Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This Is Really Happening, Isn't It?

At the moment, my back is feeling better than it did last evening; so I'm seizing this opportunity to type as fast as I can think, so I can maybe get this pregnancy update finished at last before my back starts screaming at me again, and I seek refuge far away from an upright chair at the computer desk.  ;-)
Months ago, on the last day of February, I wrote this in another pregnancy update:  "The first adjective I ever used to describe this pregnancy is 'unreal,' and a day shy of 12 weeks in, it still feels that way."  Would you believe that here at 34 weeks, 2 days, it still feels that way??

It's not that the pregnancy itself feels unreal; on the contrary, the joys as well as the challenges of pregnancy are NEVER far from my mind.  Who could ignore all the sensations that I'm feeling in my body and mind at this stage of the game?  ;-)  But the fact that, sometime within the next 6 or 7 weeks, I'm going to, presumably, go into labor by either having my water break here at home like it did with Shav and Moriah or by contractions picking up to the point that I realize they mean business, and then ride in a car to the hospital, and then go up in an elevator to the maternity wing, and then--somehow--bring forth a beloved little man-child from my body...well, that thought is still overwhelmingly mind-blowing to me.  (Which reminds me of something I read by Louise Erdrich, "...our bodies are rounded vases of skin and bones and blood that seem impossibly engineered for birth.  I look down onto my smooth, huge lap, feel my baby twist, and I can't figure out how I'll ever stretch wide enough.  I fear I've made a ship inside a bottle.  I'll have to break."  EXACTLY.)  :)

That sense of disconnection from what it means to be this far pregnant is pretty weird, I think!

For some reason though, I just can't wrap my mind around this reality; and so I act as if I have all the time in the world between now and the blessed event of birth.  As a result, my preparations are lacking--nonexistent, really.  I'm s-l-o-w-l-y beginning to take specific steps, but am not winning any speed records, that's for sure.  ;-)

For example, when it dawned on me that I should probably start packing my hospital bag and have it ready in case labor begins much earlier than expected, I decided that I could do that.  So I went to the suitcase closet, opened it, got out the backpack that I plan to use...and then put absolutely nothing in it.  But it is now residing in the crib, so I suppose that's progress.  It will be very handy to grab when I'm flying out the door to the hospital in the middle of the night!  It will be very UNhandy when I remember that I didn't actually pack it!  ;-)  As a matter of fact, I feel so out-of-touch with all of this going-to-have-a-baby stuff that I'm not even sure what to pack and am going to have to consult one of those handy charts for first-time moms that tells precisely what you will need in the hospital.  Otherwise, my thoughts are more like "well, I know I need some clothes to wear when I come home, so I'll have to grab whatever's clean when I happen to go into labor, but it's too early to set aside some of my limited wardrobe for that because I'll need to wear those clothes quite a few times between now and then!"  So nothing gets put in the backpack.  ;-)

I think Jeff might be feeling a little more urgency than I am.  Case in point: my favorite email I got last week which happened to be from Jeff, reminding me to pre-register at the hospital.  Whew, it's a good thing somebody's keeping track of what needs done to get ready for this little guy!  :)

Speaking of pre-registering...  I did it today.  Last night as I moaned and groaned on the couch with my aching back, I pulled out the pack of papers about the registration process at the hospital; and when I read that it would only take about 5 minutes, I decided that today, after the boys' swimming lessons, we would go and take care of that errand.  So we did, and the kids were delighted when an elderly gentleman (a volunteer, probably) pulled up with a golf cart shortly after we exited our van in the parking lot and gave us all a ride to the entrance.  :)

As promised, the actual registration process was remarkably quick and easy.  Since I'm already in their computer system, the nice lady at the registration desk basically had to confirm some info, and that was it.  No problemo.

As we got ready to exit the hospital, the man who gave us a ride from our van was nowhere to be seen; but another man, John from Guest Services, quickly offered, and we accepted.  On the way, he asked how many children I have, and I told him five with our sixth due next month.  Then he said, "I have six children, too; and the one regret I have in life is that I didn't have 50* more."  He went on to talk about how he misses the days when they were younger and how people always say it's too expensive to have a lot of kids but it's really not and how he just wishes he had more and so on and so forth.

