Monday, October 29, 2012

40 weeks...

Baby girl is hanging tight.  My little Cosi is quite cozy in there, haha!

I actually thought this past Saturday, the 27th, was going to be "it."  I'd actually had Oct 27th in mind this whole time and couldn't get it out of my head, and then I had such a great day.  Slept a ton the night before, had a very relaxing morning and afternoon with my mother, had a pedicure that set of REAL contractions that went on for about 6+ hours.  I'm talking nausea, back pain, whole abdominal pain, starting off unevenly but not stopping during sitting/standing/walking/laying down/eating/drinking/shower/talking etc.  By about 4:30pm they were timeable, 60-90 seconds, with a peak in the middle where I could not talk or think clearly.  Had everyone on stand by.  And they stopped.  Again.

So this?  Is prodromal labor.

And it's been way harder than it should be to find information on it!

Seriously, this isn't covered in my birth books.  In there, Braxton Hicks are BH contractions, and labor is labor.  What I felt was not BH, nothing like my BH contractions, but there's no mention of this in my birth books.  There are a lot of things to find online, though.  People who went through this for weeks or months, usually starting before 37 weeks.  It's been hard to find info on the outcomes, since people will post questions and their situations to forums but then there's no mention of when they actually had their baby and how the delivery went.  So despite all the prep work I've done, with all the info I could wrap my mind around, it kind of feels like I'm navigating relatively uncharted (but common) waters.  I guess this is the "false labor" or "false starts" I hear about.  I have to admit, it's making me nervous!  I'm partially worried that my body will suddenly kick into high gear and it will go FAST, like straight to pushing stage while I'm home alone.  I mean, if my mother could get to 10 cm with labor and transition, it should be entirely possible for me right?

On the other hand, I'm still battling the worry that my body is somehow defective and that it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing.  I mean, everyone around me is utterly shocked that I haven't delivered yet, it kind of makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong.  I get that they're just concerned for me (and don't want to be in the situation of being 40 weeks pregnant with no end in sight!) but I'm a tad emotional right now so I guess I'm internalizing it in a way it's not intended :-P

I've been trying to tell myself affirmations, and for the most part it's helping.  Things like, my body is doing what it's supposed to do, this will all make sense later on, my daughter's birth story won't be boring and she'll enjoy laughing at it with me, for someone so worried about miscarriage I've made it to 40 weeks and that's amazing, she's just not quite ready yet and I'm being good giving her the time she needs to finish getting ready for the outside world, etc.

I've also been deconstructing more mental blocks, just sitting down and talking with people about them, anyone really!  Nik has been wonderful, but so have many others.  Really, just verbalizing and having these thoughts acknowledged has helped tremendously.

The big two that have been on my mind has been the fear that I'm letting people down, and a sort of PTSD left over from the adoption wait.

I don't like to let people I care about down, and as dumb as it sounds I feel bad when people are excited for something that I need to produce and I can't, you know, produce it.  I feel bad that people are telling me "you'll have the baby before/by X day!" and then it doesn't happen.  I feel like I've failed in a task I've been given, and when people are constantly coming up to me and saying, "you haven't had the baby yet???" or "still no baby?" I'm feeling like I've let them down.  And it's dumb, really it is.  Especially when I think that I've probably made the same comment a number of times to other full term and beyond moms.  It just never occurred to me how painful it could be to hear that.  As an outsider, I thought I was offering support and opening a dialogue to let the exhausted mom to be vent her frustrations.  As the person on the other side, I feel guilty and upset at myself.  People are expecting me to do this and I haven't been able to do it.

