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This is not a quick birth story because it was not a quick birth. But before I can start on Zoe’s story I have to first mention a few things about my son’s birth. As much as I felt I was informed about birth beyond the average woman (and sadly I was!), I know looking back I wasn’t informed enough. When I showed up to my 41 week appt with Aiden I thought I had given him enough extra time and had no issues when the OB said that he was not comfortable with any mom going past 41 weeks and I would be induced. At 41+3 I was induced (weekend got in the way of a sooner one) and I did not do well with the cervidil, AROM, and pit circus. It was not enjoyable in the least bit. Aiden did not enjoy it either. I had a c section. I hated how we were separated for over 2 hours after birth. I hated that I laid in recovery without any information about my son. I hated that he was given formula during this time. It was not how a mother and baby relationship should start. I knew immediately that I was going to VBAC (vaginal birth after c section) with my next child. I started researching more birth information and asked questions of other VBAC moms. When I discovered I was pregnant in March of this year, I knew what to look for in a VBAC friendly provider. I was very fortunate to have found a great office just an hour away thanks to another local mom. I asked them questions and felt comfortable continuing my care with them. The one negative? I had a 42 week limit. Considering how many moms seeking VBACs can’t find a provider that supports a full term pregnancy (a mom is NOT post dates till 42 weeks), I was happy. Other than PUPPS annoying me in the last month, I had a very normal and boring pregnancy. I saw CNMs (certified nurse midwives) the majority of the time.
Zoe’s birth story starts at 41 weeks (my estimated due date was 11/14). At that appointment I knew I was being put on the clock. I had an NST (non stress test) and quick ultra sound to check on Zoe. I saw an OB and talked about my options and risks. He was clearly nervous but respected my wishes to be given more time for my body to work. Next appt and another NST was set for 41 weeks and 5 days. I did not want to show up to that appointment. After looking at what little research there is on castor oil I did take 2 tablespoons at 41+3, a Saturday. Nothing happened (I was not okay with taking a larger amount that many do). That evening I took 2 tablespoons more. I woke up Sunday at 3am with my first pressure wave (hypnobabies language for contractions). I had pressure waves all morning and they even got to be 3-4 minutes apart at one point. With the help of hypno tracks I was easily able to work my way through them. However, they slowed down the afternoon. There was much walking and letting Aiden nurse as much as he wanted. Waves picked back up that evening and I worked my way through them all night. I did not sleep. I knew something was different because by now my waves were in my back, not just my front like they had been. I showed up for my Monday 41+5 appt having waves every 20-30 minutes. Zoe passed her NST, but the ultra sound showed that she had shifted herself asynclitic only a bit more wonky than a typical asynclitic presentation. She was leaning way far to one side at an angle and had the back of her head presenting first. I knew then that the OB was going to want to finally set a RCS (repeat c section). I was prepared to ask/argue for a foley induction, but with her presentation I was no longer comfortable with that. I envisioned the awful labor I had with my son that ended with a CS. The OB was definitely not okay with induction of any kind. He told me chances weren’t high that she’d shift for me to have a VBAC, but he’d give me my wish to not have a RCS till 42 weeks exactly and if I showed up in labor then I would be given the opportunity to VBAC. I had lots of hope and was immediately on the phone texting my best friend and on FaceBook messaging a group of over 20 women who had been supporting me from around the world. Yes, that’s right there was a huge FB chat going on for my birth and while I haven’t met most of these ladies they were on day and night offering advice and support from AZ to Canada to the UK to Laos to Australia. They got on the ball when I told them what was happening. While I was eating lunch after my appt, they sent me numbers and information on chiropractors within 2 hours of me that may be helpful. After lunch my husband drove the entire family (Aiden always went with me to every appoint even the ones at the end) over an hour away to a chiro who said she’d see me and see if she could help. Turns out she was a VBAC mom herself. She worked on adjusting me some and stretching out my round ligaments, which were way off balance and allowing Zoe to lean waaaaay off course. She gave me my “homework” and said if I’m