The sad truth is – in a normal and healthy pregnancy – most of what’s going on with a woman’s body is way outside of her control. The body knows what to do and, all things being equal, it’s going to do it one way or the other… provided you don’t poison or bludgeon your little one to death first.
The real trick a pregnant woman generally has to learn is getting used to the changes her body’s going through. Strange and magical things are happening, from swollen breasts and a burgeoning belly to a growing nose and unrelenting nausea. All a pregnant woman can really do is hang on for dear life and roll with the punches. Always remembering, of course, that her lifestyle choices now have repercussions for another being.
The ironic thing here is that this knowledge does not automatically constitute the ability to let go and go with the flow. As a longtime control freak, I constantly find myself running face-first into the knowledge that I am not currently in control of very little detail. The fact that my body’s changing and the things that I previously knew to be true of my body are no longer so continuously surprises me. As do the myriad new and interesting ways my body now reacts to previously humdrum stimuli.
For example… my wisdom teeth have been coming in for years. Every so often they’d grow and shift a little, causing some soreness and an occasional headache. Sometimes, they’d even pinch my gums, but I’d just chew on the other side and brush gently and things would be fine in a few days. Which is why I was floored when the latest round of movement, which began on the left side of my mouth on a Saturday afternoon, seemed to be PAINFULLY infected by Sunday. Not that I really wanted to believe that the swollen jaw, painful swallowing and shooting head and ear pain were signs of infection. How could they be? My gums had never gotten infected before. So, despite the fact that I’d read numerous times about how sensitive a woman’s gums become during pregnancy, I still found myself feeling dismayed as I sat in the dentist’s office hearing all about how – aside from a round of antibiotics – I was going to have my top left wisdom tooth pulled. Me. A woman who prided herself on never having had a cavity (I’m that kind of nerd) was going to have to have a tooth yanked out of my mouth. Sure, it’s just a wisdom tooth, and sure folks have them yanked every day, but it was mine, dammit and it wasn’t bothering anybody (much) until I started incubating the seed of life.
Of course, the actual pouting lasted about 10 seconds, after which I checked with my OB and told the dentist to go for it. I didn’t ask how much the procedure would hurt, because I had to do it either way and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to hear a lie or the truth. In the end, the worst pain came during the injection (which was actually more surprising than painful). My mouth was good and numb before he began yanking (REALLY yanking) on my tooth.
When he offered me the erstwhile maxilla resident as a souvenir, I decided to keep it. Not for show and tell at work (although I’m not averse to flashing an extracted tooth to any curious onlookers) but to save it … oh, about 15 years. For my future child’s rebellious phase. When he or she inevitably gives me that patented exasperated look and melodramatically declares that I’m ruining his/her life, I intend to whip out that tooth and declare, “honey, you think you know trouble?”.