Chip's Birthday: Preparing for Labor

We have a new little boy and we could not be more in love. I’m documenting his beautiful birth story and the days and weeks leading up to it here so I don’t forget the details of that very special day.

If you know me, you likely know I was induced for my first two births (Amelia and Bettye) and really REALLY wanted to experience spontaneous labor this time around, for our last baby. Things were looking very encouraging when I was checked at 36 weeks - 1-2cm but 0% effaced. I was just elated to be dilated at all, because with both girls I was 1cm or less and needed 2+ rounds of cytotec to dilate enough just to start Pitocin. So to already be nearly 2cm was a huge relief! This meant that even if I had to be induced again, I likely wouldn’t need to do the overnight/hours and hours of dilating prep that I did with Amelia and Bettye. Praise God! I felt ahead of the curve with five weeks left to go into labor on my own, and clearly my body was getting ready.

At 37 weeks I was surprised and excited to learn I was 70% effaced, still 2cm. Again - elated! By 38 weeks, I was 3cm 70% and at 39 weeks, 3.5cm 80%. I was so grateful that things were progressing on their own! My doctor did a membrane sweep at 39 weeks and being as my body was so “ready” - I was positive I’d be in labor within 24 hours. I immediately started having painful contractions, and was sure I was in early labor - ready to meet our sweet baby. I remember not wanting to make dinner for our family that night, sure that by the time it was done cooking we’d be on our way to the hospital (based on how I was feeling). Spoiler, I did make dinner that night and I didn’t have a baby for another week and a half. Ha! The joke was on me!

The contractions came and went for the next week. Sometimes painful, sometimes not at all, and never developing into a pattern that lasted for longer than an hour. It was emotionally exhausting and disappointing and I went through waves of feeling patient to let my body do what it needed to do, and grateful that I was contracting at all, and then to frustrated that it seemed like an engine that was stalled, and back again. I walked and walked and bounced and “curb walked” the step down into our family room, drank all the red raspberry leaf tea in the world and did all the things.

My doctor scheduled an ultrasound for our next appointment, because it would be 40.5, just to make sure Baby was doing well in there. I really didn’t want to make it to this appointment - not just because I was ready to meet our baby, but because paying for yet another ultrasound seemed silly and unnecessary. After the membrane sweep at 39, I was sure we wouldn’t have that ultrasound.. but somehow the days kept creeping by and I was (miraculously?) still pregnant.


I was due on Labor Day, September 3rd, and it was such a sweet day. We walked Opry Mills as a family together and ate hot chicken at Donelson’s newest restaurant, Party Fowl. I felt so at peace and patient that day, soaking in my big round belly and all the squirms and stretches from our little one inside of me. Amelia’s birthday was the next day, so I wrapped her gifts and bought cinnamon rolls for breakfast and really breathed in the simplicity of just being a family of four.

That night the contractions started yet again. This time, they seemed to be following a pattern and definitely intensifying. I tried to stay calm and just see what happened but it was hard not to get excited! For an hour they were about seven minutes apart, and then slowly became closer until they were about six minutes apart. They still varied in intensity, but were stronger than what my Braxton Hicks usually felt like. It was midnight at that point and I was exhausted, so I figured if I went to sleep and it was truly labor - I’d wake up and know. The contractions were still manageable enough to sleep through them, so I fell asleep quickly. Around 1:30am I bolted awake in pain from a really strong contraction and immediately grabbed my phone to start timing them. I only timed for about twenty minutes, but they were almost exactly five minutes apart and still manageable pain wise, but very strong. I definitely had to breathe through them. I woke Logan up and we decided to call the OB on call just to see what they thought. Since I was so dilated, and Bettye’s labor took an hour and a half from first contraction to birth, I was nervous to wait too long to leave. When I finally got him on the line, I asked if we should keep timing or go ahead and go in and he suggested we go on in just in case, since I was so dilated already.

We called Logan’s parents and packed our last minute things and for some reason I was feeling nervous instead of excited at this point. I walked into our kitchen to write my mother-in-law a note about the cinnamon rolls and the gifts for Amelia sitting on the island caught my attention. My eyes immediately filled with tears as I realized we wouldn’t be here when she woke up on her birthday - and while I REALLY wanted the baby to share a birthday with Amelia (my sister and I share a birthday), I was overcome with guilt that I would miss the whole day with her. As soon as I had this realization, my contractions started spacing out. Logan’s parents arrived just a couple minutes later, so unsure of what to do we still got in the car and headed to the OB ER at Centennial. I told Logan a couple times that I felt like my contractions had spaced out, but we’d see what they said.

By the time we arrived and got to a triage room, my contractions were back to 8 minutes apart and not very strong at all. I was 4cm and 80% effaced, so I’d still made some progress in terms of dilating, but I was definitely not in active labor. The OB there asked if we were interested in being induced or having labor augmented while we were there (since I was already 4cm), and Logan and I discussed it but I was so sure I’d go into labor on my own if we waited, and I couldn’t bring myself to CHOOSE for the baby to be born on Amelia’s birthday. So we left to return home and I sobbed the whole way. I felt so silly, but also relieved we’d be there for Amelia to wake up to, and also frustrated that yet again it seemed by body had stalled. I was exhausted and defeated.

A couple of days later was my 40.5 week appointment, complete with ultrasound. The baby looked perfectly healthy as did fluid levels and my placenta. My sister’s wedding was a week and a half away (I was the Matron of Honor) and Logan and I assumed my doctor would want to schedule an induction for 41 weeks at the latest, so we’d discussed our ideal day for that. Much to my surprise, she actually was comfortable letting me wait another week to schedule an induction (41.5 weeks), but at that point I would be three days out from the wedding and it all seemed like too much at once. I also carried Amelia to 42+1 and I was not interested in doing that again. It was a Thursday, and generally inductions aren’t scheduled on the weekend because what doctor wants to come in when they could wait until Monday and do it then? We had decided Monday would be a good day if we couldn’t do it on the weekend, since it would give me a little more time to go into labor on my own hopefully - and I’d be right at 41 weeks… albeit uncomfortably close to the wedding. But when we asked about a weekend induction, my doctor said she was actually the on-call doctor that weekend so she’d be at the hospital all weekend anyway, and she was happy to induce us on Saturday morning - which was our ideal date! I would be 40+5 and it would give me about 30 hours to see if another membrane sweep got me into labor before inducing. I felt a lot of peace with that timing.

She felt sure that should I still need to be induced, just breaking my water would be enough to start labor and we may not need Pitocin at all. This sounded WONDERFUL to me, since I wanted to go natural again like I did with Bettye, but obviously didn’t want to do it with Pitocin like I did with her. So we planned to go in early Saturday morning for her to break my water, if I hadn’t gone into labor by then.

I had fewer contractions after the second membrane sweep, but started spotting all day on Friday (I’d lost my mucus plug twice already - ha!) so I thought maybe, just maybe, we still had a chance at spontaneous labor, but at that point I felt fine about our plan. We took the girls to Logan’s parents’ house and spent that Friday evening together. Honestly, I’m such a planner, it’s been really nice that for every birth Logan and I got a really sweet date night the night before, and time to prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of our babies. We ate at Chuy’s and walked around Opry Mills (two miles!) looking for a pair of Adidas tennis shoes I had a dream about and really wanted (ha), but we never could find them in my size. It’s such a sweet memory - just like the dates we had before the birth of our girls. I’m so grateful for that.

Then we headed home to tie up a few loose ends, tidy the house, pack our last minute things, and got in bed…

Continued in Chip’s Birthday: It’s a Boy!