Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 41 - Still Pregnant...

Well, here we are, week 41 all done and still no new human on the outside. For those who are concerned, I can't stress enough how normal this is. One of the many things I appreciate about the health care I have received throughout this pregnancy is that from the very first time I saw a health professional about this pregnancy it was made clear to me that it's perfectly normal for first time moms to go to 41 or 42 weeks. So, I basically had nine months to wrap my head around the idea that having a mid-September due date really meant that the entire month of September was game.

What surprises me is how calm I feel (today) about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, part of me secretly wished that Speck would arrive a bit early, and I had a day or two this week where I was feeling pretty damned done with the whole pregnancy piece (more on that in a bit), but for the most part, I'm surprisingly ok with the idea that this kiddo will choose to arrive sometime in the next week or so and I have no control over when that is.

The one thing I'd like to avoid is being medically induced (if possible, and only because I've heard it makes labor far more intense and increases the chances of a c-section - not that there's anything wrong c-sections, but I would simply like to avoid a major surgery if at all possible) so there are a few things I'm doing to try to kickstart things before we reach that point. However, for the most part, I've reached a point of calm about this kid choosing her/his time.

However, earlier this week I was not feeling so zen, and my due date buddy and I were texting each other madly comparing notes on what was happening to our bodies and whether or not it meant we were going into labor soon. The funny thing about waiting to go into labor is that suddenly, everything seems like it could be a sign that you're going into labor. From cramping (actually a labor sign), to backaches (also a labor sign), to bitchiness (probably not a labor sign, but we decided it could be), to the position and phase of the moon, stars, and intensity of solar flares (definitely not signs), once one is past one's due date, all things point to OMG I'M GOING TO HAVE MY BABY IMMEDIATELY. In other words everything seems like it CAN be a sign of imminent labor, and many things are, but the same list of things that are can also be... wait for it... just third trimester pregnancy symptoms.

Damn you, pregnancy; you're a misleading asshole sometimes.

So, with the terrible I-word looming at the 42 week mark, one of the games one plays in week 41 is: what are all the ways to naturally induce labor and HOW DO I FIT THEM ALL INTO THE SAME HOUR?

The answers to that question could fill an entire book, and virtually none of them have been scientifically backed by a small thing known as evidence. However, the most popular highlights include (but are not limited to): sex, spicy food, evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on an exercise ball, walking a lot, and also sex (yep, it's in there twice). So, many ladies who are ready to meet their newborn try to combine as many of these things into as short a period of time as possible in order to attempt to speed things up. The funny thing is, they've only been proven to work if your body is ready for labor anyway (in other words, you're probably not speeding the process up by much, just triggering what was already about to happen anyway). Still, as a number of those things aren't exactly unpleasant in their own right, lots of women like to see if they'll bring about labor. My due date buddy and I were no exceptions this past week. We tried them all.

In an odd mathematical coincidence I've walked a total of 37km this week and 37km last week, totaling 74km over the weeks leading up to and away from my due date. If you hadn't guessed it yet, walking is my favorite of the "how to induce labor naturally" tips. I won't give you stats on the other activities, but there have been plenty of those too.

A new thing I learned in the past week or two is that when you are due date buddies with someone you were already good friends with, TMI ceases to be a thing. You talk about bodily fluids and functions with such detail and candor that there's nothing left to wonder about. It's nice to know you're not alone in all the gross shit that your body is doing and when every new tingle or gush could be the sign of labor starting you get into the oversharing really fast. Or maybe that's just us, but hey, I found it fascinating and excellent bonding experience.

So along with the excitement/frenzy of trying to induce labor naturally, the first half of week 41 (before I found my zen) was also full of some post-due date angst, and even now that I'm ok with waiting, there's still a feeling of being in limbo at this point. I have projects that I'd like to work on, that I don't necessarily want to start because I know it might be a while before I pick them up again. I just finished the full length novel translation that I had been working on since August and I feel like I deserve a break after that, but I also feel like I should take advantage of the last few newbornless days in order to get some work done. And then I think that I should enjoy some time to relax before the newborn arrives instead, but then I feel guilty if I go through a day without working on any of my writing projects. Yep. It's a strange kind of purgatory.

