Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Room In

We have 11 days until our due date! Our midwife says she doesn't expect us to make it that long. I suspect she and I interpret that sentence very differently. She does not expect, based on the baby's position and the state of my cervix, that I will still be pregnant on March 7th. I am not above thinking that I may not "make it" in some more definite existential sense.

I spend a lot of time these days analyzing physical sensations. Is that labour? Is that labour, now? I even got excited about throwing up all my breakfast thinking, "That's got to be some sort of pre-labour sign." No, in fact, it's a sign that I threw up all my breakfast. Sigh.

Managing my expectations of this time is proving more difficult than I thought. On one hand, I am feeling pretty calm and together. I realize that if I went into labour without the fridge being perfectly stocked with groceries I could survive. I realize that I won't reach a point of emptying my to-do list and that it won't ultimately matter. I don't want to rush these last days and I don't want to miss being in the moment.

On the other hand, I am drinking raspberry leaf tea like it's going out of style (it helps focus those braxton hicks contractions). I walked to the midwife appointment yesterday thinking that could "kick start" my labour. I figured the worst that could happen was that I wouldn't make it all the way there. I am planning a walk to the health food store for primrose oil. Let's meet this baby!

I did have a moment or two of hesitation about my eagerness to begin the labour. Moments of "how in the world am I actually going to give birth." A fellow pregnant friend asked what pain medications I was considering. Since I'm planning to be at home that limits my options (severely). "Wow," she said, "You're brave." As you probably realized, she's a new friend, not well-acquainted with me or else she would know that I'm not the least bit brave. Naive, certain that my choice is the best starting place for my baby, well-read, blissfully ignorant - yes. Brave - no. Remember, the mantra is: If you can't be brave, at least be funny. We're going for funny.

And speaking of funny. Our little one has her own sense of fun. It involves contorting my belly. This used to be a game that we both really enjoyed. I would get excited by the movement. She, I can only guess from repetition, would get excited by moving. Now, the enjoyment is seeming to wane for the both of us. The belly doesn't accommodate fully stretched legs like it did before.

Here is the belly before the game:

Here is the belly during the game. Please note my upper right side.
This is as comfortable as you would imagine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The reality is slowly settling in

I've been writing about being pregnant for about nine months now. You're probably aware that pregnancy usually leads to babies, but for some reason that little fact has been eluding me. There are 18 days between now and our due date and I'm beginning to realize that I'm HAVING a baby.

Here are a few clues that have tipped me off:
  • I can't see my toes
  • I can see my belly (finally!)
  • I wake up every hour or two during the night
  • I have a single subject of conversation
  • I packed a bag of things to bring to the hospital, just in case
  • I have a birthing tub in my cellar
  • I did my first load of tiny, mostly pink, baby laundry
Look at this teeny, tiny sock! How am I supposed to keep up with these things? I lose Andrew's socks and they are 18 times this size. A more paranoid version of me could reason: if I am incapable of tracking tiny baby socks, then I am incapable of tracking tiny baby.

Apparently, my subconscious is urging me to think along these lines. The night I did her laundry, I dreamed that Andrew and I had the baby and decided to take her for a walk without putting ANY clothes on her at all. In the dream, we walked several blocks before it occurred to me that she should be wrapped in something. I then asked Andrew to sacrifice his windbreaker for this purpose, not even my own soft, fleece jacket. Also in the dream, I put our naked, freezing baby in a cheap, flimsy umbrella stroller where her little head bounced all over the place. Argh! I woke up in a panic. I'm doing my best to be rational and calm here, but I'm being sabotaged from within.

Paranoia aside, we're pretty much good to go anytime now. The baby is officially full term. However, Andrew has a work training session to go to in Ottawa (five hours from here). He had the option of going now until Saturday or going the week we're due. We figured now was a relatively safer option. Realistically speaking, I'm not showing any immediate signs of labour and when I start there is enough time for him to come home. Nevertheless, feel free to add a small prayer that she will hang in there until Saturday night - after that, I'm happy for her to come join us.

But when do you think the baby will come? Feel free to amuse/terrify me with your best guess for our little one's arrival. The Telep family has a pool going - so I'll extend the invitation to the rest of our friends and family. Send me your guesses and we'll see who knows best!

Friday, February 12, 2010

37 Weeks!

I haven't really been great at taking photos of my belly's progress. I am now looking substantially pregnant. Just in time to have the baby.

And yes. My bellybutton does appear to be off-center. I didn't know that was even possible.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursdays are NOT my days

I really tempted fate by titling my last post "Practicing Patience." Maybe I was guilty of perpetuating the stereotype of a serene, pregnant lady patiently rocking herself awaiting word from the bundle of joy within. As punishment for the smugness, karma today has me hyped on hormones, sore in the belly and out in public. Beware the waddling woman making her way down the store aisles.

