Jill and William

March 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

My third baby was my surprise baby.  Upon discovering I was pregnant, I knew that this child must have a very special purpose because he was clearly meant to be!  I also knew that I would like to try for an unmedicated, vaginal birth this time – something I had not experienced with my first two babies. I was induced at 41 weeks with my first baby because my OB thought the baby would be too big…  Going against my gut, I agreed to the induction and ended up with a c-section after failure to progress past 5 centimeters.  With my second child, I was DETERMINED to have a vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC. After nearly 24 hours of very difficult labor and progressing to 7 centimeters, the baby’s heart rate began decelerating and the midwife recommended c-section.  That experience, while absolutely incredible and one of the highlights of my life, devastated me. I had tried so very, very hard to birth my baby naturally, and I didn’t understand at all what had gone wrong.

Now with my surprise baby number three, I had an opportunity to attempt a VBA2C, having found a fantastic OB and an incredibly knowledgeable and caring doula to support me. My goals for this birth were to have the best experience and healthiest outcome possible, to labor naturally and do everything I could to make the VBAC happen, and not to feel too disappointed by a repeat cesarean if that were the outcome.

My due date was March 29. On March 19, I woke up in the night to uncomfortable, labor-like contractions.  This was the start of five very tiring days of prodromal labor.  On the fifth day, as I was getting ready for bed around 10:30pm, I felt a familiar popping sensation in my uterus.  I thought for sure my membranes had ruptured at that moment, and I prepared for the amniotic fluid to begin flowing, but it didn’t.  I managed to fall asleep but awoke at 1:30am to a quick gush of fluid, and I knew then that I indeed had a ruptured membrane.

I labored in the bathroom by myself for two hours.  I belly danced while singing “Rabiosa” by Shakira to myself, which was really fun and surprisingly effective as an early labor coping technique!  At 3:30am, my husband DJ woke up and we went downstairs to gather the remainder of our hospital items and load the car.  I did a few light chores and began eating and drinking a lot in order to prepare my body for what was to come. Around 5:00am the contractions were ramping up and I listened to music and envisioned myself (I’m a group fitness instructor) teaching a really tough Zumba class during each contraction.  If I could get through the hardest Zumba class, I could get through just ONE of these contractions easily (ha! I find that visualization really funny now!).

I called our babysitter to come over.  I also called our doula, Sharon, because I was already starting to question when we should go to the hospital. Sharon assured us that it was too early.   Labor progressed, and I began relying on DJ’s presence and our Hypnosis for Birth practice to help me get through. I tried different labor positions but really only liked standing up or leaning over the bed.

No longer interested in talking much at this point, I had DJ call Sharon back and ask her and our midwife friend, Jane, to meet us at our house. One of my pie-in-the-sky wishes during my pregnancy was to hire a midwife who would agree to come to my house during labor to check me, monitor the baby, and provide advice about when to go to the hospital.  Sharon put me in touch with Jane, and Jane agreed to help with my rather unconventional request.

While waiting on Sharon and Jane to arrive, I felt the need to begin vocalizing during contractions and tried a new labor position – hugging DJ and slow dancing back and forth.  Oh my goodness – this felt incredible!  I was able to pull down on his neck/shoulders and let my bottom drop in a squat during really intense contractions, and feeling the support of his body was really nice.  This is the position we took for most of the duration of labor.  The intimacy we experienced was strong and comforting.

Around 9:30am, Sharon and Jane arrived. Jane checked me and I was at 4-5cm, and she stretched me to 6 (but said it would likely go back to 4-5).  She also swept my membranes to stir things up.  She listened to the baby’s heart and he sounded perfect.  He was moving up and down in my pelvis trying to find the ideal position for his head.  And he was in the Occiput Anterior (OA) position, which is exactly what I had been hoping for.  I was so HAPPY that things were going just how I wanted!

We went outside for a while, and on the way we passed my kids, who were curious about me.  I reassured them that I was okay and that the baby was coming.  They heard me vocalize during a contraction – and after that contraction subsided, they began mimicking me!  ”Ooooooooooooooohhh….” they said automatically and in unison.  It was pretty funny!

Jane checked me a couple of hours later and I was at 6 centimeters.  So excited – things were going so smoothly!  She said my labor was “textbook” so far!  I began feeling nauseous, and Sharon let me smell peppermint oil to help (which I loved!).  When I did vomit, it felt like the BEST THING EVER.   It was just a great release and I wanted to do it MORE (even though I didnt need to)!  Jane commented on my shaking body and said it was normal.  I hadn’t even realized I was shaking.

Now was the time to head to the hospital. I became very bold at this point and made it clear that I was READY TO GO and we needed to get going right now.  I was excited about moving forward.  I was hugely thankful to Jane before we left.  I loved having her and Sharon together at my house!  I can see why many women feel so comfortable birthing at home with a great midwife and doula support team!

We met Sharon at the hospital around noon and went to triage.  It was then that I sensed a change in energy of things – my feeling of being in a warm, welcoming, loving environment like I had felt at home changed to something a bit more unfriendly, cold, stoic.  The triage nurses didn’t seem particularly overjoyed to see me!  But I wasn’t bothered by that, of course – I simply observed it.

