We have had an insane amount of crap going on lately. I know crap is not a pretty word and not very poetic. But in this case neither is the stuff that has been heaved into our lives, one stinking shovel full after another. The drama at Peter’s job continues. He has resolved some of the issues surrounding not getting paid, at least for the time being, but there is still a lot of not-so-good stuff going on in his department and it is taking its toll on him. I broke my foot about two and a half weeks ago. This is pretty annoying, but to be honest it is actually more comical to me than anything else. I think it is one of those “seriously?!” moments where if you don’t laugh you will cry…or start feeling murdery. We also found out in stages over the past couple of weeks some pretty life-altering, numbing family news. It is really not my story to share, especially in this venue, but prayer would be appreciated. Anyways, all of this on top of being 9 months pregnant, and let’s face it kind of dramatic to begin with, led to a story which upon comparison to your own life, (please, don’t pretend you won’t judge and compare), I hope will encourage you to feel better about their own grip on life.
I had hoped by this point to have lots of lovely pictures to share of our new baby girl, along with an inspiring story, or at least a story, of how I conquered a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Well I have neither. All I have in way of pictures is this cute ultrasound picture taken yesterday when I was 40 weeks and 1 day. And that is where the story kind of sort of begins.
As soon as I saw this picture I was struck by how much she looks like Hayleigh and Braxton. I think it is the cheeks. But also the lips. I instantly wanted to kiss those little lips. My eyes welled up with tears and I felt as if seeing this picture was kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. There was this adorable, sweet baby of mine on the screen-one I felt I recognized as if I have already known her, yet we are still separated by the barriers of skin and amniotic fluid. I had a fleeting thought of not even wanting to take the picture because it makes me feel even more anxious to meet her and even more frustrated when each passing hour brings no baby.
Now in hindsight I realize how incredibly self-centered and shallow these thoughts are. My goodness, women leave ultrasound rooms with pictures of their babies knowing these will be the only pictures they ever get to have. Sometimes a little time will give a little dose of perspective and once I was out of the ultrasound room I was able to come back to reality. I am only two days late. Very uncomfortable? yes. Very overwhelmed by other life circumstances? yes. But honey please, your baby is healthy, strong and pretty cute, even on a ultrasound picture. Keep it together. Well, I wish I could say I did keep it together, but, like I said these thoughts all came after I left the ultrasound room.
The plan had been for us to learn from the ultrasound how large she was and then go ahead and schedule a csection for either Friday- the following day, or Monday, in order to avoid strain on my incision and a slew of other possible complications with a large, post-term baby. The ultrasound tech did all her measurements and told me that she was “only” measuring 8lbs. I was skeptical, especially since Hayleigh and Braxton measured 9lbs and 9lbs 5 oz respectively and according to the medical records were both born before my due date. I asked her to measure again, just to make sure. She did and got the exact same measurements. Then the midwife came in to talk to me about what decision I wanted to make. I was not prepared to have much of a choice. I thought this would be pretty cut and dry. Now the ultrasound results, which I am still not convinced of given their margin of error, were throwing a bit of a wrench into things and I was not prepared to really have to think. To be honest, I have kind of been on autopilot the last few weeks, so my brain is a teeny bit out of practice. Seeing I was struggling a bit she brought in an OBGYN to help with my decision.
It is situations like this where I envy people who are self-assured, confident decision makers; people who can assess situations, compute all the given information and spit out a plan that they are satisfied with despite what other people may think. I am not one of those people. I waffled back and forth not knowing what to choose, or even what to say. In fact I am pretty sure that some of what came out of my mouth was not even complete words, let alone complete sentences. I remember apologizing for being such a mess. I tried to convince them that usually I am not so indecisive. I told them if I could avoid a csection I would like to. I told them I didn’t want to wait forever to get her out though, especially armed with the new information that my fluid is a tad low. I told them I was not so sure that she was only 8lbs. I asked about meconium. I even asked if the ultrasound accounted for chubbiness. The Dr. was not mean, but she also wasn’t nice. She was kind of tough, all business-ya know like the female gym teacher who is harder on the girls in class just out of principle. Maybe P.E. was this woman’s backup career choice.
