With leftover soup heating up on the wood stove I look out the window and realize it’s snowing. It’s a sandy snow: sparse and thin like powdered sugar. I’ve been imagining Peanut as a snow baby lately, so I shake my stomach and tell her “Snow! You should really come out and see this!” She doesn’t respond. As usual.
Last night I tried acupuncture for the first time. After 36 weeks, my midwife offers a weekly group session for five euros a person. Apparently you can shorten labor by a few hours through the careful pricking of several spots on leg and foot—these pressure points are alleged to be able to shorten the neck of the cervix without with presence of labor—and help prepare the body for dealing with labor pains. (Some people also insist that acupuncture can naturally induce labor, but as my midwife says, “People have been trying to induce labor themselves for years and nothing has ever proved to be reliable. It’s the kids that decide when they’re coming.”)
In the same room where she gives birth prep classes I sit on a red yoga mat with four other pregnant women, and our midwife kneels beside each one of us in turn, inserting hair-thin needles into our scalps, arms, and legs. I barely feel the needles go into my scalp, though the first sends a strange tingle through my entire body. It is also the needles in my scalp that I find the most uncomfortable throughout the session and on into the next day. (Those were supposed to be for relaxation.) I am glad that I can’t see my own head because looking at the pin-cushioned scalps of the other women makes me feel like I’m in a bad science fiction short story.
Lights dimmed, our midwife then leaves the room for twenty minutes, telling us to close our eyes and relax. We chat in whispers about swollen hands and breastfeeding instead. My hands have been feeling strange lately—a bit swollen, often falling asleep, often painful to ball into a fist—but my complaints are nothing next to the paws my neighbor has developed. She can no longer remove her wedding ring, and her ring finger is starting to look a lot like two links of sausage. Others complain of swollen faces and lips, and I am once again thankful that my main complaint is that walking is painful.
At home, I finally google the difference between Senkwehen and Vorwehen, two German words I hadn’t been sure of and that had been coming up more and more in my conversations with other prego ladies. It turns out that what German folks call Vorwehen (pre-contractions) are what I call Braxton Hicks (ie when you’re uterus contracts and your stomach goes hard) and Senkwehen (sinking contractions) are the mildly crampy contractions that help your baby sink down into the pelvis.
I hadn’t previously realized that there was a difference, but I experience both for the rest of the evening and night. “Go go go, come on Peanut!” I chant at my stomach, but by morning they are gone; I’m not in labor. I am convinced that my desire for her to arrive early is going to keep her in long past my due date, but I’m converting my rain dance into a labor dance and crossing my fingers that Peanut isn’t hoping to wait out the entire winter. If you have a minute, pretty please do a few hip shakes for us too.
Any of you ever tried acupuncture? I’d be curious to hear about it…
Disclaimer: It is pretty dark in here right now. Which means I didn’t take a new picture. Which means the belly picture up there is actually from week 35. It’s even bigger now. Though shockingly still stretch-mark-free.
Want to read more about my gorilla pregnancy? Check out these posts… (Or check out the entire gorilla prego category here.)
singing during pregnancy (wherein I lament having to vomit onstage at 37 weeks)