Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pregnancy B.S.

I just saw this post in the Motherlode blog of The New York Times about the link between maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy and an increased (as in 0.6 percent) rate of autism in their offspring. I had a horrible flashback to when I was pregnant and felt like every day I would hear about some study that convincingly argued that something I was consuming would detrimentally harm my unborn baby. Moreover, I felt like every time I went to the doctor, I was given some new horror to worry about. "It's probably nothing, but your baby may be born with three heads. We'll check you again in two weeks! Have a nice day!" I've already discussed the tremendous bedside manner of the student nurse at Emory who could not locate my uterus. But when you're pregnant you're not just worried about your own medical stuff, you have to worry that whatever the doctor is telling you will impact your baby, who you haven't even met, and for all you know he'll hold a grudge.

I have also previously shared that when I was pregnant with the Girl and the Boy, I had gestational diabetes. This sucked. The first time around, as part of my "treatment" I had to go to a demoralizing nutrition class to learn how to count carbohydrates and be told that I'd essentially be on the Atkins Diet for the last trimester of my pregnancy. The best/worst/most ironic part of the experience was that while I sat in the waiting room before the nutrition class, the medical office was having a birthday celebration. A party guest kindly brought the receptionist the biggest fucking piece of cake I've ever seen. She was all a-twitter, "ohmigod, this cake is huge! I'm gonna go into a sugar coma for sure!" Which is pretty much the perfect thing to say in front of a waiting room full of pregnant diabetic women.

Of course, I should really be the last to judge since during my sorority hell week when I was forced to write letters to American troops deployed to fight in Desert Storm, I complained bitterly to the soldiers about how horribly I was being treated during hell week. To Marines. In a war. Facing death. "We have to separate all the different kinds of marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms! And the boxes have those new purple horseshoes! Oh, the humanity!"

After we separated the Lucky Charms with our grubby little hands,
we mixed them all back together and made Lucky Charms Treats
(like Rice Krispies Treats) and sent them to the troops.
As if they didn't have enough to contend with being shot at and all.
So, I went to my nutrition class where I was told that my baby and I would face an increased risk of diabetes because I had screwed us both with my weak-ass pancreas and it was only a matter of time before we'd both join the legions of Americans popping Glucophage and testing our blood sugar. I was then lectured at length about the necessity of me sticking to my strict diet, or risk giving birth to a baby the size of a two year old who would likely be hypoglycemic and be whisked away from me at birth to undergo a battery of tests because I couldn't step away from the bread.

JaMichael Brown of Texas weighed 16.1 pounds and 24 inches long at birth.
His father called him "Moose" and his mother just screamed in agony.

The prospect of childbirth was pretty horrifying to me anyway, so the thought of having a ginormous baby was enough to scare me off the sugar. I was a fanatic about my diet after my diagnosis. Literally, this is what I ate:

Breakfast: 1/2 slice of wheat bread, 1 egg, 1 piece of Canadian Bacon
Snack: 1 granola bar
Lunch: 1 piece of wheat bread, salad with lettuce, carrots, oil and vinegar dressing, water.
Snack: 1/2 cup strawberries
Dinner: Same as Lunch
Snack: 2 graham crackers with one tablespoon of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of milk.

That's about 120 grams of carbohydrates a day. To give you a reference, that's about the same number of carbs in one dinner portion of Olive Garden's Five Cheese Ziti al Forno.

It wasn't surprising to me that after about a month I hadn't gained any weight. Prior to being diagnosed with diabetes, I'd only gained about twelve pounds, so at about seven months pregnant I had a nice Kate Middleton look to me. Doctors, I learned, don't like it when you are seven months pregnant and look like you just ate too many french fries. So, the doctor recommended the following:
1. Eat at least two hamburgers a day.
2. Put cheese on your hamburger.
3. Put mayonnaise on the cheese on your hamburger.
4. In fact, put mayo and cheese on everything you eat.
5. Don't eat any more peanut butter because it might give your baby peanut allergies. Or not. We don't know. Since you can barely eat anything it'll probably be fine. Forget I mentioned it. Or don't.

I left the appointment crying.

When I returned a month later with my cholesterol probably hovering around the 380 mark, I had gained a little bit of weight which made the doctor happy. Unfortunately, I'd stopped getting any bigger. If you've been pregnant you know that the doctor measures your belly at each appointment to see how you've grown. Interestingly, at 32 weeks, you're about 32 inches, 36 weeks, you're 36 inches, etc. I stopped getting any bigger after about 32 weeks. So, the doctor was concerned that the baby might be too small. I had spent two months eating like a beauty pageant contestant so my baby didn't turn into a giant and now the concern was that somehow the baby was too small. Awesome. The next step was to have an ultrasound to measure the baby, who would soon be born and turn into the Girl.

There are preciously few funny ultrasound pictures.
Clearly an untapped market.

The ultrasound showed her to be about 5.5 pounds, four weeks from delivery. Babies gain about 1/2 a pound a week the last month, so it would have put her at about 7.5 pounds at term. I thought this was great news. The doctor who had ordered the test was unconvinced and told me that the ultrasound measurements can be up to 50% off. I felt like she was sorely disappointed that the results had been normal since it failed to explain why I wasn't getting bigger. Also, why call for a test if the results aren't reliable and you aren't going to believe them? It was all I could do to get through the last month eating my rabbit food and hoping the Girl would come ASAP so I could stop being driven mad by the medical establishment.

Of course, the Girl was born a nice baby-sized seven pounds six ounces with no complications from the diabetes. I drank a gigantic chocolate milkshake to celebrate and for the first time in nine months didn't worry whether it was going to harm anyone but me. I was free! Free to consume whatever I wanted! Crack open a beer, brew me a cappuccino, pass me that never ending bread bowl!

Then I remembered I'd be nursing. Womp, womp, womp.


1 comment:

  1. Girl, makes me grateful I'm childless & flying through childbearing years fast. Only a few more years & my eggs will hard boil. Super excited.

    My cousin had 7 children 7. 6 pregnancies last 1 was twins. My uterus almost fell out of my body out of sympathy. How the hell did our ancestors do it? Our Grandparents came from a family that each had 10 kids. 10-all lived. No modern medical anything. How?

    I found your site by accident when I was googling- funny russian black market images...btw- Thought you should know. Hope you & your offspring are doing well!