Powerful instincts

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They say that smell is one of the biggest memory triggers we have, and I know I’ve long found that to be true.  Yesterday I found it in a funny place.  At 9:30 last night, I found myself in my local emergency room (a whole lot of nothing, just making sure I hadn’t managed to lodge a piece of corn in my lungs, all is well).  The same hospital where my kids were born nearly a year ago, the same one where I spent so much time with twice-weekly ultrasounds and two different attempts at the 3-hour glucose test.

The parking lot and entrance were oh-so familiar, I could practically walk them in my sleep.  I remembered where the bumps in the ramps were, where to find the automatic door button.  Of course, instead of going down the hall to the lab or the elevators to the L&D floor, I made the right turn into the ER (quietly busy on a Sunday night).  What brought me back more that anything, more than signing my name three times on the form, more than the blood pressure cuff, was the smell of the soap in the bathroom.  They use the same soap in the entire hospital, of course.  How many times did I wash my hands during the four days post-delivery, and the three more of visiting the kids in the Special Care Nursery?  How many times, between the more than a dozen ultrasounds of my twin pregnancy, my seemingly endless blood draw attempts, and my one visit for false labor?  I’m glad that I associate that smell with my kids and what has become, in hindsight, the exciting anticipation of my pregnancy (I rather hated being pregnant at the time, but now I can look back on it with some degree of nostalgia and fondness).  I’m glad that smell memory replaced the memory of a weekend ultrasound in October when I found out an earlier pregnancy had ended, or the D&C that followed.

No, walking those familiar hallways and smelling those familiar smells (and knowing that I was clearly not having a major emergency) reminded me of last summer.  I was constantly at that hospital, walking the same steps to the mid-point of the first-floor hallway, turning right to the elevator to get to the 2nd floor. Out of the elevator, cut through the lounge to the small, inconspicuous office of my maternal-fetal medicine doctor (whom I adored), for another look at my yet-unknown babies. Little girl still small but growing, little boy pushing her out of the way to become the presenting twin.

Possibly even crazier than that smell-memory trigger was the unexpected thoughts of doing it all over again. Those creep into my head from time to time, and it’s all I can do not to smack myself.  I did not enjoy being pregnant in the least.  I have no desire to re-live the newborn days.  My kids aren’t even a year old, for pete’s sake!  But yet, there it is, biology / evolution / hormones kicking in and whispering, “are you sure?  Maybe just one more time?”  Heh.  Yeah.  Ask me again when they’re two or three… at least.

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