Almost 38 weeks pregnant (at 40 years old)
(With CFS, you usually don’t look as sick and tired as you usually are.)
Four Siblings waiting for Baby
This is not an inspiring or faithful account of my pregnancy. I am not looking for sympathy. I am not playing the victim. I am not crying, “It’s not fair.” As a Calvinist, I believe I deserve hell, but for the grace of God, go I. I don’t believe suffering is a punishment for sin in this world, although our experiences and choices may result in pain. I am not “Surprised by Suffering,” nor do I have a “Problem with Pain.” I just thought it was a good time to share some things about the past nine months.
Our chief end may be to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever, but whether we like it or not, our biological purpose is to survive and reproduce. When this instinct is thwarted, and the person has a conflict related to reproduction, scientific discoveries indicate that specific health problems will result. For example, issues related to the ovaries can be caused by profound loss or fear of loss conflicts. Procreation conflicts, etc. would involve the uterus, fibroids, etc. Having tubes tied and taking the pill are simply going against nature and can cause problems, even when they are the woman’s choice.
Anyway, about me… I wanted to be pregnant for the fifth time just as much as I wanted to be pregnant the first and subsequent times. And that was a lot. Having and raising children has always been the main goal and desire of my life. I wanted lots of them. I was devastated when my fifth child died and was miscarried. That wasn’t part of the plan.
I wanted to be pregnant the sixth time even more than ever before. (This difficult pregnancy cured me of that.) You can’t get pregnant yourself, so it wasn’t working for me. I wanted another baby for the same reasons I wanted all my other children, and additionally, I knew that it would help in the healing following miscarriage.
One evening, last December, I gave up… Completely… Absolutely… At almost forty, I accepted that I would not be having any more children. I would be content with the four living, healthy ones I had. I wasn’t particularly happy, but I was at peace.
Only a couple hours later that evening, for some strange reason, I felt prompted to take a pregnancy test. Weird. (I have taken only about ten tests in my life, so this was not typical.) Even though I deeply wanted to be pregnant, it would have been close to a miracle for it to be true. Sperm don’t usually live for four days and/or ovulation doesn’t usually occur a day or two earlier than a thermal shift. The pregnancy test was positive. Perhaps not miraculous, but very unusual. Wow.
Pregnancy following miscarriage has been a nerve-wracking experience. It’s not easy to “Fear not” when you’ve held the remains of your last baby in your hands. It’s hard to believe in prayer, when the last plea was answered with, “No, this baby must die.” My mind dealt with depression and despair, intermixed with hope. Five months of checking for blood every day is not fun. Experience told me there would be no guarantee that this baby would live. Nine months later, I realize that the strong baby kicks could end tomorrow. I don’t know if this baby is healthy or will face extreme challenges at birth. I don’t know if I will feel better or worse following the birth. I no longer take anything for granted.
At the beginning of 2010, at about six weeks pregnant, my body began to deal with the worst Chronic Fatigue of my life, even more exhausting and distressing than my first round at the age of sixteen. In 1986, CFS kept me in bed for only a season, although it never went completely away for the next 24 years. During this pregnancy, I was down for many months of 20+ hours per day. I also had the typical uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue makes me feel so useless and unproductive. It is difficult to find value in myself when I accomplish virtually nothing in a day. It is hard to see myself with eyes of grace when I see more value in the fruit of my work. I suppose it is hypocritical for me to think I value the handicapped, disabled, and elderly when I scorn myself because I am unable to contribute or work. This experience is very humbling and likely a good lesson to learn.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2: 8,9
One thing I acknowledge is that many people have to deal with situations that are much worse than mine. I can’t imagine having to face the past nine months as a single or working mother. There were only a few days that I would have been able to go to a job. I also know that my struggles pale in comparison to lifelong infertility, repeated miscarriage, stillbirth, circumstances that would lead a woman to choose abortion, loss of a child, challenging health diagnoses, suffering and dying in front of one’s children, etc. Life and death are so hard.
I wanted so much to thoroughly enjoy what is likely to be my last pregnancy, but that was not to be. There are other stressful factors throughout my life that would give you more insight, but I don’t know when or if I will ever share them.
