Switzerland is fairly conservative in its approach to pregnancy (and to health concerns in general and, in fact, to pretty much everything, in my American opinion). A pregnant woman is required by law to stop working two weeks before her due date, and it's not unusual for Swiss OB/GYNs to reduce a pregnant woman's time at the office to 50 percent a few weeks in advance of the due date if they feel that the mother is doing too much. I sort of knew all this when I was pregnant with Spencer, although I didn't pay much attention to it, and since the school where I work is very international in nature, they didn't pay much attention to it either. I worked pretty much right up until my due date -- my last day at work was a Wednesday and Spencer was born on a Saturday. While I didn't plan to cut things quite that close this time, especially because I now know how little I will actually be focusing on work during the days immediately before my due date, I did plan to keep working my usual four-day a week schedule as long as possible.
As is often the case with parenthood, however, what I've been planning and what is actually going to happen have turned out to be two different things.
We had our monthly check-up this week, and the doctor is a bit concerned because I'm already carrying the baby fairly low, and her head is pushing against my cervix a bit more than it should be, given that I am not yet 32 weeks pregnant. She therefore wants me to start taking things a bit easy, including reducing my work schedule. She suggested that I work 50% but said that she could be a bit flexible on that if I wanted.
I don't know what the opposite is of a hypochondriac, but whatever the word is, it pretty much describes me. With the exception of the OB/GYN, I never go to the doctor -- in fact, I don't even *have* a doctor -- I tend to view any illness that I have as being not serious and something that will resolve itself, and will usually go into work when I'm sick rather than stay home (unless I have a stomach bug, in which case I'm miserable and don't want to be around anyone). My initial reaction to the doctor's advice was therefore not to take it all that seriously. Never mind the fact that she's the trained medical professional, and I'm just another foolish pregnant woman. I don't need to start taking it easy. I'm fine! (I know, I know -- how self-centered and stupid can you get?)
I quickly realized that, as nice a woman as my OB/GYN is, she isn't concerned about me. She's concerned about my and Andrew's baby -- our daughter -- and wants to make sure that *she* is healthy and doesn't arrive into this world before she's ready to do so. And that's a completely different animal. So Andrew and I talked about it after the doctor's appointment and decided that I'll start working 60%, which will give me three days at work, one day at home without Spencer (since he will stay in day care four days a week), and the usual one day at home with him. And we'll see how that goes.
In discussing this, Andrew and I were saying that we have both been somewhat viewing the baby's birth as being something that is still a bit down the road, instead of less than nine weeks away. But having the doctor put me on reduced hours at work means that the end has begun. I don't mean at all to sound fatalistic about it. In fact, it's very exciting. But it's also a bit closer than we had both been envisioning at this point.
The only other news of interest from the doctor's visit was all weight-related. I've gained 20 pounds thus far, so it's looking unlikely that I'll gain the 38 pounds that I gained with Spencer, given that I'm almost 32 weeks. Interestingly though, while I am smaller this time around, the baby looks as though she is going to be bigger than Spencer was. Spencer was relatively small -- 6 pounds 15 ounces -- but his little sister is already over four pounds and still has eight weeks left to bake. A bigger baby is a healthier baby, so that's good, but that also means a bigger baby for me to push out. Perhaps I should spend my time off from work practicing my breathing techniques -- either that or perfecting the German for "Give me the epidural right now!"
On a different front, a friend of mine announced this week that she wants to give me a baby shower in a couple of weeks. I initially protested and said that I didn't want a shower this time around because people were so generous when I was pregnant with Spencer, but she ignored me and sent out the invitations. And one friend of mine who was invited said that she thought that it was a great idea -- her exact words in her e-mail were "You deserve lots of pampering when you're pregnant. I bet you don't get too much time to just sit back and think about being a pregnant lady without having to be energetic with Spencer -- not like the first time where all you have to do is nap and think about the ever growing belly! So I think a few hours for just you is a great idea."
Not surprisingly, I found that viewpoint very appealing (who wouldn't?). So I am now looking forward to the shower and am very excited for some reason at the prospect of opening packages containing things like pink onesies, flowered pants, and cute little dresses...