Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fear for family and motherhood

My greatest fear for the future

By Christa Dean

Just when, exactly, do you become a mother? Is it the moment you get that first positive pregnancy test? The moment of conception? When you hear the little one’s heartbeat or when you hold him or her in your arms for the first time?
    I can’t tell you exactly when I started dreaming about becoming a mother. I do recall in 7th grade Life Science class, when I was asked to write down how I saw myself in ten years, I wrote, “Professional dog breeder, house with white picket fence, and two children.” But I really didn’t given it much serious thought…until I met my husband, in 2014.
    Biology has a very funny way of telling you to reproduce. Isn’t the definition of evolutionary success that your genes get replicated more often? And for the longevity of the species? I digress....

In February this year, I was delighted to find that I was expecting. I likely have the record for shortest time spent keeping the notion to myself, for I promptly “spilled the beans” to everyone within shouting distance. Was I a mother?
    In March, at our 6-week ultrasound, I heard little one’s heartbeat and the doctor confirmed my pregnancy. Was I a mother?
    In April, I began my first bouts of morning sickness. My first personal sacrifice for my unborn child, I thought. Was I a mother?
    In May, I began frantically outfitting the nursery and stockpiling boxes and boxes of diapers in every size, all the while researching what was the very latest baby toys and gear. Was I a mother?

    In June, I began to show physical evidence that I was expecting – i.e., the “baby bump.” Passersby on the street would smile at me, try to touch my stomach, and tell me I was glowing. Sidebar: the glowing was actually from the increase of blood circulating in my system and making me look flushed, or “glowing.” Was I a mother?

In July, I began to encounter my first complications of pregnancy. Since I was having a tad bit of “White coat hypertension” [anxiety in a medical environment that results in an abnormally high blood-pressure reading], my OBGYN suggested I buy a blood-pressure monitor to keep track of my numbers at home. After three weeks of obsessively checking my blood pressure 30 times a day, I began to notice that the numbers would skip down, sometimes missing a count, before giving me a final reading. I didn’t think much of it. Then one day, I was particularly excited and anxious about both my husband’s leaving for a 3-week music festival and my parents’ arrival in Salt Lake City. I felt a flutter in my chest, and then 4-5 of them in a row. It felt like the baby was moving, but the sensation was in my chest.
    The days went by and I let my anxiety get the better of me. I became more and more worried about my heart and took a trip to Labor and Delivery, where I was diagnosed with frequent PVC’s (Premature Ventricular Contractions). Being the Type-A personality that I am, I instantly began googling “PVC’s and pregnancy,” only to be let down by a distinct lack of information on the topic. “But the internet tells about everything,” I exclaimed. This did more harm than good. I interpreted the lack of information on the internet to mean not only that what I was experiencing does not happen, but also that I was going to die. And my baby girl was going to die with me.
    This led me down a very dark and scary mental road, thinking of all the possible scenarios where I could end up by myself, needing help, and no one would be around to help me. I read a horrible statistic that PVC’s can cause cardiac arrest, then you have only four minutes to get the baby out or it won’t make it. My biggest fears were coming to life...in my head. All I could think about was how to ensure my child’s safely, and then my own. Was I a mother?

Fast-forward to today, 25 weeks pregnant. I face a slightly daunting, challenging, yet rewarding and beautiful 13 weeks ahead of me. I meet with an electrophysiologist tomorrow. Fancy title, huh? The nurse, slightly patronizingly, informed me that there are two different kinds of heart doctors: The mechanics, who specialize in the heart’s structure (cardiologists), and the electricians, who specialize in the heart’s electricity (electrophysiologists). She then said that an electrophysiologist would be my new “best friend.” OK, I’m thinking, as my heart continues to twitch away in my chest.
    What this tale comes down to is the creation of my biggest fear and my biggest joy. My family. The biggest joy of wanting to be a family of three, to watch our little girl grow up, to be with the love of my life in the years to come. The biggest fear of complications, losing my life or the life of our little girl. Of not being able to actualize my dream of being a mother to this child. The realization of human mortality becomes much harder for me to accept when I have a family. Does that make me a mother?
    I have come to realize that in order to maintain a positive attitude and peace of mind, I must conclude that yes, in fact, I am a mother. I have a family of three, although I can’t see one of them just yet. I want to cherish each and every second of every day, knowing that I never know what life will bring, never know just how many seconds I have left with the ones I love.
    I take comfort in knowing that I have done all I can do to grow this little life inside me, and I will continue to do so every day for the rest of my life. Because, as my mom says, you don’t stop worrying about them when they turn 18....

Just for fun:

[Editor’s Note: Christa has accepted our invitation to join the Moristotle & Co. staff as a columnist. We have added an entry for her in the sidebar. Welcome, Christa!]

Copyright © 2016 by Christa Dean


  1. nice job, Christa. particularly liked the cartoons

  2. Really enjoyed the column and the pictures were perfect!