The week before last my doctors appointments went well. The baby looked healthy, no signs of distress, no issues with the cord placement, and my amniotic fluid was within a more normal range.
This week showed some new concerns. The baby is fine but continues to do her Cirque du Soleil performances in utero. She prefers to be sideways or breech which is not popular with my healthcare providers this late in the pregnancy. My fluid is again in excess and, because of where the cord is, now I'm at great risk for cord prolapse and because of her continued movement there is concern about another cord accident.
Last Thursday my regular doctor treated me like I was a walking time bomb--asking me how quickly I could get to the hospital if my water broke and making me promise that if it did I wouldn't take a precious minute to call or even grab my suitcase. He said that if we can catch her head down at any time with the cord in a safe placement, they will go ahead and induce.
My next scheduled appointment is Monday morning with the specialist and then in the afternoon with my regular doctor. Monday is our 19 year wedding anniversary, so having our new baby girl in our arms would sure be a sweet gift. (Brad, you are off the hook on a romantic dinner out. Ice chips and an epidural will be fine.) But I know the docs at my specialist's office really want me to go another full week if there are no signs of her in distress (so I'd be 38 weeks), so I won't be surprised or disappointed if they send me home to let her cook a bit longer.
One thing they track often with my fetal non-stress tests is contractions. I have lots of them and have since I was 28 weeks. Just false labor that is a pain in the abdomen.
I've done this with all my pregnancies. When I was expecting Ava, I started having regular contractions at 30 weeks. They were every 4 minutes apart and strong. My doctors were sure it was the real thing and admitted me to the hospital and put me on all kinds of drugs. When they finally sent me home I was on strict bedrest, lots of meds, and drank enough water on a daily basis to fill a swimming pool. At 37 weeks they took me off the meds fully expecting her to be born within hours and . . . she ended up arriving three weeks later on her due date.
And so with subsequent pregnancies, I've kind of just ignored them. It's just my body crying wolf, every 4 to 5 minutes. (Apparently there's a correlation between my excess of fluid and the frequency/strength of the contractions.) My husband will see me holding my belly in obvious pain and ask if we need to go to the hospital and I will simply answer, "No, but I could use a hot fudge sundae and a foot massage." (Hey, I'm going to milk this for all it's worth.)
As I have these contractions, I can't help but see how much they mirror the contractions of life.
Real contractions can be scary the first time you experience them. I remember the first time I felt those muscles tighten like a boa constrictor around my waist. It was something I'd never felt before and frankly it freaked me out. As my pregnancy progressed I realized that the contractions only got stronger and lasted longer. By the end I realized these early contractions were nothing compared to the ones that left me breathless and speechless and doubled over in pain. And it's these contractions that precede the birth of something amazing.
In the same way, I've had a lifetime of different kinds of emotional and spiritual "contractions." Small trials, disappointments, detours in life. At the time I thought they were the real thing. I thought the pain couldn't get any worse. I thought it was too much to bear. But soon I realized that this was just practice labor. That my broken heart could mend. That the sun would rise the next day. That the world didn't come to an end.
It's hard to watch my children experience "contractions." Last week my kids finished school. Our sweet Christian school only goes through 8th grade and Olivia will be starting over next year in high school. She hurts leaving her dear friends and teachers and school that has been home for so long. She's feeling contractions as she faces the unknowns of what is ahead. While I know these contractions are so small compared to what she will deal with later in life, I know they are very real right now, very uncomfortable, and very scary.
Daniel also experienced contractions last week. He came home on the last day of school and wept all over his lunch. It hit him all of a sudden that his precious teacher wouldn't be going to 3rd grade with him next year. He doesn't think his teacher or group of classmates will ever be as wonderful as it was this year and he is grieving. It was such a sweet year in his life that I wish I could rewind it and play it over for him, especially after him having so many years that I wish I could erase. He has already had to deal with contractions far worse, yet this pain is very real to him as well.
When my children experience these contractions and they tell me how much it hurts and they cry in my arms, all I can do is remind them that God is good and He has a wonderful plan for their lives. This is big talk from a woman who is having contractions--literally and figuratively. I don't like the pain of uncertainty. I have moments of worry that this baby might not be okay. I have doubts as I wonder if I can be a good mom to five children.
In my mind I know that the most painful contractions of all are the ones that strengthened my faith and poured out such blessings in my life. I remember that as horrible as it was to watch my mother battle cancer, because of her faith through that trial she left a legacy that will continue for generations. I remember that as heartbreaking as it was to lose our first son, that tragedy truly changed the course of our lives and such goodness and mercy has come from it that we would not have otherwise experienced.
And yet, I still want to walk through life with an epidural. I want to be exempt from hard times and I want my family to be as well. And that's when I have to remember God's faithfulness and remind myself that "God is good and He has a wonderful plan for my life." I surrender to that truth as I face the uncertainty of the week ahead.
It's almost Sunday here in Georgia, so I'm going to go ahead a post a "Sunday Dinner" for the week. My favorite scripture about contractions is:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. . . .
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. " James 1:2-3, 12, NIV
The "dessert" of song is one of my favorites right now. It's "Blessings" by Laura Story--she's one of my all-time favorite artists and sings at the church that is part of our children's school. Her lyrics so beautifully sum up what God has been trying to teach me for many years.
May you remember God's faithfulness and goodness during your own times of trials and "contractions."
P.S. I'm having trouble posting comments on other blogs! For a couple weeks, when I log in to leave a comment it lists me as anonymous, then when I try to leave the comment it disappears. It seems to be a problem with Blogger. If anyone knows how to fix it let me know. Thanks!