All The Ways I’ve Failed at Inducing Labor

I hear myself talking to people and all I can think is, shut up shut up SHUT UP! You sound ridiculous! Stop talking! STOP. TALKING. NOW. 

But I can’t.

All I can think – and talk – about is getting this baby out. NOW.

over itI thought I had been desperate last week, but that was until this week. And if Wee Connor decides to be stubborn about this the talks he and I are going to have about this situation are going to get serious.

I’ve been on the doctor-every-week schedule for a few weeks now, which along with continuing to perfect attempt be baffled by how I’ve never gotten better at peeing in a cup the upshot has been a constant reminder of how my body is doing. Last week I was 2cm dilated and slightly “effaced”, which I will never be sure I ever actually understand what that means due to the horrifically bad job my school did at sex ed growing up. But supposedly that combined with the Braxton Hicks (read: false) contractions tell me that I’m ready. My doctor confirmed this as well, especially considering at 36 weeks Connor was measuring at 6 pounds, 7 ounces.

Baby got back. And it’s trying to come through my stomach. Even Sir Mix-A-Lot would not be amused at this point.

As such, I have tried almost everything to try to “naturally”…”encourage” this baby into the world. Now, the thing is that I truly, truly believe that people claiming these things working is because they were ready to go into labor anyway. Getting a pedicure at 40 weeks and 2 days and suddenly you’re in labor? Maybe you were going to go into labor anyway. But either way, at this point, any hope is hope and I am desperate. So here you go. Here are all the ways I have failed at bringing on labor, beyond the options everyone already knows about. (And yes, again, my doctor said everything is ready and I am on my way.)


1. Pedicure

patrick stewart excitedTwist my arm, why don’t you? Best pregnancy bringer-onner…ever? People claim that the foot massage is actually reflexology and the pressure points can induce labor.

It didn’t work in bringing a baby into the world but dang if my piggies don’t look cute. I highly recommend it, but I generally highly recommend pedicures as life enjoyment boosters in general. Honestly this one was a no-lose scenario for me, because even if I didn’t go into labor after (which I didn’t), I had the lovely experience of a pedicure to comfort me.

Enjoyment? A+
Bringing on labor? F


2. Walking

cat walkingI already walk/walked a lot, especially for living in Charlotte. I have continued to walk my husband to work with our perfect little pup Brinkley (1 mile there, 1 mile back), walked to yoga, to restaurants, and anywhere I can. Despite Charlotte being the least walkable city in America, I still have walked all through pregnancy. I don’t know how much it takes to induce labor, but I have a feeling that walking may work for people who have generally not walked during pregnancy.

Maybe I’ll amp it up to wind sprints.

Enjoyment? B+ (it’s getting harder and harder to enjoy walking these days, but I’m always glad after I’ve gone)
Bringing on labor? F


3. Breast pump hookup

ScienceI did this one at the request of my doctor. Supposedly hooking yourself up to a breast pump can release oxytocin, which is what doctors use in synthetic form to induce labor.

“Science”, amIright?

My husband and I took out the breast pump, stared at all the parts, and worked through actually getting it working. Let me assure you: this was nothing short of an ordeal. Also never having been hooked up to a device that resembles the life-sucker Count Rugen uses on Westley in The Princess Bride, my face when it started doing its…sucking…made TLH laugh so hard he steamed his glasses from crying. This was not encouraging.

However, despite the “science” and the “doctor” asking me to do this, it still didn’t work.

Enjoyment? D
Bringing on labor? F, though I might ask my doctor if I didn’t do it long enough.


4. Pineapple

pineappleSupposedly fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that triggers some other hormone that triggers labor.

Delicious? Yes. Useful in triggering labor? No.

(A special shout out to Publix for selling perfectly cut, ripe, cut pineapple at a reasonable price, because it’s saved me a lot of time in hacking up pineapples.)

Enjoyment? A+
Bringing on labor? F (are we sensing a pattern here?)


5. Spicy food

srirachaExtra spicy Thai food? Indian food? Extra sriracha, please?

ALL OF THE ABOVE. Bring it on.

This is one of the ones that everyone seems to know about, and while delicious and enjoyable, it has been decidedly ineffective at bringing on labor.

