The Pregnancy Card

For those of you that have ever played deck-building games, you know there is usually some really powerful card that the other players dread seeing enter the game (unless it sits safely in their own deck). The card wields great power, may cost the player something in return for that power, but in the end the card is still worth the cost of playing.

Personally, I have always hated cards like these. It always feels too much like a Deus ex Machina type of game device for me, and I take extreme joy in trying to beat that player BECAUSE of their “card of special power.” I guess it’s the part of me that detests inequality or feeling like the odds are in favor of one player, and yes, I know that real life is more like this than not; but it does not mean I have to like it.

So, when I became pregnant I was determined to never play the “pregnancy card” and show everyone that not only could I be pregnant I could still do everything I did before (with the exception of drink wine, eat sushi, and the other 100 list of things forbidden by doctors while one is pregnant).

I won’t lie, the further along my pregnancy progressed, the harder it became not to play the “I’m pregnant” card. I kept working out at the gym, lifting weights and cardio, until about 30 weeks along when it became too hard to catch my breath, or have the energy to go to the gym after struggling into my gym clothes. FUN FACT: getting into my workout clothes became my workout!

I tried switching to lower impact workouts, but it was getting to the point that just walking up a flight of steps left me winded, light-headed, and exhausted. I blamed it on my old age and being pregnant and did not think much of it.

Working was also becoming harder. I was determined to keep working up until I started labor, and I wasn’t going to become “lazy” and not take on new projects that I could complete before maternity leave. I had a very supportive boss who encouraged those long hours at work and knew exactly what to say to always make me feel like I was starting to slack a bit and this would further motivate me to “suck it up” and fight through my fatigue, ignore my shortness of breath, ignore the chest pains and headaches, and just keep doing my best, because god forbid someone think I might be weak.

This went on for about a month, until a doctor took my blood pressure, and calmly looked into my deck of cards and plucked the pregnancy card out of my hand and played it for me. I still remember her words:

Doctor: Are you still working?

Me: yes

Doctor: Not anymore. You are officially on leave starting right now.

Me: But I have project I have to show someone how to do tomorrow morning.

Doctor: They will have to figure it out without you. You are being admitted to the hospital right now.

Me: …..(blinking in disbelief)

My simple monthly check-in turned into being hospitalized for having dangerously high-blood pressure. A bunch of scary things were told and done to me: things like discussions about early labor and delivery, NICU and path forward, steroid shots injected into me to help baby, blood pressure medication, trying to lower my blood pressure, ultrasounds to check on size of baby and when delivery could be done safely.

I spent two days in the hospital trying to be calm and follow all the doctors orders as they attempted to lower and stabilize my blood pressure using medication. Eventually, they discharged me home on modified bed rest, (which I equate to modified house arrest) with blood pressure medication and bi-weekly appointments for monitoring of baby and blood pressure. Long story short, I will be delivering this little guy early, we just aren’t sure how early.

At first, I felt really guilty about having the pregnancy card played for me, then I felt really guilty about having all this happen and blaming myself for everything (which I guess means I am officially a mom, since I have all the mom guilt already!).

However, I am trying to keep my sense of humor and look on the bright side of things.

  1. Obviously this kid is a go-getter, and as stubborn as his mom when it comes to people trying to tell him when his “due date” is. He comes when he wants to, even if that is 3 weeks early.
  2. I am pretty sure that the steroids they gave me to help his lungs will turn him into a superhero. Trust me, I’ve read enough comics to know how this works.
  3. The little guy’s early arrival will allow him to get a Halloween costume…further proof he is a superhero in the making.
  4. Though he will be small, he will be mighty. Everyone who has read Tolkien knows how important the smallest of us are. It was a very tiny Hobbit that saved the day and destroyed the One Ring of Power.

Although my silly pride took a beating having to play the pregnancy card, I don’t care. I’d play the pregnancy card again and again if it ensures my son is healthy, safe and wins the game. Because I don’t win unless he wins.

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