Thursday, March 6, 2014

pregnancy FAQ, part 2

Q: Why are you admitting to all this cluelessness and insecurity? Aren't you afraid of embarrassing yourself and worrying everybody?

A: It is extraordinarily freeing and therapeutic for me to stop pretending that I have all the answers. I regret almost daily that I maintained that pretense all through college, and was far too ashamed to ask questions when I didn't know something, and consequently missed out on learning so much.

There are pregnant women who find one source of information and are completely secure in trusting that. There are pregnant women who are completely secure in trusting their instincts. There are pregnant women who don't compare themselves to anyone else. And good for them! They are probably a lot less stressed out than I am, but then, such women are probably less stressed out than I whether or not any of us are pregnant at the time. I'm an anxious person. That's not a huge character flaw that I need to overcome or of which I should be ashamed. I've been this way my whole life, and by now I manage it well and have a good sense of humor about it. And part of that management, and maintaining that sense of humor, is refusing to pretend that I'm not an anxious person.

This is conscious. This is deliberate. I am choosing to admit, publicly, that I'm anxious and confused and feeling pressure about pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood, because I refuse to accept that these are not things we should admit. I refuse to buy into the "all women and their bodies instinctively know how to do all this" or "if you don't believe that everything your OB / midwife says is gospel to the extent that you don't need to gather information anywhere else, then you're getting terrible care" or "you just need to stop reading [everything except this one book]". (Please. When people tell me not to read something, I HAVE to read it. I have read books that were handed to me by someone saying,"This is the worst book ever written." [And it was frequently true!])

I don't have all the answers. I won't have all the answers after grilling my OB for forty minutes. I won't have all the answers after attending childbirth class. I will never have all the answers, and I'm not going to pretend I do. No one should be worried by me admitting to confusion and insecurity! Frankly, if I start claiming that I'm totally confident in my set-in-stone birth plan and my ability to handle labor, then you should worry, because that means I'm either lying or convincing myself that I should be ashamed to ask for help.

Also, I love the fact that every time I do post about my insecurity and confusion, I get great responses from mothers I know saying, "Oh man, me too!" Perfection, I imagine, is probably lonelier.

Q: Have you even written up a birth plan?

A: Lord, no. Almost certainly won't, either. Already the incubatee has shown herself to be cheerfully perverse enough that I am quite sure a birth plan would just be something for her to thwart. (Her specialty for a while was sleeping through ultrasounds.) And let's keep in mind that I have a dog undergoing palliative care, so the toughest decision I will be making in the next six or seven weeks will not be about what goes in my birth plan.

Coincidentally, the prenatal blog that I love to death talks about birth plans this week, and says very wise things.

Q: How go the questions about the nursery?

A: Hilariously, every time I have been asked, "Is the nursery ready?" by a mother, and I dare to admit, "Well, no, because she'll be in with us for at least the first few months," the mother responds, "Oh, we did that too!" and then laughs at herself for asking about the nursery just because she felt like that's one of those questions you're supposed to ask. 

Q: How are you enjoying the occasional return of extreme nausea?

A: It's an unpredictable delight! Most days things are fine. Then some days I'll eat a banana and it strikes like Thunderball. No way to know. Of course, I'm in the bathroom every ten minutes anyway, so...

Q: Isn't the "having to pee every ten minutes" thing supposed to happen later?

A: There isn't much of that "later" left available to us - due date's in six weeks.



Q: Were you, in fact, the oldest pregnant woman at your childbirth class?

A: Looked like it. Although I was also the only one who raised her hand when the instructor asked who was doing prenatal exercise. We old ladies have to work harder to stay in shape.

Q: How was the class?

A: Not bad. The instructor got off on a bad foot as far as I'm concerned, when she said that "husbands" (she tried to remember to say "partners" but kept slipping up) always worry about how much everything costs and how they're going to pay for the baby. Her implications were a) that impending mothers don't worry about such earth-bound things as money and b) that the men are either the sole providers or at least definitely have the larger income. My eyebrows reached my hairline at that, but otherwise it was fine. The other couples seem nice and Berowne and I only started cracking each other up in the last half-hour.

Q: How's work?

A: Blogging about work is pretty much the most efficient way to get yourself fired, but let's just say that I work in a medical environment, and I have noticed that when a doctor goes out on maternity leave, no one asks her to have 800 patient visits instead of 200 in the month leading up to her leave; but I'm being asked to do four months' worth of work in one. While heavily pregnant. And unable to work longer-than-eight-hour days because I have to rush home to my terminally ill dog. I've been coming in on Saturdays and will continue to do so, which is pretty miserable given how limited my remaining time with Darcy is and how much work there is to do around the house pre-baby. By its very nature this situation is temporary, but good lord, it's not healthy.

Q: So you're sort of (in a very first-world, middle-class, kind of way) forging your baby in the fires of Mount Doom?

A: That would explain the heartburn. 

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