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Amy’s 2 VBAC Birth Stories

The VBAC Birth of Katherine Elizabeth (10/22/2008)
My first child was born by unnecessary c-section.  Partly due to my own ignorance on what happened in hospitals and what necessitated a c-section.  And a lot to do with my doctor withholding information, lying to me about what was happening, and wanting to get back to his clinic patients.  My water had broken without contractions and I was too inconvenient to wait around for so he sliced me open instead. 

 

After a ton of self-education and talking to local people, I was ready for another child and I was bound and determined that I would NOT have another surgery.  I found out I was pregnant on Valentine’s Day 2008 and began my journey to my VBAC.  I interviewed many doctors until I found the right one, hired a doula, and we traveled an hour away to the hospital that was most likely to give me the best chance of getting my VBAC.  After a wonderful pregnancy I was anxious for my little girl to finally arrive.  

 
It all started on Tuesday October 21st (my due date lol) at 4am. I woke up to some contractions and when I couldn’t go back to sleep I decided to take a bath to calm them down. It worked a little and I was able to get back to sleep around 6am.  Ioke up again at 9am and took another bath to calm the contractions again before my son woke up. They weren’t bad and I could do things through them but they had a bit of a bite to them. I continued my day like normal doing dishes, folding clothes, cooking, etc. I wasn’t sure it was the “real thing” or not because the previous Friday I had had 14+ hours of contractions that fizzled away. I wasn’t about to get all excited in case this wasn’t it.
 
Fast forward to about 6pm- I’m tired and these things have been happening all day now. A tiny bit stronger but not too bad. I made supper and afterward my son was exhausted so we let him take a 30 min nap. I tried to take one, but after lying down I just couldn’t sleep. The contractions were too intense for me to sleep through so I just got up and started timing them to see what they were doing. At this point I had been having about 15 hours of contractions and they were still all over the place. 5 mins here, then 7, down to 6, and up to 8. Blah!! Frustrated the crap out of me!  I got my son in bed and was totally exhausted so I tried (yet again in vain) to lie down and rest around 9pm. Nope. Just wasn’t happening. My husband was getting ready for work since he had to be there in an hour. I called him in the bedroom and said “Hey do you really need to go in?” At this point I was like, “Man this is getting intense… he may need to stay home!” After seeing me through a few contractions he decided to call in. We called our doula to give her a heads up that we would probably be calling her later on. I called my mom and told her to come get my son and she did.
 
By the time my mom left with our son (shortly after midnight) I could NOT get comfortable anymore. I tried lying on my side (nope), on hands & knees (uh-uh), rocking on birth ball (forget it), leaning over my bed (nah), lying on my back (OH HELL NO!), and finally I decided that I wanted in the tub. So I hauled myself into the shower… OMG! That felt so awesome! I had the shower just pummeling my back for a while and then soaked in the tub for what seemed like forever. My husband called my doula and she headed over and got to the house around 1:30am or so. At this point I was lowly moaning through all of my contractions and felt this intense urge to lean back during each one. It took a LOT of focus but it wasn’t too bad. I just had to reach that peak and as soon as it was over I was happy again. Not painful, just intense. My contractions never got regular, but they did get closer.  2mins, then 4, then 3, then a few more 2’s. It made us a little hesitant to go to the hospital because we didn’t want to get there too early, but at the same time we didn’t want to get there too late either. At about 3:30am we decided that we better go ahead and head out.
 
I hit the transition stage in the car (oh, what fun that was, lol). My husband was so great and was talking me through it… telling me how great I was doing, that I could do this, to just breathe, that I was so strong, and that we’d soon have our baby girl. I started moaning really loudly and started to feel a bit out of control. I got a little freaked out that things were happening too fast so I made it a point to focus on everything around me to try and slow the labor down. And it worked… the contractions got a little less intense and paced out just a little bit longer. Then we made it to the hospital shortly after 4:30am.  I literally could not sit down in the wheelchair that was brought out for me. It wouldn’t recline and I had been needing to move my body backwards for hours at this point during contractions.  So I had to travel across a LONG sky bridge, down another LONG hallway, go up and elevator, and then take my laboring self all the way to the Labor & Delivery department. I swear a man built that hospital because no woman in her right mind would torture a woman in labor like that, lol. All the way to L&D I was leaning back against the walls, partially squatting backwards against whatever was there. I scared a poor janitor who was mopping the floor. I felt so sorry for the man.

 
FINALLY made it to L&D about 4:45am where they rushed me into a room because I was just moaning like crazy, lmao. They had me get into a gown and got me into a bed to start the 20min fetal monitoring strip that was “necessary” right when a patient was admitted. They had to lie me all the way down to check and see how far I was dilated… OUCH! Whoever thinks that a laboring woman should be on her back is WRONG!!!!!! But anywho, I was dilated to a 9 and my bag of waters was bulging. Everything started getting sooo intense and each contraction was taking me to a new place. I remember it finally actually hurting with the nurse messing up my concentration when she touched me but at the same time it was so… what’s the word… I can’t even find the words for it, but it felt so right. The pain wasn’t even a factor. I was in my own world just taking this wonderful and crazy ride. I was having a hard time breathing right through the contractions (thanks nurses for bugging me and not just leaving me alone) so the baby’s heart rate started going down a little and they hooked me up to an oxygen mask as needed, coached me a little on breathing (because I almost started hyperventilating), and they hooked me up to IV fluids.  The next thing I knew, I started to push. They checked and I was dilated all the way to a 10 so they told me to go ahead and push if I needed to…  Like I could have stopped if I wanted to! Suddenly my water *WHOOSH* broke all over the place and I went back down to a 9 since I no longer had the added pressure of the water bag keeping me at 10cm.  There was a moderate amount of meconium in the water so that got the nurses concerned a little and they told me that they would have to suction her out right after she was born to make sure she didn’t swallow anything. But I still had to push and could not stop myself. I quickly went back to a 10 (in about a minute) and my OB walked in…
 
He was gowned up and ready to go in a flash. He got situated and started talking me through things. I, at that point, was lying back, but wasn’t flat. I guess you’d say I was in a semi-reclining position. It was the only thing that felt good to me and I couldn’t do anything else even if I tried (and try I did). They kept telling me to pull my legs back to open up my pelvis more but I literally couldn’t. So 2 people (I can’t even remember who) helped to push my legs back so that I could… God the urge to push was sooo intense!!! I kept letting out high pitched noises. So with a little encouragement from my OB and a few other people I started groaning and grunting while pushing. OH MY GOD THAT FELT SO GOOD! The next thing I knew, my husband was saying “There’s the head!” I rested for a minute and then BOOM! I started pushing, pushing, pushing, and then suddenly I felt relief. I had her head out!!!! They suctioned her mouth and nose out and then I pushed the rest of her body out. Because of the meconium, I didn’t hold her right away like I wanted to but that was just fine by me. I did it. After a little over 25 hours of labor and about 5 minutes of pushing I gave birth to my daughter. And it was amazing.
 
Katherine Elizabeth was born at 5:14am on October 22nd weighing in at 7lbs, 14oz and was 20.5 inches long.
 
They cut the cord and suctioned her out the rest of the way while I was watching. She was so beautiful. She started crying and I swear that was the most glorious sound ever on earth. They got her cleaned up while my OB stitched me up (I just had a minor tear that took 2-3 stitches) and told me what to expect as I came down from the adrenaline high from the delivery. I was shaking all over the place and was freezing cold. It was crazy, lol. A couple of minutes later they placed my baby girl in my arms and I was in heaven. She was staring at me like she knew exactly who I was. I waited to stop shaking before trying to breastfeed her so my husband held her. I was afraid of dropping her with all of my shaking, lol.  I finally stopped and as soon as she saw that nipple she latched on for dear life and started nursing like she had been doing it for years.
 

 
After that things just went great. We stayed at the hospital (which had an amazing post-natal staff) and tried to rest as much as we could. Other than being tender from my tear, I was feeling great. Katherine got a clean bill of health and the pediatrician who looked her over said that she was just perfect.
 
We got released the next day at 2pm much to our pleasure. She slept through the whole ride home and we got settled in. We had that 1st nights to ourselves to catch up on some much needed rest and her big brother came home from Grandma’s house the next day. He gave her lots of kisses and wanted to hold her. He absolutely loved her and would often come over to pat her head or try to share some of what he had, lol.  With her, our family was one step closer to being complete <3

 

I am Momma, hear me Roar- The HBAC of Matthew Evan (9/28/2011)

 

My first child was born my an unnecessary c-section in 2006 and we had had a successful natural VBAC birth at the hospital in 2008.  We moved shortly afterward to an area with VBAC bans at all of their local hospitals.  I was not willing to consent to another c-section without medical necessity and the drive to our previous hospital was now too far away for me to personally consider.  It didn’t help that I had been fantasizing about having a homebirth for years at this point, so the decision was easy for us.  I had wanted one with my first VBAC but wasn’t able to find a midwife who was able to take me on at that point.  But I was lucky and found an AMAZING midwife this time and we started our journey to our second VBAC and my first homebirth.

