So we had the scan.

So we had the scan.

It was wonderful to see B again, after all these months. It was way too large to see onscreen, but we got a great fly-by view. Started at the head (we have a printout of the profile on the fridge now), then looked at the heart, the spinal cord, and the tiny hands and feet. No sign of the genitals; B ws in the wrong position for that particular piece of voyeurism.

All the bits looks good, according to Maureen (our midwife), apart from their position. The head definitely is under my ribs on the right, the bottom is in the lower left, and the feet down in the bottom of the uterus. Maureen says that we need to discuss things with the consultant, but in her opinion, we are headed for a Caesarian.

Indeed, if I go into labor early, I am instructed to call the hospital immediately and tell them it’s oblique breech. They will want me in immediately for an emergency section.

I don’t mind the C-section. I am disturbed, however, that had I been born a hundred years before or a few thousand miles to the south of where I was, I might not live to see May.

On Wednesday, we see the consultant and (probably) decide on B’s birthday.

Baby Baby Baby

Coming right up

It occurs to me that there’s nothing on this website that covers the pregnancy in a relatively comprehensive way. Since our Christmas cards directed people here for updates, I should put something in.

So here goes…

We’ll be 37 weeks pregnant on Friday. If you’re not au fait with counting pregnancy in weeks, that’s 8 months and 1 week, roughly. So we’re coming into the homestretch. The baby, whom we’ve been referring to as B, is due April 20, 2001. This of course bears little relation to when it will be born.

Early pregnancy was difficult – we had a lot of worrying symptoms, and ended up getting 3 ultrasound scans in the first trimester. We were very anxious, but the scans all showed that everything was going well.

The second trimester was much easier. Part of it was that I was feeling a lot less nauseous, and a lot more energetic than I did in early pregnancy. Also, somehow, I stopped worrying, which is highly unusual for me. I think it helped being “out” at work, since I had to go through all the worry and exhaustion of the first three months without being able to let it show during the working day.

The last three months of pregnancy are turning out to be really exhausting. Part of that is work; we’ve been in a busy time, and I’ve done some long hours. Part of it was that I’ve been having lower back pain throughout the pregnancy, and it’s getting harder to get a good night’s sleep. And part of it is just being pregnant.

I’ve finished my last day in the office. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll be working from home, and then I’m completely off work and onto maternity leave. That will be nice – getting up in the morning has been difficult, and sitting all day nearly impossible. My back hurts too much. Besides, by the afternoon, all I want to do is put my head on the desk and sleep.

Although this has been a difficult time physically, I am always conscious of how much worse it would have been a century ago. We’ve run into a couple of problems in the pregnancy.

  1. Rh incompatibility
    Basically, I am Rh negative (a recessive trait), and Martin is Rh positive (a dominant trait). This means that the chances are excellent that B is Rh+.

    Now, Rh- people can form antibodies to Rh+ blood, and develop severe immune reactions as a result. An Rh- mother with antibodies to Rh+ blood, bearing an Rh+ baby, can also reject the baby in utero, leading to miscarriage or extremely premature birth. A couple of generations ago, I would have been able to have one child at most; any others would die, possibly taking me with them.

    The trick is to keep the antibodies from forming in the first place. As long as B’s blood doesn’t mix with mine, we’re safe. Barring a car accident or some such, that won’t happen until delivery. So they have a blood product called Anti-D, which they inject after birth (and after any instance where blood could have mixed). They tell me it “soaks up” the Rh+ factor before my immune system can form antibodies to it. In addition, the midwife has been taking my blood every few weeks and testing it to make sure nothing’s happened thus far.

  2. The position of the baby
    The baby seems to be lying oblique breech, meaning that it has its head wedged under my ribs on the right and its bottom down on the lower left.

    This is not a suitable position for giving birth. We’ll be getting an utrasound on Friday to confirm the situation, but it’s looking like the only way B can come out is by Caesarian section.

