My pregnancy cruise hit some choppy waters this week caused by rampant insomnia, an annoying cold and stress . The combined result has turned me into a zombified Retardo Montalban, capable of only a few incoherent grunts and vacant stares. Bright and early Monday morning, I got a call from my OB/Gyn's office informing me that since I flunked my one-hour glucose test, I would have to come in for a three-hour glucose test as soon as possible. My heart sank like a stone in my chest as I pondered the possibility of having gestational diabetes. And like a classic control freak, I spent the afternoon doing research on the Internet about a condition that I knew little about. I felt better learning that most cases of gestational diabetes go away after birth. In fact, the term itself is unnecessarily alarming since it merely refers to a carbohydrate intolerance caused by the insulin-blocking effects of the growing placenta. As many as 5% of women simply don't produce enough insulin to cope with the excess sugar in their blood. However, it's usually manageable by strict diet and exercise.
Although the prognosis is good, the whole idea of having to prick myself and test for blood sugar four times a day and changing my "see-food" diet to one of strict carb management didn't sound like my ideal third trimester. Not to mention the three-hour glucose test -- an ordeal in itself of medieval proportions. As a recipe for torture, this test is sheer genius. First add a generous dash of worry to a pregnant, hormonally challenged woman then ask her to fast the night before an exam. If done correctly, the woman should be famished beyond belief and so worried she won't be able to find any relief by sleeping. Instead, she'll spend the night staring at the ceiling, insanely hungry, thirsty and anxious. When she arrives, take her blood, then make her drink 10 ounces of a sugar drink that tastes like rancid, carbonated corn syrup masquerading as Sprite and warn her that if she throws up, she'll have to come back another day and start all over again. Then, ask her to sit around the waiting room for three hours, bored and nauseated out of her mind, with needles poked into her arms every hour for her only entertainment.
I'm not a wimp about needles, but I have the added complication of having freakishly small veins. A simple act of giving blood becomes a tremendous hassle because nobody can ever get my blood on the first, second, or even third try. Flustered nurses scurry around me like chickens with their heads cut off as they pass me around the station from nurse to nurse. As a last resort, I've been sent to the pediatric department where someone with experience drawing blood from infants usually has success -- but often from the back of my hand. I couldn't even fathom what drawing blood four times was going to be like. But I discovered an obscure benefit to pregnancy -- increased blood volume and for the first time in my life, the nurses drew blood on the first try, each time. Sure, they exclaimed over my tiny veins, slapped my arms black and blue looking for one and mumbled with worry under their breath, but they did it. And for that, I was grateful. Although with all needle marks in my arms, I look like a pregnant junkie.
With three hours to kill in the waiting room, I came supplied with ample reading materials. But I found myself more fascinated with the daily rhythm and routine of the OB's office. It was like participating in a reality show titled - "Spread 'em -- A Day In the Life of an OB/Gyn." My doctor happens to look like a movie doctor -- handsome in a distinguished kind of way. I've heard stories of women who fall in love with their OB',s and although I personally can't relate, I still find this phenomenon intriguing. Maybe if I were more into S & M, I would find the steel instruments, feet in stirrups, latex and KY jelly more sexual, but I don't. Instead I find it awkward and surreal. You gotta wonder what goes through the mind of your doctor when he's down there between your legs. After all, what drives a man to make it his life's work to spend his days probing female orifices? When I go in for yearly pap smears, my doctor makes harmless chit chat, asks about any scripts I'm reading or working on in an effort to either distract me or put me at ease. And as much as I appreciated the effort, the conversation always felt forced, kind of like bad date banter and made me even more acutely aware of the fact that this man was probing my intimate parts.
And I wonder, how does this affect his own sex life? Does he ever come home from a hard day at the office and say to his wife, "I'm sorry honey, but I just can't bring myself to look at another vagina." Could there possibly be any novelty in sex after doing what he does all day? Maybe instead of my usual list of pregnancy related questions, I should pose all these questions to my doctor on my next prenatal checkup. But something tells me he won't be very forthcoming. However, my college girlfriend Jen, who is now a labor and delivery nurse, is a little too forthcoming. She's told me stories involving enemas and highjinks that I can't go into here, but she proves to me that doctors and nurses are woefully human and as immature as the rest of us. She fully admits how strange it is that her job consists of saying, "Hi, I'm Nurse Jenny and I'm going to stick my fingers up your vagina." Which always reminds me that I complain way too much about what I do for a living or don't do for a living, for that matter. No matter how much I lament how difficult it is to sell a script, at least I'll never have to say that sentence during a typical workday.
I went home to take the rest of the day off to recover and spent another sleepless three days waiting for the results. But good news, all my blood sugar levels were normal. The one-hour glucose was an unexplained anomaly. I celebrated by eating a chocolate brownie and chocolate fondue this weekend. But my heart goes out to those five percent of women who don't pass and are doomed to finger pricking and dieting for the rest of their pregnancy. It sounds like a total drag, and there but for the grace of God go I. Despite this weight lifted off my mind, I still can't sleep at night and I think I'm beginning to experience the legendary third trimester insomnia. Which, I hope excuses the rambling, stream-of consciousness, or rather unconsciousness style of this week's journal. I'm so tired I barely know my own name.
Writer/director Nora Ephron once said, "If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters." After the sleepless week I've had and more of the same to look forward to, I'm inclined to agree with her. But as I keep turning the pages and begin the final chapter of the third trimester, I change my mind. I still have the climax and denouement to look forward to and I can't wait to see how this book ends.