Saturday, March 7, 2015

Part II: Pregnancy........................................................................................................................

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to share that I look like this right now:
I did my make-up like this because this is what my character looked like last week in D.C. when I was playing Skyrim while I pumped. I wanted my brother-in-law, who owned the x-box I played Skyrim on to think I was cool. I just bought a copy of Skyrim for PC. Skyrim! 
Jelly has been napping while I've been made up, so she hasn't seen me. But I am excited. I'm kind of hoping she's scared of me. Is that weird?

Anyway, back to the regularly-scheduled installment:

I had spent a lot of energy trying to get pregnant. I had not put a lot of thought into what being pregnant would really be like. To me, pregnant ladies always looked like they were glowing. They had a beautiful little life inside of them. They were still able to work and exercise. They grocery-shopped and cleaned and were all the more hardcore for having a cute little baby bump. They felt "a little tired" sometimes and liked to eat a lot. They were so excited about their new addition. They nested and made a darling little nursery and then they got a lot of attention and went to the hospital and got an epidural so it didn't hurt and then they had a perfect little baby and it was perfect.

I might not have been totally well-informed. So here are some things I learned about me when I am pregnant:

1. Sometimes when people say, "how are you?" and a pregnant person says, "Oh, a little tired, and a little nauseous," what the pregnant person really means is, "I have not left my couch except to eat and go to the bathroom for the past two months." Also, I apparently need about 21 hours of sleep a day when I'm in my first trimester.

2. You can be nauseous all the time and at the same time have your life's sole interest be eating huge amounts of fried foods.

3. As I've discussed in my previous post, your bosoms might act up (that's really what we call them in my house). At times I felt like I had three pregnant bellies hanging off my front.

4. Skin seems stretchy--but it doesn't love to be stretched all the way to a full pregnancy. There was a time--around 7 months, when I thought my stretch marks couldn't get any worse. Then my belly got bigger and I got more stretch marks, going the other direction. My belly now looks like a psychotic tiger got to it.

5. Being pregnant is different than being fat. First of all, if you're fat, even your closest friends might not come out and talk about it. If you're pregnant, total strangers feel totally comfortable explaining to you in detail exactly how giant your giant, giant, giant, GIANT belly is. Even if you swear on your mother's soul that you have been receiving regular prenatal care and there's definitely only one baby in there, they will speculate about the twins, triplets or octuplets that are hiding in the corners of your uterus.
Once, when I was working at a law firm during my third trimester, a woman came up to me in the bathroom and said, "I have to say, you just look so miserable."
All I could think of to say was, "Thank you. I really, really am."

But the worst thing--the very worst difference between being fat and being pregnant is that fat is flexible. An engorged uterus is not. You might want to tie your shoes. You might want to pull the little lever down in the foot well on the driver's side of your car that opens your gas tank. You might want to lean over and grab your blanket from the other end of the couch because you switched sides today, just for a change. BUT YOU CAN'T. At first it's kind of funny because your belly is super round but really, really firm. After a while it's just pathetic.
By the end, the only exercise I was doing on a regular basis was tossing and turning in bed. Oh, and getting up to go to the bathroom. Every second. And it was all hard work.

6. Sometimes, your baby has a GIANT head and it lodges it's head down in your pelvis for weeks and weeks and weeks and the pressure on your pelvis becomes so intense that you basically lose your ability to walk except for this tiny little shuffle. You become that slow person that people get stuck behind on escalators and walk briskly past. You envy the ancient old men in their walkers who lap you when you walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes, you get stuck on your daily quarter-mile walk because all the sudden you're in excruciating pelvis pain, and your husband has to run four houses down to get your car out of your garage and drive back and pick you up because you just can't make it.

Sometimes, there's nothing left to do but write a poem to your baby, in the style of ee cummings:

[i carry your head with me(]
i carry your head with me(i carry it in
my pelvis)i am never without it(your body 
is also there, my dear;and whatever torment
felt by me is your doing,my darling)                                  
                                                      i fear
i'll break(for you are wedged in, my sweet)i want
to push(but my cervix isn't fully dilated, my true)
and it's you are the weight of the moon crushing me
and legs back stomach breasts pelvis sing the sting that is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(you are entrenched in my crotch and it feels like you'll 
fall out but you somehow never do; the agony just grows
beyond what normal walk or face can hide)
and I pray for the symphysis holding it all together

i carry your head(i carry it in my pelvis)

It totally looks like I just copied and pasted that from a website belonging to another intensely creative and beautiful person, but that's just because I copied and pasted it from my e-mail. It was written November 20th, 2014 and sent to my family. By the intensely creative and beautiful me. They sent back their own poems in response. Which was a total bummer--what I wanted was sympathy in the form of chocolate.

