rivka: (rosie with baby)
Off to the hospital! If you guessed The Yellow Admiral in my poll you win a gold star.

I'm going to try to do a Voice Post from the hospital, but I've never done it before so we'll have to see. Thanks for all your good wishes!
rivka: (rosie with baby)
I am now quite sure that I'm in labor.

Contractions continue to come in a regular pattern and are much stronger than they were overnight. I am now comfortable describing them as "painful." I wouldn't really say that they're active labor contractions - I don't need to focus on coping with them, I can just note them and go on - but they are definitely early labor, not false labor/prelabor. And they're progressing.

I've checked in with my midwife (who says come to the hospital whenever I feel like it), and my friend Emily who will be acting as my doula, and Dorian who will be picking up Alex after school if everything isn't all over by then. I've left messages for work. I've finished packing my hospital bag. I am about to wrap the presents that we got for Niblet to give to Alex. Then I need to decide if I have enough time and energy to bake his birthday cake. (We have a zero-shaped candle ready and waiting...)

Michael is at work. I don't yet feel that I need someone to pay attention to me through my contractions, which is my mental dividing line between early and active labor. If necessary, he'll be able to get home pretty quickly.

Can you believe it? It's my due date. Or at least my original, calendar-derived due date - they changed it to the 11th partway through based on ultrasound results. Still, I may wind up being one of the only 5% of women who actually deliver on their due date. Wouldn't that be crazy?
rivka: (her majesty)
3:05, 3:11, 3:17, 3:24, 3:31, 3:36, 3:40, 3:47, 3:54, 3:59.

What does that look like to you?

I got a couple of hours of lousy sleep. When I gave up and got out of bed at 1:40, I didn't think contractions were the issue - more like indigestion, hip pain, and a pernicious inability to get comfortable. But when I came downstairs to my computer I noticed that it felt like I was having one incredibly long continuous contraction. So I started monitoring.

It's been every 5-7 minutes since 2am. The contractions are about a minute long, mostly not painful although some have definitely been. Right now I'd lay even odds for it being early labor vs. just another frustrating, meltaway prelabor experience.

Either way, I'm not going to work tomorrow. I'll probably send Michael to work, though, unless they establish more of a painful, escalating pattern over the next couple of hours.

I don't know. Now I think they might be tailing off. If I've missed a night's sleep for nothing...

Anyway. I'll keep you guys posted.
rivka: (rosie with baby)
Last night, while I was reading bedtime stories, I noticed that my continuing Braxton-Hicks contractions were starting to be both longer and more uncomfortable. So when I came downstairs, I timed them. Over the next hour, they came almost exactly eight minutes apart and lasted about a minute each time. Each contraction was not painful, but noticeable and uncomfortable.

"That looks like a pattern," I said to Michael, showing him my list of times. He agreed that it did.

"So here's what I think we should do: You clean up the living room a little in case someone winds up having to come over here. Then we should both go to bed."

We went to bed. I had some more contractions in bed. Then I went to sleep and slept all night, thus proving that I wasn't in labor. But at least the living room is clean.

Still not getting overexcited, because I did this sort of thing for weeks with Alex, but I am starting to feel like progress is happening.

So now it's time for a poll. I've been working my way through Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels in my copious free time. I've made it to #16, The Wine-Dark Sea. I'm a reasonably fast reader. So your poll question is: how close am I going to get to finishing the series?

[Poll #1343401]
rivka: (forward momentum)
I feel strangely good.

God knows I shouldn't. Weird stressful crazy stuff is going on at work, and it blew up today, and there will be fallout. Stressful fallout.

Also, I am big as a house, a condition not normally associated with feeling good. Here's how I was feeling at this same point in my first pregnancy: more or less constantly tired and in pain, and unable to sit comfortably at a desk. In fact, this was the point in my first pregnancy at which I gave up working because I couldn't tolerate it anymore.

This time around, it's different. I sat my assistant down today and warned him that if I go past my due date I won't be willing to go to the clinic anymore. (Four blocks walking, each way.) He suggested that maybe I shouldn't be going to the clinic now. I told him that was silly.

My back doesn't hurt. My hips don't hurt. My belly only hurts occasionally and in the most negligible of ways. I am not cramping. I am sleeping moderately well. My very frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions are not painful. I don't feel like crawling into a cave and refusing to come out.

