Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Double Mind

I forgot to post about Patty, the awesome perinatal nurse, I met at last week's nonstress test. She said several things I never thought I'd hear from a nurse, such as:

- Do you have any questions about what's going on for you, or what the next few weeks are going to be like?
- When you're in labour, there will come a time when you are not able to respond to us [the nurses] and that's totally fine. Don't worry about taking care of us, because if you are, you're not taking care of yourself.
- When you come to the hospital, especially if you end up with an induction, you should bring your laptop and some DVDs to watch. We don't have wireless, so you can't surf the web or send email, but you could type out the email and then send someone down the street to the coffee shop and use their wireless to send it.
- Are you going to have a doula? Oh, that's great. That is really going to be helpful for you.

It turns out that this woman's particular perspective is informed by the fact that she has taken some doula certification courses, and that she is interested in becoming a midwife. So she's got a really well-rounded idea of what birth and labour are all about. We spent about 45 minutes talking about various aspects of labour and specifically the details of induction. She encouraged me to ask questions and, once she understood that she was not going to scare or overwhelm me with details, she gave me tons of really useful and fascinating information.

At one point, I confessed, "I have this fear in the back of my mind that I'll come in for a nonstress test, and something will happen, and I won't be going home without a baby." Patty told me that yes, this could happen. Perhaps my blood pressure would spike to an unreasonable limit (the example she gave was 180/110: for context, I'm hovering around 135/85 these days). Perhaps I'd start exhibiting other signs of pre-eclampsia. This would make it clear that it was crucial to get the baby out as soon as possible. Or maybe my symptoms would indicate that I needed to be more closely monitored, and they would put me on hospital bedrest to wait for labour there instead of on my couch.

I appreciated her honesty (and she went into a lot more detail than I'm sharing here). She confirmed what I had already suspected, and solidified for me the Double Mind I've had to sustain since the first high blood pressure reading almost two weeks ago.

One part of the Double Mind operates on the premise that the shit could hit the fan at any moment. Any time I see the OB, the midwife, or a perinatal nurse, I could potentially receive the news that I am having the baby that day and all other bets are off. Life-changing news could land on me at any given moment and things might start happening very, very quickly.

The other part of the Double Mind operates on the premise that all these tests and appointments are just another way to pass the time until labour starts on its own. Just keep trucking along, making plans with friends and figuring out what's for dinner tonight, and don't worry about this other stuff.

I realize that for anyone at this stage of pregnancy, any day could be Baby Day. And yet somehow, the concept of labour starting on its own, while surprising and exciting and liable to produce the same feelings of "things happening very very quickly", is vastly different to me from the thought of the wheels being set in motion by an external force, as they would be when a doctor or midwife decides an induction is imminent. Labour comes from within, and it ramps up gradually: my body is the first to know what's going on, and it's up to me to communicate that to others. The other picture turns that concept upside down, where a caregiver determines what's going to happen to my body and dictates it to me.

All this being said, I am far less terrified of induction than I was a week ago. With my blood pressure behaving and all other symptoms staying away, I don't feel it's very likely that we will go that route - and if we do, I feel okay about that. I just wanted to express the interesting "zen" concept of maintaining two opposite viewpoints at all times as I go about my day.

1 comment:

Amberism said...

Patty ROCKS. She was amazing during Callum's labour and delivery, and I was so happy to see her there when I did the hospital tour. I hope she is on when you're there!


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