Watching and Waiting – Weeks 37-39 Pregnancy Update

As I sit here in front of my laptop on this beautiful last day of August, I am blown away by the fact that tomorrow we enter into a brand new month, the month where my son will finally join our family outside of my womb space.

September has always been a favorite month of mine. Not only is it the month of my birthday, it’s also a time of shift and transformation. The lush green foliage gives way to the deep burning colors of autumn leaves and there is a hush that comes over the land whispering to us to slow down and prepare for the harvest before winter comes knocking at our door.

This year, September holds even more of a symbolic meaning of transformation for me as I step across the threshold and go from maiden to mother. This time last year my mind was consumed with thoughts of becoming pregnant. There was nothing I wanted more than to become pregnant and carry a tiny babe of my very own in my womb. I thought about becoming a mother long and hard and was very reflective of what my life had been like up until that point and what my life would look like if I conceived and birthed a child. A year later, I sit here thinking deep thoughts on what my life will look like with my son here in my arms.

So, as I sit here watching and waiting for the cool, crisp days of autumn to surface, I’m also watching and waiting for my son to arrive.

Pregnancy Update

I still can’t believe that I’m 39 weeks pregnant and that my little Sunshine Babe could come any day now. The weeks all muddle together now and I find myself scurrying about trying to do all of my last minute nesting. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot since we moved into our new apartment, yet at the same time I can’t help but think of all the things that are still left undone.

I know that we have all of the major things taken care of – the crib is built, we have diapers, we have our home birth kit in place, and a bag packed and ready to go in case we would need to transfer to the hospital. But there are still so many little things I want to get done. I feel confidant and prepared for the actual birth, but I’m honestly feeling just a bit anxious about having everything I need for the baby and actually becoming a parent. I know these are all normal feelings though.

How I’m Feeling Physically

For months now people have been telling me how miserable I’ll be come August when I’m 9 months pregnant. Well you know what, it’s August 31 and I’m 39 weeks, 3 days pregnant and still not miserable! I really think it has a lot to do with attitude and mindset, but I’m grateful that I have been thriving and loving this summer heat while pregnant.

I’ve been feeling pretty good these past few weeks. My energy levels have been steady, I’ve been sleeping through the night more often, and I have been motivated to meal prep and get some more nesting done. I think my body knows that the time is ticking and I have this innate sense to get all of the preparation taken care of now. So far I’ve made and froze a batch of vegan banana blueberry lactation muffins, vegan banana bread, and some labor aid. Still on my list to make is some vegan corn chowder.

I kept having this feeling that Sunshine Babe would come early, but now that we’ve made it another week I think he’s going to stay nestled inside just a bit longer. Brendan was out of town for work last week, so I think I was a little anxious that the baby would decide to come while he was gone. And then we had a full moon last Sunday and I had a feeling that I would go into labor then. Still nothing though.

This baby and the entirety of the this pregnancy has taught me to sit and wait patiently and simply ride the waves as they come. There is no need to fret and fuss about things I have no control over.

Up until this past week I hadn’t experienced any practice surges. But on Tuesday at 3:40am I woke straight up from my sleep with really intense cramps. I got up, went to the bathroom, drank some water, and simply focused on my breathing. Within 10 minutes or so the intensity had faded away, so I got back in bed and drifted off to sleep again. I haven’t felt anything like it since then. My midwife says its a good thing that I’m having practice surges and is my body’s way of slowly preparing for labor.

How Baby is Doing

Last Thursday I had my 38 week appointment with my midwife to make sure that baby was healthy and everything was going well. My little guy is active and healthy but I was still measuring small, so my midwife suggested that I go have another ultrasound done to check on his growth.

So on Friday (August 24), Brendan and I went to have our fourth and final (hopefully) ultrasound done. The last time my midwife suggested we go have an ultrasound done to check on the baby’s growth I was scared. This time I was a tad anxious, but knew that she just wanted to be cautious. Turns out that our little Sunshine Babe is just a small guy and there’s nothing wrong with that! He’s healthy, active, head down and in a good position for labor. The only thing the sonogram technician recommended was that I need to drink a lot more fluids.

So this past week I have been more mindful of eating more and drinking lots of water. Today we went for my 39 week midwife appointment and things looked a lot better. My midwife said that I’m measuring bigger now and she could see some growth, and that my fluid levels seemed a lot better. Baby’s heartbeat was a strong 140 and is still very active.

My midwife says that I need to be drinking at least 70 oz of water a day and eating every 2 hours. Seems simple enough, but eating and drinking enough have been two of my biggest struggles throughout this pregnancy. I keep reminding myself it’s not for me, it’s for the baby and that helps. But it’s still hard.

This might be my very last pregnancy update post here on my blog. It’s a bittersweet feeling to know this pregnancy journey is coming to a close, but I am looking forward to finally holding my little Sunshine Babe in my arms after 10 long months of carrying him in my womb.

37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
Sonogram pictures of my Sunshine Babe from our last ultrasound 

Weeks 33-36 Pregnancy Update

I’m still a bit behind on writing these pregnancy updates and honestly at this point I feel like all of the weeks are sort of blurring together. Being finished with work has taken some getting used to but I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to rest and start my nesting.

