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Six Months!

17 Jul

I have been a mother for six months now. I have no idea where all that time has gone. I can hardly remember the birth (I am so glad that I wrote everything down!) and the newborn stage is quickly becoming a distant memory.

My daughter can laugh and has a great sense of humor already (I’m wicked funny!). She is very physical; she is always trying to stand, she can roll from tummy to back, and her legs never ever stop moving. She’s still sweet as anything, but has her moments.

This has been an amazing and rewarding experience thus far. As much of a cliche as this is, my life has more purpose. I’ve let go of most of my selfishness which was something that I had tried to work on previously, but becoming a parent has really accelerated that process. I still struggle with trying to be the parent I want to be. I have been yelling a lot; I yell if I stub my toe, I yell at inanimate objects, and especially at the cat. I don’t usually yell at the baby, but I have twice. Both times it broke my heart, and what’s worse, it seemed to break hers. I don’t want to be like my mother. She only ever sat on the couch and yelled. She still does that and I don’t spend much time with her and that is not what I want for my daughter. Fortunately, my daughter still likes to be around me, and still lights up when I walk into the room. I’m working on it, and slowing improving- this week, I’ve only yelled in traffic… stupid Boston drivers!

I also struggle with loneliness. That is a side effect of becoming a mother that no one tells you about. I am a stay at home mom so I’ll never have the relief from the loneliness that a working mom can experience. I have a moms’ group that I attend, but I haven’t really made too many friends there. I fall into the crunchier side of parenting with the cloth diapers and the baby wearing and making my own baby food (please ignore the store bought jars that I’m currently feeding my daughter with since all the produce in my house has rotted WITHIN THE HOUR of being in my home). I fear that the crunchiness makes me a little more unapproachable. But if I attend an attachment parenting group, I’m still an outsider since I disagree with a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting (It’s not child abuse to let your child CIO or give them vaccines, STFU!).

I do have a couple of friends, and my sister has been helpful, but she’s just far enough away that I don’t see her that often. I have a friend with kids, but she’s unable to remember this stage. I have one other friend who is a nanny, and she understands childrearing, but not the 24/7-always-on-the-clock aspect of parenthood. My husband has been responsible for a huge project since his paternity leave ended, and his commute to the North End is over an hour, so he’s not able to be home. So I do remain isolated in a way.

Parenting is a mixed bag. The good definitely outweighs the bad. The bad parts are only temporary: sleepless nights (already gone for the most part), teething, not having time to myself, and (hopefully) the loneliness. The good parts make my heart brim over: her smiles and giggles at my silly antics, our trips out even if it’s just to the grocery store, reading stories, dancing and singing, witnessing her milestones, and watching her grow. My life is more challenging, but it is also better because my daughter is part of it.

Birth Story!

23 Apr

I wrote this the week Claire was born, but it’s been a crazy 3 months and I just hadn’t gotten around to posting it here. 

 

For a couple of weeks leading up to Claire’s birth, I had banked on her being very early.  My mother’s were all early and we are very small people, so there wasn’t a lot of room for the baby to keep growing. It very much felt like my body was breaking down, and as an active individual, it was becoming more and more demoralizing as the weeks passed and I could do less and less. 

 

Jan 13th I went in for my 39th week appointment, knowing my midwife, Tali, was going to stretch my membranes.  As of 3:15 that afternoon, I was only 2.5cm dilated and 20% effaced, not as progressed as I had hoped for, even though she was pleased (but she was always excited about everything). We made another appointment for Thursday to do another sweep, and I figured I had another whole week of false labor to look forward to.

 

I went home a little deflated, but hopeful with the two sweeps in the week.  Baby was due Friday, so I was starting to really weigh the pros and cons of Cytotec vs. Cervidil; something that I didn’t want to have to worry about and it was giving me all the anxiety.

 

A few minutes to 11pm, I awoke from actual sleep (getting a good hour in) and realized I really had to have a bowel movement.  Now, the combination of being a short woman with a belly the size of a cow’s and a bed height that was just plain silly (I needed a step stool to get into bed), the way I would exit the bed was to swing my leg up to my side and slam it  back down to the floor so I could use the momentum to get out of bed without waking up my husband (hoorah for memory foam!) This time however, I felt a gush of water.  My husband woke up from a very deep sleep to the sounds of “Uggghh!”  His “what’s going on?” was greeted with a “uuuggghhhh my water broke” which made him jump from bed and swear at an alarming speed.  Ever the optimist, I told him to not panic since it was more likely that I had finally unlocked the pregnancy achievement of pissing myself.  I went to the bathroom, peed, got up, but still had a trickle. 

