Birth Day

Don’t get too excited by the title — baby is still on the inside!

Tomorrow is my birthday.  It’s also the anniversary of my daughter’s due date.  It’s also the official “full term” 39-week mark in my pregnancy with my son.  Quite the triple-whammy of extremely mixed emotions.

Last time I wrote, I said I was mostly relaxed, content to wait for a while to meet my son.  Well, that equanimity has gone out the window this week, I can tell you!  Two of the last three nights, I’ve woken myself up crying in the middle of the night, the first time because I had a dream about delivering my daughter last year, and the second time because I was worrying about my son being stillborn.  The anxiety about wanting to KNOW that he’s arrived safely is starting to get to me, especially since I know that I’ve reached the upward slope of the U-shaped curve of stillbirth — even though the absolute odds of stillbirth are still low (about 0.5%), they’re increasing with every week that he stays inside, and will approximately double over the next two weeks.  I want to be patient and wait for spontaneous labor, but I also want to induce and get him out while I know he’s still OK.  A lot of my anxiety is coming from the fact that I never did settle with my doctors when we would induce if I don’t go into spontaneous labor (which I so far show no signs of doing, although obviously it’s still early). I find myself fearing that they’ll try to make me go to 42 weeks, and I just don’t want to do that.

I want to induce no later than 41w0d, which I think is backed up by good science.  I would probably chill out even more if the induction date were set a few days earlier, but at least right now I feel that I will completely panic if they try to make me go later.  Not only am I worried about stillbirth, but I’m also worried because my mom went more than two weeks overdue when I was born, and I went into fetal distress and almost died after her emergency C-section (it’s not clear why, but might have had to do with an aging placenta).  And when I say I almost died, it’s not an exaggeration — my mom was a labor and delivery nurse at the time (now she’s an OB/GYN nurse practitioner), so she knew that what was happening was truly scary.  It involved Apgar scores of 1, 2, and 2 (as my mom likes to say, it was the only standardized test I ever flunked).  Apparently I was the giantess of the NICU for a few days (since the NICU is mostly full of preemies, and I was the one huge post-term baby).  The very fact that my mom went late with me means that I’m more at risk for going late with my baby, and the fact that I have a history of placental abruption means that I’m at higher risk for placenta-related problems in this pregnancy.  Taken together, these things mean that I want this baby OUT before something really bad has a chance to happen.  Not to mention that I feel that giving birth to one dead baby is more than enough for one lifetime, thank you very much, and I’m happy to accept the risks of induction (which at this stage do not include an increased risk of C-section, it turns out) in exchange for a lower risk of stillbirth.

Phew.  OK, now that I’ve got that off my chest…

I’m trying to relax and enjoy these last few weeks of pregnancy, but it’s really, really hard as my anxiety ratchets up.  It’s also poignant to experience the anniversary of my daughter’s due date and my birthday in my hugely pregnant state.  It makes me think about where I am in life: tomorrow, I turn 33.  I would also be celebrating my daughter’s first birthday this month (probably this week) if she hadn’t died.  But of course, she did, so I’m not — even though I consider myself her mother, I’m still “childless” in the eyes of the rest of the world.  I’m finally on the brink of giving birth to a living baby, but he’s not actually here and safely in my arms.  Yet because birthdays make me think about life in a broader sense, I can’t help thinking ahead to my next pregnancy (if there is a next one) — my husband and I have always hoped to have at least two children, and IF our son is born healthy, we plan to start trying for #2 around his first birthday, since it took us 2.5 years to get to this point with him and I have known tubal scarring that will make conceiving again tricky.  That means that in all likelihood, I’ll be at least 35 by the time our second baby is born (if, indeed, we are lucky enough to get there at all).  When we first started talking about kids, back before I turned 30, we said we wanted two or three, and we were going to start having them right away.  We planned, and God laughed.  Now, as I turn 33, my biggest hope and dream is that our baby boy will finally join our family sometime in the next two weeks… it seems like too much to hope that he might have a little sibling in the next couple of years, but I can’t help but dream about it and hope that things don’t get too much more complicated as I get older.

