Sunday, March 3, 2013

Raspberry: 36 Weeks

Dearest Raspberry,

Well, we've made it through to 36 weeks, and I can now count on one hand the number of shirts I own that will actually cover my entire belly, down to the top of my pants (not counting that maternity elastic part). I think I passed that milestone last week, actually, if not the week before, but I've just taken notice of it recently.

To celebrate, I bought some Girl Scout Cookies. Who am I kidding, I would have bought them anyway. Either way- big mistake, considering I just downed four Tagalongs in the space of five minutes. I'm sure to regret that very soon, but considering that nearly everything I've eaten for almost the past week has led me to the same unfortunate conclusion, what difference does it make, right? There's nothing like discovering, so close to the end, that nausea and heartburn have decided to make your reacquaintance in a big way.

And all this while, I feel as though I'm standing on the brink of a precipice, nicely balanced for the time being, but with no notion of when a strong enough wind will finally blow to push me over into it. All of those little signs that would have put me on the phone to my doctor my first time around- cramping, contracting, spotting, back and cervical pain- I've learned that I must simply take in stride from this point forward. That 5-1-1 rule (contractions every five minutes, for one minute or longer each, over a period of one hour)? It simply doesn't apply to me when I have daily episodes that fit that description. 

Though you won't technically be considered full-term until 37 weeks, 36 weeks is the magic point at which the doctors all say: "no worries, just do your thing." In fact, though I was handed down all sorts of cautions and restrictions in the period between weeks 35 and 36, they would not have stopped my labor at that point, and did not, in fact, try to during my hospitalization. They simply wanted to keep me around so they could "catch you" and whisk you away to make sure you were okay had you chosen that moment to meet the world.

It's a strange and confusing timeline that doesn't seem to line up. Before 35 weeks, doctors will try their best to prevent a pre-term birth. After 35, doctors will not prevent it, but they will continue give you advice on how to help prevent it yourself (by way of bed and pelvic rest). Up until week 36, that is. After that? Well, I guess it's up to me. But, given that you're not full-term until 37 weeks, shouldn't ideally arrive until at least 38, and cannot even be helped into the world via induction until 39, what's a mommy to think? Should I spend one last week trying to take it extra, extra easy? Should I stretch that week to two? Or should I, as the doctors say, "do what I want?" 

Truth is, I don't know exactly what that is. I can't deny that I would give almost anything to be free of this agonizingly stressful limbo that I'm in. I also can't deny that despite my qualms and doubts about what's right or wise, I have made an effort to be just a little more active, to the degree that I can, partly with that goal in mind. But I also want what's best for you, and if what's best is me sitting around on my bum for another 7-14 days, is that what I should do? Even when it's sure to cause my stress levels to go through the roof, which is no good for you either?

I have no good answers. I have no feel-good decisions or goals to aspire to. 

All I can do now is take each day for what it is, go with my moment-by-moment instincts, work within my physical limits, and wait for that first big, mind-blowing contraction, or for my water to break. I'm not counting on the latter, since I didn't have that happen until very late in both of my previous labors, but you never know, I suppose. If I manage to dilate to six centimeters before entering active labor again, like I did with your brother, I've been informed that a simple cough or sneeze could make it happen. Lovely thought, no?

An even lovelier a terrifying thought: once that big moment occurs, I may have two hours or less to get myself over to a hospital for your birth, based on the standard your brother has set, and assuming that you are indeed smaller than both your sister and him when the time comes. Especially if I have dilated past a four by then.

But for now, as of the last report, we are still comfortably at four centimeters, and may be for some time (or not)...

Until then, I guess we're going to continue to be bunk mates, you and I.


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