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When It Feels Like Your Birth Plan Is Slipping Away

Melanie at Parenting.com

35w, 6d. Just when I thought that all was going swimmingly as I cruise into the final month of this pregnancy, I got a wake-up call, courtesy of my blood pressure monitor. My BP has been climbing—not alarmingly so (it’s just shy of 140/90 these days, when the high end of “normal” is 120/80), but enough to make me nervous and goose my midwives. The main risk here is that my rising blood pressure may be an indication of preeclampsia—a really serious condition that could impact my life and that of my baby.

I’ve done pretty much everything that has been asked of me during this pregnancy—taken the baby aspirin prescribed to help reduce my risk of a stroke (or maybe seizures—I can’t remember at this point), eaten my protein, watched my sodium intake, limited my weight gain, stayed active, gone for all of the additional monitoring recommended—and so it’s a bit disappointing to have gotten this far and feel like things are slipping out of my hands. I hated emailing my midwives my BP readings because I knew that once they knew what I already wished I didn’t know, things would start to happen. Things like questioning whether homebirth was still a viable option for me.

Luckily for me, my midwives don’t jump to conclusions or get so frightened or lawsuit-shy that they automatically send me to a hospital at the first sign of a potential problem. Instead, we’ve talked about additional monitoring (like non-stress tests, which they ultimately decided I didn’t need—especially if they referred me to a hospital where someone insisted on taking my blood pressure and then freaked out and admitted me—something I really don’t want), more lab work (blood and urine samples given immediately, another 24-hour urine collection done this past Sunday—results from the former were normal with no signs of preeclampsia, but I’m still waiting on news from my giant vat of pee), cutting back on aerobic exercise (apparently I was exercising too much?!), and lots of time spent lying on my left side. On the advice of my midwives, I’m also going in for an additional consultation with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, someone whose focus is high-risk pregnancies, to discuss whether homebirth is still a safe option for me. (And, yes, I'll take her answer seriously.)

All of this feels terribly depressing—to have made it this far, to have gotten excited about getting so close to another birth at home, only to feel that I may end up back in a hospital. Fortunately, my midwives have admitting privileges at a nearby county hospital, which while not a fancy place like the hospital where I gave birth the first time does have some pretty awesome policies designed to discourage unnecessary c-sections and where my midwives are pretty much left alone to tend to their patients how they see fit, without the interference of nursing staff or others who might want to do things that a homebirth midwifery practice would not. So, worst-case scenario, if things continue to worsen to the point that they feel I need additional monitoring, I’ll be heading to a hospital with my trusted midwives. Well, truly worst-case scenario would be a c-section or something like that—but I’m not even contemplating that.

For now, I’m fighting to hold onto the birth that I’ve wanted and planned for so long. I’m continuing to do everything my midwives ask of me, and one idea they’ve floated is that it might be better to try to have this baby sooner rather than later, once I hit full-term, in just eight days. It’s a question I’m to ask of the high-risk specialist—if trying to deliver at 37 weeks might be better/safer than at 39 weeks, given my rising blood pressure—or if things aren’t really as bad as they might seem, and allowing her to continue to grow in utero is the best possible option.

I’m grateful for midwives who listen to me and respect my desire to birth at home and who are doing all that they can to support that—and in turn, I know that it’s my job to follow their directions to the letter and to listen to them, should they feel that the situation is no longer safe for the baby or me.

Did you ever face moments in your pregnancy (or labor and delivery) where you felt like what you had hoped for was slipping out of your grasp? Please share below in the comments.

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