So, in the meantime, I wait.  I will say that my birthday tomorrow is looking very exciting!  First, I am planning to submit the paper I’ve been working on to the journal — it will feel so good to get that done before the baby arrives!  My coauthors have been really great about doing their share of the last-minute work to make sure it’s ready for submission, and it feels like a nice, solid piece of work.  I’m really quite happy with it. Tomorrow is also a big day in science because of the expected announcement of the first-ever detection of gravitational waves!  This is huge news, guys — extremely likely to be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics over the next few years.  I’m planning to watch the press conference live at 10:30am EST, and I invited the rest of my department to come watch it projected on the big screen in our library along with me.  Assuming the rumors are true, it’s going to be a pretty spectacular scientific birthday present!  Then, of course, I officially hit “full term” in my pregnancy tomorrow, which is exciting in its own way.  In the afternoon, my husband and I get to go talk to lawyers to do the super-fun job of drawing up a will (we’re being responsible future parents!).  And then my husband is cooking me my traditional birthday cake, the same one I’ve requested for three years running.

In the meantime, I’m trying to take a deep breath and coast through these last days (please, let it only be days!) of pregnancy.  I’m still feeling fine physically, still capable of tying my shoes and walking my dog two miles a day, and more or less able to sleep at night.  I mention this not to gloat, but rather because I only seem to read about how physically miserable all women are at the end of pregnancy — I’m not, and I want to make sure my own positive story is out there in case it makes anyone feel less apprehensive!  My main discomfort is just that I’m slightly obsessed with poking my baby all the time to make sure he’s still kicking.  Poor kid.  Hopefully I’ll be able to update you soon with pictures of him on the outside!

18 thoughts on “Birth Day

  1. hopingforatakehome

    I did jump to conclusions after just seeing the title of this post 🙂 It’s great news and a big deal to make it to full term. It’s so understandable that you will be anxious until he’s out though. On an online birth group I am part of, it seems so variable whether a doctor will agree to induce early (or even at 40 weeks) or not. Some women seem to be able to have elective inductions at 38 or 39 weeks even without underlying conditions or history. I thought I would be able to be induced shortly after 40 weeks for a few reasons and my obgyn isn’t up for that. Here’s hoping that both of us go into labour naturally and soon. Enjoy your birthday tomorrow and your simulcast party! xx

    1. lyra211 Post author

      I know you must be feeling the same anxiety about playing the waiting game that I am right now! It’s tricky — on the one hand, I like that my doctors are encouraging me to wait, because I think it’s normally good advice and responsible medicine and all of that. At the same time, I’ve done the research and I know that the risks of inducing after 39 weeks are low. One thing that makes all of this trickier is that being in a practice with 5 doctors, and being comanaged by MFM, means that I rarely talk to the same doctor twice in a month — I might talk to five different doctors in a month, and they all tell me different things, and it’s not clear who I should go to for decision-making. Argh! Anyway, indeed, I hope that both of us go into labor spontaneously and SOON! Hope you’re feeling OK in the meantime!

      1. hopingforatakehome

        Yes! I have a MFM dr, my obgyn (there are 6 doctors in the practice though and I’m not guaranteed “my” dr), and my endocrinologist. They all have different ideas at times and I’m not always certain who the general contractor is in this situation! Hope you had a good day yesterday. xx

  2. My Perfect Breakdown

    Happy birthday to you!!! It sounds like an incredibly emotional time of year for you (rightfully so). I really hope baby comes safely soon and your anxiety stays at bay somehow. Sending you so much love and best wishes!!!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks, friend. 🙂 It is very emotional right now, but not nearly as emotional as it must be for you! I am so incredibly excited for you and wishing you all the love in the world as you bond with your son!

  3. newchancesnewhope

    I completely relate to your feelings of wanting to induce and fearing stillbirth – I had such anxiety over that too. As you say the odds are very very low and your little one seems to be doing great! Your doctors should take your fears on board after your history and give you the induction choice – I had already started talking to mine about not going past 40 weeks.

