Monday, March 18, 2013

The Final Countdown!!

Cue synthesisers and GOB Bluth, it's the final countdown! We are nearly into the remaining 24 hours before I check into the hospital to be induced and welcome our baby boy into the world! I get a lot of questions about if I'm overdue or why they want to induce me a week before my actual due date and the answer is, gestational diabetes. My favorite thing. Bleh. It's been a real pebble in my shoe these last few months but, in a way, has also been really great. It sucks to have to stick my finger 4 times a day to monitor my glucose and to take medication, but it has made me very conscientious about what I eat and how much I let myself indulge. I feel that it's most of the reason I've been able to keep my total pregnancy weight gain to under 20lbs. I feel pretty damn proud of that even if half of the weight did appear in the last 3 weeks. What can I say? He dropped, my stomach was roomier, and knowing that I was nearing the end actually made me feel a little entitled to eat a bit less carefully. I swear that my hardly noticeable baby bump has turned into a huge pregnant belly nearly overnight. No joke. I blame it entirely on his finally transitioning from what my doctor calls a "floating" position. He dropped like a sack of potatoes.

 I feel truly bad for women who experience "lightening" at 36 weeks or earlier. It is the most uncomfortable thing ever. They may mention in your reading that this will happen between 36 and 38 weeks for some, earlier for others, and for some very lucky few, not until labor begins but the light warnings about increased pelvic pressure are a joke in hindsight. As soon as he fully dropped (about a week and half ago) the pressure that was suddenly pressing down on my pelvis was intense to say the least. It's like I woke up one morning and some invisible entity had spent the entire night punching my crotch. Everything facing the floor felt like a bruise and it took me a humorously long time to even reach a sitting position in bed, let alone to actually stand up. It has made the endless late night trips to the bathroom quite the adventure. I was suddenly making those old man noises and grunts whenever I sat down or stood up. Super hot. I'm not the kind of girl that asks for help even when I really need it but I was no longer ashamed to ask Jason, or my mother, or a stranger to grab ahold and help yank me out of my seat. Again, accompanied by a sound that may come from an 80 year old man. Super, super hot. I am not even kidding when I tell you that I will venture into public places with my own cushion to sit on just in case the chairs are wood or poorly padded. My shame made an exit without even saying  farewell and I kinda don't miss it.

My discomfort aside, the reality of induction is really setting in. I have said since the very beginning that I do not want to be induced even if I'm over due and that my absolute worst nightmare is to have a c-section. I have never had surgery of any kind other than having my wisdom teeth removed and the idea of my abdomen being sliced into is the stuff of bad dreams for me. Plus, extra time in the hospital and the daunting task of caring for a newborn while I have a healing incision sounds less than desirable. I am afraid of it, truly, but I just can't let myself fixate on that idea. If it happens, it happens and it is out of my control. I surrender the decision to my doctor but I really hope that I can manage to deliver vaginally. Never thought in a million years that my hope would be to push a tiny human out of my vagina. I like my vagina. I don't want to hurt it. It's been a good vagina.

As not into the idea of having to be induced as I have been these last 9 months, I'm warming up to the idea after my appointment today. My very last baby appointment, complete with sizing ultrasound! I had a couple of small and painless contractions while I was there but am cursedly undilated. This kid will stay in there another month if I let him and, according to my doctor's measurements, he is sitting at 8lbs and 15oz already, give or take a full pound. That's a big baby. I was expecting him to be over 8lbs but there is a very real chance that he could be closer to 10 lbs and that is gonna be one difficult labor. The larger he is, the more likely it is that he will become stuck. A word that my doctor loves to use and I hate to hear. Its a very real scenario now and the chances of my having to have an emergency c-section increase with every ounce he gains from here on out. Induction it is! I think I can deal if that's what it's going to take to not have a 12lb baby get stuck in my birthing canal. They can call it birthing canal if they want but I know the truth. That's just a fancy way to say the very narrow passage of my vag, and I would like for that passage to remain narrow if at all possible.