On top of that, I have a lot of people ready to support us who are on call, people who have jobs and lives and houses and families.  I feel so, so bad alerting my doula or my mother that I'm having what appears to be labor contractions only to have them stop.  I feel horrible that I've had Nik take off work so much lately because I've been ill with "flu like symptoms."  I'm the sort of person who doesn't complain if I'm sick and goes about my business unless I absolutely can't.  I hate asking things of people, I feel awful asking someone to put me above their normal life, and it's been hard emotionally to feel like such a burden all the time.  I feel like if I could just have this baby already then things could be better, then I'd be justified in all the bothering.  So far no baby has come out of me and I feel like the girl who cried wolf.

I'm working on this, and talking to people about it.  I think I'll have to start baking cookies or something because honestly it will just make me feel better if I can provide something for all the hassle, even if objectively I know that it's not nearly the big deal that I think it is.

The other issue, the adoption related PTSD thing....  yeah, we're trying to counter that one with just different terminology.

See, this one hadn't occurred to me until the past few days, but whenever I start to think "this might be it!" and then it isn't... well, let's just say the emotions flowing inside me, and my reaction, is pretty much the same as it was whenever we had some sort of setback with either of the adoptions. 

A lot of hope.  A lot of disbelief.  A lot of keeping myself from truly attaching to the child that may or may not be ours.

While our adoptions were both successful and, by today's standards, very easy and straightforward, there were certainly painful moments.

Being told we'd have to wait longer for a referral from Ethiopia.  Being told wait times were increasing.  Expecting a referral in July and spending every day on pins and needles and every weekend recovering until August 10th when we finally got the call.  Finding out we likely wouldn't be with our child on his 2nd birthday (we were, thank God!).  That horrible, horrible Friday afternoon when I made contact with a wonderful family who offered to bring P his bday gifts and I rushed around buying what might be appropriate to send, wiping tears off his birthday card, dealing with 3 very angry clerks at the post office as I fumbled and messed up a million times just trying to mail my new son a card, a tshirt, and a few brightly colored toy cars in hopes that he'd know his mommy and daddy loved him even if we couldn't be with him.  Finally being with him and finding that our embassy date had to be postponed, then having nannies sweep in and grab him from me every time he cried, scolding me for not being able to instantly sooth him.  I tried to smile through all of it, and cry only in private, but my God I just wanted to take my child home and be his mom and there were just so many people involved and so many steps and it was so hard...

Then with Ambrose, contacting agencies about situations and not hearing back, having to start over with a new agency after a couple false leads, and then waiting and waiting as I pumped to produce food for the infant child we were in no way guaranteed.  I pumped several times a day, every day, for over six months.  I woke up at 4am every day to keep making milk for this child who may never be.  I tried to make the best of it and pushed all negative emotions aside.  I will never forget the day I was pumping one afternoon when I got notice that another family had been chosen for a baby already born.  I had been trying so hard not to get my hopes up, but I had to put down the pump and walk away.  I just wanted to hug Paxton, my son, living proof that dreams do come true, the one who inspired all my hope for the future.  I only made it halfway down the hall when I had to grab the wall with both hands and force myself to breath, force myself not to keel over sobbing.  I had wanted that baby, I was making milk that could help that baby, and not only was I not going to have that baby but there was still no baby in sight for me.  And it was killing me.  But I bottled it up, played with my kid and kept going.  With Ambrose's situation we had to wait even longer for a response than with others, but it was a glorious day when it arrived!  I wasn't even all that antsy, not until he was born.  Not until I spoke with his first mother on the phone after his birth.  And we both cried because we both hated the waiting period before I could take custody and we both just wanted him in his home.  For nine days my child was within driving distance.  But I could not get to him.  I could not see his picture.  I could not talk to his care giver on the phone.  I couldn't even know if he was going to a doctor and how he was doing.  And he was promised to me and his first mother wanted him with me and it was one of the most painful times of my life. 

So here I am now.  Both adoptions DID go through quite smoothly in fact.  Both boys are here and doing incredibly well.  I was with Paxton on his birthday.  Ambrose nursed right out and was a champion nurser until he weaned at 29 months, meaning all that pumping wasn't wasted at all.  Because of the happy outcomes of every negative situation we faced, I've just written it all off.  Yeah, it hurt at the time, but it happened for a reason that makes sense in hindsight.

