A VBAC Nobody Said Was Possible

How about an amazing VBAC for you?!  
Reading birth stories is like reading about the strength of women- and often against ALL odds.  I am so happy for this mama that she got what she wanted, even though there was some pressure.  I think this is also very illustrative of just how hard and how much a woman has to fight to get a VBAC in this day and age.  What a disservice we do birthing women when we deny them autonomy over their birth.
I gave birth to my first child at 37 weeks, via c-section due to his being breech, and fully expected to give birth around that time with my 2nd child. This time, however, baby is heads down and has been for a majority of the pregnancy.  Because the anesthesia did not work properly with baby #1, I was DETERMINED to have a VBAC.  Contractions start at that 37 week mark. They are lasting a minute in length and are about 5ish minutes apart. They are not intense, but I notice them and they meet the criteria my doctor told me about regarding when to get to the hospital. But my mom wasn't in town yet. She was to be coming in less than a week and is supposed to hang with the toddler and pup when I are in the hospital. Crap! Well, I went to sleep and figured if it was time, contractions would wake me up.  The contractions stopped, but my mom freaked out and flew in 4 days early anyhow. Family and friends are all on stitches waiting for my labor to kick in full force. Week 37 passes....and 38....then comes week 39. This is NOT how I planned things to go.  I tried everything short of taking Castor oil to get things rolling. Contractions start, and then stop. Start, and stop. And they are doing nothing.

At my 39 week OB appointment, the decision was made to induce on March 5th, the day after my due date. I was not effacing or dilating. My body seemed to be asleep. The pressure was on. I had convinced myself at this point that if we actually did end up inducing, it would not work and I would end up with a c-section anyhow. Discouraged, I lamented, AGAIN, to my long distance doula friend.  Now, a month prior she told me about a web site called spinningbabies. She was convinced that I COULD have a very successful VBAC but thought the reason labor would not get into full gear or the baby was still high and not engaging was that the baby's head was not tucked properly and getting stuck on my pelvic bone. I followed some things the site said including getting on all 4's a lot and doing work on the birthing ball. Both she and the web site suggested belly lifts as well. I read how to do it and why it could work, but I just did not buy it at the time and wrote it off. My doctor however, only two in the area who will even consider delivering VBAC's, felt that I had about a 5% chance of a successful VBAC because I had a small pelvis.  Small pelvis?  I think not.

As my 39th week of pregnancy was coming to a close, on the evening of Saturday, March 3rd, I lamented to my doula friend again. She got a tad snippy with me about not doing the spinning babies stuff. Well, I had tried, just not the belly lifts and I needed a reality check. At that point though, less than 48 hours away from an induction, what could it hurt? So, I pulled my husband  out of his Pastor's office as he was putting the final touches on his church services and sermon for the next morning to help me.  The belly lifts were not comfortable and I was pretty sore afterwards. I didn't even bother with a bath to help relax me. Nothing else had worked up to this point, so why would the stupid belly lifts do anything?

At 1:45am, Sunday, March 4th, (my due date) I was waken up by some major cramping. This was nothing new. Anyone who has been pregnant knows how uncomfortable sleeping can get, especially as the end draws near. This was not the first time I had been waken by contractions, so I told myself they meant nothing. But, I was not able to go back to sleep. What started as an almost constant cramping turned into measurable, and intense contractions. It was not until I absolutely knew I could not keep lying down that I woke my husband and told him we needed to start timing these. This was at about 2:30am. By 3:00, we were packing for the hospital and he was making arraignments for his back up to handle church services later that morning. Could this really be it? I was still a skeptic.

But the contractions continued and started becoming more intense and painful during the hour long drive to the hospital. This had to be real, but I was still hedging my excitement until I was checked out by the nurse. By the time we got there and I was first checked, around 4am at this point, I was 90% effaced and 3cm dilated. Contractions were textbook. Baby looked great. WOO HOO!!!!!!!! Bring on the baby!

