We are leaving town for Thanksgiving and I am filled with anxiety. What if I need to talk to the midwives? What if I need to see the doctors? What if I need my mother-baby-friendly progressive hospital?
It feels like my security blanket, having the hospital and our OB-midwife practice so close by. I feel like I have a tether, a sort of umbilicus, between there and my house. It only stretches so far.
A reminds me there are doctors and hospitals in Charleston. This doesn’t really comfort me. I think I’m thinking about last Christmas, about being out of town when we learned Joseph had died. The hospital in Asheville was good to us, but I hate it now, because of what happened there. I hope never to go back. I don’t want to be out of town again if another baby is going to die. And any time we go out of state, there is the fear of discrimination, that another hospital won’t accept A as my wife, as this baby’s mother, won’t honor our powers of attorney.
I try to comfort myself by remembering that I’m only 20 weeks, and even if there was something wrong, there is nothing they can do. Today I am pregnant, I repeat to myself over and over. We listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I lie still in bed and wait for the one kick, the one roll I sometimes am now feeling. Baby’s okay, baby’s okay, baby’s okay.
And yet there is still this crazy, pervasive, underlying anxiety. Maybe the Zoloft isn’t working anymore, maybe the dose isn’t right. (I have a follow-up next week, so this will be addressed soon.) I weigh the same on the scale. (I was just really sick, so this could make sense.) I’m not feeling increased movement yet. (I have an anterior placenta, so this makes sense.) I’m still coughing. (Pneumonia takes a long time to recover from.)
I spend the weekend being anxious about getting a refill on my asthma inhaler that I haven’t used in four years. It’s empty, or it’s not working right. Do I need a new one? Really? A and I are both a little pissed that I might be having asthma symptoms again, despite the logical connection between pneumonia and breathing restriction. Do I think it’s helping me because it’s a placebo effect? I talk to a doctor friend at church on Sunday morning. No, she assures me, it’s not the placebo effect. Using my inhaler will help get more oxygen to the baby.
Monday morning I call in to ask please if I can get a refill. Of course they have to take a message, send it back to the nurse, say a nurse will call me back. Usually, the call-backs happen after 5pm. I have therapy at 5pm, I won’t be able to answer my phone. I turn my phone on at school and keep it out next to me where I can see the screen light up, something I never do. I feel like I can’t breathe. The puff that comes out of my inhaler is puny, a half-dose at best.
The nurse calls after school to let me know my refill has been called in. But I won’t be able to go by until after 6, it’s a long day, and the therapist is so far away, there will be traffic, and it will be dark and cold and the cold air hurts my lungs, and I’m not sure I like this new therapist anyway, I have too many appointments after school, I’m always driving to some appointment, I don’t have any time…
And on and on and on.
I get home and hug A and let out a soft, high-pitched whine: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
I do this, occasionally, imitating the anxious dog from Hyperbole and a Half (one of my favorite blogs). It’s an annoying sound, but it’s perfect. It’s exactly how I feel.
We whine, we comfort each other, we make faces, we put our hands on my belly, we wring our hands, we listen to the baby’s heartbeat, we furrow our brows, we cuddle, we talk. A cycle of anxiety and soothing that repeats over and over, many times each day.
© Burning Eye