I thought my 9:15 am appointment Thursday morning was going to be fairly similar to the week before: Go in, get checked, maybe be 3-4 centimeters dilated instead of a 1 ½- 2. I even joked with Jared that he should come to the appointment with me, in case we had exciting news, and that way he didn’t have to get to work and immediately turn around and come home again. Little did I suspect that in just 12 hours from that time, I would be minutes away from holding my baby girl in my arms.
I arrived to the OB’s office, and it was a fairly slow wait (again). I finally got put in a room and soon enough, Dr. Rush came in to check me. I was mildly disappointed to hear that I was barely 3 cm dilated, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The real shocker was when she measured my belly and found that size-wise, I hadn’t changed from last week, when I should have grown another centimeter or so. I wasn’t too alarmed at first, since I knew that I had been a small baby, and MY baby had been consistently on the smaller side through the later part of the pregnancy.
However, that was when the doctor started throwing out terms like the baby might be “failing to thrive” in the womb and the “I” word: Induce.
After having me move into a room that had an ultrasound machine, we looked at the baby. Everything was healthy and working- heart was fine, she had been moving around all morning, etc.
But… BUT. What an awful word.
But Baby was not growing as much as she should be. At the 39 week mark, she was now measuring in the 10th percentile for size. There was enough amniotic fluid, but it was still a little low. And the blood flow of the cord was right at a borderline number as well. All these factors had my doctor convinced that we should try to have this baby immediately. In fact, she wanted me to walk out the door, down the hallway to the hospital portion of the building and get checked in so we could induce me immediately.
Several emotions washed over me. Shock. Terror. Confusion.
I was completely overwhelmed.
You see, I was planning on having a completely natural birth. For me, this meant that I would start contractions at some part of the day or night at home. I would labor at home for awhile, using the tub, walking around the comfort of my own home in my own clothes, then eventually would switch over to the hospital for the remaining few hours of labor. I would manage my pain by using my breathing methods and visualizations that I practiced from the Bradley and Hypnobirthing books I had read, and would manage to push my baby out with no pain medicine.
Everything I had read on inducing labor meant that it was possible for all my plans to go awry. Even more “natural” methods, like breaking the bag of waters, would be putting me on an unnatural timeline and could lead to a higher risk of a C-Section.
At the same time, if my baby was potentially starting to struggle in the uterus and would do better growing outside of me than in, then wasn’t that more important than any of the plans I had previously drawn up for us?
I needed to go home. I was too upset and conflicted to go straight over to the hospital. I told my doctor I would go in after getting some things in order at home and picking up my mostly-packed overnight bag. The doctor wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t going to strap me down into a wheelchair and forcibly push me over to the hospital wing herself. So I left.
I made it to my car and dialed Jared’s number into the phone before breaking down into tears. Trying to explain the situation to him knocked the air out of me, like being smashed in the face by a ton bricks. I think I was able to get out, “You need to come home now,” before losing the ability to speak for a full minute.
It took several minutes, me sitting in the car, not being able to drive, to explain to Jared the basics of the situation. I’m sure I wasn’t very coherent, but he got enough of it that he was going to head home immediately, telling me he’d call the kennel and get things organized so our dogs would have a place to stay over the course of our hospital visit (one less thing to worry about, right?).
Somehow, I made it home safely despite the tears that seemed intent on flowing nonstop from my eyes. I made a few more phone calls; my doula, my mother, a friend who I had been planning on doing something with later on in the day, to let them know how the plans had changed. Everyone was encouraging and helpful with getting me to slowly calm down with the situation. The doula was particularly helpful with recommendations for the situation, and said that she could come as soon as we wanted her there to help us at the hospital.
I worked around the house, getting last minute things together for Jared and me and snuggling with my dogs for comfort, until Jared got home. (Here’s the part where we look back with irony on the statements from before the morning got underway.) He started frantically packing his bag (because he had been holding off packing… part of his denial that this baby would actually come, perhaps?) and getting things in order. We then took the dogs to the kennel and dropped them off.
As we were driving away, Jared got a call from the doctor’s office, upset that we hadn’t shown up to the hospital yet. This angered me even more, because I had told the doctor previously that I needed some time, especially since this wasn’t a “critical” emergency, and a couple of hours was not going to make or break the situation. (If the baby was really in that much danger and needed to be out that immediately, I would have done it, but since that wasn’t the case, I felt like I was almost being bullied into having the baby in the way the doctor wanted.)
Once we got home to grab our bags, we had a quick bite to eat (since we knew once I was at the hospital, they weren’t going to let me have anything!). We were also able to have one of the great leaders from church drop by and give me a blessing that everything would go as well as possible for this labor experience. We got into the car and called the doula to let her know we were going to the hospital and would like her to be there for most of the process, since we were getting some curve balls thrown our way.
By this time, I felt more calm and collected, and ready to face the changes in my birth plan. I was ready to head to the hospital and start the official process of bringing my baby into this world.
You can jump to Part 2 here!