Waddling ensued, of course. By the time I hit my third trimester I was already accomplished at the pregnant waddle. I’d never understood why pregnant women walked that way, how silly! The books said it was a woman’s body’s way of keeping balance with all the new weight she has to carry around. However, I believe that it is just another outward manifestation for people to comment on. “Oh look at your cute waddle.” Putting the word cute in front of the word waddle does not make it okay. And let me just say don’t ask when she’s due unless she has already mentioned her condition. Seriously, what is wrong with people? Men are idiots when it comes to this stuff but women should know better (you know who you are, shame on you!)! And what is up with strangers rubbing a pregnant lady’s belly? Just because there is another life growing inside doesn’t make it any less her belly. Her body, her space—get it? Don’t rub/touch it! There where actually chapters in my books dedicated to teaching you how to handle these nuts! And one last thought on the subject, telling a pregnant woman how big she’s gotten is not a compliment, it’s not nice, and it’s just plain stupid (you could get hurt).
Most every pregnant woman receiving prenatal care has to take the initial glucose test. It involves drinking a bottle of the nastiest orange soda type gunk I’ve ever come across and then having your blood drawn. This test is to see if you have developed gestational diabetes. The major risk of this condition, even once it’s being controlled, is that the baby will become so large that it must be delivered via C-Section. I very much wanted to avoid surgery. Mostly because of all of the A Baby Story’s I’d watched on T.V. that ended with a C-Section. It seemed so sad to me that those moms didn’t get to hold their babies right after they came out. It just didn’t look like the way I wanted to deliver my baby. Not that vaginal birth really sounded that great, mind you. But my first test was inconclusive so I had to take another, more intensive test. Yikes! This test involved a sugar-rich diet three days prior to drinking another bottle of orange gunk and having blood drawn every hour for four hours. As I was having my blood drained from my body (don’t the baby and I need that stuff?) I was not allowed to eat anything. So by the last draw I was quite lightheaded and dizzy, which to me didn’t seem like a very safe state for a big-ol preggo to be in. Thankfully my husband met me at the lab and took (carried) me to lunch. The tests came back negative—no gigantor baby for me! Yippee! Soon after the orange gunk test we had the third ultrasound. The placenta had moved on up to it’s preferred spot. It seemed everything was coming along just fine.
I noticed my swollen ankles as I was getting dressed for child birth class one evening. I was wearing ankle socks and my skin was actually puffing out over the sock. I was quite irritated and a little concerned of what was to come. But I took my swollen ankles on to child birth class. They showed the first in a long line of birthing videos that evening. I, naively, had been hoping to avoid those videos. I thought I knew what was involved in the birth process and didn’t want to watch some stranger go through it. I realized after about the fifth birthing scene that it’s actually not a bad idea to be bombarded with birthing images. Not only do you learn a few things about all of the different ways those babies can come out but it desensitizes you. And a woman needs to be desensitized for all that is to come (men too).
In one of the classes we learned about the different types of pain relief they have to offer. My friend, who was due two weeks before me, didn’t like the look of the epidural and said that she would be avoiding that. Not me. I knew I would want one of those. It’s not that I am against natural child birth, I just respect all of the research and effort doctors and nurses have put into the subject over the last million years and would not want to disrespect all of their hard work by rejecting one of the most sought after inventions known to womankind. I wanted to last as long as I could before I begged for it, I just knew myself well enough to know that at some point I would be begging for it.
The swelling continued to get worse. For a while it would go away at night if I propped up my feet with a pillow while I slept but then it would be back by the end of the next day. And then my hands started to swell. No more wedding ring for me. There’s just nothing better than walking around visibly pregnant with no physical proof of being married. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with having a baby without being married, but jeez, people sure are judgy. I can’t count how many women I caught “glancing” at my finger disapprovingly. When my fingers went numb I started to freak out a bit. My father-in-law found out he had a brain tumor after going to the doctor about numb fingers. He lived only about six months after that. So I was convinced I had a brain tumor. I bought a journal called “Mom Remembers” so that I could write about myself and so my son would know his mother. Somehow, in all of my reading, I had missed the part about pregnancy-swelling related carpel tunnel. Carpel tunnel! That simple. No brain tumor. Shew! How many more scares can one highly emotional preggo take?
