Saturday, February 17, 2007

Feeling........ different.

I think that Pip may be making an appearance sooner than I'd been anticipating (but in line with Karen's expectations!). There's been a big shift in both mental attitude and physical feelings today. Somehow, it just feels like I'm ready now, and that labour isn't all that far off. It's a very strange feeling, but calming. Or of course, it could still be 2-3 weeks away and I may just be sleep-deprived and running a bit high on adrenaline!

I woke up at 5.15am (so I'd had about 5 hrs sleep, with one bathroom visit around 3am). Couldn't get back to sleep - nothing new there - so I got up around 5.45am. Came downstairs, and started doing some paperwork that I've been putting off (all to do with my name change following the civil partnership - there are so many organisations to inform!). Karen got up just after 8am, and after breakfast I decided to tackle the filing cabinet; a job I've been meaning to get around to for months. I spent nearly 3 hrs going through all the files, shredding old/irrelevant documents, re-organising categories, and pulling out stuff relating to all the organisations I need to contact regarding my new surname. I filled an enormous bag with shredded paperwork - very satisfying! I then moved on to sorting out some boxes of stuff that have been hanging around forever; things that needed to be found a new home when my study became Pip's room. I've been feeling a real compulsion to sort, organise and tidy stuff away today. It certainly feels like nesting - even if they were all tasks I've been planning for a while. However, it was only when I started looking at our antique brass door handles and thinking about polishing them that I started to wonder if it was all down to that infamous nesting instinct (although I didn't actually polish them!). But I did turn out the laundry cupboard and clear out the accumulated dust and fibres. And after I'd had a long soak in the bath, listening to my hypno CD, I then did a load of washing, made up the spare bed ready for my mother's arrival (she'll come down whenever I go into labour), and then emptied and re-packed my hospital bag, to see what might be missing/needs to be added at the last minute. So I'm certainly ready mentally (and with a tidy house to boot).

As for physically, there have been quite a few differences there too. For one thing, the bump just feels bigger, tighter and heavier. It sounds a bit stupid to say this, but it simply feels like there isn't possibly any more room in there; my skin feels stretched tight like a drum, and the bump is really firm. Pip has been really active today; lots of big movements and protruding limbs/bum etc. Much more going on than normal. I still don't feel as if I've experienced the lightening of engagement, but who knows? I think that Pip may be lying down my left side, but it's hard to tell (and it's been changing throughout the day). I've also been experiencing lots of twinges in my pelvic joints, which I haven't really had to much extent before. I have been much thirstier than normal too; I've drunk litres of water today!

So, it's now just a case of "wait and see". I can't really settle to anything much right now, and besides, my back has been really sore all day, so I think that I may go and listen to my hypno CD again, sitting in the new rocker-glider, and then have an earlyish night. It will be very interesting to see if these instincts are right or wrong.
I'll post again if there are any dramatic changes, but if not, we've got our 38wk midwife visit in the morning, so we'll see what she has to say about Pip's position/degree of engagement etc.
Congratulations (albeit slightly belated on this blog) to Stacey & Angele in Toronto, on the birth of their daughter Riley on Valentine's Day. Stacey has already posted her birth story, and they are very organised with posting photos and video of their gorgeous girl already, even though Riley's only 4 days old!

Of course, what this also means is that amongst the Rainbow Conceptions regulars, I'm due next! But I could be overtaken by Beth & Rose (due 10 March) or Riley and Kristi (due 17 March), as it doesn't feel like Pip wants to make a move to the outside world any time soon.

Friday, February 16, 2007

38 weeks and the belly button pops!
Not that you can really see it on this picture, and it's not dramatically sticky-out (yet), but it's a strangely pleasing phenomenon. I've also developed a bit of a stretchmark on the lower part of the belly - not bad going to have avoided them until now. The rest of my bump pics (past and present) are here.
Somehow it seems strange that my belly is still growing, as everything else now is a case of just waiting for the birth, so it seems like the baby and the bump should just stay as they are too. Not the case however! I'm pretty sure that Pip still hasn't engaged, although we'll find out for sure on Sunday when the midwife visits. Pip is mostly back-to-back, but is moving around quite a bit, so sometimes I feel the spine which is good as it means that he/she isn't stuck in one position. I'm doing lots of hip circling on my birthing ball, plus pelvic tilts on all fours (cat position in yoga), and sitting on a backwards kitchen chair when watching TV etc. in the evenings; all to promote best posture/positioning. I've also tried the inversion position recommended on but it's darned hard work! Couldn't manage more than about a minute and a half.
I've also just got a hypnotherapy "preparation for birth" CD; it would have been good to have started with this a couple of weeks back, but as I'm pretty sure that Pip won't arrive until after the due date, I still have a while to listen to it repeatedly and get the triggers embedded in my brain. It's very similar to Hypnobirthing principles, which I'd been reading about for quite some time. As well as preparing me for a calmer birth, it's also wonderfully relaxing for now! And I've got an accompanying relaxing music CD to play during labour, which will act as triggers for the hypno stuff. I have to say, with all the breathing practice, antenatal yoga and my homeopathic birth kit, I feel as prepared as I can for the birth. I'm actually looking forward to it!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Birth plan

We're only just getting around to writing our official birth plan, and I was wondering how the rest of you with upcoming due dates are hoping to give birth. Obviously I know that this is all based on best-case scenarios, but here goes mine:

If Karen had also been keen on the idea then I would have considered a home birth with a hired/purchased birthing pool, but we were both a bit unsure, seeing as it's all such an unknown quantity first time around, so we feel happy with going the hospital route for a first baby. We're already talking about homebirth for subsequent child/ren though!

