The Pregnancy Files: Full Term

Here we are! The baby can pop out at any time and it won’t be weird or dead. Yay! And as far as I go – I’m realizing pregnancy is a hall of fun house mirrors. You spend the majority of your pregnancy feeling big and only a small fraction of your pregnancy actually being big. I was big last month, I am even bigger this month.

This is me in full panel maternity jeans.
This is me in full panel maternity jeans.

The reason that pregnant people can’t tie their shoes or bend over to pick things up is because they have completely lost their waist. Goodbye usable waist! Goodbye ability to sit up in bed without a lot of heave-ho-ing! Oh, have you dropped a cracker on the carpet near your chair? Well too bad 5 second rule, that cracker is lost forever. Let that cracker go.

Back in my usual leggings!
Back in my usual leggings! You can see the extra weight in my hips and arms here.

Every stage of this pregnancy has been very different. First trimester was all about trying not to throw up at work, or knowing when to give up and call in sick. It was about realizing and accepting my own limitations and acknowledging my complete ignorance and lack of control. The second trimester was about expansion, the soreness that came with stretching out my muscles and ligaments, and slowly slowly slowly beginning to not feel like complete and total shit. And the third trimester started out feeling really great. I still feel pretty great, better than I have the whole pregnancy for sure – I would take a whole year of 3rd trimester over a month of first trimester any day. But things have now started to shift.

Butt and thighs are also carrying extra weight. The end is near!
Butt and thighs are also carrying extra weight. The end is near!

I can tell that something is on the horizon (and not just because the calendar tells me so). Because pregnancy is ruled by hormones, I’ve become very aware of subtle changes in my body. Like! My hair totally stopped shedding after the first trimester. TOTALLY STOPPED. There are no hairs on my hands after shampooing, I don’t pick hairs off my jackets, nada. But then a week or two ago, my hair started shedding in the shower again, little by little. Other things:

  • My exhaustion has lessened, even though I wake up on average 3 times a night every single night to pee and even more than that to roll over etc. I am noticeably not as tired. It’s nice.
  • Really sore leg/hip joints. You know the place where your thighs hitch into your hips? That area is sore and stiff. Sometimes I limp when I’ve been sitting at work for awhile. This is due to hormones that make my joints and ligaments separate and spread out.
  • I feel like I have to pee all of the time. Initially this increase was due to hormones, not the weight of the baby, but now this is all because the baby is squishing my bladder. Most of the time when I go it is only a little bit and feels very anti-climactic.
  • In general, overall, I am feeling my old self returning. It’s strange… pregnancy is a long long time and even though I KNOW how much of a do-er I was before I got pregnant, it seems like she is this other person I only remember through photographs or stories other people tell. But now I am starting to see bits and pieces of her returning. My interests are expanding, the amount I’m able to do during a day or a weekend is growing. There is a certain sharpness to my thinking that is coming back – when you’re in a fog of sickness and exhaustion there is no time for your brain to feel on top of things.
Belly. Ba-Bam.
Belly. Ba-Bam.

Now then – last weekend we had our hospital visit and tour to see the labor/delivery area and recovery areas. I knew this was important and I would be grateful for the ability to anticipate where all of the BIG STUFF would be taking place, but I was a little apprehensive going into this 2 hour event because I have a pretty major medical phobia. It’s completely irrational and hard to explain, but basically it’s best if I don’t know all of the details. This isn’t to say I’m not prepared. I am prepared. I know lots of things, I just need to know them on my time, in my own house, in my own way, and not in a room full of people, standing, and in front of the bed with the big padded stirrups. So after I got through about half the tour, I peaced out and left Kamel to gather the rest of the deets while I waited outside in the car where I would not pass out in front of a lot of strangers. Every single day I am very thankful their are two of us. I really could never ever ever do this whole thing by myself, and those ladies who have gone through pregnancy and raising kids alone are freaking champions.

I have been lucky to not develop stretchmarks on my stomach, but I have a few on my hips. This doesn't bother me at all. I've had stretch marks here during puberty - They fade with time. But if you are concerned with what some may look like, check mine out.
I have been lucky to not develop stretchmarks on my stomach, but I have a few on my hips. This doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve had stretch marks here during puberty – They fade with time. But if you are concerned with what some may look like, check mine out. The little red line up further on my belly is just a scratch mark. This is real pregnant skin and real pregnant hips and a real pregnant body.

Anyways! You guys had asked about our birth plan and how we had gone into figuring out all of those options and details. I wanted to wait until after we had seen the hospital nitty gritty before sharing- I thought maybe I would have extra insight. So here is our situation, in case you are thinking about what options you might want whenever you are thinking about doing this, or just if you’re curious. So much of this stuff is dictated by cost/insurance though – so the amount of choice you have CAN be limited. Like, for us, we can’t really afford a doula. They are not provided by our insurance and it’s not something we can swing even though I think they are awesome. Ok, I digress.

When I put on real clothes it looks like the belly is fake.
When I put on real clothes it looks like the belly is fake.
What kind of ball is she smuggling under that sweatshirt?!
What kind of ball is she smuggling under that sweatshirt?!

