Going Crazy While Growing: Pregnancy Worries
I wearily tipped the cabbie, thrust my carry-on on my back, and wheeled a battered suitcase on the elevator leading to my apartment. Once inside, I dropped everything at my feet, happy to free my pregnant body of the extra weight I’d been balancing since the wee hours of the morning. I collapsed on the couch to my wiener dog welcome wagon and reflected on the last 72 hours.
I was home from a whirlwind weekend in Florida, providing me with much needed time with my family and friends.
I shed the stretchy canvas shoes I’ve grown to require ever since my feet have begun to swell like the seas. My ankles resembled taut water balloons and my toes looked like fat, painted sausages. I changed out of my jeans, examining my ever-changing belly button on the cusp of trying to escape my blossoming abdomen. Faint red lines squiggled down my skin despite my best efforts to consistently grease my belly like a Thanksgiving turkey.
While I spent years praying for the opportunity to carry a baby to term and studying the biology of pregnancy, these physical changes still surprise me. I knew they happened to other people, but never pictured them happening to me.
Regardless, those physical changes aren’t what surprise me most. The mental ones do.
I’ve found myself wrought with anxiety about getting pregnant, staying pregnant, recovering from loss, and struggling to find faith in subsequent pregnancies. All followed by days and weeks and months of crossing my fingers I’ll be able to relax… tomorrow, maybe?
But I’ve not. I’ve crossed unbelievable milestones, and each time, I believed calm waters were just ahead. Unfortunately, my boat doesn’t navigate that way, leaving me neurotic and alone. Before pregnancy, I floated in an entirely different boat. You know, the “not crazy” boat.
I waited patiently for the days I could feel my baby moving around inside of me, knowing those flutters would be all the reassurance I would need. Wrong. I waited patiently to reach 24 weeks, knowing my son had a chance of survival outside of the womb in the event my body would fail to carry him to term. Still no calm. Each day, I love him more than the last, and each day, I am more terrified of losing him.
What is this pain? Why isn’t he moving? Should my feet be this swollen? Did I just pee myself or is that amniotic fluid? Or blood?!?!
My visions of loss are morbid and keep my mind racing most of the day. I’ve spoken to my OB a number of times, and he consistently assures me all is well and that my feelings are normal. I appreciate his efforts to calm my crazies, but I never fully believe him.
While in Florida, however, I found a small piece of comfort. I attended dinner with a group of my girlfriends, one of which happened to be recently post partum, and two in the third trimesters of their pregnancies. We began talking about our anxieties, and I admitted to having a recurring fear.
“I’m convinced soft kicks are his last attempts of notifying me that he’s being slowly strangled by his umbilical cord. I feel like he’s doing his best to save himself, and I’m failing to recognize his distress signals.”
There was a brief silence as my pals in pregnancy looked at one another.
Great. I should have left that one to myself. Point proven. I am crazy.
But then, they surprised me with a unison eruption, shrieking, “ME TOO!!!”
In that moment, I felt validation. All the reassurances from my husband and doctors and mother, while well-intended, never resonated. Sharing a table with women in my boat, traveling down the same unknown waters, helped me rest a little easier that night. And although I am still a little nuts, at least I know I’m not alone.
Image via Flickr/serenityphotographyltd