Ready or not?

My present state of contentment keeps making me doubt myself. Am I near labor and just not psychologically ready? I have always loudly proclaimed that the miseries of the third trimester are God’s gracious way of making mothers ready and eager to face the pains of labor. But if I’m not miserable, that leaves two possibilities: either I’m not near labor, or I am near labor, and I’m just not ready. Gulp.

I think I’m ready. I don’t feel fearful. I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about labor and delivery, but that’s nothing unusual. I can always make myself feel apprehensive about labor if I dwell on what’s to come.   But mostly I’m just eager to have it behind me rather than before me, and to have a wriggling little babe in my arms rather than under my ribs and on top of my bladder. I’m eager to be done with it, but not in great enough physical discomfort to really, really long for it yet.

I’m just not used to feeling well-rested and generally pain-free at this point. It’s really throwing off all of my well-established psychological markers. Will this baby arrive in 3 days or 3 weeks?

Oh, the suspense. Is it killing you too?

In which I contract and ramble

I’m contracting this evening.  It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but I thought it would be fun to keep the rest of the world guessing as much as I am.  I typically feel false labor only up high in my belly, but I am feeling these down low so maybe they’re real.

But I’ve never been more than a couple of days early, and I haven’t been early at all in nearly 12 years so it’s probably nothing.

But on the other hand, my June 28th duedate is an estimated date.  My official, by-the-book date would have been June 7 so maybe I’m already past due and really in labor.

But we had good reason to move the duedate to June 28th, since I consistently received negative results on pregnancy tests until what would have been 7 or 8 weeks, and my morning sickness also kicked in 3 weeks later than usual, so I’m probably still 9 days away from being due (ow.  contraction.  7:27 PM).

And I spent much of today in the heat and sun, not eating or drinking enough, and on my feet far too much.  All of these factors commonly contribute to false labor.

But I had 5 strong, down-low, nearly painful contractions in a row, all about 10-12 minutes apart while driving home this evening.

Does anyone want to know why I spent much of today in the heat and sun, not eating and drinking enough?  I’ll ramble on a bit longer about inconsequential things just to keep us all wondering about what really counts: those contractions.

We had 3 dentist appointments this morning, plus about 6 other errands to run.  Hubby was conveniently home today so I took his small gas-friendly car with just 3 children.  We made it 35 minutes or 35 miles into a 43 mile trip when the car died.  We were still firmly in the middle of nowhere, and could do nothing but call Hubby to come get us in the van.

It took him an hour to reach us.  I have to admit he was delayed far less by the 5 children in his entourage than by the fact that I had both sets of keys.

By the time my knight in shining armor arrived on in his great white steed, we had canceled our dentist appointments and rescheduled for July 8 (I’m hoping for a July 4th baby.  What was I thinking?).  Our other errands were in jeopardy but not yet canceled.  We were hot and thirsty and oh-so-happy to see him.

He quickly assessed the situation and we all hopped in the van for a ride to the auto parts store.  Back again to the car, 8 miles each way.

Hubby worked in the blazing sun, with his arms buried in the blazing engine.  I stood by in silent support, being present and pregnant.  It was all I could do to help, so I did my best at it.

After a long hot while, I took the van and children (ow. 7:50 PM. That was a long time, wasn’t it?) for a second trip to the parts store, with a side stop to get a nice assortment of cold drinks.  Hubby stayed behind in the south Texas sun, still hard at work.

We delivered the additional parts and drinks and then beat it back to town a third time for a time-sensitive errand that could be salvaged out of our demolished schedule.  Still, my noble knight worked on alone in the sun.

Finally, the car was running again – but it wasn’t running right.  He called me and told me to make a third stop at the auto parts store before we met up with him again.  We spent even more money this time, giving thanks that they had all the needed parts in stock, and headed out once more into the wilderness.  (little ow.  sort of.  7:58 PM.  Not at all like the big ow when I paid the bill for the 3 round of auto parts.)

With the car just barely running, we limped home.  The 35 mile trip took over an hour, and it had been 5 hours since I left the house.  I had a sunburn on the back of my neck.  I still needed to go for groceries, although 3 other errands had been aborted for the day.

I choked down a bit of lunch at 3 or 4 o’clock and left again, this time in the van.

OK, I’m bored.  Are you?  Here’s the thing: I had that string of semi-painful, good strong contractions on the way home and when I walked in the door it more or less quit.  Now it’s the same old, same old.  Braxton Hicks contractions, every 12-20 minutes, nothing significant.  Oh well.  It’ll probably be 3 more weeks.  Unless it picks up again late tonight.

