Sunday, August 17, 2014

T Minus 9 Days


In less than 9 days we will have a new baby.   

At this point, we are ready, we are waiting.  With the first baby, you feel this overwhelming sense of we’re not ready, we’ll NEVER be ready!  But looking at kid #1, I can’t help but think – we’ve kept him alive this long so bring on #2.  We’re ready for it! 

There’s a growing impatience at just getting started.  I know the work it will take to care for a newborn as well as rebuild my body.  I’m just ready to get on with it.  And like I told Chris yesterday, it’s not even that I’m entirely uncomfortable.  I can still swim, bike and run.  I can still function.  My belly is big but not in the same miserably uncomfortable way that it was with Max – which strikes me as odd since I’ve gained the same amount of weight.  But I’m just ready to be done with pregnancy.  This entire process started a year ago and it’s time to move forward already.  I know once she comes out and I’m faced with the sleepness nights, endless diapers (didn’t we JUST get out of diapers!?!) and painful chest I’ll be screaming: put her back in, PUT HER BACK IN!  But for right now, I am ready.

Did you hear me, baby girl.  READY.  That is your cue to come out.  NOW.

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve experienced a variety of feelings.  There was extreme fatigue which suddenly vanished upon arrival of tremendous surge of energy that didn’t stop for 5 days.  This was a welcome reprieve from what had been 36 weeks of nonstop heavy fatigue.  You know the fatigue you feel the Monday after a big weekend of Ironman training?  Where you’re still down 5 pounds of dehydration, nauseous, hungry, sore and after you wake up ready to go right back to bed? I felt that good for the past 9 months.  It was possibly the worst part of being pregnant – not feeling like me every single day.  Feeling so, so tired.   

I was delighted when I finally felt like me for 5 days.  NONSTOP ENERGY.  Indefatigable!  I had an overwhelming urge to clean everything.  And I mean everything.  I scrubbed the floors. I powerwashed the inside garbage cans.  I vacuumed behind the stove.  I handwashed all of the gear in my swim bag.  And when I pulled the vacuum up next to the refrigerator, Max said Mommy, you can’t do that.  Do what?  Vacuum the fridge.

WATCH ME.

Then, as quickly as it came on 5 days ago, it came to a halting end.  I was hit with another wave of fatigue, backache and disdain.  12 days remaining in pregnancy felt about as comforting as knowing there’s a marathon at the end of Ironman.  I still had a long, VERY LONG way to go.

My 37 week appointment gave me some reassurance that my body was preparing for the battle of labor and delivery.  The benefit of going to a practice with 5 doctors means that you have 5 different personalities giving you feedback about your pregnancy.  This particular week I met with my favorite doctor, the one who with Max told me my cervix was awesome and that I would have an awesome labor and delivery.  This particular visit she smiled when reporting I was 1.5 cm dilated and 50 percent effaced.  I was progressing!  A few days later, I lost the plug holding the baby in which had me convinced labor is imminent!  Some consistent Braxton-Hicks while running or walking, diarrhea, nausea, low backache, all FUN late pregnancy signs pointing towards freedom from this belly!

I waited.  And waited.  And…

Nothing.

My 38 week appointment rolled around and I was STILL pregnant.  The novelty wore off.  For every person who said I looked cute or YOU LOOK GREAT I wanted to punch them in the face. 

LIES.  I look pregnant

This week, a different doctor reported something different.  

You’re 1 cm dilated.

ONE centimeter?  So what you’re telling me is that I’m less than last week!?  I’m closing up?  The baby is retreating?  CHANGED HER MIND?   Even worse, my cervix hasn’t changed. No “real” contractions means things aren’t progressing.  No progress means more time pregnant.  More time pregnant means …

As one of my athletes wrote to me, I wanted to ask you this before you went baby crazy. 

CRAZY!?  I am a 35 pound front loaded weapon of stubborn baby.  I surpassed CRAZY about 20 weeks ago.  ASK MY HUSBAND!  And to baby:  GET OUT ALREADY!  Because the only thing we’re both going to do for the next 2 weeks is gain weight. 

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  I decided to celebrate the final 2 weeks of my pregnancy by eating a page out of my Food Fantasy Log every day.  I started with full fat vanilla ice cream.  Moved on to Pop Tarts and the next day dove into a jar of dark

chocolate peanut butter. 

The doctor said she would do an “aggressive” internal exam to perhaps get things started.  No sooner does she say it before she’s throwing away her gloves and telling me she’ll see me in another weeks.  That’s IT!?  THAT was aggressive?  That was nothing.  Get the Week 36 check-up-doctor in here with a shovel and a headlamp because she knows aggressive.  That woman left me sore for DAYS! 

I walked out of the office slightly discouraged, mostly disgruntled which is why your doctor should never tell you how much you are or are not progressing.  None of it means anything as labor can go from zero to 60 seconds with no signs or warnings.

