Sunday, May 30, 2010

No Baby Yet

At the moment, I am content to wait. I feel more relaxed about the whole thing, and I think its helping me sleep better. We are going to try and get an ultrasound tomorrow to see what sort of position Malachi is in. It will help us know if he's in some sort of mal-position, and if that is holding things up, or if its just not our time yet. I'm leaning toward it just not being quite the right time yet.

Once we get to a week past his estimated due date (June 4th), if he still isn't here, we may try some light induction such as castor oil to see if we can get things moving again. I hate to put him on a time table, but we have a family reunion that I really want us all to go to. It's in Michigan, and I know that the later he is born, the less likely it is we will all be ready to go on that long trip. If it doesn't end up happening, it's okay. But I am figuring that a 3 week recovery time for both of us is about the minimum we would need for it to be possible.

It's funny. I'm sure some of you think I'm crazy for even thinking that I could go. And others are thinking, yeah, three weeks is possible. I think it just depends on how Malachi is doing at the time, how I'm recovering, etc. We'll just have to see.

I have found myself getting more lethargic the last few days. I think its the restless nights in combination with just being so pregnant. Yesterday, I was tired of being cooped up in the house and so, at my request, we went out to run some errands. I thought that's what I wanted. But once we got out, I did not want to be on my feet at all. My back starts to hurt when I'm walking around or sitting up. And my feet hurt when I'm walking. I wanted to get back home and in the reclined position as quickly as possible. It's the only way I'm truly comfortable these days. I feel like I'm hibernating or something.

I feel very good about my decision to start my maternity leave. I'm sad that the countdown to going back to work has already started and we don't have our baby yet. But at the moment, it just seems right to me to be resting, nesting, and waiting for Malachi without the drain and distraction of work. I'm thankful that it's possible for me to be home right now. And also very thankful that Joshua, who is usually the "suck it up and deal with it" sort, has been so understanding. I think he sees that its a difference between what I am capable of doing, and what I should be doing for our little family.

One last note. We have started using reverse psychology on Malachi, knowing how kids will often do the opposite of what their parents want, just because. So we are telling him he can stay in there forever if wants. We are okay with it if he never comes out. If he's like most kids, he will probably do the opposite, right?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Self Talk

I don't have to be special to have a natural birth. That's the beauty of it. It's normal. Or it should be. I don't have be extraordinary. Things don't have to be just right. Things can be rough around the edges. In fact, they will be. Ordinary women have been having natural births for thousands of years. Not SuperWoman. She doesn't exist.

When people say how "brave" I am, or how "strong" I am, it is easy to fall back into the cultural belief that not just anyone can do this. And that its risky in some way. It's not true, and that way of thinking is not helping me right now. Natural birth is normal. God designed my body to give birth, and I can do it.

I am thankful for doctors that will be there in case of an emergency or something abnormal. If the end result is a hospital birth, a c-section, or other less invasive interventions, I will be thankful. I will not feel like I've failed myself or that I'm a bad mom. There are exceptions to the Rule of Normal, and I will not beat myself up if this birth is an exception. But unless I see evidence of that, I am going to move forward with the belief that this birth will be normal. Normal! Do you hear me?!

I will not beat myself up if I lose my resolve and head to the hospital because in the moment I feel its too hard. I don't want to think about that one, but I need to let my future self know that its okay. So, Future Self: It's okay. You didn't fail. You did what you felt like you had to do in the moment, and it's okay.

Just a little bit of self-talk in response to my fears.

You're welcome for letting you listen in. Anytime.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Women's Work

As I have gotten to this stage in pregnancy, I am more convinced than ever that birth and labor is women's work. I don't mean just giving birth, but supporting birth and catching babies. A woman's intuition is so helpful in these things. Last night in my midwife's home and three birth professionals, none of whom are doctors, sat around me on a bed and took turns feeling my belly and doing an internal exam (not fun) until they determined what position Malachi was in. This took at least 40 minutes. This is a skill and an art. What doctor do you know that would a) spend this much time with you, and b) care that much? Because when you give birth in the hospital, they could care less what position the baby is in as long as he's not breech. If it causes back labor (excruciating) or long labor, it doesn't matter to them because they are more than willing to do a c-section if things aren't moving quickly enough. Midwives care because the default attitude is that a baby can and should be born naturally in almost every situation, so let's remove any barriers necessary to make that happen smoothly.

