Minutia

My belly is finally distended enough that my belly button isΒ  pooching a bit. It had been getting a little outward-bound when the baby was in the right position, and now that seems to be more the default look — but it still hasn’t completely popped, so I’m guessing that’s as far as it’s going to go.

Yesterday, I managed to splash burning-hot cheese soup INTO MY EYE. (Thank goodness for that eyelid reflex, and that it wasn’t any hotter — my eyelid hurt for a few minutes, but no damage done.) Then, while brushing Sophie, I provoked her into biting my hand almost hard enough to break skin. (Sophie is a cat.) I was clearly on a roll.

In the past two weeks, my heartburn issues and low appetite cleared up almost entirely. Then yesterday, I started getting… indigestion, maybe? Belchy, and kind of yucky feeling in that indigestion sort of way. Not even in the same universe as the earlier heartburn, though. But it leads me to believe that something is shifting in my body chemistry or structure… either he’s so big that he’s squishing things despite having “dropped,” or the hormone cocktail is changing again.

I have some tiny little skin tags. Such a weird thing. Why does this happen?

On Saturday I got my toenails all prettied up. The nail lady was massaging my lower legs and commented on how strong and tight my calf muscles were. “You must stand a lot — are you a nurse?” she asked. When I told her I was a teacher, she said that was just the same. You’ve got to love a career that shows up in your calves!

On Sunday I got a prenatal massage, which was very nice. It didn’t put me into labor or anything, obviously, but it made my back and hips feel a lot better. I think I’m going to make Ryan go to massage therapy school… πŸ™‚

I have definitely lost weight (in the parts of me that don’t belong to [REDACTED], that is). I put on a non-maternity bra the other day that fit me at the beginning of the pregnancy. It was too small around the band, of course, but at least one cup size too big. I have been carrying weight in that area, and wishing I could cut some of it, so — other than the whole “now I’m gonna have to buy new lingerie” thing — that’s pretty awesome.

Re-reading some Piers Anthony (his Bio of a Space Tyrant series) for the first time as an adult with an education in literature. I’m distracted, not in a bad way, by his approach to female sexuality as a pragmatic tool to be used to manipulate men. A person could certainly argue that Anthony is a Heinlein-brand sexist, and there are unquestionably echoes of Heinlein in this space opera, but I actually think there’s a lot of respect there… just in an unconventional way.Β I do find myself wondering what I felt about all this when I first read these books as a young teenager… I don’t remember thinking much of it at all…

One day, I’ll wake up at 6:45 and be strong and alert all day long… the next day, I’ll sleep until 10 and feel tired all day… body does not know what it is doing. πŸ™‚

Today, if I were throwing money around on presents for myself, I would buy a mint-green Timex watch (with Indiglo!), hot pink patent-leather Alegrias, and a sparkly bluebird necklace. Apparently I am in a colorful mood. πŸ™‚ What I really need to spend money on is a pair of baskets or hampers or bins or something to manage my ever-growing collection of blankets and afghans (not baby blankets — I have those organized — I have an addiction of my own!)

Still Waiting – Part 2

This is a continuation from this post from earlier today.

Okay! Doctor was able to squeeze me in at 1 PM. They went ahead and checked my weight (the same), blood pressure (the same), fundal height (he didn’t say anything), and baby’s heart rate (140bpm — apparently his heart is a little faster right after lunch!). Then he asked me what I wanted to talk about.

(Meant to say in my last post that I felt like I couldn’t think straight at the 40-week appt because he started tossing out all of these induction options while I’m sitting there half naked under a paper tablecloth — so part of my thinking for today’s meeting was that I needed to have a conversation with my doctor with my pants on!)

I started off by saying that I was having a lot of anxiety about inducing on Thursday, and felt that it stemmed from having some unanswered questions. That’s about as far as he let me get on my “script” — my doctor isn’t really the best listener in the world — before telling me that he was completely comfortable with pushing back induction. In fact, he had a pre-planned Plan B ready to go (I’ll get to that momentarily).

I steered the conversation back to my list of questions. He reassured me that cytotec wasn’t dangerous in the hands of someone who knew how to use it correctly, and that I’d be very carefully monitored, and that there was an “antidote” that could be administered if I overreacted to it. He said that he couldn’t anticipate my pain tolerance levels, etc., but that there was no reason to mandate an epidural with induction — that pitocin didn’t make labor any more painful, it just shortened the amount of non-painful time in between contractions. I again tried to emphasize my sensitivity to medications; he acted like he believed me, and told me that the sleeping pill was totally optional, but I don’t think he really believed me (then again, it’s the nurses who need to know that stuff anyway). The catheter dilates you up to 4cm, he said, and can definitely jump start labor on its own.

