Squinting at the new day

Week 34: 8/27/07


Where to begin. How about the end: Suddenly, this feels like the home stretch. Like maybe we should hustle to get the crib set up, already; like I shouldn't accept another work assignment right now. I have no reason to suspect an unusually early delivery, but wowzers--I really get more than ever that I'm about to become a mother again.

Nothing like a 3 A.M. wake-up call to remind me

We have been quite lucky with Sylvia's sleeping habits. After a hairy few newborn weeks (see photo, which doesn't do week 5 justice), she settled in to waking up only once a night; by the time she was ... okay, I'll admit--I totally forget which week or month, but it felt early in comparison to friends' babies--six months(?), she was sleeping through the night.

So let's just say I really notice when I don't get a full seven hours. We're spoiled, and we know it, and we put little tokens of our awe and appreciation at the altar of the Sleep Gods. But it's kind of like every time we'd--ur, last summer, anyway--spend an afternoon helping out at our friends' farm. "Golly gee-whiz!" we'd say to each other. "That farming sure is hard freaking work. How do those guys do it?" It's such an obvious realization, but after being through it for a few nights again this week, it dawned (ha) on me yet again: It really sucks not to get a full night's sleep.

We were up because the three of us got the same blasted cold, a cold which resulted in Sylvia wheezing asthmatically. (She has Reactive Airway Disease, or "asthma at the onset of a cold.") On the first, worst night, this meant nebulizer treatments every four hours. She would only accept the scary, loud mask with me cradling her, and honestly, it's not like I could've slept through it if Aron had been with her, instead. I wanted to be with her; I felt it was where I should be. So: It's 3 A.M., I'm wide awake, holding my crying child, and if Aron had been holding her instead, I'd have been just as awake, only feeling guilty and second-guessing his methods. After the child is finally asleep and calm, I lay awake for another hour, thinking and tossing and turning.

Hmm. This reminds me of something.

Delusions of adequacy

One of the first thoughts I had, after putting Sylvia back in her bed, was, "That wasn't so bad." I was surprised to find myself wired and awake, not sleepy and grumpy. (That part lasted only about a minute, from the moment the alarm clock buzzed until I had Sylvia in my arms.) That being up at night is sort of... interesting. The crying is no good, of course, and especially in this case when I knew there was suffering involved. But once she had settled down, was breathing well, and snuggled in my arms? It really was fine. And then I experienced the rush I get from doing something I think I won't be able to, my internal "hey-check-me-out" gratification.

But then I couldn't go back to sleep. And I couldn't really breathe through my nose, from my cold. So I just obsessed, about one thing and then another, for over two hours. Some of these thoughts were interesting, and I'm pretty sure I came up with a solution for world peace and how to organize the baby clothes in the basement. (But just like similar "Eureka!" moments in college, I now can't remember them.) And then the morning came, and I was not a happy mama. I was a strung out, red-eyed, shaky-hands mama. I took a lovely hour-long nap at 10, and was back in business, but then when she was up twice the following night, I went through the same cycle again.

All of which is to say: Oh yeah. Sleep deprivation. It sucks, but there are some hidden perks.

Head down, and ready to go

A trip to the midwives yesterday confirmed what I was feeling: this baby's head is down. As in, far down. Now, this doesn't mean that he or she is about to thin out and dilate my cervix; I have a friend who said her first baby was low for months, and didn't deliver until past her due date. But something tells me that isn't the way this baby is going to play it. Sylvia was born on her due date, so it's not as if I have a history of long pregnancies. And my feeling ready for labor--physically, mentally, emotionally--seems important, too.

I am eager to deliver the baby, to get this party started. But that's not all I'm ready for. The other night, when I woke up at 3--on my own, no alarm or Sylvia, just my own, stubborn internal clock--I started thinking about holding my newborn, looking into the baby's eyes, feeling the solid, warm weight of the baby's body in a sling. And in my sleep-deprived, half-miserable state, I was happy, really happy.

Africa update: It looks like it isn't happening--most probably pushed back to September, when the dictates of my body and Aron's teaching schedule demand him to be home. Thank you to all of you who got in touch to log your support!

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