34 Weeks… and Counting

I made it to 34 weeks yesterday, praise God!  What a crazy week it has been, I can’t even express the insane amount of things we have needed to get done, and with half the hands to do it all.  My husband is the most amazing husband of all the husbands.  I guess when he said “in sickness and in health” he really meant it!  He is absolutely my hero.

So here’s where we’re at right now, a week ago I started having regular, working contractions.  Despite my attempts at “resting” (aka only getting one child ready for Church instead of four) they continued to get longer, stronger and closer together.  A visit to the midwife and some medication were able to knock them out, but they aren’t gone by any means.

I have had contractions every day since then, they are triggered by movement and standing, or if I sit up for too long.  If I starting having them and don’t take steps to stop them (lay down, take an Epsom salt bath, etc.) they will gain momentum and we’ll be right back to where we started.  The more times I go too far, the easier and faster they seem to be triggered.  I could do more without triggering them at the beginning of the week than I can now.

I had to take some more medication on Christmas because I went to the service the night before and did just a bit too much walking between rooms on Christmas day.  So by the time evening rolled around, they had gotten themselves into a comfortable 3 minutes apart again.  (They’re always worse in the evening after being awake the whole day, and sometimes non-existent in the mornings after laying down for several hours straight.) Needless to say, I pretty much spent the rest of the next day in bed.

It doesn’t look like the contractions are going away any time soon, so the plan is to make it to 36 weeks at least.  I’m hoping I can go off of bed rest that day because it also happens to be January 10th.  It’s Hope’s very first birthday home with us and I’d love to be up and bustling around to help celebrate!! I have plans!  There will be more Christmases but this is her only 10th birthday, her golden birthday, her first birthday home!  I really, really want to be up and about.

So… here I sit resting and resting and resting and hoping that in two weeks I will be ready to do some moving and that this baby won’t come out for three weeks.  (If I make it to 37 weeks I get to use my new birth tub!!)  Thank you all so much for everything!  What a crazy year it has been.  Maybe we’ll get all the craziness out in January and we can just work on settling in as a new family of seven for the next eleven months.  I think I’ve had plenty of excitement for a year or two.

Merry Christmas, and if you don’t hear from me before then, a Happy New Year as well!

The Birth Story: Prologue

I am accustomed to writing my birth stories after the birth of the baby, but this little one has thrown us for a bit of a loop!  Labor started unexpectedly Saturday evening at exactly 33 weeks along.  I didn’t realize it at first, of course.  I had been having contractions for about two months at that point – a few here and a few there.  Nothing to be concerned about.  I was using them to gauge whether or not I was doing too much with the other kids.  “Contraction?  Ok, I guess I’ll sit down for a while.”

Then my contractions went away completely last week as I upped my protein and tried really hard to take things slow.  I thought we were doing pretty good!  But about 4:00 pm on Saturday night, back they came.  I started to notice them while eating dinner with the kids and waiting for Jake to come home.  I had no reason to be alarmed at that point because everything seemed normal… although I wondered why I was having contractions on the one day where I was lazier than any other day?  (I mean dinner was frozen pizza for Heaven’s sakes!)

After about an hour and a half it became clear that sitting down and resting was not making them go away, and I could tell that they were coming in regular intervals.  On top of that, every time I stood up it triggered another contraction.  I sat down to time them.  Four minutes apart.  That’s odd… I knew that pre-labor contractions would probably not be so regular.  After the kids were all settled in bed I chugged a big glass of water to see if that would stave them off.

No go.  On they kept, and they started feeling stronger.  Time to call the midwife!  She told me to eat some protein, to take four doses of my Calcium Magnesium and to get in an Epsom salt bath and then see if that would knock them out.  Getting in the bath was reassuring, they stopped immediately… only to disappoint me by kicking right back up once I got out.  I called again and convinced her that I thought I could make them go away by laying down, so she told me to sleep and if they kept me awake to call again.

