Thursday, February 11, 2010

The necessity of medical instruments (some context)

I title something 'the necessity of medical instruments' and what subject do you call to mind for the body of my post today?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Why, L's obsession with her toy stethoscope, of course.


She loves that thing so much that she wears it almost every time she leaves the house. She wears it to school every day. Today, we didn't even technically leave the house, in the sense that we never left our property. She needed it, though, to play in the snow.

Just ask her. She needs it.

And that's the magic about context: you likely thought I was about to tell you some birth-related story, but if I tell you that I'm still in my own home, back in cozy flannel pants, typing while balancing my laptop across my very pregnant belly, you now hold enough context to understand we're not yet up to any birth storytelling.

Let's look at the girls playing in the snow in our front yard this morning:

Cute, but no context.

Try this one:
Note our mailbox in the right quarter of the frame and you get a sense of just how much snow sits under the girls' bundled-up tushies.

But this is even more helpful in providing scale:

In this frame you can see some bare driveway blacktop in the foreground, and now you understand that they're sitting about 5 feet up in the air.

How do we measure the storm?
Do I tell you that we received about 50" of snow in the past week?
Or do I tell you that we have about 40" in our front yard now (due to some compression)?
Or do I tell you all that really matters: that we're safe and warm, that the baby didn't make any dangerous arrival plans, and that the sun is shining once again?
And that because the government has been shut down for a week, I just gained a free week of vacation time for my maternity leave?

I've realized that I've failed to provide you with some important narrative context.

On Tuesday, in the brief window between The End of Blizzard #1 and The Beginning of Blizzard #2, two important things happened. First, I had a checkup with my OB. Second, we moved back home. We've been back in our own house for two days, watching the snow accumulate in our own yard, enjoying the benefit of our newer neighborhood's buried power lines and a consistent stream of heat flowing through our home. And we did so based on that visit to my doctor.

So the facts, as they are: yes, I'm now six days past my due date. But l'enfant terrible and I were both thoroughly vetted for fitness on Tuesday. He was deemed nowhere near ready to come out, based on his location inside me. We can ask why that is, but the doctor simply said: "He was lower last week than he is now. He's climbing in the wrong direction." And when I questioned that, both the doctor and the sonographer independently gave the same answer: "Maybe this one will be your stubborn child." If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that that is the most troubling part of this situation. His blood flow and amniotic fluid levels were checked. His size was checked. His heart was monitored for an hour. He's okay to keep cooking for now. And me? My blood pressure was 116/60. I'm 41 weeks pregnant and I'm probably in better physical condition right now than you. My girls, at just about 40 and just about 30 pounds, respectively, (pre-bundling!) who had me throwing them up on snow piles this morning certainly have no problem believing I can still do anything. Neither should you.

In fact, I was scheduled for a c-section today as a delivery method of last resort but on Tuesday the most pro-surgical doctor in my practice said he believed I should be removed from the schedule. We're late, but we're very healthy. We get more time to do things our way.

And I have another checkup with another sonogram and another fetal stress test tomorrow morning. And that's the full context.

===

The lovely husband and I both come from families just filled with nervous personalities and as such we have no patience for that. We are both extremely level-headed. We're great in emergencies, not that we've had one. We're calm. We get really annoyed by frippery. I joked with a friend a few weeks ago that I might write a post entitled "Don't call us; we'll call you" based on the notion that as the end approaches, we're being checked up on a little too much, with too many nothing questions and nonsense questions and fluffy questions, all designed just to see if we'll respond at all. Are we here? Are we at the hospital yet? Is anything happening? I joked I'd initiate a telephone moratorium. We haven't, quite, but I'm starting to ignore emails whose motives are suspect. We just might begin ignoring the telephone altogether. We're all here. We're all fine. We appreciate concern. However, external nervousness only lets a tension enter our home. We certainly don't need that; it doesn't help anything. And so the best solution is simply to bar it from entering at all.

So many people have been nothing but encouraging and supportive. Please don't misunderstand me; I truly appreciate that. I know our situation has sounded a bit precarious. I just ask that you follow the rule I laid out before my mother (who can't even assure me she's able to abide by it, and is therefore in danger of becoming incommunicado).

I'm not nervous about me. I'm comfy and happy. I trust my body and my intuition and my medical care and I am confident that I don't have anything to feel nervous about. Even in the worst of the storms, the Maryland National Guard was sending advance plows in front of ambulances for those who needed the service; and I knew that I'd always be okay. (And if you allow, as I believe, that the birth story is prophecy, well, maybe this kid really is going to need a bit of a stunt to set himself apart from the two very dynamic personalities we already have in the girls.)

So, then, The Rule:
Concern, compassion, curiousity are all welcome here. Encouragement especially welcome. And I do feel extremely appreciative to all of you near and far who are cheering me along. But I'm not nervous. And you, therefore, are not allowed to be nervous. You are not allowed to be any more nervous than I am. And if you can't abide by that, I better not hear about it. Because I, remember, am awesome. And I'm a VBAC rock star. And I have a proven pelvis.

And he will come when he is ready, on his schedule but not on Mother Nature's and not on mine and certainly not on yours. And he will be healthy and he will be beautiful and he will be wonderful and he will be a blessing on all of us. Pin It