silly shot while out and ENJOYING a beautiful warm "almost" Spring day!! : )
I was trying to get the huge belly shadow, but didn't pull it off very well!
a view from above, thanks to the hubster you can see his shoes : )
the most frightening perspective of all!
(pay no attention to the stains on the belly that are illuminated by the flash, I didn't know they were there until I saw them here.... because that's below my view! : P)
Al loves taking these kinds of scary view shots, and I have to admit it is sort of cool because that's not a way that I get to see the belly ever. It looks really big from down there... and it's funny because that is the view my kids probably see... no wonder they are always coming up to hug the belly... it probably looks pretty inviting to them !
Yesterday, I had an appointment with my midwives. The baby and I are both looking good! : )
(I have to sneak in and apologize in advance. For some reason I can't get blogger to put in my usual spacing between paragraphs and this post is a little long anyway ...and now looks a bit squished as well... which I think makes it harder to read... meh... sorry!)
While I was at the birth center I had the opportunity to talk with the local PBS station about the birth center. So I'm going to be on TV! : ) (They had called me in advance to ask if it would be ok if a part of my appointment was recorded and also if I would be willing to be interviewed.) It was very interesting for me. I happen to adore the birth center where I have already birthed two of my amazing children and hope to have the third... in the same room... on the same bed. It was a great opportunity for me to try and help other people, but especially women, to see what a difference there can be in a birth experience. For me it couldn't be any different than birthing in a hospital, at least my experience in a hospital, which granted was 15 years ago now. It still is a completely different idea of what is going on.
The medical community at large tends to think of birth as a medical emergency, whereas at the birth center looks at it as the natural culmination of a completely normal and healthy human process. That small difference in thought makes a huge difference to me... and my family. I love that I am able to go to a safe place to birth my child in the ways that my body beckons me to do it, with trained experienced women available to me if I need them. I love that I have been blessed with the ability to have already enjoyed one "perfect" birth. Roscoe's birth, I think should have an entire post on it's own, but sufficed to say that I can not think of a single thing that I would change about it... ok maybe I wouldn't have driven over an hour to get a Whopper(when I hadn't eaten at Burger King for at least a year... but it was a ridiculously strong craving...) to eat right before I went into labor... because let me tell you the Whopper burps (smelling of pickles, ketchup, and smoke flavoring), while dealing with the intensity of strong contractions wasn't very pleasant for anyone involved! But other than the occasional stinky belch, the birth itself was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had in my life. It is one of the very, very few experiences in my life that I can't imagine a single thing that could have made it better. The fact that my husband was such a big part of this experience and such a vital part of it as well, is one of the things that I cling to in our darkest hours. I have hopes that this next labor will help us to renew our commitment to making things as good between us as possible. The magic of watching and experiencing your body do exactly what women's bodies are made to do and have been doing for thousands of years is a sacred experience that deserves the respect that I feel it gets at the birth center that I am fortunate enough to utilize.
I think it is clear to see that I felt lucky to have been selected to speak with them to share my excitement and love of what these women try and accomplish... and then they asked if they could record the baby's heartbeat as well. Well, anyone who has a had a baby before knows that means baring the belly. My large incredibly mapped out and stretch marked, scarred from surgeries belly. At first I said yes, but I'd rather they didn't show my actual belly. I was hoping they could just record the sound or me and the hubby's faces or something. Then the camera man who was very nice and unassuming (although he carried a HUGE scary camera and had a tendency to put it about 2 inches from my face...) had a plan to cover me up with a sheet or some kind of medical covering... and I just couldn't do it. One of the things that I like so much about the center is how"un"medical they are about things. I don't get draped or covered up and it just seemed like a false representation of what they are all about. Soooo, I said just do it. Go ahead and video my big 'ol stretch marked belly. The truth is that I have so many old ones that this time around, having started out with a lot of extra skin to fill from losing all the weight before the baby, I don't have any new stretch marks. I doubt that I will get any actually. BUT because of how large my belly is now all the old white ones(from Sophia) and the light pink ones(from Roscoe) are all pulled taut and showing proudly... and I decided, you know what, I am no where near the perfect body image of pregnancy shown on TV. I have a real body, with real scars of my real beautiful children. I can't be ashamed of that. My belly is a map of all that I have gone through both good and bad to bring my children into this world... and that is beautiful, even if the actual skin might not be anymore.
Which brings me to the title of this post itself. I actually started it a few days ago, but have been out and about with my kids so it's taken a few days to write the whole thing. I am now only two days away from being 38 weeks along, and in my 39th week have decided to start a serial membrane sweep. For those who might not know, a membrane sweep is when a midwife will insert a finger or two (depending on how dilated you are at the time) into a somewhat dilated cervix(which I don't know if I have yet, we'll check at the time of sweeping, but with the amount of contractions that I have AND the fact that this is my fourth baby, it would SHOCK me to not be at least a roomy 1 by now, which is all they really need to do it) and run that finger(or two) around the top inside of the cervix separating it from the bag of waters. The process, as you might imagine sucks (I've had it done before), but its purpose is to irritate the uterus into contractions, thus starting labor. Pretty much, it is a non-chemical way to get the ball rolling. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Serial sweeping is when you go and get this done three days in a row. The statistics are really only relevant for serial sweeping, otherwise a single sweep is kind of like a crap shoot.... it may or may not be the sweep that sets things off because they only will do it once you've reached a certain gestation and a certain approximate baby weight. It's about a 50/50 ratio on whether or not it will help begin real labor. The serial sweeping on the other hand has a higher ratio of working, and at my center one midwife in particular has the best reputation for starting labor, she will be doing mine on the third day.