The doctors informed me that the only thing that may help the swelling was to drink a lot of water. So I committed myself to 8 to 10, 20-ounce bottles of water per day. Every day I drank that amount of water. And I thought I needed to pee a lot before! I was so water logged I could barely walk. But I kept it up. I am not sure it helped but I had to at least feel like I was doing something about it. Even with all of that water my skin was puffed over my new ugly flat shoes, my necklaces didn’t fit anymore, and my always round face was stretched to its limits. I’m actually surprised I didn’t wind up with stretch marks on my face too.
Now about this time all of the wishing to have my body back was beginning to be overshadowed by sheer terror of the process of getting him out and the absolute abyss of unknown about what it would be like once he was here. Luckily I had two baby showers to distract me. The first was for my friend (you know, the one that said she didn’t want an epidural) and the other was mine, of course. Hers was a very nice affair at a restaurant. She got all kinds of good stuff and everyone had a great time discussing how “cute” we were and how lucky we were to be going through this together. And that is partly true. It was wonderful to have someone to be sober with and someone to complain to that actually understood exactly what you were going through at that very moment. However, this friend of mine gained only the weight recommended, barely even showed through the last trimester, and had no swelling at all (bitch). That part was not so nice and standing next to her at both showers made me feel even more like a balloon that I really was (seriously, you should see pictures).
My shower was two weeks after hers and was thrown by two other dear friends of mine in a lovely home with the cutest (and most practical) decorations ever placed at a baby shower. I also received tons of goodies, things I’d registered for and things I hadn’t (thank God for experienced mothers and just plain smart women that knew better than I did). I had a wonderful time and happily took my loot home and set about washing the clothes, putting things away, and generally getting things set up. Nesting had set in a full five weeks early. In a matter of two days I had the nursery completely ready for baby. All of this work took its toll on my poor swollen feet. When I went back to work after that I had to wear my slippers as they were the only things I could get on my feet.
Things went downhill from there rather quickly. Some increased swelling and high blood pressure readings had me spending a night in the hospital only to be sent home on strict bed-rest. My friend went into labor as I lay, unable to rush to the hospital to be there for her in her time of need. Her son was born on St. Patrick’s Day. A healthy baby born through a rather painful delivery, that is until she begged for the epidural.
Bed-rest is a very frustrating thing. I was allowed only to get up to go to the bathroom. Just to mix it up a bit, I got out of the bed in the morning and went to the couch for the day. Then when it was time to go to “bed” I got up from the couch and into the bed. Very dull stuff. I watched several movies, countless episodes of A Baby Story, and called just about everyone that had ever heard of me. I cannot complain too much about my bed rest experience, however. Some women have to endure it for months. I was scheduled to go back to the hospital after four days for more testing. Not one bit of me had accepted the fact that they may want to keep me there. We took the hospital bag just in case but both of us expected to be home that evening. Our first stop once we arrived at the hospital was to visit our friend and her new baby. We have a picture of me, looking like I am about to burst, holding her baby with my baby still inside. Little did we know that the window of opportunity to have that picture taken was about to close.
I was still four weeks away from my due date but the doctors didn’t like my test results so I was being induced. Now since I hadn’t begun the process on my own, they couldn’t just start me on the IV drugs to induce labor. They had to start with an insert. That’s right, no lubrication—insert. I remember tears coming to eyes as I looked up at my concerned husband, not out of sadness or even fear, but the shear pressure being exerted on my insides. I truly thought the doctor’s hand would appear in my mouth.
After two inserts and twelve hours of mild contractions, my test results got even worse and I was rushed in to the OR for an emergency C-Section. My baby boy was born at 6:56 a.m. and was whisked away from me to be poked and prodded and I was sent to recovery. I didn’t get to hold him for almost three full hours. But when I did, the entire experience from the very first terrifying test result to the very last, just melted away. And I, the anti-baby-never-want-to-grow-up-party-girl, became a big ball of mush for this tiny little guy. And even as he grows my mush just will not go away. He was little but healthy. And today you’d never know he was almost a full month early. His smiles send me to a place of joy that I never quite knew existed until now.
Planned or unplanned, babies are fantastic little things. However, I stand by my belief that pregnancy is not. It is not fun, it is not beautiful, nor a wonderful glorious experience. It is the hell that we women must endure to get to the good stuff. And it’s worth every second.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3