Thursday 23 October 2014


She’s curled up on the couch, waiting, a ball of baby and emotions. A scrambled pile of books on pregnancy, labor, baby names, breastfeeding … not one more word can be absorbed. The birth supplies are loaded in a laundry basket, ready for action. The freezer is filled with meals, the car seat installed, the camera charged. It’s time to hurry up and wait. Not a comfortable place to be, but wholly necessary. - The Last Days of Pregnancy  (read it; it's good)

Yup, that's where I'm at.

The writer, Zana Studelska, uses the German word "Zwischen" or "between" to write about the last days of pregnancy, i.e. waiting for baby.

What is it with due dates, anyway? The stats say that only 5% of babies arrive on their due date. I suppose it is medically necessary, as this article says, to set one so that doctors can monitor baby's growth and tests can be performed at about the right times.  And having that future date seemed quite convenient, in terms to talking about the pregnancy with others, until it came and went. The people around me are very respectful and considerate: I've heard awful stories of friends and family members who call or text multiple times a day asking "Are you in labour yet?" Nobody is doing that to me (and they'd be in big do-do if they tried).  But still, now that the due date is in the past, I find myself wishing somehow that I didn't have this date in my head.

For example, when I was teaching, I didn't like to share too many details with my students. When they asked about when baby was coming, I would say things like "sometime in October" or "in a few weeks - it's one of the great mysteries of life, and I don't really get to choose." That was my way of maintaining boundaries, but now I kind of wish I'd used that same line with more people - not because I care much what they think or know, but so I'd be used to the idea too.

I also hate to think of Ember as "overdue," as if she is a library book. (Random Turtle trivia: a major reason I let my library card lapse was because I am terrible about returning items, especially since online renewal. I would deal with due dates by renewing materials for weeks and weeks instead of taking them in, which can totally work until you forget to renew on time, and then (at least with some libraries) you start to accumulate fines anyway, sometimes with interest. See another reason I don't like due dates? They come with penalties if you miss them. Bleah, I say!)

What's going on now?

Well, at my check-up today the doctor was unable to feel my cervix, which is posterior (i.e. behind the baby's head). So, obviously there was no sweep of the membranes, either. She didn't make any big deal out of it, emphasizing that none of these tests actually predict anything about labour. I am scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound next Tuesday (41 weeks) and the Friday after that. Apparently standard procedure is ultrasounds every 3 days after 41 weeks.  I do hope I give birth before I have all that monitoring, since I know that increased monitoring = increased anxiety for me, and if there's anything I would like to keep away from, it's anxietyanxietyanxiety. The only other advice I got was to keep monitoring baby's movements as movement is evidence of continued placental health. After 41 weeks they can induce, but doctor emphasized "that's not something we need to talk about right now." And then she said she hoped she sees me this weekend, as she's on call at the hospital.

Of course upon getting home I googled "posterior cervix at 40 weeks" (IknowIshouldn'tbutIdo). Naturally I didn't find out anything new, just anecdotes and more opinion. Some people claim that a posterior cervix means labour is not imminent, or that labour won't progress because baby's head is not pushing on cervix, or even that it means induction will fail and Caesarean birth will be prescribed! Then there are tons of stories of women in similar situation as me who went into labour a few hours or days later, no problem. So I might as well listen to the doctor and not make it a big deal.

As for other symptoms....I continue to have frequent Braxton-Hicks, especially in the evening. Sometimes I will feel bloated or heavy, like before a period, but it goes away when I change position or move around. I've also felt mild cramping or backache on occasion. Sometimes I'll feel sudden pressure or even pain low down, but like everything else, it's fleeting. Sometimes mild nausea - the same. All things considered I have very few late pregnancy discomforts.

So, what do I do with myself? I've gotten quite a few things done around the house. I know walking is considered good exercise, and I would love to; the problem is that after my fall in September I've gotten wary about walking long distances on my own. Even with very good, flat footwear, I can still roll my ankles. It hasn't caused me to lose my balance again, but it does stress me out. When Mr. Turtle is walking with me I don't worry so much because I figure he can catch me if I start to go down, but it does worry me when I'm alone. The weather has been so beautiful though, I might try some short walks at least.

Time for some lunch now. I'll end with some more thoughts from the article on Zwischen, which I hope will continue to be calm, productive, and......short.

I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey. 

Monday 20 October 2014

MicroBlog Mondays: Waiting

So, it's, er, one day before Ember's due date.

I've been trying to not get too invested in the due date. Despite the fact that for the past two, three months (especially the last one) all anybody wants to know is "When are you due?" whereupon I give this mythical date of October 21st, knowing that it may not actually mean anything.

