You know what, I just love it when a woman says, "YES I CAN" when it comes to birthing her baby. These days there is a lot of hate for the mama who dares go "overdue" and this one birthed safely both postdates and as a VBAC. Good for her for knowing what she was capable of. Love it! And what an inspiration for other VBAC mamas.
|Picture from sodahead.com|
To tell this story I have to start with my first birth. I knew I wanted a natural birth so I went to a local birth center for care through midwives. They were supportive and amazing and had a wonderful birth center and I was so excited to use it! I remember going on the tour and picking out my room. At 40 weeks we laughed about a stubborn baby.
At 41 weeks we were given the talk about how after 42 weeks we would not be able to use the birth center, but that was okay we could have our natural birth at the close hospital and they do that all the time. At 42 weeks we scheduled my induction… 42+4 I was induced and after 36 hours of labor where every part of my birth plan went out the window my 10lb4oz son was born via a c-section. And I was devastated.
And I swore I’d never give birth in a hospital again.
Fast forward to 15 months later and me finding out I was pregnant again. A thrilled and happy surprise but a scary one: I had still not accepted my scars from my first birth and soon I would have to do it all over again. I found an awesome home birth midwife covered by my insurance company in network no less. She assured me from day 1 I’d have a great homebirth.
I felt comfortable with her care. I picked out an amazing doula to support me during labor. And then at 20 weeks my midwife got a call that the nursing board was suspending her license and she had to stop practicing ASAP. I was told I could wait and see the result of a hearing a month away or I could find new care.
I instantly began to hunt for new care. In my area there are very few CNM options and none of the CNM options left would perform a home birth VBAC. I started to look into CPMs and again found most would not perform a home birth VBAC. Thankfully I found an amazing midwife who took me on as a client and said “VBAC? No problem. 10lb baby? No problem. Overdue? No problem”.
I loved her.
I gladly drove the hour to hour and a half each way to visit her for each appointment. As my due date got closer we all got more and more anxious: would this baby come on time? At 40 weeks we joked the baby would come tomorrow because it was the worst possible day. At 41 weeks I went to my appointment trying to smile but they knew I was tired. At 42 weeks I broke down and said “I’m cooked, what do I do to get this baby out?” I’d tried just about everything… everything but Castor oil which we all know is a last resort.
I knew plenty of people who had used it successfully and even my midwife herself said the same however online people said things about how intense and quick their labors were and how bad the stomach issues were. I went back and forth and back and forth for the entire week about the Castor oil and decided that Friday night I would give it a shot. I tried all other natural methods of getting this baby out first but sadly, nothing worked.
At my last midwife appointment we agreed it was time for this baby to come out. He was low and positioned great and I was dilating and effacing so things were heading in the right direction. I left with the mindset that the next day I would be meeting my baby.
After my appointment I went to Target for some last minute supplies, I got home and my husband and I decided that we would go out and get dinner instead of worrying about cooking. In the car ride home from getting dinner I started having contractions and was hopefully they would turn into labor and maybe I wouldn’t be taking the Castor oil after all! I took a nap on the couch from about 830 to 930 and of course during said nap my contractions totally stopped. Depressed I woke up and forced down the Castor oil and took myself to bed.
They say it takes 3 – 5 hours to work. They were sort of right… It took about 1 hour for my bowls to empty themselves. It was not pretty… and then 2 more times I got up and went “oh my gosh I need the bathroom now”. However at the 5 hour mark is about when the contractions hit. And oh my god did they hit hard.
I assumed I would have a nice ease into labor… you know, mild contractions every 5 minutes apart and I would sleep for the first few hours. This was NOT to be. I woke up at 2am and went to the bathroom having a few contractions… I made it back to bed and woke my husband up and said “I think this is it”. They hurt, a lot, and they were not giving me the break I expected. I told him to get my cell phone so we could call the midwife and doula and let them know. According to my online contraction timer they were already 3 or so minutes apart and 30 – 40 seconds long.
I called my midwife who said “okay, call back in an hour and let me know where you are” which was fine but I quickly realized I would need some form of support ASAP and my doula is about an hour away. I had my husband call her because at that point I realized I needed a new coping method. At this point the contractions were killing me and I was latterly just trying to find some sort of comfortable position and was dripping sweat so I did what seemed like the best idea at the time… I got in my bathtub and turned it on.
