Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 17

The little things are getting to me. Like last night Bernadette weighed me using an old, wobbly scale. And the nurse this morning, Veronica, wouldn’t use the morning weight on the regular scale. I said “can you reweigh me I think it’s off.” And she said sure you know where the scale is, go ahead. So I did and it was three pounds less and she said oh. “Oh? Are you going to put that in your records?” No because there’s already a weight. Then what the fuck Veronica? The morning weight was taken at night and with the wrong scale and it’s the wrong weight. Good job idiot. (All I said was oh but these things matter when you’re in your third trimester.)

So yeah, little things. And it’s not just the little things. “The Nutty Professor II” made me tear up. “The Nutty Professor Fucking II.” I am a hormonal basket case with acne, stretch marks and a hemorrhoid.

“Are you going to get your pre-pregnancy body back?” Charley asks. 

“Of course, Charley. The second the baby pops out I’ll be hot again.”

“You had the best tits.”

“Those are about the same still. You’ll have to visit to find out.”

“Can we have sex in the hospital?”

“Probably, but I’ll have to put a sock on the doorknob.”

Monday, September 5th: It’s Labor Day so the hospital is Sunday-quiet. Everyone is out grilling burgers and visiting lakes with their drunk cousins.

My day was like all the Mondays: procardia at 8am, 4pm and midnight; labetalol at 4am, noon and 8pm; weight, check, NST test, 24-hour urine sample, a visit from Dr. Lukenaar with more DVDs including a documentary on “Orgasmic Birth”. 

Then the ultrasound. There’s Dakota’s spine, her nose, her chubby cheeks and lips. There’s her heart, toes, labia and tummy. She’s the size of a 33 week-old baby. That’s about the size of an average cantaloupe. That pushes my due date and, of curse, the date of conception up a week. Or maybe she’s just a big baby. I was a big baby. “It’s whenever we went to Vegas,” Charley says on the phone.

He says he’s jealous of me. I get room service, wifi and time to watch movies all day. Plus I have a new weekly menu to chose whatever I want to eat. (First of all, Charley doesn’t like movies, which is insane. Second, I said if he wants preeclampsia and sore feet and hemorrhoids and heart burn and high blood pressures and the restlessness that comes with spending most of your time in a room by yourself, then he is welcome to get pregnant next time.)

“I’ll knock you up and stay home hiking on the Mesa.” He agreed.

Back to my room by myself. I watch two movies and rotate my feet to keep them from falling off and to distract myself from myself. I need to stop worrying. That’s what old people say when you ask them for advice about life. They say: eat chocolate, drink wine, laugh at things and don’t worry so much.

I never worried when I was younger. I just did whatever the fuck I wanted whenever possible, and if an adult didn’t like it I found ways to fight, ignore or avoid them. Now that I’m more or less an adult it seems like the list of things to worry about is neverending: my future, my Charley, my dogs and my cats, my loans,?my bank account, my car, my health, my baby, my sanity, my Nana, my parents, my dreams. 

How do you turn the worrying off, old know-it-alls? How do you, especially in a world where perfectly healthy people die everyday from freak accidents, keep your sanity and remain optimistic and calm? How do you stop a nagging thought from turning into a full-blown storm?

First, I need to remind myself that most of the things I’ve worried about or even had nightmares about end up not happening in reality. Did I fail college? No. Did my plane crash over Cambodia? No. Did I get murdered living in Oakland? No. Did a bear eat me in Yellowstone? No. Did anyone I date ever murder me in my sleep? No. Did my husband crash my car? So far, no. But there are the things that have happened: the excess alcohol made me flip my old Jetta, the ex let my cat starve to death, the guy I met at a bar did the thing nobody wants to ever talk about.

Life is unpredictable. And sometimes scary and yes, absurd. Being surrounded by family after a long life would be nice, but the chances of that happening are slim. You could fall in a tree well or slowly atrophy from a disease you have yet to discover.
There are millions of ways to kick the bucket that you haven’t even contemplated: swallowing rocks, overeating and then choking on your own vomit (poor Mama Cass), or accidentally stabbing yourself with a steak knife. 

Then there is everything that could happen when you just leave the house: falling to your death from a rooftop while having sex or being crushed by a pile of coffins. Isadora Duncan, in 1927, got her long scarf stuck in the wheel of a moving car and broke her neck. In 1939, Sirkka Sari fell down a chimney into a furnace after mistaking the chimney for a balcony. I heard someone died from drinking too much carrot juice.

But I have to avoid getting lost in vague fears. I need to stop trying to get inside my husband’s head, my mom’s head, my dad’s head, my nurses’ heads. I need to remember that all of this built-up emotional reactivity isn’t helping me think straight or cope with my anxieties in the first place. I need to curb my impulses and wait before I make a move. I need to stay busy, active, and creative. I need to remember people are doing their own thing. I need to be in the moment. One day at a time. And most importantly, I have to stop beating myself up or taking to myself like a self-help book.

Criticizing myself is not a positive change. A college therapist once said: it’s like you have a person inside of you constantly pointing fingers and declaring what’s wrong. At that time all of my insecurities were attached to one guy I’d slept with twice. Today they (my insecurities) often still are (attached to a guy) but that guy isn’t a fling from school or a bad date. Rather, it’s my husband with a sprinkle of parents and strangers and my tedious brain.

So to stay calm (and stay pregnant) I make up a game for the baby. “Boop boop.” I pat my belly.

“Boop boop boop.” I pat it again. She kicks.

“BOOP.” She performs a modern dance and stretches my placenta. Okay, go to bed, little Dakota nut.

Tuesday, September 6th: it’s the day after Labor Day. Is everybody drunk? I get woken up six time between midnight and 6am (the main time for me to get any sleep.) Two are blood draws, two are the medicine I take for blood pressure at 4 and 8 (which the nurse has to give), and two are vitals (the CNA checking blood pressure and heart rate), each time the vitals given half an hour before the meds. I was interrupted from several dreams, one in which I’m a secret agent running to Big Ben? My blood pressure is rising again and my forehead is throbbing. 

When Veronica the RN comes to give me procardia, I will be bold. “Hi, can we do the vitals and meds at the same time? I mean, I’ve been woken up six times between 12 and 8 and that’s supposed to be my time to sleep. I’m not a napper,” I’d explain. But 8am passes, and 8:10 and 8:20. At 8:30 she comes in, flustered but with the same voice she had yesterday, somewhere between a kindergarten teacher and therapist for the mentally ill. 

“How are you feeling today?” she chirps.

“I don’t know. I got woken up six times between 12-8 and this is when I’m supposed to sleep….” I ramble. She apologizes, drops a handful of colorful pills into my palm, and notifies me that everything’s moving around and the cabinets in my room need fixing so I’ll have to pack up and change rooms.

Nooooooo. I have one of the best rooms in the hospital, with a view of the Wasatch mountains. “Will the view be good?” I ask.

“Not as good as this one but it will be good.” There are still mountains. The window is smaller. I grunt.

My mood, on a scale of macho football coach who finds out his son is gay to Cinderella getting married to Prince Charming, I am a 4. Maybe a 3 if I’m realistic and chalk this up to 1st world problems. My main annoyance is that there will no longer be a mini fridge so there go my yogurts, pickles and Subway sandwich. 

But okay, why am I complaining? Soon I’ll be awake all night, every night. Six crazy animals, a crying baby and a handsome husband-child. I will love them all and be exhausted every day. Right now I just need to shut up, stop worrying and watch “Orgasmic Birth.”

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