Now that my daughter is two weeks old I finally feel like I have a minute to write down the beautiful story of how she came into this world. Even now it seems surreal that I grew this little person inside my body and had the strength to birth her, by far the most intense, overwhelming,empowering experience of my entire life.

I went into labor at exactly 41 weeks. Earlier that day I had been feeling so depressed and discouraged that she was never going to come. I spent most of the morning in bed, tired and exhausted by the fact that another night had passed and I had not gone into labor. At my prenatal appointment three days before I was only 1 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and at a +1 station. To make things more gloomy I wasn’t exhibiting any of the traditional signs before labor. Other than a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, I felt like  labor could still be many days away.

We were scheduled the following day for an ultrasound and a non-stress test to make sure that everything was still going well. I was starting to wrap my mind around the possibility that induction might become a necessity if she didn’t make her debut soon. Trying to avoid that I made an appointment with an acupuncturist who assured me that after two treatments I would go into labor on my own. As it turns out I never needed it!

My husband and I went to bed around 10 o’clock that night. I listened to the Hypnobabies  track “Come Out, Baby!” which I’d been listening to almost every day for the last three weeks to no avail, but whether coincidental or not, this time it seemed to work! Around 11:30 PM I woke up with lots of cramping. Knowing how anxious I was to get into labor,  I knew there was a strong possibility that this was just another false start. But after a few minutes the crampy feeling was still there and I decided to go to the bathroom. That was when I saw all the blood, and I knew something was starting for real!

I woke my husband up and told him what I was experiencing, rather nonchalantly mentioning that I thought this could possibly be labor because I didn’t want him to get too excited. Of course that didn’t work! The cramps were getting stronger so I decided that we should start timing them. They were three minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds each time. I was so surprised at how quickly they were coming. I had pictured during labor  we would have hours and hours of early, well-spaced contractions where I would need distractions while we waited for things to progress. But when my labor started it was fast, strong, and consistent.

We called the midwife on call who happened to be one of our favorites. My husband told her my status, and she said it still sounded like it was early labor. She told me to try a hot bath to see if that would slow down the contractions. She also told me to take a sleeping pill to see if I could get a couple of hours of rest since it was early in the morning and we had what we thought was a long road ahead. The hubs ran me a bath. The water felt great but it did nothing to stop my contractions or even slow them down. After getting out of the tub I decided we needed to go ahead and call our doula who after hearing about my close contractions come over immediately. We called the birthing center back, told him that nothing had changed and that my contractions were actually getting closer together.

Our doula came over andI labored upstairs in the bedroom with my husband holding my hand, my doula rubbing my back, and our sweet little dog Lucy licking my arm. At that point the contractions were so strong that I had begun to vocalize a lot. It was absolutely uncontrollable. It didn’t take long for me notice how hoarse my voice felt after only a few hours of strong contractions. My husband did a great job of keeping me hydrated and even got me to nibble a little bit on crackers in between, but the contractions were so fast I hardly had any time to do much except try to let go of the one that had passed.

Around 4:30 in the morning we decided it was time to going to the birth center. At that point my contractions were between two and three minutes apart and getting very strong. The 40 minute car ride was the most excruciating part of the entire experience because there was absolutely no way for me to get comfortable. The road was incredibly foggy; I can’t imagine how stressful that was for my husband as he tried to drive us safely while I was moaning and making all kinds of other noises through the contractions.

We got to the birth center and got settled into our room. The midwife needed to check me but with my contractions so close together, I struggled to find a time in between them for her to do that. After she checked me she asked me, “Do you want to know how far along you are?” Originally in my birth plan I had said that I didn’t want to know how dilated I was, but with the contractions so close together I was more curious. I said that I wanted to know only if it was good news. As it turns out, I was already dilated 7 cm!

I decided to go ahead and get into the bathtub to see if the water could help with the really intense feelings I was having through the contractions. I ended up staying in there for the rest of the time. I labored on my back for a while. When the midwife checked me again an hour or so later, she said I just had about a centimeter to go and urged me to try squatting with my arms draped over the side of the tub. It was so uncomfortable and I reached out for both my husband and doula to hold my hands. But it was very effective! After about three contractions in that position, the midwife checked me again and that was when my water broke. The sensation was so intense that for a moment I lost control and started to panic a bit. I was so scared by the intensity of the experience. My team of support brought me back to a place of calm and I kept telling myself, “You can do this. You can do this.”