not in active labor by the next afternoon she’d see me again and do her best to get me in active labor before my RCS. I left there with waves coming every 7-15 minutes. That evening I followed her suggestions which started off with a long relaxing bath. I watched Zoe shift herself from the far side. Then my husband and I worked on the pressure points she had shown me. By 10pm I was back in active labor. It took off quickly and I put all my energy into staying calmed and focused. My husband called his sister to come pick up Aiden at 1am. I have a fantastic sister-in-law to get up in the middle of the night and drive an hour to get Aiden! I spent the entire night changing positions and trying to ride my waves despite the horrible back labor I was still experiencing. I’m not sure if I vocalized it out loud, but I spent a lot of time repeating “deeper relax” and “open, open, open.” I listened to easy first stage from hypnobabies a lot, but don’t recall paying attention to any of it. For once the lady’s voice didn’t annoy me and acted as a constant calm presence. Meanwhile my husband did his best to support me and do everything he can to make the waves better for me. He reminded me to use the bathroom, to drink water, suggested snacks, gave me back counter pressure, gave me heat packs, and reminded me to move around and change positions periodically. He spent a lot of time texting my best friend and even getting on my FB chat to make sure he was doing what he could. I’ve since heard that he was worried that I was going to give birth at home due to how my waves appeared to him, but I knew that I was not in danger of that. I knew I had lots of time left to go, which at that point wasn’t comforting to my poor back. By 4am my husband decided it was past time to get me to the city that our hospital was in since it’s an hour drive there. At the suggestion of my chat ladies, he called around and found a hotel for us to go to. I refused to go to the hospital, so it was a good compromise for us. I wasn’t a fast mover with my intense waves, so it was 6am before we arrived there. The ride sucked. I ended up laying down on my side in the back seat with a heat pack on my back. I turned my hypnobabies birth track up way loud (headphones on!) and when I couldn’t be quiet reminded myself to moan through them keeping my mouth loose. When we arrived to the hotel, my husband drew me a bath in this huge jacuzzi tub and grabbed me food from the hotel to eat (ate bacon, eggs, tots, and part of a biscuit!). I moved between the tub, the toilet, the shower, and the bed thanks to my husband’s urging. I’m fairly certain I told my husband a few dozen times that I was done and take me to the hospital for an epidural. He reminded me that I didn’t want that. I told him I needed to sleep. I was really struggling at this point to stay focused and calm with the back labor. Looking back it was way better than the pit labor I had with Aiden, but at the time I couldn’t focus on that because I was so sleep deprived. All I could think about was how the waves now hurt and that I wanted to sleep. I did keep moving back to the bed to lay down on my side so I could rest in between waves. The bad part of this is that the waves hurt more in this position. Getting on my hands and knees, leaning over anything, and heck just standing was beyond what I could physical handle at that point. At 10am my husband called the OB office at my urging. I was pissed that they said to go into the office and not to the hospital. Though once there apparently I highly amused everyone (thanks honey for sharing!) by asking for my hairbrush because I was not going inside with my hair the way it was. I somehow walked inside and waited for them to call me back. I just remember standing in the waiting room with my hypno on my headphones trying to keep quiet so I didn’t scare all the old people and pregnant ladies. When I was called back they checked the heartbeat (which was great) and checked me – 5 to 6cm! OB came in and sent us off to the hospital with paperwork in hand for my VBAC! All I could think was “FINALLY!” We arrive to the hospital minutes later and learned that everyone was right – parking SUCKS there. My husband dropped me off at the entrance and he went off in search of parking. I walked inside and registered myself. Let’s say that sucked too. Especially because they told me to wait there for a nurse and it took what felt like hours for a nurse to come (at least a half hour in reality!). I somehow (where did the energy come from?!) walked the 10 minutes to the room they wanted me in. I stripped down and told the nurse that there was no way I could lay down in the bed on my back for a 20 minute strip like they wanted. So we tried with me sitting and finally laying on my side so I could keep getting counter pressure from my husband (this whole time I’d say ‘wave’ and he’d run over to help me). She