Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 40 Weeks

Elizabeth at 40 weeks.jpgWell, today is my due date with no baby in sight, so I won't be one of the 5% who delivers "on time." I'm as comfortable as any full-term pregnant woman has a right to be, which is to say I'm pretty uncomfortable but I know it could be a lot worse. Mae keeps inching her way down and then leaping back up at night. Every morning the top of my stomach is rock hard and my innie is still an innie. I have tons of menstrual cramp-esque contractions but those have been going on for weeks, so they don't seem to indicate much. We're currently experiencing an insane, week-long rain storm in northern California and I think she knows better than to be born during Floodpocalypse 2017!

I've been incredibly introverted the last two weeks. There are very few people I want to talk to on the phone or even via text message, and I haven't found a good way to tell friends and family so I feel guilty every time I ignore a call. Apparently this is a normal mental state so close to delivery, and both my midwife and chiropractor commented on my "dreamy, faraway look" that often accompanies full-term pregnancy.

My 35th birthday was on January 5 and the best gift was not going into labor; I was worried Mae would have to share her birthday with her mom, but we're safely past that threat. The second best gift was our friend Bobby coming over to take some beautiful photos, including the one I'm sharing here. Otherwise it was not the best birthday on record. I spent several hours the night before and that morning talking to my midwives and other medical professionals, trying to decide if I needed to go to the emergency room to have an ultrasound for a blood clot after significant calf pain in my left leg the night before. Since the pain went away after elevating my leg, taking liquid calcium/magnesium, and sleeping, they decided I was in the clear. Mae hangs out exclusively on my left side so it's no surprise that leg is in more pain than the right, but I certainly don't want to take any risks with my health or hers. Then, that night we drove an hour to Healdsburg with some friends so I could fulfill a bizarre but persistent vision I had of doing karaoke at nine months pregnant, but the karaoke host was a complete jerk and I left in tears. I did get some sweet gifts and a surprise flower delivery from my parents, plus a flood of calls and texts, so I certainly felt loved. Hormonal and weepy and loved.

It's strange to exist in this limbo state where I could go into labor at any moment. I tend to get up late, be productive for a few hours, and then spend the rest of the day on the couch. This certainly doesn't help my restless legs at night, but I'm unable to get much exercise since walking is quite painful due to worsening pubic symphysis dysfunction. I wish I could say I was using the downtime to meditate and practice deep breathing techniques so that I'm fully prepared to labor... but mostly I'm just watching Netflix. I am also cooking a lot, including for my friend who delivered at 37 weeks! She was due a week after me and it's still so strange to me that she has her baby and I'm still pregnant, but it was awesome to meet her daughter and get to talk to her about her labor and first week of being a new mom. It's surreal to think that soon, that will be me.

Speaking of labor, I have learned so much about the rights of a laboring woman to create the labor she wants, not the one the hospital is most comfortable with her having. WOMEN! Did you know you can opt out of all that crazy stuff that has become standard in modern, medicalized labor? You CAN say no to the fetal monitor and IV. You CAN insist on being allowed to eat and drink (or at least, do it without permission). You CAN say no to antibiotic ointment in your baby's eyes an a Hepatitis B vaccine mere seconds after your baby is born. Unless there is a medical issue, you CAN insist that your baby be placed directly on your bare skin immediately after delivery, and you can insist that Apgar tests are done with your baby in your arms. You can even opt out of the vitamin K shot, but that's the one thing I'm saying yes to; it's a zero-risk intervention with life-saving potential. I continue to be beyond grateful that I am birthing at a center with two grounded, practical midwives who work with women to create empowering and personal labor experiences, who are supportive and caring and calm, and who work with me to find the best answers and options for me and Mae. I'm quite nervous about labor, but I have never doubted my decision to birth at Bloom.

The next time you hear from me I'll be writing about my birth experience and all the weirdness and wonder of having a newborn. Wish us luck!

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