Do I have preeclampsia?

10.09.09: Another curveball


Just when I thought we were in the clear, we’ve been thrown another curveball. At my last two prenatal appointments, my blood pressure has been "too high" (140/90 or above)--out of the acceptable range to deliver at the birth center. What’s worse: I may have to go to the hospital to be induced right away, depending on the outcome of the blood and urine screens that were done today to determine whether or not I have preeclampsia.

The thought of going to the hospital to get induced feels like my worst nightmare right now. I've had to be induced before, and I really don’t want to do it again. But, the alleged danger in not inducing is that my placenta will fail to function optimally, putting the baby at risk. Even though a nonstress test showed that the baby was doing great today, the midwife likened it to taking a photograph—a snapshot in time—which can show us how the baby is doing during that particular 20-minute interval, but can’t predict how the baby will be doing at any point in the future.

Until now, I haven’t been in a huge hurry for the baby to come—while I’m excited to meet this little guy, I also know how much harder it is to take care of a baby on the outside than it is on the inside, so I’ve been doing my best to relax and enjoy these last few quiet days, especially while my mom is here being her usual huge help. Plus, I know—for sure this time—that this is the last time I’ll ever be pregnant, so I’m consciously trying to enjoy these final days of feeling the baby moving around inside of me.

But after this morning’s appointment, it feels like the pressure is on. I just want the baby to come now—somehow, quickly, on his own.

I’ve been having contractions for weeks on end. My poor mother arrived nearly two weeks ago because I was sure I was going into labor after having had contractions all day one day. Since then, I’ve been sure that I’m going into labor several other times, based on the number and regularity of the contractions. But at today’s appointment, the midwife checked my cervix to find that it’s completely closed up and in the posterior position. (Not that that really means anything; some women walk around 3 centimeters dilated for weeks, and some are told that their cervix isn’t preparing for labor yet, only to be holding their babies hours later.) The midwife wanted to try pushing my cervix back to do a sweep of the membranes to try to stimulate labor. Normally, I would refuse this sort of thing (for all the reasons stated in this article: "The Myth of the Vaginal Exam"), but feeling like I had to choose between potential induction with drugs at the hospital and stimulating my cervix in a more "natural" way, I decided to go with the latter. The midwife gave it a shot, but because my cervix is still really closed, and because I was so uncomfortable while she tried to do it, she decided to stop. (Hours later, it still hurts… like a bad urinary tract infection… and now I’m wishing I had refused it altogether.)

When I got all weepy with frustration at today’s appointment, Will reminded me that at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is delivering a healthy baby, no matter how we get there. I know he’s right. But, still...I can’t help but feel like rushing this baby out before he and my body are clearly ready for it is working against that goal. I’m still holding out hope that I can have the delivery I’ve been wanting, on the baby’s timeline, and nobody else’s. In the meantime, I’ve been told to go home and lie in bed, on my left side as much as possible, to wait for the lab results. If they’re "not terrible," we can give Mother Nature a little more time…

Join's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she blogs about her third pregnancy.

Photo: Big belly meets big pumpkin at the state fair

Next week: Pressure to induce...