 

I had a great pregnancy.  I was in pretty good shape, eating healthy, and just feeling wonderful.  We found out that we were having another boy!  Two boys and a girl for my family!!  I had calculated out two different due dates- September 29th based off of ovulation or October 3rd based off of my LMP.  I had no expectations of when labor would come and I just gave myself over to nature to do whatever she wanted with me. 

 

I went to work on the 27th of September and was working from 12:15 noon until 6pm.  Around 2pm I started getting nauseated and noticed some menstrual cramp feelings.  One of my coworkers/besties who was due 6 days after me made a joke that maybe I was in labor and we laughed all day about it since we were both having contractions.  Slowly over the rest of my shift they got stronger and when I left for work they felt somewhat steady. When I got home and started timing them.  5-6 mins apart.  Okay- No big deal.  We did this 2 days ago and the contractions stopped.  Let’s just see where this goes and not get our hopes up in the meantime.  So we continue on with our evening and they are getting progressively uncomfortable.  Nothing that was unmanageable, but it def felt like stronger menstrual cramps.  My husband’s best friend came over and we were just hanging out for a couple of hours.  Towards the end of his visit my husband went ahead and called the midwives to see what they thought.  (from this point on let’s refer to them as M [midwife] and A [assistant midwife]).  They both told me to get some rest and to call if anything changed.  So around 10pm I went to bed after they slowed down a bit (7-8mins apart).  Our friend left and my husband went to work shortly before 11pm.
 
I wake up and it’s 11:30.  I can’t sleep through these.  It’s really uncomfortable.  I’m rocking through them and timing them.  3-4mins apart.  I take a bath which seems to relax me and go back to bed around 12:30 midnight.  I wake up again around 2am, piddle around on the computer for about 30mins, drink some water, and go back to bed.  Wake up again at 4:30.  OMG…  I just can’t sleep.  What little sleep I AM getting between these contractions is very short and interrupted.  For every 2hrs of sleep, I got maybe 30-45mins of actual rest.  Another bath and I lie back down.   Back to sleep and the alarm goes off at 6:45am. I get up, get my son dressed, my husband takes him to school, and I call M.  I tell M that I just can’t sleep and that these ctx won’t go away.  M is concerned that my lack of sleep is stopping things from progressing.  She tells me to take something to help me sleep and just rest.  My mom agrees to take my daughter after M tells me that I NEED to get someone to take her or I won’t get enough rest.  I’m frustrated.  I don’t know if she’s taking me seriously or not or if I’m just being silly.  I’m tired and emotional.  It’s been 17 hours at this point and I just want to SLEEP.  I started crying.  My husband gets me something to help me sleep and I go lie down around 9am.  My husband comes to bed about 10am and we both sleep.
 
I’m up again at 10:30am.  Something has changed.  I’m moaning through these.  I can’t stay quiet.  Each peak brings a soft “Ooh” from my lips.  I struggle through them for about 15-20mins and then come to the living room so I don’t wake my husband up.  I’m on the couch sleeping between the contractions, which are about 4-5mins apart.  Just as I doze off, another one hits me and I’m writhing, rocking, moaning.  I call M again.  “I’m moaning through these.  I can’t get comfortable.  Something is different.”  We had a prenatal appt for 1pm that day but canceled it for me to get some sleep, but she went ahead and said she’d come over.  She calls A and they both start driving over.  Waiting for them, I’m yet again sleeping through the contractions, getting what little sleep I can.
 
M walks in the door 15 minutes after 1.  Just moments after she walks in another contraction hits- “OOOOH!” I moan.  She tells me that I’m sounding beautiful and that it looks good.  She watches me through a few and times them.  After about 30mins or so, I agree to a palpation and vaginal exam to get an idea of a what’s going on.  Something just felt “off.”  She knows I wanted a hands off labor, but with my lack of sleep and my personal feelings of something not quite right we feel okay with going ahead.  She tells me his body is in a good position and then she checks me (1st vaginal exam in my pregnancy).  I’m 2cm and about 30-40% effaced.  She can’t feel suture lines on his head and thinks his head isn’t in a good position.  23hrs into labor and I’m 2cm.  *sigh of slight disappointment*  I remind myself that it’s okay, but I can’t help but be discouraged.  A shows up and they talk for a minute.  We’re going to try some knee/chest for 20mins to get him off my cervix and then try to reposition him with 20mins of squatting.  OWW- Knee/chest and these ccontractions are REALLY uncomfortable.  We wake my husband up shortly after 2pm so he can get the heating pad for my back from the bedroom where he’s sleeping.  He’s tired after only 4hrs of sleep. He helps hold the heating pad on my lower back, providing wonderful counter pressure, while I’m squatting on the birth ball.  My 20mins is almost up so he gets me something to eat.  I’m still singing my birth song through every contraction.  Loud “OOOHs” permeate the room.  This makes eating my bowl of cereal very interesting as I’m rocking through each contraction and moaning loudly.  Moan, rock, take a bite, rinse & repeat.  He turns on soft new age music that is very relaxing hoping that it will help- it does.  It’s so soothing.  I get off the ball and onto the couch.
 
It’s time to go get my son from school so my husband leaves to do that.  He decides to go get my daughter and my mom and bring them back as well.  During this time, the MW’s turn the lights down low and leave me alone to do my thing.  I start to sleep between the ctx once again.  My moans get louder.  They become more primal.  I agree to one more check to see how the knee/chest and squats worked, although a little hesitant.  They tell me that I can decline, but I tell them to go ahead.  I need something more than 2cm.  Anything.  I’m 3cm and 70-80% effaced.  It’s something and that makes me happy.  But I’m just tired.  I just want to rest.  I just want to hold Matthew.  It’s been 26hrs.  M & A think that the introduction of the kids and my mom might change the atmosphere.  As I’m making the call to try and hold them off, they pull up.  My daughter’s asleep so we they lie her down in her bed.  My son hears my moaning about 2mins after he walks in and my mom takes him to his room to talk to him about what’s going on.  He’s excited.  The moan scared him at first, but my mom and husband told him that that’s what all mommas do when they have babies and it was okay.  Now he comes up to me, holds my hand, and tells me hi.  I can see from the smile on his face that he’s okay and that makes me feel better that I’m not scaring him.  He hangs out with my mom in his room and they do his homework.
 
I decide to go off into my bedroom shortly after everyone arrived at home.  The living room no longer feels right.  The pool is waiting, but unfilled.  I pile pillows on the bed and try to lie down to see if I can rest.  Nope.  Not happening.  So instead, I squat over the side of the bed with pillows supporting my upper body as I sway my hips and squat deeper down during each contraction, moaning loudly into the pillow.  I want the pool.  I’m afraid to get in too early, but I want the pool.  I NEED the pool.  Things are getting pretty intense and I can’t relax well enough.  My husband starts to fill it while boiling more water on the stove.  It’s 5pm and M & A decide to go get something to eat since I’m only 3cm.  They tell my husband to call if anything changes and they leave.   The pool is finally ready.  I step in and the warmth feels sooo good.  The ctx slow down, but I don’t care.  For about 10 minutes I get some rest.  Not completely, but I have about 2 ctx where my moans are quieter, where it’s a little less overpowering.
 
I’m leaning over the side of the tub and suddenly a contraction comes on that took me by surprise.  I get loud.  Really loud.  Something is different, but I can’t place what it is.  Another one hits.  I scream.  My moan turns high pitched and my husband comes in there.  I tell him that I’m feeling it more.  Another one comes on.  I scream again.  I hear my son in the background and he starts crying.  My mom takes him outside and I can hear her saying “It’s okay.”  I have a weak contraction and no noise comes through my mouth.  The next one comes and it’s like it took all the intensity from the previous contraction and doubled it into this one.  I scream louder than before, making my throat hurt.  I ask for a cough drop to help soothe my throat.  He goes off, brings me one back, and then I can hear him dialing numbers on the phone in the background.  While he’s gone I feel pressure after the next contraction.  It confused me.  I had been feeling downward pressure for hours at this point, but this was different.  I ignored it.  The next contraction brought on the same sensation…  I was involuntarily bearing down but I was still confused.  I reach down out of curiosity but can’t feel anything- I think it’s all in my head.  No way could I be pushing.  I was JUST 3cm.
 
