I'm a paranoid person. Pessimistic. Hopefully, I'll soon be paranoid, pessimistic and pregnant. But you can imagine that I'm not counting on it being a smooth process.
I'm the kind of person who assumes miscarriage over successful pregnancy. Psychologically healthy? Um, no. But altogether unrealistic? I think not. And as if that was not enough baggage to carry, I've now become consumed with the fears of infertility. This one is more unfounded, as my ovarian efficacy has been proven on more than one occasion. But those occasions were not planned.
I'm bad at planning and I know it. My plots have a tendency not to work out as I intend. Furthermore, I think the term "planned pregnancy" is a huge oxymoron. How can a person even pretend to have control over 40 (+ or -) weeks of unfolding nature? When it happens, if it sticks, whether or not complications arise--it's an unknowable all around.
Still, I can't help thinking about it. And reading about it. The book I just finished is touted on its front cover, via subtitle placement, as "a doctor's guide to the complete pregnancy experience, from preconception to postpartum." It's called Body, Soul, and Baby and it's written by Tracy W. Gaudet, M.D. and Paula Spencer. I received my review copy as part of the Parent Bloggers Network.
The basic premise of this tome revolves around the benefits of being an active, fully conscious participant in your own "pregnancy experience." It is about using the best of modern medicine without losing the sacredness of the experience. By checking in with your body, soul and baby through Dr. Gaudet's mental and physical exercises, you can "forge a deeper relationship with yourself even as you're creating a relationship with the growing life within."
My main question while I was reading this book, which is sprinkled with stories from Dr. Gaudet's own obstetrical practice, was "where can I find an OB like her?" It is evident that she spends a lot of time with each of her patients in order to help them understand how to use their own unique histories, experiences and ideals to create a positive pregnancy experience in which they feel fully invested. In my own life, I've been ushered in and out of the doctor's office in roughly the time it takes to pee in a cup and have a doppler whipped across my abdomen. If I can't find a doctor like Gaudet, at least I can hold her hardcover perspective in my hands.
I appreciate the underlying theme of this book, which is about the importance of integrative medicine. That's another way of describing a regimen that "integrates the best of convential Western medical practices with a careful selection from a range of other, less mainstream therapies." Examples of the latter are vitamins, massage, hypnosis, accupuncture, etc. All this operates under the belief that pregnancy is not a disease state. A normal pregnancy is not a medical problem. To treat a pregnant woman only as a patient does not address the fact that pregnancy is a completely natural part of life.
This book covers the aspects all the pregnancy guides do, and then some. Preconception and postpartum are allocated more space in Body, Soul, and Baby than in the other general pregnancy books I've read. There are sections devoted to changes in the mother's body and changes in the fetus. There are details at each stage of preconception, pregnancy and postpartum related to the "Five Centers of Wellness": nutrition, movement, mind, spirit and sensation. As your body and your life changes, the book strives to help you find a balance among the most important elements of daily living--the ones that will keep body, soul and baby aligned.
My first read-through of this book was cursory, but it was enough to tell that the the book is something I'll return to and attune to each time a new chapter again becomes relevant to my life. Right now it's preconception. Maybe I'll let you know when I get to the next section: the first trimester. My paranoid pessimism would dictate that I should keep it a secret as long as possible, but the message behind Body, Soul, and Baby is less covert. Pregnancy, Dr. Gaudet says, should be embraced from the very beginning. "It is the starting place for a different journey that, like everything else in life, has both darkness and light." Acknowledging your hopes and fears is one of the ways to get body, soul and baby in sync.