Thursday, June 2, 2011

the last stretch

Now the thing about having a baby ~ and I can't be the first person to have noticed this ~ is thereafter you have it. Jean Kerr

Our grandbaby is soon to be born.  He is on the final stretch of his journey into our loving arms. Mama cannot stretch her belly much longer! Childbirth occurs about 38 weeks after conception and the World Health Organization defines the normal time for delivery as between 37 and 42 weeks.  Gestation is carrying an embryo or fetus inside a female and the pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, each three months long.  The first trimester is from the last period to 13th week; second trimester is 14-27 weeks and the third trimester is betweeen 28-40 weeks. Now is the time to prepare the baby's room, assemble his crib, keep a full tank of gas in the car, and pack the bag for delivery (and remember to bring the fully charged camera.)  Here we go!

Only mothers can think of the future ~ because they give birth to it in their child.

Baby is packing on the pounds ~ one ounce a day;  weighs about 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is 18 1/2 inches long.  He is shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered his body as well as vertix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected his skin during the nine-month amniotic bath.  Baby swallows most of these substances along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, which will form the contents of his first bowel movement.  Baby takes up a lot of room and at this time Mama will have an easier time breathing and less heartburn as he starts to drop down the pelvis.  This process, called lightening, happens a few weeks before labor.  Increased pressure is evident in the lower abdomen which makes walking uncomfortable and at times she may feel as if carrying a bowling ball between her legs.  His head is in the down position, ready for the grand entrance.   At the end of this week, baby will be considered full term.  Babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term. 

If men had to have babies, they would only ever have one each.  Princess Diana

 Sometimes Mama may feel Braxton Hicks contractions more frequently one month prior to labor.  These contractions are natural preparation for labor getting the uterine muscles ready for the big event.  They tend to surprise Mama and are generally more alarming than they are painful, and they are irregularly spaced, both of which differentiate them from other contractions.  This is the beginning of the process of softening the cervix in preparation for real labor.  False labor is when contractions start becoming painful in the lower abdomen, are irregular over time and eventually stop.  True labor happens when contractions are regular, rhythmic and painful or very uncomfortable.  At this stage, start timing for contractions.  Record how far they are from the start of one to the start of the next and how long they last.  Doctor will tell when he wants you to head to the hospital, usually when contractions last at least a minute and are 10 minutes apart.

A baby is born with a need to be loved ~ and never outgrows it.

The first time a woman gives the birth to a baby, it usually takes an average of 15 hours, though it is not uncommon to last more than 20.  My first labor went on for 32 hours! With a second birth, it is about 8 hours on average.  My second lasted 9 and my third was 13 hours.  I remember them quite vividly. The full process of labor happens as contractions progressively dilate and efface the cervix and ends when it is fully dilated to 10 centimeters.  There are two stages  ~ early and active.  The early labor happens when the cervix dilates to 4 centimeters and the contractions are longer and stronger as the last part of labor begins as the active phase.  This is when the cervix dilates 8-10 centimenters and it is most intense at this transition period when contractions are very strong, coming about every 2-3 minutes and last a minute long. 
To witness the birth of a child is our best opportunity to experience the meaning of the word miracle. Paul Carvel

 The second stage of labor is evident when the cervix is fully dilated for the final descent and birth of baby.  This is the pushing stage of labor and lasts from minutes to a few hours.  Baby's head will continue to advance with each push until it crowns, a term used when the widest part of his head is finally visible.  Doc will suction his mouth and nose and feel around the neck for the umbilical cord.  Baby's head will turn side to side as his shoulders rotate inside the pelvis to get into position for his exit.  At the next contraction, a push will deliver the shoulders, one at a time, followed by the rest of his body.  A wide range of emotions are felt by Mama at this moment ~ euphoria, awe, pride, disbelief, excitement and intense relief it is over.  Even though exhausted, she will probably feel a burst of energy as the miracle of life appears. 
Making a decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Stage three is the final stage of the birthing and ends with the delivery of the placenta.  Contractions are relatively mild.  If anything was torn during the delivery, doctor will mend this area.  Once they clean up the newborn and check his weight and length and make sure all ten toes and fingers are intact, Mama will finally hold her wee one.  At this time, baby will be hungry and want some nourishment which seals the bond between them.  He will be given a cute little cap to keep his head warm, the item the daddy of our boys loved most of all.
Childbirth is a miracle.  No, it's's a chemical reaction, that's all.

Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh...xo