Motherhood & Words

I’m 31.5 weeks pregnant now and seem to be healthy, though I am beginning to swell a little. This could be normal pregnancy swelling, of course, but it could also be the beginning of preeclampsia. I’ve begun weighing myself every morning, and D. checks my ankles and wrists every night for signs of serious edema. (I know, aren’t we fun?)

I’m going in today to have my blood pressure and urine checked. If my blood pressure is fine and my urine is clear of protein, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief. At this point with Stella, I weighed 15 pounds more than I do now (mostly water weight, though I didn’t realize it at the time), and I had begun to leak significant protein into my urine, indicating damage to the small blood vessels in my kidneys. (My blood pressure was normal with her until the last minute, when it skyrocketed.)

A good report today would be a huge relief, but frankly, I’m tired of all of this. I work myself into a frenzy of worry, am relieved when I get a good report, but then I begin worrying again almost immediately. I tell myself I’m just being vigilant–I know how fast you can get sick from preeclampsia–but maybe I’m simply justifying my worrying.

I wish I were more laid-back. I can’t stop the preeclampsia from happening, so why worry? But doesn’t the worrying make me more vigilant? Is there a way to be vigilant without worrying? I’ve been anxious for um, 7 months, and I’m exhausted.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. kristen on January 9, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Sending you a big hug and hoping that the doctor visit goes well. You MUST be exhausted. Take care, feel better and let us know what happens!

  2. Special Needs Mama on January 9, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Oh I hear ya–a friend of mine was pg with her second (first was a special needs baby) and by 30 weeks she was “done”. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to cook that baby a bit longer, my friend! Hang in there. Maybe get a massage or a pedicure for a temporary relief from worry?

  3. ta on January 9, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Best of luck at your appointment. I wish I could say everything is going to be alright, but I know that so far with preeclampsia it seems that luck has something to do with it. Thanks for responding to my last post. Even though my blood pressure was high for the last 3 weeks, I didn’t develop HELLP syndrome until 2 days before my due date. We were very lucky in that respect. If it’s possible, I think I held that baby in for a couple of weeks. Everyone said I was going to go early and it annoyed me because I wasn’t ready. I know the stress must be awful, but each week you come back ok, that’s another week you’ve held onto that baby. Just FYI did you ever read that New Yorker article about preeclampsia that came out a year or two ago. It was very interesting.

  4. Emmie (Better Make It A Double) on January 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Oh, Kate -I know, and I wish I could ease your worry somehow. When I was on bed rest, just kind of lying there, I remember thinking, “you have no idea how much work this is, both physically and mentally.” The fact that people couldn’t see that, couldn’t get that, was unbearable to the point where I almost didn’t want visitors for fear of someone saying the wrong thing. i felt such guilt for wanting it to be over when I was still less than term, but I SO wanted it to be over. You’re almost there. You’re almost there.

  5. Sheri on January 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    i am also a worry machine so what can i say? i can say what i wish someone would say to me. go ahead and worry. you know that you’re going to. open up some time. worry, worry, worry. and then move onto something else.

    of course, i could also apply this to work procrast and cookies, but whatevs.

    i just think we have to celebrate some of the less fortunate aspects of ourselves sometimes. and then find ways that soothe. i do strange rituals like write my worries down and put them in a box. or flush them down the toilet. permission to worry and permission to let them go.

    thinking of you…

  6. Lisa on January 9, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I completely understand your anxiety. Although it may not help much, I find that the ability to place your mind in a state of denial is actually useful sometimes. While the worry and anxiety can actually exacerbate your physical condition (accelerate heart rate and increase blood pressure), thinking about the fact that severe p/e is typically a complication of first time pregnancy and is not necessarily indicative of what will happen, may be helpful. If you can keep an eye on your condition but tell yourself that it won’t happen again, it might help. Maybe I’m crazy, but when I’m worried about an unknown possibility, I have found that this ability to go into denial helps.

  7. Melissa on January 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    You’d find something else to worry about if not this, though, wouldn’t you? I know I would. Do. Whatever.

    And once this worry is over with, you’ll have the rest of your life to do parent-worry over this new little one, so this worry is just good practice. Right?

    Best of luck with this appointment, and all the rest of them, too.

  8. *camerashymomma* on January 9, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    oh kate. i hope the appointment went well today. i agree with what sheri said. give yourself some time with it. let it in and let it out. pregnancy is such a worrisome time for many mothers, allow yourself this and breathe through it if you can. take care and thanks for the update, i’ve been thinking of you, momma.

  9. Katie on January 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    It sounds like you are doing great so far! I was so swollen it was ridiculous, for the last two months. I looked like watermelon feet, people at work were calling them cankles (what an obnoxious word!). Sometimes after a day of activity it would take up to two days for the swelling to get to a normal level. You’re making it so far, I remember I just did a countdown with myself. I set goals – like when I made it past 28 weeks, i let go of some fears. Then when i made it past 32 weeks I let go of more fears. Then when I hit 34 it was on – I knew everything would be ok. But then I made it to 37 and wanted it to be over so bad I could taste it.
    Keep us posted and pamper yourself!