Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blah Blah Blah Pregnancy Blah Conversation Hearts

I really need to get over this whole Not Wanting to Blah Blah Blah About the Pregnancy on This Blog thing. Because you know what? When you're pregnant, the only thing you can think about is the pregnancy. Even if you try not to. Even if you're hell-bent on not being That Woman. Because the second your mind rests (if it rests), the baby kicks you. Or rolls onto a nerve and gives you sciatica. Or you drop something onto the floor and you spend 10 minutes staring at it, hoping it will levitate because you can no longer bend over to pick it up. Or you get an e-mail reminding you that your fetus is the size of a rutabaga or, oh yeah, now's the time to find a pediatrician, and then you completely freak out because Oh my god, how did I get to the point in my life when I have to find a pediatrician?!? Because I haven't wanted to be That Woman Who Only Talks About the Baby, just like how I didn't want to be That Woman Who Only Talks About Her Wedding, I haven't been writing, and I don't want to do that either. So I'm just going to get it out of the way.

This whole experience is just weird.

About eight weeks ago or so, Josh and I were lying in bed. I looked up and asked him:

"How do you think I'll handle labor? Be honest."

He paused, his face desperately trying to go blank.

"Be honest."

He sucked in a breath. "Honestly? I see you wigging."


"You told me to be honest!"

"OK, OK. Wigging."

"You know, you're not always very good with stress. I really think you should get the epidural."

"Well, how do you think you're going to be when I'm in labor?"

"I'll be supportive and I'll be there for you."


So I vowed at that moment that I would show him. I would labor in a calm, stoic way, utilizing all my strength and womanly power, using my body in the way only a woman can (or, women and the Pregnant Man can) to bring my child into the world.

And then a week later, I found out that (TMI alert!) the placenta was covering the top of my cervix, thereby leaving no way for the baby to get out, and not only would I need a c-section, I wouldn't even be allowed to go into labor at all because contractions would cause excessive bleeding.

And there I'd been, thinking I had any control over any of this science project. Silly, naive little girl.

I was distraught. I really wanted to know what labor felt like, even if I did end up taking the epidural. And complications from the condition, called placenta previa, range from mild bleeding to hemorrhaging, which can lead to bed rest and early delivery. I was told I couldn't lift anything heavy, stress my body in any way with too much physical or emotional activity, or have sex.

"It sucks," my doctor told me. "I know, it sucks."

"You're not kidding," said my vagina.

And then five weeks after the diagnosis — after I'd accepted what was happening in my innards and that, hey, scheduling a c-section is pretty convenient because I'll know when my last day of work will be and I can get my nails done and have dinner with my husband and then walk into the hospital where they'll remove my baby and boom! I'll become a mother — I went in for another ultrasound, and it looks like the placenta moved away from the cervix and I'm no longer at-risk and can have a natural delivery. This is actually rather common, the placenta does move in most cases, but my doctor didn't think mine would and I was told pretty much not to hold my breath. So I was shocked and thrilled. But, of course, after a moment of, "Yay! I can go into labor!" I have since felt, "Oh, shit, I have to go into labor."

I am terrified.

Josh and I took a childbirthing class. It was great, but oh my gosh, I am freaking out. Wigging, as my dear husband would say. My dear husband who was right. I'm wigging.

It's all part and parcel of all the things that have been occupying my time for the past three months. See, when you find out you're gestating, you don't do anything. You can't believe it's happening, you can't feel anything, you don't look different, you just sort get really annoyed that the apple you just ate made you puke on the subway platform (I don't want to talk about it). And then, all of a sudden, it's your third trimester and you panic because you have no idea how to shop for a crib and you swear you're so unprepared that your newborn is going to end up sleeping in the sink.

So you research.

And research.

And research.

Because you have no idea what you're doing. And you want to make sure that whatever you're doing, you're doing it right, because you think that doing it wrong could be the difference between a beautiful bonding experience and a Consumer Product Safety Commission recall.

You just go mental. But now we're through with the "stuff" stuff. We've done the class and put ourselves on day-care wait lists and registered for all the doodads and picked out Comfy's stroller. All we have left to do, really, is wait — wait for the furniture to arrive, wait for the baby to arrive, and hope we calm down in the process. Of course, while all of this has been happening, we've had contractors in the apartment painting the joint, replacing the bathroom ceiling, hanging fans and a patched-up kitchen cabinet door, regrouting the tub, blah blah blah. The apartment is completely torn apart and everything is coated in dust, but man, is this cathartic. The paint is fabulous! We're reorganizing everything! For years, I've been visualizing all porn-like the revamping of this place, and man, I am sa. tis. fied. Although I did have a moment last week when Josh and I went to sleep in our freshly painted blue bedroom and I looked at the walls, all dreamy and undersea, and said, "In eight weeks, a baby is going to be in here. What are we going to do with this baby?"

My problem is is that I've had too much time to think about all of this. Ultimately, there's no way to know how things will go. There's no way to know what we'll really need. There's no way to know who this baby is going to be and how we'll all relate to each other. And painting the bedroom walls blue isn't going to make for a well-adjusted child, and spending a month researching organic mattresses won't make my baby sleep through the night any sooner. We just have to go with it. So I've just been sitting back and feeling the kicks and the hiccups and watching my sweaters thump back and forth with the motions of my occupant. In the past couple days, Comfy has taken up residence in my ribs, which is not the most comfortable feeling but it's kind of amazing to think, "That thing that's preventing me from hunching over? That's a foot." When I tried to move Comfy the other day, I felt a body part for the first time — an elbow or a knee — and it was so little, and for the first time, I really felt excited more than scared or overwhelmed. Also, since you have to do everything they do in movies because movies are always an accurate portrayal of major life changes, I put some headphones on my belly and let my iPod shuffle do some magic. The result? The kid loves the Supremes. Which makes sense, being half-Detroit and all. Makin' mama proud.

(That said, I have not recharged my iPod in three weeks because I only remember to do it at work, and the electrical outlet for my charger is under my desk, and I can no longer bend over to reach it.)

The one thing that has totally, completely, knock-me-over-with-a-boulder shocked me is that I'm now eight months pregnant and I haven't gained a single pound. Not one. I only bought my first maternity clothes last week. I've been heavy my entire life and I was certain I would be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by the fourth month. I have had no food cravings, I get full in two seconds, and so as I've been losing weight, Comfy is gaining nicely and I'm just evening out. My body is literally converting into baby. It's not that I'm not eating; it's just different. My body is making all these decisions for me. And this is without extra exercise because I'd stopped doing everything when I was diagnosed with previa; Josh would barely even let me lift my toothbrush. And now I'm just too tired to move. But who the hell gets pregnant and it ends up being the best weight-loss plan they ever knew? So weird. My body long ago ceased to be my own, but this is ridiculous.

(That said, the cleaning lady at work on Monday night asked me how I was feeling, then told me that she couldn't tell from the front I was pregnant, "but I could tell from the back. You have nice, big baby!" I'm sure in some Eastern Bloc countries this is a compliment, and I'm going to choose to take it that way. Even though right now, Comfy's weight is at the 52nd percentile. I have a perfectly average-sized little chicken in there.)

In other news (what? there's other news?), I ate a box of Conversation Hearts the other day that were all misstamped, with whatever legible letters there were hanging onto the bottoms and along the sides of the candy. One said UL TE and another said PPY VE. Such mixed messages, in a box of what is meant to be a sure-thing expression of affection, were so unsettling. Love, you offer no clarity. CK FF.

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