April 9th, 2004

9 Apr 2004, by

So what am I doing up? I have no idea. Given a choice, I’d much rather be sleeping. However, for the last three weeks or so I’ve had uncharacteristic difficulty with this endeavor. I will wake up between 1 and 3 AM and be awake for two hours, and be a zombie the next day. I am not waking up because I’m physically uncomfortable, but the minute I open my eyes I find it difficult to go back to sleep. I have tried several things to get me back to sleep and none have worked very well. This is not at all like me. My doctor says that it’s my body preparing me for being up several times a night, but I certainly don’t remember having this issue last time I was pregnant. I feel like it must be a low level anxiety kind of thing: worries and fears about the baby that are not surfacing (or I’m not allowing to surface) during the day. I have no real evidence for this except for the fact that I seem to be having trouble sleeping. It seems odd to me that I can be worried about something and not be aware of it. I want more sleep desperately. I know it will be extra sparse in the weeks to come and I want to shore up and get as much as I can now. And yet, my body is thwarting me in this regard.

On Wednesday I felt pretty sure that I was going to have this baby. I had six contractions in about three hours, and I had an enormous amount of pressure on my groin as though the baby’s head were RIGHT THERE. I felt uncomfortable and unwell and a little panicked. I was having difficulty walking. There are several things I absolutely must get done before this baby can arrive and I can take maternity leave and they are not finished yet. However, the contractions didn’t intensify or speed up and eventually stopped, and I haven’t had any since, so I guess it was just a practice run. The first time I around I didn’t have very much in the way of Braxton-Hicks (I usually call them fake contractions, though my husband thinks that’s not a good term), but apparently this time my body is more serious about practicing. In a way, this pleases me, since I hope it’s an indicator that I will go into labor naturally and not have to be induced. It’s not that being induced was so terrible, and, in fact, it did have its advantages, but it is really not the way I prefer to have things happen. On the good side, it was guaranteed that I’d have my doctor delivering my baby because it was basically scheduled in advance. I have some fear of having another doctor I don’t know delivering my baby. I trust my doctor. Everyone else is a gamble. On the other hand, pitocin is horrible. I know that going into labor naturally doesn’t mean they won’t decide things aren’t moving fast enough and give you pitocin anyways, but if they’re inducing you, you’re going to get it for sure, and it’s horrible. Contractions are really sudden and violent under the influence of pitocin. I also think that if I can get into the hospital with most of the early part of labor gone that they’ll try less to medicate me and prepare me. And no, I don’t mean the epidural. I like epidurals. I have no issue with less pain during labor. It’s all the other stuff they give you that I find perplexing and displeasing. I took 2 or 3 pills at the insistence of a nurse and half the time she didn’t want to tell me what I was taking. I felt like they were “setting the stage” for my delivery and that this was something they had the luxury of doing because I was being induced, and that if I come to the hospital in labor already then maybe they won’t shove so many drugs at me. For example, to this day, I have no idea why I had to take Ritalin. She gave me a pill, I asked what it was, she said Ritalin and that I had to take it. Why? I didn’t ask then, and I suppose I should have, but it seemed bizarre to me, and it still does. I suppose that this opinion – that if labor is already substantially underway that they’ll dispense with a lot of the prep work – may be hopeful and optimistic on my part and even a bit of evasive (maybe if the baby’s already halfway out when I get there they won’t have time for the enema!) and probably not based in reality. I suppose that if I get a chance to do it that way that I’ll find out. Additionally, it would be nice to just know what it’s like to go into labor as a gradual progression instead of zero to sixty. With Sophia I was in labor between 3 and 4 hours. Everyone seems to think this is highly fortunate, and I’m not saying I want to struggle for 10 hours, but really, it came on so suddenly that I had difficulty following everything that was happening. There was a moment, for example, when the nurse couldn’t find Sophia’s heartbeat. I could tell she was really freaked out by this, though I wasn’t at all and I was sure the baby was fine, but it was like I was watching her panic on a satellite TV uplink from another continent. I wasn’t even there. I remember thinking to myself, “She looks concerned, maybe I should be worried too,” and yet not being able to garner the energy to ask her what the problem was, much less get riled over it. Maybe it was the Ritalin. I guess that being so close to the delivery date with this child is bringing back lots of memories of my previous experiences with labor, which I had always meant to document in more detail and never did. It’s good to know what to expect in some ways. Prior to Sophia I had never been hospitalized for anything. Now, at least, I’ve got some idea what I can expect, not just of labor itself but of medical procedures and how hospitals work. I’m not nearly as scared of labor as I was last time. I have a better grasp of the concept of labor as a means to an end, and not an end point in itself. Before I couldn’t picture anything beyond the effort and pain of giving birth. Now I know that’s just one small step in the process and that even if it’s extremely painful and difficult and I have a dreadful time of it, it’s finite. I’m not saying, of course, that I’m not going to be wishing I was elsewhere when I’m going through the worst of it, I’m just saying that I know I can hack it, and that helps a lot. Last time I was much more anxious about giving birth and even joked about letting the baby hang out inside until it was 18 or so.

Ok, now I’m ready to go back to bed and try to sleep. I hope it works. I’m very tired. Good night

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