Thursday, September 12, 2013

two weeks from yesterday.

I've been sitting here trying to write the posts I've been meaning to catch up on forever - posts about randomly starting a bathroom remodel, updating the upstairs hallway, plans for the basement, our anniversary adventures - but I gotta be honest, none of it is resonating. I pretty much have one thing on my mind this last week: baby, baby, baby.

Which makes sense, considering she's officially making her debut in less than two weeks.

35 weeks, 2 days

36 weeks, 2 days

37 weeks, 2 days

Seriously, I wanted to show you pictures of where we are in the nursery - furniture all set to go, closet almost ready, bookshelves hung, curtains just about done. I wanted to chat about photo displays and the new back yard fence and some post-reno kitchen thoughts. But I'm just not there. All I can think about, morning, noon, and night, is meeting the little girl who's been wiggling in my belly for nine months. Oh, and the fact that we do finally have a birth plan.

Yep! A birth plan. It's not the plan I planned on. It's - maybe even better than that?

At my 27-week ultrasound, Baby was breech, which wasn't a big deal. They're still flipping all around at that point of gestation, and they still have plenty of room to perform such fancy gymnastics. The thing was, ever since the ultrasound confirmed that the little baseball-sized (now softball-sized) lump in my upper abdomen was her head, I could tell that she's been pretty stuck there. Every once in a while, she scoots her bottom up so that she's lying across the top of my belly (ouch), but her head stays in roughly the same spot. I wasn't worried about it; I was just aware of the little round bump at the top of my big bump.

So it was no surprise when, at my 36-week checkup last Wednesday, my OB did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that her head was still in the same location. While we discussed some options, including an external version, our final decision was that a planned C-section ultimately would be best. 

I think my OB thought I was going to be upset by the idea of a C-section. I think I thought I would be upset by it. But I'm so, so not. In fact, the level to which I'm okay with this plan kind of shocks me. Then again, I hadn't spent much time envisioning my ideal labor and delivery, so I didn't have my heart set on anything in particular, other than a positive outcome (read: healthy baby, healthy mama). I know there are drawbacks to having major abdominal surgery when a vaginal delivery isn't outside the realm of possibility (say, if we did do a version), but screw thinking about all the drawbacks - for once, I started focusing right away on the benefits. I mean, think about it:

  • The course of delivery is much more clear to me. There's no wondering about how many hours I'll be in labor or how badly contractions are going to hurt or whether I'll choose to get an epidural or if I'll tear. I could still go into labor naturally before our scheduled date, which means my amniotic fluid could still make a surprise appearance, but the rest of the path is well-charted. Being anxious about the unknown, I'm comforted by the idea of knowing (generally) how things will progress.
  • Although I'll have a scar, I won't have to deal with some other personal (admittedly minor) risks of a vaginal delivery - tearing, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor issues, etc.
  • I won't have to labor for endless hours and then end up having a C-section for some reason anyway. I've had some friends who birthed that way, and from the sounds of it, they struggled significantly more afterwards, both physically and emotionally, than those who had a planned C-section.
  • I get a couple extra days in the hospital. This isn't everyone's bag, but I'm all about having extra support around me for a few days. Also? We did the birth tour at the hospital, and the newly-renovated rooms are pretty sweet. I'm going to approach it like a stay in a hotel. With, you know, lots of bodily fluids and pain meds and a brand-new human to feed using just my body parts. But there will be a flock of experts around me to help deal with all of those things. And, you know, meals delivered right to my room. Plus, we live three miles away from the hospital, so it'll be convenient for J.J. to run home if he needs a break or needs to grab something.
  • A C-section automatically grants me at least two extra weeks of medical leave - eight total, instead of six. I'm planning on taking 12 total weeks off, but this means I have to use 80 fewer hours of my carefully-hoarded vacation time. Boom.
  • The C-section recovery may or may not be more "difficult" than with a vaginal delivery. I've talked with moms who have endured each, and their opinions were fairly similar - that the recovery wasn't necessarily easier or harder, just different. One good thing is that I'll be forced - required - to take it really easy for at least a couple weeks. In my warped mind, that will be much easier to comply with after a surgery than it would be after vaginal childbirth. I would have expected myself to be up and at 'em pretty much immediately; not so, in the case of a C-section. I still think it'll be a challenging recovery period, in part because I'll have to rest so much, but it'll probably be better for me in the long run.

