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Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Tocophobia Sandwich

Greetings, Fellow Travelers on the Road of Life!

Today, this sunny Saturday in Seattle, I had a specific plan to take control of a specific fear in my life. But that original fear got trumped by another fear - fear of the plan itself - so I ditched the plan altogether.

Regarding this fear, have I mentioned my post-KuKd Tocophobia? Surely I've alluded to it, and of course know that that word means. But in case you don't, let me explain:

Tocophobia is simply another word for Maleusiophobia, which - as anybody with first-grade-or-higher vocabulary level understands - is a synonym for Parturiphobia, which - as even your Amish grandmother living in a rural cave with no TV or Internet will inform you - is no different from Lockiophobia. Which - as indexed in the bible of all bibles of phobia lists - means: "fear of childbirth or pregnancy."

Ahhhh, pregnancy. Remember the days when it looked like this?

Just a lovely ten-month journey fringed with foliage, a hopeful springtime breeze caressing your ears, a shining light at the end of the tunnel beckoning you. Come, Fertile Princess of Motherly Nectar! it said. Come to the Land of Ever-Flowing Breast Milk and Shimmering Sense of Purposefulness, Warm Rosy-Cheeked Child Awaits the Love Pressing Against the Walls of Your Soul! It looked like that for me the first time, and even the second time.

Then came my third stint at being knocked up. Gone was serene foliage, the peaceful silence, the safe and inviting passageway calling my name. Nuh-nuh-no. For me, pregnancy kind of looked like this:

Yes: like a strange acid trip, swirling with hallucinations and spinning unknowns, where nothing was as it seems. And in fact, it wasn't. Just a blighted ovum (Mother Nature's greatest mind-fuck).

So where does that leave me? It leaves me as a bona fide Tocophobe, certifiably and nail-chompingly afraid of looking up (or down at that pink plus-sign) and seeing yet ANOTHER ten-month pregnancy tunnel stretching out before my eyes, looking more or less like this:

That would be me, flailing around in the air, propelled through this shadowy tunnel of horrors with the evil Dead Baby Goddess's face floating in the background. And each of those doors off to the side represents a potential danger - a radiologist jumping out with a clipboard and a grim expression, relaying some awful news:

your baby has five heads and webbed feet!

Or: there is no baby!

Or: the baby is dead and seeping into your bloodstream, which has already caused widespread gangrene, which means we will immediately have to amputate all four of your limbs!

Or: you're pregnant with a thriving fetus, but it's not a human fetus; it's some genetic cross between a flying Mexican wombat, a platypus, a Tazmanian devil, and an ear of corn.


You think I must be kidding, but I'm not. I know it sounds crazy, and it is. But nobody ever said that phobias are normal and rational things.

* * *


Kevin and I both decided last week that my haphazard shrieks of "PULL OUT! MAKE A MAP OF HAWAII ON MY STOMACH FOR ALL I CARE! JUST PULL OUT! NOW!" would not be an effective long-term way to deal with this gnawing, nagging fear of pregnancy. No, no. The real way, the best way, the grown-up way, the responsible way, was to go on the pill. Not forever, ya know. Just for the next year or so, while I sorted things out in my head. Just a way to bide myself some time for deciding if I really want to embark down that tunnel again.

So, I told my doctor I really needed this drug to maintain sanity, and she wrote up a prescription for a few months' worth of low-dose birth control pills, the name of which I've already pushed violently out of my mind (keep reading). I was told to start them this Sunday. Today is Saturday. The pharmacy closes at 1pm. And the one, single meaningful errand I had to run today was to pick up my first pill pack.

But then, I made the mistake of Googling this particular pill, which - according to drug-review blogs apparently filled with ranty, hormonal women - comes with some side effects that made me pause:

-weight gain of 10 to 15 pounds
-sharp mood swings and depression
-acne outbreaks


Now, am I the only person who finds it difficult to justify popping a pill (one pill a day, actually) that could potentially turn me into fat, zitty person with an attitude problem? Believe me, I already have days when I perceive myself as such. So why would I want to inch myself even closer - quite literally- to that unwanted physical and mental state?

So I paced back and forth a bit, asking Kevin what he thought, feeling wholly unsatisfied with the polite, respectful-of-my-female-power vagueness of his answers that civilized modern-day men are trained to give ("It's your body, honey - totally up to you! I'll go along with whatever.") Seriously, sometimes I wish I had a dominant, caveman-like husband who bossed me around: "YOU WILL GO ON THE PILL." or "YOU WILL NOT GO ON THE PILL." God, that would make life so much easier sometimes. (Actually, "YOU WILL TAKE OFF YOUR BRA" might be something I could get into...hmmm.) Anyway, I digress.

