Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Patient Parking Only

Panic 1

For the first time in weeks, I was feeling great. I was on top of the world. I was even going to attempt a run! And then...

It all started when I was slowly prying myself out of the car (it's a process these days). I was just swinging my second leg around to the ground and grabbing hold of the shirt hanger for support, when I looked up in time to see the door slam directly into my pregnant self. "MOTHER F****R!" My hips snapped, my back popped, my stomach ligaments stretched too quickly, and I could barely move. Groaning in pain, I peeled myself out of the car and slowly waddled to the front door, seeking the comfort of my bed to recover.

I was greeted cheerfully by my husband, who had the day off. My response was a glare. I went straight for the bedroom, only to find there were clothes and bags covering the bed, and underneath the layer of garbage I could see the bed had never been made.

"What time did you wake up today?"
"Oh I slept in late. Probably not until about 11."
Great! I was working ALL DAY, and he was at home sleeping!
"Did you do any chores today?"
"Yeah I did the dishes and wiped the kitchen counters."
Oh big deal!
"So what did you do for the rest of the day?"
Awkward silence.

The evening did not improve from there. It was one of those days where it seemed nothing could go right, and it caused me to snap at Jeff over the littlest things: "Don't put those tomatoes on top of the bananas!" I even freaked out at the dog when she got into my work bag and ate a pregnancy-sized helping of Animal Crackers - I never freak out at the dog. Poor Jeff (and Willow) tried so hard to be helpful and loving, and I knew I was making it hard, but I just couldn't seem to snap out of it. I decided to do everyone a favor and put myself to bed early.

But first, I had to make sure everything was in order for my glucose test that would occur the following morning. Toward the end of the 2nd trimester, the doctor makes you fast from sugars, drink a vile liquid, and get your blood drawn to test for gestational diabetes. There are very specific directions for when you can eat, what you can eat, and what time you need to drink the glucose beverage. Unfortunately, the instructions I was given for said specifics were nowhere to be found. I knew exactly where I last left them, but they somehow got misplaced since my appointment 4 weeks prior. So naturally, a series of nightmare scenarios went through my head. What if I eat at the wrong time? What if I show up at the office at the wrong time? What if...I have to drink the beverage twice? CUE PANIC ATTACK.

I tore the house apart, words were exchanged, tantrums were thrown. The most memorable moments were:
  • Me picking up a video game controller, walking it to the other room, and throwing it on the bed.
  • Me backing Jeff into a corner, grabbing him by the shoulders, and shouting how I had the right to be upset.
  • Me laying over the bed crying. I wasn't in the bed because I couldn't get on the bed.
  • Me telephoning the on-call nurse at the hospital to get my schedule, ending the conversation by sarcastically saying, "Thanks, you've been most helpful."
I woke up the next morning feeling defeated. I did my best to eat at the right time, drank the syrupy goop at the time I thought most reasonable, then made my way to the doctor's office. As I pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine, I noticed a huge sign in front of my car: Patient Parking Only. I let out a sigh and pondered the last 24 hours. I don't deserve to park here...I can't seem to find any patience to live life as a calm, rational being...I deserve to park on the street and walk.

A few stray tears were running down my cheeks as I rode up the elevator. When I entered the empty office I panicked a bit, then the receptionist greeted me by saying, "You must be Emily!" Everything was going to be okay.

Panic 2

While getting my blood drawn, I had to watch a movie (from the 80's) about preterm labor. The movie talked about a few telltale signs which indicate you are going into labor early, and I've experienced over half of them: cramping, indigestion, stress, bleeding, contractions...CUE PANIC ATTACK.

The most obvious sign you are in labor is contractions. However, it is also normal to experience these, even when not pregnant. So what exactly is a contraction, and when is it bad? Since this is the first time I've been through the process, and since every woman experiences them differently, it is hard to get a straight answer. I have learned a contraction is when your uterus turns rock hard, almost like a clenching sensation, and sometimes you will feel cramping. But my stomach gets hard often, and I do still get cramps! Google is never any help during pregnancy (Google will just tell you the baby is dead...), and like I said, every woman is different, so no answer calms my fears. In conclusion, I still don't know when I should be worried about preterm labor.

Panic 3

I have been doing a lot of research on childbirth. Although I am open minded on this topic, I would like to try giving birth unmedicated, and there are a lot of methods (Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobirthing) that can help a woman and her birthing coach through the process. A few individuals have suggested I watch the movie The Business of Being Born, a documentary about childbirth and the medical industry, so I thought this would be an informative way to educate myself on the stages of labor. The more I watched, the more disturbed I became. The women who were featured giving birth naturally literally sounded like they were dying! And the women who got medicated were all getting C-sections! How can I get through this without pain killers? And if I do get pain killers, it could harm the natural birthing process! My baby is going to DIE! CUE PANIC ATTACK.

Clearly the movie was a little biased, but I'm about ready to start my 3rd trimester, and it finally dawns on me that this baby needs to come out sooner or later. I absolutely DO NOT want to give birth. The whole idea of having a baby is fine to me, but it's the process of getting said baby out that is absolutely terrifying. For some reason I'm pretty certain the baby is going to get stuck inside me, even though I know it's completely irrational. Maybe I'm suffering from information overload.

Resolution...for now

Getting the advice of other women really does help, so I'm sorry to all my friends and family members who I've harassed with questions in the last few days. My friend Katie, who recently gave birth unmedicated, informed me that there would most certainly be moaning involved in the birthing process. In fact, after the birth her husband told her it sounded like there was an exorcism being performed. This made me laugh. Although she was certainly in pain, she said the moaning and groaning were her natural response to the intense contractions, but those contractions were manageable. Okay, that makes sense.

And then I talked to my mom. Oh mom, how do you always know what to say? When I expressed my concerns about preterm labor, she was incredibly supportive: "But my stomach feels like it's contracting even right now! Feel how hard it is, and it isn't always that hard. Does that mean I'm having a contraction now?" Her response was, "Well, that's probably just the baby's butt." Oh! Good point. And regarding the birthing process, she got through five kids unmedicated, and she even lived to tell the tale.

And so now I am working on holding myself together for the next 3 months. There is a lot of work to be done, but it will get done, especially since I have such a strong support network. From the advice of my coworker and friend Kelly, I am working to find my happy place, to deserve that parking spot marked Patient Parking Only, and to stay in that frame of mind as long as possible.

My happiest place.

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