Thursday, December 11, 2014
Week 29 jitters
Not going to lie, it’s been a completely draining week. Ever since I woke up this past Saturday, I’ve had this sense of dread and pending doom that has colored every action, reaction and thought I’ve made, considered and opted out of pursuing. Some might say it’s the looming holidays, others might call it a particularly moody mood swing, but I know exactly what it is: anniversaryitus.
For better or for worse, I remember dates and details of events well after the normal person and long after I necessarily should. Sometimes those dates wind up surfacing some sweet memory like November 8 as the anniversary of when HB proposed, October 27 as the date of my first (only?) marathon, or March 17 as the anniversary of GW and GV’s baptisms… but other times, they take me back to some of the most miserable moments frozen in time and carved into my memory that I want to ignore. December 21 is the day my father gruffly told me my Grandmother died and I, being entirely too young to understand, found blame for her death in myself and the clothes I'd selected to wear that day. October 21 is the day Mandy Morrison died after falling from her window on the fourth floor of the girl’s dormitory to which I was a Resident Advisor. April 4 was the first day of HB’s last deployment to Iraq, a day I feared would be our last. And, pregnancy wise, week 29 was the week that all went wrong with GV’s pregnancy when out of the blue I went down with a partial placental abruption. I know, date wise, that the actual event happened September 25, but that week in the hospital forever changed my view of women’s bodies and the terrifyingly beautiful risks we take when we carry a baby.
The feeling I so vividly remember of my pregnancy with GV before the abruption happened was not one of concern or even of real acknowledgement of my "condition," but rather of simple normalcy. I’m not trying to suggest that I feel “normal” while pregnant because, really, what woman in her right mind could feel normal while pregnant? But what I mean is that I had no reason to think of myself in any different terms than the way I consider myself while not pregnant – athletic, capable and independent... simply me. Translating that into my actions, I didn't think I needed to sit down on the metro (what risk of falling?), have help while carrying groceries (I'm pregnant, not weak!), get a hand up after sitting on the floor (I wouldn't have sat here if I couldn't get up), or stop moving furniture (it's called nesting). But when my hand was covered with gushing dark, thick blood and the thought of losing the baby entered my brain, all of my preconceived notions about myself and my pregnant body went out the window. I wasn't weaker, but I was different. I was more fragile and more vulnerable to the everyday slip ups that I would have kept rolling with were it not for the tiny life dependent on me not slipping, not lifting, not eating x, y and z, not sleeping on my back or right side, not exercising with my heart rate above 140 beats per minute, not ... snuffing out its existence through my actions before even having a chance to live.
In some ways I look back on my time before that terrible week with envy - the ignorance of fear was so wonderful and, to be cliché, thoroughly blissful. But now that the USS Unaware has sailed and I'm fully onboard the USS Worrywart, I can't escape the vast, rocky landscape of ebbing what-ifs. On one hand, I can find some degree of comfort in the fact that my awareness of pregnancy as something delicate leads me to choose actions or inactions that prioritize the baby's safety before my own that I might have missed otherwise. Conversely, the opposite of ignorance is hyper vigilance and, let's face it, 180 degrees from dysfunctional is still dysfunctional. Should I be as scared of GW hugging me with his unbridled enthusiasm as I am? Maybe. Should I opt out of walking our 118 lb mastiff for fear of her pulling? Perhaps. Should the fact that I'm in week 29 this go around mean history is bound to repeat itself? Not at all.
At the end of the day, I guess the superstitious side of my young-self that found blame for my Grandmother's death (at age 91) in my closet persists to one degree or another despite my internal reprimands for logic and reason. I know I am at an increased risk for repeat placental abruptions because of my previous abruption history and because of my elevated amniotic fluid levels, but neither of these complications guarantees another abruption or a particular pregnancy outcome. Whether I have an abruption now, in three weeks or down the line with a future pregnancy, I can't do anything more than I already am and my suffering from anniversaryitus does nothing but raise my blood pressure - which charmingly further elevates my risk for adverse complications. The only cure I see to this ailment is safe arrival at week 30 this Saturday... at which point, I realize, nothing will be different except an arbitrary number that, for whatever reason, I fear.