I asked the doctor point blank: How did this happen? And I got the standard eye-rolling sigh. “Well, if you don’t know that part by now,” he started to drawl ...
No, I’m serious. You see, I’m forty-two. I have lived long with infertility (see prior posting), and multiple miscarriages later, I had officially given up and turned my head to other things. I also have a brand new fun friend, an autoimmune disease that’s destroying my skin and joints. I was far too tired and busy dealing with this other medical condition to be pregnant.
Besides, I did everything completely wrong from the moment of the unknown conception. I ate lots of raw fish and meat and had copious amounts of cocktails. I had X-rays and a mammogram. I spent much time in a hot tub, a cold tub, and both a wet and dry sauna. The list of meds I was on had a long list of warnings against being taken during pregnancy. I changed the cat box. I wasn’t eating right, wasn’t taking folic acid, wasn’t paying attention to anything besides (1) getting out of a bloody awful job I dreaded and (2) dealing with the painful skin and joints. I had no idea I had skipped a period. And how would it be unusual, at the amount of stress I was carrying anyway, to skip a period?
How the bleep did this happen? (You can substitute your own word for bleep; I mostly use the one that starts with “F.”) Why now? I have just started a new job. Which means it’s going to be interesting explaining the whole being-out-on-disability thing in a few months. I am, like the rest of the country, struggling with a large amount of debt while my nest egg investments slowly dwindle away to nothing. It’s an uncertain time in the world, a most unstable and harrowing time, and did I mention a certain autoimmune disease that’s messing with the rest of my body?
Whatever power there is in the universe that is greater than myself, whatever force it is that you believe in that has dominion over your life, whatever your spiritual guidance system—this power has a sick, twisted sense of humor. I don’t find this funny in the least.
So here I am at the halfway mark. I have fired my long-term ob/gyn (awful story), hired a new one, and I constantly see a perinatal specialist as well as the specialist overseeing my other medical problem. I got an amnio the moment I hit the sixteenth-week mark. I have given so many vials of blood, I must keep an entire lab in business for weeks. I fear problems with every single test, even though, inexplicably, everything so far is normal and healthy. I fear problems with the insurance company even though I haven’t heard anything negative from them. I fear issues at work when they discover I’m pregnant, even though I’m pretty sure the law is on my side. I fear miscarriage; I’m constantly checking myself for bloody discharge. I have told so few people, even though we’ve passed the first trimester, which is the farthest I’ve ever gotten, because I fear having to tell everyone I’ve missed yet again.
And I’m a stranger in my own body, which is forever tired and nauseous and cranky and doesn’t feel like eating much besides fruit and yogurt. I used to eat anything and everything, and I find myself unable to stomach most anything made of flesh, although I also can’t deal with lettuce. (Lettuce?!) I have lost my sex drive. My mood swings are PMS to the tenth power. I haven’t gained as much weight as I’ve lost, and my head aches constantly. Every little stomach twinge and cramp sends me into a panic. In fact, I had a horrible 3 a.m. panic attack just last week where I dreamed I couldn’t breathe. My husband had to talk me down from performing an at-home tracheotomy, which seems ridiculous now. But this is not my body; this is not my brain. I have no idea who this person is, nor what’s wrong with her strange breasts.
The hardest part after the fear and uncertainty is the isolation. I bemoaned my aloneness when I was dealing with infertility; now I wish for the company of equally pregnant and bewildered women. Someone to commiserate with, someone to share their stories of odd food aversions and half-baked ideas. It would be great if they were my age, and were pregnant under similar circumstances. People who I know who have had children had them more than ten years ago and they don’t remember, except for the horror stories I take great pains to avoid. That’s another reason I haven’t told many people. I don’t want to hear any more horror stories, since I’ve already lived a few. I don’t want a copy of What to Expect because I despise that book. I don’t want to encounter yet another woman who tells me that she loves being pregnant, because I will irrationally strangle her with my sore hands. So I mostly keep to myself.
Well, bleep. This is what I bleeping wanted, right? I have no bleeping idea how to get through the next few months other than to consciously try not to cause bodily harm to myself or others. And to ignore the Dow. And to buy baggier shirts. I take it one stomach injection at a time, every bleeping day, one more doctor’s appointment, one more vial of blood. The baby’s heart keeps beating, so far, and I keep breathing on my own, pretty much.
Bleep the bleeping bleep. I’m not bleeped yet.