In the meantime, I started fantasizing a bit about what it would be like to not be pregnant any more... To be able to wait hours between trips to the bathroom... to be able to stand up from the couch without sounding like a bear wrestling a greased up beach ball... to have a glass of wine or a beer*... to be able to go for a run without feeling like my belly is going to fall off or like an infant is going to fall out of my vagina, and to stop retaining so much damned water.

Oh yeah, water retention is a thing that started up in the past two weeks. I managed to miss out on it for most of this pregnancy. I've been super conscientious about staying hydrated, as well as just plain lucky in that regard, but now my hands and feet are swollen all the time (enough to make it a struggle to get my rings on and off) and get worse with certain activities and I feel like my whole body is just a bit bigger and softer. Since I haven't changed my eating habits here at the end of pregnancy (and if anything I'm eating a bit less than I was earlier in the third trimester) I think it's safe to say that this is water retention, but regardless, I am looking forward to it stopping.

Finally, for this week's bump photo I am going to showcase a few highlights from our late, impromptu maternity photo shoot with the incomparable Sam Baardman. Sam is a good friend of ours who happens to be a great photographer, and also happened to have just acquired a new camera that he wanted to play with, and thus a maternity photo shoot was born. He took over 700 pictures, sent us 28 of them, and I will only feature a handful of them here, but we were so happy with the results. Many of them are goofy because we are goofy people. They are all from the 39 week mark, but I figure you won't mind.

*and for anyone who wants to warn me off having a drink with dinner while breastfeeding, please go find some real research about it (and not just a web search that confirms your bias) before you get all up in arms 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 40

This is the end... beautiful friends, the end...

Ok, well, Doors references aside, it may or may not be the end. My due date is today, but of course, that doesn't mean that much when it comes to what Speck wants to do. It's also a full moon, so who knows. Perhaps Speck will feel the pull and things will start up.

My friend who is due the same day I am and I are texting each other back and forth with symptoms we think might be the onset of labor. Sadly, many of these symptoms are also just the symptoms of pregnancy, so it's really just an excuse to text each other.

Either way I figure I should get this post written now just so that no one will get their hopes up about Speck arriving simply because I was late posting to the blog this week. This is the post. If I produce a new human anytime soon I'll post about it here sometime next week. If I don't produce a new human I'll post normal week 41 post discussing just how common it is for first time pregnant ladies to go a week or two past their due dates. (And seriously, it's really common, so don't be too surprised if I get through weeks 41 and 42 before you see a new human on here.)

For now though, this week was largely an experience in doing a ton of last minute preparation for having a baby, being tired, walking a lot, and experiencing lots of practice labor.

Also, Speck rolled back over to LOA for my last midwife appointment (on Tuesday) and seems to be there at the moment, but I am fairly certain that Speck has been ROA at least once since Tuesday and is shifting back and forth at her/his leisure. I'm spending a lot of time sitting on my exercise ball and lying on my left side in order increase the odds of Speck being LOA when it comes time for this whole process to start, but the ease with which Speck changes things up has me a little bit disconcerted. (And since I started writing this post Speck now appears to be ROA again. What gives little one? Why you rotate so much?)

In the meantime, Speck is otherwise doing quite well. Heart rate was totally normal at our last appointment and Speck seems to be "a good size" according to the latest midwife assessment. My blood pressure is in my normal range and I'm feeling pretty good, so I guess we're ready for this kiddo to show up any time.

I repacked my hospital (read: birth center) bag today, and yesterday I repacked Speck's diaper bag, because the first time I packed them was pretty half hearted. This time I did it a bit more carefully, though to be fair, knowing that we'll get sent home from the birth center 4-6 hours post Speck arrival makes me not worry about it too much. My needs are pretty minimal, but we do need to do a snack related grocery run.

