Reflecting a bit on this Friday. It’s so crazy to me that it is August! And I want to remember this wild ride through 2020. Wrote this after my 38 Week Pregnancy Appointment this week…
Pregnancy Appointment: 38 Weeks
I’m sitting in my OB’s waiting room.
Awaiting my 38 week appointment.
It’s empty and quiet in the small waiting room. Just me and a circle of empty chairs. The emptiness is due to their one patient in each room at a time policy, and limited patient load in general from COVID-19.
To enter the office you have to knock once, from out in the hall. Kinda like you are entering a secret party at a Frat House. Then you can only enter if you know the secret password, er, sorry, I mean if you pass the temperature check.
I giggle thinking about that 90210 episode where Steve and Andres carry an egg into every midnight convenience store to try and get into an underground party. “I’d like to exchange an egg….” He says with a lifted eyebrow and a smirk.
I don’t remember if they ever made it in. But I know Brandon and Emily Valentine did.
Sitting in the waiting room, I hear a dull drum of 90’s easy listening music, humming from a small, hidden speaker in the corner. Through closed doors and a short hallway, I can hear my doctor finishing up with her last patient. Soft mutters. A laugh. Other humans. It’s comforting and sterile all at the same time.
The door jiggles open, I don’t even wait for my name to be called to stuff my iPhone in my purse and get up.
Yup, just me out here.
The usual check-up things.
The usual routine. Blood pressure. Pee in a cup. Proceed to diligently scrub hands and re-sanitize after touching door handles and faucet knobs, toilet seats and that black sharpie to write my name on the cup.
I exit, sit back down, in the lab room now. New room. Same stiff quietness.
It feels like a game. You start on level one – the hallway – and work your way through different rooms. I don’t think this board game would sell. CLUE: Pandemic Pregnancy Edition. You win when you make it to the hospital and guess how your baby will be born and make it home safely.
Eyeing a giant fresh bottle of Purell in the corner, like some gold sparkling out of the corner of my eye. I leap up, snag a pump and coat my hands. That raw scent of 70% alcohol coats the air. It’s grossly comforting.
And We Wait.
I breathe. I twiddle and swipe around on my phone again. My ears perk up as I listen as the last patient makes their way into the hallway for checkout. I can’t see her but she has a bright perky voice. It’s odd to not see other patients. That used to be one of my favorite parts of IVF and OB appointments. The subtle smile your give a stranger who is going through the same thing as you, at the very same moment in time.
I think we all miss that right now in different ways.
On my last pregnancy OB visit, the patient before me was British and bubbly as heck. Her voice echoed through the hallway and her stance, out of the corner of my eye upon exiting the bathroom was proud and tall. She wore an elegant hat. She was in a hurry and rushed out the door after making a early third trimester appointment. And she seemed so unfazed by her appointment.
Meanwhile, I feel like I have an emotional paperweight on my chest every time I come in here.
And yeah, I listen to everythinggggg at doctor’s offices. Doesn’t everyone? How do you turn off your ears when you are aching for human interaction?
Still waiting in that lab. I sigh. And again. A deep breath, you got this, sort of sigh.
I start to think about the ultrasound. How I get to see my baby again. That makes me happy. I can feel her dancing around, giving me little nudges like “Hey! It’s me! You are not alone mom!! It’s fine!”
Support Person Longing
The baby kicks perk me up, but still, I hate doing this solo. There’s a certain heaviness of waiting for a pregnancy appointment alone. The term “support person” has so much clarity in this moment.
That term has been tossed around in pandemic pregnancy articles and the “allowed a support person” rules feel defiant, strong. Especially since there were women in NYC in the early COVID days who were denied a support person for their labor.
My Support Person
My support person, aka husband, is in the car, around back, on a work call or his laptop, waiting in a parking garage or sunny outdoor ally until I’m done. He texts me little hand waves or hellos or miss you gifs.
I miss these appointments with him. And I feel bad that he’s missing missing out on things as a FTD.
This past winter, it was so weird bringing my husband into my OB/GYN office. I had always seen cute couple sitting together, pregnant bellies popping out. But over the years, I never knew if that could be me someday. Then suddenly, I was the one waddling around.
And my husband was the cute, awkward guy sitting among a sea of women – sitting inches apart – in the waiting room. His nervous and excited energy made me smile and laugh. I’d shush him when he’d be whispering me silly comments or questions. Or showing me a funny headline or video on his phone.
And now, August, 38 weeks, still deep into a pandemic in LA, and it’s just me waiting.
I loved the husband comic relief, but mostly I want him to be here so I can delegate all the anxiety and question asking and listening skills to him. My pregnancy brain (yes that is a real thing!) doesn’t want to process important things right now. Hormones and emotions and belly kicks have me all filled up. Full tank here. I just want to lay on the dry, crinkly paper and breathe — belly up, like a sunbathing seal, basking on a warm rock.
