It's hard for me to know where to start in telling the story of Bettye's birth because there are so many things wrapped up in the story. This is mostly for my own recollection and documentation, and I don't want to forget any of the details, so get comfortable! Also, if you're interested, you can read about Amelia's birth here.
Our Childbirth Expectations, or Lack Thereof
We planned a natural birth with Amelia and while I labored unmedicated for over half of the active labor during her birth (after 26 hours of painful dilating with the help of Cytotec and a foley bulb ... eye roll), ultimately the combination of Pitocin, lack of sleep and food, and what I now recognize as an immense amount of fear culminated in a much-needed epidural and our birth plan going out the window. That epidural was a huge blessing, but I didn't realize that until later. This time around, I didn't want to commit to another attempt at an unmedicated birth because I knew how wonderful my epidural was during Amelia's birth, and mostly because I was more open minded about what a beautiful birth could look like. I also realized that my goals when "planning" Amelia's birth were mostly pride-based and while I disguised them under a cloak of "what's best for baby," looking back I think a portion (not all, but some) of my motivation for a natural birth was just simply pride. This time, my goal for Bettye's birth was peace. I just wanted a peaceful experience, and honestly an unmedicated labor didn't seem like a great option for a peaceful birth. So my loose "plan" was to labor for as long as I felt peaceful, and when the pain became stressful I would get an epidural and we would continue a peaceful birth. I studied Hypnobabies this time around, mostly in an effort to get rid of the deep fear and dread I had surrounding Bettye's delivery (left from my experience with Amelia's delivery), and to train myself to relax - epidural or not - during the childbirth process. I had a hard time committing myself 100% to the program, mostly because of my aversion to "making a plan" like I had for Amelia's birth, but I completed all the chapters and tried to practice as regularly as I could. I think I'll write a whole other post on how the Hypnobabies Pregnancy and Childbirth Affirmations completely changed my attitude regarding labor and delivery, and how their relaxation tracks (although I didn't experience hypno-anesthesia due to a lack of practice) carried me through labor... but that's another story for another day.
36 Week Appointment
We were under the care of midwives with Amelia's pregnancy, so I didn't know a 36 week ultrasound to check growth and position is standard protocol. For some reason I felt uneasy about this ultrasound - mostly because it just seemed like one more check point along the way for a doctor to find a reason to induce. I was praying and hoping this time for spontaneous labor, after our induction with Amelia. I felt like everything was fine with Bettye, but I couldn't shake the nerves of checking on her so close to delivery.
We went in for our ultrasound and, long story short, Bettye didn't practice breathing the whole time, and was measuring small for her gestational age. This wouldn't have been much of an issue since she was moving and acting fine, but she had been measuring right on track all along and my belly had even consistently measured big... so my doctor asked us to come in for twice-a-week ultrasounds until she was born, to make sure she was growing well. It was hard not to be frustrated that this was exactly what I thought may happen... but it all worked out for the best. We had a repeat ultrasound that following Friday and she practiced breathing the whole time, so growth was the only concern.
37 Week Appointment
On top of the extra ultrasounds and visits, my OB asked me to visit a high risk doctor as a precaution in case she saw reason to induce before 39 weeks (which only high risk OBs have the authority to do). More frustration. It felt like they were making such a big deal out of me having a small baby.. hello, Logan and I are small people and Amelia was fifteen days overdue and had 33 hours of fluids pumped into her... I'm surprised she wasn't bigger than 8lbs 7oz! So we went to the ultrasound at the high risk office, and didn't even see a doctor. We figured if something was wrong, they would've called to let us know. Onto the next appointment and ultrasound that Friday (October 21st).
We showed up for our ultrasound with Amelia, and headed to our appointment with Dr. Stany following. This was old hat at this point. When we finally saw her, she immediately jumped into an explanation of "umbilical vein varix" but I interrupted her to say that we didn't know what she was talking about.. and to ask if we would be checking growth at her next ultrasound on Tuesday, because that was the whole reason we were coming in for ultrasounds and they hadn't checked it since the first day. (Growth is only checked at least fourteen days apart.) She responded, "Well. We're having a baby."
WHAT. (My heart skipped a beat.) Come again?!
