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And for My Next Vacation, the Hospital

November 16, 2011

Spain was great. I said that, right?

Spain: great.

At the very end of the trip though, things were starting to seem a little off.

My main complaint was that I couldn’t stand still. It was a strange feeling, but we’d be walking along, all well and good, but if we had to stand still in order to wait in a line, or at a crosswalk, or in a bank kiosk, I’d have to pace.

If I didn’t pace, my heart would start beating fast — oddly fast. Too fast.

You know how at the end of a run, when you push yourself to the end, and then you have to hang over your legs to recoup and catch your breath? Yeah, well, I don’t really remember that, either. Regardless, that’s the best way to describe what would happen if I stood still at the end of my trip in Spain. Fast pulse, getting out of breath.

Everyone knows that when you are pregnant you fill up with blood and all sorts of other extra goo. And then you have to circulate it down all sorts of new and unusual cords and veins and little baby lanes — listen, I don’t have all morning to explain the circulatory system to you: it’s complicated.

Suffice it to say that because the baby is getting blood vessels, there is extra mileage in the trip around your body. Which, don’t forget, is giant and misshapen, because you are keeping a butternut squash in a soccer ball in there, in addition to all sorts of other unwieldy fruit and sporting metaphors that websites make up in order to try to explain the crazy changes that are at hand: the crazy, unexplainable, miraculous changes that allow us to make babies, our favorite people ever, out of pizza and fruit chews and a few extra naps.

Another job requirement of a parent-to-be is keep your blood and their blood liquidy enough to whoosh around. Your job as a circulator becomes higher stakes and more difficult at the same time – it’s like getting a promotion when you least feel up to one.

Anyone who has ever been to Europe knows that as a continent, it presents very particular hydration challenges. First of all, I’m not sure you’re supposed to drink from the tap. Second of all, things are pretty costly, and tiny, and buying 200 bottles of mineral water just to keep up seems a bit strange. Also, they don’t sell Gatorade or coconut water, which are my staple beverages. Mint tea has green tea in it, and I can’t have that much caffeine. Excellent wine is in great supply, of course. It whets the appetite and clears the mouth of garlic and is so juicy and nice. Ah, wine. Wine, please. But when pregnant, a lady is supposed to watch her wine consumption, and up her consumption of everything that is not wine or coffee related. Speaking of which, wow, did I like the coffee. But meanwhile, I was drying out like a leaf rattling in the wind.

In Spain I’d had a little cold, and I’m always battling dehydration during pregnancy. Through ptyalism, I lose a liter or two of liquid every day, which is the equivalent of throwing up several times, or not drinking nearly so much as you should. This saps my potassium level, and if you want to dabble in abject exhaustion, try sapping your potassium level. Potassium is what makes your muscles work. Your heart is a muscle. Your brain is . . . is it a muscle? It’s not clear to me, in part because low potassium also makes you fuzzy headed, and whether or not your brain is a muscle is, hmm.

And when I got a little stomach bug at the end of being in Spain, things got weird.

I developed a theory (when don’t I develop a theory?) that my heart was having a hard time pushing my blood around, and that I needed the auxiliary movement of my limbs to help zoom it around. Standing still didn’t allow me to do that. Walking did.

In the security line at the airport waiting to come home, I was becoming concerned that I might pass out from standing still. You can’t easily pace too much in those long windy airport lines, either. It was early, and we hadn’t eaten anything, and there were plenty of factors at play, I realized. And while I frequently feel annoyed as heck at my deluxe suite of pregnancy symptoms, I do not generally feel worried. But I started to worry a bit about the baby.

When we finally arrived home after a long flight, I had a joyous reunion with my 2 year old, and then I had a tough night, digestion-wise. If I hadn’t already been concerned, I wouldn’t have been concerned with the severity of the symptoms but it didn’t seem like things were going in the right direction. Specifically, everything was leaving. Quickly.

I got up the next morning and called my obstetrician and told her that I felt sort of weird and sort of worried. She scored some points for making a fast and skilled decision: go straight to labor and delivery, tell them to rehydrate you, get you medicinal potassium, and monitor the baby, chances are good you’ll be out in a few hours, I’ll be in touch.

In my personal life I often can’t decide what sort of soup I want. And I had a hard time deciding to call her on a day she wasn’t working, so I appreciated her cheerful decisiveness, despite the fact that it was Halloween and I’d just promised my kid that I’d pick him up from school in 2 hours. Even if I drove straight to the hospital and straight home without going in, I’d miss that commitment.

So though I’d just returned from my first and only trip away from my little kid, I was out of the house again for three days without even saying goodbye.

I have a lot of good things and bad things to tell you about the hospital, and that’s next, but for now let’s just say that I’m home again, and fine, and I believe that I have finally been forgiven for all of the lies I accidentally told my baby zebra on Halloween.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    November 16, 2011 4:57 pm

    Oh MAN. That’s what you get for trying to pamper your adult self when pregnant. If it makes you feel any better, neither of us managed to take Princess Mis trick-or-treating this year, and it didn’t feel very good.

    And now I am in Tokyo, with an evil cold, Mia is also sick and wants to know where in the HECK Mommy is (besides in the computer, which does not allow her to share her breakfast, as is customary) and ALSO I found out a mentor of mine spent about five minutes in hospice and passed away of cancer while I was away…..

    And I wish I could say I’d never do this again, but I do have to, at least one more time. Yuck.

    Must go deal with copious amounts of cold-related goo. Glad you are all better! Whew!

  2. November 23, 2011 2:49 pm

    I’m a natural born pacer, but I understand the judgment involved in people watching you circle around and around the island kitchen counter. My advise: pace yourself. I often count my blessings that I’m not a tiger or lion at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago or I’d be neurotic about circling around and around the same spot.

    Who knows, maybe you’re about to have a 30lb baby which needs all the exercise. Boy, am I ever glad I can’t get pregnant.

  3. Amy Daniewicz permalink
    November 30, 2011 12:56 am

    Oh yikes. Well done for listening to that inner voice. And to your doctor for believing it. Isn’t it wonderful that we all have people who will care for us when we are ill?

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