Our beautiful baby girl was born at 9lbs with a head full of hair. She was beautiful. Unfortunately, because of the numbing medication and the exhaustion of it all I was in and out of consciousness and shaking badly. I held her for a few minutes before she and my husband were taken to a different part of the hospital for her check up. I was taken to get an x-ray and then brought into my recovery room and all I remember saying is "Where is my daughter? Where is my husband? I want to hold my baby."
They didn't bring her to me until after she was already bathed, I lost track of time and it felt like forever before I got to hold my daughter; my husband tells me it was at least an hour and a half. We were over the moon in love with her and happy she came safely. My recovery went very well, up and walking, very little pain (I have a high pain tolerance) and we were sent home three days later. It wasn't until a few months after her birth that the way she came into the world bothered me. I felt like I was lied to, that I wasn't given enough options. Sure, I was happy that we had a healthy baby girl but I felt like something was missing.
Our daughter was only 6 months old before we found out we were expecting number 2. We played with the idea of having a trial of labor with him but nothing really came together. I called two doctors in my area that were VBAC friendly and one was booked, not taking any new clients, and the other one agreed to meet with me. When we met I had a list of questions but as soon as he saw the list and I asked my first one, he seemed annoyed. He bulldozed over the entire conversation, ending it with "If I even think your baby will be over 8 pounds, you'll have a c-section." I left that meeting and cried to my husband over the phone in my car. An ugly cry. I felt defeated.
We knew that our second baby was going to be at least 9 pounds like our first, and I did not want to have a c-section in the hospital in which this doctor delivered. So we gave up and decided to go with a provider who was very pro-VBAC but unfortunately his practice was not, so he could only offer us a c-section. We took that and delivered a 9 pound 6 ounce baby boy. This was the hardest birth for me. I wasn't able to hold my son for 9 hours due to continuous vomitting from the spinal tap I had. All I could do was stare at him while my husband held him, skin to skin. When I was finally able to hold him, I was happy that he was healthy but so sad and empty inside for the way he came into the world.
When we decided to have our third baby we knew we were at a fork in the road. We knew that a VBA2C was our only shot if we wanted to have more children after this third baby.
This time I didn't even bother calling the previous doctor who told me he wouldn't allow me to give birth if he suspected a big baby. I called two other doctors, one was booked and one told me on the phone "You're a medical risk." Great. I called my husband again, crying. After our conversation I decided to think outside of the box and called a midwifery group in a city an hour and a half away from me. I talked to them and they seemed more than optimistic that we could have our third child vaginally. I felt like I won the lottery.
I staid with my OB until I was 20 weeks and then transferred my care an hour and a half away from me, where my mom lives. The 21 weeks of travel, sometimes by myself, sometimes with my kids, was never a burden to me. I was focused on having this baby under my own terms. I zeroed in on what I wanted, using the nights to commit myself to positive thinking. I can't say we had any non supporters in our lives. But our friends and family just thought we were crazy for driving that far to deliver a baby and unsure about why we would take the risks that come with vaginal births after c-sections. But we were confident in our choice, we knew that it was our destiny.
I went to the doctor on a Wednesday, 7 days overdue and nothing was happening. They gave me the option of a c-section, waiting it out until I was 2 weeks overdue and then inducing, or inducing on Friday at 9 days overdue. I told them that a c-section was completely out of the question, we didn't come this far just to give up. They were very nice about it though, the practice believes in giving every option and I appreciated that. We decided that we would go with an induction on Friday.
Thursday morning I woke up with horrible contractions. From nothing happening to contractions the next day!? I was over the moon. We spent our time cleaning up the house, packing the rest of our things, getting the oldest two ready and when we felt like our home was in order, we started on our hour and a half drive.
We made it to my moms, dropped the kids off, and went to the hospital. They told me that I was barely at 1 but I was happy with that. We walked around the hospital, me contracting in hidden stairways, my husband right by my side. I was checked again but nothing changed and I was instructed to go home and relax. I went back to my moms and ate friend fish and french fries. I was so hungry! I was never allowed to eat in the hospital before. But I was eating! And hugging my babies! And leaning on my mother for support. I went to sleep for a while until I was up with more contractions. This time they were closer together and we decided to go back into the hospital.
