40 weeks is a long time to wait for a baby. In my head if he didn’t come a couple of weeks early then he would at least arrive promptly on his due date, labour conveniently starting right when I would usually get up for work. I’d enjoy a much needed lie in while Katie contracted away quietly before we headed off to hospital. There’d be a few more hours of contractions that might be considered painful to mere mortals but would barely break a sweat for a powerhouse of womaninity like my wife.
After his gracious and timely emergence, his fresh face glowing and glistening in the afternoon sunshine, I would place him at my wife’s breast, The Circle of Life would somehow start playing softly in the background and we’d enter a new age of joyous, harmonious family life together.
What I hadn’t prepared for was sailing right past the 40 week mark without so much as a false labour or even a Braxton Hicks. Nearly a week overdue he continues to stay put, gleefully kicking the ever living shit out of my wife from the inside out. I suppose it’s her fault for cultivating such a hospitable womb for him. He’s not even been born and she’s already spoiling him. At this point it feels like she’s been pregnant for so long that I can’t remember anything different. Part of me genuinely believes this is life now; she’ll be pregnant forever. She’ll carry him internally into adulthood by which time technology will have advanced to the point that he’ll be able to get a job and live his entire life via some kind of video link from her uterus.
Raspberry leaf tea, hot curries, sex, walking, jumping, bouncing, and a literal gallon of pineapple juice later and he still won’t budge. Time to call in the big guns. Medical intervention is most definitely required at this point. That is why yesterday she went to the midwife for what is delightfully referred to as a “stretch and sweep”, which as far as I can tell is a very firm and vigorous NHS-administered fingering.
Katie had heard horrendous stories from her friends about this procedure and that it can be very painful, but apparently it wasn’t that big of a deal. Her friends obviously aren’t used to the goliath rocket-dong she is.
Anyway, we’re yet to see if the clinical finger-banging will get baby moving. What I really think she needs is a proper doctor-supervised intravenous dose of baby-inducing drugs. Which she was so God damn close to getting yesterday I could almost smell the amniotic fluid!
After receiving her medical muffin’ buffin’ and presumably the craving for a post-coital cigarette had worn off, the midwife went through the usual routine of testing her urine and measuring her bump. Urine tested fine, but the bump (and therefore the baby) didn’t appear to have grown for 2 weeks. Alarm bells instantly went off and the midwife called the hospital to try and get her booked in for an immediate scan. Was this it? Had she carried the baby for 41 weeks only to lose him? This did not sound good.
Within an hour we were sitting in the hospital consultant led unit and Katie had a number of sensors strapped to her belly and a little machine printing out a live chart. They also got her to press a button every time he kicked. They’d already asked us if the baby’s movements had been normal. He had been doing the minimum of 10 kicks every 2 hours but he had been moving less than normal recently. A concerned look on her face, the doctor left us in the monitoring bay.
I’m not really convinced the results at the end of the monitoring period were reflective of the baby’s normal movements, as he seemed to take quite a disliking to one of the sensors bearing down on him and spent the entire time trying to elbow it out of the way. Either way, we were sent upstairs for a scan and then sent back down to the consultant led unit to wait for nearly 2 hours for the doctor’s opinion of what was going on, and whether they’d send us home or begin the induction process.
After the first hour we realised we still had our notes folder with us, and that in order to be seen you had to hand it in at the department reception. We were essentially just hanging around in a hospital department that no one knew we were even in. Brilliant. Another hour later and a doctor finally came to see us who looked so young and timid she’d be better off at home building Lego Friends than in a career that involves taking people’s lives into her hands.
She informed us (in the corridor!) that she had read our notes, and that everything seemed to be “ok”. The baby measurements didn’t quite tally up, but he was a decent size. She didn’t seem that convinced though. She chewed on her pen as she re-read through the notes, clearly wondering what the next step was. “Please, just induce this little bastard out of her,” I kept thinking. I knew Katie was thinking the same thing. We both waited with baited breath. It was then we were presented with a bit of a moral dilemma.
“So, are you happy with the baby’s movements?”
This is something we kept getting asked, and was obviously a major factor in deciding whether everything was ok or not. As she asked, my wife and I both realised this would be the deciding factor of whether we would be sent home, potentially for another week, with no baby, or whether they would keep us in and chemically purge the little fucker out.
Katie and I looked at each other. Was it right to lie and say we were concerned our baby wasn’t moving enough so that we got to meet him sooner? Overall, Katie wasn’t concerned that he wasn’t moving enough. If anything she was concerned he was moving too much. An in-utero sedative might be a good next step if they weren’t going to induce him.
After a pause that felt like a lifetime and several glances back and forth between Katie and me, honesty prevailed. She told her she wasn’t concerned. Lying felt like bad karma, somehow. The doctor glanced through the notes again, probably distracted the first 2 times by the ever-present thought of the semi-constructed Heartlake High School Playset waiting for her at home. As expected, she decided to send us on our merry way.
So, the boy is still in there, an estimated 7 lbs and 12 ounces, kicking away, slightly less often, but harder than ever. The wait for baby continues.