And they did these things in such a gentle, compassionate way. They care about me and are excited about Malachi. They are concerned about how I am doing emotionally after several days of labor and expectation that I would have a baby any time now. They explained things, massaged me, held my hands and helped me to breathe when something was painful. And dang, when they swept my membranes it was painful. I really needed the support of a loving doula, and they gave that to me. When they sensed that I was still carrying fear about giving birth, they gently probed so that they could reassure me.

All of these things were given to me by women who have been there and made it through. It just isn't the same coming from a man.

Still Waiting...

So we've now had 4-5 days of early labor. It happens often enough, but its a little unusual. At my weekly appointment with my midwife last night (the appointment I really hoped would be cancelled due to a birth), we discovered the probably reason why I haven't gone into active labor yet: Malachi is engaged with his hand on his head. My body is trying to gently move him into a better position before going into active labor. Sometimes it works and sometimes the body will just kind of give up and decide that we need to get the show on the road, even with a less than ideal position. Either way, this can sometimes go on for days and days and really wear a mama out before the hard work starts.

The problem with a malpositioned baby is that it will often result in a longer, more painful labor. Frequently, it causes back labor, which is definitely to be avoided if at all possible.

I'm actually patting myself on the back with the hand on the head things because I called it several weeks ago. We had an ultrasound and his hands were up near his head the whole time. He may have even been sucking his thumb. It was so cute. The photo is from that ultrasound, and you can see his hand up there. And it made sense because I always feel little tiny movements like fingers and fists down there near the his head. It caused me to wonder if he was engaged that way, because I seriously felt it all. the. time. I looked it up online and saw that indeed, it does happen, and indeed, it can cause some seriously "fun" long and painful back labor. Nice. Just what I need when I am planning my first natural birth.

So then at an appointment when one of the midwives was feeling externally for the position of his head, to see if it was engaged. Indeed it was. And THEN, what do you know, as she was gently but firmly manipulating his head, she felt a little "something" pull away very quickly. A hand. She was squeezing his poor little hand, and he didn't like it! How cute is that?! What's kind of cool (not as cool as him moving his hand) is that babies born like that will often sleep and just hang out with their hand(s) up by their head. It's just comfy for them.

All that to say...I've got a little work to do today. My birth team gave me several exercises to do to urge Malachi to get that little hand out of the birth canal. These include getting on my hands and knees, the polar bear position, and some funny techniques where someone lifts my pelvis off the ground with a piece of fabric and shakes me so that Malachi will move out of the birth canal and have the chance to move his hand. It sounds strange because it is. But when you see it, it makes sense that it would be effective to get him to move.

Also, I had my membranes swept. Not fun. Several women online who have both given birth and had their membranes swept said that giving birth is preferable any day. Sweeping the membranes is physically separating the bag of waters from the cervix. It is a somewhat gentle (thought it doesn't feel like it) method of inducing active labor. I was somewhat reluctant to induce in any way when I wasn't even past my due date. But I opted to go for it because after several days of early labor, my midwives suggested that this could bring about active labor, which could help Malachi move into a better position. In addition, early labor is tiring and going through it for days upon days does not set you up to do well once things really get moving. If my body isn't really quite ready, this procedure will not be effective. But if it is, and I keep stalling out because of position issues, this could be what I need to jump start things. If it works, it will work within three days.

Either way, if Malachi doesn't move his hand, I'm in for it. Please pray that he moves his sweet little hand.

