Saturday, May 10, 2008

38 Weeks

38 Weeks and counting. . . ! Casey’s supposed to take some belly pics this weekend. I took some with my little camera yesterday in case the other ones don’t happen (we’ve been meaning to do belly pics every few weeks, and hope we actually remember this time), but I’m not sure how good they are. Everything looks fine on the back of a tiny camera, but I am infamous for out-of-focus photos. Casey’s nice camera takes great pictures, but only if Casey’s taking them! It’s one of those that you really have to know what you’re doing to get a good result. The whole reason Casey got me my own little point-and-shoot camera is because I was almost always taking horrible pics (and getting really frustrated) with his nice one. The quality on his camera is so much better (a poster-size print is a piece of cake for this camera—looks great) that I always prefer that he take the really “momentous” pics. I hope the batteries cooperate with us when we have the baby. They have not been keeping a charge very long lately (yet when I put them on the charger, they show up fully charged).

Anyway, today was a really productive day. Case has every other Friday off (he works 8 9-hr days and one 8-hr day, which makes up for a whole day off—love that schedule!), and we got a lot done today. This may be as close to nesting as I’ve really ever been—I don’t know why nesting isn’t something I do, but with each baby, I keep waiting (and looking forward to) an extra burst of energy and motivation to scrub, polish, organize—whatever you’re supposed to do in the days/weeks before giving birth—only to have the last days come and go with nary an inkling of bleaching the shelves in the fridge or taking a toothbrush to the tile grout on the backsplash. In some ways I consider it a blessing, because “nesting” can get a woman into serious trouble once labor is in earnest. Many women tire themselves out with this burst of energy: sometimes taking the precious hours of early labor to completely wear themselves out with “preparations” that are hardly necessary (and often damaging) to a natural, no-frills birth experience.

So my laziness has its perks, I guess. It isn’t that I never think about doing these things, but my body cannot keep up with my mind’s desire to accomplish the “things that really should be taken care of before baby comes,” and for sanity’s sake, I have to push some thoughts to the backburner and just focus on conserving energy and expending it frugally. Even if we accomplish all we have planned for this weekend, there are still at least ½ dozen other things I can come up with off the top of my head that should be dealt with before Cowart 3.0 arrives. Yet life will go on if those things don’t get done today (or perhaps this summer, or maybe ever).

That being said, our day was both productive and relaxing. We really enjoyed it. Mostly odds and ends having to do with preparing for company (my sister and her husband and new baby will be visiting next week and then my MIL is coming a few days later to help w/our new baby). Putting together the guest room, hanging a shower curtain, cleaning and organizing the office (I was truly dreading this—it was almost wall-to-wall with boxes, furniture, toys, paperwork, etc.), oh, and HANGING PICTURES. This is to be written in the history books. We have been living in our home for a little over 2 months and ALREADY have pictures hanging on our walls! This is something of a record (for me). I believe our last house saw 2 YEARS of naked wall-ness before I finally decided to hang 8 pictures one day. I just don’t have an artsy or creative bone in my body, and get paralyzed by perfectionism. Plus, I get used to things quickly. Bare walls don’t scream at me after awhile. When there are pictures, I notice them, though, and it felt great today to see something pretty on the wall.

I think most of “our” productivity today is due mostly to Casey’s motivation and continuing work, and not to any “nesting” that I may be feeling. Were it not for his energy to continue, I would have thrown the towel in after washing the dishes and doing a load of laundry (I was ready for a nap by 9:30 this morning). The differences we noticed in the little things we did were so amazing, it was almost easy to continue with more projects, and makes me excited about tomorrow’s projects (probably consisting of putting the crib together, building a foundation for the girls’ playhouse, then treating the wood on the playhouse, planting the tomato plants we bought today, taking some belly pics, complete change-out of winter/summer clothes for Casey (this is WAY overdue. . . it has been overly warm here for more than a month) and just generally organizing and cleaning things that have fallen by the wayside.

At any rate, and for whatever reason, I feel much more ready to have this baby now. I’ve had all the home birth supplies for a few weeks, but as of Tuesday, they are all in one place and easily accessible to us and the midwives. Today, our home feels more put-together and “homey,” which will no doubt help with mental relaxation in labor. And my body has been feeling crowded and twinge-y and waddle-y, along with some really good, strong contractions. Another week or 2 of this, and I will be more than happy to complete this season of pregnancy—even in the next few days I would feel prepared, but another week or 2 would be more than enough preparation to endure even many hours of hard work. I love how God made pregnancy that way. Just long enough to prepare for it and be glad for when it’s over. The discomforts of the last few months (and especially the last few weeks) make labor more feasible, I think.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

How Is Someone Like Me Supposed to Know When to Call?