Brendan and I got settled into our new apartment pretty quickly. We had family coming into town for my baby shower 2 weeks after we moved, so that helped motivate us to get things unpacked and into their proper places. We still have artwork to hang up, but besides that our new place is feeling pretty cozy.

Baby Shower #2

We had my second baby shower on Saturday July 28th. It was such a sweet time celebrating my little Sunshine Babe! We had family come all the way from Florida and New Jersey to help celebrate.

I was gifted lots of cute baby clothes, homemade baby blankets, Target and Amazon gift cards, crib sheets, a few natural toys, a baby bath, a Boppy, a Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper, and lots of other thoughtful things for the baby.

Doula Prenatal Visit

The day before my baby shower our doula came over to our apartment for our second prenatal visit with her. This time we were going over comfort measures and positions for pregnancy and birth.

We learned how to use a rebozo for “sifting” (seriously so amazing! Look it up.), and different exercises that Brendan can help me do every week to help ease the tension in my body from carrying baby in my womb and to help keep my body strong for an easier labor and recovery. I love how these exercises give Brendan a chance to be even more involved and have an active roll in this pregnancy.

After we went over comfort measures we just visited with each other and chatted about all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery. I’m so thankful that we decided to hire a doula – she has been such a comfort to have!

Home Visit With Midwife

The first weekend in August we had our home visit with our midwife and her assistant. During this visit we gave our midwife and her assistant a tour of our apartment so that they know where everything is when they come for the birth of the baby. She also went over everything that came in our home birth kit and explained what it is all used for and brought her birthing tub over for us to keep for the birth. And of course she checked on the baby’s heartbeat and growth and we talked about the different stages of labor, when to call her, etc.

After this visit it really started to sink in that we are now in the home stretch of this pregnancy.

That’s all for now!

33 Weeks, 2 Days Pregnant 
34 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant – All dressed up for my baby shower 
35 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant 

Searching For The Right Model of Prenatal Care

Written: 2/21/2018

First Impressions of Birth

Growing up I enjoyed hearing stories about how my mom gave birth to me and my siblings. When I became a teenager I was intrigued to learn more about the birthing process, what it was like being in the hospital delivery room, how long it took, and my dad’s reaction to the whole process. I then started to imagine what it would be like for me to give birth and have my own baby someday. But I never once thought about whether I would have my baby at home or in the hospital.

I knew about home births and water births when I was in my late teens, and I had even watched some reality TV shows where women gave birth at home. But if you had told me 8 years ago that one day I would be considering a home birth for myself, I would have said you were crazy.

Even though I grew up knowing about home births, I never thought that would be an option for me. It just wasn’t the “normal” model of birth you hear about in the United States. My mom had me and my 4 siblings in the hospital, and I had only ever heard stories about women giving birth in the hospital. All I really knew was that birth was supposed to hurt severely and that you needed to be in the hospital to have the help of doctors and their hospital equipment to have a safe birth.

Thankfully, my mom never painted birth as something to be fearful of. She said it hurt, but that it is so worth it and you forget about the pain once your baby is in your arms. Sadly, most young women hear horror stories from their mothers, mother-in-laws, friends, and even television shows about how painful labor and birth is. And that is their first taste of what birth will be like.

I didn’t start taking my health seriously until I was about 18 years-old. I wasn’t really into natural medicine back then, but I was skeptical of doctors and our modern healthcare system. Over the years I’ve become more educated on natural holistic medicine and herbalism, and I tend to shy away from doctors as much as possible. So when I started daydreaming more about becoming pregnant and having a baby of my own, I naturally started thinking about and researching midwives and natural birth.

Even before getting pregnant, I was very fascinated with natural birth and home births. I found myself following several different Instagram accounts of women who were planning on having a natural home birth and I even read a book called Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block last summer, so I could do my research and get educated on the differences between a hospital birth and a home birth.

The Hunt For the Right Midwife

Finding the right prenatal care provider for this pregnancy has not been easy. I started searching for midwives and birthing centers in my area last summer before getting pregnant. I wanted to do my research and be prepared for when the time came. At this point, seeing an obstetrician was not an option for me. I knew I wanted to have a midwife for my prenatal care, whether I was to give birth in a hospital or at a birthing center. I knew of one birthing center that was about 15 minutes away from where I lived and it had good reviews. So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I contacted the birthing center and set up a time to meet with the midwife there for a free consultation.

I was a bit nervous but mostly excited when I went to see the midwife at the birthing center. As soon as she took me back to a room to chat, she calculated when I was due. She said I was due right at the beginning of September, and unfortunately that was the one month that she didn’t take clients because she takes the whole month off for vacation. So, that was about it. There was nothing she could do for me. She gave me a couple names of other midwives in the area, but they only did home births, not a birthing center birth.

I left the birthing center trying not to be beaten down, but I couldn’t help but cry and feel defeated. I honestly didn’t know where to go from there. Thankfully, it was still very early on in my pregnancy, so I knew I had time to figure things out. Even though I was feeling very discouraged when I left the birthing center, there was a part of me that knew it happened for a reason.

