Every time someone sees me, the first or second thing out of their mouth is, “How are you feeling?” I usually respond to this polite inquiry with “BIG.” They laugh, I laugh, and then they ask when I’m due. I tell the the number of days remaining until my scheduled c-section (35 today) and follow it up with, “Not that I’m counting,” and another laugh.
The simple truth however is that I’m generally feeling pretty awful. My pelvis separated about 7 weeks ago – thanks to the hormone relaxin – and I’ve been in chronic pain since then. It interrupts my sleep, and I have even on occaision woken up crying it’s that bad. The baby has settled into my pelvis quite effectively, and the result of this is that if I stand for more than about 3 minutes, the tops of my thighs go numb. I have outgrown most of my maternity clothes now, with the exception of about 3 dresses, which are not exactly casual, but they’ll do. Because I’ll be damned if I buy anymore maternity clothes for the last 5 weeks of my last pregnancy.
I’ve had a gall bladder attack, pneumonia, tons of intense braxton hicks, and I’m swollen. None of this has ever happened to me before. I am a walking ball of discomfort.
This morning when I woke up I was horrified to find that – impossible though it seemed – baby had sunk even deeper into my pelvis. I’m telling you: I’m sure that if I reach up, I will feel her head. I had more braxton hicks this morning, pains so intense that I couldn’t stand to spread cream cheese on a freakin’ bagel. All of this caused me to become concerned. “What exactly is going on up there,” I wondered? My appointment with my OB was still 7 days off, and I was really worried that something might be happening. So I called, and they said come in, and so I did.
I was scared. I’m only 33 weeks in here. And while it’s likely that her lungs are fully developed, maybe her digestive tract isn’t yet. Someone recently told me that it’s not until 34 weeks that babies are capable of the sucking/breathing/swallowing all together that are required for breastfeeding; for eating of any kind actually. While I have been saying that I’m ready, and she can come any time now, I really do not want her intubated, or to have a feeding tube, or to be in an incubator all by herself.
I had called MOMD, who had a meeting right at the start of his day and so I had to leave a message. I called the sitter up the street to see if she could take Sam so that I didn’t have to bring him with me, and she offered to come and pick him up. (That offer right there? Moved me to tears.) I filled up my water bottle, texted a few VIP’s and got in the car. I was on the road alone with the scary thoughts. I called MOMD again, and this time I got him.
I told him I didn’t know what was going on, but that I was heading to the hospital. I was trying to be reassuring, sort of nonchalant, explaining the pains I had this morning and that baby was further descended, and he said, “Should I meet you there?” Before I knew it, I had responded, “I would really like it if you could be with me.” It was then that I knew how scared I was. Normally I’m a tough kid who can handle life on her own. “You want to come with me? You’re more than welcome but it’s totally not necessary,” is more my standard kind of response. Not today, kids. I honestly and clearly told him I was feeling quite emotional and that I would appreciate his presence.
I got to the hospital ok, was ushered into a room, and in comes my OB. Normally I’m a witty, low-maintenance (as far as pregnant women can be ‘low maintenance’) patient, and I’ve known her for 9 years now. She knew I was not all right. I told her why I was there to see her, and that I was feeling emotional. She checked my blood pressure (which was fine, as usual), fetal heartbeat and said, “The good news is that if she was in your vagina we wouldn’t have found the heartbeat here on your belly,” giving me a very reassuring smile. She did what I really wanted her to do, and that was check my cervix. “Very gently,” she said, “because we really don’t want to start anything.” A moment later it was all over, with the statement that I needed to hear: “cervix is long and closed.”
Initially I felt relieved. Vastly relieved. Because: complications. And then… then I was so emotional. MOMD put his arms around me and silent tears slid down my cheeks. It wasn’t until much much later that I realized the overriding emotion of my day was actually embarrassment. I mean, I’ve got two children all ready: shouldn’t I know what labour feels like?
I told this to MOMD when I made the realization. He quickly said, “I’m certain that your OB would be the first one to say that each child, each labour, each delivery, are different.” It was the right tact to take because I went on to say, “Yeah, and she would also likely point out that I didn’t know I was in labour with Connor, and that I didn’t get the chance with Sam because of him turning breech at the very end…”
I was reassured that I don’t need to know everything. I was reassured that the third time can be just as scary as the first time. I was reassured. And that is a wonderful thing.