on raising him right, though. Some day we’ll be going out for mom-son bike rides together, and nobody will bat an eye.

For those of you really dying for an ultrasound picture, here you go.

And, in closing, Ian contributes an amusingly apropos ad.

“Weird.”

Day’s Verse:
The ways of right-living people glow with light;
the longer they live, the brighter they shine.

Proverbs 4:18

OK, now back to our regularly-scheduled blog post about pregnancy. (By the way, so far it seems the email unsubscribe has worked — no more sexy women contacting me for hookups, thank goodness.)

Earlier this week, a guy friend commented, “I wonder what it’d be like to be pregnant. Like having a water balloon inside.” My response: “It’s weird.” That’s when I realized that I regularly think to myself “how weird” when dealing with a variety of pregnancy-related symptoms.

I know some women love being pregnant. When they find out I’m pregnant, they gush about the wonderfulness of feeling the baby moving around or what-have-you. They even say that they’d like to be pregnant again, even though they don’t want any more kids. They get all glowy and softly reminiscent about the joys of pregnancy.

Frankly, I can’t even list what they find so great about being pregnant, because the best thing I can say about it is it’s educational. Oh, I’m learning all sorts of things: That I actually have minimal control over my body, when it chooses to do a thing; how to moderate my exercise and be satisfied with what I can do; how to accept my changing physical appearance; how to focus on healthiness rather than weight; how to tolerate conversations about being pregnant, the frequency of which will increase along with my waist size.

To me, pregnancy is a necessary evil to be endured so we can meet our future child. I’m just holding out for mid-August, after which I’ll be able to share some of the baby-care burden with Ian. I’d be happier if people laid eggs. Then Ian could incubate our egg while working on his computer, and I could go out for my bike rides and do all the active things that pregnancy is slowly stripping away. I would bring him food occasionally, of course, but I’d be able to keep my same fit, slender, strong, active body that I’m losing (and that will, I know, be really painful to regain). So the egg-laying is a plan with no drawbacks, really.

I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t want to this pregnancy — I’m really looking forward to becoming a parent. I’m eager to start reading all those wonderful kids’ books aloud. I anticipate with excitement getting to know this new person and help him or her grow in to adulthood. I’m looking forward to bike rides, craft projects including glitter everywhere, hiking, games of imagination, backpacking, camping; to seeing the world through fresh eyes, when everything is interesting (and please, please, no eating slugs or snails!). I’m ready to be a parent. It’s going to be long, hard, tiring, and absolutely worth it. Which is what I keep telling myself about pregnancy, too.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep noticing how weird — not glittery, wonderful, golden, sweet, delightful, etc. — it is to feel that little person moving around in there. And holding out until August.

Losing a Love

Day’s Verse:
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
John 15:12

Today I’m going to write about love: Losing a love, gaining a love. In short, I’m going to talk about bicycling and pregnancy, which is on my mind every day.

Since December, I’ve known that this year wasn’t going to be what I expected, athletically. In October I joined Team Group Health with the full intention of training hard, going out, and kicking butt. My main goal was to upgrade to Cat 3 by the end of the season, which would involve racing frequently and well. Riding with the team, I exulted in finding a group of strong, fast women who could push me to my limits. I eagerly anticipated a season of training hard, getting stronger and faster, learning new skills, and then really using them. And I really started enjoying the camaraderie of the team, getting to know these amazing athletes, working hard with them and then laughing with them.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to lose this future, even in exchange for another, more meaningful future.

One high-performance woman athlete I talked with, who herself is pregnant and due in April, told me, “You have to go through a mourning process as you give up your sport. You’re losing a love.” When she said that, it resonated with me. Yes.

Bicycling is a huge part of who I am, how I define myself. It’s been my bread and butter for the last two years, as well as my passion. With cycling, I’ve discovered depths to myself that I never knew existed. I have pushed what I thought were my limits, and found strength to go far beyond them — in 2011, I rode almost 10,000 miles and did two of the major ultra-distance rides in Washington State. I never would have guessed I could do that. I looked forward to learning more about myself in 2012, taking on this new challenge of racing.

So far pregnancy hasn’t dramatically changed my physical appearance, but I’ve already had to cut back on the type of riding I do to ensure the fetus’ health — cut, and cut, and cut. Even so, I push the limits all the time. Be conservative. I’m responsible for another life, after all.