It's weird, you know? I'm 39 weeks pregnant! Shouldn't I, you know, be finding it unbearable? Shouldn't I be counting down the days and wondering whether I'm going to make it?

Since the Niblet flipped back into a head-down position, he's been descending. My belly has visibly moved down; even mere acquaintances have commented on it. Last night and today, I've felt a few pangs that felt like baby-settling-into-pelvis pains. But that's the first thing I've felt that carried any kind of suggestion - and it's definitely just a suggestion - of impending baby. Otherwise, I've felt just like I have for the rest of the third trimester: unwieldly and easily tired, but not unbearably so.

So this evening I've felt irrationally happy and energetic. I came home from work and decided to whip up a batch of cornbread to serve with dinner. I happily played two games of Hi Ho Cherry-O and two games of Go Fish with Alex, instead of trying to coax her into playing independently so I could rest. I've just felt... cheerful and talkative and energetic. For no reason. Just good.

I don't trust that these good feelings are going to last, or that I will continue to feel relatively comfortable up until the Niblet comes. But I'm certainly enjoying this while it's here.
rivka: (adulthood)
It's been a year. (If you're pregnant, please don't click through the link.)

I would have had a six-month-old now. Playing with toys. Maybe sitting up.

If that pregnancy had not ended, I would not have become pregnant with the Niblet who is, at this very moment, trying to batter his way out of my belly with his feet. He would not exist. I will always look at this baby and know that great grief made him possible.

I have no great meaning to extract from what happened to us a year ago. I can only say that you endure what you must because there's no other choice, and eventually it ends. Suffering is finite.

I haven't forgotten; I don't think I could. Who I am has been shaped by what happened a year ago. I can still contact the sadness. But I'm not there anymore.

I survived.
rivka: (panda pile)
I wish my iPod hooked up to the ancient CD player we'll be taking to the hospital - it would certainly make eveything simpler. Instead I'm burning CDs. Read more... )
rivka: (rosie with baby)
This is a story that starts out a little scary and has a happy ending.

My midwives have never asked me to keep "kick counts," but I definitely have a strong sense of when I expect Niblet to move, and how much. His most active time of day is right around when I go to bed. At 10:30 or 11, I expect a good 10-15 minutes of active kicking and rolling - enough to make the surface of my belly ripple visibly.

Last night? A couple of mild kicks, and that was it. So this morning I was more alert than usual for fetal movement, and again, there was much less than I expected. Putting a bag of frozen broccoli on my belly for a minute or so didn't wake him up. Eventually, after much inward focus, I felt a couple of slight, subtle movements. Enough to reassure me that he wasn't dead, but not enough to reassure me that nothing was wrong. It was weird. And scary.

I called the midwife on call, and she had me go to the Center for Advanced Fetal Care at the hospital - where I'd just been on Tuesday. They did a biophysical profile, which is a combination of an ultrasound to assess the baby's "practice breathing," movement, muscle tone, and amniotic fluid level, and a nonstress test using an external fetal monitor to identify appropriate heart rate accelerations with movement.

And! Pretty much as soon as she started the ultrasound it was clear that Niblet has turned head-down, just as he's supposed to be. His feet are up by my right ribs. We've canceled the external version scheduled for Tuesday - I'm just supposed to go to my regular midwife appointment on Wednesday to have his position checked again. I can't believe I didn't feel him flip!

He passed the biophysical profile with flying colors. It was hard for the nurse to get him moving - she had to do a lot of repeated jabbing and pushing with the ultrasound wand and roll me from side to side a few times - so it wasn't just my imagination that he was less responsive than usual. But once he did move, he looked great. The nurse's theory is that I felt such a strong difference in his movements because he's moved head-down and is in a more natural, comfortable position.

I am so! Relieved! I cannot even begin to tell you. I've been trying to mentally prepare myself for a C-section - and then, this morning, I was quite genuinely scared by the drop in apparent movement. I am SO HAPPY that he is all right, looking well, and VERTEX.

Also, apparently I'm contracting much more than I realized. My contractions are painless and mild, but during the nonstress test they were happening every 3.5 to 5 minutes. This doesn't mean anything with respect to labor imminency, but it's certainly a good sign that my body is preparing itself.
rivka: (motherhood)
Last night Dorian was here to go over some things in preparation for being our labor&delivery childcare. I let her feel a hard bump of baby sticking out on my right side. "That must be his bottom," I said trustingly. "Because it's round, and we know he's head down."


