I have been making empty promises about this post since last Wednesday. Sadly, it’s already Wednesday again, almost two weeks after I originally started it, and I still may not finish it. It’s chaotic at work. Have I mentioned that? At this moment I can hear the sounds of four different classes, my own not included. Two of the classes are playing music; one is reading a novel out loud; another is attempting to do student presentations. My class is playing Scrabble; they are making the least noise. If you know me at all, you will know the irony and the significance of the following statement: I would rather be in the mall on Christmas Eve than sitting here.
But that’s not the point of this post.
Thirty-two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk in a near comatose state waiting for my planning period to start so I could go home and lie on my bed in a near comatose state and wait for my ultrasound appointment. I was bleeding, and I was convinced it was happening again–that the alien looking thing inside me was making its exit and I would once again be back to square one with nothing but angst and grief to show for all my attempts at pregnancy.
I tend to be one of those people who is always right. Not the annoying kind who claims to be right but isn’t. I am, in fact, actually right. Except sometimes, when I’m not.* And then I’m usually only a little off. But this time, 32 weeks ago, I was as wrong as I’ve ever been in my life. I have never been happier to be so.
I went to my ultrasound appointment braced for the news. As it turns out, I was braced for the wrong news. When I heard the words, “There’s a healthy baby in there with a heartbeat,” and, “You seem to have a small subchorionic hematoma, which will bleed a little and then most likely be reabsorbed by your body,” I came completely unglued. I have been a nervous wreck ever since.
I mentioned in an earlier post, which I can’t seem to find right now, that I fully expected every doctor’s appointment to reveal the big hoax–that mistakes had been made, reports misread, and there really wasn’t a baby in there after all. The revelation never came. I developed a case of perpetual queasiness. My clothes got too small. My boobs grew. Every ultrasound showed a living being in my uterus, a little bigger and a little more mobile every time. I know it must sound ridiculous, but I continued to doubt my good fortune. The more attached I grew to the idea of actually carrying and birthing a child, the more panicked I became about the myriad of things that might go wrong. When the pings and pokes began, when I could actually feel the kid flitting around in there, I became obsessive about detecting movement and convinced myself that if I didn’t feel it all the time, something horrible had happened to the baby. I kept most of this to myself, but I was a basket case most of the time.
I would love to tell you I’ve become one of those serene pregnant women who sits around gazing lovingly at her swollen abdomen with a haze of light emanating from her pores, absentmindedly humming lullabies and attempting to communicate with the unborn. But I can’t. I’m not there yet. I am still worried about things–head size, measurements, fetal movements, fluid level (mine is on the “low end of normal”), inhaling toxic odors, that cat scratch on my thigh. It’s insane, really, but there you have it. My friend Cheryl told me recently that she loved being pregnant for the first time because she was so clueless and had no idea what was going on. This line of thinking perplexes me; being clueless only adds to my paranoia. And adds and adds.
There are those who would say to me, “Oh, stop it. You have what you want. Why are you complaining?” There are those who said it to my friend Bri recently. What I want to ask those people is this: Do you KNOW what it feels like? How many babies have you lost? Do you KNOW how much the girls in this little circle have SPENT on pregnancy attempts, invasive medical procedures, drugs, sperm, therapy? Yeah, of course we’re going to worry. Does that mean we’re not happy? That we’re ungrateful? That we’re not going to enjoy pregnancy? No, not at all, but we take nothing for granted. Nothing.
There are times during every day when Chickie is twitching around, hiccupping, jabbing my side with tiny little heels and crushing my bladder with that larger-than-average head, when I am overcome with gratitude. When I go home every afternoon I head straight for the nursery, where I sit for a while in silence taking it all in, letting the day fall away, feeling my baby toss and roll under the palm of my hand. I can’t wait to meet this kid, hear its cry, hold its tiny little hands and feet, stroke its arms and hair and back. But I’m not naive enough to think that all my worries will be over once I’ve given birth. I’m told that at that moment, the worrying has only just begun.
I would be lying if I told you I’m not elated beyond words about the possibility of having this kid in the next week. I’d also be lying if I told you I’m not worried that something could still go wrong, or that I will be totally clueless once pregnancy ends and motherhood begins. But it’s the kind of worry I’m willing to accept. It’s the kind of worry I wish for every single woman who wants more than anything to have a child, and for those of you who have already been blessed with a kid or two. And for those of you who don’t worry–mind sharing your drug of choice with the rest of us?
*Okay. I hope you know I’m exaggerating. I’m NOT always right. I am frequently wrong. Frequently. I was kidding. Kidding!