State of the Blog: A Request for Maternity Advice
Jul 21, 2022
Last week, Kyle tested positive for COVID, and I went into isolation with a negative test and mild symptoms. I figured I’d take a few days of work-from-home bedrest and be right as rain soon. Then, on Wednesday, I woke up, and my daughter wasn’t moving and my pelvis hurt.
For many 32-week fetuses, a mild movement break and a few aches would be little cause for concern. But for a child who dances the Samba almost all day and switches to the Merengue if I flip onto my side, it was frightening to feel not even a flutter. So I followed the doctor’s advice and went to labor and delivery (alone because Kyle wasn’t allowed to enter with a positive test).
The diagnosis was simple: mild contractions caused by severe dehydration. And just for good measure, worsening anemia and (shockingly) weight loss.
The nurse was kind enough to hook me up to an IV. I watched some ancient TV reruns. And I was back in my own bed, with a high calorie lunch and vat of water, in time for The Situation Room. But the whole experience sucked the life out of me.
I had been feeling better this trimester (besides the anemia and swollen ankles). I was billing solid hours at work. I was (mostly) keeping up with the blog. And I was feeling a lot less concerned about the chances that this ‘geriatric pregnancy’ could take a turn — not anymore.
Six weeks left and my anxiety is high, my energy is at an all-time low, and I spend most of my day just trying to drink enough water and eat enough iron rich-foods. Oh, and trying to put a nursery together, when everything is on rolling backorder. Yes, Crate and Barrel, I see that the item that was supposed to arrive in March is once again delayed…
I still feel lucky to be pregnant. I still feel incredibly grateful that my daughter is healthy. But the whole experience — from the lackluster medical care, the ads for $300 play mats, the unresolved formula shortage, and the contradictory advice coming from every corner — has really left me feeling let down by all of the support systems that people think exist for 21st Century expectant mothers, but once you scratch the surface, really don’t.
My doctor recently asked me to start thinking about a birth plan. So I Googled what such a document contains. There are fewer questions on the LSAT.
And how do you prepare when you don’t know what will happen or what half the drugs and procedures they’re asking about are? I went to law school, not med school. I don’t ask my clients about their familiarity with summary judgment standards or the rules of evidence, so why am I expected to know whether I want my newborn to receive Vitamin K or whether I want an episiotomy? Also, how can you put a question about my preferred Spotify playlist next to a question about whether I have a living will?
During my last PA appointment, I was asked to do ‘more homework’ before coming into the office so ‘everyone was on the same page.’ Because not having a lot of time (or energy) to read pregnancy books and being unwilling to pollute my phone with apps that are just trying to sell my data was leading to 20- to 30- minute appointments due to all of the questions. Seriously, the medical profession simultaneously laughs at anyone who ‘does their own research’ and demands you be familiar with every aspect of pregnancy before stepping foot in the office.
This is all to say that the most helpful advice I’ve gotten so far is from this community of women. Together, we built a tribe of smart, thoughtful, alpha women, and I once again need the benefit of your wisdom.
What last mile advice to you have for someone who could be in Labor and Delivery any second? What did you pack for the hospital? Did you have a birth plan, if so, how much of it was essential? What did you do to advocate for yourself and your child when everyone seems to want to tell you you’re wrong? Any advice is appreciated, because I thought the home stretch would be easier, and honestly, it’s tougher.