The important part is that he rescheduled induction from May 2 to May 7, with two “checkpoints” along the way in which I’ll go to L&D and have some monitoring done to make sure that there is adequate amniotic fluid and that the baby is still happy and healthy in there. At either point, if baby is in any way NOT happy and healthy, we’ll go ahead and get him outta there (that’d be Wednesday and Saturday of this week). Otherwise, we’ll let things take their natural course unless the natural course doesn’t get going before Tuesday…

Feeling MUCH better about all of this. It’s really only a couple of days, and I still believe that he’ll show up on his own, but now I feel like I can relax and just let him come — and that if he doesn’t, that I did everything I could to give him the opportunity before it became unsafe for him. It’s a much better feeling. I was feeling completely okay about everything EXCEPT the “deadline”, which was making me CRAZY — so this is definitely an improvement!

I’ll try to do better about keeping y’all posted…

Still Waiting – Part 1

I never did post for the 40-week appointment, and haven’t really been in the mood to write since, but this post will wrap all that in, I guess.

Kiddo isn’t here yet (he is “due” April 24/25). I guess at this point I am supposed to be completely miserable and uncomfortable and anxious for the birth, so here’s one more place in which I am deviating from the norm: I’m actually pretty okay. I mean, yeah, I want to meet the little guy. I want the waiting to stop. I want to stop feeling guilty about taking “unnecessary” time off work…. But I, myself, am not in that “oh my gosh please get this baby out of me” frame of mind that seems to hit most moms. I’m no more uncomfortable than I was two weeks ago… I would be okay right now if he weren’t due for another month.

The problem is that the doctor has set a giant countdown clock, and so now I feel like a kid with test anxiety being asked to solve 100 math problems in 100 seconds. (Which is funny, because I love that sort of thing, but I think I understand the feeling now.) HAVE THIS CHILD NOW, the countdown clock seems to say, OR WE WILL FORCE HIM OUT OF YOU ON THURSDAY.

And yeah. I don’t want that. I don’t, strictly speaking, believe in it. But it is hard to know what to believe, when the doctor says that the chance of stillbirth increases after 41 weeks… I don’t want any sort of interventions, but I REALLY don’t want anything to happen to my baby.

Doctor has three recommended routes for induction. There’s the standard “straight to pitocin” induction, which will necessitate being tethered to the bed (dislike) via IV (dislike). The doctor’s recommendation — or so it seemed — was to start with cytotec and then move on to pitocin if needed; cytotec is an ulcer medication that also sometimes starts labor. What he didn’t mention is that cytotec apparently (apocryphally?) has some pretty scary nasty side effects (fatal ones) and there are no statistics on them because it’s an off-label use. The third path, which R and I feel seems promising, is to go in the night before and use a balloon catheter to mechanically dilate, which may start labor on its own — and if not, we can proceed to medical induction.

In all honesty, I’m extremely unhappy and anxious about this whole “you’ve got until Thursday at 6 AM to do this on your own, and then we’re taking over” thing. I really feel like I need to talk to the doctor again so that I can get my head on straight and stop freaking out. Things I want to talk to him about:

  • What are the actual risks of cytotec?
  • Do I stand a reasonable chance of avoiding an epidural if induced?
  • How much dilating does the catheter actually do — is it going to make much of a difference if I’m already at 2cm?
  • If we use the balloon catheter, is the sleeping pill he mentioned mandatory?
  • Does he believe me when I say that I am unusually sensitive to medications, including hormones?
  • Why, if first babies often show up 7-10 days late, are we rushing to induce at only 7 days past the arbitrary due date? Follow-up: can we wait a few more days?

6 Great Gifts for a Pregnant Friend

Let’s say your friend or relative just told you that she’s pregnant, and you’d like to give her a congratulatory present. What is the perfect gift?

There are five things that, looking back on the past nine months, were absolutely indispensable to me. Individually they’d make a pretty funny present, but they’d make a kick-butt gift basket!

In increasing order of cost:

Calgon bath beads

Calgon Ultra-Moisturizing Bath Beads: $2-4

Calgon, take me away!

Despite some alarmist advice you may have come across, it is NOT harmful to take a nice bath while pregnant. The thing is that you don’t want to raise your body temperature too much; hanging out in a hot tub or hot springs can be troublesome because the high temperature stays constant. A bath, on the other hand, gets cooler as you sit in it, so you’re safe.

