The Birth of Lucas {a healing hospital VBAC}

by Birth Without Fear on April 6, 2013

Lucas was born on 11/25/12

In order for you to really understand what Lucas’ birth meant to me as a person, a woman, and as a mother, I feel like I need to cover the basics as to why this was a VBAC in the first place. My first son, Elijah, was born 9/25/10 (talk about coordinating birth dates!). On 9/23, I was almost 38 weeks pregnant and went in for my doctor’s appointment. My BP was high, I was swollen, and I had already done the 24-hour protein watch and knew my levels were high. This all together meant, of course, that I was pre-eclamptic. The hospital midwife felt that it was needed for me to be induced. I remember going home and trying SO hard to get a hold of my husband. He is in the military and was training “out in the field” which means no cell phones. I was a nervous, emotional, wreck thinking about becoming a mom, knowing that it was happening. My husband was bussed home that night.The next morning, I went back to make sure my BP was still high, which I knew it was. I was brought up to L&D and hooked up to an IV and the magnesium sulphate (to keep me from seizing, but it also stalls labor), a Foley bulb inserted, and that horrid pill, cytotec, inserted. I was held captive on that bed with a catheter. I folded and got the epidural when the nurse told me that it would “help me stay calm and would bring down my BP”. Long story short, the cascade of interventions led to me laboring in bed for 24 hours before I was told I could push.

No woman should ever feel like this in labor.

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After 3 hours, I was told that I just wasn’t made to birth and he couldn’t fit out of my pelvis. His heart rate was dipping, I was told. So I went in for the C-section. I remember being on the table and telling them I could feel a few pinches. That is the last thing I remember. My husband was brought in and asked anaesthesiologist if I was awake, “Of course she is! Go let her know you are here and comfort her.” He walked over and sat down, and I did not budge. I was knocked out. My husband truly believed I was dead for a while. When he asked about it, the anaesthesiologist’s response to knocking me was “oops, wasn’t supposed to do that.” Oops?! So glad they valued my life. Any who, my sweet baby boy was born, and instantly taken to the bed to be cleaned and poked. I was shaken awake by the anaesthesiologist with my baby wrapped up in a blanket in my face. I was able to kiss him and work out a smile, then off he went. In the recovery room (with no baby), I was told his magnesium levels were 7x the normal amount (from the absurd about of magnesium sulphate they pumped in me). He needed to be transferred but that it would be a few hours so I would see him. That never happened. 3 hours later, he was brought in already in the transfer machine. I was able to touch his hand and that was it. He was gone. 4 days later, they finally released me and we rushed to the hospital so I could hold my baby for the first time in the NICU. I was on cloud nine holding him for the first time. He went home with us 2 days later.

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I struggled a lot to come to terms with his birth and everything that followed. I feel like that hospital did us so wrong in so many ways. I know in my heart that it was probably best to be induced but the way everything turned out just doesn’t feel like it should have happened. They refused to transfer me and I so ignorantly agreed. We struggled at breastfeeding because he was bottle fed for so long, and I had horrible PPD because of everything. I knew that when I had another, I would be educated, strong willed, and I would get the type of birth I so craved.

Fast forward 18 months…

When we found out I was expecting again, I instantly started educating myself about every little thing. I ate healthy, exercised, increased my water intake and my protein intake. I also struggled with where I would birth. The hospital went through a lot of changes and I spoke with the current head of L&D who made me feel pretty secure. They also had a special care nursery now which made me feel better. I decided that I would birth there again. Part of me thought it was the worst decision ever and I was crazy, but part of me wanted nothing more than to prove to every OB and midwife there that I could birth my babies, and my body was made for this. I decided to learn Hypnobabies, I hired a Hypnobabies Doula, and practiced and listened to my CD’s every chance I could.

When I was about 28 weeks pregnant, my husband received orders to go to recruiting school. He was going to be there till 2 days after my due date (11/28). Recruiting school also meant that about 2 weeks after he was done with school, we would be moving to a place that we wouldn’t know until he was almost done with school. I knew in my heart that he wouldn’t be there for the birth but also knew that Lucas’ would be here when he was ready! My neighbour went through my birthing classes with me and learned Hypnobabies in order to be my support. My mother drove 12+ hours when I was 38 weeks to stay with me until the baby was here. And I of course, had this amazing doula (who also owns Flash of Muse Photography) that taught the classes as well, so we had a good connection. On 11/24 I knew it was coming, I had been losing my mucus plug for a few days and that day just felt different. I gave in and was checked by my midwife that morning because the thought of Lucas being born after my due date was terrifying knowing we were moving so soon after. I was 4-5cm dilated already! That night, I was at home with my mom and my 2 year old who was fighting the end of a little cold. They went to bed as I sat on my birthing ball listening to my Hypnobabies track and talking to Lucas telling him I was ready to meet him and be his mommy. My 2 year old happen to wake up at around midnight crying. We got him settled back to bed and my mom dozed back off but I couldn’t. The contractions started once my 2 year old was settled. I didn’t tell anyone and waited. I got in the bathtub, on my birthing ball, and try to get some rest.