At around 7:30 AM I was ready to push. Even though I was exhausted I grateful to finally have something active to do. I immediately felt focused and determined; I was going to get this baby out! The midwife coached me on how to push. Unfortunately she could only stay for about an hour before the midwives changed shifts. I was devastated to learn that the next midwife to come on call was Elke, the one midwife we did not connect with well at all. I was on the verge of tears at the thought of having her there. But then I thought to myself, she isn’t doing any of this. I am the one who is doing this! It didn’t matter who was there, I had the strength and focus to do this.

When 8:30 rolled around, the other midwife came into the room, and I did my best to not look too disgusted. As it turns out she really wasn’t that terrible, just socially inept and awkward. But I did know one thing for certain: she wouldn’t be sugarcoating anything so when she told me that I was pushing effectively, I knew that she was telling the truth. Pushing was so intense but it was the kind of thing that I could manage because it had a very specific pattern. Each time I felt the contraction I would take a deep breath and hold it as I pushed, take another breath, and push again. For each contraction I pushed about four or five times, and it was the same pattern each time. I knew that the first one would be terrible but that the second third and fourth would feel like I was really making progress. Mentally I knew that if I could get through that first push, I would be making good progress.

I had no idea what time it was, but I knew that I’ve been pushing for a very long time. Everyone kept telling me that I was doing great, but I started to feel like I was never going to get her out. In the end I pushed for four hours. I have no idea how I mustered up the energy to do that. At several points I almost leapt from laying on my back into a squatting position in the tub, and everyone was shocked by how agile I was after such a long time of pushing. Let’s just say I was highly motivated.

Finally at 11:28 AM on October 27th I gave it that final push that brought my beautiful, perfect daughter into the world. The midwife caught her and put her on my chest. It was the most exhilarating  feeling I have ever experienced. I thought I would cry but instead I just felt this enormous high as I heard her cry for the first time. She was so beautiful! I couldn’t believe that just moments ago she had been inside of me and now she was here in my arms.

As it turns out, my daughter had been asynclitic and had come down the birth canal a bit cockeyed, which is why it took me so long to get her out. I found out later that many, many women end up with C-sections because the baby can often get stuck. Even though it was exhausting to push for that long, I am so grateful that I got the birth that I envisioned–med-free at the birth center, in the water. I feel fortunate that pain medication and other interventions were not necessary. I completely understand why women want and/or need epidurals and would not have turned one down if advised by my midwife to get one, but I’m just thankful that it didn’t come to that in my case.

We are so blessed to have this little girl join our family. She is bringing us so much joy!

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This is basically what my day looks like now that I’m nearing the end of pregnancy.

  • Wake up every hour and a half to pee
  • Muster up the energy to get out of bed and put on sweatpants that sit below my bump
  • Take fifteen minutes to put on sneakers for a ten minute walk with the dog
  • Huff and puff up the hill out of our neighborhood
  • Check work email and to do list
  • Push 95% of to do items to the next day
  • Suffer searing rib pain and move to the couch
  • Make raspberry leaf tea and drink half of a cup before it gets cold
  • Watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix
  • Take work calls from my bed
  • Hypnobabies practice (aka nap time…ZZZZZzzzzz)
  • Stare at the nursery
  • Do completely unnecessary household tasks, like washing slipcovers of couch pillows
  • Watch husband make dinner and eat only half of it
  • Unabashedly scoop out at least three servings of ice cream for dessert
  • Choke down daily regimen of pregnancy-related supplements (prenatal vitamin, evening primrose oil (both ways…), and 5-W)
  • Spend half an hour rearranging pillows for optimum sleeping comfort
  • Pee three times before settling in for bed

There you have it!