Baths are relaxing, both physically and emotionally, and a pregnant lady’s skin can always use moisturizing. I’m a big fan of a bubble bath, but when you’ve become bulbous, it can be hard to get all those suds off your feet when it’s time to get out. Bath beads are a pretty lovely compromise; they smell lovely, turn the bathwater pretty colors, and don’t get you all bubbly. Calgon beads don’t stain the tub, and they come in waterproof containers so they can hang out in there when you shower.

Potential downsides: A container goes pretty quickly, and they can make the tub slippery. Solution: buy lots (they’re cheap) and be careful. πŸ™‚

TumsEnormous Bottles of Tums: $5ish

I am not sure any pregnant woman can have enough Tums. I’ve had a big bottle on my desk at work, another big one by the bed, a third one downstairs in the living room, and a smaller bottle (but by no means a “travel-sized” — I’d empty that in a day) in my purse.

In my case, the mint flavors were intolerable; it was Assorted Berries all the way. But different people will have vastly different tastes….

double-walled travel cup

Double-walled travel cup with straw: $6-15

I have become so attached to my cups that they may have to surgically remove them at some point. I like the bigger ones that will hold a large quantity of ice and water. They keep the ice from melting very quickly, and you can keep hydrated in style. The ones in the picture are pretty boring; I’ve gotten most of mine at TJ Maxx, and they’re pretty stylish! My current cup has freezable goop between the walls to keep it cold even longer, and an insulated sleeve to keep your hands from getting too cold. The double walls also keep the cups from condensating, which is very nice at work.

body butterThe Body Shop Body Butter: $20

(Whoa! They’re on sale for $10-12 on the Body Shop website right now!)

When I first started getting stretch marks, I knew that there wasn’t really anything I could do about it (they’re genetic and, if you’re gonna get ’em, inevitable) but I wanted to keep my skin as elastic as possible just in case it would help. I read somewhere that body butter was the way to go, and ultimately cheaper than all the fancy products especially marketed for stretch marks, so I went to the Body Shop. Got lucky — hit a buy 2, get 1 free sale. πŸ™‚

Each tub of body butter from The Body Shop costs about $20, although I’ve seen their products at other stores (Ulta, Nordstrom Rack, etc.) for about half that. They last quite a while; I’ve gone back and forth between two containers and haven’t emptied either one, although I don’t use it every night either.

At the time that I got mine, I was extremely sensitive to smells. Some of the body butters have very strong fragrances; the “baked good” scents in particular really turned my stomach. I ended up getting two with very light, benign scents: Vitamin E and Olive. I also liked some of the lighter citrus scents.

I don’t know if I can credit the body butter, but I haven’t had any problems with itchy belly skin — and since I always get itchy, that’s pretty miraculous! If nothing else, some luxurious lotion is always a nice gift for someone who isn’t feeling top-notch.

snoogle pillow

Snoogle Body Pillow: $40-50

Okay, so this might be a funny sort of present, depending on what kind of relationship you have, but it has basically saved my life. You can coil it into several different shapes to support whatever part of yourself needs supporting. The C-shape you see above gives you back support and hip support, and if you can coil it around you tightly enough it also supports your belly when you hug it. But you can do lots of different things with it, and there have been many nights that I don’t think I would have had any sleep at all without it.

And finally…

gift-blue

Something that is for HER, not for “Pregnant Her” or “Momma Her”

Once someone is pregnant, people want to talk about that a lot. You get lots of baby-related conversation, lots of baby-related gifts. Think how meaningful it would be for her to receive a gift that says, “I am happy for you, the person who is still herself even though she is incubating another human being, and this made me think of you.”

Trust me — she’ll love that.

What do you think? What are the things that made your pregnancy survivable? Share your suggestions in the comments. πŸ™‚

The Waiting Game

Still pregnant….

Last Thursday we had our 39-week doctor’s appointment which, for those of you who haven’t gone through this rigamarole, consists of peeing in a cup, getting weighed and measured, listening to baby’s heart, and having gloved fingers stuck up inside you for a let’s-see. I was essentially unchanged from the previous Thursday: 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced, “very soft”. Baby heartrate 120bpm, fundal height 40cm. Blood pressure still “perfect” and weight holding steady. Carrying on my hereditary tradition of defying “what most people do,” I haven’t gained any weight in this last month of pregnancy despite eating fairly high-calorie food pretty heartily. Like my mom before me, I gained whatever weight I was going to gain in the first part of pregnancy and then pretty much stalled out. Baby is gaining weight appropriately, but sans baby I am, if anything, losing a little.

