Lows & Highs (#252)

Some creatures are suited to lying in bed all day. I am not one of them.

We Ashboughs have two dominant traits. 

The first is impatience. We’re high-functioning, super efficient people and we expect the same of everyone else (who isn’t a guest in our home). If we think someone’s moving slowly—or stupidly—we are either loudly critical or chewing our tongues bloody. We’re excellent employees and potentially nightmarish employers. If you’re foolish enough to road trip with us, make sure we drive.

The second trait is our low blood pressure. I suspect it’s linked to the first. If our baseline blood pressure wasn’t 80/60 we’d all have stroked out the first time a sweet old man at the post office counter asked to look at a fourth book of stamps so he could buy “the prettiest ones” while a line of 20 people stacked up behind him. 

I was shocked when my blood pressure skyrocketed to 140/110. On the other hand, I was eight months pregnant. It was my first pregnancy, which increases your blood pressure more than subsequent pregnancies. Thankfully, the onset of high blood pressure was late in the pregnancy, rather than early. Early onset of high blood pressure is a major warning sign of the dreaded, often fatal, preeclampsia.

I was sure I was fine. My obstetrician wasn’t. She sent me to the hospital.

I had my blood pressure monitored constantly. I had my blood taken for tests. I had my urine checked for protein. (With a catheter. Twice. Do not recommend.)

Baby D had multiple ultrasounds. 

I was, of course, impatient to home. I had gardens to weed, a nursery to finish putting together, dogs to walk, cats with vet appointments, and work to do before Baby D was born and put an end to all free time. 

After 12 hours, it was determined that a) there would be several hundred dollars in medical bills, and b) I did not have preeclampsia.

The doctors discovered that my blood pressure stayed normal when I lay on my left side. There was minimal protein in my urine. My weight gain was apparently the result of Dove ice-cream bars, not due to swelling in my face and hands.

They also learned that Baby D enjoyed spinning on his head and had the hiccups, though this was not medically relevant.  

My OB prescribed bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy. I was not to walk the dogs. Or garden or bake or clean or even sit up on the couch. I was to lie in bed, on my left side, as much of the day as possible.

I know every overworked, overwhelmed woman reading this post is thinking, “Sounds heavenly.”

It kind of does. Unless you are an impatient, hostile-when-thwarted Ashbough who believes They Have Shit To Do. 

Or until you remember that I had PUPPP, which means constant, horrendous pregnancy itching. The things that kept me from scratching were activities that used my hands, such as writing, gardening, baking, and cleaning. 

There’s not much you can do while lying on your left side. Even if I was one for online gaming (and I was not), the position is less than ideal. I could basically watch TV or read while trying to ignore itchiness. 

It was a very long month. My normally tidy house devolved into a biome based on pet fur. I itched to get stuff done and I just itched. I was cranky, even though Andy got me every Jane Austen Masterpiece DVD ever. I read and re-read entire Sci-Fi and Mystery series. I hoped daily that I’d go into labor, because the only way to end the itching and the bedrest was to not be pregnant.  

My sole daily amusement was righteously chewing out every solicitor and proselytizer who showed up at my door and interfered with my bedrest. (Girl Scouts with cookies excepted.)

My due date approached. Baby D remained snug in my uterus, content to spin on his head and hiccup.

Time for Plan B. 

I’d already researched potential ways of convincing my body to go into labor. 

Walks are also supposed to bring on labor. Yeah, I know, I was supposed to stay in bed. I did a few walks anyway. Turns out, walking did nothing other than make my husband cross with me. (Never tell him I snuck in gardening and vacuuming, too.)

Acupuncture, according to one very small study, was also supposed to help. But my family isn’t good with needles. Too risky. 

Spicy foods? Due to pregnancy heartburn, even milk made my esophagus feel like it was on fire. No freakin’ way. 

Teas, castor oil, and all other methods looked dubious, if not actively harmful. Painful diarrhea as a side effect? Hard pass.  

That left sex.

Yes, sex. It’s the only method with actual science behind it. If a man ejaculates in a heavily pregnant woman’s uterus, prostaglandins in the ejaculate may stimulate the cervix,possibly leading to contractions

Never in my life had I ever wanted sex less. But since I wanted to NOT be pregnant more, we had sex. Lots of sex.

Sex made my husband happy. Sometimes squished, but happy. 

