I also posted this on the VBAC thread.
Hi, I posted to this list ages ago, before I was pregnant, and have only lurked since then. But I had such a great VBAC that I wanted to share with other women wanting to VBAC.
I tried to make this shorter, but I couldn't leave anything out. It is long, but here it is....
Pablo Felix?s Birth Story.
The Monday morning of July 16th, I woke up with very mild, but regular contractions. They didn?t hurt me, but made everything feel tight, including my back. I thought that I must be in early labor and was very excited. I woke my husband up and asked him to stay home from work, since I hadn?t had a very good night sleeping because of the contractions, and didn? t think I could be a very active mother for our two and a half year old daughter. Two hours or so after he called his office and I called my midwife, the contractions stopped. I was a bit stressed out by this since my husband had essentially gone on leave for three months and I wanted him home for all three months after the baby came. I felt a bit of pressure that he was on leave, and now I wasn?t even in labor. He reassured me that even if I didn?t have the baby for a week or more, this would be time well spent with me and our daughter, before the baby came. We spent the morning going on a long walk.
That night (Monday), again in the wee hours, I began again to have contractions. These were a bit stronger than the night before, and very mildly painful. I had also had a bit of bloody show the night before, so I knew that I would have the baby soon. I again called my midwife in the morning. She said to let her know when I had been having contractions 4 or 5 minutes apart for at least an hour. The contractions were only about every 10 minutes apart. Then, during mid-morning, the contractions stopped again. I was again disappointed and began thinking that I was never going to have this baby. I had never been in labor before, and I started wondering if those were really contractions, although I knew they were. I knew from reading other birth stories that this was prodromal labor. I threw out my fantasies about having the quick birth that nobody arrives in time for.
The next night (Tuesday) the contractions started again. I couldn?t sleep through them and I wasn?t comfortable laying down through them. I got up from bed and sat in my glider rocking chair. I put on headphones and listened to my hypnobirthing tapes. I was able to doze through the night, in between contractions. I just rocked through them, and relaxed and breathed through them. They kept up until about 11 a.m. and then petered out to nothing at all painful, and about 15 minutes apart. I kept thinking that I could not go through another night of contractions with them stopping altogether during the day. I truly felt like I was in the movie Groundhog?s Day. Every night I would go into labor, but every morning I would wake up and still be pregnant. I spoke again with my midwife who was reassuring that everything was just fine, and to rest and eat well and keep hydrated. That night my doula, Cindi, came over to see me. She knew from talking to me that I was a bit distraught. I had a good cry and told her that I knew I was doing this, but I didn?t want to keep doing this every night. I was so tired of being in labor and not having a baby. I wanted her opinion on how long this would go on, as she was also a midwife. She reassured me that my body was working, just slowly.
The next night (Wednesday) the contractions were a lot more intense and closer together. I spent another night on the rocking chair, and getting little or no sleep. Since it was at night, I wanted my husband to stay in bed with out daughter in case she woke up. I was feeling very lonely being the only person awake in our dark house, with everyone asleep all over the neighborhood, and what seemed like the entire world. I felt very alone and I wasn?t optimistic at all. I knew that my contractions would go away again, and they did. That morning I had a scheduled prenatal appointment with my midwife. I had written in my birth plan that I didn?t want any vaginal exams. The reason was that I didn?t want to get discouraged if I was not as far dilated as I thought I was. However, once there, when she asked if I wanted one, I agreed, since I wasn?t actually ?in labor? at the time. She told me that I was already 4 centimeters dilated and that I was completely effaced. She said that the baby would come soon and she also told me that when labors are slow like this, the baby will tell you why when they are born. She sent me home with blue and black cohosh for me to take after I had had a nap, if I wanted things to progress further.
We all went home and after a good nap I took the blue and black cohosh (yuck!!). It didn?t do a thing, but I did notice that my contractions slowed down even further. That night I didn?t even go to bed, because my contractions were about every 7 to 10 minutes and I didn?t like to be touched during them, or be lying down (which seemed to make them even more painful). I spent the night in our spare bedroom laying in the bed and then jumping up during a contraction. I was able to fall asleep during the intervals though. Sometime around 6 in the morning, they finally got to 4 or 5 minutes apart and were such that I couldn?t talk through them. I called my midwife and doula, who both said they were on their way.