Luckily though I have avoided any heartburn as a result, so this experiment has brought almost as much joy as my pedicure since I’ve slightly gorged on delicious takeout foods.

Enjoyment? A
Bringing on labor? F


6. The pregnancy “dance”

Funny story: I actually do the BEST impression of this dance, mostly because it's essentially my real dancing style.

Funny story: I actually do the BEST impression of this dance pregnant or not, mostly because it’s essentially my dancing style in real life.

Lawd almighty. I can’t believe I tried this. But some people swear that their doula/midwife/friend/checkout lady at the grocery store gave them the same dance.

What is it? Rubbing your stomach for a minute vigorously, then walking lunges, squatting, and more walking lunges and squatting.

Stick with the pedicures, folks. They’re way more fun.

Enjoyment? D+ (only because I felt like exercise is never really a bad thing, but walking lunges with a horrible new sense of gravity and an extra howevermuch weight I’ve put on is horrible, plus the whole looking absolutely ridiculous doing walk lunges at almost 9 months pregnant thing)
Bringing on labor? F


7. Yoga

cat yogaI’ve done prenatal yoga all through pregnancy and I truly believe it has helped in numerous ways. I really love the atmosphere and the movements have helped with a lot of the hip/lower back pains, and sometimes I think that some of the benefit of yoga is just going for an hour and focusing on your breathing and taking some time away from everything.

However, in bringing on labor? Not so much. I still truly enjoy it, though.

Enjoyment? B (getting into certain moves now is just plain awkward)
Bringing on labor? F


8. “Labor Prep” tea

labor prep teaI’m so ashamed I bought this stuff, but I did.

And I’ve been drinking it.

Seriously people, after a while you don’t even care if it works or not. You will try anything.

Enjoyment? C+ (there approximately a thousand better-tasting teas out there)
Bringing on labor? F


9. “THE Salad” (Not tried, but worth mentioning)

Unfortunately I only heard about this a few days ago, but it has pretty much made my week.

In Los Angeles there is a restaurant called Caioti Pizza Cafe. Overpregnant women flock to this restaurant in Studio City for one menu item and one menu item alone: “THE Salad.” It’s not that the salad is covered in chocolate and Funfetti Cake and everything else you actually want to eat while you’re pregnant. Apparently the salad isn’t even that delicious or special. Why, then, why on earth do overpregnant women go to eat “THE Salad?”

Supposedly this salad dressing has magical powers that induce labor.

The image of it all makes me laugh uncontrollably: a restaurant filled with ready-to-pop, desperate, miserably pregnant women chomping down mediocre salads with the hope that maybe this will be the thing that finally does it.

Supposedly there is a way to order the salad dressing from the restaurant directly, and as such this will now be part of every baby shower gift I attend from here until eternity, as I assure the mom looking at me with inquisitive eyes as everyone else has adorned them with baby blankets and little booties that at a certain point they will be willing to try anything, even if that anything is a bottle of damn salad dressing from Los Angeles.


10. Membrane stripping

This is the one thing on this list I can’t do by myself and was actually done by my doctor. I am about to describe what happens, so if you’re grossed out by anything medspeak, please go straight to the next paragraph. As I understand, when you’re ready to go, your doctor can take the amniotic sac and separate it from the wall of the uterus with her gloved hand. Put bluntly: it’s not fun, causes cramps, and is uncomfortable. The idea is that this separation causes a rush of hormones (much like with the breast pumping) that will then trigger contractions.

If the stripping (also called “sweeping”) works, it will cause labor within 24-48 hours. I had this done today and at the appointment went from 2cm to 3cm dilated, so that’s at least something!

Enjoyment? D- (not an F because of the hope it instills that I will be going into labor within the next two days, but it’s not something I would recommend doing for fun ever)
Bringing on labor? Yet to be determined


The takeaways

I have a few takeaways from all these grand Internet experiments.

1. The Internet continues to be a shockingly frightening place. Not news.

2. Correlation should not be confused with causation. It’s a rampant problem, even in the medical/research field, but it’s important to remember that just because an event correlates with another event, doesn’t mean that one caused the other. Again, if you eat spicy Chicken Tikka Masala at 39.5 weeks pregnant and then go into labor that night, that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have gone into labor anyway without the Tikka Masala. The two events correlated, but there is no way to know if the delicious Indian food caused the labor. These methods I’ve listed are more for my sanity in trying to get the baby out than I actually believe they will work.

