I haven't always had a great relationship with my body. There have been times it's been downright hateful. My first pregnancy was one of those times I was able to let go of my issues a little bit and just trust that my body knew what it was doing. It was a rare and relaxing time in that way. I had hoped I would be able to recapture that feeling with this pregnancy, but it has not happened.
As in many other ways, this pregnancy is different. My feelings about my
body are different and the things that my body is doing are different. I am
gaining weight differently and my body is changing in different directions.
It has brought a range of new emotions to the forefront -- some surprising,
One of the strongest emotions I have had in the last couple of weeks as my body does these different things is fear. Plain fear.
What started as some lower abdominal pressure and backache similar to the day before the beginning of a menstrual period escalated over the course of a week to somewhat regular painful contractions. I did all the logical things: lay down, double-checked fluid intake, and tried to relax. But the pressure and painful contractions were still there.
I saw my doctor, of course. A number of times. We took looks at the baby and the baby seemed to be fine. My cervix was long and closed as well. But my abdomen was very tender, and I was extremely uncomfortable. We just couldn't figure out why these things were happening. The doctor didn't know what to call it other than pre-term labor, but said that putting me on terbutaline this early in the pregnancy would have little effect as certain receptors probably weren't developed yet, and I would most likely feel worse overall. So I was told I had been doing the right thing by resting and being careful about fluids, and was sent home to continue the same. It's hard to rest when there's a three-year-old in the house, but I did all that I could to take the din of life down a few notches. Still I was scared.
I was afraid I was going to lose the baby. Although the chances of miscarriage subside after the first trimester, they do not disappear. A friend lost her first pregnancy in her 14th week, and another lost a baby at 20 weeks. So little is known, really, about the plethora of biological and chemical changes that happens in a woman's body during pregnancy. In many ways, the processes of conception and pregnancy and birth are mysterious and magical experiences to medicine as well as to us. For everything that western medicine has learned about the process, there are dozens if not hundreds of things that are misunderstood. I already believed that medicine was a strange mix of science and art and intuition, and that idea has been reinforced. My doctor did not know what was happening, and could offer me no solutions to fix it.
Over the next few days, the contractions diminished in frequency, but I still have a few a day and the pressure feeling remains. I talked to as many people as I could who had experienced pre-term labor. Most, except for a friend who delivered twins about a year and a half ago, had not experienced first symptoms this early in pregnancy. My sister said that she had felt some similar pressure through the later half of her pregnancy with her third child, but again, not this early. Everyone expressed concern and tried to reassure me, of course. I wasn't very reassured.
Finally, I just became extremely tired of thinking about all of it, and so much of the time. I was letting these feelings interfere with my day-to-day life. Over the last few days, I have tried to accept this different pregnancy for what it probably will be - one more closely watched than the first, but still with very high chances of a great outcome, just like the pregnancy that produced my wonderful son. Sure, I have my part in it: I have to stay aware and careful and informed. But this acceptance also means that I need to develop a new kind of trust in how the human body works, and specifically how my body works.
This will be hard. I know myself and my body issues well enough to know that
this will take some work every day until this little person is safely in my
arms. Until a doctor or I can come up with some specific cause and effect
for what has happened thus far, along with listening to my body, it is the
best way I can come up with to deal with this difference in experience.
Holding tightly on to fear will only make the overall experience harder;
trust, I hope, will help me focus on the incredible positive thing that is
growing and developing within me, and maybe even help me get past some of
these greater body issues I have after our baby is born.