Between weeks 35 and 36, my belly noticeably grew. And so, I guess, did my general discomfort. Luckily, week 36 started out with Thanksgiving weekend, which meant I could stay home for four days. Yay! Paulus and I did attend a birth prep class on comfort measures on the weekend, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I left the house for those four days. The class was just ok. I think there was just too much overlap with the other birth class we had taken, and too little practical learning. I didn’t mind too much and mostly took it as a refresher course, but Paulus was a bouncing ball of annoyed throughout most of the class. Well, we have two meetings with our doula left, as well as an infant CPR course, before we’re done with our preparations, so now’s the time to grit out teeth and stick it out. Not that I think that either of these things will be redundant. But I’ll be sure to report on the issue.
We had a midwife appointment again. Or, I did, because Paulus was a little bit sick, so we opted not to expose all the babies and pregnant women in the clinic to whatever his immune system was fighting. Also, I have to say, at this juncture, I’m wondering if it’s really necessary to have weekly appointments with one’s care provider. Apart from hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler (145 beats per minute this time, still good), what I learned at this appointment was that I don’t have group B strep, and that I should schedule a non-stress test (which I believe is a measure of the baby’s movement, heart-rate, and their correlation to see if it’s still doing ok) for week 41, just in case we need it. We could probably have gotten this information either the preceding or the following week as well. But, since we’re ‘in the system’, we’re following protocol. But it’s worth thinking about.
We also went into full nesting mode. Perhaps as an effect of beginning my pregnancy leave, I began feeling restless and experiencing an urge to bake, clean, tidy up, and wanting to complete all the baby to-do items. We bought and received an infant car seat that fits on our stroller (with an adapter, because the stroller is an older model that we bought off craigslist), bedding for the crib, a bunch of newborn diapers, and a few cute items of baby clothes (thanks to a gift card from our long-gone baby shower). And of course, some things for “me” – nursing tops and bras, a breastpump and accessories, and a yoga ball for the part of the labor that will take place at home. I washed and prepared all the things, and I’m happy to say that I have pretty nearly finished packing my hospital bag.
I also brought some of my pregnancy and baby books out from the bookshelf again. I finished most of them months ago, but I felt the need to leaf though them a bit again this week. And that’s when I noticed something funny, which is really a reflection of my life as a whole, and as such I found it pretty cool. I had collected the books to put them somewhere convenient within easy reach, when it occurred to me that they were all in different languages. And so one’s past catches up to one. In a good way, mind you. Polyglot pregnancy prep is a thing.
And finally, I cooked the majority of the freezer meals this week, in two sessions of three hours. I may have pushed my physical boundaries a bit with that, but I didn’t realize it until afterwards (after the first time, to be sure. After that I knew better, but I did it anyway…). Standing and bending over for hours at not-quite ergonomically appropriate angles (thanks to a combination of a belly that sticks out really and kitchen counters that are a good height for pretty much no one…) led to some loud protesting by my lower back once I had time to listen. Luckily, I’m continuing with my prenatal massages, and through that was able to manage the muscles in a timely manner.
As for other symptoms and such, the baby’s movements now regularly feel like they will burst my belly. It’s little feel and kness will be sticking out on my far left or right side, or above my belly button, respectively. And sometimes, its head or hands will be pressing on my bladder and making it very uncomfortable. To my dismay, my nails, which I’ve been able to comfortably ignore for many months apart from a trimming now and then, have now returned to their former brittle selves, or possibly slightly worse versions of their selves. So now, I’m back to constantly cutting and filing them to avoid them getting stuck on clothes, books and anything else that gets near them.
After a great long time of water being so delicious and often craved, I’ve found for the past few weeks that water has not been tasting as great – although I continue to be thirsty all the time (even at night, which is highly inconvenient). Sparking water has come to the rescue once again, and I’ve decided to put a soda stream machine on my wish list for the upcoming holidays (beginning with the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas December fifth).
Also this week, my weight reached 70 kilos, which means I’ve had a total weight gain of 10-12 kilo weight gain. I’m very happy with that because it’s in a good range and so I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the pregnancy now. That said, I made a discovery this week which may accelerate my weigh gain some in the coming weeks. What I found what that there have been serious scientific studies conducted on the benefits of eating dates in late pregnancy. Yes, seriously. And not only that, the results show a correlation between date consumption and favorable outcomes on labor and delivery. I figure it can’t hurt in any case, so now I’m eating six dates a day until the baby get here. Those things are pure sugar, so I guess I should continue to weigh myself, just to see what happens with that.
This week, we arrived at early term! Meaning that we’ve reached the point in the pregnancy where, if the baby decides to come out, the likelihood that it is going to perfectly healthy is high enough that no one is going to try and prevent it. It also means that I now qualify for birthing in the birth center. I’m excited about this. But other than that, I’m not feeling anxious or particularly impatient to get the baby out yet. I suppose it’s related to the fact that, although all the practical things are done and ready for the baby now, I still have a few work things that I would love to have completed before the birthing and all that follows. But I expect that the impatient feelings may well make an appearance in a week or two.
Something that has surprised me (which probably shouldn’t), is that we have continued to receive little baby gifts from friends and colleagues. This week was particularly generous, as we received a cute baby blanket, a velvety soft little toy sheep, and two cool onesies from people around us. You all, we really, really appreciate it!
Our first doula meeting was this week, and it was pretty great. We got a bunch of information, and some uterus-toning tea for me to drink, and then we spent some time on exercises to do until the birth – partner stretches, inversions, and rebozo sifting (check out the spinning babies website for more about these). The rebozo sifting rocked my world. To do this exercise, the pregnant woman places herself on hands and knees, and her partner wraps a long, wide shawl or scarf around her belly and moves it gently in a sort of circular motion. I’m describing it poorly, but it feels amazing – it lifted off pressure from my belly, hips and lower back that I didn’t even know I was feeling until it was gone. A minute of sweet relief that I now get to repeat a few times a week, ahhh.
And then, we had Sinterklaas on December 5th. I gifted Paulus a Google Home Mini (although I have no idea why he wanted it, given that it will be the 4th such device in our house…), and he gifted me a Sodastream! Oh, all the sparkling water that I now have at my disposal. Just don’t tell my dentist. We also wrote the traditional poems to each other, in which you sort of recap what the other person’s year has been like and what they have achieved. I suppose I should spend some time reflecting on what it means that mine didn’t mention anything I’ve done this year that wasn’t baby-related… (and yes, I was in fact surprised at the content of my poem, despite the fact that I am right now at this very moment writing a detailed account of last few weeks of my pregnancy for the internet, as I have been doing for months now. Self-aware much?)
Anyway, we made it to term, so the pregnancy updates are bound to come to an end soon. Now let the waiting begin.