On Wednesday, I had my 36 week check up at the hospital where I will deliver. Everything was normal. The nurses at the work station kindly pointed out that I'd had some weight gain since my last check up with them eight weeks before. My blood pressure was normal, etc.
When I saw the doctor - a woman this time - she quickly found the baby's heartbeat and then measured my belly. She recommended I come next week for an ultrasound because she thought the baby seemed small. My private doctor says that I've been measuring right on target, so I was not too worried. The doctor also asked me to report upstairs for extended fetal heart rate monitoring.
Now, I'm not sure if the fetal heart rate test is routine here in Hong Kong, but there were quite a few women who were going through the same test as I was and they all seemed to be just as pregnant as me. So I was strapped up to a fetal monitor for about half an hour while I quietly listened to my baby's heartbeat as it fluctuated with my movement and with it's own movement. It was the most peaceful half hour to just lie on the hospital bed with no interruptions, focusing only on the baby's steady heartbeat and pressing a button to mark every time I felt the baby move. The nurse thought it all looked good and sent me home after about 40 minutes.
I love being pregnant and I've been fortunate to have three good pregnancies. I didn't suffer too much nausea, I've not had a huge weight gain and I've even managed to get through without any stretch marks on my tummy. Sometimes I think I was made to have babies.
Earlier this week, I spoke to a 10th grade Health class about being pregnant. I told them to ask whatever they wanted - I'm not shy. I'd even let them touch my belly. One of the last questions I answered was what my favorite part of being pregnant is. And so I said - everything. Feeling the baby move. Hearing the heartbeat the first time, and every time. Hearing women tell me their old wives tale about what gender I'll have - and how similar and different those tales are in each culture. Having people rest their hands on my bump to feel the baby kick or squirm and the wonderment that appears in their eyes when they do. I told the students how I am amazed that my own body has the ability to grow and nurture a whole new life.
And so, when Emily skyped me last week and asked me if I was ready to be done, I told her the truth. Not really. Because I know this is our last baby and my last pregnancy, I'm cherishing every last moment. Sure - I've had some discomfort. When I sleep now, I get "upper butt" pain. Joey calls me weeble-wobble. I'm really tired. I pee a lot. I can't put shoes on easily and this baby likes to hang it's feet in my ribs, making it difficult to breathe.
But I'm in no rush for it to be over. I know in probably about three weeks, it will be. And when that day comes, I know I'll be ready to face what lies ahead. Until then, I'm smiling with every kick and rubbing my belly as much as I can.
And I'm enjoying my family - the way it is right at this moment in time - before it changes.