My doula, Cindi, got there first and began setting up the birth tub. By the time my midwife, Suzanne, got there, my contractions had again spaced out, but only to about every 6 minutes apart. She told me that she expected them to slow down even further, and for me to take advantage of the time by resting up and getting lots of protein and drinking lots of water. By this time, I was putting my daughters cloth diapers in my underwear. During the contractions, my first reaction was to want to tighten up during them. But I knew that I should stay relaxed. Staying relaxed in my pelvic area caused me to pee during the contractions. I figured it was better to pee than to fight the contraction. She assured me that this was not that unusual, even though I had never heard of this. Suzanne checked me and I was at 5 centimeters and the baby?s head was still floaty. She said that as soon as my water broke things would get going. She does not ever break the waters artificially and I wasn?t sure at that point whether I was happy about that or not. I remember just wanting the waters to break, and telling the baby to break the water so he or she could be born. Suzanne said she was going to go home and for me to call her again if things got moving. Cindi stayed for a few hours, until my contractions did, again, slow down even further. She left with the birth tub full in the living room.
I spent the day sitting on towels, standing up and breathing through my contractions, which were quite intense. I had given up on the diapers and now just stood over a towel. I was drinking a lot and there was no shortage of pee when I had a contraction. My daughter, who has only been potty trained for about 6 months, was very interested in the fact that I was peeing on the floor instead of the potty. She knew that when I stood up I was going to have a contraction and pee on the floor. At about 3 that afternoon, my water finally broke and seemed to keep gushing and leaking for at least an hour. However, it didn?t make my contractions any stronger. So much for that, I thought. By that time, though I was in better spirits most of the day. I knew that things were progressing. I still had a few times when I cried to my husband that I couldn?t do this another night. He said that he was going to stay up with me all night if he had to, so I wouldn?t be alone, even if it meant he had to drink coffee all day long to keep up with our daughter.
That evening, our daughter didn?t want to go to bed, and was crying in the bedroom when my husband was trying to get her to go to sleep. I usually put her to bed, as she nursed to sleep. She had just decided to wean about a week prior. She was crying for me and didn?t understand why I couldn?t be there in bed with them. I got very upset at hearing her cry and started to cry myself. I went into the bedroom told him that on her last night as an only child I didn?t want her to go to bed fighting. We let her stay up with us and she finally fell asleep on his shoulder at about 10:30p.m.
Not five minutes later, my contractions really hit me hard. They went from every 10 and 15 minutes apart to every 3 or 4 minutes apart, and much more intense. There was also not much time in between them. I told my husband to call my midwife and doula. While waiting for them to arrive, I felt like I had to have a bowel movement. The area in our bathroom where our toilet is situated is very small and I didn?t feel I had enough room to sit comfortably. I was also afraid that I might push out the baby. I ended up standing in the bathtub, with my husband reassuring me that if I went in the bathtub, it would be okay. All of a sudden my lower back hurt terribly during the contractions. I had to have my husband press on my back really hard, while I rocked and moaned and breathed. In between he was racing around trying to get me a cold drink and a cloth for my head. We barely had time in between them, and I was thinking it was incredible that they were picking up so fast. My husband kept reassuring me that I was doing so well and he was so proud of me. I got to a point where I didn?t know what to do to feel better during a contraction and he suggested the labor pool. I had been in it for a while during the afternoon but I thought it was too hot, but I agreed to try it.
I stripped off my clothes and got in and it felt great. I would squeeze my husband?s hand and really moan during contractions. I barely registered anyone else arriving, but soon Cindi and Suzanne were there. Cindi immediately began holding my hands if my husband needed to step away. And when he was there she would put cold cloths on my head. They both kept me drinking cold Recharge and water. Most of the time I was holding onto both of them during contractions. I was moving into positions that I would never be able to do on a normal day. The water helped me, I guess. I remember hearing Suzanne comment on these incredible positions I was going into. At the time though, I remember feeling almost a sense of panic, trying to do what I could to get out of the pain that the contractions were causing. At some point, Suzanne?s assistant, Jaye, arrived.
