I Had My First Pregnancy Meltdown!

Jenny Benjamin

hospitalI've had several exciting, tear-jerking, can't-believe-this-is-happening moments in my pregnancy -- when the doctor announced two heartbeats, when we found out they were boys, when I actually saw their little mostly-formed faces on the 4-D ultrasound, when I felt their first strong "hey, I'm here" kicks. Plus, I've read a couple of books, gone to a couple of infant care classes, bought the cribs. So, yeah, I guess I thought that I'd been pretty much processing all this baby stuff.

Ooooohhh no I wasn't! Last night, I went on my hospital tour and let me tell ya, I was not prepared for the meltdown that came after. Yep, I had my first full-blown pregnancy panic.

First off, I guess I thought the whole hospital scene would kinda be like what you see in the movies, with smiling nurses wheeling happy Mommies and cooing babies down the hallway. Yeah, not really. I saw plenty of nurses, but they weren't so friendly, and if they were wheeling anything, it was empty stretchers and strange machinery that I didn't recognize. (I did see little baby incubators, which were also empty, and couldn't help but feel a wave of fear, knowing that, with twins, there's a chance they will need the NICU and those machines.)

I did see one Mommy though ... one that was in labor! And while all of us pregnant chicks were gawking at all the fancy high-tech contraptions and the pretty city views in what we thought was an empty labor and delivery room, she was standing (yes, standing!) in the doorway, hair all crazy, death-glare on her face, waiting for us to get the hell out of there so she could finally get in and really get her labor on, dammit! Meanwhile, we're all goofy-smiling at her as we walk out, wishing her good luck like she's really in the mood for our perky well wishes.

The room itself was actually really spacious and comfortable, with big windows and a nice bathroom, but can we talk about the labor and delivery bed? Sooo, is a birthing mother really supposed to get in that? The nurse leading the tour gave us a demonstration of how the super high-tech contraption works, with the bottom half remotely sliding down and aside, and the moving mechanical parts which she said were stirrups, but really looked more like robot arms. It was like an adult-sized Transformer, only maybe not as fun, because even the men in the room looked like they were about to pee their pants. She even pulled out a "squat bar," which I'd never even heard of, and proceeded to explain how some moms get into a squat position, arms up, helping gravity to push that baby out. I mean, what?! That happens?!

Then, of course, it was on to the postpartum rooms, where you and your partner and your baby will spend your first nights together as a new family. At first, it was like, "Oh, so sweet, so exciting." And then it was like, "Wait, we'll be ALONE with them? What if we don't know what to do?" I ended up asking a really simple question about whether there was space for two babies and two grownups in the small room, and after she explained that they'd probably be in one bassinet anyway (duh!), she went on to tell me that at this hospital, all twins are delivered in an operating room, whether they come out vaginally or via c-section. So, no cushy, calming L&D room for me then -- just the bright lights and sterile cold of an OR.

Our final stop was a quick peek through the slatted blinds of the nursery, where we were able to see one little newborn boy, all swaddled and perfect and sleeping. Of course, all of us parents-to-be took turns at the window, wanting to get a look at what we were in for. And as we all oohed and aahed, I think most of the fear from the last 20 minutes abated (at least temporarily) and we remembered what this was all about.

But, once in my car, I started to lose it, crying and sobbing, emotionally overwhelmed, but also panicked. I've wanted babies for years now, but the hospital tour scared the crap out of me. It made it so real, in a way that I wasn't quite prepared for. This will be where it all happens, where I bring the babies out of my belly and into the world, where I meet them for the first time, hopefully, hopefully, hopefully strong and healthy.

Later that night, I talked to my own Mom about what I was feeling, all the fears that the hospital tour had stirred up in me. Much to my relief, she assured me that every mom-to-be goes through periods of fear and anxiety and has her own "OMG, can I do this?" moment. After talking to her, I realized that it's probably a good thing that I had this "holy s%^t" panic, and that I'm likely to have several more in the months (or life!) ahead. At least it means I'm processing what's to come, that I'm starting to more fully realize what's in store, and what an exciting, terrifying, incredible, and daunting adventure parenthood will be. Although, my guess is that no book or class or hospital tour can really prepare me for what's to come.

Did you have one (or many) "holy s%^t" panics during your pregnancy?

Image via morrissey/Flickr

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