Imagine my confusion when the ending of contractions suddenly brings back memories of holding myself up in the hallway to keep from just dying of sorrow then and there.  Or when the looks on faces of people asking about why I haven't had the baby yet reminds me so much of the looks of the postal workers who had to deal with me when I was trying to send P his birthday present.  Things that I know are normal happen, and they frustrate me, but suddenly it feels like I'm drowning and need air and I'm not seeing an outlet and oh my word I just want my baby!  It feels... exactly like it did then.  It feels like my child is being kept from me.

The difference, of course, is NO ONE IS KEEPING THIS CHILD FROM ME!!! 

She's here!  She's IN me!  Bonking her big head in my bladder and cervix, nuzzling in to get cozy, wiggling her toes on my organs.  I feel her, all throughout the day and night.  She is not on the other side of the world.  She is not in a hospital in another city.  She's not at an undisclosed location.  I am not waiting with bated breath to see if someone will sign the appropriate paperwork so that she can go from being a potential match to being my child.  She IS already my child, no questions asked. 

And I am so not used to this!

I've been pushing these silly thoughts out of my head the whole time because, well, they're silly.  They make no sense.  When I started to feel like my baby was already born and out there and all I had to do was get through this process (labor and delivery) and then someone would come in from another room and hand me my baby... well, that's a dumb thought, so of course I wouldn't pay it any mind.

But that's where I've been subconsciously.  Despite the happy outcomes with the boys, the frustration over labor seemingly stalling is the same as the frustration over yet another adoption hurdle.  The wait with no definitive end date seems the same, despite the fact that I'm only waiting on her to change locations, not to be placed in my custody.  I mean, really, could she BE more in my custody than she is right now? 

I think sitting down, talking it out, acknowledging this, and then trying to actually respect my own fears and emotions has helped tremendously.  It's like a huge weight has been taken off of me!

Nik and I are working on terminology here.  "She's coming soon" has become "she's already here, and we'll be able to hold her soon."  "We're having a baby" has become "we have a baby, she's just stubborn and wants to stay in mommy!"  We're doing this with the kids, but it's helping us too. 

Okay, so that was a small novel of delving into my psyche :-P  Time to get ready to pick P up from school and have a normal afternoon.  I'm *hoping* next time I post it will be a birth story, but eh, we'll see :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Mental Blocks

So after several "could this be it???" moments with Braxton Hicks coming on stronger and more regularly and then outright stopping... yeah, I was in a bad place last night and this morning.  Yesterday morning I had a midwife appointment and the general concensus is that this baby is going to come any time now.  0-+1 station, 80% effaced, 2 cm dilated, properly positioned, lots of movement, lost plug, nesting and flu like symptoms interchangeably, etc.  So, good news... only you can be like that for weeks.  And I know this.  And people love to tell me this.  And, well, when I keep having "it's starting!" and then it just... stops... yeah, I was not a happy girl this morning after trying to get things moving again.

But one thing it made me realize, since I had so much time to sit and stew (because sleep?  Was not my friend) was that I have a ton of mental blocks.  Little things that frighten me that might be keeping me from getting into a nice zen state.  I'm suddenly stressing, and while I look forward so much to labor and delivery and holding her, there are some things that, well, that I have to unload from my mind.  And what better place than here?

So, in no particular order, here's everything I could come up with.  I'm working on some of it, some of it I think it just helps to list and say, "yeah, this is on my mind and I wasn't expecting it to be there." 