3. The baby will come out when he is darn well ready, and not a day before.

4. I wish he’d be ready now.

5. No, seriously, I really wish he’d be ready now.

Are there any methods I’ve missed? Did you try anything crazy trying to get labor going?

The nursery is done. Let’s do this.

Eight and a half months.

Eight. And a half. Months.

Everyone told me I would “hit the wall” where the only thing I would want is to have the watermelon growing inside of me no longer growing inside of me. The fact that I think I hit that point around month 6 is no matter. I have really, for really really really real hit that wall. And then I think I put my car in reverse, then in drive again, and then hit that wall. Again.

TLH and I had two separate requirements for me to go into labor. He wanted for his parents to return back from the UK and be on the same continent as Wee Connor, and I wanted the dang curtains hung once and for all in the nursery.

Luckily, both have occurred, and so now it’s go time…I hope.

A few of my friends have asked for pictures of the nursery and so I wanted to give a tour of how Wee Connor’s nursery finally turned out. We are extremely lucky to have such a huge room (with a walk-in closet!) for the room in our apartment with great light. When people asked what the “theme” of the nursery was it tended to throw me into a classic “I’m a terrible mother who can’t even have a theme for the nursery” mental ineptitude shame spiral. I suppose what I went for was “a peaceful adventure. With maps.” I love the way it turned out, even if there is no cohesive “theme” to it. I can’t believe it’s actually (as much as it’s going to get) done. Let’s get that baby in there now!

So here we go!

As an intro to the “map room” I actually crafted. I bought two prints of Italy, craft letters, and Mod Podge from Paper Source and crafted his initials. Here’s hoping we can actually take Wee Connor to the places on his initials!

door initials

I suppose the “crib side” is where the “adventure” portion really comes in. I am obsessed with the baby animal prints above the crib we received for our baby shower from my mom. Despite our attempts at minimalism / “less stuff is more” / we are zen with apartment and urban living, we have two bookshelves already for Wee Connor. What can I say? I hope Connor loves reading and books as much as his parents do!

crib

Sources: Crib (Jenny Lind), Giraffe (Pottery Barn Kids), Infant bouncer seat (mamaRoo), Animal Prints (Restoration Hardware Baby&Child), Pillows (West Elm) 

Here’s a closeup of that corner. I liked the idea of having a bookshelf where Connor can see the covers of the books. The map print of Paris is from Paper Source (hint! Those weirdly-sized maps/prints on nice paper? IKEA’s stupidly weirdly-sized frames fit them!). Paris is one of the overseas adventures Connor has already been on, and so this print just makes me happy in so many ways.

Book corner

Sources: Bookshelf (Pottery Barn Kids), Print (Paper Source) 

The space between the doors right now has a great little cart from IKEA that I have a feeling we will find more uses than we ever could have imagined. I love this little cart. Right now it’s holding little toys and shoes (ohmygodhowaretheysosmall). The print we bought in London, but Paper Source carries the same one. London and Edinburgh was the other grand adventure we went on while I have been pregnant, so having both memorialized in maps on the wall makes me smile.

IKEA cart

Sources: Cart (IKEA), Print (Paper Source) 

My favorite wall in the entire room is opposite the crib. The glider is literally the single most comfortable chair I have ever sat in, which was important to me, as well as the fact that I don’t think it “looks like” a glider, but rather a chair. This makes it possible for it to sit in other rooms of the house later on, if we so wanted that to happen. That map makes me so happy to look at in so many ways: loving maps, TLH loving history (it’s an historical replica), a sense of being near the water despite living in sadly landlocked Charlotte. The dresser was my mom’s when she was a little girl, then mine when I was growing up. This area of the room fills me with an immense sense of peace and happiness, despite the soul-sucking horribleness of putting that map up (it’s all in the past!

Changing Wall

Sources: Glider (West Elm), Map (Pottery Barn – NOT PB Kids), Changing Table (Jenny Lind), Elephant Rocker – I am slightly obsessed with elephants, in case you can’t tell (PB Kids) 

The extra couch in the nursery was an unintended side effect of us never getting off our bums and getting rid of our old couch about a year ago when we got a new one. However, I have realized that having the space for it might just be a blessing in disguise, because it means that more than one person (be it fur person or furless person) can comfortably exist in the room at once for an extended period of time.