And, in other news, we finally got a dresser (which we will be using as a changing table also) for Speck. This is fabulous because I was finally able to put away all the wonderful hand me down clothes we've been sent, as well as the cloth diapering supplies. YAY! So our basement feels a little more like a place to hang out with a newborn a little less like the random place we shoved all of our crap.

So we're starting to feel ready as we tick off the long list of things that need to be done and we're pretty excited to meet this new human out in the open. So fingers crossed that when the time comes all goes smoothly.

Speaking of which, today I acquired a (rental) TENS machine which, for those who have never heard of one, or only know of them for PhysioTherapy purposes, are devices that send an electric impulse through the skin of your lower back during labor in order to raise endorphin levels in order to combat pain. Some women swear by them, some women say they don't work at all. Apparently results vary. But renting one was pretty cheap, so I figured it can't hurt to try it. Or, rather, it might be nice to know I have one on hand in case my meditative practice doesn't seem to be cutting it. To be honest, I don't like the idea of relying on something external for pain relief, so I'm rather hoping I don't need to use it, but I do like the idea of having a back up plan that doesn't require drugs... So I have it, and now I hope I won't need it.

On that note, I'd just like to point out, because I'm not sure when the last time I said it here was, that I don't think there's anything wrong with women using all the joys of modern medicine to get themselves through labor if they choose to/need to, etc. You do whatever you have to do in order to have a safe, healthy, delivery and it's not up to me to decide what safe or healthy is, that's between you and your healthcare provider. Seriously, no judgement.

What I do feel judgmental about is how as a society we've made it seem like going for the least medical birth possible is somehow irresponsible, or crazy, when it's what women have been doing for as long as there have been humans. We have quite literally evolved with this purpose in mind, and the species would not have succeeded as well as it has were we not pretty good at it, overall. Of course, modern medicine has made a lot of births that would normally have resulted in the death of the mother or child or both, quite a bit safer and more survivable, and that's a wonderful thing. Yet that doesn't mean that the majority of women and their babies can't get through labor and birth without any medical intervention. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that there will be a hospital within a five minute ambulance ride of where I will be giving birth, but I also love that unless it becomes medically necessary I won't have to set foot in a hospital in order to deliver this kiddo.

It's funny, one of the things that bothered me most about my care before I was able to get a midwife was the (completely understandable) feeling that my doctors were shooing me out the door because I was perfectly healthy, I was just pregnant. It bothered me not because it's wrong, pregnant women are indeed perfectly healthy and I appreciate that attitude, but because it left me with unanswered questions about the process my body was undertaking. It makes total sense for people whose job it is to cure the sick, to tell the healthy pregnant woman that she's fine and send her on her way. But the feeling is mutual, and hospitals are for people who aren't well, not perfectly healthy ones, and as a "perfectly healthy" pregnant lady I see no reason for me to be in the hospital unless shit turns south. (Which is a real possibility, so I'm extremely grateful, again, that there will be a hospital within easy reach.)

Anyway, those are just my feelings on the matter, and I maintain that women should be able to labor wherever they are most comfortable. If being in the hospital gives a woman a sense of comfort because she knows the medical staff is right there, then she should do that. If she prefers a birth center where the medical staff is only a stone's throw away, she should do that. If she wants to labor at home where she is the most relaxed and comfortable, she should do that. Do whatever you need to do, my fellow pregnant ladies! My point is, we should all have a choice, be informed, and be given the chance to have whatever kind of birth we want, but I don't feel like north american society does that particularly well.

I, certainly, had never heard any useful information about giving birth anywhere but in a hospital right up until I got pregnant. Until then I had heard some random comments, offhand remarks, and useless stereotypes, but that's about it. I had to do some serious digging to get any objective information (until I wound up in midwifery care, where they handed me lots of information about all three birth location options) and the only reason I considered digging up extra info on birthing outside of a hospital at all was because of references in the hypnobirthing books, and also in one of the pregnancy groups I'm a member of. And, the only reason I even looked into hypnobirthing was because of my general curiosity as a human. I heard the name and thought, that sounds stupid, but what is it actually? So I did a bit of research and then thought, well the name is terrible but that sounds completely sensible. So, yeah. Points for curiosity, but why doesn't anyone tell young women about this stuff? Why aren't we provided with more information about our options and why does the media portray non-hospital births as wacky?

