Thursday, March 13, 2008


For a while now, I've been certain, but without evidence other than intuition, that this baby will arrive early. I've been told several times by the nurse-midwives at the birth center that first babies have a tendency to be overdue, so I shouldn't be surprised if nothing has happened by my due date.

On Monday at my appointment, I got the first hint of evidence that I might possibly be right: the cervix is still closed, but has gotten softer and thinner (a process called effacement), and the baby is positioned fairly low in my pelvis, with her head down. Neither of these things necessarily mean that labor will start soon, but they're some of the preliminaries. I asked when I would be considered far enough along to deliver at the Birth Center, and the answer is "it depends." If there are no complicating factors whatsoever, they'll allow it at 36 weeks - a milestone that I just passed yesterday. If the mother is positive for Group B Strep and will therefore need antibiotics during labor, they require 37 weeks or better. I haven't gotten my culture results yet to know whether GBS will be an issue or not, but I'll soon find out.

I was excited both by the news that pre-labor changes are starting to happen, and that if labor did start early, I might be able to deliver at the Birth Center earlier than I thought. On Tuesday morning, it seemed that labor might actually be imminent - the baby had shifted even lower, and I was getting cramps that felt a lot like menstrual cramps. Braxton-Hicks contractions, probably; there was no distinct pattern to them. The intensity would vary, but I couldn't distinguish the beginning or ending of individual contractions. By the afternoon, the cramps had faded, and by the next morning, the baby had shifted position slightly so that she didn't seem to be pressing downward as much.

Although I knew that I should be feeling relieved, I was mostly just disappointed. It's difficult to be patient at this point, even though it's irrational to want to hurry things up - physically, it's almost certainly easier to be pregnant than to be recovering from childbirth and dealing with a newborn. But that didn't stop me from being cranky and wondering how I can possibly make it through another month - possibly even six weeks - of the various discomforts, plus the waiting and wondering if every cramp or backache just might be the start of the real thing.

Sitting at my computer and looking, I guess, for commiseration, I did a google search for "tired of being pregnant." As it happened, one of the first things I came across was the opposite of what I was looking for. It was a blog post written by a labor & delivery nurse, about how she is tired of pregnant women whining at 34 or 36 or 38 weeks that they're tired of pregnancy, ready to get the baby out, and want to be induced or c-sectioned. She raged against women who don't seem to realize or care that an early baby is more likely to have trouble breathing, trouble nursing, trouble fighting off infections, and convince their doctor to give them an early delivery. She held that women who carry their babies full term should be thankful for it, and think of all the women whose babies were premature and didn't make it, or had serious problems because of it. The post ended with "Go ahead readers...flame away at me over my opinions on this subject []", but the long, long string of comments that followed was almost entirely from moms who agreed, because they'd had a premature baby themselves, or been induced early because of pre-eclampsia or other complications. Many of them said something like "I would have given anything to be pregnant for longer, and it drives me crazy when women who stay pregnant for the full term complain about it!"

It made me feel guilty about wishing that mine would be early, even though I would never have an induction or elective c-section to bring it about. I don't feel too guilty about it, though, because every woman who's getting close to term gets impatient. But that dose of perspective did make me realize that I shouldn't feel too sorry for myself - I'll take all the pains and annoyances of late pregnancy over coping with a baby that's not ready for the outside world yet.