I wrote during Elvie’s pregnancy that the 36th week brought the Antisocial pregnant mother out in me. I certainly began to feel that this time. While for the 35th week I said I had the desire to slow down and just be with the kids, this week I felt like crawling in a hole and disappearing. I don’t have any explanation for these weird swings in mood. I can say though that hiding is simply not an option, so I did not indulge that particular desire. I felt it, though.
My blood pressure started creeping up this week. I’m usually around 110-115/50-60, on the low end of things. Now my blood pressure is still normal, but high normal. I started walking on the treadmill again to see if that would help it all. But I can’t manage much walking at this point–I would aim for half a mile in the evenings after everyone went to bed. I didn’t notice it “normalizing” my blood pressure (back to my normal, I mean) but it also didn’t get any worse, so I suppose it all evens out.
The new walking regimen lent itself nicely to a lovely evening routine. After putting the kids to bed, I would walk for a while, then take an epsom salt bath for my dumb hip, then read for a while as I waited for my half-Unisom to kick in.
During these bath- and after-bath readings I finished Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet and started Caroline Gordon’s The Women on the Porch. This is the second title I have tried to read of Gordon’s, and I’m enjoying it much much more than the first one (which was The Malefactors). I don’t usually manage much reading before the baby is born–I typically feel too antsy and scattered. Anselm was an exception, however. I read through The Chronicles of Narnia before he was born.
Then to complete the routine I would toss and turn all night and, without fail, sleep through my alarm in the morning. Ha!
One worrisome day
Monday was Beatrice’s birthday, which I spent in the kitchen making cupcakes. Then the next day, at 36w2d, I woke up feeling very crampy and with a lot of back pain. This was alarming, since crampy back pain has heralded babies for me in the past (Clive being the example of note). 36 weeks was too early even for me, so I spent that day lying down and taking it easy. Lying down did absolutely nothing to alleviate the pains, though. They continued all day; the cramps finally materialized into a few contractions in the afternoon. And I do mean only a few. I finally got up in the late afternoon, frustrated that resting didn’t seem to be accomplishing anything and tired of being stuck in bed. Nothing of note came from that episode.
Another day of worry
On Thursday was my weekly doctor appointment. I wasn’t having any more trouble with cramps and back pain, it seemed, though honestly I had basically shut it out of my mind and resolved to stop paying attention since it 1) didn’t seem to be fixable, and 2) didn’t seem to be materializing into anything “real”. I was slightly concerned, though, about what my appointment would show. I must have subconsciously been concerned that for some reason I’d end up being dilated to 5 and would have Flannery that day, which I certainly did not want to do, because the closer I got to the office the more het up and anxious I felt. By the time I was sitting in the waiting room I was in tears and trying desperately not to be obvious about it.
It’s hard to describe the anxiety that birth brings once you’ve done it a number of times. Every pregnancy this phase begins earlier; with Anselm, I didn’t feel panicked until maybe an hour after my water broke (and about thirty minutes before he was born.) With Elvie and Eldore, that panic began when my water broke. With Beatrice, I started dreading labor in the days before I knew it was coming. With Aurick, it was a month before, or maybe earlier, and I cried when we arrived at the hospital. The night before he was born I was absolutely miserable with it. And now, I have been feeling this anxiousness for weeks. Weeks. I can’t hardly think about labor without my pulse racing and a terrible knot forming in the pit of my stomach.
There in the waiting room I sent out a couple of texts asking for prayer. I didn’t know how to diminish this feeling, how to make it go away. I did manage to pull myself together enough that nobody seemed to notice.
As it turned out, I had had zero progress during the week between appointments. I was still 2 cm–or “between 2 and 3”, and 75% effaced. Which is good, I guess, considering. But it’s odd for me. Usually I’m moving steadily forward–with the exception of Beatrice, of course–I did not progress with her during those weeks I put myself on bedrest. But I was already 4cm with her. I don’t think I have ever been 2cm at 36 and a half weeks.
