Back off from the baby


It seemed manifestly unfair (albeit unsurprising) that my resolve to Stress Less about all matters regarding Bump would be tested so soon after deciding it.

I’d been booked in for another ultrasound at the hospital, two weeks after the last. This was just to make sure that Bump was in fact growing, however phlegmatic he may be about doing so. Since we’d determined he was still generating good amounts of amniotic fluid (that’s hospital-speak for ‘peeing in the pool’), I didn’t expect there to be anything of note. The sonographer confirmed this as she was measuring him up on the ultrasound.

“We like to put babies in boxes,” she explained, “which is impractical because they’re people, and people are so variable. So when the babies don’t fit into a predefined box, the mother has to come in for lots of scans that are most likely a waste of time. But it’s what we do. I suspect that’s what’s happening with you.”

So did I, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t have a lot else to do with my time now, and it was another opportunity to see Bump’s Casper-like face.

Things only started to look dubious with the introduction of the house doctor. After putting the sonographer’s notes into my file, he prodded my belly to determine how Bump was positioned. Giving him the benefit of the doubt at this point, I presumed the look of confusion to be his natural facial structure — not indicative of actual confusion. Some people seem to be fixed with permanent expressions, after all. (A girl in my antenatal class always looked stunned. After we watched a birthing video, it was impossible to tell how affected she actually was.)

My confidence in this doctor’s ability was somewhat affected when he put the doppler machine on my belly to pick up Bump’s heartbeat…by Bump’s feet. (This is after he’d theoretically ascertained where Bump and his heart were placed.) When no pulse sound was forthcoming, he determined the doppler needed a new battery, and left the room to find one.

With that I concluded he was either a newbie, or had been mentally incapacitated somehow before coming in to work. Maybe he was distracted by loan sharks sending him fish through the post. But I wasn’t in a dangerous situation — I already knew Bump was fine — so I settled down with a book, waiting for the doctor to come back with a battery that finds a heartbeat in a someone’s feet.

The appointment went further downhill after he’d shown my file to an obstetrician, having been concerned about Bump’s size. (Apparently seeing a different doctor every time you go to the hospital invariably results in having to go through the same old conversations to reach the same old conclusions that have already been reached.) When he came back, the conclusion was different: the obstetrician wanted Bump forcibly evicted.


“But, he’s healthy, right?” I asked. “He’s small, sure. But not unhealthy?”

“Oh, no,” the doctor confirmed. “If there was anything unhealthy about him, you wouldn’t be leaving the hospital today.”

“So…why induce?”

“Well…there’s risk to letting small babies stay in the womb past their due date of 40 weeks. We’ve had mothers birth dead babies at 41 weeks.”

So, his bedside manners were right up there with his doppler skills.

It felt like a bizarre out-of-body-experience as the house doctor explained what would happen, and progressively contravened everything about my own Birth Plan — the thing that said I wanted a water birth, I wanted the freedom to move around, and I wanted no interventions (which tend to just beget more interventions) unless they’re to remedy an existing crisis, not as a ‘just-in-case’. It didn’t help to be told that induced births are a lot longer and more painful for the mother, too. I felt powerless. I got the impression I had no choice — that I must report into hospital on the booked date, and let the white coats force my baby out before he’s good and ready. Driving home, repeating ‘Stress Less’ in a mantra, didn’t do much to stop my tears and panic.

What just happened? And why? Why would midwives and sonographers look at Bump’s data and say he’s fine, and then a stranger who’s never met me or Bump can look at the same data, and want to do this? I needed her to explain. I’d been told that patients don’t tend to meet with consultants, but I needed to hear her rationale. It seemed to me that the risks/side effects of induction were a lot more significant than risks of leaving Bump alone. He’s growing! That was what they wanted!

I was thankful for a wonderful midwife when she called me (after the hospital had called her and informed her of the booked induction), and reassured me they can’t force me to do anything, that I know my body and my baby better than they do, and they won’t do anything without my consent. On my behalf, she cancelled the induction appointment and instead arranged for me to come with her to meet this decision-making Dr Absent. She further reassured me that Dr Absent was actually very good with working with patients to reach care everyone’s happy with; that if I communicate my concerns to her, she’s likely to make alternate arrangements. This would probably just be stringent observation. I’d probably have to come into hospital for scans and assessments every second day. That would be tedious, but I imagine, preferable.

“I’ll be your advocate, whatever you decide,” my midwife said, “whether you decide to go ahead with induction after hearing her reasons, or if you opt to let things progress naturally for a bit longer. It’s completely up to you.”


Stress Less.

I can do this. I can be a Mother Bear, and protect Bump from overzealous grabbing hands.

Back Off the Bump, people.



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