A Moment of Jen
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Tuesday, May 06, 2003
posted by Jen at 5/06/2003 09:47:00 PM

Today was kind of an up-and-down day -- lots of emotion, with shopping in between.

But first, a small clarification from yesterday -- a lot of you wrote to ask why my doctor hasn't brought up induction. I think the reason is (and I'll get some clarification of this at my next visit), there's nothing so far indicating that it would work. I think if my cervix had started to change (and boy, I never thought I'd be discussing my cervix with the Net-surfing world), I'd be willing to consider going that route, but as it is, my choices seem to be C-section or waiting.

Things started with more bad news. Our doula -- who we really like -- had a death in the family, and will be out of town until Friday. Not good. I spent a pretty miserable night, trying to come to grips with the notion that, among other things, if I don't go into labor pronto I won't have a wonderful how-you-were-born story to tell my baby -- it'll just be, "Well, you were late and the doctors got worried so we went to the hospital and the doctors cut me open and took you out."

In the morning, the news got worse. My doctor called to say that he'd reviewed my case with the high-risk guys, and while estimates for weight can be wrong, estimates for head size rarely are. And this baby has, in the words of Mike Myers in "So I Married an Axe Murderer," a great gargantuan cranium. ("Spherical. But quite pointy in parts!")

Of course, the baby's head size only really matters in proportion to the size of the mother's pelvis. I'm pretty tall and fairly substantial (how's that for delicately phrased?), so it's not as if I'm some tiny five-foot-tall ninety-pound thing trying to give birth to Pumpkinhead. But still....they're worried. And they want to do the C-section sooner rather than later.

So Adam and I went to the mall, to walk around and try to take our mind off things. We bought placemats. It worked as well as anything else, I guess. And we were hanging out at Pottery Barn Kids when my cell phone rang. It was Jane, our Bradley instructor, calling in with the opposing viewpoint.

"Babies are born when they want to be born!" she said. "Your doctor needs to trust your body and your baby! Don't let them bully you!"

Her take: as long as the Bun looks healthy on the monitors (and the Bun does) and the fluid levels look good (and they do), there's no danger in waiting for my body to go into labor on its own, even if that means going to week 43 or -- God, I don't even want to type this -- week 44.

Of course, I know my doctor's going to say that there are risks with going past forty-two weeks -- the rate of stillbirth rises, the placenta can deteriorate, the baby keeps growing, big babies equal difficult labors, why not just do it now?

The horribly frustrating thing is, I feel as if we're not in the realm of facts and absolutes. Birth is politicized. People have agendas, whether they're doctors worried about malpractice suits and trying to insure the best possible outcomes (which I think can lead to more C-sections than are technically absolutely necessary) or Bradley teachers trying to return the world to all-natural childbirth, all the time. Both sides make persuasive arguments. Both sides have studies to back those arguments up. There's not an easy, obvious choice.

So what I did was this: I bought letters at Pottery Barn Kids that spell out the Bun's name. I took a long, slow walk with Wendell down by the Delaware River. I took my boom box and a bunch of candles into the bathroom. And I did the one thing that my doctor and my Bradley teacher both recommended -- I talked to the baby.

Well, not talked so much. I've always felt kind of silly talking to the Bun (strangely, I feel perfectly normal talking FOR the Bun -- I'll have Adam ask a question and I will respond in a small squeaky Bun-like voice that is usually both indignant and profane. The Bun, you may be interested to know, has already expressed a keen desire for a pony).

So I got in the tub and lit the candles and I set up the letters spelling out the Bun's name, and I turned on the music and I, um, sang.

I sang Springsteen and Paul Simon and Dar Williams and Kirsty MacColl. I lay curled on my side in the water with my hands around my belly and I sang and sang and sang, and I hummed when I didn't know the words. I sent telepathic messages telling the Bun that we live in a wonderful city in a beautiful house full of love and dog hair and way too many scented candles, but that it's generally quite a happy place. I said that the Bun's father is very smart and nice and funny, and the dog is....well, the dog is unique. And that there are lots of people eager to meet the Bun, me most of all, and that this would be a good time to start thinking about leaving.

Maybe I'm a sucker for new-agey stuff (and scented candles, too), but I'm feeling a lot more peaceful now than I did last night. I wish that what I was feeling was contractions, but I'll take peace, for now. And I hope that feeling will either get labor started, or help me feel good and calm if we wind up with the C-section.

(And then, of course, I came downstairs all freshly washed and glowing and found Joshua Gracin singing "Jive Talkin'" on TV, which just might have undone all my hard work and good intentions. My eyes. My EYES!)

So that's all I can tell you, except to note that Adam has started referring to the pregnancy as my sweeps-month stunt. Heh.
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