On Wednesday, I had my 39-week appointment.
This is it, the last appointment on the books. Next week I guess they assume you’ve either delivered or given up. Part of me thinks it’s a trick. False hope, especially for the first-time mother who is wishing for a prompt end to the discomfort known as late pregnancy.
Not like that is me or anything.
The truth is that less than 5 percent of women deliver on their due date. And many first-time mothers deliver well beyond. Oh, you might get lucky with the second one because your cervix is smarter, more flexible and tends to deliver earlier. But with the first one? All bets are off. My cervix has been tightly closed for 34 years. It’s not giving up that easily.
The usual vitals are taken. Just when you think you can’t feel any bigger…the nurse starts the scale at 150 pounds. Now I know that is NOT that bad but when you are 5’2” – OUCH! I tell her I’m not there - yet. Put it back down to 100 pounds and go from there. Please!
After that pleasant experience, I went for an ultrasound. Note to expectant mothers. If you want to get the scoop on your baby, make nice with the ultrasound technician. She is willing to do much more than she lets on to. You just have to be nice and ask her! Normally she just measures the fluid. Oh, ho hum! I came all the way here, you have all that technology and you’re just going to tell me how much fluid is inside of me? Let me answer that for you - LOTS.
Can you tell how big he is right now?
BINGO! I asked the right question. And so she measures him. And am I glad she did!
Looks like he’s about 8 pounds and 2 ounces right now.
Right now? What happened to 6 weeks ago when you estimated he would be 7 pounds AT BIRTH. Talk about bad math. That’s like listing a 3500 yard swim that comes out to…oh….5000 meters. Then it really hits me – if he’s this big now, what if this goes on for 3 more weeks. What then?
I might be giving birth to something larger than my dog (who usually weighs around 10 pounds but nightly family walks have probably gotten him closer to 9 pound fighting weight).
Get him out. GET HIM OUT NOW! I can’t give birth to something that large. I come from a line of small, sassy Italian people. We are not meant to birth large mammals. Have you any idea what that will do to me? How about tearing peeper to pooper? How does that sound? HORRIFIC! Isn’t there an alternate route we can choose here? Vagina closed. DETOUR! Can he be born out of my mouth? Sometimes I have a big mouth. It can get me into trouble. But it can expand! My private parts…NOT AS FLEXIBLE!
Next she tells me the baby’s head is lodged very far down.
There’s a good chance I won’t see you next week.
Let’s hope not! Because if you do, I might be the first woman to not only be pregnant for a year but also deliver a 20 pound child.
Then she says because the baby is in such a good position today, let’s get a 3-D shot. Let’s! And soon enough, there is his little face. With what had to be the biggest lips I have ever seen. Are they too big? Is that normal? And so it begins – is he cute? Really cute? Or am I going to have one of those, wow, I never thought there could be an ugly baby but that is an ugly baby.
This is just the beginning. I know.
Pictures in hand, I go next to the comfy chair. Max is so wiggly today. His heart rate is all over the place, hitting highs in the 180s. And only settling into the 150s. Max, what happened to our recovery heart rate? It’s not doing too well! And then I get all sorts of uncomfortable. My stomach is tightening, the baby is squiggling and there is pressure. Then I look over at the Richter Scale - contraction! Big one! About 8 minutes go by and then it happens again. Not painful (yet) but uncomfortable for sure. Another 8 minutes, I get another one. I realize I accidentally knocked the HELP ME NOW bell to the ground and think to myself – oh no! What if I give birth right here! How will they know if I can’t ring the bell!!
The nurse comes in.
I knocked the bell down but I don’t need help, I say sheepishly.
I didn’t even hear it, I came in for the data.
Then what is the point of the freakin’ bell!
The data looks good. So I’m off to the doctor next. Oh, this one! She talks like the teenager. Super nice, smiley and so damn reassuring. There is no bad news with her. She could tell you that your uterus was falling out but sugar coat it with an AWESOME and you wouldn’t think twice about it.
Not much to report to her today. I’m still pregnant. I’d like to be done. I’m not leaking fluid. Actually, I’m leaking nothing but sassiness and irritability. For the sake of my marriage, it might be better if you induce me.
