Saturday, April 3, 2004

Confessions of a Pregnant Mind

Confessions of a Pregnant Mind
Stacey Greenberg

This is our ritual: On Saturday and Sunday mornings, my husband and I take our two-year-old son and our two dogs to the Old Forest trails for about an hour and then head to a nearby playground for another hour.

Our most recent trip to the Old Forest was a bit of a disaster. My husband had pulled a muscle in his back working on our fence and was unable to perform the toddler chasing and carrying duties that I had been shirking since entering my third trimester. As Satchel darted towards a foot bridge to throw rocks over the railing, which is shoddy at best, I had to quickly run over and scoop him up.
Before I knew it I was lying on the ground with a hysterical toddler. I had slipped on a gumball and fallen. Hard. I sat there stunned and took a mental inventory: I hadn’t crushed Satchel. I hadn’t landed on my belly. I didn’t re-injure my bad knee.

Ok. Ok. Ok. Breathe.

My husband hobbled over to see if we were ok, but I still wasn’t sure. I soothed Satchel while running worst case scenarios in my head. What if this leads to a miscarriage? What if I go into preterm labor? What if, what if, what if? I had a brief flash of forever having one child. Shortly before this pregnancy, I had a miscarriage at 15 weeks that has proven to be a constant source of worry and anxiety.

I decided to shake off the fall, stay calm, and get on with our morning routine. My husband had planned to take some expired, Peace Corps issued, 400mg Motrin and get back to work on the fence once we left the forest and I couldn’t deny Satchel the pleasures of the playground on this beautiful day. I needed to soldier on.
Once we got to the playground, I knew Satchel would probably just want to swing since I had spent a solid hour pushing him the day before. Even though he seemed completely uninterested after 30 minutes, he refused to get off. He was in a swing trance that could not be broken. It was fine with me since I had met the nicest playground mommy ever, Ellie Bennett.

Ellie had asked me lots of questions and was probably the friendliest person I had ever met at the playground. She had two kids about 3 years apart and made it seem easy and fun. She seemed to know every other mommy there and introduced me like I was someone they should know, although we were clearly from different social circles. They were wealthy Central Gardens mommies and I was a quirky, run of the mill, Midtowner. They were perky and well-dressed, I was half awake and wearing a stained t-shirt advertising my sister’s head shop.

When we arrived, I didn’t see Ellie or anyone else I knew, but my calm exterior was sufficiently masking my code blue inner dialogue. I unloaded Satchel and headed towards the swings. I figured I could lean against a pole if I needed to or even push Satchel from the ground if I suddenly had a contraction and collapsed in pain. I wondered what the reaction of the other parents would be if I went into labor. Would they help me? Would I have to call 911? How fast could my husband get there? Could he even pick me up? Could my best friend drag me into her minivan? I had an image of myself being wheeled into the emergency room with Satchel sitting on my tummy obliviously enjoying the ride.

In the midst of this fantasy, a woman came over and started pushing her son in the swing next to us. I immediately recognized her and I think she recognized me, but we acted as if we were just two mommies on the playground. My inner dialogue became more dramatic as I realized that my life might soon be in Kathy’s hands.

Kathy used to be a waitress at my favorite college watering hole, Zinnies. She was notorious for checking IDs and kicking people out. I had friends who burst into tears at the mere thought of her. I was one of the lucky few with a really good fake ID and had managed to avoid being ousted by her, but she had still grown to dislike me and my friends for our loud and obnoxious ways. We had certainly had our share of uncomfortable, and sometimes heated, exchanges. She was certainly one of those people I never expected to see in the daylight hours, much less at the playground ten years later.

I was somewhat amused by the fact that I was in the middle of a (hopefully) imagined crisis with the woman who was least likely to want to help me. As we pushed our sons on the swings and acted like we didn’t know each other, I wondered if I should tell her about my fall. Would she be concerned? Would she offer advice? Would she find an excuse to leave?

As I continued to play out the doomsday scenarios in my mind, I longed for Ellie to pull up and save the day. She’d probably insist that we go to Minor Medical just to “be sure.” Her husband could effortlessly load me into their luxury SUV and get me admitted to see a doctor at once while her two girls played with Satchel in the waiting room.

What would Kathy do? I could only hope motherhood had mellowed her out and dulled her memory enough to make her want to at least call 911 and push Satchel should my water break. I imagined newspaper headlines like, “Can I take your order? Former waitress delivers premie at Peabody Park.” Or “Would you like that on the rocks? Former waitress performs life saving maneuvers at local playground.”

My plight might turn Kathy into a local hero, a she-ro. Someone, somewhere, would surely print up “WWKD” (What would Kathy do) t-shirts and bracelets. The entire Midtown area would have a renewed sense of love for their fellow men and women. Helping people in need would become second nature and the world would be a better place. Bush wouldn’t stand a chance of re-election!

The scene in my mind was becoming so interesting, I found myself almost wishing I would go into labor. Which is of course when I knew I needed to get a grip.
“So how old is your son?” I asked.

Kathy and I chatted nonchalantly, exchanging the usual kid stats until her son lost interest in the swing and pointed eagerly to the slide. As they disappeared into the other playground equipment, I put my hand on my belly and smiled as I felt a reassuring little poke.

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