First a little history. My first birth 5 years ago was horrible. It was your typical hospital birth – epidural, pitocin, forceps delivery. . . I felt so detached from the birth. It was something done to me, not something I felt I participated in. I vowed never to have that happen again. With my second ds I was ready for an all-natural birth with a team of midwifes when I found out my ds was breech. He would not turn and I could not get anyone to attend me for a vaginal breech delivery, so I ended up with a scheduled c-section. I was heartbroken that I might never have the chance to experience a natural, vaginal birth.
When I found out I was pregnant this time I made sure to find a group of midwifes who supported VBAC fully. They never gave me any doubt that I could VBAC. They treated me like any other patient.
I went into labor early Wednesday morning, only I was in denial. I had been having lots of fairly regular braxton hicks and was sure this was just more of the same. At around 7am I got in the shower and the contractions were still coming, but they were irregular – 5 min, then 8 min, then 6 min, etc. . . so I figured I was probably in very early labor that would last most of they day. I sent my dh off to work and told him I’d call if things seemed to get more serious.
I tried to get on with my regular day. Got the boys breakfast and started doing laundry. The contractions seemed to be coming on closer together and I realized I had to stop what I was doing to cope with them. I decided to sit and play a game on the computer for a few minutes and see what the contractions were doing. I realized they were coming about every four minutes and they were starting to be more intense. I called my dh and told him I need him home and he left immediately. I also called my Mom and told her I thought she might need to come over and watch my other two boys soon.
My dh came home around 10:00. We put a movie on for the kids and went in the bedroom to read and time contractions. I was amazed that they were between 4 and 2 minutes apart. They were not too painful and only lasted 30-45 seconds, so I still wasn’t positive they were for real. I called my midwife. She suggested we take a brisk walk around the block and see what the contractions did. She said if they spaced out with the exercise then I was in early labor, if they started coming closer together then I was in active labor and to call right back. It was pouring rain, but we took and umbrella and the kids put on their raincoats and we headed for a walk around the block. My dh had a timer and we noted that the contractions were coming now every 2 – 1 ½ min. After walking for about 15 minutes we decided we’d better call the midwife back and think about heading to the hospital.
The midwife I had spoken to before was in the birthing clinic across from the hospital. She told me to meet her there where she would check my dilation and help us decide if we were ready to head into the hospital. I called my Mom and told her to come and watch the boys – she arrived 15 minutes later and we were off.
I still didn’t believe that it was real labor and I said so to my dh as I we headed into the car. Then my first contraction in the car hit – wow – contractions sitting in the car HURT! It started in my back and radiated to my belly. I wanted to jump right out of the moving car it was so painful. I realized then – this was
it after all. The contractions were every four minutes and it took about 25 min to get to the clinic. When we got there I had to go to the bathroom and noticed that I had bloody show. I was excited – this was really it! The midwife said I was 4 ½ - 5 cm dilated and very thinned out and stretchy. She told us to head on over to labor and delivery to meet one of the other midwifes who was already on duty with another patient over there.
I entered L&D at 12:00 and stood in front of the desk. One of the nurses asked if she could help me and I announced, “Hi there. Um, I’m in labor.” It felt so stupid to say that – like duh? Why else would I be standing there! Anyway, we got settled into a room and the midwife came to see me. She told me that she couldn’t stay with me the whole time because she had an emergency with another patient, but she was going to be in and out as much as she could. I was so grateful that our doula was on her way to be with us – because otherwise dh and I would have had to labor alone. The midwife hooked me up to a monitor and told us she’d be back soon.
I hated the monitor because I couldn’t move with the contractions and it was making them more painful. Our doula walked in about 15 min after I was on the monitor and the moment she walked through the door a had a nice strong contraction. She came over and helped me breath through it then asked if I wanted her to get the tub ready – I sure did. She quickly tracked down my midwife and got me off the darn monitor. I was so happy she was there to take charge!
The tub was wonderful. Warm and soothing. The bubbles were great b/c not only did they make me feel better physically – they were nice and loud so I was not self-conscious about moaning or growling through the contractions. I stayed in the tub for the next three hours. I was in a squatting position and I would lean forward into my dh’s arms during contractions. Occasionally a nurse would monitor the baby’s heart rate and my midwife came to check my dilation once or twice – all without me having to leave the tub. I was amazed at how much fun we were having laughing and talking between contractions.
When I got to 8cm things started to get tough. The contractions were so intense that by the end of them I would be crying. I didn’t even know why I was crying – it wasn’t really from the pain – I just felt overwhelmed by everything. The doula and my dh did a great job of keeping me focused and calm and even managed to get me to still laugh at times. What I thought was amazing was that occasionally I’d say – I can’t do this anymore – and my contractions would space out further apart for a little while. Like I was willing myself a break when I needed it.
The other things I found wonderful was that being unmedicated I could feel my ds moving inside of me between contractions. It gave me the feeling we were working together to birth him and it was so cool!
I started to feel a lot of pressure and the midwife thought it was probably from the bag of waters, which hadn’t broke yet. She had me get out of the tub and checked my dilation. I was 9cm. She suggested she break my water bag and try to push the last piece of cervix back so I could push – I agreed.
She broke my water and I immediately had a very strong contractions – when she tried to push back on my cervix I screamed and told her not touch me. I got on my hands and knees on the bed and writhed through some very intense contractions for the next 5 or 10 minutes. This was the worst part. The pain felt like it was everywhere and I had the feeling of wanting to escape, but I knew there was no way out. I started saying, “I can’t do this – make it stop!” and my doula would say you are
My midwife said to try to push with the next contraction and I did and it felt wonderful. No more pain – but it was a lot of work. I remember my dh and doula messaging me between the contractions and I could feel their hands gliding over me b/c I was covered in sweat from pushing so hard. Soon my dh announced that he could see the head and everyone commented that there was a lot of hair. My doula asked if I wanted to feel the head and it was the most amazing feeling ever. It really helped me focus that I was going to be seeing my son soon. My midwife told me that she wanted to make a small episiotomy because it looked like if she didn’t I would tear all the way to my clitoris.
(My first birth I had had a big episiotomy for a forceps delivery and this scar tissue would not stretch). I said okay. A few more pushes and his head came out – then they had me pant b/c there had been meconium in my fluid when they broke my water and they wanted to suction him out immediately before he took in his first breath. 4:29pm - Another push and I felt his whole body flow out from me. I had done it – I couldn’t believe it! My ds is healthy and beautiful and I feel wonderful!