Surviving Pregnancy

The pregnancy equals nine long months of paranoia.

For me, the paranoia started even before the pregnancy was confirmed. My body gave me subtle signals of a difference, but a quick Google search confirmed that it was too early to take a pregnancy test. So I did the next best thing. I took an online quiz.

The “Am I Pregnant” quiz told me that there was a 50% chance that I were pregnant and the best way to confirm it was by taking a test, for which it was too soon. But this did not stop me from start reading up. With a hopeful mind and a 50% chance of pregnancy, I embarked upon the project pregnancy. It started with searching for the most reliable sites, and digging beyond Yahoo! Answers, although it is virtually impossible to complete evade them.

The day I tested positive, the paranoia grew and quickly overtook the euphoria of actually having a baby. There was so much that could go wrong – anything from a missed step in the first trimester to the parasite ridden cold cut sandwich, or even too much coffee. I was surrounded my lethal items. Everywhere I looked, I saw a danger sign flashing in red complete with a skull. I started reading the “Is it Safe…” feature of BabyCenter almost as regularly as I brushed my teeth, which by the way, was also vital now. Removing plaque was now important not only for shiny teeth and fresh breath, but also to avoid stillbirth.

Then there were so many other questions to ponder upon. For example, is it safe to:

  • Get a manicure?
  • Perm my hair?
  • Swim in chlorinated pool?
  • Wear high-heels?
  • Jog?
  • Eat seafood?

Of course, I do not indulge in most of the above even when I am not pregnant. But now, I needed to know my options. And BabyCenter had all the answers. Only, they confused me further by listing the debates by different experts. Take for example, is it safe to perm my hair during pregnancy? One expert says that there is no evidence that chemicals will be a cause of concern, while the other suggests that the solvents in the solutions are a concern for developing baby, but unless you are a hairdresser, you need not worry. So in the end, it is up to me to decide whether I need to be more paranoid or go with the flow.

Thankfully, before I announced the pregnancy to one and all, I had the good sense of taking my annual vacation. The vacation was to Paris, which was wonderful but the only regret I have is not being able to drink any wine. Refreshed from this exotic holiday, I came back to declare that I was now a ticking bomb.

Of course, asking an elder for advice about pregnancy was the biggest mistake I made. Each one of them declared that almost everything is harmful. So I must not eat papaya, pineapple, or massage my feet as this could result in me going into labor. (Makes me wonder why those women, who are 42-weeks pregnant with no sign of baby arriving, don’t down a couple of papayas while getting a foot massage!) I was told not to bend down to do any house chores, to walk very slowly, to only eat homemade vegetarian food and so on. All this and articles advising pregnant women to stay away from all things toxic like detergents, deodorants, computers etc. suggested that I should get under the covers and not get out of the bed for nine months. Instead, I decided to turn to experts with degrees. After much research, I got a copy of “What To Expect When You Are Expecting,” which is considered the Bible in the pregnant women circles. But more I read, the list of things that could go wrong grew. There were a hundred and forty things that could go wrong with me, and double of those that could be wrong with the baby. There were diets that made me think that I ate like a sparrow, and then there were diets that made me feel like a hungry hippo. So much conflict, so much choice drove me crazy and in the end, I decided to do this pregnancy my way.

I remember shocking a middle-aged Indian lady at the swimming pool when she spotted me getting into the water with an eight-month belly. I also shocked half of my family by announcing that I did not plan to start my maternity leave until I am admitted to the hospital, unless there was a complication.

Thanks to my very sensible and open-minded gynecologist and the fact that I was not in India surrounded by well-meaning aunts and grandaunts, I managed to stay out of the bed and on my feet. I even snuck in a last minute weekend-spa-holiday.

Truth be told, pregnancy was easy. A breeze even. Don’t take this to mean that I did not have any morning sickness or those blasted Braxton Hicks contractions. I did wake up in the middle of the night with cramps in my legs and then spent next two hours trying to find a comfortable position to rest my belly, but I took that to be a minor problem considering that I was at my crafty best and was actually in the process of making a person.

The only time I was really scared and rethought my entire life’s decisions of getting a job, taking trips with friends, and downing vodka shots instead of marrying early and having babies before turning thirty was the one week when I awaited the Down Syndrome test results. This advanced medical test can tell the percentage of risk that your baby is at of being born with chromosomal anomalies. And it is directly proportional to the maternal age. Looking back, this was the only reasonable worry that I had during my pregnancy.

For I colored my hair and drank some coffee, ate some shellfish, and I turned up in the labor room with my toes painted red. I played “Ticket to Ride” with the husband while waiting for contractions to start; and my doctor did not bat an eye.

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One Response to “Surviving Pregnancy”

  1. Norwegian Wood Girl Says:

    More power to you, woman!

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