How I Do Run On.

by Alexa on March 28, 2012

I am more pregnant than I have ever been. 26 WEEKS pregnant. Soon I will enter a whole foreign trimester. Some of it will feel familiar to me, having been so very, very vast last time, with twins and all (in many ways, it’s been the second trimester that felt new this time), but still. This baby is older than Simone was when she was born. Screw pregnancy newsletters; I can look at Simone’s BABY PICTURES and get a reasonable idea of what Twyla looks like in utero at any given gestation from now on.

(Yes. Her name is Twyla. I let that slip on Twitter the other night. When I’m feeling particularly pleased and hopeful, I call her Twyla the Tenacious.)

The new season of Mad Men premiered Sunday night, and it sent me into something of a tailspin to realize that (customary caveat applied) by the time the season ends, I will have a new baby. A baby in my home, a baby who is a couple of weeks old, even.
Do you know how SHORT a season of Mad Men is? I do, because I complain about it every time. AND YET! When the last episode airs, I will probably be watching it while NURSING, or something.

On the one hand, it can’t come soon enough for my get-the-baby-out-alive-anxiety, but on the other…I have SO MUCH to do before that season finale airs.

I know—all a baby really needs is a boob and a clean, de-splintered drawer to sleep in, blah blah blah. This is only partially about the actual baby. We’d been dithering until about a week ago about moving, and have at last decided to stay in our apartment at least another two years. The location is really impossible to improve upon, and while it still KILLS me not to have any outside space, well, we can GO outside, and by staying here and saving we have a better chance of buying a house we really love down the line. However:
1) We have been treating this place as temporary for almost four years now (have yet to really put up any pictures, for instance), which is hardly conducive to the happy, home-y, settled feeling I am desperate for, and
2) It has gotten unacceptably grime-y (the ceiling fan blades! The windows and baseboards!) and messy (Hoarders Lite, over here).
The plan, then, is that instead of starting fresh elsewhere, we will make this place clean and lovely and more like a home. As I said, the apartment has gotten filthy in hard-to-reach-but-easy-to-be-horrified-by places, it is time to DECORATE, already, and we are seriously in need of a purge of our belongings. We are finally getting permission to paint and there is furniture that must be replaced and a room that needs to turn from Office back into Child’s Room and I have honest to god SPREADSHEETS detailing the million tasks that must be completed within the next Mad Men season because yes, it needs to be done before the baby comes. Do not tell me that it doesn’t all have to be done before the baby comes, because I WILL CUT YOU. This project is making me crazy, but it is also the only thing keeping me sane. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it is true.
You see, I have a viable baby inside me. I do NOT want that viable baby to come out early—we got so lucky with our outcome last time it seems certain we wouldn’t be again, and besides, I am quite enchanted with the idea of delivering a great big 37-weeker that I can hold the very same day—but I am excruciatingly aware of said baby’s viability, and my uterus’ murder-y history with babies, and the thought of having a healthy 30-some-weeker snuffed out by some unseen malfunction is never far from my mind. I can’t do anything but trust my doctors and hope for the best, on that front, so you can bet your ASS I am going to get this apartment whipped into shape in the next 11 weeks.

I thought I might do some Before-and-After-ing here, on this old Website of mine, but the Befores would be so, so bad—no really, so bad—that I suspect it would just be a repeat of the time I posted this entry and received hate mail for MONTHS. Worse, because sorting is already in progress, so in some cases the Befores would just be pictures of boxes and piles. (I apologize for how unintentionally filthy that last sentence was, by the way.) I promise to show you the finished product at my customary tedious length.

Scott will be doing most of the actual, physical work, because my uterus can’t seem to tolerate more than 10 minutes of activity before going AWOOGA! AWOOGA! and dissolving into panicked contractions. I did manage to sort through most of Simone’s baby clothes the other day, which led to the conclusion that we do not need any more, at least for the first six months. Which is good! but also makes me feel horribly guilty because it means poor Twyla will always be wearing hand-me-downs. I found this far more upsetting than I suspect any reasonable person would.

My emotions have been volatile. There has been a lot of weeping, but not necessarily for any specific/rational/explicable reason. On Monday I started crying as I left for Simone’s spring conference, because…I’m not sure. The closest I could figure was that it was because Scott had class and couldn’t come with me, and also I hadn’t slept well the night before, and also I wanted a piece of cake but wasn’t allowed.