My husband came in and told me that the MW’s were coming back and should be here soon.  Next thing I know, I’m pushing down on the side of the pool with all my strength, lifting my body up out of the water while keeping my pelvis in the water, and throwing my head back as I ROAR.  I spilled some water over the side with the downward force I put on the pool so my husband told me to use him instead.  I pushed again and screamed out “HE’S COMING!”  My husband keeps encouraging me, telling me to do what feels best.  I leaned down and bit into his shoulder, yelling out as I felt Matthew’s head come down.  I kept instinctively lifting my body up and roaring him down.  My mom comes in with my son and I hear the MW’s walk into the room.  I feel this intensity and yell out “There’s his head!”  M grabbed the flashlight to look and I roared out once more and his head came out all the way.  It felt so amazing and I cried out “His head!  Oh my god, that feels great!”  I stopped for a minute, my body giving me a small break.  They mentioned that he was still in the caul.  I angled my pelvis forward, trying to see and started to reach down when another contraction came.  I wanted to catch him but my body didn’t like the angle I was at.  I reached up for my husband only to find that he had hopped in the pool behind me.  I bore down on the side of the pool, once again lifting my body up and angled to toward the back.
 
SWEET RELIEF!  His body shot out and my husband grabbed him as the water sac broke open and he lifted him out of the water.  M & A stood there watching, letting us do everything, never once touching any of us.  My mom was in the corner by the pool crying and my son was in her arms with a huge smile on his face.  My baby cried as my husband held him in his arms.
 
Matthew Evan was here.  After 28 long and intense hours, he was here- born into Daddy’s arms at 6:08pm on Sept 28th.
 

 
I turned around, finally sitting and carefully avoiding the cord.  Once I sat down and got comfortable, my husband handed him to me.  There was nothing but silence and the sweet sounds of his voice & joyful crying from everyone in the room.  My daughter somehow slept through it all so my mom went and got her and we introduced her to Matthew.  She was confused at first, not knowing what had happened, but soon got excited and was trying to hop in the pool and love on “Baby Maffew.”  We finally got the camera- OOPS!  That’s why I have no pictures of the actual birth- everything just went too fast!  3cm to 10cm in just over an hour.
 

 
We sat in that pool a good hour, just enjoying everything.  No rush.  He pinked up right away, was nursing, and we looked great.  After that hour we decided to try and get the placenta out, thinking the counter pressure from the water might be delaying it.  The cord had long since quit pulsating and was limp & white.  So we clamped it off and my husband cut the cord.  Nothing there- Matthew had gotten everything he needed.  My husband takes him into the living room.  I get up and deliver it and we all check it to make sure it was whole.  Matthew wants to nurse again so my husband brings him back to me and we just relax in the bed while A gets my herbal bath ready.  We decide to do the newborn exam… 2 hours after the birth, lol.  The MW’s are happy to finally get to hold him.  He’s perfect.  And we’re all shocked when he’s weighed and comes out to 7lbs & 13oz.  He looks sooo tiny and was all swore he was smaller than my son, who was 7lbs & 9oz.  Nope- just had a MUCH smaller head than his sister’s whopping 15cm head, making him look tiny in comparison.  They check me now and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had not a single tear, skidmark, stress point, OR hemorrhoid!  Not one!  I have a super vagina!  In fact, M told me it was beautiful, he he.  I take my herbal bath and get cleaned up.  I’m feeling fabulous.  Tired but fabulous.  M & A leave, giving me instructions on how to take care of myself and what to look out for.  The kids go to bed and I got on the computer to announce Matthew’s birth to friends since family had been notified.  We just hang out and bask in the glory of what had just happened a few hours before, all of us in awe.  My mom was about to go home so I go lie down in bed, snuggling with this perfect little person. Everyone leaves and I fall asleep, holding my beautiful new baby boy in my arms.
 
Happy Birthday, Matthew.  Welcome.

Trial of Labor Update

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Miranda’s VBAC of Emma

I get so overwhelmed with the thought of writing this birth story that I’ve started and stopped (in my head, at least) half a dozen times or more. Do I make it funny? Heartfelt? Serious? All of the above? Can I adequately encompass all the emotions I went through on Monday? Have gone through during this pregnancy?

::sigh::

I know that this is a story that must be told. A story that is practically bursting from within me the same way she did.

I also know that this story will be long. I won’t break it into multiple parts. I can’t. Like labor, this post is one continuous story with crescendos and ebbs that culminates in her birth.

So, here goes everything.

This story begins with two surprising pink lines on a Monday morning and ends with a tiny pink bundle delivered on a Monday night. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, no matter how shocked or scared or worried I may have been, I knew I wanted this pregnancy to be different. I knew I wanted to VBAC.

It wasn’t about going med-free or glitter wands or anything crazy.

It was about mending the broken places left in my heart from Joshua’s delivery. It was about growing stronger in those places.

So, at 28 weeks pregnant, frustrated, and tired of feeling like my desires to VBAC this baby were being dismissed, I changed practices and became a patient of Dr. Joseph Tate.

At about 32 weeks pregnant, I started to feel like there was just no way I was making it until my due date. I was scared of so many things: that I wouldn’t realize I was having contractions, that I wouldn’t have contractions at all and would have to be induced, that I’d end up with another c-section. I reminded myself that I’d done the best possible thing in switching care providers and that, no matter what, this labor would end in a way I would feel comfortable with.

Monday morning I woke up to pee and when I laid back down, I noticed a burning, cramping sensation in my lower abdomen that was uncomfortable but not unbearable. Then it went away. 10 minutes later, I felt it again. And again 10 minutes after that.

I grabbed my phone and downloaded an app with a contraction timer and I started to see if what I was feeling had a pattern. And they did. Dan stirred at 4:45 and saw me staring at my phone so I said “I think I’m having contractions.” And then I had another contraction.

Dan put his hand on my stomach and I gently moved his hand away and patted it. I just couldn’t bear being touched. I needed to be in my own space and in my own time. I needed to BE.

He got up and showered to get ready for the day, whatever it would bring, and I stayed in bed timing contractions. They were irregular and didn’t fit any real pattern. They were so irregular and inconsistent I honestly didn’t think that Monday would be the day and I started to dread the thought of having contractions like that for an entire week.

I asked Dan to stay home to help me with Joshua. His three-year well-child check-up was scheduled for Monday morning and I knew that it needed to be done before she got here, but I also knew that I couldn’t do it by myself if I was having contractions. He called in and I got up and took a shower hoping the water would ease the pain of the contractions that were coming every 8 minutes or so at this point.

After my shower, I called the doctor’s office to see what they wanted me to do. I thought they’d either send me to the hospital or they’d have me come in to the office, so once again, I was thankful I’d asked Dan to stay home. The Nurse Practitioner returned my call and asked what I was experiencing, how regular my contractions were, and how intense the pain was.

They were still irregular. The pain was intense, but not so intense I couldn’t handle it. I could talk through the contractions, but I didn’t want to talk through them. I wanted to focus on the fact that I knew they’d be over soon.

She told me to stay home until my contractions were 5 to 7 minutes apart or the pain became so intense I couldn’t bear it and she asked me to call back in an hour or two to check in with her and keep her updated. If my water broke, I was to go straight to the hospital and call her on the way.

We cancelled Joshua’s pediatrician’s appointment and the two of them headed off to run some errands while I stayed home to rest. Since I’d been up so early and had no idea how long I’d be at this, I knew I needed to rest. After they left my contractions stopped. I didn’t have a single contraction the entire time they were gone.

At 10:00 a.m., they’d returned and so had my contractions, just as I’d lain down in the bed. Joshua came in and wanted to climb in the bed with me and all over me and I welcomed him. I wanted him nearby. He, being a 3 year old, came and went as he wanted to, and I was okay with that. I needed to soak up the last of my time with him and having him around brought me comfort.

Joshua asked “What’s happening to Mama?” and we told him Baby Sister was going to come out of my belly soon. Dan took him into the living room to let me rest so I kept timing contractions, dozing between them, and noticed that they were happening at least every 12 minutes. Still, it wasn’t in the 5 to 7 minute range, so I didn’t think anything of it and I forgot to call the doctor’s office back.

After moving around the house a bit and trying to do things here and there, I felt like I needed to go rest again. So it was back to the bedroom I went where my contractions slowed to once every 30 minutes or so.. I started reading the second half of Mockingjay knowing that Dan would probably want to take it to the hospital if we were there for a while with nothing to do. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading in bed and timing contractions with Joshua and Dan coming in and out to visit.

Dan came into the room at some point and said that he’d like to go and pick up his new phone that afternoon. He’d take Joshua with him and I could continue to rest in the quiet house. I didn’t see a problem with that because, again, the contractions weren’t coming at regular intervals, or if they were, the intervals were 10 to 12 minutes, sometimes 20. So shortly after Joshua woke up from his nap, they took off. I kept reading and timing.

While they were gone, I noticed that from 2:45 to 4:30, my contractions had been consistently 8 minutes apart, sometimes dropping down to 6. But the pain wasn’t really any worse. I mean, hadn’t I just sat there reading a book the whole time?

I’d been texting with my mother all day, keeping her updated on what was going on, basically saying “Yep. Still pregnant.” At about 4:30, she sent me a text asking how things were going and I told her that I was still contracting and that I thought they were getting more regular. She advised me to walk to ease the pain of the contractions and I realized that during the contraction I was having at that moment, I couldn’t move my legs. They weren’t immobile in a paralyzed sense, just in a “this is how you need to be sitting to get through this” kind of way. So I gave in to that.