This morning I had my 38-week midwife appointment. All went well until she put me up on the table to assess Niblet's position, heartbeat, and size. At which point it became clear that he is not head down anymore, and that the hard round thing sticking out on my right side is in fact his head.

The good news is that he's still floating; no part of him is engaged in the pelvis, so he's not wedged in this way. He was transverse (crossways) when the midwife examined me, with his head kind of down by my right hip. She sent me over to the hospital for a confirmatory ultrasound, and the sonographer noted that he had turned breech: his head was still over on the side, higher up, and his feet were on my cervix. Then I was examined again by an OB, at which point he was fully transverse again. So he definitely has room to move.

We've scheduled an external cephalic version for Tuesday, February 3, when I'll be just about 39 weeks pregnant. I'll be seeing the OB I saw today, whom I liked very much. His name is Dr. Atlas, he's the chair of the Obstetrics department, he works with my midwives a lot, and he's very supportive of natural birth. I thought he struck a good balance between being warm and kind, and not holding back any information.

In an external version, the doctor literally flips the baby over into a more favorable position by pressing on the outside of the belly. ("Emphasis should be on gentle persuasion of the fetus as opposed to forceful movements," says the article, fortunately.) The article I linked to is kind of old, but offers a good description of what happens. They cite a 65% success rate. Here's the potential outcome tree Dr. Atlas outlined for me:

1. The baby is successfully flipped and then stays head-down, and I go into labor naturally.
2. The baby is successfully flipped and then flips back to breech or transverse, at which point we either schedule a C-section or wait until labor begins and do a C-section.
3. The baby can't be flipped. We schedule a C-section or wait until labor begins and do a C-section.
4. The baby becomes distressed by the procedure and there is an immediate emergency C-section.

Obviously that last one is a low-frequency outcome, but nevertheless the procedure is done on the L&D floor with an OR and an anesthesiologist nearby.

I've read that the success of ECV is heavily dependent on the skill and experience of the doctor, and it seems like I'll be in good hands there.

So, uh, we'll see what happens. Apparently it's not out of the realms of possibility that he'll turn back rightways round himself. Here's hoping.
rivka: (alex age 3.5)
In the grocery store today, we had one of those really classic parenting moments.

Alex pointed to a package of Always Maximum Protection Super Giant-Sized sanitary pads Michael had just put on the checkstand and asked, in her clear, piercing three-year-old voice, "What are those?"

"Those are Mama's," Michael said.

So she turned to me. "Mama, what are those?"

"Those are pads for me to use after the baby is born," I told her.

"What are they for, for after the baby is born?" she persisted. I could see ears perking up all along the checkout line.

Fortunately, Really Classic Parenting Moments have ready-made Really Classic Parenting Answers.

"I'll tell you when we're in the car," I said. And all along the checkout line, disappointed heads turned away.
rivka: (panda pile)
OMG I have the best friends, and husband, in the whole world.

Today is Michael's birthday. I got up with Alex, and he woke up an hour or so later and opened his presents. Then he surprised me by suggesting that I go shower. We usually lounge around a while on Saturday mornings, but today he seemed anxious for us to get about our day. I told him I wanted to rest and drink tea for a while first, because I had had a hard night.

A little bit later, the doorbell rang. I was flummoxed to see [livejournal.com profile] bosssio at the window... trailed by three of the other women from my Wild Women Weekend last September: Brenna, Daria, and Lo. (It didn't surprise me to not see Molly, because she lives in Blacksburg, but apparently she had been planning to be there too, until her work schedule changed. Holy cow.) they had nefarious plans... )
rivka: (red dress)
I had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions yesterday evening, after the fall, but they cooled off when I lay down. I feel very normal this morning. So we now return to the status quo, yay.
rivka: (rosie with baby)
You know what's not a good idea, when you're damn near 37 weeks pregnant?

Falling hard on the ice on the way into the midwife's office, that's what. I seem to be okay, but I think it's going to be a tense 24 hours until we're absolutely 100% positive that it's not going to send me into labor or anything. We are under orders to call immediately if I notice anything whatsoever that seems funny.

Also, I landed on my right hip, which is the difficult one.

Also, thank goodness Michael and Alex came along to the appointment, or I have no idea how I would've gotten up again.

