The Geriatric Dad Blog: tricky third trimester

third trimester

by Jim Foster |
Published on

Welcome to my blog on impending fatherhood. I’m Jim, my wife’s name is Daisy, I turn 50 in September! Daisy is a spritely 37. We're expecting our first child in October – hence this, The Geriatric Dad Blog!

This is a proper, ‘in real life’ read from a man's perspective, so I hope you enjoy it and follow the series as we go through all the ups and downs of impending parenthood.

This week: the trials and tribulations of the third trimester

If any of you have been following this blog, I apologise: it's been a while since my last installment.

This is partly because I've been very busy – at work and home, supporting Daisy – but partly also because things have suddenly got a little stressful now we're well into the third trimester.

Actually, we're more than 'well into' it – Daisy will be 37 weeks next week and Sprout is big. I mean, he's going to be a BIG BABY – which is causing some concern with the obstetrics team at the mat unit.

But I'll come back to that later.

In the meantime, we've had a panic with reduced movement – something, I think, that most mothers worry about and experience, especially in their first pregnancies.

And rightly so. If your baby stops moving for a period of time, you need to take it very seriously and call up your maternity unit to get checked out.

Not doing so, in all bluntness, could cost your baby its life.

Don't worry darling, but I've had to go to hospital

Last Sunday evening the band I'm in played its final gig before Sprout arrives at a grungy rock pub in Northampton, to an audience of dozens – all diehard Marillion fans who'd come along to see our interpretation of their proggy rock.

Not everyone's cup of tea I know, but I enjoy it!

We were on stage at 4pm, with our set due to last two-and-a-half hours. I'd told Daisy that, in the event of an emergency, my phone would be switched on.

During one of the previous gigs we'd played, in Leicester back in March, Daisy had got stuck in the bath. This time, something far more serious happened.

I'd left home at midday to drive to the pub, get set-up, sound-checked and to run through a couple of numbers before the doors opened to the punters.

Unbeknown to me, when I left Daisy was already a bit concerned that Sprout hadn't been moving about in his usual manner. In fact, she'd not really felt anything since around 9am that morning. Only, she didn't say anything, because she didn't want to worry me and she didn't want me to cancel the gig.

She hoped that Sprout would start dancing around inside her again while I was out, as usually would be the case. Only, that didn't happen, and by the time I got on stage, Daisy was seriously worried that something bad had happened.

Reduced baby movement? Call the hospital

So she did the right thing and called the Hinchingbrooke Hospital maternity unit around 4pm.

"When was the last time you felt him?" they asked.

"9am this morning I think," said Daisy.

"Does he usually move around a lot?" they said.

"Yes – he's usually very active," said Daisy. "And he's not responded to me eating ice-cold drinks, which usually triggers movement. I can't feel him when I lie down either."

A few more questions were asked before it was agreed that Daisy should go to hospital there and then to get checked out. Only – being the stoic and considerate person she is – she didn't call me, because she didn't want to interrupt the gig. Instead she got into the B-Max and drove herself the 40mins to the hospital.

Tests to check Sprout is ok

They took her in straight away on arrival and put her in a vacant delivery room for some tests.

Daisy recounted hearing other women in the unit in the process of giving birth: "It was surreal," she told me. "The lady in the room next door would have these contractions that lasted a couple of minutes, during which time she would be screaming.

"But when they stopped, she'd start having a normal conversation with her husband... like, 'put some music on love!' Or, 'could you make me a cuppa, I'm thirsty!'"

She found this strangely reassuring as the midwife fitted a monitor to her bump to listen in to what Sprout was up to.

It was a relief when it picked up a strong heartbeat almost immediately, though I can only begin to imagine the anxiety Daisy would have been feeling as she lay there waiting for confirmation Sprout was ok. Or not.

The monitor was left on for half an hour or so, just to check there were no irregularities with Sprout's movement or behaviour. Luckily, his pulse was where it should be and his movement easy to pick up.

The team also ran some urine tests, which came back fine, and told her she could go home.

Sprout was ok. While no scan was undertaken, they thought he'd just moved into a 'deeper' position with his head lower down in the pelvis. Hence, harder to feel him move when he did.

Maybe too he'd just been a bit more sleepy than normal, or had disagreed with something Daisy had eaten.

Text message panic

Daisy texted me before she left the unit at 6pm, 30 minutes or so before I was due to leave the stage.

All this had happened while our gig was taking place.

The first thing I did when we stopped playing and lapped up the applause was check my phone. Multiple notifications stared back up at me and instantly I knew something had occurred.

"Don't come home..." the first one started, "We're fine, but..." before the story of what had happened unfolded.

Needless to say I packed away my keyboard rig as quickly as I could, loaded it in the car and ploughed back as quickly as I could through the traffic from Northampton our home in Rutland. Any message that begins "Don't come home" usually means COME HOME NOW!

I then cooked dinner, had a glass of wine and started to chill out a bit when I realised all was well, for now.

He's a BIG baby!

Other things that might happen when you get to the end of your third trimester is your baby gets classified as 'LGA', or 'Large for Gestational Age'.

There's some controversy here as to whether having a large baby means a pregnancy becomes high-risk, or not.

And also – if your baby is 'diagnosed' as being LGA, as Sprout was last week – then it means you're probably going to be told it's a good idea to induce labour before baby might otherwise be ready.

The thinking from a medical point of view is that bigger babies are more likely to get their shoulders stuck on delivery, something called shoulderdystocia, which can be a dangerous situation to get into.

While there is research and data that backs this hypothesis, in reality, most women who have 9, 10 or even 11lb babies via virginal birth do so without any major problems caused by the infant's size.

Our personal concern is that being LGA might set off a 'chain of intervention' post inducement – and that's not something that Daisy and I would like.

Our primary birth plan instead revolves around having a 'routine' birth following a vaginal labour, though of course we're well aware that things can and do go wrong (hence we have a plan B and plan C birth plan, just in case).

Gestational diabetes test

A test we were persuaded to have as a result of Sprout being LGA (they think – there's quite a significant error margin involved when estimating baby's size) was for gestational diabetes.

"He has quite a big tummy," said the consultant as she looked at our scans. "Could be a sign of too many sugars being ingested. I'd like you to have a gestational diabetes test."

So it was that poor Daisy had to fast for about 12 hours before I took her to hospital, whereupon she had blood and urine tests before having to drink a FOUL glucose concoction that apparently tasted rather loosely of raspberries.

Then it was a case of waiting two hours in an uncomfortable waiting room seat before having another blood test and going home.

"We'll give you a call in 48 hours or so if there's a problem," the consultant said as we left. "If not, we'll see you for your next scan at 37 weeks and talk about birth plans."

Almost a week later and we've not had a call, so we can only assume the results were good (ie, Daisy has not developed gestational diabetes).

All that remains now – assuming Sprout hasn't arrived in the interim – is to go back next week, see how big he has become and listen to what the team say in terms of recommended birth plans.

But being induced?

I think we'll try and swerve that one for as long as possible!

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