Between my advanced maternal age and a first pregnancy spent on bed rest, my second pregnancy was considered high risk. That sounds like I should have been betting on black in Vegas, but no — it just meant I was closely monitored throughout my pregnancy and had to limit my activity so that I didn’t go into preterm labor. Day to day I was fine, but knowing I was at risk made it hard to relax and believe everything would turn out okay for my baby. Once, I had a crazy nightmare where I gave birth to a banana-sized preemie and it talked to me. (Luckily, everything worked out just fine; my second daughter was born perfectly healthy!)
On the bright side, I found that being a high risk mama-to-be did have some hidden advantages. If you’re ever saddled with the “high risk” label, here’s what you have to look forward to:
1. I got to see my baby all the time. A typical pregnancy includes two to three ultrasound scans. By the time I was halfway through my pregnancy, I’d had a dozen! I loved watching my baby grow and change so much that I could almost understand why that wacky Tom Cruise bought his own sonogram machine so he could sneak peeks at Suri. Almost.
2. I wasn’t allowed to exercise. Before I got pregnant, I was working out three times a week at the gym…because it’s oh so satisfying to finally lose all the baby weight just seconds before you get knocked up again. Once I was put on restriction, you’d think I would miss regular exercise, but I didn’t. I got all the endorphins I needed from chocolate. And with my gym membership on hold, I saved money and time each month that could instead be funneled into buying onesies and watching all seven seasons of “The Gilmore Girls” on Netflix.
3. I got free massages. Since I couldn’t exercise, I was able to wrangle a prescription for prenatal physical therapy to help keep me limber. Insurance covered all that gentle stretching, plus a weekly therapeutic massage. Okay, so there was no vanilla-scented oil or Enya playing, but did I mention they were free?
4. No one let me carry the groceries. Lifting heavy things was not forbidden, but it was frowned upon, so I was selective. That meant yes to hoisting my big kid when she was upset, and no to schlepping heavy packages from the car. If only someone else would carry my giant belly around for me.
5. It helped keep things in perspective. You know what they say: high risk, high reward. By making me keenly aware of everything that could go wrong (hello, scary pamphlets in the waiting room!), my high risk pregnancy helped focus me on what’s important. Although I was still quick to complain about my heartburn and lack of bladder control, deep down, I was profoundly grateful to be carrying a healthy baby.
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