Yesterday was Z’s First Birthday. Here’s the story of his wonderful birth.
This kid loves waiting until the last minute and then surprising us. After a month of staying breech, we discovered that he’d turned at 38.5 weeks (at the appointment where I was supposed to schedule my C-Section). After that, I should have known that he still had a few tricks up his sleeve.
I spent 9 months listening to my doctors tell me that they’d absolutely let me attempt a VBAC, but that they would not let me go past 41 weeks (and that was pushing it) and they would NOT induce me. Fair enough. At 38.5 weeks (when we discovered he’d turned) I was 3cm and 75% effaced. I was SO ready to go into labor. Instead, I stayed pregnant for another few weeks.
At my 40 week appointment I was still at 3cm. The OB warned me that the later I went, the bigger the baby would get and a vaginal birth was not looking good. That being said, he mentioned that my conditions were favorable for them to give me Pitocin and break my water. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t go into labor on my own and that the baby wouldn’t get to pick his own birthday, but it was another chance to avoid surgery, so I took it. We scheduled the induction for Thursday…..I would be 40 weeks 5 days.
At 9:30 Wednesday night the hospital called to ask that we be there at 5:30am. At 11:30, after furiously trying to finish everything I wanted to do, I decided that I needed to get as much rest as possible. As I was trying to get to sleep, I kept focusing on my breathing and relaxing. In the process, I started visualizing my body opening up and the baby moving down. If nothing else, I figured that it would help me fall asleep.
Early the next morning Jason & I drove to the hospital exhausted, but happy. I was still bummed that I hadn’t gone into labor on my own, but was trying to convince myself that there was no point worrying about it. We checked in and the nurse hooked me up to the monitors. I was worried that I’d be stuck in bed the entire time, but the nurse assured me that all I had to do was get up to go to the bathroom a lot and nobody would say anything about it (wink wink).
After 30 minutes of napping while they monitored me (I think that the overnight crew was just waiting for the day shift to come in to start the actual induction), the nurse came in to check on me. She looked at the monitor and said “You know, you’re having pretty regular contractions every five minutes. Are you feeling them?” I’d been crampy…but I’d been crampy on and off for weeks. She called the midwife in to check me and I was 5 cm. We were all a little surprised and the midwife said “well….let’s just see what happens if we let you go.”
At around 9:30a, my midwife Kate came in and broke my water and told me that she wanted to see what my body would do before she started Pitocin. I definitely started feeling the contractions….but they still weren’t particularly painful. For another 30 minutes we napped and watched TV. At 10:00 we shut the TV off and listened to music. For the next hour the contractions continued to get closer together and more intense, but still not terrible. My main problem was that I couldn’t find a comfortable position. With Amelia I’d labored for hours straddling the hospital bed leaning forward….this time my belly was too big and I couldn’t comfortably lean forward. At around 11:00 it started getting really intense. I spent a while sitting on the edge of the bed leaning on Jason. He was facing the monitors so he could see when a contraction was coming and would talk me through it. Then I stood up and leaned on the bed. In this time I also threw up a couple times and walked back and forth to the bathroom a lot (I peed A LOT during labor). At 11:30, I was 7cm. When I checked into the hospital I’d told the midwife and nurse that I’d wait and see whether I needed pain control. Around this time I started wondering how far I could get without it. Whenever I started feeling weak, I kept thinking ‘I’ve made it this far….what’s a few more cm?’
At noon my legs were tired so I got back in bed. I was incredibly uncomfortable and my nurse suggested I get on my hands and knees. I rolled onto my right side and got hit with a really hard contraction. I never actually rolled any farther after that. The nurse, Carol, was a great help making sure my shoulders and face were relaxed. I’d later find out that she was actually a trained midwife. It was so helpful to have her there. Starting when I got back into bed I found that I could concentrate best when my eyes were closed. Jason was great encouraging me and talking me through contractions, but I really needed to be within myself to get through it. It was also around this time that I got really emotional and cried to Jason that I wasn’t sure if I could do it. He told me that I was doing great…and I guess that’s all I needed.
Kate came in to check on me and asked if I was feeling an urge to push. I wasn’t, so she said she’d be back to check on me in a little while. As soon as she left I had a contraction and felt the unmistakable urge. I had a few more contractions and urges to push. During one my elbow hit the nurse call button which summoned Kate and Carol back into the room. I was complete and Kate told me that we could start pushing. I went through a momentary panic because I’d gotten this far with Amelia and then pushed for 3.5 hours before having a C/S. However, not having an epidural I soon realized that the experience was completely different and I felt a lot more active in the process. It took a couple pushes to get everything together (chin down, push with your butt, relax your face, don’t waste energy on yelling) but eventually I got myself coordinated.
Like the rest of my labor, I found that I needed to have my eyes closed to really channel my energy. I even told them not to bother with pulling the mirror over because I knew there would be no point. I continued to push and took everyone’s word for it that I was doing well. I thought that I would feel the baby getting lower, but I never felt any change (although I did notice Carol’s hand getting lower on my pelvis feeling the baby). The most encouraging words were those that Jason, Kate & Carol exchanged among each other (not to me) because I knew that they could all see what was going on. Every time I opened my eyes something new was going on…at one point I saw them pulling the bottom on the table away and knew that I was going to do it because they’d never gotten this far with Amelia. My big turning point though was when I reached down and felt the head. It was between contractions and the head was still there (as opposed to going back up) so I knew that I’d passed some milestone.
The next thing I knew Kate was telling me that I was going to feel a burning sensation and that she’d ask me to stop pushing at that point. At the same time, a tech was stacking blankets on my chest. That’s when I REALLY knew that it was going to happen. I pushed a few more times and felt a bit of burn, but there was so much else going….baby’s head pushing, Kate’s hand stretching me, Jason pushing my leg….that it was just another passing pain.
I’d just given a really hard series of pushes and thought “Okay, maybe next push” when suddenly I felt slimy little arms and legs on my thighs. I opened my eyes as a little wiggling baby boy was put onto my chest. I looked down and Kate was smiling and I saw the umbilical cord. All I could say was “I DID IT!!!!”.
In the end, I had a small episiotomy, which wouldn’t have been my choice, but Kate had spent so much time massaging and stretching that I knew that she hadn’t done it without care. I’m so glad that she’d been there and by the end I had complete faith in her. I’d later find out that she also had complete faith in me too. Right before I started pushing, she’d seen that OB who’d doubted that I’d have a successful VBAC and he’d suggested she start the Pitocin ASAP. Her response was “We’re doing just fine. She’s about to start pushing right now. Thanks.”
A week later I still can’t get over the fact that I had an unmedicated VBAC. I can’t believe that, after all the worry and all the tears, everything came together perfectly. And I can’t help but think that that Z had a perfect April 10 birthday planned all along.