Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: False Labor

From 5 Minutes for Parentin

By Kelly

I suppose a lot of epiphanies happen in hospital beds.

I had one Monday morning, just as the sun's light warmed the horizon to a glowing tangerine and the birds burst into song to welcome a new day.

And it is this: I know a lot of stories about women going into labor spontaneously -- women who wake up in the middle of the night to time contractions, women who deal with multiple trips to the hospital only to be sent home, women who have their water break right there in the supermarket.

But I never believed it could happen to me.

That sounds crazy, I know. But consider my history. Natalie and Teyla were induced. Scheduled. And while I technically went into labor with Connor by myself, I have a sneaking suspicion it had more to do with my OB visit that day (where she stripped my membranes, click at your own risk) than it did with my body instinctively knowing it was time to deliver a baby.

So imagine my shock when I was woke up 4:00 Monday morning to a cramping uterus. My first instinct was to say, "These can't be real contractions. Go back to sleep You'll be fine."

But I couldn't get comfortable. And as I lay there, staring at the clock, I started to remember the last time I tried to talk myself out of having contractions. It ended with me curled in a fetal position until I had to push. It's not a drama I'm eager to relive.

At 4:30, I did what I never thought I'd do: I woke my husband in the middle of the night and whispered, "I'm hurting. I think I need to go to the hospital."

He woke up immediately, disheveled and concerned. I called Labor and Delivery to make sure my decision was solid. They agreed I should head in. I threw on some clothes, told my bleary-eyed husband I would call him from the road (with three sleeping kids, we didn't see how we could both go) and I set off for the hospital.

The contractions were four minutes apart when I got to L&D. I was dilated to 3 centimeters, which was progress from my OB appointment on Friday, when I was at 2. I got changed into a fetching hospital mumu and settled in to wait.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the contractions got less intense. An hour after I was hooked onto the monitors, they were eight minutes apart. The pain, never horrible, was totally manageable. I warned Corey via text that I might be coming home. I unhooked from the machines and watched the sun rise. My OB stopped by before clinic hours and confirmed that my cervix wasn't changing like they would want to see in order to admit me. And since I was only 36 weeks-5 days at the time, they were understandably reluctant to do something like break my water and help Mother Nature along.

So I found myself driving home at 7:30 Monday morning, the newest member of the False Labor Club.

Lessons learned?

1. As annoying as it can be, I don't regret my decision to head to the hospital. Even my OB agreed that I did the right thing, given my history of lightning quick childbirth.

2. That said, if I woke up to moderately painful contractions today, I would wait longer to see if a true pattern set up before leaving home. It's true that Connor was born just minutes after I got to the hospital. (You can read his story here.) But that was after I labored at home for more than two hours (trying to convince myself the whole time that I wasn't in real labor), and the contractions had gone from cramping to kill-me-now. There has to be a good middle ground between heading to L&D every time I feel a twinge and waiting until I feel the urge to push.

3. When I left for the hospital in the pre-dawn hours Monday morning, I didn't have a hospital bag packed or emergency plans for what we would do with the older kids if I went into labor spontaneously. After all, I wasn't even 37 weeks along, at the time, and we've already scheduled an induction at 39 weeks. What's the rush? Needless to say, I now have a bag packed (which wasn't that hard; I wholeheartedly agree with #9 on Lifenut's fabulous list of pregnancy and baby musings), and I have called all our emergency contacts to alert them to the fact that we might need someone to fill in the gap between when labor starts and when my parents would arrive from Colorado two days later.

4. When it comes to pregnancy, don't get cocky. This might be my fourth baby, but until Monday morning, I had never experienced a painful contraction that didn't end with an infant-in-arms. When it comes to childbirth, anything can happen.

Anything else I should note? Now that I'm aware labor could begin at any moment, I feel strangely inexperienced and vulnerable.

Kelly is now 37 weeks pregnant (cough, full-term, cough) with her fourth baby. When she isn't going to the bathroom (every 20 minutes), she can be found blogging at Love Well and passing time on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: The Name Game

From 5 Minutes for Parentin

By Kelly

I am very pregnant.

Ergo, I am the recipient of all types of random, potentially offensive comments.

“You stomach looks like a torpedo,” said a fellow mom at school last week.
“You’re not due for another four weeks?” said the incredulous cashier at Target.
Or, maybe the best of the lot: “WHOA!” shouted a man as I rounded a corner (belly first) at church on Sunday. “Way to go, Dad!”

Honestly, I’m more amused than insulted by the attention. It’s true that people might want to think before they speak to a woman who is uncomfortable, hormonal and weary. But I know most aren’t trying to be rude. Their internal censors have just been temporarily fried by shock. It happens.

But there is one question that makes me grind my teeth a little, and I get it all the time. It is, simply, “So do you have a name for that baby yet?”

