When our Pregnant Bodies Fail Us

My sister phoned me a few weeks ago: she was almost 40 weeks pregnant and her cervix was not doing what it is supposed to do in terms of inducing labour. Her amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low and her placenta was calcifying – this baby needed to be welcomed into the world. R felt guilty and she was stressed – why was her body not doing what it was supposed to do? Why was it failing? She felt as though her only job at this point in her journey through motherhood was to safely deliver her unborn baby and she was unable to do so.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I, at 29 weeks pregnant, am sitting across from my gynaecologist, telling her about the period-like cramps and low lying pelvic pressure I have been feeling. I am worried, as during my previous pregnancy I was admitted to hospital at 34 weeks for threatening pre-term labour. The Dr checks my cervix and it is thinning – my body does not seem to want to carry babies full term and I feel as though I am failing my unborn son. In a panic, I immediately think of Bean – he is nowhere near ready to have me ‘missing’ from his life for the next couple of weeks and how will my husband manage him, the household and work the hours he does? I am put on medication, get administered steroid injections for the baby and have to be admitted to hospital for a few days. Needless to say, I am ordered bed rest (which is not so easy with a 2-year-old).

I now need to heed my own advice so easily given over the phone to my sister: do not feel guilty (there is nothing you can do about it), do not panic and, most importantly, trust. Trust the doctors as they know what they are doing, trust your family to be there for you and trust that everything will be OK.

Isn’t that what life is all about? It throws curve balls when you least expect it and you need to simply put those big girl panties on and deal with it. No amount of worry, or complaining, or crying is going to make it better. Parenting is hard and sometimes it’s hard even before the baby is born, but all we can do about it is to put up our hair, have that cup of decaf coffee, get on with it and hope for the best. No amount of guilt is going to make anything better.

Yes, I am overwhelmed and scared and yes, I am worried: for my sensitive and gentle Bean and how he will deal with my absence and for my little baby who is still way too small to be thrust into this world. But, I have faith and I realise that life would not throw something at me I cannot handle. We, as mothers, as parents, are stronger than we realise.

I will not let this failing body of mine define me or my journey through parenthood.

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