Ok. Rant over.

Anyway, it is now past midnight, so officially my due date, and I'm going to go lie on my left side for a while to try to get Speck into LOA just in case Speck decides to join us tomorrow. In the meantime here is a bumpie from today. Not very glamorous, and I seem to have given myself an extra chin thanks to body angling, but hey that's the truth of the third trimester I'm afraid.

Will it be the last bump picture???? We shall see... Come on, SUPERMOON!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 39

Just so you don't think I've gone into labor already, I figure I should get this up and out into the world.

Speck is still on the inside.

Week 39 was busy with work, but still dotted with lots of napping and included my first pregnancy 'freak out over nothing but get checked anyway just to be sure.'

So, to start with last weekend involved some weekend festivities in which I got a lot of weird looks from people because my non-alcoholic beers looked a lot like real beer. Part of me wants to wear a t-shirt in that situation that reads "no, it's not real beer" and part of me just wants to tell everyone to fuck off for their judgmental stares. The part of me that wins is the third part that actually just doesn't give a crap. In related news, I found two new fake beers that are pretty tasty! (Why oh why did I only find them when I've got 1-3 weeks of this left?!?) Anyway, it turns out the same company that makes the delicious non-alcoholic radler that I enjoy so much also makes a fake heffeweizen and a fake pilsner that are both pretty good (though I prefer the heffe personally). Krombacher for the win! So for any pregnant ladies reading this who are still in need of some good fake beer, go check those options out and see what you think.

Sunday involved driving three hours away to go visit a friend who is in the hospital (on the mend, thankfully) which brought up an interesting question that made the imminence of this whole thing resulting in a baby strangely real: What do we do if I go into labor while we're three hours from home? Well, the short answer was we bring the carseat, the hospital bag, and the baby bag and deal with it as it comes up. If there's time to get back to Winnipeg, great. If not, hey, we're already at a hospital!

As I've already told you that Speck is still on the inside, it's obvious that nothing happened, but it was a bit unsettling to have to acknowledge that this is close enough to happening that we needed to have all of our gear with us, just in case.

Anyway, there and back no problem, no labor, and Monday I went straight back to work on translation stuff (yes, I know it was labor day, no that doesn't mean I gave myself the day off). So, I've been squeezing work in wherever I can these days, and the thing I am squeezing it into tends to be between naps and dog walks. I am not sleeping very well at night (hence why I'm writing this at 3am) and then I am taking multiple 2-3 hour naps during the day. I have to say, I'm happy that I'm able to get sleep at any point in the day, whether or not it's a night. I am getting enough sleep that I generally feel well through most of the day, but some days my brain doesn't feel like it kicks in properly and then I try to put off my contract work until I've got enough thinking power to do my job well. So, that's a thing.

Meanwhile, I spend lots of time on my exercise ball to save my back and hips and still try to walk the dog a long ways during the day to keep the body from seizing up.

On Wednesday I went to my midwife appointment and all was well. Speck seems to be doing fine and my blood pressure is normal etc. The only minorly troubling thing was that Speck, though still head down, had switched from what's known as LOA to what's known as ROA. I won't get too into the details of this one, but for those who don't know, babies can be in all kinds of positions before labor, and the position they are in when labor starts can greatly affect how long labor takes and how "comfortable" it is (or not) for the woman giving birth. LOA is considered optimal for a shorter, more efficient labor. ROA is not. If you would like more information on these positions the internet is full of it, please enjoy some online research.

Speck had been LOA for weeks prior to this last appointment, so I was disappointed to find out that Speck had moved to a position that was likely to draw labor out for me. But my midwife is awesome and had some great tips on how to encourage Speck to head back on over to LOA. So I went home being not too worried and excited to try some things out.

