The Waiting

Teaching and coaching and getting ready to move and trying to write as much as possible while I still have time, energy, and desire are in full-swing. Last week I made a six-tab excel spreadsheet titled “Ongoing To-Do List,” and I’m still feeling a little disorganized.

I’m still feeling pretty good physically, though I can definitely tell that I’m slowing down. I need more sleep; if I don’t get at least six or seven hours I don’t feel good, and by Friday, I’m ready for bed at 8:30pm. I’m less hungry (which is kind of a bummer, because I kept thinking that this would be the time I’d finally be drinking 2pm milkshakes guilt-free), but trying to be sure that what I am eating is healthy. Just because my belly feels so much heavier, running has been much more touch-and-go than it was even a week ago. Twice last week, easy runs turned into a mile jog which turned into a walk, though in between I also had some days where I felt pretty good out there. Because I felt so heavy and awkward running on Sunday, I decided to go ahead and plan not to run yesterday. I’m the type of person who’d usually prefer to run at least a little every day, and rarely takes days off, so this was a big step for me. I did the elliptical while I monitored the weight room at cross country practice, and then my mom and I went for a nice evening walk. I’m not quite ready to say my running days are over, but it’s undeniable that my running days are going to be less in my control. If I feel like it and it is comfortable, I’d still like to run some. If that doesn’t happen, then I will do my absolute best to be grateful that I made it this far running regularly.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m feeling “bad” emotionally or intellectually, but it’s alarming how distracted I am. I can feel myself struggling to focus when I’m reading at night, and often feel sort of distant and far away even while in the midst of a conversation. I’m torn by conflicting urges to read/think/talk about the end of pregnancy and the baby’s approaching arrival all the time, and constant, low-grade anxiety that there are so many other things to read, write, do, think, organize, clean before the baby arrives. Because we’re getting ready to move, I have been doing a lot of organizing at the house, but I’d say my strongest nesting desires are intellectual. When will I read the new Marilynne Robinson novel? When will I finish the revisions on the essay I drafted last month? Lurking beneath these fears, and a lot of the sadness I feel about my pregnant running days being numbered is the fear that I might not want to do these things again.

In theory, if I don’t ever want to run sixty miles a week, or write in the pre-dawn hours, or read “important” books–who cares? I won’t, supposedly, because I won’t want to be doing these things. But, I guess that’s not quite my concern. I’m worried that I’ll still desire these things that for years, my living memory in the case of reading and writing, have been at the core of how I see myself, will matter to me, but just not enough to muscle through exhaustion to get them done. If I truly didn’t want to ever train for a goal race again, I guess that wouldn’t bother me, but what I’m afraid of is that I’ll want to, and just won’t have the will or energy to make myself do it. I certainly don’t have the will or energy to get up and run at 4 (the time I have to run before work) anymore. While I’d like to think this is all sensible right now (need my sleep, don’t want to trip, not training for anything in particular), the idea that one of the things I’ve always been proudest off–my obsessive willingness to get things done–either will or should change.

Between the To-Do lists, I’m trying to enjoy the warm fall, the slowly changing leaves, the squash-centered recipes, and even the waiting.

GD Screening

On Monday morning, I went in for my one hour glucose screening test. I had been considering waiving this test, and only went through with it because I’m a wimp and don’t like confrontation. I’m not measuring large, don’t have a history of gestational diabetes in my family, have been running and eating healthfully throughout. My midwife suggested I not fast on the morning of the test so that I wouldn’t feel too sick. I had breakfast, went in, drank the gross drink, sat for an hour, went home feeling exhausted and queasy, and dragged myself back to work for practice.

On Tuesday, I got a call that I’d “just missed” the screening cut-off and would need to go back for the three-hour test. I will admit that I felt defensive, embarrassed, and caught off-guard, but I also felt, logically, that this test was unnecessary. I learned that many women who went in without fasting failed, and that 2/3 of all women who fail the one-hour test ultimately pass the three-hour test. I asked what the alternatives were and were told there are none, other than taking my blood five times a day for the rest of my pregnancy.

On Wednesday, I went in and drank 100g of glucose on an empty stomach. First I started shaking as though I’d had seven cups of coffee. Then I got really tired. Then I got nauseated. Then I got a headache. I went home, thinking I’d take a short nap and then clean the house, do some errands, and go back to work for practice. Instead, I could barely drag myself out of bed to reheat dinner. I’d never drink 100g of glucose, period, let alone on an empty stomach, while pregnant, and then not eat for hours afterwards. I really can’t imagine that this “routine” test is harmless.

In the hours since the test on Wednesday, I imagined that I gave myself diabetes from the test (I mean, I’d worry if I ate that much sugar EVER, so why would drinking it in a doctor’s office make it safe?), that I was going to have a 14 pound baby, that I was going to be told to exercise more. I felt like the fat 13 year old I once was, embarrassed to go to the doctor, acutely aware of her disdain. I also felt like an indignant conspiracy theorist. BIG PHARMA. INSURANCE COMPANIES. LIABILITY PARANOIA!

