In case you missed it, we’re anticipating the arrival of our family’s fourth member. Practically, that means gathering the necessary gear (and only the necessary gear, thanks to our limited storage space!), trying to keep the freezer stocked with meal inspiration baggies (sadly, not complete meals, also due to limited storage space), and experimenting with sitting and laying positions that keep sweet baby’s heels out of my ribs. Unfortunately, it has also meant lots of trips to the hospital.
At 31 weeks, I was measuring small so the midwife sent me for an extra ultrasound. I remarked to the sonographer that I was there to put the midwife’s mind at ease, since I was sure that everything was normal. Well, everything was not normal, and that appointment led to a transfer of care to an obstetrician and a very different third trimester experience than I was expecting. With my history of preterm delivery (Little Handsome made his grand entrance at 34 weeks), no one wanted to take any chances. So for the past month, I’ve been having non stress tests and ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health and growth, as well as my body’s early progression twice a week (hence the trips to the hospital). I’ve been taking it easy, limiting activity and staying well hydrated and nourished. There had been talk of induction as early as 35 weeks, and I was advised to cancel our trip to my parents’ town because of its distance from a level 3 hospital. Everyone was on high alert for a quick delivery of a tiny baby.
Well, I’m pleased to say that sweet baby continues to appear to be healthy, I haven’t sprung a leak yet, and we’re already at 36.5 weeks!
Last Tuesday I really thought our baby was coming. But alas, it was a false alarm. The way everyone has been talking, it seemed as though labour were imminent. So when it turned out that my body was not ready to do this thing after all, I felt quite disappointed. Of course my rational self knows that the best place for baby (so long as she continues to grow) is inside of me, but I had gotten so excited about meeting her and holding her that it was a bit of a let down to have to wait.
I’ve spent the last few days thinking about full term babies, and comparing them to my first birth experience. That did the trick; my disappointment has faded. Yes, I do want to keep this little girl inside for a few more weeks. I want to hold her when she’s just fresh and new for more than 30 seconds before she is whisked away to be cared for by people more qualified than me. I want her to be strong enough to eat well, and drink enough to satisfy her tummy for more than an hour at a time. I want her newborn diapers to stay on and her hands and feet not to be bruised from IV punctures. I want to spend her first day on the outside together, rather than in 10 minute visits to the nursery. If this is what a few more weeks of patience brings, I’m happy to wait.
And so, I wait, but not with the restless, let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road feeling that I had a few days ago. Now I knit my baby blanket not as a distraction, but as a way to connect with her already. I welcome the practice contractions, not as an indication that things are progressing, but as good exercise for the big day. I embrace the mystery of birth, not as something I can’t control but wish I could, but with an awe of the process that medicine still hasn’t quite figured out. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be nice to know that sweet baby was coming next Tuesday, but I’m working hard to learn and grow from this time of anticipation.
And I continue to dream with my boys about what our life will be like in a few short weeks (or maybe hours…who really knows!?!)
Post Script 1
I’m pretty sure this patience will wear off by 39 weeks if there’s still no action. Keep in mind that my first baby was born at 34 weeks, so I already feel 2 weeks overdue! But I can enjoy the waiting for now, and join the ranks of moms who plead with their babies to be born if it comes to that.
Post Script 2
I was able to put at least one meal away in the freezer, which will come in handy in the early days post-baby. It’s a simple beef stew, made with ground beef (because it’s often cheaper than stewing beef and easier for Little Handsome to chew) and thickened with oatmeal (because I wanted to experiment with an inexpensive, already-in-the-cupboard, wheat-free thickener).
Oatmeal-thickened Ground Beef Stew
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced (we like garlic)
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and cubed
2-3 carrots, peeled and cubed
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 cups broth
salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary to taste
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground and mixed with water
Directions: cook and drain ground beef. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, broth and herbs. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until veggies are tender, probably 20 minutes. Add corn and peas and let simmer while blending oats into a flour and mixing with water. Add oat mixture to stew, stirring, to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!