Single pregnant moms, or moms who are pregnant and labor alone through this or anytime —- you are rockstars. Trying to manifest a tiny shred of your strength.
But Wait, Gratitude…
But really, we’ve been just fine through this pregnancy / 2020 craziness. Bottom line: as long as nothing is wrong with baby, I’m GOOD. I’ll say that a million times if I must.
This pregnancy has been emotional and weird and sad and hard at times, but overall, we are both just happy to be here. I NEVER want to sound ungrateful for just being in this pregnant place – pandemic or hurricane or middle of whatever storm that may pass over us.
This is such a happy time.
But still, oh anxiety, you sneaky little gremlin.
38 weeks brings on a “bump” of excitement – and anxiety. I see it in my Facebook due date groups and I felt it the morning of my appointment. It’s butterflies swirling with baby kicks in your belly.
So what’s at the root of it today? I’ve had enough therapy in my life to be able to ask myself questions, dig deep and realize when it’s not ME, but my anxiety doing the talking.
Today, it’s the weight of the unknown.
The entire hospital part of birthing a human.
I may be 39 and feel wise and sturdy and cool and calm in so many ways — but I’m still also a first time mom. You can read a million books and watch all the documentaries, and still feel a sense of “What the heck is going to happen??”
And honestly, it’s mostly the COVID extras that have me on edge.
The mask wearing in labor – glad for it, but also how will that feel? The COVID test that I just need to be negative. And the fact that my husband cannot leave the hospital once he is in. No running to the car or checking on the kitty cats. And of course the very unlikely but still there fear of actually catching COVID at the hospital. Any of us – especially the baby. My doctor assured me it’s one of the safest places you can be, but still.
The invisible nature of a virus is anxiety-provoking.
Just like the first half of JAWS or the entire Blair Witch Project, sometimes the scariest thing is when you cannot see the bad guy.
How to Plan for a Hospital Stay During COVID?
We still don’t have a solid plan for the cats and I’m still not sure if I am getting a c-section or inducing or being surprised by another route. Still breech, btw. So basically we have to overpack, over-plan. Pretend like the worst, longest stay could happen even though I’m hoping for a speedy send-home.
“But I Loved My Hospital Stay!”
I know some people loved it but right now I’m just cringing at the hospital stay part in general. When you’ve been home since March, in your cozy bed, with your foamy lattes and fresh-baked bagels and banana – staying in a hospital after major surgery or birthing a baby just sounds less that fun to me.
Not a huge hospital stay fan. Unless I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy and have Dr McDreamy or Meredith at my bedside. Actually, that’s one thing. I LOVE my OB so much, so I’ll call that a win.
Praying I get good nurses bc I know they can make or break this experience.
Paging: Creature Comforts
I’m picturing everything I already know about hospitals.. a slow pace, neon lights, squeaky beds, crispy sheets and paper thin blankets. Clinical bathroom, Tiptoeing in shower shoes, feeling like you are at a really rustic summer camp.
I know it will be fine. Maybe I’ll even like it! Anything is possible. But no, we didn’t do the VIP room upgrade. Did you guys know they have those now? It’s crazy the things they show off, big-screen TVs, hotel-like amenities and sometimes big birthing baths.
If I had a mantra, it would be something like “Focus on the baby part. Your baby is coming!”
I just want to get to the other side.
The side where I’m back at home with the baby.
That part I’m beyond excited and happy for.
All my cozy things and happy surroundings.
Hot showers and foamy lattes. Kitty cats and warm towels. Carefully folded onesies and swaddling blankets. Super soft newborn socks and baby blankets. Our Snoo. The cute rocker I can’t wait to try. The perky, sweet sound of the “click!” after we secure our baby in a car seat, ready for takeoff.
A truly new adventure out in front of us. Like Marty McFly in the time machine.
Total glam shot: 38 weeks. Also what I’m sure I’ll be wearing the next few months! Cozy PJs, robe, wet hair….
Yes, yes, I know the newborn stage won’t be easy, I’m prepared for chaos and tears and crying and diapers. For the baby and me! But right now the AFTER part doesn’t scare me, like at all. How crazy is that. Maybe I have the pandemic to THANK for not sweating the small stuff of parenting. That kind of hard feels very welcome right now.
I’m beyond ready for this long-awaited adventure.
More Pregnancy Blog Posts:
- baby section – main
- 37 weeks
- on mom shaming
- what infertility feels like
- hard days
- pregnancy essentials list
- maternity photoshoot
- my IVF + infertility story
- my pregnancy announcement
- IVF Success Estimator – CDC
- ART Success Rates – CDC
- KindBody – innovative fertility clinic
- Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
- RESOLVE.org – Nat’l Infertility Association