Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little Knucklehead

This morning I was sitting at the dining table working on my dissertation and I distinctly felt my baby's little coconut head pushing up underneath the right side of my rib cage. I reached down and rested my hand on his head and could feel it moving gently under my palm. Even though he is still in my womb I can already cup his tiny little head in my hand, and it's a perfect fit.  A few minutes later he got the hiccups and I could feel the rhythmic "hic, hic, hic" coming from his head as his little feet kicked in time.  Sometimes pregnancy absolutely blows my mind.
I am 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. There are, at most, 8 weeks to go until he is here in our world.  He could be here as soon as 4 weeks from now and be considered full term.  The first half of this pregnancy felt agonizingly slow. I spent every week counting the days, praying that everything would go well and that the baby would stay put until he reached the age of viability. Since then I have felt more and more excited and hopeful that we may actually have a baby in the house soon.  Penn and I named him and call him by name whenever we're alone (we are keeping the name a secret from family and friends until he arrives, and it has been such a challenge not to let the name slip, but I'm so glad we decided to wait). The house is gradually filling up with baby gear. Last weekend we put together all of his nursery furniture and set it up in what used to be our guest room. He has a crib, a dresser/changing table, a bookshelf and toy storage unit, and a glider.  He also has a carseat, a stroller, a pack-n-play, two swings, a jumperoo, a couple of playmats, piles of books, dozens of outfits, a ridiculous amount of tiny baby socks, and at least a month's worth of diapers.  Some of those things are gifts from excited grandmothers and aunts and uncles to be, but many of them are hand-me-downs and purchases from generous friends.  I'm amazed when I realize how much we DON'T have to buy for this baby, and I haven't even had my shower yet!  Everyone was right, people really do step up to take care of you when you have your first baby (it helps immensely that this little guy has a cousin nearby who is ten months older than him; many of the hand-me-downs came from my cousin). I've been picky about taking hand-me-downs, keeping only the items that are in really good shape or fit in with the nursery decor I've picked out, and even then we've ended up with all of this stuff. We're so lucky! For a long time I had it all stuffed in a closet, afraid to put it out for fear of jinxing things. But now my need to nest is outweighing my fear that this baby will be taken from me if I get too cocky in thinking that his healthy birth is guaranteed. I set up his pack-n-play in the dining room and a few of his toys downstairs and at least once a day I do a double take when I realize this house with all the baby stuff in it is my house.  I'm going to be somebody's mother.  Words can't describe how unreal that feels, even having meticulously planned this pregnancy, even having spent years waiting to make sure we were properly emotionally and financially prepared for this step, even feeling those little feet kick at my bladder as I write this.
I can't wait to meet him. I wonder what he looks like, I wonder what his voice sounds like, I wonder what he smells like.  [Penn's answer to all of these queries is, "Probably like a baby." Clearly, he takes a more practical and less romanticized view of this whole "parenting" thing.] It's such a weird position to be in because I know that this is going to happen, I know that I'm going to have a baby, and yet there's absolutely no way to wrap my mind around it and really prepare. It's all just such a big unknown, and I feel this need to be ready for this while at the same time knowing logically that there is no way I could ever be ready for such a life-altering change.
The pregnancy is going well, although the baby is still breech. Apparently the majority of babies permanently turn head-down sometime between 28 and 32 weeks, so my son is being stubborn and waiting until the last minute. We are getting to the point where medical professionals have begun to hint around that the baby turning at this point is becoming increasingly unlikely without some intervention.  I can't say that I'm surprised this baby is stubborn (he takes after his father, clearly!), but it is causing me a bit of anxiety because I am hoping to do everything possible to avoid a c-section and if this little guy stays breech a c-section is guaranteed since my doctor won't deliver breech babies. And, frankly, despite all the reassuring things I've read online, I'm not going to bother to find a doctor or midwife who will attempt a vaginal breech birth. I could never forgive myself if something went devastatingly wrong. While I'm less than thrilled at the risks associated with a c-section, I know that my doctor is right when she tells me that a c-section is a safe way to have a baby.  Still, it's not what I want, so I've been doing everything I possibly can to encourage my baby to flip.  I lie upside down on an ironing board propped against the couch several times a day. I do pelvic tilts. I make Penn talk to my lower belly to encourage the baby to turn his head toward his dad's voice. I put a flashlight by the baby's feet, hoping he'd be attracted to the light and turn head-down. Then, when the baby's movements made me wonder if the flashlight was annoying him more than pleasing him, I put the flashlight by his head instead. I put a bag of frozen peas on his head once or twice a day in the hopes he'll flip to get away from the cold (it clearly bugs him, but not enough that he feels compelled to somersault to get away from it). I use my birth hypnosis CDs--the ones that I am hoping will let me relax through labor so I can go unmedicated as long as possible--to relax and send soothing messages to the baby to encourage him to get into a favorable position for delivery. Tonight we went to the indoor pool and I did flips and handstands in the water to try to disorient him into turning over.  Monday I have an appointment with a chiropractor to try an adjustment that is apparently pretty successful at turning breech babies. The following Monday I have an appointment to try acupuncture. I have never done either of these things before--I get more and more "urban hippie" by the day but I'm still a pretty big believer in western medicine--but if I do end up having a c-section I at least want to be able to tell myself that I tried every single thing possible to get him to change positions. My doctor told me that babies are smart and sometimes they are breech for a reason. If he doesn't end up moving I'll just have to trust that he knows something I don't, and I'll chalk this up as just one of many, many times in my life that I won't be able to control what my child does. But in the meantime I still have five or six weeks to treat turning this baby like it's my job.

No comments: