A Vacation From Labor, Part One

I’m here in the hospital, waiting for Elijah to come back from his fateful visit with the pediatrician (the big C), and figure I should put some thoughts down here while they are fresh in mah mahnd.

Every birth is different, with circumstances all their own, but I can honestly say I was dreading this one even happening. Sure, I wasn’t wild about the idea of staying pregnant, either- long about month nine Baby had found his niche and was weighing heavily on my pelvis. Maybe it was the discomfort, maybe it was the waiting the extra two weeks, maybe I am finally going crazy. But something, in the words of Miss Clavelle, was not right.

Thursday I went in to the OB to have a non-stress test done. Can I describe how silly these tests seem? I will admit that I do not know what the non-stress test is intended to test, but from the looks of it, it is hard to see that anything conclusive about Baby’s health and wellbeing can be assessed from it. I get these baby monitors strapped to my belly, and I hold a push button on a cord that I am to press every time I sense the baby move. OK. So I sit there and watch the base of the one monitor, figuring every time it goes up, Baby is moving and I can hit the button. Sooner or later, though, Baby hits a lull in action (because he is really just trying to get a nap here, do you mind?), and the nurse brings out these baby versions of Defibrillation paddles and proceeds to ‘shock’ Baby back to life. What?! Later, during another slow time, the nurse rubs the top of my belly to try to wake Baby. It is apparent to me that if one has to jar Baby into moving enough to pass a non-stress test, one might be cheating at said test. I took one with Anna when she was overdue, but that time was left alone in a room, strapped to monitors, with a cup of ice water in my hand. I realized early on that the desired result was plenty of movement, so every few minutes I would poke or rub her to get her to comply. I knew full well that I was cheating then, but it surprised me to see this nurse cheating now.

Next on the docket was an ultrasound to check Baby’s fluid and weight. The tech waxed eloquently about his large, beautiful abdomen as she put her measuring circle around it, and commented that he looked very big. I already suspected this, being so far overdue, but it was a little ominous hearing it from her. She did also say there was plenty of fluid.

Next I waited forever to see my OB. I even had some pretty strong contractions during that wait, causing me to imagine what it would be like to go into labor there. Would they let me drive over to the hospital myself, or would I have a fancy ambulatory escort? There were many other ladies in the waiting room with me, talking about this labor and that, this size baby and that, this present partner and that ex husband, to keep me quite informed against my will of all the possible things that could go wrong. “She had her baby without hardly knowing she was in labor- she’d only been having some back pain…” All I need to think about being this late. I really think that this was the issue I could not wrap my mind around this time- I could go into labor at any minute, and had no idea how many minutes (or worse, how few) I had before I needed to be at the hospital once I did know for sure. Which seems so silly on the surface, being my eleventh experience with labor. But for some reason this fear, let us call it by its real name, I could not shake. It haunted my days, but especially my nights. I did not want to wake in the middle of the night in pain and have that knowledge there was no turning back now. So every morning I would awaken with such joy, such thankfulness that that previous night, labor did not happen. This fear fueled much of my thought life, so as I waited for the doctor this was my mindset.

When I went in for my exam, he said he didn’t want me going past 42 weeks, that there was concern about the baby’s size, and that his fluid was a little low. I wondered at this last statement, since the ultrasound tech said there was plenty, but like I have said, I was already in a state of mind to want this induction, to have this event be planned and not sprung on me like previous labors. For some reason I didn’t feel like I could handle the not knowing anymore. We agreed I would come to the hospital the following morning, bright and early.