It’s been well over a month since my last post. That’s the longest I’ve gone without checking in here by quite an order of magnitude. And, to be honest, putting virtual pen to paper here and now feels odd and discomforting. It’s almost as if this space I birthed nearly a year ago is no longer mine, no longer of me, no longer for me.
In the simplest terms, I’ve been too scared to write. As the weeks have ticked on I started settling into an unanticipated, yet easy complacency about this pregnancy. The modifiers I’ve most frequently found to define the word “complacency” are smug or uncritical. Neither of those have been in my emotional lexicon for the past 4.5 years. The idea that I’d fall back on them to describe the past month, particularly the past month of my pregnancy, is downright shocking. But, it’s been good; complacency’s been wonderful.
It’s been tremendous to walk into appointments with my MFM, his midwives, their nurses, and feel confident, supported, and, above all else, trusting. Yes, I ask follow-up questions, request longer explanations when necessary, and speak my mind (and gut) at every opportunity, but the past few visits to the regional perinatology center have been the first doctor’s appointments I’ve attended in nearly half a decade where I haven’t walked in shielding my emotions behind an invisible layer of battle armor, where I haven’t prepared several pages of questions in advance, where I haven’t spent hours the night before setting my mind straight for the next day’s ordeal. Instead, I’ve played the grateful patient to my practice’s caring and attentive guide.
It’s been overwhelming and surreal to feel our little man grow. Even as he’s increasingly begun using my bladder as his own private trampoline, I find myself in awe of these jabs and flutters I often thought I’d never know. I saw him on a regular growth scan two weeks ago. Aside from leaving with indisputable visible evidence that, indeed, we are not jinxing ourselves by accepting all those baby blue hand-me-down clothes from friends and neighbors, we received the good news that all is well and he’s spot on the doc’s target for size (54th percentile). With each kick I’ve felt a little more freedom from the fear that had encompassed me. The morning I hit 24 weeks (sometimes referred to as “viability day”) I cried in the shower while silently saying, “Thank you.”
It’s been tiring preparing a nursery. Since my last post the room was gutted to the studs, drywall was installed, and paint was painted. (A chipper shade of yellow that makes me smile each time I walk by.) We still have to lay new flooring (this weekend), and have the contractor replace the cracked windows and install a new heater (Mr. But IF doesn’t do electrical or heights), but I’m thrilled with our progress. Even having our hot water heater spring a leak (well, a geyser) mid-way through painting couldn’t abate my delirious joy on painting day. Yes, it really did kind of suck to wash up in freezing cold water, but I chuckled and joked with the mister as we drew straws to see whether “ma” or “pa” would get to have the first go in the bath water we’d boiled on the stove. It wasn’t lost on me that uttering those two-letter country colloquialisms didn’t sting nearly so much as it would have a year ago.
Of course, the thing about finding a groove – or, in this case, embracing the complacency – is that sooner or later it’s gonna end. The other part of the common definition of complacency is, “satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.” Having an easy pregnancy this far is not an achievement. It’s pure dumb luck. And, given enough time, there’s always going to be a reminder that one’s luck is subject to change.
When I woke on Friday I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Work had been (and continues to be) extremely stressful. We’d been engaging in the aforementioned hectic nesting for the entirety of the prior weekend. And, then, I’d spent each night all week alternating between celebrating the Mr.’s birthday, attending to social obligations, and participating in after-hours work events (because, clearly, only 8-9 hours of work torture a day is NOT enough!). The waters were looking rough when, on Thursday afternoon, I returned to my office after a particularly unpleasant meeting with the boss and big boss to see a blinking red voicemail message from my therapist asking why I’d missed that afternoon’s appointment. (“Oh shit,” I thought, “I’m so overwhelmed I’m even fucking up at therapy!” And, then I proceeded to let my missed therapy session – you know, those things I go to to vent and let out the negativity? – eat away at my mental well-being for the next, oh, 4 days.) So, when I woke up barely able to function on Friday morning there was a simple strain of “uh oh” being repeated in my head.
As I sat at my desk that morning, I realized the world was blinking. Well, not the world, per se, but how I was seeing it. Large patches of black inkspots swirled in my vision in tune to the beat of my heart. My right hand began tingling and, over time, became numb. I remembered the difficulty I’d had zipping up my snow boots due to suddenly swollen ankles that morning, just as I started getting a pounding headache. For an hour and a half I ignored it all. I hid in my bubble of complacency. I reminded myself that – despite my rock-star high-risk doctors – I had the world’s most perfect pregnancy. I mean, it was nice and all to be labeled “high risk” because I got really attentive care, but that label only stemmed from an excess of caution approach from my former OB and my own aggressive approach to the scary, early, “bad” days of pregnancy after IF. And, you know, that teensy-weensy autoimmune disorder that could threaten my life and that of our unborn child at any moment. Finally, I texted the mister with a simple, “I REALLY don’t want to worry you, but I don’t want you to get mad that I hid anything from you.” As I spelled out “numb fingers,” “headache,” “vision trouble,” and “ankles the size of ham-hocks,” I realized I was a disillusioned idiot. As he read the above he typed them dutifully into Dr. Google and immediately demanded I call the doctor as each was a sign of pre-eclampsia (one of those lovely pregnancy complications I’m now predisposed to… woot!) I called, they requested I find a way to get my BP ASAP and to “stop dismissing these troubling new symptoms.” Soon I was off to use that home blood pressure cuff the Mr. had bought in the bad old days prior to his weight loss and running obsession. But, not before crying in the bathroom at work. Not before visualizing the world crashing down around me. Not before envisioning bed rest, hospitalization, and an incredibly premature birth. Not before cursing myself for my complacency.
Once at home the trusty blood pressure cuff mocked me as it reassured me. 106/79. Exceptionally normal. Brilliantly low. Thank-you-baby-Lord-Jesus average. Another call to the triage line told me that, while troubling, none of the new symptoms was cause for concern UNLESS accompanied by an elevated BP. It was 1pm on a Friday afternoon and I fully embraced the bed rest and increased fluid intake recommendation I received. I slept most of the rest of the afternoon, greeted the mister home from work at 7, ate dinner, and was promptly asleep on the couch by 9:30. Ten additional hours of sleep followed.
So, I guess I’m “fine.” I’m still shaky off and on, the black spots keep finding me, and the fatigue is no joke (I brought my laptop to bed with me to write this… when I went to bed… at 7:30). But, in the grand scheme of things, I guess I’m just as lucky now as I was a week ago. However, one thing I’m not any longer is complacent.
I was too scared to write when there was little to write about, but I’m finding it easy to write now that I’m scared. I don’t know what to make of any of that at this moment, but I do know it feels good to be back here, to once again feel so many of you walking beside me and supporting me in ways large and small. Complacency’s overrated.