The contractions were very painful now, coming on strong, and sometimes back-to-back with no break in between.  I was expecting to be at or close to transition but planned on delaying any cervical checks for as long as possible.

Once in our room, I felt like I needed to poop.  I knew I was not feeling the urge to push – it truly was the need to poop, or to expel gas.  I made the mistake of saying aloud, “I need to poop”.  The nurse said, “You feel the need to poop? Okay, honey, we really do need to check you now.”  Realizing my mistake, I replied, ”Oh, it was just gas…” But for whatever reason, I let her check my cervix.

This is where things started to go downhill.  The nurse told me I was dilated to only 4 centimeters.  I was stunned.  I looked at DJ, then at Sharon, asking, “Four centimeters? Four centimeters?” I was so disappointed.  Jane said I had been at 6 centimeters a couple of hours ago – and now I’m at just 4???  Sharon tried to reassure me that the checks are subjective – different sized fingers measure differently – and that she didn’t believe the nurse.  I tried to put that out of my mind… and honestly, I think with my the next contraction, it WAS out of my “thinking” mind, because all you can think about during a contraction is getting through that very moment. But subconsciously, I think that this cervical check had a pretty negative impact.

At some point in all of this, the OB on duty (not my OB of choice) came in. I sensed more of that impersonal, unemotional energy.  I secretly hoped that a more smiley, enthusiastic OB would come on duty soon!

Sharon suggested I get into the bathtub. I had a viscerally negative reaction to being in there.  I felt the need to vomit again in the tub, the pain increased a lot, and I did not enjoy the heat and moisture.  I told DJ that I wasn’t sure I could do this anymore – I was thinking of the epidural.  He and Sharon both reminded me just to take it one contraction at a time, and just to get through this part, and said that I was approaching transition.

I labored for a bit longer, but soon began having negative thoughts like I don’t EVER want to go through this again! and I want this to be OVER!   In hindsight, I don’t know where this negativity came from, as I had been looking forward to this journey so much and had been preparing myself both mentally and physically to endure even a very difficult labor (which this was not!).  I am a naturally optimistic person. I had talked such a big game during pregnancy about being pro-natural childbirth and anti-epidural. I had considered myself to be tough and had planned to FIGHT for my VBAC!  Now, here I was in the thick of a beautiful, healthy labor… and I wanted out.  It makes no sense to me now. I am disappointed with myself for having had these thoughts, for opting for the easy road… because maybe I could have had the birth of my dreams if I had been stronger, if I had just kept going naturally.

Instead, I told DJ again that I did not want to do this any longer.  After six days now of contractions, my body was just fed up with feeling pain. I told him that I didn’t care if I ended up with another c-section (*cringe!*) – and that I just wanted to be done with this and wanted to see my baby, and to please don’t talk me down from the epidural anymore.

I received the epidural and was dilated to 6 centimeters, and the OB said the baby was now OP (not the best news!). Sharon was awesome, though – she suggested positions for me to get into to flip him back to OA, which ultimately was successful.

I had the epidural in for about 6 hours, and for several of those hours we were on heart deceleration alert for my baby.  The OB was great about communicating with me about this, though, and I could tell that she was trying hard to help me achieve my VBAC while keeping the baby safe. My opinion of her changed now.  She seemed very compassionate and honest with me.  This felt different than my previous two labors, where the doctor/midwife basically said, “Okay, heart rate is dropping, let’s do a c-section!”.  I was so thankful that this doctor was more open with me.

Next cervical check – dilated to 8 cm.  I was given an oxygen mask, and a fetal scalp monitor was inserted as a last effort to overcome the heart decelerations issue. It was good to see dilation progress, but at this point I felt sure that I would be having another c-section.  I began to cry about that, but still felt a sense of peace and calm, happy about having had a good experience so far.  Sharon tried to remind me that we had not reached the end yet and that a c-section was not inevitable at this point, but I knew what was going to happen.

An hour later, the OB checked me again. I had not progressed past 8 cm for some time and the heart decelerations were not improving.  Who knows how much longer it would take for me to dilate to 10cm, and then to push… She recommended c-section, as I had expected.  I was disappointed, but so excited to meet my baby and to move on to the next chapter.

I was a little nervous about the c-section, and felt myself getting slightly nauseous and dizzy as they prepped me for surgery – as if I were fading out a bit.  But I held it together and tried to stay mentally sharp and focused during the operation.  I began humming songs to myself – “Heart of Life” by John Mayer.  Then, I tried thinking of another song to sing.  The ONLY song, of the millions of songs out there, that I could think of was “Scream and Shout” by Will.i.am and Britney Spears.  LOL!  So I hummed that one just to keep up my positive energy.

William David was born at 9:00pm.  Will’s first cry was the most beautiful sound, and my heart was leaping with joy when I heard it!  I could not WAIT to hold my new little love!  DJ brought him over within minutes of his birth and put him skin to skin on my chest, and he stopped crying. I held a blanket overhead to shield us from the bright lights.  I repeated over and over how much I loved Will, and how thankful I was to God for this precious gift.  I was a very, very happy mama with the most beautiful, healthy little boy to love!

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Entry filed under: Birth, Cesarean, Hospital, VBAC. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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