Of course, the drawbacks sneak in from time to time, usually in the dead of night. Drawbacks...like imagining the pain of the epidural shot, or envisioning my abdomen splayed open and a human emerging from it, or what if they leave an instrument or a rag inside of me and it causes sepsis six years down the line...I mean, come on, I'm still me. I've watched Grey's Anatomy. I'm nervous. Not just about the C-section - also about the outcome of even a successful section, which is: a newborn (you know, NBD, just a little baby that we have to figure out how to keep alive). But the vast majority of the time, it's more like anticipation than anxiety. CBT techniques will come in so handy in the next two weeks (less than two weeks), but I need to have them at the forefront of my mind in order to utilize them. For example, no labor/baby thoughts allowed in the middle of the night, regardless of how hard that is to do when I wake up to pee right around 4:00 and can't seem to fall back asleep. Also, it's helpful to remember what a common surgery this is. Surgery, yes - my very first ever - but a really common one with relatively low risk.

The most helpful technique? Keeping my eyes on the prize. The end result will be a sweet little babe to sport the cutest laundry I've ever done:

Don't worry, there are some non-blue-and-green clothes in her wardrobe, too.

The other prize? I'll be done being pregnant. I may be trading in current discomforts for post-surgical ones, but I'm pretty much over these current discomforts. I have to say, I'm so grateful to have had a super easygoing pregnancy overall, but that changed - dramatically - last week. Could be that I had psyched myself up to get through camp, and once I did, I had nothing left in my reserves to keep on keepin' on. Could be that I went from moving around all day long, including swimming almost every afternoon, to a lot more sitting. Could be that I haven't been sleeping as well. Could be that I ceased going on nightly walks, since they would spur on Braxton Hicks contractions, and I don't want to trigger actual labor yet. Could be that, geez, I hit my last four weeks of pregnancy, and I'm 20+ pounds heavier than I've ever been, and I'm retaining water in my face and calves and freakin' toenails, and I'm just not comfy! Whatever it is, I have to watch myself now. I ended the work week last Friday in major pain, with weird internal pinchy cramps (contractions?) and shooting pains every time I stood up or walked. I almost went to triage to get checked out, but everything eased up once I got home and rested for about an hour. Still, a similar thing happened yesterday - extreme downward pressure, hurting to walk, not being able to bend over and stand back up without gritting my teeth. Luckily, I have amazingly supportive co-workers who shooed me home for the day right before lunch. And they were right to do so - it won't help anyone if I go into labor this week. Nonetheless, I'm ready to move past this particular physical phase of the childbearing year.

There's still a lot on our pre-baby to-do list, but it's dwindling pretty quickly. I'd like to catch up on all those pending blog posts - like the state of the nursery! - but the truth is, I'm focused now on a few strong hopes: that I don't go into labor before our scheduled date; that I don't have any lingering major tasks (*cough* replacing our suddenly-deadly garage door *cough*) to deal with immediately post-partum; stabilizing the anxiety that ramped up once we had a specific date set; and - most of all, above and beyond anything else ever - that this little babe comes out healthy. I read an article once written by the mother of a child with special needs who took offense to the idea that so many expectant parents voiced their wish of wanting nothing more than a healthy newborn. I think her perspective was, "What, so you wouldn't want MY 'unhealthy' child?" But I don't think that gets at the root of the wish, which is a potential nightmare: that your baby may not be healthy enough to live. No one wants that scenario, just as I don't want anyone I love - my baby, my partner, my parents or siblings or friends - to have to deal with bad health. And I've been in the situation of loving fiercely a brand-new baby with life-threatening complications, and let me tell you, it's scary as hell. You wouldn't wish that fear on anyone, either. So I stand by my strongest hope - that all is well with the baby I've loved since before she was even conceived. 

Even though she's trying to poke her head under my ribs right now. #ouch

Oh, and the date that was set? September 25. Two weeks from yesterday. Sounds splendid to me. :)

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