Once the contraction passed, I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, there was blood. I knew then that this whole day hadn’t been nothing. I knew then that we’d be meeting Emma soon.

I told my mom that I thought she needed to head our way. That we’d be going to the hospital at some point that night. And then I started getting the rest of our things together so Dan could load them into the car when he got back to the house.

I called the doctor’s office back around 5:00. The contractions had been 8 minutes apart for 2 hours and I wanted to know what they thought we should do. The Nurse Practitioner’s advice based on what I told her was still to wait until they were 5 to 6 minutes apart so that we could try to avoid rush hour traffic. That seemed reasonable to me. Dan and Joshua walked in the door around 5:15 and at that point, the contractions immediately increased in frequency from every 8 minutes to every 2 to 3. And they hurt.

I started giving directions, one of which was “load this shit in the car!” and told Dan that we needed to get to the hospital. That we had to go. I paced my bedroom, still not wanting to leave my “den,” for the duration of each contraction thinking ahead to the moment the contraction would be over.

Finally, at 5:45, the three of us were in the car backing out of the driveway. My mom was already on her way so we sent her a text to tell her to go to the hospital instead of our house and called Dan’s family to let them know where we were headed.

I called the Nurse Practitioner back to tell her we were headed to the hospital so she could call the doctor and let him know what was going on. Since he is Jewish and Monday was Pesach, he had been out of the office and she’d been keeping him updated. She told me that if I felt like I needed to push, or if my water broke, I was to call her back immediately, even if I was sitting at the registration desk at the time. I hung up and gave Joshua my phone so that he could play while we drove.

My contractions were frequent and painful. I was bracing myself on the center console and car door and cursing in my head every time we had to slow down or change lanes. My stomach was small and tight and I kept thinking about how odd it felt.

While driving to the hospital, at the height of each contraction I’d think “We’ll be there soon! I’ll get an epidural! This is going to be okay!” and “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” Once the contraction waned, I’d think “Epidural? Am I crazy? I’ve got this!” I know now that this was transition labor.

I saw our exit approaching and realized we were nearly there and then I had a contraction and noticed that if I bore down a little bit, I felt better. Immensely better. And then I recognized that as my body telling me it was ready to push. I grabbed the piece of paper with the Nurse Practitioner’s phone number on it and handed it to Dan. I instructed him to call and tell the on-call answering service who I was, where we were, and that I felt like I needed to push with my contractions.

At this point we were off the interstate and two right turns away from the hospital.

We pulled into the hospital parking lot and Dan took me to the Emergency entrance. There was no way I was going to be able to walk through the parking garage and to the elevator and then to Labor and Delivery. He ran inside to get a wheelchair and soon he and an attendant returned to wheel me inside while Dan parked the car. He and Joshua would meet me on the Labor and Delivery floor. It was between 6:15 and 6:30. Emma would be here before 7 p.m.

The attendant wheeled me into a triage room in L&D and one of the nurses or nurse techs met us. She started asking the same questions he’d asked: Had my membranes ruptured? Did I feel the need to push? How far along was I? They helped me get undressed and after my next contraction passed, I climbed into the bed.

At first, she couldn’t find Emma’s heart beat on the monitors. She asked another nurse to position the monitors while she checked to see how far along I was. The second nurse was able to find Emma’s heart beat and that was the sweetest sound I’d heard in a while. I heard the first nurse say “she’s complete” to the second and then another contraction hit me. An intake nurse was asking me questions for the paperwork she had to complete and all I could think or say was “I need to push!” I was instructed not to push because my doctor hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet and was still at least 20 minutes out. My brain processed the word “complete” and I thought “holy crap! I’m doing this unmedicated!” and I felt a little giddy with myself, because holy crap, y’all. An unmedicated VBAC?

They wheeled me quickly from triage into an L&D room and one of Dr. Tate’s residents met me in the hallway, explaining who she was and where he was and what they needed from me and telling me that Dr. Tate was on his way.

Once I was in L&D things happened pretty quickly. I asked for a couple of ice chips because my mouth was so dry and the on-call OB gave the okay. I hadn’t been in the mood to eat or drink much all day and I was so parched.

They moved me from the triage bed to the L&D bed and when they got me into a position that was most comfortable for me (on my back leaning slightly to my left side), I could feel something coming out of me. I heard the on-call OB say that my membranes were bulging and relaxed a bit knowing that what I could feel wasn’t Emma yet since my doctor wasn’t there and Dan and Joshua still hadn’t made it to the room.

Between contractions nurses started hooking me up to monitors and blood pressure cuffs and gave me the hep-lock even though it was quite clear they’d have no time to give me much in the way of fluids. Dr. Tate was 10 minutes out. I had more contractions where I couldn’t verbalize how much pain I was in and could only moan and I heard a nurse by my head say “You control this pain! It doesn’t control you!”

The on-call OB and the resident gave me the go-ahead to do what I felt like I needed to do during contractions even though we were still waiting for Dr. Tate. Pushing felt good, so that’s what I did, or tried to do. I was pushing on my own and without much direction from the doctors and nurses at this point. I just did what felt best for me. If I felt the need to cry out, I cried out. If I felt the need to breathe deeply, I breathed.

Dan and Joshua came flying into the room and shortly after, so did Dr. Tate. He suited up and put my foot in his side and then looked for Dan to take the other leg, but Joshua was there and wouldn’t be put down. Dr. Tate said something along the lines of “Your hands are a little full, huh?!” and a nurse stepped in to provide leverage for my other leg.

Joshua asked “What’s happening to Mama?” And Dan replied, “She’s having Baby Sister!” That was a good enough answer for him.

Dr. Tate and the nurse instructed me to wrap my hands around the backs of my legs and pull them toward my chest and to use my abdomen to push and not my legs with my next contraction. So I did. I heard the resident ask for oil to put on her head to help her come out and then I heard her tell Dr. Tate he was going to miss it. Apparently, Emma was crowning.

During my next contraction, I was moaning while pushing and I heard Dr. Tate say “No! You’ve gotta pant! Pant or you’ll tear yourself a new one!” So I switched to panting and in that moment felt my body release Emma’s into the world.

She was out, all of her, with that one push.

It was 6:58 p.m.

I’d done it! I’d VBACed my daughter!

She cried just a little bit while they wiped her down and then she was given straight to me. The nurses placed her on my chest and she and I got acquainted.

Dan took some pictures and Joshua met his baby sister.

We were a family of four.

