So Much for the Girl Scout Motto

I got up this morning at 7 a.m. In part, I was thinking that an earlier start in the day would help me get an earlier start on bedtime tonight (providing I’ll be able to sleep at all, of course). In part, I was also thinking it would be at least an hour of quiet to myself before our lives changed forever (again).

Instead, Kate was down in the kitchen with me at 7:17 a.m.

Ah, well, so much for that idea.

Tomorrow morning is our scheduled induction. One way or another, it’s probably going to be Bud’s birthday. He keeps going between being head down (good!) and in a transverse lie (not good). Wednesday, when we scheduled the induction/possible c-section: transverse. Friday at the ultrasound: head down. By Saturday night, felt like he was transverse again.

If I could describe that feeling, I would. If you’ve been pregnant, you kind of know how a head-down, soon-to-be-born baby feels in your pelvis. A transverse baby… Let’s just put it this way: baby’s head is very hard, and I can tell when it’s in there sideways as opposed to down. Just trust me on that. Let me add: doesn’t feel very comfortable. Not a lot of room in there for a baby who’s aimed the wrong way.

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Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas in the Catholic calendar. It is one of my favorite times of the year. I got a lot of peace from Mass today, and I am working hard to keep that feeling with me through today and into tomorrow.

Advent is about preparation: Preparing for the birth of Jesus, for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. As I sat in church today, with the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows, I couldn’t help reflecting about the theme of preparation.

As most women are, I’ve been pregnant nearly 40 weeks now. And after deciding on a plan of birth for the safe delivery on this baby, we’ve had about four days to really finish preparations for Bud. There seems to be a lot of clothes to sort through, laundry to do, and so on. I went out last night to pick up diapers and some other things we’ll need before coming home. Dan is installing infant seats in both cars as I type this; I have a couple more odds and ends to wrap up.

You’d a thunk we’d have this down by now.

In some ways, Dan and I are about as ready as we can be. It remains to be seen how cooperative Bud will be tomorrow morning. All-in-all, though, we’re about as ready as one ever is to grow one’s family. The idea of having a baby is different from the reality, whether it’s your first or your sixth (I imagine) – that cliché, “A baby changes everything” is a true cliché for a reason. I don’t know what our family of four will be like as a family of five (with a guardian angel Gabriel).

But I am really looking forward to finding out.

Week 37

I went from thinking about possible induction or C-section today — and I do mean today, as in the answer to my daughters’ question “When is the baby’s birthday?” would be “Nov. 16” — to hearing some great news: Bud is (once again) head down. Plus my fluid came up. It’s still low-normal, but less low — more normal, I guess.

Now, he just needs to stay head down. After we heard the good news, Dan said, “So is there any way to make sure he stays there? Duct tape? Superglue?”

I was like, “Stay away from my belly.”

The biggest pain was that I had scheduled an 8 a.m. appointment to get me to work no later than 9-9:30 or so.

Instead, there was a rush of births (in Labor & Delivery, imagine!) this morning, so everything took way longer than usual. For example, it took 45 minutes for me to get hooked up to a monitor for my NST. And then I was on it for, like, an hour and a half.

Ah, well. The important thing is we’ve got some more time with all the good news we have today. As long as Bud continues to cooperate, we can take C-section off the table (as an immediate go-to option). I am pretty relieved about that. I’ve made it through a number of pregnancies without needing one, and I would like to keep that record.

(For the record: nothing is wrong with having a c-section. Healthy baby, healthy mommy. I just would prefer not to have one at this point in my medical history.)

(That said: if things change yet again, and it’s medically necessary to have a c-section —  sign me up.)

Week 36

The news from this week’s ultrasound was not as rosy as it’s been.

There is still lots of good news:

– The baby’s growth is very good. They estimate his weight at 6 lbs., 10 oz., which means he’s already bigger than the girls were at term. The sonogram tech said they may be off as much as a pound and a half, “but you’re not having an 8 pound baby.” Which is just fine with me.

– Placenta is good and healthy looking, as is the umbilical cord.

– Heart rate is good; all systems are go.

The not-so-great news:

– Amniotic fluid is in the low-normal range. Not ideal, but not a huge reason for concern at this point.