I wasn’t allowed cake, incidentally, because I failed my one hour glucose tolerance test so spectacularly that I don’t even get to attempt the three hour. I passed the one hour with ease in the first trimester, and thought I had dodged that particular bullet this time, but nope! I’ve only gained a total of three pounds all told (hard to believe given my magnificent prow), so lord knows I can’t blame it on that, and I wasn’t more than slightly zaftig to begin with. I’ve been checking my blood sugar since getting the news, and every reading has been scrupulously normal (even the one taken after a celebratory meal of takeout penne and mango sorbet), so apparently the only thing that causes my blood glucose to rise to unacceptable levels is that godawful drink of theirs. Of course when I reported to the diabetes clinic yesterday I got the same lecture they gave me last pregnancy, about how I need to eat more (the GD diet, believe it or not, asks that one consume a tremendous amount of food). I tried not to become too exasperated but suspect I failed, because I am still on round-the-clock Zofran, and LADY, I AM JUST HAPPY I AM MANAGING TO EAT AT ALL.

Can I point out, as long as we’re on the subject, the absurdity of having this not eating/gaining enough problem after spending the last two-plus years salivating over food I couldn’t have because I was trying to lose weight while locked in battle with my damn thyroid? And no matter how I changed my “calories in/calories out” equation (DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED) I kept right on gaining—20 pounds in the six months before I got pregnant! And now I eat whatever I please (including this awfully sinful macaroni and cheese from a local restaurant that I eschewed for years out of virtue) and am about as active as your average ficus, and I am being sighed at by nutritionists.

In other news (unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case this is not news at all), we had a bit of excitement Thursday night, in the form of Baby’s First Trip to L&D.

Despite the weekly 17-P injections, I contract a lot: my pattern has been sporadic contractions throughout the day, and an uptick with activity. I get my shot every Monday morning, and by the weekend it must be wearing off, because my contracting become noticeably more regular—my response to which has been to spend Sunday afternoons in bed with a heating pad and a contraction timing app, guzzling water and waiting out the hours until my next shot. (You may remember that I started the 17-P injections almost solely as a precaution, because of uterine irritability, but with the strong, increasing contractions it looks as if we can say that my preterm shenanigans last pregnancy were likely not entirely due to Ames’ death after all.) One particularly alarming Sunday netted me a cervical ultrasound, but it showed no shortening or funneling or anything untoward, suggesting that these contractions of mine are more bark than bite. General policy since has been that as long as they don’t stay regularly in excess of six an hour with water, rest, and heat, I needn’t do anything about them beyond limiting my activity as necessary. (The stairs to our third story apartment are a particularly notorious culprit.) The extent of this limit is vague (“don’t go on any long walks” being a recent guideline), so I let my uterus be my guide. Alas, the farther along I get, the more badly my uterus behaves, and on Thursday I had several hours with more than six contractions. They were irregular in intensity but coming about three minutes apart when I sped off to triage.

The triage desk is just inside the entrance to the birth center on the way to the NICU, and standing there, signing all the forms that would allow them to care for Twyla should she happen to make an appearance (all the while mindful of the fact that I was only about three days, gestationally, from when Simone was born) made me ill. I kept tearing up and raced through the paperwork as quickly as I possibly could. I am certain my signatures were entirely illegible.
(Of course, everything was FINE, and I probably could have waited a bit before getting so verklempt, but as I have mentioned, the logical parts of my brain don’t seem to be operating at full capacity lately.)
In the room I shimmied into a familiar abdominal ace-bandage to hold the monitors and donned a gown. A nurse came in and positioned one disk to monitor contractions and one to monitor heartbeat, and I felt that odd mix of hope that there would be no more contractions and hope that there would be a few and that they would show up on the strip. Those of you who have dealt with preterm labor are doubtless familiar with this—obviously, you don’t WANT to be having contractions, but because it can be hard to pick up early contractions on the monitors, it’s difficult not to feel both desperate (because you are scared, and KNOW there are contractions, and want them to be taken seriously) and embarrassed (because if the contractions don’t show up, everyone will think you are crazy and paranoid and will be secretly eye-roll-y back at the nurses station). After a bit of adjusting, my contractions showed up, but happily there were not many of them, though there was a lot of background wiggly uterine irritability on the strip. The contractions themselves looked like gently sloping hills, and I remembered the mountainous peaks they were during actual labor with Simone, and wondered, again, how on EARTH I stood that every 3 minutes for 16 hours.

