Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Joys of OB appointments (and a rant)

So I went in today for my 38 week checkup, and since I didn't go in last week due to the Christmas holiday (Holy Day), I had my...um....lemme look it up...GBS culture done and my first cervical exam. Everything is looking well, he said my cervix is soft but neither dilated nor effaced yet so I don't really have to worry about the baby popping out this week, got another appointment next Tuesday. So other than feeling a bit violated from being poked and prodded, I'm doing great!

Now for my rant.

I am sick and tired of people telling me I shouldn't drive because I'm pregnant, or worse, asking Sean (while he's sitting next to me) why he allows me to drive while I'm pregnant...as if I'm not there. When I'm in my car. My car.

The first person to ask why I was driving while pregnant was worried that the airbag would hit my belly in case of an accident. To this person I pointed out that for the airbag to hit my belly I would either have to be sitting on a stack of phonebooks or the airbag would have to be completely defective to be aimed that low. Having been in a wreck in my previous SUV, I now know exactly where the airbag is aimed. Like any vehicle that follows automobile manufacturing standards, the airbags in a Mitsubishi Montero Sport are aimed at the face and chest, designed to lessen impact and keep the passenger/driver from being thrown through the windshield or into the dash.

The latest person (who asked Sean when I put the car in gear and was about to drive away) insisted that the steering wheel might hit my belly if I were in an accident. Yes, this person was my father-in-law, who apparently has no earthly idea how cars are designed. So in case you who are reading this are thinking the same thing, let me clear a few things up.

First of all, there is the airbag. The airbag is designed to inflate in the instance of a head-on collision where my car is travelling at 25 mph and hitting a stationary object. The minimum speed for airbag inflation is decreased if my car hits an object moving toward it, thereby increasing the force of impact. So it is more likely than not, if I were involved in a head-on collision, the airbag would inflate. If I were hit from behind, the physics would be a bit different and my body would be thrown back against the headrest, thereby negating the need for an airbag.

Second of all, I wear my seatbelt religiously. The airbag is designed to work in conjunction with the seat belt and in my honest opinion, anyone who doesn't wear a seatbelt is a complete idiot. Yes, I will even apply this to beloved relatives who shall remain nameless but have on occasion failed to remember to buckle their damned seat belt. The seatbelt is designed to restrain a passenger in a moving vehicle in the event of a collision. People DIE because they are thrown from a vehicle when not wearing a seatbelt. It has been ingrained deep in my brain since childhood that if I am in a car, I am wearing my seatbelt. I often even forget to unbuckle it when parked at Sonic so deep is the habit. I will not, I repeat NOT drive anywhere without being buckled in, even if driving around the apartment complex to the mailbox.

Here lies a common misconception about seatbelts: The lap part of a belt is designed to go across your HIPS, not your belly. In the event of a collision, if the lap belt is extended across the belly, it is not doing you one damned bit of good and will likely cause internal bleeding. In the case of a pregnant woman (whether driver OR passenger), it is even more important that the belt be properly placed across the hips to avoid causing unnecessary strain or possible injury to the unborn baby. The shoulder part of the belt is designed to lay diagonally across the chest (if mine fits snugly between my breasts I know it's fitting properly) and across the shoulder. Not the neck or underarm, but the shoulder. It is in this manner that the seatbelt will provide adequate support in the event of a collision. If the seatbelt does not fit correctly, it should be adjusted to do so, or a booster seat used if the passenger is not tall enough to be supported by the seatbelt correctly.

Back to my rant. Point #3. When driving a motor vehicle, especially one with an airbag, the driver should sit as far back from the steering wheel as possible while still being able to reach the wheel and pedals. In Sean's car, the pedals can be moved forward or back to accommodate his long legs or my short ones so I can actually sit further back in his car than mine. In my SUV, I don't have the luxury of movable pedals so I stick with just sitting as far back as possible while still being able to reach the gas and brake. At least my car lets me raise the seat manually so I can see over the steering wheel. So when I am sitting in the driver's seat and everything is adjusted properly (including aiming the steering wheel up for my chest/face), my belly at 38 weeks is still about 6 inches from the bottom of the steering wheel.

So if I were in a head-on collision driving my car, not only am I seated at a safe distance back from the steering wheel, but I have a seatbelt which is properly fitted to keep me from moving forward and an airbag which will hit my face and chest long before I come anywhere close to the steering wheel. If I were in an accident that were so bad it pushed the steering wheel into my belly, I'd have a lot more to worry about than just the baby and I would probably be dead. Newer vehicles (my sweet baby included) are designed so that in the event of a front-end collision the engine along with the front end crumples instead of ending up in the front seat. Having been in an accident with the exact same make and model of SUV before, I can definitely say the design works.

Now, I'm obviously not planning on driving while I'm in labor, that would be incredibly stupid of me. Sean will be driving me to the hospital except in the event of ice on the road in which case we'd be more likely to call an ambulance. If at some point in the next few weeks it gets too uncomfortable to drive, I will stop. Also, under Dr's advice I will not be driving for the first few weeks after giving birth but I doubt I'd be going anywhere anyway!

I'm getting sick and tired of the damned "Pregnancy Police" and would be more than happy to give them a quick kick in the nuts (the worst offenders are men...go figure) except that I know it wouldn't work. I'm told it doesn't get any better, either....Pregnancy Police become Parenting Police after the baby's born. At least by then I'd be more likely to be able to chase them down...

I appreciate advice if well thought out and given constructively (I love how my mom gives it: "well, some women experience X so you might keep that in mind"), but if you insist that I do things your way or that I'm going to experience EXACTLY what you went through, please feel free to step in front of my car as I'm driving 60mph down the tollway while pregnant.

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