The real bummer:

Bud is in what they call a transverse lie. This basically means instead of being head down (which is the position we want him to be in for labor and birth) he is laying sideways across my uterus.

This is not good.

On the bright side, he WAS head-down as of two days ago, when I had a midwife appointment. He wasn’t engaged yet, which is probably why he shifted. Also, the amount of fluid — again, low-normal — makes moving him back a little tricky at this point.

If he doesn’t pop his head down into my pelvis (to stay there this time), we have to take the possibility of having a c-section very seriously.

Our current course of action is: monitor movement over the weekend; get an NST Monday or Tuesday to make sure Bud continues to do well; I already have a midwife appointment, as well, so that’s covered; go back to get an ultrasound in a week to check on the fluid situation again.

When the fluid increases, the doctors or midwives can do an external cephalic version (doesn’t that sound pleasant?) to move the baby into a head-down position.

My goals:

– Drink more liquid! I will be returning to the regimen of 8 oz. of water every 15 minutes, which is what I was on with both Flora and Kate.
– Rest when I can. This will be a little trickier. I will find a way.
– Find some exercises that can help get the baby head down again.
– Talk to my chiropractor to see if she has any tricks up her sleeve to get things opened up to move the baby.

I am healthy and Bud is healthy, and a healthy outcome is all that matters. We’ve got time for things to change.

Good thoughts, people. Prayers. I’ll do my part, and Bud will do his, I’m sure.

Early Birds

Dan was born five weeks early.

Earthmom, Dan’s sister, was born three months early.

I was born two weeks early.

(By “early” I mean before the doctors’ estimated due dates or EDDs.)

I was induced with Flora at 38 weeks, technically two weeks early, and with Kate at 37 weeks, three weeks early.

So it didn’t seem improbable that Bud would be four weeks early.

Sunday, it looked like my mucus plug was breaking up. Monday morning, I was having cramping and a lot of pressure.

So we headed to the hospital (and the midwife on call) to see if things were starting to happen.

I was hoping they were. I’ve been saying that I’m ready for awhile now, and I’m not lying.

(Although, once I perused the list of things we are supposed to bring with us to the hospital or birthing center, I realized we still don’t have newborn diapers or a baby boy outfit.)

Upshot: It was a false alarm. We monitored the baby, who is doing great, and the midwife checked what she needed to. No dilation, no effacement.

Boo. Kind of.

More time is always good, I understand that. Dan and I still have plenty to do to prepare the house for Bud’s arrival. Last weekend, we moved furniture and set up the crib. This weekend, we are buying new furniture for the girls, and (I sincerely hope) sorting through clothes — girl clothes that need to be donated or go to consignment, boy clothes we’ve been given that needs to be sorted, sized, and washed (probably).

We have dinners planned with my parents, Thanksgiving planned with my in-laws.

And, of course, I have plenty of ducks to get in a row at work.

We have midwife appointments and sonograms. I want to schedule at least one pregnancy massage (and a brow wax).

But I also want to meet my baby. More than anything else. I want him here, safe. I want our lives as a family of five to start — really start.

In other words, early would be fine with me.

Week 34: Memory Lapse

I know that the only reason women have more than one child is because they repress the discomforts of pregnancy and the pain of child birth.

But in all honestly, I do not think I was this bloody uncomfortable with any of my pregnancies.

I was awake most of the night Thursday night/Friday morning with back pain, cramping in my calves — that’s a totally new thing — and general anxiety. It sucked. Finally at 4 a.m., I went downstairs, kicked Dan off the couch, and watched a few episodes of Scrubs. After crying in frustration and exhaustion. I think I got another hour of sleep (from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m.).

I can parse out all the different reasons that I am feeling more physically disabled this time around: two kids, nearly 40 years, fourth pregnancy, one full-time job, etc. Plus the fact that I started this pregnancy in terrible shape. A word of advice: If you sprain your back, make sure you thoroughly and completely rehab it before deciding to get knocked up. I think my lack of core strength (or any strength) and my having had bailed on chiropractic visits because I found them too stressfully inconvenient to schedule (no, really) has been a huge factor this time around.

And I think I’m carrying Bud differently, too. Lower, for sure.

