Here I am, 34 weeks pregnant with my third child. You'd think I'd be an old pro at this by now, having gone through 3 pregnancies in 5 years. But I find there are fears each time you go through this. They are different with each baby, but the fears are there nonetheless. I've learned that if I give voice to those fears, type them out or say them out loud it takes away their power. I can talk myself through them and view them more rationally.
This baby is not coming when we had planned for her. After Jason was born, I said I wanted to wait until he turned 3 before trying to get pregnant again. I struggle so much with morning sickness and not only is it incredibly draining on myself and my husband, but I saw the toll it took on Jilly. There were mornings where all I could do was to lift her out of bed and hand her a cup of juice, before collapsing on the couch and barely moving for the next couple hours, except to throw up. I couldn't really care for her very well for weeks. That was probably the (emotionally) hardest part of his pregnancy. Because of that experience, I knew I wanted him and Jilly to both be older and more self-sufficient before we went through that again. But as I have learned, my plans don't always work out. Jason was 15 months old, so much a baby, still nursing frequently and not quite walking when I got pregnant. Jilly wasn't quite 4 and still not potty-trained. Steve had been out of work for almost a year at that point. HOLY COW. I spent that first night panicking. "What am I going to do? How am I going to handle two little babies and my preschooler who still needs so much? How are we going to afford this? How am I going to fit all three in our apartment or our car? Three is such a huge number!!!" My husband gave me the most hope. He was not just calm, but reassuring and excited. He told me he wasn't scared, things would work out, and how lucky were we for getting to have another baby? I put my faith in him and in my Heavenly Father, that this baby wouldn't have come unless it was for both her and our benefit.
The first trimester was predictably horrendous. I was sick so often, lost weight and all around was no fun to be with. But it was easier this time. You'd think that my husband being out of work would be a huge stress, but it ended up being a wonderful blessing. He was home full time. He could do everything that needed to be done: taking care of the kids 100% (well, 98%- I still would do Jilly's hair for school most of the time ;-)), cooking, cleaning, running to the store to get my prescription at 11pm on Friday night so I'd have it for work tomorrow, he took the kids to the Trunk or Treat because I couldn't get off the couch, etc. He is AMAZING. It not only made things easier on me, because I didn't have to be responsible for those things, but it also made things easier on me emotionally, because I could see that my kids were still being taken care of, just as they were used to. What a comfort that was!! Jason weaned himself only a couple weeks after I found out I was pregnant. I was a little sad about it, because I wanted to nurse until he was 2, but I was mostly relieved that I wouldn't be trying to breastfeed, grow a baby, and survive myself. I was still scared, because it was so physically taxing, especially with work (I was working three 12 hour shifts a week). But we made it through.
Once the morning sickness lifted, it was much easier to get excited. At the end of January, we found out Jilly was right all along; the baby is a girl! At the beginning of the pregnancy, we'd told Jilly we were having a new baby and she seemed to understand right away. The baby was in Mama's tummy and when asked if it was a boy or girl, she was adamant the baby was a girl. We even asked her what we should name the baby and she responded, "Ducky. Baby Duck." Which, of course, was adorable, so the nickname stuck and Ducky has been a much talked about person in our family. We also decided to plan for another out-of-hospital birth, but this time we decided to plan on the birth center in Kirkland. It's a little farther from our house, but not much. We toured it the other day and it is a beautiful place to birth our little girl.
Of course, now that the birth is looming before us, there is a new set of fears creeping up. I've been dealing with this awful hip pain during the whole pregnancy. It's been getting worse and sometimes gets down into my leg and knee, the joints/bones as well as the muscles. It has certainly made getting around even harder and I have to be careful about how much walking I do in a day, lest I really exacerbate it. The last few weeks have been the worst, and even driving hurts it (its my right hip/leg). I kept thinking that delivery would be the solution; as soon as the baby is off my pelvis and the bulk of the extra weight is off, it will be way less painful. That will definitely help. But it recently occurred to me that this might affect me while in labor. What if the baby settles into a position that puts a lot of pressure on my hip and I have to deal with awful pain there on top of contractions? What if I can't handle it and I feel forced into transferring to the hospital and getting an epidural? And worst of all, what if my pelvis is twisted enough that it won't allow her through/ into a position where she can get out, and I have to not only transfer, but have a C-section- just because of this hip? I'm not irrational about this; I recognize that these things may come to pass and if they do, they will be to appropriate choices. But they're not what I want and I worry about what that will do to me, not only physically, but emotionally. Recovering from a C-section will be a much different, and likely much more difficult, experience than I have gone through before. To do with when three small kids will be even harder. There's a whole host of risks that go along with any interventions and being forced into using them, means that the benefits outweigh the risks or that the risks of not intervening are higher. I loathe the idea that my baby might be in danger; who would like that?!
I hadn't mentioned these fears to anyone for a few days, then shared them with some friends and Steve and my midwife. I hadn't told her much about the hip pain until really recently (not sure why, I just hadn't), so I explained the pain and then told her about my concerns with the implications for the birth. She was really reassuring and reminded me about all the options I have before we get to those decisions. Both she and the apprentice midwife working with her, reminded me how soothing and pain-relieving water can be. I know that it can help with labor contractions (hence why I had Jason in a bathtub), but I hadn't considered what it might be able to do for the hip pain, especially if it's affecting my muscles. We discussed the other possibilities for transfer and how we would go about doing so, which hospital we would go to, method of transport, etc. And she told me something really important, in that they have to transfer multiparas (women who have given birth at least once) very rarely, around twice a year. It was so reassuring! We toured the birth center as well the other day and it beautiful. A very relaxing and soothing place, perfect for a birth.
Now that I've explored my fears, I'm feeling a lot better about the impending birth. There is still so much I don't know and can't control about how it will unfold. I'm just 3 weeks from being considered "full term" and it being okay for Ducky to come out. All the important things are figured out. Her car seat is in the car, clothes are gathered, childcare for the older two is set up, even bought newborn diapers and we've gone over plans with the birth center and midwives. There are still plenty of things to do, like pack our bags for the birth, wash her clothes and get a piece of furniture to store them in, reorganize my bedroom a little bit to fit her in easier, etc. But really and truly, if we didn't do anything more to prepare that just pack bags for labor (which will be minimal anyway), she would be just fine, it would just give us more to do after she was born.
Giving voice to my fears was the most important thing I could have done for them. By articulating them and sharing them with someone else, they have less mysterious power over me. I have talked through them and gotten reassurance about not only what to do if they come to fruition, but also had them put in perspective about how likely they are and what it really means in the end. I feel so much more at peace/ Now I can just focus on getting through these last few weeks and preparing to meet my Duckling. I can enjoy it, even. Before we know it, I will be back to having a newborn and adjusting to being the mother of three!! It's still daunting, but not paralyzing or terrifying. Now it's just an exciting challenge I want to meet.