Last Tuesday was the day I found out I was going to be pregnant forever.
At 39 weeks + 5 days, I went to the doctor for an exam. I was strangely nervous, thinking this appointment would predict when I would be put out of my misery. I mean, when I would get to cradle a little bundle of joy in my arms. My body’s preparedness for labor would prove just how good I was pregnancy. Hey, I go on long walks almost every day like everyone recommends – this baby should have been ready to pop out. “Oh! You’re already 5 centimeters dilated – off to Labor & Delivery you go!” I imagined the doctor announcing, proud of his patient.
As you know by now, this did not happen. Instead, the doctor announced – a hint of disappointment in his voice, “You’re not dilated at all.”
I felt like I had failed a test. It was two days before my due date! My baby was supposed to come early! That’s what I’d planned for all along! This was just too depressing.
After regaining my sanity – after all, this news really meant nothing – it was time to talk induction. Here was something I could exert some control over, something I could plan. (Because isn’t what this is really all about? Not having any control over one of the most radically life-changing events?) At my previous week’s appointment, I had pointed out that the normal day they would schedule me to be induced – one week after my due date – was Thanksgiving. Would they be so inclined to schedule me for the Monday or Tuesday prior?
(I desperately do not want to deliver on Thanksgiving, so naturally, that’s when I predict Baby will show up on her own accord. It’s not because it would suck to be in the hospital on Turkey Day – which it would – but because I think it would be so sad for my child’s birthday to be constantly overshadowed by this most major of holidays. And because I cannot fathom another week pregnant.)
But just like Baby, my doctors were loath to cooperate with me. The induction-scheduler wasn’t even there! How dare she abandon me in my hour of need! Didn’t the hospital staff realize the urgency of avoiding a Thanksgiving delivery? Instead they just booked me an appointment a week out, at which point I’ll be 40 weeks + 5 days, and sent me over to triage to check on the baby.
There I waited and waited until I was finally seen by a nurse who asked me the same laundry list of questions that both a corpsman and doctor has asked me at my first appointment. She then checked the baby’s heart rate with a doppler, just as the corpsman had done. I then waited and waited some more until I was taken back to be hooked up to the monitors that recorded the baby’s heart rate and something else they didn’t explain to me. At this point, I had not eaten or peed in about four hours – or eternity, in pregnancy time.
An Unidentified Medical Professional repeated the same list of questions that the nurse had asked, then hooked me up and disappeared. Then a med student appeared, and repeated the questions almost verbatim. Guess what? My answers hadn’t changed! Then the Unidentified Medical Professional returned, informed me she hadn’t written my answers down and had me repeat myself. This was the sixth time that morning I had told someone that I had had a completely healthy pregnancy, was in no pain, and hadn’t experienced contractions. Blah, blah. blah. She disappeared again, returning after 20 minutes to check the results.
“Crap,” she said, looking at the monitor. She hadn’t turned it on. She pressed the “on” button, then briskly walked out, no apology or explanation, leaving me to languish on a frigid hospital bed with my bladder about to burst. Unhook me! I’m sure the baby is fine! Just give me a sandwich for the love of God!
An endless 20 minutes later, the Unidentified Medical Professional returned, grabbed the monitor’s print out, and left for the final time. An OB doc replaced her to perform the ultrasound, and inquired about any complications, pain, contractions, etc. Don’t you people have charts?! I wanted to scream. Or pee myself. It was a toss-up. Of course I politely responded and pretended to see all the baby’s features and movements as he pointed them out on the screen, despite the fact all I saw was gray. The quicker I got out of there, the quicker I got to eat. Plus, as I had already failed dilation-wise, I was not going to be that woman who can’t see her baby. Just nod and smile, nod and smile.
*Please excuse the Spanish subtitles.
After pronouncing all was well with Baby, he said, “Well, if she’s not here in a week, we’ll schedule you for an induction a few days after Thanksgiving.” A few days AFTER Thanksgiving?
“I was hoping it would be earlier…” I responded, hoping he picked up on my desperation.
“We’d prefer her to come naturally, so we’d like to wait. Anytime in that 41st week is really fine.”
Who cares what YOU prefer!? Are you the beached whale?
“OK,” I said, too weak to fight. (Had I eaten, I bet I could have convinced him otherwise.) So after a discouraging 3&1/2 hours at the hospital, I was finally released, utterly defeated.
There was one piece of good news: during the ultrasound, the doctor pointed out that Baby was vigorously practicing breathing – something fairly advanced at that stage. Ah, in the womb and my child is already advanced! Finally, something that confirmed what I knew to be true.