The contractions dissipated in bed and I did go into a fitful bit of sleep, but it was more my own worry keeping me awake at that point.  I also caught some sort of a bug (maybe that’s what triggered the whole episode?) so I felt miserable on top of it all.  The next morning I woke up with no contractions, but they started as soon as I stood up.  I grabbed a notepad and wrote down every single one, and what I was doing when they happened.  Four minutes apart, unless I was doing something, and then they were two minutes apart.

I got the kids breakfast, dressed Evie for church and sat on the couch as much as possible, but to no avail.  They were just getting stronger and closer together.  I called my midwife and she told me I had to come over ASAP.  Grandma and Jake were both at Church and I had three other little ones with me, so I called Jake’s mom and thankfully she was in a position to come over right away.  By the time I was dressed she was there, and I headed out the door.

So glad my midwife only lives about five minutes from us!  She hooked me up to a fetal monitor, which was a totally new experience, but kind of cool.  I had no sign of infection, great blood pressure, awesome heartbeat and movement from Mambo and my contractions were barely visible on the monitor.  She said she was really pleased with everything she was seeing until… she checked me.  I was 1.5 cm dilated and was already presenting very soft and thinned out.  Those contractions weren’t much… but they were working.

At that point she gave me a shot of medication, which stopped them in their tracks.  Jake had just finished up service and his mom told him in the handshake line what was going on.  Poor guy, he tried to call but we had terrible reception, so he just drove over.  I assured him I was alright and that we had gotten the contractions under control, but that I felt pretty shaky and funny from the meds.  He drove back to the church, asked someone to drop him off, and then drove me home.  Sweet guy :)

I was not ordered to go on full bed rest.  “Queen of the Couch” is what my midwife called it.  I could sit, go up and down the stairs to go to bed, etc. but I just needed to be delegating from the couch and doing nothing else.  So for the rest of the day that’s what we did.  I had to take some more medication orally in the evening from contractions starting up again, but everything seemed to be going well.

The next day I woke up still feeling miserable from whatever I had caught, I couldn’t eat much all day.  Late morning my contractions started regularly at ten minutes apart.  I called the midwife, she said we could deal with ten minutes – as long as they stayed there.  They didn’t.  Almost as soon as I hung up they went to 7 minutes… 5 minutes… 4… 3… 2… each contraction was closer than the last.  And stronger.  By the time I got her on the phone they were a minute long with only about 30 seconds between them – and these were actually uncomfortable.  Not the cute, warm and fuzzy “Oh my tummy feels like it’s giving me a hug!” sort of contractions.

Amazingly she was driving by our house right that minute and pulled in to see me.  Not exactly what I thought our first home visit would be like, but ok!  I took another dose of medication and was instructed to lay down.  Sitting was only for short periods, but mostly I needed to get that pressure off, because every little bit was causing more contractions.  Bed rest, still not strict bed rest… but bed rest.

We fought off contractions for most of the rest of the day.  This was the first time I was really worried we weren’t going to be able to stop the labor for longer than a couple days.  It came on so quickly for no reason.  Every little change of position would trigger another contraction.    I was also still feeling miserable, I couldn’t eat even though I really needed to.  When I finally did go up to bed, just that two minutes of being on my feet triggered very strong contractions that I was having trouble getting dressed through.

My midwife thinks that we will be able to hold off labor for a few more weeks if I can behave myself and stay put.  She doesn’t think they’ll go away completely, but that hopefully we can make them a little less touchy so I can have a bit more freedom than I have now.  She really wants to get me to 37 weeks (January 17th) but will allow me to give birth at home as long as we make it to 36 weeks (January 10th).  Today I woke up feeling completely healthy (hope it stays that way!), my appetite is back and we haven’t seen any unwarranted contractions.  No medication yet, praise God!

I still have them every time I sit or stand, but for the most part they’ve been easy to ward off.  I am so grateful.  We have a fridge full of delicious homemade meals and already and we’ve had so much support.  I think we are covered as far as help goes for this week of Christmas, but if and when that changes we will certainly let everyone know what we are in need of.  Thank you all so much for your prayers so far!!  I am a little sore from lying on the couch, but other than that we are doing well, are in good spirits and hanging in there!  Hopefully the rest of this birth story won’t need to be written for another month or so!

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