This birth story, in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM), comes from Brandy Pankau. To have your story posted on this blog, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well I am not even sure where to begin! I guess I will start with my first birth with my oldest son. It is September of 2004 and I am only 24 years old and 9 months pregnant. What did I know about birth? Well not much. I went to a few classes but still did not know what I would experience. I was told that it would be painful, so at that point I knew I would want drugs. Well at 36 weeks, my little boy was breech. He was literally laying sideways in my belly, so transverse breech. We decided to try a version. This involved having an epidural so it wouldn’t be as painful. Well after being poked 12 times (literally) and passing out once from them hitting a nerve, the epidural was finally in. Crazy thing is, after all this, my son flipped into the head down position and my mucous plug came out. The nurses were telling me I would be in by the weekend.
Well two days later I was having sharp pain on the top of my belly. More like I was being stabbed. I called the nurse and asked if I should be concern. This was my first child and I had no idea what to expect. She told me to go to the hospital to get checked out. I was a little reluctant as I just hit 37 weeks and I had an appointment the next day. But I gave in and went. I called my husband to tell him that I would be at the hospital and to not worry or come home from work. I was just being checked out and would be home soon. Well 4 hours later, I still had not seen the doctor and my husband not listening to me as usual showed up. Probably a few minutes later, the doc came in. I was staying. The monitors were showing some activity of contractions. I said this was normal as I had felt these mini ones for several weeks. Just lots of braxton hicks as I said. Nope I was staying. I didn’t even have my bag packed. I didn’t even know what I wanted in my bag yet.
I was set up in a room to start laboring and had my water broken to get things going. I was 3cm dilated when I first got to the hospital, but breaking my water would progress things. Then I was told that I could get my epidural if I wanted one since the guy was on the floor and it wasn’t a guarantee that he would make it back up in time when I decided I was ready for it. I was a little reluctant after what happened two days before, but decided that I wanted one so I better get it now. Well it slowed everything down and so I needed pitocin to get things going again. 12 hours later it was time to start pushing. I was told that they would give me 3 hours and then it was time for a C-section. Of course being doped up on drugs, I couldn’t feel a thing. I am not even sure I was pushing right or pushing at all. After 2 hours, my son’s heart started to decel. He wasn’t cooperating. We tried a few positions to no avail. It was time now to get him out. I was wheeled to the OR and within minutes my son was born. After he was checked out, my husband and son left me to be sewn up as if I was a doll who lost her stuffing. 30 minutes later I got to hold my son. He was already fed a bottle so no breastfeeding for him. I tried to nurse after we got home but it only lasted about 2 months.
So three years later in September 2007 I am 9 months pregnant again. Another boy on the way. I had done some research this time and decided that I would have a VBAC. I knew I could do this. My doctors agreed, but would only let me go to my due date. No problem I thought. My first son was 3 weeks early. Plus my husband was due to leave on my due date, so my son had to come early so his daddy could see him. Just in case, we did schedule a C-Section at 39 weeks so that my husband could have a week with our new son before he left on a TDY. I hit 37 weeks, then 38. I was getting anxious and wanted to get things started. My OB said I could not be induced since I had a C-Section. So we tried everything possible that I could do naturally. I was on the internet everyday looking up and trying new things. We made several trips to the hospital thinking things were starting. Finally the C-Section date hit and I went ahead and had a repeat. The OR on L&D was being repainted so I had to go to the regular OR. This was several floors below L&D. After my son was born, my hubby and son left me again to be restuffed. Sigh. Why didn’t I just wait. At least I get to hold him soon. No, not the case. 2 hours! 2 freaking long hours before I got to hold my son. I had to convince the nurse to let me go back to my floor. No nursing right away with him either. At least this time nursing lasted 10 months. I am determined to hold a child right away. Do we try for a third? My OB tells me, from now on I can only have C-Sections. It can’t be true. Can it?
