Pregnancy Update Week 37

Little bug has grown to term! Early term, but ready for survival on the outside none-the-less. Apparently the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now say that 39 weeks is full term. While it is strongly recommended to not elect to have your baby out before 39 weeks, inductions for medical reasons should be perfectly safe for baby at this point.

Am I going to be a good mother?

As things become more real, more immediately impending, I’ve been having some “I’m going to be a mother” panic. Am I going to be a good mother? Am I going to bond with our daughter right away? Will I struggle with post-partum depression? How will I care for a baby when I feel so physically and emotionally exhausted right now? I’m worried that I won’t be able to soothe my baby, or feed her sufficiently, or that I’ll do something wrong and mess her up for life. I am guessing/hoping that these thoughts are normal and will pass…

Further testing and birth plan

Group B Strep NEGATIVE! This means I will be much better able to refuse an IV, as long as I don’t require a pitocin induction.

I’ve had 3 non-stress tests so far, and every time I’ve been in the hospital for testing, my blood pressure has been completely normal. I’ve only had two spikes measured elsewhere. I have 3 midwives: 1 kept telling me that we would be lucky to make it to 37 weeks before induction was necessary; another thinks the blood pressure spikes are rare and anomalous enough to mean nothing (and my blood and urine tests have been totally normal) and I can still try for a home birth; the third says that women labour best where they are most comfortable, so we can labour at home until blood pressure suggests it’s time to go to the hospital. I know that one can never know exactly how their birth will play out, but not knowing is stressing me out. Labour at home for how long? Do I bother setting up the birthing pool, or will I have to go to the hospital before then? So many unknowns. But ultimately it is still important for me to try everything I can to have my dream birth. If labour is allowed to start naturally, I will get as far as I can at home.

Another ultrasound!

Little bug also had a biophysical profile ultrasound this week because of my blood pressure spikes. Everything came back perfect. The technican said she was a very good belly breather, which of course sounded reassuring. She also told me that little bug loves playing with her umbilical cord, and lo and behold, it is no longer around her neck. The tech told me she wasn’t supposed to show me the baby, but she did anyway. Oh. My. God. I am in love. She has the poutiest lips, chubby cheeks, and lots of little hairs all over her head. She is definitely still a girl. Her head is right against my cervix (and bladder…). She looks amazing. Seeing her again made me less afraid of induction – I want to meet her as soon as I can!

Preparations for Baby

We are ready. Completely and utterly ready.

  • Installed car seat base (and window shade and mirror)
  • Completed infant first aid / CPR training – I don’t recommend doing this at 9 months pregnant… You have to do a lot of hands on practice which involves rolling around on the floor. Definitely challenging.
  • Tested out technical equipment like breast pump and baby monitor
  • Packed most of hospital bag and Avery’s diaper bag.
  • All baby laundry is done, all sterilizing of pacifiers and breast pump parts is done

Bodily Experiences This Week

  • Tired
  • Excited
  • PMS-like cramping on occasion.
  • Lightening crotch – jabs at my cervix
  • Haven’t gained weight this week. Pretty normal for the last couple of weeks of pregnancy.
  • Lots of leaking… I think I experienced some dried on colostrum in the nipple region, and I’m finding about a teaspoon of clear fluid in my underwear every day. I know it’s not amniotic fluid because it has been happening for a couple of weeks now and the fluid levels are still excellent around baby. Just a taste of all the bodily fluids that are soon to come…

Baby This Week

  • 6 or 6-1/2 pounds, 19″

 

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Bye Bye Birth Plan

Well, my blood pressure spiked again, and I was back in the hospital for a complete work up. I was there 10 minutes and already arguing with the OB about unecessary interventions. [This was an OBGYN I had met before – he gave me an uneccesary intervention for an abnormal pap test years ago and asked me what it was like to be a lesbian]. He wanted to put me on a saline IV just to see what that would do, even though I told him I had been drinking water like a fish and was definitely not dehydrated. “We’ll just try it”. He said. “Might as well”. Luckily after he left my midwife agreed with me that it was uneccesary and didn’t do it. In the hospital my blood pressure was totally normal at every measure, baby’s heart rate was normal, blood and urine came back completely normal.