Tomorrow is my next (last?) prenantal checkup.  Maybe 150 miles in the car will trigger some good contractions.

I am funny

I know this because today I saw a whole family in the truck next to me burst into laughter one by one as they looked over at me.

Although it was early in the day, my feet were already swelling. As usual, the left was far worse than the right. I like driving when this happens because it’s the easiest way to keep my left foot elevated above my heart. I just slip off my sandal and rest my left foot up on the dash.

Very comfy and highly effective.

And apparently very funny looking.

As the truck pulled up next to me, I saw one passenger look over and burst into laughter. He tapped the shoulder of the woman next to him, and she stared wide-eyed before the laughter set in. The driver looked at them like they were nuts, then glanced my way. He felt the same as they did. The truck was nearly rocking with their merriment.

I thought briefly about lowering my foot to a more dignified position, then decided that I would rather bring joy to onlookers. I was obviously the high point of their day; why should I let my own pride so selfishly take that away from them?

False labor and more on pregnancy

With just 3 1/2 weeks until my duedate, I’ll have to apologize in advance if nearly every post has something to do with pregnancy, labor and/or childbirth.  Oh, and swollen feet.  I can’t forget those, even if they are getting hard to see.  Just for the record, I want you all to know that I can still paint my toenails.  It helps that I can also hold my breath for 2 minutes.

I’m having tons of false labor now – at some point around 7 months, my Braxton-Hicks contractions usually just evolve into false labor, which eventually becomes real labor and then there’s a baby.  In one sense, I have 2 months of labor.  In another, I have 2 hours since I often don’t realize it’s really real labor until it’s well under way.

For those who are wondering, I do plan to live-blog this birth.  Last time blogging was a fun way to pass the time, and this time it should be easier since I’m truly wireless now – last time I was blogging from a desktop.  Now I can take the laptop wherever I’m most comfortable, even the little birthing pool which will be out on the deck.

It’s almost time to place bets on the baby’s birthdate, weight and gender.  I would love to deliver another boy right on my duedate, which our son’s birthday, but that seems unlikely so I’ll let slip that I’m also thinking of the 4th of July, which falls on a Friday this year.  That is 6 days after my official duedate of June 28th.  I have a strong pattern of carrying late, going into labor on Thursdays, having long slow labors, and delivering on holidays or previously claimed birthdays.  All of this seems to combine to make Independence Day an ideal prospect. (read my brief birth stories 1-4 and 5-8)

What do you think?  Could it happen?

A poll on swollen feet

I was complaining yet again about my chronically fat feet and a friend asked me if my feet had swelled with The Boy.  The reason she asked is because she has one boy and one girl, and found that she swelled horribly with her boy but not a bit with her girl.

Strangely enough, the only bit of swelling I’ve ever had outside this pregnancy was with The Boy.  Never a hint with any of the girls.

Now I’m wondering: is it a gender tipoff?  Did you ever notice any correlation between the gender of your expected baby and your tendency to swell more or less or not at all?

Checkup

It’s late now and I should be in bed, but I can’t help blogging this. Today I’ve been scarce online because I had a prenatal checkup. This probably isn’t as exciting for you as it is for me, so feel free to skip the rest of this post and only feign interest in my measurements and weight gain. I won’t be offended.

I am measuring precisely on schedule again, just like last time. This surprises me a little because even though my insides are feeling much more crowded, I don’t think I’m looking any bigger on the outside. I really did just what I told all my friends: I popped out at 4 months and looked about 7 or 8 months pregnant, then stayed that way indefinitely.

I only gained 1 lb in the last 3 weeks. This doesn’t surprise me at all because it’s been so hot. I don’t like to eat much when it’s hot and food becomes something I use primarily for medicinal purpose, if you know what I mean: I eat to keep well, not to satisfy hunger because, well, I just don’t tend to get hungry during hot weather.

I had to remind my midwife to draw blood for an iron check. If you’re a new reader, you have no idea what a grown-up, big-girl sort of thing this was for me to do. I usually faint during blood draws unless I’m lying down. I know what you’re thinking. I am not a baby. Am not, am not, AM NOT.

I won’t know my iron levels until around Tuesday since my midwife’s centrifuge is out of commission. She’ll have to send the sample out to a lab.

I made plans to borrow a labor/birthing pool, which I will pick up at my next checkup. Is it weird to look forward to labor? Like Kelly of Families Against Feminism, I love labor pains – but just the early ones!

And I heard a beautiful little heartbeat, loud and clear. That’s always the best part. Five weeks and counting!