Unlike mannacakepie who had a totally legitimate excuse for not blogging (yay babycakepie!), I’ve just been lazy. And you know what, I don’t even feel that guilty about it. I’ve decided that from now on, my job is to take it easy. For one my body is demanding it. The second I get a little too ambitious with work or cleaning or errands, my body starts resisting and I’m forced to take a nap to recover.

Speaking of naps, I’m having all kinds of dreams about babies and some that on the surface appear to be non-baby related but really are. The other night I had a dream that I had signed up to run a half marathon. I realized, “Wait, I haven’t been training for a half marathon!!” But I knew in my gut that despite my lack of training, I could do it.

It’s a great metaphor for the birth experience and parenting. There’s really no way to prepare for it, although I think I’ve attempted every possible way to do so. But I trust my body to do what it’s been designed to do, and I trust that I’ll be able to figure out the parenting thing just like other people do.

I think this Hypnobabies positivity is really rubbing off on me!

(Just a heads up, this story involves long labor and an intended natural birth that ended with interventions and an epidural. Feel free to stop reading if this isn’t a helpful story for you.)

I was late in my 39th week of pregnancy and very ready to be in labor. On Tuesday, I started having the very first things I could call contractions that weren’t Braxton Hicks—they had a thin kind of pain and I would sometimes need to stop talking to concentrate. I went to bed that night ready and impatient.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up around 2AM with contractions that really hurt. They were spaced far apart, but were strong enough that they would wake me up when they came. I tried to sleep a bit more, but found without time to prepare it was easy to start panicking in the middle of the contraction. I ended up getting myself up and sitting on the exercise ball or chair to work through them. My spouse woke up a bit later, and made me some breakfast, and we tried to figure out how to plan the day (Was there enough time for a load of laundry? We decided yes.)

Around 9AM contractions were coming about 7 minutes apart, and I called my parents who are out of town to let them know that today might be the day. The rest of the day continued in a blur—moving between the ball, chair, walking, having spouse rub my back while I leaned over something—I think I took a shower in there? The contractions would get closer together and then slow down. In late afternoon, my parents arrived. They tried to get out of the way by taking the dogs for a walk and getting some food options for dinner.

It was late afternoon and the contractions were becoming more painful, if not closer together. They were still six minutes apart, but it was getting harder to deal with them without someone rubbing my back—it took all of my work to keep breathing, keep relaxing my shoulders, keep telling myself I could do this. At some point there was a call to the OB who said we were doing all the right things and could go by the hospital if we wanted. Sometime around 6PM, with contractions still around 6 minutes apart, I decided it was time.

At labor and delivery, it was a blur, but I couldn’t believe how many questions they were asking me. Really—how many times do I need to tell you my date of birth, and isn’t this what preregistration is for? They kept saying things like “if you are admitted,” until it finally came time for me to be checked. I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. I found out later that based on how I was handling the contractions, they didn’t think I was really in labor. I am not sure what they are used to labor looking like, but apparently it wasn’t what I was doing!

We got into a labor and delivery room and I got in the jetted tub, which was wonderful. At first, it was like the pain had just gone away. Over time, things progressed and even in the tub my contractions were enough I needed to make some noise through them. The doctor needed to check me at one point, and I was at 7.

The rest of the night is a blur. At one point in the late night, I decide to take a narcotic pain medication to get some rest—I was able to sleep for about an hour. They check me afterwards and I am at 8. I get up to get through contractions on the ball, with spouse rubbing my back. I am hopeful that transition is around the corner—and that we are nearing the end. At some point, we decide to have them break my waters to move things along. I labor in a rocking chair for a time, with a towel pushing on my back.

As the evening wears on, we have a number of nurses who care for us (one in particular was just wonderful). Everytime they enter the room they comment on how quiet it is. I just keep breathing and trying to keep muscles relaxed. My spouse is fabulous, staying with me through one thing and the next, rubbing my back, and keeping watch with me as one hour leads to the next. I alternate between mantras, of course none of the ones I thought I would—but “I can do this,” “It’s ok,” “Let it go” and “I am a woman of the present”. The last one we tried to say when it seemed overwhelming or endless—just try to stay in the present.