Our physical space is ready for a baby. I can come up with other things to do of course: on the agenda for today (possibly) is going through my hall closet (not many closets in the house so must optimize space), vacuuming the downstairs, going through and shredding old mail, because.....well, it would feel good on some level to not have piles of old mail around. And laundry, there's always something to do with laundry. On the other hand, none of that is really necessary.  The necessary things are done: baby supplies are in place, even the hospital bags are packed.  Despite being procrastinators, we got there.

One thing I would like to do is work out some dependable method for photo organizing and sharing. We won't be doing a lot of Facebook photo sharing, but we do want to be able to share with family and close friends who are not close by. I have been playing around with Google Picasa, which seems promising. Unfortunately, any job that involves learning and concentration is not really my thing these days. A few weeks ago my brain kind of stopped processing and organizing new information.

It occurred to me the other day that waiting for the birth is a bit like a two week wait. With the notable difference that this time around something has to happen. But the rituals are a bit similar, e.g. symptom spotting:

  • Am I having more Braxton-Hicks?
  • Was that contraction maybe a little bit painful?
  • Is that heavy feeling in my pelvis?
  • Am I going to the washroom more often?
  • Any sign of mucous plug? (not so far)
  • Is baby sitting lower? (probably)
So far, any "symptom" of impending birth has been fleeting: here now, then gone. At my 39 week appointment last Thursday, the doctor said cervix was shortening and softening but was still completely closed.  She said though that baby was descending and putting pressure on the escape hatch, which sooner or later will ease it open.  "Lots of good things happening." The rational part of my brain has no problem with Ember taking her time, as long as she is healthy. The less rational part doesn't like waiting and can come up with too many Scenarios.

On the other hand, birth doesn't seem quite real yet. Despite all the classes and preparations, I don't quite believe that this is going to happen to my body, inside of my own skin

It seems to me like Ember had been more aware and responsive the past few days. Maybe she's just big enough now that I noticed almost every movement, but it feels like she's more tuned into her environment: she wakes up when I wake up (and is sometimes awake when I'm not), moves in response to my belly being stroked, or a change in position.

So, a quiet day of chores and belly wriggles. Probably. And waiting while trying not to consciously, well, wait.

Update: My doula sent me the link to this article, which I thought was really good:

The Last Days of Pregnancy

Friday 17 October 2014

Belated words

October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Most of the bloggers I regularly read, and most of the people who read this blog and support me, have experienced a pregnancy loss. It's not that I don't know or often think of your stories, but I didn't exactly pause and think of how they all added up to a shared experience.

And it made me feel a bit ashamed that I didn't acknowledge October 15th.

And I know why I didn't, and it isn't because these days there is so much to do, so much to think about. It's because at about 5 weeks, I thought I was losing Ember.  I will never forget the tsunami of grief that washed over me, obliterating every flimsy defense I thought I had against the random cruelty of the universe. Now, as it turned out, Ember and I were fine. Fine. Which is wonderful, except...all I was left with was the memory of that grief. I never got to experience the healing after it. That may sound ridiculous, because...shouldn't a healthy pregnancy have been healing? Well, yes and no.  I do feel joy and gratitude and with time, it's become stronger than the....other fears and feelings. But the point is this: I have no idea how somebody actually continues to live after a pregnancy loss, except from reading your blogs. And while I try to empathize, and while your testimony and the courage to make it leaves me in awe, and aching, I'm also afraid that I don't have same courage. I feel like that black hole of grief that still exists somewhere in my universe is still waiting for me and there's no way out.

This isn't a plea for sympathy. I guess it's just something I had to say. I want to acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day, and I suppose that means that today, I get to face and acknowledge my fear here.  We all have to step forward from where we stand.

Monday 13 October 2014

MicroBlog Monday: Kinda Sorta Almost

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Among the many, many things Mr. Turtle and I have to be thankful for: an extra day off to work on our many tasks around the house.

Today he....

  • finished putting in baseboards and putting up the curtain rod
  • built the crib
  • unpacked and installed car seat
  • made breakfast and dinner
  • inflated my ball chair
  • carried various things up and down the stairs, on request
....I hope I'm not forgetting anything as he does read this sometimes LOL.

