37 weeks

Posted by Wood | Friday, January 18, 2008

The other night I woke up around midnight to find my husband lying on the floor with his head on the dog bed watching the sixth straight episode of Ghost Hunters. He'd made several unsuccessful attempts to lay with me on the couch and finally gave up, I guess. My sleep had been corrupted by terrible nightmares. "We need to stop watching Project Runway during the middle of a Ghosthunters marathon," I said to him. "I keep hearing EVPs of a Latino homosexual crying about how this is his one big chance to make it as a designer." Then I realized he was asleep down there, unable to appreciate my humor, so I didn't bother with the one about how I kept hearing knocking sounds coming from my belly.

I have reached the point where I feel pretty useless as anything but a massive vessel for another being. Jim does all the cooking and cleaning so that when I get home I should just sit. I can't, though -- I feel lazy. So instead I make everything worse for everyone: I lurch about the house, trying to pick up toys in the kid's wake (she's like a gastropod that propels herself along the ground by laying down a track of stuffed animals, crayons, and crude drawings of her unborn brother). I swear at the dog when he gets underfoot because surely it's his fault that my pubic bone feels like it's cracked in half.

I don't get anything done at work, either, despite the massive pile of things I need to finish before I start maternity leave. I waste time on the spinning babies website, trying to guess at the baby's position. A week ago, when I saw my midwife, he was breach. It was the first appointment I've gone to by myself. My midwife did an ultrasound to check the baby's position, and as she slid the gooey wand over the top section of my stomach, the unmistakeable profile of the new kid's head came into view. He was completely breach. But before I could say anything, she just pushed down on him while sliding her hands around, and then suddenly, miraculously, he was head down; she had flipped him over. She told me to buy a gigantic stomach corset that's supposed to keep him from turning again, and it makes me feel like Violet O'Hefty, Scarlett O'Hara's rotund cousin from Macon.

After turning him, the midwife hooked me up to a fetal monitor for half an hour to ensure that the baby's heartbeat was steady and strong, and alone in the examination room I started to panic. This pregnancy has been pretty uneventful. I've been so confident, cocky even. I started to write a post last week where I said: "labor: bring it on." But in that room, watching every bump and dip of the baby's heartbeat as it printed out of the monitor, I finally acknowledged that this may not go exactly how I want it to, that not everything is within my control, that just because it went well last time doesn't mean it will this time.

Jim, for his part, has been worrying about the baby's position for months. When I was only 30 weeks, he pestered the midwife with questions about what techniques she'd try if the baby was breach. He always does my worrying for me, always assumes everything that can go wrong will go wrong so he'll be calm and collected should something actually happen. I prefer to plod along ignorantly, never contemplating how quickly things can change, playing the odds that I won't have to be prepared for something unexpected.

My nights since that appointment have been full of restless half sleep. Anxiety over the baby's position has bled into anxiety on at least twelve other topics, including, but absolutely not limited to: Juniper's upcoming birthday and the fact that she is almost three, how she will react to the new baby, the long list of baby stuff we don't have yet, labor, delivery, recovery, stitches, breastfeeding, and the possibility of hemmorhoids or anal fissures. Sorry about the graphic turn that took. Right now it only takes my mind ten seconds to move from planning a birthday party to stressing about anal fissures.

The other night I looked down on Jim, snoring away on the dog's bed, glad for once to shoulder a bit of the burden of worrying. I saw my midwife this morning, and the baby has remained head down, and his heartbeat was found along his spine where it's supposed to be. I'm relieved of course, but still aware of how delicately everything is balanced as we arch towards the inevitable. I'm doing my best to acknowledge how little control we have over exactly how things are going to happen in the next few weeks, while telling myself that we'll manage to handle whatever comes our way.