May 15, 2009:
We are at St. John’s Hospital again for the first of our now weekly appointments with Dr. Blake. A nurse leads us back to a small room and instructs me to lie back on the hospital table as she makes the necessary preparations for the non-stress test. Benjamin’s only been slightly active this morning, so I hope he will cooperate. The nurse straps a few circular, palm-size monitors over my bulging belly, putting pressure on my womb. She explains that I will need to lay still for the next 20-30 minutes as the monitors track our baby’s movement and heartbeat. A machine close by will be printing out the results throughout the duration of the test. She tells me to relax and leaves Shawn and I alone in the room, saying she will be back to check on us and on the results periodically.
As soon as the monitors are in place, my unactive little boy suddenly becomes very active! He does not appreciate the extra pressure on his little abode. Shawn and I watch with amusement (and for myself with some discomfort as well) as our baby attempts with all his might to kick off the offending monitors! I have never seen my stomach move like this—waves would really be the best description! When the test is finally complete, the nurse unhooks me and explains that the results look good today. (We were sure they would). She then leads us to another room where I will have an ultrasound to complete part two today’s testing. As has been the case each time, a technician performs the majority of the ultrasound, with Dr. Blake taking a look at the end. Benjamin obviously wore himself out during the non-stress test, and he doesn’t move much as measurements are taken of my amniotic fluid levels. He must be napping. We are relieved to learn that my fluid has actually gone up slightly since last week!
Dr. Cook explained to me at our appointment a few days prior that I will probably have to be induced at around 37 weeks gestation; 38 at the latest, in view of my low amniotic fluid. I am currently at 33 weeks. While the idea of an induced labor does not sound appealing, it is exciting to think that we will meet Benjamin within the month! I can’t wait to hold my little boy!
May 18, 2009:
We’re sitting in Dr. Cook’s office again for my weekly check-up. We will be seeing Dr. Blake again at the end of the week. However, he believes that next week’s appointment with her will be the real determining factor on when they will decide to induce labor. He explains that he will be leaving town this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday. While it’s unlikely that I will need to be induced this weekend, he wants us to understand that in the event something should happen, I will be attended to by one of the doctor’s on call.
“It’s probably not going to happen,” he says, concluding his thoughts. We agree. We do follow the recommendation, however, to have a hospital bag packed in the car, “just in case.”
May 19, 2009:
Shawn and I sit in a conference room at Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville for our third of four childbirth classes. I am so looking forward to the end of the class tonight when all the dads get to take a turn wearing the “sympathy belly.” When the time comes, each man dutifully straps on the 30 pound vest, complete with a bulging belly and breasts, and he must bend down to pick up a pencil on the floor. The room is full of laughter and flashing cameras. Shawn and I have our picture taken together when it’s his turn, but my belly definitely has his beat! His five minutes of baby belly weight is nothing compared to constant kicks, sleepless nights and a squashed bladder! Next week’s class is the one I’m most looking forward to, when we will learn about breastfeeding. I’ve dreamed all my life of nursing my babies, and I can’t wait for that special bond! As an 18-month old nursing child myself, I stood up solemnly in the middle of church one Sunday, lifted my dress over my shoulder, and pressed my baby doll’s face up to my baby chest! I guess I’ve looked forward to this for a long time!
May 20, 2009:
It’s a warm day as summer is getting ready to set in soon. I’m wearing a one piece cotton dress and my newly purchased Croc sandles; the only thing my hot, swollen feet can handle at this point. I’ve wrapped up most of my Christian Education responsibilities at The Salvation Army. All that remains now is to clean out my office space and assist in Social Services as I’m able to until it’s time to deliver the baby! My desk is almost done, but I still have to tackle the bookcase. Sitting on the floor is going to be necessary to clean out and organize the bottom shelves. Getting down isn’t so bad; getting up is another story! I’m so glad Mandy’s close by. What will it be like to be able to do simple tasks like bending over again? It feels like a lifetime ago since I was able to do that. Some days it’s hard to remember what it was like to not be pregnant!..
…Since it’s Wednesday night, Shawn and I are leading the small youth group meeting at The Salvation Army. Tonight we are talking about trusting God. Our current situation creates the perfect illustration:
“We are really having to trust God right now. It’s possible that when I go to see the specialist tomorrow, she will tell me that I can’t go home but must be admitted to the hospital to deliver the baby. We have a bag packed in the car just in case.” (Of course, we have little expectation that this will actually happen.)
We go on to share that part of trusting God is being totally honest with Him. When we’re going through stuff, it’s good to share with Him all the rawness of our emotions. He’s big enough to handle it, and He loves our honesty. We encourage the teens to pour their hearts out to God about any and every situation they face. He will meet them there.
May 21, 2009:
Benjamin has hardly moved this morning. As we make the drive to Tulsa, I talk to him and pray over him. “Come on, baby. You need to wake up and be active so they can monitor you.” Surely he’ll get going again once they strap those intruding monitors in place…
He must really be sleepy this morning. Even with the monitors strapped down, he’s not doing a whole lot today. There’s some movement here and there, but nothing like the waves we saw last week. Surely it’s nothing to worry about…
The nurse keeps coming in and out to read the results as they print. She even brings some other nurses with her. No one is saying anything to us, but this doesn’t feel like a normal silence. Soon I’m being unstrapped, and the nurse says we’ll be going to speak with Dr. Blake now.
“…to do the ultrasound?” I inquire.
“I don’t think there will be an ultrasound today,” she replies.
Shawn and I sit in another room waiting for the doctor to come and tell us what is going on. We are both feeling very uneasy, and we are trying hard not to jump to conclusions. When Dr. Blake finally walks in, she exclaims “Well, it looks like it’s baby day!” We just look at her in shock, trying to process what she has just said. Our minds swim as she explains that Benjamin’s heart rate dropped for over a minute during the non-stress test. While it’s back up again, she feels that it would be in his best interest to deliver him now at 35 weeks. Otherwise, I would have to remain hospitalized and monitored 24/7 for the next few weeks to ensure his well-being. If his heart rate dropped once, it could do it again. It’s possible that this has already been happening.
Dr. Blake instructs us to head down the road to Hillcrest Medical Center, where Dr. Cook happens to be practicing that day. We’ve never even seen the facility. We were planning to deliver at the St. John’s branch in Owasso. In a daze we check out at the front desk and head to the car. I am so grateful now that we had the presence of mind to pack a bag, though it’s a fairly meager one. As Shawn drives I call my mom and tearfully give her the update, requesting that she fly out as soon as possible. My heart sinks as I realize that she won’t be able to be with me during labor after all. I had pictured her and Shawn and possibly our friend Myong staying with me through labor. They all bring such a calming presence. I’m so scared. This is all happening so fast; so unexpected. We knew this was a possibility, but I feel so unprepared. The nursery hasn’t been completed yet. Shawn was going to finish painting the dresser this weekend, and we were going to get everything arranged just right for Benjamin. How can this be happening?!