Wow you are all ridiculously gorgeous!! Love it.
On Friday September 19th, I was a day over 41 weeks pregnant and hoping a membrane sweep at my doctor’s appointment would get things moving. I had agreed to schedule an induction for Monday, the 22nd and wanted to avoid that appointment if possible. Alas, my cervix was still positioned very high and was closed. My doctor said he doubted I would begin labour on my own over the weekend and that we would start with cervidil on Monday. I was very disappointed when I left the office. A sweep had started things when I was pregnant with Ella and I was untrusting in my body’s ability to start things on its own.
Over the weekend I had some promising signs of labour. I lost bits of mucous plug on both Saturday and Sunday and I was getting occasional contractions, but they never seemed to increase in intensity or frequency until Sunday afternoon.
I went for two long walks on Sunday (well, they seemed long for my huge pregnant self!). It felt like the baby was lower and the sporadic contractions were more noticeable. I also had the urge to cook a big meal. We had chicken with mashed potatoes, turnip, baby carrots, cranberries and stuffing. If I needed to be induced the next day, I was making my last real meal a good one!
At 11pm I decided to go to bed and get some rest. I fell asleep quickly and was woke up by my husband crawling into bed around 1:30am (Monday). We chatted a bit about what time we would leave for the appointment, it was scheduled for 9am and we had a two hour drive ahead of us to the hospital. I had two mild contractions while we were spooning and he said, “Those ones were different than before. I recognize how your belly stays firm in between… like when you went into labour with Ella.” I thought he was crazy. They didn’t feel any different than all the other ones I had over the weekend. He talked me into leaving for the hospital and if nothing progressed during the trip then we’d stay at his parent’s house for a few hours before the induction appointment. I cried because I didn’t want to leave Ella, but we packed things up and my mom came to stay the rest of the night at our place. We left at 2:39am.
During the car ride labour started to pick up a little. Contractions every 6 minutes or so for the first 45 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from getting some MacDonald’s! I had a chocolate milkshake and a small fries, and Rob asked the drive through attendant about how many women she had served while they were in labour. Around the same time I felt a couple of tiny leaks and I thought it might be my water breaking, I just hoped there wasn’t a full gush onto the seat of the car (we kept meaning to pack some garbage bags for this purpose, but didn’t get around to it!). Finally at 4:30am we arrived at the hospital. The rest of the drive had brought contractions approximately 4 minutes apart and I was needing to concentrate to get through them. I really needed to pee when we arrived and when I found a bathroom and sat down there was quite a gush of fluid. I thought it was likely my water breaking, but thought it was odd that it waited until I sat on a toilet!
We registered and went upstairs to the early labour assessment unit. The nurse monitored the baby for about 20 minutes, and the heart rate and variability was great. I had a few contractions during this time but they were quite mild and spaced apart. She checked me so we could decide our plan of action (staying or leaving to return for my induction appointment at 9). I was 4cm dilated, completely effaced and she predicted I was likely more during a contraction. I was so excited that labour had truly started on it’s own and this was the real deal! She asked about my last birth experience and if I had brought a birth plan. My husband was right on top of finding it and handing it over. We decided she would keep me as an observation patient, especially since I had a doula (who I called around this time). Being in observation meant I was given a birthing room without being admitted and before the end of her shift at 7am, she only needed to check in on me once to have a listen to the baby with the doppler.
While in observation I was able to relax and let labour really take over. I moved between sitting on and leaning over the birth ball, sitting backwards on the toilet and the standing/walking between the two. I did meet my MacDonald’s milkshake again, but this was the only time I threw up (I threw up constantly while in labour with my daughter, likely due to the pain medication). I got through the contractions with some great lower back counter pressure from Stef (our doula), cold and warm compresses on my back and I held smooth stones in the pressure points of my palms.
The observation nurse checked in before shift change at 6:45am. She said she was talking to Dr. A and he said to just let me carry on as I was doing, and that she would be admitting me and assigning a nurse for 7am just so baby and I could have some closer monitoring. Shortly after, we met our nurse named Sandy. She introduced herself, checked my blood pressure and temperature and I sat in a reclining rocking chair so she could check the baby with the doppler. From the last check, the baby’s heartbeat was found much lower in my abdomen which meant progress was happening! I also had my blood drawn. At this point however, contractions were getting intense. The pressure over the front of my pubic bone was incredible and I was using low moans to get through. It was an odd feeling, but even though I was tired and wanted to doze between contractions earlier, this was the time that my body decided it actually needed some sleep. Between 3 or 4 contractions I drifted off, but then I heard myself saying, “I can’t do this. I don’t think I can do this.” and felt my legs shivering a bit. In the back of my mind I thought about transition and recognized the signs, but refused to let myself believe I was beyond 5cm. I then moved back to sitting backwards on the toilet, and during the contraction on the way I felt myself give a little push. The next contraction on the toilet, I was definitely pushing through it, and it felt wonderful to have something to do during the wave!
During this time I called out to Sandy that I felt “pushy”. Rob asked if she would be checking me and she said something like, “I would, but given the birth plan it’s hard to do my job.” I then asked Stef (who was doing counter pressure on my back with her knee and letting me rest against her between contractions) if the nurse was mad about my birth plan. However, in the back of my mind I didn’t really care, things were going exactly as I had hoped. I was pushing, had only one cervical check when I first arrived, no IV, intermittent fetal monitoring, I was drinking and moving around as I pleased (I could have ate, but didn’t feel like it), I wasn’t even wearing a hospital gown.
Eventually Sandy came around and started to relax a little and get involved. Rob talked with her a little about my past birth experience and when she saw Dr. A joking and being laid back with us, she started to as well. Later, after the birth she would tell us that she’s glad we weren’t as “straight laced” as she expected.