 

I decided to call the midwife as I was GBS+, even though I wasn’t sure if it was pee or amniotic fluid.  10 minutes after the first gush, I got the on-call midwife, Hanna, on the phone and since I was not in active labor yet, she wanted to talk about how we might wish to induce, remind me of the options so that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed when I arrived. We decided to bring the hospital bags since induction was now a real possibility.  She said we could take our time, so we collected our things leisurely, made sure the rabbits and cat had food for a day and fresh water. 

 

In this time I had two REAL contractions.  It had only been 15 minutes since my water had broken.  I sat down for a second to get my boots on and had another HUGE gush of water.  I no longer doubted that it was my waters, and suddenly my mood was chipper and excited, though cautious, since it could have been another 24 hours.

 

In the car, we realized those contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but they were very short (one was 30 seconds and one only about 10).  Then I had another one that lasted a whole minute, but since they were all over the place, active labor was not on our minds. 

 

We checked into triage in the last few moments of the 13th, late enough that my bracelet said one date, but my admission papers and the baby’s HIPPA form were dated the 14th.  I was taken to the antenatal room.  I was able to walk and talk through contractions. I got my saline lock in, chatted with a wonderful nurse who gave me a pep talk on breathing through (her advice made much more sense than the type of advice I had received from the class I took, but I don’t recall exactly what she said; all I know is it didn’t involve breathing to my feet or waves).  I was hooked up to the monitor, and my contractions were 2 minutes apart, but they weren’t terrible. I couldn’t talk, but breathing really helped. We we waiting on Hanna, but she’s was attending another birth, and it was going to take an hour for the penicillin dose to get into my system.  

 

I think around 12:20, the nurse was ready to hook me into the drip, but I had to confess, I still really really needed that bowel movement.  So she gave me some privacy and my husband came in with me so he could hold up the wires for the fetal monitor that I was still attached to.  He said I was different; no longer chipper, and very much drawn in on myself.  I just wanted to shit, but the contractions were delaying things.  After five minutes, I was successful and embarrassed, so I kicked him out, and I could hear that Hanna has arrived in the antenatal room.  She was talking about how I would probably be sent home after the drip and my husband told her about my change in behavior. I realized from what he was saying that he thought I was in transition. I was still doubtful and all I could concentrate on was how the hell would I pull up my pants. 

 

I called him back in so he could help me get back into the johnny, and I walked out to greet Hanna; only I couldn’t talk during the contraction AT ALL.  When it ended, I suddenly HAD to be on the bed. But when I got on the bed, it was the worst thing ever.  I breathed and waited.  My husband looked at my face, as I relaxed and he said, “that’s your ‘I’m going to puke face.'” I informed him that it was because I *was* going to puke.  Two emesis basins and a pitcher later (about 20 seconds), Hanna decided that a cervical check was necessary.  I held my husband’s hand and glanced at his watch.  It was 12:30am as Hanna declared that I was 8cm.

 

She ran out of the room and a nurse named Donna hooked me into the penicillin and I was immediately wheeled to a tub delivery room.  Outside of the room, I asked my husband about the birth ball (we brought our own since I’m so short, that the hospital provided ones would be dangerously tall). I said in passing that I was worried he’d miss the birth.  Hanna laughed and said, he probably wouldn’t.  When he was gone, my contractions suddenly intensified and I become very insecure about his leaving.  I couldn’t focus on the four names of the nurses surrounding me.  Without my husband, I needed a moment to get off the stretcher, which was a horrible experience.  I leaned over the cool delivery room bed, which is also very painful.  Hanna was across from me, trying to make eye contact.  Internally, I thanked her for trying to be so nice and positive and empowering, but I could not make eye contact, I just COULDN’T. At this point, I was two very different people.  I was still there, but there is something else taking over.  

 

I got on the bed finally, mildly aware of the bustle around me.  Hanna took over the room (this was wonderful as she is a young midwife, new to the hospital and the practice, so I wasn’t sure how this would all go). 

