36 weeks pregnant

So I just had my 36 week checkup. The big news: I’m 1 cm dilated and 90% effaced. (waits) I hear all of you women who know what I’m talking about throwing up your hands with squee! and trying figure out why I’m calmly sitting here at my desk at work instead of feverishly at home packing my hospital bag and hanging the light-blocking shades. Well, see, the thing is that I was 90% effaced and 1 cm dilated LAST pregnancy at my 36 week checkup. You remember that pregnancy. The one where I gave birth 13 days after my due date — 6 weeks after my 36 week checkup? First time mothers almost always go before their due dates when they’re at all dilated at 36 weeks. But me? No. I prefer to do things on my own schedule.

So what do dilated and effaced MEAN? Well, imagine that the baby-holding area is comprised of two balloons, with a big filled area and a thick neck where the balloons are tied. There’s a water balloon INSIDE a, er, muscle-balloon. The water balloon part is the amniotic sac. The muscle balloon is the uterus. The amniotic sac doesn’t change prior to pregnancy. You only get the baby out of that when it pops — and when it pops you have to get the child out relatively soon or they’re likely to get infected. But that outer balloon — the tied off area is the cervix. Towards the end of pregnancy it begins to get thinner and weaker in preparation for opening up. That’s effacement. Then it sort of unwinds and opens up as you get closer to delivering the baby. That’s dilation. When you are 10 cm dilated, you’re ready to push the baby through the neck of the balloon — it’s all the way open. Much of the purpose of contractions is to open up the mouth of the cervix.

Basically, all the stuff that holds the baby in place is getting thinner, weaker and more open. So these things are often considered a sign that labor is going to happen soon.

Or not. In my case.

It’s very tiring to be “any moment now!” for nearly six weeks. That’s why I’m taking an “eh” attitude towards this news. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I don’t go way past due, but I’m not going to hold my breath thinking I’m going to go before my due date.


In other, non-baby related news, A. went to the allergist today. He spends several weeks a year miserable and sneezing his head off with allergies, despite daily Claritin, and finally got fed up enough to see the doctor. The results are that he’s allergic to house dust, dust mites and (of all things) poplar.

Well, hopefully the house dust we’ve taken steps by addressing by getting the house cleaned periodically. (It would be interesting to track his allergies as compared to cleaning dates.) Poplar is hard to control — I don’t think there’s tons in New England though. But dust mites? Dust mites we can do something about. My doctor’s office HAPPENS to be right next to a Linens N Things that happened to be having a buy one get one 50% off sale on a bunch of bedding. So I picked up some pillow protectors, some brand new pillows (but we LIKE the old, floppy feather pillows we have!), and a new neck pillow for him. I think we’ll order the mattress and box spring protectors since they weren’t on sale. But hopefully that, combined with a nose spray and some eye drops, will make my poor husband less miserable. It’s reassuring to find out that he’s NOT allergic to cats!

Thus ends today’s exciting adventures in our periodic series “Visits to Doctors”. Join us next Tuesday for the next thrilling installment.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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