Batman, I'm really starting to appreciate the idea of bonding with other future moms at birthing classes or something of that sort, because there is clearly information I am not getting. For one thing, I have apparently been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for close to three weeks now. This is totally normal, arguably a good sign, and really not any sort of big deal, but because I didn't have other women around to tell me "uh, yeah, that's totally what it means when you feel really full and crampy all of a sudden and nothing makes it better except breathing through it, sometimes moving around, and maybe eating something...or not." Here I was with my fingers crossed that I wasn't experiencing some gastric cataclysm every few afternoons, assuming that if something was REALLY wrong, that I would probably have more symptoms than just needing to pee kind of badly and being vaguely nauseous. Talking with a doctor today, I learned that yes, those were in fact completely normal, safe contractions that I have no need to worry about unless they are accompanied by something substantially scarier (gushing or oozing of some kind, or the kind of pain that I wouldn't try to shake off with some yoga or Tylenol, or worse). Why did I not know that before now?
Having weekly ultrasounds to check on your growth and movement, roughly biweekly appointments with the cardiologist to make sure your heart is holding steady, and a general focus on your well-being has definitely set me up for the kind of attention I'll be giving you as a parent. You are the center of the universe, but getting thrown head-first into this lifestyle before you even show up is teaching me a valuable lesson. When I had to leave the gloriously crunchy-granola midwife practice that I loved so much, I basically abandoned any control over or even input into the processes of pregnancy or birth as far as I was concerned. I became a vehicle (perhaps an armored tank?) to convey you through your process of growing, getting stronger, and eventually getting popped out into the world with the best possible resources available to make sure you do well.
This afternoon, I started asking my OB/GYN some uncomfortable questions I hadn't even realized I needed to ask. I've been tending to small needs, like headaches and crappy skin, but because they were too expensive or just another thing to schedule, I haven't even considered birth classes, nursing support, or any of the other fairly key pre-birth prep stuff that I figure most women can focus on. Of course I need these things! Taking a seven week pre-natal yoga class was definitely great, and I learned a lot that I really should practice more while I can still move around (at all), but I don't have any clue what to do when I say, have that first real contraction. I have no idea how to manage the pain that I know will come. I've considered the options that other people can provide for me (medication, massage, something to punch, etc...), but what the hell can I do for myself? I think I need to go to the library for one, since the internet is just too terrifying and awful a place to find any information relating to birth, but I definitely need to get some other resources into my corner.
There is not only a good chance, but at this point almost a certainty that your birth will be induced. This means a number of things, not least of which being that instead of nature (and you) progressing...well, naturally...modern medicine will step in and fuck with a process that really has a structure and flow all its own. There is a greater chance of my needing a C-section, of you ending up in distress, and, at the very least, of me needing to cave in and get all sorts of crappy drugs pumped into me. What can I hold on to? We've got a doula, your Dad and I have each other, and we're at least working with OB/GYNs who don't suck, but is that it? There must be more. It's time to read, network, and talk with other people who have any idea of what I'm going through. This is pretty unnatural for me - a person who typically prefers to suffer in as close to isolation as possible until the pain is healed enough for me to comfortably blurt it out to everyone.
Batman, this just didn't go as planned. From the very beginning, when I was so horrendously nauseous that I lost days on end to nibbling on saltines and watching inexplicably soothing travel shows centered around food (thank you, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern), my image of myself as some benevolent, earth mother, Sheela-na-gig, uber-holistic pregnancy goddess pretty much flew out the window. Finding out about your heart just sucked; I felt a hollowness that I didn't realize one could feel, and even after finding out that everything is manageable, I've still carried around a parcel of anxiety that nothing can shake. It was insult to injury when my joints started giving out somewhere in the sixth month, and that's been a whole other barrel of laughs. Still, through any and all physical or emotional discomfort I've experienced (which has been plentiful, though certainly not as bad as it could have been), I've still loved being pregnant because I've known that you will be the end result. I just can't be so isolated if I'm going to get through this as strong as I started out...or stronger.