On Thursday, the doctor mentioned inducement (induction?) for the first time. He said that if we went a week past the due date — which, btw, he randomly changed to April 24 and says has always been the 24th, despite having said it was the 25th for the past nine months, weird — that we might induce, and that he could postpone that up until two weeks overdue with heavy monitoring. I really, really, really don’t want to go down that road if it’s possible to avoid it, so if nothing else, I hope the little guy — or my body, or whomever/whatever it is that is ultimately responsible for this sort of thing — takes care of business the old-fashioned way, and on the doctor’s timeline.

So if I’m due the 24th, we’re at T-minus 48 hours. No contractions, no broken water, no apparent plug loss. Old wives’ tales would be encouraged by the fact that I had a few days of high energy, and that my digestive system has gone a bit haywire. Other than really beginning to feel the muscle strain of lugging around GigantoBelly, and the associated discomfort at night (and hourly trips to the bathroom), I don’t feel much different than I did a week ago.

I think, in general, I could be okay with playing the waiting game for a little bit longer, if it were just up to me. These are my last few days as Not-Mom, of being able to (hypothetically) sleep when I want to, or get into the car and go somewhere without worrying about car seats and diaper bags and breast milk. Even though I’m not entirely “just me” — The Bump certainly qualifies as a separate entity at this point, if only in terms of sheer square footage — I can still sit here in the house, in near perfect quiet, and be something akin to alone. At this point in time, no one and nothing is so dependent on me that I couldn’t walk away for several hours.

It is hard to patiently wait, though, when surrounded by impatience! πŸ™‚ Ryan, in particular, is very eager to get this show on the road. He keeps threatening to start at the top of my torso and squeeze me like a tube of toothpaste to get the little guy to come out. I become anxious for the baby to arrive more for R’s sake than for mine….

There’s a certain amount of… well, I’m not sure what to call it. It’s a variation on dread, I guess, although nothing so very bleak and scary. Everything is going to be very different, and I don’t know what that’s all going to be like. There is certainly a very loud and confident part of me that embraces the impending change, knowing that this is exactly what I wanted and how important it all is to me. This part of me says that it will be tough but good, that I will figure it all out, that I will transition into my new life just fine.

But there are quieter voices, too: voices who have doubts, voices who wonder what in the world I’ve gotten myself into, even selfish little voices that want to keep leading a carefree child-free life.

I am not afraid of what will happen at the hospital. But part of me is afraid of what happens when we come back home.

I suppose that’s probably normal.

On a sillier note, I do wish [REDACTED] would go ahead and show up, because I have several things on the calendar that I’m bound to miss if he keeps dragging his feet! I’ve got two events next weekend, and things the following weekend as well, that I’d really like to be able to attend if only momentarily… I mean, obviously I’m being goofy here, but I stand a chance of being able to swing by (for example) a baby shower if I’m several days post-partum, whereas if I’m in labor I am probably going to miss that one! πŸ˜‰

39!!!

Yesterday, remarkably, marked the day when I was 39 weeks pregnant. (!!!) It was also my last day at work for the school year, which was very odd. It is hard to relinquish control, but I know that once [REDACTED] is here I should fully “find my zen” about letting go of work for a while. Or, y’know, just be too tired and overwhelmed to think about it. πŸ™‚

Tuesday was my last day with students — Wednesday was set aside for SATs — and it was a tough one in some ways, because I just started feeling significantly less comfortable on that day. Nothing that says “you’re in labor” or anything, but everything was just so much more difficult — especially standing and walking. Many more Braxton-Hicks on Tuesday, and I found myself getting out of breath and needing to go to the restroom more frequently than before. I am glad that I made the decision to bug out a week before my due date; I think I am physically done, even if my mind is still plugged in (which, let’s face it, it isn’t really).

According to R, my belly has also changed shape and seems bigger. Probably [REDACTED] is getting all settled and everything. He’s definitely head-down and spends most of his time with his back to my left side and at least one leg stretched out as far to my right side as he can get it. I feel toes pretty regularly under my right breast, and sometimes all the way over to my side. Sometimes he flips around and I can feel what seems to be his bottom below my sternum.