 

Someone said it was about 1:25 and I got a cervical check, and Hanna shouted, “she’s complete!”  I asked her to fill the tub and no sooner did she leave my side then I suddenly *screamed* “I’m pushing!!” The nurses told me not to, which I ignored them because that just wasn’t possible.  They asked me when I finished if I *had* to push.  I called for Hanna to stop the tub since I knew it was too late.  I had to take a step back though, so I could answer the nurse’s question as I push again “I have to puuuushhhh!”

 

I needed my husband more than I needed anything, and I was pleased to discover that he was there, offering to hold my leg since Hanna wanted me on my side instead of my back. I understood why, as being on your back is a terrible position for birth, and on my side, my pelvis would open properly, but it was too painful.  I needed a new position, and I needed it fast.  Fortunately, I had my husband’s touch, and this other me.  I said I didn’t know how to use my body, but the other me was able to get my body to the hands and knees position just in time for another push that forced a scream for the entire ward to hear. 

 

At this point, I was so internally focused, but language was able to break my barrier. I screamed again, but the nurses told me not to scream, but to redirect the energy down.  This kind of comment would make the normal me roll my eyes, but I did it.  They would instruct me to “sit into it,” and I did it.  My husband would tell me I was doing amazingly well, and I believed him when my normal self would have had doubts.  They weren’t lying when they said things like “that’s it, like that!” I had always thought comments like that were just empty encouragement, but these comments only came when I lowered my energy.  Contractions seemed to start higher in my body than they should be, so all the redirection down would be met with a chorus of “Yes! Like that!”

 

I very briefly hesitated when I felt the ring of fire. One of the nurses said to me “if you push through it, the pain will end.” I latched onto that and pushed through. When I got more encouragement from my husband, I was able to actually connect to him briefly, I told him I loved him and nuzzled him for a second before being taken over again to push through the ring of fire.  That was the only contact I had to another human during the labor.

 

They told me to feel the head, and I thought she would have the worst cone head when I touched her, but I didn’t really understand what I was feeling, and I didn’t have time to contemplate it as some yelled, “that’s a face!”  My husband was suddenly gone from my side, and I felt this huge POP that I knew was her shoulder.  Though the contraction that got the shoulder out ended, I continued to bear down to finish the job.  I heard a single cry and the other person inside informed me that, “that’s your baby’s cry.”  I no longer understood what the staff was saying, but I was able to follow their directions so as to not get tangled in the cord as my husband handed her to me through my legs. 

 

I was in shock.  I was coming back into myself a little as I stared at her, and received confirmation from the look on my husband’s totally transformed face that this was in fact reality.  The whole thing had been so fast that it was very surreal. It was 1:54am on January 14th after only 29 minutes of pushing.  Not only did my husband catch the baby but he also cut the cord in one go when it stopped pulsing a few minutes later.

 

They had started pitocin before I had finished pushing as the risk for hemorrhaging was very high with a precipitous birth and we were on watch since I still hadn’t finished the penicillin dose which needed four hours to be effective, never mind that I hadn’t received the full amount from the IV yet.  They needed to fix a second degree tear, and with that risk of hemorrhaging, Hanna needed it out fast and sought my permission to reach in and manually remove it. That was the most uncomfortable part of the birth, as I was myself again.  I knew I was totally myself when I asked to *see* the placenta.

 

I couldn’t get over the joy on my husband’s face as he stared at his daughter.  He looked so much younger, and so transformed. 35 minutes after birth, Claire had latched on, and I couldn’t believe how perfect she was.  She received an Apgar score of 8 then 9, she was 7lbs. 5oz and 20in long.

 

At the end of Claire’s birth, Hanna had to return to the birth she was originally attending when I walked into the hospital.  I still can’t quite get over how fast it was, it took a long time for it to sink in that I had done this thing and that we were now parents. We didn’t have the time to do coping mechanisms, to take in the reality of the situation, and to mentally prepare for the active part of the labor. It wasn’t until about 24 hours had passed and we were having difficulties with feeding that I was more grounded about the whole thing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pregnancy Bed

15 Nov

I had a friend over yesterday to help me with laundry as I can’t reach the bottom of the top loading tub, being short and (as everyone LOVES saying) very pregnant.  She brought the laundry into my bedroom and started laughing.  What was so funny? The amount of pillows on the bed.  I have a few names for it, Pregnancy Bed being the first and as the configuration changes we have the Advancing the Phase Bed and then the Kiddy Bowling Alley.

