As my due date was approaching, there were a lot of discussions and a lot of emotions. After experiencing a stillbirth, most doctors advise induction at 39 weeks in future pregnancies. This is the sweet spot because it is the point in time when they feel confident that the baby is fully developed, and as gestational time presses on past this point stillbirth rates statistically rise.
I believe in the benefits of natural childbirth and have desired this for all of my children. However, I was induced with Oliver at 41 weeks because my providers thought my fluid was low, so I wasn’t able to have him naturally. The induction spanned three days, was very tough, and took a long time to heal from. I had Lucy naturally at 38 weeks and my body recovered very quickly, but obviously it didn’t really matter because we lost her. My labor and her birth were rapid and early because something was wrong, although we had no idea until she was born. As Ezra’s birth was approaching, I faced fears from my first two kids that were on opposite sides of the spectrum. I was afraid I would go into labor early and something would be wrong. I was afraid my body would be weeks away from being ready for labor when the medical world would want to induce me, and then I would again face a potentially tough induction.
I had met with a couple doctors at the beginning of my pregnancy to choose the provider that I felt was the best match for me, given my situation and my desire for a natural childbirth. I ended up with a doctor who is totally amazing. He understood my goals and wishes, all while monitoring me closely throughout my pregnancy. He talked through everything with me, but allowed me to make my own choices, including the choice about an early induction.
I wanted to have Ezra naturally, but I also wanted to strive to be open and give myself grace in this pregnancy. It is not easy going right back into the thick of having another baby after losing a baby. I knew ideally what I wanted, but I also knew I had to take things day by day and manage both the physical side of being pregnant as well as the emotional side.
If you have read my past entries about Lucy, you’ll remember that we did not know anything was wrong, and her birth was very traumatic because of that. So I did not know what to expect going into this labor emotionally. I would be feeling contractions and all of the same things that ended in death the last time I felt them. I didn’t know if I would have flashbacks, if I would be a wreck emotionally, or what exactly to expect. I did not know how I would handle things. Because of this, I did not want to set expectations for myself, but rather just see how things went and decide with my birth team what was best when the time came. The end goal was a live baby and me not having an emotional breakdown, so we would pick the route that best led to those two things even if it turned out not to be a natural birth.
I had been having weekly biophysical profiles done with Ezra since 31 weeks. Each week as I stared at my sweet bundle on the ultrasound screen, he passed with a perfect score within just a few minutes of the allotted thirty minutes allowed for the test. I had been praying so much for a healthy pregnancy and God carried us through; day by day, week by week, month by month. Because everything was going great and I felt pretty good emotionally, I made the choice that I did not want to be induced before my due date, which was April 8th. I did not think I would really be able to handle going past it emotionally, and I wanted to keep my eyes fixed on the end goal, a live baby.
When I went in for my appointment at 38 weeks, I decided to have my cervix checked. I normally skip this because I don’t like the mind games that come along with it. I also decided to see when my doctor would be on at the hospital (he is part of a group of doctors) so that if I did chose to schedule an induction, he would be there to perform it. I was expecting no progress with my cervix, because with Oliver I was not dilated or effaced at all at 41 weeks. To my surprise I was two centimeters dilated and 70-80% effaced with a soft cervix. This felt like a victory to me. I knew any progress was a good thing, and that the more progressed I was the better my chances of having a successful induction.
My doctor let me know that he would be at the hospital April 1st (39 weeks), April 6th (39 weeks 5 days) and April 14th (40 weeks 6 days). He recommended not going more than a few days past my due date but said it was up to me. After lots of thought, prayer, and discussion, I decided to schedule the induction for April 6th. My doctor said I could cancel if the time came and I didn’t feel right doing it. So that became the plan. I didn’t want to be induced before my due date, but I did want to be induced with my doctor if induction was going to happen. He explained to me that inductions with second and third babies are generally way easier than with first babies. I prayed a lot, and so did my family and friends, that I would go into labor before the scheduled induction. It felt so unlikely that this would happen, but God is bigger than statistics, due dates and human plans. God is a God of love, grace and miracles- even for me.
