41 Weeks: The View from Up Here

Today marks 41 weeks of pregnancy.  Am I ready?

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I was losing my mind at 39 weeks…

Comparison

I still compare everything from this pregnancy with the last one.  At this point during my first pregnancy, I was holding my newborn Angel Baby during our last day at the hospital.  There.  That’s where I was.

Not once during my pregnancy with Angel Baby did I feel a contraction.  My cervix never did anything special, like get ready to expel a baby.  On the projected due date (PDD) at 40 weeks, we learned that our unborn child had actually been hanging out upside down… or right side up, depending on how you want to look at it.  Angel Baby was going to be stubborn and presented her sweet little self in the breech position.  We scheduled a c-section for 40+4, and that was that.

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The best skin-to-skin we could manage in the OR.

Here we are at 41 weeks:  baby is head down but not engaged, all signs are great for both baby and mommy, and now we just wait.

Sorta.

Fear

I wanted a “natural birth”* so badly that it took me quite some time to get over the fact that I had a surgery rather than an experience with Angel Baby.  I felt like I’d failed my body and my baby.  I felt robbed.  There are days I still feel like I was robbed of everything I had prepared for.

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Trying so hard to stay positive and be excited, yet here I was in pre-op just holding back tears…ones that had been streaming out of me since we learned baby was breech.

I never experienced any aspect of labor at the end of my first pregnancy.  I went from pregnant to the OR to being a breastfeeding mommy.  There was no major epiphanic (is that a word?) moment where the angels sang and the lights of Heaven shone upon me as I became a mother.  I just was.  Here, have this:  it is ridiculously demanding and you didn’t get to unwrap it like you wanted to.

Sigh.

So there’s fear going into this 41st week of pregnancy, round 2.  What if my body wasn’t made to give birth?  I mean, it clearly was made to get pregnant and carry babies. Quite awesomely, actually.  I’m super healthy as is the baby.  Just like last time.  (Ok, this time was a little more troublesome but all-in-all a healthy pregnancy.)

I had what is called a non-stress test (NST) yesterday.  I sat in a vinyl recliner with two straps over my belly:  one to monitor baby’s heart rate and movements, the other to monitor for my contractions.  I was handed a little clicker and was instructed to push the button each time I felt the baby move.  Baby Sprout was called a “show off” by the nurse.  And I had a contraction.  One.  And it wasn’t one I even recognized as such; the machine told me so.

And my cervix is still just sitting there.

Next Step

There are so many different ways to approach a pregnancy that continues past the PDD.  The best, in my mind, is to let it go.  Your body and baby know when it is time and it will happen.

However, as logical as that sounds, there are so many other ways to handle it from here.  Because my first pregnancy did end in surgery, there are certain measures/precautions/preconceptions regarding how this one ought to go.

I’m not going to tell you how you should handle this situation.  I’m not going to tell you what my friends say, my family thinks, or my midwife said the OB on-call would do… I am just going to simply state what I plan to do from here, my recliner, in my warm home.**

Unless Baby Sprout and my body agree to start moving things along, at 41+4 I will return to my midwife’s office for a membrane sweep.***  Until then, I will calmly go about my regular life with Angel Baby and the BHE.  I think a lot about Thanksgiving, as it is less than a week away.  I am double-checking the care and coverage we have for Angel Baby when we do go into labor and then through the hospital stay.  I am keeping my house clean, my pantry stocked, and my patience stretched.

After the sweep?  I don’t know.  I don’t.  And I’m not going to stress and fret about what needs to happen next.  I know my options, I know what I am comfortable with, I know what the BHE and I have talked about as well as how the midwife would like to proceed… the rest is just the rest.  I won’t know until we get there.

Deep Breathing

I’m fighting off a week-long cold and have been busying remaking plans for Angel Baby’s care****.  I am resting as much as possible but still going about my life.  I eat and dance and shop and read like any other SAHM.  I breathe.  And breathe some more.

*As a really great friend pointed out to me recently, all births are natural.  Truly.  No matter how your child comes into the world (unmedicated, at home, with an epidural, c-section, in the backseat, surrounded by machines that go BING!), the birth of that child was a natural occurrence.  Embrace that shit and be proud.

**I’m so over the pregnancy “advice”.  As well-meaning as everyone is, I am struggling to smile and nod at every little bit being said to me.  I’m not technically overdue, just past my PDD.  And yes, I’m having this baby in the hospital.  No, I don’t want to induce.  Yes, I am aware that may be what it comes down to.  No, I am not 100% opposed to induction, and sadly, I do know that a c-section is always a possibility (just like getting in a wreck on the way to the hospital is or any other thing you really don’t want to have happen).  Yes, I want to wait to make sure I give my body and the baby every chance to go about this on their own.  No, I don’t need anyone telling me my legal rights or how VBACs should be handled or why I should have sex and eat pineapple.  If I joke about it with you or share my thoughts with you, it isn’t me opening your floodgate; it is me talking to you.  I’ll stop talking now.

***Excerpt from site if you don’t want to read the whole thing:  “During an internal examination, she will try to insert a finger into the opening of your cervix (neck of your womb) and then gently but firmly move her finger around. This action should separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix. This separation releases hormones (prostaglandins) which may kick-start your labour.”

****The absolutely ideal set up we had for Angel Baby while we’re in the hospital fell through because of this awful nasty thing called the flu.  Sadly, the loved ones who were going to be providing and abiding are fighting off this ugly, ugly fever-cough-vomit-misery.  Which meant last minute scrambling to make sure Angel Baby will be cared for those 3-ish days we’ll be “gone”.  Maybe just maybe I’ve gone past the PDD because my body and mind were well aware that it just wasn’t the right time yet.  Sure, the average is 41+4 (not 40, people; do your research), but maybe it is more about fate and a Guiding Hand making sure all is right before Baby Sprout joins us on the outside.

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