We had originally been scheduled to do an induction on January 18th. Since Judah was breech up until 37 weeks we thought maybe we would be doing a c section, so we scheduled that for the 16th. But then he flipped on Monday of that week! Instead of wait until the following Sunday I asked my doctor if we could go ahead with a Thursday night induction since she would already be in the hospital Friday. I was losing my mind at this point and just wanted to get this baby out! Caleb had passed away at 38 weeks 4 days with no cause. Abigail was delivered at exactly 37 weeks. We had tried to make it to 38 weeks with Judah because we wanted to give his lungs extra time to develop. However once I hit 37 weeks my intuition started screaming "get him out!" So doctor agreed because she's the BEST and Thursday night here we were taking last belly shots before heading to the hospital.
The whole thing was a flashback to Caleb's induction which was also on a Thursday night (and recycling day-another weird similarity). Just like with Caleb, this time we called Labor and Delivery around 7pm to make sure they had a room for us and they did not. So we waited, but this time the waiting was hopeful unlike Caleb's waiting which felt like the Agony in the Garden. And wouldn't you know that at 11 pm we got the okay to come in- a room had been found! This was the same time we went in with Caleb. And maybe you are reading this thinking "so?" but for anyone who has gone through grief, you know about grief triggers and the timing of this whole induction just felt like one big trigger. Here was the basket of goodies I made for the labor and delivery nurses because we like to hang out there for like 3 days getting induced. I like to give them a little incentive to like us:)
Cervadil was started at midnight Thursday and was taken out at noon Friday. You basically just lay there and try to sleep which didn't really happen. Once that is done I was checked and dilated to a 2. Dr. said to get up, shower, and eat something light then they would start pitocin. On a side note my other two inductions have gone exactly like clockwork-cervadil, pitocin, break water,epidural, sleep, push, baby. So this was looking to be the same except we would find out it wasn't at all!
During the hour I was up and eating the dr. on call came in to say that I was having contractions on my own (yeah!) but that Judah's heart was dipping at the end of them. She said they would not start pitocin until my dr. came back to hospital to review the contraction strip. So began the fear cycle of "why is his heart dipping?He will die, I just know it." Those thoughts aren't good for labor and they didn't really help move things along with my body relaxing.
My dr. came back around 3pm Friday to check the strip. She said it was odd to see the dips with a baby this early in pregnancy (usually the dips happen with late term babies (40+ weeks) and it means the placenta is tired). But she said it was still in "normal" range and to start pitocin. We started on a low dose but his heart kept dipping. It was nerve-wracking because every time our door swung open it seemed to be either the nurse or dr. on call telling me to "get back in bed, on your right, no now on your left" because that's the only position his heart rate would tolerate. I spent the majority of Judah's labor on my right side in bed. And as uncomfortable as that was, really the mental part was harder. I just wanted him out alive and well. We would get conflicting messages-one nurse would say we were headed for c section, then a resident would come in and say that everything was fine. The labor was the hardest of all 3 kids by far.
My dr. came back up to the hospital around 9pm Friday night with her pillow in hand. She was going to stay with us through the night and get this baby out! God Bless her-she wasn't even on call! We talked and she checked me and I was only dilated to a 3. We decided since his heart rate was still dipping that maybe it wouldn't hurt to break my water. In the past that seems to speed things up so we went for it and broke my water around 10 pm Friday night. When it broke there was meconium everywhere. So began the second wave of fear "my baby will die of meconium aspirations, he'll be the small minority that dies of this I know it!" My dr. said that the meconium looked "old" and again it was strange to see because she usually sees it in later term babies, not 37 weeks 5 days. But it was still "normal" and most babies with meconium do just fine.
