Labor prep for me... and Sylvia

Week 27: 7/16/07


The good news is that I passed my glucose screening test. The whatever news is that I'm slightly anemic. This happened in my last pregnancy, and at the time I started taking this all-natural liquid iron supplement thing that seemed to do the trick, even if it tasted like I was doing a shot of rust every morning with my peach smoothie. When I spoke with the nurse yesterday--from the top of a little mountain in Maine, to get cell reception on our family vacation--she suggested ferrous sulfate tablets, twice a day, no dairy an hour before or after, and taken at a separate time from the prenatal vitamin. It's like a logic question on the GRE. I'm a mix of ditzy and lethargic about taking medicine or vitamins--with the prenatals, I sometimes take them at night, right before bed, because it's only then that I remember. Now I'm wondering if this method is at all related to the iron in those vitamins not doing their thing.

Remembering the good ol' days

The nurse did say that my iron levels weren't that low; just enough that if I "lose a lot of blood" at delivery, they'd want to see the levels higher. Her saying that is the sort of thing that might have, I don't know, freaked me out, maybe? If I were a first-timer. (And to all of you first-timers out there... sorry. The one benefit is that you're about to be a member of a very elite club of women who can swap grisly labor stories around the campfire and cackle about them.)

It reminded me that I did, in fact, lose a lot of blood right after Sylvia was born. It's something that happened in the midst of everything else happening, and the midwife and nursing staff were all at so efficient and nonchalant about it--somehow at the same time as making it clear that yes, this was an emergency-type situation--that it didn't register as a crisis. ("So you're losing quite a bit of blood here, so we're just going to give you this shot, okay?"--while I'm cracking one-liners, nursing Sylvia, waving away Aron's shocked-at-my-turn-around concerns, and generally in a post-delivery mania. I don't remember receiving the shot at all, but I think it saved my life. Jeanne, is that true? If I'd been on a pioneer wagon heading west when this happened, I'd be up the creek, no?)

Needless to say, I'll figure out the no-dairy-or-prenatal-vitamin thing, and take those little pills twice a day. If anything, it will probably guarantee that I take the prenatal vitamin at a better time of day, and eat more spinach and molasses while I'm at it. I'll end up crushing tennis balls in my bare hands like the Bionic Woman.

Getting ready(ish)

Now that my due date is 13 weeks away, it feels like the focus is shifting towards the moment the baby arrives, not these moments before. In the last few days, I've been really marveling at how big my belly is getting, which seemed kind of cool and interesting and beautiful and only occasionally inconvenient, until I realize that the baby's growth is behind it. I want a healthy and bouncing baby, don't get me wrong. But Sylvia was 7 pounds 4 ounces, and I wasn't really planning on this one being any bigger, or let's say, more difficult to emerge. I looked back at pictures of me at this time in my last pregnancy, and I have the distinct impression that my Sylvia belly was smaller. My college-aged sister-in-law asked me when I said this out loud, "But it's a lot easier the second time, right?" And while I want to believe that, I also know too many people for whom this was definitely not the case to take the generality for granted.

I'm not the only one getting ready. My midwife, out of the blue at my last appointment, started listing things I should do to help ease the transition to Sylvia's big-sisterhood. Her advice: Ask Sylvia to help me pick out a photo and a frame to take with me to the hospital. Show her that I'm packing it in my ready-to-go bag. Know when to expect her arrival at the hospital to meet the baby, and make sure the newborn is in the bassinet when Sylvia walks in the room, my arms empty and ready for my big girl. Then we can take her over to the bassinet to check out the baby together.

I love this last bit of advice. It's smart but simple--of course it would create a different, more threatening impression for Sylvia, if she first sees me while I'm holding the baby. Brilliant.

I'm sure the picture frame is wise, but I'm worried about Sylvia worrying about me in the hospital, and wonder if making that time more real will make it better or worse for her. We've been reading a hand-me-down book about a mama having a new baby, and Sylvia's lip quivered when the doctor arrived. "Why the mama need the doctor?" she asked, and I explained that the doctor helps the baby come out. "I wanna come with you to the hospital, Mama. I want to help you get the baby out," she said, more upset. After talking about it, I'm pretty sure she's mostly upset about the idea of my going away, than concerned about something going wrong--in her mind, what the doctor's presence portends.

Either way, it was hard for me not to tear up, too. I'm so in love with this child. What if I'm too distracted by thoughts of Sylvia to focus properly on labor--on the next child to fall in love with? Or what if I fall so instantly in love with the second one, that I'm insensitive to Sylvia when she needs me? Or is this just how it begins--the logic puzzles that will define the rest of my maternal existence?

Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.