Well, this is it then. Just got back from a final visit with my wife to her ObGyn doctor. My son is due on Saturday (3rd), but she is dilated to just 1cm so the medical advice is to undergo induction on Monday. Mrs B is a bit nervous about this, but in an abstract way, worrying about the baby. Will he be OK with induction. Knowing this, we had a great chat with her doctor, and I feel my modicum of one-the-job-gleaned epidemiological and medical knowledge helped assuage her fears. Her primary physical fear is having to have a Cesarian section delivery. She has had a couple of major abdominal surgeries in the past and alas all her medical notes - indeed, her entire medical history have mysteriously disappeared from the hospital in Washington, D.C. where she had said surgeries. Because she is unsure of her diagnosis and the extent of the surgery we don't know what state her insides are in with regards to adhesions and scar tissue.
I'm looking at you Georgetown University Hospital medical records department. Not fucking cool.
Anyway, her doctor explained that induction enhances the "drive" into labor, but that there is no guarantee with any delivery that labor will progress "normally". This very afternoon she had to perform an emergency C-section on a woman giving birth to her third child whose labor had ceased suddenly.
She explained that on Sunday they will 'place' a medicated strip onto her cervix to help with dilation and effacement (the thinning of the cervix), and that on Monday this is followed by a Pitocin drip. Pitocin is a synthetic analogue of the hormone oxytocin and induces contractions of the uterus. It seems that the majority of first pregnancies are induced nowadays for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the weakening of the blood supply to the baby as he or she out grows hir placenta* and the increased width of the child's head blocking the birth canal leading to complications and ultimately a C-section delivery.
The 'bad' part of this is that a woman, to quote my mother, goes from 0-60 immediately. There is no gradual ramping up of contractions from mild/discomfort to full labor pains. It just starts! However, Mrs. B is a believer in 'better living through modern chemistry' and thus epidurals are on the menu for Monday, for sure.
So. Here we go then. I'll blog as I am able, and of course, you can follow my alter-ego on Twitter, although beware his language is riper than mine.
*The placenta is a totally fascinating feto-maternal shared organ and I hope to find time to write more about it. The baby side of it is derived from the same original bundle of cells that give rise to the fetus, and thus it could be thought of as a symbiotic, genetically identical support "twin". Professor Lee Silver in "Challenging Nature" (Amazon link) has a great discussion on placental development and genetics as it relates to bio-ethical decision making regarding stem cell technologies (the book was written in 2006), but which is also very relevant given the current political climate and the conservative attacks on women's reproductive rights.