Friday, November 9th, 2012
My job in writing this here blog is to chronicle pregnancy. I try to keep a healthy dose of humor, reality, self-deprecation, and truth, but today, the only emotion I can muster is fear. I write this not to be self-indulgent but to confront the fear that accompanies pregnancy and to hopefully diminish it as others share how they ease their fears.
I just got off the phone from scheduling another ultrasound. I have been avoiding this call because this ultrasound is different than previous ultrasounds. This one is to check the amount of fluid in our baby’s kidneys. While I suppose other ultrasounds check fluids along with growth and development, this one feels different. It feels different because we know something isn’t quite right. Our baby girl has too much fluid in her kidneys. The medical term for her excess fluid is renal pyelectasis and they keep telling me it’s very common and can mean a myriad of different things. This check then is to see if the fluid levels are now normal or if they have persisted and that means there really is a problem.
This is the second time this pregnancy I have had to try and brace myself for less than healthy news. Our first ultrasound was at 11 weeks because my OBGYN was unable to detect a heartbeat and an ultrasound was necessary to determine the vitality of the baby. The fear and devastation I felt as I waited for that ultrasound was new and incomparable to any other fear I’d felt before. I know many women have much larger worries during pregnancy and have faced the reality of losing their babies and my heart breaks for them. It is terrifying.
I’d never felt the legitimate fear of losing a baby. I worry about miscarrying or that something could go terribly wrong but really, those fears are unwarranted because they have no medical basis and are more easily pushed from my thoughts with the immediate needs and distractions of everyday life.
But this ultrasound is different. There is some medical basis. There is some concern. And I have fear.
Excess kidney fluid can mean a few things, none of which at this point I understand to be life threatening. I try to keep that in the back of my mind that IF something is wrong, it will not be at the cost of her life. And I can handle that. But it doesn’t stop me entirely from worrying about what exactly is wrong and what I can do to protect and help her.
I know fear serves little purpose. I know worry does not change anything. I know thinking of the worst case scenario is counter-productive because we don’t know that it is the worst case scenario, but today, I am only feeling, not able to listen to what I “know.” Because really, I don’t KNOW anything yet. And that’s the scariest part. We just have to wait. And that’s pregnancy in a nutshell. The looming “ifs” and “maybes” and “it could happen to mes” turn pregnancy into nine months of worry.
There is so much left to chance with pregnancy and that helplessness, that fear of loss and expectations and dreams is agonizing. On days like today, I’m not sure how to curb the fear. Today I will let myself worry but with the hope that tomorrow the fear will feel less palpable and I’ll have the strength to embrace more of the bright and less of the dark.
Image: Waiting room via tarasov/Shutterstock.com
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Friday, September 28th, 2012
How do you tell a toddler for whom the concept of time is elusive and really just a permanent state of Veruca Salt’s “I want it now!” syndrome that their life is about to change for-ev-ER in…9 months? I’m still not sure I know the answer, but I am sure I was overly and unnecessarily terrified that the way in which we told our daughter about the new baby would potentially cause her undue psychological damage.
Like the serial worrier that I am, before we told her, I looked to the infinite source of wisdom for some answers, Google. Lo and behold, I didn’t yield anything that promised to be the foolproof antithesis of psychological damage technique. I did read that at her age of 2, I should not expect it to resonate with her or even garner a response.
To our advantage, she does love herself a baby…for .03 seconds, long enough to say in an adorably sickening high pitched voice, “a baby, oh it’s sooooo sweet” before she’s off jumping on couches or pretending she’s John Smith from Disney’s Pocahontas.
Prepared for anything, I figured the best route was to just talk first to her about babies. With unpredictability being the name of the game we proceeded with caution but excitement and my astute parenting mantra: “let’s just wing it.”
Our exchange proceeded a little something like this:
Me: H, how do you hold a baby? (She proceeds to cradle her baby doll, albeit at an arm’s length but with tenderness).
Me: How do you burp a baby? (She does her best attempt at a sweet burp on the back of the baby’s neck).
Me: How do you hug a baby? (Cue her affectionate death squeeze).
Me: Are babies so sweet? (Cue her sickeningly sweet baby voice).
And here’s where it happened. I told her a new baby was going to join our family and she was going to be a big sister. And with her head at a tilt and a thoughtful pause, she looked at me and my husband and said, “I don’t want to scare her.”
Come again? Scare her? What kind of MONSTER are we raising? What does that mean? Quick internal worry meter, analyze that.
I gave some reassuring response that I winged of course, and then she asked, “Who’s coming tomorrow?” Ah, poor, sweet thing, the concept of time is a rough one. Even now, when people ask her what’s in my belly she’ll just rattle off what I had for lunch.
And finally, she asked, “Who’s going to hold her?”
I remembered what Google said to make it inclusive and say “EVERYONE,” especially her, and not to emphasize me in the new baby situation.
Satisfied, she switched the subject, we did the rest of our nightly routine and off to bed she went. As I jotted down her responses I came back to “I don’t want to scare her.”
Despite my initial panic, in retrospect, I think this is the highest compliment a toddler can give. There are few outside stresses, worries or fears in toddler-hood. They do not know the adult world of anxiety and excessive worry yet. The thing toddlers do know is the immediacy of being scared. They can be scared of the garbage truck, blenders, vacuums, pooping, a pesky fly, the wind, or whatever strikes their toddler nerve that day. But their worries are usually immediate or anticipatory, and rarely long term.
In reality, it seems her assertion that “she’s not going to scare her” is the toddler equivalent of protection, love, and devotion. It is how I hope she views us as her parents, people who won’t scare her but will always love and protect her even as our family grows and changes.
With my “wing it” method earning another gold star and my mother chest puffed with pride, I feel certain our little girl will be an excellent, loving, overbearing big sister.
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