Read Part 1 Here
“Olivia, can you please get mommy a bowl,” I breathed, lying curled up in a ball half way between the kitchen and living room.
“A bowl, baby. Bowl. Right there,” I pointed, hoping my barely two daughter could figure out what I was talking about and how to execute the task before I barfed breakfast all over the living room floor.
She figured it out, but not until after it was too late. She still talks about how “Mommy barfed!” all over the living room carpet, like it was one of the highlights of her short sweet life. Not so much a highlight in mine, although I didn’t so much mind the morning sickness symptoms- the only tangible proof that there was a baby doing SOMETHING to my insides.
If I can survive weeks 4 to 16 of pregnancy, the rest is pretty enjoyable to me. Once the 24/7 (we are seriously talking twenty.four.seven, starting at 4 weeks and 1 day on the dot) queasies ease up, and I start being able to feel the little baby flutters, I like being pregnant. And this time was even better than the first- I started going to a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy at about 24 weeks, and I swear that is why I didn’t have heartburn, leg cramps, and was still sleeping through the night comfortably up until the very end (yes, you can be jealous!). I was also doing my regular, non-prenatal yoga and walking up to 37 weeks. Feeling great!
And that’s about where I think pregnancy should end. 37 weeks- why God tacked on that last month I have no idea. Maybe it’s to get us good and ready to finally get this thing DONE. Otherwise, I might invite my babies to stay a while longer.
37 weeks- that is when I developed Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). Sounds pleasant, right? It basically means that my pelvic bones got so loose, they started to pop out of place and rub together, causing a lot of pain, especially when going from sitting to standing. I would have been doing yoga up until the day I delivered, had it not been for that.
Chiropractic helped keep the pain manageable, but it didn’t go away until after the birth. The only thing that made it seem “better” to me, was knowing that my bones were really shifting and prepping for birth! As a VBAC mama, afraid her pelvis just wasn’t big enough, this was a huge mental boost, ironically.
37 weeks is also when my blood pressure starts to creep up. Actually, it starts creeping up around 28 weeks, but it doesn’t start going above the “normal” range and setting midwives and doctors (and mama) on edge until about 36/37 weeks. It’s happened twice now.
The first time, it was truly a symptom of pre-eclampsia, a condition that can be life-threatening in pregnancy, whose only true cure is delivery of the baby. It is characterized by rising blood pressure, swelling, and protein leaking into the urine from the kidneys. All of these can also be normal symptoms in pregnancy, but I did have the triple combination in slightly worrisome amounts, so they were definitely keeping an eye on me.
This time, I started what is called the Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet from about week 16 on. It is an easy pregnancy diet to follow that is almost 100% effective at preventing pre-eclampsia. It’s also really good for getting your body the right vitamins and minerals to prepare for labor and delivery! I followed it religiously. Two big green leafy salads, two eggs, 100+ grams of protein a day. Nothing processed. Not so easy when my pregnancy crossed right over Thanksgiving and Christmas!
But it paid off. When my blood pressure started to rise, my midwife and doctor were a lot more relaxed because I wasn’t even leaking the tiniest trace of protein, and I had zero swelling (although, it was the middle of winter… I’m thinking that helped too…).
I did need to work to keep the pressure down though. I was convinced it was mostly stress related- the closer the due date, the more I could feel the tension and adrenaline in my body, and the higher my blood pressure went. Never to ridiculously dangerous levels, but enough to get a few raised eyebrows and some serious talks with both doctor and midwife.
Ultimately, I ended up on semi-bedrest for the last couple of weeks. I just needed to relax, and it seemed I could really only focus on one thing: being still and finishing growing that baby! Thankfully my mom was able to come down that last week and help with Olivia while I tried my best to stay relaxed.
Prepping for Labor, and the Gift I Received
One particularly bad night, though, I will always remember. I was 40 weeks on the dot, and had had some off and on again contractions that made me wonder if labor was starting. I took my blood pressure, right after a pretty big contraction that kind of freaked me out (BIG mistake), and of course my blood pressure was through the roof. I frantically texted my midwife who told me I really needed to get the number into a particular range or we would need to do something.
Minutes later, I got a call. It was from my midwife’s assistant, who is an AMAZING massage therapist. My midwife had called her, and asked if she would come over to my house to do some crania-sacral massage and hopefully bring down the numbers. Of course I said yes!
45 minutes later, and she was at my home (seriously, so sweet!) I was lying on my bed in the dark, and she quietly talked to me and worked on me, helping me to talk through my fears. The thing that had freaked me out about the contraction was that I realized that this was it. I had to do it. I had to face labor, birth this baby. I had to face my fears about having a VBAC. My fears of disappointment and failure. My fears that my uterus might explode (yes, seriously). I was going to be put to the test- did I have the strength to do it? Speaking those fears out loud released them, and they dissolved into the darkness over my bed.
She also told me that instead of focusing on “trying to relax,” I should try to just be. Just focus on breathing in, and out. Focus on feeling my body in its present state, whatever that was at the moment.
Just as she was getting ready to leave, we checked my blood pressure again- it was lower than it had been in months. It was truly a miracle, and I wanted to both laugh and cry at once. I remember saying to Mike that no matter what else might happen with this birth, that was a true gift. Somehow she had given me a key, the key I had been searching for and unable to find, to turning down the fear and adrenaline and just be, stress free. I will carry that gift with me the rest of my life!
In the end, it turned out I still had a whole week of pregnancy left before I delivered Malachi. That day of contractions was a round of prep work for the coming challenge, and the bodywork had not only helped me get in to a mental space to bring my blood pressure down, it also chased away my skittish contractions. They say if you can sleep, do it. So I did, and tried not to worry and wonder WHEN or HOW they might pick back up again. I was glad that I had had the opportunity to get a little taste of labor, just enough to remind me of the intensity, surface some of the hidden fears I had about labor, and release those fears.
I promise, I really will get to the part where he is born! More to come…
Read Part 3 Here