Pregnant women do not have a disability. Pregnant women are fully capable of doing things for themselves. Pregnant women are strong; they are warriors. They are bringing the gift of life into the world. And ironically, it makes them vulnerable. It makes us vulnerable.
Besides my body changing and growing with this new human life, pregnancy isn’t just physical, especially for those of us with diabetes. It becomes mental and psychological, even behavioral because quite literally everything we do has an impact on our blood sugars and an impact on our baby. If blood sugars spike for no reason, as they’re known to do with a surge of pregnancy hormones in our bodies, we look for reasons to blame ourselves and continuously ask, “Am I hurting my baby?”
Diabetes makes an impact on our mental health even without a baby, not to mention hearing things from doctors and other medical professionals about how we will have “giant” babies, or that there’s a high chance of stillbirth if our blood sugars aren’t perfect, or that every time our sugars are over 150 we are “hurting the baby.” There are no other people who know these things better than us.
Diabetes aside, another vulnerability comes with just being pregnant in general. Rest, relaxation, and prepping for baby seems all fun and games until you have to watch out for blood pressure, the fact that you can’t move as fast as before you were pregnant, and are having balancing issues because of a belly. That alone is hard to come to grips with, especially if you’re an active person, like I’ve been, all your life. Cramps, swollen feet, and constantly being told to “hold on,” “take the elevator,” or “sit down,” doesn’t help. It makes you feel useless.
What made it worse was the Marlen Ochoa case here in Chicago. For those of you who don’t know the story, a young woman, well into her pregnancy was looking for baby clothes and items for her soon-to-be born son. Through a Facebook group, a woman contacted her saying she had extra clothes to donate because her daughter had received duplicates for her son, along with some other baby items. Ochoa, in good faith, went to this woman’s house, only to be strangled by this woman and her daughter, and then had her baby cut out of her womb. The woman who lured her into the home passed the baby off as her own, and rushed the baby to the nearest hospital.
The baby didn’t survive due to brain damage. The mother and daughter were caught, arrested and charged for this horrendous murder.
After hearing about this case, it taking place close enough to my own home and knowing that these evil people exist, I became even more conscious of people looking at me or asking about my belly. I tried not to think about the case or the reasoning behind it, but it was hard to avoid. As much as I didn’t want these stories to affect my experience, I’m not an island, and unfortunately, things like that do sit in your mind for a while.
This makes me wish I had my own personal Maze to protect me 24/7. (You’d understand if you’re a Lucifer fan.)
With all of this going on, it’s hard not to have those little voices in the back of your head, scaring you into thinking that something might go wrong — and adding a boatload of stress to an already stressful situation of being pregnant… and having diabetes.
I think that all of this has lead me to feeling a tad disconnected from my baby. I find myself thinking, “If I feel movements, all is good and we’re OK.” We recently had our baby showers (family and work) and I look at all the baby items thinking, “That’s so cute,” but not even picturing myself using them. I don’t really feel connected at all and I don’t think I will until I’m holding my baby in my arms.
Other women have said that the kicks make it real, or the anatomy scans make it real, but honestly, for me, the scans are just something that I’m looking at and even though it excites me to feel my baby rolling around (like it’s doing right now), I honestly feel that until the day comes where I deliver, I won’t stop worrying about everything else — blood sugars, swollen feet, pains in odd places or worse.
Am I wrong for feeling this way? I don’t think so. I’ve been one of those people who’ve completely lowered expectations in other aspects in my life and don’t expect a lot. I think this is also why it doesn’t bother me that I don’t know “what the baby is” and I don’t want to wish for one sex over the other. I really just want a healthy child who I will get to know day-by-day, get to watch grow and raise the best way I know how.