In low moments like this, it’s best to turn to the only thing that will make you feel better.  No, not another page of Food Fantasy, but the internet.  Immediately I started googling:  natural ways to induce labor.  Found a website listing 40 ways to induce labor or bring on contractions.  Bouncing on a ball?  Tried that with Max – negative.  Walking?  If that was the case, I would have delivered in the first trimester.  Walking up stairs?  Seriously, am I the only pregnant woman who MOVES out there?  How about this one, my favorite:  sex?  Would probably involve Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics – NO THANKS.  When none of the ideas convinced me, I asked my friend who has six children.  Surely she has ideas on how to evacuate the baby.

Her reply?  Nothing works.  I’ve tried everything.

The oracle has spoken.  And I shall spend 9 more days pregnant.

In other news, I continue swimming, biking and running. 

The other day when walking out on to the pool deck for masters, Marty started clapping.  It had been some time since I’d seen him and couldn’t help but wonder if he was clapping for me as a wow, you’re still walking, wow, you’re still swimming or wow, you managed to squeeze yourself into that suit without exposing anything.  And the suit I’m wearing?  I stole it from the pool deck.  To whomever lost a bright pink with orange flowers suit that had been hanging on deck for over 4 weeks, you can have it back --- in 9 days.  I got into my own lane when Bob decided to join me.  I warned him that I was slow and he should feel welcome to swim around me.  He tells me that he’s slow because he’s 10 pounds overweight.  Nice try but if you’re looking for sympathy or you look great (!), THIS IS NOT YOUR LANE!  

In other swimming news, the other night I had the privilege of swimming with one of my athletes/former training partner, Amanda.  She served me a nice plateful of this is what you get for that one time you prescribed me 1500 band.  38 x 50 to celebrate week 38 of pregnancy with the last 8 in IM order.  If you haven’t seen someone do 50 fly in their 38th week of pregnancy, imagine the dolphin show at the zoo and you’ll have something pretty close visually.  Except sub whale for dolphin. 

 I’ve been biking outside but more inside these days.  Last week my belly officially got too big to ride my cyclocross bike.  But I gave it one last try anyways!  I said goodbye to Chris before I left to which he said did you earn that jersey?  I looked down at my size men’s large Illinois State Champion jersey and said no but I earned the fact that I’m large enough to fit into it so that’s got to count for something.  He goes on to tell me how much he had to suffer to get the jersey.  At that moment, I think I heard the world’s smallest violin playing or maybe it was a bad case of late pregnancy gas.  I lasted 5 minutes on my bike before I returned home to ride on the trainer.

I’ve also been doing a mix of elliptical, running and incline/hill walking.  Some days I can run.  Like the other day I hopped on the treadmill and ran 6 miles at a pace over 2 minutes per mile faster than I had seen in weeks – the best part?  Only two potty breaks.  Other days I can run 5 minutes.  Other days it’s 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk.  And still other days I know better and head straight to the elliptical. 

As you can tell, none of this exercise has accelerated the onset of labor.  I WISH!

On Saturday morning, I woke up with the sign (or “show”) that generally means labor is imminent in the next 24 hours.  A fair amount of pelvic pressure, cramps and grumpiness the night before combined with this show convinced me that baby was on its way.  I realized I had two options: sit like a ticking time bomb of baby or … go for a swim.  I chose to swim, 3700 long course meters with masters.  I figured the coach was a former labor and delivery nurse who could deliver the baby, if needed.  And how fun would a water birth be with 50 of my not so closest friends?  Turns out I didn’t give birth in the pool, later day or the next morning.  I seem to fall into the minority of women who get every sign pointing towards labor but don’t actually go into it. 

And, in case you're wondering, 50 LCM of fly at nearly 39 weeks pregnant does NOT induce labor. 

I tried. 

There goes #41 on the list. 

Still waiting.

But I do find solace in the fact that at most I will spend ONE more weekend pregnant.  One.  But between now and then, I need to negotiate the world with this increasingly large body.  I need to go through a roll of toilet paper nearly every 2 days.  I need to keep growing this baby.  I need to keep my floors VERY clean.  I need to create my labor playlist.  I need to pack a bag for the hospital.  But what I really need to do is enjoy these final moments with Max: our Max and Mommy adventure days, our predictable little routine of every day.  Because in less than 10 days, that routine is going to get turned upside down. 

All of a sudden, 9 days, doesn’t feel like enough waiting!      

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Final Push



Week 37.

I can do anything for 28 more days but I wouldn’t mind cutting the course right about now.

Still I find comfort in knowing that no woman can be pregnant forever.  The time will pass, it always does.  Yet I also have to wonder: has any one actually checked that no woman has been pregnant forever? 

Is anyone actually sure of this?