Let me say here and now water is AMAZING in labor. AMAZING. I know it can stall labor out if you aren’t progressing well but at this point I wasn’t really thinking of that. My husband in the meantime began to assemble the birth tub (another AMAZING piece of birth equipment every woman should have!). So I lay in the bathtub trying to cope through the contractions. Breathing, rocking, whatever felt good. All I could think is “I need help, I need help” because my husband was downstairs putting together the tub.
Around this point my husband called our midwife back and they quickly realized it was time to head over. The midwife sent her student ahead first to set up and see how things were progressing. Shortly after this my amazing doula showed up. I am so glad I found her because she was the most amazing support during my labor. To say it was intense would be an understatement… I expected pain but I thought it would be a more gradual buildup not this insane “oh my god I’m in labor it hurts”. I was afraid because that’s how my pitocin contractions hit last time and I had to cave to an epidural fairly quickly because it got so intense. This time I had no such options.
A lot of this part is already a blur of me rocking, moaning, yelling, cursing, crying, and generally being an in labor pregnant woman. I couldn’t tell you any times because I am not really sure myself. I know the student midwife showed up, checked things out, said I was fully effaced and progressing nicely. Half of me wanted to ask how far but I didn’t want to be discouraged so I wisely said nothing. They kept assuring me my tub was almost ready and soon I could get in. My bathtub is not that big so while at first it wasn’t bad to labor in I was starting to feel constricted.
After what seemed like an eternity they said “yep, its ready, but lets see if you can pee first”. I didn’t pee but my waters did break in the best possible place, the toilet! Half of me was terrified that they would see meconium in there. I had heard stories that Castor oil causes that and my son had it in his. But nope, nice and clear so I made my way downstairs to the tub. I had 2 contractions on the way down the stairs and somehow managed to stay completely silent having one next to my sons room. Did I mention that he slept through about 80% of the birth?
The tub was the most amazing thing ever. The water plus the freedom to move around… TOTALLY amazing. This was also getting kinda close to when I probably hit transition… and my son woke up. I don’t remember much except I hit a point where I wanted drugs and I couldn’t do it any longer. I remember having a total meltdown shortly before the pushing stage that I would die… that I would tear in half, my scar would rip open, and I would die.
I also remember I went into a sort of “zone” shortly after this… it was very strange… I wasn’t aware of what was going on around me or time passing or much of anything. They talk about labor as becoming very primal. My husband often asked me what I would be like during labor and I said I had no idea at all… I had no clue what to expect. It was at times as if some natural instinct took over… I remember lots of moaning and rocking and at one point I remember very vividly biting down on the birth tub and at another time I used it like a drum and was beating on the side during the contractions. Most of it is a blur.
Until I got to pushing however. I’ve read stories from woman who say the pushing isn’t less painful per say, its different pain… and oh how true they are. The contractions were insanely intense and the only thing that relieved the pain was pushing. It was a different kind of pain but better and more bearable. I would get waves of 3 contractions very close together followed by a nice long “break” where I would sit and rest. My amazing support team was there applying cold washcloths to my face and neck, handing me liquids to keep me hydrated, and pressing on my back.
I remember my midwife showed up at some point and my husband was getting ready to take my son to our family friends house and everyone said “I don’t know if you have an hour and a half” so we opted to let him stay. This was not part of my birth plan but everyone assured me he would be fine and at that point I was not really focused on much except the thought that my husband may miss the birth. My son was totally unphased apparently. I know he kept coming up to the tub and watching me and other then that he wandered around playing with things and enjoying the fact he was able to eat whatever he wanted. Again, totally unphased.
So back to that pushing thing. After a good hour it was obvious the position I was in, while comfortable, was not producing a baby so they suggested I started to switch to new positions. I remember not wanting to do this but after a few pushes in a new position I felt the baby had moved lower and so I spent probably another good 30 – 45minutes trying new positions to get this baby out. It was close but we just couldn’t get it to come down the last little bit so my midwife suggested I get out of the tub and try a birth chair. At that point I was able to try anything to get this baby out.
As I said earlier, water is your friend during birth. Those contractions out of the water where insanely intense and excruciating… but it worked. I made it through a few good ones in the birth chair before FINALLY the head started to come out. And let me just say that feeling that head with my own hands gave me the strength to get through the last 15 – 20 minutes of pushing. They kept reassuring me “slow and steady is best” but the burning and insane pain and pressure and feeling of “oh my god make this end”.
I remember saying that over and over… I remember at one point saying “just tell me its just a few more pushes, please just a few more”. They didn’t want to say that because they didn’t know, but I told them to tell me that anyway. I just needed to hear the end was near even though I knew it was.