was picking up the HB way low on me and it was only at 100. I was getting concerned. The OB came in and saw that and was clearly concerned and said that it was time to do the prep for a RCS. He kept looking at me and I know he was thinking about how much I wanted my VBAC. I shifted onto my back and I have no doubt I was screaming through the waves at this point. A whole bunch of people ran into the room. I got shaved down there, got my line in with saline, and more. The midwife on call from the practice was there too. Things were busy and a bit of a blur. However, Zoe’s HB improved and the OB said to wait and that if the HB stays like it is he’s okay with me continuing to labor. I was checked at some point and found to be at 7cm. Knowing this kicked in my head that I could still have my natural VBAC. Due to the issues with getting her HB still on the external monitors, I agreed for internal monitoring. At this point getting my VBAC was way more important. He asked to break my waters. I knew this was potentially going to make my waves speed up, but I was very worried about my energy and knew I couldn’t labor much longer. Told him to go for it. He broke my water and I immediately went to 8cm. “Not much longer now” I remember thinking. He left and said I was going to be under the midwife again! She came and checked up on me. I did ask at some point for something to help take the edge off and was given Stadol. I knew I couldn’t labor out of bed due to pure exhaustion (it was in the afternoon by this point!) and the bed was making my waves worse. I screamed/moaned through the peaks of the waves and used hypno to survive the going and coming of them. I stayed on my side mostly so my husband could keep providing counter pressure and heat packs. The Stadol made me feel loopy, but I was able to keep my calm better and focus on getting through each wave one at a time. At some point I noticed the waves changed, but I would never call it much of a push sensation. It took me several before I realized what it even was and told the nurse. The midwife came in again all happy and helped me work through pushing. She was very encouraging. I chose when to push and how long I could manage it. She was great at offering suggestions, but still letting me call it. However, it was very rough on me since my back labor was still there and I didn’t often feel a great sense of pushing. I had no idea until later how long I’d been pushing. I just knew that after awhile I was completely collapsing between pushing waves. I knew I had exhausted myself completely. My husband thought I was “being zen” when really I was struggling to stay awake period. The midwife mentioned that I might need assistance because the heart rate wasn’t staying steady and called the OB in. He recommended forceps and quickly told me risks. I agreed because although I knew I could push her out I was too far past the exhaustion point to manage it (I did keep trying when urges hit though). It hurt like hell pushing her out with help of the forceps, but she came out quickly at 4:56pm. Turns out I had been pushing for 3 hours! No wonder they were concerned and no wonder I was having issues staying awake! Zoe was immediately placed on my stomach. I left her there till the cord had stopped pulsating. I was still struggling to stay awake, but the shocked that she really was here after all my waiting was starting to wake me up. I did receive a pit injection as per my birth plan. The placenta came out quickly without me paying much attention. I had my girl on my chest and offered her the boob if she wanted it. She was perfect! However while she was on my chest the OB became concerned about my bleeding and got my permission for a full bag of pit. There was much fussing around me and I remember having lots of pain from people pressing on my stomach. I tried my hardest to concentrate on Zoe, but I’m pretty sure I let out some screams. Soon though the local worked and they were able to stitch up my 2nd degree tear (I was told that I had torn before the forceps) and my bleeding calmed down a lot. Once they were done with me down there I finally felt awake from the ecstasy of having my VBAC. I was able to enjoy the beauty in my arms. I was amazed and shocked that I had accomplished my goal. Everything I had gone through was suddenly 100% worth it.
Definitely not my ideal birth, but it was incredibly powerful and healing. My body can go into labor. My body can dilate. My body can birth a baby. I got my VBAC. I got my precious baby girl. And all interventions were done with my consent and explained to me. I have no regrets. And the best part? My recovery has been nothing compared to that of a CS!!!
My first VBAC was rough too, 2.5 hours of pushing, forceps delivery 3rd degree episiotomy/tear and a 2 inch deep laceration on the vaginal wall. But soooo worth it. I had 4 more VBACs and they were all so much better.