The Big Scare (pre-term labour)

Yesterday was the day I realized that I cannot continue with my normal life for the next 9 1/2 weeks. No carrying my toddler, who weighs 27lbs/ 12.25 ks up and down 4 flights of stairs, no bending abruptly and chasing him, no strolling him up Pacific and Presidio Heights' agitating ascensions. I would also usually walk up to Cole Valley, pick him up and stroll back, shopping for dinner along the way. The stairs were getting increasingly difficult and I had resorted to coaxing him up with keys then bribing him with Elmo but due to an acute period of pain caused by his appearing molars, nothing would cajole him up the stairs. And yet I still wanted to take him to the park, to the library, to walk with him, to get shopping. It would hurt, but then it would go away.

Yesterday, I nearly collapsed on leaving the store after having carried him down, strolled him and did my shopping. I ended up sitting on a corner, unable to move, breathing through contractions, calling my husband at work and explaining I could not move. My son was concerned about me- toddlers, babies even, know very well when something is amiss, they are acutely aware of our emotions-and also none to happy to be stuck in his unmoving stroller. So I had to do my best to calm him down, which also benefited me, because I was in a whirlwind of panic and concentrating on calming him down, calmed me.

When I was strolling him back, at first I simply fell faint, then nauseated, then felt stabbing pain in my abdomen, my baby boy trampolining and summersaulting inside. I could hardly breathe. I sat down on a corner and waited for my husband. Most people passed me by with a slight irritation that my outstretched legs were in their way. One woman looked like she was going to rob me, looking very suspiciously into my open bag. As long as she wasn't going to leave with my son, I was not getting up. However, three people stopped by, looking very concerned asked to help. When I told them my husband would arrive any minute, they nevertheless offered to stay until he arrived (I must have presented quite a scene with my son's in utero antics very visible under my shirt, my pained breathing and my worried son all on a street corner behind an etiolated tree). One woman even stopped driving on busy Pine Street and offered to park and stay. There are good people in this world. I very much appreciated that they offered to help. What would you think and/or do seeing a toddler in a stroller, shopping bags and a heavily pregnant lady sitting with her legs outstretched rhythmically breathing on the ground?

When my frazzled husband arrived, I took the car home while he strolled our son back and walked carefully up the stairs and into bed. We decided to wait it out and see if I got better with rest or if we should go to hospital and since the contractions went away after a while, we didn't end up going, albeit I still emailed my OB and am keeping watch. My son did however continue his gymnastics throughout the night, albeit slowly wearing off. I suppose he is getting in the right state of mind for the Olympics since he may well be born during that time.

When I felt better lying down, I thought maybe I should finish up a bunch of agreements I have to finalize, but realized that wouldn't be "resting" (I admit I have trouble with this concept). I played with my son in bed, joining his favourite puzzle together (planes and trucks of course!) and then became concerned that I wasn't going to the doctor, even though I was feeling better. So I made the mistake of reaching out to google for my symptoms and started worrying whether I was going into pre-term labour, whether my boy's frantic movements were signs of distress, particularly whether he was being caught in the umbilical cord, but as I fretted more and thought fit to go to hospital, I noticed I was feeling worse. So I shut off the computer, shut my eyes and tried to meditate, concentrating on my breathing. Sure enough (and I am a terrible meditator, my mind is a drunken monkey of flurried thoughts) as I let go, both my son and I became still and I had less pain. I resolved to do nothing for the rest of the night and my wonderful husband (who admonished me for doing too much, a usual scuffle between us) took care of our ex utero son and dinner for us all, while I relaxed with in utero and .....watched Frazier.

Pregnancy is more difficult for second time mums because as easy as it is in your first pregnancy to strike on carrying anything heavy or running around and generally resting up, knowing you are taking care of a growing life inside you, the paramount role you perceive yourself in in your second pregnancy, which is hard to discount, is being a mother to your child or children that are running amok and crave your attention. You are caught in a catch 22 - not doing all the things you want to do to take care of your children to protect your baby, or imperiling your baby to take care of your children. I've realized that I've been too focused on being a great mum to number 1, the one who carries him everywhere and plays with him and scurries around despite my belly and despite the needs of number 2. I'm afraid that he will just see dad as the cool one and me as the lady that can't do anything fun anymore. Well, pride aside (and I do need lessons on understanding that I am not invincible and cannot do it all), I have to choose and it's better at this moment to take care of number 2 than to appease number 1. One of them needs me more right now. My son will have to learn this, because when number 2 comes, my son will notice very prominently that attention is being diverted to another, so maybe this is a good start. I'll make it up to him later.


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