Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hypervigilant? Nope, Paranoid.

I have always taken the task of growing another human being as an immense responsibility. Prenatal vitamins and prenatal diet are started before even attempting conception, treasured coffee is forgone and replaced with exercise, stretching, talking to baby, all the things you “should” do to give your child the best start in life. 

With this current pregnancy, I don’t have the resolve I had last year. I chalk it up to being grief weary and also that I just did this. I just abstained from sushi, good cheese, booze and caffeine for nearly a year. I just utilized the full force of self-discipline to think of the growing baby inside me before I even considered my own wants and needs. Always putting baby first.  I am still doing my best to take care of this littlest Dragon, but now I cave and eat processed bread or, gasp, double-stuffed Oreos. Despite my will power being less than last pregnancy, the guilt is just as strong and with a greater sense of consequence.

It isn’t so much that I didn’t know of all the horrible, random ways babies die in utero last year, it was that I didn’t think it could happen to us as long as I did everything right. And I am a real rule-follower. I mean if drug addicts deliver viable infants then my kid would come out a freaking gladiator!

Now fate has struck me down and obliterated all that I believed. So this pregnancy I am hypervigilant but still recognize that it doesn’t guarantee anything. This doesn’t make for much inspiration. Still I am conscientious about everything I put in my mouth, I count the ounces of water I drink each day, I hold my breath as I pass smokers on the sidewalk, I no longer lie on my back. Honestly, it is beyond vigilance. It is paranoia. No joke, I considered asking for an elective cerclage to rule out one more way Dragon could perish. There is a good chance I will not attend company or family holiday gatherings this winter in an attempt to avoid additional exposure to germs. This same logic is scaring me off public transportation as flu season approaches. Everywhere I turn, some evil is lurking waiting to harm my baby and I am the only one who can protect it. But can I really?

Like so many of the BLMs in the blogosphere have expressed, there is this sense that horrible things will happen to us again regardless of anything I do, say or believe. If we were randomly selected to have our perfect, healthy son die inexplicably and without warning then who’s to say E won’t die in a random car accident or that this baby won’t die of any number of vices. We all know there are families out there who have lost more than one child. There are women who have had back-to-back full term losses. There is nothing to believe in.

And yet I cannot just give up completely. It’s as though I walk this fine line between denial and reality. There are days where I deny I am pregnant. Not to the extent that I cease caring for myself or baby, but that I refuse to think about the pregnancy and, in turn, all the things that could go wrong. These days are sprinkled in among lucid days of acknowledging just how much is out of my control and how this tiny being is not the magic salve I desperately seek.

21-weeks today. 18 more to go. 


  1. Oh, wow. You're more than half-way there! I hope you can give yourself a big break and eat as many double stuffed oreos as you want if that brings you a moment or an hour of pleasure or comfort. Pregnancy is hard - not only giving up the wonderful things to eat, but also putting your body through all of the hormones and the growing uterus and belly and breasts and whatever your body does when you're pregnant. And no coffee, which just sucks.

    I was just thinking today about how I never thought in a million that I would have this life, and about how we are all so incredibly fragile and life can be just peeled away from any of us at any time. And I agree - I have a really hard time thinking that something horrible isn't going to happen to me again, and I feel like the last year I've been waiting and watching for the next tragedy to come my way. I'm more afraid now of something bad happening because I just don't know if I have the reserves to handle it.

    But you're handling it, you're taking good care of yourself and your baby, and you're *more than half-way there*! True, we never really know, but statistically, you're golden. I hope you find moments of joy feeling wee elbows and knees and feet and fists. <3 <3

  2. Maybe you can turn the drug addict analogy around a little? Like, if babies of drug addicts come out okay, a few Oreos ain't going to hurt. I know the Oreos aren't the main problem, of course, but just wish the burden of guilt could at least be eased a little. The last thing you need is guilt on top of all the grief. If it makes you feel any better at all, I read a study that said that babies whose mothers ate some chocolate every day while pregnant were happier than babies whose mothers' didn't. So, you really *should* be enjoying those Oreos. Levity aside, I wish you didn't have to feel this way, that you could just enjoy this pregnancy in the blissful way so many other mothers do. I agree with Suzanne, you are doing so well. You are taking good care. And you don't have to be perfect; you just have to get through.

    1. I think the best thing would be for my attitude to change to "You don't have to be perfect; you just have to get through." I am on board but the nearly 30-years of over-achiever conditioning are a big road block in altering my perspective. Perhaps I will chant it like a mantra until it is assimilated.

  3. I was EXACTLY the same... In fact, I took public transport once during my whole pregnancy (and washed my hands until they were red afterwards...) It's difficult to be so hyper vigilant, to know so much and feel vulnerable and exposed to so many threats. But you just need to keep on going - using whatever you can to just get through (including orio cookies!) Wishing you a safe, healthy and sane pregnancy. xx

    1. We live quite close to my office so during the nice weather I ride my bike and during the cold months I take public transportation. But just recently I gave up riding the bus out of fear of contracting germs. I now go in an entire hour early (by choice) so that I can carpool with E and avoid the bus.

      Just one example of the many things I worry about and fear will hurt this baby; one of the many things that I can TRY to control.

    2. And, another thought, subsequent pregnancy seems far more exhausting that the first go round. As if there isn't enough to keep track of each and every day while pregnant add in all these worries and potential threats and it's enough to wear a girl out physically, mentally and emotionally.