I refused an IV at first, but agreed to a saline lock. Then they allowed me to labor in the tub a while. This was actually a big deal because I was a dangerous VBAC patient who's uterus could rupture killing me and the baby at any moment. (Cue sarcasm. That is how my doctor and the hospital saw things, but I knew better) The water and jets helped at first. But after 20 or so minutes, the jets annoyed me and I realized I was gonna have to change positions. Contractions were still intensifying and getting closer together. This was a good pain and a good sign. I asked the nurse what it was going to feel like or how I would know when to start pushing. She said, it will feel like your ass is going to either explode or fall off. I laughed. Little did I know... ;-)

Then, my OB comes in. He wants to break my water. I rebel at first but realize he could end this trial to VBAC at any time. When your water is broken or breaks, you are pretty much put on a timer. If baby is not born by a certain time, c-section. And, there is no going home if labor stops. Oh, and there is an increased chance of infection. And, of course, the contractions become much more intense and painful. But, as he put it, I had to play ball and I agreed. But I was exhausted and I knew if I was not able to rest, I was not going to have the umpf to push this baby out. I also requested an epidural because rest was not going to happen if the contractions were going to hurt more than they already did.  Doctor broke my water around 6ish in the morning. Now apparently, you need to have one bag of IV fluid in you before they will do the epidural. So she put me on the fastest drip she could to get that fluid in me. During that time, I tried to sit on the birthing ball. That did not help at all. Tried to get on hands and knees. That was also a big fat failure. Counter pressure and massages made it worse. The labor was progressing and I was starting to not handle the pain very well.

I was petrified of another epidural, but my oh my, when it went in just after 8 am, I wanted to marry that anesthesiologist. By this time I was fully effaced and around 5 cm.  my husband needed to run to the store for a while and I needed to sleep. The nurse had me turn on my left side while he was out. She came back about 35 minutes later and checked me. I was at 6 cm. Doc came in about 5 minutes later and checked me again. I was at 7cm. WHERE IS MY HUSBAND???? They told me not to panic but to give him a call and tell him to head back when he can. I was starting to feel that pressure and knew it was not going to be long.

Now, up until this point, my doctor was STILL convinced that this was going to end in a c-section. He had the staff ready to take me to the OR at a moment's notice. That was, until this cervical check. The look on his face was so very funny. He was amazed and said, "Ok Mama. I'm on board now. Let's get this thing done." Shew! Nancy Negative has left the building! My L & D nurse knew I was determined to have a VBAC and that my OB did not think it was going to happen. We had been joking the whole time about proving him wrong. Well, it looked like I was going to do just that. You NEVER tell a woman of Irish descent that she can't do something. Sheesh Doc.

My husband stumbles in and I am at 8 cm at 11:25 am. And the nurse was right. While I was not feeling the worst of the contractions, Oh my heavens...the pressure! My ass DID feel like it was going to fall off. She put me back on my side. Less than 15 minutes later, I just can not take the pressure anymore. I have to push and I don't care if there was cervix left. She checked me and.....TA DA....I am at 10 cm and ready to push.

Since baby was a tad bit high, they let me rest sitting up for a hair over 30 minutes. Then I started pushing with the nurse. Purple pushing on my back.  When they start seeing the baby's head, full of dark hair, they call in my doctor. The pushing did not hurt. I didn't even feel that ring of fire they all talk about. What did hurt was all the "perineal support" they were giving me between pushes. But, I sucked it up because I knew it was for my own good.

Seriously? Pushing is hard work. Really hard. Like running a marathon hard work. And, I was getting tired. I wished so much at this point that I did not have the epidural and could get on my hands and knees.  But, that was a no go.  I'll keep that in mind if we are ever blessed with another child.  I was not opening my eyes and was having trouble catching my breath between contractions. When I did open my eyes after about 35 minutes of pushing, my doctor in a very calm and caring voice said he would like to use forceps to go ahead and get the baby out. He did not doubt that I could push the baby out, but saw I was getting tired and wanted to give me that option. I asked him how long it would take. He said baby would be out during the next contraction. I said do it.

He did not lie. It took a minute or two to get the forceps inserted and around the baby's head. Let me tell you, the insertion of those forceps was more painful than any contraction I had up to that point.  Again, for future reference, unless there is a major reason to use them, no forceps.  During the next contraction, he actually had to use very little pressure to help ease baby out due to my pushing along with it. I tore, but didn't feel it. 3rd degree and bilateral tears to be specific. I pushed baby out at such a force that her umbilical cord actually tore and shot blood across the room. No harm, they just had to clamp it right away, all was well. And just like her brother, she really did have a head full of hair and after that initial "what the hell just happened" cry, she was content and alert.

Placenta was delivered 3 minutes after the baby, no pitocin or help required. Doc stitched me up and finally, it was over. And, I am not exaggerating, the nurses, surgical assistant and doctor all did a VBAC celebratory cheer and dance. Everyone was excited and happy. I was smug with that "I told you so" attitude and my doctor was amazed. And humble. I ordered some food and my husband, myself and our newest addition were left alone to bond. It was a good day.

Happy Birthday Baby Morgan.

8lbs, 7oz
20 1/4 inches long
14 inch head
Perfect in every way.....


Christabelle said…
That is amazing! Way to go, Mama!