Brandy’s 11lb4oz Mother’s Day HBA3C

When I found out I was pregnant I was very happy about the baby, but could not bear the thought of a 4thC-section. I knew I had to do things different this time! I read all I could about a HBAMC and talked to as many women as I could that have had a successful HBAMC. I changed my whole diet, walked every day, and found a supportive midwife! I also started seeing a chiropractor at 26 weeks! The pregnancy was wonderful! No leaving the Ob’s office crying from all the scare tactics! I got to my due date and was getting nervous that this was not going to happen for me. All my c-sections were because I was told I would never have a baby over8lbs so I figured if I ate better and went into labor before my due date. I would be able to have my HB! My midwife had already told me that my baby was a good size, so I just figured I would ride it out and see what happened. I knew if my midwife told me that I need a C-section,then I need a C-section. I stayed up late that night cleaning. It was mother’s day and I did not want to have to worry about cleaning the house, little did I know my baby had other plans for me! I finally crawled into bed at 1:30 and before I drifted off to sleep I thought, “Lord thank you for my baby coming today and us having a safe and peaceful HB!”
At 4:30 I woke up with contractions. I tried to ignore them and go back to sleep. I really was not sure if this was it! I shortly realized I was not going to sleep through the contractions, they were just too strong and too close together. My baby was going to be born on Mother’s Day!I told my husband and he started setting up the birthing pool. I called my midwife and I took my carrot cake out the freezer that I had made a few weeks before to have the day my baby was born. My midwife got there about 10:30am she got all set up and checked me. I was 5 to6 cm. It was just so calm and peaceful being in my own home! I walked around, spent a lot of time in the birthing pool. I ate and drank whatever I wanted. My midwife’s asst. made me the best egg salad sandwich ever! I talked to my sister on the phone, iced my carrot cake. I worked thru every contraction trying to stay relaxed. I would just close my eyes and just remind myself to breathe. I know from my past labors that I want to hold my breath with each contraction; so I had to concentrate hard on breathing! I was determined to stay on my feet the whole time! If I won’t in the birthing pool getting in different positions I was walking. It felt great to be able to move around and listen to my body! I was in charge and my baby and body knew what they were doing. I was not so sure at that time I could do it, though. I stood in my Kitchen at one point and cried. I asked my midwife that at any point she thought I could not do this please tell me! I was so scared of going thru hours of labor and just ending back up on the operating table. My midwife assured me things were going good. I got hugs and words of encouragement from both mymidwife and her asst. I then pulled myself together and continued to trust my body the best way I knew how. The back labor was the worse I got on hands and knees for a little while to try to deal with the back pain. My midwife offered to do sterile water injections in my back. It stung like crazy when she did it, but it was amazing my back labor was gone. I was back up walking, swinging my hips, and working with each contraction! Atabout 8:30pm I walked out the bathroom and said “I am done!” My midwife decided to check me at that point and rub primrose oil on my cervix. I was 9 cm but the baby was still up pretty high all during my labor the baby was switching from side to side. While my midwife rubbed primrose oil on my cervix she told me to bear down a little bit! As I bearded down I felt a little gush not even thinking of my water breaking I asked what that was and before she could get out of her mouth that my water was leaking my water broke everywhere. I got a little discouraged when I asked if the baby was posterior and she said yes!! She saw the look on my face and reassured me that babies turn in labor. Now that my water was broke the contractions got more intense! I told her I need to get up and back in the birthing tub. I felt like I was losing control and started telling my husband I can’t do this. I was thinking I had a few more hours of this and I could not do it. My midwife and her asst stepped out for a few togive me and my husband some space! As I continued to change positions in the birthing tub and bearing down I was arguing with my husband that I could not do this because I was not completely dilated and the baby was still up high. I was not even thinking about the different positions I was getting into or that I was bearing down. My body just really took over! My husband went and got my midwife to check me. She checked me and her eyes got big and she said, “Brandy the baby is right there feel.” I felt my babies head not even to the first joint of my finger! That is all I needed to hear. I sat up,pulled my legs back, and pushed with all my might! My midwives told me two more pushes and my baby would be here! I looked at her and said, “Really, it isalmost over?” She laughed and said “I would not lie to you.” My husband took apicture of the baby’s head and showed it to me. My midwife was squealing saying, “Look at all that dark hair, and look at what a good pusher she is.” She was just as excited as I was! I pushed again and my baby’s head crowned! I had never felt that before and it took my breath away for a min. I was flapping my arms and saying I can’t breathe. My midwife’s asst said, “Brandy slow your breathing you can breathe, you are talking!” LOL Then I realized she was right. I had to be breathing to be able to talk. The burning of my baby crowning was only there for a few seconds and I was ready to meet my baby. I pushed again and his whole head was born! I was waiting for another contraction to push again and my midwife and her asst starting counting. I was not real sure why they were counting for; but after a minute my midwife told me she wanted me to get out the water. I took her and my husband’s hand, stood up, and climbed out of the birthing tub with my baby’s head hanging out. LOL My midwife squatted down. I stood in a little bit of a squat, put my hands on her shoulders, took a deep breath, and just began to push when my baby came flying in to the world at 9:08pm. My Mother’s Day gift! I sat down on the side of the birthing tub as she handed him to me. I was in shock! I just sat there and looked at my baby, rubbing that sweet little head as my baby just studied my face. I kept saying, “We did it! We did it!” Then I realized, I had not even looked at the sex of my baby! I peeked and announced it was my Joshua Christian! After getting us all cleaned up, the biggest surprise came when he was weighed. My little man was 11lbs 4ozs! My biggest baby yet! I am not broke! I can deliver the babies that my body grows!! I cannot put into words how grateful I am for my loving and patient midwife and her asst. Without them believing in me even when I did not believe in myself I could not be writing this birth story!! Joshua’s birth was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned that I have more strength and patience then I ever thought was possible!!

 

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“A Doula Story”–Be on the Lookout!

A few months ago, I was contacted by a production company, The Kindling Group, about a documentary film they created about a doula working with pregnant teens in a disadvantaged neighborhood.  Being a doula in training myself, and recognizing how important doulas are for all moms who want them, I was very excited to view this film.  I was very impressed with the main subject, Loretha’s, dedication to helping these young mothers–preparing them for childbirth and beyond, empowering them in their relationships with their care providers, in the labor room, with breastfeeding and as they become mothers.  Many of us have firsthand experience with how a doula can help a woman on that transition from pregnancy to labor to mothering, and perhaps many more young teen moms would benefit from having doulas available to them.

From The Kindling Group:

A Doula Story documents one woman’s fierce committment to empower pregnant teenagers with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident nurturing mothers.  A woman of remarkable magnetism and complexity, Loretha Weisinger returns to the same disadvantaged neighborhood where she once struggled as a teen mom.  She uses compassiona nd humor to teach the young mothers-to-be about everything from the importance of breastfeeding and reading to their babies to the practical details of communicating effectively with health care professionals.

Teenage pregnancy is a fact of American life.  Nearly 10 percent of births in this country are to teens, many of them poor, uneducated and alone.  A community doula (from the Greek word for birth attendant) for more than 10 years, Loretha knows that pregnant teens need guidance and education, not judgment or pity.  In the face of overwhelming challenges–from absentee fathers and drug addiction to the disparagement of society–doulas are making a differnce in the futures of young mothers and their babies.

A Doula Story is available now from The Kindling Group directly on DVD, but will be released for purchase more widely via Netflix, hulu, etc. this fall.

Micaela’s VBAC

Two years ago this month, my older son, M. was born. He came into the world via a necessary, though unanticipated, cesarean birth. His birth left my husband and I feeling fairly traumatized and uncertain if we would be willing to take a gamble on another birth experience. I initially felt like I would be too scared to try again for a vaginal birth, but, over time, became more and more certain that if we were to have another child, I wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). My primary motivations for wanting a VBAC were twofold: 1) I wanted to be able to come home from the hospital and actively parent my toddler (and this seemed like it would be exceedingly difficult while recovering from surgery), and, 2) I wanted to have a healing experience that would leave me feeling confident about my body and about birth.

Once we decided we felt comfortable going through birth again, I started thinking about assembling my team. I knew that it would take a village to have a non-surgical birth. I started attending the VBAC/C-section support group at BABS more regularly. I also met with a local OB who I had heard was very VBAC-friendly. I decided I liked him and that we could make this happen. We conceived and began making plans.

Our Birth Team: We hired a fantastic doula – one who had experience with lots of kinds of births, including VBACs. I met with her, early on, to try and decide if we wanted to have a hospital or home birth and she gave me great advice. She told me that the most important thing was to be in the place I felt safest. For me, that was the hospital, so that’s what we decided to do. I also knew I wanted to labor at home until I was in active labor. Although I wasn’t worried too much about uterine rupture,*** I was concerned enough that I knew I’d be nervous laboring at home by myself. My doula helped me set up an agreement with a local direct entry midwife where she was on call to come to our home during labor to listen to heart tones and check my progress, if I wanted. Just knowing she could listen to the baby’s heart made me feel very safe laboring at home (heart tones are often the indicator that a UR is happening).

With our OB, doula, and backup midwife all accounted for, my husband and I felt like we had the perfect birth team. But I also knew I still had a lot of physical and emotional work to do before the birth of our second child.

Physical Preparations: As I had in my first pregnancy, I went to prenatal yoga at BABS at least twice a week throughout my pregnancy. I also saw a chiropractor that regularly works with pregnant women, Dr. Brandon Osmon. This time, I saw him earlier and more often than I had in my first pregnancy. Once again, I had an anterior placenta, meaning that I would be very likely to have a posterior baby (for more info about how baby’s position can affect birth, visit spinningbabies.com). So I knew that I needed to make as much room as possible in my pelvis for this baby to turn and get into the right position during labor.

Near the end of my pregnancy, I also did multiple sessions of craniosacral therapy with Melissa Larimer and Molly McDonald. They are both gifted practitioners and I am convinced that their work is what helped my son move into a better position for birth. They also helped me with my emotional work, helping me process through some of the trauma from M’s birth that I was still holding in my body.

Emotional Preparations: Not everyone who has a surgical birth is traumatized by it, but I sure was. Additionally, we had been very worried about M’s safety during my labor, and I was very fearful as I thought about going through anything like that again. At my doula’s suggestion, I met several times with a counselor (Rosie Falls from Bloomingfamilies) who really helped me work through the trauma from my first birth. She helped me think about turning points, things I wanted to do differently, trigger points that might bother me during this next birth, and so much more.

And, of course, how could I forget my dear husband? He was 100% on board from the beginning with our decision to try for a VBAC. He listened to a lot of processing, worrying, second-guessing, reading aloud from websites, and more during our pregnancy.

Finally, I had to get my head in the right place. I read several books that helped me – mostly because they had stories from other women who had tried for VBACs (some who had had VBACs and others who had to have repeat c-sections). I also spent a lot of time talking with my unborn baby. I told him that I was going to do everything in my power to keep him safe and I asked him to do what he needed to do to be born. I really saw this birth as a joint effort between the two of us – something I hadn’t really considered the first time I was pregnant.

