Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Tag: labor induction

41 weeks, 3 days: Ranting and Raving

Forget anxiety and fear of the imminent pain of childbirth.

I’m so beyond being nervous or afraid of what comes next.

Now, I’m just pissed. I’m downright angry.

If I want to give birth in the birthing center that I’ve chosen, I have to give birth by 41 weeks, 6 days. That gives me until Saturday. After that, I’ll have to go to the regular maternity ward and play by their rules.

Just like last time.

Which is what I was trying to avoid.

I will literally take whatever contractions come my way if it means this is the last day that I’m pregnant. 

F— this pregnancy! I’m so over it!

I will die pregnant. I know it. Labor will never start. Ever. And I’ll be that one crazy case where the pregnant woman just dies because her body splits open because the baby keeps growing. 

I simply cannot believe this has not happened yet. What is wrong with me? Why? WHY?

The most frustrating thing? I’ve had four times when contractions have started and then just stopped.

And I’m not talking Braxton-Hicks contractions. I’m talking full-on, labor contractions. Sometimes 4 to 8 minutes apart for several hours. They last long enough for me to get excited, to gather my things, to think about plans for the rest of the day that include going to the hospital.

And then? Nothing.

They just stop.

WHYYYYYY??????

And then, I get this email from Babycenter.com.

1-week-old

Just shoot me now.

Are you kidding me, Babycenter? I never told you my baby was born. So you just automatically send these emails? Are you trying to piss me off? And what if my baby were stillborn?

This is the worst. I despise living in this constant state of suspension. I don’t tend to be a control freak. My job as a teacher requires me to constantly practice the art of flexibility.

But this is too much.

You think it feels like a long time since Trump became president on January 20th? Tired of processing bullet after bullet that he’s shooting into American democracy?

Now, imagine adding the additional mental burden of realizing at the end of every day that you will, once again, have to find a way to sleep with an enormous pregnant belly, tossing and turning every 45 minutes until the sun rises.

And being pumped full with as much estrogen as a non-pregnant woman has in three years of her life.

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. And how perfectly appropriate. I feel like I’ve been living my own personal Groundhog Day since January 22nd.

So, I’m at the end of my rope. If the point of me waiting this long to have a baby was to teach me a lesson in patience, I’m beyond that lesson. I’m not learning anything anymore.

Now, I’m just pissed.

41 Weeks: The Answer is No. And Yes.

No, I haven’t had the baby.

No, I’m not going to ask to be induced.

No, the baby doesn’t seem to be huge. Just average-sized.

Yes, the baby is healthy. So am I.

Yes, I’m positive they calculated my due date correctly.

Yes, I’ve tried that. And that. And that.

Yes, I’m losing my mind.

Yes, this is eating into my maternity leave now.

Yes, I’ve had some signs that I’m getting ready.

But no.

No real, regular contractions.

keep-calm-i-m-still-pregnant-2

***

This last week has been an interesting combination of nice and awful.

Nice, because my mom is here, helping with our daughter, running errands, and just helping the hours pass. With Scrabble and Penny Press word puzzles.

Nice, because I haven’t had to work. My daily responsibility is to get my daughter to daycare. And take walks.

But it has also been awful.

Starting with the fact that this last week was the first week of Trump’s presidency. What a week… Can anyone process all the garbage that’s coming out of the White House right now? I feel like every day this week, there has been something else that threatens fundamental American principles, values, and norms. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

And then there’s the thought that my mind returns to about every other minute of the day: I’m still pregnant.

My mind spins on and on.

Why in the hell is this baby still in there? Am I not walking enough? Am I not eating enough? Is it because I’m drinking decaf coffee? Is it because I have some undiagnosed hormonal imbalance? Is it because I’m 35?

Oh, you’ll go into labor earlier with your second one, they all assured me. The second time is much easier. Your body still has the muscle memory from the last birth. It will happen a lot sooner and faster this time.

Ha.

Ha.

Maybe I should have had my membranes swept at 39 weeks to speed the process along. Maybe that’s the reason I went into labor earlier with my first child. My doctor swept my membranes–without my consent, might I add–at 38 weeks. It still took me until 40 weeks and 4 days to go into labor though, and another day to actually give birth.

So I ask myself, What is so different about this time?

I keep comparing this whole experience to what happened to me with my first baby. I can’t help it. I’m looking for patterns and signs, aligning them with last time, and then making estimates.

I’ve lost six pounds of water weight. Should be another two days.

Or

The baby has moved down further. Probably just another week.

Then I blow past my estimates. Over and over again, I’m disappointed.

Every morning I wake up, and I tell myself to start fresh. I go for a walk in the darkness of the morning. Enya sings to me and I feel understood.

Winter has come too late
Too close beside me.
How can I chase away
All these fears deep inside?

I’ll wait the signs to come.
I’ll find a way
I will wait the time to come.
I’ll find a way home.

I tell myself that today is a new day. Today might be the day. I tell myself that tomorrow, maybe, we’ll be through this birth.

