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.
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.