Having my little fur baby be comfortable and happy in the nursery was one of my biggest priorities, and I think he’s fitting in quite nicely. My hope is that if Brinkley knows he can always be a part of the room it will reduce jealousy of the human puppy, since he’s still very much a huge part of my life.

Couch shot

And have you heard the good news? Apparently babies sleeping on animal fur reduces asthma risks later in life! Now this is the kind of scientific news I can get behind, mostly because Wee Connor has no options otherwise.

cat on couch

And there you have it! Again, I guess I failed at the “theme” thing, but in the end I figure nurseries are kind of like wine: it’s all about what makes you happy and what you like.

Or maybe I just really want some wine after all of this.

An open letter to my “Nesting Instinct”

Dear “Nesting Instinct”,

I am writing this to you via Internet not only because you are an abstract idea incapable of receiving letters, but more importantly because I have no idea where the hell you are.

I did a Google image search for "Nesting Instinct" and this was the first image that came up. This is what I imagined my life to be right now - completely zen and happy with scrubbing my kitchen cabinet doors. NO DICE, MAN. No dice.

I did a Google image search for “Nesting Instinct” and this was the first image that came up. This is what I imagined my life to be right now – completely zen and happy with scrubbing my kitchen cabinet doors. NO DICE, MAN. No dice.

Among the many side effects of pregnancy such as morning sickness, extreme fatigue, leg cramps, and a spare baby growing in my ass (apparently), the one I was actually looking forward to was this magical “nesting instinct” that pops in around 8th month of pregnancy, supposedly. People rave on and on about how they “feel like a lunatic” because all they want to do is organize and clean and do various other things that I imagine good soon-to-be mothers do, instead of eating cookie dough ice cream and watching Grey’s Anatomy from the start because in some weird twist of female-ness I had never seen it before. While sometimes I feel like the nesting instinct is the classic humble brag similar to answering an interview question of “what’s you’re greatest flaw?” with something along the lines of “oh, I’m too much of a team player!” or “I love my job too much“, I still feel that you, Nesting Instinct, are something I’m missing out on and could really capitalize upon.

I’m not saying that things are slovenly. The nursery is almost completely finished (with the exception of the curtains because my husband and I are hopeless renters who don’t own a ladder stopjudgingmealready). I hired a cleaning service to come in and do a “deep clean” of the apartment because, again Nesting Instinct, you are nowhere to be found. And while not actually doing the cleaning work myself was fantastic, it’s not something I could exactly make a habit, either.

So while you are apparently lounging on a beach drinking mojitos in the Caribbean (not that I would blame you), I am desperately wondering if I’ll ever understand how to wash a blanket inside-out like the instructions on the tag tell me to. (Is this something that becomes clear once your nesting instinct comes in? I literally stared at the blanket for 5 minutes pondering if there actually was a way to wash a one-dimensional object inside out.) Or hang the pictures on my walls that I’ve been meaning to hang for over a year. Or do any of the stuff I was waiting for you to appear and make me want/understand how to do. There is a limited amount of cookie dough ice cream and Grey’s Anatomy in the world, Nesting Instinct, and I’m reaching the upper limits of human consumption for both. Help me out here, okay? 

Yours truly,

Motherhood What

Contagion: Pregnancy Symptoms

Here is what I knew about pregnancy/birthing from movies/sitcoms:

  1. Once you go into labor you will have the baby right there no matter where you are and your water will break on the most awkward person in the room
  2. Pregnancy symptoms are contagious

While clearly I have not experienced labor yet, I have been assured not just by friends who have successfully expelled children from their innards but by the birthing class instructor as well that the whole “going into labor and then having the baby exactly where you’re standing and then have to rush to the hospital/give birth in the vet’s office/every sitcom birth ever” doesn’t happen.

Apparently, though, the contagious pregnancy symptoms thing? Real. While my husband hasn’t gained any sympathy weight that I’ve noticed, this morning I opened the fridge to find a little surprise. Let me show you a picture of what I saw, but you have to promise not to judge me by the surrounding content of my refrigerator.

fridge ice cream

Do you see it? No? It might not be obvious. Let’s take a look again, with the pivotal piece made a little clearer.

fridge ice cream ice cream highlighted

There it was, a nearly full tub of Publix Premium (aka, the best) ice cream, sitting pretty on the second shelf of my fridge and not in its normally happy home of the freezer.

