The Pregnancy Glow / Anxiety-Riddled Sweat Sheen: They’ll Never Know the Difference!

Due to my HOAR neglect, I’ve opened the last few entries with an apology. I won’t do that this time, as I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it.

[I’m sorry.]

I will, however, try to offer an explanation. My schedule has been off-the-charts busy. Chaotic even. Below is a list of things I attempt to accomplish on any given day.

1. Get out of bed
2. Make breakfast (toast) and drive (the four minutes) to work
3. Work a long (five hour) shift
4. Nap for a minimum of two hours
5. Eat a lot of snacks
6. Some other things, which I’m sure are relatively productive, that I just can’t think of right now
7. Keep up-to-date on episodes of New Girl and Boardwalk Empire

I know what you’re thinking, and no (mom), I’m not “Superwoman” (although I do do my best work in a crotch-hugging unitard). It’s just all in a day’s work.

Okay so maybe my life’s just felt chaotic. But I haven’t been so much “apathetic” as I have been just “really pregnant”. And never have I been such a lazy sack of potatoes (that’s for You-Know-Who-You-Are who says my blog swearing is too excessive) as I am now that I’m incubating a little dude.

Ah yes, pregnancy. It’s not even the little things, the expected things we all hear about, that have stopped me in my tracks over the past six months.

[Note: With the original author’s permission, I’m going to write a sequel to “the pregnancy Bible”, What to Expect When You’re Expecting entitled Heads up: Shit’s About to Get Crazy; Seriously, There’s no Telling What Sort of Crazy Shit is About to Go Down…When You’re Expecting.]

[Sorry about the two S-bombs, You-Know-Who-You-Are. It’s just how the sentence fell out of my head.]

The well documented stuff has been easy:

Peeing when you sneeze? Ain’t no thang.

Sneezing ten times as much as your pre-pregnant self? Oh universe, you hilariously ironic bastard.

The blinding headaches? Child’s play.

The stabbing back pain (I refuse to believe there was ever a time I slinked sexily into or out of bed. It is now a more lengthy spectacle self-narrated in the form of mannish, pain grunts)? No problem.

The adorable, abdominal treasure trail of a spry, young yeti? Bring it on.

What has truly disabled me is something different. It is hardly the sole cause of my writer’s block, but illustrates one of the many ways I’ve been newly distracted. Since I was about eight weeks pregnant, I have been full-on, no-exaggeration, holy eff claustrophobic.

Now, the term “claustrophobia” is overused in our culture.

Hehehe, stop tickling me, I’m getting claustrophobic.
Move over, you’re making me claustrophobic.
Are you gonna eat that? Claustrophobia.

[I’m having a tough time thinking of a third example, but you know what I mean.]

I used to think I knew what claustrophobia was. Until July.

We were headed to the infamous Calgary Stampede. A group of us had been priming at a friend’s house.

[And by “priming” I, of course, mean they were all drinking and I was in the bathroom mirror willing my green-faced self not to puke and thinking of clever ways to keep casually going outdoors to pass gas.]

When it was time to head out, we tried to stuff far too many of us into a Ford Explorer. I automatically climbed back into the “secret seat” – the fold down back seat with no doors on either side of you, the seat-back in front of you above eye level.

[For the record, I have actually always loved confined spaces. When I was on sports (and/or math team) trips in junior high, I would fight for the back seat with as many blankets and pillows on top of me as possible. My favorite game growing up was called “sitting alone in the basement in the cardboard box that the patio furniture came in”; I seriously played it every day, it was so cozy in there. And when I ignored my sister’s protests and slept in her bed for many years past the socially acceptable limit, I had to sleep on the inside by the wall, because it was way cozier (that and the fact that if someone were to break in, Jennifer would be my shield while I scrambled out the window).]

But when the Explorer’s doors were closed, I didn’t feel cozy. Rather, I was overcome with an absolute certainty that I was going to faint/throw up/die immediately. A moment was too long. There was no time to politely ask to be let out.

“Let me out! Let me out! LEMMEOUT! NOOOOOOW! LEMMEOUT! PLEEEEEASE HURRY!”.