This is just a case of labile hypertension – blood pressure spikes will come and go, and aren’t harming me or the baby at this point. According to a large scale study I just read, this kind of hypertension only has a 15-20% chance of becoming the more serious pre-eclampsia, or full on hypertension. Yet, the midwife told me to make peace with a hospital birth and likely induction. She recommended we save our money by cancelling the birthing tub we had ordered for our home birth. She said that in her experience, hypertension only gets worse the further along the pregnancy gets. She wants us to aim to reach 37 weeks, which is in 5 days.

I somehow kept a calm face through the entire evening at the hospital, but when I got home I lost my cool. I have been laying awake for most of the night thinking about how I can manage a peaceful calm birth in a hospital room. How will I go within and enter deep relaxation when I feel the need to constantly defend myself and question an OB’s many recommendations? If I need to be induced, how long will they give me to progress on my own without pitocin, and just membrane sweeps and cervix ripening gel and walking around? Will I be able to walk around, or will they have me heavily monitored and strapped to machines? If I get pitocin, will I be able to labour without an epidural? Will I end up flat on my back with my feet in stirrups being told what to do by an outsider? Will I lose control of my body and lose any semblance of this birth being a natural event?

I was excited about labour and delivery the way I had pictured it. Now I am full of dread and anxiety. I know many women are able to have very satisfying birth experiences in hospitals, but I can’t help but get my back up in a hospital environment. It is NOT my safe place. It is not comfortable for me.

I clearly have a lot of processing still to do. I go back to the hospital for more monitoring and an ultrasound on Monday.

Pregnancy Update Week 36

I am 9 months pregnant. One month until the due date. This week involved a pre-eclampsia scare and an emergency non-stress test. At my routine midwife appointment my blood pressure was very high (160/106). This was a huge and uncharacteristic jump for me, and the midwife told me to call my wife and head to the hospital for some testing. She also told me point blank that there was likely nothing that could be done about this because it was genetic (my mom had pregnancy hypertension with me), and that the baby would likely have to be induced before full term, and to say goodbye to my home birth.

My wife rushed home early from a very hectic day at work and we met the on-call midwife at the hospital. Luckily it was my favourite midwife, Martha. She seemed much less worried than the new midwife I had seen earlier, and rather than jumping to the worst conclusion, calmly said we would check on baby and look at my blood pressure a few more times to see what was going on. The non-stress test was relaxing and reassuring as we listened to little bug’s steady heart beat and frequent kicks for 20 minutes. Miraculously, my blood pressure was completely normal every time they tested. The OB on call didn’t even recommend blood work. They couldn’t explain the earlier spike, but were comfortable sending me home to watch for symptoms of pre-eclampsia, and to continue on with weekly blood pressure checks. Lovely, wonderful Martha said that my birth plan won’t be affected based on the hospital assessment. She did inform us that if I do develop pre-eclampsia later on I would have to be induced, which of course would mean no home birth, but that right now there is no reason to get discouraged.

I have been told to take it easy – no more traipsing around town running errands in the heat all day, no more stressful trips out of town. We had two trips to visit friends planned for this weekend (I know, what happened to my plan for a relaxing, less social, August?), and we convinced them to come to us instead.

In other news…

I had the Group B Strep test done. After a two week regime of extra strength pro-biotics, vitamin C, and garlic capsules, my fingers are crossed that this test won’t add yet another kink in my birth plan.

I have been doing twice daily hypnobirthing meditations, trying to lower my blood pressure and keep calm and open to whatever path my birth takes.

I successfully defended my Qualifying Exam this week. Now I am ABD – All But Dissertation. I can see the light at the end of the PhD tunnel.

Our good friends who got pregnant a week and a half before us gave birth to their twins this week, healthy and hungry at 37 weeks. We can’t wait to meet them, but they are taking some family time right now while they recover and adjust to their new hectic lifestyle.

