I did it!
My healing, all-natural, wonderful, all-I-could-have-asked-for, VBA2C story:
I guess it all starts on Wednesday, April 18th (the day before my “due date”). I decided to take a trip to the chiropractor that morning to get a little relief and make sure I was aligned and ready for birth. I found out that my hips were off by about a centimeter and he stretched out the ligaments supporting my uterus (the Webster technique).
On Wednesday evenings, our kids go to King’s Kids at our church, and my husband and I decided to do a little shopping to use some gift cards some of his co-workers had given us. While walking around I’d occasionally get these really hard pains straight down (basically right on my cervix). I would have to stop walking and take a deep breath. Andy would ask me if I was having contractions, and after he pointed out that they were every 8-9 minutes I finally realized that they were. When we got out of the car to pick up the kids, I actually had to brace myself on the van, then again once were inside, and again when we were leaving.
I called my mom once we got home to give her a heads up that tonight could be the night (and I think I called my doula too, I can’t remember now!). We all headed to bed after I did some last minute nesting. Just after midnight (after probably 30 minutes of sleep…) I started having more serious contractions while lying in bed. I noticed they were coming every 8 minutes, and after about an hour of those they were suddenly every 4. I decided to go use the bathroom, and on my way I realized that my water broke, right at 1:30am, on my due date!
So I went ahead and took a shower and shaved my legs! I came back to my room and woke Andy (who was so sure he would wake up when he heard the shower that he knew I would take when I knew I was in labor…), called my mom to come stay with the kids, and called my doula Cheryl. We went through my bags and made sure that we had everything packed, and my husband loaded the car.
We started using our iPod to track my contractions (I love technology), and I was having 6-7 minute apart contractions that lasted about 45 seconds. Andy and Cheryl figuring out pretty quick that they knew I was starting a contraction before I did! Evidently, I would start breathing deeper and my face would flush a bit, and then I’d feel the peak of the contraction and the coming down. We found out that I had a bit of a blessing in that I never felt the build-up of the contractions, I just would suddenly feel the peak and the come-down. (My doula says that a lot of women stress out during the build-up and the contractions feel worse because of the dread). So basically, what I felt to be a 45 second contraction was probably actually about 1:15 minutes.
We then called the OB exchange to let my OB know that I was in labor. What followed would end up being the biggest change, and yet the biggest blessing in the whole experience. We planned on delivering at the hospital where my OB practices. It’s about 7 miles further than the hospital where I delivered my other 2, but due to the interventions I experienced there, the sheer size of the L&D unit (3 floors!) and the very nickname of the place “the baby factory”, I definitely wanted to avoid the place unless it seemed there would be an emergency. During the tour of St. A’s a few weeks prior, I definitely liked the place, liked that it was smaller and seemed more baby friendly, but I had this feeling that I still don’t understand.
So now for the change: My OB was the attending OB at St. C’s hospital one day a month, and it happened to be the day I was in labor! It was a hospital I’d never heard of, it actually opened about 3 years prior. It was the same distance from our house, so thankfully that didn’t make anything more difficult. We tried to find out more info about it online, but we found out once we got there that we were spelling it wrong…whoops!
Around 6am we decided that even though I could still manage my contractions easily, due to the drive, upcoming rush hour, and the unknown of the location, we would head out. We thankfully had a nice drive. My contractions weren’t that bad, and we had no problems finding the hospital. And it was beautiful. It was so nice, a small hospital, settled in a beautiful campus with lots of beautiful landscaping. We weren’t sure where to go in, so we parked near the emergency room. When we got out of the car, Cheryl (who had been following in her own vehicle) asked if I’d had 4 contractions on the way. Evidently, Andy would unconsciously speed a bit whenever I was contracting!
When we went in and told the nurse at the desk that I was in labor, I was asked if I was Dr. Gosser’s natural VBAC. They were expecting me! I really wanted to walk to my room, but of course I had to ride in a wheelchair… When we got on the elevator, a contraction started right as the elevator started going up. Worst. Feeling. Ever.
The nurse bringing me up was very sweet. They were already notified of my plans and were excited for me, hoping I would get the birth I wanted. And then I was rolled into the most beautiful birthing suite ever. It was so big, was beautifully decorated with these gorgeous pictures, and actually had 3 different sleeping options for family.