 

The Pregnancy Bed is just the made bed, but it fits that ridiculous stereotype of pregnant ladies needing ALL THE PILLOWS.  We have two back rest pillows, two feather pillows, two regular pillows, two contour pillows, and two body pillows.  They are all piled up at the head, but for the body pillows that are in the center.  It is silly, and here’s a picture with a cat for ratio reference:Image

What you don’t see in the picture is the Boppy Cuddle Pillow (which is the most useless piece of crap ever, but it was a hand-me-down, so at least I didn’t pay for it!), and about three more pillows that used to live in the now extinct guest bedroom. These just live on the storage ottoman, which can’t hold more than one freaking pillow at a time.  TPB is stage one, and it’s not really used, it just keeps the pillows off the floor just in case it’s vacuuming day (except randomly in this picture where there is one on the floor…).

 

It’s pretty well known that insomnia is a common pregnancy symptom.  However, I have been an insomniac for several years prior to pregnancy.  This is what turned my husband and I onto a routine that he calls Advancing the Phase (I don’t think this is an original concept, I think he read about it somewhere).  The idea is that you have a routine that slowly winds you down for the night, it includes ending screen time well before it’s time to sleep, dimming the lights, and doing an activity that is relaxing.  In our case, we read.  I had to do a few more extreme things a couple of years ago, including quitting a job that was extremely stressful (if anyone tells you being an nanny is easy, they are a fucking dickweed). So, our AtP bed removes one pillow (my husband likes to keep the feather pillow, I like the synthetic pillow).  The remaining pillow becomes a head rest on top of the back rest pillow, the foam contour pillows are inverted on our laps and make the BEST lap desks, and the body pillows remain put or not.

 

Once the white noise machine has been on a while, and the reading has sufficiently made our eyes heavy, we remove the back rest and contour pillows.  The body pillows then are placed in what I like to call the Kiddy Bowling Alley. You know when you take very little kids bowling, they put up the bumpers on the sides so kids don’t get a million gutter balls?  This is what the final stage of our bed looks like.  The goal is to keep me from sleeping on my back.  Since my uterus and baby now have significant weight to them, if I lie on my back, the vena cava is squished and that leads to pins and needles EVERYWHERE.   The only major problem with this set up, is that rolling over requires waking up 100% in order to turn over and be inside the bowling lane again, and put all the blankets back over me since my bump inevitably moved them to one side.  But at this point, I probably need to pee anyway, then I need to replenish those lost fluids (you renew amniotic fluid about every 3 hours), and maybe grab a bowl of cereal because HUNGER!  There are times that there is only one body pillow in play.  Rolling over is much easier without the second pillow, though it still requires blanket rearrangement and no-I’m-not-really-awake cat-flailing.  Also, without that second pillow, my hips are bound to start aching after only 20 minutes on one side instead of every hour. 

 

It should also be known that my husband was the original owner of the first body pillow, I called it the Keep-Jess-Away pillow, but it really functioned as a support pillow for my husband’s side sleeping. On some level, we had a pregnancy-like bed well before we conceived, only it wasn’t mine!  We do have ongoing banter about pillow theft, and that’s not taking into account the endless tug-o-war with the blankets now that there’s so much more stuff under them.  Our bed and sleeping habits are not going to be fit for bed sharing… at least that’s one parenting decision down off the bat!

Second Trimester Victories

27 Sep

At twenty weeks pregnant I feel wonderful.  The second trimester is a brilliant time; I have energy again, I can keep food down, and have a cute bump.

 

At twenty-two weeks we go on a baby moon and romp around NYC.  Much like our last urban vacation in Montreal, we walk off all the amazing food we eat.  But this time it isn’t without pain.  All my leg joints, especially my hips, and my back continuously reminded me of my condition.  I couldn’t go go go like I was used to.  There are a lot of breaks and we become pretty proficient at finding public toilets. 

