Well, I’ve had four non-stress tests (NSTs) since I last wrote, which means a month has passed since my first update. We are now very close to holding our baby in our arms. If Lisbon does not make an appearance by herself this coming weekend (26-28th), we will induce labor on August 30th. I’d really rather her come on her own, despite how miserable I am, but they worry about me going later because of my age and possible placenta problems.
My last NST on Thursday was during Lisbon’s sleepy time. They had me drink two cups of juice and used a vibrator to wake her up. After that, she was bouncing off the uterus walls. Poor thing. She has been constantly active most of the time, so I wasn’t really concerned about her sleeping, but my AFI (amniotic fluid index) had gone down by half in only one week—it’s now 8, down from 16. Though 8 is not terrible, the midwife would rather see it at least between 10 and 12 at this stage. A too-low AFT can indicate fetal stress, and the drop means I have to go in earlier this week for the NST. If it sinks to a 5 they will likely recommend induction. So I’m drinking lots of fluids and resting, which is the only thing I can do to increase the AFI. Since amniotic fluid levels can change hour to hour, depending on how much fluid is in the baby’s bladder or stomach, the picture could be quite different when I go in on Wednesday.
At any rate, this is my last week for appointments! The little contractions I’ve been feeling for the past two months have stepped up, and several times since last Tuesday I suspected I was going into labor—only to have them fizzle out. Frustrating. I’ve never had false labor contractions that actually felt like real labor before. Now I understand why many women confuse the two. I worry that after six full-term babies, my body has forgotten how to do real contractions. Or maybe I simply don’t have enough muscles left in working order to do the job spontaneously. At any rate, I know I’ll need Pitocin because my four natural labors were between 25 and 29 hours, something I’m not willing to repeat. I have a friend whose longest labor was 4 hours. Four hours! I could do that naturally. Or even 7. But 29? Well, let’s just say you don’t even know which way is up by that time. That means Pitocin and an epidural are definitely in my birth plan.
That’s the news. I am swollen and pretty miserable. I sleep much of the day and am in bed or on the couch for the rest. I try to force myself out to the pool a few times a week because I can actually swim a bit and all the leg and abdomen pain disappears, but going out there requires a motivation I sometimes can’t find. Getting two kids ready to leave for college and three others for school has also been a challenge. I’m so grateful for the Internet and online purchasing. I also discovered that if I use a motorized cart in the store (how embarrassing!), I can go shopping without having to sit down in the aisle to rest or coming home in tears. As long as I bring a child to help me put things in and out of the cart, that is.
I had a couple meltdowns last week because, well, it seems like it’s never, ever going to end. Each day stretches out before me like a month (even with all the sleeping). But I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends. Last week my ward brought dinner in twice, and they plan to do it again this week. I’d declined several offers to hold a baby shower (I’m just too old and besides, I feel rather unsocial right now), but one day last week some people in my ward did a diaper drop at my house. First, three packages arrived mysteriously on the doorstep, and then two more. After that my eight-year-old would go outside to check the front door every so often and come running upstairs to my bedroom with yet another package of diapers. By that night we had 14 packs of diapers, and a few more trickled in later. I ended the week with 20 packs of diapers, 4 packs of wipes, 4 burp cloths, two rattle-type toys, two pacifiers, two outfits, three sleep ’n plays, and some onesies. Finding all those diapers and having them arrive so steadily was a lot of fun and certainly took my mind off my torture. It was an unanticipated kindness that I am very grateful for.
Meanwhile, I keep forging on. Nothing else I can do but to take one day or even one hour at a time. This last week is going to be tough, but I know it will be worth it. As I’ve said time and time again in my books: Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but it is so worth it in the end.
Part 1: The Secret is Out
Part 2: The Decision
Part 3: A Troubling Diagnosis
Part 4: Preparing for Lisbon
Update on Baby Lisbon