Fast forward to that same night and I explain to Corey what the different positions are and why I'm concerned and decide to demo the forward inversion (putting my ass in the air and my head on the ground in order to give Speck the freedom to move a bit - totally dignified, makes an excellent party trick) that my midwife has shown me. That all goes fine, but right afterwards Speck is moving a ton and suddenly feels like s/he is no longer engaged (head nestled cozily in my pelvis) and seems to be splaying out sideways and OH HOLY SHIT I'VE RUINED EVERYTHING MY BABY IS NOW TRANSVERSE. Ahem, or so I thought to myself.

I proceeded to freak out for most of Wednesday night and well into Thursday. So far into Thursday, actually, that I only finally called my midwife around 4pm after my doula convinced me it was a good idea and she wouldn't mind. My midwife was wonderful, calmed me down, and booked me in to see her on Friday to check and see where Speck was and make sure all was well. She also suggested I walk as much as possible to see if Speck settled back into my pelvis.

Sure enough, come Friday's appointment (which I walked to because it was 10km round trip and I thought it would be the easiest way to follow the midwife's advice) Speck is back in place, still head down, and engaged once more, and... still ROA. But the midwife answered all of my questions, and we talked through things enough that I am now confident that if Speck needs help turning I can do another inversion and not be worried that Speck will do somersaults and wind up breech or something. (Turns out there's just not enough room in there for Speck to easily turn into any of the really bad positions -- it wouldn't be impossible, but it's highly unlikely -- so even though Speck will likely move around a fair bit after being dislodged via an inversion, Speck will ultimately settle head down again and hopefully just turn to LOA first if I do things right and Speck isn't feeling too stubborn.)

So, that was my completely unnecessary freak out. I would feel embarrassed, but it's been my only one so far this pregnancy and I swear, if you had felt the way this kid was moving around after her/his head came free you would have been freaking out too. I figure I get at least one freak out pass and that was it.

Ok. That takes us to Friday, which was my changeover day finishing up week 39 so I think it's safe to call this post done. And now it's 3:24am and I am finally feeling tired enough to go to sleep, so I am going to do that. (In fact I'm tired enough that I question the coherence of the last part of this blog.) Here's this week's bump pic:

Bonus dog!

Next week could be a normal week on the blog or the bump pic could be on the outside! Only time will tell... 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week 38

Well, I'm actually managing to get week 38 on time, which is surprising to me. I'm still working on my translation project, but I need breaks now and again, so I might as well get this post written. Also, week 38 has been a little bit crazy.

Speck has dropped, or is dropping, I'm not sure what counts as fully dropped but I'll ask my midwife at my next appointment. The first phase happened overnight. I went to bed on Monday night with Speck riding above my pelvis and woke up to this:

It may not be easy to tell from where you are, but my lower abs have turned into a funnel pointing straight towards my crotch. This was not happening before. 

As if to confirm my suspicions my cervix felt like it was getting twisted and pinched on and off all day Tuesday. My midwife informs me that it's not actually being twisted or pinched, but rather those feelings come from it preparing itself for labor (ie. working on effacing and dilating) so it's a good thing even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.

Since Tuesday I have felt... less comfortable than before. My lower back has started to ache, something I had been blissfully free of for most of this pregnancy. My hips are even less comfortable than they were and sleep is even harder to come by (almost impossible on many nights, but I did manage to get at least 6 hours last night). Apparently this is all normal especially once something the size of a baby has decided to bury its head in your pelvis. So, yeah, I am starting to think Speck could arrive any time (although Speck is still statistically likely to stay in til 40 weeks or later) and I would be ok with Speck arriving on the sooner side in terms of bodily comfort. (Although there are a number of things that will be less comfortable for a bit after Speck arrives.)