Fast forward another 3 years. This time February 2011, I am 9 months pregnant. This time I am going to have a homebirth and will have my child naturally. The big question I keep getting is why did I want to have a homebirth? To be honest in the beginning I did not necessarily want a homebirth, I just wanted a VBAC. There was no way I was going to be cut open again. I did not want the recovery of a C-Section and more importantly I did not want to wait one to two hours to be able to hold my little girl. I wanted to be able to hold her right away and nurse her and with a C-Section there was no way I would be able to do that. Finding an OB who would allow you VBAC after 2 Sections was nearly impossible. I found a midwife who would allow me to try for the VBAC. After talking with her several times, my only reservation of course was the word “natural.” That means no pain meds. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for such a big leap, but I knew I did not want to be cut. After finding out we were pregnant, my midwife was amazing. Every appointment, every phone call, she was always very supportive.
For several weeks prior to her birth, I had contractions. This seemed like my normal way of things progressing as with my other two children. These were changing from the Braxton Hicks I was having and we all really thought she was going to come earlier than expected. I would have days of a few hours to even 12 hours of contractions but with no full on labor. Such a tease. I even kept saying she was just teasing us. Several people including my midwife would tell me that I would have a easy labor with all the “practice” I was having.
Tuesday, 8 Feb, I went in and saw my midwife. I was only 39 weeks, but we knew Trevor was going to be leaving soon to start a new job so we had my midwife stir things up a bit. She went ahead and stripped my membranes to see if we could get the contractions to stay. Of course no such luck for me. I also went to my chiropractor to have an adjustment and to help make sure our baby girl was in a good position. After all day of contractions, they stopped yet again. I have been very frustrated with this since this of course was not the first time. I just wanted either labor to start or no contractions until it was time. Now the contractions were not bad. I still functioned with them and played with the boys and went about my normal activities, I just wanted them to progress or just stop. I would just get too excited when I thought things were finally starting to happen. And believe me we tried everything to induce naturally at home on our own. All the wives tales and more. Of course nothing.
Wednesday, 9 Feb, I wake up to nothing of course, and my midwife was checking on us and asked if we wanted to see her again. Trevor jumped at the chance. So we went and saw her again to have her stir things up again. After we saw her we even went to a local Thai restaurant where I asked for my food to be Thai hot, hoping this would help things along as well. When we got home, I decided to take a nap. More to pass time and I was a little tired since I have not been sleeping the greatest with a beach ball in my belly When I woke up from my nap around 2:00 pm, I thought things were starting to stop yet again, so I asked Trevor to help me encourage things along. I walked around the room, sat on the exercise ball, practiced squatting with the contractions. All hoping this would start creating more and not stop.
We started talking about how do we know when to call our midwife. She always told us when we needed her, but with all my “false” starts I wasn’t sure I would know when that was. I didn’t want to call her and then she have to leave cause things stopped or did not progress just yet. Of course I did not want to wait too long either thinking that I might not be able to handle anything. About 3:15 I had a few that brought me to tears. It was more that I was squatting with them again and that it just felt pressure/pain in my pelvis that it caught me off guard. I decided not to squat with them anymore. I decided to go to the bathroom and when I came out Trevor was busy texting our midwife. I got mad at him cause of course I was not thinking labor was starting. I just thought it was my positioning. He asked her to come over just to assess me. 3:30pm her and her team was there. I tried to joke with her that it was probably a waste of their time and of course everything would stop in a few hours like always. I had told Trevor that we probably should wait til my water broke to have called. (not a good idea at all, you will see why soon). My midwife watched me with a few of my contractions and I guess pretty much knew to stay.
Derek, my oldest, came home from school shortly after that and I was allowed into the birth tub, so the boys rubbed my belly and my back while I was in the tub. Of course they wanted to get in too, but we said no. I stayed in there for about an hour. The contractions were not too bad, but I was told i had to move a bit so I was out and walked around the room a bit and did try some squatted positions. I did not like these that much. I really liked just leaning over the couch the best. They did not seem all that bad in this position. Trevor was a huge help. My contractions were not super consistent. Sometimes I would have two on top of each other and other times it seemed like I had a good 10 minute break. I am sure it was never that long, but that is what it felt like. The boys went to McDonalds, while I labored more at home. The next hour or so did seem to go by somewhat fast. Trevor had predicted earlier I would have the baby by 8pm and we had all laughed and easily said this could go to the morning. I was on the couch by 5 or 5:30 when my midwife decided to check me. I of course said it would be a waste of time cause I was probably only 6 cm dilated and that everything would stop by 10pm. She did it any way and I was 8-9 cm! I told her to stop lying to me cause there was no way I went from being 3-4cm for several days and even that morning to 8-9 cm in about 3-4 hours. She assured me she was not lying and that I would have the baby soon.