I’m seeing another chiropractor now, one close to my office for the ultimate in convenience and pain relief. She is an angel. I want to kiss her every time I am leaving her office. I am also trying to find room in my schedule for two pregnancy massages. I wish I had gotten one last Friday. I hurt from the middle of my back down to the tip of my toes all day long. I couldn’t find a comfortable position sitting, standing, or laying down — although I did manage a nap. I think I just passed out (and only for about 45 minutes) from pure exhaustion.

My new mantra is: The end is in sight. I just need to get this baby and my aching back across the finish line. Sleep can wait — it’ll be waiting a few more months, anyway.

Week 31

At my last midwife appointment, which was Monday, I scheduled almost the rest of my midwife appointments. Except for December. Who knows if I’ll even make it to December.

In three weeks, I have my 34 week appointment. Then two weeks after that, I have my 36 week appointment. And then I start going every week.

Woah.

I was totally caught off-guard. I think part of it was that I thought my EDD was 12/10, and it’s actually 12/6. I missed that memo.

You’d think I’d be ready for these developments, wouldn’t you? I’ve done this before. Kinda.

And yet, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the end of my pregnancy is looming on the horizon.

Physically, I am ready. My back hurts, my hips and pelvis are killing me; I cannot sleep through the night. Moving in general is hard, and bending over, impossible. I’ve been asking Flora to pick up dropped items around the house for a couple of weeks now.

“Why can’t you bend over?” she asked, finally exasperated by my fifth or six request last night to “get [object lying forlornly on floor] for me”.

I pointed to my belly and said, “You wouldn’t be able to bend over with this in the way, either.”

She giggled. I’m so happy I amuse her.

Emotionally, I’m in turmoil. I can feel my anxiety ratcheting back up. The current issue I am having is: I don’t know where I’m delivering this baby.

IF things continue to go well, I won’t have to induce.

And IF I don’t have to be induced, I can have Le Bud at the midwives’ birthing center.

Not in a hospital.

Of course, IF I don’t have to be induced, then I have to actually go into labor. Which I haven’t done (naturally) before. Which brings up (for me) a whole ‘nother host of questions and anxieties.

In terms of house preparedness, we aren’t ready, either, and Dan and I need to sit down and work out a schedule. When to clean out Le Bud’s room and get it set up for him, for example. When to put the crib back together. Another teeny issue: I don’t have boy stuff. Not a onesie, not an outfit — actually come to think of it, I don’t have ANY baby clothes any more. I need crib sheets, too, and probably some non-girlie blankets for swaddling.

And diapers. And wipes.

Uh, I have to go make a shopping list. What do babies need again? Leave your favorite essential(s) in the comments!

Week 30

I went for a non-stress test (NST) this week, and it was (aside from traffic) extremely uneventful. The doctor we met (briefly) said as long as my AFI (amniotic fluid levels) stay in the normal range, we don’t need more NSTs. Which is nice, because traffic really was a total bear. I better not need to be rushed to the hospital during rush hour because that’s not gonna happen. Although, as Dan pointed out: “That’s what ambulances are for.”

The doctor asked an interesting question or two regarding my history to which Dan and I did not know the answers. (We have to birth in a different hospital this time around.) She wanted to know what kind of testing I had undergone given my history (fetal death — a term I hate — and low fluid levels). I honestly didn’t recall any kind of testing, aside from increased sonograms with Flora and Kate. After Gabriel died, we did have some testing done on him (not an autopsy) and I gave a few vials of blood. I think they were looking for genetic components or clotting factors, something that would tell us WHY Gabriel died. But nothing was found either in his tests or mine that was conclusive.

I have officially moved into the third trimester. Sleeping is difficult — I have to wake up to turn over, and I am HOT. I can barely sleep with a sheet over me, and for a woman who likes to burrow into covers (sheet, blanket, comforter) that feels weird. The heat we had a couple weeks ago was torturous. My feet swelled significantly for the first time in any of my pregnancies ever. (Makes me wonder how all the tweeps I know whose third trimester was comprised of the summer months did it. Without losing their minds.)

