This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Texas Health. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
When I was nearing the big “D-Day” (due date), it was without question that I was going to have a big baby. With weeks to go, the sonograms were suggesting that my little bundle was almost 10 pounds . . . yes, BIG! Which meant that my hopes of delivering “the good ol’ fashioned way” were either dissipating (basic physics, folks) or approaching maximum pain potential. What’s more, it appeared the little guy was pretty darn comfy on the inside with no obvious plans to vacate.
My doctor made it clear that if I was going to have any hope of avoiding surgery, I would need to have this baby sooner rather than later. I won’t lie, I was unsure about the whole thing. I mean, shouldn’t a bun bake in the oven until the little *ding* indicates it’s done? At the same time, my doctor was assuring me that an earlier delivery was a better option than the long recovery associated with a C-section. As is the case with many birth decisions, the best course isn’t entirely obvious or clear.
So . . . what to do? Try the natural methods!
Exercise? Castor oil? Spicy chicken enchiladas?!?
Sadly, even unlimited enchiladas and repeatedly circling the block weren’t enough to get my guy going. Nor was the uncomfortably named “stripping the membranes” procedure. Those words together actually feel like the sound of nails on a blackboard in my head. Which brought my doctor and I to the next option: Formal labor induction at 39 weeks.
There are many reasons that women are induced before or after their due dates, only one of which is “Your baby is too big!” The Mayo Clinic shares many others, and does an excellent job of summarizing the risks of induction as well. As a baby who was delivered by induction herself, the choice seemed like a natural one. It wasn’t until learning a bit more about this option that I recognized how controversial this topic can be, even within the medical community.
Ultimately, the decision rested on my shoulders. And that’s a lot of pressure when you feel the weight of that little life on your shoulders (and hips). My biggest fear was that I would somehow harm my baby (and myself) by trying to deliver him vaginally.
A bit of historical context — I was a 10 pound baby, which suggested to me it was within the realm of possibility that the sonograms were right. At the same time, I was afraid that “forcing” him out before he was ready would be equally or more harmful.
Turns out the difficult decisions of motherhood begin even before baby emerges.
I made mine. I went into the hospital Friday evening for a procedure known as cervical ripening. (Yup, induction is full of uncomfortable terms.) Saturday morning they started an IV line of pitocin and by 12:32 a.m. SUNDAY morning, he was here. You read that right, Sunday. Ready or not, welcome to the world baby boy! A happy, healthy 8 lbs., 8 oz. cutie. Wait, whaaaaaat?! What happened to the much anticipated 10 pound baby?
So, that’s the thing about fetal ultrasound measurements. They can be wildly inaccurate! While my son was long, he was also a skinny little thing (hard to believe these days as he clocks in at 29 pounds on his first birthday). Did I make the right decision? I’ll never entirely know.
Although the pitocin eventually did the trick, it certainly wasn’t quick. What’s more, I came close to a C-section even with induction because I progressed so slowly. And, while I’m not sure it was related to induction, it took my milk an unusually long time to come in, leading to early breastfeeding struggles. Ultimately, I think my body was telling me it wasn’t quite ready.
But would I do it again with the information I had at the time? Probably. In motherhood, I’m having to become more comfortable accepting that we can never know what would have happened on the other side of the decisions we make, and that begins from the moment we start making conscious decisions. All we have is the information available to us at the time, and the soft whispers of our heart. Perhaps I wasn’t ready, but my little love was no worse for the wear. And a year later, I can’t imagine his birth story any other way.