I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I was waiting for my baby with a new kind of patience. I stopped anticipating stopped taking long walks, stopped timing my Braxton Hicks, stopped trying to get things moving along. I was just waiting. My water broke at around 9:30 on a Thursday night while I was singing my daughter Eva to sleep. I heard a pop and had NO IDEA what it was. My husband, Jason, thought my hip popped out of place- I knew it was the baby but I thought something must be wrong. Then I sat up quickly and as the water poured everywhere I realized what was going on! We started packing last minute things- my birthing necklace, my candle, and my Gatorade. We called the midwife at the hospital to let her know what was going on- no contractions yet; she told us to take our time coming in. I wrote out a check for my sister to take the cat to his vet appointment the next day; we called my parents to watch our daughter, and Jason got in the shower as I started to get my first contractions. Labor moved quickly and as my parents arrived maybe ten minutes after I called them, I got Jason out of the shower and said we’ve got to leave for the hospital NOW. We got our favorite midwife, and Jason was AMAZING from the second this labor had started.
Once we arrived at the hospital I was so consumed with contractions. Jason and my midwife, Pam, helped me through them- rubbing my back, holding my hands. I did my best to breathe and moan a low, deep moan. I took off everything I was wearing except my socks. Every contraction was more intense than the last. I cried out “Help me!” as I struggled to hold it together. I asked for something to take the edge off. Pam knew my birth plan and reassured me. My baby would be born soon. I don’t need the drugs. My midwife had me look into her eyes and breathe. Suddenly, I felt the need to vomit, no wait, now I need to push! My midwife checked my dilation and told me it was okay to push. What a relief pushing was. As a TOLAC patient, I had monitors on. My baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure dropped dangerously low during pushing while there was no break in contractions. Everything sounded funny, fuzzy. My midwife had me change positions a few times to try and work it out. I was on my hands and knees, I was kneeling and holding onto my husband. It was such hard work to move at all. The contractions never stopped. I was given oxygen and some medicine to slow down the contractions twice but it did not work. A doctor came in and both my midwife and the doctor checked my dilation. I still had a tiny bit of cervix left. My midwife told me I need to let the baby rest a minute, could I try not to push through the next few contractions. It was unbearable to not push. I wanted so badly to have a natural, intervention-free birth. I did not experience my labor with my first daughter, I wanted every second of this. We tried and I had a whole team of people working with me to make it happen, but my daughter’s heart rate kept dropping even while I was not pushing. With the surgical team on standby and the OR ready for an emergency c-section, my midwife looked into my eyes and told me that if I need a c-section they might have to give me general anesthesia, but they could give me an epidural now and I could be awake for her birth if a cesarean was necessary. She told me the epidural might help me and the baby rest so that we can do this. So halfway through my third stage of labor I had a light epidural. I don’t know how I sat still on my behind for that. As soon as I thought she might be finished putting it in I yelled “Can I move?” and when they said yes I jumped onto my knees and toes and hung almost off the bed, holding onto my nurse and midwife. Even the anesthetist knew what I wanted out of this birth and she made my epidural light enough to just enable me to breathe and still feel what my body was doing. I still felt the urge to push and the wave of the contractions, but I could breathe. I had some ice chips. After several contractions like that my midwife told me the baby’s heart rate had recovered a bit and I can push again. My baby’s heart rate continued to drop significantly during pushing so I knew I had to push her out quickly and so I rolled up like an upside down hedgehog, holding my own knees way back, and pushed her out in a few contractions. I had my eyes closed for all of pushing until I felt her head emerge and then I opened my eyes and watched her slide the rest of the way out with my last push- how amazing! She came out screaming at 2:20 AM with her fist beside her head and her eyes wide open, and I got to hold her icky gooey body on mine while Jason cut the cord. My sister-in-law took pictures. I cherish every minute of that labor and delivery. I felt so ALIVE.
One thing I’m so grateful for is the circle of support I had throughout my pregnancy and labor. From friends who told me “You’re gonna rock this!” to a medical team I felt safe with and important to, to my 5 year old daughter who gave me a stuffed animal of hers to cuddle with, to my husband who stood holding my hand the entire labor.
Some people might feel like they failed because they didn’t check every box on their birth plan, but I feel so fulfilled. I feel like I did everything in my power, and that the interventions I had were because they were medically necessary. I feel like I made the right choices. I went into this educated and unafraid. The whole time I felt like I had a connection with every person in that room. The high that came after this, my youngest daughter’s birth, was an incredible, empowering feeling that I think must only come following natural labor. Her birth was a transforming experience. We named her Ember Phoenix. She flew into the world.
The first picture is of my birthing necklace. My family and friends each contributed a bead to the necklace so I could bring their support with me through my labor. Each bead symbolizes something and is very special to me. My husband contributed the die and braided them onto the jute for me.
I wanted to share this with the community so people could see that every birth can be extraordinary even if it’s not something crazy like in the middle of the woods or something. That’s why I love your page. I think you feel the same way. And who doesn’t like a good VBAC story?