Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Knocked Up, Out of My Mind

Apologies to Messrs. Hancock and Mayer for ruthlessly ganking the title of their lovely collaboration. Which by the way, sounded FAN-TASTIC in Milwaukee and St. Louis.

We now interrupt the Summer of Awesome and its regularly scheduled blogging to bring you the following PSA:

I have oft been asked "why don't you like being pregnant?" As ridiculous as that question may be alone, it is often asked by people who have either never been pregnant, or were pregnant over 30 years ago. In other words, they don't know, or they don't remember.

My feelings toward pregnancy are...complex. (Gee, me? Complex? Naaaaaaaaaaaaah.)

When I was growing up, I was fairly ambivalent about having kids. I didn't know if I wanted them - I didn't know if I was cut out for motherhood. I think I figured I'd probably have them eventually. If I did, I did. If I didn't, well then.

Then I met the boy. The boy had always dreamed of fatherhood. He knew he wanted kids. When we got married, having a kid or two was non-negotiable in his book. Theoretically I had no objections, I had no reason to think I was unable to get pregnant, I knew the mechanics, and I figured we'd have them at some point. Cue three years into our marriage, and the girl was born. We never had to "try" to get pregnant, we never struggled with infertility or conception issues. So many of my friends who desperately wanted kids had issues getting pregnant and when they did, it seemed practically unfair that someone like me (the ambivalent, reluctant, sarcastic one) would be a Fertile Myrtle.

During my pregnancy with the girl, I feel like I did pretty well - I gained a good amount of weight for someone my size, didn't have any serious issues or complications, suffered a garden-variety of maladies (nausea and a bad nose in the first trimester, car/motion sickness in the second and third, general exhaustion, misery and snoring throughout) took my prenatal vitamins, ate pretty much what I wanted, staunchly avoided "What To Expect When You Are Expecting", tried to avoid caffeine (sorry kid, sometimes a fountain diet Coke is a must), craved french fries from McD's, and in keeping with my rebel streak, took Bradley classes from a home instructor rather than the three sessions of hospital-instructed Lamaze (what I affectionately termed "What To Do Until The Epidural Arrives").

I intended to give birth commando - no drugs, no monitor. Old school style - which meant if I needed to scream my head off and birth squatting, so be it. Lithotomy position be damned. Gravity would not work against me. I will never forget the look on the tour guide's face when we went to the hospital tour - she proudly pointed out the mirror on the ceiling "so we could watch the baby being born!" The pride quickly melted into a shade of horror when I told her it was ridiculous to put a mirror on the ceiling, because if you are squatting, you can see for yourself what is going on down there.

I don't know if she knew that stirrups were optional in childbirth. (They are.)

Of course, our well-intentioned plans were shot all to hell because the girl refused to cooperate. For two weeks past my "due date" I squatted. I took castor oil. I took evening primrose. I drank gallons of red raspberry leaf tea with a tincture of blue cohosh. We had sex. (Seriously - not the fun kind, the put me in labor, damnit, kind.) I walked. I ate Mexican food.

Nothing happened.

Bottom line, the kid was happy and wasn't coming out the way God and Mother Nature intended, and we ended up scheduling a c-section about 12 hours ahead of time. I was both devastated and relieved - I really did not want to have a c-section, but I wanted to be done being pregnant and meet our daughter.

And in a matter of 35 minutes in the OR, I was, and we did. And it's all good. Over the last six years, I've managed to figure out being a mom - not without a fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. I truly dig my kid - she's just the right blend of the two of us, and I'm hoping the bean is going to be equally as cool. "We make great kids," the two of us have said to each other repeatedly over the last few months.

It's that thought that will get me through the next five/six months or so. At the end of the bloating and edema and cravings and weird vision and placenta brain and all that stuff, will be a kid who hopefully will fit right into our little tribe - and I'll have to relearn how to be that kid's mother. I’m cool with that.

Now, on to the point of this post: pregnancy, to me, feels like the invasion of the body snatchers. You gain weight. You have uncontrollable urges, cravings and mood swings. Your core temperature rises on a whim and you go from incredibly horny to don’t effing touch me, I swear you will be banished to the sofa! in 3.2 seconds or less. I am less weepy than others but I am weepy (for me.) You have to go to the doctor and pee in a cup on a regular basis, and they weigh you, and they take your blood pressure, and every damn time I go in for a prenatal appointment I feel like they are passing judgment on me. I swear, I had a 15 minute discussion in the exam room with the NP at my first appointment wherein I had to defend my lifestyle and my weight to a woman who barely knew my name. I truly had to convince her that my life and my choices are fundamentally healthy ones – I just happen to like carbs and sugar, I don’t have much portion control, and truly the only thing “wrong” with me is that I am, by some random governmentally approved standard, overweight. Yes, I know, I know. This is neither the time nor the place, children. Close your email clients. Now.

I tend to look on pregnancy as a necessary biological process. It’s something you live with, is temporary and hopefully has a pretty cool permanent effect. It’s no miracle how pregnancy occurs – it’s actually quite fun if done properly. It’s also no miracle that women give birth every day – yes, each pregnancy and each mother and each child are different, but fundamentally, the process remains the same, no matter what type of birth one experiences.

I think the other thing that bugs me about pregnancy is the whole societal “thing” with pregnancy. How many times have I heard sickly sweet platitudes about pregnancy, and how wonderful it is that we’re giving our daughter a sibling, and how nobody wants you to lift anything, and how any kind of chemical at all, ever, is bad bad bad, and somehow when you become a pregnant woman you are identified merely by the swell of your abdomen. There is a definite loss of self, of identity. I worked for 31 years to become the person I am, and just because I have a kid on the way is no reason for you to treat me any differently than you would if I didn’t. Yes, I know how to ask for help, and sure, I get tired more easily, but for God’s sake, I am not made of glass, nor must I be treated as such. If I’m tired, I’ll sit down. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat. If I need to go to the grocery store a week past my due date and push a cart with $300 of groceries in it, I will. I never take kindly to unsolicited advice, and pregnancy is surely no exception. Part of the reason I don’t have a separate pregnancy blog, or a counter or anything cutesy like that, is because I view this pregnancy as part of my life. There’s no reason to compartmentalize – if anyone wants to skip over the pregnancy bits, I have no problem with that.

In the end, I’m generally laid back about the pregnancy – yes I do wonder what kind of kid our DNA will bring forth this time, if this one will be male or female, if this kid will have the same black stripe of hair amongst the blonde that the girl has had since her first breath. I worry about breastfeeding (sometimes) and I worry about remembering everything that goes with a new baby (seriously – amnesia sets in after awhile).

But I also don’t worry too terribly much about it. If I seem laid back and nonchalant about pregnancy, it’s because I’m lucky enough not to have to think about it much, and also because I know that however faint, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Without pregnancy I wouldn’t have the girl or the bean. And those two things are worth the aggravation and body-snatching.

1 comment:

Bho's mom said...

I have to comment, I just have to...

Let me say that I entirely agree with you about the whole pregnancy thing causing others to see you only as a knocked up chick and not as a normal chick. I mean, I wouldn't say I was my normal self during those 10 months, but I am still the person who planned to have a baby during her 1L year. Ain't life grand?

You're going to do awesome!