Today marked an exciting moment in our pregnancy journey- so of course it involved tears, comfort baking, and terrible directions. This morning we had our official home visit by our midwife who delivered the tub, a bag full of tools and attachments, and the last stamp of clearance for getting this party started.
It definitely was not a guaranteed approval though and I’m spending a little extra time in praise and processing this afternoon instead of watching the Barcelona game with Andrew. Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve struggled with low iron levels. Matched with my inability to take pills and keep them down, this anemia threat has been consistently discouraging and a tiny monster drifting out of the shadows of my mind. Andrew has been a champion- grinding up supplements and hiding them in smoothies for me, encouraging me to keep cooking in the cast iron, and sacrificially agreeing to steak for dinner. :) Despite all of this, every test I’ve taken has shown dropping levels of hemoglobin. What was meant to be my last test several weeks ago put me severely in the anemic camp and raised warning flags for the safety of trying a home birth. At that point, the risk of hemorrhaging was significant enough that we discussed other options but my midwife had faith that my levels could rise. She kept reminding me that everyone’s levels dropped at that week as the baby was busy building his own blood supply and that it would bounce back in a week or two. (We’re studying alliteration in school next week- did you notice?)
Last Saturday, we took another test hoping her optimism would be reflected in the numbers. It had been a rough week with both Andrew and I home sick from work at the beginning. I had been fighting nausea and fatigue all week as Eamon had temporarily decided right up under my rib cage was exactly where he needed to be. As a result, much of my appetite was gone and only rice crackers and ice were even slightly appealing. Neither of those are particularly rich in iron. We went off to get the tests done and then I went mostly offline for the next few days, working on resting and enjoying the amazing mini babycation Andrew planned for us. (I plan to post pictures from that soon!) Imagine my dismay when I opened my email Tuesday night to find a concerned email from Nanci telling that my levels had dropped AGAIN.
To be honest, I was crushed. I often struggle with identifying success in my life and having this area where I was consistently and metrically measuring short is a quick fuse to a box full of other self-doubts and fears. Knowing that I had already been in the grey area for a homebirth, I was filled with fear that another dip would sent me straight to a maternity ward. At this point that was triggering a whole plethora of fears, including the simple calendar truth that I’m a mere three weeks away from my due date. That’s simply not enough time to research and enter a practice that would let me try for a completely natural birth in a hospital setting let alone that also takes my insurance. The logistical nightmare meshed with the concerns I have about feeling pressured and manipulated into practices I don’t feel are necessary made last night and this morning a fairly emotional affair. There was a lot of anxiety not only about what the future might hold but also tied up with the sense of failure that I had about these low levels.
This morning I woke up intent on feeling purposeful and successful. My body may not be reaching every goal I set it but I’ve carried Eamon for over 8 months and we’re solidly in what is considered in some practices full-term. (Other more rigorous definitions require 39 weeks to be considered full and would consider us at 37 weeks as “early term” which means that Eamon would most likely be fine but that a longer gestation would only improve his health and well-being.) Andrew and I braved the torrential rain to go grocery shopping- the first time I’ve been in weeks! Andrew has been so amazing about easing so many of my household jobs without a single complaint but it was a lot of fun to be able to shop together. Wednesday night is game night at our place and this weekend we’ll have a houseful of guys hanging out for the fantasy baseball draft so it was great to plan out food and look forward to some social time with good friends.
Even a short grocery trip taxed me to the edge of my energy though. Fatigue, the sort that feels like I’ve run a mile with a big dog on the front of the leash, has been a constant companion the last several weeks but hey, ain’t nobody got time for that! The midwife was coming at eleven though and I was determined to have a hold on my emotions by then. The obvious solution was baking so I started in on a batch of blackstrap molasses cookies. While working on them, I threw on Pandora for some background sound. This song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mmgV6mPvb0) Blessings came on and whoosh I was gone. It was such a strong reminder that faith means leaning hard when it’s hard and having the hope to see things that shake me as an opportunity for good- either through learning or by unexpected grace. Lots of tears. Bless that woman!