As the arrival of our baby approached, I would often vacillate between being sure I’d have a VBAC and certain everything would go wrong….I’d usually change my mind 3-5 times a day. Ultimately, I felt like it would just be what it would be. I knew going into the birth that there would be factors I could control and factors I couldn’t and make a conscious decision to simply do everything I could to make the controllable factors work for me. I also reminded myself over and over again that my chances of having a non-surgical birth this time around were virtually identical to what they had been during my first labor – 75%. Those are pretty good odds.

The Birth: After months of preparation, I was thrilled when I finally went into labor just a few days after my due date. Once labor began, I mostly stopped thinking about this birth being a VBAC. Instead, I felt like any other woman working to bring her baby into the world. The only time I thought about it was when the contractions got extremely difficult to manage and I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this. It hurts too much. Maybe I could just have a c-section and this would all be over.” That’s when I knew I needed to have an epidural. I had always been a big supporter of having a drug-free birth, but I wasn’t ashamed to use all the tools at my disposal to get to the goal of having a non-surgical birth. After about 24 hours of laboring (mostly at home) with the epidural giving me some much needed rest I was able to begin pushing our son into the world. Since I hadn’t pushed at all with our older son, I was absolutely over-the-moon to be finally experiencing this part of childbirth. After a few hours of pushing, we welcomed our son to the world. Weighing in at just over 10 pounds, he looked like he was about 6 weeks old already! As the doctor placed him on my chest, my husband and I both cried tears of joy and he said to me, “You did it. You really did it.” And I thought, “No, we did it. This was a team effort from beginning to end.”

Sometimes – no, all the time, I think – it takes a village to birth a child. If you are preparing to give birth it is my hope that you will find your village and move together towards a birth that helps you feel empowered and supported as you become a mother.

————

***Uterine rupture is the thing most folks are worried about when they opt to (or are forced to) have a scheduled repeat cesarean. UR is less likely when the scar is low-transverse (as mine is and most are these days). UR can be a total rupture (which can have serious implications for baby and mama – including infant death and emergency hysterectomy), but it can also be a simple pulling of the scar that has no effects on baby or mother. Stats about the likelihood of UR vary based on all kinds of variables. There is a great chart here with more numbers than you can shake a stick at. In really simple, non-numerical terms, I reminded myself that while the chance of UR was higher for me as a woman with a scarred uterus, it was still VERY low compared to many other dangerous things that could happen to any mother/baby during labor (including placental abruption, cord prolapse, and shoulder dystocia – see info here).

New study shows no difference in neonatal mortality for vaginal delivery of early preterm vertex babies versus cesarean deliveries

A new study released in ACOG’S reports showed no increased neonatal mortality for vaginally delivered preterm infants who were in the vertex position at the time of delivery. Additionally, 84% of the 79% of women who attempted a vaginal delivery were successful.

The abstract as well as links to the full study are available here: http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(12)00636-9/abstract

Sarah’s HBA2C

Background:
My first cesarean was a result of lack of education completely. I put my full trust in my OB and never questioned a thing. It was an elective cesarean at the OB’s prompting as a result of the baby’s size. I remember her discussing concerns with me about the baby being too big, getting stuck, shoulder dystocia, 4th degree tears, and such. That was enough to scare this uneducated, first time mom. The cesarean was an awful experience. I don’t remember meeting my baby or breastfeeding, did not bond for quite some time, and I had hives for two weeks from some medicine I was given for the surgery. My baby was 10lbs 4oz and 21.5 inches long.

My second cesarean was not supposed to be. I was planning a VBAC at a local hospital with a midwife who worked in a group practice. At 41w4d I was still pregnant and had gone in for another BPP and NST, baby looked good. The OB stripped my membranes to try to get things going and suggested that if things didn’t get going that night then I should come in the next afternoon to see if I would be favorable to have my water broken. I was up half the night with contractions but then went to sleep so I would be rested. Things slowed. The next day I was packing my bag to go into the hospital when I got a phone call from my midwife. By this point my contractions were regular again but not intense. The midwife talked to me for a minute then says that one of the OBs wanted to talk with me. (The OB in the practice who has a known reputation of no supporting VBAC’s and being c-section happy. I was actually told by the midwife to avoid her, so I did. This was our first interaction.) She proceeds to tell me that she is the OB on call for the weekend, to her my pregnancy ended at 39 weeks, and I no longer had options at their hospital. If I showed up, they would just perform the cesarean. Of coarse, I knew I could not be forced to a cesarean against my will but I was irate over the phone call. I honestly did not know what to do. I was not prepared to fight every second for my VBAC – everyone had been supportive until then. I ended up driving to another city in search of someone to support my VBAC, literally last minute. It didn’t happen. I was not prepared mentally to fight so I had my second cesarean that day with an OB I did not know, at a hospital that I had never been to. He was 9lbs 15oz and 21.5inches long. The cesarean itself was better than my first, physical recovery was easy but my emotional recovery was extremely difficult. There were so many tears and I didn’t like talking about it. Not to mention, there were not exactly many people I could talk to because no one understood. I mean, why was I upset since I had a healthy baby? I felt angry, abandoned, sad, everything. Two months postpartum I knew if I ever got pregnant again I would never go near a hospital. My husband happily agreed. I am sure it was not easy for him to see me crying so much. I attended my first ICAN meeting around that time and was finally able to tell my story to people who understood. Over a year after my second cesarean I was pregnant, on the road toward a home birth.

My HBA2C:
I woke up around 2am Saturday(May 12th), with contractions coming approximately every 3 minutes. I timed them for a while and then decided to contact my doula. Unsure of what was going on, she decided to come over and I continued laboring. I laid back down to try to rest more before the sun came up. I was able to sleep some in between contractions. When morning came we called our babysitter. Our boys left and I ate some breakfast. I labored during the morning and about 10am my midwife showed up and my contractions started slowing. She suggested Billy & I go for a walk so we started walking up and down our road. Things were not picking up and we came back inside. I went to lay down in bed to keep from exhausting myself since things seemed to be stalling. I felt disappointed. As a VBAC mom I just felt like my body was failing or something. I laid in bed listening to music and a praise song came on and it said, “my whole word is caving in but I feel you now more than I did then. How can I come to the end of me and somehow still have all I need? God I want to know you more, this is how it starts…I find you when I fall apart.” It hit me hard because I felt like everything was falling apart. I had wanted this VBAC for over 2 years and I knew at that moment that it was out of my control but in God’s control. 

 

 VBAC

 

Around 1pm, my midwife and I decided to do a cervical check just to see what was going on. She checked me and at first I was 3cm. However, that was only because I tensed up – when I relaxed I was actually 7-8cm. (Note: I only learned this after labor! For the longest time I thought I was only at 3 at that point! Funny now, not funny then!) We decided to strip my membranes to see if everything would start moving along more consistently. Also, my cervix was still a bit posterior. After an hour or 2 my labor picked up again. Then next 8 hours are a complete blur. I was in the birth pool, out of the pool, leaning on a bench, hanging off DH, to the bathroom, back in the pool. One vivid moment I remember was laboring in the pool and listening to music. I was in between contractions and singing along to the Matthew West song “Strong Enough.” I staring at my doula and singing, “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength.” Those lyrics gave me strength for quite some time. At some point my contractions began getting very strong on my back. Billy, my doula, and friend took turns and had to constantly be at my side for rubbing my back and applying counter pressure. It seemed that I was in transition for hours upon hours. I felt something was stalling me again and I was dealing with exhaustion. At times my legs lacked the energy to stand. I remember telling my doula that I didn’t feel like things were progressing.
About 11:00pm we decided to do another cervical check to figure out what was happening. Turns out my doula and midwife both were suspecting a cervical lip. I went to lay in bed for the check.  I felt I could not cope with contractions laying in bed. I was 9-9.5cm, bag of water still intact, with a cervical lip, and the baby moved at some point during labor and was now asynclitic. We decided to move the lip, then break my water, and possibly try to realign the baby correctly. This was the hardest part of my labor and it felt like it lasted forever. I endured at least 15+ contractions during that cervical check, laying on my side/back in my bed. (Being confined to the bed at that point made me realize later on why an epidural would be appealing for someone confined to a bed laboring in the hospital.) After my midwife was done she had went back upstairs and I laid in bed for a few more contractions. I was waiting for a break before I got up to get back in the pool. Billy & my friend stayed with me. My doula left the room to go pump.  As I experienced those last contractions on the bed I felt like I needed to push. I was laying on my side…felt like the baby was going to shoot out but I was so tired I couldn’t even lift my leg to ease that feeling. As soon as I got up I had a hard contraction and by body threw itself into a squatting position beside the bed. My doula came back and I made it a few feet and another hard one hit me and I squatted next to the couch. My midwife heard that one, hung up from her phone call, and came down the stairs. I finally made it to the tub and my midwife was asking if those pushes were involuntary – my doula said yes and I gave a quick head nod.
I was in the tub and I was on my knees, sort of squatting, and my body was completely in control pushing him out. Wildest feeling ever. It finally hit me at that point. I realized my VBAC was happening. It was reality. I also quickly realized that this was the part everyone says is painful but I didn’t care. My body was working hard. And soon I was able to feel him coming. Billy was feeling him come out which was amazing. He was giving everyone the play by play…he would tell us that he could feel his ears, nose, and even his tongue sticking out. Those were amazing moments – I could see and hear the excitement from Billy and I felt so focused and in control. I actually enjoyed pushing! I breathed through the pushes to keep things going slowly. Finally at 1:14am, May 13th, he appeared in the water and Billy caught him with tears in his eyes and he and placed him in my arms.

