We announced to the world on Christmas Day, 2019, that we are expecting a second child in May 2020. Its due date is May 17th, to be exact, the day after our University’s Spring Commencement. We had been debating have a second child for some time, and are thankful to have many privileges that afford such a debate (though not rolling in it, we have financial stability, access to birth control, fertility, etc., to name a few). We decided that we are very happy with one kid but if we were to have two, it would be ideal if conception were to happen after tenure (I was granted tenure Summer 2019!) and before my 35th birthday (since 35 year old mothers are considered “geriatric” for pregnancy still–so I’m sure that means more tests, more expensive pregnancy, more perceived risks, etc.). If it were able to be born in the summer, my colleagues and program wouldn’t have to deal with maternity leave. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was on a 3 month maternity leave but somehow still having to answer one million emails because I just know that would happen, and it would really stress me out. And Blake wouldn’t have any leave as an adjunct, of course. So summer just made sense if we could swing it.
That left us ideally with a 3-month window to conceive. We hate the term “trying” and prefer to think of it is just “not trying not to”. We hadn’t decided what to do if that didn’t happen–maybe just not to have a second child, which would always be fine. But, anyway, the second nugget is on its way and growing well at 21 weeks and 2 days (around 5 months)–a mere 5 grams off of “perfect size” for this age in the womb, our OBGYN told me at our most recent appointment yesterday. It’s a very active thing, and I’ve been feeling lots of kicks for several weeks now, though they aren’t strong enough for Blake and Levee to feel them from the outside for another 3-4 weeks yet. This will be our last kid, and Blake is scheduling his vasectomy ASAP. Male-sex birth control like vasectomies are so much easier on their bodies than similar and equivalents on female-sex bodies. At first I was a little taken aback that he would schedule it before our second child is born but, then, upon reflection I realized that if something went horribly wrong with this pregnancy, I’d still rather have one child than three children if there were some lapse between the birth of child #2 and a vasectomy. And the planet and our financials would thank us either way. It was difficult in and of itself to choose to burden this planet with 1 more human, much less 2, and god forbid 3! Saying that, no judgement on you if you have 0 or 3 or 5 or 8 kids–I get it, I really do; these are just our choices, and we are free with our opinions and thought processes. We are usually at just 1.25 incomes, and fairly low ones at that, so we do have to be careful with what kind of conceiving/contraceptive risks we are willing to take financially as well as ecologically, emotionally, mentally, etc.
Above is a pic of our firstborn, Levee, at a little under 1 month old. He was randomly and conveniently conceived to be born very close to the beginning of winter break in 2014. We began “not trying not to” for a little under a week in March over a Spring Break while living 1,000 miles apart for our respective teaching positions in Bowling Green, OH (Blake) and Gulfport/Biloxi, MS (Hannah). We then were finalists for the same position at Southeast Missouri State University, and two days before Hannah was notified that she was being offered the position she still currently maintains, we found out we were expecting. You can read more about our first time around by checking out our “offspring” category on this blog: https://www.orangebarrelindustries.com/category/blog-2/life/offspring/ including our last announcement blog post, https://www.orangebarrelindustries.com/2014/05/17/a-biscuit-in-the-basket/ . Honestly it was a fantastic but also very difficult time filled with a lot of conversations that were quite hard to have, especially over the phone, while I was teaching from 8am-9pm several days a week with a 6-7 course load (I can’t even remember–I think I blocked it out). But I had a lot of awesome students and colleagues at the community college where I was teaching at the time, and they were super understanding and supportive and really made the experience better than I could have hoped for, despite being generally barfy, extremely tired, and using a pile of foam and sleeping bags on a tile floor as a “bed” a lot of the first trimester because I never bothered to buy any furniture while living down there besides a single chair.
We moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where we still reside, and I began teaching full time at Southeast Missouri State University. Blake started adjuncting the following semester. He is temporarily fulltime at Southeast for the 2019-2020 academic year, but will be back to part time in Fall 2020 unless other big life changes occur. You never know with us!
I started this position at about 5 months pregnant, and here I am again about to start a new semester 5 months pregnant. Thankfully this one ends in the much longer summer break, however, rather than last time around where I had 7 weeks and then it was back to work (no maternity leave allowed in your first year at a new position) with my unplanned c-section stitches poppin’ out as I was trying to move around a sheet of roofing copper for my etching students. I’m thankful my chair covered my last week of classes and finals last time around as a favor–she wasn’t obligated to–and she hung up some curtains in my office so I could easily pump milk every 2-4 hours for the next many months. She also balanced Blake’s and my schedules so we could care for Levee ourselves and keep costs low. We would switch him off between classes along with bottles of fresh milk, with plenty frozen backups in the deep freeze thanks to my lucky status as an “overproducer of milk”.
I’m teaching lithography this Spring, and I’m so glad we made the switch a few years ago from the usual dangerous petroleum-based chemicals to Estisol, coconut-based solvents that don’t evaporate and are waaaayyyy safer to use, particularly around a pregnancy. This will be a very green semester, and I’ll need lots of help moving litho stones around. I’m sure like last time my students will leave me reviews like “was kinda rude”, but trust me kids, “kinda rude” is pretty good for how ya feel sometimes pregnant, and I’ll do my best! You’re going to learn lithography! I’ll give you that. And your patience will be rewarded with mine. But no need to turn this into a “Dear Students, please understand that if you bring fried chicken into my classroom I’m gonna take a ‘pregnancy tax’ off the top” letter. I’ll save that rant for later.
