What if?

With some of the requirements for medical visits during pregnancy, I want to remind the practitioners who they’re dealing with: namely, pregnant women. (Case in point: When I went in for each of our two ultrasounds, the nurse told me to drink 32 ounces of water an hour before the exam—and. not. pee. Trust me, the fear of accidentally wetting yourself puts a slight damper on the excitement of seeing your baby for the first time.)

Another example: the glucose tolerance test, which screens for gestational diabetes. When I went in a few weeks ago for this test, I was asked to fast so they could draw my blood at the beginning of my three-hour appointment to check my fasting glucose levels. It’s dangerous to get between a hormonal, hungry pregnant lady and her meals, so I’m surprised I don’t hear of more confrontations over this.

After skipping breakfast and my usual mid-morning snack, I chugged a small bottle of artificial juice that had enough sugar in it to give Michelle Obama conniptions. It tasted like the fruit punch we used to drink at elementary school birthday parties—the kind that comes in clear gallon jugs and stains your upper lip a color found nowhere in nature.

I don't wish chugging this drink on my worst enemy.
I don’t wish chugging this drink on my worst enemy.

So it’s little wonder that I nearly fainted during my second blood draw. I get light-headed and weak-kneed just thinking about that first prick (or really anything taking my blood—mosquito bites swell up huge on me and take weeks to heal, and I battled dozens of land leeches sucking at my ankles when I went camping in Thailand). But after eating no food, then drinking more sugar than I’d have in a week, that second vial nearly did me in.

As I sat with my head between my knees, I began to cry. It seemed absurd that tears would be my reaction. I was embarrassed. When I finally wobbled back to my seat, I hoped no one noticed my watery eyes and the Kleenex crumpled in my palm.

Later, after a lunch at the Whole Foods next door, I still felt out of sorts. I felt depleted, like blood wasn’t the only thing I’d lost.

I realized that the screening test wasn’t the only overwhelming part of my marathon midwife visit. During the appointment, a midwife, social worker and facilitator encouraged me and about ten other pregnant women to discuss different concerns that come up late in the second trimester.

How will breastfeeding fit into your lifestyle? Hopefully not painfully.

Have you selected a pediatrician? Baby isn’t born yet. He needs a doctor already?

Who will join you in the delivery room? Oh man, I have to make sure my mom and mother-in-law don’t take their lack of an invite personally.

What sort of contraception will you use after the baby arrives? I have trouble imagining what life will be like in another few weeks, let alone months from now. You’re asking me to think about condoms and IUDs?

I half-expected them to ask which preschool we’d be sending Peeper to.

I felt swamped by enormity of the steps we needed to tackle yet had hardly considered. I was unprepared to confront such important topics that seemed a lifetime away, much less on a brain buzzed with artificial sugar.

My friends, with and without little ones, have kindly reassured me that trepidations of having an actual baby (as opposed to a cute bump) are normal. Thank goodness for their support and understanding.

Yet I wonder why it should be so hard to imagine life with Peeper. Eric and I thought and talked for years before making the decision to start a family. We both want this so much that words fail. But making the transition from pregnant lady to mother short-circuits my imagination.

Since that sugar-hazy day at the midwife’s, the questions they posed make me less panicky. I haven’t felt like fainting since then, either, thank goodness. But completely reasonable inquiries from friends and family, like if we’ve set up a crib yet, have a similar effect: I start to sweat and the periphery of my vision goes a little dark. We haven’t figured these things out already, a fast-talking whisper staccatos in my brain, so what if we completely forget something important? What if we don’t do all the must-dos the books and web sites list? What if we don’t even realize we’re supposed to do something?

What if?

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