Ultrasounds, Stress Tests and Other Post-Due Date Adventures

Stress test

As of this writing, our son is three days past his due date and rapidly approaching four. Four days? Is that really all it’s been? Each of those days has felt like at least a week.

But it’s our own fault. Since our daughter was three days early, we mentally set ourselves up for this agony. We were betting on this kid arriving even earlier, which means that we kind of have been waiting weeks already. Just because you’ve been through a pregnancy once doesn’t mean you actually have anything figured out.

The closest comparison I can make to my feeling right now is a flight delay at an airport. You know what your destination is and you prepare for your flight. You check in online and reserve your seat. You allow extra time to get through security. You grab a quick lunch at the airport Chili’s1 so you won’t be hungry on the flight. Then you get to the gate and you wait until boarding time.

But the boarding time comes and goes, and you realize that the plane isn’t even sitting at the gate yet. The airline personnel don’t give you much information, and eventually your flight is canceled. You know they will honor your ticket and ultimately get you to your final destination, but as you sit in the terminal listening to podcast after podcast, you start to wonder if that’s actually going to happen. Maybe you should have taken a train.

Today it fully sunk in that our original flight was canceled and we don’t know if we’re going to catch another flight before next Tuesday. That’s the day that we have now scheduled an induction–a full week and three days after our original due date.

But let’s back up.

I wrote my last post late on Saturday night. I thought I was antsy then. I did not yet know antsiness. I’ve now been sleeping in the basement for more than a week, which has improved my blogging habits immensely2 since I feel no guilt for staying up late when I’m not going to wake Theresa up upon finally crawling into bed. It’s also wreaked havoc on my own sleep schedule, as no one is there to keep me honest, but maybe I’m just training for newborn sleep deprivation.3

Sunday felt very much like another “stuck in the airport” day, as we leisurely did whatever we wanted to fill our time and will some contractions to start. We filled our time, but few contractions were willed. By Sunday night, however, Theresa was starting to feel something that seemed a little more real, so I told her to text me in the morning if she thought I should work from home to be on the safe side.

Sure enough, the next morning my alarm went off and my bloodshot eyes beheld a text from Theresa asking me to stay home. “We must be making some real progress!” I thought to myself.

They weren’t.

I did indeed work from home, on a to-do list that I made up as I went along, since I had already been successful in finishing most of the work tasks I wanted to complete by the due date. Working from home also gave me the rare treat of going out to lunch with Theresa and Maddie–which was made even sweeter by the first truly beautiful 75-degree day Chicago has seen this year. As we sat outside eating Five Guys and Chipotle, I realized that the Cubs had a home game that evening and decided to look at ticket prices. We were stuck in a holding pattern anyway…we might as well continue our Farewell to Freedom Tour!

Future Cubs Fan

Sure enough, there were plenty of tickets available, so we contacted my family and made plans to drop Maddie off after work and escape to Wrigley for a picture-perfect night game or a really fascinating birth story. It was a picture-perfect night game.

Even the excitement of a thrilling Cubs game4 was not enough to spur our son into much of a frenzy, though Theresa felt a few of the strongest contractions yet on the way home from the game. This was starting to become the story of the Boy Who Cried Labor, so I justifiably tempered my expectations.

This morning I decided to work from home once again, as we had a scheduled doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, during which time we would get another ultrasound and our boy would undergo a stress test to make sure everything was still cozy in the womb.

The ultrasound was probably the best one we’ve had with either kid, as the 3-D effect allowed us to truly see most of his face, rather than a freaky skeletal approximation. Both of our kids like to hold their hands in front of their face when the ultrasound wand is searching for them, a trait they most definitely did not inherit from their camera-ham father.

Best ultrasound ever!

But there he was–looking quite a bit like Maddie! Of course, if we are comparing them at this age, Maddie was already in the real world for 5 days by this time, whereas this kid is still clinging to his umbilical cord and kicking Theresa in the ribs.

The stress test was a first for both of us, which leads me to believe that our son just wants to make things interesting so that I have something new to blog about this time around. The nurse tied two receivers around Theresa’s belly–one to measure contractions and one to measure the baby’s heart rate. She also gave Theresa a Jeopardy-style handheld button to press whenever she felt the baby moving around. The goal was to get the baby moving and hear his heartbeat increasing when he did.

At first, he demonstrated his usual lazy ways. There were no contractions, no increases in heart rate and very little movement. The nurse then pulled out what is essentially a fetal taser–a wand that makes a loud noise and startles the poor kid into motion when she holds it against Theresa’s belly. It worked instantly, as Theresa’s belly visibly quaked and the heart rate increased. An arrow appeared on the EKG monitor at the moment when Theresa pushed the button to indicate movement.

Stress test

This test was meant to last 20 minutes, and when two hits with the taser weren’t enough to obtain the desired effect, the nurse resorted to an old-fashioned method: sugar. Theresa downed a CapriSun and within a minute or two, the baby started moving around and his heart rate started thumping like a techno beat backing track.

The test concluded and he passed with flying colors. All that was left was for Theresa to get a quick examination from the midwife, who told us that dilation had increased a bit since her last appointment but was still nowhere near mission critical. We scheduled another doctor’s appointment for next Monday and reserved an induction appointment for 8 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s very weird to potentially pick your child’s birthday. If I could really choose, I would definitely pick May 3 so that we could take advantage of this bank’s publicity stunt and earn $1,000 just for having a kid on that date. My second choice would be May 4th, because then he would forever be a Star Wars baby. I’m still hopeful that one of those two things will happen5 and these appointments were just needless formalities.

As it is, I’m heading back to the office on Wednesday morning, assuming there isn’t some major development overnight. We remain in the airport, enjoying another order of Chili’s fries, as we anxiously check the departures board to find out when we might be cleared for takeoff.

  1. Just me? OK.
  2. So many posts this week!
  3. When I type it out, this seems like a foolish plan…
  4. or taking a picture with the team’s pantsless and wholly unnecessary mascot
  5. or May 2…It’s less special, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

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