fear and loathing in seattle

Yesterday I woke up with a huge panicky hands shaky fearful thought: what if the baby’s not growing?!?! What if I’m no longer pregnant? What if this has all been some cruel joke?

I had a few reasons for this line of fear and panic: my stomach isn’t as big as I thought it was going to be. I’ve heard how women just explode during their second pregnancy, how rapidly their bodies morph into glowing round bellies. My stomach just looks flabby and full, like I’ve been at the Chinese buffet too long and it’s almost closing time so the waiters are huffing, checking their watches and darting their eyes at me and my vulturing over the steaming crab legs until one of them breaks buffet protocol and barks at me, “YOU HEEEEERE FOUR HOUR! TOO LONG! YOU GO HOME NOW!” (Don’t act like that’s never happened to you, Mr. I Only Go For One Round and Maybe Some Dessert Because I Have Self Control! Life must be great up there on your high horse Huffy Bike.)

Also, my stomach has been cramping in the morning. There hasn’t been any bleeding but it’s been enough that it makes me go, “THE HELL!?” Sharp, undulating pains that subside after a few moments, but then return to say, “Hello, we’re from Cell Block D. Did someone order a shiv to the gut?”

My first mistake was to go to the internet and search these terms: baby not growing + cramping + the hell, all of which brings up the dark side of the internet, where crazies and non-crazies unleash horrid stories. I wish I could ctrl-z this morning, or at least go back in time to the moment in my commute when I was tapping out this asking-for-it search on my iPhone and say, “Woman, the internet is not the place for genuine medical advice! Lipstick recommendations, maybe. Places to get good phad thai, but not IS MY BABY OKAY?!”

I panicked as I read words like, “unknown miscarriage.” My mind raced with, “What if…I’m not pregnant? What then?” Then it went to even darker places. I’m used to my brain spiraling downward quickly.

I called my doctor’s office and asked to speak to the nurse on call. I said that I was experiencing cramping and needed to know it that was normal. I’m not a medical professional! I barely know how babies are made. (I have some idea, though)

I waited. And waited. There was more panic. I had talked to my sister-in-law while I waited and she said that I should ask for a stress-test, so I called right away and said that I needed to be seen today! It cannot wait! The woman went uhhh huhh and replied that the nurse would to make that call and I can’t just request a stress test, this isn’t Papa Murphy’s, ma’am.

The nurse finally called me back and explained that nonstress tests aren’t to measure stress (THEN WHY ARE THEY CALLED STRESS TESTS!!?) and that it wouldn’t even be done at 10 weeks. (Maybe that’s a way to get them to call you back sooner, demand premature medical procedures. Next time, I’m requesting an epidural and an IUD.) She then said that the cramping was completely normal and that it happens after exercise or intercourse. (O RLY?) There should be concern if there’s severe cramping plus blood. And the baby is probably still growing, every pregnancy is different and it’s okay to feel like a crazy person. That’s normal, too.

That was it. Everything checked out. Her voice was so soothing, she should moonlight as a hostage negotiator or one of those women who stand outside the dressing room and tell you, “Honey, don’t buy those snakeskin pants, no matter how much you want to look like Salma Hayek.” And I wouldn’t even be mad at such a clothing veto, I’d go, “Sister girl, thank you.” And we’d hug it out.

I’m really trying so hard to keep it together. I’m slipping behind in areas that need my attention (this house, work projects), excelling at things that have no real significant bearing on my life (I know which channels are HBO and which are Showtime!). And most of all, I am trying not to sound like a crazy drama queen, especially when it’s not even noon and I’m practically crying and demanding to be seen by A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL RIGHT NOW.