Every day for the past few days, I am half-convinced that I’ll be having a baby within 24 hours. The other half-convincedment is that he’ll stick around in there until May, just to use up as much of my sick leave as possible. πŸ˜› This afternoon I have another doctor’s appointment, so maybe the dilation/effacement news will shed some light on that — probably not, though. R keeps wishing there was a more concrete calendar for this sort of thing, but it just doesn’t work that way…

So, Sunday evening, I went out in our front yard with our dog, Paisley. Paisley has very good yard boundaries, is reasonably good about obeying even when she’s caught up in the moment, and knows/likes cats. But waaaaay down the block, some cat walks across someone’s yard and somehow ticked Paisley off, and off she went like a rocket. I obviously had no chance of catching her, and neither did the 10-year-old boy she shot past who took off after her. I’ve never seen her go after a cat like that. She vanished around the block, but I’m guessing she came to a street (she’s VERY well trained about not going into roads) because after a second, she came back with her tail between her legs.

Then Sunday night, our cat d’Artagnan suddenly discovered that his new favorite place to hide (i.e., under the crib) had a second story. Up until that point, he had shown no interest in the actual crib itself — just the dust-ruffled “cave” underneath it. d’Artagnan is a very timid “scaredy-cat” and doesn’t know that he’s physically capable of jumping very high (seriously) so he just stood there for a few minutes, captivated… he stood up on his hind legs so he could peer in (not propped against the crib, mind you, just meerkat-ing it) and then made a very half-hearted attempt to jump in that ended up with him running into the side of the crib about halfway up.

Thing is, he’s not only timid and sheltered — he’s also a strictly indoors cat without the foggiest idea how to take care of himself. But naturally, the Night of the Crazy Animals wasn’t over yet… so when I wake up the next morning and d’Artagnan doesn’t follow any of his unbreakable morning routines (following the dog downstairs for a morning treat, chasing me into the bathroom to put in my contacts) I knew something was wrong. Turns out he’d somehow slipped out the front door the night before. I won’t go into the details of the panicked bathrobe-clad 5 AM search of the neighborhood, except to say that we found him trapped in our neighbor’s side yard, yowling, and had to dig him out underneath the fence because it was locked up. It had been well below 30 degrees that night and rainy… and we live near bad roads, in coyote country… I am so glad he found someplace nearby and safe to be. R and I were just sick after that but both had to go to work anyway… d’Artagnan, meanwhile, spent the next couple of days strutting around the house looking smug…

Anyway, everyone told me that our animals were acting crazy because I was going to go into labor that day. But I didn’t. And then that evening, our district’s substitute coordinator made an error and called my long-term substitute to let him know that I had had the baby. Apparently she knew something I didn’t know…? Being slightly superstitious, I thought maybe I’d end up having the kiddo on Tuesday after all of that, but it didn’t happen.

[REDACTED] can definitely hear things (Paisley just started barking at some neighbor kids and the baby — well, let’s just say I can visualize him doing a miniature version of his father flinching and trying to get the dog to shut up) and reacts to food and drink pretty quickly, especially if the drink is very cold and/or sugary. Like, a Coke doesn’t do anything, but a fruit smoothie does. He’s surprisingly active given how little room he has in there. Lots of very visible rolling and shifting, although I have yet to experience the “discernable outline of body part” thing that some people see.

I guess that, for all that I feel quite pregnant, I don’t look quite as big as people expect me to — and frankly, I always thought I’d be the “big all over” type, so I’m smaller than I anticipated as well. When people ask me when I’m due, and I say the 25th, they keep thinking I mean the 25th of May! Then they’re shocked when I clarify that I’m due next week. Funny, because we’re pretty certain that [REDACTED] is going to be a pretty long baby. I guess he just tucks up well.

Okay, I have some things to do around the house, including finishing thank you notes, so I had best get off the computer and get to work… plus, it’s cold in here (programmable thermostat hasn’t yet been told that I’m not at work) so I need to get moving to get warm. πŸ™‚ Will keep y’all posted… who knows, next post might have baby pictures…

New Babies and the Waiting Game

As I write this, the little guy is doing the boogie in my belly. It’s so funny to watch my abdomen rocking and rolling… As much as I’m anticipating having some control over my own body again, I think I’ll probably miss this aspect of pregnancy.

On Thursday, I got to hold my friend B’s eight-day-old baby boy. Talk about extraordinary… and terrifying… It’s simultaneously very hard to believe that people start out so very small, and that there is such a big person inside me right now. I felt like neither he nor I really knew what we were doing; he wasn’t at all sure where his arm was supposed to go, and — probably complicated by the fact that I have no lap to speak of at the moment — I had the worst time finding a way to hold him that felt right.

