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When the Going Gets Rough

I’ve had an easy pregnancy so far—such an easy one, in fact, that I almost feel guilty telling people about it. It seems like poor taste (not to mention bad karma) to boast about sailing through these first six and half months when I know so many others who have had struggles every step of the way. But tonight I had my first real scare, and it shoved everything into perspective so hard it took my breath away.

Around midday, I got sick—stomach-sick, and pretty bad, which is unusual for me. Luckily I was able to lie down for an hour during E’s nap, and when she got up I felt good enough to get us both dressed up and out the door for a big family dinner at my grandmother’s house. Other than feeling especially tired (and what else is new?) I felt normal. Then, watching E guzzle down a bowl of vanilla ice cream (and having passed on dessert myself, also highly unusual) I got hit with a wave of cramps and nausea and back pain so staggering I wondered if I was going into labor right in the middle of the dining room table.

I packed E up in record time and barely said goodbye to my assembled aunts, uncles and cousins as I made a beeline for my car. My parents walked me out, concerned, but all I could think about was making it home and through bedtime so I could lie down and figure out what was going on.

In the car, we hit traffic and I couldn’t help it—I started to cry. Poor little E looked shocked.

“You’re crying, Mommy?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetheart,” I answered, wiping my eyes and trying to get it together. I gave her the first excuse that popped into my head. “I’m just feeling a little…scared.” Actually, that pretty much summed it up. I WAS scared—scared I was going into preterm labor, scared my water was going to break any second, scared that all the haphazard choices I’d been making during this pregnancy were finally coming back to haunt me. The vitamins I’d skipped, the sushi I ate in my first trimester, the godforsaken Nyquil I may never forgive myself for.

“Are you scared of the wind?” E asked. (Wind and the vacuum cleaner are the only things E’s ever been afraid of.)

“I’m just not feeling well, and it scared me a little. I’m better now.”

E thought about this. “I can hug you when the car stops. Then you won’t be scared.”

In the midst of my panic, I stopped to marvel at what a mature, sensitive little person my two-year-old daughter is becoming. It was enough of a distraction for me to get myself together, shake off my fears, and hustle her off to bed with lots of kisses before I gave in to a meltdown.

Eventually, the cramping eased and a few hours of lying on the couch keeping absolutely still made me feel, if not normal, less like I needed to make a trip to the emergency room. #2 kicked and stretched the whole time (and he’s usually pretty quiet in there) so at least I knew he was still OK, whatever else was going on. Some time on WebMD reassured me that what I experienced isn’t all that uncommon---but could be a warning sign that I’m doing too much. Point taken.

I realized just how damn lucky I’ve been. How terrifying it is to be responsible for a growing human being, but have absolutely no control over what happens inside. Has my easy pregnancy made me complacent, given me reason to take way too much for granted? Now that the frightening moment has passed, I’m taking stock of all the ways I could do “pregnant” better. Turns out, there’s a lot. I could drink more water, sit down more often, pay more attention to the rules and less attention to my type-A need to do it all, all the time.

There’s just over three months left in my pregnancy. Tonight I was genuinely scared that it was over—that I would be forced to deliver my baby long before he’s ready to tackle this world on his own. Seeing how quickly everything could change has strengthened my resolve to do things right these last three months. I can’t control what goes on inside, but at least I can pay more attention to what I’m doing on the outside. And it gives me an even greater respect for all the women whose pregnancies are difficult and scary from the very beginning. It takes more courage, and more faith, to make it through nine months of pregnancy than most people give moms credit for. Myself included!