Hospital VBAC with a True Knot

I have had three children. The first was a c-section and the other 2 were VBAC.  I feel that I was “bullied” into the c-section simply because I didn’t follow their time schedule.  I was induced at 9 days over my due date because I was told my pelvis was not large enough to have a 9 pound baby which they said she would be.  I didn’t progress as quickly as they wanted and was given high doses of Pitocin.  I made it 13 hours before caving for the epidural which then stalled my labor which required more Pitocin. Then I needed another epidural because all the feeling returned and was so intense.  After having a midwife and resident fight over if I was at a 9 or 10 and pushing for 1 1/2 hours a different doctor came on and said I was only 9 centimeters. He said I would not progress and had to have an emergency c-section because of lack of progress and potential harm to the baby.  This baby now has asthma, had tubes in her ears, and is constantly sick.  I honestly believe it is in part or mostly due to the c-section.  Also, they were wrong about her size, she was born 8 pounds and 8 oz.

I became more educated for baby #2 and found a VBAC friendly doctor.  After my water was broken naturally for 22 hours and 3 hours of pushing, I had a vacuum assisted delivery of a perfectly healthy baby girl.  I was so thankful to be “allowed” to VBAC that I questioned nothing.  I did what I was told with no questioning.  I hated being in the bed the entire time!  I was monitored the whole time, took the awful Pitocin when told, and was checked constantly for progress.  It wasn’t awful, but it sure wasn’t what I had dreamt of for a VBAC. I was very thankful not to have another c-section.

With our third child we were stunned to find out we were expecting.  As soon as we found out we started looking for a doctor who would do VBAC.  I had heard horror stories about the Air Force hospital I was supposed to deliver at.  I managed to get a referral off base, but couldn’t find a doctor. that would allow me my right to VBAC.  I was forced to go to the hospital which I was terrified of.  During the pregnancy I was scared they would force me into a c-section.  I was never really comfortable at any appointments.  The closer the due date became the more apprehensive I was.  The birth of our son was traumatic, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.  My water broke in bed at 4:45 a.m.  I had planned to take my time in going to the hospital.  However I noticed he had meconium inside me by the blackish water leaking from me.  So I showered and ate a healthy breakfast (I knew they would starve me after I got there) and then we went to the hospital.

After 3-4 hours they kept trying to give me Pitocin.  I refused.  I kept walking, rocking on the ball and trying anything to start contracting.  I was getting angry at my body.  My waters had broken but my body didn’t seem to notice I should be in labor.  Then the reminders started that I had 24 hours before they take the baby.  I knew I needed to get something started.  My husband helped me remain in control.  We continued to walk coming back every 30 minutes to be monitored.  We enjoyed the time together and he snuck me food.  The doctors began to get more insistent that I start Pitocin.  After 3 pm I finally consented. I was still 2-3 centimeters dilated. I began to have a bad feeling at this point.  I immediately lost my freedom to be up and walk around.  Now I could only go as far as the drip, then his heart rate fluctuated a couple of times so I was placed on the fetal heart rate monitor nonstop.  I was still on my 24 hour window that they had given me to deliver from time of rupture, so was getting a little nervous. Then they turned the Pitocin up so high I had to get an epidural.  That was pure hell!  I got what’s called a wet tap, so essentially a spinal instead of a regular epidural.  I’m really sensitive to meds so that made me pass.  I remember pretty much everything including my husband’s face when I couldn’t talk or breath and baby’s heart rate was in the 50s.  Once the drugs started to wear off and the baby and I were okay he had to leave to compose himself.

Next came the internal monitors and a half dose of epidural when it had worn off.  They then decided I would be allowed no more drugs.  This is where my husband got me to focus.  I love to run so he used running analogies with the contractions and breathing.  It was the most helpful thing anyone could have done and I was managing the pain.  Baby’s heart rate then had unexplained dips and then they started discussing a c-section.  I’m told that if we do a c-section I will have to be put to sleep because of the instability of the wet-tap that the anesthesiologist caused.  I freak out and start bawling.  Not only is a c-section the furthest thing that I want from our birth plan, but I already thought I was going to die from his previous error and now he wants to put me to sleep?!

