Big news! I’m pregnant! And… due in ten days! Uh, and absolutely terrible at updating this blog. Sorry. But anyway, baby #3 is coming soon, and we’re very happy and excited about that, despite knowing full well that the impact of a newborn will be a mixed bag for our family. With a 10 year old and almost 7 year old, we’ve gotten accustomed to the luxuries of life without nap schedules, or diapers, or choking hazards, and revisiting all that will be… interesting, especially for the big kids.
If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably blocked me by now, because in recent weeks I’ve gotten very vocal (ok whiny) about wanting to get this baby OUT already. I feel like an asshole about it, because I know so many people would give anything to be pregnant and can’t, or have had horribly frightening experiences with preterm birth, and that my seemingly “I’m so uncomfortable I can’t stand being preggo ANY MORE” tweets must appear shallow or offensive or both. I don’t want to offend or alienate anyone, of course, yet I can’t be disingenuous about my own truth, either.
Here’s the thing. I want this baby out NOW because I am absolutely terrified what will happen if she stays in another minute more. My last baby was macrosomic, and his shoulder got stuck during childbirth. This is called dystocia, and is highly risky both to mother and baby; because the head is already delivered but not the chest, the cord is compressed against the baby in the birth canal and the baby suffers oxygen deprivation. This can be fatal, or cause brain damage, or permanent nerve damage and paralysis, or or or.
There are a few things the medical team can do to help free the stuck shoulder, including breaking the baby’s collarbone (GAH, I KNOW) or performing something called the McRobert’s maneuver on the mother: pushing her knees up somewhere behind her ears and then applying significant pressure to her pubic bone to release the baby’s shoulder. The latter is what they did in my delivery experience, resulting in a perfectly healthy baby, thank the stars, and a separated pubic symphysis and dislocated pelvis for me. This took months and months to recover from, was extremely painful, and limited my physical activities (such as, you know, walking) severely. But I eventually recovered, and life went on, save for the occasional modified yoga pose so the teacher wouldn’t get sued if I dislocated my hip.
Flash forward to this pregnancy: pubic bone separation begins around month 7, which, ow, but ok, I’ll try to work with it. And then an ultrasound at 36/37 weeks shows the baby is already clocking in at eight and a half pounds, “on track” to be a little more than 9 and a half pounds by my due date (same as my son was), according to the doctor. I sputter something about margins of error with ultrasound sizing and am reassured that a previous history of macrosomia reduces that margin. Not to mention, a previous delivery with shoulder dystocia significantly increases the odds for a repeat scenario.
So. My pelvis is already destabilizing, there’s a giant baby percolating in my belly, and she’s likely to get stuck. Obviously the risk to her scares me, obviously I’d prefer not to dislocate my own bones to get her out, obviously this is a double-plus ungood scenario and excuse me if I feel perfectly justified in eating pineapples, eggplant and sriracha in an attempt to jumpstart labor. Yes it’s early and generally not recommended, but: macrosomia, dystocia, pubic symphysis — maybe not on the same panic scale as preterm labor and NICU stays for some people, but definitely waaaay up there on mine.
We all have the lens of our own personal experience that colors how we view the experiences and decisions of others, and I am not guilt-free when it comes to judging others based on my singularly anecdotal evidence in some situations. But lately I’ve felt guarded in expressing my fears and frustrations with remaining pregnant, because the common party line is that it is always better to wait for a fully cooked baby than risk getting her out early, and I feel like people must thing I’m some kind of shallow idiot to want otherwise.
I’m lucky that my OB has made me a solemn vow to do everything to protect both the baby and I no matter what happens, that we will make decisions together as a team, that my fears are completely valid and if the baby gets stuck we can try some other techniques first (for example the Gaskin maneuver) if time and circumstance allow. She supports my idea that going without an epidural will give me greater flexibility to get into positions that could reduce the risk for dystocia and promises that the nursing team will also be very supportive in helping me get through an unmedicated labor. She gives great and reassuring hugs at the end of each visit and I feel safe in her hands. I wish I felt just as safe in talking about it out in the world at large, but the truth is, I don’t.
And I know that’s part of the joy of living in a world of free & unfettered speech; that we don’t always hear what we want to hear, or get validated in the way we hope. That people may not agree with or even disapprove of our ideas. That even a civil and respectful dialogue about it may still hurt. I know all this, and yet, a part of me wonders if my body isn’t releasing the baby yet because my heart is still in its own infancy and needs the validation and support of entire, multiple communities before it can let go and fully trust that all will be well.
This self-doubt, it’s frustrating. And also oddly reassuring; I’m just one little human, trying to make another. Wish me luck?