Hate to keep you all waiting. It took me so long to type this up, that I only had time to upload one picture that I took with my DH's cell phone. I'll come back later to share more.
Beginning around 11 pm on September 9, 2013 I began having contractions that ranged between 5 and 7 min apart. They became more regular throughout the night but stopped first thing in the morning. This proved to be a pattern over the next several days. Contractions would pick up around 11 pm and continue steadily until around 5 the next morning. False labor was beginning to wear on us, as we were becoming more and more anxious for the arrival of our new little one.
Finally on Sunday September 15, around 11 pm, the intensity of the contractions changed. They went from averaging around 7 min apart to about 3 min apart by 2 am. I called Dr. Stella and under her advisement decided to head to the hospital for admission. We arrived around 3:30 am, with contractions averaging every 3-4 min. I was hooked up to the monitors, and given an IV of fluids and a hep lock, in case an emergency should arise during the VBAC. We informed our nurses of my desire to labor naturally without the use of drugs, including pain meds. I was given permission to get up to use the restroom, as well as to walk next to the bed up until the point my water broke.
At around 7 am Dr. Stella arrived. Contractions had dropped in frequency to around every 5-7 min, but were still strong. At this time there was no dilation. We were given the option of augmenting with pitocin, or seeing where labor would lead on it's own. I decided to wait until after lunch to see if any progress could be made without the use of any medication.
Contractions continued averaging every 5-7 min, with no change in intensity. Dr. Stella arrived around 2 to check on things. Frustrating as it was, there was still no dilation. We were told that if progress wasn't made soon, I would have to have another C-Sec. I decided to augment with pitocin in hopes of seeing at least 1 cm dilation by 6 pm. Otherwise it was off to the operating room, and my desire for a VBAC null and void.
The pitocin drip started around 2:45. My best friend Ashley arrived around 3:30 to offer her support and encouragement throughout the birth process. The waiting continued. As the pitocin drip was gradually increased, the contractions became stronger and closer together. The toll of not having eaten in over 12 hrs, plus the lack of sleep was beginning to affect me. I was actually able to doze off between contractions for a while.
However around 5:30 the contractions were one on top of another. At this point the pitocin drip was turned off to allow me a chance to rest and relax as much as possible, as well as to give my uterus a break until Dr. Stella made her next round. Contractions still continued every 3-5 min and were just as intense as ever.
Around 7 pm Dr. Stella arrived. After performing the exam, she announced that I had reached 5-6 cm. Yay for progress! The nurses commented on how well I was coping with the pain. They said that the offer for pain meds was a standing one and let me know my options. But I never felt as though they were pushing me to it. After hours, well days, of contracting without showing progress, this news was very uplifting and encouraging. I was only hoping for 1 cm, and found out I was already half way there! And I had had no desire for pain medication. So far I was able to control/embrace it with my breathing. My confidence was well boosted, and my desire to not use any pain medication reaffirmed. I knew I could do it.
The pitocin was turned back on, but at a lower dosage than what had been reached earlier. As the intensity and frequency of the contractions continued, I realized that it was easier to labor standing up. I found a groove with my breathing while rocking back and forth, leaning into Heath, holding my stomach and grabbing the bed's handrail. As contractions intensified, and pressure built up, I found that it helped to lift one foot and squat somewhat. I realized that I was tensing up and fighting against contractions, and lifting my foot kept me from doing so. Exhaustion would sometimes get the best of me and I would have to sit down for a while. It became very clear to me that if I wanted to continue without pain meds that I needed to force myself to stand.
I remember looking up at the clock periodically to see what time it was. It seemed like every 20 min I would glance up and think, "Oh my gosh, it's only been 20 min! I'm so tired of standing." But then if I thought about how long it had been all together, it felt like it had gone by fast. The last time I remember looking at the clock, it was close to a quarter after 9. I had been feeling a lot of pressure and some burning. I thought for sure I must be close and asked for Dr. Stella. If I wasn't showing a lot of progress, I have to admit I was tempted to give in to some kind of pain killer, as I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to hold out. I was so tired. Heath and Ashley did a fantastic job of reminding me how badly I wanted to have a natural birth, of how well I was doing, how close I was to the end, and about how disappointed I would be with myself if I gave in. I knew transition had hit because I was feeling nauseous during my contractions.
When Dr. Stella came in to check, she announced that I was right about 8 cm dilated and asked if I would like for her to break my water to speed up the process. Part of me considered it because I was just so tired. But the other part of me knew that if she broke my water I wouldn't be able to labor standing up anymore. I was not ready to be flat on my back. I decided that I would rather labor longer with the extra cushion and in a position I was comfortable with, than to be forced into the bed at that time.
Like I said, transition had started. I couldn't focus on anything outside of laboring. Heath and Ashley were excellent coaches. They were there with encouraging words and gestures the entire time. They alternated feeding me ice chips and wiping my face and neck down with a cold damp wash cloth. In between contractions they would rub my back and remind me how close I was to getting to meet my baby. They watched the monitor and would talk me through each contraction, letting me know as each one started to taper off. I made it through one contraction at a time. I remember feeling humbled, and greatly appreciative of everything they were doing for me that I just couldn't do on my own.
