“You’re a good patient to have,” my OB told me. “Everyone comes in wanting these picture-perfect babies and, when there’s a small chance they might not get that, they freak out. They want extra tests and second opinions. And that’s fine, but it won’t change the results. You were told your baby had clubfeet and you said, ‘That’s fine. We’ll handle it when she gets here.’ Most of my patients don’t think that way.”
At the time, the comment made me feel good. I like not being a “problem child” for people who are trying to do their jobs and get through their day. I can’t imagine what’s going through the heads of people who yell at nurses, waitresses, and cashiers. The phrase “I’ll never shop here again,” exists only in my head and only when I think the products are too shit for the prices.
Though, to be fair in this case, I’d had a few days to get used to the idea of bilateral clubfoot before I saw my OB.
Still, I left her office feeling good and thinking about a blog post I’d read last month. It was written by a woman who felt dismayed upon hearing her unborn child might have clubfoot. Her initial fears, I had felt. But the way she continued through the pregnancy was like grieving the death of the life she envisioned with her baby (clubfoot is stupidly easy to fix these days, y’all). The child wound up being born with no clubfoot–it’s a common false positive to get. But all I could think about was how melodramatic that mother was. Clubfoot is the very least of my developmental worries.
Then today, I went to the specialist for a follow-up.
First, they noticed another soft marker for Downs. The specialist seems really confident that it’s nothing, though. They were unable to confirm the first marker (the doctor who checked it even said, “It’s in the normal range, I don’t see what they saw at your OB’s office”). This one, she thinks is because I’m 26 weeks and VERY CLOSE to 27. Babies don’t just grow at one fixed rate. The normal amount of fluid in the kidneys is 4.0, my baby came out at 4.5. Once you hit 27 weeks, the norm goes up to 7.0. So she’s slightly above the high end of normal…right before that normal increases by 3 points.
But then the doctor pulled out test results that I never received and asked me, “Did you know you’re a carrier for cystic fibrosis?”
I did not know that. No one had even told me they were testing for it.
She continued, “As long as it’s just you, it’s nothing. But this means we have to test Dad. If he’s a carrier, the chances of your baby having CF is 25%.”
I felt dizzy. Cystic fibrosis is, so far, the worst possibility we’ve been given. Even with modern advances (children with CF used to die by the time they reached elementary school), there’s a strong possibility we’ll outlive our kid.
Fortunately, their lab tech was in that day. So we were able to get Zach’s blood drawn and we’ll know in 7-14 days if he’s a carrier.
In the meantime, I’m so sick of making my pregnancy easier on everyone else. I spend so much time not wanting to be “high maintenance” or the stereotypical irrational pregnant woman. Even then, I’ve still run into men who treat me like that’s what I am the second they find out I’m pregnant. Regardless of my behavior.
But it’s been miserable from the beginning and everytime I ask someone to make it a little easier on me, I feel guilty (or even guilted).
And you’d think being so sick that you can’t get out of bed and you’ve lost 20 pounds is the worst of it, but the emotional turmoil these appointments put you through is so much worse. After every appointment, I find myself thinking, “I’m never doing this again. No matter how great this kid comes out, I can’t go through all this again.”
I was quiet on the car ride home as Zach talked about how it’s all probably fine. He threw numbers out at me, trying to rationalize my feelings away. I know that’s what makes him feel better when he’s worried, so I didn’t say anything.
But I’m so sick of rationalizing. I just want to yell and cry and punch someone. Especially literally anyone who brags about how easy their pregnancies were.
Of course, I won’t do that. On Friday, I’ll have a calm discussion with my therapist. She’ll tell me it’s fine to feel scared. (She’ll also heavily imply that I SHOULD punch someone, though, and that’s why I love her.)
I know it’s fine. I’m just tired of feeling it.
And I think about all those women who make my OB’s life hell. Who get to yell and cry and demand more tests and ask why this is happening to them. These women who feel so sure of their own entitlement to a perfect baby get to have someone catering to their emotions.
I’ve found that I feel no entitlement to it. It just would have been nice. But I didn’t do anything to earn it. I exist, I work, I come home, and I live my life. When I was told my baby would have two clubfeet, I thought, “If that’s the worst she has, then I’m getting off easy.” I’m not lucky enough for a perfect baby. Maybe that’s why I make such an easy patient. I’m just constantly waiting to hear the bad news.
I’m just…so tired. But I chose this and now I’ll deal with it.