It’s official: TLH has contracted a pregnancy symptom: pregnancy brain.

It probably doesn’t help that I think he has had a lifetime, low-grade ongoing case of pregnancy brain, but lately it seems like it’s gotten much worse. This is especially concerning when I have real (justified) pregnancy brain, and neither of us can remember what we actually needed at Buy, Buy Baby once we step into the store, which, for the record, is the worst possible scenario at that particular establishment. Hypothetical, clearly.

While ice cream in the refrigerator is amusing right now, the one thing I will not abide by is if he ends up with “sympathy labor pains” during labor because only one of us is giving birth at that time and deserves sympathy, and here’s a hint who it is: the person in the room with a uterus. 

For the time being, though, thank goodness there’s less than a month left. I don’t know if our apartment could stand many more pregnancy symptoms as it is.

8 Months Down. Holy #$*@.

Here is a list of what I thought I would have done when I hit 8 months pregnant:

  • E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

You may commence the laughter now. I have. My laughter might be a tad maniacal, but we can all laugh together nonetheless.

oprah overwhelmedThe most common question I get now is a well-intentioned one: “So, are you all ready?” to which I desperately try to hide a look of complete terror and shock and desire to scream back, “Of course I’m not ready! I am about to give birth to a tiny dependent human being that I created and then I’m expected to somehow take care of it! I have to [insert any number of horrific things I have to do here, including, but not limited to, hanging curtains, finishing hanging the decorations in the nursery, getting the house/carpets cleaned, ordering the final things needed from my registries, pack my hospital bag, figure out what goes into my hospital bag, learning how to care for a baby, etc.] first!” By now in the conversation the person jovially asking if we’re ready, assuming that we are capable adults who, by all measures, should be ready, sees my thinly veiled smile and after my inevitable response of a weak, high-pitched, “…allllmoooost, haaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!” quickly changes topics or pretends that I’m not pregnant at all and shifts into a safer and less stressful conversation topic like sports, the weather, or Vladimir Putin.

Both Tax Lawyer Husband and I are panicking about different things that have to get done yesterday, and because we are apparently in conflict on what our #1 priorities are, this means that nothing is progressing at all. The fact that I’m now 8 months pregnant means that if I lift anything larger than a spatula in the presence of TLH he freaks out completely. This is not helping the “getting stuff done” case, especially since he is now in busy season at his accounting firm and he is working all the time. “We probably should have planned this all better” has become our mantra.

For reference, here is TLH’s “MUST DO THIS NOW”/”must do before the baby arrives” list:

  • Put together the hospital bag so we are “ready to go at any time.” Nevermind the fact that when I ask him what should go in the hospital bag he is so desperate to pack his answer usually involves picking a DVD to watch in the “down times during labor” (HA! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. ha.), the iPad, and chargers. Okay then.
  • Nothing else
Seriously, these are the only things on my mind right now.

Seriously, these are the only things on my mind right now.

Even though I have created an entire Google Docs shared spreadsheet called “Babypalooza” with a sheet that is literally titled “WE NEED TO GET THESE THINGS DONE”with many items I can’t do on it, the only thing he wants to do is pack the Star Wars DVDs in a bag by the door, which at this point if it would get him to move on and help with things like “putting the nursery back in working order after hanging a giant map mural in 6 panels on the wall [of which 5 are hung, by the way]”, I’d be willing to do it. I am, in the meantime, going to order a new pair of my favorite LL Bean Slippers, since they are, in fact, the best slippers of all time and all I can think about are cold feet in the hospital, so clearly my sense of priorities are probably not where they should be, either.

The fact I need to keep in mind before the next well-intentioned person asks me if everything is done yet is that while time is ticking away faster than we ever could have imagined, it will get done, and while things may not be as perfect and put together as I had hoped at 8 months, that’s life. And, apparently, a good reminder for how parenthood will go.

And if we ever do finish the nursery, I’ll be sure to take some pictures of it. I promise.

Right now though? I think I’ll have a cookie, a latte, and a healthy dose of zen/to-do list writing.