 VBAC2

 

I began nursing and shortly after I delivered the placenta in the tub without much effort. (It was huge!) Also, the cord was 3 feet long with a true knot.  I got out of the tub, got cleaned, and into bed. I relaxed in bed while the newborn check was being done. Billy made me a smoothie and fed me a bowl of cereal. About 2 hours after he was born Billy cut his cord and I fell asleep in the middle of it all.

 VBAC3

 

 

I delivered a 9lb 8oz and 22inch long baby with an intact perineum. I got a small cut on my labia but nothing that needed any care. Best of all, my sweet boy Eli came to me early morning of Mother’s Day. I am so blessed and thankful to God for such a gift!

ICAN Support Webinar August 3, 2012

Please join us for a free online support Webinar, Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9 PM Eastern. These meetings are a great place to share your story, connect with other moms who understand and help others on their own journeys as well.  To register, please click the following link: http://IntlCesarean.enterthemeeting.com/m/RSL9CJFA

Hope to see you there!

Abigail’s VBA3C with a fused sacrum and a softball sized fibroid

~The birth of Ava Sophia, A VBA3C~

You know that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Yep, that one.  I’ve gone over that saying so many times in my head.  Am I crazy?  Why do I even want this so badly?  Am I willing to go through hours and hours, maybe days, of labor to possibly end up with another c-section?  I could, and according to about 99% of Obstetricians, should have scheduled a c-section anyway.

I don’t know if I’m crazy so much as really, really stubborn.  I wanted this “natural birth” in 1996, 14 years ago.  That plan was foiled when my teeny baby girl stopped moving in utero and had to be cut out of me.  It felt more like a tumor removal than a birth.  I was terrified there was something wrong with my baby but the doctor reassured me that I would be able to wear a bikini after the surgery because the incision would be low.  Sweet relief.  My troubles were over!  (Try to keep up, that’s sarcasm!)  Yep, that was my welcome to motherhood.  Sitting alone in that postpartum room pumping milk like crazy listening to other babies crying in the rooms next to me, while I had to wheel myself down the hall to visit my little girl.

In 1999, I almost got my “natural birth”, but after contracting for 5 days and reaching 9 cm, my cervix swelled and I was absolutely at my limit.  I consented to c-section…firing my doctor in the process (He acted like a jerk the whole time I was in labor…all 12 hours it took for me to get from 6 to 9 cm)  Anyone else would have done the same thing in my situation.  The new doc who came to actually do the surgery told me that my pelvis was shaped like a “funnel” and I would never birth vaginally.  So I guess my diagnosis was ‘failure to progress’ due to ‘cephalopelvic disproportion or CPD’.

I never paid any attention to that.  Doctors do and always will misdiagnose…some more than others, they are human and humans make mistakes, doctors are no exception.  I wish I had a dollar for every time a woman has had a c-section for a “big” baby and then VBACed an even bigger baby.

I didn’t make great choices for my next birth in 2005.  I was very distrustful of OBs and hospitals.  I decided that I would attempt a homebirth (An HBA2C).  I was due Christmas day and hired a couple of midwives that I really didn’t feel 100% comfortable with.  I just didn’t know of anyone else who was going to attend a VBA2C.  It ended unfavorably.  I started contracting on the 19th and kept going and going and going…just like the last time.  On the 22nd I had reached my limit and was so exhausted, emotional, devastated.  Upon realizing I wasn’t going to get the support I needed from my midwives, I reluctantly headed to the hospital, hoping for some intervention to help me birth.  Unfortunately, the on-call OB gave me no choice and told me I had to have a CBA2C.  So, I did what I knew I had to do and asked for an AMA (against medical advice) form and went back home.  I continued laboring through the night and the next day around noon, surrendered, decided I was done and went back to the hospital to meet my precious little girl.

In 2009, I find out that I’ve had a fused sacrum my whole life.  In other words, my sacrum won’t move.  My pelvis is still normal in the front, but birthing for me is a whole other ball game.  Labor will probably be longer and more painful. That had already proven to be true.

I felt a little robbed.  Whatever.  The only thing that information changed was that it gave me validation for what I’d been through.  No wonder my labors were so long.  No wonder I haven’t been able to get a baby through!  I’m not having any more babies anyway.

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I’m pregnant.  (bet you didn’t see that coming!)

I’m pregnant and I cannot, no way, no how, can I just schedule a c-section.  It’s not in me.  No matter how I look at it, no matter how much easier it would be, I just can’t bring myself to be ok with it.  I can’t even say it out loud.  Just thinking it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

Ok.  I probably am a little crazy…or a lot, when it comes to birth.

I’m at a crossroads.  I want a homebirth so badly I can taste it but knowing what I know, I feel like I’m going to need an intervention beyond the capabilities of a midwife.  I met a wonderful OB at an ICAN meeting some months before becoming pregnant.  He was warm and kind and very human (not doctor-ish at all) and he said to me “you’ll have another baby”.  At that time, even though I wasn’t planning to, I knew if I ever did, I would go and see him.

I’ve slept through the whole pregnancy.  At 29 weeks I had an ultrasound that showed a smallish, golf-ball sized fibroid right in the front of my uterus.  I’ve got so much built-up anxiety about this birth.

My “due date” is June 12, and while I’m not afraid to start labor, I’m afraid it will never end.  I’ll be in labor forever.  I really, kind of, believe that this baby will not make it out of my vagina.  I did start having contractions on the 11th but ignored them as long as I could.  On the 12th, I went and ate crab legs (contracting about every 3 minutes…probably 60 seconds long), went to the park with the kids, bending over a picnic table every few minutes.  They continued to beat me down, well into the night.  I’m handling things, but start thinking about the length of time it has taken me to get from point A to point B in my previous labors…oh wait, I never made it to point B, at least not on my own.

Now I’m beginning to feel foolish.  Its 2-3am and I can’t sleep.  I’d rather someone poke me in the eye with a hot needle than lay down or recline.  I’m really beginning to doubt myself.  I had to have a good cry…whine to my husband a little.  He hugged me and loved me as only he can and I decided to suck it up, wipe my tears and get myself together.  No matter how I looked at it, my baby would be here in the next couple of days.

I did some belly lifts and made and intricate arrangement of pillows on my bed so that I could take an ambien and sleep in as close to the hands-and-knees position as I could get.  I used a long thin heated rice sock under my belly and a large square one on my low back.  I guess I slept some because I had really weird dreams…maybe more like hallucinations.  I was in Alice in Wonderland.  There were bombs planted all around me and when they went off, I had really strong contractions.  I got up quickly and practically ran out of my room to get away from the “bombs”.

It was morning and I must have totally relaxed allowing my baby to move into the optimal position because the contractions were coming hard and fast.  I was able to check my cervix and realized that I was dilating and my mucus plug was dislodging.  A couple of hours later, I was already at about 3 cm.  I was excited but not too excited because I couldn’t really allow myself to focus on much more than the contractions.

I wanted to go ahead and head towards the hospital, yes, at only 3 cm.  It was a 45 minute drive (the doctor made it worth it!) and I didn’t want to be in the car during transition…even though I was still technically in “early labor”.  I went by my chiropractor’s house to get a quick adjustment.  I know that she thinks I’m crazy for going so early in labor.  I had to sit on my nursing pillow because it was so uncomfortable for me to just sit on the seat.

I waddled up to the nurses station at the hospital, get checked into a room and the nurse tells me that MY doctor is not on call.

Um.  The other doctor will give me a c-section.  I’ll just wait for him to call me back.

He’s not answering his phone.  He was at the hospital 36 hours yesterday with another VBAC.

We will leave if he doesn’t call back.  But I know he will call back so I’ll just wait.

The nurse is “ok” with me waiting because after checking my cervix (which seems to be in my throat) she assessed that I am still in “early labor” and at 3 cm.  She asked me if I had a birth plan.  I said “my birth plan is to VBAC, that is all.”  She set me up with a heparin lock and put me on the monitors for a 20 minute strip.  When she left the room, I ate a protein bar.  My doula and birth photographer arrived and I went and walked/squatted in the hallway.

The nurse called me back in the room, my doctor was on the phone.  He asked if I wanted to leave the hospital and go labor elsewhere.  Ummm, no.  I really don’t want to go.  I really want to stay.  I really don’t think I can handle leaving and coming back.  These contractions are really strong and long and on top of one another.  He said “ok” and he’d be up later.