On Monday’s visit, I asked Barb when I should call her to come, and she said when I had activity-halting contractions ten minutes apart lasting 30 seconds. I have not been keeping track like I did with Claire’s pregnancy, but I have definitely been having strong and close together contractions for many weeks. One Sunday evening (at 29 weeks, 2 days), they were 3 minutes apart, then spacing to 5, then 10-15 over a 2-3 hour time period. The 3-min-apart ones only lasted about 45 minutes before they started to space out, but they were pretty strong, and the strength of my contractions has only intensified recently. Two days ago (when I finally started feeling better from my cold) they became noticeably more downward- and forward-pulling, and my back is involved now (not my lower back like in back labor, but a little higher, like it may be the round ligaments straining.)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve been having contractions that fit the description she gave for awhile now, but at least they haven't made much of a pattern yet. If I have close together contractions, they haven’t all been very strong. (Until Friday night, when they were only 2-5 minutes apart and very intense—even in the bath—I actually wondered if it was labor for a few hours. Here we go again.) Usually in the last few weeks with this pregnancy, I’ll have some moderate contractions throughout the day with a few an hour grabbing my undivided attention. And this pregnancy has been a little different in that my contractions don’t generally last more than a minute. As I said before, I’m not keeping track, but when I notice them when I’m near a clock, the minutes on the clock almost never change more than once before the contraction subsides (meaning contractions are at most less than 2 minutes long, and likely one minute or less). So that’s been a nice break this pregnancy. Even the doozies are pretty short, so I’m not going crazy yet.

The whole “how to tell if it’s the real deal” thing is very confusing to someone who labors like me. The general instruction a provider gives is to call when contractions are strong, 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute for an hour. So if I had followed those instructions for my last 2 births, I would have gone to the hospital (for absolute sure) 2 days before my first child was born (and possibly earlier than that, if I’d known to time them sooner), and my midwife would have been coming over to check me every few days for almost a month before my 2nd child was born. I’m not sure if I would have called by now in this pregnancy, since I’m not sure if they’re lasting a whole minute or not yet, but I’m already pretty close to meeting those standards now, and probably won’t have this baby for at least 2 weeks.

I could go by what my sister’s Doc told her when they called to see when to come in (water breaking, bloody show, or contractions 5 minutes apart or less). But let’s see . . . water breaking would mean we would have never made it to the hospital with Ruby (if it weren’t for amniotomy 13 minutes before her birth, the water may have never broken), and with Claire, our help barely made it in time (there is NO way we would have made it if we had to go to the hospital with her). So that’s not entirely reliable. How about bloody show? Well, we would have gone to the hospital over 49 hours before Ruby was born. A tad early, I think (and begging to be meddled with). And for Claire, she was almost out before any kind of blood was a factor. What about contractions 5 minutes apart? Like I said above, we would have been WAY too early for both births if we had gone by that sign.

It does scare me a little when I think that we may not know in time to call Barb and that I may have an unassisted birth this time. I do not want that, but it is a real possibility with how I labor. It’s either that or cry wolf 10 times and have Barb just roll her eyes when I actually do need her. Barb tells me that in her experience, second babies are usually the fastest, and it doesn’t mean that subsequent babies come faster and faster. But my problem is not so much with speed (Claire’s labor was 12 hours—not “fast” by almost anyone’s standards), but with how far I am into it before I know for sure that my baby is definitely coming this time. Add the fact that we’re farther away now that we’ve moved, and there is a great possibility that we’ll have this baby on our own.

I am not entirely fearful of this, but I am not in la-la land, either. I know childbirth is natural and that God made my body to do what it will do, but I’m not unaware of the tainting that “the fall” has had on all the things that, when God created them, he called “good.” The fact is that my body is not to be trusted: it is God who is to be trusted. And I need to be wise and discerning about my choices. I may not blindly bumble my way into serious consequences and blame it on Him. There is a delicate balance (I hate to use that word: it isn’t ideal) between trusting God and being foolish. I need to do all that I can to be careful and thoughtful, yet all the while trust that the outcome is truly in God’s hand. Casey and I will be praying for discernment to know in time that I am truly in labor.