Today I....
  • built an IKEA drawer thingy for the closet
  • organized the closet
  • washed cloth diapers (we bought 6 BumGenius All-in-Ones with the notion of seeing how well they work)
  • put away a few Tupperwares of various items that had been hanging around en route to their eventual destination
  • futzed around the baby's room so that it looks tidy
The baby's room is kinda sorta almost ready. At least, it's functional. Having it "perfect" is not a necessity, since she won't even be sleeping there for a few months, but having it clean and organized is still a good feeling - so much better than having baby articles in piles on the floor or thrown in boxes!  There's still a lot we could do to make it "pretty": things like curtains, artwork etc. But I figure those details can be added in the next few months - even years.

It's pretty impossible to get a photo of the whole room as it's quite small and I can't find a camera angle that shows everything. But these give you an idea:

Crib and recliner

Change table / diaper pail

Really like this woven leaf hanging that we found in Pier 1 imports.

The closet that I put together today. Can you spot the turtles?

I appreciate how clean and comfortable the room feels. However, the less rational part of me feels almost dismayed at how....uncomplicated it looks now. It's as if the order I've imposed hides the messiness of the journey to get here, and I feel ambiguous about that. Oh well, I suppose the arrival of a baby will put plenty of messiness back into the picture.

The next big job that really should have been done yesterday/last week: packing the hospital bags. I have the lists; I have the bags; I even think I have most of the stuff. I think it's among the last of the necessary tasks that is intimidating me a little. Even though I've packed for trips many many times, without much grief, this particular trip feels bigger than any other one.

Ember continues to appear happy and comfortable in situ. Last Thursday the doctor attempted to check my cervix. I was curious what was going on up there but once the actual inspection started I was less than enthusiastic about it. Apparently my cervix is high and tilted toward the back, which makes it harder to feel and quite uncomfortable for me. No evidence of dilation yet, or even effacement. This fits with my sense that Ember is going to stay in side for a least a few more days, even weeks, although the doctor was careful to point out that a thick cervix in no way guaranteed that labour wasn't about to start. As long as she's healthy then I am in no hurry. Although I strongly dislike the idea of being induced and it is my wish  that things progress naturally.

So it continues. Kinda sorta almost.

Monday 6 October 2014

MicroBlog Monday: Photo Shoot

I posted a couple weeks ago about wanting to do a maternity photo shoot. Like just a few other things, I procrastinated taking steps, making excuses that maybe it was too expensive, maybe too self-indulgent, whatever. Finally I decided that it was important to me, and to us, to have some really positive images of this pregnancy. So many of the images I've carried around in my head the past months have been scary and morbid. I know that's not the whole reality, but when I get a notion or an image stuck in my head it's not that easy to get it out. Then it took a few weeks to find a photographer and a time (there doesn't seem to be much time for anything these days.)

Anyway, today we finally had a beautiful fall evening, a funny and very "in tune" photographer couple, and a great experience. Although the photographers picked the location, they chose a park in the city where we walk a lot, so it felt very familiar and comfortable.

I don't have the actual pictures yet, so I can't share any, but I wanted to just share the mood. I am so glad I got up the nerve to actually do this.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

And now it is October

I remember struggling a lot with October as a young person. Not sure why. Lots of people think it is a beautiful month. It can be beautiful in my part of Canada, and some years it is. Other years winter comes fast and furious, and October means short days and decaying leaves and landscapes of wintry brown.

This year of course, October is something mythical. October is the month when we meet Ember.

Speaking of mythical, here is one of the latest "Oh !@#$" purchases.

Before anyone hates me for posting this unbearable cuteness, I must say that if I was left to my devices, our baby would probably have come home in a pillow case. I couldn't even look at baby clothes until week 30 or something. Then I would look, but I couldn't buy. Finally, last weekend my mom came over and asked awkward questions like, "So, what do you have?" and "What if you went into labour in the next few days?" I don't think I will, incidentally, but at 37 weeks, it's possible. Yikes.

So I put on my brave face and we went baby shopping. Despite several distinct urges to find an excuse, any excuse to run out from the store, we did it together. I just needed the backup. 

Unbearable cuteness it is.

The closest outfits are the newborn ones, and then the next row are the slightly bigger ones.

Now I will have to wash them all in the next few weeks....

Oh, and here's a lovely shot of the nursery. LOL.  That's the crib and change table in boxes on the floor. Bassinet (which will go in our bedroom) is in the background. Glider is ordered, hasn't arrived. (Same with stroller.)

The past week has been kind of crazy. Besides the fact I have a week and half left of work to get things mostly organized for my replacement, my colleague bunged her knee and has been off work. So I feel like I'm trying to keep twice as many balls in the air.  We also have two baby classes on the go, and in addition to other commitments, it seems like we have something scheduled to do every single day and evening. Not exactly what we've been used to. But it will all be worth it. It will.

Thinking of everyone always.