She does the exam. And then smiles.
You’re about 3 centimeters dilated, 50 percent effaced and the baby’s head is low.
GOOD NEWS! In other words, the baby is locked and loaded. He is nearly ready to go.
Now, I’m sort of a schedule person. And like to know what is going on when. I don’t really “go with the flow” much. I go against it, along side of it but more often I go my own way. I know the doctor won’t give me any certainties but I got the technician to measure the kid so I decide to press my luck…
How likely is it that I will have this baby in the next week?
She sits quiet on the doctor stool. And then smiles at me.
I am confident that you’ll have an awesome labor and awesome delivery.
Now, there are many awesome things in life. Riding my bike fast down a big hill is awesome. Swimming in the cool, calm water of Lake Michigan is awesome. Ice cream for dinner – awesome. Wine – awesome. Chicken n’ waffles = AWESOME.
However, labor and delivery = THE ANTI-AWESOME.
Your cervix is awesome right now.
I just want to swat her. Stop saying that! And, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?? At least throw some medical jargon my way. That way I can Wikipedia it and feel all smart afterwards. But awesome? Work with me, woman! Awesome sounds great but would you please just tell me the correlation between awesomeness in the cervix and likelihood of delivering within the next 7 days!
She tells me that my delivery will probably go like my mom’s went. If mom carried her first baby to the due date, chances are so will I. My mom’s water broke on her due date, July 26. Up until that point and even in the hospital she felt no contractions. NONE. She had me 36 hours later on July 28. That’s right, 36 hours of labor and delivery. If I am that unlucky, someone please reach down my throat and pull the baby out. Max is due on July 28. I suspect that my water will break on that day. And then with my most awesome cervix and genetic predisposition to feeling no pain, I will push him out in 10 minutes. Smiling.
One can dream, right?
I am certain that your delivery will go very well. You have a great cervix.
That’s reassuring. But the bottom line is that I am entering my 40th week of pregnancy. Still very pregnant. Help?
It’s like she read my mind: Are you miserable in this heat?
Define miserable. Miserable as in I weigh 145 pounds, I can’t sleep, I have a rash all over my face, the air conditioner has been running nonstop for weeks but the house still is not cold enough, I only crave Power Bars, it takes me 52 seconds to swim 50 yards and none of my clothes fit me. Does that qualify me as miserable? Or is there some hidden level of misery that I am missing here.
If you are miserable, we can induce you.
Did my husband put you up to this? Because I can imagine at this point you might want to be asking him about his level of misery.
We can induce you if you’ve just absolutely had enough.
I had enough about 12 weeks ago. I really had enough about 2 weeks ago. And every day since then I think to myself ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
You are due in one week. If you get to that point and you are miserable, I’m on call the next day. I’ll induce you.
Do I love you or hate you? How dare you dangle freedom in front of me. Too bad it comes in the form of a pitocin crack pipe. I'm not sure I want your drugs! So, I went back home and thought about it. I suspect the endurance athlete in me will win and I’ll last this out. Plus, I know it’s better to let the body work on its own timeline. Being told you are being induced is one thing. Being asked to make that choice? If it’s a matter of ending my discomfort, it’s not worth the risks. What’s another week when I’ve lasted nearly 40?
Then I heard the forecast for the next 5 days – highs in the 90s. With high humidity. Tomorrow? Heat index of 103.
At home, I am hit with a sudden rush of energy. I needed to clean the house. Again. I got stalled when the vacuum broke. Likely an overuse injury. So then I switched to yard work. That involved clipping the birch tree with a pair of kitchen scissors. It was getting in my way! I did three loads of laundry, thought about giving the dog another bath and then capped it off with swimming 4000 long course meters at the quarry. I wrapped up the day by demanding waffles for dinner.
I have a feeling my buzzer goes off before next Wednesday. Or at least I hope it does. Because I cannot clean this house one more time. We’ve already gone through two vacuum cleaner belts and I’m almost out of Windex. And I’ll be damned if the next time I get on a doctor’s scale they have to push the little weight to start at 150.