The final month of pregnancy is here.  I’d say it’s hard to believe only because it’s like when people come up to us, look at Max and say doesn’t it go by fast?  Are you kidding me?  Have you ever spent a day with a 4 year old?  It’s like time stands still only to make trips to the potty, eat snacks, clean up messes, wait out assorted meltdowns to finally look at the clock and think HOW IS IT ONLY 10 AM?

To answer your question, it doesn’t go by fast.  In either case.

But there’s only 4 weeks to go and ready it or not I will have a baby in my arms by August 28th.

I keep waiting for a sign that the tide is turning and labor is imminent.  Thus far I’ve gotten nothing but some on and off nausea and vivid dreams.  No contractions, cramps, fatigue or backache.  And, believe it or not, I am not nearly grumpy enough to be anywhere near birth.  Last time my mood dipped so far south that I suspected an intervention from my family if I didn’t give birth by my due date. 

Lucky for them, Max arrived 5 days early. 

The other day I had my 36 week appointment.  Because those appointments aren’t fun enough, I had to bring my 4 year old along.  That was 2 hours of fun, thank you.  When he’s in kindergarten, his teacher can thank me and this experience for enriching his vocabulary with important words like cervix and ultrasound and amniotic fluid. 

Best part, while getting dressed mommy, the baby’s food is sticking out.  What would I do without him?  Better yet, WHO taught him that?  And, as long as we’re on the topic, this might be the first time ever in my life that I’ve been able to say that this morning I lost a baby aspirin IN MY CLEAVAGE.

Back to the 36 week appointment.  Like every other, this appointment started in the bathroom where Max grew envious of me getting to pee in a cup.  This only means that I will find him, at some point in the near future, in one of our bathrooms peeing in a cup.  Mommy, I’ve never seen pee that yellow before.  Prenatal vitamins, kid.  Next, I got weighed.  I’ve resumed my pound a week weight gain.  PHEW.  Then, a trip to ultrasound to measure the baby.  She’s currently 6 pounds 3 ounces and they predict she’ll be 7 pounds 11 ounces before she arrives.  Of course, they could be off – in either direction – by a pound.  That’s about assuring as the daily weather forecast.  Baby is happily kicking, drinking and breathing in there.  I saw her little face and feet.  She looks cramped but I assure you the lack of space has not slowed her down.  She’s kicking more than ever, harder than ever. 

The technician walked us to the room with the big comfy chair.  For us elderly women, 36 weeks means the start of the weekly fetal nonstress test.  Two belts are secured around your belly, one to measure fetal heart rate, the other to measure contractions.  Max laments that he wants a belt around his belly.  There isn’t enough Caillou you can load on to an iPad to quiet a kid at an OB/GYN office.  Trust me, I tried. 

My task for the next 30 minutes was to “relax” in the big comfy chair while the machine recorded what was going on with baby.  I settle in with my feet up, a book and the soundtrack of Caillou when I realize over the next 10 minutes baby is doing nothing.  Absolutely NO-THING.  Clearly entered a sleep cycle. 

This is not good.  Of course, I know she’s in there and she’s ok but in terms of getting this test done and over with quickly, they are looking for 2 accelerations in heart rate that last 15+ seconds.  My baby is spitting out a flat line with limited variability.  It’s like the best bike power file I’ve ever seen.  VI of 1.00!  But unfortunately the worst test result.  The nurse comes in and says – time to wake your baby up.  She gives me stomach a jolt with a weird vibrating thing and shouts WAKE UP BABY! 

Between that and Caillou I’d like to know HOW this experience qualifies as relaxing.

5 minutes later – nothing.  Baby spitefully lays still though I know – I KNOW – just 30 minutes earlier in the waiting room she was like a kickboxer in my belly.  The nurse tells me she’s going to bring in the big guns:  juice and chocolate.  SUGAR!  The irony:  I’m at the doctor’s office being told to eat candy.  All of a sudden, this doesn’t seem too bad.  I suspect people actually live like this – big comfy chair, eating chocolate while kid watches TV. 

The sugar worked almost instantly.  Her baseline HR of 140 shoots up in the 160s and she starts squiggling around.  This continues on and off for the next 15 minutes.  Glad it worked but if I have to go through this every week I might give myself gestational diabetes. 

In which case some of my friends will revel in the opportunity to do their best Wilfred Brimley di-bee-tus! for me. 

Then something interesting happens.  It feels like baby is jumping on my bladder and lightning is shooting up into me.  I’m on the edge of needing to pee myself when I realize a giant mountain is appearing on the print out sheet.  Could it be?  CONTRACTION!  But sadly I had only one in the entire 45 minutes.  Baby is nowhere near ready to come out. This means only one thing:  I just might be pregnant: FOREVER.

Next we see the doctor.  Max is concerned with all of the tools she has, more specifically the goopy jelly. 

Is that going to hurt my mommy?