And then out he came in one last big push. No one expect him to pretty much fly out like that. He had this tiny bit of head showing and then all of a sudden there he was! I felt it and I vaguely remember seeing him come out and before I could even register what had happened he was in my arms and I was holding him. I still didn’t know it was a him at this point. I remember just taking a moment to hold him before I looked. No mistaking that he was most definitely a boy! I just remember holding him in shock and awe and it was very much an out of body experience.
At this point the exhausted and everything finally caught up to me and I started to feel light headed. They gave me an injection of pitocin and out the placenta came about 8 minutes after Garrett did. They helped me over to the couch where they gave me some oxygen, food, and water. At this point I think my son came over and suddenly started to be like “huh, whats that?” and my midwife went to get a better look at what tearing had occurred.
No one wanted to say I had torn before that but the look on her face pretty much said it all… it was beyond her repair skills. While further discussion was made of the next plan of action we latched my little guy on and let him breastfeed, which he did like a champion. I also sent messages to a few people who I knew had to be some of the first to know what had happened.
It was decided that we would go to a local hospital that is very pro natural birth and a midwife oriented birth option. It was a little farther away but we all agreed the best choice. We decided to call ahead just to make them aware we were coming and it was decided that my doula and the midwife student would come with me as “friends” and my midwife would stay home with my husband and both kids.
Then we all took a turn at “guess the weight of the baby”. I knew instantly he was going to be more than my son… he was MUCH chunkier… but I still wasn’t close with my guess of 10lbs8oz. Nope, my midwife just about gasped when she weighed him at 10lbs12oz! Big boy! We were all chuckling and joking about that. The rest of his measurements were big too: 21.5inches long and a 15inch head.
At this point my midwife also suggested he possibly had turned posterior in the birth canal because of the fact that he crowed at the front of his head and came out face first! We’re not 100% sure if that is what happened, but between his massive size and his very speedy exit it explains my tearing.
I called my mom quickly to let her know what happened while giving Garrett another good nursing session as we knew I’d be gone for a few hours. Somehow people found me clothes to wear and got me up and walking and into the car. Thankfully it was early on a rainy Saturday morning so no one was outside. I’m sure I looked wonderful!
The trip to the hospital was amusing because I wasn’t 100% sure how to get there so we followed GPS which took us through a toll… which neither my doula nor I had exact change for! We were sitting at the toll both scrambling to find the exact change in pennies and dimes. We did make it there in the end and I’m pretty sure I was the talk of the rest of the nurses rotations.
They of course asked me all the preliminary questions. We were vague for many reasons, primarily the fact my state is currently not very home birth friendly (though its not illegal) and so we just opted to tell them less over more. My original midwife used to actually practice at the hospital so I mentioned I had been seeing her for the first half of my pregnancy.
Amusingly no one asked me how I had given birth the first time so it wasn’t until half way through suturing me up that everyone realized I had just had a home birth VBAC. Everyone at the hospital however was amazing. It was a bad tear, I knew because the doctor who sewed me up pretty much warned me it was going to take a lot of stitches. I lost count of how many it was and how long it took. I spent my time fielding questions about my birth and my job.
Finally they were done and I was put back in a wheelchair and back into a car. By the time I got home the adrenaline rush from earlier was staring to wear thin. I was ready to just be home with my boys. I got in the house and even though I knew Garrett had to be hungry my son ran to me and said “me me” and I knew he needed me so I let him nurse.
And nurse he did, for a good 5 to 10 minutes. After that I was handed a very hungry baby who also proceeded to nurse. At this point a lot of things happened around the same time: my doula left, my mom called, and my midwife left, and suddenly we were alone… just the 4 of us. It was surreal and odd to be sitting there together, now a family of 4.
Nothing could have prepared me for labor and birth. Not reading enough books, not taking classes, nothing. What occurred over those 7 hours was such an amazing natural experience. Was it painful? Yes. At times did I think I wouldn’t be able to do it? Yep.
But what amazes me the most is how the body has the ability to adapt so well. When I went from one stage of labor to the next the pain and discomfort of the previous stage was forgotten. And when it was all over and I had my beautiful baby in my arms even though I was exhausted and sore I had forgotten all the pain of the past 7 hours already.
I know that most OBs and even midwives who work with hospitals and birthing centers never would have given me the chance to have my VBAC. I would have been told around 40 weeks I had another large baby and would be having a repeat c-section. I am so thankful to have found an amazing midwife who knew I could do it! I know reading the VBAC success stories when I was pregnant helped me stay positive and I can only hope that someone out there reads mine and says “wow, I can do this!”