* Josiah thought he said 15, rather than 50, but some of the other kids heard 50 like I did.  Hyperbole, in either case, I'm sure; but his point was refreshing, to say the least.  ;-)

That is the kind of conversation that does not often come my way when I go out among the general public.  As a matter of fact, not too much earlier, I was enjoying a pleasant chat with a lady--a mother of one--at the swimming pool; and as we talked about family size, she expressed astonishment at the fact that I was having my sixth, and I told her that when I had one, I never would have guessed I would end up with six.  Our conversation continued for a little longer, but then ended with her laughing and saying, "Better you than me!"

I don't get offended by that; I'm so used to it that it doesn't even faze me.  But it does make encouraging comments like the ones made by John stand out brightly!  I noticed that Josiah, in particular, perked up when he heard John's words; and I was reminded of how disheartening it must be for the children in a "large" family to hear disparaging comments made by strangers.  Don't people even think before making comments like that??

At any rate, after our brief but affirming conversation, John left us at our van and went his way; and we climbed into the van and I turned the key.

Nothing happened.

I turned the key again, and still nothing.  I fiddled with the gear shift, made sure the radio and a/c were off, noticed that the dome lights were working when a door was opened, took out the key and turned it over and tried again, and...


So back we went into the hospital, all 6 of us.

John immediately spotted us and, when we explained our predicament, quickly reassured us that he could help, grabbed a battery charger from his desk, and carted us off to our van yet again.  As he jump-started it, he kindly explained to the boys what he was doing and how the battery charger works; and when the engine roared to life, he said goodbye amidst our profuse thanks, assured us that he was glad to be of service, and went on his way.  I was glad to go on the website for our hospital tonight and leave a positive word of commendation about John's behavior today.

My kids--the older ones, especially--were so impressed by his outstanding display of customer service; and I hope that someday, when they are in the position of helping someone like this, they will go above and beyond and will do so with such a cheerful attitude!

So, to make a long story short, I'm registered at the hospital!  And now I have exactly ONE thing crossed off the official must-do-before-baby-is-born list!  :)

I can't decide if my relaxed, it-will-all-get-done-eventually attitude is good or not.  On the one hand, I'm happy to be feeling so laid-back about it all--much better than the other extreme of being stressed about every little detail.  Maybe after having done this 5 other times, I am finally realizing that babies come when they're ready, and they don't really care if they have something special to wear on the way home from the hospital or whether the nursery is arranged just so for them.  So I'm happy to be floating along so peacefully right now, not consumed in the least with frantic preparation.

On the other hand, I don't want my negligence now to create extra stress in the future.  It really would be nice, for example, to have quite a few meals prepared and in the freezer (I currently have none) for the first weeks of adjustment after the baby is born.  It would make life easier then if I take the time to unpack our newborn baby clothes and supplies now.  And labor itself will surely be smoother if I prepare myself mentally and spiritually for it, like I did before Moriah was born.

I have some work to do.  And one of these days, I'll get around to doing it.  ;-)  

Physically, of course, my efforts are hampered by this persistent back pain; but on the positive side of pregnancy complications, the rash I was so bummed about has almost entirely gone away!  Yippee, hooray, and hallelujah!!!

The body image issues that plagued me?  I'm far enough along now to just accept the fact that I'm a blimp and that people seem to expect me to pop open at any moment, so that aspect of life is easier.  ;-)

I still have times of hormonal/emotional instability though; and as always, they are exacerbated by factors such as fatigue, stress, pain, etc.  To give you a few examples of the kinds of things that can get me going...  :)

One day I was craving fresh corn-on-the-cob so badly that I stopped by a local farm stand and got two dozen ears.  I was delighted to prepare it for our supper; and between the eight of us, we ate 20 pieces.  I personally ate four and loved every bite.  :)

The next day, we had corn again, given to us by one of Jeff's kind customers; and I was so tired and grumpy that the thought of having to clean the silk off those ears of corn seemed like a hugely difficult task.  So silly, right?

