Well, it's official. I am 40 weeks pregnant and still...well...pregnant.
Not surprising, really, as all my children have come a couple of days "late." Honestly, the weather's been gorgeous here in the Pacific Northwest, and I'm taking every chance I can get to be out in it with my three other, beautiful, rambunctious children before this little one arrives.
Which brings me to the first point in today's list of
4 Things I'm Doing Differently with Baby #4
- I'm not worrying about my due date.
I mean, sure, ask me in a week. Maybe I'll feel differently then. As it is, I've treated this due date as a very flexible landmark, which really it is. Some babies are born before their due date; some are born after. I know which end of the spectrum I'm usually on, and I'm not about to be discouraged over it. The important thing is that when the time comes, the baby is ready, and I feel ready, which brings me to point #2.
- I'm more prepared.
I have done more during this pregnancy to prepare myself than I ever have before, and whatever comes, I'm going to feel very, very good about that decision. What have I done to prepare? Notice it has nothing to do with nursery decor or clothing (although, I've got all that fun stuff set, too).
- Froze a chest freezer full of meals, including plenty of breakfasts. (I don't know about you other mamas, but the last thing I want for breakfast when I'm nursing a newborn is a bowl of cereal - I mean, cereal is a snack when you're nursing! Bring on the cinnamon rolls!!)
- Two different precious friends have offered to set up meal trains for me for the first few weeks postpartum. This was something that friends from the same group of wonderful ladies offered to do when Abby was born, and it was such a blessing! I am so, so blessed to have such generous, incredible women in my life. If you're in a community where this is not a regular occurrence, I would so encourage you to set something up for a new mom or someone struggling through an illness or the loss of a loved one - it means the world, and is just what some people need to keep their head above the waves and remember how our Father provides.
- Met with a lactation consultant prenatally. I've never had a problem breastfeeding in the early postpartum period, but around six months, my milk supply tapers off significantly and my babies drop sharply down the growth curve. I wanted to take precautions to try to avoid the same scenario this time around, and while I have no way of knowing whether my LC's recommendations will work, at least I have a game plan and a trusted resource to turn to if need be.
- I met with a counselor who's expertise is postpartum mood disorders. In all honesty, I'm really hopeful that I won't suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) this time around, and my counselor shares my optimism. The important thing, though, is that I know I have her in my court if things go south. I have established a relationship with someone I now trust who knows me and my history well and can hit the ground running if treatment is needed. I won't have to seek someone out in the midst of my struggles, if it comes to that. The peace of mind from knowing I've done all I can is invaluable.
- I'm planning a home birth!
I haven't spoken too loudly about this, as it can be a very controversial topic and, well, I haven't actually done it yet!
I delivered my first child with a midwife in the hospital, hooked up to Pitocin and penicillin drips. It was not the right environment for me, and I felt pressured to make choices that were good for the hospital, but not necessarily right for me and my baby. Fortunately, I had strong advocates in my midwife and husband and, apart from the drugs already mentioned, I was able to have what their staff termed a "natural birth," meaning I received not pain medication and delivered vaginally. Still, I knew, if I could avoid it, I never wanted that experience again.
My second and third births took place at a free standing birth center about a block from the same hospital - both in the same room, with the same midwife! Giving birth at this place and with these compassionate, capable women was a more tremendous blessing than I can possibly describe. It was wonderful, and I would gladly deliver there again.
However, while I've stayed with the same midwifery team, this time, they and I decided that a home birth is probably the ideal option for our family. For one thing, I don't enjoy laboring in water, so I don't need a birthing tub, but really, that's a superficial issue.
Among the more important items we considered are the length of my labors: they are short. Getting child care and then moving me to the birth center was pushing it with James. I only labored for an hour there before I started pushing. In that case, I'd already woken up in active labor. With Abby, my third, I experienced early labor in the evening, so we went in as soon as my contractions were regular but not particularly strong. Even so, I was only there for 4 hours before she was in my arms.
Fourth babies, so I've been told, tend to come faster.
By the time we get our friends to come over to watch the kids, transfer might not be an option. We wanted to be prepared - and then we thought, why not just plan to stay put? No stress, no worry. My husband and I are organized and Brian feels capable to help with delivery if needed. We live only one exit from the birth center and hospital if transfer is required. Besides all that, I prefer to sleep immediately following delivery. My body doesn't respond well to adrenaline. You know, that "fight or flight" hormone? Well, I don't really do either. I just sort of "shut down." Apparently, my body prefers to play possum.
At home, my midwife and her assistant will be able to monitor me for the recommended 3-4 hours without my feeling the urge to stay awake because I know I won't have to be "transferred" home after that time is up. I can simply rest with my baby in my own bed and soak up those precious first hours - along with some much-needed shut-eye.
- I'm staying put.
Not just for the birth. I mean, I am staying in my home, preferably in bed, for a good long while after this baby comes.
In the past, I've considered it a sign of strength of capability if I'm somehow on my feet, out and about as soon as possible after delivery. With Sophia, I was running errands the first day out of the hospital. With James, I wound up in a NICU 24-hours postpartum - at a hospital where I could not get a room for myself. With Abby, I could tell my body wasn't going to take the beatings I'd let it endure the first two times around, but I was still attending gatherings within the first week, and since my husband only had a few days off and was working a crazy schedule, I was back to my regular routine of grocery shopping (now with 3 children in tow!) by Week #2.
People complimented me, and that felt good, but eventually, it took it's toll. I felt strong, but I also felt depleted. Underneath the stable exterior, I was cracking, because I knew I couldn't handle (at least not emotionally) the pressure I'd put myself under.
So this time? I'm taking it easy. I'm staying in bed for three whole days. For many cultures the world over, this is the bare minimum - some women don't venture out of their rooms for six weeks! I won't go that far. But, I am going to soak up every bit of down time I can. My calendar is clear. Except for a small birthday party we're throwing for James (and I'll have help for that) at the end of May, the first "appointment" I've given myself is the baby's baptism in mid-June.
I know that I can't fill up others if I'm not filled. I need to rest, recuperate, and take time to reconnect with myself and my God if I'm going to be a good mother. That takes time, and time is the gift I'm giving myself this time around.