Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Decision Tuesday

Oh, my sweet little son.

I am so happy you are in there.  So, so happy that you are safe, healthy and strong.

And... big.

I had another doctor appointment today.  Last week, during all the craziness and worries of hospitals and sick everybody, we had a glimmer of hope and good news: I was measuring - for the very first time pretty much this entire pregnancy - on schedule!  37 weeks exactly.  Waaahoo!!!

And, for the first time since week 33, I hadn't had any pre-labor scariness.  Very few contractions.  Less pressure on my downstairs.  No more weird discharge or losing of my mucus plug.  Despite the stress that was happening all around me, pregnancy-wise?  I felt better than I have in months.

But this week, well... I measured 41 weeks even though I'm 38.  This week, we did a size ultrasound that estimates he is 8lbs 13 oz.  His head was over the 100th percentile, estimated at 15 inches.  The ultrasound tech said that sometimes the estimates are wrong, but even allowing for that, she's confident he wouldn't be less than 8 and a half pounds if he were born today.

His ultrasound photo - which looked pretty good at 35 and a half weeks when it was clear and precise - looked unrecognizable today at 38 weeks.  She couldn't get a shot because he's so smashed in there.  He literally looks like he doesn't have a nose, it's that flat against his face, and his hand is inseparable from his head.  His ear is sticking out of his shoulder.  It was comical to watch her try to get any good photos.

Obviously there are women out there who can carry 9 or 10 pound babies; I am not those women!

After this news, the doctor asked me about  my preferences moving forward.  I answered immediately that we'd like to proceed as planned, and give natural a shot.  I wanted to do a membrane sweep to see if we could help give him a jump start so that he doesn't get too big, and she was willing to honor all of those requests.

However, now that we're definitely in the category of "big" baby, there were a few things she had to warn me about: 1) I would have to go into labor spontaneously prior to 41 weeks, and women with big babies can struggle to do that because the babies are so big, they don't engage in the pelvis. 2) The number one risk associated with birthing a big baby is shoulder dysplasia, which is one of the more dangerous complications on the delivery table.  Shoulder dysplasia is when the head has been born, but the shoulders are too large or get stuck behind the pelvis and significant intervention is called for to dislodge them.  There are a number of things they can try, but she had to warn me that if nothing works, they will break baby's arm and collar bone in order to get him out in those critical moments.

I talked to my husband.  I called my mom.  Both of them were pretty clear that I am crazy.  Why? they asked after I'd laid out the pro's and con's, Why are we even having this conversation?

And the more I thought rationally about it, the more it became obvious to me.  I've written here that I know my body, my pregnancies and my labors better than ever before.  Wanting with all my heart to change the rules of the game doesn't mean that suddenly my body will respond differently.

1) I already struggle - can't, in fact, to date do it on my own - to get baby's head to engage in the pelvis.  Now I have a baby whose physiology makes it extra difficult.

2) I vividly remember that desperate, hopeless feeling of having Logan stuck, and knowing with everything in me that I would not be able to get him out on my own.  It was one of the most awful feelings I have ever experienced in my entire life.  It was downright dangerous, and I swore I would never again put another child of mine in that position.

3) Shoulder dysplasia.  I mean, really?  I would never - could never - knowingly take a risk like that.  Not ever.  I understand that so much of hospital speak is CYA, that they have to inform me of this even if the risk is minuscule.  But, really?  It was over from those words.  I'd never knowingly put my baby in harm's way if I had it in me to control the outcome.

4) The very last straw was my own, dysfunctional body.  When the doctor attempted to sweep my membranes, my cervix was sitting so high that she couldn't reach it.  A combination of very uncomfortable shoving and  actually pushing down on the top of my uterus to bring it into range was the only way we finally accomplished it.  The lesson?  When I say "high up," I really, really mean it.  In fact, things were lower at 33 and 35 weeks and have progressed up rather than down.  Cool.

So, you've probably gotten there by now too...

We're going back for one more!  Which also means that we are having a baby on Friday!  Quite the nice way to bookend all these pregnancies, really.

It would be easy to feel a little sad that I am never going to have that natural labor I've sought for more than 7 years.  Instead, I'm feeling really happy.  He's going to come out.  He's going to be safe.  I have four beautiful, healthy children when 100 years ago - or perhaps even as little as 50 or 60 - I would almost certainly have lost them or died myself.  I'd never have gotten Leah out safely.  Game over right there.

We are so blessed - so very, very blessed - to welcome our beautiful man into the world.  I can't wait to see you on Friday, Baby Boy!

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