Preparations for Baby

  • More home birth supplies purchased. I’m leaving the receipt with everything I wouldn’t need for a hospital birth/induction, so if plans change I can get my money back.
  • Thank you cards for baby shower completed – people kept warning me that if I didn’t do it right away, the baby would come before I did them and I’d never get them done. So I got them done.
  • Put batteries in all the bouncers, vibrating chairs, and activity gyms. Got extra batteries to stow away because people warned us that these things eat up batteries quickly.

Bodily Experiences This Week

  • High blood pressure scare.
  • Lightening crotch. Little bug is punching or head butting me in the cervix. Feels like jolts of a cramp, like a particularly uncomfortable or deep pap test swab.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Swollen feet. I try to make sure I spend chunks of time sitting or laying with my feet above my heart (apparently I should be doing this to lower blood pressure, too).

Baby This Week

  • 6 pounds, 19 inches
  • Not much has changed internally for little bug – she is more or less ready to come out. Just putting on more weight.
  • She is engaged in my pelvis – her head was so low that the midwife couldn’t feel it tucked under my pubic bone. No wonder I am getting the lightening crotch.

Pregnancy Update Week 35

I turned 30 this week. I’m happy. Happy with where my life is at 30 years in, happy with the future I see on the horizon, and happy to be what I consider a real adult.

We also had our baby shower this week. We got 7 more blankets (mostly hand made, several hot pink), which brings the count up to 19. That’s right, we have 19 baby blankets, not including the more useful receiving blankets and swaddle blankets (which we are thankful to have lots of). We bought a giant blanket box at IKEA and it only fits half of the blankets. We are going to hand some down to friends who are having twins any day now, and take some to the cottage for next summer.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful by complaining about blankets – the shower itself was amazing. My sister-in-law pulled off a killer party, which is extra amazing considering she did it with a four month old in tow. Most guests stuck to our registry, and some of the hand made stuff was truly beautiful and so our taste. We got all gender neutral clothing, just like we hinted at wanting. We even got a baby pleather jacket. That will go so nicely with her plaid shirt – she will be matching her mama perfectly. We got a lot of disposable diapers in larger sizes, which just means we will have a great emergency stash in case of lengthy travel or diaper rash that requires medicated cream. We didn’t get the second cloth diaper system we wanted (our friends and family didn’t really seem to get the whole cloth diaper thing), but if that’s the only big thing we need to buy still, we are in really, really good shape.

Oh and the baby library we have accumulated thanks to our amazon book registry is sooo awesome. We have a lot of books about social justice, peace, and being kind. Gotta start brainwashing our daughter to be a social justice warrior right from the start 😉

Preparations for Baby

  • Bought nursing tank tops and a nursing bra (all Bravado) second hand from a local mom I met on a Facebook group. Saved a pile of money. But then I also went out and bought a new one so I could have something I felt nice in. Two nursing bras and two nursing tanks should be enough until my milk comes in and I can see what else I need. I’ve made it through most of this pregnancy with just two bras that fit me.
  • All diapers we will need for the first few months have been washed and organized in a drawer. Wool covers will be washed and freshly lanolized when the last of my wool orders arrives in the mail.
  • All baby clothes have been washed and put away.
  • My wife already dealt with the baby shower returns and we got pretty much everything urgent that was still on the list (e.g., wipes, breast pump parts, newborn sleepers).

