Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 207

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 207: Tim and Abby

Being a pregnant father is very different than being a pregnant mother.

And not just on the obvious levels of your body doesn't change and you aren't swamped with hormones that make you insane.

For example: if you are a pregnant dad, other dads, upon finding this out, will occasionally tell you horror stories. These horror stories usually involve things like your wife going absolutely insane in a Jekyll/Hyde sort of way, being forced to rearrange every piece of furniture in the house at 2:00 in the morning as a result of this insane, and how you never, ever get to have sex again.

They very rarely involve stories of how the baby goes from being inside your wife to getting out. (Or that there may, just possibly, be a causal relationship between how this happens and the whole no sex thing.)

This might have something to do with the fact that most guys, especially with casual acquaintances, would rather cut their own tongues out with a pair of chop sticks than admit to being really scared about something.

However, veteran moms seem to have absolutely no issues at all with telling perfect strangers exceptionally gory stories of how they went into labor, dealt with twenty hours of excruciating contractions, had the baby go into distress at nine centimeters dilated, and then had a terrifying emergency c-section that took months to heal up from. But they don't tell those stories when there are men around. So, Tim hasn't heard them. Sure, labor forever, lots of pushing, hurts, yep, he's heard that. Vaginal prolapse, fourth degree tearing, pushing so hard the blood vessels in your eyeballs burst, emergency c-sections where you almost bleed to death, not all of the placenta being delivered and massive infections, nope, those stories don't get mentioned when he's around.

Likewise, there is no 'Labor Olympics' for dads. Dads don't compete with each other over who had the 'best' labor. They don't tell stories of how they didn't need any pain meds and had an all-natural, organic homebirth awash in love and joy and nesting complete with soft focus, glow-y, happy stuff all over the place. (Or if there are guys that do that, none of them are in Tim's social circle.)

Perfect, natural, soft-focus,
love-fest home birth.
Women do. And since she's been visibly pregnant women have been telling Abby one of two stories: the perfect love-fest natural birth, or the went to the hospital and every possible thing that could go wrong did.

Now, it is true, that the birth she knows most about, Molly's, was an uncomplicated hospital birth, where nothing went wrong, no one was treated like an animal about to be slaughtered, followed by a fairly standard healing up time, and Breena has been telling Abby for months now to ignore those cows who get off on scaring pregnant moms, but, it's hard to shut those stories out. Especially when more and more of the keep piling on.

It's also true, that while Tim's been reading The Expectant Dad Guide, What To Expect When You're Expecting, and things like that, Abby's been reading/watching The Business of Being Born, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, and lots of other things that flat out say that if you go to a hospital they'll cut you open at the first hiccough whether you need it or not because the profits are better.

And lastly, while they are both aware of the fact they aren't reading the same things, they are also not aware of how radically different the content of the things they're reading is.

All of this is relevant because, having gotten home from being told by their OB that Abby has what's called a near previa, and googling the ever living snot out of it, they are both coming to some very different conclusions.

For example, Tim's thinking that more or less bubble wrapping Abby from head to toe and keeping her in bed from now until a scheduled c-section at 37 weeks is a brilliant idea. In that he does not have to personally do it, five weeks of bed rest doesn't strike him as a problem.

And sure, Dr. Draz, who he is currently thinking is being insanely reckless with the health of the two most important people in the entire history of the Earth, says they don't need to do that, but the stuff he's reading seems to be indicating placentas are made of tissue paper and can rip at a second's notice if you even look at them wrong, and there's no such thing as a safe previa, and really the only way to deal with this is to keep Abby as still as possible from now until the minute Kelly's lungs are developed enough for her to be on the outside. And just to be on the safe side, they should start doses of steroids at 34 weeks to get her lungs developed that much faster.

Abby, meanwhile, is dealing with having been DQed from the Labor Olympics. (She has not internalized any sort of idea that this might kill her, in this respect she's doing better than Tim at rationally assessing the risks, in other respects, not so much.) She had had an idea of the kind of labor she wanted, and sure, at home was a long-shot, but she'd been taking such good care of herself, and being really careful, trying to get to a low-intervention, no drugs, hands off, doing this naturally, the way her body was designed to, at her own pace sort of birth, and that just got shot to hell and gone.

She likes Dr. Draz, but having her hover around the whole time isn't what she wanted.

And a c-section… from what she's been reading, they're almost never really necessary and have so many bad side effects, everything from massive infections and death, to punctured bladders and permanent incontinence, to babies with weaker lungs and missing out on the all the useful bacteria of the vaginal canal, and it's just a huge mess. (This would be where Tim is doing a more rational job of assessing risk, and Abby's freaking out unnecessarily.)

Of course, a lot of the stories she's been hearing, and things she's been reading, indicate you sure as hell don't want to try a vaginal delivery in a hospital, either. They'll pump you full of Pitocin which means ultra-painful contractions, more or less forcing you to take pain meds, leaving you way too woozy to properly bond with your new baby, and possibly drugging the child, harming her ability to bond with you, followed by an episiotomy (whether you want it or not, because it makes things easier for the docs) and of course that makes the tearing worse and the healing up more painful.

And don't get her started on MRSA and all the superbugs that live in hospitals.

So, Tim is terrified. Abby is sad and feeling hopeless, like all the good options just got yanked away from her. And both of them are thinking the other one is completely bonkers because they're both dealing with this with a radically different set of assumptions about what is going to happen.

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