I recall being asked several questions during this time by the two of them, as well as the nurses in regard to what I might need or want. I was in a fog and couldn't bring myself to formulate any answers. Any form of conscious thought went straight out the window, save one thing. I was somehow able to keep an eye on the baby's heart rate monitor. Whenever I would lean forward during a contraction, the monitor wasn't able to pick up the heart beat. So every time I stood up, I would reposition the monitor until I saw the little heart flashing again. I knew if they were no longer able to see the heart rate on the monitor that I would have to lay in the bed.
Right about 11, give or take 10 min, my water broke during the peak of a contraction. I heard and felt the "pop" as fluid splashed onto the floor. I immediately looked down and noticed that the fluid was a greenish brown. Upon seeing signs of meconium, I became worried. I was pointing to it, and began to cry. Ashley had stepped out to get the nurse and Dr. Stella. When they came in, they thought I was upset about having made a mess on the floor. I was trying to explain it wasn't the mess, but my worry about the bowel movement. I have no idea if anything I was thinking actually made it out in words. Heath however noticed what I was pointing at and let them know. They said not to worry, that it was normal and that everything was okay.
Through the next few contractions they all helped me get into the bed where Dr. Stella checked my cervix and the nurses tried to get the baby's heart beat back on the monitor. I remember they took my gown off because it was filthy, and that they were trying to figure out how to cover me up again. At this point though, I couldn't care less that I was butt naked in front of everyone. I remember being amused by the nurses' concern over my modesty.
I vaguely remember Dr. Stella saying that I was fully dilated and asking if I was feeling constant pressure and the urge to push. I didn't have much room in my head for anything other than concern for my baby, and the pain that I couldn't figure out how to handle while laying down. I was becoming hysterical. I did my best to listen to Heath and Ashley on when and how to breathe. Without consciously doing so, I was screaming at the peak of every contraction. They had to keep reminding me to take a deep breath whenever I felt like screaming, that the baby needed all of the oxygen I could bring in.
At some point I became aware of the fact that they were having a hard time locating the heart beat on the monitor. They couldn?t pick it up long enough to get an idea of how fast or slow it was. I was told not to push while they continued to look for the heart beat, which only made the pain worse. Dr. Stella ordered the ultrasound machine to be rolled in. Heath said it took a while for it to boot-up. I was aware that they were using it, but couldn't focus on the screen to see the baby.
Once Dr. Stella found the heart beat with the ultrasound, she made it clear real fast that she didn't like what she saw and that the baby had to come out right away. She said that she was going to roll me into the operating room and perform another cesarean, and that because of the urgency of the situation, I would be unconscious for the birth. I am not sure what I said or did, or how I looked. But I was heart-broken. After having come so close to having a VBAC, with no pain meds mind you, I wasn't even going to be awake for my baby's arrival. My concern for my baby quickly outweighed my disappointment though. A healthy baby was all that really mattered.
As they were pushing me out the door, Dr. Stella had second thoughts. She checked me again and said that I could push the baby out. She looked me right in the eyes and asked if she was right. I'm sure my determination showed through my pain. I would do whatever I needed to do for my baby. I'm not sure if she changed her mind because she knew how badly I wanted a VBAC and had faith that I could and would push quickly, or if she thought the operation might take too long to get started. Either way, I was over the moon with excitement.
They got me in the operating room and quickly got the stirrups set up. They let both Heath and Ashley come in since I was going to be pushing. I remember Dr. Stella saying she was very sorry for the pain I was going to be feeling since she had to pull on me to make room for the baby to come out faster. I said I was scared. Not only for the baby, but because I had never done this before and was feeling apprehensive about what kind of pain I was about to go through. I listened and tried to do everything as they told me to do. Breathe in, hold it, and push instead of scream.
Everyone was so encouraging, letting me know how good of a job I was doing, and how close the baby was. They let me know when the head was crowning, and that the baby had a full head of hair. It was so intense. They told me that it only took 5 minutes from the time Dr. Stella said I was fully dilated and could push, until my baby was born. Collin Marshall Parker was born Monday, September 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm. He weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces, and was 21 inches long. There was a burning pain as the head came out, followed by immediate relief and a sense of awe. The same goes for the shoulders. I remember being amazed at how quickly the pain was gone.
I heard Ashley say it was a boy, and Dr. Stella confirming it. At this point I only had eyes for Collin. He was so blue, but I could tell he was moving. I watched anxiously as they suctioned out his mouth and nose. I think I held my breath until I heard him take in his first and cry out. They wiped him down some, and laid him across my chest. I hugged him and kissed his precious little fat face. His coloring began to come back immediately. Heath got to cut the umbilical cord.
I watched them weigh Collin and check his vital signs. In all of the hysteria, making sure Heath had the camera with him never crossed my mind. Thankfully Ashley had her smart phone and was able to capture some good pictures for us. The nurse from the nursery let me know that I was going to get to keep him with me so that I could try and nurse him right away and have some skin-to-skin time.
Since I had some significant tearing, Heath and Ashley hung out in the operating room with Collin and I while Dr. Stella stitched me up. His size was quite a hot topic. Heath, Ashley, and the nurses were all saying how great I had done. They were so impressed that I hadn't taken the first pain med.
I am very proud of sticking with my birth plan. I know I couldn't have done it without the excellent support team I had. Even though I ended up with third degree tears, I would do it again and again for my baby. Collin was so alert, and wonderfully perfect in every way. I felt great physically and emotionally. It was wonderful being able to get up and move right afterward with next to no pain. It might not have been the "ideal" birth, but it was awesome. I now feel complete.