Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week 16: The End of A Hope or The End of Frantic Planning? The Start of Gnawing Anxiety or The Start of Patient Trust?

I couldn't decide on a title for this post, because this week felt like so many different things for me.

I realized this week that the interesting proposal of a few weeks ago will, in all likelihood, not come to fruition. One of the benefits of living with my parents during the last few weeks would be to have someone familiar to our children caring for them when I have to go to the hospital to deliver. My husband would still be working, and would meet me at the hospital. In theory, it would be convenient, since we'd be living with them. But my mother has activities (both work and recreational) she'd like to participate in and doesn't want to cancel them to watch my older boys when the time comes. My father will not be at home for most of November, so there will be no one else to assist with this responsibility. Though it's an area and a church community we lived in for 5 years, most of the women I know have a number of small children of their own, and would find it difficult to be available on a moment's notice to help me out. Furthermore, it's shocking how many of our friends moved away during the last year we lived with, so very few of the people who would be most willing to stretch themselves on our behalf are even there anymore.

So it is the end of my hope that my old OB, the one who delivered three of my children, will be able to assist me at this delivery. It's sad, not to have someone who is familiar with me, my way of caring for myself, the path my pregnancies follow in the last month, the path my babies take on their way out into the world. The end of the hope I had that this might be possible.

On the other hand, it is also the end of the anxiety that I had in thinking about living alone with my children while full-term pregnant, the end of anxiety I had about how my parents would react to the request, the end of the anxiety I had about all the new things my boys would break while we lived with them, the end of the anxiety I had about whether our presence was welcome in their home or not, the end of the anxiety I had about whether care from one doctor during pregnancy and another during delivery would work well or not, the end of planning and planning and planning for contingencies that were very difficult to foresee. So, it's something of a relief.

On the other hand, the anxieties about what my new maternal-fetal specialist will do or insist upon, what the maternal-fetal specialist will find and demand to do additional testing upon, what recommendation from the maternal-fetal specialist that the OBs will or will not take, what kind of conflict I will encounter with a new doctor when I tell them that I don't intend to induce at 39 weeks, and ultimately, whether the OB will refuse to see me as a patient any longer if I refuse certain kinds of testing and refuse induction under certain circumstances. I have, after all, been fired by a doctor in the past. The memory of that is rather overwhelming. The anxiety about future possibilities is rather suffocating. On the other hand, these are all circumstances which may not come to pass...

...and so I'm trying to make this a time of patient trust, prayer, and waiting. Absolutely nothing has gone wrong yet. I have not had any conflict with my doctors yet. None of the testing has showed an abnormal result yet. I have not gotten to 39 weeks and had to decide about induction yet. Nothing bad has happened yet, my mind is only filled with the bad things that have happened in the past and the bad things that could happen in the future. Nothing bad has happened. Nothing bad has happened. Nothing. bad. has. happened. (yet)

When did living in the present become so difficult? What do you do to help you get back to the present when you are anxious about the past or the future?

And as a side note, my weekly notes are finally caught up to my real pregnancy dates. From here, updates will be live weekly! My due date is November 27.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 15: IT'S ALIVE!

No matter how many pregnancies I undergo, it's still thrilling to feel the baby move for the first time. I felt it so unbelievably early with my first that I still sometimes wonder whether I might have been making it up. It was so consistent, and so much in the right place. It was a tiny little tickle that happened over the course of weeks and weeks the same, growing stronger and stronger. Then one day at 17 weeks it became a bump and it shocked me so much I cried out in surprise. My boss happened to be walking in the hallway, heard my cry, and poked his head into my office to make sure I was OK! Pregnancies two through four I don't recall the exact time when I felt the baby move at the first, but it was some time around the end of the first trimester. I kept waiting to see if it would happen earlier with those later pregnancies, as many women say has been their experience, but I think 9 weeks is just going to be my personal best, a record, and unrepeatable.

This pregnancy, however, detecting movement has been notable for a different reason. It's taken so long for me to feel it! At my 12-week ultrasound, the baby was definitely moving, but I could feel nothing. In fact, in the last week or so, I'd begun to worry about something being wrong. But today, as I sat on the couch with a sick toddler's face buried in my shoulder and his weight pressing down on my belly, I felt it. Bump. It took me just a second or two to recognize the feeling, and then I remembered, and I rejoiced! What a wonderful thing to know that your child is, undoubtedly, alive, and capable of moving himself around on his own. Then, an hour or so after dinner, I felt it again. Bump. I wanted to tell my children, but then I wasn't sure they'd understand and thought they'd want to see if they could feel the baby, and I knew they wouldn't be able to, so I decided to wait until I could truly share it with them when he's more grown. For now, it will just be my own hidden joy.

I can only assume that the reason it took so long for me to feel it is just because I'm moving around so much during the day that I hardly have much time to think about how I'm feeling about anything in particular. I'm accustomed, actually, to ignoring how I feel. Morning sickness? Push through. Fatigue? It's almost bed time. Hungry? Dinner's in a couple hours, and your blood sugar is looking GREAT right now, so don't mess that up. They also say that the uterus expands more after multiple pregnancies, so perhaps the baby just doesn't bump up against the walls so often. Plenty of room to move around in there!

It was pleasant to be interrupted and forced to recognize my newest little one. It was also a treasure that I was in the process of caring for my child whose littleness will shortly be supplanted by a new sibling's birth; that the baby who is no longer my baby was a force propelling me to recognize the hidden one; that caring for my youngest was not in any way hampered by the little one's assertion of his own existence. How about that for working myself out of the rut?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Week 14: An Interesting Proposal

I was recently fretting to a friend of mine about having to prove myself all over again with a new set of doctors. You'd think after delivering four healthy babies, they would simply trust that I know what I'm doing. Perhaps they do. But the schedule of testing that the maternal-fetal specialist suggested - growth ultrasounds every month from now until 28 weeks, then BPPs every week until 34 weeks, then BPPs two times per week until induced delivery at 39 weeks - truly is out of control. I haven't undergone so much testing in any of my pregnancies. I thought I'd get a pass with increasing pregnancies, but apparently not!

So I was fretting and complaining, as I'm often found to do. Then, my friend suggested:

"Why don't you just go back and live with your parents at the end of pregnancy and deliver with the OB who took care of you during the other pregnancies?"

It was a stroke of genius. As I talked it over with him, the idea began to sound better and better. My parents only live 90 minutes away, so it would not be difficult for my husband to get there when delivery time comes. And then I would give birth in a hospital I know with a doctor I know who trusts me and knows that I can do this. (Working myself out of the rut again! This blogging thing is truly therapeutic. Say, I wonder if the doctors know they might actually be making the depression and anxiety among mothers worse...?) No crazy excessive testing, no haggling with nurses and on-call doctors at the hospital about how I'm going to manage my insulin pump during delivery; just like old times. Which were mostly OK. At least they're familiar.

The good news is that my old OB is on board. Wahoo! Now I need to work out childcare. My mom didn't seem thrilled by the idea of me taking care of all four of my children in her home all by myself at the end of pregnancy. I can't tell if that was for her sake - the noise, the chaos, the broken chairs - or if that was for my sake - the crying spells, the loneliness, the fatigue. So I'm asking around to see if I can get a little help down here, but I'm extremely hopeful that this could work out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Week 13: Why Does It Continue?

After last week's post, you may be wondering whether I am asking the question of why the human race continues in spite of the psychological and physical pain associated with childbearing, I can only give a few nudges in the theological direction. Theological thinking is what my husband does for a living, after all, and I've thought about it quite a lot on my own, too. Love, mostly. Because that's what God is. Because men and women love each other and when they do, babies happen. Good things are worth doing even when they are hard. And people are good. (Trying to work myself out of the rut here, thanks for bearing with me).

But in fact, the 'it' I question here is the fact that I still have morning sickness. My morning sickness dissipated very early on with my other pregnancies, and I assumed this one would likewise take its unwelcome presence out of my home with similar timing. But it has not. I am concerned that it might be some terrible gastrointestinal infection to which I succumbed because of our family's double whammy stomach bug, and for which there is inevitably no approved treatment during pregnancy. (In truth, it bears telltale signs of ongoing morning sickness, arising when my blood sugar is falling or when I haven't eaten for a long time). The quiet voice which assures me that this is normal actually causes a new form of panic to rise to the surface, as I know several women who were vomiting well into their third trimester of pregnancy. HOW MUCH WORSE IS THIS GOING TO GET? (In truth, I have not yet vomited a single time, and have managed my daily affairs without much additional difficulty. For example, I modeled the solar system and calculated how many miles it would be to Neptune if you considered each 10,000 miles as 2-centimeter for your scale. The answer is 3.47). Perhaps I'm having a girl, which seems to be a dear hope of my sweet mother-in-law. The panicky thought-rut-voice has no response to that possibility, as I feel entirely (and I mean, entirely) neutral about that question. (Now the quiet voice is wondering whether it's perhaps not normal to be so neutral on the question of my next child's sex given that I have four boys. Perhaps there is something wrong with me after all...!).