I woke up on Easter morning, April 5th, and for the first time began to feel mildly painful contractions. Anything I had felt before this was only the feeling of tightening with no pain. Oliver woke up with joy and examined his Easter basket. We slipped into our Easter clothes and headed to church. Oliver was looking dapper for a three-year-old in his little bow tie. Our church is a little bit less than ten minutes from our house, and from the time we began loading into the car, driving, and loading out of the car, I had a couple contractions. Again, with my extreme and mixed fears from my first two kids, part of my brain was thinking, time these contractions and get ready to go to the hospital ASAP, while the other part of my brain was thinking, active labor could still be days away, but regardless these contractions are progress and a good thing.
During church I listened to our sweet pastor’s wife, Kim, give the sermon. I couldn’t adore her more. She is incredible and so easy to listen to because she is a great speaker with an incredible heart. However, despite that, my mind kept jumping to my contractions, I counted six during the church service.
After the sermon, while the room was filled with conversations and socializing, I made my way to the sunlit window that held the lily that we brought in to stand in memory of our sweet Lucy. It stings to have a flower instead of a little girl in an Easter dress. I snapped a few photos, and missed her all the way to the very depths of who I am. There I stood, missing one baby while laboring with the next.
I had contractions all throughout the day, but I could handle them. We went to my parents house in the late afternoon. and the kids had an egg hunt Dinner was at 5:30pm, and right around then my contractions were beginning to hurt a bit worse. I didn’t have a huge appetite, but I ate a small dinner anyways. After dinner I tried to relax, still handling my contractions. We put Oliver to bed at 8pm and I took a shower and got ready because I knew we would head to the hospital either sometime that night or early in the morning for the induction.
I sat in a huge recliner, in the dark, at my parents house tracking my contractions for the next couple of hours. I had been talking to my doula all day. I was really nervous to not make it to the hospital in time, so at about 10:30pm, Shaun and I just decided to head there where I could at least have the baby monitored. He had been moving steadily all throughout the day, but it would still make me feel better to be monitored. At this point my contractions had ramped up a bit and I could no longer just sit quietly through them.
We got to the hospital around 11pm and as we checked in my contractions were becoming super painful and tough to get through. We made it up to the room, they checked me and I was 7cm dilated and fully effaced. We answered questions and got labs drawn in between some pretty intense contractions. They started rolling everything in and said, you are going to have a baby soon.
My doula was on her way, but she lives pretty far from the hospital so her ETA was 12:10am. I was starting to feel like maybe I wouldn’t be able to make it through because things were getting really intense. My doula was on the phone with me and all of the sudden my water broke (or should I say exploded- such a crazy feeling)— it was 12:01am. I instantly felt like I needed to push. They quickly checked me and I was complete. I pushed through my contractions, resting in between, and Ezra was born at 12:09am on April 6th, just five and a half hours before my scheduled induction. He was perfect; 7 lbs, 4oz and 20.5” long.
Easter is a day when we remember what Jesus did for us, how He died on the cross and rose from the dead, conquering death once and for all. He died in our place, while we were undeserving. It is the most elaborate love story that will ever occur. It is the sweetest redemption story. And I labored all through Easter to have Ezra. I felt like God was driving home His promises so deeply to me. He breathed new life into my broken heart this Easter. My heart still aches for Lucy, all the while it overflows with the many other gifts God has given me. God is a God who will never stop loving me, and He is a God who redeems. Ezra’s birth was so redemptive for us. I still can’t believe it happened the way it did; naturally, and before my due date. I feel like I need to be pinched, like it isn’t real; but it is so real. God picked Ezra’s birthday, and he picked Shaun and I to be his parents. He wraps His arms around me and shows me what love is, what grace is, what redemption looks like. I couldn’t be more grateful.