Fall and resultant shakiness notwithstanding, I managed to come up with a good blood pressure reading of 110/72. No sugar or protein problems. I've gained four pounds (!) since last week, which may partly be a factor of last week's visit being before lunch and this one being immediately after dinner. My uterus is measuring 40cm when I'm contracting and 39cm when I'm not contracting. (Why yes, I am contracting a lot.) I'm Group B Strep negative, yay. (That saves me from having to get antibiotics in labor.) My symptoms are as normal as an extremely normal thing. The baby's heartbeat sounds strong and beautiful.

Then I sent Michael and Alex out of the room and told Kathy about the feelings I had after the hospital tour. She is not the touchy-feeliest of midwives, but she was great. She gently told me that it was entirely appropriate and reasonable and expected to still be grieving and to have negative feelings triggered by my upcoming birth. She thinks that laboring women focus intensely on labor, and that I am unlikely to have significant problems with D&C memories in labor, but she is ready to remind me that I am there to birth a baby. Also, she is fairly certain that if I call when I first notice labor signs they will be able to snag me the room where Alex was born, which not only has positive memories associated with it but is huge and couldn't be more different from the rooms I was in when I miscarried. She's going to tell the other midwives how I'm feeling, which is good.

She also told me, firmly, that the universe intends for me to have this baby, that this is the baby who is meant to be. I'm not sure how I feel about that as a theological position, so I will choose to focus on the part where we are positive that I am going to have this baby.
rivka: (alex age 3.5)
Yes, Alex is definitely anxious about the Niblet's birth. Read more... )

Poor kid. I know how she feels - it is weird to know that labor could hit at any time, and that we don't know what will happen next. Honestly, I don't think there's a fix for this other than birth.
rivka: (her majesty)
I was already feeling fragile this evening before I discovered that someone had hacked Respectful of Otters.

Michael and I took the hospital L&D tour this evening. We were just there on Saturday afternoon for Alex's tour, but I guess that I was focused singlemindedly enough on her experience, or the surrounding details were different enough, that it didn't hit me the wrong way.

Tonight it did.

We were in a group of six or so glowing beaming hopeful expectant couples. A childbirth educator led us onto the L&D floor. Just across the hall from the nurses' station was the little registration room. I glanced in as we walked by, just for a second, and there was a woman sitting in the patient's chair, crying. Hand up to her face. Nonswollen belly.

This time last year I thought I was eleven weeks pregnant. I had just had my first midwife visit, at which everything looked great. I had told Alex that I was pregnant, and the two of us were looking at pictures in pregnancy magazines together. Two weeks afterward I was sitting hunched over my nonswollen belly in that same registration room, crying, having discovered that what I thought was a baby was just a bloody mess of misdirected cells. Getting ready for emergency surgery.

Everything brought it back. The brief glimpse of the crying woman. Standing at the window of an L&D room looking out at the gorgeous 16th-story view of the city by night. The childbirth educator mentioning the two operating rooms on the floor and the 24-hour anesthesiologist. Asking her about triage, did we have to go through triage, realizing only in retrospect that the reason the idea filled me with such dread was that I'd spent a good long time in triage before my D&C. Remembering how I had felt hearing the heartbeat of a laboring woman's live baby on the monitor, on the other side of the curtain, before I got my headphones on.

My due date is a week to ten days after the anniversary date of my D&C. I don't know if I will be thinking these thoughts, having these memories, when I go to the hospital for the birth. Maybe I'll be too focused on labor, too focused on my imminent baby. Maybe it will help that I've already freaked myself out now with the vivid memories that are apparently still locked on to that place. Maybe it will help to be prepared next time, because I swear that for some reason it never occurred to me that it would be hard to go back to L&D, because apparently it's not like I'm a psychologist or a reasonably insightful person or anything.

Maybe I should discuss this with my midwife and doula, but it's hard to think of what to ask for that would be helpful.
rivka: (rosie with baby)
For some reason, my midwives think my due date is two days later than I thought it was. So here I was all proud of being in the 36th week, and instead I am only 35w5d. You can stop feeling sorry for my unbelievably bulbous self now, because apparently I'm not that pregnant. Read more... )
rivka: (alex age 3.5)
Alex has been complaining a lot about illness. "I'm sick. I don't feeeeeel good." It's been going on for a few weeks now.

