Porsha Picks Her Baby (RHOA)

After the AMAs last night, I started catching up on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Wow. The new chicks…. just… wow.

Kenya is clearly cray cray, and there isn’t much to be said about her that hasn’t been said already. But Porsha? Oh wow… This girl is a perky little something.

The whole time she was telling Kenya about her desire for children, I kept thinking to myself, Is she 12 years old?. Even beyond the peppy enthusiasm and rambling, I mean, really. You rarely hear grown women talk that way. She wants kids (okay). Sooner rather than later (fine). Preferably twins so she doesn’t have to be pregnant multiple times (okie doke. Good luck with that). Her hubby wants a boy and she wants a girl (that’s normal). So she’s going to have the boy first and then a girl (wait, what now?). And when Kenya points out that usually one does not have control over these things, she responds that she’s just going to use the Chinese gender predictor to plan her boy and girl. (alllllrighty then…).

I get saying things like, “Ideally, I would like a boy and a girl.” But saying what sex she was going to have, and even going so far as to treat the Chinese gender prediction test as though it is honestly a reliable and proven gender prediction technique is just… I can’t… Do grown people do this???

If you are not familiar with it, the Chinese Gender Prediction test is a real thing. Based on the mom’s lunar age and lunar month in which the baby is conceived, the test tells you what gender it should be. That’s right, Porsha Stewart is putting stock in the fact that every woman her lunar age who conceives the same month as her will have the same-gendered babies. Sounds legit .

This gender predictor claims to be 90% accurate. In reality, it is—like all methods of predicting gender in a single-birth or identical twin scenario—50% accurate.

According to the Chinese Gender Predictor, I should have one girl and one boy. In fact, Pop Culture Toddler 2 was conceived smack in the middle of a three-month period that should result in a boy. Guess she missed the memo?

Seriously, what is the logic here? Some ancient Chinese secret from the cosmos? It doesn’t even make any sense statistically.

And what about fraternal twins [like the ones Porsha so desperately wants… I am assuming there must be some family history or she is planning on the aid of fertility drugs, since she is clearly not of such advanced maternal age that she has a heightened risk of fraternal twins] and other multiples? Where do they factor? By this theory, they should always be the same gender.

Look, I have no problem with gender prediction methods and old wives’ takes when they are used for fun only, and not treated as a serious endeavor. I can even understand people trying things like the Shettles Method or anything that has at least some basis in science (whether or not it is actually accurate). But some random chart that you found online that says every 31-year old woman who conceives in “lunar” February in any given year will have a girl?? C’mon now!

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Pop Culture "Carly Rae"

This conversation, which took place in my husband’s car yesterday, is pretty typical in my house:

Pop Culture Preschooler: Daddy! What happened to my song?!?

Pop Culture Dad: It’s over. He finally called her.

Pop Culture Mom: Well… Maybe.

Call this girl!

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Pop Culture Toddler is Now…

Pop Culture Preschooler.

Dang, I feel old.

Pop Culture Toddler turned three at the end of November. Almost immediately, I started getting newsletters calling her toddler/preschooler. So which is it? I asked the moms on my Nov 2008 mommy board. The consensus is that it can go either way, but if your three-year old is in fact in school, then you should go with “preschooler.” So there you have it. My baby is a preschooler (in fact, she starts pre-primary this month), and I’m old old old. Old. Sigh…. At least I still have my baby!

Pop Culture Preschooler at her 3rd birthday party


Pop Culture Baby’s Birth Story

Another Pop Culture star is born

WARNINGAlthough I feel like the phrase “birth story” should serve as a warning that there’s some serious TMI ahead [after all, is birth ever really pretty? No. It’s pretty much always a little bit gross], I’m going to do the standard warning anyway. I realize only soon-to-be mothers, recent mothers, and birth story junkies care about the nitty gritty details. This is for them. If you’re not into knowing that much about someone else’s bodily functions or the details of contractions, effacement, and all that jazz, I’d suggest you skip this post altogether or just go straight to the pictures. It’s gonna be long, y’all… and maybe a wee bit gory.