-Fear of being alone.  I love my husband, and I love his company, but right now I NEED him in a way that somewhat frightens me.  I'm a big girl, really I am, but my word do I need him with me now.  Which is kind of hard what with him trying to get as much work out of the way now as possible and kids taking up our time and stuff.  I told him this this morning and already I feel better, as does he I think because he couldn't figure out why I was so sad :-P

-The household going to ruins.  I'm not a great housewife, really, but I like the house to have a schedule, things to go in their general places (like laundry in the proper drawer in the proper room), I like the kids in bed on time and sleeping at night, the toilets clean-ish, the toilet paper stocked, etc.  That's been going downhill with my exhaustion lately.  And thus, nesting has picked up again as I rush to make our home ready if only to calm myself mentally.

-I feel pretty.  I rarely feel pretty, and I rarely care whether or not I feel pretty, but I feel pretty pregnant.  I'm wearing pretty clothes, nicer than I normally wear, and people compliment me all the time.  I don't think of myself as vain but I guess I sort of am.  So I decided that I'm going to keep buying a few pretty clothes after the baby is here.  And maybe get my hair cut professionally for the first time since I was 16. 

-I have trouble asking for help and doing things for myself.  Not really a mental block, more of a personality flaw.  I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by people who treat me well and who will take care of me if I ask for it, I just have trouble asking.  I don't like being inconvenient, I don't like putting myself ahead of those I love.  I can drop people who are using me no problem and I can certainly assert myself with the children, but asking Nik to leave early on an easy day just because I'm feeling weepy and want a hug?  Asking someone to pick up a child from school and watch them a bit because I'm feeling tired?  That's hard.  Real hard.  Buying myself underwear is hard (seriously, I ask for it at Christmas usually just because I have such a hard time spending money on myself).  I'm working on this.  Don't want to go crazy, but I want to take care of myself emotionally and sometimes a pretty new shirt that we can afford might do the trick.

-I think I have some left over issues from dealing with infertility.  "You're not getting pregnant because you're thinking about it too much and stressing."  Sounds an awful lot like, "you aren't going into labor because you're thinking about it too much and stressing."  "It'll happen when it happens" and "you have no control over the timing" are also bringing me back to a bad place.  Kind people trying to give advice while unknowingly causing emotional pain.... I need to get over it.  I *DID* get pregnant and one way or another this baby is coming, whether tonight or 3 weeks from now.  Er, hopefully it's not one extreme or the other though :)

-I think I have some left over issues from the adoptions.  I think I'm still thinking about this baby in terms of an adoption situation.  I'm still on pins and needles.  Will they let me keep her?  Will a new rule change parent requirements and boot us from the program last minute?  What if someone changes their mind and we have to give her back?  What if she's nothing more than a distant hopeful dream?  None of these make sense in our situation.  She's in my stomach, moving right now as I type, cozying in and shifting around.  She's not a potential adoption situation, she's a child in my womb at this very moment who just happens to be inside me instead of in my arms.  She is already mine.  This is already a done deal.  There's no paperwork, no court date, no pins and needles waiting to see if someone revokes consent.  I think this is a big emotional hold up I've been having, a fear of loving for fear of losing.  Yes, a tragedy could occur, and that would be horrific.  But it's unlikely.  And she's already a part of our family, no questions asked.

-I'm afraid I won't go into labor.  I'm afraid that my body won't work.  How could it?  I spent years and years looking at every pregnancy symptom and hoping that maybe one day the "symptoms" I saw might match up to a positive pregnancy test.  Even though that happened, it's hard to erase years of looking at signs and getting so, so hopeful only to be let down.  I expect to be let down.  I expect signs to be false.  I don't expect my body to work.  I don't trust my body, even though it's been doing everything right for the past 9 months. 

-I'm afraid that I'll wait too long, need an induction anyway, and find that something awful happened.  Not enough fluid, break down of placenta, cord around neck, etc.  I'm becoming worried of her physical health, even though she feels just fine and all signs point to a healthy girl who is thriving.  I'm just worried that the longer she's in me the more danger she's in, even when I'm reading numbers and stats and research that points to this being false.  I'm afraid that somehow my "defective" body will hurt her and I should get her out ASAP and my body won't be able to do that.  I know this isn't true.  But when thinking for long hours I realized that this, along with others, is a huge fear in the back of my mind.