After spending yesterday with my stomach in knots, checking my phone throughout the day and repeatedly logging on to my health records to see if the numbers were in, I called the office first thing this morning. My numbers had come back totally fine.

Of course I’m relieved, and I’m annoyed that I let myself spend so much energy being nervous, scared, embarrassed, defensive, and angry. I’m also surprised that even after having sought out a practice that avoids unnecessary testing as much as possible (while still being, you know, a legitimate medical practice), I’d been subjected to a test that was not only inconvenient, but unhealthy.

I’m also struck by how deep the feelings of shame, inadequacy, and guilt that I felt were. Someone was accusing me of being fat. Someone was accusing me of not exercising enough. Someone thought I wasn’t taking good enough care of my baby. It made me remember how much I used to hate going to the doctor. How I could sense my weak, waifey pediatrician shuddering at my chub as a kid and until I started going to my prenatal appointments with my midwives, would have done anything to avoid going to the doctor and possibly having to get weight. Even after I was running 70 miles a week and obviously no longer overweight. What a toxic cycle. It also made me sad that this positive medical experience had been made a little less loving, a little less positive, a little more guilt-inducing.

I know logically that lots of thin, fit women get gestational diabetes, and that a lot of the guilt, shame, and anxiety are my own hangups. But, the more research I’ve done, the more it really does seem that the three hour test is over-perscribed, and that GD itself is over-diagnosed. I know (anecdotally) many women who were diagnosed with GD despite never measuring large, having no risk factors, and who delivered small babies vaginally. Perhaps some of these woman had the small babies and never measured large because they controlled GD with diet and exercise, but it also seems highly likely that some of these women never had GD to begin with, but perhaps had trouble processing… oh, 100g of sugar on an empty stomach?

If I do have another baby someday, I hope I am a little less afraid of confrontation, and a little better equipped to advocate for a different method of monitoring for gestational diabetes.

My New Best Friend, Anne Lamott

One night last week, I said something about how I’d been having trouble getting into a new book, and Nick agreed, saying he’d just been reading The New Yorker. Well, I’d just been reading babycenter.com. I kept thinking “I’m tired. School just started. We’re having a baby soon and I don’t know anything about having a baby.” But, I don’t really want to be the woman who reads anonymous internet message boards about how to spell Kaleigh while her husband reads The New Yorker

So, I decided to start Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, which I bought right after I found out I was pregnant, when I’d just finished reading (and loving) Bird by Bird. I feel like I have a long-lost, equally-insane but much more eloquent friend. I started wondering why there isn’t more written about parenting, or even pregnancy, that’s actually thoughtful, or at least something other than the moronic condescension of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (from this week’s update: “Has your innie been outed? Is it poking straight through your clothes these days, like a timer on a well-cooked turkey? Don’t worry: There’s nothing novel about navels that pop during pregnancy”) or the “Hot Topics in December 2014 Birth Club” (including, but not limited to “what difference between leaking fluid and peeing on yourself???!” “SAHM help” and “Let’s see your bumps!!!”). 

And, it turns out, that wonderful something is my new best friend, Ann Lamott. 

“Sam sleeps for four hours at a stretch now, which is one of the reasons I’ve decided to keep him. Also, he lies by himself on the bed staring and kicking and cooing for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. I had these fears late at night when I was pregnant that I wouldn’t be able to really love him, that there’s something missing in me, that half the time I’d feel about him like he was a Pet Rock and half the time I’d be wishing I never had him. So there must have been some kind of a miracle. I never wish I hadn’t had him.” 

“…one of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one’s secret insanity and brokenness and rage.”

“I nursed him for a long time tonight. He’s so beautiful it can make me teary. I told him I was sorry for thinking such sexist stuff about his people. He listened quietly and nursed and stared up into my face. I wanted to justify it, tell him about all the brilliant but truly crummy men out there, and let’s not even get started on the government, but then I began humming some songs for him until he fell asleep. Then it was perfectly quiet.” 

“People have been inviting me and Sam to their parties lately, for God knows what reason. Everyone knows I don’t do parties or dinners…. I would honestly rather spend an hour getting my teeth cleaned than an hour mingling. I am absolutely serious about this. I get so nervous that I actually skulk, and then I get into this weird shuffling-lurk mode. It’s very unattractive. I look like a horse who can count, pawing the ground with one hoof… But in the old days I used to get sucked in and say yes to everybody and be there for them, showing up at their parties, helping them move, or staying on the phone with them too long. Now I do the counting-horse shuffle and shake my head and say I Just can’t do it, can’t come to the party, can’t do the favor, can’t stay on the phone. I want Sam to understand when he grows up that “No” is a complete sentence.”

I’m hoping if I keep reading something decent, funny, smart, self-depricating, honest, I might have better luck writing. Speaking strictly in terms of quantity, it does seem to be working so far.