I was pretty excited this week to go to the doctor. My husband was off work, our due date was right around the corner ... we knew we'd be having the baby soon! I wanted my husband to come with me to these last few doctor's appointments and be a part of the final exams. And to be honest, I'm also a bit sleep deprived at this point and it's helpful to have someone else listen to all the information the doctor tells me. I'm not sure I could remember it all later!
When the Hubby Comes to the Exam
I didn't realize until we were in the exam room, though, that my husband had never been there for one of the internal exams. I explained to him what was going to be happening during the visit and he seemed to be fine with everything, but I had a feeling this would be, oh, challenging for everyone.
Of course the day of the visit, neither one of us had slept well the night before. We were excited to hear good news and that things were moving along. We arrived a little early and found out my regular OB-GYN was on call and couldn't make our appointment. The nurse told us we would be meeting with another doctor and we needed to wait. Almost an hour later I could tell my husband was a losing his patience and I tried to reassure him. Finally, the nurse called my name and I went into the exam room.
My husband enjoyed hearing the baby's heartbeat. The doctor commented that the baby's heart was loud and strong—that brought a smile to my husband's face. I could tell he was intrigued, confused, and a bit freaked out. Everything looked good, and I asked about the possibility of "stripping the membranes." When the healthcare provider strips your membranes she's trying to help your cervix along in getting ready for the baby's birth. Unfortunately, my body (or, I guess, my cervix) didn't seem to be cooperating so the doctor said I'd have to hold off on that particular procedure.
Moving Baby Along
To "strip the membranes" the OB-GYN uses her finger during the internal exam to reach into the cervix. Once she's got her finger on the cervix, she moves it in a circular motion to help release prostaglandins, which helps "ripen" the cervix. During my visit, the doctor commented that my cervix wasn't ready to allow a finger to pass through. There was some pressure when she attempted to strip the membranes and she told me I might have light cramping and/or bleeding after. Next week, she said, we'd try it again. Next week?
I looked over at my husband, and he had an interesting look on his face. I could tell that this was a very foreign experience and he was feeling pretty helpless. The visit was over, so I cleaned up and we scheduled an appointment for following week. We talked about the whole experience on the way home. I encouraged my husband to ask questions about the pelvic exam. After all, women get one every year, so we're used to it, but for someone watching, well, I had to explain what was happening so that he could make sense of it. That made for some intense conversation!
If you get your membranes "stripped" be ready for a bit of discomfort afterward. You might also notice some blood the rest of the day and even the next. Even though we weren't able to do mine, I had a bit of blood and cramping later that day. I complained about it for about an hour until I realized there was a lot more of this to come—maybe even next week!
Waist measurement: 45 inches
Weekly weigh-in: 178 pounds
Pregnancy symptoms: My ankles are swelling, actually just my right ankle. It doesn't hurt but doesn't look pretty.
My favorite pregnancy anecdote for the week: "You are all set and ready to go!" The OB-GYN's words of encouragement ... so now I just have to wait!
Pregnancy "first" of the week: No firsts, but plenty of swelling, lots of eating, and still lots of waiting.
Doctor's visit: Yes—internal exam with an attempt at "stripping the membranes." About the Photo: The above picture of the author was taken during her 39th week of pregnancy by Dean Lipoff.
Read the next installment: week 40