Telling A Pregnant Woman To Relax Is About As Useful As Handing Her A Condom
You know that thing where you get pregnant, and anyone and everyone come forth to share their pregnancy stories, birth stories, war wounds, judgments, opinions, and overall consensus on how you should be feeling? Yeah. I mean, I’ve always heard that happens. But experiencing it firsthand in my first trimester has been slightly overwhelming. You see, I am not an anxious person. I believe I made this clear in my last post, but now I’m reiterating it for good measure. Because I’m totally not, you guys.
If I had to label myself, I’d be your classic Type B (which I like to think kinda stands for Bad Bitch) gal. I’m organized just enough to get through life sans chaos, I procrastinate in all things but always manage to get mah work done, and while I like achieving things and succeeding, I don’t stress out when I fail. I can get upset without completely losing my shit. I am creative. I am reflective. I am a couch potato.
So needless to say, this whole getting pregnant thing has been a newfound experience in anxiety for me. Though I’ve spent a lot of time reading books and articles about pregnancy, watching TLC’s A Baby Story back in the day, listening to friends and relatives share their own childbearing experiences time and time again, I feel completely unprepared for everything that is happening to me both physically, emotionally, and mentally. I was not expecting that. As a lifelong realist and know-it-all, I’m totally thrown off my game by not knowing anything. Cravings? Thought those happened later on, you know, when you’re huge. Getting sad every time I get a whiff of someone’s wine? Depressing. Food aversions? OMG NO BUT I LOVE ONIONS WHAT IS HAPPENING. Random gagging and dry heaving all day with nothing actually coming out? I feel like a goddamn weirdo. No one told me my boobs would hurt so badly they’d keep me up at night. Or that I’d wake up every night at midnight feeling like someone doused me in gasoline and set me on fire. Most importantly, no one told me how worried I’d be. About everything. What everyone does tell me (husband included), though, is to “relax.” Constantly.
This week, I had my second prenatal appointment. My doctor’s office is a group practice, so I’m not guaranteed to see the wonderful, amazing, warm, beautiful Eastern European angel doctor of my choice every time. Realistically, she probably won’t even be the one to deliver this thing. Ugh. So I saw another doctor this week, and she was All Business. Not cold, and certainly not mean. Just a busy woman who sees a gazillion pregnant woman per week. She rushed through her spiel on optional genetic testing and whipped out the fetal doppler heart thingy. Now, at only 10 weeks, I’d been warned by plenty of lady friends that it was probably “too early” to hear the heartbeat. But that didn’t stop my husband and I from getting our hopes up.
…For nothing. Because we couldn’t hear anything but the faint rumblings of the three Eggo waffles I ate that morning. Cue disappointment and mild panic. “Relax,” the doctor said. “I had a really hard time even picking up the extra blood flow to the uterus, so yours is probably tilted.” OH IS THAT ALL? As if I had any idea what that means. I mean now I know it’s nothing dangerous and it’s pretty common. But please, don’t tell me to “relax” after not picking up any sounds from my fetus. Because internally, I’m scared. Not crazy-fly-off-the-rails-and-start-screaming scared, but worried-scared. Nervous-scared. Dreading-the-next-two-weeks-before-my-next-appointment scared.
I told her that I know myself, and I know that I’d be anxious during the two-week wait (after which I probably still wouldn’t hear anything, thanks to ol’ Tilty). She kindly told me she had no problem prescribing an ultrasound because she didn’t want me to worry. I greatly appreciated that. I was able to get in for an ultrasound appointment that same day, three hours later. A long, nervous, “what if”-filled three hours. During which every single friend and family member who inquired about the original appointment told me to “relax.” What a joke! Look, guys, I’m not making myself sick. I’m not going to a “dark place.” I’m just fucking nervous, okay? All I want is for everything to be all right. That’s normal. Please don’t be condescending or mollifying or invalid toward my feelings. I’m not going off the deep end, I’m just a little scared. I need you to tell me that it’s okay to feel scared. I know your intentions are good, but they don’t feel so great.
Fast forward three hours later, and the little gummi bear/alien/nugget popped right up on the ultrasound screen with a beautifully weird, flickering heartbeat. Hearing that sound will forever be one of my favorite life moments. I squeezed my husband’s hand and looked over at his rapidly flaring nostrils and big, wet eyes as we realized, “This is really happening. That little thing is real and it’s ours.”
…Now I can relax.