Several weeks later, we were speaking again and out of the blue she said, "Oh, I've been meaning to tell you...if things don't go the way you have planned," she paused briefly, yet thoughtfully, "it's okay." For some reason, her words anchored themselves into my mind.
At 38.4 weeks pregnant, I arrived at my nurse midwife's office for my weekly appointment. Feeling fine and excited to learn how far I had dilated beyond the 1 cm from the week before, I sat on the chair to have my vitals checked. My weight was normal, however, my blood pressure was elevated. I explained to the nurse that it was probably because that I was excited about my appointment and that I was feeling a bit winded from walking up the stairs to her office.
I wasn't overly concerned because my blood pressure can rise and fall easily due to "white coat syndrome." By the end of my appointment and four blood pressure checks later my blood pressure was alarmingly worse. My nurse midwife was worried that I was developing pre-eclampsia and decided that I should be admitted to the hospital for 24-hour monitoring. I insisted that once I was able to rest and calm down a bit I'd be fine, but off to the hospital I went, against my will.
I was ordered to bed rest and fitted with an arm cuff to be monitored every fifteen minutes for about four hours. Slowly, my blood pressure dropped to normal. Monitoring was reduced to every half-hour then to every hour for the remainder of my stay. My blood pressure had returned to normal. The fetal monitor showed a robust baby with a strong, steady heartbeat.
I was released from the hospital with orders to return in three days and practice modified bed rest at home. I could only get up to visit the bathroom or to get something to eat: no shopping, no driving, no decorating or cleaning. Although I felt fine and really believed that my elevated blood pressure was a fluke, I complied with the nurse's bed rest orders and returned for my appointment the following Monday.
Monday marked my 39th week of pregnancy and we had planned to go out to eat and see a movie one last time before the baby arrived. We were to begin our celebration immediately following my appointment and were looking forward to our last outing together as a couple. My appointment was to check my blood pressure and monitor the baby for one half hour. Slightly concerned but not enough to be worried, I waited as the cuff tightened around my arm.
"It's still up," my nurse midwife said.
"What?" I shot back completely shocked. "How high?"
"Terrible," she replied. "But that's okay, we'll get you hooked up to the fetal monitor and you can rest in there and we'll check it again."
To me, this was not okay. "What is going on?" I thought. "Why is my blood pressure up?" I had rested and was basically immobile all weekend. It made no sense.
The baby's heart rate and tolerance of Braxton Hicks contractions was strong and steady. When she checked my blood pressure the second time, she simply looked at me and said, “We need to think about inducing."
Talk about a ton of bricks being dropped! Induce? This was not part of my birth plan. I was supposed to go into labor naturally and tell my husband, "I think we need to go to the hospital."
My nurse midwife told me that I did not have pre-eclampsia yet but explained the dangers and was concerned that I could escalate from pre-eclampsia to eclampsia quickly. She felt that inducing labor would be the best and safest option.
Before making the final decision to induce, she chose to monitor my blood pressure again for 24-hours one final time, giving my body the chance to prove her wrong.
"When would you induce, if that's what you decide?" I asked.
"As early as tomorrow morning," she replied.
As my husband drove to the door to pick me up, the tears streaming down my face told him our dinner date was off. "My blood pressure is up again and she's talking about inducing labor," I cried. "I have to go back to the hospital."
This was too much to take in. I was not even allowed to go home and get the bags I had prepared for my hospital stay. Suddenly, we could have a baby within 24-hours and there were still dirty dishes in the sink. The nursery wasn't complete and the house wasn't spotless, as I had desired for our baby's homecoming.