Monday, August 30, 2010


So, I feel like the girl who cried blog or something.

Yes, I have a bunch of posts in various stages of completion, and yes I have a lot to say.

But right now, all I can think about or write coherently about is waiting. We are 35 weeks and two days into this wait, thrilled to have made it this far and hoping we get some more time.

I am not a patient person; this is not new information. But this pregnancy—and the long, challenging journey to get here—have humbled me, have forced me to let go and take things day by day.

We waited a long time for this little girl. I waited a long time to share the news, because it took several months to trust this was real. For the first 18 weeks, we waited for the infections and exacerbations to die down and waited for the necessary isolation they entailed to be lifted. We had 3-4 weeks of relative normalcy, and then other complications emerged and since early summer, we’ve waited and watched blood pressure readings and pulse oximeter results.

We wait for Saturdays, the changeover day, when we complete another week of this pregnancy. There have been points in the past few weeks when we seriously doubted we’d see another Saturday with her on the inside, so as we approach week 36, we feel lucky just to be able to keep waiting.

Over the past few years, through the consults and tests and the risk assessments and the disappointments, I promised myself that if I were ever fortunate enough to have this experience, I would never complain about pregnancy symptoms, I would never be the infertile person who forgot the journey, and I would never, ever take any of this for granted.

I said this before when I wrote about high-risk pregnancy by trimester, but the “typical” pregnancy symptoms don’t bother me. In fact, they have always been reassuring: the severe nausea, the swelling and back pain, the interrupted sleep. They tell me things are still moving forward, they tell me that in many ways, I am just like any other pregnant woman, and that feels really good.

Besides, who isn’t tired and uncomfortable when pregnant? It’s an occupational hazard.


In terms of the high-risk stuff, the complications that mean I am at the doctor’s office all the time and have had more ultrasounds, biophysical profiles, and NSTs than I care to count here? Well, we went into this with our eyes wide open, so we are not surprised by it all. Granted, we didn’t expect some of the issues (like getting discharged on bed rest at 28 weeks for blood pressure or starting contractions at 34 weeks) but we also knew that things like that can emerge in any pregnancy.

I realize I haven’t updated much on the third trimester since it first started. As I said, we expected a lot of the challenges we’ve had and even expected to have surprises. What’s worth mentioning is that there have been good surprises, too. Namely, we expected the baby to do okay—after all, we have the best care available, and intense monitoring and proactive intervention.

But she hasn’t just done okay; aside from some recent bumps, she has thrived. Truly. Measuring ahead of the curve, being accused of being feisty, moving her diaphragm like a champ, kicking and punching all hours of the day and night…she has surprised all of us, doctors included, with her resiliency and buoyancy, even when my body is struggling. The closer we get to meeting her, the more amazing all of this is to me.

The other observation I have to offer is that while I expected the physical stuff and therefore am not entirely fazed by it, what I did not anticipate as readily was just how emotionally intense this trimester would be. The sheer amount of worry and apprehension, the speed with which the situation can (and does!) change, the prolonged state of ambiguity, the toll of spending days (and days) on the inpatient labor and delivery floor—it is much tougher than the physical stuff.

But every second is worth it.

We have both fought hard for every day of this pregnancy, particularly this last trimester. At this point, I feel like I have done everything I can for her, and it is out of my hands. Now, we need to trust in that and watch and wait for her cues. And it occurs to me that maybe that’s the legacy of this pregnancy: preparing me to do just those things when she’s here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seeking Simplicity

I’ve been quiet lately, but I want to thank everyone who has continued to check in on me, leave comments, and send e-mails. Your ongoing support and encouragement means a lot!

So, I’ve been working on this post on dealing with the medical establishment and being an active participant for a couple of weeks now. It has languished three-quarters of the way complete for several days, yet I just can’t pull it together.

For one, I’ve never found it useful or interesting to write about not feeling well or detail a list of what’s wrong. If I can take those illness experiences and draw something larger from them, great, but short of that, those kinds of posts don’t do much.

But there’s something else going on. I’m at the hospital several times a week for tests and appointments. I’ve spent too much time on the inpatient labor and delivery floor for someone who has not yet delivered.

I have participant fatigue, people.

And if I’m this sick of the medical establishment, that definitely won’t make for worthwhile reading.

So, I’m writing about blueberries.

Yes, blueberries. Aside from a brief flirtation with clementines in the first trimester, blueberries are my biggest (and really one of my only) cravings this entire pregnancy. It’s like Christmas morning to me when my husband comes home from the grocery store and tells me it was “buy 2, get 1 free” day for blueberries. I eat them by the handful when I need a snack. I eat them on cottage cheese for breakfast or lunch. I never tire of their crisp, sweet, yet pleasantly tart taste.

They are so simple and refreshing, a one-ingredient snack I just need to rinse and eat.

And simplicity is more important than ever when you’re gluten-free and pregnant. After all, being celiac has a lot rules and restrictions, and the dietary guidelines for pregnant woman are not insignificant.

The way I look at food has changed over the past 33 weeks. There is a lot more compromise and negotiation. I started eating (some) dairy again, trading off the phlegm-producing effects for the calcium-rich benefits for the baby. I never drank juice because I don’t like consuming a lot of sugar, but now I mix cranberry or orange juice with sparkling water and know that the baby loves it because she kicks vigorously.

There is also a much bigger desire to follow the “less is more” mindset when it comes to ingredients, and the negotiations continue. For example, I was thrilled to find a popular brand of yogurt that labeled several flavors “gluten-free.” I didn’t have to scour over ingredients, check corporate statements, etc to get some calcium (and coat my stomach for the many pills). Yet these flavors also included a lot of additives and two types of artificial sweeteners, which while cleared by the American Pregnancy Association, are still things to watch.

So what’s the lesser evil?

Spend some time clicking through the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s guide to food additives, and you’ll start reading those labels more carefully.

It’s a tough balance, because I am loath to obsess over every single recommendation and guideline, and I want to enjoy healthy food, not be scared or overly limited by it.

And that’s how we get back to the blueberries. We’ve always had a household low in processed foods but that’s more important to me now than ever. It is easier to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, all-natural peanut butter (nothing but peanuts on the ingredient list), freshly popped corn on the stovetop, and lean meats, chickpeas, and other legumes than it is to navigate multi-syllabic preservatives.

Plus, if you’re watching sodium intake like I am, the sky-high sodium levels in processed foods are another turn-off.

My life is completely overrun with complications and competing health priorities right now. I don’t need to deal with them when it’s time to eat a meal.

Simplicity wherever and however I can find it is so important right now. Luckily for me, my cravings seem to get me just what I need.
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