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Stress is Bad for the Baby

June 30, 2011
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You want to know what pisses me off? When people say “don’t stress, it’s bad for the baby.”

Because you know what? It’s not like I’m stressing ON PURPOSE. And furthermore, you have now just added one more thing for me to stress out about. Because the very last thing I want to do? Is something that’s not good for my baby. But it’s not like I can afford someone to cook and clean and take care of my yard. Or take on this monstrous, debilitating night and day fatigue for me.  And it’s not like I can quit my job.

Only. That’s kind of what my OB said at my appointment on Tuesday. He asked if I was still working, and I said yes. Then I mentioned that my job has been particularly stressful the last few months, and that I really didn’t see an end to that for several more. He said that to avoid the complications that led to my labor induction with Gus, I need to stress less and rest more. Stress less and rest more.

I laughed out loud.

And he said something along the lines of: “well… if I have to, I’ll take you out of work.”

Wait. What?

I asked what that would mean. He said he could, if things got bad in the stress department, put me on stress leave.

I asked what he’d look for in making that call. What were the markers for being *too* stressed out to continue working.

Increasing blood pressure readings.
Feelings of not being able to cope.

Oh god. If only I were one of those people who could just, without second though or nagging conscience, say yes. It’s all just too much. I can’t cope. I mean, hell, I think those things on a daily basis, but if I could actually bring myself to admit them to my doctor… If I could put my hands up in surrender and throw in the towel. It would be so simple. He’d just sign a paper.

And bingo. Naps and bon bons and long walks on the beach. More time with my boy and a clean house. Suddenly my temperamental car with the mystery coolant leak would cease to be an issue because I’d have to drive no further than Target or Baskin Robbins. And did I mention naps?

But alas. I’m not. Perhaps to my own detriment (and god-forbid, that of my baby) I really don’t think I could do it.

I’m the kid whose mother would say, when I called her at work because I was feeling sick at school, “can you tough it out?” Not in a neglectful way. Not implying I should stay when I was genuinely feeling awful. But just checking, in her own mom way, whether or not I HONESTLY felt bad enough to stay home. I could never lie to my mother. And to this day, I can’t fake sick without Jiminy Cricket chirping in my ear, only with my mother’s voice. Most of the time it’s just not worth it.

And the kicker is that even when I do think I can’t cope. Even when I KNOW I’m stressing out too much and I KNOW that it’s not good for the baby, I really don’t think I could raise the white flag and retreat into “stress leave”. I’d always say to myself that yes, I could tough it out. Yes, I can do it all.

Does that make me a bad mother? Does that mean I put my work before my children?  I don’t know, but I do know that either way, it’s just one more thing to stress about. Ironic, no?

Or maybe not. I’m too tired to really evaluate the potential irony (or lack thereof).

The point to my rambling is this: for the rest of my pregnancy, I will now have those grave words echoing through my brain. Stress Leave. They will be both my life-preserver floating toward me in times of high seas. And they will be my taunting nemesis, flaunting all that I am too virtuous, or proud, or chicken-shit to grasp.

Everything else at the appointment went pretty much as it should. The baby was growing appropriately, wiggling around with little arms and legs and looking distinctly baby-like, rather than a pulsating-circly-blob-like. There was still a bit of separation at the edge of the placenta, what the doc thought probably caused the spotting a couple of weeks ago, so I was ordered not to run and to try not to lift Gus as much. Ha. But he didn’t seem too worried, so I’m not going to be either. I got the info for my genetic screening and all that jazz and an appointment for four weeks from now.

And now? I go meditate. Because stress is bad for the baby, you know.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    July 2, 2011 12:08 am

    wow, I can’t believe your doctor was talking about stress leave! Maybe we can “work” together to come up with stress relief methods. I miss you!

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