The rational side of me recognizes this is an innocent statement. But the irrational side of me wants to tear my hair out by the fistful (being pregnant, I have plenty to spare) when someone asks it.

Because here’s the deal: My husband and I are horrible at choosing names for our offspring. It’s laborious. A name that I might like is almost guaranteed to be at the top of his Names I Will Never Name My Children Even Under Threat of Torture list, and vice versa. I do not want to discuss it with any one other than my husband, and I most certainly do not want my momentary favorites to be fussed over as if they are dessert choices on the potluck table.

Naming a baby is war, an intense battle that requires strategy and secrecy. Doesn't everyone know that?

This being baby number four for us, my husband and I are experts at the never-ending duel. We know to keep one ace in the hole for when the other person proposes something truly hideous. (Corey’s ace this time is the threat to name the baby Samuel Diego, or Sam Diego for short. I don’t believe we need to name our child after a city, even if it is America’s Finest.) We are grimly amused by baby name web sites. And we both acknowledge the name question will not be settled until we write the final decision on the birth certificate. We might walk into Labor and Delivery with a short list, but our babies are never named until after they are born and I have had at least one shower and a meal.

In the end, we aren't fighting each other so much as we are batting through the haze in pursuit of the perfect name. The one that is acceptable to both of us, the one that has a strong meaning, the one that doesn't sound dorky with our surname.

The one that fits the baby. After all, he's the one who's going to have to live with it for the rest of his life.

Thankfully, Corey and I know it's possible to navigate this mess without becoming enemies. And at this point, we really like the names we chose for our older three children. It's funny how a name, aptly chosen, seems to mold to the child, eventually seeming as natural and fitting as skin.

But for now? No. I don't want to talk about it.

Kelly is currently 36 weeks pregnant with her fourth child and yes, she's a tad cranky. You can also find her blogging at Love Well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: Front-Heavy

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

My two-year-old walked up and poked me right in the belly.

"Baby, Mommy?" she asked.

I sat, struggling to pull on my jeans, and agreed.

"Yep. That's the baby, honey."

She reached a little higher and poked with both hands.

"More babies, Mommy?"

"Ummm ... no honey."

But her confusion is understandable. I'm so front-heavy these days, I'm lucky I don't tip forward and get stuck to the floor, like some sort of bizarrely drawn cartoon character. Besides the usual growth of the girls, my stomach is nearing watermelon-like proportions.

(There's a picture on my blog today, if you're really that interested. But trust me - it's not for the faint of heart.)

Waddle, waddle.

The funny thing is, I swear that bump is all baby. He is SO STRONG these days. He can wake me up with a well-placed kick to the hip (interior hip, of course), and he can make my abdomen look like a tent set up by a Boy Scout. There are points and angles and, sometimes, origami.

Pregnancy books say the average 35-week-old baby is roughly five pounds, give or take a few. I asked my OB last week to take a guess what he might weight at birth.

She shrugged her shoulders, glanced up from the clipboard and said, "He could be 9 pounds."

Help. Me. Now.

Thankfully, those crazy doctors don't know what they are talking about. Right?

Kelly is 35 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby, a boy who has more muscles than she does at the moment. You can find her blogging at Love Well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: Fake Contractions

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I almost had my baby in Target yesterday.

My toddler and I made a quick trip to the Big Red Mothership after lunch to pick up a few items. But instead of strolling the aisles in search of body wash, Clementines and diapers, I ended up clinging to the cart handle while my  body endured wave after wave of breath-taking contractions. They were apparently triggered by me participating in the adventurous x-sport known as walking slowly.

I’m sure they were the infamous Braxton-Hicks, because if I stopped moving, the contractions also stopped. But as soon as I started to walk again, I felt the python tighten its grip around my abdomen.

Meanwhile, the baby was trying to tunnel out of my uterus through my belly button.

It took me about 45 minutes to get the 10 or so items I needed.

At the check-out, the woman in front of me gleefully asked, “When are you due?” before I even started to unload my cart.

“Next month,” I grimaced, as another rock-hard contraction forced me to stand still.

“Oh my word, you are so cute!” she enthused.

(I hear that a lot these days.)

“Thank you,” I laughed wryly. “I don’t feel cute. I feel huge and tired and breathless. But I will take all the reassurance I can get.”

Slowly, I unloaded my purchases onto the moving belt. Naturally, I had to take a break after I dared lift anything heavier than a buff puff. Even the box of 84 newborn-sized diapers set off a spasm of tight muscles.

But I am cute. So they say.

And I didn’t have my baby in Target.

Even if the Braxton-Hicks force me to move at the speed of a geriatric turtle.

Maybe it's pregnancy brain, but I don't remember Braxton-Hicks attacking me with such ferocity before. Does anyone else have stories to share of contractions dictating their lifestyle the last few weeks of a pregnancy?

Kelly is 34 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby. When she isn't held in suspended animation by a Braxton-Hicks, she can be found blogging at Love Well.