Jaye and Suzanne would check the baby?s heartbeat every so often with this doppler that could go under the water. It would tap out the heartbeat so they could feel it instead of listen. Everything seemed to be okay with the baby so I just continued in the water.
Eventually I yelled out that I thought I was pushing. Suzanne said that was fine if I felt like it. I asked her how long she thought it would be. She said that for first time moms (which I was considered) that the average was two hours. I remember thinking that I couldn?t take two more hours of this. The contractions were so close together that I felt like I was barely getting a rest in between. I had time to take a sip of a drink, look at my husband, before another one came. Suzanne came over and kneeled next to me and explained to me how best to push. What she said made sense to me, and it did seem to help me push more effectively. After a while, Suzanne asked if she could check me. I agreed, but was afraid she wouldn?t have time to finish before another contraction hit me. She checked me and said I was at about an 8 with a little lip. She said that she could hold back the lip during a contraction and I could push through it if I wanted to. I said okay. This was extremely painful, but I am glad I did it. During that one contraction where she was holding back the lip, I pushed hard and went from 8 to complete and the baby crowning.
At that point, Suzanne leaned into the pool to help me. I was sort of squatting, but then leaning back and holding onto my doula?s hands very hard. My husband was also leaning in because he was going to catch the baby and hand the baby to me. I remember Suzanne telling me that what I was feeling was the ring of fire. My husband (always the joker) had been singing the Johnny Cash song ?Ring of Fire? in the last few weeks. I told him it was okay for him to sing it when I was crowning so he could make me laugh. When Suzanne said that we both looked at each other, but he refrained from singing since it was such an intense moment. Still, we both knew what he was thinking and it was a tiny light moment anyway. When I was crowning, Suzanne told me to push only tiny pushes and grunts instead of big pushes. I don?t think I did very well. I was able to make small grunts, but I feel like I wasn?t able to slow down my pushes. I had one tear and I think this is from when it came. I felt like I was going to tear really bad. I?m glad I didn?t.
Suddenly the baby?s head came out and there was a rush of commotion. My husband kept telling me that our baby?s head was out, and to take a look. I didn?t really seem interested in looking. I felt like I was still out of it with contractions and just wanted to get the baby the rest of the way out. When it came time to get the baby?s body out, there was a cord around his shoulder and he also had what Suzanne calls ?sticky shoulders?, so she leaned in and helped him out. She handed him to my husband, who handed him to me. I felt like for a little bit I was just trying to catch my breath. I was so happy that this baby was finally here. It felt a bit unreal. My husband came around beside me and we both held onto him and looked at his face for a while. When he came out, he came out crying, he was not quiet at all. After a few minutes, we realized that we didn?t know what sex he was, so we checked and were very surprised he was a boy. Pablo Felix was finally here, born at 2:25 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, 2002!
After the cord stopped pulsing, Suzanne helped my husband to cut it. Then she told me I should get out of the tub. My husband took Pablo and Suzanne and Cindi were helping me out of the tub. Evidently, I said something like ?I don?t feel so good??, and then I fainted. The three midwives there pulled me up and out of the tub and onto the couch. I came to with the assistant calling my name and looking at me. I was not as familiar with her face, so I was very confused as to what was going on. I did begin to feel better, but would go in and out of feeling good, and feeling faint. I pushed out the placenta in a push, and it didn?t hurt like I was worried it would. I wasn?t bleeding very much at all, but I continued to not feel very good. When my blood pressure didn?t go back up, Suzanne started an IV. During this time, I held Pablo and nursed him for at least an hour. He fell asleep and was very content. He also latched on right away, which was nice.
