Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 23

“WHEN ARE YOU DUE?” 

I look around and behind me. I am walking through the main lobby of the hospital and have stopped at the volunteer desk to check out their small stash of books. As I leave, again, “WHEN ARE YOU DUE?” A gray-haired lady who looks to be in her 50s is frowning at me.

“Why??”

“Just because, I wanted to know.”

I’m wearing an army green, skin tight maternity dress. It makes my tummy stick out but I don’t care because being pregnant as fuck is a beautiful thing. I mutter October but I am already flushed, and I make a mad dash for the gift shop. 

I can’t believe all these ridiculous strangers blatantly harassing me! Her expression was like that of a roast pig at a farmers market. I should have asked “How old are you?” or shouted: “NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUSINESS!” But instead I muttered and kind of shook my head and waddled away.

What really gets me about the question “When are you due?” beside the nosiness and repetition of it, is that I don’t exactly know when I’m due. I might be due one day but I might be induced another. My estimated due date is off from my last ultrasound due date, and judging from the state of my cervix and my blood pressure and a number of other factors, I could be expecting in a month or even less. Sometimes I feel like she’s just going to pop out right now! So the answer is, I don’t know! Please fuck off!  

It’s 6:30 pm and I’m watching a show on UFO conspiracies. Taryn the RN walks in to check on me. We talk about baby names and then she asks about what I do for a living and I tell her I’m a writer and before I know it I tell her I have a blog and I’m writing about my hospital experience. She wants to read it and she’s going to find it. Oh no! 

“You’ll just have to wait.”

“I’m going to find your blog.” Oh shit. 

“Nooo. You’ll just have to read the book.”

“You’re going to write a book?” Am I going to write a book?

“I hope you don’t say anything bad about me.” Taryn is incredibly friendly, and adorable, (and nosy), yet another Amy Adams. I mean it would be impossible to say anything bad about her. I just don’t want a whole floor of nurses finding my blog and poisoning me.

“Oh definitely not, don’t worry.” 

“Don’t use my real name!”

“Oh definitely not.” I’ll change it if I write a book

Listen, if you find this Taryn, you’re on the top of the good nurse list. This is an invisible list with flexible demands but for the most part a nurse has to: show concern, work hard, inspire good conversation, and treat me like a human, not a job. You win at all these things. Good job.

By the way, limiting my antacid intake to one because the doctor’s orders are confusing to you is a huge demerit (Veronica: already a name that reminds me of illegal furs and nose jobs). 

Terry the RN comes in to take care of me from 7 to 11. Terry is rather large and majestic, with her head held up high like the Red Queen in scrubs, and she intimidates me. She rolls in to do vitals, give me more pills (I feel like I’m in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and check my feet for swelling.

“They’re only a little swollen. It’s my face that’s the most swollen.”

“Yeah I’ve noticed, it’s gotten puffier since you arrived.”

“It has??”

“Yes it’s very puffy.”

“It’s puffy??”

She steps out to get more witchhazel pads for my one, tragic hemerrhoid and I sit up in bed frantically googling “face puffy pregnant”.  She comes back in, smiling.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stress you out. It’s normal to get swelling during your pregnancy-”

“Oh I know! I’m just…being vain.” I put my phone down and wave at the tv. “This movie is ridiculous.” (It’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and Julia Roberts is crying and smiling as usual). Terry tells me not to stress and to call if I need anything.

Yeah no problem- staying stress-free. Easiest thing in the world, right? 

Nope. I’m trying to quiet my mind but it’s full of worries, hopes, worries. Charley is sober again. How long will this last? A day? A week? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “This is the only way you’re going to evolve as a person,” I say.

“I know baby.” He feels bad. I try not to talk about it. It’s the pink alcohol elephant! The giant, destructive, belligerent pink elephant! And we can’t talk about it!

I’m meditating. I’m not new to meditation but it isn’t something I’ve regularly been practicing. I first meditated with my ex Adam. He would turn off the lights and light candles and sit in front of a fat Buddha from Target whose head had fallen off and was resting on his lap. I’d sit in front of Adam or on his lap and he would complain but then he’d adjust and we’d sit in silence looking out the window or at the headless Buddha. 

Adam told me about Vipassana and to be a better girlfriend who was “less emotional” I looked into it. I ended up meditating for seven days at a Vipassana retreat in Washington (that’s silence and daylong meditation, so a very ascetic, serious week). 

Then Adam wanted “space” and I moved overseas to teach English to kids in South Korea for a year, and meditated on the weekends. I went to a self-awareness workshop in the mountains, and I’d take the bus to Seoul, an hour from my seaside factory town, to sit with a handful of expat women in front of Himalayan salt candles. I was 27. Now I’m 33 and I haven’t meditated more than ten minutes at a time. I’ve done hot yoga and long walks and runs but not actually sat still, closed my eyes and meditated for any real length of time in six years.

So here I am in a place made for sitting still. And I’m meditating again: in the courtyard, in my room staring at the wall, in the shower staring at the wall. It all counts.

Why? What’s the point? Some doctors say the answer is “meditation, not medication,” such as Robert Schneider, MD, dean of the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine. He says approximately 600 studies have been conducted worldwide on the effects of “transcendental meditation” on blood pressure and hypertension. “TM is a simple mind-body technique that allows you to gain a unique state of restful awareness or alertness,” says Schneider, and basically kick stress in the ass.

Maybe it would have helped to stick with prenatal yoga and meditation through the first two trimesters of my pregnancy. Maybe to an extent. Maybe if I could kill the pink elephant in the room. Today I’m not about to give up on my current regimen of pills, but for a peripheral remedy, meditation seems like the perfect longterm solution. 

Beside curbing hypertension, meditation is known to decrease muscle tension, headaches and depression; regular meditation relaxes the nerves, strengthens intuition, will power and patience, and changes your entire attitude toward life. It’s basically one of the most amazing things you can do for yourself by taking deep breaths and doing nothing. And that is exactly what I want to do- nothing.

 

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