The World's Worst OBs

My kids have been at their grandparents' for 3 weeks (!) so I am flush with time to write--on breaks from throwing out tons of their crap--but low on material.  So I'm going to go dumpster diving in the deep recesses of my memories and risk the utter trauma of recalling when I was pregnant.

There are some things I will never understand no matter how hard I try.  Quantum physics, bitcoin, fried twinkies, 3D printers, and, most of all, women who enjoy being pregnant.  Sure, there’s nothing better than looking like a misshapen loaf of acne-pocked bread wearing a kaftan and feeling like a bus ran you over but left you still alive enough to feel pain and hear Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” on the radio.  What part of it do you enjoy?  Being lectured to and molested by total strangers? Tearing a ligament every time you roll over in bed? Lower back pain? Cystic acne? Not seeing your feet for several months? Having cystic acne on your feet? OK, I made that last one up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some pregnant lady out there is actually suffering from foot acne.

And I love how thrilled everyone is when you tell them you’re pregnant.  It’s as if the child you are about to birth is going to one day cure their chronic disease.  Yes, having a child is exciting and amazing, but it’s also exhausting, at times depressing, often very boring, and always upending.  And unending.  In fact, that friend who is so happy for you will probably not be your friend in a few years because you won’t have the time or energy for them.  Maybe that friend actually hates your guts, wants you to endure years of slave labor, and secretly desires to spend less time with you, and THAT is why she’s so enthusiastic. That would actually make more sense.  And why do people say congratulations?  Congratulations are not necessary when all you had to do was quit using birth control and, in my case anyway, repeatedly sleep with a very hot man.  When someone tells me they are pregnant, I just shrug and say, “Better you than me.”  And that is how you never get invited to baby showers, an added plus.

Everyone scoffs when I say that I was humungous when I was pregnant, but it is absolutely the case.   First of all, I am not a small person to begin with.  I easily outweighed my first husband after a good sized meal, which, incidentally is one reason why I divorced him.  I surpassed Kevin’s weight sometime in the first trimester, and by the third, he was afraid to sleep in the same bed with me for fear of being crushed in the night.  If you are not small to begin with, then you’re going to be EPIC when pregnant.   I always wanted to be one of those adorable former cheerleader women with tiny ankles who weighs like 115 when 9 months pregnant with quadruplets, wears adorable sundresses, and thinks they are enormous.  I would have only looked like that had I gotten pregnant before going through puberty, which of course removes the possibility of pregnancy (plus it’s just really disturbing to think about).  But after that, someone would have to turn me into an animated version of myself for me to be a tiny, cute, pregnant woman (or even a tiny, cute, regular woman).  And the ankles part would never be in the cards, not in elementary school, not in a cartoon, not ever.  I bet I had cankles as a fetus.  Incidentally, if you do have cankles, you are doubly screwed while pregnant, because legs are pretty much all you have to work with, other than massive boobs, which I find frightening in general. Plus pregnant ankles tend to swell, turning cankles into thankles. This is not a good look.

Building off the normally large foundation, I also had an unfortunate combination of constant nausea, a hearty appetite, and a very weak gag reflex.  So I felt sick all the time but also compelled to eat a bunch of fatty foods, which I could not enjoy because I felt nauseous, and then I did not throw any of it up so I got fat.  If that is not the very definition of hell, I don’t know what is.  My workouts consisted of putting on shoes.  I became large early on, before people could tell I was pregnant, leading me to break social taboos against revealing one’s pregnancy before the 12th week and instead wearing a button that said, “I’m pregnant, not fat” at all times.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I also had a condition called polyhydramnios, or excess amniotic fluid.  When a person is carrying around not only a small human but an Olympic-sized swimming pool, that person can basically petition NASA for planetary status.  I think several medical professionals may have drowned when my water broke, and thank GOD it was in the hospital, as we had no flood insurance at the time.  So seriously, you’ll have to believe me, I was HUGE.  Kevin and I would go over to a friend’s house, and after several minutes, they would be like, “Where’s Kevin?” and then he would pop out from behind me like a fun little elf.

With Charlotte, I was so big, my doctors actually mocked me.  Or I should say my first set of doctors did.  AKA The World's Worst OBs.  They were a super special father-daughter duo, the father an immigrant from Soviet-controlled Romania who retained its bedside manner, the daughter his hyper-active, overly-peppy minion.  They both began raising alarms about my ballooning weight early in the pregnancy, but it soon became apparent that their worry was not for my health or that of my child.  No, their real concern was, oddly, for my sex life and, more understandably, for their own schedules and convenience.  “This child is going to be huge,” Dr. Daughter warned ominously, “Your vagina is going to be as big as a truck after she comes through [direct quote].  The wise thing to do would be to go ahead and schedule a C-section [at a convenient time for me].”  I informed her that, no, my preference was to not to recover from major surgery while caring for a newborn, but she would not relent.  Every visit included gasps of horror about my weight and the impending doom of my sexual organs, followed by a scheduled C-section pitch.

Then Dr. Soviet Father got involved, and things got really disturbing.  I feared he might send me to a gulag where C-sections are forcibly performed.  I told Kevin that these people were strangely insistent on filleting me, so he decided to come with me to my next appointment to investigate.  After examining me, and again freaking out over my weight, Dr. Soviet Father sat across from us in his office, looked squarely in Kevin’s eyes, and bluntly declared,  “A vaginal birth will ruin your sex life.  Do you know that almost all Brazilian women have C-sections? They cherish their sex lives in Brazil.”  I swear, I am not making this up, or even embellishing things at all.  As if Brazil was some kind of gold standard of sexy childbirth.  They do export a lot of annoying super models, but I’m skeptical about their shunning of one of the vagina’s primary functions.  I’m pretty sure Gisele Bunchen did not have a C-section, given that she thinks the UN should make all mothers breastfeed.

In any case, we had heard enough.  Though I was 8 months pregnant, I found a new doctor, no small feat by the way, especially since I had a “condition.”  But I found one who would take me on.  He was old and kindly and said marginally creepy things, too—like telling me all about a mono-boobed patient he once had upon noticing my breasts were asymmetrical—but coming from him it somehow wasn’t sex-offender-creepy or Soviet-torture-champer-creepy, just eccentric-elderly-person-creepy.  He also didn’t particularly care how I wanted to give birth, although after I had been in labor for 24 hours, fully dilated, without Charlotte dropping into the birth canal, he laconically offered me the choice of laboring “for another few days” or having a C-section.  I chose the latter, though it annoyed me greatly to think the crazy Soviet doctors were right, and I had indeed grown a baby so massive, she would not even fit in my vagina and would have no doubt taken it out of commission for all time if forced to bulldoze her way through.  So much for birthing hips.

Incidentally, I went through it all again the second time—the gigantic baby, the polyhydramnios, the massive weight gain, the hideousness.  I still had my old, kindly doctor though, and I scheduled my C-section stone-cold, straight-up.

I have 3 recurring nightmares, all along the same theme.  The first is that I am still married to my first husband.  The second is that I am still working on my dissertation.  And the third is that I am still pregnant or pregnant again.  In a life full of annoying maintenance items--houses that don't stay clean, bodies that don't stay taut, languages that don't stay learned, children who don't stay in bed--these are three things I am grateful every day are over and done forever.

Comments

  1. I love you and your humor. You know I hated pregnancy as much as you. I did not glow. Ugh.

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