Another day, we had run a lot of errands, besides the swimming lessons I took my oldest three kids to; and I was WORN OUT by the time we headed home.  Our last stop was the barbershop; and when I saw Jeff and heard that he had gone out to lunch...at Subway...with a customer/friend...to study the Bible together...and on such a hot day had ice left in his cup from his cold drink...I wanted to cry.

And then as I drove home, I saw beautiful blooming geraniums in pretty containers on someone's front porch...and remembered how my grandmother used to have geraniums on her front porch...and thought about the fact that my front flowerbed is ENGULFED in weeds right now...and how I have no motivation to get outside and do anything about it...and I wanted to cry.

And then I drove a little further and saw that someone else had taken the screens out of their windows because they were washing windows, I'm sure...and I thought of how dirty my windows are...and how I really should take my screens out and wash them and the windows...and how the kids could help...and how I shouldn't feel like it was such a big deal to do that but should just get to it and DO IT one of these days...and I wanted to cry.

There was a fourth thing that nearly set me off that day, but I can't think what it is at the moment.  No matter.  The previous three items are sufficient, I'm sure, to show what an irrational frame of mind I was in.  ;-)

The next day, I once again had to cart the kids around to swimming lessons; and it just so happened that I had even more errands to do on that day than on the previous one.  But my attitude was completely different, and I enjoyed the time with my kids and the feeling of accomplishment from getting things done, and I never once wanted to cry.  ;-)

Oh, pregnancy hormones!  They come and go, ebb and flow, and remind me that I'm not always as even-keeled as I like to think I am!  ;-)

My back is starting to holler at me, so I'm going to try to quickly finish this up with a few more tidbits about this stage of pregnancy.

When I stopped by that farm stand I mentioned earlier to get the corn, I noticed a lady eyeing me; and I knew she wanted to say something about my pregnancy.  When I made eye contact with her, she asked me when I was due and I told her; and then she said that she had been pregnant during the summer and LOVED it.  So many people had told her (and I've gotten this a lot, too) that it's so miserable to be pregnant during the summer because of the heat; but she discovered that it was a wonderful time for pregnancy.  Her main reason?  The food!  :)  With so much fresh produce available during this season, she found it easy to eat healthy and delicious food.  She mentioned dinners when all she would want to eat would be half a watermelon and things like that.  I can relate.  :)  And once again, I was grateful for a conversation that was pleasant and that emphasized something good about what I'm going through, rather than something challenging.  :)

I had an appointment on July 22 with Melody, and it was as routine as it could be.   My weight was 178.2 pounds, my blood pressure was 120/64, and baby's heart rate was 132.  These every-two-weeks, short-and-sweet appointments are a blessing, especially when I consider the things that could go wrong.  I don't take it for granted that my blood pressure has been fine and that we continue to hear a beautiful, strong, steady heartbeat from the baby; and I'm hopeful that my appointment tomorrow will follow in the same way.

I do think though that these every-two-week appointments would be really helpful to have at the beginning of pregnancy, at least until the baby's movements can be felt regularly.  After all, THAT is when I tend to really worry about the baby!  These days, I feel him move so often that I am regularly reassured that he's still alive and doing fine; but in those early weeks?  Ah, that's when the temptation to be anxious and fret is so strong.  If I could just zip into the midwife's office every week or two for a quick check of the heartbeat, that sure would be nice.  ;-)

Speaking of his movements, the other night I laid down in bed and didn't immediately feel him move.  Tension gripped my heart--for all of about 30 seconds.  And then he moved.  And moved.  And moved.  :)  Even though he's got a spot up in my right ribs that he makes sore with his kicks, and even though he's big enough now to really make me uncomfortable with some of his movements, I still am enjoying them so, so much.  There's nothing like that feeling; and knowing that these are, most likely, the final weeks that I'll get to experience this makes me treasure it more than I ever have before.

Sweet little child o' mine, YOU are a treasure!  And already I dearly, dearly love you!!!
~ 33 weeks, 5 days...photographed by Josiah ~

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