Monday, August 27, 2007

You know, I've never been good at "Keep in Touch"

June, July, August, heck, some stuff happened in there. I just left a lunch with a friend who I haven’t seen in YEARS and after he told me the sagas of love and loss for his family, all I could think of to say was that my parents had some landscaping done. Seriously. And I’m having a boy. Frankly, I don’t know what I am going to do with a boy, but I’m getting one, and everyone seems to think it’s great that I will be completing my Norman Rockwell family portrait. I was actually dreaming of something more like Little Women without the death, but I can think of some good things about having a boy. Is it wrong that I am relieved that Natalie will be my one and only princess and won’t have to share that pet name with a sister? Is it normal to feel depressed that I will have to give away all the little dresses that she wore instead of seeing them again on another little girl? Am I the only person that can’t figure out whether I am happy or sad about this?

Oh! I did find time to read Harry Potter when the new book came out. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I meant to re-read the ending, but I haven’t found that time again since. I have way too busy fueling my own anxiety over being pregnant.

When I was pregnant before, I had preeclampsia. There, I said it. If you’ve never known someone who went through that nightmare, read some stories here. My story is not that bad, as these things go. The thing is, I didn’t know I had a problem until I was in the recovery room after delivering my baby and couldn’t hold my head up or stop vomiting. The first 20 weeks of my pregnancy were spent trying to come to terms with being pregnant and having one continuous “threatened miscarriage” because my hormones were out of whack. Then – literally at 4 a.m. on the day after I was released from the hospital for the last time – my dear friend and my husband’s male other half, Russell, was killed in a mugging. The next 10 weeks or so are all a blur in which we tried to come to terms with all that grief and shock. I remember that I felt bad, but it’s difficult to separate depression from normal pregnancy feelings from the unnatural exhaustion caused by preeeclampsia. Then another friend delivered a baby at 26 weeks (she was 2 weeks ahead of me) and he only lived a month. I remember that I couldn’t wear shoes anymore because my feet were so thick that nothing in any size would go on. I know that my OB sent me to a cardiologist and put me on blood pressure medication, but I didn’t understand what it was for. I had complained that my heart felt like it was racing, and so I thought he was trying to help with that. The medicine made me foggy and even more tired, so I thought I was choosing between the racing heart and the foggy feeling, and I chose the racing heart because at least I could drive to work that way. I honestly had no idea that what I had was serious or that I was in any danger of early delivery. I read about pre-e in the pregnancy books. They listed the symptoms and – check, check, double-check- that was me. They didn’t say much that concerned me. I recently read in my old journal that the doctor had recommended that I leave work at 26 weeks, but I think I believed he was just trying to accommodate me because I felt so bad. I thought I was toughing it out and I just needed to get over feeling bad for myself. Then, at just under 37 weeks, I went to my company’s Thanksgiving luncheon and then to my weekly OB appointment. I took work with me. The doctor took my blood pressure, looked at my feet and smiled a very wary, ominous, smile. He said, “Well, you’re going to have this baby tomorrow. You can just go on over to the hospital now, and they will get you started. I will come by and check on you tonight, and we will have induction tomorrow. Maybe you will have labor tonight. You are essentially full term, the baby is big, and there is a chance that if I send you home, you will have a stroke.” He said it very kindly, but just like that. I began to cry right there. He took me to his office, and I remember sitting in his big leather chair calling my family to tell them I was going to the hospital and trying to keep from soaking his telephone. That’s about the last thing I remember clearly from that day.

So, without telling the whole birth story, I basically had 24+ hours of heavily monitored, drug-induced labor that ended in an emergency c-section. My blood pressure was so high after delivery that they put me on magnesium and sent me to a special high-care room. I don’t remember the first day of my child’s life, because that is what magnesium does, and afterward I was so relieved to have it over that I never looked back…until now, of course, when I became curious about whether this was a fluke or something I had to look forward to living again. Now I know that I have a very good chance of developing the same problems because the last time it all started so early in my pregnancy. To be totally honest, I am terrified. Every day, when I feel my heart racing and my shoes pinching, I remember having this feeling before. Things I have long forgotten are becoming clear again, and I am starting to make sense of what happened with the last pregnancy. At the same time, I am making my anxious self nuts worrying about what might happen.

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