I was a little worried at first when my nurse T (I wish I could remember her name now, but I only wrote down T!) started entering stuff into the computer. I was telling her that I planned on doing this, avoiding that, etc, and she would occasionally be a bit “quiet”. Then I remembered I had my birth plan with my Dr. Gosser’s signature on it. As soon as she read it over and saw that I was prepared and had my OB’s okay there was a definite change. And then Dr. Gosser came in to see how I was doing, let T know about what we had planned, and let me know of the few things that he wanted from me. I knew he wanted me to get a Hep-lock, but what stunk was that every hour he wanted 2 contractions monitored. Which meant in the bed, with the strap on monitor, for about 15 minutes. But other than that I was free to move around as I wanted, to labor as I wanted.
So I started out around 7am in the bed to get my contractions monitored and get checked. I was only a “stretchy” 2 and 50%. And my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. I was ready to get to work, but was a little discouraged. I didn’t want to do this much laboring in the hospital.
Throughout the course of the morning we walked 3 miles (Andy had on a pedometer!). One thing that was really nice while walking around and laboring were the little conversations with nurses and nursing students, the smiles, the “good job mom’s” and seeing the scripture verses up on some of the walls. We found out that morning that when a baby was born, a lullaby would play over the sound system. It was so beautiful the way this hospital viewed birth.
While walking I would have contractions every 6-7 minutes, but of course when I had to get into bed to be monitored they’d be about 9 minutes apart. The trend continued of me only feeling the last half of the contractions, but the ones I had to go through in the bed were miserable! And when I’d have to lay back every other hour to get checked, to have only progressed another 0.5cm was so discouraging. At noon (5 hours after arriving) I was about 3cm and around 70%! My doula reassured me that once I got around 4cm and 100% everything would go more quickly…I just had to get there!
My contractions at this point were getting a lot stronger. Just leaning on the railing in the hallway wasn’t enough anymore. I was starting to experience some minor shivering, not because I was cold, but because of the hormone changes. At this point I started “dancing” with Andy. He’s not much taller than me, so I’d have to wrap my arms completely around him and really focus and breathe through them. During a harder one, we happened to be in front of a group of 5 nursing students. In my mind I was worried that I would hear comments like “why isn’t she in her room, would someone get her some pain relief”, etc, but instead I heard “great job mom, you’re doing awesome, keep it up!” It was so encouraging.
And then there was a big change, right around 2pm. My contractions at this point were consistently in the 6-8 range of pain (10 being the highest). I started to hear a lullaby playing over the sound system, right as my contraction was starting. This one was a good 7 until I heard the baby crying behind me and I realized I was right outside the room where the baby was born. My pain level quickly went up to a 9 and I started bawling into my husband, and the contraction lasted 3 minutes! And I was shaking so bad! We went back to my room after the next contraction because I realized that I couldn’t handle them while walking anymore and they were so much closer together. And then I had to get into that bed and had the worst ones yet while not being able to cope by moving, but my nursing student was squeezing my shoulder and Cheryl was rubbing my forehead and gently touching my shoulder to remind me to relax. And right around 2:30pm I was finally just past 4cm and at 90%. My baby still wasn’t very low, but he was lower than he’d been all morning, I think around the 0 station (the range is +3cm which is not at all engaged to -3cm which is fully engaged in the pelvis).
The contractions were so hard and close at this point we stopped bothering with tracking them. Pretty soon I was having a hard time standing up. We got the bed propped up into an L and I moved to kneeling on the bed and laying over the top with some pillows under my arms. I had been “sneaking” food all morning, and at this point I was worried that I was going to get sick. I was finally able to verbalize that I needed my pillows scooted down, and then thankfully that nauseous feeling went away. At this point I realized that the last 8 hours had really flown by. I was told how long my contractions were, but it sure didn’t seem that long. I also knew how bad these contractions were feeling in the moment, but I was truly forgetting how bad they were when they were over. The blessing of natural hormones!
I also noticed how hyper aware I was of everything going on. I could hear the quiet conversations around me and I surprised everyone when I was still able to talk a bit during my contractions…it was hard work. I had to really put my thoughts together before I could say anything coherently, but some things needed to be said! Thankfully I no longer had to lay down to be checked, and over the course of an hour quickly went from 4 to 6 to 7 to 8! My poor mom (who was with my kids and was hoping to be there for the delivery and getting regular texts from Andy) realized she had to leave now to make the 30 minute drive to be there in time!