    This is not a big issue as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t matter much to me how I give birth, as long as B and I both end up OK. But I can’t help thinking about how it would have been before C-sections were so common. Then, if we couldn’t get the baby turned, I would have died in childbirth.


Amazingly enough, this is a low-risk pregnancy. I am a big fan of modern medical science.

Dream Log

Pregnancy has brought any number of odd dreams. Last night’s was particularly vivid. I posted it on Everything2 as a dream log, and reproduce it here…

Last night, I dreamed that Norm Abram and Francis Ford Coppola were brothers, growing up together on a remote ranch somewhere in the US. I was watching a black and white film of their childhood, complete with a narrating voice-over.

First the setting: the high country desert, like where we used to go camping when I was a kid. On the valley floor, the sagebrush and Mormon tea create a knee-high haze. The film can’t convey the fragrance, but I know it well enough to imagine it as I watch: sharp, spicy, resinous, with a tang of dust underneath it all. In the distance, I can see the hills rise up, separating this valley from the next (and the next, and the next…somehow I know this landscape goes on and on in a classic basin and range pattern). The hills are dark grey in the film, either from piñon pines or darker stone. I can’t tell which; they’re too far away.

The valley floor isn’t perfectly flat – it undulates. There’s a road running straight away from the camera, visible only in segments, hidden on the downslopes facing away from us. It’s not the typical desert road, two tire tracks with stunted sagebrush between them; this one is a proper dirt road, graded and cleared of plants. Coming toward us, over the nearest rise, is the wreck of a Conestoga wagon. The desert has aged it, drying the wood and pitting it with decades of sandstorms. The hoops over the box body are rusted and bent, and only the last rags of greyed fabric cling to them.

One boy pulls the wagon by the yoke, and the other rides on the front of the box. They’re nine or ten years old, no more, and look so similar that it’s impossible to tell the elder from the younger, the filmmaker from the woodworker. Both are dressed in homespun clothes, rough-woven, rumpled. The textures are vivid and sharp in black and white. Despite the desert heat, neither has taken his shirt off, or seems to be sweating in the least.

“One day the boys found a wagon in the desert, and decided to go west like the pioneers. They travelled ten miles that day before walking back home. They left the wagon behind, just a little closer to the destination it was built for.”

I sit forward in my seat, trying to identify that voice…

The next scene in the film follows Francis Ford Coppola as he rides a large tricycle along the same road, away from the camera this time. He’s older, but the trike is scaled for an adult, and doesn’t seem juvenile at all. Norm Abram is not in view.

The tricycle has one flaw: the front wheel doesn’t rotate freely on its axis. As Francis Ford Coppola rides up the hill away from us, the wheel sticks once or twice, needing extra pedaling to keep it moving. The camera moves forward to follow the trike over the rise. Francis Ford Coppola clearly thinks the speed he’ll pick up on the downslope will free the wheel, make it move more smoothly.

It doesn’t. Halfway down, the wheel freezes up completely. The entire tricycle flips, throwing Francis Ford Coppola over the handlebars and face-first into the dirt. He lies there unmoving as the camera comes closer, past the still-spinning wheels of the upside-down tricycle. The boy’s head and shoulders fill the image, hair tousled and dusty, shirt disarranged, the entire form too terribly still.

“Their parents rushed him to the hospital. Since he was going to be famous when he grew up, they were anxious that he wasn’t too badly hurt. He spent days in the ward, with his mom and dad beside him every minute.”

Now I recognize the voice, with its flat Boston accent. Norm Abram has been narrating this documentary. The film is in color now, showing him in the New Yankee Workshop. But instead of wooden furniture, he’s working on a motorcycle. The camera zooms in on his hands, tightening a nut to hold some piece of flexible rubber over an engine part.

I woke up wondering if Norm Abram had used his mechanical skills to sabotage Francis Ford Coppola‘s tricycle when they were boys together, out of jealousy that Francis Ford Coppola would be so much more famous when they grew up.