What surprises me is how calm I feel (today) about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, part of me secretly wished that Speck would arrive a bit early, and I had a day or two this week where I was feeling pretty damned done with the whole pregnancy piece (more on that in a bit), but for the most part, I'm surprisingly ok with the idea that this kiddo will choose to arrive sometime in the next week or so and I have no control over when that is.
The one thing I'd like to avoid is being medically induced (if possible, and only because I've heard it makes labor far more intense and increases the chances of a c-section - not that there's anything wrong c-sections, but I would simply like to avoid a major surgery if at all possible) so there are a few things I'm doing to try to kickstart things before we reach that point. However, for the most part, I've reached a point of calm about this kid choosing her/his time.
However, earlier this week I was not feeling so zen, and my due date buddy and I were texting each other madly comparing notes on what was happening to our bodies and whether or not it meant we were going into labor soon. The funny thing about waiting to go into labor is that suddenly, everything seems like it could be a sign that you're going into labor. From cramping (actually a labor sign), to backaches (also a labor sign), to bitchiness (probably not a labor sign, but we decided it could be), to the position and phase of the moon, stars, and intensity of solar flares (definitely not signs), once one is past one's due date, all things point to OMG I'M GOING TO HAVE MY BABY IMMEDIATELY. In other words everything seems like it CAN be a sign of imminent labor, and many things are, but the same list of things that are can also be... wait for it... just third trimester pregnancy symptoms.
Damn you, pregnancy; you're a misleading asshole sometimes.
So, with the terrible I-word looming at the 42 week mark, one of the games one plays in week 41 is: what are all the ways to naturally induce labor and HOW DO I FIT THEM ALL INTO THE SAME HOUR?
The answers to that question could fill an entire book, and virtually none of them have been scientifically backed by a small thing known as evidence. However, the most popular highlights include (but are not limited to): sex, spicy food, evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on an exercise ball, walking a lot, and also sex (yep, it's in there twice). So, many ladies who are ready to meet their newborn try to combine as many of these things into as short a period of time as possible in order to attempt to speed things up. The funny thing is, they've only been proven to work if your body is ready for labor anyway (in other words, you're probably not speeding the process up by much, just triggering what was already about to happen anyway). Still, as a number of those things aren't exactly unpleasant in their own right, lots of women like to see if they'll bring about labor. My due date buddy and I were no exceptions this past week. We tried them all.
In an odd mathematical coincidence I've walked a total of 37km this week and 37km last week, totaling 74km over the weeks leading up to and away from my due date. If you hadn't guessed it yet, walking is my favorite of the "how to induce labor naturally" tips. I won't give you stats on the other activities, but there have been plenty of those too.
A new thing I learned in the past week or two is that when you are due date buddies with someone you were already good friends with, TMI ceases to be a thing. You talk about bodily fluids and functions with such detail and candor that there's nothing left to wonder about. It's nice to know you're not alone in all the gross shit that your body is doing and when every new tingle or gush could be the sign of labor starting you get into the oversharing really fast. Or maybe that's just us, but hey, I found it fascinating and excellent bonding experience.
So along with the excitement/frenzy of trying to induce labor naturally, the first half of week 41 (before I found my zen) was also full of some post-due date angst, and even now that I'm ok with waiting, there's still a feeling of being in limbo at this point. I have projects that I'd like to work on, that I don't necessarily want to start because I know it might be a while before I pick them up again. I just finished the full length novel translation that I had been working on since August and I feel like I deserve a break after that, but I also feel like I should take advantage of the last few newbornless days in order to get some work done. And then I think that I should enjoy some time to relax before the newborn arrives instead, but then I feel guilty if I go through a day without working on any of my writing projects. Yep. It's a strange kind of purgatory.
In the meantime, I started fantasizing a bit about what it would be like to not be pregnant any more... To be able to wait hours between trips to the bathroom... to be able to stand up from the couch without sounding like a bear wrestling a greased up beach ball... to have a glass of wine or a beer*... to be able to go for a run without feeling like my belly is going to fall off or like an infant is going to fall out of my vagina, and to stop retaining so much damned water.
Oh yeah, water retention is a thing that started up in the past two weeks. I managed to miss out on it for most of this pregnancy. I've been super conscientious about staying hydrated, as well as just plain lucky in that regard, but now my hands and feet are swollen all the time (enough to make it a struggle to get my rings on and off) and get worse with certain activities and I feel like my whole body is just a bit bigger and softer. Since I haven't changed my eating habits here at the end of pregnancy (and if anything I'm eating a bit less than I was earlier in the third trimester) I think it's safe to say that this is water retention, but regardless, I am looking forward to it stopping.
Finally, for this week's bump photo I am going to showcase a few highlights from our late, impromptu maternity photo shoot with the incomparable Sam Baardman. Sam is a good friend of ours who happens to be a great photographer, and also happened to have just acquired a new camera that he wanted to play with, and thus a maternity photo shoot was born. He took over 700 pictures, sent us 28 of them, and I will only feature a handful of them here, but we were so happy with the results. Many of them are goofy because we are goofy people. They are all from the 39 week mark, but I figure you won't mind.
*and for anyone who wants to warn me off having a drink with dinner while breastfeeding, please go find some real research about it (and not just a web search that confirms your bias) before you get all up in arms