During each of my three pregnancies, I had 30 weeks (give or take) of doctor visits, exams, and tests, where I had to pee in a cup, get weighed, have blood pressure checks, and talk about my pregnancy symptoms with a relative stranger. Before any of those things happened, though, I did an awful lot of waiting, and for me that meant worrying, stressing, anticipating, and more worrying. There are things every pregnant woman is thinking in her OB-GYN's waiting room, and I can tell you that a lot of them involve having to pee.
Obviously, obtaining prenatal care for the duration of your pregnancy is super important. So you need to find an obstetrics provider you like and trust, and who respects you and your choices. Personally, I hate going to the doctor, especially a doctor who is going to become closely acquainted with my reproductive system. I worried that I would gross her out, was ashamed of my growing body and pregnancy weight gain, and I was afraid that she might judge the hell out of me. All of that worry made waiting for appointments stressful.
My close friend, a certified nurse midwife, assures me that she doesn't care if someone shaves their legs, gets waxed, or has cellulite. She's seen so many vulvas that it doesn't phase her, unless there's a medical problem she needs to address. Of course, my anxiety doesn't care that my OB-GYN is probably not going to shame me or say anything other than, "how are you feeling?" so waiting in the waiting room brought many things to mind, including the following:
"Everyone Else Here Is So Much Younger Than Me"
My OB-GYN's waiting room felt like an episode of some CW show. How was it possible that everyone else there was at least 10 years younger than me, with glowing skin and perfectly round baby bumps? I would especially like to know how this is possible when I was an aging hot mess in my 30s, with pregnancy acne and swollen ankles. Ugh.
"I Hope I Didn’t Gain Too Much Weight"
I had a constant fear of gaining too much weight during pregnancy. My blood pressure went through the roof every time I stepped on the scale. And while gaining weight is not only typical, but healthy, during a pregnancy, it's hard to just ignore the prevailing and problematic social messaging that constantly tells us we should take up as little space as possible.
"I Hope They Don’t Shame Me"
Unfortunately, I've been shamed by quite a few health care providers in my lifetime, and had my concerns and symptoms completely dismissed. Because pregnancy is so damn intrusive and such a vulnerable time in someone's life, I worried about what my OB-GYN or nurse might shame me or judge my choices. It sucked.
"OMG I Am Sweating So Much"
I sweat so much during pregnancy, especially when I'm experiencing stress of any kind. So when I was in the OB-GYN waiting room I would stress and, you guessed it, start to sweat. And according to my heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, I was disgusting and smelly. I would worry that I forgot to put on deodorant or that the OB-GYN would notice, which of course, made me sweat more.
"Why Is It Taking So Long?"
I have been pregnant three times and have never had a prenatal appointment start on time. Not once. Of course, if I was ever late they would inevitably say something about it, even if I had to wait anyway.
"Did I Remember To Brush My Teeth?"
Pregnancy brain is real, you guys. I would worry that my breath would smell and everyone would notice.
To stay calm during long, anxiety-filled waits, I would practice breathing and try to meditate.
"I Hope I Don’t Gross Her Out"
I was constantly worried that my pregnant body would gross my OB-GYN out. Between my growing belly (and everywhere, really), excess vaginal discharge, hairy legs, unkempt pubic hair, crappy pedicure, swollen ankles, and pregnancy incontinence, I was embarrassed, vulnerable, and felt exposed.
"I Hope I'm Dilated"
Towards the end of my first pregnancy, my midwife told me at every appointment that my cervix was dilated and sure to deliver soon. I stopped believing her. I ended up giving birth four weeks after she first made this claim, at 40 weeks five days pregnant.
"I Wonder If I Can Lower My Blood Pressure"
In the third trimester of each of my pregnancies, my blood pressure started to creep up. It caused me such anxiety that I would experiment with breathing, relaxation, mindfulness, and even closing my eyes in the waiting room to see if I could lower it. The answer was unfortunately, no, I could not.
"Don’t Forget To Schedule Your Next Appointment"
I have major phone anxiety, so calling to schedule appointments is pretty much hell. Of course, at least half the time, I would walk out of reception without scheduling my next appointment. I started asking if they would schedule me when I checked in.
"I Hope Everything’s OK"
Before every appointment I would worry about what might happen if my baby wasn't OK. I would anxiously anticipate hearing their heartbeat and, immediately afterwards, feeling peace of mind.
"OMG I Forgot To Put On Underwear"
I never know how to dress for prenatal appointments. If I wore yoga pants the powers that be would force me to wear a gown, leaving my ass hanging out with no panties. If I wore a dress, they would want me to lift it up to expose my belly... and my panties. I secretly started carrying some underwear in my purse, just to make sure I didn't forget.
"I Hope I Don’t Chicken Out"
I had so many questions and concerns during my first pregnancy that I felt too embarrassed or afraid to bring up. Things like prenatal genetic screenings, mental health, and birth control after delivery are so important. I wish I had brought them up.
"I Really Have To Pee"
During my last two pregnancies I had to have my urine tested at every prenatal appointment. So I came prepared, so to speak. Then, while I was waiting, I would inevitably have to pee before they called my name.
"I Should Have Brought Snacks"
After the first few appointments I started bringing snacks and a bottle of water with me. I get crabby when I am hungry, especially when I have to wait.