Progesterone cream

I’ve made reference in the past to using progesterone cream.  I get a lot of emailed questions about this, and my most recent reply to a reader bounced so I’m going to share it here instead.  Tracey, if you’re reading this, here’s your answer.  🙂

I often use progesterone cream several weeks or months post partum to help smooth out the roller coaster of hormones.  My own experience has been to start using a small dab daily when my hair to starts to fall out (do you get that too?  Around 6 weeks after giving birth?) and just use until I start feeling normal, maybe a couple of months.  I apply it to a different area of thin skin each day – this is supposed to aid in absorption.  One day I’ll rub it into the inner side of my upper arm; another day it goes on my throat; another day I might use it on my face or inner thigh.  I always notice a difference in my mood and general attitude within 12 hours or so.  Once I feel better consistently I invariably forget to use it and naturally taper off.
I have always breastfed so never had regular cycles while I was using progesterone cream, but I never used it for long periods.

The theory behind it is that your ovaries, which normally produce your progesterone, go dormant during pregnancy when the placenta takes over. Your progesterone levels during pregnancy are much higher than normal.  When the baby is born, suddenly the placenta is gone, your ovaries are sound asleep, and your super-high progesterone levels plummet over the next few weeks.  Sometime around 6 weeks later, you find yourself running on fumes.

Loss of hair is a common sign of low progesterone levels.  The cream does not entirely replace your natural production but it provides a little help during the time that it takes for your ovaries to wake up and
get back into gear.  It also makes life with a post-partum mom and little more bearable for hubby, who has on occasion threatened to bathe me in it.

Was I being cranky?

Today I took the big van and the little red-headed 3yo on a minor grocery outing. We only made 2 stops and spent ~$150, but I was pretty wiped out by the end.

It’s hot today, I’m 33 weeks pregnant, and I didn’t bring any big helpers. For each stop, I loaded the cart alone; I unloaded it onto the conveyor belt alone; I loaded the bags into the cart; I loaded the bags into the van; I lifted the 3yo in and out of the cart and van 40 or 50 times. I’m not whining and I don’t mind the exercise, but I was beat by the time I headed for the driver seat the final time.

Did I mention that the temperature today was somewhere in the high 90’s and that the a/c in the van has completely quit?

I loaded the last of the groceries into the side doors of the van since the back was full, and strapped the 3yo into her place. But when I walked around to the driver side of the van, I found a big red truck parked so close that I could hardly sidle along the side of the van, let alone open the door and wedge my pregnant self through the opening. I doubt that I could have done it even without the belly. It just wasn’t happening.

Poor little Rachael was baking in the van, waiting for me to find a way to my seat so I could at least get the van moving in a homeward direction and end her torment soon, so what did I do?

What would you have done?

I pulled a notepad out of my purse and began writing. Really, I did.

“Thanks a lot for parking so close. I couldn’t even open my door. Now my kid is baking, and it’s all your fault.”

Nope. That’s what I was thinking, but it wasn’t quite honest. It was mostly my fault that my kid was baking at this point. Anyway, I would feel like a hypocrite if I left a rude letter rebuking another driver for parking rudely. I decided to keep it short and sweet. Just remind them to think of others.

“Please don’t park so close. I’m 8 months pregnant and can’t get into the driver seat of my van.”

That’s all I said. I was out of room on the little page from my memo pad and Poor Rachael’s cheeks were already red, so I tucked it under the offender’s wiper blade and went around to the other side of my van. I crawled into the side doors and hauled myself unceremoniously over the heaps of groceries, trying not to mash the bread and produce or knock 6 gallons of milk out into the parking lot.

But all the way home, I was really wishing I had gone into just a bit more detail:

“…do you really want to see a preposterously pregnant woman haul herself over heaps of groceries to get to the driver seat of her vehicle? Please, park kindly next time.”

I’ve got to start keeping a bigger notepad in my purse.

Does this blog make me look fat?

Well, that’s not exactly what I wanted to ask, but now I have your attention, right?

I just upgraded to WordPress 2.5.1 and updated all my plugins, and now I’m really tired (Gee, could it be jet lag or the fact that it’s nearly 1 AM?).  I’m going to be brave foolish lazy and not spend a lot of time checking things over to make sure it all works and looks right.

So don’t be too shy to tell me if something looks wrong or suspiciously different – unless you’re just going to comment on how much weight I gained at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

And on that note, let me close with a timeless quote from one of my sweet, loving daughters:

“Mom, why are you wearing all black?  You know, the slimming effect of black only goes so far…”