That was all. I cursed the undoubtedly male OB who came up with “sex jumpstarts labor” bullshit. 

There was only one thing left to do.

Wait.

I hate waiting.

A week after my due date, my OB did yet another ultrasound. After she told me Baby D was looking healthy, she said the words that strike fear into all pregnant women:

“Your baby has a really big head.”

“Crap,” I muttered. “It’s not going to get any smaller, is it?”

“Nope,” my OB said cheerfully. “He’s about nine pounds, too. Is it time to talk about an elective C-section yet?”

I wanted to scream, “YES! Operating room pronto!” Instead, I suppressed my impatient internal Ashbough and asked, “What’s the best thing for the baby?” in the tones of ultimate martyrdom.

Vaginal delivery,” she immediately responded. “The baby picks up beneficial bacteria in the vaginal canal, fluid is forced out of the lungs, and hormones are released for bonding.”

I scowled at my belly and said, “You owe me big, kid. Vaginal delivery it is.” 

“But you aren’t effaced and there’s no contractions,” the doctor pointed out. “It could be a while.”

“A while,” I echoed, laughing ruefully. Because finally, there was an Ashbough who was content to wait patiently.

It would have been miraculous if it hadn’t been so annoying.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

19 thoughts on “Lows & Highs (#252)”

  1. You had a miserable pregnancy! I had friends who could barely get through a doorway at the end and had tree stumps for legs. I thought that was bad. Can’t even imagine them having sex!

    1. Well, I also could barely get through doorways. Rolling over in bed was like making a 5 point turn. And once I made the mistake of sitting in a chair that had arms 8 months pregnant and I couldn’t get back up.

  2. I hope it didn’t go much longer than a week. Of all the people who needed to have the baby come on time, with all you suffered during your pregnancy, you’re at the top of the list.

    1. It went a little longer. My pregnancy was just a series of low grade misery, though. I have one sister and a few friends who suffered hyperemesis gravidarum, so I guess I felt like mine could have been so much worse.

      But that didn’t mean I wanted to suffer any longer than necessary!

  3. I thought OBs always pushed their patients to have c-sections when they go too long after their due dates. Cool that yours didn’t! (Not that I have any clue what I’m talking about.)

    1. A lot of them do. But for the last decade or so, California has been the only state in the U.S. where maternal mortality rates haven’t risen–they’ve been halved. And that’s partly because they recognized that the rates were rising long before the rest of the U.S. and made all kinds of changes. One was having a review of all C-sections to see if they were necessary; suddenly an OB with a high rate of Cesareans had to defend them. The second was prioritizing maternal health and preparing for hemorrhaging, which NPR details in this article. But also, I picked a really good OB. She knew her stuff, and like most Black American women, she had to work twice as hard and be much smarter than white males in the profession. And she’d had a kid of her own. I’ve never understood women who have male OB-Gyns. Like would you take your car to a mechanic who never drove a vehicle?

        1. Ha, touche! Actually, they would probably have more understanding and empathy.

          With male gynecologists, I’m wary, though. There’s far too much objectification of the female body culturally, and I think that attitude often keeps male doctors from seeing a woman as a whole patient. And again, too many mediocre white men survive in all professions, whereas women have to be better. Especially women of color. Add onto that the number of male gynecologists who abused female patients and hell, no. If I have a choice, I’m picking a woman as a doctor or dentist every time.

  4. So why was your blood pressure so high? Did they find out the reason?
    I also have low blood pressure. And a very slow heartbeat. At the beginning of my pregnancy I had 52 during a routine test and I had to wear a thing stuck to my chest for a full day to see if there was something wrong with my heart (there wasn’t).

    Being forced to stay in bed is TORTURE. I almost went crazy during my week long hospital stay. And for you it was a month? Poor you!

  5. Man, sex was the only thing that worked to lower your blood pressure, huh? I feel like everything about pregnancy and childbirth benefits men–even odd cures to pregnancy side effects! Lucky for Andy, eh?

    Haha I love how you were in a hurry to have the baby! Do most moms get that way toward the end of pregnancy??

    I have a feeling that this blog post is pre-drama for an epic baby delivery story. Can’t wait!

    1. I don’t know if sex lowered my blood pressure. Might’ve helped Andy’s, though. I think most moms are ready to be done, but at the same time we know that the really hard work hasn’t started yet.

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