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Lying in bed HURT in any position I tried. I knew this was it, so I text my midwife. It seemed so surreal and I really didn’t know if this was it.

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The doula made it over around 6am and I sat in my room, in the dark, on my birthing ball. I was so calm and relaxed and didn’t think that these “waves” could be the real thing because I was doing ok! By 8am, they were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting a minute long so we decided it was time to head to the hospital. My mom, my doula, and I headed that way.

They put me in triage and I was only 5-6 cm. I was then introduced to the OB on call that day that seriously lived her life in fear. My midwife was also working that day so she was there (luckily! That rarely happens at military hospitals). But since this was a VBAC, the OB had to oversee my birth. She was horrid. She started instantly with the scare tactics and told me that I could not do half of what my birth plan stated because “You and the baby could just die.” I stated my facts from all my research about intermediate monitoring and she was shocked I knew what I was talking about. I agreed to the waiver and she left. They checked my heart rate and my BP while she was in the room and they were both high when she was around. She literally made my blood boil! My midwife and the nurse were both rolling their eyes when she tried to scare me. It was honestly entertaining to me because I knew I was strong and I knew it was going to be my way. They kept me in triage for 2 hours to see how we were doing and progressing. My doula was by my side the entire time in triage. 2 hours later, I let them check me and I was 8cm! Everyone was shocked. I was so calm and collected still.

So they transferred me to a room where I instantly stripped and got into the tub. My mother and my birth photographer made it to the room and shortly came my neighbour with my 2 year old. That is how I wanted it; my birth team and my son. If I couldn’t have my husband, I wanted my son that much more. I labored in the tub and was laughing, Skyped with my husband and hugging my son. Upon getting out when I got to hot, I labored on the birthing ball. On the birthing ball and out of the tub, I had HORRIBLE back labor. I had someone using counter pressure on my lower back at all times. This is where I am most thankful for my team. I had a person to focus on my son, and always had someone who could help me. I’m pretty sure that everyone needed to rest their hands after Lucas was born. No amount of pressure felt good enough. I feel like I had such horrible back labor because he hadn’t turned all the way. From his positioning, I think he was actually sideways coming down. Not head up, nor head down.

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It was getting late and by this time I think it was close to 7pm. That horrid OB came in again and started her scare tactics. I was fully dilated already but exhausted. I had no IV so I was drinking and eating as I pleased. I tried to rest in bed but it was uncomfortable no matter what.

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My son and I were snuggling in bed when my water broke. It scared him something fierce being snatched up to avoid him getting soaked. I had that over dramatic burst of fluid! Once my water broke, I started to feel a little pushy but nothing major. I started to focus a lot more and tried bearing down with each contraction (they were come one on top of another at this point). I knew how exhausted I was but that OB thought that since I had been fully dilated for a few hours that she should try to scare me again. She stated that the baby could be trapped and that I might not be able to push him out. She then proceeded with threats of death, stating that “you could haemorrhage and both you and the baby could die.” I swear threatening death was her favorite thing ever. We told her we would try a different position to push.

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That is when the awesome midwife basically pushed the OB out of the way and sat down to catch Lucas. The OB felt like she needed to be heard but I think she knew that she had no control over me nor the situation and it killed her. At this time, we tried to get my husband on Skype so he could watch his son being born but it wasn’t working…go figure…guys can watch from overseas but Skype stopped working for us! So we did the next best thing and put him on speaker phone by my head.

I was so exhausted and unfocused at this point that I needed everyone’s help. They held me up in a reclined squatting position and I pushed. I don’t think I hit my transition period of losing control until I was pushing. I was whiny and exhausted. I pushed for a while, and felt everything. It was amazing. It wasn’t this pleasure-filled birth that women talk about but it was simply amazing feeling my son coming earth side. I didn’t get to feel anything with my 2 year old, so I embraced every second of Lucas’ birth. Finally, at 8:07pm, my sweet little boy was born!

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He was able to put him on my chest with MY hands, and there he stayed. The best sound ever was hearing him cry. I never heard my oldest first cries because I was knocked out. Being able to take part and hear that was beyond amazing. Every test was done on my chest. After the cord stopped pulsing, my mom cut his cord. I know that was a special moment for her. She had 3 natural births but never experienced anything like this. Lucas stayed with me until he decided to breastfeed and did it ever so perfectly.

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He was weighed at 7lbs 8oz., exactly one pound heavier than my oldest! So not only did I get my VBAC, I birthed a baby that was a pound heavier than the baby they said was too big for me to birth. I did it. My body did it. My son was in the room, and cried seeing his brother born. It was exactly what I wanted. I think the most significant thing about his birth is I felt empowered. I couldn’t have done it without my birth team either. Oh and I guess I should add that my husband made it home 5 days later. We all met him at the airport where he got to hold his sweet baby.

Pictures by Jeni Johnson Photography and Flash of Muse Photography

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