So I should stop writing and get back to scrubbing floors.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Preparing for Birth

Yesterday morning I woke up around 7:45 with what felt like gas pains. The pain was constant, and contractions were coming about every 15 minutes. They weren't painful though, any more than the cramping/gas pains already were, so I got ready for work. I didn't want to get my hopes up. But at the same time, I was pretty uncomfortable, and I had some things to do if today was going to be Malachi's birthday. So I decided that I needed to stay home and prepare. I spoke with Alicia (my midwife). I cleaned. I tried to ignore the pain, but its really hard. So I asked my friend Rebecca to come over for some help and company. We ran a few errands and then came back home and cleaned and prepared food for the birth that could be frozen if things slowed down.

I know how common it is for these things to start several times over several days before it becomes the kind of labor that brings a baby. It takes a lot of self-control not to freak out and get overly excited. But I knew I could be in for disappointment if I let myself get too excited. As Alicia says, sometimes you don't know the labor is birth labor until you see a head.

Around 2 p.m., things came to a pretty abrupt halt. No more contractions. No more cramping. I called Alicia (my midwife) and she said don't worry, you could still have a baby tonight or tomorrow. Or it could be another week or two. You never know with these things. I took a nap. I figured if this was the calm before the storm that would help. Then Joshua and I took a long walk downtown and back to see if we could get things moving again. I literally had one constant Braxton Hicks the entire time we walked. But no labor contractions.

For the rest of the evening and through the night, I was attentive to my body, hoping to feel some sensation of real contraction again. I went up and down the stairs a few times. Maintained my activity level. When I woke up this morning, I hoped that it would start as soon as I woke up, just like yesterday. No dice. And so we keep waiting.

And thus begins the birth process...

Even though all this hasn't resulted in a baby yet, that's why it's happening. My body is preparing Malachi and I for birth. It wasn't yesterday, and it may not be today, but it will definitely be soon. There's no way around that. I've never before experienced pain that I wanted to continue and get worse. Strangest thing ever. Sometimes it would build in intensity and I thought it would be nice if it would stop for a minute. But I didn't want it to stop really. Because that pain is what's going to bring my baby to me.

Joshua suggested that I write all this down. My mother, like most, didn't write down the details of my birth. Thirty-two years later, its hard for her to recall how long her labor lasted, what it felt like, etc. And some of that information would be helpful to me now. So for my sake and my childrens' I want to record these precious times so that we never forget.

I've got to go to work. Will it be my last day? Or will I be there for another week? Only God knows Malachi's birthday. But maybe it will be today...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I just have time for a quick update before I go to bed. Yes, it is only 9:00. But in the last few days, the word that best describes me is: tired. I actually still feel good, much better than I thought I would at this stage. Maybe that's just because whatever discomfort I feel, I know it will be over soon. But I am finding that simple activities like cooking a meal or straightening the house wear me out and I need to take a nice long rest afterward. Fortunately my new work schedule allows me to do that. It also takes me forever to get up or walk anywhere. My uterus is pretty sensitive to movement sometimes so I have to walk reaaaaaally slow or I have Braxton Hicks contractions a lot. I feel like a pregnant large mammal such as an elephant or hippopotamus instead of a human. Lots of lumbering, waddling and belabored movements.

We had our home visit with our midwive and "birth team" today. We made sure all the essentials for our homebirth were in place and discussed some details. It's crazy that he could be here anytime. Tonight, for all I know. I realize that at 38 weeks with my first baby, it's not likely, and he could really be almost a month longer. But it's still hard to believe. At one point I held up one of our little newborn diapers to my belly, and we laughed at the thought that it already fits him!

Joshua starts his new job tomorrow. He will be doing groundskeeping on the campus of Virginia Western, the community college he just got an Associate's degree from. It's only 30 hours a week, but it pays better than my job so it is almost equivalent to what I have been making. So that will allow me to work part time at the most, which is really important to us. I worried so much about how things were going to work out for us financially when the baby comes, but like everyone said, it all works out in the end. I am excited because for however long it lasts, 30 hours a week means a few more hours a week that Joshua can be with Malachi, and maybe me too, depending on the work schedule I end up having. Not many dads get that luxury with their newborn, so we definitely realize it is a gift.

Also, Joshua has been remodeling the bathroom. It's not done yet, but it is fully functional, which was my biggest concern. We didn't have a shower on our level, and I just knew I didn't want to deal with having to go upstairs to use the bathtub during labor or the days following. I have been so thankful for his hard work. He says I should buy him a fishing pole in appreciation for it. I say he's already getting a baby, what more appreciation does he want?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Part Time

I'm living in luxury. I talked to my boss about cutting down my hours until I go on maternity leave, and voila! I'm a part-timer! Nine to three. This is going to make a world of difference.

a) I get to stay up and/or sleep in an hour later.
b) I get to leave work around the time each day that my body starts to get really uncomfortable and I don't know how I'm going to make it to the end of the day.
c) My body won't feel as bad, so it won't take as much toll on my mental and emotional state.
d) I can take a nap and it won't throw off my bedtime.
e) I can run errands and make phone calls that need to be done during business hours.
f) I still have time to clean/cook/do projects in the evening!
g) I am still bringing in some money while I can.


1) The cute ankles that I got back during my week off disappeared by noon. I cannot believe how fast my feet swell when I am sedentary. Even when I put my feet up (which I do), it just doesn't make a difference because of the way I have to sit at work.
2) It's still work.

I have been willing to tough it out because really, I could have done it. I know a lot of women do. But after seeing the difference in my body, mind, and emotions last week when I was off, I realized how important it was. Sure, I could tough it out, but I don't think it is the greatest idea, for Malachi or me, to be worn down in every way right up until I give birth. I realized it's not just about whether I can tough it out or not. It's about doing what's best for us.

I am so thankful we have the option financially to make this choice, and that my husband is understanding and willing for me to begin winding things down a few weeks early. He is a stickler for being tough and riding things out till the end, so I really appreciate when he able to go against those instincts for the sake of his family. I've got a good one.

By the way, a lot of people are curious if am going back to work or not. At this point, we are planning on me working part time to supplement our income until Joshua has full time employment. In the meantime, I am pretty happy that Joshua's part time work will allow him to have more time with Malachi than most dads get. I am so willing to share work outside the home for a time so that he can have that!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

And, An Update on My Progress

My midwives say you should always assume that the baby will be here late, and you will have the longest labor ever. I am following that advice. So, here's to 6 more weeks of pregnancy, and a 10 lb baby.

Having said that, it appears that I might be in for a faster labor, and perhaps a sooner labor than that. My midwives' experience indicates that since my cervix is already quite soft, open, and thinned, once the baby drops and there is more pressure on my cervix, things could move pretty quickly. I might go into labor soon after he settles into the birth canal, which could be anytime now, and the labor itself could be quite short. As in, less than 8 hours. We shall see.

As I said, I am trying not to get my hopes up for any of this. He will come when he is ready. But dang it, child, I would like to have not have to go back to work tomorrow. Listen to your mother.

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho

Dang it. I have to go back to work tomorrow.

I didn't realize until I took the last week off, how much of a toll working 40 hours a week is taking on my body and emotions. You wouldn't think that sitting at a computer 5 days a week would be that big of a deal. Pretty good if you have to work in your last few weeks of pregnancy. Wrong. At least for me Somehow the lack of circulation and sedentary-ness of it takes a major toll on my body, which makes me feel beat down and tired and emotional.

This week I have had energy, almost no swelling, my body hasn't been sore and achy, my emotions have been even-keeled and positive. When people are asking me how I feel, I have responded, "Great!" forgetting that just a few short days ago, my response would have been more akin to, "It'll be over soon."

Yes, I am complaining. And I guess I can do that. It's my blog. Don't think less of me, people.

I am going to talk with my boss about cutting my hours per week down to thirty. I think that would help quite a bit.