Here are some things for which I have been thankful during the past nine months. My children have been great during this pregnancy. They have been very helpful, compassionate, and caring. The roots of attachment parenting and the fruits of gentle discipline have been obvious. Self-teaching homeschooling has been a blessing. My husband works hard to provide for us. I know my whining, complaining, and distress have caused my family stress and worry. Suffering in silence is not one of my strengths. I do worry that because they have seen how difficult pregnancy can be, they might fear pregnancy in the future. I hope not. Extended family has been helpful. My grandparents, mother-in-law, and mother were always willing to help with meals and household chores. I am thankful for lots of take-out and frozen pizzas.
I am so tired. Experience tells me the hardest part is yet to come. How do you birth successfully when just rolling over causes such discomfort and pain? Usually the most difficult part for me is the first six weeks following birth. That makes me scared.
I have had glimpses of joy during this pregnancy. I have the hope of the joy of a healthy new baby in my arms. But I know things don’t always turn out like I plan. And there is nothing I can do about it.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Here are some of my medical adventures of 2010. I live in an area where I am allowed only one doctor at only one hospital. You don’t get to switch doctors. Midwives are still illegal, and birthing centers are non-existent. I have always been too weak following birth to feel comfortable with unassisted homebirth. Soooooooo, in order to make sure my doctor will deliver my baby, I scheduled some prenatal appointments – delayed by months and stretched out as far as reasonably possible. As usual, I submitted to the routine blood tests, a couple of routine vaginal tests (not a pap this time), along with regular blood pressure checks, urine tests, weighing, and belly measuring. That’s it. Nothing invasive where I felt there would be risks. I refuse all ultrasounds, other prenatal testing, glucose tolerance testing, etc. (These are my personal decisions, but you should definitely follow your doctor’s advice.) After five pregnancies of these appointments, I look back at every one as a complete waste of time and tax-payer money.
After my first prenatal appointment this pregnancy, I got a call from a nurse at the hospital so she could fill out my form to make admittance faster. She obviously remembered me from my previous births and even said, “Oh, you’re the one with the birth plan!” Hmmm… Six years after my last birth, and I was the ONLY WOMAN WITH A BIRTH PLAN! Oh, yeah, it’s likely related to the fact that our hospital has one of the highest cesarean section rates in Canada – I’ve heard it’s been as high as 34% here.“In Canada, 26.3% of women delivered babies by cesarean in 2005 – 2006, increased from 25.6% in 2004 – 2005. However, there was huge variation between health regions (17.8% to 36.8%).” We also have one of the highest obesity rates and teen pregnancy rates in the country.
During my second last prenatal appointment, I stared at the walls, counting the dozen or more vaccination posters and the many other drug posters. I had the intense feeling that “I don’t belong here.” It’s hard to believe this radical medical system is completely funded and completely accepted by the public without question. People don’t even notice that their sacred cow isn’t making them healthy.
When they first began routine testing during my last full-term pregnancy, I tested positive for Group B Strep. This time, I knew how to make the test negative. Beginning four days before the test, I began my little garlic and tea tree oil experiment. Success! The test result was negative. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with signing papers to refuse antibiotics, and I don’t have to face the medical pressure, threats, and scare tactics this time around. [Note added August 15: I used the garlic and tea tree oil again for the baby. I am not interested in just passing the test, but making sure there is no bacteria that would harm the baby.]
My blood tests show low iron and my breathing has been laboured for the past couple months. I asked the doctor about me using oxygen during labour, and she says it will be available. I am scared about not being able to breathe. Maybe if the baby drops, I will breathe better.
My doctor began her vacation yesterday and will be off until three days before my due date. I have an appointment on Tuesday to meet her fill-in. I am thankful she is female and that she speaks fluent English. Three visits to the emergency room over the past few years resulted in attempted conversations with three different doctors who could not understand me, and I certainly did not understand them. Isn’t communication rather important during medical decisions? *sigh*
Lately, the baby has been playing with me. Really! He or she sticks his or her foot in my upper right side, and I push back on the foot and speak baby talk. Then, I don’t talk again until I feel the next foot push. This happens about twenty times in a row until he or she is played out. I feel the little arms and fists rubbing his or her face down low, and I feel the hiccups down low, both indicating that the head is still down. I am soooo thankful!! A flip would be a guaranteed c-section.