Well, I was always one of the athletes in high school so the P.E. teachers never bothered me, but that type of woman just intimidates me. I don’t exactly do well trapped in a small, dark ultrasound room with her type. It was at that moment that the weight of everything-Peter’s job, my foot, bad family news, the pregnancy and now this decision weighing on me, just became too much. I tried to stop it, but there was no holding it back. The tears and snot, (yes there was snot), started flowing. I haven’t really cried in spite of all the crap the past couple weeks, and honestly I really wish my body had waited just a couple hours more, but as I said there was no holding it back. So, I cried to a midwife I barely know and a Doctor I had never met. Timing is everything. I told them about my traumatic csection experience that I was just then realizing was giving me anxiety about having another one. I told them about our family news. I went on and on without making a real decision all the while sporadically inserting the obligatory “I don’t know why I am crying.” “I am so sorry to be doing this.” “I am sorry to be taking up all your time.” I really didn’t try to hurry myself at all though. Maybe because there really was no hurrying me. My emotions had finally taken over after being suppressed for a while now. And my emotions don’t do well being suppressed; they don’t have a lot of practice at that. I think maybe midwives and obgyns should get some counseling training because of the occupational hazard of dealing with hormonal women. Training or not, they handled it really well. If they thought I was a total nut job whose story they were stashing in their back pocket to tell for laughs at dinner parties they certainly didn’t show it. Once I calmed down a bit from the extracurricular we focused back on the task at hand.
The Doctor crunched some numbers for me and told me I have a 84% chance of successful VBAC. That is not something I wanted to throw away just to “get out of” pregnancy. Then just as I was ready to make a choice she threw in another wrench. She told me I had the option of an induction, something I have been told for 9 months was not even a consideration for me at my midwife practice since I had had a prior csection. This felt like a good middle ground option to me: better than waiting indefinitely not sure of the size of my baby and better than scheduling a csection right away. I decided to opt for being induced. We went ahead and scheduled it for next week. I let myself get a little “bullied” into a day that ended up being later than I am comfortable with so currently I have a call back in to try to get it scheduled sooner. Look at me being all assertive over the phone from the “safety” of my own home! So, that is where we stand right now. I am waiting for a call from the on-call midwife any time now to get an exact date and time to be induced. And once that is nailed down I will be able to breath a sigh of relief because I will actually be content with my decision.
I was talking to my mom last night and I was thinking how I wish someone in the moment had told me that whatever I chose was a good choice. I could not have made a bad choice. Whatever I chose, as long as I was comfortable with it, would have been okay, even if I felt like the Doctor or midwife might have might a slightly different choice (not to say I don’t trust their professional opinion). I just wish in the moment I had been strong enough to make a choice that I felt okay with, not swayed by what I perceived to be them leaning one way or another. They told me the decision was mine, but being the black and white person that I am, I took that as code for “this is a test. There is one right choice. Choose carefully so you don’t pick the wrong thing.” And then add in there the pressure I put on myself because this doesn’t just affect me, but also my baby.
As I went to bed last night I thought of all the times I struggle making decisions because I am concerned about what others may think or because I am afraid of making the “wrong” choice. I definitely have this issue more since becoming a parent. There are so many small choices to be made regarding my kids on a daily basis. It dawned on me that in some instances in life, as in my situation in the ultrasound room, there really isn’t a wrong choice. As long as I am not in defiance of God’s word or the Holy Spirit’s leading and as long as Peter and I are comfortable with my choice, maybe either option is okay. There is a quote from John MacArthur’s book Found:God’s Will that speaks to this idea. I am pretty sure I may have shared this quote before, but bear with me.
“God’s will is that you be saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive and serving….Okay, let me give you the final principle. You may want to jump up and shout! If you are doing all five of the basic things, do you know what God’s next principle is? Do whatever you want! If those five elements of God’s will are operating your life, who is running your wants? God is! The Psalmist said ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4)…The will of God is not primarily a place…The will of God concerns you as a person. If you are the right you, you can follow your desires and you will fulfill His will.” “(pg. 54-55,60)
I don’t want to over apply this principle. I am just saying that God used this instance to remind me that not everything is that big of a deal. Sometimes it is just a matter of preference and choosing what I am comfortable with, even if someone else may not entirely agree. I felt such freedom in re-realizing this realization. Overall it was a pretty draining, but pretty freeing day. Tears and snot can be cathartic, even if shed in front of near strangers. Maybe in this case even more so, because in retrospect I was forced to take myself even less seriously and laugh about it, ya know, so I didn’t get all murdery. Being murdery probably isn’t good for the blood pressure. Hopefully as you read this and judge me you are able to care a little less about what other people think of you. No really, take this to heart, because if not maybe someday you will find God has put you in a proverbial ultrasound room to break your pride. You’ve been warned.