Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Larger than Life

It was Christmas day, 2000 when I first started getting the 'Are you going to make it to March?' comments. I really had exploded in size and this was a bit of a concern. I think I gained 10 or 12 pounds in 2 weeks. I still felt good though--I liked finally looking pregnant and pulling out all my brand new maternity clothes.

It wasn't until the new year that my midwife, Tamara, was concerned enough to refer me to the OB to have my fluid levels checked. I remember him to be an easy going, relaxed doctor with the unassuming name of John Smith. He was pretty much unconcerned, telling me that my fluid was 'a little' high, but not terribly out of the ordinary. He also allayed some of my fears about wee boy, saying that they had told him that his son had a small jaw too. He had been born just fine.

Things got worse, however. By the time I was 33 weeks pregnant, I was full term size and very uncomfortable. I think if the increase in size had happened on schedule, my body would have been able to adapt. However, my amniotic fluid levels were about three times higher then normal and the cramping throughout my back and lower abdomen left me basically immobile.

Surprisingly, another visit back to Dr. Smith yielded no results. As huge and uncomfortable as I was, apparently this was not the worst it could get. With the only solution being to syringe out the excess fluid via amniocentesis, he was willing to wait until things were intolerable.

In hindsight, I sometimes wish I had insisted that the fluid be withdrawn. Not for my own comfort—that pain is long forgotten, but I strongly believe that the stress Jairus was under during that time has resulted in long term effects. His growth was poor during that period, although the techs and doctors never admitted that. I only know that because although math is my weakest mental activity, I can deduce that less than a pound gained in two weeks is not normal. It was much less, as a matter of fact.

To add to the stress, Jairus was transverse (translation: sideways). With all that fluid, he wasn’t settling down with his head in ready position. After a while of this, my midwife started warning me that if my water should break unexpectedly early, I should get down on the ground with my bottom up, so as to discourage the umbilical cord from coming out before the baby.

Between my rising fluid and checks on Jairus’ progress or lack thereof, I was having ultrasounds every two weeks or so for the latter half of the pregnancy. It was a despairing time. I couldn’t sleep more than an hour and a half for the pain in my back. I spent a lot of time in the shower on my hands and knees trying to ease the cramping with hot water. I went to massages, tried a chiropractor for the first time—nothing helped. I spent my days propped up Cleopatra-style on the couch with numerous pillows, dreaming of all the nesting arrangements I was unable to do and watching bland daytime TV.

Meanwhile, many were praying. Family and friends all over the continent, even a few overseas. Probably more than I’ll ever know. To this day, I’ll still run across long-ago-communicated with friends who’ll ask about Jairus by name and might even mention how they prayed. It’s entirely heartwarming.

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