Here I am, a day short of 39 weeks pregnant, waiting for my life to change dramatically at any time.
June was a busy month, trying to get a lot of things done, because I didn’t want to schedule anything in July. We had the end of the school year for Peter, dentist appointments for the boys and me, a trip to the vet for Malou’s annual check-up and shots, two weeks of Monday-to-Friday swimming lessons for Simon, several Scout events for Peter, appointments with the midwife, an almost week-long visit by my dad and my brother (who came up on their motorcycles–note that this is not the brother I wrote about recently), Don was out of town for a week (during part of which my mom came up to help–she helped me stay sane), and my birthday at the end of the month. Whew! That’s a lot to keep up with even if you’re not huge, uncomfortable, and moving slowly.
The idea was that our July schedule would be pretty wide-open, so we could handle having the baby whenever it showed up. However, things have changed so that we now have a fairly narrow window of optimal time to have the baby. My midwife has been on vacation for the past week and a half and doesn’t return until the evening of the 15th, and I would prefer to have her at the delivery, so I hope not to go into labor before then. I have met the doctor who is filling in for her, and she seems nice enough, but I’ve only met her once, whereas I’ve been seeing the midwife for many months, so I have more trust in her. Then Don’s mom is coming up to help out for a week, from the 17th to the 24th. My due date is the 21st, so there’s no guarantee that the baby will even be born before she has to go home, but obviously her trip would be more useful if the baby were born at least a few days before she leaves. Peter was born two days before his due date and Simon was born five days before his, so there’s a reasonable chance this baby will follow suit and come a little early, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
I feel calmer anticipating this labor than I felt before the previous two. With Peter, it was my first pregnancy, and no matter how much you try to prepare, you don’t really know what it will be like. With Simon, I had given birth before, so I trusted that my body could do it. However, I had an epidural with Peter and I was planning an unmedicated delivery with Simon, so I was somewhat apprehensive about how I would deal with that, since I hadn’t experienced it before. I had confidence in my midwives, but despite my preparatory reading, I didn’t have a good mental image of how a home birth would go for me. It had been seven years since I had given birth, so the experience wasn’t very fresh in my mind. I also wondered how much Simon’s birth would be like Peter’s–with Peter, my water broke before I went into active labor (which only happens about 10% of the time) and from that time until he was born was only 6 1/2 hours, much faster than an average first labor. In the end, my water did not break until I was in labor, my labor was fairly quick (4 1/2 hours from the time I woke up with contractions until Simon was born), and the home birth experience didn’t go as I had even dimly imagined (mainly because Simon was born in the living room, when we had originally planned to use our bedroom).
This time, I have the confidence of knowing that I’ve given birth twice, that I’ve had an unmedicated birth and lived to tell the tale, and that my most recent birth experience was only four years ago instead of seven. This birth will be different from the previous two, but I think I have a reasonably good idea of what to expect. Although I found the experience of having a home birth with Simon to be incredibly positive and much better than my hospital birth experience with Peter, I am not planning another home birth this time, for the simple reason that the closest certified midwife who attends home births is about a two-hour drive from where I live. Although she does attend births in this area, with my history of fast labors, I am not comfortable with the idea of relying on someone who has to come from such a distance. There is at least one local person who attends births, but I am also not comfortable relying on someone who is not certified. I need to trust that whoever is attending my delivery has the knowledge and skills necessary to handle whatever might happen. Fortunately, there is one certified nurse-midwife in the area (who does only hospital deliveries), and I have been seeing her. The hospital where she delivers is apparently the only one in the Upper Peninsula that has a water birth tub, which is pretty cool. It’s rare enough for a hospital to have a tub that women can labor in, and even more rare for them to allow deliveries in the tub. I meet the criteria to use the tub and I hope to do so. I don’t know for sure how it will go, but I like the idea of it, and I’d like to at least try it.
Don joked that we need to stop having kids because we’re running out of different ways to do it. Assuming all goes well this time, I will not have given birth by c-section, which is a significantly more common way to give birth in the US or Canada than having a home birth or a water birth, but I can live without having that experience. We do plan for this to be our last baby.