7. But the biggest surprise for me was that, sometimes, you're not excited about having a baby.
Pregnancy technology is a double-edged sword. My first pregnancy ultrasound was at 6 weeks. I had another at 8 weeks. Then like a million more. I was technically a high-risk pregnancy because of my PCOS. I couldn't deal with not knowing EVERYTHING about the baby. I had my first-check scan and everything looked good. At 20 weeks, despite all evidence to the contrary, (including an online Chinese gender-prediction test), we found out I was having a girl. But we also found out we had a 10-fold increase in the risk that little Jelly had Down Syndrome.
It was a hard couple of weeks. I met with the genetic counselor and found out there was an awesome test called Verifi. It's a blood test, so you don't risk losing the baby in an amniocentesis. I got it immediately. The good news is that it has like a 99% accurate true negative test. The bad news is that it's only true positive about 50% of the time. Interesting fact: your placenta can have some trisomy cells even if your fetus doesn't.
I HAD to take the test. I couldn't stand not knowing. We knew we'd keep Jelly either way, but I had to have all the information I could so I could be prepared. (In fact, because I wanted to have my cake and eat it, too, I asked my genetic counselor if I could get an amniocentesis at 38 weeks so if it triggered labor, I wouldn't lose the baby, but I would still know for sure in advance.)
The test was negative.

We had a couple other scares. Jelly had a LOT of amniotic fluid which could also point to some health issues. Jelly was also BIG, which could mean complications. In fact, she was measuring at 9lbs weeks before I was due. I was looking at maybe having to have a C-section to make sure she was okay.

What sucks about pregnancy is you really can never know that everything's okay. I had waited so long to be pregnant that I was obsessed with the idea that it would be taken away from me. First, I was so scared I was going to miscarry. I spotted all through my first trimester. Then I was so scared that she'd be born with a genetic disorder that would dramatically change her life's trajectory and I didn't know if I could handle it. Then, all the sudden one day, I had major pregnancy swelling. One leg was bigger than the other--indicating that I might have deep vein thrombosis. A few weeks later, I had itchy feet, which is the primary symptom of obstetric cholestasis. Obstetric Cholestasis is a liver problem that can cause toxins to build up and cause problems for baby--it can even result in stillbirth. It was a terrifying emotional roller coaster. One by one we'd rule out a problem, only to have another one pop up.

I wanted to be excited to have a baby. I wanted to love my pregnancy. I wanted to be the beautiful, glowing, healthy, active goddess that I had dreamed I would be. But instead I was a bloated, paranoid, tear-stained mess. I was positive something would go wrong and I would never get to hold my precious baby. I couldn't get excited about little baby dresses and shoes and painting the nursery because I couldn't stop picturing packing it all up when my pregnancy ultimately ended in disaster. Even if it did work out, if I was such a mess pregnant, how could I take care of another person?

I don't want to come across as ungrateful. My pregnancy was unpleasant, but it lasted. And I wouldn't trade the end result for anything in the world. Even on the hard days, I hold my baby and can't believe how lucky I am to have her. She was worth every aching step, every tear, every scare, every pinched toe, every stretch mark, every blood test, and every sip of that disgusting diabetes-test juice. From the minute I saw her--even when she was just a tiny pulsing heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, I loved her. And I always will.

But I will never, EVER love pregnancy.

1 comment:

Amit and Marinda Misra said...

I completely agree with you. Pregnancy Sucks. And you know me well enough to know how strong of a word that is for me to use. I was positive that this time around I was going to "do it right" and be super awesome with my prenatal yoga and eating all the awesome stuff Pintrest told me to and be that super hot pregnant lady you saw on the street - but then I got horrible sick again! All pregnancy! It wasn't until about a month ago that I came to the realization that pregnancy wasn't something you "failed or succeeded" at, it was simply the mechanics of getting people into the world. I felt better after that, less like I had failed again at "being good at being pregnant." But enough about that, you sounded like you had an awful time. :( I'm sending you a hug from Seattle and I'm glad your cute little girl showed up ok!