At least one more time I fainted while laying on the couch. I remember Suzanne?s assistant asking me if I knew what was wrong. I couldn?t tell. Finally, after I was on my third IV, Suzanne told me that she thought it would be a good idea for me to go to transfer to the hospital since my blood pressure was so low and I kept fainting. I agreed and she called an ambulance. After she called, I felt better again and she told me that I didn?t have to go if I didn?t want to, but that the paramedics were still coming. Suzanne and her assistant got me into a shirt and found a blanket to cover me up. When the paramedics got there, I was able to answer all of their questions and was very coherent and was feeling somewhat okay. Still, I opted to go to the hospital. My husband and doula were busy getting the baby ready to go. They also woke up our friends upstairs to come and stay with our daughter, who had slept through everything.
At the hospital, they took me straight up to the labor and delivery ward, where they were waiting for me. I fainted again while being moved to the bed. Suzanne arrived shortly after and held my hand while the OB on call did a manual uterine examination. This was done solely because I was a VBAC. There was no reason for it, I was not bleeding and my uterus was clamping down appropriately. It was extremely painful, and I was moaning in pain just like I was in labor. Suzanne tried to talk the OB out of this, but she wouldn?t listen. Of course, no uterine rupture was found and finally it was over. At that point, my husband and Pablo had arrived, and so had Cindi, my doula.
After a while, someone mentioned weighing Pablo. We knew he was big, because Suzanne had told us she thought he was at least 10 pounds. Suzanne used the hospital?s scale to weigh him and when she exclaimed ?TWELVE POUNDS!!?, I practically burst into tears. My husband came over and was pretty overwhelmed too. I cried first out of happiness that I had such a big, healthy baby. But then I cried because he was bigger than my daughter, and I didn?t have a cesarean, and that meant that my cesarean with my her was absolutely unnecessary. I had known this for a long time, but getting certain proof was a bit overwhelming to me. It made me very sad for all that she and I missed out on for her birth, and angry at my OB for talking me into it. I never went into labor with her, but had a cesarean on the advice of my OB, who felt she was too big to be born vaginally without shoulder dystocia. I was told even if her head fit, her shoulders would get stuck and she would have permanent arm damage. She weighed 11 pounds 5 ounces, much smaller than 12 pound Pablo. It was at this point that Suzanne came over to me and hugged me and told me something that still makes me teary when I think about it. She said ?Don?t ever let anyone tell you what you can?t do.?
Basically, at the hospital, for about 7 hours, they did the same thing that my midwife was doing, which was give me IVs and pitocin. I was not bleeding, and they just couldn?t figure out why I wasn?t ?bouncing back? from the blood loss at birth. Finally, I had to get two blood transfusions. I felt better almost immediately. I spent the night there and left early the next morning. Basically, what happened to me was that I most likely had a partial separation of the placenta right before Pablo was born, and I lost a lot of blood during the delivery. Not too much blood, but I seem to be someone that can?t take any amount of blood loss. Anyone else, from what everyone has told me, would have been fine after an IV. So, it is just me.
Pablo was able to stay with me at the hospital, as a guest, not as a patient. He was not admitted, so no one bothered me about taking his blood sugar and all of the things they did to my daughter when she was born. All of the nurses were surprised to learn that he was born vaginally, and not by cesarean.
Even though I had to go to the hospital after Pablo?s birth, I know homebirth was the best choice. I don?t even care that I had to go, since Pablo?s birth took place at home. It seems almost a different thing to me, and not at all connected with his birth. I also know that if I had delivered in the hospital, I still would have had the same thing happen. But, in the hospital, I am certain that I would have had a repeat cesarean. First, my labor kept starting and stopping and I would have been labeled ?Failure to Progress? and given pitocin, and then I would have needed an epidural, and I don?t for a second think I could have pushed out a 12 pound baby with an epidural. So, a cesarean. Second, there is no OB who would have ?allowed? me to birth Pablo if they suspected he was as big as he was. So, again, a cesarean.
I loved everything about this birth and I am so proud of it, I want to tell everyone, and I practically am. Not once during labor did I ever even think about rupturing or any of the other scary things that OBs fill us with. So, that is it in a very big nutshell. Way to go, Pablo!!!
If you made it this long, thanks for staying with me.