I may have mentioned two or three thousand times that I am pregnant. For my readers who have not achieved the magnificent title of Grandmultipara (and “advanced maternal age,” damn your eyes), let me tell you that along with all the horrible things that happen to your body with each successive baby, there are also some benefits. Besides the baby, I mean. (Babies are all right, if you’re into that whole “boneless with love in the presence of a gift straight from the arms of God” thing.)
For your first several pregnancies, people think you’re either cute, or comical, or an idiot, and they’ll treat you accordingly. But once you’re visibly pregnant with your seventh child or beyond, the tide turns. Folks are just plain scared of you—doctors most of all. It’s not just a matter of sheer mass (although that helps)—people can tell by the look in your eyes that you and you alone are going to be doing the pushing around here.
I know better than to come up with a birth plan, because that’s about as effective as coming up with a death plan: We all have our preference, but in the end, anything could happen. I am, however, toying with the idea of coming up with a “Things I No Longer Put Up With” Plan when I finally go in for my first prenatal visit.
At, um, 26 weeks. Look, I’ve been busy. Which leads right into the first thing on my list of things up with which I, as a grandmultipara, will not put:
Scheduling a doctor’s visit in the first trimester. What are they going to do, tell me to take vitamins? Drink water? It’s under control.
Answering the question, “Was this pregnancy planned?” I used to say, “Yes” whether it was true or not, although occasionally I had recourse to the mental reservation of ” ... planned by God, consarn it.” Then I switched to answering, “Sure” while wiggling my eyebrows, to show that I thought it was a stupid question. Finally, fed up, I asked my own question: “Is that a medical question? Will it change the way you care for me?” The doctor said, “Well, no,” so I said, “Fine,” and we left it at that.
(I have since learned that they do actually need to know, if you conceived despite having an IUD in. Which makes sense, but breaks my heart. Stupid, stupid world.)
Consenting to routine STD tests. I’m sure it helps with their statistical surveys and whatnot, but I don’t care. My husband is faithful, I put paper on the toilet seat at McDonald’s, and they can just use my pee to find out what I want to know, and that’s it. It’s my pee.
Letting the doctor leave birth control in my room. This is something I haven’t had to deal with since my very young days, when I was in the tender care of a government clinic. Although my doctor knew I was Catholic and wouldn’t be using artificial birth control, she plunked a package of condoms and a sheaf of “How to make sure this horrible, horrible thing never happens to you again. Congratulations” pamphlets on my bedside table. I had given birth recently enough that I could barely support the weight of my own head, but I mustered up the strength to say, “I don’t want that.”
She said, “Well, you have to take it.”
Because I had—did I mention?—just given birth and wasn’t feeling up to a second struggle, I said, “Fine.”
But I have not forgotten.
Making any effort to be clever, entertaining, articulate, or anything beyond alive right after delivery. One of my daughters was born on January first, so the local newspaper sent a reporter to my room to take pictures of “Baby New Year.” He got some vital statistics and family information, and then he said, “Okay, now I just need a quote from Mom, and I’ll get out of here”—and looked at me expectantly. The quote he got was, “I just had an eight-pound baby—now I have to come up with a QUOTE?” That didn’t make it into the paper. I believe they ran with, “Fisher said that having a baby is always exciting.” (That paper has since gone out of business.)
Stirrups. Just go ahead and mention stirrups—just go ahead and even glance in their direction, and I will take the nearest stretchy fetal monitor band, and I will wrap it around your neck. And I will pull.