As Charles’s due date grew closer, I began to get a little anxious. I kept reminding myself, though, that my daughter Margaret was “late,” but still came on her own, 5 days past her estimated due date (EDD). Charles was simply nice and cozy. Everything would turn out fine, right?
Positive thinking can only get you so far when your OB starts to get anxious, too. I saw Dr. D. when I was 40 weeks 2 days gestation. At that point, we had already re-scheduled a c-section from 40 weeks to 41 weeks. A c-section, mind you, that I had no intentions of showing up to.
(Note: If you’d like to read part 1 of our birth story before continuing, click here).
Dr. D. entered the room and started off with the usual—measuring my belly and listening for the heartbeat. She then sat down and said, “Okay, I didn’t bring this up last week because I was hoping you’d have the baby by now, but there are some things we need to talk about.”
Oh gosh, here we go. The conversation I knew needed to happen but so desperately didn’t want to deal with. Dr. D. began discussing the risks of going past 40 weeks gestation, as well as the even greater risks of going past 41 weeks. She told us, “Here’s how I see the situation: We’ve been riding in the car together, but now you’re speeding. I don’t feel comfortable riding in the car anymore and I want out. But I’m not going to get out, because I’m your doctor and I’m here to take care of you.” Ouch. That stung a little. But I got her point.
I explained how we understood the risks. I also explained how it didn’t sit well with me to simply elect another c-section when I was exhibiting no signs for concern. After what we had gone through to prepare for this birth, I couldn’t just throw in the towel because of worst-case scenario statistics and estimated time-frames. How could that possibly be God’s plan?
Dr. D. acknowledged my viewpoint. While she didn’t feel comfortable with me going much longer, she stated that they obviously couldn’t force me to have a c-section, sending someone to my front door with a scalpel. She explained that per the practice’s policy, all patients who go past 40 weeks get a non-stress test and a fluid check done. (Now, I knew enough that I didn’t have to consent to either of those tests. However, I 1. didn’t want to rock the boat any more than I already was, and 2. hoped that the tests would turn out well and I would at least have good test results on my side.) Dr. D. asked that I schedule an office visit the next week on Monday or Tuesday.
As our appointment concluded, I thanked Dr. D. and told her I appreciated having a mutually respectful conversation. She echoed my feelings, stating that while our viewpoints didn’t fully align, we were both there with the same ultimate goal, and she wanted to do what she could to help us reach that goal the way we wanted. We scheduled the NST and fluid check for the next day (Friday) and scheduled to see Dr. T. on Tuesday.
Friday morning came and I hydrated like crazy. I wanted the best results I could get. The NST started off a little bumpy, as Charles decided to nap for the first 15-20 minutes. The technician tried everything—leaning me back, jostling my belly some, using the little buzzer—no luck. She then offered me some ice water, which I proceeded to chug down. At that point I was getting really frustrated, because I knew the false positive rate for NSTs is high, plus my kid wasn’t cooperating. I was starting to kick myself for consenting to the test. Thankfully Charles finally woke up and gave satisfying readings. The fluid check afterward went fine and we were on our way. Praise God.
As we went into the weekend, I began questioning more and more why Charles hadn’t come yet. Everything was in place, so what were we waiting for? That Sunday, through two encounters, God revealed to me something beautiful. (To read about that, check out my post about that day.)
So Tuesday rolled around—my 41 week appointment. Dr. T. asked me what my end-game was. I kept talking around the question, partially because I wasn’t sure what exactly she was asking for, and partially because I was crazy nervous. She directed me back to her question, noting that I wasn’t answering it. I began to cry. Crap. I was really hoping not to get emotional. “I’m sorry,” I said. I explained to her what I had told Dr. D.—I couldn’t just throw in the towel and elect a c-section after all we had been through, when everything was looking so good. I felt amazing and Charles was showing no signs of distress. I also didn’t understand how the research I had found about the risks I was potentially facing—the majority of which was published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—didn’t align with the research the OBs in this practice were referencing. Nevertheless, Dr. T. discussed further the wide variety of risks I was facing going this far past my due date. I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped.
Dr. T. then gave me an option I hadn’t been given before: she told me that she was on call that Thursday would be willing to start me on a low dose of pitocin to see if that would start my labor. Now, up until that appointment, all I had been told was I was going to need another c-section if Charles didn’t come on his own because it’s not safe to use pitocin with a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) due to increased risk of uterine rupture. I had pushed the timeline because I could not bear the thought of electing a c-section just because I was being told to. Well here we were with another door. I still wasn’t sure, though. I looked at my husband, longing for him to have the perfect answer. He asked the doctor if we could have a few minutes to discuss. She said that was fine and went to see her last patient while we talked.
As soon as she closed the door I started sobbing. Jeremy wrapped me in his arms as I wept. He validated my feelings then reminded me what we learned from an exercise in our childbirth class: we may have to give up a few things along the way. Plans may have to change. Were we willing to make a few small compromises in order to hopefully avoid the ultimate compromise of an elective c-section?
Jeremy and I agreed to allow the doctor to do a pelvic exam (we had declined them thus far) so we knew what we were looking at going into the induction. She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes, which could potentially get labor to start within 48 hours. I looked at Jeremy and he said, “Yes.” Thank goodness, because at that point I was incapable of making any decisions on my own.
After the lovely experience of having my membranes stripped, we scheduled another NST and fluid check for the next day, per Dr. T.’s request. Again, I wasn’t thrilled about having them done, but I was hoping for good results that would benefit us by increasing our chances of having a low-intervention birth. We then scheduled the induction for 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Walking out of the appointment, I still wasn’t sure if we had made the right decisions. Jeremy felt good about our choices, though, and I trusted his judgment. I was so thankful to have him involved in making these decisions. He was able to be a perfect voice of balanced reason and empathy.
The NST and fluid check the next day went great. Thank you, Jesus.
So there we were that evening, just a few short hours from the start of our labor. Jeremy prayed that night, as he had been every night. He prayed that the induction would be successful and that we would get our natural VBAC. He prayed that God would comfort us no matter how things went and that He would fill us with His peace throughout the process.
It was almost time to have a baby.
Thanks for checking out our story! Be sure to come back next week and check out my next post in this series: Our Journey Towards Getting the Birth We Wanted, Part 3: Jump-Starting My Labor.