In my last post, I discussed how my midwives were pushing me to induce the baby right at 40 weeks, and my ambivalence about that. At my next midwife appointment that Friday, my favorite midwife casually informed me that they would not be able to use the same induction methods they used with Jackson; the medicine they used increases the risk of uterine rupture in people who have had previous c-sections, so it is off the table. In order to induce this time, the midwife mentioned she would plan to use a balloon catheter to manually dilate the cervix and a Pitocin drip overnight to induce contractions.
Both the balloon and the Pitocin sound absolutely barbaric to me. I had visions of a very painful and unsuccessful induction that would ultimately end up in a c-section anyway. After several tearful days of soul-searching and reading medical journal articles for the medical reasoning behind induction, I decided to cancel it. The medical journals all said that induction is recommended for mothers of advanced age no later than week 39; we had already passed that milestone, so there was no good medical reason not to continue to wait. They also said that the risk of stillbirth increases after week 39 – but it increases from 1 in 1000 births to 2 in 1000 births, which is not really a huge percentage increase. And for babies and mothers who are healthy, like me and Elliot, there is very little risk of stillbirth.
On the morning of my due date, August 6, I called the midwives and told them I would be canceling the induction. They agreed, but wanted me to come in for a non-stress test and to talk to a midwife in person. I was happy to do so, and ready to stand my ground on the refusal. I considered it the first parenting decision I was making for my unborn child. Having Gracie has taught me a lot about advocating for my children’s rights, and I was determined to use those advocacy skills to fight for this child, too.
Thankfully, my favorite midwife was the one we saw, and she was very supportive of my decision to cancel the induction. She said at one point that she may think I made the right decision; she was also worried about the potential for a failed induction. She advised me to make an appointment for August 13, one week after the due date, during which I would have an ultrasound to check fluid levels and the placenta and another non-stress test.
Last week, we waited anxiously, every day wondering whether it would be THE day. I went through cycles of elation and despondency – some days, I would be sure I was about to start laboring, then nothing would happen, and then the next day I would be despondent, knowing that another day had passed and I was inching closer to having to advocate for my unborn child with a midwife I’d never met. As Monday approached, I grew more and more stressed out, worrying about whether the new midwife would be supportive.
Thankfully, she was. The ultrasound and non-stress test were fine; the baby and I are still perfectly healthy. She asked that I return in three or four days to re-check the baby, but was ultimately completely kind and supportive. In fact, she was so peaceful and kind that I have a new second-favorite midwife.
On Monday, I again felt very close to labor. I was having tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions and a great deal of cramping. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I thought for sure it was starting, as I had a few painful contractions right in a row. But then, everything stopped… it wasn’t labor.
Yesterday was a bad day. Again, I was despondent, wondering if the baby would EVER be born. It doesn’t help that everyone is asking me when he’s going to be born, and making comments about how long the wait has been. Believe me, it’s been longer for me than anyone else. It’s a little dagger in my heart each time someone makes a comment about continuing to wait for the baby. Yesterday was full of tears and heartache.
Today is a better day again. Although I don’t feel any sign of imminent labor, I’ve always thought that he would be born today, since the kids start school tomorrow and it’s the worst possible time for me to have a baby. I’m trying not to get my hopes up that he will actually be born, but it’s impossible to forget that today could be the day.
At this point, it feels like I won’t go into labor naturally at all. If we make it to next Monday, there will be no other option but to induce and hope it works, since very few midwives and OB-GYNs will allow anyone to go past 42 weeks. And I accept that, in theory. I will know that I tried to give him the best possible chance at a healthy existence. I still don’t want an induction or a c-section, but the hard truth is that it is completely beyond my control.
Elliot has four more days to be born on his own terms. Hopefully, he will decide it’s time within the next four days. But ultimately, we’ll meet this little guy by early next week no matter what.