Saturday, November 6, 2021

Our Lady Of Perpetual Indecision


When I last signed off, I had accepted an induction appointment, but after researching the medications involved, was planning to cancel it and wait instead for my body to do its thing naturally. But in news that will shock none of my regular readers, I changed my mind. Again. And then again.

It all started at 3 a.m. on Monday morning. No, not labor. A depressive episode. I once again found myself wide awake and unable to fall back asleep. I tried all my tricks: relaxation breathing, calming music, journaling, a hot pad. At 4:30 a.m., just as I felt sleepiness begin to descend, my toddler woke up...and also refused to fall back asleep. 

By 9 a.m. I was feeling fried, slightly insane, and full of "fuck you" energy. I texted my husband to tell him I might never forgive him for his role in this situation. I ate several peanut butter chocolate Rice Krispies bars. Then I took my toddler for a walk...which turned into a run. Around the one-mile mark of lumbering, huffing, and puffing, I seriously started questioning whether I should check myself into a psych ward. And maybe I would have if I thought it would be more restful and beneficial than just crying it out at home.

On my way to do just that, I passed a yard where a lettered sign read, "Karissa, You Are Loved." It wasn't clear what the occasion was or how Karissa was related to the homeowners. But I felt envious of her. I am not one for public displays of any kind, but what a difference it would make to recast myself as the beloved in this situation rather than the villain. (Also, word nerd aside: I actually prefer the passive voice in that phrase. It makes it more about Karissa than about whomever is doing the loving.)

I went home and had my private pity party...and by late afternoon, when the clinic called to confirm my induction appointment three days hence, I didn't have any fight left. If nothing else, the timing of the induction was so freaking convenient. It meant that my toddler would have round-the-clock care provided by family. I could cancel my doula (which I was looking for an excuse to do because I really didn't want another stranger in the room). My husband could be present at the hardest part of the birth. (Even though I was pissed at him, I still kind of wanted him there.) The plan fell together effortlessly.

I spent the next couple of days preparing – making lists, stocking up on essentials, repacking my hospital bag, running around for my required Covid test and getting my hair cut. I wasn't looking forward to the induction, per se, but I anticipated some sweet, sweet relief from the many physical discomforts of pregnancy.

But on the morning of the big day, I just couldn't go through with it. I was afraid of the pain, the drugs, the unknowable amount of interventions that awaited me. I didn't want to spend any more time in the hospital than absolutely necessary.

I had other anti-induction reasons that were, admittedly, trivial: I didn’t particularly like the birthdate. I didn’t want to rob myself of the surprise (and the story) of how it would all go down. The weather was going to be nice over the weekend and I wanted to get in all the walks I could – as well as one more, end-of-season lactose-free ice cream fix from my favorite out-of-town creamery. ("Only you would postpone a birth to get some ice cream," my husband said. He's not wrong.) I wanted to finish Squid Game, which I only watch on the Elliptical (and which will be off limits for six weeks post-partum).

So I canceled the induction. And then I spent the next 24 hours playing the "If I had been induced, I'd be...checking into the hospital/in active labor/holding the baby right now" game.

On Friday afternoon, around the time my Dr. Baby-Maker had basically promised the birth would be over, I was prone on the ultrasound table, peeking in once again on my seemingly perfect baby in utero. The sonographer shared that she was checking off certain criteria –  amniotic fluid, fetal breathing, moving limbs – and assigning points. The baby scored an 8 out of 8. (Already a straight-A student. Atta girl.)

Dr. Baby-Maker was pleased with the ultrasound results but seemed a little disappointed that I'd had a change of heart about the induction. She reminded me that because of my age, a 39-week induction was more medically indicated than it was elective. She didn't want me to wait much longer to take action. And in the meantime, she wanted to strip my membranes, because my cervix remained the same stubborn one centimeter dilated that it's been for the past two weeks. For the uninitiated, stripping the membranes is when a doctor sticks a finger up your cervix and separates the amniotic sac from the uterine lining. This releases natural hormones that can jump-start labor. It only took a minute and wasn't the worst finger-fuck I've ever had, but it was far from pleasurable.

"If this is going to work, it will do so in 24 to 48 hours," she said. Then we made another induction appointment.

I drove home weepy and defeated, wondering if I'd made a mistake in skipping out on the original induction appointment. My body has done everything it was supposed to do during this pregnancy up until this point. Why the delivery delay? My first two kids were born well before their due dates...what's the hold-up now? Is it just my expectations that are out of whack? (Probably.) Or is there something else that needs to be worked out in me or the world before the baby's arrival? 

My ambivalence about the adoption decision didn't feel like a factor in all this, but let's be honest: it probably is. Maybe I wasn't ready to face the dragon yet. "This isn't your forever home," my husband keeps warning my belly. I think he's trying to be cute, and by "home" he only means my womb, but the fact is he has left all the new baby merch unassembled. 

Could clarity about the baby's fate still come before she does?

I sound like a broken record but: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

And so, once again, I wait, sans any sign of imminent labor...

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