She was actually sick, before Christmas. She doesn't seem to be sick now. She has the occasional sniffle or cough that just seems to go along with winter, but she's displaying no actual symptoms - no fever, no worrying change in her eating or sleeping habits, no changes in her appearance, no apparent activity limitations. Just complaints. When we ask her what hurts: "My whole body hurts." "Everything hurts." Even, she will insist if we ask more detailed questions, her toenails and her eyelashes. Every part. We've started asking "What do you think would make you feel better?" Sometimes she asks for medicine. Usually she doesn't know.

For a while it seemed like it was related to things she didn't want to do, or things she did want to do. "I can't put away my game because I'm siiiiick" and "I need to watch another video because I don't feeeeel good" are pretty easy to interpret and respond to. Or boredom-related "sickness" in the car. But more recently it's been different. Every morning this week, as soon as I mention school: "I don't feel good. I need to stay home." I will usually tell her, cheerfully, that we'll see how she feels once she gets to school. She's started asking: "WHY are you making me go to school when I'm SO, SO SICK?!"

She still doesn't seem to be legitimately sick at all.

I spent some time this morning talking with her about school. Why doesn't she like to go to school all of a sudden? Because she doesn't feel good, she told me. Is anything happening at school that she doesn't like - anyone being mean to her, any problems, anything scary? No, she said. Nothing is wrong at school, she just doesn't want to go anymore because she doesn't feel good.

This morning at dropoff, I spoke to her teacher for a while. The teacher confirms that nothing overt appears to be going wrong for Alex - no friend issues or anything like that. She will play happily for a while at school, and then come over and tell a teacher that she doesn't feel good and that she needs her mommy. The teachers have been treating this as a plea for attention. They offer her the opportunity to sit or lie down and rest when she says she doesn't feel good, but haven't been calling us or taking her temperature or anything.

I think that what may be wrong is anxiety. I think that my questions about problems at school were off-base, and that rather than worrying about school she may be worrying about separating from me. After all, that's the other thing that happens at going-to-school time. And anxiety certainly makes your whole body feel bad.

She knows that Niblet's arrival is imminent, and that I'm going to go into labor and go to the hospital and have the baby. She knows we've been making plans for who will take care of her. I'm pretty sure that she knows that it could happen at any time and we don't know when to expect it or when things will change. That's probably pretty anxiety-provoking. Also, I've started being too pregnant to do certain things: I can't sit in the back seat of the car to keep her company, I can't bathe her, I can't play active games. That might be anxiety-provoking in itself, if she's worrying about how much I love her or how much I'll be there for her.

I think this is a reasonable working hypothesis for what's happening now.

The sibling prep books we've read have focused on having a baby at home, not on the anxious weeks of knowing that major life changes could happen any moment. We're going to have a sibling's hospital tour and meet with a nurse for a while on Sunday, and I guess that could go either way - it could make her more anxious, or less.

My tentative plan: I'm going to tell her that I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about what might be making her feel bad, and that I think she has a sickness called anxiety. I'll explain that anxiety can be treated using exercises, kind of like Dad's physical therapy, and I'll try teaching her progressive muscle relaxation using some kind of PMR script for children. I'll try waking her up a little earlier so that we have time to do a PMR exercise before school.

Separately from that, I will try asking her whether she worries about leaving me or being gone from me all day, and whether she worries about what will happen when the baby is ready to come. I don't know if I'm going to get anywhere with questions like that, though. This is where you'd think that being a psychologist would help, but it doesn't, because I mostly was trained to work with adults and I have zero experience with interventions or techniques for kids this young.

I would appreciate any advice or theories that people have - especially people with lots of young-child experience, like [livejournal.com profile] mactavish, and people with new-sibling-prep experience. Also, if you have any alternative hypotheses about what might be causing these illness complaints, I'd be interested to hear them.
rivka: (family)
I dreamed that I had twins, horrible tiny things like plastic dolls. I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to keep them underwater or not. I kept trying to fill their aquarium, which was like a baby carrier with fold-up sides that had to be adjusted with straps and buckles, so the water kept running out. I thought, "Shit! Their mouths aren't underwater! They can't breathe!" ...and then I wouldn't be sure. Were their mouths supposed to be underwater, or not underwater?

The good thing about weird pregnancy dreams is that, no matter what I do in real life, I will never be as awful a mother as I am in my dreams.


rivka: (Default)

April 2017



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