After pushing for a little while on the toilet, I decided to return to the bed so Sandy could check to make sure I wasn’t pushing against some remaining cervix. This was at approximately 8am. She found that I was complete, possibly a tiny lip of cervix left, but it moved away easily during contractions and pushing. Sandy started to set up the room for a baby and I continued with pushing.
The contractions were coming fast and furious (and would remain that way until the end) and with each one I’d give two pushes, one long one with a gasp of air halfway through and then a smaller one at the end of the contraction. I moved from a semi-sitting/semi-side-laying position in the bed, we tried the squat bar and then back to the toilet. Shortly after Dr. A arrived, he asked if he could check fetal position and to see if the baby had moved down since Sandy’s check. At this point I had been in the pushing phase for a little over an hour and they felt that the baby really hadn’t moved down. At this point, my doctor, who is a GP, had to consult with the on-call OB and the resident working under him because of my previous section.
Dr. A and Sandy spoke with me about trying some directed pushing to see if we could make some progress, I was more than happy at this point to have some coaching. I wanted so badly for the baby to move down some before the obstetricians arrived with their “suggestions“. Around this time, someone also set up a mirror so I could focus on where I needed to push. Before the birth I didn’t think I’d be keen on seeing everything happen down there, but I really did enjoy having it there.
When the resident arrived she checked the baby’s position, which from what I heard, was slightly transverse to posterior. Before the exam she asked, “So your epi is working well for you?” Someone said, “No epi, no drugs.” And she got a shocked look on her face and looked for the IV pole behind me. (haha) I remember being surprised about what a gentle touch she had during the exam, she even helped the baby turn to a better position during a contraction. Before she left she said, “I’ll come back in about an half an hour to see if the baby has come down some. At that point we’ll look at the possibility of forceps or a c-section.” Within a few contractions of her leaving, we started to see some progress and before the half hour was out, I could see the top of the head with each push. However, for a long time I’d push, see the head, and then baby would slide right back in. I knew in the back of my mind that this is normal and eventually the head would stay put. However, after pushing for close to 2 and a half hours and having the threat of metal or surgery dangled over my head, it was a little frustrating. I was tired.
When the resident returned, the obstetrician came with her. The OB was still talking forceps saying, “I think we should be able to deliver you from below, but you may need some help.” I just kept pushing and decided that this man did not deserve my attention. I acted like I couldn’t hear him and I don’t think I answered a single question he asked. I’ll give him a little credit for the fact that he didn’t do anything until I specifically told someone “yes.”, but man was he annoying! At one point he wanted someone to give me some gas and Dr. A said, “She’s doing it without drugs. She doesn’t need them.” Yeah Dr. A!
Baby’s head was so close to coming out at this point (about 10:45am) and I remember Stef saying, “You’re getting your VBAC!”. That was some great motivation. I was so happy that it was almost over and I wasn’t going for surgery! Mr. OB had to disrupt the moment again by wanting to cut me because I “had a tight band” holding the baby back. I kept pushing and tore. He said, “O.K. O.K., you tore!” (lol!) My tear was straight toward my rectum, so I did allow a small cut to redirect from that area. In a very short time, the head and shoulders were out and I reached down and pulled my baby to my chest. I immediately started sobbing and said, “We have a baby!” I was staring at him and Stef reminded me to check the gender, it was a beautiful baby boy!
Born September 22nd, 2008 at 10:53am
8lbs 9oz, 21 ¾ inches long
My husband, who had been snoozing soundly in the recliner, was woke up just in time to see me catch Gabriel and he was able to meet his son. Gabe was taking some time to clear the fluid from his mouth, so he didn’t get delayed cord clamping. They took him away for a minute to get him breathing well, meanwhile at 10:55, the placenta released and I gave a small push to help things along. As soon as Gabe gave a cry I asked to have him back and he didn’t leave my arms for the next hour or so (until I ate a hamburger!). It was so awesome to have him close and to stare at my brand new baby.
I must admit that even though I had local freezing for the suturing, that part was far worse than pushing out a head (which I don‘t remember being painful at all). I had a second degree tear that needed about 6 stitches, but the nerve endings were firing like crazy and when they touched me it felt like needles. At this point I also agreed to the IM shot of Pitocin, not because I was bleeding but because the stinking OB wouldn’t shut up about it! He left after I got the shot, so maybe it really was worth it.
They finished their repairs and Ella got to meet her baby brother. Gabe also latched on and started nursing like a little pro. Eventually, I allowed them to weigh the baby and give him the vitamin K shot (he had a huge bruise on the top of his head).
This birth experience was the most empowering and awesome experience of my life. The only thing I wish was different was the attitude of the OB. He was just so untrusting of birth’s natural process. The next day when he came to do his rounds he said he was positive I wouldn’t be able to deliver vaginally. So at least I got to prove him wrong!
DD - Nov/06, DS - Sept/08, DS - Mar/11
*tears* What an AWESOME vbac story! I'm so so thrilled for you, Rebecca! You did amazing!
That's a great story and I'm glad everything worked out for your VBAC! It's very inspiring. It seems you were very well taken care of and you were able to avoid those interventions for a BEAUTIFUL birth!!
Nicely done, Mama!
Wow Rebecca!! That's an incredible VBAC story!! I'm so happy for you!!
You give me inspiration and motivation!!
Congrats again on beautiful baby Gabe!
Oh man, you did such a great job! Your birth story has me in tears!
Good on you for ignoring the Ob - you obviousely didn't need the interventions and did great leaving things to nature.
What a great birth story! Thanks for sharing! You did a GREAT job!!!