Not a bit, the doctor says.

But I know better.  Of the four doctors in this practice, this one is my least favorite because she simply cannot do a manual check without getting elbow deep into my you know what.  One of these days, I’ll see her hand coming out of my mouth.

THAT FAR up in me.

This time around is no different.  It was the most awkward, uncomfortable pressure.  Almost as awkward as the Strep B test.  All of the moms understand what I mean about that test.  The rest of you?  It will be one of those SURPRISE (!) moments of pregnancy.

The doctor looks at me. 

You are not ready to have this baby.

And she has just secured her position as least favorite doctor FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Can I stomp around the office, tantrum, throw myself on the ground and work up some fake tears about this?  It’s your lucky day, I’ll get my kid to join me and collectively we will get you to reach back in there and PULL THAT BABY OUT!  Know why?  Because I’m uncomfortable.  I’m large and according to the rest of the world so large they feel the need to comment EVERY SINGLE DAY and remind me.  Whoa, you’re BIG!  I am tired because I can’t just lay around being large, I have to take care of this 4 year old and run my business.  I’m also running out of clothes and refuse to buy a single article more of large clothing.  I CANNOT AFFORD ANY MORE PREGNANCY in so many ways!

Your cervix is hard.  Nothing is happening.  You need a lot more contractions to get things going.

That was not the news I wanted to hear.  I wanted to be one of those lucky pregnant woman who goes early and gets to miss out on the last few weeks of calf cramps (nightly), trips to the bathroom (every 10 minutes when running), nausea (just in case I forgot I was pregnant!) and the inability to sleep for more than 4 hours (I know it’s good practice but…I’m TIRED!).  I mean, aren’t these last 4 weeks just bonus weeks?  Character builders?

Not in my case.  It’s like the last 10K of Ironman.  I know the end is in sight but until then, I just want to crawl into my pain cave, take inventory of the assorted aches and pains and move forward.  Slowly.  I walked out of the office slightly defeated knowing that between now and next week I will need to bounce on a ball for 12 hours a day to get this kid out of me. 

In other news, I am still swimming, still biking, still running and in case you haven’t heard: still pregnant.

I’ve slowed way down in swimming – but so has my motivation.  It’s tough to put on a suit that you barely fit into or commit to buying a new suit when you only have a few weeks left.  I apologize for anything that is showing, sticking out or obscene.  As long as you don’t look down when you’re near me and you’ll be fine.  The other day I went to the pool to find every lane full.  I asked a guy if I could share his lane.  He looked at me and very quickly said no.  I thought to myself he’s probably expecting me to aquacize and get in his way.  So I hopped in the lane next to him and lapped him 3 times in a 500.  And, yes, every time I lapped him, I pushed off the wall a little harder. 

Biking is my go to – on the trainer or outside on the path.  I’m so big that I only fit into one of my husband’s size large jerseys.  That happens to be the one that reads ILLINOIS STATE CHAMPION.  You can’t understand the pleasure I get from passing people going 10 mph while wearing that jersey.  The other day on the path, a new PR: 6 potty stops in 90 minutes.  On the trainer, it takes two towels and a TP Quad Roller on top of my aero bars to ride comfortably.  Hey, I asked my husband for more spacers, he said no more room, Liz. So I said screw aerodynamics, I'm going for comfort. 

Running – is hit or miss but this week, a total hit.  Last week I had to take off from running because my feet felt weird.  I did some ellipticizing which is a special kind of inferno of boredom for the pregnant woman.  Especially when the old man who whispers about you finally gets ballsy enough to approach you and say we’re keeping our eye on you.  Oh yeah?  Safe to say, I’m not keeping my eyes on you if you keep insisting on working out in those sweatpants. 

For the most part, I do two workouts a day because it is the only time I feel good and normal.  But fear not, to the chagrin of most of the gym population and the general public, you cannot exercise a baby out of you.  At times, I feel like I might be better off walking around 9 months pregnant with a beer and a cigarette because it just might go over better than exercising by someone with my belly. 

As of now, we have everything ready for this baby:  crib, diapers, breast pump, bottles and sleep sacks.  For all new mothers, that is pretty much all that you need.  You can register for $1000000000000 of other stuff at BuyBuyBaby but it’s not necessary.  Anything else that we need or don’t know, we’ll be winging it.  Thus far, except for a few minor incidents with my son (case in point: he is missing a front tooth, he goes to bed at 9 pm and knows how to say jackass), we have been successful parents. 

Not perfect, just mostly successful. 

We're excited for her arrival yet I know the hard part still lies ahead.  The 6 months where I'll probably be woken up every 1 to 3 hours throughout the day.  That doesn't even include labor.  And by the way, one of my athletes asked me to send him my labor race plan.  Working on it.  I need to think a few things through, read the athlete guide and put some salt tabs into baggies.