29 weeks is far too early

I found out I was in danger of premature labour on Thursday and a bleh, odd series of days have followed.

I had a standard prenatal check-up scheduled for Thursday morning and rocked up at the hospital duly. Beyond the hair-raising drive to the place, my usual angst about possibly being grumped at for gaining too much weight and my stress sending my bloody pressure misleadingly skyrocketing, I had very little that I was concerned about.

But everything seemed fine. My meeting with the blood pressure machine, aka The Enemy, went surprisingly well and it gave me a normal reading. Despite the fact I’d gained 1 kilogram in 3 weeks, the midwives were quite satisfied since I’ve still gained less than 5 kilograms overall. The baby monkey himself, when we got the ultrasound going, was hanging around in there, doing his thing. He weighed 1440 grams (… probably even more now) and he was going well. He was facing downward and his feet, as I suspected, were up against my ribs. He had one hand over half his face and his o-chinchin was on full display. I was scheduled for a hemoglobin injection care of my negative blood type and my ob/gyn seemed to be looking for/at something unspecified for awhile but otherwise, all seemed well.

“Did you have any questions?” my badass ob/gyn (lest I forget she was the latter first and I thought that was all she would be for a long time).

I did have a couple. I’d been nauseous again and that worried me, but she assured me that it was fine. I had also had, I recalled, some cramping. No bleeding, just something that felt like the textbook description of Braxton Hicks contractions. I couldn’t even remember what night it had been that I woke up in pain, but the cramp had gone away when I rolled over and took a couple of deep breaths and the same thing happened again around 30 or 40 minutes later. That was about it, I shrugged.

That worried her, though, and at that point, as the internet would have it, shit got kind of real.

One transvaginal ultrasound later (fun), I discovered that there was something about my placenta that she was fussing about, my cervix had started to shorten and open, and those were actual contractions that shouldn’t be happening yet. If that wasn’t enough to freak me out on its own, her initial proposed solution to this was to stop work now and stay the hell home. After some consideration and clarification that my work was hardly as stressful as, say, her own, this got changed to 2 or 3 days rest at home during which time I would start taking anti-contraction medicine and continue to do so for the next two weeks until my appointment.

This was not entirely reassuring by a long shot but I went home and, almost immediately feeling like a caged animal, began to cancel work. Me being me and wanting the fullest picture possible, I looked up what exactly the drugs were, their efficacy, how likely the resting thing was to actually work, and, yes, what exactly a baby born at 29 weeks would go through assuming he landed in the 95% survival group.

I watched a TV special awhile ago about extremely premature babies. I’ve gotten through this whole pregnancy so far by at least considering all the things that might go wrong with it and so, of course, I watched this when it came up. They were looking mostly at babies born between 22 and 25 weeks, and the question came up regarding whether medical developments could eventually allow even younger babies to survive. The general consensus was no. One of the doctors provided the response that they largely concluded on regarding the whole people accidentally driving over a cliff analogy. You could focus on putting ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, but a far better focus would be to work on the fence at the top to stop everyone going over in the first place – i.e. to prevent babies being born so early in the first place.

What I discovered during this sudden, intense new research project was just how inept the fences at the top of this particular cliff are. Rest might work, but it probably doesn’t. Pills and whatnot are questionable. Progesterone injections do something and, if it’s caught early enough, cervical cerclage can work. All of this doesn’t entirely address the problem of why babies are born too early, though.There are people who appear at higher risk than others – if, say, you are carrying more than one baby, you’re a markedly older or younger mother than average, work a stressful job, to give a few examples. This definitely doesn’t explain everything, though, and I didn’t feel particularly satisfied when I was done with Google for the day.

All in all, I oscillated between boredom and misery with the occasional dash of wondering what exactly the limitations on “rest” were. Thursday and Friday passed much like this, with me feeling like my trip to convenience store was an act of extreme risk and rebellion.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I’d begun to calm down a bit. It was mine and R’s anniversary, I finally remembered a TV show I actually felt like binge-watching, and it was set to be the last day of the 2-3 day rest period. R and I went out for dinner in the evening and found a quiet place to watch some of the local fireworks. His present, which I planned to go and buy on Friday afternoon, has to wait but he still seemed very happy with things. He bought me some flowers and decided to take over the organization of the new vacuum cleaner as a kind of gift – which, in some ways, isn’t much of a gift but it was something I was supposed to have done, not cheap and something we actually needed. Oh, and it’s pink, and R is the one principally using it so far.

