Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Life in a Nutshell: Acutely Expectant

Oh dear… this could get ugly. This blog was started as a creative outlet for me, even before I opened my Etsy shop 3 years ago. My darling husband at first referred to it as a creative crisis rather than a blog… he perceived correctly that I was desperate for some way to express myself outside of changing diapers and making kid-friendly meals. Today I have to beg your pardon ahead of time since I am returning to my roots of desperation in a very likely unsuccessful hopeful attempt to let out my current frustrations. Since I have given up complaining for Lent (an effort that has been, in general, going very well), I have had to wait till Sunday (not technically a day of Lent) to write since this might end up sounding like complaining. I’ll try. Really I will.

I think in addition to a very specific due date, every pregnant woman has THE POINT where she simply wants to be done being pregnant and just get on with life, snuggle a sweet-smelling newborn, and face the future… come what may. Everyone expects, or at least hopes, to make it to 37 weeks and still be pregnant. Then the baby is considered full-term and, if labor begins, no effort will be made to prevent its continuation on to delivery. And so women are conditioned to see that date as a green light. Many women, myself included, get to 37 weeks and figure that most babies are not born that early, so they contentedly continue waiting until 38 weeks, which is a more typical time to begin getting anxious about when baby will arrive. Most pregnancy-related literature explains the imprecise nature of a due date… “you should think of it more like a due month rather than a due date” caution the pamphlet writers and birth experts. The vast majority of babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks gestation, with only about 5% actually born on the assigned due date. It’s reasonable, therefore, to acknowledge the possibility that baby could be born around 38 weeks, or anytime up till the due date. And so begins the waiting…

Most pregnant women at 38 weeks feel big, irritable, and hard-pressed to relish the prospect of waiting up to 4 more weeks to meet this growing baby inside of them. And, with baby gaining from 1/2 to 1 pound per week at this stage, clothes, even the most generously cut of maternity clothes, become ill-fitting, short, tight and uncomfortable. Sleep is almost guaranteed to be elusive, rolling over is practically impossible, and the ever-increasing midnight pee breaks just add to the grump factor. Other potential nuisances include swollen feet and ankles, stretch marks, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, backache, heartburn, itchy skin, exhaustion, shortness of breath and a whole host of other woes. Add to these physiological issues the social/mental ones… people inquiring if you’ve delivered yet, overly “helpful” strangers who make you feel like an incompetent whale, friends with close due dates giving birth before you (thanks Jodi and Kathy!) or your OB (whom you respect and trust) telling you you’re in a “holding pattern” of not making “progress” in terms of dilation, effacement or stage of engagement. Full-term preggos can’t plan activities and distractions because baby *might* arrive anytime. Everything is “play it by ear” based on baby-unknown timetable. Boredom and inactivity breeds anxiety and desperation.

This is where I am. I have reached THE POINT. I am acutely expectant

Beyond THE POINT, pregnant women will do crazy things to try to help get things moving. Things like jumping on trampolines. Going off-roading or driving the bumpiest roads they know of. Walking miles at a time (guilty!). Eating food so spicy they can’t taste for 2 days (well, it wasn’t that spicy). Even drinking 6 oz of castor oil isn’t off the table for some (though even I think that is crazy!). Hopefully the crazy things that women do once they’ve reached THE POINT are relegated to the world of safe activities, but not all “safe” labor-inducing techniques will leave you feeling good. Some of the food-related ones are purported to work by causing diarrhea, which then stimulates sympathetic uterine contractions. Not so cool, in my book. And walking miles with chubby feet will surely produce crater-sized blisters on already tender tootsies. THE POINT has a way of making an otherwise content and normal life a little more unpleasant, one way or the other.

The lucky will avoid reaching THE POINT, either by actually delivering their baby early or by making sure they do not expect to deliver early. My OB predicted I would go early. I therefore predicted I would go early. It is still early (9 days till due date). However, I have reached THE POINT and there is no going back now. I am trying to meter my frustrated feelings by being grateful for a) being pregnant at all, b) having a healthy baby, c) not feeling physically miserable (truly, I have been very fortunate to not suffer the worst of the pregnancy complaints… yet) d) having a loving husband who picks up my slack, e) Spring and f) every other good thing in my life (and there are lots, so don’t mistake my brevity here for want of material!). A little perspective helps put the acute expectancy in check, but it is still there…

So, before I head out to the local mall for some errands and aggressive walking (I can’t fully eliminate the “crazy” or “optimism” or whatever you want to call it), I will admit that this post has provided me with a bit of a cathartic experience. Perhaps some other acutely expectant women are reading this, and perhaps they feel a  little less desperate knowing they’re not alone. I don’t know. But at least I feel a bit better now. A bit more patient. A teeny tiny bit more willing to accept the time frame that I can’t do anything appreciable about anyway…

2 comments:

Reenie said...

That was a very frank, honest, cheery complaining post- nicely done :) It always impresses me when someone complains in an eloquent and entertaining manner ;) AND I'm very sorry about the blisters... and the lack of action... and the after effects from the spicy food... come on baby!

Emily said...

oh karen, here's hoping the baby comes soon! hang in there!