The first photo in the blog post below is so, SO fitting for our story. It’s an image of one of Lacey’s birth affirmation cards, and Lee took it right after we first arrived at the hospital for Judah’s birth. It says,“Birth is unpredictable. There is no universal way it unfolds. Instead, you get to trust the process.”
Judah was due to be born on September 11th, 2021. In the days leading up to his arrival, it felt like the whole world was watching and waiting for him to get here. On our evening walks, even the trees seemed to watch us with interest. Such a strange blend of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation.
The 11th came and went. Then the 12th. Then the 13th.
Ummm…where the heck is this baby boy? Finally, after several rounds of acupuncture, a long conversation with the OBGYN and some deep dive reading into stats about inductions, we decided to induce on September 16th, but to take it slow. We wanted to have a minimally invasive birth and really wanted to do everything as naturally as possible.
We drove to the hospital on the evening of the 15th, with the plan being to start induction meds that evening and get labor underway the following morning. The anticipation and anxiety were immense. Packing up the car and leaving the house with the full knowledge that when you return it will be with YOUR CHILD….that’s an intimidating idea, no-matter how thrilled you are to welcome that bundle of joy into the world.
By 8:00pm on the evening of the 15th, we were on our way. We started with Cytotec, but by 8:00am the following morning, not much had changed, so then we moved to a slightly more intense option called Cervidil. By that evening (it’s now around 8:00pm on September 16th), Lacey had dilated to 1.5 cm, and while any progress is good progress, that wasn’t the number we were hoping to hear from the doctor.
Rather than start Pitocin right then, after a long day of anxiety that had left us feeling totally drained, we decided to get a good night’s rest and start Pitocin the next morning. They moved us to a different room in the “Antepartum” side of the Labor & Delivery floor (think the Pre-Labor side, rather than the Postpartum side).
That night we ate dinner together, talked about how crazy this experience was, watched a few episodes of FRIENDS (aka Lee’s comfort TV) and held each other before drifting off into a restless, nervous sleep.
The next morning, now the morning of the 17th, we woke up and got ready to head back to L&D, only to be told that APPARENTLY everyone else in the city of Austin had gone into labor the night before, so labor and delivery literally didn’t have room for us. We were told to wait, and they’d call us when we were able to come start labor. The hours crawled by. Finally, at 4:00pm, we got the call that it was time to head back to L&D. Time to meet Judah!
We got settled into our new L&D room and started Pitocin. From there, Lacey’s contractions started to intensify fairly quickly, but there was a problem with Judah’s heart rate. The nurse explained that they like to see “wiggles” on the monitor, rather than a steady heart rate at exactly the same number of beats per minute, and Judah’s was much more on the steady side. Too steady.
We paused Pitocin less than an hour after we’d started it, and now Lacey was confined to the hospital bed so we could monitor Judah’s heart rate as closely as possible. In an effort to keep labor moving along without pitocin, the doctor recommended we break Lacey’s water. We followed her advice, and the contractions continued to intensify. But now that she wasn’t able to move around the room into the laboring positions she’d practiced, Lacey knew her hope to have an unmedicated birth would be even more difficult, if not impossible. After fighting against the contractions for quite a while, she called for the epidural.
As soon as the epidural was administered, Judah’s heartbeat disappeared. Suddenly the fetal heart rate monitor wasn’t picking up anything, and the nurse started to move very swiftly around the room. She called for the doctor and for other nurses as reinforcements, and within seconds the number of people in the room tripled. We waited, hardly breathing. Feeling helpless. They administered some medication to Lacey’s IV, and thankfully Judah’s heart rate came back. Slowly at first, then back up to the same 150 – 160 beats per minute we’d heard at every ultrasound over the last nine months.
But we still weren’t out of the woods. Now his heart rate was back, but it was too sporadic. 150, 175, 135, 160 beats per minute – now we had too many wiggles, rather than not enough. The nurse explained that it seemed like Judah wasn’t reacting well to Lacey’s contractions.
Soon the doctor arrived to talk through our options. If we were seeing these heart rate issues at 8 or 9 cm dilated, she might encourage us to continue with our original birth plan, but we were still at 4 cm dilated with so much labor left ahead of us, and despite the medical team’s best efforts, they still weren’t sure what was causing Judah’s heart rate distress.
We made the choice in an instant. “We want to know our baby is safe. Let’s do the C-section.”
From there things moved very quickly. Still hooked up to the fetal heart rate monitors, they rolled Lacey down the hall to get prepped for the operating room. Lee put on the weird medical body suit and hair net, and waited with the doula to be allowed entry into the O.R. After what felt like an eternity, Lee joined Lacey in the O.R. and we waited to finally meet Judah. Ten minutes later, he was here.
Judah James Bortner entered the world at 11:04PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021. He weighed 7 lbs, 13 ounces and was 19 ¾ inches long. He was born with a single tooth (so funny!) and nearly a full head of hair!
The birth affirmation card we mentioned up top ends with the following phrase: “If something comes up, you’ll have the wisdom to make the right decision. If you need an intervention, you’ll be able to handle that too. Breathe deeply. All is well.”
Our birth story was very unpredictable and certainly didn’t take shape in the way we’d imagined, but everything happened just as it was supposed to. We’re just so incredibly thankful to have our healthy baby boy. We were instantly in love with him and it kinda hurts how much he has us wrapped around his tiny little fingers.
If you’re still hanging with us after this mini-novel of a blog post, thank you!! We are thrilled to introduce the newest and cutest member of the L+L Family, and can’t wait to share more of his cuteness and our adventures as a family here on the blog.
A huge thank you is due to Ruth from Your Village Consulting, our awesome doula who helped SO much throughout this process. Her guidance and encouragement truly made such a difference. (Side note: she is also the one who took the photos you’ll see below in the O.R!)
We are also SO grateful to the whole L&D team at Saint David’s Main (who were honestly incredible and caring people from top to bottom), our OBGYN Dr. Deleon, and the awesome Dorean Pope Photography for capturing our newborn family portraits! We are so grateful to you all!
With all the love,
If you enjoyed reading our birth story, make sure to check out Judah’s Baby Shower! Interested in booking your own wedding or an intimate engagement session with your person? Click here to get in touch!
Lacey + Lee Photography is a wife-husband photography team based in Austin, Texas who specialize in creating bold, intimate and emotive wedding, engagement and elopement photography. Within the Austin Area they serve South Congress, East 6th, South Lamar, The Seaholm District, Mueller, Dripping Springs, Kyle, Hutto, Georgetown, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Bastrop. They also serve San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Waco, Dallas, Houston, and any State or National Park you get to by plane, train or automobile. They are available for destination weddings, proposals, elopements and micro weddings.
Get in touch today for more detailed pricing!