Bodily Experiences This Week

  • UTI and False Labour. Had what felt like a nasty UTI that came on fast and strong – blood clots in my pee and searing burning sensation when peeing. The night I started noticing these symptoms, I had what felt like contractions, and they became quite regular and frequent before tapering off in the morning. This scare involved two night-time pages to the midwife, an in-clinic check of baby, and antibiotics. However, by the time I got my urine tested (a whole 24 hours after the symptoms started), my urine was free of any bacteria. The midwife wondered if the pain and blood was from the growing uterus putting pressure on bladder area, and if the rhythmic contractions were false labour. We’ll never know for sure.
  •  Sleep is not great… not great at all. I am hot and sweaty all night even with the AC on, and my abdomen gets stretching pains even when I am laying still on my side. I just lay there all night, tossing and turning and sweating, frustratedly waiting for morning. I am tired.
  • Swelling hands and feet. Not too puffy to the naked eye, but I can no longer wear my wedding rings. I hate not having them on.
  • Many of my maternity clothes are no longer fitting. I have accepted the fact that if I wear leggings, I won’t be able to cover my butt (a concern from when I cared that “leggings are not pants”). My shirts are all a lot shorter on me now.
  • I am getting a very faint linea negra. It’s quite crooked, veering off to the left of my belly button.
  • Belly button is flat. No longer an innie, not yet an outie.
  • Starting to waddle. Baby has dropped, and while it is easier to breath (unless I am laying down), I am peeing about 5 times a night and the only comfortable way to walk is to waddle slightly.

Baby This Week 

  • 5-1/4 pounds and 18-19″ long
  • putting on the pounds

Contractions

I got a UTI last night. It hit all of a sudden (or I just didn’t notice the burning pee earlier), when I noticed blood in the toilet. I was peeing blood. Clots, even. Then I started to notice the stinging, burning sensation of a classic UTI. I called the midwife and she said to drink lots of water and monitor it until the next morning when the clinic would be open again so I could drop off a urine sample.

As the night progressed, my uterus got really hard with Braxton Hicks contractions. By 2am I was awoken by stabbing pain at the top of my uterus that radiated downward. After a few sensations like this, my wife suggested I time it. So I downloaded a contraction counter app and for the next 3 hours I timed them, while in and out of sleep. For the most part, the sensation jolted me awake. To my surprise, by 5am the app had calculated an average of 1 minute long contractions spaced 5 minutes apart.

I paged the midwife again early this morning and she faxed a prescription for antibiotics to my pharmacy, to be started immediately. She said that if the contractions are caused by the UTI, which it seems like they are, the antibiotics should stop the contractions as soon as they reach the infection.

So apparently UTIs can trigger pre-term labour. Definitely something to watch out for. I am currently trying to keep moving around, taking baths, and drinking lots of water, trying to make the contractions stop. They are definitely less frequent when I move around a little or change positions.

Stay in there little one…

Pregnancy Update Week 33

I’m writing this entry from my nursing chair in the nursery. The crib, dresser, shelves and chair are all in and set up, and I can so clearly see baby girl napping in here, being changed in here, and one day playing in here. It’s perfect. After our baby shower on July 24th we will have a lot of stuff to wash and put away, and a lot of decor items to place around the nursery. THEN I will post some pictures.

My wife’s 30th birthday is tomorrow. We are celebrating with her family because we wanted to be at the cottage. She has always wanted a surprise party. Last year I tried to plan one and only two people could make it and they were both from very different social circles so it was kind of an awkward disaster. This year we are so busy every weekend with social things and baby stuff that I couldn’t make it happen. I feel like a shitty wife, but then again my 30th birthday is 10 days later and we’re not having a party for that either, so   at least we’re both having blasé 30th birthdays.

Preparations for Baby

  • Baby room is painted, furniture is in, crib is built. 
  • My cloth diaper stash is coming along nicely. I have done a pretty good job of finding great used deals on Facebook buy/sell/trade groups, and have purchased a couple of new up-cycled wool items from etsy. We are still hoping to get our all-in-two system at the shower (mother-ease Wizard Duo), but I have about 80% of the fitteds & wool system collected now. We have also received some assorted hand-me-downs from friends that are different from the systems we have chosen (pockets, AIOs, some plastic covers). This way, if neither of our systems are working for us, we can try out other options in a pinch. I have spent $450 so far and am hoping for a 60-80% resale value when we are done with diapers. I am tracking EVERYTHING in excel, and will do a post about how much we have saved in comparison to disposables (expect this in ~2 years when the end is in sight…).

