Tomorrow R will be 37 weeks, full term.
I don’t know where the time has gone. In the last 9 months we’ve engaged in some pretty major life changes. We endured IVF, and it worked. We prepared for the joys and challenges of twins. We celebrated. My mom bought matching red and grey owl onesies. At the beginning of the second trimester, Peanut got terribly sick, and we lost her. In midst of our grief, we moved forward with our plan to get legally married on our seventh wedding anniversary. Not long after that, we sold our house, I defended my dissertation, R quit her job, and we moved to Indiana.
The move required starting over in so many ways. Leaving behind our beloved friends and R’s sister and her husband. Saying goodbye to the mountains and waterways that brought us so much joy. Stepping out of the political safe zone of the “Left Coast” and into a blue city in a red state. But the thing I’m really hung up on is the change in providers. As I mentioned, we started off at Indy’s urban hospital but decided to switch at 34 weeks. It wasn’t a big deal because we’d only seen the urban hospital doc twice. But the new office has four providers and requires expectant parents to see all four of them prior to delivery, which means that we see a new doc each week because we joined the practice so close to R’s due date.
On Thursday, we met Dr. M for the first time. Our primary OB in the practice, Dr. K, ordered an ultrasound for the visit but no one else seemed to know why. The sonographer thought she was doing the 20 week anatomy scan. We told her R was almost 37 weeks, and we’d already had two anatomy scans. She left the room to inquire about the purpose of the scan, and came back and said it was just for a check of the baby’s growth. When she measured Bean’s head circumference and femur length I noticed the estimated gestational age was 32 weeks. I was perplexed but figured she was still getting the right angle or something. But when we met with Dr. M, she said, “Okay, so have we been monitoring the baby because of her small size?” R said, “You tell me. I don’t know why Dr. K ordered this ultrasound.” We told Dr. M that Bean has always measured large for her gestational age. At the last ultrasound she was nearly a week ahead. Dr. M told us she was measuring two weeks behind, and was in the 15th percentile for her gestational age. At the 10th percentile, she’d meet criteria for Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), which warrants early induction of labor.
Cue the terror. Cue the PTSD. Cue the loss of any sense of control. Even though I could hear Dr. M reassuring us that the baby does not meet criteria for IUGR, and would simply need extra monitoring, I felt the panic rising in me. Dr. M said we’d need to return on Monday or Tuesday for additional testing. R asked why we couldn’t do it right then. Dr. M looked as though this had not occurred to her, and went to check with the sonographer. We sat quietly in the room, and were relieved to be sent back to ultrasound for another look at Bean. The sonographer checked the blood flow through her cord, and determined it was adequate. The amniotic fluid levels were normal, and Bean’s heart rate was strong and regular. Dr. M told me not to worry all weekend, and dismissed us until Monday.
Her tone was confident and cautious, and she even told us that her own daughter was delivered a little bit early (just shy of 37 weeks) for low amniotic fluid levels and IUGR. She’s been there, so she errs on the side of caution. She even referred to herself as “anal.” R and I agreed that we prefer anal doctors. I made a mental note that it sounded a bit funny to say that aloud. While Dr. M was competent, I didn’t find her particularly compassionate. What she failed to understand, and I failed to articulate, is that the appointment was not routine for us. It was not the news we expected, and for me it had echoes of earlier trauma with Peanut. We have been planning and hoping for this child for three and half years and we’re entrusting her to a perfect stranger. It reminds me of the trust fall, a team-building exercise during which one person stands backwards on an elevated platform with her arms crossed, and falls backwards into the arms of strangers. I never really enjoyed the fall.