EXCERPT: 'Don't Say I Didn't Warn You'

Apparently, with this technology, some sort of receivers are placed on the mother's abdomen that act as the "satellites" and receive transmissions from the disposable sensors that are attached to two points on the cervix and to the top of the baby's head. So you can actually tell how much the cervix is widening and how far down the baby's head is positioned. If I were an L & D nurse, I would be writing my congressman for this piece of equipment. Because that digital check thingy has to qualify as one of the worst parts of that job.

For those of you who have never experienced this "check" as a patient, imagine that you are going for your yearly Pap smear and someone has decided to compound the usual procedural discom-fort by: (1) allowing you no food or drink for many hours, (2) increasing the circumference of your midsection by 300 percent, and (3) sticking a hot branding iron across your lower back. Now, imagine how you feel as a nurse starts popping a latex glove on her right hand and informing you that she will need to do a "little check to see how you're progressing." This is not only gross, but I would venture to say it is also dangerous for her—like approaching a wild animal in pain. Labor and delivery nurses should receive hazard pay for this part of their job description. I'm sure many have had a foot planted in their face. I know I fantasized about doing it.

I REMEMBER how much I wanted to have a baby when John and I first got married. It was foolish, as we had no insurance and were both still in col-lege at the time. But the combination of youthful optimism and total disregard for the amount of time or money this decision would cost us resulted in a pregnancy that started about the time we had been married five months.

About the only time I ever looked at my middle with admiration was when I was with child. When I found out that I was pregnant, I could not wait to get into maternity clothes. (Little did I know that after child number three, I would never be able to get out of them.) I was pregnant in the 1980s, when we were rocking the navy blue tent dresses with sailor collars and big, red bows, like maybe we were outfitting whales for the navy.

But at least it used to be that when you were pregnant, you had the luxury of wearing tent dresses for a while and not worrying about your body shape for nine months. No more. Due to re-cent advances in medical science (or celebrity workout routines), modern moms now get pregnant only in the very front. No weight distribution to the butt or hips. Maternity clothes are a good deal cuter now than in the olden days because they are designed to show off your "bump." Notice that the term even implies "little"? When I was pregnant, the mass on the front of me was definitely not a "bump"; it was more like a "planet," with its own "moon" around the backside of the planet.

Modern developments aside, when I first learned that I was pregnant, I was very excited and thought this was going to be the most blessed, beautiful, rose-petals-at-my-feet-and-bluebirds-lighting-upon-my-forearm time of my life.

Until I went for my first prenatal visit.

Which starts with a weigh-in.

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