Well folks, yesterday was the 37 week marker for me and this little (big) fish. In other words, we have reached full term.
What does full term mean exactly, one might ask? According to one friendly fact I received, it means if the baby was born any time now he/she would most likely have lungs that are developed enough to not go into the NICU. And your baby would not be considered a "premie," just a little early.
Reassuring, right? Needless to say, that definition of full term didn't make me think "Oh yes, I am having a baby any time now." My mindset at 37 weeks was "I still have this week to write all of my syllabus and lesson plans, next week to finish up with all of my clients at work, this weekend to deep-clean the house, next weekend for PG's Strawberry Days, a few 7 Peaks trips, visits with family coming in for some summer fun, etc etc." Did you notice that having a baby, or even thinking of baby, wasn't mentioned in there? Also notice that this was my mindset when I woke up yesterday morning at 37 weeks.
This was still my mindset as I sat for an hour in the doctor's waiting room for my appointment. This was my mindset when I decided to schedule the rest of my visits right then and there (they tend to get pretty booked) for the next three weeks. And this was definitely still my mindset when the doctor came in to see me.
She asked if I wanted her to check for dilation--mostly for curiosity's sake. I said sure, why not. And I was still planning on scheduling my next three weeks out in detail for myself when she said, "Wow, that head is really low" (was that supposed to mean something? because it didn't to me), and as she continued, "Wow, Carson...three...no, four! Really, four?" (Don't forget while she is double checking to make sure it really is four, I am double timing my breathing on that highly uncomfortable table). "Wow, four." she confirmed.
This news I had a little better understanding of, since I thought I would be at a one, so I was rightly surprised. The doctor continued to tell me that usually people aren't dilated to a four until they are in active labor (!) and if it was my third child she might be worried about it, but as it is, just make sure to come into the hospital sooner rather than later when I start having regular contractions. Like, don't wait the full hour of contractions every 5 minutes.
***Small tangent--ok, so this is a pet peeve of mine. Everyone (meaning doctors and nurses) keep asking me if I've been having contractions. Well...what exactly does that feel like? I'll tell them something I felt, and they all say, "Well, that could be a contraction...it could be this, it could be that, but it probably won't be this...just listen to your body, you'll know." You'll know, you'll know, is what everybody says. But if they aren't painful at first, and if I am supposedly having them since like 28 weeks, how am I supposed to know, when I know? What if I don't know? Ok, tangent done***
So this news about being dilated to a four sort of threw my previous mindset for a very small loop. I asked the doctor lots of specific questions about contractions (see tangent) and exactly what I should be looking for. She said not to worry, I'd probably still have a few hours when I got to the hospital. Then, she said the most mind-boggling, mind-set-changing thing:
"But you should still make an appointment for next week, just in case."
Wait...what? Are you saying I could have this baby before next week's appointment?
But...it's June 12th. And next week is June 19th. NOT June 26th, NOT July 3rd.
As soon as I walked out of the exam room, all of the nurses greeted me with "Yay!" "Congratulations!" "You are so close!"
Yeah, I was a bit baffled by that response.
Honestly, I could be dilated to a four for three weeks. I could be dilated to a four for four weeks and still have to be induced. No one really knows what this means, except that my body is getting ready to get this fish out, according to its own time table. However....I could also be dilated to a four right now, and in 8 hours be dilated to a nine. 8. hours. It's possible.
Remember how I said my mindset was a certain way? Well, my doctor visit changed it--180'd it. I walked to the car and this is what I thought:
"Wait...what? I'm having a baby? Is this really happening?"
It has been so surreal, especially the closer it gets (go figure that one out), that the realization that in who knows how long (one week? three weeks? one day?) there will be another little man in my life who cries and poops and eats and I have to figure out what in the world to do with him. Yikes. Also, I have to recognize when he will be coming into our lives.
I spent the rest of the evening feeling for contractions, and driving Robert up the wall by stating, "Yup, that's a contraction. I'm pretty sure that was one, too...I think this is one?" so that I can work on really understanding what they feel like. Robert told me I was freaking him out. That's probably good for him--he doesn't get freaked out very often or easily.
Then I spent half of the night awake with a throbbing lower back, feeling contractions. Thinking that they were coming more frequently...and ow, that one hurt more! Is this a sign? Should I be tracking this? Glad to say I made it through the night and am still here with no baby (on the outside, that is).
But here's the clincher, folks--I am really having a baby. Really. And it could be any time.
I'm still planning on hitting up Strawberry Days next weekend, though, along with all of my other scheduled activities. Life goes on...I'm just not sure for how much longer :-)
Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, here's me at 37 weeks, on my way to the Arts Express Conference for Educators:
Wish us luck!