The nurse gave me a dose of Vistaril and then a shot of Terbutaline which: OW. Burny. It was remarkably effective at stopping the contractions—I only had three in the hour-and-a-half I was there post-shot—but I wasn’t fond of the Terbutaline, and have no interest in seeing it socially. I vehemently disapproved of the unwholesome jitters it imparted, and when combined with the Vistaril, the result was a paradoxical caffeinated bonelessness. A small price to pay, and all that, but it’s a good thing the nurses warn you about the “did I do a large quantity of cocaine and then forget about it?” effect, because otherwise I imagine a person would assume they were in dire need of a cardiologist and possibly a notary for thier living will.

The fetal monitoring portion of my stay was a pleasant surprise. You see, SOME babies, in the past—I won’t name any names—became quite testy and uncooperative at the first whiff of a monitoring session. SOME babies made a fleet of poor, overworked nurses drop everything every 90 seconds or so to chase after their heart rate, three hours a day, for weeks. Twyla, despite being the most active baby I have ever harbored, was much more cooperative than a certain (as I said, unnamed) one of her predecessors.

The worst part of the visit was the cervical check. Now, these are never pleasant, and always involve me assuming a vulnerable position (legs bent and spread, fists balled under ass as requested to give “better access”) while a nurse does an unspeakably painful Hand Jive inside my vagina. This time, though, was something special. The head of the bed—which was elevated—suddenly gave way, sending me crashing downward with someone else’s digits inside of me. The good news is that my cervix was nice and closed. The bad news is—did you READ that?

Anyhow, while they were up there they did a fetal fibronectin test (a positive got me admitted at 24 weeks last time) and it was, blessedly, NEGATIVE, which gives me something like a 95% probability that I will NOT deliver within the next two weeks. Huzzah for third trimesters!

My, this has been a whiny post, hasn’t it? Why so whiny, lucky still-pregnant girl? This last complaint, at least, is actually a plea for help:
I will give all my riches (about $117 at present) to whomever can cure me of my horrible, panic-attack-inducing Restless Spirit Leg.

Every night, I fall asleep only to wake a short time later with the most horrible feeling in my legs and sometimes more of me. “Restless,” though, doesn’t convey just how awful it is: it is a physical feeling, but I am also panicky, and feel I need to get out of my own self IMMEDIATELY—Akathisia, you know. I flex my muscles over and over and finally stumble out to the living room, sniffling pathetically, to lay on the couch while Scott massages my legs. I also take a Klonopin, which helps immensely but makes me wring my hands and feel like I am a bad mother even to the unborn, despite the fact that I KNOW it’s a low dose and there is no research saying anything damning about it in the 2nd trimester, and that last time after Ames had died they had me on benzodiazepenes for my Grieving and everything was FINE. Still. The doctors in my practice don’t all agree about benzos in pregnancy and so I’d avoided them until now. Almost without fail, after the leg massage and Klonopin I am able to return to sleep without further incident.

Further information:

–Taking the Klonopin before I try to sleep does not stop the Restless Spirit Leg from occurring.
–I have long since stopped taking Unisom, because antihistamines make Restless Leg worse.
–I AM mildly anemic (hemoglobin 10-point-something, down from 12 in 1st trimester), which I have heard could-possibly-maybe-but-maybe-not be a factor, HOWEVER I can’t take iron supplements. I am already bunches of Colace for the Zofran, and I tried a supposedly not-as-constipating form of iron supplement (gluconate? can’t remember) about a week ago and the resulting situation was so bad that I am not prepared to talk about it on this public Website.
–I ate a banana before bed last night, having vaguely remembered something about THAT helping, and no luck.

Seriously, if one of you can rid me of this affliction I will give you any of my cats you like! Your choice! Please!

If you don’t have any Leg ideas, maybe you could tell me your best Hormonal Pregnancy Meltdown story? Last time I was pregnant enough to get to the Sudden Onset Weeping stage I had actual things to weep about, so it is very weird to find my emotions swinging wildly out of control over nothing or in ways (clinging to spouse, nesting) that remind me that I am, in point of fact, an animal. An animal that needs windows that aren’t so dirty they make her want to DIE and also to find just ONE COMFORTABLE SLEEPING POSITION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

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