Less than a month to go

I’m so overdue for an update that I hardly know where to start with this post. So much has happened and there’s so much I could talk about, but in the end I’ll probably keep it short. I still don’t feel like this is the place to talk about problems, and really my problems during this pregnancy have been so minor it’s hardly worth complaining at all. I’m 36w4d, and physically things have been pretty easy. Even at 9 months pregnant I’m still not that uncomfortable. I get achy, and my hip injury (torn labrum- will require surgery when I’m recovered from the pregnancy and have time) has kept me from exercising or spending much time on my feet, but I expected it to be much much worse. My feet are only a teeny bit swollen by the end of the day, I don’t have terrible back pain, and I only get heartburn once or twice a week. People are constantly telling me I don’t look as far along as I am (despite the baby being up to 36th percentile for weight now), so that probably has something to do with it. I’ve gotten off really easy.

Although it’s been an easy pregnancy physically, it hasn’t been without complications. Around 18 weeks we found out that I had placenta previa, where the placenta is located over the cervix. We had another ultrasound a month or so later, and the placenta had moved off a little, but was still too close for a safe vaginal birth. Around this time it became obvious that the baby was breech, and between the two issues, one of my doctor’s made the prediction that I’d be having a c-section. So, I’ve spent the last couple months mentally preparing for a c-section. Then, a week ago, we had another ultrasound to check on the placenta previa, and lo and behold, it has moved sufficiently out of the way. That just leaves the fact that she’s breech to keep me from being cleared for a vaginal birth.

So, as I sit here, I’m starving and mentally preparing to have an ‘external cephalic version’ procedure in a few hours to try to flip her around. Basically, they will give me an epidural, then manually try to flip her around from the outside. My doctor told me not to google it because its rather traumatizing to watch. I’ve decided to follow that advice, but I’m still pretty nervous about both the epidural (I hate needles), and about watching them push and shove her. They’ve assured me that this procedure is totally safe, and doesn’t hurt the baby no matter what it looks like. They monitor her the entire time, so if they see any dips in her heart rate or any other signs of a problem they immediately stop. They wait until around 37 weeks because if something serious went wrong, it would be safe to go ahead and do a c-section. In fact, that’s why I’m starving right now. As a precaution, you aren’t supposed to eat the day of the procedure, in case they need to rush you in to surgery. Ultimately it only has about a 50% success rate, so it’s just a coin flip if it will do anything at all.

I know it’s the right thing to do to try this procedure, I didn’t really hesitate that much to say yes when they suggested it, I’m just nervous about the process. Plus, I’m really conflicted about whether I hope it will work or not. I’ve spent so much time assuming it would be a c-section, it’s completely terrifying to me that I might end up doing the whole labor thing after all. If it hadn’t been for all these complications, I’d have been mentally preparing for months. Now I have just a matter of weeks to get my head around the idea of all that pain and fear. I know it’s the right thing to do, even the small increased risks for the baby of c-section are not worth it just to save myself some pain and fear, but it’s definitely terrifying.

On the other hand, I have lots and lots of worries about a c-section too. I’m worried about the physical part- surgery and recovery. More importantly though, I’m worried that I’ll feel like I missed out on a normal birth, or that I won’t have that full bonding experience with my baby. It’s so anti-climactic in a way. You get in the car and drive to the hospital just like you’re going to a regular doctor’s appointment, you get in your hospital gown, they bring you back, and then suddenly you have a baby. There’s something about the process of labor that builds up the suspense and excitement so it actually feels like an enormous deal when it’s all over. Plus, at the end of a c-section, you may or may not have a chance to do skin-to-skin and/or breastfeed during the recommended time. It depends on how the baby is breathing and how quickly they get you stitched up. They’ve assured me they will do their best to make it happen, but of course there are no guarantees. And you don’t have access to your arms, so they have to basically hold the baby on your chest, which just seems awkward and not how I pictured the first time I held my baby.

I started out this post by saying that I don’t want to complain here, and then I just spent three paragraphs whining about a relatively minor issue. I’m sorry, it’s just whats on my mind today. Ultimately, I know that the bottom line is in a few weeks I will meet my daughter, and it doesn’t really matter in the long run how she’s born. I will finally have everything I’ve dreamed about for years now, and that’s worth it no matter how it happens. So on to the good parts.

I’m finally really feeling comfortable being pregnant and enjoying it. Since around the time of viability I really let go of most of the fear and have just trusted that this baby will be okay. It was partially a choice, if this is the only pregnancy I ever have I want to enjoy it rather than wishing for the end out of fear. We’ve gotten her nursery 99% finished, installed carseats, set up her co-sleeper in our bedroom, and bought hundreds of dollars of cloth diapers. We really feel like we’re ready for this, at least as much as anyone is ever really ready.

I love my belly- rubbing it and feeling her squirming and bumping around in there. In fact, my favorite part of being pregnant has been the fact that she’s breech, because I can feel and see her so well. Her head is above my belly button (facing in and to my left), so when she stretches her head there’s this huge lump that sticks out. Her knee sticks out right below my belly button, and she kicks off to the left side of my belly.We’ve taken to calling her lumpers for this reason. When I first wake up in the morning her head lump sticks out so far it looks like some sort of tumor, I guess because she shifts her position when I sleep on my side at night.  When she really gets moving it looks like huge waves moving across my belly. Seeing her and holding my hands over her tiny head while she moves makes me feel so close to her. In fact, I’m finally enjoying pregnancy so much I’m actually a little sad to think that I won’t be pregnant anymore soon. Right now she’s so close to me all the time, it will be strange and not necessarily good to have her physically separated from me.

I still can’t get over how lucky I am, and how this has managed to work out despite the complicated start. Even beyond my own story, the last few months have really changed my perspective on how much hope there is out there for those of you who haven’t been successful yet. I’ve been watching and reading, and I just can’t beleive how many of you out there have managed to beat the odds and have successful pregnancies. So many of you who felt like there was no hope whatsoever (and maybe for good reason) have shown up with good news. Every time this happens I’m overwhelmed with happiness and think, see, you can never assume that it’s hopeless. For those of you who were reading my blog a year ago, you know this is exactly the opposite of how I felt then. I know it probably seems like it’s easy to feel hopeful when you’re not in the middle of it anymore. I know how hard it is to feel that hope when you’re on the other side. But I feel so hopeful for each of you, even if you don’t feel it for yourself. Even though I don’t write and comment much anymore, I still read and hope that each post will be the post when you have good news.