When dreaming of being pregnant before, I had visions of enjoying each milestone and being immersed in the experience. I guess most people who’ve been through it before are slightly amused at that idea. For many, pregnancy is not easy to “enjoy” and for many others, the rest of life gets too much in the way to linger over the pregnancy. I have certainly fell into that latter camp for the last couple months. The pregnancy is still going smooth, but our cat has been suffering immensely and we’ve been suffering right with her.
Today was supposed to be her last check-up where she’d be back to normal. Instead, she had another surgery today and is back in a cast for the next 5 weeks minimum. If that sounds awful, after all the other things we’ve been through, it was unexpectedly a better day than we were anticipating. At least this should be the final surgery and at least the root cause of our problems (infection from the implant) should be addressed now. We have made it through two and half months of constant nightly wakings, constant anxiety that she’s safe, several incidents of feeling we failed, and unable to leave the house for more than 6 hours at a time. People have said (with good intentions I suppose) it’s like training for kids. It may be true that we’re learning more about ourselves, how to care for a living creature who you cannot rationalize with, and having to work together. But it’s also an immense amount of stress at a time when we already had enough on our plate. We’re trying to stay healthy mentally and physically because we’ve haven’t even gotten started on our next big challenge. But there are honestly some really bad days.
Meanwhile, pregnancy is starting to become harder to ignore. My belly is now obviously pregnant and I feel it constantly. At 19 weeks or so I started getting rib pains which was mostly likely from one of the babies’ head. After a couple weeks the acute pains stopped but the right ribs are still constantly tender. My upper back gets tired out some days and I got a pregnancy pillow, also at 19 weeks, because I realized there was no point in putting it off. I didn’t want to stop biking to work so early but I had to admit walking back to my bike one night that I was struggling too much. While I could push through many things before, I feel I shouldn’t be doing that to my body right now. I’ve started swimming instead, but only once a week. I could not give up a minute more of my sleep in the morning with the crappy pregnancy sleep I have and the regularly wake-ups to help the cat at night. I also can usually only make it to the sofa after I come home from work. So weekdays are just about surviving the day.
I’d like to think at some point I’ll swim at least three times a week. But I’ll just have to go at the pace I can. I’ve also learned to swim slow. My third session, I was so wound up about getting exercise I pushed myself too fast. When I got out of the pool, I started getting dizzy and my vision narrowed to a tunnel. I made it a few steps to the change room and slumped against the wall, then squatted down until I could get my bearings again. It was a bit scary because I have fainted before and I knew I didn’t want to fall down on the hard tile floor. Since then I have tried to swim as slow and deliberate as possible. Maybe at least my form will get better in the process.
I also met with my supposed obstetrician for the first time. I went in optimistic having heard great things about him and proceeded to have the worst conversation imaginable. I was so desperate to get out of that office at the end because the only thing I wanted to do was go to the washroom and cry (which is exactly what I did after I left). How did it go so wrong? He started off with the four major risks of twin pregnancy. He listed them as if they were givens. On gestational diabetes, I interjected and asked if it’s really such a concern for me given my health and low-sugar diet. “It has nothing to do with your diet, ” he brushed away my comment before I could even end the sentence. “But do I really need to take that glucose test?” I pressed. Like a fish flopping, he responded off-handedly, “Oh no, you could totally skip it.” My forehead furrowed confused by these contradictory messages. Once he finished his spiel on all the things that could go wrong, I brought up my intention to have a low-intervention birth as the midwives who have worked with him advised I do. That begun the what could only be described as trying to “set me straight” on all these things that were not negotiable. The first up was the operating room delivery. I said I had talked to someone who recently gave birth to twins with him and didn’t do it in the OR. I mentioned the midwives said this was negotiable. His response, “I know who you are talking about and that will never happen again, I got hell for that. The midwives are wrong.” He banged on the table for emphasis.
Ok, I get that there are things out of his control too. But then I probed for some comfort that maybe the OR could be made a bit more conductive to birth, “Does that mean bright lights, could they be dim–” He deadpanned, “Oh, it’s bright lights of course. And there will two nurses, two pediatricians, an anesthesiologist, …” I guess he listed off ten or so people. I talked of my other concerns about avoiding epidural. “We recommend all twin pregnancies have epidural.” I asked, “Is that because of the concern you may need to turn the second baby?” He went on to tell an anecdote of a women fighting him on the table with his hand up her uterus without epidural and how much he never wants to do that again. (Now it’s “scaring me straight”?) I asked, “If I was to do an epidural, what about ‘walking epidural’? “There’s no such thing as a walking epidural.” I think there was more table banging around this point. I brought up my concerns about bonding without getting a chance to talk about what that looks like to me when he injected, again, “Oh sure there will be skin-to-skin.” At a certain point, I just had nightmare visions of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life and blurted out, “Have you seen the Monty Python skit?” He chuckled, “The machine that goes ‘beep’, yeah.” I thought maybe my roundabout approach to connect would lead to him sobering up and clarifying that in all seriousness it wouldn’t be like that. It didn’t.
Do I even need to mention that his receptionist has a perpetual scowl and pissy attitude in every interaction? Ironically I went back to the person I knew who had him for her birth and the midwives and they all admitted that he has a tendency to make a bad first impression. I wish I got that warning earlier. Despite them trying to reassure me he really gets better, I feel it’s too late. I cringe of the idea of his hands on me. Meanwhile, G and I have been meeting regularly with another doctor: our cat’s surgeon. The day after I had this terrible interaction with the obstetrician we had an appointment with the surgeon after hearing via a messenger that “The implant might be too big and need to be removed.” We were besides ourselves before the appointment and I was preparing to battle with him questions about why he had made such a poor judgement. Yet he came into the room with us, scooted up close and looked into our eyes and talked honestly about the situation. I asked questions and he listened fully and he answered them and addressed my root concerns. By the end of the meeting, I was convinced he was doing everything possible for us and he truly understood the pain we were going through. I even joked with him I wish he could deliver my twins and he made a wish for us that we’d have a boy and girl. That overjoyed G of course who was wishing for the same thing (I’ll share the results in my next post, stay tuned!).
G mentioned to me tonight that at the first meeting with our cat’s surgeon he had said, “The recovery is going to be really hard for you two because of the rules you have to follow. Your job is far worse then mine, I’ll go in for an hour and be done and you have a long 8-10 weeks ahead of you.” She was at first upset at him saying it would be so hard. But now she realizes how right he was to warn us. I appreciated how he phrased it actually and respected what he was trying to say from the beginning. Funny that I think the obstetrician was trying to say the same thing, except that his delivery fell apart entirely on us.
So, we’re going to try to see another obstetrician who is a woman and has a better reputation for compassion, even though she probably isn’t going to have any more of a “liberal” stance on these issues. Nevertheless, I have another appointment with the current banging-on-the-table obstetrician the day after tomorrow. I am not exactly sure what to make of it. I scheduled the follow up at the first appointment just because I didn’t want to come right out and say I was done with him. Now, even though I think it’s a given he won’t be my doctor, I am following through with it because I know he’s on the same oncall rotation of the other doctor we are looking at so I may not be able to avoid him entirely. Somehow I want to uncover this other side of him that made so many other people say good things about him, just so I don’t have to live in fear of seeing him again. I have no idea on how to do that though.