Friday, March 25, 2011

a reminder to myself: breathe

I'm prone to worrying, so it's no surprise that being pregnant again is raising my anxiety level. I did pretty well there for a while, just not thinking about it and letting it happen as it would. But the earthquake and tsunami in Japan brought all my fears back home to roost. It's not that I fear either of those events happening where I live, but that the media coverage of the suffering has been overwhelming. I've spent hours crying, at this point, and feeling alternately lucky and scared (when will I have to face crisis again?). The scared feeling is winning.

The current big set of fears is about the health of the baby. I know--it's predictable and it's a completely fair set of fears for any pregnant woman to have. I went through the NT scan last week and while it all looked good (NT=1.49mm; nasal bone present), the first set of odds were 1 in 320 for DS. These are fine odds, in fact, and they mean "screen negative" (a.k.a. no recommendation for an amnio or other invasive testing). For an old broad, they're really not bad. According to my testing center, a woman my age (42 at delivery) has a 1 in 32 chance for a child with DS, so my odds were improved by the low NT score and my first set of bloodwork. All this is relatively fine.

Except, this is me we're talking about. Me who worries daily about the idea that the cat has trailed some toxop.lasmosis in on his little paws. Me who stockpiles water in her basement in case of disaster (and who regularly updates that stash of water so that it's shelf life is always good). Me who can spend hours obsessing over odds and dangers and twinges.

There is no solution to this problem. I've done what I can about this. I've researched the hell out of amnio (again) and am going to wait until we get the second tri bloodwork back to make a decision. I've talked to my husband about it until he's finally sick of worrying with me (he's SO not a worrier!). And I've written a wish in my little wish box that this baby is healthy and will arrive happy and alive sometime in late September/early October. I know this last thing is not exactly a "real" solution, but I've done it for years and it feels like a measure of hopefulness in my otherwise worried little world.

I've also tried to remember some of my breathing techniques and buddhist readings, as I know they'll be helpful during this rough couple of months. I've meditated and read buddhist philosophy for many years, though the meditation is spotty (at best). Life is change. We're not really in control. I should let my mind observe my anxiety rather than get caught up in its narrative. Let the anxiety be; it has it's place. I know these aren't the beautiful ways that philosophers describe buddhism, but they're the sentences that I've translated them into for myself in the last week or so. I meditated for 5 minutes this morning and will try to do so in the coming weeks at least.

Honestly, this is probably all I can do. Just sit with the fear and let it be what it is (and nothing more). It doesn't mean that the fears will be going away anytime soon, I know, but maybe they'll be more bearable.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

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