I'm sure there are other things, but honestly?  I was surprised when I really started to think.  Labor coming soon makes this baby all the more real and is finally bringing my real subconscious emotions to the forefront.  Hopefully by listing them, and finding ways to move past them, I'll be in a better state.  For now I'm enjoying a wonderful and relaxing evening.  Sounds like I may be needed to help a little boy get into his Batman jammies and snuggled down for bed.  That's the kind of thing I live for :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to know you aren't girly...

I've been ruminating over whether little Cosi will be super girly or super, um, tomboy-y.  I figure that with two uber active older brothers she'll likely be one extreme or the other, either just like them or the total opposite.  I've had several mothers of girls, though, tell me that she'll be the opposite of me.  This lead me to wonder whether or not I'm a tomboy or a girly girl.  I mean, I do like the color pink and shiney things and things that smell good... but I don't wear make up, don't like pampering myself much, don't like to dress up really, and, um, well... I'm a mother of boys.  Really, really, boyish boys.

At this point I'm wondering whether or not my children pulled me right into tomboy land or if I was already there :)

Aaaaand, Mr. Ambrose has awoken from nap!  Time to go cuddle him.  Perhaps I'll write a post soon about how I'm not-so-patiently waiting.  Lower baby=geez, this isn't so comfy anymore! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

37 Weeks...

And a HUGE sigh of relief! 

I don't have too long to type, as nap time is just about up for the boys, but I figure I should jot down a few things while I'm thinking about it.

-Hooray full term!  I likely still have another month to go, but given some of my recent intense Braxton Hicks and all the freaking out that went with them, I'm glad to know that if she does come she'll likely be just fine and "fully cooked" so to speak.  Also this means I'm on target to give birth at the Birth Center like we've hoped, instead of a hospital.
-I've gained about 20 lbs at this point, from pre-preg weight.  This isn't taking into account the fact that I dropped 6 lbs in the first trimester (so about 26 lbs gained in 5ish months?).  I was told I should aim for 15-20 lbs, but eh, I didn't gain 60 so I figure I'm good :)
-I'm still carrying really high.  Seriously, I don't have a cute bump, I have a somewhat pointy above the naval bump, an unpopped belly button, and a lot of squish below the naval.  People love to tell me that she hasn't dropped yet.  Believe me, I know :-P
-Even without dropping, her head is actually pretty low.  This past week we determined (and midwife confirmed) that her head is way down in there, she was in her side with left facing forward (left occiput anterior?), her bum stuck out right under my ribs and her legs were sticking out my left side.  I was able to tickle her feet and she pulled her legs in, with her left knee sticking out above my naval.  It was cute.  It was also kind of worrisome.  I mean, I was only 36.5 weeks and she was HOW big to be able to reach all of that?  And she'll be HOW big when I do my all natural vaginal delivery?  Nik was 10 lbs at birth, I was 8 but one of the smallest in my family of 10-11 lb babies...
-On that note, I'm fully embracing denial.  I'm telling myself that she'll be a healthy 6lbs maximum, that labor will last 2 hours, I won't tear, I won't poo, I'll be a delicate flower just moaning softly, and there will be no pain.  I'm fully aware that this is a total lie and I'll be shrieking like a banshee, mostly likely for many hours, she'll be big, and there will be blood.  My blood.  And stitches.  But it's okay, I can survive it, and at the end there's a baby.  Still, I don't have to actually remind myself daily of how nuts it'll be.  So I'm just thinking, "teeny baby, easy birth, teeny baby, easy birth" and I'm going to keep thinking that way until I am forced to face reality.  It's going to come one way or the other, no reason to freak myself out!
-I am so, so ready to meet her!  So in love already :)

