Erin Murray tells the story of how she conquered childbirth through a life-changing natural VBAC delivery.
My first pregnancy was uneventful and very “by the book.” My weight skyrocketed, but whose doesn’t? I got to 40 weeks on the dot, and my midwife started talking about induction, non-stress tests, and a host of other scary things. She did a membrane sweep the next day, after an ultrasound. I felt cramping all day long, and lost my mucus plug later that night.
First thing the following morning, my water broke as I was peeing. I went into a slight panic, and told my husband, who stayed cool as a cucumber as we packed the last of our stuff and headed to the hospital.
A couple hours later, we had done the song and dance of checking into the hospital and were admitted into our laboring room. Before my butt even hit the bed, my midwife said she wanted me on Pitocin. I declined, saying I wanted a natural labor, and chose to walk the halls to keep my contractions going. A few hours went by, and some family and friends started to visit. Around 9pm, the midwife put me on Pitocin. It started causing heart decelerations in the baby, so they turned it on and off in short spurts.
Overnight, the got became unbearably painful as the baby turned posterior and it became increasingly difficult to say no to an epidural; and around 3am, I was begging for one. Right after after it was put in, the baby and I both experienced plunging heart rates. The nurses were able to get them back up, and put me on oxygen afterward. I immediately dilated from 4 to 6cm, but didn’t dilate any further overnight.
The next morning, the new midwife on call came in and flat-out told me she was scheduling me for a c-section in a few hours. I fell apart and cried my eyes out until my in-laws came in to visit about an hour later.
They wheeled me back for surgery around 11am, and my beautiful baby girl was born at 11:33am. I didn’t get to see her take her first breath, and by the time I got to hold her it was at least an hour after she was born. I was happy to be a mom and that we both were healthy, but the experience left me a little empty.
For months after that, every time I talked about my daughter’s birth, I cried. I knew I would try for a VBAC the next time I got pregnant, but I needed healing first.
After my daughter’s first birthday, we started talking about having another baby. I armed myself with information on birth, VBAC vs repeat c-section, natural birth – everything I could think of. I stopped nursing my daughter at 15 months, and finally had my first postpartum period. The very next month, I was pregnant!
I felt all the pregnancy emotions: scared, excited, how will this work?, holy crap, oh my God! …everything.
I made my first prenatal appointment at eight weeks with the same practice that performed my c-section 18 months prior. I asked more questions in that one appointment than I did during my entire first pregnancy. At the end of the appointment, I decided to switch practices.
The practice I switched to had a wonderful track record of VBACs in my area, and delivered at a more natural-friendly hospital. I made my first appointment, and was immediately in love with them. They were incredibly supportive, hands-off, and big proponents of natural labor.
I kept going with my workout routine throughout the course of my pregnancy. I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time in my life at around 20 weeks pregnant. We had the anatomy scan done, and I did not find out the sex – but my husband did. Weird, I know, but it worked for us and he was sworn to secrecy so no one else knew before I did.
My pregnancy flew by without a hitch. Before I knew it, it was almost our wedding anniversary, and just two weeks before my due date. I told my husband I wanted a “VBAC Without Fear” necklace as an anniversary gift. I had been holding off on getting one, because of the “what if” factor, but I let it go and got one. She rushed the order and it arrived on our anniversary – eight days before my due date. I wore it every day and night until labor came.
My due date came and went without any signs of labor. Then, two days after my due date, I woke up at 2am to steady contractions. I started timing them; they were 5 minutes apart, and lasted 30 seconds. They weren’t very painful, but they were enough to keep me awake. I kept busy surfing my tablet, drinking tea, cleaning, and taking a bath. My husband woke up at around 6am, and I told him what was going on. He stayed home from work, and labor kept progressing. Our daughter was bouncing off the walls while he was trying to work from home, so I told him to take her to the gym so she could play. I stayed home and labored alone, which was so freeing. We were keeping quiet with our families this time, so no one was bugging me.
My husband came back home around noon, and we tried getting our daughter down for a nap (which was NOT happening). A few hours later, we made the decision to go to the hospital because we didn’t want to be stuck in traffic later. My contractions were still five minutes apart and lasting between 45 seconds and one minute. We called my dad to meet us and get our daughter, and we drove the 40 minutes to the hospital.
After my dad got our daughter, we walked into the hospital. They put me in an observation bed while they checked us in, and almost right away my contractions slowed way down. They were slowing so much, I was almost napping between them. When the nurse checked me, she said I was between 2-3cm and gave us a choice whether or not we wanted to stay. We decided to leave, and try to relax a little. My husband got us a hotel room nearby, and we went to get some dinner.
During dinner, the contractions were still pretty far apart, but getting painful. After dinner, we found some Tylenol PM and went to the hotel. We checked into the hotel around 9pm, I took the Tylenol right away and tried to get some rest. I slept for maybe an hour. The contractions just weren’t going away, and were still more painful. I got up and got in the bath tub for probably the tenth time that day. It helped immensely, and I was able to relax and labor for another two hours. When the contractions became unbearable once again, I got out and laid on the bed. I started vocalizing between contractions, and my husband kept asking when we should go back to the hospital. I guess the next few contractions made it pretty apparent, so we packed our stuff and headed out. I had three contractions between the room and the car (which was parked right outside the elevator entrance), and had three more during the six-minute drive to the hospital.
We pulled up to the hospital at 1:45am, and I had two more contractions while we were trying to walk in. A nurse came out to get me, and walked us straight back to a labor room. They checked me, and I was 5cm. I didn’t think much of it, and kept laboring as they asked questions and placed an IV port in my arm. After a few minutes, something shifted and it started to feel better to push during contractions. One of the nurses tried telling me not to push, but that’s easier said than done. After a few minutes of me continuing to try to push, they checked me again and said they were calling the midwife. I came out of my labor fog and said, “What? Why?”
She said, “You’re complete, and ready to push.” At that moment, I smiled the biggest smile of my life and was so proud of that moment. I was going to push!
My midwife came in, and I smiled saying, “You ready to catch a baby?” She got me a squat bar, and I got into position on the bed. My contractions had spaced out a little, so I killed time by cutting up with the nurses. The first contraction came, and I pushed as my body told me to. I pushed for another two contractions in that position, and the midwife told me the baby was very close. She had me reach down and feel the bulging water bag, which was encouraging (and super cool!). My legs were starting to fall asleep, so I switched to all fours. Right away, that felt better. The first contraction in that position, my water broke. It only took one more before my baby was born.
My baby was born at 3:13am on November 22, 2014.
They passed the baby between my legs so I could announce the sex – it’s a boy! They cleaned him up a little, and put him straight to my chest. I did it! I was in total shock. And bliss.
My VBAC dream came true after nine months of thinking about it every day.
He was on my chest right away. We breastfed on the table. I was up and walking around less than an hour after the birth.
Night and day different from my first birth experience!
My life is forever changed because of this experience!