You guys. I really didn’t think I would be writing a 39 week update. I legit thought the baby would be here by now. Mostly because my mom and sister both delivered two weeks early with their firsts. So while I’m feeling a bit impatient (I can’t wait to see his little face! And butt! And feet! And knees! And! And! And!) I’m also trying to remind myself that it hasn’t even been 40 weeks yet. And if this guy needs a little more time to cook, develop his lungs, practice blinking – whatever it is he needs – that’s cool too. Pregnant Kathleen is all “Let’s get this show on the road!” but Momma Kathleen is all “You take the time you need, little baby. I’m here for you.”
So for now it’s just a waiting game. The day before yesterday I was having back cramps, period like cramps, lots of “practice contractions”. It was enough that Jeremy had me text our doula to let her know things were maybe progressing a little. Then in the middle of the night I had a legit contraction. It felt like a wave starting from the lower part of my uterus and growing up into my entire abdomen. My whole stomach became rock hard and misshapen with the contraction. And you guys, it was kind of awesome. I stayed awake waiting for the next one but it never happened. But then yesterday… I hardly felt pregnant. I felt like I was wearing a fake belly on top of my old body and found myself in denial that I will have a baby in the matter of days. And while everyone promised that things would get progressively uncomfortable I’m finding my ability to eat, breathe, sleep, and stand up are about the same as they have been for a few weeks now. In fact, the most discomfort I’m experiencing is mental. It’s a waiting game that opens up space for excitement and anxiety alike. It can be easy to partner with fear, but I’m trying to remain disciplined in visualizing exactly how I want everything to go down (orgasmic birth, please). And I lean on my dream team – my midwife, my doula, and my husband to keep me grounded, positive, and brave.
In these last couple of weeks I’ve learned to really trust my baby in this process. The last 9 months have been all about me, me, me. But this birth… it’s not really about me. It’s about my baby. So I imagine him in my belly trying to gather his courage too. He’s waiting for the moment when he’s feeling like a warrior who is ready to take on his birth day. We’re in it, and waiting it out, together – and that gives me a lot of comfort and courage.
Field Notes & Other Observations
• Vital stats: I haven’t gained any weight in the last two weeks but the baby (and my belly) is growing at a steady rate. Also my blood pressure is good.
• Speaking of weight… so far I’ve gained a total of maybe 25-30 lbs. I didn’t weigh myself for years pre-pregnancy so I’m not too sure. But I will say – I gained immediately and rapidly in that first trimester (before I was even showing). Then in this last half of my pregnancy the weight gain has slowed down significantly. I’m not sure if this is common but just thought I’d share in case anyone else has experienced this.
• Navigating pregnancy hasn’t been the most comfortable thing in the whole world but really I am beyond grateful that it has been so uncomplicated and healthy.
• I was asked yesterday at my midwife checkup if I’d like to be checked to see how dilated / effaced I am. For those of you who aren’t all up in the baby / pregnancy world dilated is how open your cervix is. As in the hole for the baby to come out of. 10cm dilated is where you want to be when you push the baby out, but you can start to dilate before going into labor. Effaced is how thin your cervix is … so not only does the cervix open but the cervix thins out to facilitate in that opening and allow the baby to come out. Anyway, I declined. I have friends who were at 0cm with no uterus thinning only to give birth later that day. And I’ve had friends who were 4cm dilated and 100% effaced only to give birth weeks later. So I figure knowing the status of my uterus right this second isn’t terribly relevant. But perhaps when I’m in labor I’ll want more regular checks to see how I’m progressing. The cool thing about going with midwives is that their pretty hands-off and only care to check upon request.
• As I get closer to the due date I am mindful of how each meal may be fuel for labor.
• You may have seen on my Instagram the birthing tub we got. So obviously lots of people are asking if I’ll be having a water birth – and the truth is I don’t know! I’ve never given birth before and I’m sure there are lots of variables involved. I’m open to having a water birth but am not attached to the idea. Just like I’m not attached to any sort of birth plan because I know anything can happen.
• We still don’t have a name for the baby! In fact, the short list is now growing the closer we get to the due date.
• I had a dream last night that I was holding the baby. He had just been born and was so little! I can’t wait.
• I’ve been asked who will be present for the birth. Pretty much just the dream team – my midwife, doula, and Jeremy. And probably my very talented photographer friend, Greer, who has generously offered to document the event.
• On a more emotional note… I’ve learned through sharing this pregnancy week-by-week that the whole ordeal is so personal. And it’s easy to take someone else’s birth plan, preferences, and stories personal. But there is no right or wrong way to move through pregnancy and birth a baby. Whether it’s at home, in a field, at a hospital, medicated, natural, emergency c-section, elected c-section … it’s all personal and none of it is right or wrong. At the same time – I’ve found myself taking other people’s opinions, questions, and stories personal too. I’ve never done this before so I feel challenged and defensive when questioned why I’m making the choices I am (or why my midwife is making the choices she is) – even when the questioning is coming from a place of genuine curiosity! Everything from flu shots, to vaccines, to pain medication, to internal checks and monitoring. I had no idea how personal it was prior to getting pregnant… So that’s my one big disclaimer for everything I’ve shared in these posts. I will most likely be re-evaluating my sharing boundaries once the baby is born.