-Ambrose just turned 3.  I'm not sure who is prouder of him, us or Ambrose himself!  He can finally make his "three hands," after working on it for weeks leading up to his birthday.  He has a "3" shirt he proudly shows off (not as cool as his Angry Birds shirt of course).  He has a birthday haircut, and he had a "big party" at the kid's museum, as well as a little party at his preschool.  On his birthday Nik took off from work so we could both be helping parent with him at preschool.  Poor guy found it overwhelming!  Lots of clinginess and jealousy.  But he was happy we were there, happy we got to have lunch at Kanki (just to watch the fire), and happy to build his bunny at Build-A-Bear.  He's going back and forth between smiles and whines still, but that's the age too!  So many changes for my little big guy, haha!
-Ambrose is a lefty, no doubt, and I'm starting to learn about all that we'll need to do to make his school life/development a success.  Need to get those lefty scissors!
-He's in underpants (teensy tighty whiteys!) most days, without too many issues.  Still not 100% PT'ed but getting there really quickly!
-We're starting to really try to move him to P's room.  No hurry, I like to take big changes slowly so that they last, but I'm hoping that maybe in the January-March range he'll be sleeping in P's room full time and we can use his room for Cosima.  Last night he slept in P's room at night, and he's currently taking a nap in there, which is like 50% of the time now.  My goal is to make it standard so it's not as new and interesting, and so that they can both sleep together in the same room without issue.

-And thus, on to Paxton!  We're not taking him to the restroom so much at night now, sort of having him build up his nighttime awareness so that he'll be able to sleep on the top bunk all night and take care of himself.  For a child with a mild physical delay who JUST night trained like 6 months ago with us taking him to the restroom once at night and cutting off liquids, the fact that he's drinking normally and holding it all night is flipping amazing!  Of course, he's such a big boy now it's not something I can't celebrate too openly since it might embarrass him. 
-P is really a big ole first grader, very proud of himself and doing great in school.  He's had a couple of rough patches, but honestly given his sensitive temperament and all that's going on at home (ie, new baby) the fact that he's doing so well most of the time DOES need to be openly celebrated.  And that's just behavior wise, academically he's definitely ahead.  He's reading at like a beginning 3rd grade level, well beyond where he needs to be by the end of the school year.  He's so fast with his homework now, writing his sentences in his journal every night, reading a book or two or three each day (Magic Treehouse, Junie B Jones, etc), speeding through his math homework and getting it right 95% of the time without even thinking or counting on his hands, etc.  If I didn't think it would totally overwhelm him I might add more on at home, but I'm holding back on that.  He's keeping up really well with all that's being thrown at him academically and I don't want to mess with that.  I'd rather he be excelling where he is and gaining confidence, then push him to his limits (or beyond) and have him lose faith in himself and his abilities. 
-P's doing really well with his chore chart, and he's been such a great help at home.  I wasn't really given chores as a child but I want P to do chores, so every day he has basic things (make bed, pick up room, put clothes in hamper, set table) and one inside chore, usually something either I pick or he suggests, like getting the laundry out of the dryer and bringing it upstairs to my room so I can sort and fold, or sweeping the kitchen floor.  I'm not super strict about any of it, and often the bed looks only half made and I still have to bring all the plates and silverware to the table for him to set it, but it's nice to have a little helper and it's REALLY building confidence in him.  The best part?  his little brother also wants to do it, and if P can rope him into helping I'm all for it!  Two little helpers who know what they're doing is seriously beyond awesome, so go ahead and train away! 

Okay, so that ended up super long.  It's 4:40pm and we're supposed to be at my parents by 5.  P's asleep on the couch behind me after coming downstairs an hour and a half ago from a short nap and still looking tired.  Ambrose has been asleep about two and a half hours.  Ummmm... bedtime tonight is going to stink, isn't it?  At least we know they'll be well rested to wreak havoc at my parents' house!