The last pregnancy I started to try this at 39 weeks, because everyone was getting concerned about the size of the baby (his approximated weight from ultrasound was 11 pounds, it was over estimated he was just under 10). The hospital was pushing for a c-section and the midwives and I were doing our darnedest to get things moving, so that I could labor as I chose. I knew that I had the capability of birthing a large baby, and I was right. It wasn't an issue at all. BUT when I got the first sweep.. and it hurt... A LOT... and then didn't work except to give me hours of non-productive intense contractions. I already felt a bit torn as to whether it was the right decision anyway, so I decided against the serial sweeping and waited a bit longer before doing it again. Then at 41 weeks I had it done again... and this time, after a few hours I was in labor (now whether it was the sweep or not I don't know because I was also 41 weeks at that point... but it was with "long finger" Nancy as she is lovingly referred to when sweeping!).
The reason that I decided to start this process this time around is that last week while just going about my normal duties and activities, I felt something give near my hernia repair. Yikes! This has been a concern on mine since the beginning of the pregnancy. I have been concerned that it hadn't been long enough to heal my incisions and repair site properly, and unfortunately I believe that I am nearing my inner boundaries as far as how much I can safely stretch without tearing again. I haven't gained huge amounts of weight but I have gained more than I would have preferred. I have been eating well, and exercising throughout my pregnancy, but obviously not at my pre-pregnancy level and that change made gaining weight much easier, than I would have hoped for. Sufficed to say that I have concerns about letting this baby stay as long as it might intend to on its own (which for me is usually 41-42 weeks) and would like to do as much as I can to encourage it to come closer to 40 weeks this time. I will deal with the results of the sweep, whether they produce real labor or not, and I will go in all three days. If at the end of three days it hasn't worked I will take a few days off and then try again starting on Tuesday the next week. The day that I start the sweeping I will be 39.5 weeks so that the last sweep will be the day before my actual due date. So I feel like I'm not pushing it too much. The biggest thing I am concerned about is the actual pushing part of labor. I am a little worried that the intense pressure will tear the repair site and I might have to get it re-repaired(is that even a real word?). I hope that that does not happen, but after talking with the midwives, the only other solution is a c-section, and that is not a choice I am comfortable with, for only a possibility that a tear might happen. Even with my first child when it came to the pushing part I only pushed about 20 minutes. The last two have come in about 10 minutes(once I got to that stage), so unless something wacky happens the pushing stage shouldn't last too long. Unfortunately, since I felt something give the other day, I am in fairly constant discomfort now, so it is beginning to make me a little edgy. There's nothing to be done about it until after the baby is born, so that is why I decided to proactively schedule this serial sweeping. I hope that I've made the right decision, it feels a little wrong to try and push this little to be born for my convenience, but at the same time it is really my health that I am worried about. It's not like I'm doing it so I can go get my hair done or something. I just worry that if the baby grows for too much longer it will be that much more pressure on an already overextended weak spot. And the truth is that if the baby doesn't want to be born it won't be. It is isn't a fail safe way to get things going, just the most I am willing to do to push it.
Scheduling this procedure has also made me feel like wow... it is really going to happen... REALLY SOON!! It is a little overwhelming and incredibly exciting too! I go back and forth between feeling so ready and then wanting to hold on to the way things are right now for just a little longer. The changes we are about to experience are so big it can be scary, but I also know only a few weeks after the baby is born that it will be hard to imagine life without it! This is such a crazy time, the waiting is almost over now!
I will do my best to come on and let everyone know as soon as I do or don't have this little one. Obviously, the time is not limitless even if it does not succumb to my prodding it along. Very soon, one way or another this baby will be here in my arms! The kids and I went to the zoo yesterday and while we were there I literally had about 20 contractions in 2 and a half hours... so I think that this prodding has a pretty good chance of helping things along! I guess we'll soon find out! I have my first sweep next Tuesday(not the 23rd but the 29th). I guess the hubby and I should buckle down and figure out a boy name before then!! :P
on another side note:
Thank you to all who wished Emily a Happy Birthday! She had a great day and that is always the ultimate goal for me! This is a shot of the kids before we out for her birthday dinner.
Today I am grateful that I am so close to holding my little one here in the real world!
I am grateful that Al and I have worked so hard to be the best that we can be together before we welcome our newest child.
I am grateful that Emily had a nice birthday and is becoming such an amazing young woman.
I am grateful that my younger two children are SOOOO excited to meet their new sibling. We spend time every single day talking about how much they love the baby, while they hug my belly and tell the baby "come out soon so we can hug you for real!!" (so sweet!) : )