Bodily Experiences This Week

  • It’s f***ing hot. This week we had severe weather warnings for heat and humidity.  I basically feel sweaty all the time now, even in air conditioned spaces. The ease of dressing the bump in the summer months is great (as opposed to having to buy a maternity winter coat, lots of pants and sweaters), but I keep wishing I could go outside and lay in a snowbank.
  • Getting tired again… it’s not as consistent as the first trimester fatigue (which was every day all day), but I have my days again where I can’t keep my eyes open and I feel like I am dragging my feet.
  • Insomnia. I have been a grumpy, grumpy, grouch ball for the past week because I’m not getting enough sleep.
  • Sex hurts. It started hurting early in the pregnancy, and I think it’s probably just due to increased sensitivity. However, it makes me a little worried about passing a 5″ wide head through there when I can’t even take 0.5 inches without pain… I know my hypnobirthing mantras: my body is designed to birth this baby, and my baby is the right size for my body. But I can’t help but wonder if this tightness and pain is abnormal. It feels like my vagina is a rolled up piece of sandpaper with no give. We are going to start doing perineal massage because there is lots of anecdotal evidence that it helps, and it’s better than doing nothing to prepare!

Baby This Week

  • 4lb, 18″
  • head circumference gained an entire half inch this week because her brain is getting so big
  • Little bug has reached another milestone this week: she now has her own functioning immune system! It’s getting safer and safer to be born…

Pregnancy Update Week 32

I am 8 months pregnant. 2 months to go.

The cottage vacation was nice, but it is SO much more relaxing to be at home. I got very little sleep while away because  family would have the TV on until midnight every night (and I would be in bed from 10pm with a pillow over my head trying to drown it out), I would wake up 5+ times a night to pee or readjust (I even ended up on the couch at 3am one night because the bed was so uncomfortable), and then our 3 month old nephew would start crying for breakfast at 5:30am.

However, we spent the last night and day of the vacation alone, and it was lovely. My wife worked on baby room projects like the mobile and painting some shadow boxes, and I did some writing work sitting out on the deck overlooking the beach and the water. We went for an evening canoe (because GOD was it hot during the days), and I spent a lot of time floating in the cool water. It was a great end to a somewhat hectic and bustling 5 day vacation.

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I had my 32 week midwife appt this week and asked about birth registration. Apparently by Aug 31st Ontario will have a new online birth registration form that will allow you to list whichever parents you want despite who gave birth. I confirmed with the midwife, and she said we could put my wife’s name as parent, even though that has so far been illegal when there is a known sperm donor in the mix. So… I THINK this means no need for a second parent adoption! The details are still really fuzzy though, and more parental rights laws are expected to be passed by the end of September.

Bodily Experiences This Week

  • Sleep problems. My wife wonders if the reason people in their third trimesters have sleep problems is to prepare them for the sleeplesness of new parenthood. I don’t think that makes any sense from a sleep science perspective, but it does help a bit to think that my restless, sleepless nights have a higher purpose.
  • Baby movements are getting more awesome by the week. We watched what must have been a baby bum pushing out super far and wiggling around, like she was shaking her butt at us. Movements feel very controlled and powerful now, unlike the earlier reflex kicks.
  • Lower back pain. It’s actually more muscle tightness than pain.
  • Breathlessness and racing heart. I feel like I am horrendously out of shape and unhealthily overweight, but I’m not. It’s just pregnancy…
  • Memory problems (AKA pregnancy brain). My memory keeps getting worse. I am all confused as to what day it is and when meetings are. If I don’t triple check my calendar, I guess wrong and end up at the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time.
  • Gained 11 pounds since last midwife appt (2.5 weeks ago). Midwife noted it as a big jump but wasn’t concerned since I’m still within a reasonable weight gain at 26 pounds total. I’m wondering if the water weight is finally affecting me now that it’s super hot and I’m drinking a ton. My face and extremities aren’t swollen or puffy yet.

Baby This Week

  • 3-3/4 lbs, 18″ long
  • nothing new to report… she’s just putting on the chub!