What an extraordinary thing. So soft and tiny and new and uncertain. What a gift to get to spend a few minutes with him and realize that I’m going to have my own here, within the next few weeks…

My goodness.

That afternoon we had the 38-week doctor’s appointment. They had to redo the Strep Group B swab test due to a lab screw-up, and then checked to see how things were coming along. I’m at about 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Doc said that the softness and thinness of the cervix was much more in line with someone who had given birth before, although the dilation was typical for a first pregnancy. He also said that the head was pressing on the cervix (although he also said something that seemed to indicate that the baby isn’t completely dropped?) so I’m not really sure what those two pieces of information mean together.

We listened to the heartbeat; Ryan asked if I, too, knew that the heart rate was just above 120bpm before the doctor said so. I hadn’t been paying attention, but I know I could have — hooray for band babies. πŸ™‚

Anyway, the doctor says that he can’t imagine we’ll be waiting three weeks (due date was two weeks from Thursday). I guess we’ll be meeting this little guy — and learning how to hold him — pretty darn soon!

38!

Today is 38 weeks — wow!

38 weeks pregnant

Tired after a long day’s work, and as usual my phone is taking crappy photos, but the tree is pretty and I like my dress.

You know, it’s true what they say about time being relative (and about relativity being confusing — talk about your cognitive dissonance!). It is a mystery how something can seem to go on forever, and simultaneously seem to fly by. In some ways, it is r-e-a-l-l-y hard to believe that I am within mere weeks, maybe days, of having a child. Of seeing [REDACTED]’s face. Of having an Entirely New Life. And in other ways, it seems as though I have always been pregnant….

The other day, I was telling Ryan that I would like to see some sort of graph that broke down hormone levels during pregnancy. I know that there has to be a lot of hormonal activity for labor to happen, but I wonder if some of the hormones (that is to say, the ones that turn you into a crazy person) dip a bit here at the end. It’s strange, but in this past week I’ve noticed that I suddenly feel a lot more like myself again. I’ve regained patience with my students (my coworkers will snort when they read that, but I can only imagine how bad this week would be if I was still as DONE with them as I was a couple of months ago!) and generally feel like my head is clearer and like I can deal with things. Maybe this is what that nesting stage looks like to me — not an insane enthusiasm for cleaning, but a renewed energy for doing the things I ordinarily do? Or maybe it’s just the change of seasons, and seeing the sun shining and the cherry trees blooming…

Regardless, it’s definitely become a case of the spirit being willing while the flesh is weak. My brain wants to do fun things, like shop or go on a road trip or play a game of fetch with the dog (with whom every game of fetch provides the humans with more exercise than the dog). And in the meantime, I weigh five thousand pounds, can’t bend, have no comfortable seated positions, have to pee constantly, sleep in one-hour bursts, and am exceptionally uncomfortable regardless of what I’m wearing. Walking is exhausting and becomes painful — not in my feet, which haven’t really embraced the whole swelling up thing as much as I’d anticipated, but in my pelvic area.

In other news: no real contractions, but what I now recognize as Braxton-Hicks every day. Doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Apparently they sent the Strep B test off to the lab, which ran the wrong test or something, so tomorrow I have to get swabbed a second time. Assuming they’ll check dilation/effacement again, FUN, so we’ll see if anything is going on in that department. [REDACTED] is a little more active these past few days and has been doing a fair amount of squirming around in his tight quarters.

I had a handful of blissful days without heartburn, and then it came back with a vengeance. The other day, I was about halfway through a grocery store trip when it hit me so hard that I was literally in tears in the soda aisle. For the past several days, I’ve gotten incredibly bad heartburn right around last period. I’m told the most likely cause at this point is that the hormones that soften things up downstairs also soften them upstairs, causing reflux and all that nonsense.

Pregnancy is a very imprecise thing. I think I now have equal numbers of people telling me that I am enormous and that I am really small for 38 weeks, as well as equal numbers of people declaring that [REDACTED] has definitely dropped and has definitely not dropped yet. Ryan attempted to clear up the mystery by telling me that it seems to change, that one minute the belly doesn’t seem so large, and the next minute I’m “as big as a boat.” I pretended to be offended but there were baked goods in the vicinity so that didn’t last.