It’s finally sometime around 4-6AM (my spouse and I can’t remember the time), something like 26 hours after I had woken up with labor pains. A new shift nurse comes on and she offers to check where I am at. I first am hesitant, worrying I will get discouraged, and then agree with her that facts can be helpful sometimes. She checks and I am still at 8cms, where I was hours earlier. As I try to picture several more centimeters dilation ahead, and needing to have energy to push at the end, I don’t think I have it in me. I ask for an epidural. After coming so far and for so long, this is my low point.

Thankfully the epidural comes relatively quickly, as every contraction after the decision becomes mentally harder to deal with. With the epidural, it is such a relief to have some time off from the pain and the energy needed to go through one contraction after the next. I am able to sleep and they pull in a cot to allow spouse to sleep a bit too.

A few hours later, I feel more rested and they start me on pitocin. I can see the contractions on all the monitors now hooked up, but they feel for me at a distance—I am so relieved. They check me throughout the morning to see how dilation has continued, and around 12:30PM I am given the go-ahead to start pushing. It feels so good to be making progress, and I can feel through each contraction my baby moving through. It feels so good that the end is almost here.

The nurse tells me that she can see that the baby has brown hair, and I start to cry. Things are moving and the nurse calls for the doctor to come. Then she calls for more nurses, with a certain sense of urgency. But I can feel the baby is almost here—and no one has arrived in the room! They tell me not to push, and I ask if there is anyone in the building that can deliver the baby. My doctor arrives, starts to say “don’t worry about tying that thing, just get it on me” and jokes that she was held up at the one stoplight between her office and here! One push later and the baby is born.

They put her up to my chest and I start crying, I am so overwhelmed that she is here. I am so overwhelmed that they have to keep reminding me to have my legs in certain places as they are stitching me. I can’t believe that she is here and real—those kinds of tears you get with something too beautiful to be true.

She was born just before 2pm on Thursday—her due date.

I intended an unmedicated birth, and on paper it looks like I got just the opposite. I ended up having narcotics, my water broken, an epidural, pitocin—and lots of monitors and things hooked up to me while giving birth. But I am grateful that at each step along the way, I felt at peace with the choice. The medical staff was supportive and helped to give options, and at several points, we decided “not yet.” Perhaps with a doula, or someone to help me into positions that would help progress more quickly, things would have continued differently. But each choice was the best for us at the time, and in the end I was profoundly grateful for the relief and the rest of pain relief, that allowed me to welcome my daughter with a sense of peace.

One of my pregnancy books recommends repeating those memories from labor that you want to remember in your mind—that the repetition will help them last over time. Here is what I want to remember and hold onto from labor:

  • I was able to work through labor for more than 24 hours, including hours of back labor at 8 centimeters before deciding to have an epidural—I am trying to remind myself that’s pretty bad ass. I don’t need to be afraid of pain.
  • When being admitted to the hospital, they didn’t believe I was in labor. This is particular to me, but in my life folks often have trouble telling my emotions—I can be a bit stoic and often need to use words to let folks know what I’m feeling. And if I can be working through contractions like that and have folks not know it—well it’s a reminder to me that sometimes it’s ok to show some vulnerability.
  • My husband who was with me, hour after hour—we went through this together as a team, and I am so grateful for him. He supported me through the long journey and with every step along the way. I am grateful to have him as a partner as we begin this journey of parenting.
  • The moment that they put her on my chest and I couldn’t help but cry. I feel so grateful to be a part of this miracle. I look at her now and can’t believe that she was inside me. I look at her now and can’t believe that I get to be her mother.

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As you might have guessed from the radio silence: Baby Cakepie has arrived! She was born on her due date, timely lady, at 6 lbs 15 oz.

It’s now a week later, and I am now slowly getting enough basic needs (like sleeping, feeding this adorable ravenous creature, and being able to get up from chairs without making noises), to consider extras like “communicating with the outside world.” I should have some updates in the next few days about birth and reflections on my exhausting, traumatic, beautiful, and profound first week of parenting. I am so grateful and still wrapping my mind around how much my life has changed.