 

At twenty-three weeks, baby is moving around like a fiend, and I am even further reminded that there will be an infant in the near future. I walk into what will be the future nursery and feel immense panic. I have a month before the very draining third trimester begins, and this room needs love ASAP.  It was our guest bedroom, complete with a full sized bed which takes up about 80% of the room.  My dresser lives here as both the bedrooms in this house built in 1920 don’t fit much more than a single dresser and a bed, therefore it’s going to have to remain in this room.  These preexisting items are competing with all the baby stuff that has just been rudely thrown in here waiting to be assembled or rehomed to other rooms in the house. The room is so crammed that I have to walk over a very crowded bed to get to the other side.  There is a baby dresser on that side that I continue to shove things into, only I don’t have access to the bottom drawers since the infant bathtub, Pack n’ Play parts, and a breast pump are just dumped right in front.  I can’t move them anywhere else, as every inch of this room is occupied. 

 

I move into full battle mode.  I call my aunt to take back her crib… I hadn’t realized it was a drop side crib until after she had dropped it off and left.  One thing down.  A six year old’s birthday party interrupts for a brief period of time.  Combining forces with my husband, we assemble a new, more compact Rabbit Manson that does a better job of contained projectile rabbit poo; another area of anxiety-inducing stress taken care of, though it’s in the dining room.

 

The next day, I clear off the guest bed so my husband can disassemble it.  He declares the weekend productive.  He hasn’t not realized my battle mode will not be shut down so easily.  I clear out the room so I can lay down rugs.  They are beautiful, and give me plenty of working room to just open the flat packages containing the furniture and check to see if all the parts are intact.  I read the directions.  Then I re-read them.  Then I convince myself that I need to be done;  it’s not fair to my husband when I try to build things and it ends in me swearing and him having to finish the project.  I decide to watch a movie which is shut off after 10 minutes as I go back to re-re-read the directions.  Stupid battle mode.  I can do this.  I retrieve the screwdriver from upstairs, swearing to my husband that I won’t make him do anything more this weekend, and thank him for all the things he has already done.   

 

I successfully build the crib.  My husband checks on me once, and agrees that he should tighten all the bolts.  This is the end of his aid.  I feel accomplished and happy.  Then I eye the bookshelf.  No, I really shouldn’t.  But I do anyways.  I look in the closet.  I purge baby stuff that is missing pieces and stuffed toys that are covered in who-knows-what-but-was-given-to-us-for-free. I fit things in the closet now that aren’t needed for a while.  I set up the bassinet.  My back kills.  I think I’m funny and give my husband a serious frown and tell him to look at what I did.  Fearing the worst, but suspecting the troll, he is pleased at the progress. 

Image

 

I have no more anxiety for the moment. I will be able to enjoy my last few weeks of the second trimester. 

 

P.S. The room was cobalt blue when it was a guest bedroom.  It is not indicative of gender. 

How Pregnancy is Like Being Fourteen Again

9 Aug

This journey is one that completely takes over everything: your house, your body and your mind.

 

Being pregnant is bring back flashes of my life as a teenager.

Puberty1

 

My body is changing.  A lot.  At least I get a new wardrobe out of it!

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating… my boobs have grown.  A lot.  And they weren’t exactly small before.

I have acne.  Nothing I can do to stop it, as most treatments are not considered pregnancy safe.  Also, since my makeup is contributing to it, I rock my pimples like badges of… errr… pregnancy.

I’m moody.  And I mean weeping spells over the littlest thing, like that puppy video that I saw on Reddit last month that finally went viral on Facebook. Additionally, there’s rage.  Holy crap the rage!  I refuse to drive an hour before or after rush hour and orange cones make me see red… but since I live in Boston, I can’t go a quarter mile without seeing some (not an exaggeration, btw, for those outside the city).  At least this time around people expect the moodiness and I get a pass (sometimes) unlike how teenagers are just screamed at constantly.

 

Unlike puberty, I’m finding the unique nature of pregnancy symptoms to be pretty funny.

Pregnancy brain has started.  I’ve driven past my house, walking into the kitchen to turn off a loud timer and forgot why I was in the kitchen (the timer was still going off to boot), went out for a certain item at the store and came back with everything but.  By the time I get a pen out to write down what I shouldn’t forget, it’s already gone.   Maybe I’ll remember this in my old age… or not.

