Jeannie

 One of my clients was (told she was) overdue and becoming
increasingly nervous about the fact. Unless a baby is conceived by artificial
or in vitro fertilization, or the couple chart basal body temperatures and
 see ovulation occur, it is almost
impossible to predict the
 exact date of conception and then calculate
the due date. We are actually changing the term at this time from Due Date to
Guess Date. In the past, doctors have induced babies rather routinely that were
still not showing any intention of being born into their 41
st week. They were worried about things
that
 might happen when babies are truly overdue
and their placentas are no longer working at 100% speed, but babies who ‘cook’
until 42 weeks are more often than not perfectly healthy and do very well.
Babies are mature and viable, as we say, after 37 weeks, though they do better
if they arrive closer to their 40
th week. So, without knowing a true due
date, babies have been induced far too early, due to miscalculations, and
sometimes it becomes apparent that they are even
 premature, and not at all
overdue. The medical community is taking a new look at induction at this time,
with good reason.
          Jeannie called me
the day after she reached her 40 week Guess Date. She had been to the doctor
that morning who had insisted that they go ahead with an induction the next day
and possibly a scheduled C-section as her doctor sited that the baby “appears
rather large”. She had two other children before but the doctor was
worried about a host of ‘risk factors’ surrounding post-dates babies. Jeannie’s
first baby had been born by C-section, though baby #2 was a successful VBAC or
TOLAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean or Trial Of Labor After Cesarean) at only
28 weeks. The next baby, a beautiful little girl was born in 2010 but was earlier than that and did not survive.
          So I got her call
later that morning. Jeannie was crying and understandably upset. She told me
all that the OB had laid out for them the next morning and said she came home
and told her husband and asked him what they should do. Lonnie’s answer was,
“Call Stephanie, she’ll know what to do.” So she was on the phone waiting for
some advice and support.

           
It is important here to explain that as a doula I do not make decisions for
anyone. I don’t tell them which is the best of all the options they are
offered, but I will help them explore the possibilities and give them as much
information as I have or call someone else if I don’t know. Even as a retired
midwife and lactation consultant, I won’t tell a family what to do. So I added
a few possibilities to the OB’s list: they could have sex, for one. Yes, it has
worked and the premise is that the male hormones assist with ‘turning on’
labor, or that orgasm simulates contractions and that the uterus follows suit.
Some women have tried the notorious castor oil cocktail, which works by
stimulating the bowel which in turn, if irritated enough, triggers a response by
the uterus, and thus labor. Some practices are not advocating this method.
Check with your practitioner first, please, before trying it. Riding a bike or
taking a drive on a long dirt road has worked on occasion, too. “Stripping the
membranes” is when a midwife or doctor separates the cervix from the bag of
water by sweeping a finger around the baby’s head just inside the cervix which
also tips off the hormones that labor should soon follow. This can only be done
if the cervix is dilated 1 – 2 cm. already. An Amish lady friend of mine told
me once when I was ‘overdue’ that you get in your buggy and go visit a friend
and that will start labor, rather than sitting at home hoping. (I guess lifting
3 or 4 other little kids up into the buggy, riding along back roads and then
lifting the kiddies back out at the friend’s house with all the snacks and
coats and all, and hauling myself up and down on the buckboard would have
worked for me!) I told Jeannie I knew of another couple who just thanked the
doctor and didn’t show up for the decisive next appointment, but instead waited
for labor to start on its own, which it did – I’ve never know a baby not to come out – and showed up at a
smaller, local hospital once they were well into labor, but I’d advise against
the last option if you don’t want to have some very ticked-off staff on your
hands.

           
Then I said to Jeannie, “You should also take some quiet time and connect with
your baby. Tell her it seems to be time, and you don’t need a C-section or any
drugs, for that matter, so maybe you two can work out some kind of a deal.” She
agreed and thanked me and promised to call the next day. 

           
The phone rang at midnight, later that same night. She was delighted! They had
spent a quiet day at home together, took a nap, and then went to a barbeque at
a friend’s house. Just as they finished eating WHAM! the rushes started, all on their own.
She was euphoric, but told me they were going to head right to the hospital
because she didn’t think there was time to go home and pick up her baby bag
first. When I got to the hospital she was just getting checked by the nurse. 6
cm. already! We gave high fives all around, very pleased with ourselves. It was
less than 12 hours short of the O.R. (operating room) according to their doctor.

           
Then Jeannie told me one of the strangest stories I have ever heard. While they
were home settling down for a nap, she had been talking to the baby as she fell
asleep and connecting like I had suggested on the phone. Then she had a dream,
describing it as “totally real” and in the dream she was talking to her baby,
whom they were planning on calling Camilla. The baby was telling them, “Well,
actually, I’m not coming out unless you agree to name me Veronica. No way!” So,
in Jeannie’s words she said, “I said, ‘OK, anything you want.’ You got it!” and
the dream ended. They told their other kids about it and all agreed that
Veronica it would be though they had never given that name a thought. Then
Veronica’s older sister said, “It should be Veronica Jordan. I am sure.”
Jeannie and Lonnie looked at each other and said that their kids seemed to know
more about this than they did as parents, so Veronica Jordan it would be.

           
About half an hour after the nurse checked her, Jeannie said she was feeling a
bit ‘pushy’. The nurse checked again and she was 10 cm. The nurse ran out,
crashing into another nurse coming in and both raced to get the room set up
with a warmer and instrument tray and all the paraphernalia that they bring in
now. I helped her focus on breathing and getting into a comfortable squat on
the bed while Dad picked up all the coats, the birth ball, and clothes strewn
around us. In the rush, someone asked if the doctor had been called. She
hadn’t, till just then. Jeannie and I just grinned at each other. Another
doctor was on the floor who quickly gowned up and stood at the end of the bed,
hands ready to catch. As the little head crowned Jeannie’s doctor rushed into
the room, the other doctor stepping aside so she could catch the rest of
Veronica Jordan as she slid out. It was all and more than we could have wished
for.

           
An interesting aside is that another baby girl was born to a family down the
block from Veronica’s house about the same time as she was. They named her
Camilla, not knowing at all that Jeannie had also picked out that name
earlier.           
   

With permission from Veronica’s family.

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