fear

Notes on a Non-binary Pregnancy, part 2: So strong, so… fragile?

[CN: this post is largely about the potential for miscarriage]

I wrote most of this post at about 25 weeks pregnant…

At that point I was already surprised by how little I’d been inspired to write down about the whole experience. It was mostly a boring pregnancy, what can I say? Everything was just textbook; my fetus and uterus both grew right on schedule, the heartbeat was always what it was supposed to be, my blood pressure was fine, I had no morning sickness, no mood swings, and my weight gain curve was ridiculously by-the-book.

I mentioned in my previous post that I felt very strong during my pregnancy. And yet, there was also this other side to that feeling. I hadn’t realized that when you’re pregnant, all kinds of normally innocuous things are suddenly very life-and-death.

and so, I was occasionally blind-sided by how… fragile being pregnant made me feel. What should be minor medical things are much more complicated and serious when you’re pregnant.

I actually had some spotting/mystery blood early on in the pregnancy (about 8 weeks), which is both reasonably normal and also extremely terrifying.  Even the doctor I saw about it was just like, “[sadface] um, yeah, so it could be a sign that you’re miscarrying, but all we can do is wait and see?”

And at 20-something weeks along I started having UTI symptoms. This is something I am an old hand at dealing with, normally, but suddenly now that I’m pregnant everything about it had a whole new level of danger.

Normal UTI symptom process: get thee to a walk-in, confirm the presence of bacteria, get some anti-biotics, destroy infection.

When you’re pregnant this is all more complicated, because anti-biotics aren’t safe for the fetus. Or at least, the good ones aren’t, so you’re stuck with hoping that penicillin will do the trick. They kind of want you to wait for a culture to confirm the anti-biotics are called for, but on the other hand, if your infection manages to progress into a kidney infection, not only is that more dangerous to you (because kidneys!), it’s also very risky for the fetus and trigger pre-term labour (which, at the 23 weeks I was at the time, did not have great odds for a live birth). It’s all so fraught! I was not prepared.

In this case, there turned out to be no notable bacteria in my urine anyway (this has happened to me before, even with severe UTI symptoms. Me and my urinary tract have a complicated and mysterious history wherein we like to troll my doctor with weird results that can never be replicated with further testing. It’s a fun game we play. But I digress.)

Even later in the pregnancy, when I was actually obviously pregnant (that didn’t happen until late in month 7!) a mother in one of the children’s library programs I was running last year pulled me aside to let me know her daughter had recently been diagnosed with “fifth disease”. Fifth disease is like a total nothing childhood infection, but oh guess what? It’s very deadly to fetuses, of course! It turned out I showed no signs of having had contact with the disease, but it was an awfully scary week of watching for symptoms and waiting for test results to come back.

Embracing my demisexuality has made me more resilient: June 2016 Carnival of Aces submission

[This post is for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, on the theme of resiliency. The call for submissions is here.]

I am so, so grateful to have found asexual community, and to have found models of sexuality and sexual attraction that reflected my experiences in a very real way. In the (almost) two years since and first embracing demisexuality as a useful model for describing my sexuality, I’ve grown a lot.

It hasn’t always been easy, and I have had periodic doubts, but I’ve also learned to think my way through them, and sometimes come to strong conclusions that helped solidify my sense of identity.

This shift in how I think about myself and my sexuality has made me rethink and recontextualize my romantic and sexual history, my approaches to dating, and my expectations of myself when I do date. I used to beat myself up about not being able to have the kinds of sexual adventures other people have, that I kind of also wanted. I understand now why the ways in which I approach sexual adventure simply have to be different than how many others do it.

And more importantly, I have come to accept that this is really, really ok.

Being able to reconsider what I want from dating, what my expectations are when meeting someone new, and equally importantly, being able to communicate clearly to others around these issues, has saved me a lot of the unnecessary grief, discomfort, self-doubt, and self-denial that I used to continually put myself through. I used to waste to much energy trying to figure out what was *wrong* with me, and now I am free to simply seek out the things hat work for me and not worry about what doesn’t.

It is a huge relief. And it leaves me in a stronger, more stable place, where I am more ready to take on whatever else life throws at me.

I am, without a doubt, more resilient.

Brief Thought: Applying “No Pain, No Gain” to Blogging

There is a simple and notable trend that has begun to surface among the things I write here. Without fail, the posts that I feel most vulnerable or uncertain about, the ones that either require me to dig deep inside of myself and express something very personal about my experience of the world around me, or the ones where I stretch myself intellectually and push myself beyond my comfort zone of absolute certainty (really, the ones where I say things I haven’t seen a lot of other people saying, exactly), they are the ones that really seem to reach other people.

The posts that I am afraid to publish, the ones that I put off and fiddle with endlessly, they are the ones that ultimately most encourage other people to engage with me, and to open up. And I mean, this should be somewhat intuitive I guess; a willingness to be vulnerable does make other people more comfortable with being vulnerable around you. It gives them confidence that you will respect and honour their vulnerability, and that is so important, and such a powerful experience.

I’m talking here about things like coming out as demisexual, talking about my gender identity self-doubt, writing about things that don’t affect me personally, like cleavage-shaming (which continues to this day to be one of my most-viewed posts, since it was shared on the big boob problems sub-reddit – which some of y’all might be interested in), and even seemingly un-vulnerable things like this week’s post about the importance of labels. These posts, and others, have all induced fear in me, sometimes for inarticulable reasons. And they have all caused really interesting responses from other bloggers, and/or from my friends.

So yeah, I’m going to try to remind myself of this from now on, when I find myself with a scheduled post that’s got me stressed out. Even if I mis-step, there are people who will catch me and re-direct me. And very often I don’t, and I just manage to say things that really have an impact on the people who read them. And that’s really what it’s all about.

So yeah: no pain, no gain. I’m gonna keep putting myself out here for y’all <3

*This unscheduled post is rather randomly brought to you by the WordPress daily prompt, because it happened to relate to and give me a framing for this thing that’s been rolling around in my head. :)