February 16 – February 22: 35 Weeks 0 Days – 35 Weeks 6 Days.
I found out Wednesday that the baby is head down, which sets us up for a vaginal birth! One more item to cross off the list of things to worry about.
First Sign That Labor is Coming Soon-ish
A month ago, comments about how I looked like I could “pop” any time were irritating, but now I’m starting to feel that the baby could come soon, too. My belly is bigger than ever, and I think the baby has descended. One of my regular yoga students remarked that the baby was lower as soon as she saw me. For most of my pregnancy, it’s felt like I’ve had a stapled stomach because of how much the baby is pressing upward (everyone says I’ve been “carrying high”), but this week I’ve been unusually hungry. The baby descending into the pelvis is called “lightening,” but I don’t feel any lighter—actually, it feels like there’s a pile of bricks sitting on my pelvic floor and I have to consciously resist falling into the pregnant lady waddle.
I’ve heard that first-time babies are more likely to be born late, but according to this blog post that looks at the data, that’s not the whole story. The author concludes that first-time babies are less likely to be born on-time, and more likely to be born either early or late. The baby descending is one of the signs that labor is on the way. Some sources say babies will usually be born within two weeks of descending, some say “a few” weeks, some say four weeks, and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence some babies born even later than that. So really, I don’t have any more information about when labor will start—she could be born early, on her estimated delivery date, or late. I haven’t had any Braxton-Hicks contractions (at least not that I’ve recognized as such) and I haven’t seen my mucus plug yet (other signs of pending labor), so I get the sense that the baby is not in an incredible hurry. Still, Richard and I have now got our hospital bag mostly packed, so we’re ready for her whenever she chooses to make her debut.
Ever More Body Changes
I walk much more slowly now, and can’t handle being on my feet for as long (although, my Better Belly Binder helps). I have to take hills in stages, stopping to rest once or twice in an uphill block. Richard loves it, because I’m typically a power-walker (even when I don’t have time constraints) and he always used to tell me to slow down and enjoy the journey.
Between me continuing to gain about a pound a week, and Richard putting in exerted effort to stop gaining sympathy weight, I’m finally heavier than him. My belly button is pretty flat, but it hasn’t popped into an outtie (although it does have a weird little neanderthal forehead lip that shows through my shirt), and I don’t have any stretch marks yet. I’m not holding out much hope for a stretch-mark-free pregnancy though—when I was a growing teen I had them everywhere, and they say no matter how much cocoa butter you use it just comes down to genetics.
Support From Strangers
The bigger I get, the nicer people are to me. Maybe by slow walking with hands supporting my belly sends the signal that I could use some support. We went to a stand-up comedy show last week, and the usher seated us at a table in one of the wings with a big comfy bench, then came back and gave me two extra pillows for back support. At first I was a little indignant, thinking I didn’t need the special treatment, but this guy clearly had experience with pregnant women. At this point, it’s difficult to sit comfortably in one position for any amount of time. Normally Richard and I sit right up front where we’ve had fun interacting with the comedians, but I was thankful to be out of the spotlight this time where I could frequently adjust and readjust my pillows, slip off my shoes, and switch from sitting on the bench, to sitting on a chair, to sitting back on the bench again. Richard and I take some time to affirm each other daily (one of the birth preparation exercises from Rachel Yellin’s class), and his affirmation to me after the show was, “I like that you don’t get caught up with what other people think—you’ll sit in yoga poses at comedy shows and do lunges on planes because that’s what your body needs, even if it’s weird.”
In one of my many bathroom breaks during the comedy show, I ended up in line behind two other women. One of them looked at my belly and said, “Ooh, I remember what that’s like. You’d better go first.” And, they both let me go ahead. Now that the baby is sitting lower, there is definitely more pressure on my bladder, so I appreciate the kindness!
We took a newborn care class this weekend, and got hands-on practice diapering and swaddling on dolls, and we got to see how all the various baby wraps and carriers go on. The other information presented was a reaffirmation of what we’ve read and learned about in other classes, which made us feel prepared. Between each reading a different reference book on newborn care, taking a birth prep class, a breastfeeding class, and now this newborn care class, Richard and I are both pretty done with learning. I mentioned in a previous post that feeling prepared doesn’t mean we are prepared—but I think reaching this state of confidence, eagerness, and low-anxiety is worth a little delusion. Worry, doubt, and fear make for a difficult labor because they create resistance, so at this point I don’t see why I’d entertain these feelings around things I can’t control. So, if you have the urge to tell me, “You’ll never be prepared for what’s actually in store,” (with regard to childbirth or parenthood) how about trying, “I know you’ll figure it out. Pretty much everybody does!” instead.
Update – A couple more thoughts on feeling prepared that came up in Facebook comments discussion: I understand that it’s true that I’ll never really be prepared, but I don’t see how dwelling on that fact at this point is useful. There’s nothing I can do with that information other than worry about things that may or may not happen and that I can’t control or change. If I said, “I’ve trained my butt off for my first marathon, I feel so pumped, and I’m going destroy it,” people would say, “Yeah you will! Go get ’em girl!” and give me a high five. No one would say, “Mmm, don’t be so confident. You’ve never done this before so you have no idea how intense it’s going to be.” Whereas when I make positive, confident statements about childbirth and parenthood, it’s the opposite: I get more deflating comments than ones that reinforce my energy. It seems like people think they’re imparting sage old advice, but by my ninth month of pregnancy I’ve heard the cliche adages countless times. What I really appreciate at this point are words of encouragement, as well as personal stories (even if they’re about challenging situations) in which friends share their experience without projecting it onto what it’s going to be like for me.