    I wish you a very happy birthday and hope that your little one makes his safe appearance very soon! xx

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you — it’s good to know that you had to deal with the same emotional turmoil, and I’m glad that you didn’t wind up having to deal with a tussle over an induction. Thanks so much for the happy birthday and birth wishes! I hope early parenthood is treating you well!

  4. jwhitworth7

    Happy birthday!! I can see why you are become anxious with all the emotional events your experiencing right now. I’m hoping you go into labor and/or reach an agreement about induction with your doctors. Good luck momma!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you! I would LOVE to go into labor, like, now, please. 🙂 Barring that, I’ll have to wait until Tuesday for my next appointment to try to nail something down with my doctor(s). I just wish that I knew which of the five doctors in the practice I should be talking to — I don’t even know who my appointment is with on Tuesday! Argh! Anyway, I hope the newborn days are treating you well, and that there will be news to share on our end soon!

  5. Wifey

    Happy birthday! I’m glad you’re feeling good physically and I wish I could say something to help with the emotional fears. But, I actually don’t know how you keep it together as good as you do. I hope there’s another birthday to celebrate soon!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, thank you — likewise, I have no idea how you’ve managed to stay sane throughout everything you’ve been through, but I very much admire your strength! I guess we just do what we have to do, right?

      If our little boy waits too long, he might wind up with his dad’s birthday, which is in 13 days. 🙂 Selfishly, I hope not, but one way or another we will be a February family!

      1. Wifey

        Good month to be born! Sounds like our hubbys have birthdays close together. We are hoping that DH’s bday present will be having at least one, maybe two babies at home!

  6. Olechka

    Dearest mama,

    I have been following your blog for quite sometime. During my own pregnancy with my own baby I was super aware of how many things can go wrong and I remember how at 38 weeks I was telling my husband that maybe we should just go for c-section because stillbirth can happen and I knew a mom who lost her baby a week before she was due for her scheduled c-section. I remember telling him “if we go now, we are guaranteed a baby.” And I would go for it if he agreed that we should. At the end my doctor did a membrane sweep and I deliveried my baby at 40 weeks and 1 day.

    These feelings you are dealing are really powerful emotions. They drove me worried even though I didn’t experience a loss similar to yours. I think if how these feelings are so much more potent for you.

    A good friend would say to me “just remember that feelings are in your head, not in your tummy. Count your kicks and hang on.” I offer you the same. Just hang on.

    Many hugs

  7. andthewindscreamsmary

    Wow, that cake looks delicious! And, happy belated birthday. I’m sorry it was shared by a sad anniversary, but I hope you were able to take some time and enjoy the day. Hoping your anxiety is minimum and manageable during the home stretch… xxx.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks — it wound up being a very enjoyable day, really, what with the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves and submitting the paper. I had plenty of distraction, an didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the anniversary of my daughter’s due date. And yes, that cake is amazing — I highly recommend it if you’re into baking! Thanks for the good wishes — every day feels like a week at this point, but it’ll be over soon enough!

  8. dandisnow

    I’m always poking and shifting around too. “You okay in there?” I keep thinking he’ll come out with an aversion to being touched, haha!

    I still have 8 weeks and a few days (at minimum) before my planned induction and I am already so impatient. I just want to know, like you said, that he is here and safe. Oh dear.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Yeah, poor pokey babies. 🙂 Honestly, given the way we know he’s been oriented based on all our ultrasounds, I’m kind of worried that the place I’ve been poking him where I’ve found him to be most reactive might be in his crotch. 🙂 Sorry, baby! But sometimes I just need you to move!

      Good luck surviving the last 8ish weeks! I hope everything keeps going smoothly from now until induction day!

      1. dandisnow

        Thanks! I’m not normally one to wish time away but right now I just want to speed things up. 🙂

        Haha, he’s got lots of padding and liquid to protect his little man bits. Mama needs the reassurance sometimes!

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