Sunday, July 19, 2015


Baby Sheep (it is the Year of the Sheep per the Lunar Zodiac, hence the nickname) was born at 39 weeks 2 days. We had initially scheduled the C-section for 39 w 6 d to give my body as much of a chance as possible to go into spontaneous labor but then we started to panic. We had been doing kickcounts 3-5 times each day including 2-3 times overnight. Three out of the last four nights, Sheep's ovenight kickcounts were real pokey. We'd freak out. I'd chug orange juice and lay down again anxiously awaiting the kicks to start coming. Even the 3 visits per week couldn't quell our worry. So we figured, what's an extra 5 days? We're already past the 39-week mark which is the earliest our doc would do the elective section. We figured baby was robustly full-term by 39 weeks. Why put ourselves through the constant terror for 5 more days? Why push our luck? Sometimes it felt like each day we were risking the baby's life; gambling even.

So I called my doctor who was incredibly understanding. It was late in the afternoon but she said she'd call the surgery scheduler at the hospital first thing in the morning and let us know if they could get us in. Sure enough we got the call that there was a slot open in the afternoon. Immediately I felt relieved knowing this kid would be here TODAY but I was also really nervous about the surgery. I delivered A vaginally after medically inducing and Dragon was born after a successful medical induction that went awry and resulted in an emergency C-section with me knocked out under general anesthesia. The thought of a needle in my spine gives me the heebie jeebies and being awake during surgery (knowing what's going on on the other side of the drape even though you don't feel the pain) straight up turns my stomach. But the thought of this baby dying after 9 long months of vigilance was scarier than facing the C-section.

The spinal wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. The operation was off the creepiness chart. I mean I could hear the scissors clicking and feel the little pulls as they cut me open. GROSS! Luckily, it wasn't too long after the surgery began that Sheep was born. I was surprised it was another girl. I guess down deep I was convinced it was a boy. As soon as E announced it was a girl, I began to sob, right there on the OR table. That plus hearing her little cry and knowing she was alive and well was overwhelming.

She resembles her older sister though they aren't identical newborns. And speaking of sisters, holy crow how am I going to raise sisters? I have a single brother and every set of sisters I know - young and old - are a mystery to me. There is this bewildering dynamic where a sister will literally die for the other, but then can turn around and say the nastiest things imaginable and know exactly what buttons to push. I just don't get it. I guess the girls will have to teach me. "The girls," it's strange to say that and think of "our girls" now that we have two. It's going to take some getting used to.

I am also anticipating lots of comments from strangers about our girls and each time will feel the pang of our missing son - we don't have just girls. But that's for another post.

In the meantime, I'm going to put my feet up before Sheep is ready to nurse again in another 45 minutes. I look at her chubby cheeks and sweet face and cannot believe she is mine. She is mine and she is mine to keep. We actually get to take her home with us. I'm so grateful.

Monday, July 6, 2015

One Way or the Other

I’m almost 38 weeks. Because no one knows why A died at 40weeks 4 days, my doctor won’t let us go past the 40-week mark with this pregnancy. I don’t disagree with this strategy. However, due to the details of my emergencyC-section with Dragon, I am not a candidate for an induction this pregnancy. This is disheartening because induction, though not ideal, has been a nice middle ground for us because we didn’t have to wait past the due date and I did’t have to deal with the risks and ordeal of major surgery.

Except now I do. Or at least, I might. If labor doesn’t start spontaneously before the due date, I’ll have a scheduled C-section. The doc will do it as early as 39-weeks but after E and I discussed it, we’d rather wait the extra 7 days and schedule it for 40-weeks. The doctor isn’t available on the exact due date so we’ve set it for 39 weeks 6 days.

I very much would prefer to deliver this baby vaginally. I’ve had both a vaginal delivery and a C-section (under general anesthesia) and can say that I prefer the vaginal experience and recovery. Plus, for four years I’ve been thinking about and planning for a natural childbirth. I’d like to know what it feels like. At this point, it would be very healing and redeeming. I think it would also help me to regain some trust in my body after being so brutally betrayed by it. 

While I wish for spontaneous labor, I realize it is unlikely. With A, I was barely 1cm when we induced the night we found he was dead; I was at 40 ½ weeks. Last checkup, on Tuesday, I was 50% effaced, barely 1cm and -3 station, so nothing really happening. I am tempted to intervene with homeopathic labor inducers – evening prim rose oil, acupuncture, etc. but I worry about pushing my body, and baby, too hard before it’s ready. I’ve met those families who went in for a checkup at 38 weeks, had the membranes stripped, contracted all night at home, went in the next morning and the baby was dead because it was too stressful for the baby. I guess we’ll stick to sex and walking since those seem to be less aggressive.

I’m trying to keep my perspective that although we’re anxious to get this kid out, I don’t want to gamble the baby’s well being just to ease my worrying.

As you likely know, a significant number of intrauterine deaths happen overnight. There are several different theories –  low maternal blood pressure, melatonin levels, etc. – and I have always suspected that A died overnight based on his normal active periods. This, of course, makes nights nerve wracking. Several weeks ago, E suggested I drink a large glass of water before turning off the light at bedtime and then, when up to pee during the night, drink more fluids to ensure that I was up at 2-3 times each night. This would buoy my blood pressure and give me a chance to pay attention to baby’s activity during the night.

That strategy has hardened to setting an alarm to wake every 2 ½ hours over night and do kick counts – sometimes we check in with the Doppler too. It is rather miserable to be forcing my waning will power to wake when I’m so flippin’ exhausted, but if a few weeks of sleep deprivation means getting baby here safely, then it’s worth it. I say that, but I also recognize how quickly things can change and that this baby could very well die during one of the 2 ½ hour periods between kick counts. Are we really protecting our child? The only certainty is that it alleviates some of the helplessness we feel as parents.

In addition to the vigilance at home (I’m doing 5-6 rounds of kick counts each day, including the overnighters) I am also going for regular OB visits once a week and biophysical profiles twice a week which is 3 appointments each week. I spread them out so that a professional is checking in on the baby every couple days. Again, the peace-of-mind is short-lived because the minute the ultrasound wand comes off my belly, I know that kid could go into distress and I may, or may not know it and it could all be over. There is just no reassurance for a babylost mom.

And so, this baby will be born one way or the other – vaginally or C-section, dead or alive – in the next couple weeks. I will be sure to post something once baby arrives.