Also my “nesting” has manifested itself in diapers.   I cannot stop buying diapers.  I have a nearly full stash of fluff, I just need 12 prefolds in each size to never have to buy another thing again.  It’s the covers though, they are so cute, and I need more.  I don’t, but I really really do.  I figure I’m going to get a ton of guff (already gotten some) on the whole cloth issue, so I’m really the only one who’s going to buy them.  I won’t get any as gifts, so I might as well keep buying them, right? Right?

blueberry-simplex-diaper-giraffes-for-slider

 

Isn’t it cute?

Pregnancy is Beautiful

2 Jul

Now that I’m leaving the first trimester, I can say that the symptoms can be hilarious. I fall asleep in all kinds of crazy places, including standing up; I can puke in public with good reason (and after explaining why get a congratulations out of it); and I can out fart anyone… seriously… and no, I can’t help it.

Even in the first trimester your body gets crazy.  My boobs are two sizes bigger than they used to be (they would be waaay more fun if they weren’t sore 24/7, but I digress).  Today I was on the phone, and eating a chocolate chunk cookie while driving around doing errands. I would like to note it’s a chocolate “chunk” cookie, not a chocolate “chip” cookie.  This distinction becomes important later.  I run into The Christmas Tree shop since clearance for all patio stuff makes it even more affordable.  I check out with all my purchases, and glance down.  There are two identical chocolate dots on my breasts.  Anyone who might have looked at my gigantic rack would have realized that no, those are not freckles, nor are they moles.  I get to the car and clean myself up before heading to the next location.  I hit two more stores, the second being Target.  I needed to get myself a maternity bathing suit, and other fun things since at 11 weeks, I can’t close my pants anymore.  I get into the changing room and remove my bra only to realize that small bit of chocolate was a HUGE CHUNK OF CHOCOLATE.  It was smeared everywhere and quite thoroughly squished into the material of my bra.  The only thing I had to clean up with was a receipt  which I needed to keep to make a return, but in my panic, it was ruined cleaning my choco-boobs.  

I wonder if they make bibs for expectant moms?

The Beginning

18 Jun

That lovely OB/GYN was more than just a nice lady who scolded me.  She was also a nice lady who took my infertility concerns seriously.  She didn’t tell me that I needed to wait for a ridiculous amount of time to START tests to see what was going on in the conception field.  She told me to schedule a hysterosalpingogram as soon as I got my period.  This is a test where they put dye inside and give you an ultrasound to see what’s going on inside the uterine cavity.   This test is done the third day of the period.  So I went home to wait. 

And wait.  I hit day 34 of my cycle (my longest cycle since coming off BC so far had been 33 days).  But I felt WONDERFUL.  I wasn’t sick, no headache, no fatigue.  If anything I felt happy.  I chalked it up to the working out everyday and how focused I was on my section one test in martial arts. But I also thought that since I still had 15 pregnancy test strips I would take one… even though it was noon and I wasn’t using morning urine.

I tested, laid the strip flat, then went to change over the laundry in the basement.  I returned and lo and behold! TWO lines on my HCG test.  I texted my friend, ran to the grocery store at her recommendation, BUT I had class in 15 minutes.  I would have to wait.

What a sight I must have been to the Head Instructor!  My face was red, my hair a mess, and I must have had a stupid shit eating grin on my face.  I can’t remember class very well, but as soon as I was dressed, I booked it out of there, girlfriend on the line, giving her a blow by blow account of unlocking the front door, running up the stairs, and rushing for the bathroom.

I had the tests with two-lines-means-pregnant type and the “pregnant” or “not pregnant” digital type. I did not have to wait the full five minutes for those tests to read exactly what we hoped.  My friend was screaming, I was screaming and crying. Finally!

Later that night, I handed the Hubs the digital test.  “What is this… really!? No, wait… I’m not going to get too excited in case it’s a chemical pregnancy.”  Then he scoops me up and hugs me.  “This is great.  It means we are fertile.”

And he’s right.  If this pregnancy doesn’t stick, it still means that we are capable.  We won’t have to go through a bunch of tests to find out what’s wrong because there is nothing wrong. 

We are 9 weeks 4 days.  The family knows a little earlier than we intended, but everyone seems pretty happy about it. I went in for my first prenatal appointment last week and my OB/GYN greeted me with a huge grin and said “Looks like we just needed to threaten tests to get it done.”