At that point, I hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant besides our close family, so I really felt like I didn’t know where to turn. I looked up a couple of other birthing centers that were about 30 minutes away from me, but I could just tell by looking at their website that it wasn’t meant to be. So, I decided to reach out to a girl that I had known in college who I knew was pregnant and was into natural birth and midwives, and she just so happened to live in the nearby area.

Even though I wasn’t close friends with this girl, she was so open to sharing with me and was so sweet and encouraging. God knew that I needed her in that moment, and I was so glad I decided to reach out. She told me of the midwife that she was using and said that she had been amazing thus far. Thankfully, this midwife lives in my area and was affordable.

Disappointment

In the meantime before I scheduled a visit to meet with this midwife, I decided to go ahead and schedule an appointment with a women’s center in Lynchburg to get a check up and an ultrasound (since I still hadn’t seen a health care provider at this point). I chose to go see a nurse midwife in Lynchburg instead of Roanoke because I had family that recommended the place to me. So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and visit this women’s center for one visit, even if I chose not to continue seeing them.

I just wanted to see my baby and to know that things were okay.

Well, I set up the appointment for my ultrasound and Brendan asked his manager to come into work later that day so that he could come with me to the appointment. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about going to a women’s center, we were both excited and looking forward to seeing our baby for the first time. So we got up and drove all the way to Lynchburg for our appointment at 11a.m. only to get there and have the receptionist tell me that they had called to let me know they had rescheduled my appointment for 9:30 a.m. and that I had missed it. We both couldn’t believe it. I told her that I had gotten a voicemail on Friday with a reminder that my appointment was at 11a.m. (I even had the voicemail saved on my phone), but that I had never received a call telling me that the time was changed. She sat there looking uninterested and said there were no more openings that day and there was nothing she could do for me but schedule me for a different day.

Me and Brendan walked out feeling angry, upset, and discouraged. I had taken off work to make this appointment, and Brendan had asked to come into work late, and we both took an hour out of our day to drive to Lynchburg for the appointment. And on top of that, Brendan then had to turn around and drive four and a half hours to get to his client for work. I couldn’t hold the hot stinging tears back any longer, and I let them flow. I felt so helpless. Here I was at the second appointment I had made to see a midwife, and it didn’t work out. I felt like I kept trying to do what’s best for the baby, to make sure he or she was okay, and I kept failing them.

I had planned on hanging out in Lynchburg for the rest of the afternoon, taking myself out to lunch and then going shopping. But all of a sudden I had no desire to do any of that. As I watched Brendan drive away on his way to work, I couldn’t help but feel lost. I drove to Goodwill to do some book shopping, but couldn’t find the motivation to get out of my car. I just sat in my car for an hour crying, and talking to Brendan, my mom, my aunt, and my second mama. I knew that there was a reason for the appointment cancelation and I knew that God would take care of everything. But I just needed a moment to sit and feel all of the emotions that were racing through my mind.

Falling Into Place

Thankfully things really started looking up for me and the baby later that week. After our disappointing appointment cancelation on Monday, Brendan made a few phone calls to find a good place for us to get an ultrasound in Roanoke. He ended up finding a place a few minutes away from where we live and the price was actually cheaper than what we would have paid at the women’s center in Lynchburg (even with our insurance). So I called the place and made an appointment for our first ultrasound! Unlike the people at the women’s center, this lady was so sweet and seemed genuinely interested and excited for me. I felt like it was God telling that He had orchestrated everything that happened on Monday for a reason – to save us money and to put us in the hands of someone who genuinely cares and is in our area.

The day after that I had a free consultation set up with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in Roanoke (the one my friend had recommended to me). This consultation was to go over her model of care (the Midwife Model of Care), tell me about her studies and experience, and to go over everything she can and can’t do as a CPM. This midwife specializes in home births in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area.

The meeting went so well and I was so pleased with her. I loved how calm and friendly she was, how she made me feel like my baby and I truly mattered, and how she went over everything in such detail with me. She was very open and honest with me about the things she can and cannot do as a CPM, and I so appreciated her raw openness. She provided me with a lot of paperwork, articles on home brith, and nutrition information to take home and go over. I left feeling like things were finally falling into place and that everything was slowly coming together.

Brendan and I originally thought we wanted to give birth at a birthing center with a midwife. This seemed like the best in-between option for us since we knew we didn’t want to give birth at a hospital unless it was medically necessary, and a home birth with our first baby seemed a bit daunting. But the further along we got on this journey to find the right prenatal care, the more it became apparent to us that a home birth seemed to be in our near future.

I truly believe that things didn’t work out with the birthing center and women’s center I visited because we were meant to have a home birth. Some said that I should maybe plan on giving birth at a hospital since the first CPM I visited didn’t work out and since, after all, a hospital is probably safer for a first time birth. That didn’t sit well with me though and I continued to pray, trust my intuition, and keep searching.

It’s great to be open minded and listen to people’s advice, but in the end, you have to do what’s right for you and your baby, whether other people approve of that or not. Trust the process, trust the journey, trust your intuition, and above all trust God.