Which brings me to some of the fun adventures I've had this week:
  • Buying adult diapers

    Curious about this one? So, there are lots of things that people never tell you about pregnancy, but I've found that the largest number of surprises lie in what people don't talk about postpartum. For example, did you know that by the time a woman gives birth to a child her uterus is over 1000 times the size it is when not pregnant? Well, after you give birth, it starts shrinking, and also, as it shrinks, it sheds the lining that it's used to incubate the new human it was growing for the last 9 months. So... yeah... that's a period TIMES 1000. In other words, you bleed a lot for a while. So much so, that regular pads aren't going to do the job (tampons are off the table entirely) and adult diapers become a thing that you need before the age of 85. So, yeah, I bought adult diapers yesterday, so that I have some ready for the aftermath of this epic endurance event I will be participating in at some point in the next 4 weeks. Boy do I feel sexy now.

  • Making padcicles:

    In addition to the fun bleeding copious amounts via ones crotch, one also gets to experience the joys of having pushed a melon sized object out of a decidedly not melon sized hole. The results of this can be anything from bruising, to mild tearing, to having had a giant cut made and then sutured up, and are bound to be... tender no matter what version or combination of those results you experience (and the bruising is apparently guaranteed even if you're lucky enough to miss out on the rest). This is why I've been doing my perineal massage folks. I'm trying to reduce the likelihood of the more dire results here. But, still, no matter what I do to prepare, I'm going to be sore after this, so... padcicles are a thing. What thing are they? They are maxipads soaked in witch hazel and slathered in aloe and then put in the freezer for a good long time. It's like a freezy pop for your vagina.

    I had never heard of them before becoming pregnant, but they have now been recommended to me by many women, and I think they sound blissful for a beat up crotch. I'll let you know how they do after the fact, but I have a stack of them in my freezer ready to go. Very strange thing to have in one's freezer.
So yesterday was a weird day, as on top of buying adult diapers, and assembling a bunch of padcicles, I felt strange all day, and even though I was able to walk 5km with the dog and such, nothing ever felt comfortable, I had a few practice contractions, my back ached, my body cleared out my digestive track in a quick and impressive fashion, and I generally spent the day wondering if any of it was going to turn into early labor or if it was all just twinges. Seems like it was all just twinges, but today I feel the same. Also super tired and needing lots of naps which I am allowing myself to take because if I do go into labor any time soon I want to be as rested as possible before hand. It's making getting work done pretty difficult, but I'm trying anyway.

I am seriously considering going for a prenatal massage soon, just to help me relax and get more rest before Speck arrives. That might be on the docket for next week. Perhaps I will treat myself once I've finished this translation project.

Ok, enough about the discomfort. Onto other things!

Like how generous our friends and family are.

Honestly, thanks to the generosity of our family and friends over the past few months we have hardly had to buy anything at all for this kiddo. We are getting ALL THE HAND-ME-DOWNS and it is making life awesome. I cringe at the thought of buying a bunch of new stuff for an infant that will only use any of it for a few weeks or months max. I LOVE that so many people are willing to give us all the stuff that they've already used for their kids. On Tuesday night we got a huge haul of stuff from some local friends and could barely fit it all in the car. I think Speck now has everything Speck could possibly need until age 3 or so. 

I'm particularly happy that we have filled out our cloth diaper collection and have only put down $40 but thanks to friends and family who have handed along their old supplies we have ALL the cloth diapering supplies we'll need until Speck is using the toilet. Amazing. Many people spend between $200 and $400 outfitting themselves for cloth diapers. Between buying and receiving used supplies we have saved SOOO much money. Yay reusing! 

Ok. So, yeah, we're excited about that. We've even purchased supplies to make our own cloth wipes and cloth wipe solution. As two DIY nerds from way back, I think we're getting extra excited about all the DIY aspects of cloth diapering. 

Alright, I'm sure I'm forgetting something (I feel like I'm perpetually forgetting things at this stage), but my body is telling me that it's nap time, and I am inclined to let it have it's way. Then it'll be time for lunch, dog walking and an attempt to get more work done. 

Here is a bump photo from today! It honestly feels as though Speck is dropping a bit more every day, and today I woke up and felt like my bump was smaller. 

Or maybe I'm just losing my mind. I think either option is equally likely.

Anyway, that's all for week 38. See you in week 39! I might make Corey do another guest blog sometime soon, so that's something to look forward to. ;-)