Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Finish Line

The good news is that the baby will be in our arms by this time next week, come hell or high water.

The bad news is that it doesn't look likely that he'll arrive in the manner we'd so hoped for.

We trekked out to see my doctor once again yesterday, less than a week after my last appointment. I was officially 41 weeks pregnant, and it was time for a fetal non-stress test. The little guy passed with flying colors, showing off his beautiful heartbeat with no decelerations and enough movement during the test to make the doctor very happy.

It was also time for another progress check, though, and apparently my body thinks "progress" is a dirty word. The baby is still too high up; I'm still not dilated at all; and things just aren't softening up to make way for the wee one.

The doctor we saw yesterday was unhappy that last Thursday's doctor had not scheduled an induction-- not because he thought it was likely to work, but rather just to get it on the books (even if it wasn't scheduled until after I'd reached 42 weeks). He basically gave us three choices: (1) schedule an induction for sometime this week or very early next week; (2) schedule a c-section for anytime this week or early next week; or (3) schedule an induction for next Wednesday or Thursday, but also schedule another non-stress test for Monday.

We talked a lot about induction and how likely it was to work. David and I are familiar with the concept of a Bishop score and which factors indicate that an induction is likely to be successful. My Bishop score right now would be, um, a 3. Or even a 2, if you subtract a point for the fact that I've never delivered a child. In other words, if we were to attempt an induction right now, or before my body and the baby had made some significant progress, the induction would most likely fail. My body has not made a lick of progress in four weeks.

We've been hoping and praying all along to avoid a c-section. But, the thing I want even less than a c-section is an emergency c-section after a failed induction. It's my personal opinion that a woman should only have to endure the pain of labor OR the pain of recovery from a surgical birth-- not both. Every woman I know who has had to go through both says it's absolutely the worst in terms of exhaustion, disappointment, and stress.

For us, this just meant induction was off the table. If my body were already moving in the right direction and were favorably predisposed to be induced, we would feel differently. But we don't want to set ourselves up for failure. And both our doctors and our guts tell us that's what we would be doing if we decided to induce.

Instead, we decided to schedule a c-section for next Tuesday, October 6th. We gave my body another week to get its act together and pushed it all the way back to the 42-week mark, but we now have an end date in sight. By next Tuesday morning, one way or another, we'll get to meet our son.

I'm really trying to be completely okay with our decision. I guess I'm okay with the decision, but I'm still really frustrated with the situation. I never wanted to need to schedule a c-section. I am totally comfortable with choosing a scheduled section over what I truly believe would be a failed induction; that's not the issue. I'm just disappointed that, once again, my body can't seem to do the very things it's supposed to do. I'm disappointed at the thought that I won't get to hold my baby before anyone else. I feel like I'm being robbed of a truly life-changing experience. I'm anxious about how hard the recovery will be and how very, very much I will need to rely on David and on other people for those initial days and weeks at home. I'm worried that a surgical delivery will somehow impact our son's health or my ability to nurse.

Still, I'm trying to look on the bright side. We know what to expect and when to expect it. We'll skip right over labor. The surgery will not be rushed, and there will be no risk that it will need to take place under general anesthesia (a fear I'd had about a planned med-free birth turning into an emergency c-section).

And, of course, the biggest bright side of all: Finally holding our baby, the baby we thought would never come. Surely, surely that bright side can outshine my fears, worries, and disappointment. Right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear Baby,

You remember a few weeks ago when I was all sentimental about your last few days/weeks at home in my uterus? And how I was still all wistful about it and not sure that I could face the end of your time there?

Those days are gone, little dude. Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout.

Seriously. It's now three days past your due date. Everyone and their brother is driving me batty with the incessant "any baby news?" questions. (Do people honestly think I'm going to sneak off and have this baby and NOT TELL THEM or something?) I wake up multiple times each night to heave myself out of bed to empty my poor squashed bladder, or to throw myself from one side to the other in futile search for some relief for my aching hips. I arose Thursday morning to find your dad in the guest room, unable to withstand my thrashing about any longer.

I'm not sure what you've now decided to do to my tailbone, but it's now painful for me to walk at all. I'm sitting like a lump around the house unable even to distract myself with small chores and errands.

