It’s Erik’s birthday and I am at 39+weeks — T-minus 4 days, as I heard him telling a colleague in a phone meeting this morning. After my half-expectations, starting from week 37 onward, that Pudding would make an early appearance, I’m now keeping an open mind. As Erik and I say to each other: Pudding will do what Pudding will do. First babies, anyway, are often “late.” (Among our birth-class cohort of eight couples, two have already had their babies, one at 38 weeks and the other at 41+!)
photo taken three days ago
I think often these days of old traditions of “confinement” in the last months of a pregnancy. Everyone’s different, and I would not like to feel forced to stay at home, but at the moment it suits my state of mind. It’s not only that I want to hunker down, but I want to be quite private, even here; at the moment I’m in the bedroom with the blinds down and the curtains drawn, sitting almost in the dark, with the heater and a hoodie and slippers on even though it’s not really cold. Replicating a womblike setting, perhaps? I know animals seek out sheltered places when it’s time for them to give birth. I feel as if I’m doing the same. It’s very instinctive. I like to see visitors and I’m always happy when we do go out, for a walk or an errand, but I’m even happier once I get home again so I can resume hunkering.
I was talking yesterday with a fellow pregnant friend (due next month) about lists and the pretense they offer of order, control, predictability, knowledge… all things absent from this final stretch before baby’s arrival! It’s laughable, but I find myself constantly Googling lists of early labor signs even though (a) they provide no useful information, and (b) I know all the signs already (and have already exhibited many of them)! (This version pretty much sums it up.) I even typed in “when is my baby coming” yesterday and then promptly closed the tab once it became obvious that the search results did not include a precise date. 😉 It’s a kind of tic, like rubbing a good-luck charm — since there’s nothing I can do, I’m casting about pathetically for anything to fill that void. (One “overdue” mom on a discussion board said she cleaned her windowsills with Q-tips. That sounds completely insane, but do you know, I totally understand. I’ve been dusting the windowsills with microfiber cloths, myself. In short bursts. Because I’m tired.)
There’s not a great deal I feel fit for at the moment, mentally or physically. I’m often tired, sleepy, or out of breath, and I find disinclined to concentrate on anything for longer than brief stretches. I’ll bake a cake if I have the energy, or do some dishes, but mostly I sit around sorting my music collection and reading my backlog of saved Facebook shares. (Both of these are good tasks because they make me feel like I’m accomplishing something! Many of the saved articles are long reads on serious topics, so they keep me from falling into total brain atrophy.) Yesterday I skipped yoga (again) but went for a short walk with Erik when he needed to run an errand. It was just over a half-mile walk and by the time we got home I realized I had achieved first-trimester levels of fatigue, where all I could do was just sit and then, ultimately, get into bed. I’m not really sure what that’s all about, since Pudding isn’t supposed to be growing as rapidly at this stage; maybe it’s just the exertion of carrying her around, now? Or is my body enforcing rest in preparation for further hard work just ahead?
Anyway, getting back to lists. Here are two, food-related, which reassured me both to make and to execute.
Food that is now in our freezer.
- ~200 uncooked wontons
- 40 uncooked gyoza
- 42 uncooked meatballs
- 1 quart French onion soup
- 1+ quart cooked beans
- ~3c fish stew
- Small container roasted zucchini
- ~3c cooked “Spanish” rice
- 3c enchilada sauce
- 1 quart marinade for chashu or boiled eggs
- 1 loaf pumpkin-flaxseed bread
- ~65 unbaked chocolate chip cookies
- ~18 oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies
- Half a smoked chicken
- 1 rib-eye steak
- ~1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb unpeeled shrimp
- 1 small vegetable lasagna (4-5 servings)
There’s still a little room for more, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to adding anything else. I wish there were more vegetables in this list but they don’t freeze as well, or else they take up too much space, so we’ll just have to count on cooking those fresh (or buying them frozen) at the time. (What I would really like to have — in fact these items were on my list — is quarts of saag or creamed spinach, a broccoli or cauliflower cheese, and kale pesto. But alas. All those things are too much work at the moment. And there isn’t enough space for any of them, except maybe the pesto.)
At any rate, we have family who will likely bring us food, and we have excellent choices for both restaurant and grocery delivery. So there is no danger of starvation!
Two facts about hospital labor, at our hospital and others I’ve heard of: (1) They want you to labor at home for as long as possible before they will admit you, and (2) They don’t allow you to eat once you’re admitted. So it’s a good idea to eat during that early home phase of labor, if there is such a phase (and there may not be, for everyone) and if you feel like eating at that time. Naturally I didn’t want to be caught laboring unprepared with edible sustenance, so the weekend after our 36-week doctor’s appointment we went to the store and stocked up.
- Coconut water
- Mango nectar
- (Broth is also suggested, but I don’t feel like cooking my own and I have yet to find a store-bought one that’s tasty enough to drink by itself. I know, because I tested several during my colonoscopy last May. They were not enticing.)
- Yogurt (current favorite: Straus Plain Greek)
- Peanut butter-filled pretzels
- Raisins (golden and dark)
- Dried apricots
- Peanut butter
- Cheese (I am really liking Havarti or Toma, cut into cubes)
Requiring minimal preparation:
- Refrigerated tamales
- English muffins or other white bread (for toasting)
- Noodles, rice
Now that it’s been several weeks since that shopping trip, though, we’ve had to restock some items and are running low on others, so we will probably make another trip to the store today or tomorrow. I figure even if I decide not to eat any of these during labor, they will serve us well afterward and work as a supplement to all that stuff in the freezer!
The other plus to these lists is they give me something to feel like I’m doing, during these long-short days of waiting. Maybe I’m not getting much else done, but if I can shower, feed myself (with help from Erik and takeout!), do a tiny bit of housework, and keep on top of grocery acquisition, I don’t feel too-too idle.
And in today’s very welcome news: sometime in the wee hours, Pudding rearranged herself from my right side to my left, which is a much better position for birth. I want to high-five her for being so clever (I approximate this by caressing her contours when I can find them). I hope she’ll stay in this position until she’s ready to come out!