Our baby has reached term. He’ll be 38 weeks on Thursday, which means that he could be here any day now. Sometime in the next three weeks I’ll be in labor. We will most likely be parents to a living baby this month. All of this is unbelievable to me, but somehow it’s real.
All of a sudden, it feels like we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. We have a safe place for our baby to sleep, a few clothes and diapers and some books and toys, and even some pictures on the walls of the nursery. Tonight we did two big things:
- We facetimed with my husband’s cousin and her husband and asked if they would serve as guardians for our baby if anything should ever happen to us. They agreed wholeheartedly, and even asked us if we would do the same for them (apparently even though their kids are 4.5 and 2.5 years old, they’ve never asked anyone, and they guessed that this was what we wanted to talk to them about, discussed it, and agreed that they would ask us too!).
- We packed our hospital bags. I hardly packed anything for myself; just some clean clothes, toiletries, breast pads, extra socks, a charger for my phone, and flip-flops. Most of what went into my bag is for our son: two one-piece outfits for bringing our baby home, one in newborn and one in 0-3 month size (in case he’s big), a fuzzy hooded bunting with bear ears to keep him warm for the car ride home, the hat knitted for him by one of my friends on the faculty (who has also experienced baby loss). I also packed some sentimental things, foremost among which is the coming-home outfit that my mom knitted for me when I was a baby — it’s woolen and potentially itchy, so I didn’t want it to be the only clothing we brought, but I do want to put it on him for some photos at least. There’s a photo of me wearing it as a newborn, and I am so looking forward to taking that same photo of my son. Then, I brought the tiny micropreemie hat that is the only item of clothing our daughter ever wore. It won’t fit our son, but I want to have it with us, and maybe include it in a photo of him. And there’s the receiving blanket that my mother-in-law made for our first baby, which is lovely and soft and will also help keep this baby snug in his car seat for the February car ride home from the hospital. I feel so fortunate to have so many lovely, meaningful, handmade things to help welcome our baby home. Yes, there were waterworks as I dug into my daughter’s memory box tonight to fish out her hat — I couldn’t help going through all the cards people sent us after she died, which got me thinking again about the might-have-beens, including how she’d be turning one any day now if she had lived. Thinking of her while our son squirmed in my belly was bittersweet, and her presence will very much be with us as we head back to the hospital, hoping for a happier outcome this time.
Otherwise, things are going fine. We had our last growth scan at MFM yesterday, and he is measuring right on target: 54th percentile, with an estimated weight of 6lb6oz. Today was our weekly NST and OB appointment. He was so active this morning that they kept me on the monitor for an hour trying to get a “baseline” reading of his resting heart rate, but he kept squirming and showing accelerations (which is what they are mostly looking for anyway). Everything seems set for me to stay on the Lovenox, and I got reassurance from my doctor that being on the medication is very unlikely to increase my (already low) risk of hemorrhaging if I need a C-section — apparently they often give doses of anticoagulant before surgery to people with high clotting risks anyway (who knew?). I had a chat with our doula today about breastfeeding, pumping, and sleep with a newborn, which was helpful. And I’ve been organizing the hand-me-down bottles we’ve been given, washing parts and ordering new nipples and a microwave sterilizer which should arrive later this week.
Overall, I feel mostly a sense of calm anticipation. I’m having trouble thinking about anything other than pregnancy/baby stuff (although I am still hoping to get at least one paper submitted to the journal before I go into labor — I am so close, just waiting on some last-minute input from colleagues!). So many women have told me they were miserable by this point in their pregnancy, and I am happy to report that I am still not miserable. In fact, I feel pretty good. A little tired, a little large (OK, very large), but still generally not too uncomfortable and I am content to be pregnant for a couple weeks longer if that’s what happens.
I am nervous about labor, of course, but at this point I mostly accept it as an inevitability. I know that I’m as prepared as I can be, and that now I will just have to deal with whatever happens as it comes. It reminds me of the feeling I used to get before exams in college: I knew that I’d done as much preparation as I could, that I was as ready as I’d ever be to deal with whatever they threw at me, and that I just wanted to get it over with, already! I know that things could still go wrong, that our son could still die. At the same time, I’ve finally reached the place where I was at the beginning of the second trimester in our first pregnancy: I don’t really believe that our son will die, even though I know (oh, boy, do I know) that it’s a real possibility (although unlikely). While that might sound like a good thing, it scares me, because I know how unimaginably horrible it was to have that belief and then lose our first baby. I also know that it would be even worse this time around since I’ve now carried our son twice as long as our daughter. So while my daily emotions are calm, I have a storm of anxiety brewing in the background. I just hope that I’m able to maintain my equilibrium as long as possible, and that I don’t panic during labor. But at the same time, I also recognize that the outcome is largely out of my hands at this point. I’ve done everything I can to stack the deck in our favor, and now we just need to see how the cards play out.
38 weeks on Thursday. Baby arriving any day. Life is truly a wonder right now.