Let the story begin…

Dou Me, Baby

First, let me go way back. When I had Pop Culture Toddler, I enlisted the services of a doula for both during and after labor. Rhonda was invaluable. So I knew as soon as I got pregnant with Pop Culture Baby that I was going to go the doula route again. Rhonda had since retired from the baby doula game. I knew her daughter had stepped into her place, since one of my friends used Rhonda’s daughter as her postpartum doula for her twins. I could have used her daughter. Instead, I decided to go the difficult route and get an out-of-state doula. Now, this wasn’t something completely on a whim. Christi (or Diva Doula, as I now feel like calling her) is one of the moms from one of my WTE expecting boards. Her youngest daughter was born within days of PCT. She was even our board leader at some point and is currently one of the admins of our Facebook group. So while I didn’t “know” her, I have known her for over three years. She had already served as the doula for some of the other November 2008 moms, and I wanted Diva Doula to “dou” me, too. As you can expect, Pop Culture Dad and pretty much everyone else thought I was crazy. But with Pop Culture Toddler, my midwives had predicted when I would go into labor, down to the weekend, and with a 13-hour labor the first time, I was feeling pretty confident about being able to get Diva Doula here in time.

Then of course came the GD diagnosis. Because I ended up on medication to control my blood sugar, my midwives told me that if I didn’t have Pop Culture Baby early, as I did PCT, they were going to induce me at 39 weeks. Everyone, myself included was fairly confident, though, that I would go early again. Boy were we wrong. Apparently I controlled my sugars almost too well. So instead of growing a behemoth baby and ginormous placenta, I was forming a fairly regular placenta and (what was to me, anyway), a teeny baby. At my Level 2 ultrasound, PCB was measuring a few weeks behind, and was 18th percentile. PCB was predicted to be six pounds if I went full term. Because of the gestational diabetes, I had ultrasounds every three weeks. While my fundal height was always perfectly on track, the ultrasounds always showed a baby that was measuring a couple of weeks behind. Kind of weird considering that our 3D ultrasound revealed really chubby cheeks. *shrug*. So week by week, my confidence going into labor at 38 weeks again began to wane. And then…

Long Labor? False Labor? WTH Knows?

Ten days before my due date, I started having really regular contractions. They were frequent enough that I started timing them. First they were far apart. Then as the day went on, they sped up to 10 minutes apart, and then 8. I e-mailed Diva Doula and asked her for reassurance that I could have contractions 8 minutes apart for a number of days. Based on the ultrasound I had just the week before, PCB was still measuring small, though better than before (now 25th percentile), but PCB was just small enough that I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea of going into labor early and having a teeny tiny little baby. Diva Doula told me to lie down on my left side for an hour or so, drink a lot of water and see if my contractions slowed down or stopped. They didn’t. Then she told me to just say the word, and she would get on a plane; her hubby was getting ready to get her on a plane. We talked it through for a while and decided, just in case, to get her on a plane. If she was here for a couple of days, that was fine. Better than her missing the birth altogether.

Diva Doula came in, and I continued to have contractions. Then, at some point right before I went to bed, they disappeared, only to come back with a royal vengeance while I was sleeping. I was afraid I would go into labor in the wee hours of the morning; but at least Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula were there. The next morning, I told Pop Culture Dad to go on to work, and I would call him if he needed to come home. By then, I had steady contractions 5 minutes apart. He later told me that he got ribbed all day for being at work while his wife was in labor. During the day, Diva Doula and I tried to help the labor along. We went geocaching. We drove around. We walked. At one point when we were walking around my neighborhood, the contractions got so bad I had trouble walking. We were actually getting close to the point where my midwives told me to call them back. But I didn’t feel like I should go to the hospital yet. So we went back to the house where I decided to go relax in the tub… and the contractions disappeared again. WTH? Same pattern as the night before, my contractions got frequent, horrible and painful in the middle of the night, but no magic happened.

The next day was my midwife appointment. The midwife with whom we met, Mary, thought it was weird that I had contractions that steady and close that got stronger and then went nowhere, but it wasn’t unheard of. She checked me, and it turned out I hadn’t made any progress from the week before. I was still a fingertip dilated and about 60% effaced. So I basically had two days of contractions for nothing. At this point, I was days away from being 39 weeks. It was time to talk induction dates. Mary told me point-blank that, two days of false labor notwithstanding, Pop Culture Baby was not ready to go anywhere. An induction date at the early end of 39 weeks would not be a good idea. I began to get fearful that an induction date at any time would not be a good idea. But seeing as I only had a one week window in which to give birth (gee, thanks, GD), I picked my due date as my induction date. Might as well make it to 40 weeks, right? Mary agreed to give me Prepadil the next week to see if that helped move things along so I could avoid induction. It was a great start, but still pretty sucky. I went back to my car and cried. Hard. Diva Doula was such awesome support (a necessity when you feel like a complete tool, like I did). We went walking and geocaching some more, in hope of sparking more labor. Nada. That day, I decided the GD diet was off. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed my comfort-Frosty that day.

Diva Doula went home the next morning, and I went to the hospital for my Prepadil. Mary told me to go walking (preferably around a mall with a credit card) to see if I could get some contractions going. Nada. When I went in a few days later for my midwife appointment [now after a full week and a couple days of “false” labor, which felt pretty damn real], I was ready to tell them not to induce me at all. I was really afraid of being one of those ladies who has a horrible induction experience and ends up either having an awful, long labor or winding up getting a c-section. I had another ultrasound. Pop Culture Baby had a growth spurt, and was suddenly estimated at 50th percentile. Dawn, the midwife that day, checked me again. I had made a wee bit of progress, but not much. In fact, I had gone from 60% effaced to 50% effaced. WTF?? Dawn, however, was convinced that I was ready, and that an induction would go beautifully. As some added insurance, though, Dawn stripped my membranes and scheduled me for another Prepadil the next day. She warned me that the stripping may do nothing, or it could send me into labor. You just never know. Later that day, I was in the grocery store, having the worst contractions to date. I actually felt pretty good about going into labor. I had bloody show that night. The next morning, I ended up calling my midwives at 4 a.m. to see if I should even go in for the second dose of Prepadil, because I was having contractions 6 minutes apart. I was told that even if I ended up not going into labor, they could not administer Prepadil with my contractions that close together. So, basically, I just had to wait and see if I went into labor. This should be no surprise: I didn’t.

Eviction Day

Diva Doula came back the next day. We basically snacked on labor cookies and got together snacks and everything I needed to go to the hospital. Diva Doula also taught Pop Culture Dad various pressure points and techniques to help me during labor. We talked about how my labor went with PCT, and for the first time ever, I realized that (save for my water breaking on its own), that I had made zero progress until I was given the dreaded pitocin monster. It was possible that I’m one of those unlucky ladies who will contract for days and days without any real progress, absent medical intervention.

The next day was eviction day. And, I won’t lie: I was terrified. I had always planned on having a completely natural birth. Now, after more than a week of false labor, I knew I was going to get stuck with pitocin whether I liked it or not. And, let’s face it, my confidence in my own ability to face pitocin without an epidural was very very low. I was also terrified, after having such a long period of unproductive labor, that I was going to end up either in labor for 24 hours or with a c-section… or worse, both.

My induction was scheduled for 7 a.m. on the 29th. Pop Culture Dad, Diva Doula and I left the house at the buttcrack of dawn and started heading (late) to the hospital, only to get a call as we were getting on the freeway that there were no beds available, so I’d have to call back in a few hours to see if I could come in. They ended up telling me to come to the hospital between 11 and 11:30. We got there at 11ish and had to wait a while. They hooked me up to the pit drip around 1. When I went in, I was 3 cm dilated and about 50% effaced. Pop Culture Baby was at a -3 station. So, yeah, not even close to anything happening.

Leaving for the hospital… again

A few hours went by, and the contractions were getting worse, but it still looked like I had a long time to go. Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula were fantastically helping me manage my pain and sneaking me food and drinks. At 5:30 or so, I posted a message to the impatient mommies on our parenting group that the “aunties” were going to have to simmer down, because Pop Culture Baby wasn’t making an appearance any time soon. The ladies were all on gender watch and tired of not knowing what kind of equipment PCB was bearing. Around 6 or 6:30 , my midwife checked me, and I was 100% effaced, but still only about 3 cm (but this time a “loose” 3 instead of a hard one) and at a -1. She asked if I wanted to have my water broken. We debated it for a while, especially the warning about how much it would suck. Eventually, in the interest of not being in labor all freaking night, I told her to go for it. Almost immediately after she broke my water, things really kicked into gear [shit got real, y’all!].

