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The Waiting Game

Written around 10:00PM January 1
Here I am, sitting at the computer using a contraction timer, hoping these mild contractions are the start of labor. I am only 39 weeks pregnant (tomorrow) and have been through this with my doula clients many times before. I KNOW that there is no reason to set my hopes or expectations on having my baby on a particular day. I KNOW that the best time for my baby to be born is when my body goes into labor naturally. And yet.... I can't help but hope that it's tonight. Or tomorrow. Or within a couple of days at least.

Sweet Pea was born on her due date, during the first week that I stayed home from work. I had just in the previous few days gotten everything done that I had wanted to do before the birth, and started some very mild natural labor encouragement techniques. I knew that first babies were often late, and was not overly anxious for her birth. So, when my water broke at 1:00 AM on her due date I was pleasantly surprised, and excited. Even at that point, I knew that I could still have another day or couple of days until I actually met my baby. We were too excited to go back to sleep so we played games on the Wii for a while, until it became clear that I was getting longer, stronger, and closer-together contractions. At around 5:00+ AM I got into the tub, and that's where she was born at 8:50 AM. Overall a very short labor with no waiting and questioning for me. My midwives didn't even ever check my dilation because things just kept progressing so clearly. This experience is different.

In one of my conversations with my midwives the day before the procedure to flip the baby head-down, we discussed the idea of breaking my water afterward, if it was successful, in order to minimize the chances of the baby flipping back before labor began. At first I was unsure about that idea, then it really grew on me. Later that night, I spoke with her and my other midwife, and that was no longer a recommended course of action, as the doctor doing the version was confident that if baby flipped, it would remain that way, and the risks of AROM (artificial rupture of membranes  - breaking your water) were greater than made sense for this particular situation. So, we pretty much took that idea off the table. But still, I had started thinking about the reality of the baby being born within a day or two of the version. My positive image or plan or whatever that I was focusing on was the idea that the baby would turn head down, and then labor would begin shortly after. We got our house ready, prepared my other labor support people and family, and then all afternoon after the version I had mild contractions, sometimes very regularly, with moments of strong pressure. I was hopeful that was early labor. However, my midwives were called to another birth that day, and were discouraging me from doing anything to promote labor at that time. I slept fine that night, but woke often with more mild contractions. By morning they were gone, and for the first half of the day I felt only occasional "braxton-hicks" style tightenings, even though I spent some time walking in the early afternoon. My midwife came to check me around 2:30 and found me to be only barely more dilated and effaced (3ish cm, 60-70%) today than last Wednesday, but with the baby in a fairly good, head-down, left-side position. At my request, my midwife did a sweep of my membranes, which is another way to encourage labor, but she talked with me for a while about adjusting my expectations and accepting that it could be several to many days before the baby is born. Of course, this totally makes sense, but was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I took another walk tonight and had very frequent, very pressure-y contractions the whole time, but of course they practically stopped once I got home again.

If I was my doula, I would tell myself to go take a bath, go to bed, and let nature take it's course. Labor will happen when it's meant to, babies and bodies know better than brains, and rest is the best way to prepare yourself for when it comes. This is difficult advice to heed, however. I want to meet my baby! I don't want to spend more days waiting, wondering, should my husband start his leave now, or keep working? How long can I maintain the clean house I want for labor? This is hard.

The upside is that since the baby has turned my hips are no longer in constant pain (with moments of excruciating pain), my heartburn is nearly completely gone, and my belly feels oh so much more comfortable. I should be enjoying the pleasure of a happier last few days of pregnancy, but all I can think is that I want this birth to happen! Even though I know I am asking for pain, asking for discomfort and challenge for days and weeks and maybe months after with a newborn.

Writing this out has really helped me process my thoughts on this matter.

Yes, I can wait, it's not that bad. I'm not even to 40 weeks yet. But, I will still do little things to encourage my body to get going. I'm going to take evening primrose, take walks, use acupressure, and stimulate oxytocin. None of this may help, but I will still feel like I'm doing something.

It also doesn't help that my husband has a knee injury that prevents him from doing all of our normal outdoor activities - he's not even supposed to take long walks. So, hiking together is out, as are biking, cross-country skiing, sledding, etc. This makes it harder to find fun ways to pass the time together. There are only so many days you can spend inside with Netflix, hulu, puzzles, and cleaning, especially knowing that we're about to have a few weeks of mostly home-time with the new baby.

Update morning of January 2
No labor last night. Today we are going to get a new car battery, do a little shopping, maybe watch a movie, and see if hubby can find a place to watch the Rose Bowl. Maybe I will do some sewing - there are still things I want to make for the baby and for late Christmas presents.

Other moms, what did you do to pass the time while waiting for labor?

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