Thursday, April 9, 2009

the time-honored art of pregnancy and paranoia

What did women do before we had doctors to scare us into doing nothing more than lay on the sofa, watching our bellies expand?

Now, granted, the infant survival rate has increased exponentially with the technological advances in the neonatal medical community, but some of the stuff doctors tell us to do (or, I should say not to do) during our 40-week gestation has me wondering how the human species even survived before some of these rules were in place.

About once a week, a woman shares her concerns on the women's forum at that she would not be able to work out - at all - during her pregnancy because she has a doctor who thinks no pregnant woman should run. Forget the fact that she's been running for 14 years. Forget the fact that she's had no pain, no spotting, or any other indication that something is "not right," and therefor shouldn't run. Forget the fact that in 2002, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology released new guidelines for exercise during pregnancy stating that all pregnant women, provided the absence of any complications, should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

I mean, anyone who can type "g-o-o-g-l-e" can find a wealth of information that will tell her that exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it's recommended. At my last appointment, I was instructed not to drink any coffee or our little girl would be moving around to much to be able to tell that she was, well, a girl. Without my morning buzz, my blood pressure was 90/60. Gestational diabetes and hypertension are still too common during pregnancy, especially with women who start out overweight to begin with. Why on earth would a doctor discourage any sort of activity? Maybe she shouldn't run if she's never run a step in her life, but those same doctors that think running is a no-no also think exceeding 140 beats per minute is also dangerous.

FYI, if you are already in decent shape, 140 bpm is a jog. It's a brisk walk up a very steep hill. You might break a sweat, but you're breathing just fine. And if you're in decent shape but pregnant, you experience spikes in heart rate that get you up to that 140 bpm much faster than normal, although the perceived effort is no more or less. It's just your heart working harder to deliver more blood to the creature in your uterus.

I know I've been on this soapbox before (possibly even in this blog but I'm pregnant, I forget things easily), but it just amazes me the lack of legitimate information some doctors continue to practice on. I understand not taking aspirin or sharing a beverage with my husband... but don't take my exercise away.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

my april fools

Since you had to leave I haven't been in the spirit of trying to trick anyone. It was anything but a trick that you had to go so soon, two days before April Fools, but I was left feeling a fool for not seeing it coming faster than anyone could anticipate.

The first year was the hardest. There were so many changes that you would not be able to be a part of, yet so many more that may not have taken place had you still been here. Relationships crumbled and were either rebuilt or left behind as tainted memory. We each faltered in different ways, with no other option than to blame your not being here for it. The wear of your absence was evident on all of our faces, yet we knew that the toll of your persistent condition would have been greater had you survived.

The second year brought the initial signs of relief. We worked towards defining ourselves outside of the loss. Questions would still crop up from time to time that could not be answered, reminding us of your invaluable wealth of knowledge, making us miss you harder, but appreciate you more. While the first year was about the pain, the second year was about the forgiveness - seeing you as a person, versus the wandering ghost of a man we had become accustomed to long before you actually left. We learned to accept and embrace your faults as we're forced to with our own, and finally face the world as "grown ups," or something like that.

The third year brought a return to normalcy. Some of us went on with our lives as we had been, others moved to pursue new directions. Some of us learned to live with others, while others learned how to live alone. You still show up in my dreams, but my mind's image of you has changed from the slow-moving, lost man I remember to a more youthful playful spirit that I recall knowing in my youth. Each dream is the same; I ask you why you are there, and you say, "Eh. Don't worry about. I'm supposed to be here," and you smile. Last time I saw you, I was setting up a pic-nic lunch on a patio for the family, and you were sitting up on some perch, looking like a photo I've seen of you just past your college years, swinging your legs, eager to watch everyone gather. We both know you weren't really supposed to be there, but I was the only one who saw you, and you winked at me, like it was going to be our secret.

Now we enter the fourth year, and I know you'll be there as I bring your granddaughter into the world. I hope to see you as I fall asleep with her in my arms, and I will think that maybe, behind her closed eyes, she'll see you too.