Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Doctors: A Special Place in Hell

It's quickly becoming painfully obvious to me that doctors will be by far my least source of information in this little preggo project.

The doctor, "my" doctor, the ob I was just shuffled off to by my gyn, says all the politically safe things. The things she is supposed to say. I had made the plea to meet her and ask her my questions while still clothed, and, while somehow viewed as an unusual request by office staff and doctor alike, I won. Now we sat face to face in a little room, me volleying the few thoughts I'd managed to collect at this woman not terribly older than me (who, incidentally, has no children), occasionally referring to the crumpled scrap of paper in my hand - a list of my queries, with her answering in sterile and predictable tones. My questions included things of no small consequence like her philosophy on cesareans and the alarming rate of surgical births in the US or my fear of postpartum depression. Her answers included phrases like "the heath of the baby," "everything possible," "support you."

She bored me with a by now obvious list of what to do to combat the nausea that I am essentially over anyway. "Thanks," I told her when she'd finished. "I'm 12 weeks, though. I've got that stuff covered."

Then the exam. While she felt my breasts she wanted to know what I did for a living. While she dug for cultures the questions were about how long I'd lived in the area. I matched her question for question, just without physically invading her private parts.

The last part of the exam was when she smooshed blue gel on my belly and listened for the baby's heartbeat. "It sounds like a choo-choo train," I concluded. She gave me a small, patronizing smile. "I like to think of it as horses galloping," she said. Horses galloping?!? It was clearly a choo-choo. Doctors cannot be trusted.

On leaving Dr Dull (not her real name, although you'd think...), she asked as an afterthought about whether I needed prenatal vitamins. I told her I'd chucked 'em with my other doctor's approval because they made me completely sick. I was taking folic acid. "I recommend many of my patients to take Flintstones with iron." The receptionist piped up immediately, "I take one with my kids every night!" Flintstones chewables. We were finally getting somewhere.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Your Baby and Citrus Fruit

"Week 11: ...Your baby is about the size of a large lime." - from Your Pregnancy Week by Week.

A large lime is nestled in my uterus.

A uterus. An organ that, until now, I never really gave much thought to.

My lime develops, by all published accounts, at amazing rates and in amazing ways. The lime stage is quite temporary - I've read ahead. In future chapters and various books, it will be a peach, and then, make a triumphant return to the citrus family by evolving into a grapefruit. Nature is truly amazing, no?

Having your child compared to citrus fruit may seem strange. It is.

A large lime. A fruit that, until now, I never really gave much thought to.

It's a bit like when statisticians compare the size of Eastern European countries to that of random midwest states I know even less about than I do Eastern European countries. Hungary, it has been said, is about the size of Illinois. I have no idea how big Illinois is. Nor do the people of Hungary. I have lived in Hungary, though never in Illinois. Hungary, the locals will all tell you often, used to be much bigger. The old maps still prove popular as wall hangings. The fallen empire complex. I don't believe Illinois ever had an empire. It was never the Austro-Illinois Empire, for example. Illinois and Hungary have about as much in common as my baby has with a large lime. These are doctors writing these things. We as a species, are clueless.

If I eat a large lime while in Illinois, will I finally feel the reality of my baby? Or just nostalgic for my time in Hungary? Or will I wonder what in the hell I'm doing in this midwest state, pregnant, my hands sticky with lime juice. Will I burn all my literature on pregnancy? Watch the flames lick the pages, consuming them in an unknowable craving?

a means to an end

My friends all tell me stories. They go like this:

"Ya know, so-and-so got pregnant and she was really freaking out at first..." These stories all end the same way: "Now, she has a beautiful little boy." "She has the sweetest little girl."
The children in these tales are never colicky with pointy heads and hair in the wrong places. They are always charming and attractive, as if that is the end of the story.

What does she do with her beautiful little boy? I want to ask. How has she integrated that sweet little girl into her life, and how bad are the stretch marks?

Maybe when I hold my baby for the first time, I will know. Maybe I am a foolish, selfish girl with stubborn dreams and an aversion to steroid creams.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

end of the first trimester

it's true. my life used to be divided into semesters. a perpetual student turned teacher, i planned my life by "fall semester" or "spring semester" and summers - dammit- were summers. now it seems i've graduated to TRImesters.

this pregnancy was wholly unplanned and unexpected. this new self-configuration has taken over and anything resembling "planning" in whatever kind of "-mester" has vanished. here i am. in a loving, committed relationship, in a turning point in my life, in a state of confusion and panic, in someone else's body.

stay tuned for history.

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