I don’t trust birth.
There. I said it.
I feel like I’m supposed to be a good little half-hippie, trusting birth and bodies and earthmothergoddessblahblahblah.
I knew the idea of me being pregnant again was practically unfathomable. I don’t think anyone would fault me on that. My body sucks at pregnancy. I can’t even really tell you how much I trust my body in regards to birth since I’ve had one induction and one urgent c-section.
I did not realize the full extent to which other people’s pregnancies scare the shit out of me until this month.
There is always the knowledge lurking in the back of my head that things could go wrong. I’ve lost friends, I’ve had friends lose babies, and I’ve had friends lose family members — all to the miracle of birth.
I ended up in the hospital for three weeks, pumped full of magnesium sulfate before giving birth to a 3-pound baby two months early. My blood pressure stayed high for more than six months.
My point being; I’ve seen and experienced a lot of trauma surrounding the whole pregnancy thing.
I keep the anxiety at a dull roar, assuming that if something bad were to happen to a friend or family member, I would hear pretty quickly.
Then my therapist got pregnant.
If you’ve ever spent any time in therapy, you’ll probably agree it’s a weird relationship. I’m sincerely attached to her, as well I should be, but also acutely aware that we’re not friends. I care about her well-being but I’m not going to text her to ask about the state of her cervix.
I had a few minor freak-outs early on, trying to navigate it all. What if something horrible happens? What would that mean for me? I’m a terrible person because I’m worried about how it would affect me! AHH! And then my brain imploded and I would word vomit all over an email to her.
And then, on Tuesday mornings, I would walk into her office. She’d be there, pregnant and increasingly miserable. We’d joke about “OMG pregnancy sucks so much,” and get on with talking about whatever other ways my brain was trying to sabotage me at the moment.
During the week I would worry, but I knew the worry had an expiration date — the next week.
Overall, I thought I was doing pretty ok with it.
The last appointment before she began her maternity leave she mentioned that she would send out an email after the baby was born, just letting her clients know everything was ok and sharing a photo and whatnot.
I think I replied, “Oh my god, thank you.”
I missed her as the first few weeks passed. It’s interesting, how infrequently we really get to miss people these days. My best friends can move across the country or across the world and I will still know what they are eating for dinner most nights.
As the days passed, my internal doomsday clock kept lurching forward. Her due date. A week past her due date. Around 10 days past and I realized that I was not just curious and excited for her, I was anxious.
As we hit two weeks beyond her due date, even my subconscious got in on the action. I dreamed she emailed to say her baby had not made it. And then I spent the rest of the dream trying to convince myself I was dreaming but continuing to “wake up” within the dream. I woke up for real and then immediately fell back into the dream.
I felt pretty ridiculous each time I went to her Facebook profile, hoping for an updated profile photo.
Because here is the thing: I knew she was probably fine. I’m a fucking expert at being overwhelmed in the postpartum. I barely managed to do anything for the first few weeks after either of my children were born. I, more than her, should have known that she wouldn’t be jumping onto her email the second the baby popped out.
As I became more and more convinced of some sort of catastrophe, I found myself digging deeper to reassure myself. Don’t Google your therapist, amiright? So I looked at her Facebook friends for people with her last name — not a damn one of them had any newborn pictures as their profile picture. And now I just felt sketchy and weird.
And also, I felt truly scared.
As I found myself looking through the obituaries of my local paper, I thought, “if only there was some sort of professional I could talk to about this…” and then I laughed at the irony.
Because y’all, I clearly have issues surrounding pregnancy. And uncertainty. And lack of instant gratification of curiosity.
Then one morning her name popped up in my inbox. Everyone was ok. She was just overwhelmed after a difficult birth. Just like the reasonable part of my head kept trying to convince me. She apologized for the delay, even though she didn’t really need to, because duh, of course she was just busy.
I hadn’t realized just how much intense worry I was carrying about it in general until I felt my shoulders relax and my stomach untie itself.
On the bright side — when she finally returns we should have enough material to keep us busy for a while.