At some point around 7 p.m., I was just done. Diva Doula and PCD were absolutely fantastic, but I knew I had barely made any progress before all of the madness started, and I couldn’t imagine being like that another four hours or whatever. So I started asking my midwife if it was too late to get an epi. She said “probably,” and she and Diva Doula kept encouraging me to keep on, at least for a while. **WARNING WARNING HERE COMES THE TMI/YOU’LL-KNOW-TOO-MUCH-ABOUT-ME STUFF. LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING** Then I had that “I need to poop” feeling — not the “I feel like I need to poop, but it’s really the baby pushing down” feeling — a true, honest to goodness “guess I’m not backed up anymore” feeling. My midwife wanted to check me first to make sure I wasn’t crowning, since “babies like to be born on toilets.” I wasn’t. I don’t really remember this part at all, but Diva Doula informed me later that when my midwife checked me, I was 6 cm dilated. So I had made some progress, but I still had 4 freaking cm to go. I shuffled off to the restroom, only to find out once I got there that with the crazy contractions, I had trouble sitting down (and staying down) on my own. Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula rushed in to help me. I “went,” and then, all of the sudden, my ass was burning. Like, seriously burning. And I started thinking I was in that episode of “Bobby & Whitney” where Bobby had to help Whitney get out the stuck poop [hey, I warned you this would be TMI. If you’re grossed out, your fault for not heeding my warnings]. So I’m complaining — crying — about my ass being broken, and my midwife, Debbie, checks me and says something like, “You know why? Cuz there’s a head right there.” Yeah, seriously. Classic. Debbie then flew into hyper mode and starts telling Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula to hurry up and get me back to the bed before the baby falls out, and she’s yelilng at the nurses to hurry up and get a table. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have a choice. They carted me off to the bed, and got me back on it in a matter of seconds. Pretty much as soon as they got me on the bed (all of 10 seconds), I started pushing. Four big pushes in about 5 minutes or less, and Pop Culture Baby came sliding on out at 7:18 p.m.. As Diva Doula pointed out later, I went from 6 cm to 10 cm with a baby in my arms in less than 20 minutes — that is intense. No tearing this time, either. 

Thanks, Debbie!

Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what was going on at this point. Diva Doula had to fill me in on some of the finer details later. After PCB popped out (literally), Debbie held her up so we could see the gender. Even looking, I had no idea [I swear I know what the parts look like!]. I think I was just still surprised there was a baby there. I still didn’t know if I had a son or a daughter until Pop Culture Dad announced, “It’s a girl!”. I vaguely remember saying at some point after my eyes focused and I noticed that there was in fact a baby there, “Oh! And she has some color! Yay!”. I had another beautiful little girl. A 7 pound, 12 ounce, 20.5″ little princess (who, other than her much smaller size, slightly darker skin and brown eyes, and fantastic dimples, is an exact replica of her big sister, who is a pretty close carbon copy of me).

One of the best parts came after we were released to my room. My mom and Pop Culture Toddler were already there waiting on us. When the nurse wheeled me in with Pop Culture Baby, PCT walked up to us and said, “Hi, [Baby]. I’m your big sister.” Tears. Flowing.

Everybody Wants the Diva to Dou Them

I didn’t go into a lot of details of how Diva Doula helped me before and during my labor. For one, it’s hard to go into details after the fact. I just remember her there duing the labor, constantly moving and things to do to help out, and her encouraging me along the way. I vaguely remember the little pep talks. They’re all fuzzy right now, but I remember at the time, they really helped get me through. To use one of her favorite phrases, Diva Doula (aka Mrs. Christi Mooney of Serenity Birth in GA) was just AWESOME SAUCE. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to do a pitocin-induced, pain medication-free birth without her support. And I probably would have lost my sanity before the main event, too. Remember pregnant ladies: Google is not your friend; but a good doula is.