Apparently, the end of pregnancy involves learning things like patience. About two weeks ago, the baby dropped, and things started getting less comfortable. A little over a week ago, I had my first experience of “wow that hurts” for several hours that made me wonder if that was labor. And now… well… the crampiness and soreness continue, the intense “is this a contraction” back pain has been coming and going, and I usually think I am in labor about once a day.

I am trying to learn to find a little peace in the wait that is coming.

Last Friday was the oddest day on record. After several days of feeling downright crappy, I woke up feeling good. I wasn’t in pain! I went to work and got things done! I had this moment of “it’s ok, I can be pregnant for longer, I got this!” Then an hour or two later, I had intense pain in my back with period-like cramps in the front. The pain didn’t come and go, but it also wasn’t relieved by changing positions, as over the course of the next several hours I tried different chairs, positions, walking, sitting, leaning, and at one point trying to prop my keyboard up on a precarious stack of books in the idle hope I could keep working while standing up. I ended up going home, until I had this moment when sitting backwards on a chair that suddenly the pain went away. I already had made an appointment to stop by the obgyn, and so showed up feeling dang stupid that I was there for a labor check and was now not in pain–for the record they were very gracious about it. I have made some “progress,” if you can call it that, and am now 2cm dilated and 80% effaced–so I’m trying to tell myself that these pains aren’t for nothing. 

The problem is that this “am I in labor or not” question is really not good for my mental state. If I could keep saying “it will be several more weeks” and believe it, then I could move through life much more smoothly. But going back and forth makes it very hard to wait. “Maybe today” is a dangerous thought.

For now, I’m trying to hold off asking the question. I am less than two weeks from my due date, and I know that due to the gestational diabetes, the doctors are unlikely to let me go past 40 1/2 weeks. In the scheme of life, a little over two weeks to wait for labor isn’t much at all. So here’s hoping that I can spend that time in a positive place, being grateful for this pregnancy and this life inside me, and appreciating days rather than wishing them away. 

When I first found out I had gestational diabetes, I spent a remarkable time on the internet trying to figure out what on earth I would now eat. I had this meal plan that included numbers of carbs and protein, but I struggled to try to picture what “breakfast” would look like or what exactly a snack with so-many carbohydrates and a source of protein could be that wouldn’t sound gross right before going to bed. I was really grateful for this post that showed what real food could actually look like! Of course, follow your actual doctor or dietian’s instructions rather than me (aka, some chick on the internet). But thought it might be helpful to pass along what has helped me!

A few things I have learned along the way:

It takes a while to figure out what works: I had to work through three or four different kinds of breakfast before I found one that worked for me on a regular basis. Later on, I realized that some things that worked initially needed to change as my sensitivity increased. It was hard to be patient along the way, but if possible be gentle on yourself.

Technology helps! If it wasn’t for my hour-long timer on my phone, i would never remember to test blood sugar. This is actually true, because those times I say “oh, I’ll test right when I do such-and-such” instead, I invariably forget. It was a real help when I stopped trying to remember times in my head and trust my phone to remind me. I also strongly recommend a food scale to help with measurements. There are some foods that are hard to count for carbs, and the scale makes it much easier! 

Finding the happy balance between “easy to count,” “easy,” and “actual food that has nutrition.” It took me a while to figure out exactly how much work I could put in on a regular basis for food preparation. Originally, I made chicken breast sandwiches for lunch that required thinking and cooking ahead. That lasted about a week. I found that “good lunchmeat that I microwave past the temp limit” was about as much work that I could put in to put a lunch together. I decided I could wash things and count, but was unlikely to have pre-sliced vegetables to go with hummus. I could microwave an egg each morning, which for some reason seemed more possible than anything that involved a pan. You may fall on a different end of the “I can work to make food” scale, and figure out what works.

A whole lot of ways to count to 15 carbohydrates: Life became much easier when I could figure out a whole lot of things to have in the house every week that I could add together to make a snack or get a meal up to a certain number of carbs. Here in August, I would fill up the fridge with many types of fruit–berries for earlier in the week, stone fruits or apples for later on. Carrots or milk have worked well for me as toppers if I need a few more carbohydrates in a meal. Having a variety of healthy carbohydrates in the house helped to piece meals together with a bit more variety.

