Tag Archives: pregnancy

Not a Cork nor Corn, So There’s No Popping Happening Here

22 Feb

I’ve changed my official story about the worst part of pregnancy. Yes, those first few weeks of nausea and exhaustion- tiredness all the way down to the bone- are not pretty. They’re certainly not my favorite part. But now I proclaim that this is the absolute worst part. The desperate waiting at the end.

If I were one of those lucky women whose babies come out at 38 weeks, then I’d go back to believing the beginning is the worst. But I’m not, obviously. I’m a traumatized pregnant lady whose first child came out two weeks “late.” I’m a recovering control freak who is trying to shut up that annoying voice in my head that tells me every day that I’m not in labor must be because I’m doing something wrong, or not doing it right, or not doing enough. It must be my fault, even though technically there’s nothing “wrong” even happening!

Granted, I know I can’t control this. And I know better than to buy into this whole early/late thing with babies. I know that a due date is a general estimation. Only 5% of babies make their appearance on their due date. Anywhere from 2 weeks before to 2 weeks after the due date is officially in the normal range. That’s right, a whole month of possibilities for a full-term baby to appear. It’s quite a range, and yet not something we talk about as normal. So knowing that it’s normal doesn’t make it feel normal when you come from a culture where being late is practically a sin. It’s been sad to realize that here in Mexico, where being late is a norm, for some reason this acceptance doesn’t apply to babes in utero.

On top of that, my belly expands into the enormous range from pretty early on in pregnancy. Even though my weight gain is in the normal range, my belly appears to be excessively large to many people (yep, me included). Thus I get comments about twins and other multiples, and people start acting like my due date is somewhere around seven months along. So by the time I actually reach 40 weeks people have been expecting my baby for ages already. Not helpful.

38 week belly, back when I was still feeling hopeful!

38 week belly, back when I was still feeling hopeful! I’ll be 40 weeks tomorrow….. 

Photo on 2-12-15 at 9.17 AM #3

Lucia and I on loaner exercise balls!

Plus there’s the completely uncomfortable, your-body-is-taken-over-by-this-supposedly-human-creature factor going that effectively prevents me from thinking about anything beyond pregnancy and birth at this stage. Let me give you an idea about this stage. One of my fingers is constantly numb from some nerve the baby’s pressing on. I pee like every half hour. I walk like a duck. It takes 3 minutes to roll over or get out of bed or the car. I’m hungry every two hours, and I mostly want things I didn’t even like before pregnancy, like chocolate and red meat. I’m in 90 degree heat with 100 kajillion percent humidity with a lead basketball strapped to my belly, so I sweat from sunup to sundown and every moment in between. And I can’t even change clothes after all my 18 showers a day because there are only about 5 outfits that still fit me. In other words, every aspect of my being is used and consumed by this little creature that, despite all this, I’m dying to meet.

So here’s a little public service announcement: Don’t say any of the following to super pregnant women unless you want to get punched in the face (or watch her in tears, or some other not pleasant reaction- you never know what a ragingly pregnant woman will do!).

1) “You’re having twins, right?” or “How many babies are in there?” or “Wow, you’re huge!”

The thing about this is that nobody likes comments about the size of their body, ever really. Pregnancy is no different, except you have raging hormones that make it even more offensive. I have seen people give pregnant women a hard time for having too small of a belly, too. Geez! Just lay off.

2) “You still haven’t had that baby?” or “When is that baby going to come out?”

Dude, if you are looking at me and I still have the lead basketball strapped to my belly, I am indeed still pregnant! You don’t need to ask. And unless someone is having a planned C-section, they don’t get to know when the baby is going to come out, so it’s just annoying to be expected to know the unknowable.

3) “That baby just doesn’t want to come out.” or “That baby might never come out, huh?”

This is already the worst nightmare for many pregnant women- that we’ll just keep being pregnant forever. Don’t contribute to it! 

There are lots and lots of other things you shouldn’t say to pregnant women, but this is my short list for the third trimester, or the “about to pop” phase. This “about to pop” thing goes with taboo # 1, especially when you don’t know how far along someone is, and when you have no idea how desperate they are to freaking “pop” already. Right as I was telling Conan that I was really glad the whole about-to-pop comment doesn’t get said here, or doesn’t translate well, or for whatever wonderous reason that I could appreciate this cultural difference, an old lady came along and ruined it for me. “Se va a reventar el volcan” she told me, “the volcano’s going to explode”. I don’t know if this is due to globalization or if it’s just part of the universal plot to drive pregnant women crazy, but either way it’s ugly. 

