Friday, November 12, 2021

If You Want To Make God Laugh...

“I’m sorry you’re still pregnant,” Dr. Baby-Maker said to me when we spoke on the phone hours before my induction was to begin.

“Me, too,” I replied, though I didn’t really mean it. It was the day after my due date, and I’d called her office anxiety-ridden and teary-eyed because I didn’t feel like I could go through with the induction.

Despite having made all the arrangements once again, from meticulously planning childcare to finishing chores to stocking the refrigerator to skipping ECFE so we could all get to bed early, I didn’t feel at peace about forcing my body into labor. I felt like crying (which is no longer a novel or noteworthy sensation, I suppose, but still…).

Throughout the day, leading up to the dreaded hour of hospital admission, everything I did was punctuated by “the last” time. The last workout. The last nap. The last load of laundry. The last article. The last shower. The last meal. I could feel the axis of my world tipping, soon to never be the same. And that was terrifying. I didn’t want to confront it.

Given that I’ve been on high alert for signs of labor for over three weeks now, it seems absurd that I would want to stay pregnant even one second longer, but there you have it. For someone with zero patience, I seem to have an incredible ability to delay the biggest impending event in my life right now. (I guess I can still surprise myself. Too bad it’s in all the wrong ways.)

So a few hours before I was to appear at the hospital for “cervical ripening,” I called Dr. Baby-Maker’s office to ask what my options were if I canceled. She called back immediately.

“How are you feeling about the induction?” she asked.

“Anxious,” I said. “I don’t want to spend an extra night in the hospital and I’m not looking forward to a long day of labor.”

“Have you had any signs of labor?” she asked.

“My mucus plug fell out,” I said. (That's basically the boogery substance that keeps germs out of the cervix during pregnancy. It can fall out anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins, so not exactly a red flag.) “But that's it.”

Dr. Baby-Maker said that instead of Thursday night, I could come into the hospital early Friday morning and we could dive straight into the Cytotec (aka the scariest labor induction drug ever that isn’t even FDA approved for that use) and Pitocin (also evil, for pain-related reasons).

“I’m on call Friday night, so even if it took longer than expected, that would be fine with me,” she said. “Though labor could last into Saturday morning…”

So I would still potentially be laboring for a full 24 hours?! Then what was the advantage of waiting until Friday morning? Once again, though I had options, all of them sucked.

“What if I don’t want to do induction at all?” I asked. (After all, the baby seemed to be doing fine according to all the measurements of modern medicine.) “How long can I go?”

“I wanted to induce you a week ago,” she reminded me. “I know it’s hard to accept given that you’ve had three spontaneous labors, but with your age and the IVF, I don’t recommend waiting. I'm concerned about the risk of stillbirth. I don't say that to scare you. I say it because I've seen it happen. I don't let anyone go past 41 weeks, even healthy women in their 20s."

What I didn't say (because it is a thought so vile I hesitate to even write it here): I'm not concerned about stillbirth. It would mean I wouldn't have to make a decision about adoption. But (another horrible thought coming), I don't think I'll get off that easy. (I know that's naïve to say; stillbirth would obviously bring a whole host of other devastating emotions I have no experience dealing with and that would wreck me in their own ugly, unique way. But from my self-centered perspective, it would "solve" a problem without requiring me to take responsibility for it.)

Further complicating all this: the dominant feeling over the past few days that I don't know if I can bear to give the baby up – but I don’t feel like I can admit this to my husband, who seems so detached from the baby that I actually needed to ask if he wanted to meet her before a hypothetical adoption placement happened. (Him: “I guess saying goodbye would be the Christian thing to do…”)

This sudden fear of parting with the baby, however, was preceded by three crazy-making sleepless nights due to my toddler’s persistent cold and subsequent breathing issues; a big middle-of-the-night blowout argument with my husband in which we imagined aloud what divorce might look like (hopeless, broke); and a crying fit that got so out of control I hyperventilated and considered calling 911.

So, yeah. Things have been hard. And complicated. And confusing. No wonder the baby doesn’t want to come out. I don’t blame her. (I mean, hello, I don't even have the time, energy, or motivation to give birth!) And yet…at some point isn’t biology just going to kick into gear, regardless of all the ambivalence?

Dr. Baby-Maker droned on about how I shouldn’t wait any longer to induce, that it would be Thanksgiving soon (um, yeah, not for another two weeks; cool your jets, doc). Then she asked if I would be willing to come in on Sunday night for cervical ripening because she's on call again on Monday. (Interesting how induction only seems to be urgent when it conveniently coincides with a doctor's schedule...) I said sure, then realized I didn't mean it. Didn’t I just say I didn’t want to spend an extra night in the hospital if I didn’t have to? I am so tired of feeling bullied around this decision. (Oh, the irony, given how I was basically begging for an induction with my last pregnancy.)

"Can I just come into the clinic tomorrow and see what's going on with my cervix and then decide?" I asked.

She agreed (though dare I say begrudgingly?) and ordered another biophysical profile (the ultrasound where the baby racks up points for practice breathing, movement, etc.). 

So once again, we have a plan. But as they say, if you want to make God laugh

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