I have had contractions daily for the past two months. I guess that’s good because it helps prepare for labour.
One week when I was particularly unwell, the children helped get the groceries. The older two boys went around with the list and cart and the younger two kids and I sat and waited. They did great! During another grocery store trip, a strange man told me to “Put the watermelon back.” I am sick and tired of the stares and people talking about me. Just this week, I felt the urge to give some people the finger – something I have NEVER done before in my life. LOL
When my labour starts, I hope to stay at home as long as possible. The decision for me to leave for the hospital has been hard to judge after the first couple of children. I don’t want to stay home too long because my husband wouldn’t handle a messy vehicle birth well, and I wouldn’t want them to take the baby from me when we landed at the hospital, but being at the hospital too long would not be good either. Too much time for unwanted interventions.
It’s hard to pack my clothes because the few things I have been wearing lately are always on me or in the wash. I asked the doctor what the women wear these days for birthing, and it is the typical open-in-the-back hospital gown which makes breastfeeding impossible (with modesty). Once again, I have to come up with my own birthing clothes. I have a few new breastfeeding-friendly tops for after birthing.
I have my iPod ready to roll with three hypnobirthing albums and some other comfort music, along with a folder of my regular 60′s-80′s tunes. I have helpful supplements, including energy drink ingredients and some nutrition bars in my hospital bag. I have fruit-juice Mr. Freezes hidden in the basement freezer. I plan to take my birthing ball INTO the hospital this time. My husband didn’t think I needed it the last time, so it stayed in the vehicle. Hopefully, I can sit on it and rest my head on the hospital bed. After hurting my back a couple weeks ago, walking hasn’t been going so well. My goal is to stay vertical and RELAX. I worry about not having practiced squatting and not having exercised. But I would have, if I could have. I hope to use a wheeled food tray on which to rest my head and upper body when I labour on the toilet at the hospital. (On an aside note, I have seen a hospital janitor wipe the toilet and THEN wipe the sink with the same cloth.) I worry about climbing up on the stupid birthing bed when the pushing needs to begin. That is when I hurt my tailbone the last time. I have been told I had many of the same nurses for my previous births, although I wouldn’t recognize any of them. I am in deep concentration during labour and delivery. In addition to my iPod, I bought an eye mask to block out distractions and the unpleasant environment. Although he was helpful many times, I found it annoying when my husband and the nurses would have big discussions, sitting there watching me the whole time. Argh. Nurse, I don’t care what you think about homeschooling. Such conversations drain my energy level.
I always refuse episiotomies, and I always get a small tear needing a few stitches. Each time, I have been told an episiotomy would have been much worse. During the labour and delivery of my first child, I was constantly pressured into drugs and doing things I didn’t want to do. They even took my baby in the night for a few hours against my will. For my second child, I laboured at home for 24 1/2 hours and went to the hospital for the last two hours before delivering a 10 lbs. 4 oz. baby. I fainted after his birth and was thankfully caught by a nurse. The worst thing that happened was during my third delivery when the cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck. There was extra bleeding as a result which needed help to be stopped. You can read the complete story of my fourth pregnancy and delivery here: http://unbornbabyjournal.com/ and my fifth pregnancy here: http://unbornbabyjournal.com/river.html
I have the SAME little white sleeper, sweater, hat, booties, and blanket in my new diaper bag that all four of my children wore home from the hospital.
We have baby names picked out. It is the same girl’s name we chose nine years ago (in case my daughter had a twin sister.) The boy’s name is from our list. It is hard to keep coming up with names to please both of us, but my husband and I are reasonably sure about our choices.
We are finishing the bedroom/nursery, and I will eventually post pictures of our attachment parenting bedroom. We seem to redecorate before every baby.
C9 is so excited!
L5 kisses my baby belly almost every time he goes by.
Here are a few more pregnancy pictures for registered readers:
UPDATE August 10, 2010:
I met the doctor who will be replacing mine Monday through Friday for the next two weeks. She seems great! She herself had three children completely naturally. I am very relieved. She guesses the baby will weigh 8 1/2 pounds. There will be two different female doctors during the next two weekends, and then my regular doctor is back. Time will tell whom I will get.