In terms of energy, mine has dropped from the second trimester. The second trimester is, simply, the best. I am usually seeking out my (hot, uncomfortable) bed by 9:30 at the latest. Nothing so far is as bad as the first trimester. Yes, I am achy and tired; I have seen a chiropractor, and I am doing some stretches to help my back. Some days I am voraciously hungry, but I can’t eat too much in one sitting. Most of my meals seems to be some kind of whole grain with cheese, fresh tomatoes (this baby LOVES fresh tomatoes), and dip (hummus, usually). Honestly, I think I have had hummus six times over the past two weeks. I am trying to get lots of water (helps with those AFIs) — or lemonade. I could drink lemonade four times a day (except for the sugar).

I haven’t gotten my results from my gestational diabetes test; I figure no news is good news. I see my midwife again next week.

If I had to sum up the way I feel physically most days right now, I would tell you my ass is numb and my feet hurt. But emotionally, I feel good. Eager to meet the baby. I have fleeting anxiety, and I do want to see a woman Dan & I went to before Flora was born. She specializes in traumatic birth experiences, and it would be nice to have a session with her again.

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And speaking of tweeps (we were, a minute ago), we’ve been welcoming babies like crazy in the ‘Burgh-based Twitterverse (links go to their Twitter feeds; for birth stories, click on their blog links there):

@epsnider and her family welcomed Gideon.
@Onedamnthing and her family welcomed Colin Scott.
@Jayesel and her family welcomed Audrey Grace.
@Mindbling and her family welcomed Jones Dylan (formerly and still known as Mavbling).
@TehAmy and her family welcomed Xander.

Did I miss anyone? And please remind me of middle names. I couldn’t track every thingdown on Twitter; I kept getting a fail whale.

By all Twitter reports, moms, dads, and older siblings (where applicable) are all adjusting well and feeling good, and all pictures indicate that Le Bud had better be damn adorable because he’s gonna have quite some competition for cutest Twitter baby. If I weren’t already knocked up, my ovaries would be exploding from Teh Cute.

Week 27: Natural Woman

I daydream about giving birth naturally. About having contractions not brought on by pitocin; about my water breaking in my kitchen.

I know I’m getting some funny looks right now, virtually speaking.

I don’t really have a lot to complain about my induced labors with Flora and Kate. Well, maybe with Kate. Three-plus days is a long time to be in the hospital waiting for things to get moving.

I got healthy babies out of it, and I was relatively unscathed. (We won’t talk about 3+ hours of pushing or sleep deprivation because of ridiculously loud doors.) With Flora, I did not have an epidural, and I always say it’s a good thing because if I had gotten one, I would have ended up with a c-section. With Kate, I had an epidural, and it was, again, the right decision.

So far this pregnancy, things are progressing very well. (KNOCK ON WOOD.) The baby is growing well, so far there are no issues with low amniotic fluid. My weight gain has been steady. The second trimester has been good to me — feeling the baby move has alleviated the extreme anxiety that plagued my first trimester. Right now, my back hurts a lot, and I have to make chiropractic and massage appointments (as time and finances allow).

And it’s not that I am not without anxiety.

Some days I hope that in my 32nd or 34th week, they do discover low fluid. Not radically low — just like Flora had low fluid. (Kate, again, was such a special case when it came to things to worry us in utereo.) I could make arrangements about modified bed rest; we could monitor the low fluid; and come 37 or 38 weeks, we could just plan an inducement.

It’s what I know.

Other days, I think about being pregnant to 39 or 40 weeks. I think about going about my day wondering if I’m in labor or not. I think about waking up to contractions or — even more surprising — waking up to my water having broke (which probably would not bode well for our mattress). I wonder what it’s like to have to rush to the hospital to have the baby in the middle of the night.

Because, that, I don’t know.

We haven’t made any final decisions about inducement, and we don’t have to right now. As Dan says, “We’ll watch this baby like a hawk, and everything will be fine.” I think, regardless of natural labor or not, I would prefer to give birth at a hospital.

The big issue will be: once we get to 38 weeks, what will help any anxiety I might have? If the baby is fine and the fluid levels are normal and the placenta is healthy (yes, they can tell that on sonograms!), then my (hypothetical) anxiety is not enough reason to seek induction. I have to let nature take its course. I WANT to let nature take its course — it’s what I have wanted since I conceived Gabriel.

Nature has let me down. So I’m also a little concerned about letting nature take its course.

I don’t have to overcome that yet. But I will have to down the road. What are some strategies I can use?