I don’t feel like I’m all that big, though. I think, maybe, I’d taken the fact that I’ve been somewhat overweight these past few years, and decided that I was going to have the “pregnant all over” look as a result… and instead, I’ve gained relatively little weight, and my belly is all out front. I’m not complaining! I feel pretty in this body, prettier than I’d felt in some time.

What I do know is that in the past week, complete strangers (cashiers, etc.) have begun asking me when I’m due. Up until recently, I’d gotten a lot of those awkward looks where you can tell that someone wants to ask, but doesn’t want to say anything just in case you’re just fat. Month nine, however, appears to be open season on Pregnant Kate. The gas station cashier praised me for “getting it over with” before the hot months. The library sale volunteer demanded I name the baby Kara in exchange for an extra plastic bag.

Did I mention that I can’t fit in the student desks any more? So I guess I must not be all THAT small.

I know that there are things I need to do right away lest I regret procrastinating… I need to put the sheets on the bassinet and crib, change to a water-resistant mattress protector on our bed just in case, pack The Bag. I also need to clean my desk at work (top surface clear, and drawers made usable) and make sure that everything is as “in order” as it’s gonna get for my substitute. I am planning to continue to work through next Tuesday, possibly going in for part of Wednesday as well (it’s a teacher work day), and then calling it a year (which sounds WONDERFUL, doesn’t it?).

As for right this minute, however, [REDACTED] would like me to visit the toilet and then put on something more comfortable and go read a book before going to bed early. I think that seems like an excellent plan, so we’re going to go do that now.

Fear

Two nights ago, I had a stressful dream. I was out in a park with my entire family, plus a lot of other people, and it was very windy. Because dreams are always very logical, the reason I was in this windy park was because I was prepping to go into surgery. I had all of this paperwork that I needed to have in order before my surgery, and it kept blowing away in the wind. No one could tell me what I needed to do — whether I needed to eat, when I should go to the hospital — but everyone wanted to tell me their opinions on the subject. I was incredibly stressed out.

One need be neither Jung nor Freud to figure out where that dream came from.

I suspect that I dredged up that particular twist (surgery rather than childbirth) because I’d recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about surgery. She’d planned on a vaginal birth and had undergone many hours of labor before it was discovered that the baby was breech, leading to an unplanned caesarean section. She had been trying to describe how it felt, how cold and shaky she was going in to the c-section, because of the shock of the news and all of the adrenaline, fatigue, etc.

I immediately knew what she meant. Last year (which is the euphemism I use for the miscarriage, because no one likes the m-word, even though it was actually in 2011), lying there in the emergency room, I really believed that I was going to be able to go home before long. I believed that the hemorrhaging would stop and that my blood pressure would rebound. Part of me, I suppose, knew that surgery was a possibility — but between the denial that had led me to delay going into the hospital in the first place, and the vague reassurances of the rotating cast of nurses and doctors I’d seen through the night, the idea had just faded away into the Land of the Theoretical. And then, suddenly, I was headed into the operating room, being informed I’d have a breathing tube thanks to half a candy bar, being told to hand over my wedding ring and glasses to my husband.

I was so cold, so scared. I remember thinking about dying (they don’t tell you to remove all metal from your body because they don’t like accessories). I am pretty sure I prayed; I probably tried to bargain with God, but I don’t remember what I promised. As they wheeled me into the room with the blinding lights and moved me from the stretcher to the table, I was shaking from head to foot so hard that I’m pretty sure I was coming off the table. And sure, part of it was sheer fear of the unknown; I’d never had any sort of surgery more serious than a wisdom tooth extraction. But a lot of it, I think, was being hit with the unexpected — the unimaginable — while already drowning in exhaustion and pain.

I’m within days or weeks of giving birth, and I don’t feel scared about that at all — I really don’t. (At least not on a conscious level.) I’m not planning on a surgical birth, but I know it could happen. These things do, sometimes. And if you asked me, I’d tell you that I’m at peace with that possibility, that I’ll be okay with it — and that’s true, on a philosophical level. Ultimately, whatever needs to happen for a healthy baby is fine, and I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t deliver naturally, or if I can’t breastfeed, etc. etc. etc. But I’d be lying if I said that the thought didn’t scare me, on a much less rational level. I reckon it’s something in the same ballpark as PTSD — not that I’m trying to compare an emergency D&C to being in a war zone, of course, but I bet it’s a similar sort of thing. Heck, the bright light at my dentist’s office gave me the heeby-jeebies. I’ve read enough books with wounded-warrior archetypes to recognize that sort of thing when I experience it.