My doctor that had come on service came by to chat and told me as long as no infection he would not adhere to the 24 hour rule but if we lost heartbeat one more time he would take the baby.  I went from a 2-3cm dilated to a 9 in a little over an hour.  Thank you doctor for allowing me to finally relax!  I stalled at 9 1/2 and the doctor stayed and massaged and stretched me the best he could.  The heart rate dropped and he made me start pushing.  I pushed for 45 minutes and with each contraction there was an irregular heartbeat for baby.  I finally got his head out and there was nothing but silence.  Next thing I know doctor says “I’m sorry dear” and gives me a 4th degree episiotomy and then nurses start putting pressure on my stomach.  A vacuum is placed on baby’s head and he is out.  There is still no life from him.  Almost 2 1/2 minutes passed from his head exiting until they had him take his first breath.  The 1st cry was the most amazing sound ever!

It was a boy after 2 girls! Thanking God he numbed me before he stitched me up after effectively having zero pain meds for the actual birth of baby was a must!  I hear the nurses and doctor start saying, “Miracle Baby.”  I didn’t understand.  Then I hear something about a true knot. Jagger’s true knot is what was caused all the fluctuations in his heartbeat.  He wasn’t able to draw what he needed anymore from the cord.  He also had a broken clavicle and Corio (infection).  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to bring him into the world but I am so thankful he is here and so amazing!  My postpartum care was awful.  I had bronchitis and they took me off all my meds and said the antibiotics for Corio for me would take care of it…wrong!  I was begging for cough syrup to help.  Imagine a 4th degree episiotomy and an uncontrollable cough…not pleasant.  I was discharged without anyone looking around down there and haven’t used the bathroom.  We had to stay 8 days because Jagger didn’t respond to his antibiotics in the first 48 hours so he had to be on a full 7 day course of meds for him.  I was put on bonding status and was able to stay in a room with him because he is nursed exclusively.  I asked everyday what to do to go to the bathroom. I tried prune juice, Colace, Miralax, veggies, almonds and chugging water.  I kept asking what to do but no one could help me because I was no longer a patient.  I asked every nurse and they all called ObGyn but no one would come.  This left me to asking friends and nurses and trying a tries variety of things.

Truly disappointed that after baby is delivered Mama is not a concern.  It would be more helpful for recovery, bonding, and overall well being if moms were treated with the same respect after little one is delivered as prior to delivery.  I am thankful that I have three beautiful children.  I am relieved I only had 1 c-section.  I do think that our culture needs so much work to make birthing babies a safer, more enjoyable, easier, less traumatic journey.  I would love to see moms with more options and knowledge about our rights and what is acceptable from practitioners.

VBAC true knot

VBAC true knot


One Comment

  • Bettina

    I have had four children and am now undertaking my first year in a degree for midwifery. Part of our first semester included looking at Australian Health Care and other health care systems around the world. I was appalled that the US has the highest maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity statistics for a developed nation! How can this be when they spend so much of their gross domestic product (17.6%). Your story seems to sum it all up. Higher Cesarean rates, higher birth intervention rates have not produced better birth outcomes. Doctors are so concerned about litigation that they practice ‘defensive medicine’ which means that rather than let nature take its course, they jump right in from the get go and prescribe and undertake any and all procedures so when it goes to court they can say that they did everything they could!
    Childbirth is seen as a disease that must be fixed and the easiest way to do that is to take over from the untrained laboring woman. As long as mother and baby are alive that’s all that matters – how the mother or her family feel about the event is seen as irrelevant! Hug your children and hold them in your heart for the precious wee things that they are. xoxo

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