Week 36: Checkup Drama and More

It’s the beginning of the end, now. I woke up last Monday morning to find Elliott’s feet firmly planted under my ribs. The only reason he could pull that off was because he’d dropped into his pre-launch position. This is both a good and bad thing.

It’s good because there’s more room for me to breathe, I can sit upright without squishing-related discomfort, and most importantly, it means we probably won’t have any breech-related complications. Once his head is locked and loaded, it’s difficult for him to unlock himself. Not that he hasn’t been trying. The “bad” is mostly related to whole new levels of discomfort. My poor, abused bladder is experiencing all new fun, which means extra trips to the bathroom (at a time when I need to be increasing my water intake to prep for labor), plus, he’s got extra access to his favorite pillow/punching bag. He’s also pressing on new parts of my body causing strange twinges and tingles and more than a little pain. All of this will continue to increase in intensity and magnitude as the weeks progress and he gets heavier and slips even further into position.

Yay fun yay.

I’m also transitioning from the mostly useless Braxton Hicks contractions to the Real Deal. This transition period (which is probably going to last a month, too), involves strange quasi-contractions that just make me feel nervous. They’re not exactly labor starting, but at any time they could be the thing that happens right before labor starts. When I get a wave (some days I get 2 or 3, other days I’m relatively wave-less) I have to sit and chill and try to not to wonder if I’m going to go into labor in a couple of hours. When these odd episodes happen near or after bed time, I can loose a few hours staying up with an overly-loud mind.

All of this new fun was leading up to a doctor’s appointment on Thursday that I was really looking forward to. At 36 weeks, not only was I going to get a sonogram to see just how big Elliott was getting, but I was going to get to talk to my doctor about these changes and get some serious soothing. I was looking forward to the calm mind that would make sleeping better and to having a better idea of when “next” is going to occur.

Nothing went the way I’d planned.

Before I start, let me say that I love my doctor and my doctor’s office. I’ve been going there for yearly checkups for years and years, and this is the end of my second pregnancy with this office. The administrative staff is as friendly and considerate as can be. The nurses(?) that do most of the prep work (take my vitals, test my pee, interview me before the doctor sees me, etc) are awesome and friendly and competent. Even the blood tech that just hangs out waiting to stick people is nice and superb at her job. I’m an easy target, but she makes the pricks near painless.


The other doctor in the practice and the nurse practitioner are just not as cool as my doctor. I’ve seen them when I needed to with very little drama other than some grousing that they’re not my doc, so the “level of care” wasn’t really of concern. They just have different ways of talking to pregnant patients that I just don’t care for.

Thursday, I really needed to see my doctor, but she was held up with some surprise deliveries and surgeries, so after my sonogram, I was going to see the NP. I took a deep breath and focused on the fact that in a few weeks, it might be my emergency surgery that’s keeping my doctor from seeing patients and I wouldn’t want her to rush back to her office then. This helped keep most of the tears and frustration at bay, but not all of it. Almost any previous appointment would have been fine, but just not this one, you know?

First up was the sonogram. The tech was running late and rushing to catch up, so when she called us in, she asked “What are we here to look at?” I was taken aback. Who trusts a patient to tell you that? Isn’t there a sheet or something that tells you what you need to do? So I briefly went through our history with the sonograms and that the doc thought he might be a bit big, so this was to check that out. Was there a standard set of things to look for when you’re checking that out? I don’t know. I’m not a professional. If I hadn’t been lurking on some forums, I wouldn’t have even thought about worrying about fluid levels. If i hadn’t asked, would she have done that, too? I don’t know. I was not full of confidence. Even though this was my 4th sonogram for this child and my second child, she still treated me like an idiot and was more than a little patronizing. I took deep breaths and tried to remain calm while she went about her work.

Oh, and Elliott’s fine. He’s measuring 6.5 lbs right now, which is apparently about the 54th percentile. The placenta is still where it belongs and all his parts are working just fine. We even got to see him “breathe” at one point. Fluid levels are normal, he’s still a boy, etc, etc. I know that finding nothing when you look is a good thing, but still, I felt like this was a waste of time and money since there was nothing out of the ordinary. We couldn’t even get any good pictures. Being almost at term, he’s so bit it was hard to really capture anything. Ah Well. Better safe than surprised.

On the heels of that frustration, it was time to visit with the NP. She wouldn’t be able to definitively tell me anything, but I knew I’d get to talk to my doc in 6 days. If something had been abnormal on the sonogram, I would have been more of a wreck, but since my doc was going to look over the notes and pictures herself, I was less concerned about talking with the NP.

She was as I remembered from my 6 week “we don’t schedule you with the doctor until we’re sure you’re pregnant” visit. I didn’t feel listened to as much as I said certain things and she repeated the textbook’s response that my statement triggered. Which, being a textbook reader myself, I knew already. We had a couple of exchanges that went something like this:

Me: I’m having these weird episodes where it doesn’t feel quite like a Braxton Hicks but it’s not a full contraction. I’ll have maybe 2 or 3 in a half-hour or so, but then nothing after that for hours.

Her: If you have more than 4 contractions in an hour, then you need to call us or head to the hospital.

Me: ….Well….I don’t think these are really contractions, are they? I mean, they don’t really hurt and it doesn’t feel like the uterus is contracting as much as everything just feels weird for a moment or two.

Her: Just be sure that if you have more than 4 contractions in a hour that you call someone. We’d probably try to stop you from going into labor for the next week or so.

Me: 6 days until i talk to my doctor…6 days until i talk to my doctor.

I still mentioned everything I needed to mention, in case there was a real red-flag in there, but I didn’t hold my breath that she was going to say anything useful. I also didn’t bother asking what the plan would be regarding a possible early induction, because at best she would repeat the possibilities that my doctor had laid out in an earlier appointment. She did (roughly) check my girly bits to see if there was any progress on that front and there wasn’t, so I was even more content to wait the 6 days to have a conversation with my doctor.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Friendly Appointment Scheduler: You need to come back in a week, right?

Me: Yes. But on Wednesday is my normal day.

FAS: [Your Doctor] isn’t going to be in on Wednesday.

Me: whimper

FAS: In fact, she’s not going to be in at all next week.

Me: do not cry. do not cry. do not cry. Better next week than the week after. do not cry. do not cry. I’m sorry. I was just really looking forward to seeing *her*.

FAS: Well, she has some hours on Friday. Let me see if there’s something still available. …. How does 11am work?

Me: Yes, please. Thank you.

So it’s 8 days instead of 6, but at this point, it’s still with my doctor. The good news is that since everything’s normal and I haven’t started the expulsion process, I don’t have to start freaking out because he’s more likely to come early instead of on-time-ish.

Between the lack of my doctor (I doubt she’s on call this week) and a sudden overnight business trip for Ryan, Elliott is flat out not allowed to emerge this week.

I hope he’s listening.

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