June has been a very long month. I've always been grateful that Leo was born sooner than Peter and Tim sooner than Leo. I expected Peter to be late and only got antsy when I hit 41 weeks. My labor with him started at 41w5d and then dragged on until 42w2d. I've been curious since Tim's 37 week birth whether my second trimester bleeding caused him to be born earlier than his brothers. I didn't experience any similar issues with this fourth pregnancy, but as I hit 36 weeks, I wondered whether my history of ever-shorter labors would continue. So we tried to be ready early. I didn't get around to freezer meals until 37 weeks but we had a car seat and a place for baby stuff to go. Dan was teaching until 38 weeks and cleaning up his school year the following week. By 39 weeks, June 14th, we were ready. Apparently Lando was not. I asked the CNMs for a cervical exam at 36 weeks so I could have a clue whether to expect him soon and I was 1 cm dilated. So, probably not that week. Same at 38 weeks. By 39 weeks I was 2 cm. At 40 weeks, I was still 2 cm, but effacing and getting lower. It felt like maybe the following weekend would be promising. But no, I hit 41 weeks on Saturday and just kept going. Yesterday - Monday - I was 41 weeks and 2 days and I hit the point where the birth center starts doing ultrasounds and non-stress tests. Okey-dokey, I'm starting to have paranoid times where the baby doesn't move for 45 minutes and I poke him repeatedly. I like the testing plan.
The non-stress test was sort of fun, with all the numbers to watch. I wanted to see the Monty Python sketch with the machine that goes ping after that. I HATED the monitors when I got to the hospital with Tim, so I was amused how different it was to experience when not in labor. Lando would kick and his heartrate would go from the 130s to the 160s. Yay! I had a long Braxton Hicks contraction in the middle too, which is probably useful for them to see.
Then the CNM did a quick ultrasound to look at fluid levels. She didn't attempt to estimate his weight or do anything else. I've never had a 3rd trimester ultrasound and it was weird to see his head take up the whole screen. She said she wanted to see a minimum fluid level of 8 in the four quadrants put together. The first two places she checked added to 9, so that test was easily passed too.
I was dilated to 3 cm, soft and 50% effaced, with the baby's head fairly low. She explained that as of 41w1d, she could offer an elective induction by breaking my water if I wanted, and as of 41w3d, it would be called a medical induction but be otherwise the same. My 3 cm dilation meant that it could be done at the birth center - if his head was higher, it would have needed to be across the street at the hospital. She also offered to strip my membranes. I decided to do neither, although I need to return on Thursday to repeat the tests and might be ready by then. The midwives, even knowing my long-labored history, seem to believe that a fast labor is the most likely, especially once my water breaks, either on its own or with help. I want to believe them but am trying not to count on it.
Every night, I go to bed wondering if contractions will start overnight. I wish the kids good night and tell them maybe there will be a baby in the morning. I wake every 60-90 minutes, flip over, and sometimes pee. It takes my hips longer each day to feel right after I get up from bed or from chairs, but I'm not swollen, not hurting, just plagued with the mind game of more than a month of wondering when the baby will arrive.
If Tim had not come at 37 weeks, I would have assumed I'd go postdate. Dan would likely have signed up to work his summer job for a week or two in June rather than stay home with us for the past three weeks. He's now scheduled to go half-days starting on Monday instead of having a week or two home with us fulltime postpartum. My sister-in-law didn't spend a weekend up north with friends because she's waiting on call to be my doula. My brother-in-law took a day off work because the logistics of my mom driving an hour to their house to babysit got too complicated. I feel like everyone around me's life has been on hold the whole month of June, waiting for this baby. And now it's July! I told people for months that the baby would come between Memorial Day and Independence Day but I never really contemplated the idea that he might wait until July.
The midwives don't think he's that big. Probably an eight pounder, everyone says. And if he's 9 1/2, well, I've done it before and I'll do it again. No one's pulling the "ack, get the big baby out!" card. I can turn down the AROM option if I want, but if I don't go into labor by Saturday, I risk out of the birth center and the midwives will keep seeing me every 3 days and then I'll give birth with them in the hospital. With previous births, I might have felt more strongly about letting things happen on their own. This time, I think by Thursday I'll be ready to give him a nudge. If it doesn't mean IV's and pitocin and belts stuck on a hospital bed, I think I'm okay with it by the 41 week, 5 day mark. Certainly by 42 weeks. If I wasn't dilating, that would be one thing, but all signs indicate that he's ready to come out (without being desperate to do so). Yeah, if they break my water Thursday afternoon and contractions don't start shortly thereafter, I've started the clock and something will need to be done. But no one thinks that will happen for a dilating 4th time mom. My SIL has to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, so if we wait until Saturday, she won't be able to be there. Hence, Thursday is more appealing.
There's a comfort to the fact that I can now come up with all possible timelines for this birth. I wrote out our schedule for the week for whoever is with the kids. He WILL arrive this week, I can match potential birthdays with fun number schemes and others who would share his day (my grandpa on Friday, my BIL on Sunday, today is a first of the month like my niece and I). It's kind of neat realizing that I'm going to have a pair of March kids and a pair of July kids. Even though my four due dates have been February, March, June, and August. We have to keep telling Tim that no, the baby won't wait all the way until his birthday. Tim and Lando's due dates were 7.5 weeks apart, but their birthdays will only be separated by 3ish weeks.
I try to go to bed at reasonable hours every night. I rest when I'm tired. I never know if I'll wake up to contractions at 2am and I try to be ready. Until a few days ago, labor was an intimidating prospect. I know how contractions feel, and worse, pushing and crowning, and I WILL be experiencing them again. Very soon. But I think I've gone past the fear of them and now attempt to will and pray my body into starting the process. I am the only woman left on my 36 member Due in June forum who isn't at least in labor yet. There were 9 June days after my due date - how can I be last? For Dan, it's more and more like Peter's pregnancy, and that's not a reminder anyone wants. But this baby is positioned well, has every reason to birth smoothly. So why hasn't it happened yet?