I’m not ready.
I have been working so very hard about not thinking too far ahead into the future. I still try not to think too much about the “whatifs” regarding after the baby is born. Working so hard, that I am neglecting some preparations.
I had my last outpatient ultrasound today. We were going to measure growth- which made me nervous. Growth, or lack thereof, is one thing that could derail our plan. If baby’s not growing, time to deliver. Induction starts and a long inpatient stay is avoided. I want ready for delivery. I don’t think baby is ready, and I am certainly not ready mentally.
When they measure growth, the sonographer takes measurements of the baby’s head circumference, abdominal circumference and certain leg and arm bones. As she does them, a little figure pops up on the bottom of the screen. The figure says how many weeks the head or bone or belly is measuring. I’m 33 weeks and 5 days. The measurements I could see were seeming to be closer to 29-31 weeks. Normally I wouldn’t think much of it because clinically I know that third trimester ultrasound can be off by 3 weeks or so. But I was watching two weeks ago as they took the same measurements and the numbers didn’t seem to change much. As we waited for the doctor I told Chris “I don’t think the baby grew.” But after all the calculations, the baby had growth 300gm in the two weeks (we needed a minimum of 200gm to feel good about growth- and keep me pregnant.) Four pounds even was what my little karate carrot weighed in at today. 27%. Good movement. No fluid. Small bladder. Barely visible kidneys (though that’s also a function of the low fluid-harder to see organs in general). I get to stay pregnant! I got a dose of rescue steroid to help with the baby’s lungs in the event of delivery in the next two weeks (a shot in the butt! the first butt shot I’ve had as an adult, or as far back as I can remember). I return tomorrow for the final steroid dose. Friday I have my last prenatal appointment with my midwife. I am making some concrete moves to prepare. Though in those minutes between sonographer and doctor, as I waited to see if I’d have to deliver now or not, I realized just how unready I am for the birth of my baby.
I go to the hospital in 3 days and I have done no preparation.
I feel like I have little documentation of this pregnancy. I know of three photos of me where I am visibly pregnant. I did not envision doing the weekly “here’s my baby bump” series, but I did think I’d want photos of me pregnant to show my children when they got old enough. And even now, I feel like it would be proof- proof that the whole thing happened. In case I have no baby to bring home, I want to be able one day to point at a photo and “see, look, I was pregnant once.” Now I have three days to make that history. Maybe some hospital pictures would be in order.
Packing. I made a hospital bag a few weeks ago- a small one with just the necessities, that I bring with me to appointments- in case they send me right over to the hospital, like they did at 27 weeks. But I haven’t packed a long-term bag. I haven’t even made a list (and I am a list maker).
And I think I ‘m in denial that I’ll actually have to labor. It’s not that I’m planning on a c-section (though I certainly know it’s an option if there is significant distress); it’s more that I haven’t gotten to the stage that I honestly believe the baby will come out of me. We did a childbirth education class (yes, even midwives do childbirth prep- so no excuses for patients who don’t think they need it!). I have started a playlist for labor songs. I have a tennis ball for back pain and heating packs for everywhere else pain. But labor still seems so theoretical to me.
I was at the chiropractor today and she knows all the basics of my situation- she’s all business when she asks about it, but in a good way. She asked if I’m ready to go into the hospital. She also asked if I was ready at home. I told her no, not at all. I haven’t been planning to take a baby home. If this baby joins us in the world living and breathing, s/he will be having a nice long stay in the hospital. I figure we can do the shopping then. If it looks like the baby is working towards discharge, then we can buy a crib. Then we can build a baby wardrobe of especially girly or boy-y clothes. Then we can share the baby registry Chris and I had been working on before the oligohydramnios. Then we buy whatever medical supplies our baby needs. I realize I might need a few things in the interim, but that’s what family and friends (and amazon prime) are for. Breastmilk storage bags and bottles for the nourishment I can save for my baby when s/he can eat. Nursing bra. Baby outfits for photos. A little baby hat. A lovey.
I need to buy a baby outfit. Something classic, simple, natural. We will consider it a coming home outfit. Though really, I feel like I need it in case we bury the baby. Another form on coming home. If that’s the case, I want the outfit to be something special- something I’ve picked out with love. And I can’t imagine that I’ll want to be shopping for an outfit if I’m actually planning a funeral. So this I want to do ahead of time, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it yet. I’ll put it on the to-do list.
I need to make a to-do list. Something to refer to when I hit boredom in the hospital. Or if I’m feeling particularly anxious, something I look at to find something to distract me.
As I begin my preparations to go into the hospital, I am constantly struggling with both relief and fear. I am excited, in some ways, to give up the burden of anxiety and let others watch my baby like a hawk. But I am terrified of what’s going to happen. There is still a lot of unknown. If I only knew, for sure, I would be there for three solid weeks, I could work hard on adjusting to the “after” birth during that time. Maybe begin to realize that I will labor. But I could go in on Saturday and be delivered that day, depending what the baby shows on the monitor. I could end up with a very quick c-section, skipping a long labor that might in many ways be therapeutic to experience. I’m terrified of the emotions I’m going to feel, the further uncertainty I will face with a sick child. Will I bring the baby home? Will I be caring for my baby full time? Have I just had my last days as a midwife?
For now, I am going to plan on a nice extended stay. My baby has been a mover and gets a good BPP (Biophysical Profile- an ultrasound test for fetal well being- looks at certain baby movements and fluid) score- 6 out of 8, the best a baby can get with no fluid, so I’ll consider that an A. My baby has been getting straight A’s, like his/her mamma, since 27 weeks. This makes me believe my baby will behave on the monitor. I plan on laboring and pushing out my baby. I am tall, confident in my ability to push out a big baby, so a small one should be a piece of cake, right? My midwives will be patient with my baby to allow me every chance at a vaginal birth if it’s safe for us. I am planning on a live baby. I think I’ll meet our little carrot and hear a cry. Maybe even have a tiny moment of skin to skin as the cut the cord? I plan a team of pediatrician helping my baby breath and see what s/he can do on his/her own. Beyond that, I have no plans.