Greetings. I come to you as a hula-hooping maniac from my birth ball.
This whole pregnancy I’ve looked forward to Mondays. Every Monday I got to celebrate the milestone of making it to another week, pregnant and growing a healthy baby boy! With our infertility journey not ever far from my mind as well as constantly hearing other’s stories of pregnancy and infant loss, I never took those Mondays for granted because they were blessings.
The anticipation of reaching your baby’s due date can be both a combination of fear, excitement, anxiousness and even misery, am I right? But what happens in your mind and body when said due date comes and goes with no squishy newborn to have and to hold?
This pregnancy has been so much different for me than my pregnancy with Lucy’s, right from the very start. I was a lot sicker (had HG) and swollen with Lucy, but this pregnancy has brought more aches and pains than I ever imagined. I’ve suffered from sciatica and “lightning crotch” (if you know, solidarity sister), rib pain and tingling radiating to my mid/upper back, high blood pressure I’ve had to maintain with constant Epsom salt baths, ketones in my urine indicating a possibility that baby wasn’t getting enough calories (can get scary, QUICK), and an issue with my liver since 37 weeks that has left my nether regions and upper body more itchy than I can communicate with words. Sigh… the highs and lows of pregnancy, hey? All a blessing and I’d not trade any of it for the WORLD because I know the prize it brings. I have been on the end of desperately wanting a baby so bad that I’d take any of these things and then some, just to experience pregnancy and birthing a child! So my gratitude maintains constant perspective and does not run dry.
So why am I writing this blog? Honestly.. because I’m 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant with a body that’s apparently ripe and ready and a baby who is just… apparently not. So this is purely for therapeutic reasons for me and I hope you’ll have grace with me in all my venting. It’s always helped me emotionally to journal - to get things out of my head and onto paper. So I’m sharing it with you today because I know so many of you have been here! Overdue and out of your mind.
From 37 weeks I was on it. I’m very VERY type-A and I think a certain proactiveness comes with that (ahem need to control ahem). Hey, at least I’m soberly aware of that. (; I’ve been drinking raspberry leaf tea daily, upping my dosage at 38 weeks as soon as I was given the green light from my doula. Dates? Ate 6 of them every day. Evening primrose? One orally and one… “up there”… (are any guys reading this? Yikes). Yoga twice a week. Walking 1+ miles every day. This is the week my itching began. I figured it was just some dry skin or razor burn or a hormone shift but it continued on. Itchiest belly button alive. And dare I say it… dare I tell the world? Hemorrhoid. Thanks Ollie. (You’re welcome all you pregnant mamas who always wondered if that was normal. Who wants to talk about that one? They are frightening and straight from hell.)
Anyway, here comes 38 weeks for my first check: 1cm dilated, 0% effaced. Bummed but its still early. I’ve been reading too much about how dilated some women can be at 38 weeks. I’m not one of them, but it doesn’t seem to mean anything even if I was because apparently women can be crazy dilated for weeks on end and still not go into labor as quickly as you’d think. Itching increases and has now spread to my stomach all over. Night sweats at an all time high - I wake up in an Amanda-shaped puddle every 2 hours or so. Sweet.
Enter 39 weeks: 1cm dilated, 60% effaced. A bit of a trigger for me emotionally because as a second time mom, I expected my body to have done a lot more “pre-work” this time around when in fact I was in the exact same spot with Lucy at 39 weeks. Itching is spreading more now and I’ve developed a small rash on my chest. Midwife and doula agree we are okay to start coaxing baby out by doing a membrane sweep. I am beyond miserable so I agree! We do a partial sweep since cervix is still posterior… nothing happens - no cramping, no spotting, no changes. We also get me drinking dandelion tea and taking the supplements Yellow Dock and Burdock to get my liver some extra support. It hadn’t turned into PUPPS or Cholestasis and we wanted to keep it that way. Two days post-sweep, midwife comes to do another. Surprising that my cervix has made great progress! I needed this good news so much. She does a full sweep. I’m somewhere between 2-3cm dilated, still 60% effaced and very soft and stretchy! Baby in perfect position and so low she can feel his head! WOWZA. That’s a thing?! I’m contracting the rest of the night but nothing too crazy, walking as much as possible. I hit the hay… contractions stop. Night sweats continue, itching peaks at night so I’m scratching my skin off for 10-15 minutes at a time between 3-4am. No creams or anything helps. Positive news: no more ketones in urine, blood pressure stabilized and no more UTI! Downside, I probably have a yeast infection now due to all the night sweats. Gross. Tack it on.