I just wanted to return a notebook that I bought. I am searching for a good baby book and I wanted something that didn't scream: I'm a baby book. I wanted something tasteful that allowed me to write whatever I wanted. I thought I had an ok candidate, but I changed my mind - see hormones. I went to exchange it and the sales lady at the stationary store told me no. They don't take returns after 7 days of purchase. This notebook was wrapped in plastic, in the bag, with the receipt. Sorry she said, with no trace of actual sorrow in her voice. It's just our policy.

Well, she was soon informed that it was a ridiculous policy. And the point of all of this isn't that I'm right and this stationary store is wrong. It's that I'm pregnant and tired with the temper control of a rabid bulldog and these people aren't. After a 15 minute call to the store manager (after leaving), I am assured that she will make an exception for me and return this stupid notebook because I'm angry. This does not assuage the anger the way you would expect.

Now, I'm thinking of sending Andrew back with the notebook, because I am not overly eager to walk back in playing the role of pregnant diva. It should be said, this store has given me consistently lousy customer service in the past and its college-age girls are always more interested in talking to one another than doing their job. I have often felt that perhaps I should be dressed nicer or trendier to better suit their tastes while shopping there. I proceed to tell the manager, about the several experiences I've had with her sales team and I'm even able to recall their various conversation topics on previous visits as I looked for help. She says, "Well, it sounds like you've got two separate issues." Lady, I've got more separate issues than you'd care to know, but you've got one store and I'm never giving you my business again. "Can you drive back to the store today?" she asks. It was not in anyone's best interest to send me there again today.

So I continued on to the grocery store. I behaved myself quite admirably and waddled all around collecting groceries. Each item into the basket had me feeling like more and more of a cliche. Yes I am buying two jars of pickles; they are different flavors. Yes, I am riffling through a giant mountain of chocolates that is on sale. I like chocolates. I like them better on sale. And yes, I did just purchase my limit on frozen pizzas because they are delicious and they are a third of their normal price. I was ready to take on anyone that had a problem with this. Anyone?

And then disaster struck. My favorite brand of chips was not in stock. DISCLAIMER: the rest of my purchases were fruit and vegetables and yogurts and other foods that a pregnant person should be eating - but I have been craving sweet and salty all week. But the chips! These are not just any chips. They are Miss Vickie's Honey and Roasted Garlic Potato Chips. They are not a pregnancy craving. They are unequivocally the most delicious chips you will ever eat. When you eat these chips, you do not care that your breath will drive others away. Driving others away is a serious benefit, because then you will not have to share your chips with them. Wise people who know better than to leave the presence of greatness have joined me in confirming that these are, in fact, amazing chips. So given this self-evident truth, why is my grocery store no longer carrying them?

Heads may roll before this new mission is through. I really want to be a nice and agreeable pregnant lady. I realize that this is entirely irrational and that I'm potentially not in the right here.

However, my pregnant brain is gnashing her teeth and howling, "How much injustice can a person handle in one day? I have given up so much: beer, wine, sushi, wine, coffee, ahi tuna, sleeping, seeing my toes, retrieving things from the floor, for the love, please don't take away my chips too! "

NOTE: I phoned to warn Andrew his house was not safe and his wife was not sane (no one can say I'm not fair to him). He then did not return home until 7:30 this evening. He was not drinking at the bar to avoid me. Bless him, he was canvassing the neighbourhood in search of the chips. He returned home unsuccessful -where are these chips?, but he brought more chocolate. He just may turn out to be a man who is prepared for a daughter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Practicing Patience

Yesterday, Carole, our midwife, came for our first home visit. We received a clean bill of health from the ultrasound. Fluid levels and the baby's size are just fine. We're back up to normal measurements: 36 cm for 36 weeks. By the way, isn't that amazing? The uterus or fundus measures in centimeters roughly the same number of weeks one is pregnant. Nice touch up there, God, You really outdid Yourself with that little bit of trivia. So last week's short measurement was just a fluke or a weird position.

Now we are to the waiting game. We are 36 weeks pregnant - we have about 25 more days!!

In case you're wondering, we are planning a home birth. This choice, while becoming less surprising or radical than it was, has still led to some interesting conversations. In Canada, where midwifery is becoming far more common, home births are recommended ONLY if a pregnancy has presented nothing unusual and has no complications. So when I say we are planning to have the baby at home it means that Andrew & I understand that this will only happen if we have every indication that the baby and I are healthy and that everything is happening safely. So far so good. Our little one is keeping her head down, her vitals up and I'm feeling good.

