This week I started trying to prepare for a postpartum period that may involve recovering from a c-section. I read articles, asked friends about their experiences, and tried to wrap my head around it all. I still had a lot of time–about eight weeks until when I typically go into labor–but I didn’t want to be caught off guard. Especially since those last three weeks or so before birth I am basically useless.
The clothes I wear in the hospital, the way our room is set up, what activities I can take on after birth and when…a lot of things had to be reconsidered. I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
It occurred to me that I didn’t have a good place to change Flannery in our room. With our last three babies I just used our bed, which had an extra topper on it and was very tall. We’ve taken the topper off, though, so now I would have to bend over awkwardly to change a baby on it.
Having a good spot (meaning tall enough spot) for diaper changes is already one of my must haves for newborns. I figured, though, with a healing c-section scar it would be even more important to not have to bend like that while changing her.
The closest option I had was the dresser in the girl’s room. It had been used as a changing table since Anselm, though usually in a toddler’s room for a toddler. Moving it back to my room would mean changing dressers with the girls, which was doable, if I downsized my clothes again. And we had the space for the dresser in our room, especially if I moved mine out. But the layout of the room would be awkward.
I started sketching different layouts for the room. When I found one I thought would work, I got to work. I moved another barely-used dresser from the front closet into the girls’ room for their clothes. Then I moved my clothes out of my dresser and into their old dresser. Jeremy’s things I moved into my old dresser. His previous dresser went downstairs as I have never really liked it. I moved the bed from the western wall to the northern wall, and the chair moved from the south-western corner (where it was shoved awkwardly by the baby closet) to the north-western corner. There it had plenty of space to breathe. The new dresser/changing table I put beside the closet.
With this arrangement, I had a lot more room on my side of the bed to move around with the baby.
I remember something unpleasant
It occurred to me while I was doing this preparatory work that I have chronic low platelets. I have never had an epidural because of this–they will not give you one if you are below a certain threshold. At our hospital in Georgia, that threshold was 50k. Here the threshold is 100k. I knew for almost certain I’d be under that threshold again by delivery–what did that mean for a possible c-section? Would they try anyways? Would they refuse, and just put me under completely? I was acclimating myself to the idea of a c-section pretty well–it didn’t scare me. But the idea of having to be put under completely for it? I did not like that. For the first time, anxiety over the possibility started to take over.
I renewed my stretching/exercise attempts after that realization. Also, I read a couple of studies that showed an increase in water intake increases amniotic fluid, which could be essential for giving a baby room to turn. I drank a lot of water that day.
and after all that work…
Then, in the middle of the night on Friday (or early Saturday, whichever you prefer) I woke up in excruciating pain. It felt like there were spots in my uterus not used to being occupied were suddenly full of body parts. There was stretching and rolling and moving where I wasn’t used to any movement. It took me a little while to go to sleep after that as the pain lingered after the movement stopped. The next day I felt kicks–real, strong ones–across the front of my belly, and little hands lower than I had ever felt hers before. Had she finally flipped over?
Everything started feeling different this week. I was feeling movements in new places and having more Braxton Hicks. The irritable uterus nonsense started up for the first time this pregnancy. Flannery was now low and low, in contrast to her previously being below my belly button but not really low in my pelvis. I was beginning to really think she had flipped over, but I still wasn’t entirely willing to get my hopes up. Fortunately the first of my weekly ultrasounds was this week; just a few days later, on Tuesday.
Once you’re considered “elderly” (read: over 35) weekly biophysical profiles (BPP) of the baby are done once you reach a certain week in pregnancy. These check amniotic fluid level, fetal heartbeat, fetal movement, etc. Most importantly, it would let me know what position she was in.
a new nickname needed
At my ultrasound it was determined she was frank breech no longer! She was head down, but curiously she still had her legs stretched out and her feet by her face. I guess she had gotten used to that position. No more Frank Breech Flannery. Now I will have to think of something else to call her.
I don’t know if anything I did helped her turn. But I’m glad she did–my doctor confirmed at that appointment that I would very likely have been put under if a c-section had been necessary.
I’m glad I moved the furniture around, even if my initial reason for it is off the table for the moment. We’ve still got some time, and I suppose she could flip back, but I’m trying not to think about it now.
Stomach bug while pregnant
Partway through this week, Clive suddenly got sick. It was only him, though, so we weren’t sure if it was a stomach virus or just something he ate. He recovered quickly, and we moved on. Then two days later, five more of us came down with it in a single night. That was an adventure! Unfortunately I was one of the unlucky ones.
I’ve not had a stomach bug in years. I’ve certainly never had one while pregnant. When I realized I was getting sick, I consoled myself by thinking this would be a quick run-through of what I endure for several weeks during the first trimester. Wow, I was wrong.
This was a lot worse than morning sickness. This virus caused a fierce ache in the stomach, as well as all over the body. The worst part, though, was Flannery’s movements made the ache so much worse. Here I was trying to lie down and be still, and there she was kicking and rolling. It was miserable! All that first night I kept thinking I’d rather be in labor. I’d rather be in labor. At least in labor you get reprieves between contractions. Man, what a night! I am glad it is over.
The next day the vomiting stopped, but the muscle aches continued. I stayed in bed all day, but I couldn’t eat and had a very hard time drinking anything. This was at least partially out of fear that taking anything would make me throw up again. During one of the last rounds of vomiting I had a very painful contraction, and it scared me. I tried to force myself to drink.
The next day I was weak but basically back to normal otherwise.
residual effects of the stomach flu on pregnancy
After that spectacular ending to the 31st week, I knew I needed to build back my hydration, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job.
A few days later I had my weekly ultrasound (at which Flannery was still head down with her legs stretched up to her face). They told me that my amniotic fluid was quite low. I hadn’t even considered that that may have been affected–thank goodness for those ultrasounds–but told them right away that I had been sick several days before. My doctor agreed that that was likely the culprit, told me to drink tons of water, and come back the next day.
Over the next twenty-four hours I drank something like 5-6 liters of water. Consequently I had to pee constantly. I don’t know how many times I had to get up in the night, but it was a lot. Also I remembered the studies I had read on maternal hydration and amniotic fluid levels, and was encouraged by that. I’ve never had trouble with low amniotic fluid. I didn’t know what would happen if I went back in and the level was still low. My doctor hadn’t said, and I didn’t ask.
All that drinking had paid off–my fluid levels doubled, and I was back at an optimal level. We were all relieved.
“You scared us!” My doctor said.
“You scared me!” I replied.
Then I asked what would have happened in my fluid hadn’t increased. He would have sent me to the high-risk doctor to see what they suggested, he said. Possibly delivery. I am thankful that that wasn’t necessary. I’m also thankful that nothing happened to Flannery in those days between the virus and my ultrasound. For future reference: if you have a stomach bug during pregnancy–overdo it on the water afterwards!
With two potential crises averted, I am now looking ahead to the end goal–I’ll be 33 weeks tomorrow, and with all seven babies coming by 38 w 2 d at the latest, that leaves us about five weeks until she’ll likely join us. I have a little (though bigger than I’d like) list of things that still need to be done: some more frivolous and nest-y, like decluttering our bookshelves; some more necessary, like washing baby clothes. I suppose I ought to make some freezer meals, too. I move like a snail at this point, and become less and less useful the closer I get to the end, so everything takes much longer than I would like. It will be a busy few weeks.