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This is the story of my VBAC birth. It really began when I discovered I was pregnant in November. I started researching VBAC and looked into finding a doctor who would help me have one. And in my research, I discovered all the benefits of having a doula. So, I looked for a doula as well. I found Louise. And she told me to see Sheryl, a midwife in Crown Point. And I would go to St. Anthony's Hospital out there as well.
And now, I'll begin at 35 weeks when I started dilating. Slowly. I was already 1 cm. And we all thought I'd go early. But as each week passed, I continued to have progress, but no labor signs. It was very discouraging. I felt that I might never go into labor on my own.
When my due date arrived, I got very depressed. I thought for sure that I'd have him on my due date, since we were so very certain of the date of conception. But of course, it didn't happen and I was overdue.
At my first overdue appointment, Sheryl swept my membranes, hoping to encourage a little something to start. I went home and felt a little crampy and had a little brown show. But that was it. There was still nothing the next day. So that Wednesday I returned to her office. She swept me again. And again I returned home. Then I had no cramps and no show at all. Not even the usual discharge that I had come to expect. I was getting more and more discouraged. I started to think that induction might become a real possibility for me.
And then Friday arrived and I went for my third appointment for the week. She swept me again and I just knew nothing would happen, even though I'd been crampy all day and was between 3 and 4 cm. Ken and I made plans to go up to our Lake cottage. I called Louise on the way home for the usual check in. We talked quite a bit on the way home and by the time I reached my in-laws' house, I was feeling much better and less discouraged.
Freddy was playing outside on his tricycle and my mother-in-law and I just stood and chatted about different things. Some about birth and some about things I can't even remember. And all of a sudden, I felt the weirdest sensation. It kinda felt like a pop. And kind of like I had just been kicked really hard. And then I was wet. And I just looked at my mother and said “Oh my gosh. I think my water just broke!” She said “Are you kidding me?” and I said “No!” and ran in the house and sat on the toilet. I thought there was no way it was my water. I must have just been kicked really hard and lost control for the first time ever in my life. But when I stood up again, there was more! It kept coming! And there was show too. I couldn't believe it. Just when I wasn't expecting it, here I was in labor!
And literally, five minutes labor, I was having contractions. They started right up at 2 minutes apart. At first, they were bearable. I could walk and talk right through them. I quickly called everyone I could. Louise first. I had only gotten off the phone with her half an hour before! We made our plans and I was to call her back after I got a hold of everyone. I got a sitter for Freddy and called my sister to let her know we weren't coming to my niece's birthday that night. I called my mom and of course, Sheryl.
My plan was to go home and labor at home for awhile since I figured I'd be most comfortable there anyways. Louise thought I should definitely eat something as well and to take a hot shower and get everything ready. So that's what we did, despite my family's protest that I needed to go in right away. I just didn't want to go in too early and have to be sent home.
So I took my shower. And had about 5 bites of green beans and chicken nuggets. I was nauseous and the contractions got harder and harder. I couldn't do much through them except try to breathe. Louise talked me through a few on the phone. It helped to talk to her. But when I wasn't on the phone with her, it was very difficult to focus on breathing and swaying like she told me to. I even laid on my birth ball and tried to do a Sudoku puzzle to take my mind off the fact that there would be another contraction and then another. But it got increasingly difficult to focus. So instead, we decided to just go ahead and head to the hospital after all. I had only labored at home an hour.
When we finally made it there, half an hour later, I was so thankful we had gone in. They asked me if I had the urge to push. I told them I had some pressure, but no real urge. But apparently, having pressure means having the urge, so they rushed me up to the Birth Center and got me in a room and checked me. I was only a 5. The pressure was just the baby moving down.
Then Louise came and helped me into a gown and we went to work. I tried a number of different positions. Ken rubbed my back b/c I did have pretty bad back labor. But the worst part was how tired I would get between contractions. I had little strength to hold myself up. After an hour of laying on my birth ball and doing some lunges, they checked me again. I was at 6 cm.