We are approaching the birth of our child with fear and trembling and we are not seeking to prove anything or take risks with our child's health and well-being or with mine. We actually believe that this is a safe and healthy way to have a child and we're not alone: studies have found that births at home are as safe or safer than births at hospitals ( We are holding the expectation very loosely with the knowledge that it could change at any point.

We happen to live down the street from the hospital (it's a five minute walk). I have even assured my mother that in the event of a severe blizzard, Andrew could drag me on a sled to the hospital. She asked, "Do you have a sled?" Well, truth be told, we'd have to build it; but he's a resourceful guy, I'm sure he'd think of something. Also, the wise and wonderful Kim will be around and she's a paramedic. In addition, we will have two very experienced midwives who will be supplying everything from oxygen and suction masks to the pitocin necessary for stopping abnormal blood loss after birth.

In an ideal world, we will have our little girl right here. I have rented a birthing tub that we will pick up tonight (they just called!). Water has shown to have many of the same pain-relieving effects as medication for labouring women and God knows that I love a good bath. I have acquired all the things needed for the homebirth: drop cloths, extra sheets, towels, thermometers. Carole came and checked out our house and was pleased with what she found. We've been re-arranging furniture and nesting like our lives depend on it and I'm pleased to say that things are coming together nicely.

Carole officially approved of our space for birthing. She did mention that a glance at our crazy backdoor neighbour's house and all of it's kitsch made her hope that she hadn't misjudged us. "The Christmas decorations were still up" (and so are Easter & Halloween ones), she said laughing. I nodded knowingly and silently thanked God that Andrew had removed our garland last night.

Now we begin to wait. But while we're waiting: I've got chairs to re-cover, pictures to hang and Andrew has dressers to refinish. Wait, maybe we should repaint all the trim so it looks better. Lord, is that kitchen cabinet messy again? Perhaps I should organize the wine cellar for easier access?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pregnancy is Not for the Faint of Heart

I begin to suspect that many of the blogging entries about my pregnancy will either serve as birth control for my friends or as evidence of my increasing mental instability. I don't believe that was my original intention, but as Ina May Gaskin said in Spiritual Midwifery, "If you can't be a hero, you can at least be funny while being a chicken." This, as you can well imagine, has instantly become my mantra. I may have it inscribed on the walls during the birth.

I am a chicken. Ina May has some other fascinating 70s name for it, but I can't remember what. I only remember reading about this not very brave, strong person and recognizing myself immediately. I can cautiously over-think and worry myself into a tizzy in record time. And now, faced with the mind-blowingly Brobdingnagian prospect of bearing a child, is no exception. Brobdingnagian - you're wondering? Dictionaries are fun. It came from Gulliver's Travels, meaning giant. I like it's daunting size and unfamiliarity; it contributes a bit more to what I'm trying to say.

The seriousness of person-creating, the intricacies of the human body and its development, the shear magnitude of it all is wondrous... and paralyzing. But then the actuality and eventuality of pregnancy frequently consumes my focus to the point that I forget entirely about anything beyond my aching back, throbbing belly or burning esophagus. This preoccupation isn't unique to pregnancy: GK Chesterton's best stories call readers to live in a way where we realize the wonders that make up our world. It's just that when you're pregnant these wonder-full, cosmic, and often preposterous things are happening IN YOUR BODY.

All this to say that yesterday's 35th week appointment at the midwife's was going along swimmingly. I have gained 20 pounds, my blood pressure is normal, the baby moves often, her heart is strong, she is not too big and my fundus height measured 32cm. And then the midwife recommended we go get an ultrasound. I was just cruising through this information, when Andrew casually said, "What was the measurement last time?"

"Is it normal to get a second ultrasound now?" "Well," said Carol "No. Not Really."

Please insert the sound of my mind crashing into itself like a conga line.

"No? Not normal?"

Carol quickly and carefully said she was not alarmed.

"Good for her."

Nor should we be alarmed. All the ultrasound would do is clear up a little guesswork as to why my fundus was not as large as it should be at this stage. It was actually measuring smaller than had previously. Comforted by the scientific fact that babies don't shrink, this leaves a few other explanations: the baby was just in a funny position, the amniotic fluid level was low because I was a little dehydrated, the baby is already moving down into position to be born, or the amniotic fluid level is low for some other reason. So, while it's never ideal to hear anything is unusual during pregnancy, there's not really a cause to get upset.

I'm repeating that phrase regularly. We got the ultrasound this morning and we'll find out more Monday.