Having to do this kind of riding erodes my riding buddy pool: I’m riding easier, shorter, and slower, just as everybody I know is gear up to ride harder, longer, and faster. Who wants to ride at a conversational pace, when racing is about riding so hard you’ve got nothing left at the end? And I feel my fitness eroding, and I have to let it slip away.

And now, not only do I say farewell to racing, watching my teammates prepare for the first races of the season, but I know that the day is coming when I won’t be able to ride at all. It’s like contemplating the loss of a limb, or one of my senses. As if I knew in advance that I was going to be paralyzed for life, that it was coming, and that I’m powerless to stop it — knowing, in fact, that I chose it.

Whether I’ll ride again, let alone with the same strength and passion for a challenge that I do now, remains unknown. Who can know what happens after August, when Little Ferguson makes its appearance? I may never regain that part of who I am, or not regain it in the way I have it now. I’m giving up that future and that part of myself, and it’s terribly hard.

Oh, yes, I’ve heard it from all sides: Parenting is wonderful. It’s the most rewarding thing you could possibly do. Your priorities will change once the baby comes. It’s all worth it. I don’t doubt this truth; at the moment, I doubt my own ability to accept it. People telling me these things act like this should comfort me somehow, or that my being upset at losing high-performance cycling in exchange for being pregnant is somehow wrong. Who would want to ride a bike when they could have a baby? Well, I’ve never cared about babies or longed to be a mother, but I have derived many hours of joy from bicycling. “It’s so worth it” isn’t any consolation for me at the moment.

I’m sure it’ll all be worth it in August, but that doesn’t make the pain of giving up this love any less right now. And, oh, it is painful.

Katie & Ian at the Summit

[16Feb2012] Edit to add:
1. If I have given the impression that I’m unhappy with having this baby, or that I don’t want to have our baby, I’d like to put your fears to rest. Ian and I are looking forward to being parents, and I feel that overall this is exactly what I would have hoped and wished for, if I could’ve had my ideal situation. I’m glad to be pregnant now, and I’m getting ready to be a good mommy. This post is not about that. It’s about part of the journey towards accepting change, and how I’m having to evolve my view of who I am as my life changes. Change, even good change like becoming a parent, is hard.
2. I would really like to hear about your experiences of having kids: What did you have to give up? What unexpected things happened that were hard to adapt to? How did you deal with it?

Pregnancy Conversation Guidelines

Day’s Verse:
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-ish

First off, we’re going to Hawaii for a week starting on Friday. Expect fewer posts than usual (I know, you’re probably thinking, “How is that possible?” Just you wait and see!) I anticipate getting lots of sun, which for a Washingtonian in February is the epitome of luxury.

Initial Ground Rules for Conversations With Katie While She is Pregnant

  1. Please try to bring up pregnancy no more than 25% of the time. I appreciate inquiries into how I’m doing, but beyond that, let’s keep it to a minimum. I may bring it up myself, but if I don’t, it’s because I would like to talk about something else. I continue to have a personality and interests despite having a little alien in my uterus.
  2. There’s nothing to see belly-wise yet, but when I start showing, please DO NOT TOUCH ME. Being pregnant does not invalidate personal boundaries. Thus, some specific guidelines: The first time you pat or touch my belly, you get a verbal warning. The second time, you get a punch in the face. The third time, I sever all contact with you forever. My apologies if this sounds excessive, but I feel rather strongly about this.
  3. Please refrain from using the term “prego,” “prego-luego,” etc.; talking about my “eating for two”; or other oh-so-cute pregnancy cliches. I have enough nausea in my life without these types of references.
  4. Please, don’t show me pictures of babies in your life. I’m afraid I’ve never been a baby person, and being pregnant has not changed that so far. I really won’t appreciate your baby pictures, and if you show them to me, I’m going to have to lie and tell you how darling I think your baby is. (Not that it isn’t cute — I just won’t appreciate it, and my reaction will therefore have to be faked.)
  5. Feel free to offer unsolicited advice or name suggestions. The way I’d like you to do this: When you think of a piece of pregnancy or parenting advice or a baby name we just HAVE to hear, write it down an a piece of paper or in an email. Send it to me. I guarantee you I will read and consider all information received in this manner. Verbally-supplied advice I will gratefully acknowledge and forget within 30 seconds.
  6. I’m sorry to disappoint anybody, but no pre-birth baby pictures will be posted here or anywhere online. If you want to see what a normal ultrasound, I have handily Googled it for you. Our fetus at 12 weeks looks exactly like all the other pictures of normal 12-week-old fetuses online already.