Soon after that my sister showed up and I was so grateful for the chance to talk through all the plethora of changes Andrew and I are planning. In the next three weeks or so, I’ll be leaving my dream job and 80 some kids that I love dearly and be tackling one of the more challenging physical activities commonly experienced by the human race. We’ll be figuring out parenting the way everyone does- half asleep and totally terrified. :) Of course, we should also throw in job-hunting, apartment searching, and moving across the city. Andrew is convinced it is a Minick quality to never do anything halfway but I think with this one we may be taking it on double-strength!
Andrew arrived from his quest for Sonic ice (thanks Jill for having particular ice preferences because he didn’t even blink when I insisted it had to be SONIC! Well- trained! :) ) and brought the midwife with him. I’m glad we do homevisits because her address for us was off by one number and her phone number for me was also off a digit- definitely NOT a situation to discover when I’m in labor. She kicked off the meeting with a bang by telling me that my iron levels are so low that she’s not sure “how I’m still functioning”. For context, most healthy people hover between a 12-13. Anemia is a score of an 11 and many pregnant women get close to this score at about 28 weeks but then bounce back. I started at an eleven. Currently I’m barely holding onto a 10. Nanci explained that if I dropped below a ten, she’d probably recommend a hospital birth because she’s worried I simply wouldn’t have the strength to safely make it through a homebirth. I was stricken. It must have showed because she quickly told me that thankfully, even though my hemoglobin levels were drastically low, my platelet count was still in a decent range. Apparently this is not common as they tend to correlate but it’s great for me because low platelets increase the risk of hemorrhaging- and with two strikes I’d be out! Nanci started listing off bonus supplements- yaaaaay. So now, I’m cooking in the cast-iron, rocking the red meat, and stocking up on raisins while Andrew sneaks desiccated liver into my smoothies. Um yuck. But here goes everything we’ve got because the time is running out! Otherwise it was a great appointment. Andrew gets to fiddle with the cords, hoses, and attachments as we do a dry run of setting everything up later this week and Sofi was a great addition to the fun as well as giving me a much needed hug.
Everything is in place and ready to go more or less. :)
How far along? 37 weeks! With a green light from the midwife, I’m drinking pregnancy tea that is supposed to “tone” the uterus and telling Eamon about all the awesome things in this world. I’ve got two weeks of teaching left and then come on baobao! :)
Maternity clothes? Ha- are there any other kinds? I’m so big that I keep running into things with my stomach- ouch!
Stretch marks? Got my first set two days ago. I’m working not to be too bummed about it but I was so close to getting out without a mark!
Sleep: I’ve always been good at sleeping. It’s probably a superpower or something. Most nights I’m still getting my 8 or 9 hours but occasionally Eamon decides to work on some martial arts and I spend a lot of time practicing keeping my temper.
Best moment this week: Escaping for a couple of days into Houston with Andrew. We went to the bookstore, the art museum, and simply had a delightfully peaceful pause in life.
Movement: This guy is fully active. The midwife asked me to keep a two hour log to make sure he was moving at least 10 times in that time period and I may have laughed out loud. If I’ve gone thirty minutes without him making his presence known, it hasn’t happened in months! I think he’s getting so big that the students will be able to see him rolling around.
Food cravings: Rice cakes- which reminds me I need to get another bag! Sonic ice. Sonic ICE. All the time. Ice always.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Ugh the smell of coffee is still rough at random times. That’s pretty much it though!
Belly Button in or out? Pretty much just flat. The oddest looking thing in my opinion!
Wedding rings on or off? Definitely on- no major swelling yet! My ankles are fine too which is super nice.
Prayer requests: Iron. Iron. IRON. Energy is going to be important on this sort of mission, quest, thing. :)
I’ve been really praying to hit active labor where things might get loud during the day while my neighbors are at work/school. It’s a minor detail that I know I don’t have control over but God does and he cares about the little things!
I’m SO grateful that home birth is and continues to be an option for me and I’m praising God for this chance. Please pray for wisdom for Andrew and I and our midwife Nanci. As she ALWAYS reminds me, the goal is a healthy baby and not a homebirth. I know that she will be fierce in placing me in the best possible situation and I’m blessed to be in her care but we both know and celebrate the fact that before I ever met her God knew me and my heart and story. He has control and power and grace in abundance.
Please, as the days pass on, and God brings us to mind take a moment to shoot a text or call. This is a staggeringly large adventure and we know we will need support from our dear community.