My doula raised the bed into what looked like a throne to me.  I started quoting Alice in Wonderland…being the Red Queen.  “I need a pig here!” “I like a warm pig belly for my aching feet.”   She pushed my knees toward my sacrum during contractions…It felt wonderful!

My contractions started spacing out a bit, and were perfectly manageable.  This was the nicest labor ever!  I got up a few times to go to the bathroom having a couple of contractions en route and on the toilet.  My doula became concerned that I was losing steam and labor was slowing down.  She suggested I leave the hospital to labor or take a nap.  I was NOT leaving.  Not now.  She and my photographer went to get something to eat and my hubby took over the knee presses.  I ate a honey stick and kept cracking jokes.  This was so easy!  I took a trip to the toilet and decided to check my cervix.  WHOA!  This was different!  It was actually opening…a lot!  Soft, slimy, at least 5-6 cm and my bag of waters were bulging out.  I hurried back to my throne.  The nurse came in and checked me and SAID I WAS AT 7cm and gone from -3 station to -1 station!!!  I’d been at the hospital for about 3 hours!  This was probably the happiest moment I’ve had in a very long time.  I was ELATED!  I started to tear up and told the nurse “You have no idea what this means to me!”

About an hour later, my wonderful doctor walks in and says “you were 7 an hour ago; I thought you might be complete by now.”  I’m thinking, How do you know I’m not?…

At that moment, a contraction came on fast and furious.  It only seemed to last a second and then fizzled out really quickly.  It felt very different and made me nauseous.  I said “Ew, that was weird.  That one just made me want to puke.”  I was ready to start pushing and my doctor knew it.  He said “keep it up” and left the room.

I started to feel kind of drunk.  Everything is getting hazy.  Contractions just shifted gears and made me feel HOT, sweaty, and sick to my stomach.  I made lots of references to Alice in Wonderland and continued making jokes even though I was feeling so weird.

I got in all kinds of positions to push.  I followed the directions of my doula but wasn’t really loving pushing.  I was in on my hands and knees and a contraction started that really hurt, I guess it was the pressure because all of a sudden my water exploded all over the bed.  I laughed because this is probably one of the coolest things that have ever happened to me.  It was a huge victory to have my water break all on its own.  It felt awesome to have all of it gushing out.  Now I could focus my energy into making the water move from my body and know I was pushing in the right place.

Also, just to clarify, these contractions hurt, they sucked, and I only pushed because it felt better than not pushing, but I did NOT like it.

My doula instructed me to get into the ‘dangle’ position.  The bed is up as a chair and my husband sat in the chair.  I get to wrap my arms around his legs and hang limp, letting my lower body completely relax during contractions.  YUCK!  This felt AWFUL, so it must be getting the baby down, right?  I got suckered into doing that for 5 contractions.  There were more Alice in Wonderland references for this one since it looked like I was doing the ‘futterwacken dance’.  I told my doula “This is the best birth you’ve ever been to!” then I though about that for a second and added “Today, anyway.”  I guess the pain made me goofy.

The baby had been having some heart decelerations and my doctor wanted to see where her head was.  I was up on the squat bar when he checked me.  It HURT!  He informed me that my cervix was high and around the baby’s face.  She wouldn’t be born if I wasn’t able to move it down around her head.  Great.  I had to lean over the squat bar, facing the bed, do a pelvic tilt and push to save my life during the next set of contractions.  It felt like I was doing this forever because it hurt so bad that the endorphins must have really kicked in.  I felt like I was floating.  I flipped around to face the other way on the bar and kept pushing.  All of a sudden there was a mention of oxygen and people started moving fast.  I heard “lay on your left side!” “Wait!” (I’m in the middle of a contraction. I can’t move.) I was quickly thrown onto my side anyway and my leg lifted up.  Baby’s heart rate came back up, but that really sucked!

At this point, I’m in and out of half-asleep mode.  Things are really hurting, I’m working so hard and everyone starts saying “it’s time to really start working now.”  WHAT?  I’m working harder than I ever have in my life!! I’ve got my eyes shut and even though my doula told me to open them, I kept them shut.  I couldn’t focus on pushing with my eyes open.  Everyone starts saying “PUSH!” “I AM pushing!”  I honestly don’t know how this could get harder.

It did.  A lot.  The nurse starts reciting my baby’s heart rate with each contraction.  That can’t be good.  My doula got a towel for me to pull on while I push…to help the head move under my pubic bone.  That took so much concentration, and strength.  And it didn’t even work.

My doctor says “Abbey, I might have to use forceps to help the baby come down.”  I said “ok, do what you have to do” I really didn’t care, I wanted to be DONE.  I asked him if he’d have to cut an episiotomy and he reassured me that he hardly ever does them and no, just because he was using forceps, didn’t mean he would.

Of course, it wasn’t going to be over until it got even harder.  I was instructed to NOT push for 3 contractions.  Yes, in other words, eternity. (This was to give the baby oxygen before her descent through and out the birth canal.) After all I’d done to make it to this point; I honestly didn’t know if I could just DO NOTHING for a few minutes.  I started to hyperventilate and was told to slow my breathing…oh yeah…I forgot that I was breathing.  OK…that’s done…what’s next?

Somebody says “it’s time to really start working now.”  Who said that?  If I wasn’t completely incapacitated I would be in a very lively argument with that person right now.  But I can’t think straight, can’t see straight, not even sure I’m still in my body.

My doctor put in a quick catheter to drain my bladder before a contraction starts and he positions the forceps.  Push through the pain has a whole new meaning to me.  I cannot begin to describe the power and force, the inhuman strength it took to do what I was doing.  I needed everyone yelling “push!” to keep me going.  That contraction ended and the forceps were removed.  The baby’s head is under my pubic bone and I feel tons of pressure.

The baby’s head is down and I have another contraction.  One of the nurses started counting and I yelled at her “no counting”…she says “then you have to push”…I say “I am!”  Everyone is yelling at me.  “Push through the pain!”  “Push her out!”   “Grab your legs!”  “NO!”  “Wait!” “NO!”  I think my doula grabbed my hands and put them under my knees even though I needed just a second to catch my breath, there was no time.   My doula asked my doctor if I could touch the baby’s head and he replied “no, I need her to push”.  It was ok, I didn’t want to anyway.  I really didn’t care.  I just wanted it to end.    (The nurse is reciting the heart rate, in the 50’s and dropping)  My doctor tells my doula “I’m sorry, I have to do this” she tells me, “Abbey he’s going to cut an episiotomy” I say, “ok.  That’s fine.”  I have never been so ready for anything to be over in my life.

5:13 pm.   Suddenly, it was done.  It was probably the quietest moment of my life.  There was so much energy, so much force and then right at the moment of birth, it seemed so still, so quiet…it was time for me to rest.

I hear my doctor tell the nurses “nuchal cord x2 and tight body cord”

A few minutes pass, I felt like I’d just been hit by a truck.  My eyes are still closed and my doctor is working on my vagina… Whatever he is doing is awful.  He says, “Here comes your placenta.”  I was pretty much ignoring him, at least trying to.  He gets my attention, I look up at him and he says “Abbey, I’m holding onto your fibroid.”  Oh, that’s nice.  The placenta tore to pieces and his entire arm is inside me.  My fibroid is the size of a SOFTBALL!!!  The placenta had attached directly to it!  NO WONDER I had a hard time pushing her out!!!  (As soon as he was able, he drew a picture of what my uterus looked like with the fibroid and where the placenta was.  Unbelievable.

I am in disbelief and a bit of shock.  I laid there not able to sit up because I would have passed out…I couldn’t believe how light headed I was.  I think I had lost quite a bit of blood (because of the fibroid), but my doctor still didn’t require I take the routine pitocin after delivery since I had preferred not to.

Wow, that was hard and painful and certainly not intervention free.  But the interventions used, I was grateful for.  I still did it without pain medication!  I got my “natural birth”!!! It was not at all what it was ‘supposed’ to be like.  But I did it.  I FINALLY did it!  I have had a combined 250+ hours of contractions adding together my 3 attempts at VBAC.  This was a long time coming.  I could not be happier.  Nothing is going to steal my joy.  (Not even the hematoma I developed a week later and 3 weeks postpartum had to have surgically removed.  My anesthesia was a spinal.  The same kind used for c-sections. J)

I decided I’d better call my sister and tell her I’d had the baby.

She didn’t answer, but I left her a voicemail.  It went something like this:

“I just had a baby. Out of my VAGINA!!!!” I think I made a few more phone calls making that announcement.  I took great joy in saying those words!

Ok, so that wasn’t the ideal birth, and would probably be way more traumatic for lots of women than a c-section…but it was MY birth and like an ugly child with a face only a mother could love, I am so happy it was what it was.  I just had to do it…and according to my “birth plan”, I got everything I wanted.  I couldn’t be more thankful.

So maybe my new mantra will be, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.  That’s much better than the definition of “insanity.”

My photo slideshow can be viewed here..  http://www.dfwbirthphotographer.com/AvaSophia.html