Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scare Tactics

It can be difficult at times during pregnancy to know the difference between being worried about nothing, and being totally justified in freaking out about a bad feeling you may be having. Its a very weird, and sometimes stressful thing to have this little person growing inside your body but have no clue what's really going on in there. Its part of why I wish they did twice as many ultrasounds as they do. I felt it very comforting to have a glimpse inside and see that even when I couldn't feel it, he was moving. Even though I couldn't see it, his body is formed perfectly and his little face looks like a person and not so alien anymore. I've done pretty well with not letting my mind go to scary places during this pregnancy but now and then I do get a little worried about the what if's that are still to come. Like any mother, I worry about learning disabilities, autism, developmental delays, whether or not they'll be one of those kids that wine and throw tantrums if they don't get what they want, if they'll be jealous of the attention other friends and family's kids will receive from me, and all the crazy allergies that kids seem to develop these days. Basically, is my kid going to turn out healthy. That and I sincerely worry about him turning out to be a little asshole in spite of our efforts to teach him tolerance and kindness. I know that sounds horrible but it's true. I worry about how I'll handle any of these things should they happen and about how the stress of parenthood will affect my relationship in the future.

Just yesterday, my fella and I were walking through Target  and passed a young couple with a toddler in the cart who was wine/complaining about something in a very annoying and very loud manner. The couple dealt with it by ignoring him completely and then by giving in and handing him a treat of some kind. I caught myself thinking, "I'll never let my son get away with that kind of crap.", but the truth is that those parents probably thought the same thing before they had him and have been worn down to a point where it's easier to let him call the shots. A short while later, we passed an isle where a father stood holding a younger child while his toddler lay on his back on the ground kicking and crying about lord knows what. The dad was just standing there calmly, speaking quietly and waiting very patiently for his son to finish and get up. I just kept thinking about what I would do if that were me and found myself thinking that this man was a saint for not just grabbing his kid by the arm and dragging him out of the store wailing like a banshee. We've all seen that method used by parents in public at some point. It seems so stressful and embarrassing to deal with but what is the alternative to just giving up whatever errand you needed to run and dragging your kid down a slick linoleum aisle toward the exit? I hope I can show the same restraint that solo dad did and let my kid work it out for himself without giving a crap what other judging parents or non-parents may be thinking. When walking through the kids department and glimpsing the stuff that will fit our boy when he's half grown spurred me to point out that someday we'll have a half grown child and not a sweet baby. When I mentioned it, Jason's eyes got big and all he said was a nice long "shiiiiit", which is exactly what I was thinking. We agreed that we really hope we still like each other at that point. Fingers crossed!

As scary as all the worry that comes up when I think about what happens after this baby arrives is, it's nothing in comparison to the fear that wells up when I feel like something is wrong now while he's still in my body. In the beginning it was about the medication I was taking when I first found out that I was expecting and any affect it may have had during early development. I had a fetal ecocardiogram and a spinal ultrasound and everything is just fine. Then it was all the crap I was reading about environmental concerns about what is contributing to the rise in autism cases. Some studies and freaked out mom forums suggest that things as simple as drinking from plastic bottles, eating microwaved food (especially foods heated in plastic containers/steaming bags), or touching shiny receipt paper like the kind from gas pumps or some credit card purchases will cause learning disabilities and autism due to BPA. This kind of thing can be very easy to get wrapped up in if you let yourself, especially when you are already a little irrational in your emotions. I found very quickly that it was not helpful to read forums or medical sites. In talking with my mother I realized that most of the things that you were absolutely supposed to do during pregnancy and with a newborn baby are now on the list of things that you should absolutely not do. In 20 years, it could be the same way with the suggestions made to me so my feelings are that all I can do is the best I can do and anything that happens is really out of my hands. Fear of the what if's are invalid and will only cause stress and anxiety which are detrimental to both you and your unborn baby. Stay calm and enjoy the ride while you can.

In the other hand, some fears are okay to listen to. For example, a couple of weeks ago Jason and I went to his parents for dinner and a game of SOC. We were there late and had a blast! I had absent mindedly noticed that the baby wasn't as active after dinner as usual but I figured I was just distracted and hadn't noticed. By the time we got home and layed down it was well after midnight but time doesn't really matter to my little one. If mommy lays down to sleep, it's time to party. I lay there for 30 minutes or so waiting for his usual display of rolls and somersaults. Nothing. I poked and prodded him to try to stimulate movement. Nothing. My stomach felt strange. It was tight and uncomfortable and I could tell that he had gotten himself in a very funny position, often called transverse. He was laying across my abdomen from left to right and was very high up. It was almost painful. I called my clinic and they put me in touch with a very grumpy on call doctor who suggested I do kick counts. I tried to explain that there was nothing to count but I was desperate for it to be that simple so I got up and walked around, used the restroom, ate a little something and lay back down on my left side. I was told that 10 kicks in 2 hours was a good enough sign that I could avoid a hospital visit. I fell asleep after a while and a count of less than 5. When I woke up, I began to count again and fell asleep with a count of only 3. I was feeling slightly comforted by the fact that I was feeling anything at all but my mind was still torturing me with fears of umbilical strangulation, and fetal distress.

Around 7:30am I finally got up and called the doc again. She was even grumpier and less helpful the second time around. She barked at me that if I was that worried I needed to go to the hospital for monitoring because she couldn't help me over the phone. Thanks, lady. I did take her advice and head to the hospital for help. The nursing staff was very kind and very helpful. They assured me that I was not being irrational and that easing concerns was exactly what they were there for. I was put on a monitor, given a breakfast plate and comforted with the fact that there were at least 2 other soon to be moms there for exactly the same reason. Turns out that he was not in distress. He began kicking and rolling as soon as I had eaten. He had gotten out of his odd position and was back to normal activity. I felt so relieved! Silly but very relieved. I felt like an alarmist but I was so glad that I went to the hospital and that the nursing staff was so much more helpful than the on call doctor had been. I found out later that the grumpy doc has a 4 month old baby herself and is probably just suffering from the same kind of new mom exhaustion and stress that I'm sure to experience soon enough.

My experience the last few weeks has taught me some very good lessons in patience, fear, and understanding. It's normal to feel fear about pregnancy, birth and the journey that comes after. It's normal, and encouraged, to go to the hospital anytime that you feel true worry about anything that may be happening inside your body (listen to your instincts). Its normal to feel a loss of patience with medical staff when you feel that they are losing patience with you, but they have lives outside of their jobs just like everyone else and may need a little understanding from you as well. Just don't let yourself take that step off the edge and become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Its counter productive to say the least. I'm sure that my experience with fearing that something was wrong after almost 12 hours of decreased movement will not be the last time that this kid scares the crap out of me. I have all those years of toddler hood to look forward to and then puberty and a teenager after that. The teen there is something to be really afraid of.

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