Below are a couple blurry pics from yesterday’s ultrasound with our very active Al. Al likes to exist with its feet up over its face, unless its kicking me in the bladder. You can see a pic of Levee in the womb at a similar stage in development here, if you wish to compare: https://www.orangebarrelindustries.com/2014/07/25/print-nugget-update/
Anywho, you probably came here for updates on Print Nugget 2, so I will oblige you now: We are giving Print Nugget 2 the womb-name of “Al A. Poopy”, a play on the french intaglio term, a la poupée, or “the little doll”, as I understand it. It’s a bundle we use to selectively ink intaglio plates with different colored inks to be printed simultaneously. No, this womb-name doesn’t necessarily mean “Al” is a boy or a little girl (in fact, my twin female cousins Al and Liz may appreciate this since cousin Al–female–recently married Al–male and as a fun side note, Liz–female–was recently engaged to another Liz–female. Love and miss y’all and I hope to get to catch up soon!!).
I found out the gender yesterday and am keeping it a secret again, the whole pregnancy, just like last time. Blake likes surprises! And I find secrets add mystery and enjoyment to the whole process. I vowed to not be so stressed this time around and savor this experience; pregnancy, while difficult at times, is pretty damn magical and interesting. Levee was the 13th Sanders Boy in a row, if you wish to place your bets. However, since Levee’s birth a baby girl, Josephine, was born to Blake’s Sanders cousin Michael and his wife, Madison–the first one since Great Aunt Jeanie, so that means 70 years between girls as a trend in the Sanders Family so far! Let me know what you think this one will be in the comments! I’ll enjoy your thoughts.
Part of why we didn’t announce this pregnancy until 4, almost 5, months along is that I couldn’t get in to the doctor for quite a while. About 2 days after likely conception occurred, I felt pregnant. Oddly, the month before I also felt pregnant–so I don’t know if that was some particularly strong hormone shifts with my monthly cycle or if something else was at play–but I soon figured out I wasn’t pregnant that month thanks to my very regular cycle–a particularly heavy one. For those of you who don’t know this, pregnancy weeks/months/how far along one is is counted from the first day of the previous period (the beginning of the cycle in which one conceived, usually weeks before one conceives, therefore). My last cycle began August 11, and I took a pregnancy test August 14th (1-2 days after my cycle would have normally begun), and got that positive + sign. Due to a very busy OBGYN office with a lot of change-over in staff and receptionists taking vacations and the fact that I’m now considered a “new patient” because it’d been almost 5 years since I’d given birth (they had to ask my Dr. if she would take me on as a patient again–thankfully, she said “yes”!), I wasn’t able to get in for my first appointment and coinciding ultrasound with this pregnancy until I was 11 weeks + 1 day along–late October. I had a great appointment, confirming my prediction of due date to the very day I had calculated–May 17th, 2020–and the Dr. said the baby was growing exactly on schedule for its time in the womb so far. I had a second appointment in early December, and my third appointment of this pregnancy along with the important “Anatomy Ultrasound” was yesterday.
Yesterday, Dr. Cugini said that Al is growing very well, and appears to have all his limbs and organs and whatnot, healthy placenta fluid, healthy umbilical cord, etc. This pregnancy has been very similar to my last in that I was incredibly nauseous and exhausted my entire first trimester. I found it difficult to keep a smile on my face last semester many days, and I came down with a horrible respiratory/sinus infection/cold/allergies thing around the time of my first doctor’s appointment with this pregnancy. I’m still suffering from this, but am so thankful that some restful weeks have alleviated much of the coughing. I’m also glad that, just like last time, my nausea greatly reduced by the beginning of the second trimester, and I’m feeling pretty well and healthy besides the heavy heartburn/acid reflux. I also had that last time around, and I have some strategies in place for dealing with it. It mostly shows up at night. I drink slippery elm tea with honey, take antacids, and eat smaller meals. I try to make my last meal of the day as early as possible so I have plenty of upright time before bed to digest. I’m not too concerned about any of these health difficulties for me, as I’ve read that a symptom-riddled pregnancy is actually a good sign that the pregnancy is going well.
We wanted to tell family in friends in person about the pregnancy as much as possible, so we talked to my family around Thanksgiving and told a few friends along the way when we could. We called some of Blake’s family in Iowa and elsewhere, and told the rest on our recent Iowa trip up for Christmas/New Year’s. This whole past semester was a whirlwind, going simultaneously fast and slow. We bought our first home this past summer, and we moved in over 2-3 days before the start of the semester. Many of our local friends still haven’t even been to our new house this many months later. We have been in survival mode in some ways. We are a fairly new, larger, Department of Art & Design (formerly the Department of Art), and we have a fantastic new chair (dear friend Nancy Palmeri), so a lot of big things have been happening at work alongside our usual duties. We are currently searching for 2 new colleagues, and that has meant additional workload from sharing the duties not being covered as well as the fact that I am chairing one of the two search committees.
One new thing about this pregnancy I’m super excited about is that I’m now part of a peer support group organized by the Artist/Parent/Academic group. You can find them on Instagram (@artist.parent.academic ) and Facebook. It’s an amazing collection of folks, and I’m now in a Slack community work flow group with a handful of them and am so enjoying hearing their stories, worries, and successes and finding solace in the similarities between our experiences. Writing this reminds me I need to download the Slack desktop app, since I’m probably behind in my messages…so here I go adding that to my to-do list for this week!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this 21 weeks update on Al A. Poopy! Leave your questions and comments below or on Insta or Facebook. I’ll be oversharing, as usual, as time allows.