"Is it always this hard at the end?" I asked Jeff a few nights ago. Because I'll be honest: being 8+ months pregnant IS feeling hard fairly often these days. I'm feeling blessed and happy and excited and all those other wonderful things; but underneath all the cheerful stuff is a pretty good size pile of "just plain hard."
He didn't think too long before answering me. "Yes," he said, "it is. Up until about the final week, and then you get a burst of energy."
If he's right--and I'm sure he is--labor is nowhere in sight, because neither is that burst of energy. ;-) Looks like I've got at least a week to go!! And I'm betting on a lot more than that, but I'll write more later about that topic. ;-)
So what is hard right now? Wellllll...
~ heartburn comes along pretty frequently, which is fairly easily soothed by milk, which explains why we're consuming so many gallons each week
~ sleep is interrupted by trips to the bathroom (see previous entry about drinking lots of milk) ;-), the needs of my other children who occasionally have bad dreams or other middle-of-the-night wake-ups, and general discomfort (including a little cold bug that is making its rounds here in our household)
~ the in-the-night "opposing forces" predicament that I blogged about here way back when I was pregnant with Tobin is still very real...the bladder v. back dilemma is one I have to figure out several times each night ;-)
~ dizziness hits unexpectedly, the only truly alarming time being when I was driving with the kids over the mountain to the airport to pick up Jeff from his trip to California...trying to drive up that mountain road while I was dizzy as a loon was more disconcerting than I admitted to my kids at the time...fortunately, when I got to the top, there was a space in which I could pull over and wait until the dizziness passed before I continued driving
~ sometimes my body just aches so much that I move along as slowly as molasses in January...especially if I get up from sitting or lying down, it takes a while for my bones and joints and muscles, etc. to decide to work in harmony to help me move ;-)
~ besides being slow, I'm also quite clumsy...on the harmless side of things, I often underestimate my size and bump into my kids, for example, with my big belly; but there have been other times when my clumsiness has resulted in either real pain for me or real inconvenience as I drop things that ought not to be dropped!
~ my sheer size makes certain tasks difficult--for example, I tried to cut my toenails one night a little while back, an effort which would have been depressing if it hadn't been so hilarious...I found it next to impossible to simultaneously get both hands down to my toes so I could hold the toe with one hand and the clippers with the other...I was forced to make these one-handed jabs with the clippers and try to cut at the right spot during those brief moments of contact...it's really a wonder I didn't sustain some significant injuries from such a risky sport ;-)...I'll need them cut again before the baby is born; but next time, I'm going to ask Jeff to do it...he has experience with painting my toenails before other births, but I don't think he's been forced to cut them before!
~ I'm dealing with not one, but two kinds of back pain--the customary sciatic nerve pain that hits at random times during late pregnancy, and also the right-side, mid-to-upper-back pain that started towards the end of July and has been recurring consistently since then...neither pain is constant, and I'm very thankful for that!...but both pains have stuck around and cause me a fair amount of misery from time to time...the latter kind of pain is prone to hit me when I'm driving our big white van, for example (something about the driver's seat in that vehicle makes it flare up maybe?) and is almost certain to make its presence known by nightfall...but again, it's not constant, and I can "easily" put up with it for a few more weeks ;-)
~ fatigue is a constant...how many times has Jeff asked me how I am, and my first reply is "tired"?...but as with all of these nuisances, I know very well that "this too shall pass," and the way I'm physically feeling now is not the way I'll feel for the rest of my life! :)...for now, I'm learning to let things go and allow myself to rest when I'm worn out and dragging; and in those times when I do have more energy, to run with it and see how much I can get done before I crash again ;-)
Overall, I'm simply feeling S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D. Physically, of course, my body has expanded more than I ever think possible when I'm not pregnant. And mentally, I'm feeling the familiar how-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-handle-all-the-responsibilities-of-caring-for-a-new-baby-and-who-thought-I-was-ready-for-a-sixth-baby-anyway? sensations that fly into my brain as the end of a pregnancy draws near. But stretching brings growth, and that's not a bad thing at all. :)
I've just written a lot about the difficulties of this stage of pregnancy, and I do that in the spirit of keeping things real so that in the future, I'll remember more accurately what life was like at 8 or 9 months of pregnancy, and I'll be able to sympathize with other women who are finding it less than easy!
But let me also write about the tremendous joy that it is to be so privileged as to carry a child!
