Mother's Guilt Begins: Contemplating Third Trimester Travel to BlogHer
A few weeks ago, I went to my monthly appointment with my midwife, a gal I've moved heaven and earth (translation: moved to a more expensive insurance plan) to keep. Every few weeks, as I get more and more uncovered lab invoices and anticipate the biggie to come -- the hospital bill -- I remind myself that I chose this situation. I chose this insurance plan because it includes in its network the hospital where my midwife works, and I really, really like my midwife. She's been in the midwifery business for years, she came very well recommended, and when we met I said to myself--SHE'S the one.
So then, why can I not take her advice?
My monthly checkup was about 90 percent complete--baby's heartbeat is fine, my growth is normal, my pee is normal--when H-band decides to chime in with The Question. The question I'd answered for myself a long time ago, but obviously not to his satisfaction: "You know, Jory's got a blogging conference in New York in early August she's planning on going to. She's been traveling a lot lately, and this would be her last trip, but I just wonder if it's a good idea."
Midwife asks: "How many weeks will you be?"
"Thirty four," H-band says.
"Thirty three," I correct him, "entering my thirty fourth."
Our midwife doesn't even take a second to think it over, "Oh well, you're not going."
"Oh no, not at thirty four weeks."
I throw out my defensive measure -- the one I'd been resting on."My airline cut-off is thirty six weeks!"
"Airlines don't know what's best for you," she says launching into a very well-meaning discussion about how it makes perfect sense that I would still continue to think like a business person, since it's how I've derived my identity for so long, and how difficult it can be to start thinking like a mom. But starting now, it was time to think differently, to make different decisions.
I think to myself, of course I will, but after the conference.
Mentally I cross off a business trip to Chicago and my high school reunion, which would take place in the two weeks before the conference. These are the sacrifices I must make as a mom to be. But no. Not my conference.
Lunch with H-band after the appointment was tense.
"I don't think she knows that this isn't just a blogging conference, it's my company's conference. MY company's conference."
"Oh, I think she does."
"How does she know? I don't think we've discussed what I do, how we started the company ... as a conference!"
"Oh, I think you have. I'm pretty sure you have."
I felt sick. I felt like crying. I wanted to get defensive and yell at H-band that hah, finally he found someone who validated all of his paranoid fears about travel -- what would she do next, make him right again by saying Gummi Bears are lethal to pregnant women? But so much of what she said made sense. She had valid points about the likelihood that I would just not feel up for traveling across the country -- I would likely swell up like a balloon. And what if I went into early labor? Think of the stress this would put on me -- on H-band.
In the past decisions about whether to do things were not such a big deal. Sure, some of my nuttier trips, like traveling to Israel for a speaking engagement and staying for only 12 hours before heading back to California, were highly inconvenient. Some would say dumb. but it was just my sleep pattern and schedule that were impacted. In the past my feelings of regret for not doing something outweighed the inconvenience of doing them. But this time was different. Other people were involved -- both born and unborn. And I wondered, is my cockamamie way of thinking -- my insistence on "doing what needs to be done" for my business, and let's face it, for my career--with little consideration for others' concerns for my health and wellness appropriate?
"Let's not make any decisions now," I said to H-band. In one of his most understanding of moments, he agreed.
So began my process of determining whether I would travel to BlogHer. I surveyed friends and other moms, researched online, and collected airline policies and insurance coverage information.
"It's not like New York is the Mojave," my sister said, when I shared with her my conversation with the midwife. She shared her own story of commuting each week from Boston to New York City until she was 8 1/2 months pregnant, "I just had a form I carried with me, in case I went into labor in New York, so people would know my blood type, doctor and insurance information." Yep, that was my sister Julie, practical.
I read on a local parent community site stories of women who refused to subject their unborn child to any potential travel hazards by flying after six months. And I read stories of women who took 10-day vacations to Latin America at 34 weeks. I read in all the pregnancy guides that I should limit travel in the third trimester. Some said absolutely no travel; others said it depended on my condition; some provided tips for giving birth in cars or planes.
I asked my sister-in-law, an OB-GYN resident, for her thoughts; she suggested getting checked out before I left to ensure the position of the baby was head down -- you know, in case I went into early labor, so I could deliver more easily on a plane or, say, in the hotel lobby of my conference. (Those weren't her exact words, but you can see the images her advice evoked).
Another friend, an OB-GYN who will be at the conference said it's likely I'll be fine, but if for some reason something happened early, she'd be there to help. One of my business partners, who was with us at the time joked, "Oh I can see it now, if you go into labor we'll just make an announcement from the stage and ask her to come in back with rubber gloves." Again, an image that made me cringe.
My mother-in-law said it sounded like I would be taken care of either way, which was reassuring and unexpected. I made a mental note to share her thoughts with H-band.
From colleagues I heard a range of stories. One flew to Japan on a quickie business trip at 8 1/2 months pregnant--what was the big whoop? One had contractions while in an airport, trying to head home; she didn't give birth until weeks later. One delivered five weeks early. One was bedridden and couldn't contemplate travel after seven months. One said she found it interesting that she finally had a successful pregnancy when she stopped traveling on business.
An agency colleague joked during a meeting that he'd ensure there would be hot towels in his booth at the conference, "just in case."
The gals at the office claim they'll wheel me from place to place in a chair, to keep me off my feet at the conference.
A gal sitting next to me on the plane from New York to San Francisco asked me how far along I was, and when I told her six months, she proceeded to share an anecdote of a flight she took to Hawaii, when a women went into labor and delivered on the plane. "We just let her have the back row," she explained. All I could say after her story was, "Was the baby healthy?" "Think so," she replied.
One friend cautioned me not to have sex, get a foot massage, or drink castor oil in New York, so as not to induce early labor.
Unfortunately, none of these sources could say to me, "Jory, THIS is the right thing to do ... "
I've canceled my business trips leading up to the conference, but not my trip to the conference. I've also planned a pre-conference check-up to make sure I and the baby are OK. This last trip sits in between H-band and myself, unspoken but present.
The morning of my birthday, H-band wishes me Happy Birthday and puts a gift bag on my chest. I'm barely awake, but I can tell he's gone to my favorite jewelry store. The box I pull out of the bag is larger and heavier than others he's presented to me.
"It's Murano glass," H-band says before I open the box. He knows that I already know it's a necklace.
I've never been disappointed with H-band's taste. "I'll have to wear it today to work."
"You should wear it to BlogHer," he says. An acknowledgment of the plan that I've been building in my head. "But don't go banging it around the place; the beads are delicate."
Now is my turn to acknowledge all that's in his head.
"I won't," I say. "I promise."
Jory Des Jardins writes on business and career topics at BlogHer, and on her personal blog From Here to Autonomy