Now, on Sunday night, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly relaxed. In some ways, I remain pretty wound up. Every little twinge in my lower back and faint ache in the general vicinity of my abdomen or groin has me worried. I am trying not to worry too much, though – to instead feel relieved that I can return to work on Tuesday (normally tomorrow, but everyone’s cancelled for summer vacation) and accept that there isn’t a whole lot I can do now except take the medicine, watch myself closely and make especially sure I don’t overdo things.

I was so worried, so convinced that he would be late. Now I’m just hoping he stays inside as long as he can.

The pet budgie

I only have one class scheduled today and I almost wish they would cancel. In fact, I’m half-expecting them to do just that, because they are by far the most unreliable of all my students. When I get a phone call 20 minutes before the class from them – when they know it takes over an hour to get to their house – I am pissed.

But no. Marie wants to give me a lift from the station. She also wants to prod my stomach, but hey, quite a high percentage of my students and their families have decided that the stomach is a free-for-all now that there’s a creature inside it. She is in holiday mode, anyhow – her husband is home for summer holidays and it’s Sam’s birthday tomorrow. He is turning nine and, I discover after we get through the class, he is about to receive a budgie.

It’s a blue little thing, brought home and brandished about by his father. S/he clambers about the cage adorably and I feel nostalgic, for my parents’ house and for their pet budgie, an older, grumpier and very talkative little yellow guy. Judging from the menagerie of insects I’ve had paraded past me the past couple of summers when the lessons haven’t been cancelled, Sam and his family are quite enthusiastic about pets (far more so, I retort mentally, than learning English – that’s just expected to miraculously happen). Hopefully the little blue budgie will thrive.


Pancakes, I decide late on Sunday night. I really want pancakes. The return of the fatigue has brought, strangely enough, a return of the nausea here and there. I’ll report it to my doctor on Thursday in case it is a piece in a far more sinister puzzle, but for now I’m chalking it up to the hormones and seeking pancakes.

Denny’s is there for me on Monday morning. After a drive to work with R, for it is raining and he is going out drinking tonight, I head for the nearest one I can think of. The pancakes come as part of a set menu and, for a few moments, they are the most glorious things ever and life is good. There is nothing quite like satisfying a craving.

Skype call

Sunday evening means Skyping the family and I talk to them about the cats. Dad’s football team lost (again) and my parents are just back from watching it, and my sister is hiding whatever more interesting despair she might be feeling from my prying eyes.

There isn’t a lot to report. R’s well. I’m fine. The baby’s fine. Work is work is work. It’s hot and humid. I can’t convey just how the humidity saps you of your energy, your interest in life, your capacity to even breathe properly. Hell, once it finally passes and winter sinks its claws in, I won’t be able to properly remember it myself.

Mum and Dad have decided that they are going to pay for the baby’s pram. The pram is one more thing on a dauntingly long list of things I need to organize, but at least the money for it is going to come from somewhere other than me and R. I’ve seen the prices on those things, particularly the new ones. We consider briefly how the hell, exactly, they’re going to get the money to me, cannot figure it out and put it off for another day.

And thus, the cats, a perfectly awesome subject.

Sleepy, very sleepy

It’s Sunday, it’s hot, and my brain feels like a fog has descended over it. Sometime during the past week, my out-of-control body (or so it feels) seems to have started reminiscing about those days spent feeling like a zombie during the first trimester and decided to re-enact them.

I read, I nap, I watch the cats, I experiment with a couscous salad and I drag myself out to buy some inari for lunch and temporarily wake up. I try to nag myself into doing things – there’s so much to organize for the baby, a house/flat that needs tidying, Japanese to study, stories to write. I need to prepare for the life with a screaming infant, a lack of work and freedom and a whole lot of housewifely duties that is creeping ever closer and I can’t quite summon the energy for it.

All I want to do is sleep.