When you exercise matters: This is one of those things that they told me in my initial interview, but I didn’t appreciate until later on. It makes a huge difference if I walk between eating and testing blood sugars, or even if I spend 10-20 minutes just on my feet. (I guess at this stage of pregnancy, standing counts as exercise.) There are very few things that I can eat that will not leave me with high sugar if am seated for the full hour afterwards. The other realization for me has been that when they say “manage with diet and exercise,” is that exercise at other times of day than that key hour can actually hurt. If I have a big exhausting activity in mid-afternoon, I have to be careful that I won’t be too tired to walk around after dinner or make over-the-top food choices. For me, I’ve also noticed that in extreme heat especially, exercise can actually spike my sugars. They say stress levels can increase blood sugar, but just something to look at if you too are “very pregnant in the middle of summer”

And without further ado, the food!

Breakfast

After MUCH trial and error (sprouted grain toast and peanut butter, oatmeal with fruit, oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, yogurt and fruit and granola all managed to push me over my blood sugar levels), I have ended up with an egg on toasted thin bread. As thin bread has less than the 30 carbs I’m supposed to have for breakfast, I have an awful lot of milk in decaf coffee, which I then call a latte ;-). I microwave the egg in a cup, because I am lazy. 

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Snacks

For my plan, I need to eat 15 grams of carbs plus protein several times a day between meals. Most of the time, have one of those 15 grams of fruit with a mozzarella stick. Or crackers and peanut butter. Or most recently if I’m home, “a strategic amount of full fat vanilla ice cream with almonds.” But I wanted to share especially my two “buy it at the store and throw it in my purse” options. Needing to snack so frequently, I was surprised about how few prepackaged options fit the bill–and after frustratingly checking labels these are the two I have lived on for the last many weeks

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Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix: 14 grams of carbs, lots of nuts, doesn’t melt in your purse–winner!

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Kind bar–Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt: 16 grams of carbs, which is a hair high, but close enough, and really the only bar I found that did. It is tasty, I can pronounce all the ingredients, and although it gets melty in hot weather–shouldn’t something that claims to be chocolate get melty? I eat these a lot. 

Lunch

For lunch, I have discovered a routine– it’s turkey sandwich plus “whatever carb sounds good.” Needing to pack a lunch has limited some options, but having a variety of fruits and veggies around has helped. 

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Dinner

For us in the summer, dinner usually involves “putting something on the grill.” I have pretty much just gotten a variety of proteins that can be grilled over the course of the week, we make one, and then I add on whatever sounds good from my “great carb collection.” For dinner, I need to be especially careful when I try to eat something with a bun: they can surprise me, even when small, by their carb count.  When we go out to dinner, I’ve had luck with quesadillas, nachos where I count the number of chips I eat along the way, sandwiches where I request whole wheat bread and sometimes leave some bread behind, salads–providing I can find enough carbs in the meal, and burgers where I eat part of the bun and request a salad instead of fries. 

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Drinks

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My high recommendations for plain soda water with a slice of lime. Preferably in a fancy glass. I have ordered this in restaurants everywhere we have gone, and mostly judge based on what kind of glass they serve. 

Evening Snack

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I pretty much always eat a cracker and peanut butter and greek yogurt. In the summer, I’ve found it hard to find things to eat before bed that sound appealing, but this has fit the bill between “not too filling” and works with the schedule.

 

So there you have it, everything I have eaten for the last 10 weeks or so. This has both been easier and harder than I have thought it would be–so if you are starting off and feeling overwhelmed, know it will get better. You will figure out what works for you. And I am grateful both to be aware of my long-term risks, and that this short term higher-ristriction time will soon be over!

 

 

She believed she could

I saw this gorgeous picture on the Hypnobabies Facebook page and was pleased to know that it’s a print available on Etsy. All of her images are inspiring, empowering, and women-affirming. Check it out.

For my fellow moms-to-be, we got this!

Now officially 37 weeks! If I went into labor, they wouldn’t stop it! A milestone I celebrated by seriously wondering if “going into labor” was what was happening to me.