His heart rate got a little better once my water broke. I got an epidural and this is usually where I sleep and then wake up and push. But I was far too worried to sleep and each time I would try to rest another person would come in the door telling me to flip from one side to the other to get his heart rate up. At one point his heart rate dipped real low and they yelled "get on all fours." I somehow managed this (with an epidural!) and his heart rate came back up. Around 5 am I broke down crying to my nurse telling her how sure I was that this baby would die. This labor was so different because my other two I have been composed and in check of my emotions (even with the stillbirth). This labor I was a mess. Nathan was a mess. He said it felt like 4 years of grief just kept hitting him. The nurse was sympathetic and told me she would have my dr. come in to check me. I was progressing and now we just had to wait.
Finally around 9am I was ready to push. I was not in control of my emotions again during this part. I felt like one of those women on tv that is acting crazy. At one point I told the whole room of people (we had NICU staff there too because of meconium) that they were all lying to me about the fact that he was actually close to being here. Everything just seemed to be taking forever and after 9 months of an exhausting pregnancy mentally I had nothing left. I pushed for almost an hour and at 9:52 am out came Judah Thomas screaming. It was the best sound I've ever heard. He didn't even need looked over by NICU because I guess if they scream that means the meconium didn't hurt them? Who knows but I got to hold him right away.
Here comes the crazy part of this story so hold on to your seats!
After my placenta was delivered my dr. said it looked like a 41 week or 42 week old placenta. She wanted testing done on all of it-the cord, the cord blood and gasses, the placenta. She set up what looked like a science experiment in the delivery room as she took samples and vials of everything. After talking with her and processing things it seems to be we may have found a possible answer to Caleb's death. WHAT! 4 years later? I know, I know and I'm still processing it all myself. So here goes:
Based on the dips in Judah's heart, the meconium and the old looking placenta my doctor's theory is that at a very specific point in my pregnancy-like 37 weeks exactly- my placenta starts to age way faster than the baby. This would explain 1)Caleb's sudden death 2)why all my babies NEVER show intrauterine growth restriction-because they all get their last sonograms at 37 weeks and measure perfectly 3) why Abigail's placenta with her was normal looking because she came out exactly at 37 weeks. 4) Why this was missed with Caleb's autopsy because his placenta would have just looked "dead" because he had been deceased for 3 days before we delivered him.
Again, we are not for sure but its more than we have had for 4 years. My doctor will get the results in by my six week appointment and we will talk over everything. She recommended that I NEVER go past 37 weeks again in any future pregnancies. She also said that I was right in knowing to get the baby out Thursday and she was glad we didn't wait until Sunday like the original plan.
To say I was in shock is an understatement. I have spent 4 years wondering how a perfectly normal healthy baby just up and dies. I've come to terms with the fact that we would never get answers. Only God the Father could have thought this plan up. He knew my heart more than I even knew it. He knew that getting these answers, now 4 years later, was the right timing. I felt like I came away from Judah's birth with so many things-a live baby and possible answers.
To think of how Judah and Caleb are connected brings me to tears. It took us stepping out in hope again and enduring another stressful pregnancy in order to get some sort of closure with our firstborn. It all is just too much! It has shown me just how good God the Father is. How he is in the details-always. How he never forgets anything. Its also been like one huge validation on my motherhood, something I desperately needed healing in. To know that my intuition was right-that there was a reason to worry this time, there was a reason to get the baby out early-it wasn't just because I couldn't handle things mentally.
God is faithful and He cares about everything, especially the things that have hurt us the most. He wants our healing more than we even want it. He answered a prayer I had long stopped praying. He remembered.
This is my victory picture. Being wheeled out of the hospital with a live baby boy in my arms felt like winning the Olympics. I cried as I remembered being wheeled out with just Caleb's blanket in my hands that cold April day. Now, almost 4 years later, God has redeemed so much. Caleb will never be replaced, but hope can and has returned. Judah-a name that means literally praise and thanksgiving-that's all I had to offer God through the suffering. He saw that and He was faithful. Judah's pregnancy and birth taught me one thing- I am a child of God. I have a Father who watches over me and goes before me in all things. To Him be all the Glory!