Yesterday's doctor's appointment revealed that my body is making essentially no progress toward moving you out. No dilation at all; 70% effacement. I wouldn't have wanted the doctor to start pushing for an induction, but I still found it a bit disheartening when he told me that he couldn't talk induction dates because I wasn't even ready to respond favorably. He did say that it would be good for me to try to continue walking a lot, but this new tailbone ache has made that essentially impossible.

The doctor also sent us yesterday for an ultrasound to check the position of my placenta, which had previously been too close to your exit for comfort. (Well, for my comfort. The OB who would have needed to refer me for a follow-up ultrasound was confident it would move away.) I was thrilled for the chance to see you again, and relieved that we'd get some real confirmation that your pathway was unobstructed.

The good news was that your route is clear. The bad news-- well, I see it as bad news-- was that you're already estimated to weigh 8 pounds 11 ounces.

I know those ultrasound weight measurements are notoriously inaccurate, but I'm still trembling in fear and questioning my ability to birth you drug-free. And the longer you camp out in there, the bigger you're going to get. So seriously, kid, getoutgetoutgetout.

I had three friends who were all also due in September. Not only have their babies all arrived, but they all arrived obligingly early. Early! The same way I, your loving mother, arrived a polite ten days before my due date. I see, though, that you're already taking after your father, who kept his dear mom waiting for a full three weeks past her due date.

Let me tell you, kid, they don't let that happen anymore. They'll cut you out of me at least a week before that, and that really wouldn't be best for either of us. Especially for me. Not to sound selfish or anything, but I'd be the one, you know, sliced open.

So, please, will you come on out and join us? We have had everything ready for you for weeks now. Everyone is anxious to meet you, as evidenced my the aforementioned incessant baby update demands. Don't make me nuttier than I already am.

Your adoring mother (who really, really, just wants to see you and hold you and kiss you and begin a lifetime of doting on you . . . and who also really wants to sleep on her back again)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


One of my girlfriends is due the day after I'm due.  We've been having a lot of fun being pregnant at the same time, and it's been great to have someone close by who is going through exactly the same things at the same time.

She had maternity photos taken last Thursday.  I could have gotten in on a session if I'd wanted to; the photographer is taking (very reasonably priced) newborn photos for both of us after the births, and she would have taken pregnancy photos for me on the same day she drove to Virginia from her home up in Maryland.  I declined because I've never been a big fan of those big bare belly pictures.  I didn't think there was any way I'd want to display such photos in our house (and I certainly wouldn't have wanted any of our family members to display them, not that they would likely have been interested themselves), and I figured it wasn't worth the expense if I wasn't going to, you know, use the photos anywhere.

Now, I'm doubting myself.  Throughout this pregnancy, I've been balancing two emotional states.  The first, of course, is immense gratitude.  This baby is so wished-for, so long-anticipated, and such a little miracle that everything about him and about the pregnancy just fills me with joy.

The second, though, is bittersweet.  This feeling hits me now and again, and almost always at unexpected times.  It's a fear that I'll never get the chance to experience any of this again.  It's the thought that I should be extra sure to enjoy every milestone, because it could be the only one of its kind.

I feel a bit lucky, both as a Catholic and as a person who has experienced infertility, that I have a keen awareness of the pure gift that our fertility really is.  Obviously any pregnancy could be a woman's last, and through no desire of her own.  But far too many couples are unaware that they are not in control; they view their fertility as something they own, something that can be turned on and off like a faucet.  I have no such illusions.  And while I'm grateful for knowing the truth, it does hit hard at times.

It's been particularly acute in these waning weeks of the pregnancy.  I feel my son squirming around in my belly and jump quickly from thoughts of hey kid, quit kicking my ribs to will I ever feel another baby growing inside me?  I have to be very careful, because the last thing I want is to lose any tiny bit of the joy of this pregnancy, this child's babyhood, his milestones, because of fear that I may not see such things again.

I almost hesitate to mention any of this at all, because I know how I would have felt had I read similar thoughts before this long-awaited pregnancy.  I know how incredibly blessed we are.  I know that even one child is far more than I-- than any of us-- deserve.  I know that this is pure gift, and I thank God every day for it.  But still.  There's a little part of me that's wistfully wishing I'd had a photographer capture this fleeting and joyous state, even if no one ever saw the pictures but me.  As much as I can't wait to meet our baby, I'm feeling the need to hold tightly to these last precious moments where he is hidden away, all mine, a squirmy little rib-kicking, heartburn-inducing miracle.