In fact, Diva Doula was such awesome sauce that the midwife on-call the morning after I gave birth told me how much Debbie had bragged about her, and they wanted to know what service she was with and how to refer her to other clients. You can imagine their disappointment when I told them she’s not local. Thanks to Christi’s dou-ing, my midwives all gave me the “Rockstar” award for the week.

Diva Doula and Pop Culture Baby
First day home with my girls

Pop Culture Laboring?

I am sure someone has to wonder if I had any media going on during labor, especially considering I once claimed (okay, okay, last year) I’d love to have “Bohemian Rhapsody” playing in the background when I gave birth. We did not have the iPod going. Darn shame, too, considering the short amount of time I spent pushing actually would have left us with a little “Bohemian Rhapsody” left over — not that anyone would have had time to cue the song up! I actually did get to follow through with my media birth plan, though. We watched Knocked Up for the first two hours of the induction. And, as I had planned a couple of months before, we got our NPH fix. I packed a few DVDs of How I Met Your Mother, but while I was having my awful, water-breaking-induced contractions, we were watching (Ha! “Watching”) Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. Good thing we brought our portable DVD player. The L&D room only had VCRs. Oh, how I wish I was kidding!

Team Noneya for Life

The other day, some girlfriends and I were discussing the gender reveal – do you or don’t you? Suzi and Brittney are very much in favor of finding out their babies’ genders when given the opportunity. Amanda loves the surprise and has even blogged about it twice. Kat also loves a surprise. Personally, I’m on the fence about whether I prefer being surprised myself or simply surprising everyone else. In any event, when I’m pregnant, don’t bother asking me my baby’s gender. Either I won’t have found out or I won’t be revealing. You can wait until my child is born to find out if I had a boy or a girl. But be forewarned: if you harass me too much about knowing the gender, you may not be around in my life long enough to find out.

When I was pregnant with Pop Culture Toddler, my pregnancy expecting board had three different color groups of expecting parents: Team Pink, Team Blue, and Team Green. Team Pink consisted of those parents who were having a girl, Team Blue a boy, and Team Green those who wanted to keep the baby’s gender a surprise. At some point, however, I added a subset to Team Green – Team Noneya.

“Noneya” is a term one of my former secretaries used whenever she scanned or created personal documents for herself or for me. The first time she did it, I was really confused. When I asked her “Why ‘noneya’?” she said, “So if anyone looks at it, they’ll know it’s ‘noneya’ damn business.” I liked it so much I stole it.

The Team Noneya subset of Team Green included us parents who broke down and found out our babies’ genders but chose not to share them with anyone. Everyone had slightly different reasons for keeping the gender a secret, but at the root of it all was our shared belief (a belief shared by the parents who didn’t find out their babies’ genders) that people who were not involved in the process of contributing fifty percent of the baby’s genetic material should not really care what we were having, and if they did care, well, that was their problem, not ours.

Well, we were wrong. People care, and they care passionately. In fact, some people cared so passionately during my pregnancy, that they made me downright angry and just a wee bit stabby. Want to make a pregnant woman cry and see just how long a Cancer can hold a grudge? Tell her you wouldn’t bother to decorate her baby shower because she wouldn’t share her baby’s gender. Want to see just how far an envelope opener can be thrust into someone’s heart (at least in my mind)? Then try your chances in the office by harassing a pregnant and hormonal me every single day about her baby’s gender and interpreting every single box that is delivered as a “sign.”

I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. Why does it bother someone so much that the parents either choose not to find out their baby’s gender or to not reveal it until the baby is born? Why? Why?? WHY??? Because, you know what? It’s noneya damn business. It’s not. And people’s stinky attitudes toward me when I was pregnant and keeping my Pop Culture Fetus’s gender identity a surprise (a surprise I thought would be nice, mind you) have increased my resolve to never reveal my child’s gender no matter how many children I have. I refuse to play people’s stupid little games – particularly when it truly does not, or at least should not, concern them.