Any book or website about this whole birth thing will tell you that it’s best to be mentally prepared for a lot of different possibilities. The part of my brain that thinks has paid attention to this advice and has rehearsed for the possibility of a lot of things I’m not expecting. I’m not sure if the part of my brain that feels can really get that memo ahead of time.

No matter what, though, I think I can probably rest easy knowing that I’m not likely to be getting prepped for surgery on a windy playground. πŸ™‚

[Ed. note: I was going to put a thumbnail of some OR lights in this post, just to add a little visual pizzazz — but I kid you not, when I ran the Google Image Search, it gave me a stomachache. Good grief. It’s been sixteen months. You’d think I could get over it already.]

The Countdown Begins

Although it isn’t really a countdown, I reckon, since I don’t know when it will end…

BTW: There’s really nothing interesting in this post, and it definitely falls into the TMI category if you’re disinterested in details of what goes on in an OB-GYN office in late pregnancy. That said, if you’re knowledgeable about this sort of thing, I do have a question toward the end and would welcome feedback.

Yesterday was my first weekly doctor’s appointment. They tested for Group B Strep, which was considerably less of a deal than I’d anticipated. (I mean, I knew it was just a swab, but I thought it would be uncomfortable, and I really didn’t feel anything.) Then, though, the doctor checked my cervix, and that? THAT was surprisingly painful! Ryan said I was making all kinds of great faces. I’ve had my fair share of uncomfortable examinations, but this one ranked waaay up there. Doc says I’m 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced, and “very soft.” I wish knowing that information meant that I could plug it into a chart and know exactly how long we have to wait, but unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. All it means is that, probably, the stork will show up on our front yard in the next month.

I did find an interesting website — When to Expect — that uses statistical data to predict the date of birth. Based on my age, ethnicity, etc., and the fact that this is my first baby, among a few other factors, the website says that (statistically speaking) I am likely to give birth to a 7lb 15oz child in my 39th week (sometime between the 18th and the 24th). I guess there is an 88% chance that the baby will arrive by 5/1. Somewhat dismaying is the fact that in 2% of pregnancies that are statistically like mine, the baby might not arrive until 5/16! (As he’s due the 25th, that’s a pretty scary concept.)

Graphs like this do relatively little for me, but Ryan assures me that that's because I'm a freak, so I'll go ahead and share this for you people who like such things. :) Generated by the When to Expect website.

Graphs like this do relatively little for me, but Ryan assures me that that’s because I’m a freak, so I’ll go ahead and share this for you people who like such things. πŸ™‚ Generated by the When to Expect website.

Following the appointment, the doctor shared that he is leaving his practice at the end of the summer, to work with female patients at the veteran’s hospital/home.

Also following the appointment… I am s-o-r-e. In the, er, groinal regions. Like, it’s-unpleasant-to-walk sore. I don’t know if that’s because it was a painful examination, or because the examination encouraged the already “very soft” cervix to do more “stuff,” or because of a coincidence in timing and things in there are just naturally moving around. I spent some time sitting on my exercise ball, which feels much better than most of the other things I can choose to sit on, but the benefit stops when I get up and have to walk or sit on a normal piece of furniture. The soreness hasn’t let up yet and definitely has a “things stretched/stretching” quality to it, so maybe that’s just normal…?

The other thing that I’m wondering about is baby movement vs. possible early/B-H contractions. At each appointment, the doctor asks if I’m still getting “plenty of good movement.” I’ve been answering yes, but it occured to me yesterday that I don’t really understand how he’s defining “plenty of good movement.” The baby definitely moves around every day, in distinct time patterns and in reaction to things like food and ice water and reclined positions. But it’s not what I’d call constant movement, and there’s not really any kicking anymore — just stretching and rolling a little. (Granted, there’s not much room.)

That said, I’ve been blaming something on Kermie that may not even be him. Fairly often — several times a day — I get the sensation that he is being heavier and pulling out on my belly “muscles” (such as they are at this point). The sensation is accompanied by a sense that I really need to empty my bladder, and doing so often alleviates the pressure/heaviness to a certain degree. I’m beginning to wonder if those are actually something more associated with my body than with him — and if so, and that means that Kermie is moving less than I think he is, is there reason for concern? WHY IS EVERYTHING SO VAGUE?

(Kermie’s heartrate is a perfectly-normal 120bpm, and he’s still head-down. I know it’s fine. Also, his heel is in my right side and his butt is practically between my breasts. Not, like, literally, but as I’m sitting here typing he’s shoved up a little higher and is pushed up against my ribcage.)