I tell myself to imagine my future self, reaching back through time, shaking me by the shoulders, telling me to not wish away these last moments of pregnancy.

I tell myself that once this birth is over, I will likely mourn its passing.

I tell myself to enjoy this time with my mom.

I tell myself that all I have right now is this moment.

This day.

I tell myself that even though my mind craves the certainty of falling back onto my previous experiences, in my heart I know this birth will be nothing like last time.

I tell myself, Just one more afternoon.

Then, Just one more night.

Then, Just one more morning.

Today could be the day.

Book Club Discussion # 3: My Body, My Choice?

37_Weeks_edited

37 weeks pregnant

In this post, I include an excerpt from my forthcoming book,“Becoming Mother: A Journey of Identity,” (coming in August 2015) followed by commentary. I intend this post to be a springboard for a book-club-like discussion, so feel free to contribute!  

When I return for my next appointment on a Monday, my doctor’s first words are, “You were supposed to have your baby this weekend!”

“Ha.” I give a forced laugh, but I’m not amused at all.

She turns to me and I get into position for a cervical check.

“Can you please not sweep my membranes this time?” I ask. “That was really painful last time.” God, I hate my words. I don’t want to be polite. I’m angry at her for not asking for my consent to do that. And yet I’m still making requests instead of just saying what I don’t want.

“Sure, no problem,” she says as she probes me. “Three centimeters, seventy-five percent effaced,” she announces. She turns away from me and toward her laptop, which is resting on the counter.

“So what I’ll tell you is that if you have an induction this week, you don’t have any factors that would increase your risk of a C-section.”

“I really don’t want an induction,” I say. Ugh! My words! Why can’t I be assertive?

“Okay, but what I can tell you is that I won’t be able to deliver this baby past Friday afternoon, which is August 10.”

“But I still have five days for the baby to come, right?”

“Yeah…” she trails off.

“So… let’s say you’re not here for the birth. Should I meet with these other doctors?”

“If you go past your due date, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with them for a non-stress test to make sure that the baby is okay. So you’ll have a chance to meet them then. But you know, these doctors may not want to let you go all the way to forty-two weeks, the way that I would. They may not let you go past forty-one weeks. And then you may have to have an induction anyway.”

“Right…” I think about what she is saying. But you won’t let me go to forty-two weeks because you’re not going to be here anyway. So my choice is be induced at thirty-nine weeks with you or be induced at forty-one weeks without you? What if I go into labor naturally? Isn’t that still an option?

“But whatever you decide,” she crosses her arms, “I hope that you also respect the desires of these doctors and not go past the timeframe that they are comfortable with. Okay?”

“Oh. Okay.” I say quickly.

I feel like an inconvenience, like I should feel badly that I’m creating a hiccup in this plan, but I’m starting to care less and less about what this doctor and the other doctors think about me. Who is having the baby here? What should take priority? Having the baby by a certain date or having the baby when the baby is ready?

Author Commentary

In this discussion, we hear two key factors come into play about whether or not to induce labor: scheduling and doctor’s preferences. The doctor doesn’t cite positive outcomes for a labor induction–instead she frames her comments from a standpoint of the unlikelihood of negative outcomes.

Missing from this conversation are any references to the effects of this induction on my health or on my baby’s health–specifically in regard to birth weight.

I dare say, we let doctors take these kinds of liberties with us all too often. Because we trust them. We think that they know what’s best. Because we think that they will prioritize our health and safety over other concerns. (Don’t worry–this isn’t turning into a post that bashes doctors or questions the importance of vaccinating your kids (and, yes, you should. For goodness sake…))

Why do we allow doctors to push and pull birth in all different directions?

I think that it has to do with authority. Pregnant women often don’t feel that they have any authority to make the calls during pregnancy, especially if they are first-time mothers. What do I know? I’ve never had a baby before!

I get that.

But at the same time, this is your child. Not the doctor’s child.

That seems obvious, right? But it’s really not.

After going to all the prenatal appointments, laboring in the hospital by their rules, and relying on the doctor to catch my baby, I felt an unexpected shock when the nurses start asking me when I last fed the child. Oh. Me? Wait? Shit, the doctor’s gone.

And then it sinks in–I had really been depending so heavily on everyone else–nurses, doctors, ultrasounds, fetal monitoring, etc–to be responsible for my child’s well-being. And in reality, it was me all along. And when I finally saw through that illusion, I was even more certain that it is my responsibility to advocate for this child–not my doctor’s.

You can see why this is a difficult frame of mind to occupy before giving birth. Everything in our system for giving birth encourages mothers to trust their doctors for positive outcomes. You don’t have to worry about anything. We got you. But this is not always the case.

And so in those last weeks of pregnancy, it is more important to be protective than to be polite. It’s your body. It’s your baby’s body.

And for those two bodies, there is only one voice.

Yours.

Be heard.

What about you? Have you ever experienced clashes like this with your doctor during those last weeks of pregnancy? What happened? 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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