We belong to Kaiser, a group healthcare option where the insurance and the doctors and hospitals and pharmacies are all one in the same. The hospital we chose to have our baby in has the lowest C-section rate in northern California. You can search out these facts via the internets. This fact was very important to me because – though lots of women do this and I realize it’s not a huge deal – c-sections are one of my biggest fears. As someone with medical phobias, being awake while they cut into me and pull out a human is …. horrific. I realize that this isn’t often a choice for people, and I’ll go with whatever happens, but it is comforting to me to know this isn’t pushed for or the “norm” at this hospital.

The hospital also has a team of midwives. The OBs and midwives have a very inclusive/partnership approach to babies and pregnancy and healthcare. Most of the births at this hospital are performed by the midwives, there are only 5 labor/delivery rooms in a very subdued wing of the hospital, and there is no judgement when it comes to pain management options. Babies are encouraged to stay in the room with mom, but a nursery is also available if mom needs a minute to herself. After delivery I’ll be in recovery for 1-3 days. There are lactation specialists on staff who will help me begin breastfeeding. The feeling I got when I walked into the labor/delivery wing was that of peace and calm. It made me look forward to that day even more, knowing that once I enter those doors I will be completely taken care of.

I have absolutely no judgement when it comes to pain management. Here are the things I know for sure:

  • I don’t want the narcotic option (works every 4 hours, and attempts to “take the edge off” as was explained to me)
  • I would prefer not to be induced, even if baby is taking his sweet time, unless my body or baby is under stress and one of us is in danger.
  • I want to see how far I can get into labor without an epidural. I have no experience with what labor will feel like (except for my chronic contractions that started in month 4 and have increased in pain and intensity since then), and I am very open to simply feeling things out.
  • I know that it can be easier to push without an epidural.
  • I know that sometimes an epidural slows down labor.
  • I also know that when mom becomes overly exhausted by pain and the length of time she is in pain, pushing becomes super difficult. So, it’s a balance.
  • My biggest plan, which almost sounds like no plan, is to listen to myself and my body. I think that natural birth is an amazing challenge and would be really cool to accomplish – just to see if I could do it – but ultimately pushing a human life out of your own body is pretty crazy in and of itself, so whatever happens I’m going to feel good about it.
  • I really do trust my doctors, and even though I have certain wishes, their expertise matters to me. I know that I didn’t pick a hospital that will work to get me out the door as quickly as possible, or try to guilt me into doing things I don’t want to do.
  • I have taken Yoga for years (though I did not do prenatal yoga), so I understand the power of breath. I have struggled with really really terrible cramps, and I understand how to work through pain.
  • I am not at all afraid of labor. I used to be, but now I am not. I am not afraid of pain. I know it will happen and I know it will end.

If I missed something or if I didn’t answer something you were hoping I would touch on, definitely ask me in comments.

25 thoughts on “The Pregnancy Files: Full Term”

  1. Thanks for sharing all of this and for being so real, and honest (and not smug at all).
    You might feel like the “old” Lauren has been hiding somewhere throughout your pregnancy, but I have seen her here all along. Her the doer, the adventurous, the funny girl who writes stories.
    You know, if there is one thing I know is that I will get pain control… I’ll be all like give me the drugs Which will be hard to get because here in NL medicine tends to be super conservative and actually most of the women still give birth at home. It’s the way it’s done. I on the contrary want the constant supervision of doctors, nurses and midwives (which probably won’t happen). I want to feel like I am safe and that if something happens the assistance will be there. I could not even start to imagine doing it at home. I have also gone through really bad cramps (that luckily ibuprofen takes care of nowadays, not in my teens), and I just don’t want to experience the pain. I heard from a doctor that if you had bad (menstrual) cramps giving birth does not hurt that much, or more like, you are used to the kind of pain.

  2. Good luck, Lauren! I’m so happy to hear that you feel secure and excited for what’s to come. I’ve so enjoyed reading your updates throughout the journey. Congratulations (in advance) to you and Kamel!

  3. You are the picture of a perfect pregnant lady. You look fantastic!

    Also, I just wanted to say that your mantras/thoughts/plans about getting through the pain totally mimic what I used to successfully have a pain-med-free labor (which was super important to me, for personal achievement’s sake). I made it through a *very long* labor just remembering that the pain will end–every contraction ends, and eventually (one way or another) labor ends too. Every time a contraction came on, I focused my eyes on something in the room, breathed deeply and intentionally, and just kept in mind that the pain would be over shortly. Right before pushing, this got very difficult to do, so switching to a different breathing technique really helped. Different things work for different people, obviously, but I just wanted to say that I used the techniques you’re describing, and it totally worked for me! (But there ain’t nothin’ wrong with an epidural, that’s for sure!)

