Friday, August 1, 2014

39 weeks

It's been a bit of a roller coaster here in my corner of the world.

I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy my life: to enjoy the last few days and weeks I'll have as a mommy of two, to enjoy the laughter between my two precious littles as they run around and knock each other over.  To watch my big girl go bravely off to camp, fearless and enjoying every second.  To treasure the hugs from my beautiful little boy, who is, without doubt, the world's best hugger and possibly the sweetest little heart of all time.

But I will also admit to being completely, totally, mindlessly distracted.

This body.  Yowza.  It's messing with me in a really big way that's both totally joyful and absolutely wearing me down.

I started with all sorts of positive things on the labor and delivery front, all sorts of things which have never, ever happened to me before in my previous pregnancies.  Two weeks ago, at not yet full term, I was dilated!  I wanted to shout it from the roof tops and do a little pregnant gal happy dance, because I've only ever gotten that pitiable poor girl, you're locked up tighter than a fat guy in spandex look from the doctor as she shakes her head in response to my question about dilation.

Then, I lost my mucus plug.  I know, disgusting, but for the girl who showed absolutely no signs of progress up to and including the day my babies were born, this was like a hallelujah chorus.  Maybe labor wouldn't be awful?  Maybe... gasp... it would be manageable!  Maybe it would actually move!

Except that the day after both of these things happened, my husband was leaving for Florida.  FLORIDA.  The single corner of the United States that is furthest from my current location.  So we danced around the idea of him cancelling his trip, which we both agreed was ultimately stupid.  How could I have two babies so determined to stay in that they both had to be literally yanked out of me, and then worry about giving birth three weeks early?  Seems pretty implausible. We made back up plans.  And then more back up plans, just in case.

And then, the day after he left, at 37 weeks and 3 days, I started having contractions.  Labor contractions.  Decently strong labor contractions, which started at 10 minutes apart and got progressively closer and stronger.  Just exactly like the books said they would when labor begins.

After alerting the media, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, we ultimately decided that there was really nothing to be done except see if they progressed and went anywhere.  It was 2 a.m. in Miami when we finally made this call, and he couldn't get out on a flight any sooner than 7, so nothing to do except go to bed and see what happens.  Luckily, nothing happened, and I sighed a big sigh of relief.

The trouble is, this pattern has pretty much continued, almost daily since then.  It was worrisome when Casey was out of town, but since then I've been very fervently hoping that it would pick up and actually kick me into labor.  Instead, I have nightly contractions that start at about 10 minutes and work their way down to 6 or 7 minutes apart, getting increasingly stronger over the course of 6 or 7 hours and then.... stop.  For no apparent reason.

I wake up the next morning sore across my abdomen like I've been doing crunches all night, irritated and grumpy and absolutely no closer to having this baby.

I've been dilated to 4 for a week, had my membranes swept twice and have continued doing all the "things" I can do to help my contractions progress: walking, pelvic tilts, squats, bouncing on the ball, taking Evening Primrose, relaxation and visualization, that other thing that got us into this to begin with... everything the literature suggests might help make a difference.  Nothing.

Well, no.  Not nothing.  Lots and lots {and lots and lots} of good, early labor contractions.

Except now, after two solid weeks, they're totally wearing me down.  I'm crampy and sore.  I'm having real trouble sleeping because I contract so much and for so long in the middle of the night.  I'm super hormonal, and everything makes me either cry or want to yell.  My patience is wearing paper thin.  I'm tired of always having one proverbial eye on my body, trying to monitor if what's happening to me is normal or something I need to pay close attention to.  I'm tired of trying to keep things in a constant "ready-to-go" state, making sure I always know whether we have enough pull ups and milk or where our people are just in case I need someone to come and tend to the kids.  I'm totally worn out physically; I wake up honestly feeling like I've run some sort of minor marathon during the night.  I have a tendency, despite my many blessings, to follow the tracks of the sun through my house, waiting for night to come so that I can just sit quietly without issuing instruction or praise, or have little hands touching me, begging to be entertained, fed, hugged, taken potty or any thousand other totally reasonable unmanageable demands.

And I'm disappointed.  I can't help it.  I'm trying so hard not to be.  I was totally ready to have this baby on its due date - I never had any doubts that we'd be having an August baby or that I should be concerned about going into labor.  So much so that I fully encouraged Casey to take the job in Miami when I knew I'd be 37-38 weeks pregnant.  I even encouraged him to take a gig here over the next few days, because I didn't anticipate being in any form of labor until sometime next week.  Then, all those really positive things started happening, but it definitely has had me thinking that "pop" might be on the agenda before too long.  And now, here we are.  Two weeks later, 39 weeks pregnant and I'm still contracting virtually every night as if I were going to go into labor, only to wake up worn out but still pregnant.

So, this is all very new to me.  Anecdotally, I feel like my body is still not working the way it's supposed to.  It seems like most people's bodies run on an FM frequency, and somehow I'm tuned into AM and can't get my crap together.  I know that many people have a few days or a few incidents where they play the am I in labor? guessing game, but two weeks of this craziness every day seems really excessive.  And I can't seem to get out of my head the thought that my body may truly just not be able to contract strongly enough to move a baby without some medical intervention.  I've wondered this since my very first miscarriage almost six years ago, and it's been reiterated to me each and every time I've done anything labor-like since.  I can rock the early contractions, but as far as being in active labor with heavy contractions... I'm thinking more and more that my body shuts down because that's the only direction it has to go on its own.

Which, I suppose, is okay - as long as I can come to terms with it; something I'm trying hard to do.  That truly natural labor I've longed for for the last five years may just always elude me, despite my best efforts to the contrary.  In which case, I need to remember to be very, very grateful for modern medicine, even that villain Pitocin I've been trying so hard to avoid.

The whole point of all of this at the end of the day is to make sure that baby is healthy.  That goal is vastly more important than whether or not my body works - I know that.  And I am so, so beyond grateful that this is even on the table for me; please don't mistake my struggle for being ungrateful.

It's back to wait-and-see.  I am still eager and hopeful that this little body might somehow chug into gear and do what everyone tells me it was meant to do.  Mostly, though, I'm just so darned excited to meet our special little someone.  I know from experience that in that moment, all these fears and doubts and stresses will simply cease to exist in the presence of such overwhelming joy.

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