She explained that Bettye had an inconsistency in her umbilical cord, and that this was such a recent discovery with more detailed ultrasounds available that the risk of the cord rupturing could be really low OR really high... Doctors don't know enough about the condition to say. That being said, she wanted us to be induced as soon as possible - which was 38 weeks since I was only 37 and three days. That gave us the weekend (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to tie up loose ends and head to the hospital Monday night for the induction.
She had forgotten to grab the ultrasound images, so she left for a moment and Logan and I had a second to discuss what just happened... I couldn't believe how excited I felt. I wasn't one bit disappointed. I felt complete peace about being induced, and joy at the thought of meeting our sweet girl so soon. I was also thankful we had a weekend to spend with Amelia and get everything ready for Bettye.
Logan left from the appointment to go back to work, and called a last minute staff meeting to assign responsibilities to his staff. I shared the plan with our parents and a few close friends, and started making arrangements for Amelia. Being planners, it was a little stressful, but overall we felt really comfortable with the new plan, and trusted Dr. Stany's decision.
An Unexpected Twist
After I put Amelia down for her nap that afternoon, my phone rang. It was Dr. Stany. I was expecting her call to let me know when to check into Centennial, and all the induction dos and don'ts. She immediately started apologizing, saying that she kept switching things up on me. I thought she was going to tell me she changed her mind and that we weren't inducing after all and I was already annoyed - thinking I'd JUST gotten used to the idea of having Bettye here so soon. But before I could even follow that train of thought, she told me that she couldn't get us off her mind and she'd been thinking about us all morning. She said she'd been trained to trust her gut, and her gut was telling her we need to get Bettye out as soon as possible... so she wanted us to be induced THAT NIGHT.
... EXCUSE ME?
My eyes immediately filled with tears, realizing that I had spent my last day with Amelia as my only child and we hadn't even done anything particularly special (although, lunch with Danielle at Lipscomb and a visit to my dad's office was a pretty good use of our day!). I tried to not let her hear my tears, and told her that was totally fine and I'd see her the next morning. We had to be at Centennial at 10pm. I had two more hours until I couldn't eat anything. Everything was happening so fast.
3pm. I called Logan to tell him the timeline had been moved up. He immediately left work to come home. I called our parents to work out childcare for Amelia. I got Amelia up from her nap early and just sat next to her sobbing while she "made me supper" in her kitchen. We went outside to play and I just cried and cried sitting on the patio love seat while she sang and scooped dirt and played with chalk. I just felt so guilty that I had unknowingly wasted what precious time I had left with my sweet girl. I tried to let the guilt go, and just soak up what little time I had left, but I was so emotional. Logan got home and found us on the patio. Once he was there and all my tears were used up, I embraced the new plan and got my act together. He started cleaning the house while I packed Amelia's bag and added the last few things to mine.
It is important to note: during this time, Logan discovered a pipe from our house had burst and was leaking water in our yard. We had standing water covering a corner of our yard, so he had to call a plumber to arrange to have the pipe fixed while we were at the hospital. While he was on the phone with the plumber, Gracie got out of the house (the first time in three years she's ever gotten out when we've been home!) and he had to chase her down. Talk about stress levels running high... But back to the timeline.
A Peaceful Evening
My mom came and picked up Amelia (and took a photo... not my finest pregnancy shot HAH). Logan cleaned the entire house (I love him). I gave myself a manicure/pedicure (since I'd just decided I was going to get one at 38 weeks). Suddenly we found ourselves with a clean house, the car packed, the car seat installed, and an hour or so to kill. I was feeling really peaceful again and prayerful about our upcoming night. We decided to leave early for the hospital to stop at Publix for some snacks for Logan, but ended up with about forty minutes to kill before we needed to check in for our induction. I turned on my Hypnobabies "Birthing Affirmations" and they played while we drove around Nashville looking at the city lights and preparing our hearts for what was to come. Call me hippie, crunchy, nerdy, or weird, but when you have a woman with a confident voice speaking positive words over you, it's hard not to feel empowered, encouraged, and peaceful. We prayed and talked and just held hands while we drove around.
That short drive around town already ranks as one of my favorite memories in our marriage. We felt completely covered in peace and patience as we wondered what the night would bring, and completely aligned in prayer and hopeful anticipation for the birth of our second daughter.
To be continued in Part II...