Two days overdue with my second baby, I woke up at 7am with a stomach ache, like I ate something bad and needed to go to the bathroom. Around 8am I finally got out of bed to go to the bathroom and I had a contraction. It felt like the normal Braxton Hicks that I’d been having for the past month. Less than 10 minutes later, I had another one. This one was a bit stronger and I wondered if this was going to be “it,” but then I thought back to my labor with my first baby.
With my first baby, in 2010, I went right into active labor with intense contractions from the start at 12am and I went right to the hospital. There was no question as to whether or not I was in labor. By 7am I couldn’t take the pain of the contractions and I opted to have the epidural. I hated the feeling and had them shut it off around 12pm. By 2pm I was ready to push and I could feel everything by then. 2 1/2 hours into pushing and suddenly an army of doctors and nurses came flooding in and told me that baby’s heart rate was not recovering between contractions. And even though she was just about crowning, my hospital records reported that she was a “failure to descend.” I was wheeled into the OR and she was born minutes later. I hated every minute of the C-section. I threw up on myself, I was shaking, asking the OB if everything was okay without any response from him. I was alone because my husband was gone with the baby, etc. We all know the difficulties of what a c-section are.
I researched everything I could on VBACs and spent the last couple of months of my pregnancy reading only success stories. It was just a month before my due date that I finally freaked out and decided that I needed to have a doula to help with the pain. I hated that epidural because it made me feel out of control and I knew that I could not deal with the pain without something or someone to help me through it. Although it was last minute, I found a doula and began to work with her right away.
So, back to this labor. I was having contractions that were fairly strong less than 10 minutes apart. From 8am until 1pm I breathed through them, but constantly asking myself whether or not this was the real thing. My sister-in-law was visiting and helping my husband and I. At 2pm, my daughter came home from pre-school and my contractions stopped completely. Between 2pm and 6pm, I had nothing. In that time, my parents came into town and my house was full. I called my doula and she suggested that I make a nest away from everyone and just relax. I first went on a power walk and then sat with everyone at 6:30pm for dinner. I was bouncing on an exercise ball and suddenly, one bite into my hamburger, I had a contraction so hard that I fell off the ball!
Contractions were immediately less than 5 minutes apart and fierce. My husband called the doula at 7:30pm and she was at our house at 8pm. I asked my doula if she thought it would be too optimistic to have the baby by the morning. She didn’t show total confidence, but was very good at staying neutral! By 9pm, I was in excruciating labor pain and asked to go to the hospital.
Arrived to the hospital by 9:30pm and this is where a lot of my VBAC education paid off. Immediately I was asked to be in the triage bed and I refused except to be checked by OB when they arrived. Two residents arrived, I got on the table and while my cervix was being checked by resident #1, the other (while checking her hair and lipstick in the mirror) asked me if I understood the risks of a VBAC. I managed to exclaim, “yes, and I also understand the benefits.” This shut her up, but she wasn’t pleased. Resident #1 announced that I was 7cm! 7CM! We celebrated and screamed in happiness. The unmedicated laboring was so difficult, but at 7cm, there was an end in sight.
I was immediately assigned a nurse who came in and told me that I was getting an epidural in place. No! I refused this. So, she insisted that I get a HEP lock. I also turned this down and she began to argue, at which point I asked for a new nurse. I remembered reading that you can always ask for a new nurse, one that you find is compatible with you. New nurse was Lisa and she rocked! At 10pm I was wheeled into a laboring room. At 10:15pm, with a major contraction, my water broke while Lisa was trying to get my blood (I was standing up). It broke all over the nurse, all over myself, all over the floor!
Lisa practically lifted me off the floor and onto the bed and exclaimed, “the baby is coming!” It was a very slow night at the hospital and I had about 15 people from the hospital rushing into the room to watch me push. It became very chaotic fast. All together it was 2 residents, 1 attending OB, a plethora of nurses and such, plus my husband, sister, and doula. Everyone was telling me how to push, and I didn’t know where to look or who to listen to. I asked if everything was okay because so many people were there and it was just incredibly chaotic. I remember asking to push in a different position, but the attending OB told me I “had to” push on my back. (Just like last time!) I pushed for 30 minutes and again, the heart rate dropped and they freaked out. Baby had already crowned. They told me I would have to get her out in one more push or else I would have to go for an emergency c-section. I pushed like no other and while I was pushing (contractions right on top of each other), they gave me a SURPRISE episiotomy without telling me–all that mean resident said was, “sorry honey, I have to do this.” With that cut, the baby came right out.
2nd degree tear and just 18 hours in the hospital. My baby was in my arms almost immediately and was happy and nursing right away! I just kept crying and crying and everyone in the room was celebrating and yelling in joy. Conversely, the attending OB, who was very obviously NOT pro-VBAC, reminded me that what I did was risky because “history tends to repeat itself medically.” She added at the end, “But you changed your history tonight.” Her words stuck with me. I thought they were unfair and untrue. The rate of successful VBAC is quite high, which would actually indicate that history does NOT repeat it self often. Quite the opposite! And she was such a Debbie Downer during my most celebrated time. It was such juxtaposition between the 2 residents, the attending OB and the rest of us.
I can’t say that the physical healing time from the UNVBAC is shaping up to be any easier than the c-section, but the emotional healing time was almost none!