The Science of Magic (A Visit to the Partera)

23 Nov

I didn’t really want to go to this particular midwife (partera), because of our friend Chica’s telling us about the woman’s uncanny ability to accurately predict a baby’s sex. Conan and I are into surprises. We didn’t find out Lucia’s sex and we planned the same exciting ignorance with this current creature in my belly. But said creature was killing me with his/her positioning and movement and I was desperate for a cure. I was on my second day of come-and-go pain that in moments was so bad I had trouble walking and talking normally.

I’d already been to the doctor to rule out an exploding appendix or other non-baby-caused problems. As soon as I lay down in the office, late that evening of day one of pain, I’d felt some very hard appendage (foot? elbow? I don’t know) move up even further to the top of my giant belly and push out so far it protruded, like a cruel little taunt. The doctor pressed on it and I almost screamed. I went ahead and diagnosed myself with Mean Acrobatic Baby Syndrome. The doctor told me to come back the next day for an ultrasound to confirm that the pain was being caused by baby’s crappy positioning (he called it “compound presentation,” but whatever). “So, the point of the ultrasound is just to tell me that yes, this creature is in a bad position. It won’t actually help anything. Correct?” I asked. He had to admit that was the case. “And how about if I just go see a midwife, then, and get her to correct the positioning?” I suggested, although I’d really already decided by then that that was my plan, regardless. The doctor agreed that this was a reasonable thing to do, because here in Mexico even doctors respect midwives’ knowledge and abilities for the most part. 

Part of what midwives do down here is give massage- therapeutic massage, not a nice little relaxing massage. If you’ve had a miscarriage, you’re likely to go to a midwife to get a massage that’s supposed to help make sure the miscarriage is complete. If you want to get pregnant and haven’t been able to, they give massage to help with that. Some give massages related to other problems besides pregnancy. They are often skilled herbalists as well. And of course, being midwives, they assist in giving birth.

Chica led us (in the car) down a rocky dirt path to the midwife’s house. Chica is related to her, somehow or other, addressing her as “Tia” (Aunt), which here can also be a second or third cousin or any manner of other connection via blood and marriage. The midwife is 95 years old and retired now. At her request, Conan got some plastic chairs out of her second room, and we sat out on her porch to chat. She told us a bit about her life as a midwife, which she had been her entire adult life. Then she told us “something you won’t believe.” She said she had lost all of her teeth and couldn’t even eat tortillas, and then they started to grow back. They didn’t look like new teeth, and they certainly weren’t false teeth, either- there were only a few on the bottom of her mouth, and they were crooked and yellowed and some were just little nubs of teeth. But Chica and her husband swear that she had no teeth not too long ago. It sounds to me like something straight out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I decided to maintain a skeptical belief;  I can’t prove that it’s true nor that it’s not, so I’ll just go with the “anything’s possible” attitude. It is, after all, a strange and mysterious world that we live in.

Finally we got down to business. She set me up in her bed with a shawl underneath me. She started feeling around on my belly, much softer and gentler than what I was expecting to move this stubborn confused baby around.

getting adjusted by the partera

amazing hands moving around the baby

the partera working on me

 

“Es niña” she says matter-of-factly, it’s a girl, without asking if we want to know, without asking if we already know or not. “How can you tell?” asks Conan. “You can tell by feeling it. They let you know right away.”  Conan tries to insist on further explanation. “But how do they let you know?” She says she can’t explain it; you just have to feel it. I decide she’s probably right, but I will stubbornly remain in “ignorance,” waiting till this child presents him or herself to know “what it is.”

She finished moving the baby around and then grabbed each end of the shawl underneath me and sort of shook me around, as much as a frail 95 year old might. We thanked her profusely and gave her 100 pesos for her time. She told us to come back when I go into labor and she can give me a tea to speed up the birth “so they don’t try to operate on you.”

The adjustment was not a magical fix. I was pain-free for a couple hours, but by my 4pm class I was in terrible pain again. After that, however, I rubbed around where the baby was and talked to it when it started giving me problems, and the pain lessoned. In the morning I had cinnamon tea, recommended because she said my belly was very cold (whatever that means). I had some more pain that morning but then it was over. Days later I haven’t had any more pains. Is this attributable to the midwife? To some tea? Did the baby just get their act together? Does it matter why?

Do I believe that her teeth grew back, or that she knows my baby’s a girl? I’m sticking to my skeptical belief. Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. It’s living that line between needing to question everything but also knowing that there are some things that are not really explainable. It’s trusting centuries of women’s wisdom in midwifery while also appreciating seeing a baby via ultrasound. It’s trusting how I feel and what I know about my body, sometimes more than what a doctor says. It’s believing in the science of magic, which is definitely what it means to me to produce a new human being anyway.