ShelahAnyone who has been reading my journal up to this point must already be familiar with how much I hate...

Anyone who has been reading my journal up to this point must already be familiar with how much I hate going to the doctor. I know it's irrational, and I'd never dream of skipping an appointment, it's just that I can think of about a million unpleasant things (like getting a root canal or maybe an enema) that I'd rather do than go to see the doctor. I had an appointment on Wednesday this week, and spent at least twenty minutes sobbing the night before because I was worried that the doctor might find something wrong. This is just about the time when problems with both of my previous pregnancies (a small baby with #1 and pregnancy-induced hypertension with #2) were discovered, and I just can't help worrying that we might have problems again.

I know, in the grand scheme of things, these problems are pretty darn minor, but every parent wants a worry-free delivery and a healthy baby at the other end, and Ive gone through labor both times really worried about my baby's health. Thankfully both babies arrived healthy and beat the expectations the doctors had for them, but things were pretty scary for a little while.

So with that history in mind, imagine me at the doctor's office on Wednesday morning. I was seeing a resident since my regular obstetrician was on call. The guy came in and measured my belly and says, "How far along are you again?" When I say 34 weeks he said, "Are you sure?" As I say "yes" he starts measuring again and I can feel my heart beating faster. He measures a third time and says, Well, I get 29 cm--we need to get you in ASAP for an ultrasound."

I choke back the tears as I go out to schedule the appointment, and I'm no longer able to control the crying when the receptionist tells me the first appointment available is next Wednesday! Finally, after double-booking the resident for the follow-up, she tells me she can get me in the next day.

So I went home and did what any semi-rational pregnant woman would do--I found a tape measure. I lay on my back and measured. And measured again. And measured again (and again, and again, and again). Every time I measured, I got 33 or 34 cm. I could feel a hard bump slightly above my pubic bone (what I guessed was the baby's head), but when I measured from what was unmistakably my pubic bone (which is still sore today from pressing on it), I always got 33-34 cm. Somewhat reassured that the doctor had just made a mistake, I went the next morning for the follow-up ultrasound.

As soon as the tech put the wand on my belly she turned to me and said, "Don't worry, this is not a small baby." Actually, I'm measuring 4 or 5 days ahead of schedule and the baby is already bigger than Bryce was when he was born.

Of course, when I went to see the resident again he said something like, "Well, you must be really good at hiding babies" instead of admitting the possibility that he had measured wrong! Oh well, I'm just glad that the baby is ok and I have a couple more weeks to cook him.

As we were leaving the doctor's office, Eddie turned to me and said, "I hope you re going to rethink your idea to have the baby without an epidural now. That kid had one big head." The part about the head is true, his head is measuring about 36 weeks. Bryce, despite his Lilliputian size, had a big head. Eddie has a really big head too. I guess big heads just run in his family (Annie and I, on the other hand, have perfectly normal sized heads).

One of the continuing debates during all three of my pregnancies has been whether or not to have an epidural. I think that it's better to go without drugs if I can handle it, and I've read some studies that suggest that the baby is more alert and nurses better if its mother hasn't had an epidural. Eddie thinks giving birth without an epidural is akin to major dental work without Novocain.

With Bryce I had hoped not to have one, but I gave up on that idea as soon as the doctors said I had to be induced. I was too scared to do anything but submit to everything the doctors and nurses wanted me to do. I lay in bed on my left side for 18 hours (through cervidil and pitocin) and didn't even try to object when the nurse came in and said something like, "Your doctor wants us to break your water, give you an epidural, and hook up an internal monitor. We'll insert a catheter while we're down there."

When I was pregnant with Annie, I read a bunch of books on natural childbirth, but couldn't convince Eddie to get interested in them. When I was in labor with her (another pitocin-induced delivery), I wanted to hold off on the drugs as long as possible. Eventually things got tough and I asked for an epidural, but by the time the anesthetist arrived, Annie was born. I don't think I ever would have asked for drugs if I hadn't felt pressure from Eddie, who was trying to sleep, to do it the easier way. I felt amazing as soon as Annie was born though, and she was really alert for a long time after her birth (in contrast to her big brother), so those positive things sort of outweighed the negative "I feel like I'm gonna die" part of natural childbirth.

So I'm hoping to go drug-free again, especially if I'm induced early and the baby has some additional hurdles to cross. I want to give him every chance to enter the world alert and ready to nurse. I've left the natural childbirth books lying in prominent places around the house, but so far Eddie hasn't read them. He promises, however, that he won't try to persuade me to get an epidural this time, and that he won't sleep (he knows he's dead meat if he does). I think that I'll be able to get through without drugs this time (even if I'm induced and the baby has a huge head) as long as I have a little bit more support than I did last time.

So I'm working on rewriting my birth plan this weekend. I hope to make it clear that I'd prefer to go drug-free. I'm really, really thankful that I'm here writing another mundane weekly update instead of writing that the baby arrived early because the doctors were worried about his size. My little scare has definitely put things in perspective for me this week--I've started feeling a lot less comfortable and more ready for the pregnancy to be over, but at this point I'd do just about anything to keep Isaac safely inside until he has the best possible chance for a healthy arrival.

Until next week,

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