A conversation that I had with a dear friend yesterday evening has me up at 3am unable to sleep, so worked up that I need to vent, to rant, because the ignorance of some is astounding.
This dear friend asked about my pregnancy, but each time I attempted to convey what is happening (even light-heartedly), I was shut down. When I joked that I’ve been cooped up for a while and I’m going batty, I was told not to use that phrase, that the phrase “cooped up” is negative and what we think becomes reality. But the phrase “cooped up”, for me, is an easy, breezy way to express that I’ve been landlocked to my house for quite some time now – first, with the vertigo, and now with a high-risk pregnancy.
Yes, I’ve been cooped up.
I’m not complaining. It’s a challenge, but I’m not complaining.
I expressed the very real, very honest feeling that when I see other women who get pregnant easily and have an easy pregnancy, I’m jealous. I was admonished. Stop with that bullshit, I was told. But that, my friends, is not bullshit. It’s true. Stripped down and bare. I – am – jealous. And I deal with that jealousy. Here’s the thing – we struggled to get pregnant. It was a challenge, a journey, one that made us so very appreciative of this life growing inside of me, but it was a challenge, a painful one, nonetheless. And I realize that our road to pregnancy was not as long and arduous and painful as others, as some of my close friends who are currently on this journey, experiencing the pain of miscarriages, and the pain of fertility issues. To all of those women (and men) – I see you, I hear you, and I have compassion for you. (Shouldn’t we have compassion?) But now that I’m pregnant, I am high risk. So, yes, I’m jealous.
I was then lectured on a “natural” birth, a vaginal birth without drugs. That she always believed that she would have a “natural” birth and so she did, that our thoughts, once again, become reality. This, friends, hit a nerve. A zinging one. Here are the facts: I have complete placenta previa; I must have a C-section. And when I told her this, she pushed – have you gotten a second opinion? A third? Women have been giving birth for years naturally without drugs. Women still do in other parts of the world. Yes – this is true. But guess what? If I were to have a vaginal birth, there is a very real, likely chance that I would bleed out on the table (at the very least I would need several blood transfusions), and my baby girl would be in danger, she would be in distress, and she might not make it either. I am lucky, I am blessed – yes, blessed, to live in a country and in a city where I have access to excellent health care, where I am able to birth a child in the safest way possible considering my condition, where if I have a big bleed and do go into pre-term labor, which is a possibility with previa, that I will have doctors that will likely be able to control that bleed and keep me in the hospital for as long as possible, keeping my baby girl inside of me as long as possible, before taking her by C-section.
I think I’m already an excellent fucking mother. I think that making the decision to do what is best, what is safest for your child makes me an excellent fucking mother. That I’m not pushing for a vaginal birth just to push for a vaginal birth because some women think that that’s what’s important – no, what is important is the safety of my child.
And I told her I was offended, that the idea that my thoughts could change my condition was offensive, that I was somehow creating my situation by acknowledging the reality of my situation was offensive.
Each day I deal with excruciating pain in my pelvis from an old injury. Some days the pain is about a four, and I am able to take short walks, to go up and down the stairs in my home, and on those days I take advantage of that relative pain. But other days, the pain is so severe that I can barely move, that getting to the bathroom is a challenge, that my pelvis gives out on me and I must catch myself before I fall. The orthopedic surgeon has said that it will only get worse, that I may need to use a walker or crutches as I get bigger. But each day I deal with this pain, and I grin and bare it, because it is just one more thing (pesky and painful, sure) that I must go through to get this baby girl Earth-bound. I’ll do it. Happily.
And each day I deal with the fear of a bleed: I cannot exercise; I cannot lift things above ten pounds, at least not from the ground, not if I’m using my pelvic floor; I cannot do yoga; I cannot stretch; I cannot exert myself physically (I can go for walks); I need to manage my stress; I cannot be in the heat longer than a few hours at a time; I cannot be on my feet longer than a few hours per day; I have to manage social activities with friends due to the adrenaline. Sure – I could try these things again, but the last time I did, I bled. And I’ve learned how to listen to my body, that when I feel a heaviness in my lower abdomen, an aching heaviness as though I’m about to start my period – that’s the sign to stop what I’m doing and get my feet up and rest. Everybody’s body is different, is able to withstand different amounts of stress, and this is what my body can handle.
I’m handling it.
And each day I deal with the fear that I will bleed, and it will be a bad one, and that she will come early. That she isn’t getting the nutrients she needs to grow (this is another possibility with previa). We had an appointment with the doctor a couple days ago and my last ultrasound showed that she is in the 14th percentile, growth-wise – so, small. So the doctor ordered another ultrasound to check my baby’s growth, but they can’t fit us in for a couple more weeks. So my husband and I are handling that fear as well. In my heart, I know she’s fine, I know she’s growing. But, still – fear.
But we are handling it.
So each day I deal with excruciating pain and each day we deal with fear and each day I work to funnel that pain and fear into positivity and hope because that’s so fucking important right now.
So when I am lectured about my thoughts or my words or having a C-section – yes, I must rant. I am doing everything I possibly can to keep this little girl safe and happy and growing, everything that is within my power to control. And there is still the chance that my placenta will shift and these restrictions will fall away – I’m holding onto that hope. But if it doesn’t, that’s fine too. Because I know she will be OK. Because I believe that if she chooses to come to this world early, she will be ready. That the excellent doctors will do their jobs. That my husband and I will continue to handle it. That we will continue to make the difficult, right, decisions for our daughter. That having a C-section is not a crime against my child. That, if I’m able to deliver vaginally if the previa moves and I decide to have an epidural (which I would need to because of my pelvis), that this, too, is not a crime against my child.
Women need to stop shaming other women.
Also, have some compassion.