Well, it’s happened: as of yesterday morning, I have crossed over into the terra incognita of The Most Pregnant I Have Ever Been. So far it is an achy and moody territory.
I asked my main OB, early on, whether the Bean’s arrival at 38 weeks, 0 days, predicted anything about the likely timing of this one. Short answer: no, unless that was a placental abruption, in which case you are at increased risk for another one, which would make an early delivery more likely. Um. Yikes. (Incidentally, this same doctor, who is also Jess’s gyn, insisted to Jess last time around that the whole “first babies come late” thing was not true. Not only was it not true in my case, but I’ve done some reading recently that says that whole idea is based on one tiny study; the site I was looking at said the average (median? Don’t remember.) arrival time for first babies in their own, decently large cohort was 39 weeks, 5 days. For second babies, it was…39 weeks, 5 days. Their sample excluded inductions, which I logic out to mean it is a little on the early side.)
On Thursday night and Friday morning, I was half-convinced (read: panicked) that labor was starting, ready or not. But it turns out sometimes a vicious backache and bouts of intestinal distress are just a vicious backache and intestinal distress. Today, I am feeling better and more energetic, so naturally I am afraid this is that nesting energy thing. Meanwhile, every time I groan, poor Sugar about hits the ceiling from the tension. I groan kind of a lot, apparently.
We are at least sort of more prepared than last time, at least with regard to practical things. We have a slightly loose but I hope workable childcare plan in place for the Bean — this is the most nerve-wracking part, besides the whole actually giving birth bit. We have a suitcase half-packed — I don’t have enough clothes to pack anything away prematurely — which is half more than last time. And I wrote a birth plan, this time before actually going into labor. Which is good, because I intend to take the advice of the OB I saw most recently (not Dr. Smarm) and high-tail it to the hospital as soon as possible this time. I would so much rather be sent to pace the atrium than have a cab ride like that horror of three years ago, I can’t even tell you. This OB — let’s call her Dr. Ready, which makes her easy to identify if you want to look up the practice, NYC folks, but not actually googleable — says there is no good reason I can’t get an epidural in early labor this time, so why wait at home? (I like her: everything about my labor was faster with the epidural than without, so I am just ignoring the part of the birth books that say not to do this. Seriously, I was at 4 cm for at least 3.5 hours last time; after the epidural, I dilated at more than a cm per hour.)
When I was putting this together, I had trouble finding useful examples for the post-traumatic birther. The birth plans I found as examples online were either completely open-ended (rare) or far more fiercely ideologically “natural” than I am comfortable with. (Pause to consider again how I really need to write that essay about how much I loathe that word.) To the extent that these plans address the emotional issues of birth, they mainly do so by means of seeking to control the medical aspects only. That’s not my main concern — I do have some medical likes and dislikes, but really, I am way less worried about any particular intervention than I am about being made to feel lazy, worthless, and generally bad again.
So, in an effort to be a little servicey, I am going to post here what I’ve written, not as an example of what things a person ought to want or not want in the medical line but rather as an example of trying to balance those desires with some attempts at emotional safety. I’m sure this is obvious, but I am not looking for criticism here, F your I.
Doula: College Friend
Obstetricians: Downtwn Wmn (google away, gentle readers)
Emergency Contact: (my father, phone numbers)
Please note that I have been diagnosed with PTSD related to the conditions of the delivery of my son in 2011.
It is very important that I am treated with special gentleness and care and that no one yell at me or shame me. Please avoid any suggestion that I am not “trying” or am otherwise laboring wrong.
Please help maintain a calm, supportive atmosphere in the labor room. Please talk to me about any necessary procedures, etc.
My wife, SUGAR, and my doula, COLLEGE FRIEND, should be allowed to stay with me at all times.
I would like an epidural as soon as possible after arriving at the hospital.
I would like to drink clear fluids throughout labor. I would like to be able to change positions.
Unless medically necessary, please do not administer pitocin. If breaking my waters is necessary, please explain why first. (This was softened in a concession to Dr. Smarm. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care all that much, but I do think there was no good reason to have done this last time; that dumb monitor never could tell when I was having contractions, and I repeat, I dilated plenty fast.)
When I am fully dilated, I would like to labor down rather than begin pushing right away. I would like the epidural left on: turning it off in my last labor was a disaster. (I feel so relieved that the doctors in this practice think leaving the epi on is a good idea. Bonus points to Dr. Joy, who said we should learn from how my last labor went. Imagine that, learning something.)
When I begin pushing, I would like to control my breathing without completely holding my breath. Holding my breath makes me feel panicky and tense. If this is not working, I will try holding my breath, but I would like to start with controlled breathing. (Another pseudo concession to Dr. Smarm, but only a pseudo one.)
Any coaching during the pushing stage should be positive encouragement only, no shaming.
When the baby is born, please delay clamping the cord. SUGAR should cut the cord.
Please put the baby on my chest immediately. If medical care for the baby is necessary, SUGAR should be with him/her at all times.
I had a postpartum hemorrhage with my last delivery and was very sick from anemia. Please be alert to excess bleeding. If my hemoglobin is below 8, I would like to discuss transfusion or other treatment options. (And let me tell you, I plan to ask this time.)
If a c-section is necessary, I would like my wife and doula to remain with me as much as possible. If I am in recovery separate from the baby, SUGAR should be allowed to be with the baby.
I intend to breastfeed. Please do not introduce any artificial feeding or pacifiers.
We would like the baby in our postpartum room unless we request otherwise. Please delay tests such as the hearing test until daytime hours. (OMG, waking us up at 3 am for this last time was so deeply unnecessary, I can’t even. What would have happened if he’d gone undiagnosed until, say, 28 hours after birth?)
Please DO NOT circumcise the baby. (No, Gentle Reader, I really don’t care if you circumcised your boy(s), I swear.)
So. That’s it. Some of the things are in there even though I know they are SOP at this hospital (like baby on the chest right away), just because…I don’t know, maybe that will make the nurses feel like we like how they do it? And because you can’t be too careful, I suppose. Also included on the hospital’s birth plan checklist is a spot for the name of anyone who isn’t allowed to come into your room. Guess whose name goes in that spot, hmmm? (Even though, yes, I know there’s no reason she would want to. Can’t be too careful.)
Meanwhile, as long as I’m being a self-important pregnant lady, here is I hope a happier portrait of my current gravidy, taken this weekend, on the occasion of our realizing our most recent family picture was from mid-2012, and none too flattering, at that. (Not pictured: The Bean trying to shove a drumstick up my nose.) I actually didn’t notice that I looked sad in the other one, because I looked more sad in the out takes. I’m trying, y’all, I really am.