Random Thoughts: Follow Up

Week 26: We had an ultrasound this morning to check on Le Bud’s growth and fluid levels, and everything is looking most excellent. Plenty of fluid, and he is measuring 26 weeks and 3 days, which is right on for where we are. His estimated weight is already more than 2 pounds, which I am impressed by at this point. Flora and Kate were both little babies (6 lb. 2 oz. and 5 lb. 10 oz., respectively). We’ll probably take another look in, oh, say six weeks to make sure things continue on course.

Peeking at him in there was fun. I think he is going to have Dan’s nose.

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My Twitter pal @mattieflap (who also blogs over here) had a good point in her comment to my “Bad Mommy Moment” post, that kids need to know the limits. I didn’t demonstrate it in the best way that Friday night, but now we all have a reference point.

And I agree that limits and boundaries are important for children. I think it makes them feel safe (I could probably find some kind of study to back that up, but I’m too lazy to look right now). As @mattieflap puts it in her comment, talking about her grandparents with stricter limits: “I always knew where I stood, where the line was, and what was and was not appropriate. Therefore, I could have fun within those boundaries.”

My parents had definite boundaries for us, too, with solid consequences for going over them. I wouldn’t say my parents were super-strict (although I may have said that as a teen), and I think the three of us kids turned out the better for it. (Though they could have been stricter with Dr. Sis, IMO.) (Kidding, dad. Kinda.)

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My BIL-IL did stop by and commented about the LPS Wii game, and he made a good point, too, that we parents have to correct the cultural tendency to espouse irresponsibility (and/or FUN! with no consequences). Video games and TV shows are entertainment. I guess my rant or worry is more about the fact that I wonder what my children are internalizing. That is what I want to know and/or counteract if I have to. I don’t want Flora acting like Candace from Phineas and Ferb when she’s around a boy she likes. I don’t want Kate thinking that the purpose of money is to spend it. (The purpose of money is to pay bills!) So that’s the position I’m coming from.

I wish I’d never even started this book! Believe me, when it comes to marketing to children, ignorance is bliss. As a girl, I was not as relentlessly targeted as children are now. I don’t mean to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but it’s true. We had Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and the Electric Company, and gender roles were pretty much relegated to grown-up media. Not any more; now we have Sprout, Nick Jr., and the Disney channel and all kinds of shows with all kinds of messaging (subtle or overt) about being a “real” boy or girl. It’s exhausting to keep up with!

Faith Hope Love

Flora creates piles of these everyday at daycare.

Pictures of Le Bud, her baby brother.

She, clearly, already loves him.

And has no doubt that he is going to love her.

“This is my baby brother, thinking about me and him.”

Sometimes she just calls him “the baby.”

“This is the dog rolling the ball to the baby.” Hence the arrows. “The baby is happy to be getting the ball.” Hence the heart, I guess.

Interesting that we have a dog, I think.

These pictures make my heart swell, unbearably. To have such tangible evidence of her excitement, of her willingness to love — I can’t encompass in words how it amazes me.

I try to grasp it and hold it, hold it in my own swelling heart, without reservation, without hesitation.

I’m not always 100% successful.

Sometimes this tangible evidence of her love and excitement freak me right the hell out.

In Stephen King’s book Duma Key, one of the characters says (more than once), “God punishes us for what we can’t imagine.”

I know, Philosophy from Stephen King. My existential phenomenological psychologist husband is all *facepalm* right now.

But I don’t want to imagine breaking my daughter’s heart. Or, rather, imagine her heart breaking. If I put my mind to it, I can imagine it — although how I would explain something so terrible to a heart so open while my own heart is crushed and cracked and bleeding is, frankly, stunningly difficult to picture. All I can imagine is tears. And questions. Ones I couldn’t answer. I still don’t have answers from Gabriel’s death.

I want her carefree assurance that all will be well. I want to have no doubts —zero, nada — that the baby will be here and play with the dog and love his big sisters.

So, better not to think the worst. Better to believe in and have faith in a merciful God, like I do, almost all the rest of the time. Like, 98.9% of the time. I believe everything is going to be fine. I see myself saying, “Two girls and a boy” when someone asks about my children. (My head appends that slightly differently, but strangers in Target do not need to know that.)

Better to block off the darkness and turn to the light.