Posted by: emjb | March 1, 2005

Ambiguity of all kinds

Today I looked in the mirror and was startled. I appear to be blushing, even though I’m not embarrassed about anything. This is the “pregnancy glow”, I suppose, though it looks more like I’ve overheated myself trying to move a refrigerator. Chalk up another pregnancy symptom for the little critter, who has so far made me dislike chocolate, made me wheeze climbing the steps (hormones loosen the diaphragm, making it harder to breathe) and prevented me from staying up past 10:30 without pain and suffering.Oh, and given me headaches that make me feel slightly hungover much of the day,without benefit of drunken partying.

I’m calling the baby “the critter” for now, because it’s cute, and also because at this stage (6 wks, give or take), the fetus is kind of animal-like. And while I sometimes feel like I have a connection with whoever’s in there, I don’t know them as a person yet. They’re more of a…critter.

But symptoms or not, I don’t always feel a connection. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of hesitation when I think about the baby. A few weeks ago, my OB/GYN called me in for an emergency ultrasound. My progesterone was too low, which could mean an ectopic pregnancy or one that was about to quit on me. It wasn’t the first, and so far, isn’t the second. They put me on $50.00 worth of hormone supplements for a month to see if we can get it to stick, and so far it is…but I’m still a little shaken. I won’t be able to relax until we get through the first 12 weeks, which means I have a ways to go.

So we’ve been in a bit of limbo, not wanting to get hurt if this pregnancy ends. Miscarriages are very normal in this stage, and usually for a good genetic reasons, but that doesn’t mean you want to go through one.

Other days, I feel reassured (oddly, because I continue to feel lousy, thus, pregnant) and spend my spare time chatting online about strollers* or whether newborns need shoes.**

Tomorrow my task is to call the birthing center I want to use, one that is all about the natural, drug-free childbirth, with quick access to a hospital if something goes wrong. I need to switch out my OB/GYN, who is nice but old-fashioned about birthing (the More Drugs the Better approach), with a nurse midwife who will let me do this as much the way I want as possible. I am lucky to have insurance that will let me do this and not force me to choose between the hospital and trying to give birth at home.

Since we’ve been considering starting a family for years, I’ve done LOTS of reading on this topic–starting with Naomi Wolf’s Misconceptions and ending up with Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery. Birth is one of those things it’s possible to end up doing without really understanding what’s involved–how much what you do in a hospital is determined by their schedule and routine, not your own needs. I know I won’t have control over the whole process, really, but I want to set up as many things as I can to have it go the way I want.

The way I want being, not what my mom had with me–knocked out completely, the kid dragged out with tongs, alone in a labor room afraid and in pain, strapped to the bed and unable to help yourself. Ideally, I’ll be awake and dealing with the pain as bravely as I can, able to hold my baby the minute she enters the world, with Matt there with me and people who respect that what I’m doing is important and worthy of respect. Because it is.

I don’t know any women, in my own circle of family and friends, who have done it this way. My sister had her three by C-section, as did her daughter. My best friend had the traditional epidural and hospital birth. My sister in law had C-sections also, but then she was a tiny woman who had huge sons, so there was probably no helping that.

Something could go wrong, and I might need to have a C-section too, and I won’t feel any guilt if that’s the case. There is no guilt in doing what’s best for mom and baby. But I hope that my body will cooperate, that I will get to work with it in this terrifying, wonderful task.

Meanwhile, having all these deep thoughts, I just get up and go to work and eat little snacks to keep the nausea away, and don’t tell my coworkers anything, yet. It’s too soon, and when it’s time, I’ll know what to say, and maybe, how to feel.

*It’s worse than buying a car. There are model years, and umpteen different varieties, and product recalls, foldability, options with and without carseats–my head spins. Maybe I’ll just wrap the kid in a blanket and pull it in a little red wagon and call it a day.

**Opinions differ. All agree that socks do not stay on baby feet–so you need shoes or booties to keep feet warm. I personally wonder about spending money on shoes for someone who can’t walk yet. Maybe I’ll just duct tape the kid’s socks to his legs.***

***Yes, I’m kidding. Duh.

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