My water still has not broken at this point. She made me get off the couch and try some squatted positions with the contractions and I tried, but wanted to be back in the tub. So that is where I went. 6:30pm my boys came home from their dinner and went up to have their nightly bath. I was enjoying the tub as much as I could at this point, but when I had a contraction I was told to bear down which definitely burned. My water still has not broken and it is time for me to push. We were thinking she was going to be born still in her sac, but alas it finally broke in the tub. That was a very weird feeling. I am not even sure I can describe it. It did not hurt, but I thought it was her head. Of course I was severely disappointed when they said it was my water. The burning was from my sac stretching everything. Now more burning was happening, but her heart rate started not to be too good, so they told me I had to get out of the tub. I argued. I did not want to leave the tub. I didn’t want to move. I was forced. Trevor, our midwife, and birth assistants basically pulled me out. I screamed of course, one cause I really did not want out, but two because trying to get out over the tub was the most excruciating pain I had ever been in. Now the tub was in our kitchen so I crawled a few spaces on the floor then basically rolled over on the kitchen floor and wasn’t moving. My midwife kept yelling at me to get her out in the next few contractions. She even threatened an episiotomy which I said I didn’t care. She of course became mad at me for that too cause I was supposed to care. At this point I had screamed to just do whatever to get her out. Cut, pull, whatever. I just wanted her out at this point. I was obviously ready and just said anything. I did not really want to be cut. I wanted her out so much that I apparently was very entertaining to everyone. I was singing on the contractions for her to come out. I am not sure of everything I was saying, but I do know my midwife kept telling me to have deep sounds and not high pitched. I felt that I couldn’t do that until the end and so I would sing deeply to get out, come out, etc. Apparently this was funny which I do not mind. You do what you need to. So 11 minutes from my water breaking to all this, she was finally out. I had indeed pushed her out. There was pain, but the feeling of her head and body was not painful at all, it was just different. The pain was in the beginning before she came out, I guess just stretching everything. I got to hold her immediately which is exactly what I wanted to do.
I was so exhausted that I knew I was holding her and looking at her, but I felt like I wanted to sleep. Here it is only 6:58pm. It was only 4-5 hours long! I could not believe it. I was for sure thinking it would go on all night. She did require extra care since she came so fast. She did not get squeezed in my pelvis much and had a lot of fluid and all in her lungs. She was suctioned twice and given oxygen. I did get to hold her for some of this but they did take her off my belly to take care of her more, but she came right back to me. The boys came down after their bath and helped daddy cut the umbilical cord. They were so in awe of her. Even today all they want to do is hold her and kiss her. Austin is always checking on her or wanting to know where she is. By 9:30 pm the boys were in bed sleeping and the rest of us were just enjoying our newest bundle of joy: Peyton Lorelai. She was 6 lbs 12 ozs and 19 inches long. I think we went to bed around midnight or so after we made several phone calls and even skyped with a few family members to show her off.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! There is nothing like already being home and going about our day. I am not hooked up to IV’s and do not have a nurse coming in every so many hours waking me up to check vitals. Although Trevor was in charge of doing that for the first 24 hours, but it is much different having him do that instead of in a hospital with nursing staff. Especially when you have a different one each day and night. You get to eat real food instead of yucky hospital food and are not restricted on what you can eat. I get to be with my whole family instead of being away from everyone. The experience was 10 times better than I ever expected. Even if I was entertaining for the Trevor and the birthing staff in our home. So going from two hospital births with C-Sections to an all natural birth on my kitchen floor, I would say I was indeed a success. If I can do this, then anyone can do it, cause those who know me, know that when it comes to pain, I am the biggest baby ever! And now I have a beautiful baby girl with a perfect little head, smile, eyes, etc. She is just so perfect, that I would do it all again.