So the excitement, the worry, the happiness, the unsureness, the lack of control, the adrenalin and the fear are all setting in at once. It's something that no book, no conversation with a fellow mom, and no amount of preparation can really prepare you for. It's such a jumble that it's overwhelming. I feel heavy with the joy of it, and at the same time, as if I could float away from the disconnect that goes along with realizing how little control I have. It's confusing and I wasn't anticipating that part. As much as I love that everyone is so excited for me, I feel even more overwhelmed by the amount of energy being exuded by friends and family. I'm so appreciative of it but it's a lot all at once and I find myself kind of wishing that it wasn't such a big deal. Like if people would act as if it were me going on vacation, or getting a new car. "That's great! Have fun.", and then onto the next topic. Its difficult to find a way to let people know what a private time I feel like this is without it seeming greedy or like it's personal. I just envision the next few weeks as the most difficult and happiest time in my life and I don't know how to share that. I don't think I want to. We have a lot of family that will be mixed in and offering help and even the idea of that is kind of stressful. I just want a chance to figure out the changes and how best to deal with them on our own for a bit. What will work for our family now that there is another person in it and the existence we knew is pretty much nonexistent now. It's amazing, and wonderful, and terrifying, and I cannot wait for it to begin. Finally. Bring it on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scare Tactics

It can be difficult at times during pregnancy to know the difference between being worried about nothing, and being totally justified in freaking out about a bad feeling you may be having. Its a very weird, and sometimes stressful thing to have this little person growing inside your body but have no clue what's really going on in there. Its part of why I wish they did twice as many ultrasounds as they do. I felt it very comforting to have a glimpse inside and see that even when I couldn't feel it, he was moving. Even though I couldn't see it, his body is formed perfectly and his little face looks like a person and not so alien anymore. I've done pretty well with not letting my mind go to scary places during this pregnancy but now and then I do get a little worried about the what if's that are still to come. Like any mother, I worry about learning disabilities, autism, developmental delays, whether or not they'll be one of those kids that wine and throw tantrums if they don't get what they want, if they'll be jealous of the attention other friends and family's kids will receive from me, and all the crazy allergies that kids seem to develop these days. Basically, is my kid going to turn out healthy. That and I sincerely worry about him turning out to be a little asshole in spite of our efforts to teach him tolerance and kindness. I know that sounds horrible but it's true. I worry about how I'll handle any of these things should they happen and about how the stress of parenthood will affect my relationship in the future.

Just yesterday, my fella and I were walking through Target  and passed a young couple with a toddler in the cart who was wine/complaining about something in a very annoying and very loud manner. The couple dealt with it by ignoring him completely and then by giving in and handing him a treat of some kind. I caught myself thinking, "I'll never let my son get away with that kind of crap.", but the truth is that those parents probably thought the same thing before they had him and have been worn down to a point where it's easier to let him call the shots. A short while later, we passed an isle where a father stood holding a younger child while his toddler lay on his back on the ground kicking and crying about lord knows what. The dad was just standing there calmly, speaking quietly and waiting very patiently for his son to finish and get up. I just kept thinking about what I would do if that were me and found myself thinking that this man was a saint for not just grabbing his kid by the arm and dragging him out of the store wailing like a banshee. We've all seen that method used by parents in public at some point. It seems so stressful and embarrassing to deal with but what is the alternative to just giving up whatever errand you needed to run and dragging your kid down a slick linoleum aisle toward the exit? I hope I can show the same restraint that solo dad did and let my kid work it out for himself without giving a crap what other judging parents or non-parents may be thinking. When walking through the kids department and glimpsing the stuff that will fit our boy when he's half grown spurred me to point out that someday we'll have a half grown child and not a sweet baby. When I mentioned it, Jason's eyes got big and all he said was a nice long "shiiiiit", which is exactly what I was thinking. We agreed that we really hope we still like each other at that point. Fingers crossed!