  4. Lauren! Thanks for sharing! I am super-interested in hearing women’s birth plans. I did a lot of asking around (whether it was wanted or not) before having Verona because there ARE so many different ways to move through the process of labor. Your plan sounds very similar to mine. I took Bradley classes and practiced every night with Mike (including the nightly mommy massages, which Mike did without complaint…shocker!) My intention was a natural birth, and my doctor was also ok with no IV if everything was going smoothly. Little did I know Verona would almost come out in the car so none of it mattered anyway…oops guess we left too late! I think what got me through without the drugs, in addition to everything you have said and some others have responded, is being totally open to them. Mike and I had a code word, and if I said it, he knew for REALS that I wanted the drugs, not just saying it rashly.

    I wish you every drop of strength I can muster for these last few weeks of pregnant-ness and look forward to all the post-birth joy!!

  5. I don’t know where you are delivering, but my sister delivered both of her kids at the Kaiser in RWC… and the staff was AWESOME. First baby was delivered by a midwife and the second by a MD (just how it happened). Both experiences were amazing.

  6. Good luck! My theory at the moment is: I’d rather do it as natural as possible, but am staying open to any and all interventions as required. Thankfully, my midwife thinks the same way and wont force antyhing on me I dont want.

  7. It is oddly comforting to me to hear about your medical phobia and how you’re navigating all of this because, girl–me too. I’m not pregnant yet, although we’re trying, and the one thing that freaks me out more than anything is…the doctors. And the needles. And the hospital-y-ness of it all. Which, don’t get me wrong, I am committed to. Science and medicine is awesome, and if I can combine that with some midwife/doula natural birth goodness, that I’m all about it. I will go through all the steps necessary to have a healthy baby, because duh.

    But that shit freaks me the eff out. No lie. The notion that you bailed part-way through your tour, and left the rest up to Kamel? SO COMFORTING TO ME. Like, people can do that? I, myself can do that if I choose?

    RAD.

  8. We went with a midwife-run centre within a really great hospital and it was a very positive experience for us. It was a bit crazy at the end (the baby’s head was sideways rather than facing forward or back and he had to be turned with forceps before I could push him out) but for most of the labour we were left to do our own thing in a lovely calm room. The midwife slipped in and out of the room, and stayed pretty unobtrusive except for a few checks.

  9. Awesome!! SO many updates all in one place – love it!

    You are AWESOME. Any way the chips fall.

    And that fakey-sweatshirt-photo. Looks like you are for reals a basketball coach hiding the ball in their shirt. So funny!

    going with the flow plus the midwives/medicine combo – you are going to rock it.

  10. You sound super prepared for this. Or, you know, as prepared as you can possibly be for the last part of bringing life into this world. The idea of having Kamel stay at the hospital and gather the information to dispense to you when you’re ready to hear it is brilliant and seems like a great example of team parenting already.

    The captions on your belly photos here really have me curious. It seems like you’re really ok with a lot of the physical changes pregnancy brings, but there also seems like maybe there are uncurrents of being unhappy with others (or maybe I’m just totally reading things into the captions.) Either way, just know that however you feel about everything your body is doing some amazing things, and from an outside perspective you look beautiful doing them.

    1. The captions were not about being ok or not being ok. They are about being honest about the changes that have happened. Everyone in comments (and on facebook, in life, etc) has been so kind and the overwhelming response is always “you are such a cute pregnant lady!” and “The only thing that has changed on you is the bump!” And I get that it probably looks that way because the way I handle weight is very all-over proportionately. BUT! The real reality is – for good or bad or self consciousnesses or whatever – is that my hips and butt and legs and arms and boobs have all gotten bigger. I have put on weight in these areas. And what I’m saying is… this is what it looks like.

      I wasn’t super super active like some people are during pregnancy, but I also wasn’t eating a pan of brownies. I was really in shape before I got pregnant, but was unable to maintain that level of working out for the last 8 months for sure.

      I don’t want to contribute to the expectation that a “good” pregnant lady = a pregnant lady who doesn’t gain anymore weight than she can carry in her bump. That is not real. And that was the expectation I had for myself going into this, because I didn’t know any better. So much of this is about not being in control. Pregnancy does what it will do, and ultimately it’s really not that scary. That’s what I’m hoping to get across. 🙂

  11. I’m totally with you on the fear of medical stuff. It was even noted in my file that I have an anxiety disorder triggered by medical procedures. I prepared myself for a natural, drug free birth to minimize the chance of needing any intervention.

    My daughter is 3 weeks old today. I ended up with an induction, which failed after 43 hours and I had a ceaser. And it was ok. Sure, I felt a little traumatized at the time, and I saw a social worker in hospital after the birth to workthrough it. Now, 3 weeks on we are both fine.

    I hope I’m not scaring you, but reassuring you that whatever happens, it will be ok.

  12. This sounds awesome. Like you, I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time and feel like those breathing techniques would be super helpful in labor. Here’s a thought about a doula: you could try contacting your local doula association and see if you could be paired with someone who is willing to work on a volunteer basis. There are lots of reasons why a doula might work for free, if there is a financial issue or based on where they’re at with their training. Of course, even if they are volunteering, you should still get to meet with doulas beforehand and find someone who is a good match. It might be worth looking into.

  13. You have done great throughout and you should feel proud that you three (Kamel, Gabe and you) are doing well. Just a few short weeks to go and then we can all enjoy baby makes three….. love you tons
    DB

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