37 weeks is basically full-term, right? Everly could be arriving any day now… I’ve always heard that the last month of pregnancy feels like the longest. I think part of what makes it feel so long is the uncertainty of when the baby is going to arrive! Each day feels like another slow and steady round of a CrossFit EMOM workout. The day starts with wrestling my compression socks for five minutes, then going to the gym, then savoring a cup of coffee, then doing the surprisingly exhausting task of showering and getting dressed for work, then listening to an audiobook on breastfeeding on my way to the office, then seeing patients till lunch, then napping for an hour on the floor in my office, then eating oatmeal and drinking lots of water with some psyllium husk to prevent constipation, then elevating my legs between nutrition classes, and then finally driving home to plop myself down on the couch with my sweet dogs. When it’s a really good day, Colby comes home in time to give me a foot rub before bed. Absolutely no chores are getting done around the house lately, but that’s ok. I’m honestly feeling pretty good overall!
The most stressful week of my pregnancy was week 34. At the start of that week, the swelling in my arms and legs suddenly got much worse and my blood pressure went up. Protein was detected in my urine and my doctor started to worry that I might be developing pre-eclampsia. She ordered some bloodwork and a 24 hour urine test to keep an eye on things. I collected every drop of urine in a jug and on a Monday morning I went in to drop it off and to get a “quick blood pressure check.”
That’s when things started to get a little more stressful. I waited in the office for nearly an hour just to get my blood pressure checked. I got super frustrated at the situation because this “quick check” was taking so long that I was going to be late for work. By the time I was called back, I was so mad that my blood pressure was through the roof. I was put on a fetal NST (non-stress test) monitor and was swabbed for fFN (fetal fibronectin). The NST showed that I had an irritable uterus (LOL). I totally thought this was a made-up term, but apparently it’s a real condition in which the uterus contracts in a random twitching manner. I couldn’t feel these contractions so I didn’t think much of it. I had to come back the next day for more monitoring and to get the result of my fFN test.
I was a little more concerned on Tuesday because my fFN came back positive- which meant that I was likely to go into premature labor within the next 7-10 days. The doctor recommended getting betamethasone steroid injections to speed up baby’s lung development just in case. I was frantically reading up on these injections and felt totally spooked because there’s no clear consensus on whether the benefits outweigh the risks of these shots when given between 34 and 36 weeks. After talking to the doctor, I decided to get the two part shot. I continued to feel shitty the rest of week 34, gaining a total of 12 lbs of fluid in my legs, arms, and face rapidly. Then, magically, week 35 came and I felt a lot better! I even lost 4 lbs of edema while maintaining a healthy level of amniotic fluid. Everything went back to normal, including my blood pressure and the contractions quieted down. One of the best/worst things about the pre-eclampsia scare was my doctor’s decision to put me on bi-weekly NST monitoring. As inconvenient as it is, I’m grateful to get to have the nurse keeping an eye on Everly’s heart rate and movements as well as my contractions and amniotic fluid levels frequently. It gives me great peace of mind!
The crazy thing now is that my cervix is starting to dilate and I continue to have contractions on the monitor! Apparently I could go into labor anytime now- it could be a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. I go back today to see how things are progressing.
My Birth plan:
I’m going to discuss my questions about having a birth plan with the doctor this morning. It seems like a silly idea to write out exactly how I expect labor and delivery to progress. Anything could happen, so I want to stay flexible and open minded. I’m open to getting an epidural if labor is very painful. I’m ok with having the doctor do any procedure that is medically necessary and follow accepted OB practices and guidelines. I’m not going to pretend that I know better than my doctor.
I really hope I can avoid tearing or having an episiotomy. I’m going to ask what my doctor thinks about the effectiveness of preventative measures because I’ve heard that perineal massage can be helpful for preventing tears and episiotomies in first time moms. I’ve also read that warm washcloths and oils can help to stretch the skin when baby is crowning. The part about childbirth that is unsettling to me is that it’s hard to know exactly how big baby will be and whether she will fit on her way out.
I have some ideas about how to make labor and delivery more comfortable. I’ve packed my hospital bag with a cozy robe, nursing sleep bra, and slippers to change into after giving birth. I’m also bringing a few things to make the sensory experience of pushing a baby out less painful.
Breathing: I’m going to breathe through the pain the same way I breathe through the discomfort of challenging workouts. This might mean slow, cleansing breaths or shallow bracing breaths. I’ll probably use a combination of the two. I haven’t taken any official breathing classes, such as Lamaze, but I hope that doing tough CrossFit workouts throughout pregnancy will improve my mental game during the marathon workout that is labor.
Sight: I will probably focus on a single point in the room the same way I do when doing heavy lifts or stringing together double unders in CrossFit. I might dim the lights in the room if the lighting is harsh.
Smell: I bought the same Pure Fiji pineapple massage oil that I use during my prenatal massages at Belly Bliss Spa! This stuff smells incredible- just like fresh, sweet pineapples.
Touch: I’ve looked up some YouTube videos on giving hand, foot, shoulder, and back massages. My plan is to have Colby massage me with the pineapple oil between contractions to keep my relaxed. I’ve been loving foot rubs at home to make my swollen feet feel better! I’m glad Colby is up for this task. I’d love to have a massage therapist doula in the room with me, but that’s really expensive and I am set on getting through childbirth without a doula.
Sound: I called Belly Bliss Spa to find out what soundtrack they use in their massage rooms. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with the prenatal massages I’ve been getting? They said they use a Pandora station based on the artist Deuter. I looked him up and he happens to be Polish! What a nice coincidence. If the spa music is too mellow for me in the end, I might play something more upbeat like Eye of the Tiger and other motivational music on my portable speakers in the room.
Taste: I don’t think I’m allowed to eat or drink anything once I’m in active labor, but I packed some snacks for Colby and I’m hoping to have a little champagne toast after giving birth :)
Colby and I took a childbirth class at Sunrise Hospital. I chose that one over the one offered at Summerlin Hospital where I’ll be delivering because it was twice as long and half as expensive. Mistake. I hated the class. We left halfway through. Maybe the problem was that I had a headache that morning, but I had no patience for the elderly nurse teaching the class. I’m a very “data driven” person, and this lady’s personal anecdotes weren’t cutting it for me when I wanted to know about the risks associated with epidurals. The childbirth videos we watched also made me feel very unsettled. Colby loved those, though. I’m not sure why they made me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’m still grossed out by the messiness of giving birth and the awkwardness of breast feeding. From now on I’ll be doing my own research to answer childbirth related questions.
My boss and coworker threw me a baby shower! It was during week 34, so I was feeling very tired and swollen, but also very loved. It was so nice to see lots of women I care about show up to celebrate Everly’s upcoming arrival! Here are some photos from the shower: