by Jim Rink
In the glory days before my wife actually became pregnant--that is, the period of time when we were "trying"1 to get pregnant--I made the mistake of buying one of the more popular pregnancy books on the market, which shall remain nameless for legal purposes.
This book could only have been conceived for one purpose: To scare the living hell out of anyone contemplating parenthood.
The nightmare begins innocently enough, with a rather droll illustration of a rather non-plussed woman "in the family way" sitting in a very fashionable rocking chair. Perhaps non-plussed is an inaccurate description; the woman clearly has the look of someone about to pass a kidney stone. And for good reason.
On her lap is a pregnancy book (we assume) and we can only imagine the nameless terror inspired by the author's endless litany of medical complications and genetic disorders which conspire to end what you have foolishly begun.
I kid you not (we are not making this up), every chapter has a heading: "What You May Be Concerned About". There's a special chapter called, "Of Special Concern", and yet another section ominously titled, "When Something Goes Wrong". This is an especially uplifting and cheery section which every parent should read to make it through this very emotional time. There is a thoughtful list of "conditions that may cause concern during pregnancy". These conditions include, but are not limited to:
Hyperemisis Gravidarum, Ectopic Pregnancy, Bleeding in Early Pregnancy, Bleeding in Mid- or Late Pregnancy, Bleeding from the Hands and Feet (just kidding), Early Miscarriage or Spontaneous Abortion, Late Miscarriage, Trophoblastic Disease, Partial Molar Pregnancy, Choriocarcinoma, Gestational Diabetes, Eclampsia, and the list goes on and on and on, like the Energizer Bunny.The medical terminology is scary enough. I mean, what is a partial molar pregnancy anyway? Sounds like it might involve teeth. Is the baby inside one of her teeth? I don't know and I don't want to know.
I believe they should rename this book: "So You're Pregnant! YOU OR YOUR BABY COULD DIE!" This new title is honest, and more accurately describes what you have unwittingly purchased.
When I see books like these, I think pioneer women had it easy. Sometimes, a little knowledge goes a long way. Sometimes, it's better not to know. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. Do you think pioneer women talked about partial molar pregnancies or other medical abnormalities? What would that sound like?
Pregnant pioneer woman (PPW): "Jesse...wake up."
PPW: "I think I have an ectopic pregnancy."
Jesse: "Say what?"
PPW: "I think I need to go to the hospital."
PPW: "Dammit...pay attention...I need a high resolution ultrasound to visualize the uterus and fallopian tubes. There may be an absence of a gestational sac."
Jesse: (long uncomprehending stare).
My wife2, a lawyer by trade, revels in this kind of medical trivia, and will read about it nonstop day or night and frequently consult with other women friends to bring them up-to-date on the latest developments.
Here is a snippet taken from a recent telephone conversation:
"(In an excited voice) I have good news. My Maternal-Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein results came in. A normal range is 750 to 1. My test results put me at 4900 to 1."
At this point it should be noted that Maternal-Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein is a substance produced by the fetus. It can indicate a neural tube defect such as spina bifida (a deformity of the spinal column), or anencephaly (the absence of all or part of the brain). Abnormally low levels suggest an increased risk of Down syndrome or other chromosomal defect.
But Traci maintains a steadfast and positive outlook. I can say this based on another recent conversation in which she was overheard to say: "The ultrasound could reveal I'm carrying an alien."
The other day, she instructed me to feel her uterus. "It's squishy," she said, smiling."And that would mean?"
"It's squishy--it's squishy! My doctor said a squishy uterus is a good sign."It can now be revealed that Traci, like many other pregnant women, has a fibroid tumor. It's not as bad as it sounds--non-malignant, but the size of New York.
She has recently begun accupuncture to help reduce the size of the tumor, which we have named "Dale". We don't know yet if it's a boy tumor or a girl tumor, but Dale works either way.
I don't know if my wife and I will every actually have a baby. This is not covered in the book. There are so many things that can go wrong; I think the book assumes that very few women actually DELIVER HEALTHY BABIES!
For this reason, I have begun to write my own pregnancy book, and this short column will serve as its introduction. I think I'll call it: "What Do You Expect? You're Expecting! (Don't Come Running To Me For Advice)". This fine volume will soon be on bookstore shelves everywhere. Enjoy.
1I like the way people say, "We're trying to get pregnant," when what they really mean is "We're copulating like rabbits and wearing boxer shorts."
2You can actually see a rather nice color photo of Traci at: http://ic.net:80/~userg/
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