Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Pregnancy

I can't believe I thought that was a bump.

More bump like

Hello baby.

People have asked why I haven’t written that much about the pregnancy. I don’t know. Maybe the fact that it took me ten years to write about Mexico is some indication—I need time to process stuff, especially big stuff. And speaking of big, check out that baby bump. And that picture was two weeks ago.

Writing an essay to neatly tie up my feelings about pregnancy feels beyond me at the moment, but perhaps I’ll mention a few highlights:

People smiling at me all the time. Sometimes I forget why someone would be smiling at me, and I feel again like I did when I first moved from New York City to San Diego—people would make eye contact and smile and I would think, “What the fuck do you want?” I don’t quite think that anymore, but it often takes me a moment to realize, oh yeah, I have a huge baby bump, that makes people smile. It’s sweet.

Carl’s excitement about baby’s arrival. “It’s like Christmas, but it could come any day.” That’s what he’s been saying for the past week.

Eating for two. I tried to not take this too far. More than anything, I tried to eat lots of good fruits and veggies, but it was nice to have an excuse for some extra sweets.

Huge knockers. I have no complaints about my normal breasts, but it’s been fun to have gigantic ones for awhile, even if they now look tiny next to the belly.

Elastic waistbands. In general, I don’t love maternity clothes. They don’t fit very well, they’re not that cute, they’re expensive. But I dig the elastic waistband.

The pregnant lady fashion pass. Sometimes I walk my dog in my pajama bottoms now. Because really, who is going to say anything to someone who’s nine months pregnant?

Slowing down. Physically, I’ve had to slow down. Significantly. Sometimes I forget, and climb our stairs at my normal pace, only to have to sit down on the bed to recover. But it’s been nice to slow down, to let up on expectations for myself a little, enjoy life at a slower pace.

Other people’s excitement about the baby. For Carl and I, this baby is a life changing, awesome, scary, sometimes overwhelming experience. But for so many other people in our life, the arrival of this baby is pure joy. I’ve been basking in that joy, soaking it in.

Being part of the mommy club. I really wanted to be part of the mommy club for a long time. I didn’t necessarily want to have a baby, but I hate to feel excluded. It’s amazing how now I have something to talk about with any other parent. A shared experience. I met all the dog people in town when we got Nalu, and now I’m meeting the kid people, which is really fun. This baby has already opened up a whole new world for us.

The Midwives. I love The Birth Center, where we are planning to have our baby. The midwives are so kind, supportive, and generally awesome. It is far and away the best experience I've ever had with care providers.

Early bird schedule. I don’t love the insomnia, but the bright side is that I’m awake almost every day by five a.m. now. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish in a day with those few extra hours. And I do love the early morning, before the world wakes up, I’ve just always loved sleep more. (and still do, but you know, you work with what you have.)

Finding strength I didn’t know I had. Physical strength – yes. I’m amazed at the yoga positions I can still twist this body into. Also mental and emotional strength. Pregnancy has held many challenges for me, and though challenges aren’t always fun, I’ve seen myself rise to meet them, with much love and support, and am proud of what I’ve seen.

So now that I've written something about the pregnancy, maybe baby will think it's okay to arrive. A girl can hope.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Looking for the Gifts

I have a situation in my life that I don’t like right now. Namely, my baby is breech. This means the baby’s head is not down. If the baby doesn’t turn around to the vertex, (head down) position, then I will have to have a C-section. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to me. Not only do I have a serious aversion to hospitals, I was hoping to have a natural birth at a cozy place called The Birth Center, attended by midwives. And as far as birth experiences go, a C-section in the hospital is the other end of that spectrum.

Now, you may not understand my disappointment. Many don’t. But that’s not the point here. The point is that it’s been a difficult two weeks since I first found out the baby was breech. It’s been very emotional—as many things are at 36-37 weeks pregnant. I’ve been through fear, anger, disappointment, hope, more disappointment, something close to despair. I’ve cried many tears. I’ve squeezed into my life many phone calls, appointments, and exercises to encourage the baby to turn. Somehow, eventually, I came to a place of acceptance. I still don’t like that my birth story may be a c-section, but there is only so much I can do here. If after chiropracty, acupuncture, meditation, and a “version” procedure in the hospital, the baby is still breech, well, then I guess it’s meant to be a C-section. But I learned awhile ago, that even though it helps me to accept things, I still don’t have to like them. So that’s where I am. A place of discontented acceptance.

Still, as with any challenge in life, there have been gifts. And for the sake of maintaining my generally sunny disposition, I’d like to acknowledge some of them. First, this has brought Carl and I closer. He’s been amazingly supportive. And in exactly the way that I needed. It’s funny how so many people want to fix this, or want me to not feel what I’m feeling, or maybe just not talk about it, or just admit that what matters most is having a healthy baby. I know that. But I’m also allowed to have feelings about how this baby comes into the world, and Carl has let me express them, giving hugs and back rubs, just listening and validating. That’s meant the world to me.

I’ve done some serious relaxation and meditation work. I had been doing this anyway, in preparation for birth, and I try to meditate every morning as a general practice, but I have stepped up the time and energy I put into meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises, and I can feel the effects in my life. In spite of many emotions, and physical discomfort, I have been generally very calm and peaceful over the past two weeks. And that’s a gift.

I’ve examined my expectations of other people. After feeling disappointed at how some people reacted to this news, I realized that I was looking for someone else to validate my feelings, to give me permission to feel a sense of loss, or anger or whatever. And I needed to give myself that permission. I needed to take care of myself in the way I was looking for others to take care of me. Which was a good reminder. It’s always my job to take care of myself. When I’m feeling resentful at what other people aren’t doing for me, there is always something I can do for myself, and I should do it.

A neighbor shared with me her own disappointment in having to have an emergency C-section. I felt that she really understood where I was coming from. And then she reassured me that the birth was still beautiful and special and that our birth would be too, no matter when and where it happened. I’m carrying her kindness with me like a talisman.

The testing I had at the dreaded hospital was not so bad. And all the people there were very kind, offering me a positive view of the medical world, and hope that even if this is a hospital birth, it could still be gentle and joyful.

I’ve seen that I can be strong and calm and happy, even when challenged. That I still have faith that I will be taken care of, and my baby will too. I’ve had many joyful moments over the past two weeks, and have worked hard to not let my fear or anger or disappointment take over my life. The trick is letting myself feel whatever the feelings are, but then still looking for the gifts each day brings. A few recent gifts: the most perfect beach weather last Sunday; splashing around in my beloved waves; Carl taking pictures of his hugely pregnant wife, saying I’m adorable; preparing a gorgeous meal of crab cakes and shrimp Saturday night for my family; giggling with my brother; walking around Ocean City; ice cream (and yes, pickles, though not together); napping; gaining on the finish line of a first draft of my second novel.

One of the best gifts has been treating myself with extra kindness and gentleness. This does not come easily to me, but it’s been essential in the past two weeks, and I’ve done it. Like many things that are good for me, I can see that the practice works, I can see the good results, which hopefully will encourage me to continue the behavior in the future.

Perhaps the best gift of all was given me by the tech at my ultrasound—a 4-D photo of my baby. Baby’s foot is obscuring half of his/her face, but I can see a closed eye, half a round nose, a chubby cheek. There are no words to describe the wonder of seeing this child’s face for the first time. But just that glimpse may have made the whole breech situation worthwhile. (Though if you’re listening, Baby, please turn over.)

Update: I wrote this last week, and had the version procedure this morning, in which an amazing doctor turned baby over in my belly. Baby is now head down! Hooray for the vertex position!