Yesterday afternoon, I had driven in the car to meet someone, and when I got out I said “wow, that really kind of hurts.” I had a feeling like period-cramps, painful enough to be distracting, including the fact that they were constant and without breaks that I could time. I still hurt at the end of the meeting, still hurt driving back, still hurt back at the office. At which point I say to myself “I am 36w6, this can’t be labor, and it doesn’t come and go, this isn’t contractions!” but do think it might not be a bad time to try out some of those comfort techniques on the practice pain.

At this point, my lower back is also hurting and I call up my spouse, trying to figure out if I missed some part of our birthing classes where they talked about “moderate pain that doesn’t come and go.” He says he doesn’t know, but call the doctor. I leave a message on the nurses line, because surely this isn’t an emergency, and continue trying to not focus or obsess about my abdomen hurting. It gets close to the end of the day, and I hear back from them. As long as baby is moving, and I haven’t had broken water they aren’t concerned–and say things like “Go home, drink water and put your feet up, and it will either get better or worse.” (aka, you will feel better or go into labor)

If I can have a minor side note, this is when my brain explodes by the idea that labor is a non-alarming possibility. We have now crossed the line into nurses not being concerned when labor is a possibility, while I am still that girl without a hospital bag packed, because it seemed like jumping the gun.

So in any case–continued to have period-cramp and back pains all night, which did fell better in a bath and laying down without moving. Today they have calmed down so that it doesn’t hurt to sit, and standing feels “sore, with occasional twinges” which sounds about right for this late in pregnancy. I’m wondering if this baby was getting lower and expanding things that weren’t used to being expanded.

But now, I guess I need to actually pack that hospital bag? 2 weeks left at work, 3 weeks until due date. Ahhhhh!

I can honestly say that part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I have been belly-deep in Hypnobabies class! If you’re interested in the class, there is a ton of information on their website, but I’ll give you my take on it so far.

Hypnobabies assumes the following: in the United States, portrayals of birth in the media are overwhelmingly frantic and traumatic with women in agonizing pain, screaming at their partners, and demanding pain medication at the first sign of discomfort. Because very few of us witness a birth before our own, these images are usually the only ones our brains have to formulate an idea of what birth is, namely something to be dreaded and feared. When the body is afraid and anticipating pain, it tenses up. Our uteruses actually have muscles that can constrict when the body senses danger in order to stop the birthing process. When we were out in the wild and hunted by predators, this was a good thing because we could find a safer place to deliver. But nowadays it’s not very useful and often prolongs the birthing process unnecessarily or leads to interventions that we might rather avoid.

Hypnobabies is designed to retrain the subconscious part of the brain to believe and accept that birth can be comfortable and even pleasant. It does so through self-hypnosis scripts and exercises that facilitate deep relaxation and positive ideas around pregnancy and birth. Through repeating these positive messages and teaching deep relaxation techniques, Hypnobabies aims for mothers and their support systems to approach birth in a relaxed, gentle way.

Yeah, yeah…so what does this all mean? It means that I have completely chilled the f*** out since starting this class. Seriously, remember my anxiety post?  I can honestly say that is is incredibly rare for me to feel even the slightest hint of anxiety around my pregnancy. For the last three weeks I have dedicated at least 30-45 minutes to doing a self-hypnosis script and since starting the class a week and a half ago, I’ve been listening daily to pregnancy affirmations, which sound so cheesy at first (“I enjoy eating healthy foods everyday for my baby” and “Babies are born on their birthdays, not when doctors decide”) but honestly they have made me think about pregnancy and birth in a new way. I’m starting to feel more confident in my body’s ability to birth and anticipating birth as something slow and requiring patience.

Another bonus is all of the partner work required, which has brought my husband and me much closer together. Every other day he reads a script to me, we read the materials together, and practice communications exercises. It all sounds a bit hokey but once we decided we were in, we were completely committed to the process 100%. I now see the birth as a real team effort whereas before I saw him more as a helper of sorts.

The best part? Our doula is teaching the class, and the only other couple who signed up has since dropped out. That means we have completely private instruction for the next month and lots of time to get to know one another. I’m starting to think of the three of us as my “birthing team” and how less alone I feel now that I have this amazing support the entire way. Go team!