37 weeks: Foetal Monitoring and Braxton-Hicks

Today I went to the hospital for a foetal monitoring session followed by a check-up. During the monitoring they place two big plastic captor things on your belly and secure them with elastic belts, which you’re supposed to keep in your bag afterwards to bring with you to subsequent appointments. Apparently it’s best to lie on your side, but the nurses didn’t tell me this and I was on my back, so we kept losing the signal every time she moved – or when my boyfriend made me laugh, which I had to tell him off for, as he was in a somewhat trollish mood. Luckily she wasn’t moving too much, so we got the mandatory 30mins of more-or-less unbroken monitoring.

One of the captors measured her heartrate (and mine), and the other, higher up on my belly, measured contractions. I didn’t think I’d had any yet, and indeed I didn’t for most of the session, but right before the end the measure rose from under 20 to 30, stayed there for a few seconds, and then went back down (20 to 30 what, you ask? I dunno, but whatever it is, a real childbirth contraction can go up to 120 of it). We asked afterwards, and yes indeed, I had had my first Braxton-Hicks contraction.

Or maybe not my first. I wouldn’t know, because it felt vaguely like trapped wind. It was nothing like what I imagined a contraction to feel like, even a small one, and I didn’t feel my belly go hard the way I imagined it would. In fact, if I’d had one at home, chances are I’d have just shifted position without even noticing it. Even now that I know what it feels like I’m not sure I’d notice. I might have had several since we left the hospital and not felt them at all over the hunger pangs and the ligament pain and baby’s head pressing on my bladder.

Ah, yes. Did I mention that I was feeling better than since the beginning of my pregnancy? Or did I not get a chance to say it before that one week-ish of feeling almost human ended and a whole bunch of new symptoms arrived? Because yes, there was about a week at the beginning of this month when I was less tired, less nauseous, less weepy, and when the only real difference I felt with my usual un-pregnant self was the bowling ball I was effectively carrying around in my belly, which is getting cumbersome.

Then, one day, baby started pushing with her feet against my ribcage, which pushed her head further into my pelvis, specifically onto my bladder. The result was this on-off feeling of having a UTI for a second at a time, followed by relief. It’s not pleasant.

Then, another day, I realised she wasn’t doing it any more. In fact, I had quite a lot of my bladder capacity back, which would have been great… but instead, the muscles right at the bottom of my abdomen, my groin and the insides of my thighs were really sore whenever I stood up and walked, like I’d done a work-out the day before. I thought I’d maybe asked a bit too much of them as I’d done food shopping the day before and carried it home in my rucksack, but later my boyfriend remarked that the baby was very high in my belly, and after feeling around a bit, we realised that she was no longer quite head-down, but more or less transverse, with her head on my right hip.

Luckily my boyfriend has become very adept at the haptonomy exercises we’ve been taught, and after a good bit of massaging my sore muscles and gently pushing her around, she started to move back into place. Finally I felt her head move back into my pelvis, and had to get up very fast to go pee.

Since then the muscle pain has lessened somewhat, but it’s still there three days later, so I told my gynocologist about it today. Turns out it’s not just muscular; the ligaments down there are loosening in preparation for the Big Day, so some soreness is normal, and it shouldn’t prevent me from taking regular walks as long as I go slowly and rest often.

She also did a swab test, and told me to do a pee test (way more difficult than it should be with the bowling ball belly) and a blood test at the hospital lab – the last one of my pregnancy! The young nurse who did the blood test was the gentlest I’ve ever met, too – I didn’t even feel the blood leaving my arm (which is the sensation I really hate in blood tests, rather than just the needle), it barely hurt and I’ve no bruising at all.

To celebrate (because BF felt like eating out one last time before Baby Diva takes over our lives for good), we went to an Italian restaurant. I caught myself staring enviously at the wine they were drinking at the table next to us, and had to ask for a doggy bag because my stomach capacity is no longer what it used to be, but it was worth the deliciousness.

Other developments: perhaps the strangest one, which isn’t entirely new, is the nesting thing. You know, the irrepressible urge to get the house clean and tidy in preparation for the baby. What nobody mentioned to me is that sometimes the nesting urge could hit at one in the morning. A couple of nights ago I fell asleep at the relatively early time of 9:30pm, only to wake up at midnight famished. Luckily BF was still up and not sleepy either, so I spent the next four hours eating, cleaning the living room, crocheting and playing guitar (quietly), trying to get rid of all this nervous energy that had come out of nowhere. He dragged me to bed at 4am, but it took me another two hours to get to sleep again, and that day I woke up at 1pm. My body clock would still be messed up now if I hadn’t had to get up this morning for my hospital appointment.

And I can tell Baby Diva is taking up more and more space because the acid reflux is back even when she’s pressing on my bladder. Her movements are smaller and – I feel – less frequent, although perhaps I just don’t notice them as much. She’s less reactive to sound than she used to be, although she’s still just as reactive to touch, and she’ll come up and snuggle against my boyfriend’s warm hands when he places them on my belly – as much as she can in such limited space.

BF is predicting that she’ll be here a week early. I doubt it, but I’m not as certain she’ll be late as I was before now that I can feel my body preparing for her arrival. We’ll see.

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