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Pregnant & Posting: 33-38 weeks

My apologies for lumping so many weeks together and also for being so late in my postings here.

May I suggest that if it can be avoided, moving to a new home while in one's third trimester during the hottest summer on record and trying to work at the same time should be avoided if at all possible? Because it should.

Moving is stressful and exhausting at the best of times. When you're quite pregnant, it is even worse. Far, far worse. I don't think I've ever been so tired and miserable. It literally was the hottest summer on record where I live. We broke high temperature records that have stood for more than 100 years. It barely even cooled down at night. As a pregnant person, this apparently also meant that I was unable to cool down either. It didn't seem to matter how cool we kept it in the house, I was HOT constantly. And going outside was a complete nightmare, because I was soaking in sweat within about 10 seconds of stepping outside the door.

Beyond just being hot, trying to pack up (and then later unpack) a house was a bit of a nightmare. I discovered that the things I could usually do, the things I thought I could do, were much harder than normal and in some cases impossible. I'd pack up a box and then not be able to lift it off the surface I'd been packing on. I found that I could only bend over a certain number of times before I was completely exhausted. This is incredibly frustrating. I'm not used to not being able to do things. Women all over the world do all sorts of work while pregnant, why couldn't I? The answer is probably a combination of being in such a late stage of pregnancy combined with my own body's limitations. I have a friend who posted on her social networking page about having gone to her exercise class and dead-lifting a ridiculous (to me) amount of weight just the day before she went into labor. Again, this is likely about my body's own limitations. And it let me know (loudly) what those limitations were. So even though I wanted to do more than I did, I had to respect my body's limits and rest more than usual.

Once we got to our new home, the stress did not end there. Anyone who has ever moved an entire household knows what a daunting task it is to try to unpack it all and put it right. The task becomes worse when you're only about 4 weeks away from delivery. Again, there was only so much I could do on any given day. Pregnancy hormones made everything seem that much worse. The house was a mess, I was roasting hot, nothing seemed to work correctly (internet, etc.). I found myself in tears daily, trying to remember that this was not the end of the world. As long as we all had a roof over our heads, the rest could be dealt with later if need be. It was still hard though.

During my last pregnancy, I delivered in early June, so I was not pregnant during the hottest part of the summer here. I also physically had a very different experience during the end of that pregnancy than I did with this one. For example, last time I had minimal swelling (even though it turned out that I was carrying a lot of amniotic fluid). The combination of all of the physical activity with the extreme temperatures meant that this time I swelled up at the drop of a hat during this last month of pregnancy. The worst part was my feet swelling. Unattractive and uncomfortable, to be sure. I also had some swelling in my hands, though not enough to warrant concern (swelling in hands or face can indicate a dangerous condition called pre-ecclampsia). I had to stop wearing my wedding ring at about week 35. (My wedding band was originally my great-grandmother's. I wasn't willing to risk it needing to be cut off if I started to have some kind of a problem.) I also had more Braxton Hicks contractions during this pregnancy than I did with my last. In spite of drinking as much water as I could hold, I still experienced lots of these contractions. Luckily, they're painless.

In terms of cravings, my odd end of pregnancy craving has been watermelon. I went through a whole watermelon a week, by myself. (I could probably have eaten half a melon everyday, but I tried very hard to keep it in moderation.) It also wouldn't be fair not to mention the sleep deprivation that started around a month prior to delivery. When your body gets that pregnant, it's just hard to sleep comfortably. No position works for long. Not to mention how many times every night I had to get up to pee. (Oh my!)

Because we moved so late in my pregnancy, we actually didn't do much in terms of getting things together for the baby until the last minute. After we moved, I washed the baby clothing (mostly things I'd saved from my son, but a few new things as well) and a couple of weeks prior to my due date we finally put together the nursery. Babies are expensive. I saved most things from when our first child was a baby, so thankfully we didn't need to buy much. During my first pregnancy, we got everything ready very early. This time, it was more of a last minute prep. I don't think I bought diapers until a week before my due date!

We also settled on a name for the new baby a few weeks prior to delivery. I know some people know far in advance what they want to name a potential child. I've never really been tied to any names and prefer to wait until the later part of a pregnancy to decide. With my first pregnancy, we told people the name around week 25-28. This was okay, except that we were still tentative on the name at that time but everyone acted as if we were solid on it and started using it. We ended up changing our minds several weeks later and went with a different name. Also, because we disclosed the name early, people seemed to feel like they could comment on it (as if other's opinions mattered greatly), which I found irritating. This time we decided to keep it a secret for as long as possible. I think we decided sometime around week 30, but did not tell anyone until closer to week 36. (People still felt the need to comment, but I doubt anything would have stopped that.) While I know it seems like choosing a name late in the game means I didn't care, actually it's quite the opposite. I feel that naming is an extremely important and powerful thing. I didn't want to rush in and choose something that might not be just right. Both my partner and I have names that were very very popular in and around the years of our birth. Consequently, I've never been the only one with my name anywhere. For example, throughout my grade and high school years, there were always other people (usually several other people) with my name in my class. So I was always referred to either just by my last name or as . To be honest, this got old. I've always felt like I wanted my children then to have names that were not too popular so that they would not run into this issue, so we avoided trendy names entirely. However, I also don't particularly like names that are too unusual. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with completely unusual names. They're just not for me. I prefer something that is classic, yet not too popular. So we chose a name that fit those criteria.

