Week 28 ~ January 20, 2004
~ Or Possibly 29, or Even 30
I had another midwife appointment this week and the debate about my due date continues. Based on last menstrual period, I was 28 weeks. Based on when I know I conceived, I was 29 weeks. Based on ultrasound, I was 30 weeks. Based on fundal height, I was 33 weeks. Currently my midwife wants to change my due date to the middle of March, as she thinks that I won't make it until my official due date of April 1. I find this both exciting and terrifying. I'm not prepared for the baby yet and my daughter is definitely not prepared for the birth. We've been preparing her for a new sibling, which is stressful to her, and now we've begun focusing more heavily on what will happen when I give birth. This is really stressful to her!
We're working on it slowly. Ideally it will be her choice whether or not to attend the birth, but we have no family here and only two people that she would be comfortable staying with, both of whom live over 30 minutes away, have children and jobs. If the baby comes fast or in the middle of the night, she may have no choice but to come with us! So we want to get her as ready as possible to watch the birth. Right now she goes back and forth between excited and scared about attending, but she feels that way when we talk about her not being there, too. The whole thing is overwhelming, new and strange to her.
To prepare her, we've watched a few births together, explained how the baby comes out, talked about what mommies do (push hard, make noises, etc.) and explained that we will have to do this in the hospital. We're planning to get some age-appropriate books about birth. She's looked at some photos of actual births from my books and is interested in the whole process. We're going to take her on the hospital tour at least once, probably two or more times to get her used to the hospital. That way she'll be able to picture where I am even if she doesn't come with us.
All in all, the whole thing is making me long for a homebirth more than ever! It would all be so easy - she could watch videos if she wants, wander in and out, be in her own environment, and I'd be around after the birth. That's the part that's currently stressing her out the most. I've never been away overnight before (in fact, I've never been away for more than 1-2 hours at a time) and the thought of me staying in the hospital is very upsetting to her. I'm planning to labor at home for as long as possible. I would love to arrive at the hospital ready to give birth, but realistically, I'll probably go there well before that point.
In the meantime, we're also working on preparing Susanna for a new sibling. She's excited about it, but nervous as well. She seems to fear that it will change her basic identity - she will correct you quite sharply if you refer to her as the big sister. "I'm NOT a sister," she'll cry. "I'm a SUSY J!" She is excited about helping with the baby, though. Sometimes a little too excited. She is convinced she will be able to carry the baby around in my sling, for example, which I'm gently discouraging. She also says she will help me push the baby out by pushing on my back. I must admit that sounds very uncomfortable and not remotely helpful!
We've spent a lot of time playing with her dolls, dressing them in the baby's clothes and his diapers. We talk a great deal about what babies are like and have found some wonderful books about babies. Our favorites are A Teeny Tiny Baby by Amy Schwartz and What Baby Needs by Dr. Sears. These have been very helpful in combatting much of what Susy "knows" about having a baby: "Babies drink from bottles," asserts the child who nursed until age three and screamed in rage when her father attempted to offer her expressed breast milk in a bottle while I was away.
"When you change a diaper, you throw it in the trash can," she notes, having spent several years in cloth diapers herself.
"Babies need to sleep in cribs," claims the girl who has spent every night of her life either in our bed or on a mattress next to it.
And "babies love to ride in strollers!" observes the same child who acted as if she were being murdered if we put her anywhere near one until about age three.
So I was happy to find some books that did not heavily feature cribs and bottles. She has come around and now understands that the baby will sleep next to me, we will wash his diapers and reuse them, he can ride in a stroller if he likes but will probably prefer to be carried in a sling and bottles will only be used in an emergency.