The first ultrasound I got when I was pregnant was during the second trimester – the special ultrasound where they measure everything and make sure all the body parts are there and developing well. I was slightly nervous going into it but the doctor said everything looked good and our baby’s heart was “gorgeous.” I was relieved. The next hurdle was the gestational diabetes test (the orange drank is yuuuuuck). I took mine right after the holidays—a time when I was stuffing my face with the ever flowing candies and baked goods that lingered around my office. Again, I was a bit nervous for these results but to my surprise I passed with flying colors. My last hurdle (I thought) was the Group B Strep test, the result of which would determine if I had to be hooked up to an IV, etc. during labor. Test came back negative (phew!).
So there I was, third trimester and everything looked textbook perfect. I didn’t realize it until later, but I was beginning to feel invincible. I had confidence in my body and I had confidence in the birth process. In my mind, my birth plan was about to be realized to its full extent, easy-peasy. Then, during my 37 week visit, my doctor mentioned he was concerned about my week over week increase in blood pressure. My BP was still normal but it was now on the higher end of normal. And I had been gaining a little more weight in a week’s period than he would have liked.
What? I didn’t know my BP had been slowly creeping up week over week… I mean I did have some caffeine and a big lunch on the way to my appointment… and the week before I had gotten flustered over clogging the office’s toilet right before my BP reading (oops). So maybe the readings weren’t an accurate reflection of my normal BP? Whatever the reason for the increase, I knew my doctor would be looking at my BP the next week and it had better be a good reading. Of course the expectation only increased my nerves. Increased nerves = increased BP. So then it happened. Self-fulfilling prophecy at its worse. The next week I could not keep my nerves in check and my BP was just above normal. Awesome.
The doctor said he would check my BP again at the end of the appointment. If it was still high then he would send me to labor & delivery for blood tests, a urine collection, and a non-stress test (NST). If my BP was normal then we could wait until the next day to do the NST. These tests were meant to determine if I had preeclampsia. If I did have preeclampsia I would need to be induced that week (38 weeks pregnant). I would also have to be hooked up to magnesium sulfate to ensure I wouldn’t have a seizure. Preeclampsia, induction, IVs, seizures… wait, who, me? I asked my doctor if he thought there was any chance of me going to 40 weeks. He said it didn’t look like it. My head was spinning and it was now time to take my confirming BP. I was freaking out inside. I asked for a few minutes. I tried to calm down but I couldn’t. How did this happen? I was in mint condition. I passed all that there was to pass. My BP wasn’t high… not normally. I was just stressed. I am not the stereotypical gestational hypertension/preeclampsia patient. This couldn’t be true. I didn’t believe it but I couldn’t calm down. So I shot myself in the foot with a BP that was through the roof. And down to labor and delivery I went. Everything looked okay so far but they wanted me to do a 24-hour urine collection to confirm.
When I got home that Monday night I was so disheartened. I wasn’t afraid that I had preeclampsia. I didn’t even think I had hypertension. I believed I was healthy but I was worried that my perceived health was bad and that it didn’t matter what I thought, it only mattered what the BP cuff, the scale, and my doctor said. I was worried I would be induced before 40 weeks. I was worried about what that meant for my baby and my birth plan. I was supposed to have a natural birth. I was going to labor at home for as long as possible and hopefully make it to the hospital just in time to birth the baby. I was going to walk around as I saw fit. Take a shower, perhaps a bath. Eat all that I wanted to eat. I was not going to be hooked up to anything. I was not going to be induced. Induction = takes forever = super tired+more intense contractions = epidural please! I saw my birth plan flash before my eyes and flush down the toilet. Because of nerves. My stupid nerves. And big lunches.
The next day was gloomy. I stayed inside all day, collecting pee and feeling anxious. And thinking “oh crap, I could have a baby by the end of THIS WEEK.” I no longer felt invincible. Actually it was at that moment that I realized I had become cocky. I realized I was trying to do this baby thing on my own strength. I wanted my birth plan and assumed I would realize it perfectly. It dawned on me that I had never thought about what God’s birth plan was for me. I assumed my plan was perfect so it didn’t occur to me that God would have other plans. I realized I had forgotten to pray. At that point I surrendered my birth plan. I didn’t want my birth plan and I didn’t want the doctor’s. I wanted God’s. I believed his plan was best and that was the plan I wanted.
I started praying and seeking truth in His Word. I turned to a faithful friend: Philippians. Of course the famous Philippians 4:6-7 was on my mind: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition and thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” I went to Philippians because of this verse but it was a different verse that really struck me. I’m sure I had read it before but never through these lenses. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” Philippians 3:20-21.
Sigh. Peace. My birth plan no longer mattered. I was reminded that this life is short and that I don’t belong here. Any collateral damage from being induced early, using an epidural, etc., it didn’t matter. Not really. This body is decaying anyway. It’s dying. But there is hope. Right now I have this lowly body but in heaven I will have a glorious body. And so will my baby. Whatever complications might exist during this birth it was okay. For both of us. Because this life is temporary but heaven is eternal and my hope rests in Jesus and His goodness and sovereignty. I had forgotten that.
Later that week I had another appointment. Doctor said everything looked good but he wanted me to come in twice a week for a NST until I delivered. He was much more positive during this appointment and said that I could easily go to 40, even 41 weeks. I was relieved!
During the following weeks I started a journal of truths and affirmations based on the verses in Philippians as well as Proverbs 31. Week 39 came and went. As did week 40. And I wasn’t surprised, but I began getting nervous again. My doctor said he didn’t like patients going past 41 weeks and 3 days. I was quickly approaching 41 weeks and again induction looked like a very possible future and my human heart started writhing anxiously. I had gotten cocky again. Things were looking good and I had ditched the prayer and Bible reading. I went back to Philippians and Proverbs, my journal of affirmations and truths. How quickly the mind forgets. I began reading these and rereading these often. 41 weeks came and went and my amniotic fluid looked borderline low. My due date was May 12th. It was May 20th and it was time to induce. The next morning I would go to the hospital. To my complete surprise I was calm and filled with peace as my doctor laid out the plan. As we left the office, Ryan and I laughed at the sudden role reversal. He was giddy and nervous and I was calm, cool and collected. We laughed all the way through the parking lot. Ready or not, it’s go time!