Toward the end of the 38th week, I also started having some real contractions. These were more painful than the Braxton Hicks contractions, but not too awful. Having labored before, I knew what was happening. Early labor can start days or weeks ahead of a baby's birth. Contractions are typically short and irregular (or very far apart) during the earliest stages. My contractions tended to be very irregular and also quite short.

One of the coolest things about the end of this pregnancy was watching my older child interact with his unborn sibling. He loved to talk about (and to) my belly. He told everyone he saw about how he was getting a baby sister. It was really sweet. In the last couple of weeks especially, I made sure to make special time for he and I to do fun things that he enjoyed. I wanted to make sure that he felt special too. To that end, I also made sure to pack a special bag up for him to take to the hospital with some new toys, books, art supplies and other special things. It was his special "big brother bag." A few days before delivery, I also packed up some special "big brother snacks" in a bag for each day I'd be in the hospital as well. It has always seemed very important to me to manage the feelings of any siblings when new babies show up. (When any of my friends with kids have new babies, I always make sure to send a gift(s) for any siblings if I'm sending a present for a new baby.) Change can be really hard, especially for younger kids. So being sure that they feel special can be a big help in allowing them to deal with it.

I am lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive, responsive partner in my life. He was (again) wonderful throughout the last few weeks of my pregnancy. In spite of all of the craziness with moving and me not feeling great, he never lost his cool and consistently worked to support any of my needs (even on days where they seemed a bit crazy and I was coming unhinged because of being tired, hot, and stressed).

In terms of my doctor's appointments, starting at around 28 weeks, I started being seen every two weeks. Around week 35, I had my Group B Strep (GBS) test. This is one of the easiest tests they do during pregnancy. At the appointment, the OBGYN typically swabs around the vaginal and rectal area. The swab is then sent to a lab that tests it for the presence of Group B Strep. GBS is a bacteria that is carried by some people and is generally pretty benign. Most carriers don't even know that they have it. The danger in this case would be to a baby as it passed through the birth canal. For women who are GBS positive and deliver vaginally, the baby could contract the infection during birth and it can be dangerous for them. So for those women who do test positive, it is important to know so that they can give you antibiotics when you go to the hospital to deliver. Even though I was a scheduled c-section with this baby, my OB's office protocol is to test all pregnant women. My test came back negative, meaning I did not have GBS. This was noted on the special card that I've carried throughout the pregnancy as well as being kept in my chart. (I think I've mentioned the card before, but it has all the important information and test results from my pregnancy so that if I were to need to go to the hospital or get emergency care, the providers would know what the situation was.) The 36 week visit is also the one where many providers will preform a cervical check to see if a woman is dilating in preparation for delivery. Some women prefer to either delay this check or skip it altogether. My doctor asked if we could go ahead and check to see if anything was indicating baby would try to come early. I consented and he quickly preformed a bimanual cervical check. It wasn't painful or even uncomfortable and we learned that I was not dilated at all. (We already knew that baby was still sitting very high in my belly as well.)

Starting at week 36, I then had weekly visits with my OB. At the end of pregnancy, they typically want to monitor you more closely. This was also interesting because one day during the week, I had a particularly bad, painful day. I was uncomfortable and just felt "off" and sick all day. At my 36 week appointment, I mentioned to my OB that I'd had this "bad day" and that I was also now feeling little kicks in places where I hadn't felt them before. I had been feeling them on the left side and suddenly they were on the right. I assumed that she'd done a barrel roll of sorts and was facing the other direction. My OB had me lay down on the table and he felt my belly to check baby's position. After some poking and prodding, he announced that he was certain she'd actually flipped all the way over. She had been head down up to that point and had suddenly turned breech (meaning head up and feet down). Had I been planning a vaginal delivery, we would have had to talk about ways to try to get baby to turn head down again. Since I was scheduled for a c-section, it didn't particularly matter. Usually babies don't flip breech that late in pregnancy, but apparently my little one decided to be different. A week later, I had another day where I felt badly (not as badly as the first time though). At my 37 week appointment, I mentioned it to my OB again and he checked baby's position. She'd flipped back into head down position. Again, explaining why I felt so bad that day. My OB also was somewhat concerned that after all these late gymnastics, we might have a baby who was tangled up in her cord. He wanted me to be sure to pay attention to movements and to call right away if I noticed a marked decrease or stopped movement. During several of my last visits, my older child accompanied me. I also felt like this was helpful for him to get used to the idea that a new baby was coming and that I would be in the hospital with the doctor helping me.

Around week 35, my doctor scheduled my c-section date and time with the hospital where I would be delivering. I was scheduled for surgery in my 39th week of pregnancy. Once the date was scheduled, the office took care of sending my information to the hospital. I still had to register with the hospital as well though. During my first pregnancy, I had to fill out paperwork and deliver it to the hospital to register. This time, I was able to register online. My hospital requests that women delivering there (whether vaginally or surgically) register around 4 weeks from their estimated due date.

At my 38 week appointment, my doctor gave me instructions about what to do to prepare for my surgery. Again, this is different than what would happen for a woman planning a vaginal delivery. The only thing I needed to do was not eat anything after midnight on the appointed day and show up at the hospital at the scheduled time (about 2 hours before the surgery). The doctor and hospital staff would take care of the rest.