Sunday, July 13, 2008

Month Nine: Small Scare (No Suspense, Happy Ending Edition)

By now, the birth is getting so close we're going to see the midwife every week. Wednesday's visit was shaping up to be routine, until the nurse looked at my blood pressure and said calmly, "I think I'll just check your other arm." It has been routinely 120/80 for months, but Wednesday it was 138/90. On both arms.

That means one of two things: either I have high blood pressure from gaining 25 pounds in six months and running around like a headless chicken, or I have high blood pressure from pre-eclampsia, a reaction some women's bodies have to pregnancy. The cure for the first is pretty much just to chill out already. The cure for the latter is to induce labor and deliver the baby.

So they had to figure out which one it was. This got me a ticket to the lab to test various bodily fluids and also something called a Non-Stress Test, which, let me tell you, is badly named. It was stressful. The wires and printouts and monitors were bad enough, but the absolute worst part was when the nurse had to hunt around, looking for and not finding the baby's heartbeat. It probably took her 30 seconds, but it was not a reassuring moment. She finally found it, strapped me to the various devices, and left us to our appointed jobs for 20 minutes: baby to happily kick and squirm, mother to freak right out, and father to remain calm, tell a few jokes, and make conversation in a casual and reassuring way. We all performed exactly as described.

The midwife came in to review the printout, and said the best words ever: "That's a very happy baby. Just what we like to see. She's doing great."

So, while we're still waiting for the lab results, things look fine. I've been taking it easy and checking my blood pressure at home (it's gone and stayed back down a bit) and even bad news from the lab wouldn't be too bad. It might just speed up the baby-getting timetable a little, which is fine, since I'm almost 39 weeks along.

The really good news is that the baby is head-down and starting to engage, and I'm 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. If you don't know what any of that means, that's okay. You can just move right along and think no more about my innards. It's good news.

And the less-important-but-still-good news is that I have official medical advice to: "Lie down, rest, eat bonbons, and read." Well, okay.

Update: For the third time in the last couple months, the lab results are... mixed. They need some more absolutist lab techs over there, if you ask me. People who can really commit to a one decision or another, and stay the course, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. It's a great way to run a country, right? So it would be for medical care. Oh, wait. Never mind.

So, mixed results. They'll retest on Friday. Keep up with the feet up and the bonbons. Check.

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