According to the calendar, I am 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. And according to what I can interpret of my own body’s signals, I’m no more likely to give birth today or tomorrow or next Sunday (my due date) than I was last week or the week before. Despite my doctor having told me a month ago that the baby was RIGHT THERE and that there was no way I’d make it to my due date, here I am, still round, still waiting, and now on the verge of what I’ve heard other women before me refer to as the “Oh my god, what if the baby NEVER comes out” stage.
Obviously, intellectually, I know as well as everyone else does that the baby will eventually come out. (And judging by the way he squirms and struggles against my stretched stomach these days, I think he wants to come out but just doesn’t know how. (Move toward the exit, little baby! It’s right in front of you!)) And although I also know obviously and intellectually that in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy like the one I’ve enjoyed the best thing is to just let nature take its course and allow everything labor- and birth-related to take place in its own good time, I also can’t help wanting to just get it out of the way and meet my son already.
Of course, this isn’t just a normal, uncomplicated time of year to be dealing with everything labor- and birth-related, what with so many planned events depend on this one UNplanned event: we have family coming in from out of town, out of state, and out of the country this month, and then there’s the whole stress of not just giving birth in the days before Christmas 2008 year but having a child whose birthday forever rubs up against the busiest time of the year every year. Everyone keeps telling me that I should take advantage of this excuse for not going all out with decorations and shopping and homemade gifts and baking (baking for others, at least) this Christmas, but I still can’t help thinking about what it will be like NEXT year, and the year after that and the year after that, when I have to throw in a birthday party on top of everything else. It would be so much easier if the baby were coming in early December rather than mid- or late December. Or, you know, July. (We’ve actually discussed the possibility of half-birthday celebrations to avoid this conflict.)
Which brings me to my point. At a prenatal appointment a few weeks ago, I was mentioning how very much I hope the baby comes early so as to make the whole holiday/family situation easier on everyone, and my doctor’s response was, “Well, when would you like to schedule an induction? Does December 7 work for you?” Although I was taken aback that she seemed not only willing but eager to accommodate me in this way, I was mostly surprised at my reaction to the idea of induction in general. I hadn’t ever seriously considered it before then, so I wasn’t quite prepared to have reacted the way I did, which was negatively.
Sure, the idea of picking a date that works for my schedule seems like a good thing in theory, but I still couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable with the idea, I think mostly because I didn’t feel I’d be doing it for the “right reasons” (the definition of which varies from person to person). I mean, is it really okay to interfere with something so important and delicate in the name of convenience? And do I really think this is something I can, or should, control?
Just this morning I was reading an article about C-sections in the latest American Baby that used the term “designer delivery” to describe births scheduled around things like travel plans or maternity leave–basically any inducement or elective C-section done without medical cause. What really got to me was the sentence “I’d like to deliver my baby by next Tuesday. My mother is flying in.” Oh my god! That’s me! And I don’t like the way that sounds!
There’s definitely a social stigma attached to planning a birth for non-medical reasons, but now that I’m considering the possibility myself*, I’m wondering if that’s fair? My doctor, whom I trust, is okay with it, and according to that C-section article, so is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (so long as the baby has reached 39 weeks). What do you think? Would you (or did you) schedule your own birth for non-medical reasons? Are there certain reasons for doing so that you consider more “legitimate” than others (e.g., family visits, maternity leave limitations, holidays, the possibility of having to push out a gigantic baby if you go too far past your due date, omens in the astrological calendar)?
*Although I’m still not comfortable with the idea of a full-on induction (i.e., breaking my water and/or starting a Pitocin IV), I am nevertheless mere hours away from having my membranes stripped, which stimulates labor about 50 percent of the time. With any luck I’ll be reporting back to you next Wednesday with the news that it worked! Stay tuned…)