Monday, September 21, 2009

So I signed up for this group class for prenatal care for this one reason alone: I wanted to experience, to pretend, to be a regular pregnant lady. Just two nights a month, really. I vowed that I would just drink lots of juice before I went so I could feel the baby squirm right up to the moment of Doppler and would then laugh and yuck it up with the rest of them.
So far, I have had two meetings. On the first, I did okay. I liked the people, and I left feeling proud because I was doing the pregnant lady thing, and doing it right. Check.
The second meeting was not so good. I had mentioned to the midwife that my greatest concern as of late had been that the baby moves TOO much. (It has to be something). So she wrote on a whiteboard, "What is normal baby movement?" Already I was kicking myself for having gone public with my concern, because I really did not want to have a conversation about this particular topic. But the midwife outlined what "normal behaviour" is, and how it ranges from child to child.
In response to this, somebody asked about kick counts. Now, when I was pregnant with Liam, I did kick counts, but by the time I had done it for a month or two I realized it was unnecessary as I was already obsessing about every single kick I felt. But with Charlotte? Who knows. Regular kick counts might have noticed a decrease in her movement, and could have sent up a red flag. So I am, in theory, a big fan. The midwife ultimately framed it as something you could do, but didn't have to do. I began to feel a little panicked, so I mentioned that it's not hard to just pick a time of day when your baby is always active and just be mindful of the movement, and to see how long it takes to get to 10 movements. While you're eating your cereal, or reading in your bed at night. It gives you a baseline. The point was taken. Heads nodded.
But then! The midwife goes on, and this is a midwife whom I adore and respect, to say the obvious: If your baby is surprisingly quiet, definitely call right away. We'll ask you to eat or drink something and lie down on your left side, and then if you still don't get much we'll have you come in.

Can you guess where my mind is going? Eat? Drink? You are wasting valuable time while a baby might be DYING in there. Take some time to lie down? Bullshit! Get in the car and DRIVE, BABY! Do not pass go! Your baby could, at this very moment in fact, be suffocating or ailing in some other way and you would never know it!

I wanted to leap out of my chair and say, You know what? You know what all of you innocent first time mommies who are choosing layettes and matching your pastels and thinking about 529 funds for your children who will doubtlessly live to go to college? That exact scenario happened to me. I was young, I was healthy, everything was perfect, and after I drank my juice and nothing happened and I came in, guess what? The baby was DEAD. And only hours before I had been JUST LIKE YOU. So hang onto your hats, girls and guys, this could happen to YOU!

Aah. The sweet, gentle nature of the caged bereaved mother, my story locked tightly inside me as if inside a little metal vault while I flaunt my thirty-something week belly for the crowd. I said not a word, but sat there, squirming, for a time while the conversation ultimately turned to another subject.

I am most definitely not a normal pregnant mother. Nice try, though, eh?


kris said...

Oh, Carol, I admire and adore your ability to take risks and push your comfort zone. You are in my thoughts often as the weeks go by.

Hope's Mama said...

Carol - this is precisely why I have avoided prenatal yoga and birth classes this time around. I need to limit my contact with happy, blissed out normal mummies. I burst too many bubbles when I'm around. And if I don't burst them, I nearly burst myself like you just did, trying to keep it all in. To me though, you're so very normal. And I thank you for that. Always feel like less of a freak when I stop by here!

Heather said...

I can't handle the "normal" pregnant people at all. You're awesome for going.

rebeccaeee said...

You know, my experience this time around has been shaped by your shared experience. Yes, I have a healthy boy from my first time and no, I am not babylost, but to read what could happen and does happen to many many mothers and not be affected? Impossible. I'm grateful for your cautionary tale. At 32 weeks, I live somewhere between your well-controlled panic and the blissful ignorance of the "normal" mommies and I am content there.

erica said...

I'm already wondering whether or not to take a class like this. Part of me wants to play normal new mom, and part of me knows it just won't wash. I think you are brave for going, and I hope that, if you keep going, it gets easier.

charmedgirl said...

it so saddens me that we still want so much that (fill-in-blank) experience. i think it is nearly impossible; we can never go back.

Erika P said...

I've gotten roped into helping organize a baby shower for my husband's cousin, and I'm finding it quite difficult to just go along with all the happy, expectant planning. I'm doing it, but accompanied by an inner monologue like the one you describe.

Thank you for sharing all of these images of what life looks like from where you are. You're one of my beacons on this journey. You helped me a lot at the last Empty Arms meeting and I'll miss you tonight.


Ya Chun said...

"caged bereaved mother" so apt a description

Charlotte's Mama said...

Just my own little update-- I went again last night, and it went better. Much better. Nothing was said that sent me off the deep end, so that was super.