It’s as if what I’m missing in morning sickness, I’m gaining in RAGING HORMONES. I’m acting like a crazy person. Things I have done that make no sense include but are not limited to: crying at the ending of Wall-E, even though I’ve seen this movie before, eating an ancho-covered chicken quesadilla and then thinking that it was so spicy, the meal was going to eat my baby, and becoming furious at things that have happened in the past, like remembering an in-law who told her son that Hawaii was part of Asia because she confused “native Hawaiians” with the Japanese tourists at Ala Moana, and more importantly she forgot that HAWAII IS NOT ASIA.

I know I’m probably going to give birth to a child more mature and collected than I’ll ever be. He or she will sit me down and say sternly, “Mother, let’s talk about your obsession with this song, ‘What What in the Butt,’ and how the term ‘Aspergers’ does not mean ‘burgers for your ass, no matter what Chevy Chase says.

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  1. I had a similar episode as you know. My mistake was looking at photos of mothers who are 13weeks along. Shon says everyone is different. Of course at that point my hormones were raging rivers of tears.

  2. You know- having had two miscarriages, I was pretty skittish about the baby myself. I finally broke down and bought a fetal heart monitor on craigslist for pretty cheap, and I have to say that it totally helped me keep my sanity. It may take a very, very long time to find the heartbeat, but if you want to borrow it until you start feeling movement, let me know, and I’ll hook you up- we could have lunch on campus somewhere again or something šŸ™‚ And y’know, Catelyn turned out alright, all my fears aside, so don’t stress too much šŸ™‚

  3. Never ever do medical research. Your common flu will become ‘terminal brain tumor’ and the stress you will go through thinking about breaking the news to your family will just make you even more convinced of it. Shudder.

  4. Hugs Hugs Hugs. I remember those days. I had a bit of brown spotting at about 10 weeks w/ Kathryn and FUH-REAKED out. They got me in that day for a u/s and there she was, happily growing away.

    I also remember not remembering the words washing machine, and Ben saying, “You mean the rotating clothes sudser?” and me laughing so hard I cried .. and not sweet little laughing tears, but the BIG UGLY cry. And then there was the time I slid into a hardwood booth at Thai food … and as I was sliding in, my body betrayed me and ripped a big one, which was amplified by the hard wood of the seat. This was all right in front of the Host, who handed me a menu … I was so embarrassed. When he left I started laughing, and again, crying the big ugly cry.

    So anyway. Don’t feel like you’re alone in being crazy. Cause you are not. Not by a long shot, sista.

  5. My husband has always said that pregnancy is like PMS for nine months. I don’t remember being all crazy but the man still has nightmares…I must have been pretty bad.
    I’m glad to hear that everything has checked out. I’ll continue to keep you in my thoughts.
    Go Baby Go!

  6. I’m sorry Mona. I had the breeziest first pregnancy in the history of having babies. My second pregnancy was a nine-month-long anxiety attack. And I’m not really exaggerating… EVERYTHING set me off. I couldn’t watch the news, couldn’t read books, couldn’t talk about certain topics, and one tiny detail in an episode of 30 Rock sent me straight to a Mental Health Professional. It was awful awful awful. But my second baby is so adorable and so sweet and so worth it I daily think about having ANOTHER. Some day, anyway. Oh, and I swear this is true, the day I gave birth is the day the krazy stopped. I haven’t had it since. TIS A MIRACLE. Here’s to hoping the hormones settle down way before the birth day, though, and in the meantime you have the best excuse in the world for freak outs.

    thinking of you

  7. Oh my gosh, don’t apologize for your hormones! And also, that would be scary enough for anyone to demand a doctor… I’m so sorry you went through that!!!

    I will be thinking of you and your baby, who I know is going to be better than fine. Lots o’ love.

  8. I have never seen that South Park video! Now I need to see that episode so I get the context!

  9. Wait—it’s not normal to cry at the end of Wall-E every time? (I also cry when John and Mary rescue the sliding mass of babies.)

    Also, OMG I am panicking on your behalf, not because it sounds Bad but because of Teh Empathy. Unless that’s not helpful, in which case I’m NOT panicking but instead feel totally calm on your behalf.

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