It’s not been that long ago, but I hope I can even remember what happened this week. It all seems something of a blur.
Now officially “early term”, we braced ourselves for Flannery’s imminent arrival. But everything was still too early for me to be very comfortable. I stopped the epsom salt baths as I mentioned in my previous update to see if that would have any effect, but I didn’t try to do very much to bring on labor or augment anything. If I felt any contractions (usually I was just duped by irritable uterus pains) I would try to rest and see if I could tell what they were up to. (Spoiler: usually nothing.) I don’t know how much stopping the baths did except allow a few more aches and pains to poke through my daily reality.
ah those aches and pains
There were a couple of weird moments this week where Flannery’s position would cause me a ton of pain, and weird pain like I haven’t felt before. I am used to contractions, cervical pressure, and things of that sort, but this was a shooting pain that would go all across my front and down the front of my thighs. I don’t remember ever experiencing it previously. Lying down made it go away fairly quickly, but sitting was tough and standing was an absolute nightmare. I bailed on a lot of typical responsibilities this week due to those pains.
Flannery also started kicking her legs out sideways rather than down, and that would hurt quite a bit when it happened, too. The kids loved to feel her feet when she did this, though, so that was one lovely silver lining amidst the discomfort.
one contraction day
I had one morning of incredibly mild contractions that came about 4 minutes apart for a couple of hours before disappearing entirely. It wasn’t disappointing as I knew from the outset they were false, but I did hope they would accomplish something, cervix-wise.
My blood pressure continued to be on the “elevated for me” side of things, but didn’t cause anyone else any concern so I decided to ignore it.
Flannery performed beautifully for her weekly ultrasound, fluid levels were still good, and she got measured this week. The estimate done via ultrasound put her at 5 lbs 13 oz. These estimates can be very inaccurate, so it’s hard to put much stock in them, but I was still surprised. She has been consistently on the small side (30th percentile at 20 weeks I think) which is not strange for me–both Clive and Anselm were less than 6.5 lbs at 38w1d and 38w2d, respectively. But it’s been eight years since I had a baby on such a low end of average. (Actually I don’t even know if they were average.) We have wondered if the dates for her are off, and I’m a week or maybe more behind what we think. Fundal height has always been right on track, and her first dating sonogram gave the same due date that I calculated based on my implantation bleeding and symptoms, but who really knows?
Cervical check showed closer to 3 cm and still 75% effaced. I think I was only so little progressed by this point with Anselm–if I remember correctly, I was 3 cm when labor started with him. And I had to walk all night to get anywhere. (He still came an hour and a half after my water broke at 5 cm).
I didn’t feel as terribly anxious as I had felt at my 36 week appointment, but I was disappointed to be so “behind” my typical progress (almost always at 4 cm by late 37 weeks!) I now was seriously doubting I’d make it before my doctor went on his trip, and was afraid that once labor did start, it would be a lot longer than any of my other ones. I am always afraid of “the long one.”
a bit of honesty
Humorously enough, my doctor commented at how at ease I was. I told him frankly that I was falling apart inside, which seemed to surprise him. I am usually so calm and composed during labor, he said. I don’t make a big show during labor. That’s one of the reasons they’re always shocked when baby is born. I’ve heard so many times that “you don’t look like you’re ___ cm” or “I don’t think you’re really in labor” and then the baby is born just a short time after, and sometimes the doctor doesn’t make back into the room in time, or they don’t have time to disassemble the bed and Jeremy has to help prop my legs up while the doctor yells “Someone get a baby nurse in here!!” True stories.
I told him that I have to stay calm or because I don’t know how I would act or react if I lost that control. That scares me. I’ve never had a very long labor, nor labored in the middle of the night when I was exhausted (though I did stay up all night with Anselm). Up until now I think I’ve had it relatively easy. And so I am always afraid that next labor will trump the rest. That it will be the one I can’t handle, that I desperately will need an epidural for but won’t be able to get, of course, because of my blood.
My OB was so incredibly helpful during Aurick’s birth when I was clearly not ready for the process of labor. He also coached me through pushing earlier than I typically do (usually I tell them that I need to push) which spared me the panicked feeling of transition and kept the whole experience so very calm. I wasn’t as anxious, as I said, as the week before, but I was still very worried that I’d go into labor while he was out of town. The most pregnant I’d ever been was 38w2d, and that would be on Tuesday of the next week, and he was leaving Wednesday. Would I follow my old pattern? At just barely 3 cm at 37w4d I had very strong doubts.
back to nesting
This week Elvie helped me clean off my old bunk beds, which had been living in the basement for some twenty-five years. They were covered in dust and spiderwebs. We washed them down outside, then Jeremy put them up in the girls’ room, and there was much rejoicing. Elvie has been pining for bunk beds for at least a couple of years, so she was overjoyed to have finally gotten some in her room. Beatrice also was thrilled to move from her toddler bed to a big bed.
Once the bunk beds were in place, I made them matching duvet covers (just two flat sheets sewn together) and rearranged the rest of the room. It is a fun little space. Elvie still says she far prefers the flowers to the dots, even though she did like the dots. I am just happy she and I managed to redo her room and agree 100% on how to do it, and that the rug still matches.
Also after some thought (read: maybe about 30 seconds of thought) I decided to move the yellow chair from our room to the girls’ room, and the large grey chair from their room into our room. No, this did not jumpstart any labor signs.
final thoughts on the fear of labor
This week my book club turned briefly into a movie club. We watched Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Lights. There is a line near the end of the film that I strongly disagreed with. The proposition is that Christ’s mental/physical suffering during the Passion was much worse than His physical suffering. I think that sounds like a line thrown out by someone who hasn’t actually experienced true physical suffering. Not that one is worse than the other, but that they’re entwined in such a way that to say “this is worse than that” is simply naive. One feeds into the other.
However, I found myself saying to Jeremy this week that if only I could rid myself of this anxiety over labor, that I knew the physical pain itself would be manageable. In other words, I was suffering more from weeks of the agony of dread than I would suffer from the comparatively brief hours of pain. I remember that line in the film and while I still don’t accept it for Christ, I had to reconsider it for myself. That has helped with my perspective on things.
Also, I noticed that the anxiety tends to set in at about 2:30-3 p.m. For most of every morning, I’m fine. Maybe it’s laboring at night that I’m afraid of, too.