So, Louise suggested getting in the tub. At first, I really didn't want to, but she thought it would really help me relax. So I agreed. We got in the tub and it felt so good...for a few minutes. Then I was so hot. I couldn't cool down. Ken kept rubbing my back and Louise would wipe my face with a cold cloth. She really wanted me to labor in there for half an hour. It was so uncomfortable though. I was just too hot. Somehow though, with their help and some ice chips to crunch on, I did stay in the tub for that time. Then I got out and begged to lay on the bed. I was just so tired. Louise didn't think it'd be a good idea, since Sammy was still posterior (thus the back labor). But I just needed to rest.
The contractions were stronger lying down. Moaning through them, I loved laying down because once one was over, I didn't have to hold myself up at all. I could just lay and almost sleep in between. But after another half hour, she said we had to try a different position again. She wanted me to do lunges with the other leg. I could only do a few. Each contraction seemed stronger and stronger. So, she encouraged me to do a dangling squat between Ken's legs. I squatted only once and felt an immense pain. I climbed on the bed and refused to do any more. But now, I started getting pushy. I got in a knees-chest position on the bed and that made the pushing urge harder. My body really started doing it on its own.
So they immediately called Sheryl back in. She came and checked me and I was at 8cm. Transition. I couldn't believe that I had made it that far in what seemed like such a short time. But now, each pain was so bad, I begged for an epidural, but Louise reminded me that I really didn't want one and that I wanted a narcotic first. She was right. So I asked for one instead, but then she also reminded me that I was too far along in labor and that taking something would have effects on the baby. I remembered that too. So, I just kept going. I didn't REALLY want medication anyways.
And after a short time, (I'm not sure how long), my urge to push got really strong. With every contraction, my body would push on its own. They told me not to push, but I couldn't help it. So Sheryl checked me again. I was 9 ½ cm. I was almost there. Just a couple more contractions and I had a lip. So they held back the lip and told me to push as hard as I could. I did and then I was a full 10. They turned the overhead lights on and told me to hold my breath and push as hard as possible with every contraction. They said I would probably be pushing for 1-3 hours. I didn't know how I could last another hour. It seemed so long. So I just kept pushing. I said (or screamed apparently) “I want him out!” And pushed and pushed.
And then, there was his head. And his head started crowning. It burned, but not near as bad as I thought it would. They told me to feel his head. It was so squishy and fuzzy! Just a couple pushes after that and his head was out completely. I kept pushing but his shoulder was stuck.
And then they told me not to push. I tried to pant like I knew I should. I stared at the ceiling and blew as hard as possible to keep from pushing, but my body kept going on its own. Sheryl turned him and freed his shoulder and out he came after only a half hour of pushing. They laid him up on my belly. But he wasn't breathing. They yelled at me “Breathe! Breathe! You're still breathing for him!” and I tried to take huge breaths. And they rubbed him down hard with towels and then he cried. A little. And he turned all pink. And I held him. And they asked Ken if he wanted to cut the cord. He told them no, that I wanted to and he didn't care. So I got to cut his cord.
I was still having mild contractions. They took Sammy and put him in the infant bed and started getting him checked and cleaned while I pushed out the placenta. I didn't think I would want to see it, but after all that work, I really did.
Sheryl said I had a labial laceration. So she stitched me up. And Ken held Sam and I wanted to hold him too. And my mom took pictures. They weighed him and he was 9lbs! They thought maybe that wasn't right, so they reset the scale and weighed him again. And he really was 9 lbs!! 9lbs. even and 21 inches.
And after all was cleaned up, Louise got us some snacks to eat. She even fed me! And she helped me nurse Sammy. He was so sleepy though and hardly interested.
My mom went to my in-laws house and then they came to the hospital and got to see him and hold him some too. And then they left since it was way past midnight. And then Louise left too and it was just Ken and Sammy and myself. It was so quiet then. We got to talk some and just be a family for a little while. I had done it! I had had my VBAC.
I felt so complete and so empowered. There are no real words to describe the intensity of the emotions I felt and still feel to this day. I'm so proud of myself and my son. And I'm so thankful to my birth team for never giving up on me and being so supportive. And I truly feel that for all my research and work, that I have achieved one of the greatest accomplishments of my entire life.