I had a couple of reasons for not wanting to share the gender of Pop Culture Toddler. The first reason is that Pop Culture Dad and I had originally planned to not find out at all, and we wanted to half-honor that spirit. Before my 20-week ultrasound, we had already picked out both a boy and a girl name and painted the nursery. Three of the nursery walls were blue and yellow. The fourth wall was painted like a quilt wall – blue, yellow, green and pink. It’s the fourth color that gave people pause. Even though I hadn’t found out my child’s gender yet, I have heard several times (and still hear to this day) that we “let” pink be the fourth color because I knew I was having a girl. I didn’t. And I don’t care. I’m perfectly fine with my son having 5% of his bedroom pink. And there really wasn’t anything revealing in the choice of paint color – it simply matched the Care Bear border I had bought in my 9th week of pregnancy when I decided to design a nursery around a Grumpy Bear I had purchased on eBay five years prior. But I digress…

Pop Culture Dad and I decided on the morning of the ultrasound – on the way to the ultrasound – that we would find out the baby’s gender, but we decided to keep it a surprise. Pop Culture Dad decided he would make his life easier by simply telling people that we didn’t find out. I (as always) was feeling a little more brazen, so I decided I would have no problem telling people that we just weren’t going to reveal the gender.

Another reason for not revealing the gender was purely personal to me. I have a very large family, so I have been to a lot of baby showers. One thing that always irked me was the color conformity of the gifts. If it was a shower for a boy, everything was blue; if for a girl, then everything was pink. It was almost as if each guest went to Target and thought, “Oh! I’m sure no one else thought to get blue onesies! I must make sure I get a dozen!”. These all-blue and all-pink baby showers bothered me; but they weren’t my showers, so I put it out of my mind. I always tried to do my part, however, by mixing up my gifts a little. I always stick to the registry, because I refuse to presume that my preference overrides someone else’s well-thought out plans and specific requests (I’m considerate that way). But if there’s no registry, I try to get a mix of things. Yes, I will buy your little boy blue, but I will also buy green, orange, brown, whatever.

Even though I was [until I had a daughter and was forced to go shopping for her] a huge fan of pink, I hated pink until I was 21. I blame Hello Kitty for the transformation.  Back then, it was hard to find anything Hello Kitty that wasn’t pink. Slowly the two concepts melded in my mind, and… well… ask my husband how he feels about the pink rice cooker, toaster maker, sandwich press, griddle and gameroom…. However, I never intended for my pink fanaticism and Hello Kitty obsession to dictate everything I bought for my child, even if it was a girl. I knew that if I had a girl, I would find myself stuck with everything pink and frilly [for the record, I still do and always will hate frilly]; just like I knew if I had a boy, I would find myself stuck with everything blue and baseball-related.  How did I “know” this? Because the same people who bugged me constantly about my baby’s gender said the reason they “had” to know was so they knew whether to buy pink or blue and Hello Kitty or football – exactly the result I wanted to avoid. So, yes, boy or girl, no one was going to know my child’s gender ahead of time.

[Oh, and for what it’s worth, Pop Culture Toddler does not look good in pink unless it’s a very dark, fuchsia-type color (not the kind you get at baby showers). You know what else doesn’t go with pink? Eczema — of which PCT has plenty! PCT does, however, look fabulous in green, purple, and black – not that anyone forcing their pink preferences down my throat would have been thoughtful enough to consider that.]

At the root of all this is the fact that people are selfish and sometimes downright rude and pushy. If I could trust people to know my baby’s gender and then respect my wishes by not buying pink or blue, then maybe I wouldn’t mind revealing the gender so much (assuming I find out). But the fact is people don’t. Even knowing how I feel very strongly about this, I had people shoving their preferences down my throat when I was pregnant with PCT [didn’t they ever learn not to cross a hormonal pregnant woman???]. I feel the same way about this I do about our choices of names – if you didn’t put this baby in me and you’re not carrying it, you don’t get a vote, and I could care less about your preferences.

The thing is, if people feel so strongly that newborn girls should be swaddled in all pink and newborn boys in all blue, the solution is simple: have your own baby. If you already have your own baby, then you’ve already had the chance to put your opinion to work.  But for those of us who decide to keep our babies’ genders a surprise – whether a surprise from us or only a surprise to everyone else – don’t rain on our parades. We’ve made our decision, and this like most other parenting decisions, is very subjective and not up to a community vote. Deal with it. Because, really, it’s noneya damn business.