[I wish I was exaggerating.]

Being unfamiliar with my newfound neurosis, J seemed almost to saunter back to the door, rendered slow-mo by his state confusion/horror. It felt like an eternity. The look on his face was not just perplexed; it was an expression a man might wear if he strolled into a strip club with his buddies only to discover that his usually modest wife is the headlining act.

Once the door was opened and my escape route clear of bodies, I heaved my full weight over the seat in front of me to essentially tuck and roll onto the curb. I had just narrowly escaped death. I was gasping for air.

That was the first time. I wrote it off as an extreme product of morning sickness and a hot summer day.

Then I had to get my follow-up MRI (you remember my spinal cord buddy, Maybel? She’s still under investigation). The first MRI back in May was great!

You want me to lie down for forty minutes and not move? Win! Nap time! Where do I sign up?

But the second time, in October? Not such a treat. I didn’t feel any hesitation leading up to the procedure because claustrophobia has never been an issue. I donned the gown, hopped onto the stretcher and popped in the earplugs. Then the technician handed me the panic squeezy (sorry, it’s a hospital term; try not to concern yourself with the technicalities). I took it thoughtlessly.

Now, in May, the first MRI, I unconsciously dropped the panic squeezy within minutes of being in the machine. I had no use for it. But this time was different. I suddenly felt very aware of its weight and shape in my palm. I wasn’t yet panicked or even worried. Just very mindful of the squeezy.

“So, wait, if I just squeeze this thing, you’ll wheel me right out?”

“That’s right”.

Cool.

I closed my eyes for the ride in. Oddly, breathing suddenly required concentration. Is the air getting thinner?

As the insides of my eyelids turned from red to black and movement of the stretcher ceased, I knew I was in. Now just to wait. And to turn off my brain…

Why would I even be thinking of Hulking out and busting through this machine? That’s ludicrous. What a thought. Sheesh.

Yet, somehow, my deep, laboured breathing managed to shrink my surroundings even more.

This is silly. Just breathe. Relax and breathe. You are in control. You can control everything you’re feeling with your breath. Try to sleep. Try to breathe. You are…You can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

Squeeze.

I can’t breathe. I’m dying.

Squeeze. “Can you take me out please?”.

Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueezesqueeze.

“GET ME OUT OF HERE. PLEEEEEEASE!!! PLEASE HURRY! I NEED TO GET OU–HURRRYYYYY!!!”

It took eighteen years to be wheeled out. Folding myself into a flailing V-shape, I gripped and pulled fruitlessly at the opening to the tube with both hands and feet. I imagine it was, to the Technician, like watching an angry, demon fetus clawing its way into the world.

Sitting up too quickly, I slammed my forehead into the opening of the machine. I didn’t care. I knew how ridiculous this whole scene must have looked. The little Tech lady was… bewildered? Annoyed? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t care. I could breathe.

She suggested trying again, and “trying to relax this time”.

I’m all about “if at first you don’t succeed” and such, but her advice sounded laughable. I’ve never been so sure of imminent failure. There was no way this was happening. She would have to knock me out. I’d just as soon climb into a pot of boiling water.

[I’ve yet to successfully complete my follow-up MRI.]

Since then there have been several more less dramatic occurrences, mostly involving sitting in the backseat of cars and threatening to tuck and roll onto a busy freeway if the car is not stopped immediately. Or pulling over on my way to work to frantically rip off my winter jacket, undo my seatbelt, and stick my head out the window, into the wind and snow.

Hopefully this is a pregnancy-only thing that will end as soon as the little dude is born. I’ve considered that maybe it’s sympathy anxiety for him, all cramped in there. But I’ve been assured he’s likely cozy. Like me in the patio furniture box.

Has it been a trying experience, this pregnancy? I would say so, yes. But each time that little dude flops around in there (imagine swallowing a live, irritable tuna), it all feels worth it.

The next big hallmark? The “Group B Streptococcus Screening”, in which not one but two inserted giant Q-tips will re-affirm my commitment to this tuna child. I’ll keep you posted.

Untitled