It's official -- I'm in the final stretch. I am now going to my doctor's office every week until I give birth. I am no longer going to be routinely measured and weighed and sent home. Now I'll be checked for progression of labor.
My last appointment was Tuesday and it couldn't have been better. We saw one of my favorite doctors and she took plenty of time to answer our questions. I hadn't really had any concerns for the past few months, but all of a sudden it seems I'm wondering about everything. Is she head down? Is she moving enough? Is it even still a she? Are those period-like cramps anything to worry about? How can I tell if she's dropped into my pelvis? Will it really be a noticeable difference? Why haven't I had any contractions yet? Braxton-Hicks or otherwise? Is this thing going to be inside me forever?
Then Jerry chimed in with his own set of inquiries.
The doctor just laughed and patiently dispensed information and advice. Then, to ease my worries, she navigated my belly with her fingertips.
"That feels like butt," she said as her hands slid over the upper right side of my torso. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's butt."
A huge sense of relief washed over me as I stifled a giggle. I have been watching my belly closely over the past few weeks and the activity in that area has been overwhelming. At times, a huge round bulge will push out of my skin and if I race to put my hands on it, it feels round and firm. Just like a head. Up by my ribcage.
It had me so worked up that she could be in the wrong position this late in the game that I started having nightmares about automatic C-sections. To me, nothing could be worse. I want to at least get the opportunity to try to deliver naturally.
Then, as if that wasn't good enough, the doctor suggested a quick free ultrasound "just to be completely sure."
"If possible, we like to rule out any potential surprises," she said.
Jerry and I high-fived in the hallway on the way to the exam room. My practice doesn't give routine ultrasounds. In fact, most pregnant women there get one at eight weeks, one at 20 weeks, and that's it. So even a quick glimpse at our daughter's progression felt like a huge treat.
As her grainy image appeared in black and white on the monitor, it was immediately apparent that she is head down. And although we didn't get to look very long, her lung development since the last ultrasound was very noticeable.
"Oh good, she's practicing her breathing, see?" the doctor said, pointing to her diaphragm.
I could see it move up and down as her lungs inflated and deflated rhythmically. That brief moment made my whole day.
It's strange, but now I'm looking forward to hearing the cry that accompanies it.
I'm sure I'll kick myself in a few weeks for saying that, but right now it's something I'm really looking forward to.