Normally I would shrug and just adjust. But I was already anxious about labor, and now I was wondering what else will be different. Will it be longer than my others? Is something going on that’s making this one different? It wasn’t important that she could be later than the others–that’s certainly in her best interest, probably. But my OB will be out of town during the latter half of my 38th week. I assumed I wouldn’t go that far–I never have. But now I wasn’t not so sure. What if I ended up with a random doctor? After Aurick I finally felt like my doctor understood how my labors work!
So apparently the day of crampy back pain was absolutely nothing. But I’m glad to know–it will help me ignore a lot of aches and pains.
One big good news
At least my GBS test was negative. I’ve been positive for the previous 4 pregnancies. I am very glad about that.
Since I was at the end of the 36th week and just 2 cm, I felt reassured that I didn’t have to worry about anything happening too early. I could walk, work, whatever and not have to be on the lookout for cramps and contractions. I can just let things be.
After my appointment I sat in the car and cried a little (being pregnant, this happens somewhat frequently) because I was still anxious about labor and upset that I was so anxious. I realized I was going to need something to distract me from the looming reality. So we decided this weekend to repaint the girls’ room. I know I had said I was done nesting, but setting a clear project goal was something I needed. So I have come out of nesting retirement and will wield a paintbrush yet again.
relief at last
The night after my appointment I talked to my mom for a while about labor and my fears. I was hoping talking through it would help dispel some of the anxiety. It didn’t. What finally relieved that apprehension (both the mental and the physical symptoms) was remembering the words to the song I taught the children last year: I Love The Holy Son of God. It’s a song about the crucifixion, and the reminder of Christ’s suffering helped instantly put mine in perspective. When I feel fear over labor, I repeat the words to myself. It has helped tremendously.
I Love the Holy Son of God
by Asa Abel
I love the holy Son of God,
Who once this vale of sorrow trod,
Who bore my sins, a dreadful load,
Up Calvary’s gloomy mountain.
There on the cross the Savior hung,
The sport of many an impious tongue,
While pain extreme His nature wrung,
And flowed life’s crimson fountain.
The sun would not behold the scene,
But round Him threw night’s sable screen;
Nature was robed in mourning mien,
And sighed when Jesus suffered.
But ah! His persecutors stood,
Reviling Christ, the Son of God,
Unmoved to see His gushing blood,
And shocking insults offered.
O! why did not His fury burn,
And floods of vengeance on them turn?
Amazing! See, His bowels yearn
In soft compassion on them.
No fury kindles in His eyes,
They beam with love—and when He dies,
“Father, forgive,” the sufferer cries,
“They know not!”—O forgive them.
How ardent ought my love to be
To Him who’s done so much for me;
My constant service, faithful, free—
And all my powers employing.
I should my cross with pleasure bear,
And place my all of glorying there,
In His reproach most gladly share,
In tribulation joying.
And never shall it be concealed,
He hath to me His love revealed,
Of all my sins a pardon sealed—
I feel His blessèd favor.In Him I do and will rejoice;
I’ll praise Him with a cheerful voice,
Until the theme my tongue employs
In Heaven above, forever.
Maybe it’s the salt’s fault?
I’m writing this on the last day of week 36; tomorrow I’ll be early term. The kids ask me when the baby is coming. I used to answer, “around Easter, probably.” Now I’m not so sure, and I just tell them I don’t know. Other than that day of cramps, I have had zero episodes of contractions. Nothing. Not after walking on the treadmill, not after going for groceries. Nothing. Just irritable uterus nonsense.
It occurred to me yesterday that I have been taking nightly baths in Epsom salts. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate is what they give you to stop preterm labor contractions. Now, that’s given intravenously, not as a bath you sit in. But I have to wonder what effect it may be having. If it is, I wish I had known this when pregnant with Beadie, and so avoided three weeks of bedrest! I’ve decided to stop the baths to see what happens.