So, tocophobia then got trumped by...what...Dysmorphophobia (fear of deformity or unattractive body image)? Badmoodophobia (OK, I made that one up). Whatever. I was caught in a conundrum, trapped between phobias. A "fear sandwich" of sorts!

In the end, Fat-Zitty-Bitch-O-Phobia took over, and I skipped the pill, opting instead to do something totally unrelated to fears: ride my bike to the market with Kevin. We sat out in the sunshine and gorged ourselves on stuffed cabbage rolls from the Russian ladies and strong Americanos with lots of cream. I also made some loud obnoxious animal noises that caused Kevin to glance around nervously to see if people were staring (I LOVE getting him to react that way!) Let me tell you, this was much more fun than taking the responsible path of dealing with my tocophobia. Just don't tell any BOGS I said that.

In the end, although Kevin doesn't know this yet (as an intelligent human, however, he probably senses it coming like a dark thundercloud on the horizon): the new Tocophobia-busting plan will probably end up involving the help of you know who:

Not that Kevin remembers what one of those looks like, or how to use one. My gut tells me he'll catch on pretty fast. Which means that the only risk involved would really be

Hey, I can handle that over the other "side effects" any old day.


the misfit said...

That fear makes an awful lot of sense - and yet you're the first IFer I've run across who's dealing with it. I wonder why that is...seems like your reaction is rather more rational than the alternative.

Unquestionably, you did not ask for advice, and it's almost infinitely improbable this will be helpful, and I would be surprised if there were any IFers who hadn't heard of charting, but have you considered the whole cycle-timing thing (apparently called "Fertility Awareness Method" by the secular world and "Natural Family Planning" by Catholics)? The idea is that most of the time you're not fertile at all, and when you are, you either use a barrier method (FAM) or abstain (NFP). It's all set out in excruciating scientific detail (complete with CD-ROM - I kid you not) in Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. I bought it, and I really like it. (I'm charting for fertility reasons - I could have sex every hour on peak day with no chance of conception! - but she does explain it as a birth control method and she has successfully used it herself for that purpose.)

Also, I don't think not wanting to gain 10-15 pounds makes you crazy...sometimes even five or ten that you can't shake have a deleterious effect on your self-esteem and peace of mind. (At least, they do for me.)

Jasmine said...

Beautifully written. The pictures are great too.

Reba said...

you said it, sister. amen.

Rebecca said...

I just finished reading Murgdan's post on her Conceive This! blog about the grass being greener...Your post made me realize the greener side of my infertility, since I never have to worry about contraception again in my life!!

It might not be the most romantic method (for some, although others might actually find it kind of hot...I won't say which camp I am in!), but withdrawal is a surprisingly effective method for grown men (in other words, don't tell teenage boys this). I work in reproductive health (oh the irony) and am constantly surprised by withdrawal when I see comparisons of efficacy rates.

But that probably won't help your tocophobia...

Monica LeMoine said...

Wowsers - good to know the withdrawal methods kinda sorta works! I had a hunch that was the case.

Yes, I've dabbled in that Taking Charge book and looked into timing our "baby dance" a bit better (what on earth Midwestern country-bumpkin housewife thought of THAT name for it). My problem is, well, I'm too lazy and irresponsible to really figure out when I ovulate. I also resent even having to give a shit and pay attention to it. So much easier just to screw when ya feel, don't screw when ya don't feel.

OH, and a bunch of people have recently recommended cervical caps and diaphragms. I SO don't like the concept of shoving small objects up myself. Gotta get over that. ARgh.

Anabelle said...

haha i couldn't stop laughing after the hawaaii comment lol

I used condoms for a long time... since I hate how BC makes me feel... they're not that bad, and at least you dont' have to feel all drippy afterwards lol

cori said...

your clip art choices are hilarious my dear! it's been too long - any chance you guys can meet for drinks on thursday?

Lani said...

well, our good friends got pregnant twice using the pull out method and once with an IUD. so obviously they are super fertile. or just unlucky I mean lucky. oh, did i tell you they had 3 successful homebirths, the last one didn't even need a midwife? yeah i hate them too.
so annoying, especially for those of us having much trouble with all of the above.

your post made me crack up which of course i always need on a saturday when i should be doing something other then reading blogs.

*~*Lis*~* said...

OK the Hawaii thing - I can't believe how much I'm learning here! once I tell hubs I have a feeling he'll be asking to "map out Hawaii" and think it's sexy.

The serious part - it never goes away. I've had two successful pregnancies now and I'll tell you what - the first one was horrible. I spent 9+ months just knowing something bad was going to happen again. I even had my messageboard post written out in my head. The title was going to be "The worst has happened" and then I'd go into the story. My twin pregnancy was even worst - I thought it would be better since I already knew I "could" have a successful pregnancy, but it was worse because I had even more to worry about.

I'm sorry to tell you that :(