As scary as all the worry that comes up when I think about what happens after this baby arrives is, it's nothing in comparison to the fear that wells up when I feel like something is wrong now while he's still in my body. In the beginning it was about the medication I was taking when I first found out that I was expecting and any affect it may have had during early development. I had a fetal ecocardiogram and a spinal ultrasound and everything is just fine. Then it was all the crap I was reading about environmental concerns about what is contributing to the rise in autism cases. Some studies and freaked out mom forums suggest that things as simple as drinking from plastic bottles, eating microwaved food (especially foods heated in plastic containers/steaming bags), or touching shiny receipt paper like the kind from gas pumps or some credit card purchases will cause learning disabilities and autism due to BPA. This kind of thing can be very easy to get wrapped up in if you let yourself, especially when you are already a little irrational in your emotions. I found very quickly that it was not helpful to read forums or medical sites. In talking with my mother I realized that most of the things that you were absolutely supposed to do during pregnancy and with a newborn baby are now on the list of things that you should absolutely not do. In 20 years, it could be the same way with the suggestions made to me so my feelings are that all I can do is the best I can do and anything that happens is really out of my hands. Fear of the what if's are invalid and will only cause stress and anxiety which are detrimental to both you and your unborn baby. Stay calm and enjoy the ride while you can.

In the other hand, some fears are okay to listen to. For example, a couple of weeks ago Jason and I went to his parents for dinner and a game of SOC. We were there late and had a blast! I had absent mindedly noticed that the baby wasn't as active after dinner as usual but I figured I was just distracted and hadn't noticed. By the time we got home and layed down it was well after midnight but time doesn't really matter to my little one. If mommy lays down to sleep, it's time to party. I lay there for 30 minutes or so waiting for his usual display of rolls and somersaults. Nothing. I poked and prodded him to try to stimulate movement. Nothing. My stomach felt strange. It was tight and uncomfortable and I could tell that he had gotten himself in a very funny position, often called transverse. He was laying across my abdomen from left to right and was very high up. It was almost painful. I called my clinic and they put me in touch with a very grumpy on call doctor who suggested I do kick counts. I tried to explain that there was nothing to count but I was desperate for it to be that simple so I got up and walked around, used the restroom, ate a little something and lay back down on my left side. I was told that 10 kicks in 2 hours was a good enough sign that I could avoid a hospital visit. I fell asleep after a while and a count of less than 5. When I woke up, I began to count again and fell asleep with a count of only 3. I was feeling slightly comforted by the fact that I was feeling anything at all but my mind was still torturing me with fears of umbilical strangulation, and fetal distress.

Around 7:30am I finally got up and called the doc again. She was even grumpier and less helpful the second time around. She barked at me that if I was that worried I needed to go to the hospital for monitoring because she couldn't help me over the phone. Thanks, lady. I did take her advice and head to the hospital for help. The nursing staff was very kind and very helpful. They assured me that I was not being irrational and that easing concerns was exactly what they were there for. I was put on a monitor, given a breakfast plate and comforted with the fact that there were at least 2 other soon to be moms there for exactly the same reason. Turns out that he was not in distress. He began kicking and rolling as soon as I had eaten. He had gotten out of his odd position and was back to normal activity. I felt so relieved! Silly but very relieved. I felt like an alarmist but I was so glad that I went to the hospital and that the nursing staff was so much more helpful than the on call doctor had been. I found out later that the grumpy doc has a 4 month old baby herself and is probably just suffering from the same kind of new mom exhaustion and stress that I'm sure to experience soon enough.

My experience the last few weeks has taught me some very good lessons in patience, fear, and understanding. It's normal to feel fear about pregnancy, birth and the journey that comes after. It's normal, and encouraged, to go to the hospital anytime that you feel true worry about anything that may be happening inside your body (listen to your instincts). Its normal to feel a loss of patience with medical staff when you feel that they are losing patience with you, but they have lives outside of their jobs just like everyone else and may need a little understanding from you as well. Just don't let yourself take that step off the edge and become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Its counter productive to say the least. I'm sure that my experience with fearing that something was wrong after almost 12 hours of decreased movement will not be the last time that this kid scares the crap out of me. I have all those years of toddler hood to look forward to and then puberty and a teenager after that. The teen there is something to be really afraid of.