Thank you for helping me stay sane and happy during the next six months by following these guidelines.

In other baby-related news, I saw the alien fetus on an ultrasound yesterday. For a creature that didn’t exist 12 weeks ago, and that’s only about the size of a plum right now, it looks remarkably person-like. The ultrasound people said everything looked perfectly normal. They then stabbed my finger with a very sharp, long, presumably sterilized needle and proceeded to squeeze out more of my blood for various tests. The previous day the ob-gyn office took between 1 and 2 pints of my blood to do various genetic screening (maybe I have exaggerated slightly, but not much, I promise). Happily I’m done with that for a month. I hope next visit involves a lot fewer needles.

Also for this first ob-gyn appointment, I had a very unsatisfying conversation with the doctor about athletic activity and pregnancy. She didn’t seem to understand why I would want to train with my team if I wasn’t going to race; didn’t understand that biking is about riding for hours at a time without stopping, but with eating and drinking on the go. Instead, she gave me a kind of canned spiel essentially saying that any vigorous exercise of any sort was out; I should keep my heart rate below 140 beats per minute (that’s a “riding easy” pace; I can easily exceed 170 when riding up a steep hill) and even then stop and rest every 30 minutes. Give me a break! Women run marathons, do triathlons, heck, in Third World countries do hard labor all the way through pregnancy.

I understand that lactic acid is toxic, and I need to not go anaerobic — fine, a heart rate of 160 – 170 bpm is still not anaerobic for me. And I understand that exercising to exhaustion sends all the oxygen and nutrients to my muscles, depriving the alien, which needs those things to grow into a healthy person. Also fine. And yes, of course the alien’s well-being is my top priority for the next 6 months, while it’s in my body and my sole responsibility. Yet surely there must be a satisfying balance between my doing hard, long riding and keeping the alien well-fed and -oxygenated. I’m looking to her to get her expert advice for guidelines on how far I can push and still be healthy, but whatever that limit may be, the doctor didn’t really help me determine it. She did say she’d do more research and get back to me, but I’m skeptical about how meaningful that will be. When doctors “get back to you,” it’s a nurse reading a one-sentence memo the doctor gave, no give-and-take conversation.

/rant. Finally, Mr. XKCD has our backs for names if our baby’s a girl.

Too bad we’re on our own if it’s a boy.

Family Update

Day’s Verse:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

1 Cor 13:4

Ian and I have been a family for 8 years, 5 months, and 13 days. In all that time, we’ve kept our responsibilities to a minimum — one drought-resistant plant and an adopted beta fish (Mr. Fishy; may he rest in peace). As a result, we could always pretty easily zip off and do whatever struck our fancy.

That’s all changing, though, because in mid-August Ian and I are going to be joining the ranks of the chronically sleep- and time-deprived: We’re going to be parents. Yep, we’re pregnant, and that means we’re finally taking the pressure off of our siblings and fulfilling our parents’ long-standing desire to become grandparents.

Q & A With Katie

Q: Are you excited?
A: I am tired and nauseous. Excited hasn’t quite entered into the picture yet. We do believe we’ll be good parents, though, and we look forward to raising our child.

Q: Does that mean you’re going to stop biking now?
A: Nope, but thanks for asking. I am, however, working with a certified cycling coach, a nutritionist, and a doctor to make sure I stay healthy. I will continue to ride for as long as it’s comfortable and safe — hopefully all the way through.

Q: What about bike racing?
A: I plan on doing two time trials early in the season (late February/early March), as those involve riding alone, the cyclist against the clock. However, pregnant women are banned from racing by general consensus. Other women don’t want to race a pregnant woman and cause her to crash. I plan on using membership on a team to help me get back in shape after little Ferguson arrives.

Q: Did you intend to get pregnant now?
A: Generally, yes, I wanted to start have kids before I turned 30, and we’re in a good situation for it right now. Specifically this year, not exactly; I would have liked to try racing. But that’ll be there in the future. I’m grateful that it was fairly easy for us, and so far pregnancy hasn’t been overly intrusive in my life. (I’ll appreciate that while I can!)

Q: Are you going to find out if it’s a boy or girl?
A: Ian likes to plan ahead, so yes. Whether we’ll share that with people is a different story. Feel free to suggest baby names, but keep this article in mind if you do.

OK, that’s all the time we have for questions right now. Other questions, write ’em down and we’ll see if we can work answering them into our busy schedule.