Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The dreaded C-section

Okay, so I'm feeling pretty guilty for putting the blog on the proverbial back burner as of late -- especially being I am now on maternity leave and have time to kill in between pre-washing all those too-cute onesies, especially knowing the blog has acquired something of a devoted readership, a cult following. And who would have thought the state of my ever-expanding uterus could generate such enthusiasm... Imagine!

This is a big week for Little Green and his folks. On Friday afternoon we'll get another cheeky sneak peak of him via ultrasound, the main purpose of which is not to coo or to postulate over which parent he'll most resemble when he makes his red carpet appearance in just over a month's time, but to examine his position and that of my lowly placenta. Needless to say, much mental coaching has been going on behind the scenes in anticipation of this big event. If the placenta stays stubbornly put (thereby partially obstructing the birth canal), a vaginal delivery is out of the question, and he will arrive via Caesarean section. Big deal, I hear you say. But this is where the mental coaching comes into play. In my naivety I thought it would be sensible to read up on what is, by all reckoning, a pretty major procedure. Shame, double shame on me for filling my mind with such polemics. Such pollutants are hardly good for the heavily pregnant woman, and should for the most part be guarded against. While I'm not advocating an all-out bonfire, Rushdie-style, better to grab a novel by a favourite author than to consult such incendiary printed material...

I had previously been of the mindset that C-sections (as they are affectionately known in North America - ah, what a sobriquet!) were commonplace. And that should this be Little Green's fate, it was by and by whether he arrived by station wagon or by stretch limo as long as he arrived safely, soundly, healthily... Boy, did my heart nosedive when I read of the butchery described in the so-called labour 'literature', only to have this reiterated at last night's antenatal session. To listen to the teacher describe it, having a 'Caesar', whether planned or not, was the worst kind of horror story, one which promised to be a devastating experience for both mother and baby. This, she supported with the most unflattering photograph of a C-baby: blue as Smurfette and wrinkled as an old man's foreskin. Unfair. Wholly unfair and depressing.

It took me till this morning, after an angry sleepless night, to revert to my evenly keeled mindset, naysayers be damned. Sure, having a rosy birth experience, with minimal pain and intervention, would be nice. More than nice. But I'm not living in dreamworld either, thinking I can will this dreamy picture into being. No woman, not even Madge or Angelina, can totally control how her baby gets himself or herself born.

So I'm learning to relax about the whole thing. At least if the choice is taken away from me on Friday, then I will have plenty of time to flex my mental muscles and prepare myself for the main event before it comes. Ask any Olympian athlete (or mother) and they'll tell you it's all about the training, all about mind over matter in the run up to getting the gold. Well, isn't it?

Friday, August 1, 2008

32 weeks, but who's counting? (or help, I swallowed a basketball!)

I got the baby bump blues

Alas, a case of baby bump blues is setting in and I've only been on maternity leave for just over a fortnight... Blame it on the recent extreme temperatures (a.k.a. summer) keeping me housebound. I know it's what everyone else has been gagging for since May or thereabouts, but intense heat and humidity is a heavily pregnant woman's worst nightmare -- read swollen feet, calves and ankles, read diminished lung capacity and increased sebaceous gland activity, read overall unpleasantness. I actually cheered during a rainstorm the other night. I must be turning British after all!

Fortunately I no longer have to commute into work in these conditions, and for that I'm immensely pleased that I went off as early as I did. Just as well, really. Having rounded that corner of 30+ weeks, I have been beset by all manner of weird and wonderful surprises. Sleep no longer comes between conventional hours but generally can be expected to start anywhere from 1am to 5am then perhaps resume again at 7am for a couple of hours. Some people say this is nature's way of preparing you for what's to come, or lack thereof. I'm not so sure. I have also recently been plagued by a urinary infection which required a course of antibiotics, which in turn caused a yeast infection also requiring treatment. And through all this my little man tossed and turned, too. Never a dull moment in gestation, let me tell you!

Call it case of careful what you wish for but when you are suddenly faced with lots of time on your hands, you often don't know where to start. Certainly in this age of cash-rich, time-poor (or, most recently, no thanks to Labour: cash-poor, time-poor), the sudden luxury of a clear diary can actually scare you to the point of near paralysis. And because as a society we are generally so starved of downtime, when it does come we have a tendency to feel inordinately guilty about doing anything that might seem 'unproductive'. To some extent we struggle -- or I do at least -- to give ourselves permission to just laze about, daydreaming or napping or whiling away the hours the way we did when we were kids ourselves and the summers seemed endless and bo-oring. So much for sunning myself in the garden with the latest paperback; my To Do List is as long as one of Shakespeare's folios and packed with not-so-tantalising domestic and admin chores!

So, while these past few weeks have been 'productive', they have on occasion also been lonely. You tend to forget in your little pregnant bubble, that most other people, including other mums-to-be, are still working. There is email, of course, there is telecommunications. But nothing beats the great outdoors. I guess this is a good precursor to the long winter (with a newbie that does little else but eat, sleep and shit) that lies ahead. Mind you, I probably won't mind so much then, as I myself will follow much the same routine... Still, I'm not looking forward to those dark days. And I know these feelings will only intensify as Little Green's due date nears. For nine long months the anticipation builds and builds until ironically, this motherly impatience and anxiety can actually delay bub's arrival.

The good news is that while his mother may be progressively falling to bits, Little Green appears to be thriving at least. At the latest appointment with the midwife, his heartbeat sounded like a jumbo-jet compared to the faint flutter of yore. He has wriggled his way back to breech, though, so looks like more gardening is in store for me to get that little worm back into the ideal position. Other good news: a close friend has announced that she is expecting, while another has just given birth in the wee hours of last night. Roll on playdates should our plans for moving back to Canada come to fruition. It's official: 2008 is the year of the bump.