Jeff and I are expecting our first child in March. I am very happy. Some assorted thoughts:
- Jeff and I are aware of the data that parents are not happier than non-parents. We’re hoping to beat the odds on this.
- The downside of websites that update you week-by-week on fetal development (“Your baby is the size of an avocado”) is that you learn things you didn’t really want to know. Like “Your baby has now developed skin.” You mean it didn’t have skin before? Or “Your baby’s ears have moved from the neck to the side of the head.” What were they doing there?
- The “pregnancy glow” is, as far as I can tell, just oily skin. Acne was not what I had in mind when I was looking forward to pregnancy.
- If you have a negative blood type (like me, O negative) and your baby has a positive blood type, you can develop a reaction against your own babies in utero. Once your body is exposed to the baby’s blood, either during labor or any other event that causes the baby to bleed a little, you produce antibodies against the positive Rh factor in the baby’s blood. If you’re exposed to it again, either later on in the same pregnancy or with a subsequent pregnancy, your antibodies attack the fetus’s red blood cells. This is not great for its health. I can’t believe we evolved like this. Luckily, there’s an easy treatment that stops your cells from attacking the baby. Thank you, modern medicine.
- I thought that when you became pregnant your schedule magically cleared up for infinite midwife appointments, ultrasounds, and prenatal yoga classes. It turns out your life is just as busy as before, and you have to actually make time for these things.
- Multiple people have independently suggested that I might be pregnant with a unicorn. I’m kind of pleased that this is the default for “weird thing you might be pregnant with.” But I’m very opposed to giving birth to anything with a horn.
Now the more serious advice for pregnant women:
Double-check everything. Informed consent does not always work like it’s supposed to.
- First example: Every month when you’re trying to get pregnant, there are two weeks when you don’t yet know if it worked. I went to the dentist during that time and wrote “maybe” on the form where it asks if you’re pregnant. They told me they were giving me a series of x-rays, which I blithely assumed was fine because, after all, I had written it on the form. After the first x-ray, the technician asked, “There’s no chance you’re pregnant, right?” I said, “Didn’t you see where I wrote that on the form you just had me fill out?” She got embarrassed and defensive and said I had written it “so small.” But she did stop giving me x-rays. Happy ending: I wasn’t pregnant, and one x-ray wouldn’t have been that bad anyway.
- Second, worse example: For years I’ve been on an eye medication. Over the summer my doctor put me on some extra ones to deal with allergies. So at the time I conceived I was on three different class-C medications (class C meaning there’s enough risk of birth defects that you should only use it if there’s a good reason). At every visit I would say, “I’m planning to get pregnant. Is there anything I need to change if that happens?” and he would say no. It took until the day I told him, “I just found out I’m pregnant,” for him to say, “Oh, I’d better look into that medication.” I was furious. It looks like things turned out fine, but I would never have chosen to take those meds if we had actually talked about them before the fact.