I have had goodness only knows how many cycles in my life. I only specifically remember the start of 3 of them. Among the three was my first one – I was fairly young, in the spring of 6th grade. It was during fire education week and I remember that suddenly, while I was sitting in the pit in the library listening to my friend’s dad talk about the upcoming summer and the dangers of firecrackers, I felt wet. It was the morning and I was quite shocked. For some reason I thought I should be ashamed, possibly because the boys had spent the year teasing all the girls about their periods and breast size and apparently schools weren’t doing gender sensitivity training 18 years ago. So I didn’t tell anyone, which of course led to an embarrassing scene. And me being berated by my sixth grade teacher for not having told my mom. Looking back on it as an adult, I can’t believe how those adults made a perfectly normal event into a trauma. Then of course it went all crazy, stopping and starting irregularly, lasting for a day, then for a week, and so on. My next memory of the start of a cycle was a Wednesday two years later, in the spring of 8th grade when one day walking down the hall it suddenly it occurred to me that my period would probably arrive in the middle of orchestra 6th hour, because that was when it had arrived every 4th Wednesday for quite a while. And so on it continued for the next, oh, fourteen years, changing slightly after years on the pill and two pregnancies. I can remember the moment my last period arrived in March – and I feel like from that moment until now I have lived more aware of what’s happening inside me, of every twitch, twinge, temperature fluctuation, ache, tingle, function, excretion, than can possibly be normal.
I have never been unaware, of course but my body has always been so predictable, so regular that I never thought about it. I never had to pay that much attention. I see now that my body did warn me that I was in and going into pre-term labor. It wasn’t familiar though, and I trusted the doctors. I don’t blame myself, but it is a regret. Despite my anxieties, I now understand what normal feels like physically.
The constant consciousness of it all is getting to me. It makes it very hard to live in the world – trying to have a conversation or to write or have a thought unrelated to the fact that I can feel ligaments stretching and my bladder filling. But in a way it is getting easier. Seeing week after week that nothing is changing with my cervix, I find it easier to balance the physical changes with the knowledge that they really are okay. The vaginal twinges are really just that – the extra blood flowing. The aching back is just an aching back.
I believe the progesterone is working not just because I haven’t gone into labor – that could also be the cerclage – but because I’ll feel fine from today until the weekend, but on Monday I’ll start to feel a little crampy and get a slight headache.
All was well at the doctor’s today. My cervix is still long, closed, and uncompromised. I asked about risks – if my water breaks or I go into labor early, how much time would we have? She said she’s never had or heard of anyone not having time to get the cerclage out safely (although of course tearing is a known risk, it’s just a really really rare one), and that she’s confident that I would recognize a problem well enough in advance. Their first approach would be to stop or delay full labor. I didn’t ask about the steroids because all is going well. I already know she’s against doing them without an indication in this pregnancy. She said as well that of course we want to go to term, but that everyone will relax once I get in the 30s because babies born after 32 weeks in this hospital do very well. That’s five and a half weeks from now ack. My ideal would be to go into labor 10 weeks from this coming Saturday. Let’s see if we can manage that….