The due date that wasn’t

Hello world, Albert, my sweet, grunting, snuggling, nursing, crying, hand-sucking son has arrived! He came roaring into the world at 10:42 PM on September 11th, after just 2 hours and 12 minutes of blindingly intense labor, 40 minutes after I arrived at the birth center. Full birth story to come, but needless to say, I’m entirely smitten, and exhausted. I still can’t believe he’s here already!

Vital stats:

Weight 8 lbs 3.5 ounces

Length 20 inches

Head circumference 14.something inches

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5 years ago

5 years ago I was 11 hours into a 27.5 hour birth. Darwin and I were held up by the community that surrounded us. It was, as I always say, not an easy birth, but it was a good birth. Tomorrow I will celebrate my sweet Bug turning one whole hand. I’ll celebrate all her accomplishments, how much she has grown and learned, her kindness and empathy, her excellent sense of humor. But tonight I will hold close all the hopes and dreams I held for her as she came into this world in all the naive, beautiful innocence of new parenthood. My sweet first.

37 weeks – early term

Firefly is officially (early) full term! I am increasingly uncomfortable, unable to find comfortable positions to sit or lay, that also allow me to breathe, and from the regular stretching he is doing, I’d say he’s beginning to get a bit cramped in there as well. I still suspect he’ll cook until shortly after my due date, though it wouldn’t surprise me if he came before either.

So much still needs to happen before his arrival, it seems, though the most urgent needs are now taken care of. My bag and his are packed for the birth center. The car seat is installed. Countless baby things are washed, dried, folded, and… mostly put away. I have a doula and a backup doula. My maternity leave is (mostly) sorted out.

Things that still need doing include finishing cleaning out the bedroom, sorting a few last hand me downs, scheduling a photo shoot for after the birth (thanks grandparents), cleaning out the chicken coop and fish tank (things I’d rather not do AFTER giving birth!), and wrapping up loose ends at work.

Actual 36 week update

This little peanut is officially head down and so deep in my pelvis that the midwife doing my appointment called in backup because she couldn’t find his head😂 It was neat to see a few parts on the ultrasound, but also it’s literally just for checking the most basic stuff so compared to the detail of the 20 week, this was more like a fuzzy blur. We did confirm he still has a head, arms, legs, a healthy little heart, and a spinal column.

Other than that, I hired a labor doula this week. She was the nurse at Darwin’s birth and has since moved on to full time doula-ing. I was happily surprised that she was available at such late request and an really pleased that timings worked out.

I’m currently sleeping well about every third night. Last night baby was very active for several hours, but I still managed to get some rest, so that felt like a win.

I had a prenatal massage (thank you mama!) on Friday afternoon and it was amazing. But also loosened my muscles up just enough for the baby to drop, and boy was I sore on Saturday. On the upside, I was better by Sunday and could breathe again!

So far, baby’s bag is packed, car seat is installed and ready for go time, and my bag is about…30% ready. I need to pick up snacks and recharge at the store this week, and I’m trying to decide if I want any music. I feel utterly unprepared and almost like my work is to be ok with that right now. Two more days until Early Term….😳

Thoughts from 36+2

This is only a semi-pregnancy post, mostly because everything is currently anchored by this pregnancy, but life continues moving at full speed elsewhere too.

I’ve been holding on to how hard this year has been, something I’ve seen many friends and family members do over the past few years with social/political/environmental/personal stuff. 2019 has undoubtedly thrown the most difficult series of challenges my way that I’ve ever experienced, but I’m finding it useless and perhaps harmful to frame it as a bad or hard year. Especially as I’m preparing to birth this sweet baby.

A few years ago, my Unitarian Universalist congregation framed an entire year around being brave. It was a big year for the congregation with many changes, both as a fellowship and for many individuals. Some of the changes were good, some were scary, many were hard. But the year was not a “hard year”, it was a Brave year. I am realizing that this may be my turn to have a brave year.

What does it mean to have a brave year? I used to think it meant, primarily, choosing to do something scary that still needs to be done. But sometimes, I’m realizing, the brave year chooses you, much in line with the tradition of the mythological hero. It’s easy to be brave some years, when your emotional and physical and community and family reserves are full. Then there are years where hard events bombard us, like a neverending series of storm-waves striking a beach, wearing away at all defenses until a brief respite leaves me asking “is it over or is this just the eye?” And the howling wind responds.

That is my year, in metaphor.

Things I’ve learned this year include:

1) I, alone, cannot hold the line everywhere at all times. I must ask for help.

2) When I do ask for help, it comes crawling, running, appearing as if from thin air. This is the community I have embraced, and that has embraced me in return.

3) I’m responsible for my own happiness only. I should not and cannot hold responsibility for the happiness or unhappiness of others. What I am responsible for is my treatment of others, and my response to how others treat me. Bring mistreated is not an invitation to mistreat.

4) As a parent, my deepest and most vital responsibilities are to my children, especially in these early years. But, that is something that will never be untrue, it will simply change.

5) The people in our lives who can be counted on may change and shift, as people and relationships change and shift. However. There will likely be a few individuals who will always be there, no matter how long it has been or what hardship is faced. And I am that individual for a few people as well.

6) Boundaries are good. Boundaries allow us to do the work we need to be doing. Seeing them through is a brave act.

7) Be kind. If you slip out of kindness, apologize, and start again.

I’ll end with one of the things the minister at the UU here always says (in some variation) at the end of a service that resonates deeply. I’ve been using this as my touchstone anytime I’ve felt myself forgetting my own truths over the past 9 months.

“Keep alert to the way things truly are within you and around you. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous. Be strong as often as you can, and start again today to try to let all you fo be done in love.”

35 weeks, getting closer…

I’m in the home stretch with this little peanut. It’s really strange to think I’ll never be pregnant again after a maximum of 7 weeks. Strange and really ok this time. Although I actually enjoy a lot about being pregnant, I’ve had two emotional rollercoaster pregnancies, for reasons either tangentially or unrelated to the pregnancies themselves, so I’m feeling quite fine about it this time.

Mostly I’m recognizing that I’m in denial of how difficult my life with three kids is about to become. I’m trying to focus on getting through each day, solo parenting many evenings and the weekends, and trying to be functional at work during the day. I’m also trying not to bank on the idea that can’t stop nudging my brain that maternity leave will be a short respite of sorts. Not a vacation, per say, but at least I’ll have a few weeks where my kids and house are my primary focus.

In terms of Firefly, he seems to be growing right on track according to my midwife. Right now he should be in the range of 5 lbs and about 18 inches long! He’s still very active and definitely head down, though I keep going around on whether he’s ROA or ROP. At least he’s head down…

I finally washed and folded most of the baby clothes and put them in the changing table drawers. Diapers are in the dryer as we speak and are next on my list to stash. I set up the bassinet next to the bed and am mid move on a bunch of stuff. I need to install the car seat and pack a bag for me and Firefly. Still so much to do and so little energy to do it!

I’m leaning heavily towards getting a birth doula this time around, for a number of reasons. I’m planning to call the one who was at my birth as a nurse when I transferred with Darwin. She was amazing and is now practicing as a doula and is doing cranial manipulation stuff. It feels late to call, with only a few weeks to go, but it would be nice to have that familiar face at the birth.