Forty Plus Three

As much as I dreaded the thought when I said it before, it’s starting to look like I was right about when I would deliver. Today is three days after my due date. My little pumpkin is being shy and doesn’t want to come out and meet us.

The bad thing about going over my due date is that my doctor does not want to induce. You see, my first son went over his due date before they induced me, and he couldn’t make it out. After 42 hours of labor, I had a c-section. He was over nine and a half pounds. My daughter was two pounds smaller, and they induced me before my due date to make sure she, too, didn’t turn out huge. That labor lasted only about half as long, but I did manage to make it a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

Fast-forward ten years. New state, new doctor, new hospital, new rules. Even when my daughter was born, they were about to stop allowing VBACs at the hospital where I had her. Now that I live in another town, I have serious doubts about the hospital here. For a town this large, the simple fact that there is only one hospital available to the general public is disturbing in itself. I was not surprised to find that they do not allow VBACs at all, and not entirely sure I would have trusted them with the job, anyway.

So, my husband and I drove an hour to the big city and got a doctor from a hospital that will allow VBACs. I should rephrase that, they allow attempted VBACs. But trying for one means having to fit certain criteria. It helps that I have had one successfully already. It does not help that I’ve never gone into spontaneous labor on my own. My doctor told me he will not induce me for a VBAC. Also, since the baby has to be under continuous monitoring during labor, I cannot use the laboring tubs at the hospital. I was really looking forward to that possibility. But alas, I will have to forgo that luxury.

So back to the part where Doc won’t induce. I’ve been having contractions for months. Seemingly years. But the last two times I was checked I was still at 3 cm. The good news is that I never met that milestone before being induced the first two times. With number one, I was at 0 cm when I was admitted. With number two, I was at 1 cm. I have also had some other, less savory signs that labor is progressing. You see, I consider myself to have been in labor since about ten days ago. That is the day after the doctor stripped my membranes, and was the first time I was showing to be at 3 cm dilated. The following day, I had severe, though irregular, contractions. I passed my (yuck) mucous plug. I even had the obligatory case of diarrhea that I was warned would indicate the beginning of labor. We went to labor and delivery that night. My contractions stopped.

Fast-forward to six nights later. Contractions are back up to five minutes apart. This time the midwife feels like I am truly in labor and allows me to walk for an hour to try and get things going again. (You see, I think it’s the hour drive that stalls out my contractions each time.) But after the hour, I was still only at about 3 cm, and they sent me home. And even though they told me that my doctor was there, I never got to talk to him. Two days later, more (fun!) mucous, more contractions, no baby.

She still moves great. She’s in there just kicking up a storm. In fact, two nights ago, when my full bladder triggered a strong contraction and I woke up to hobble to the bathroom, she moved and stretched so much that I couldn’t sit properly. The contraction lasted a long time, nearly my whole trip out of bed and to the lavatory. Her moving and the strength of the contraction together were quite painful, and I had to lean back on the seat to ease the discomfort. It’s on nights like this that I wake up the next morning thinking, “Today is the day!” But each time, I’m disappointed.

Now I know what many of you will say. “The baby will come when she is ready.”

I’ve read the books. I have read the articles. I have re-read the books again and again until the pages are curled and frayed at the edges. And I have come to the conclusion that the baby is ready. That is why labor has begun. And I can’t help thinking that the contractions I’ve been having for nearly two weeks that average 10-15 minutes apart are not only not sufficient enough to get baby out, but that they are giving her undue stress. Lord knows they’re causing me stress! In two days, a full two weeks after he stripped my membranes, I have another appointment with the doctor. At this point, he will probably tell me that we have to schedule a c-section before I hit 42 weeks, and that I had better hope I go into labor before then.

At this point I will present my argument. My argument is this: I am already in labor. I have been in labor for two weeks now. Giving me Pitocin, or oxytocin, now would not be considered inducing labor, it would simply be considered augmenting my labor. See the difference? Because my labor has already begun!

Here’s the deal. My mother’s grandfather (I think) was born after a ten-month gestation. He was so big that his birth caused his mother all kinds of problems. Being that this was sometime in the 1800s, there wasn’t a lot anyone could do in those days. But it sounds to me like she never went into labor on her own before the usual 42 weeks that are considered the outer limit of “full-term”. He was what is known as “post-term”, and it almost killed her. Over the rest of the course of her life, doctors removed various parts of her female anatomy, and I do believe that it all left her a little bit short a crayon or two of the whole box–if you know what I mean.

That said, my point is that I could very well be carrying a genetic predisposition for not being able to go into spontaneous labor on my own. Does that mean I’m doomed to the same fate of my great-great-grandmother? Or that I am destined to only give birth via c-section from here on out? I hate those options. Not that I’m opposed to c-sections. I know perfectly well that they can be necessary and life-saving. But my recovery from the first one was awful and the whole experience is something that I do not want to go through again. And poor GGGma-V., it’s not like she had the options I’ve had. I’m sure there weren’t a bunch of IV bags of Pitocin hanging around back in her day. And I have no idea what the success rate of c-sections might have looked like back then, only that it wasn’t good for mommy.

And so here I sit, at 40 weeks plus 3 days, and I’m dreading what lies ahead of me. In less that 48 hours, my doctor is going to say what I don’t want to hear, and there is little I foresee that will change it. My body doesn’t know how to do this on its own. I have walked until my feet and back killed me. I have tried this and that to induce on my own. I am at my wit’s end with nothing left but time. Every day my husband texts me from work asking how I’m doing. I tell him nothing has changed. My best friend does the same. And my kids, though my daughter is more persistent than my son. Both were sure I would have her on my due date. But still we wait.

Every day is more disappointment and frustration for all of us. But we know that the wait will be worth it. We all know that she will be here eventually. And I know that I will have her whatever way I have to, and as long as she is healthy and strong I will be happy. But that does not make the waiting any easier. Nothing can make the days go by any faster.

Come on, baby girl. Your daddy is dying to meet you.