The Pregnant Life: This Freaked Me Out

Amy Keyishian

Swollen Left Calf
Sorry about my raggedy toes.
It’s been a rough Week 32-33 of pregnancy, what with my hard drive failing and various emotional meltdowns and social faux-pas. But I was up and at ‘em yesterday, playing with P and even taking our first shower together. (Fun! But she hated the direct spray! But still, so fun!) When I got out, I looked down at my feet and was alarmed to see my left foot was noticeably puffier than the right.

On the one hand (foot?), it was probably nothing. On the other hand, “it’s probably nothing” landed me in the NICU for six weeks last time I thought it. I was worried about a blood clot, so I called the doctor just to be sure.

I had just read an article saying that one of the top four causes of death for pregnant women is blood clots (part of a larger story on the high death rate for pregnant women in New York State), and the possibility loomed in my mind. I’m not part of the impoverished population discussed in the article, but I’m an older mom, I’m slightly overweight, and I don’t work out as much as I should. I’m constantly worried that these factors will somehow rob my kids of their mom, and have become much more vigilant about my health as a result.

I put a call in to my doctor and got a call right back. My doc wasn’t on call, but one of the three doctors from my adventures in ultrasounds -- Dr. New, remember? Of the trio of Dr. Jew, Dr. Wu, and Dr. New? -- was. His name is really Dr. S, and I offered to send him the above pic of my one puffy ankle. He said, “I don’t need to see a photo. I need to see you.”

Did I mention it was Father’s Day? And my poor husband has somehow never had a decent one since his mother died on FD ’02? And something always goes wrong? I felt terrible. But he told me, “You going to the hospital does not ruin Father’s Day. But you having a stroke and dying really would.”

Bah. So he dropped me at the hospital and I waddled up to Labor and Delivery to see Dr. S, who, I have probably not mentioned before, is horribly, horribly attractive. Never mind his urgent response to me above. (Ooh, he needs to see me!) He’s got these adorable curls but also this sexy, concerned gravitas. Like Clooney, but not so obvious. Plus, this was the guy who told me, “If a doctor says he knows something for sure, find another doctor.” So no God complex. I love him. If he’s the attending physician at my birth, I’m jumping out the window. I won’t be able to take the discomfort!

I digress. I hopped on the table, feeling all sexy with my pajama pants and ballooning belly, and he confirmed that this was something he really needed to look at -- something to take seriously. I went down to radiology, where a cheerful woman probed the major veins of my left leg.

“Your veins are great,” she says. “Everything’s really moving through here. I’m not worried about you.” Then she blurted out, “Oh, cool!”

What?” I wanted to know. With a brother-in-law who’s a doctor and six weeks of camping out in the NICU, I know that when a medical professional says something is “really cool,” it’s usually something really gross.

Thank goodness, this time, it wasn’t. “I can see your perforators!” she said. These, apparently, are the veins connecting the superficial ones to the deep ones. I guess you can’t always see them; it was a good sign to her that everything was so clear and easy to spot. In short, I have good veins. Yay, veins!

I was whisked back upstairs, where Dr. S declared me clotless and free to go. “I knew I was just being paranoid,” I said.

“Not paranoid,” he corrected me. “Cautious. I’m always happy to see you here, no matter how minor the problem seems.” Swoon. Plus, he added, since that giant vein, the Vena Cava, is on the left side, if you do a get a clot, 90 percent of the time it's on the left side. That's why we're urged to sleep on the right side if we can, though it's not always possible.

I was home before the end of the Spain-Honduras game, and though Randy was still a bit tweaked with worry and Penelope was on a temporary nap strike, we were still back on track for a fine Father’s Day. And this morning, he reiterated Dr. S’s message. “Just because yesterday it was nothing, that doesn’t mean you ignore it the next time you think something’s wrong,” he said. All right, all right!

But here’s what I want to know: How come I’m suddenly so puffy? Is it really not enough water? Could it be a function of my doing the elliptical more often? Are my rings off for the duration of my pregnancy, or can I get the swelling under control?

Got thoughts on the pregnant puffies? Tell me in the comments!

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