Right around 3:15 when I was around 7 or 8 Dr. Gosser arrived. He was very happy with my progress, and just sat back and watched how things were going. I swear it was like I had heard about delivering with a midwife. He let my nurse T do what she needed without interference. He let me labor as I needed, with Andy and Cheryl supporting me uninhibited. I was still up leaning on the L of the bed, but was really needing them holding on ice packs, rubbing my back, and helping me to focus. At this point I felt like I was one of those TV deliveries: with the woman groaning and growling a bit. But instead of it being right at the beginning of labor: laying in bed and begging for an epidural while blaming her husband, I was in full labor, without any real breaks, so close to delivering my baby! And then I actually dozed off during a 2 minute break in contractions… heaven!
Around 3:30 it was non-stop. I was fully effaced in the front, but the back of my cervix was starting to swell up. I didn’t want to move at all, but after A LOT of coaxing and help, they got me down onto the birthing ball. Andy was sitting behind me and I was leaning on him. He would hold me up during the peak of the contractions. And then I got a minute break and got another little nap in (I don’t know how, but they were amazing). My nurse T checked me (which was miserable) and I was at 9 and finally fully effaced. She asked my Dr. if I should move to bed, but he said if I wanted to deliver my baby where I was, right on the birthing ball, I could! While it sounded good for a minute, I quickly couldn’t manage them there any longer. They set up the bar at the foot of the bed and helped me get up there. I ended up kneeling while leaning over the bar. And I really needed to push! T wasn’t sure if I should, but Dr. Gosser said if I needed to, I was far enough along that it was okay. But I wasn’t getting anywhere and I was really hurting. I hadn’t had a break in contractions in about 15 minutes. They kept telling me I needed to get onto my feet and squat, but I couldn’t do it on my own. So Andy and Cheryl finally got me there (forcing and moving my limbs for me), and after 2 pushes my son, Anthony Richard, was born at 4:05pm on Thursday April 19th.
After the most basic of wipe-ups and a quick suction/check he was put on my chest. His first cry was on me! We were hoping that my son would be able to cut his baby brother’s umbilical cord, but we found out later they were pulling into the lot as he was born! After the cord stopped pulsing my husband cut the cord. And it was so wonderful. T was telling all the other nurses that I didn’t want them to bathe the baby, or do any other interventions. I thought my doula was going to have to ensure that happened! Around this time, I was also able to deliver my placenta on my own. And they followed my wishes with this also, and after checking it they packed it away in ice for me!
The nurses did push after a few minutes to get a hat on baby Anthony’s wet head, which I allowed, and then I let them have him for the few minutes to weigh and measure him. My little boy, who I thought was going to be small due to my sleight weight gain of only 6 pounds the whole pregnancy, was 8lbs 5ozs, a full 9ozs bigger than my guess. And he was 21.5 inches long. And this moment was what I was looking forward to: my post delivery donut (I had a deal with my father in law)! After 2 previous c-sections and not getting to eat for 1-2 days afterward, I was sitting in my hospital bed 30 minutes after delivering, getting stitched (I did have a 2nd degree tear) and cleaned up, eating a chocolate donut!
Anthony wasn’t interested in nursing yet, so now that we were finally all presentable, my family was able to come in. One of my younger brother in-laws and mother and father in-law had been there since noon, but after having a hard time seeing me labor had quickly moved to the waiting room. My oldest brother in-law and his wife were also there, as well as one of my sisters (a nursing student who had hoped to be there in time for the birth) and my mom with my son, daughter, and teenage foster daughter. After about 20 minutes of pictures, oohing and aahing, I sent them all out so I could take a shower. That’s right, no assistance walking around 36 hours post c-section. At 1 hour post delivery, I was climbing out of bed on my own, taking a shower! I got a little flack on how long I was taking in the shower, but it was so wonderful.
After that, everyone came back in for another 45 minutes or so, and then around 6pm, it was just me, my baby, my husband, and my doula Cheryl (who was still there to make sure we were nursing okay). After we got it figured out (it took a little bit, dude had a tiny mouth!), it was just the 3 of us. We ordered our dinner and settled in.
Everything I’ve read said that after the delivery and holding my baby I would forget what the pain of labor was like. It’s totally true. I know that I could barely manage the pain even after all the mental preparation, that I had to totally focus on what I was doing, and I know where it hurt, but the pain was gone and barely a memory. It went exactly as I’d hoped, and I had my perfect little baby.