At the hospital they told me I was barely at 2 but because it was getting late and I was set for an induction the next morning, I could stay. We settled into the hospital and I immediately fell in love with my nurse. She was amazing and the entire staff were pro-VBAC.
That night I slept pretty well and woke up on Friday with stronger but irregular contractions. Throughout the day I was allowed to move around as much as I wanted, including getting in a shower, so long as my portable monitoring system was picking up the baby's vitals. The baby was doing great, I was great (but in pain) and everything was moving along. I was checked at this time I was at 3! The doctor said "I'm sorry. You're only at 3" and I said "Why are you sorry!? I'm doing this on my own!!!!" I was so happy. The first OB we ever had, our first c-section, told me my body had failed me...I was devastated then. But now, my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing.
I was told that I would need pitocin. There is a lot of literature out there saying that pitocin could cause rupture but I trusted my care providers and I had done my own research and I knew that at very small and controlled doses it can be fine. I agreed to that and contracted with pitocin until my body was able to contract regularly on its own. During my contractions I shut my eyes and I reminded myself things like "This is opening you up." "This is natural." "This is supposed to happen. "Just relax."- No it didn't take all the pain away, but it helped.
Around 4 in the morning, on Saturday, I told my husband "I'm feeling shaky..I have to throw up!" He asked if it was normal..I said..I think so..But he went to get the nurse staff anyway. Just in time too because I threw up in a bucket! I didn't even think at the time that throwing up could be a sign of transition into labor, I just knew I had to throw up. The nurse checked me and the midwife yelled "Yes! It's time! Hold on! We have to go tell everyone, they didn't think this was going to happen! We have to do a happy dance."
And they really did..They left the room, screamed in the hall "She's ready!" and danced! I looked at my husband and I was in disbelief.
My body had done this all on its own, my body wasn't a failure.
I began pushing our baby out with the help of an amazing team. The midwife placed warm cloths on me before every push and talked me through everything. My husband was fanning me and that wonderful nurse? Well she was coaching me on how to breathe. It was all very exciting and my breathing was erratic and she helped me with that. I remember saying "You guys are telling me to push, when I'm not at the peek of my contraction." and they apologized! They said they were sorry and I should just push when I wanted to!
I finally got the head out and I stopped contracting..I guess my body thought I was done. The doctor sounded very worried and told me "Push please..Just push." and I did..But nothing happened. My eyes were closed the entire time but my husband says one of the nurses pressed a red button and more nurses came in.
My midwife said in a very stern soft voice "You have to get this baby out..NOW" and I did. I pushed hard once or twice and there was a popping noise and out came my baby. What happened was that her shoulders almost got stuck.
I opened my eyes and looked at my husband. He was crying! And all I kept saying was "I did it! I fucking did it!" And I was crying. There isn't a word for the way I was feeling.
We had a baby girl. But she wasn't crying. I remember saying "Why isn't she crying!" And a different nurse came by my side and said "She is fine. She is perfect..She's just in shock." And right when the nurse said that, she belted out the loudest cry.
Our daughter was crying, I was crying, my husband was crying and the medical staff was in awe.
The staff weighed her quickly and took measurements and then handed her to me. I had never nursed our first two, life circumstances didn't allow for it. But with her, we were determined to make breastfeeding work. I was nursing her, marveling at her beautiful face and then heard "She is 21 inches long..and..10 and a half pounds!"
I looked up at them and said "Stop lying..You need to weigh her again. I don't believe you." After she was done nursing, they weighed her again. 10 and a half pounds.
This 2 time c-section "medical risk" mom birthed a 10 and a half pound baby! I wanted to climb the tallest mountain and shout "Fuck all of you!"
I used to cry whenever I talked about the birth of my oldest children. I felt empty and like something was stolen from me. But now I feel like I have healed.
Women are allowed to have healthy babies AND healthy birth experiences. They are not mutually exclusive.