HELLO MARCH 11TH… OLLIE’S DUE DATE! I have mixed feelings to be here. The itchiness is clouding my ability to think rationally most of the time though so I’m bouncing between grateful that Oliver is full-term and healthy, and frustration to not be showing ANY signs that labor is near. I relax a little when I remember I had 0 signs of labor until labor began with Lucy. I know often it is spontaneous and just happens! One night I wake up at 430am “clearing out”. I have major indigestion all the next day and am barely able to eat. It’s got to be tonight….this is exactly how Lucy’s labor started and 2 hours later contractions began. But… Nope. So, we do another sweep. Partial again, cervix is posterior and too slippery to keep hold of (apparently a good thing?). Still maybe 2.5 cm, still 60% effaced. Still doing the teas, the supplements, the walking, the curb-walking, the hula hoops on the ball… birthing affirmations constantly, praying constantly. Fighting to stay peaceful. More random indigestion, more fleeting nausea.
Drags feet… oh hello 41 weeks. This is what you look like? Hmm. Feelings of peace and gratitude are almost non-existent. I can’t sleep for all the reasons… night sweats every hour now, itching still peaking at night… peeing every hour and if I haven’t had any contractions by 6am I’m wide awake trying to accept that another night has come and gone and not brought me my son. Two nights ago brought some mild contractions but nothing I couldn’t sleep through. Then, another sweep that brings very mild cramping despite all the walking I do afterward and no contractions at night. Everything is still. Cervix is in excellent shape. I’m at a solid 3cm now and cervix is so pliable she stretches me nearly to 5cm! If I don’t hold it there, I won’t have any issue getting to 5cm once active labor begins. Still 60% effaced, Oliver is at a station +1 and she can still feel his head. He is only that low when he’s on my left side because he can engage properly. Hello bowling ball in my pelvis, enter the waddle. Whatever, I welcome it. Like… fall out in the toilet without my knowledge at this point… I welcome it.
Meanwhile… the pressure is on. The whole world is on Ollie-watch it seems.. I’ve had to ignore some texts and messages to avoid putting anymore pressure on myself - I’ve done plenty of that for myself at this point. Everyone is so kind to be thinking of us constantly, I’m beyond grateful. Just in a bit of self-preservation mode with a mix of denial. Ever been there? (; Every day I wake up with the head-knowledge that “he can’t stay in there forever” but somehow that isn’t at all encouraging at this point? What’s happening in my head? So much I don’t even know how to write it out. I feel the home birth I’ve been planning could be threatened if labor doesn’t start by 42 weeks. We can manipulate dates based off my last period if we need to, and since my cervix is so favorable, we could even proceed to breaking my water. But I am against that and castor oil in a big way until we absolutely have to… which would basically be “hey you have this baby tonight or you have to go deliver at the hospital tomorrow”. None of the natural things work at all unless baby is ready.. did you know that? So… if you swear by walking or sex or spicy food or cleaning your house… even a membrane sweep or two… if any of that “sent you into labor”, your body and baby were already ready! This I’ve learned the hard way. There’s been no shortage of coaxing this boy out and even as ready as my body seems.. he is not. Midwives and doula are almost positive I’ll never make it to 42 weeks but of course, can’t promise anything. What’s Oliver waiting for? I’d give anything to know. I must continue to trust my baby and my body and ultimately the Lord that if it was his time, he’d be here by now.
Do I know to soak up these last days with Lucy as an only child? I do, and I have. I breathe her in and laugh and play with her and take in all of her isms. Do I know that the newborn stage is going to be anything but easy, bringing on lots of things I’ve forgotten about that stage along with challenges I’ve not seen before? I do. But… no amount of teas or vitamins or sex or walking or full moons or big storms or membrane sweeps has brought this boy into my arms and so… today I had donuts and coffee for breakfast and a banana and peanut butter for lunch at 4pm. Today… I gave up. I’m done with all the inducing until I absolutely have to.
Repeating the following affirmations constantly:
I release my birth over to my body and over to nature.
I am prepared to calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take.
I trust my body and my baby to work together in harmony.
Big breath. So here we are. Forty one weeks and a day. Which may as well be 41 years! Purgatory. The days are long, the nights are long. The itchiness is maddening, the Braxton Hicks are insanely tightening. My emotions are A to Z (pray for Sam!).. and I have no words of encouragement for myself other than some bible verses I’m hanging on to. I wish I could end this on a peppy and positive note about how strong my faith is and how I’m trusting the Lord despite my seemingly never-ending waiting period butttt I’m still working on that part minute-by-minute! Your prayers have carried me through, honestly. I covet every one of them; you are my village.