I'm really hoping that we get to use the birthing pool at the hospital when I go into labour. There's only 1 amongst the 8 delivery suites at our hospital, but a lot of women aren't interested, so they save that suite until last when allocating them, unless they are really busy. I've just finished Janet Balaskas' book on waterbirth, and it's been fascinating. It sounds like such a lovely way to give birth, and to welcome your baby into the world calmly. I enjoy being in water anyway, and very much like the idea that while the water won't make the pain go away (and can make the contractions more intense), it also enables you to move around a lot more easily as you are supported by the buoyancy. So I hope that it's free when we ring up the hospital saying that labour has started!

However, if it's not, then we'll clearly have to manage without (although I'll probably try and take advantage of a regular bath if that's all that's available). I feel reasonably prepared for the birth, having done lots of reading (hypnobirthing, gentle birth method etc.), plus my antenatal yoga, which has all helped me to feel that I have plenty of "tools" to cope. The yoga in particular has made me feel very relaxed about it, so I'm not fearful of labour (although I'm sure that I will still panic a bit when it actually starts!). I still haven't actually started practicing the hypnobirthing stuff - just not sufficiently dedicated I guess, but I'm planning to use the breathing techniques that they recommend, which I have been practicing to some extent. I've also got a birth kit (and a post-natal kit) from my homeopath, full of remedies to use in different circumstances.

All in all, we're hoping for as natural a birth as possible, but if the pain gets really bad/labour too long/intense or I'm just not coping very well, then I will use some form of stronger pain relief if I think it's going to get me through. I am not planning on being a martyr wedded to the cause of natural birth! I really don't care much at all for the idea of pethidine/meptid, especially with the breastfeeding issues that can arise; and we'd both rather avoid me having epidural if possible. But if we do take the epidural route, then we'll make sure that I stay in upright positions to get gravity to help for second stage. The statistics in our area for interventions following an epidural are scarily high!

In an ideal scenario though, I'll hopefully labour at home until around 5cm dilated, using a hired Tens machine and my yoga positions/breathing stuff to help with contractions. Having our community midwife team who come and check your progress at home, and accompany us to hospital/stay with us for the delivery is very reassuring - it feels like having a team of free doulas on call! Then on to the hospital when they advise it, and hopefully the birthing pool; if not, I want to try and remain as mobile/upright as possible, using the birthing ball/leaning on the bed etc. May try gas and air if I feel I need it/it helps.

I find it really bizarre that all the books recommend you state what kind of position you want to deliver your baby in - how on earth can you know what's going to feel right in advance?! All I know is, not on my back thanks very much. When the baby is actually delivered, I really want Karen to be the first one to hold the baby and to pass him/her to my chest, discovering the gender together. We're quite happy for the baby to have vitamin K via injection, while we're holding him/her, and we want as many of the examinations as possible to be carried out while we hold the baby, although obviously some weighing/measuring needs to be done. Karen will cut the cord (when it's finished pulsating), and I want to deliver the placenta naturally if possible (although if it doesn't happen within 30 mins or so, then I'll consider the injection). We don't plan on taking the placenta home ;o) And obviously I want to try and breastfeed ASAP after delivery.

Of course we are aware that this is all if everything goes according to plan - if things take a turn for the dramatic, we'll do whatever we're advised to by the medical team (we have confidence that our midwives won't push us in the direction of anything we don't want to do unless strictly necessary). I just hope that we don't end up going through a really long hard labour that ends up with an emergency C-section as so many of my friends have in the last year or two.

It seems quite extraordinary to imagine that some or all the above will happen within a matter of days. Somehow it still doesn't feel quite real.
Bad blogger....

I've been AWOL again. Not for any really justifiable reason, I've had quite a bit to post about but haven't felt sufficiently motivated. Things that I want to blog about:

  • Antenatal classes in a hettie environment
  • Baby re-positioning (Pip is back-to-back, and has been for as long as I can remember/have been aware that s/he is also head down)
  • More feelings of discomfort, how I've been coping, and how I'm now also happier to wait for Pip to arrive when he/she is ready
  • All the stuff I've been reading to prepare for the birth/early days
  • Birth plan
  • All the sewing that I'm doing (mainly baby stuff)
  • Newly acquired baby equipment (buggy/carseat, Amby hammock, Hugabub wrap)
  • First "proper" Braxton Hicks contractions (yesterday, walking around the DIY store) - woohoo!
The main reason that I haven't been posting is because I've wanted to accompany most of the posts that I've planned with pictures - and something has broken in my camera/laptop connection. Boo. I think that I'll just have to start posting some of the above stuff anyway.
If there's anyone out there left reading such an inactive blog!

ETA: I can't believe that I forgot that I also want to blog about the fact that I now have a wife, as of Friday when we had our civil partnership ceremony. Talk about pregnancy forgetfulness. Doh! That one definitely needs pictures.