I try not to complain. I know I am not the first pregnant person out there, nor am I the first to have complications. There are stories out there way worse than mine. I get all that. I do. But sometimes, when I do say a negative comment or I need a sympathetic ear, all I hear back is, “You could have it so much worse!” “You’re complaining now? You just wait.” and “Just be patient, everything will happen when it is supposed to happen.” Well, I am not sure how long I have to “wait” before I am allowed to complain, but I am 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant (my due date is in 3 days for those of you who don’t speak Pregnancy) so I think the time is now.
Since everyone seems to have a story to tell, let me tell you mine: This pregnancy has taken a tole not only on my body, but on my mental strength and health. At 26 weeks I started feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions, generally painless to mildly uncomfortable sporadic contractions that are “practice” for your uterus. These are totally common and normal, but I was getting mine so frequently and strongly that my doctor wanted me to get a cervical ultrasound to see if these contractions were affecting my cervix, which of course they were, which means I had to get weekly ultrasounds for months while we tracked the thinning of my cervix. This also started my weekly doctors appointments months before they were suppose to start. This happened all while I had a chaperoning trip to Washington DC planned literally a year in advance, and hearing my co-workers whisper in the lounge that I shouldn’t be going and they wished other teachers would be there. During my office visit the day before DC my cervix was so shortened that the doctor said I was able to go to DC, but once I returned I had to be on modified bed rest where I could go to work as long as I just sat there (as a teacher, ha ha), and then come home and sit and do nothing. This meant that I had to stop taking both of my dance classes, the outlets in my life where I get to have fun and be myself and feel good about myself. This also stopped all other physical activity, so I was petrified of gaining too much weight from sitting on the couch all day. Then at my 31 week appointment my doctor was so worried about my cervix that she sent me down to labor and delivery, to find out that I was having steady contractions I couldn’t feel and I was shot up with muscle relaxers to get them to stop. Same thing happened the next day. Then at my next weekly appointment my doctor did a cervix check to find out I was already 2cm dilated and 70% effaced…at 32 weeks…which is bad…which meant I had to spent four days and three nights in labor and delivery where every hour I would get a different shot or pill to try to stop my contractions, which made me nauseous and throw up for days and made me lose 4 pounds in 4 days. After meeting with the high risk doctor and the NICU doctor and getting my two shots of steroids for baby lung development and finding out all of our risks and percentages and milestones I needed to reach I was sent home on strict bed rest. I could only get off the couch to go to the bathroom or get a pre-made meal. All of this happening meant that I had to immediately stop work and call in for a substitute and never to be seen or heard of again. I had to communicate with my sub via email and had no sub-plans ready, the classroom wasn’t organized, and I was not ready to give my classroom over to a stranger for the next two months. Then from 33 weeks on I visited my doctor weekly where she would do a cervical check, and each week I was dilating further and effacing further. Every doctor and nurse I spoke to said I was lucky if I made it the next week. Each one of them laughing at me for planning my baby shower when I was 37 weeks, telling me I was “never going to make it.” Each one lecturing me about how I should have signed up for an earlier birthing class (even though they were full months in advance) because I was never going to make it to mine at 37-38 weeks. Going out and buying essential things that we needed for the baby just in case she did come before we got our gifts from loved ones. Trying to set up a baby room while being on bed rest. Packing our hospital bags and writing lists of what we have to grab when the time comes. Only getting a few hours of sleep each night because of the heart burn and back aches and contractions and restlessness and nightmares. Spending hours upon hours researching (and stressing about) every little thing you can think of related to pregnancy and early child care (because what else are you going to do on two months of bed rest?). Going in each week for my doctors appointment and the nurses and staff still amazed, dumbfounded, in shock, that I am pregnant. My baby shower coming and going. Each mile stone that I was fighting so hard for: if she comes at this week she has a certain percentage of living, if she comes at this week she will only spend this much time in the NICU, if she comes this week it won’t be mandatory for her to be sent to the NICU at all, if she comes at this week she will be considered full term and she should be fully healthy, if you start going into labor during this week we won’t stop labor, etc. Each one of those milestones painfully coming and going. Then the day before I am no longer considered pre-term I have hours straight of constant contractions, each 6 minutes apart for exactly a minute, after the third hour of this putting our bags in the car thinking this might be it, only to be belittled by the on-call nurse and sent home for false labor. Finally getting in the “safe zone” and taken off bed rest and continuing to have stronger and more frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, slowly continuing to get more dilated and effaced with each visit, and yet no true labor to be seen. Even though the last appointment I had a “bulging bag” and my doctor saying my bag was going to break at any sneeze, as of my 39 week appointment today my water bag is shrinking, so now I have to be even more diligent with “counting kicks” to make sure my baby has enough fluid to survive. And the funniest part of this whole story is next week we are going to schedule my induction for the following week, to think that we were fighting and giving me every medication in the book to get my labor to stop in early May and now I may have to be induced in early July. Living every single day for two months wondering if “today might be the day.” On top of all of that getting bombarded with people’s advice and comments ranging from thoughtful to completely rude. Family and friends telling me how I am doing something wrong or how something on my registry is bad or sending me articles about how I shouldn’t do this or that or how to be a better mother. Them rolling their eyes and calling me naive and lecturing me when I say I don’t want an epidural, or when I tell them I am going to use reusable diapers. Everyone having advice for me, and yet when I try to find a sympathetic ear I get immediate condescending comments. People asking me how I am feeling and then when I tell them they respond with, “Well, what do you expect, that is pregnancy.” or “It will be over soon, just deal with it.” When people ask me how bed rest is going and getting responses like, “Stop complaining and enjoy your downtime, you will never get it again.” or “I wish I was on bed rest, you are lucky.” And to top it all off, dealing with all of this while my body is going through a massive change and having uncontrollable pregnancy hormones. With each passing day I can feel myself slipping deeper into a depression that I am worried will only intensify when the baby comes.
I get how back in the day when women got pregnant they would drop off the face of the planet, only to return 10 months later with a baby in their arms. I think that is how I am going to do it next pregnancy. The last few months the comments continue to get worse, and I am at the point where now that I am finally off bed rest I don’t want to leave the house. It amazes me what people think is acceptable to ask and talk about to a pregnant woman, especially when they don’t know her. I can’t even count how many times I have been drilled, literally drilled, by a random person in the store about my baby and my pregnancy. But then again, it isn’t fun to be drilled by distant friends, family, and acquaintances about my pregnancy either.
I am writing this mostly because I am frustrated and hormonal and tired of being pregnant, but maybe I am also writing all of this to get a public service announcement out there to the world. If you know someone who is pregnant, please leave them alone. If you are VERY CLOSE friends and family and they are willing to talk to you about it, please be sympathetic and realize that just because you or someone you know had a easy pregnancy that your loved one might not. Don’t assume you know what they are going through and try to think how your comments may be taken to a hormonal, tired, pregnant lady before you say them. If you are distant family or friends, you can ask the pregnant person (no more than once a month) how they are doing, and then shut up. Don’t give a response besides a nod or a smile or heart emoji or just respond with, “I am here if you need anything.” If you see a random pregnant person in a store or somewhere out and about, treat them like you would ANY OTHER PERSON and leave them alone. Trust me, you might have a really great story about how your friend’s water broke in your brand new car so you want to warn me that I should be driving around with trash bags on my car seats, but really I don’t want to hear your story because I don’t care. You are a random person in Target and I just want to buy my breast pump and nipple cream and leave with whatever dignity I still have left.
Now, if you will excuse me, I will get off my soap box and go take a much needed nap.