For one thing--one HUGE and WONDERFUL thing--there's this... :)
I hadn't thought to try to record the movements; but when I wrote this post and asked for suggestions about what to do to commemorate this final(?) pregnancy, my friend Tromila gave me this idea, and I'm so glad she did. It's very special to me to have this. And the fact that Moriah came down (she was supposed to be asleep in bed!) and stood next to me and asked me her favorite question these days--"Why?"--just makes it all the more special to me. :)
As I've gotten further along, the baby's motions have become less jabby and more rolling, due I'm sure to the lack of space in my womb. There's no good way, I'm thinking, for him to wind up and give me a good punch anymore! ;-) But the rolling motions continue, bringing great delight to me as I feel and watch him. :)
And not just to me! My boys, in particular, love to feel him move; and one night not too long ago, Josiah sat next to me on the couch with his hand on my tummy, feeling his littlest brother do the hokey-pokey and turn himself about. And in church one Sunday, the baby was being really active; and Tobin, who was sitting beside me, felt a foot(?) or fist(?) or something hard and knobby sticking out clearly. But then Shav came over and scooted himself in between Tobin and I; and he's the one who got to feel lots and LOTS of motions that morning. :)
I'm not sure if I've made myself clear yet about how much pleasure I've gotten from this baby's movements. Let me try again. I SERIOUSLY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TO FEEL HIM MOVE!!! ;-)
A funny thing happened one Sunday morning when I was at home before church. I looked down and noticed a small spider on the front of my dress; and, since spiders don't elicit the panicked response from me that some other creatures that start with an "s" do ;-), I merely flicked it off my dress without any discernible rise in heart rate. But then I realized, to my amusement, that I couldn't tell whether it had really gotten off me or whether it had simply escaped to the lower part of my belly that was invisible to me. I literally could not see that part of my body, so I had no idea if it might still be lurking there. It made me laugh when I had to say to Josiah who was standing beside me, "Will you please look at the front of my dress and tell me if you see a spider or not?" ;-)
I had a midwife appointment this past Wednesday and got to see Tammie. She delivered Shav so I feel very comfortable with her, but I had only seen her once (I think) during this pregnancy and was glad to get to see her again. I believe I was her last appointment before her lunch break. She was a little late getting to me (which I didn't mind because it gave me time to read--something that doesn't often happen in the office there because they don't tend to run late); but when she did, she was relaxed enough to spend lots of time with me. Besides the normal pregnancy stuff that we talked about, we discussed homeschooling quite a bit because her children have been homeschooled, a fact that I must have known at one point but had completely forgotten. It was lots of fun to share stories and ideas, and it seemed more like a conversation with a friend than a medical appointment. But that's usually how it is with the midwives. ;-)
Before I met with Tammie, I got to have an ultrasound--not a really long one, but long enough to see the baby's position (head-down, just like he's supposed to be), monitor the level of fluid ("on the low side of normal," the ultrasound technician Lori said, but nothing to worry about at all), and check a few other things.
He's still a boy, by the way. ;-)
Lori showed me that with the baby's head down, his spine is curving up on my left side, his butt is on the upper left of my belly button, and his arms and legs are free to move around on my right side--just as I thought. During the ultrasound, at least one of his legs was folded up so much that his big toe was almost touching his forehead. Lori gave me some pictures from it, which I really appreciated because this was only my second ultrasound during this pregnancy, and I had been feeling like I really hadn't seen this baby as much as I'd been able to see my other babies during previous pregnancies. If it weren't so late and I wasn't so tired, I would scan those photos and include them here, but that will have to wait. ;-)
At this appointment, my weight was up to 184 pounds. My blood pressure, when the nurse took it at first, was a little higher than it has been during earlier visits: 144/76, I think. Tammie took it again later, and it was 138/70; she didn't seem concerned. The baby's heart rate when she checked it was 130. I also did the Group B Strep test at this appointment, but I don't know the result yet. From here on out, I'll be seeing a midwife once a week, which is a sure sign that I'm really getting close to my due date! :)
Speaking of getting close, it was with great rejoicing that I realized, a week or two ago, that even if something unusual would happen and I would go into labor at this point, it's almost a sure thing that everything would go OK with the baby's development. It is a GOOD feeling to be close enough to the end that he would be fine!! :)
I am still not really prepared for his birth, in terms of finishing packing for the hospital (I haven't), pulling out the baby boy clothes and getting them organized in the nursery (I haven't done that either), putting the infant carseat that a friend is letting us borrow (thanks so much, Miriam!!) in the van (nope, not done), preparing meals for the freezer (not a one yet), or any of those details that are really nice to have done ahead of time, but not absolutely essential. I mean, even if I show up at the hospital without anything, the baby can still be born, right? ;-)
But I'm not feeling stressed about all of this because of two things: experience has taught me how little a baby really needs right after birth, and I'm pretty convinced he's still not coming for at least a few weeks, despite the contractions I feel nearly every night--contractions that have changed from the long, gripping, will-they-ever-let-up? ones I'd noticed earlier to short but frequent tightenings.
In my estimate, the baby will be born on Monday, September 14.
Why? you wonder. Because with both Shav and Moriah, I was due on a weekend (in their cases, my due date was a Saturday); but nothing happened until early Monday morning after the activities of the weekend were over, and my body was able to relax. For both of them, I was in bed when my water broke; and I ended up going to the hospital even before contractions were really bothersome, and then they were born on Monday morning. Born while I was standing up, I might add. :)
With this baby being due on Sunday, September 13, I'm imagining that events might unfold in a similar pattern; and if I do relax after that weekend is over, that Monday morning might bring me a baby! It's a good theory at least, right?? ;-)
The funny thing about that date is that it's the first rehearsal of the children's choir for the year, and Josiah and David are imagining what it might be like to go to choir on the day that their baby brother is born. They'd have some exciting news to share with their friends, if nothing else! :)
Well, there is my completely-unscientific idea about the birth day of this boy. For fun, do any of you readers want to venture a guess about when he'll be born? :)
For reference, Josiah was born a day before his due date, David was 12 days early, Tobin was 4 days early (and with him, my water broke at home, too, soon after I had gotten Josiah and David down for naps/quiet time that afternoon and was getting ready to relax myself), and Shav and Moriah were 2 days after their due dates. Which goes to show that really, anything is possible when it comes to this baby! :)
So, your thoughts? :)