Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the beginning: August, pregnancy

I had an appointment with my PCP on August 6, so I asked her to confirm the pregnancy. I'm not sure why, but I thought they'd do a blood test; they did a pee test instead, which didn't feel that different from what I could do (and had done) myself at home, though it did serve as a marginally official confirmation. I was in a great mood at work that day, even though I was finalizing our final pre-trial submissions for the case heading for trial. That afternoon, the case settled, so I wouldn't have to spent the first month of known pregnancy sweating it up in New York in August, going back and forth between a hotel room and the courtroom. It was shaping up to be one of those days, one of those days that sticks with you because everything seems to go right, the opposite of Alexander's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I spent a lot of time over the next few weeks avoiding work, hoping nobody would come into my office and see me perusing the iVillage pregnancy message boards or ordering pregnancy books off Amazon or researching various pregnancy-related things (half the items in my google search cache in August began with "pregnancy and"). My pregnancy symptoms were relatively mild. My boobs were very sore and my bras were too tight. I developed pimples in the chest/collarbone area. I was so tired I couldn't keep my head up most of the time -- I fell asleep on the couch more than once. I have always been a big water drinker and therefore have always peed often, but this was rough even for me.

The most curious thing was the mood shift. I like to think I hide it well from most people, but I generally tend toward the anxious and irritable. I get grouchy quickly and can overreact to minor setbacks. I am constantly annoyed. But I didn't and I wasn't. Instead, I felt a mild sense of elation at all times. I had heard of people experiencing the glow of pregnancy, but it had never occurred to me that it might emanate from the inside, reflecting an actual change in one's internal self rather than just joy in the fact of pregnancy (or perhaps that this joy could have such a transformative power). I honestly don't know how to adequately describe this change in myself and suspect I'm doing a poor job here, but I loved it.

Those few weeks were tremendous. P and I spent a lot of time trying to come up with something to call the baby while it was in utero but never really decided on anything. We had decided not to tell anyone, as telling anyone at all would obligate us to tell family, which would obligate us to tell my mother, which was definitely to be avoided. (This made choosing an OB challenging, which was an issue we hadn't really thought about. People typically ask people they know for recommendations, and we had planned to ask Ps mom (she was a labor and delivery nurse), but it's tough to do that when you aren't telling anyone.*) We were both so excited, so the urge to tell was overwhelming. I had always mocked people I knew who told the world super early on, thinking they were tempting the miscarriage gods, but I now understood the impulse.** We finally agreed that after our first ultrasound, which we assumed would happen around 9-10 weeks, we would each be allowed to tell one person, but it had to be someone who wouldn't tell anyone else. After my brother's wedding on Columbus Day, by which time I'd be 13.5 weeks, we would tell the rest of the world.

On Wednesday the 22nd (at about 6.5 weeks), I started having stomach cramps. I don't mean abdominal or pelvic cramps or anything even vaguely menstrual-esque in nature -- these were knotty stomach cramps, like when you have food poisoning and feel that wrenching through your gut that lets you know your gut is pissed at you for putting something awful in it. But I didn't throw up, and I didn't expel anything from the other end either. I tried to find information online about stomach cramps and pregnancy, but the only info I could find was about abdominal/uterine cramps that people were describing as stomach cramps or stomach cramps that were accompanied by an expulsion of something from the body. The cramps lasted throughout the afternoon and early evening, but they weren't frequent, there was no bleeding, and they stopped before I went to bed. Looking back, that's right around when something seems to have gone wrong, but I didn't know it at the time.

I woke up the following Monday and realized I had had trouble sleeping the night before -- I had gone to bed early, but I hadn't felt that tired. My boobs seemed less sore. And I felt, well, annoyed with anything and everything that I encountered. I decided not to read anything into it (opted to live in denial?), but I did finally get around to calling my insurance company to figure out exactly what they covered pregnancy-wise, as was recommended by some book or pregnancy journal or message board poster. The insurance manual just said that pregnancy was covered in full with no copay for routine maternal care visits. I had no idea what this meant -- what exactly is routine? Would that cover everything I could possibly need?

I am somewhat embarassed to admit it, but when the customer service rep said that my insurance would only cover one ultrasound during a pregnancy, usually between 16 and 20 weeks, I, well, freaked out. Looking back, though I didn't entirely realize it at the time, something was gnawing at my subconscious, something that made me feel ill at ease. I was already trying not to panic over the fading symptoms issue, and this news just set the panic free. Somehow I thought pregnant people had ultrasounds with some regularity. What if something went wrong? How would I know? She explained that if there was "a medical necessity," they would cover additional ultrasounds; she could not, however, provide me with any further information as to what would constitute such a medical necessity. It was an incredibly unproductive, incredibly circular conversation. My level of hysteria on that call was at a level pregnant-me had not previously experienced.

Over the next few hours, the panic subsided, but the grawing ill-at-ease sensation continued. That said, I wasn't cramping or bleeding or anything else that would give a legitimate reason to worry. Plus, there really was nothing I could do but wait for my first appointment, scheduled for two days later. So I waited.

* As for how we chose someone, we knew where we wanted to deliver (the hospital where Ps mom works, as we knew we'd be well taken care of), so I made a list of every female doctor who delivered there (definitely preferred to have a woman doing all that observing of my nether regions). I then eliminated anyone who wasn't board certified or who seemed likely to retire before we'd be done having kids. Finally, I circled anyone whose office was walkable from mine (i.e. within 2 miles). When I looked over the circled names, one jumped out. I was sure I knew her. It turns out, she is a friend of my MIL; in fact, she was a guest at our wedding -- I even had pictures of her talking to my dad. So we chose her.

** The fucking irony of it, of course, is that none of them miscarried. I didn't tell, but I did. Apparently, the miscarriage gods cannot be tempted -- they hate you and want to punish you or they don't.


Katie said...

I both love and hate the "in the beginning" stories. I love reading of the happiness and joy, but my own stomach is in knots knowing the ending. I love getting to know you and what has brought you to this place, but oh, how I hate the pain that has brought you here.

Thank you for sharing.

sushilover said...

I love your thoughts on the "miscarriage gods". I've often thought the same thing, even as a male co-worker couldn't wait to proclaim his wife was 4 weeks pregnant to me in the starbucks in my building. For God's 4 weeks out? I thought does this man have no fear?! I would NEVER be so bold. Funny enough...she's still caring and probably due soon. Maybe that's the trick we are all missing...we ARE supposed to yell it from the rooftops. I just wish I weren't so chicken.