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Jessica shares her VBAC birth story. Thank you for sharing your story for all to read!
Blake’s birth story starts with Lexi’s. After a day and a half of intense induction with her I ended up having a cesarean. One I very much didn’t want. She has her own unique story, though. And I’m proud of all I went through to have her.
Even before I got pregnant with Blake I knew if we had another baby I would be doing everything I could to avoid another cesarean.
Through my pregnancy with him I stuck to my strict diet in hopes of having a smaller baby this time, I saw a chiropractor to make sure he was in a good position; unlike his sister, and I did exercises at home to do the same. I also kept my weight gain to just 20 pounds, rather than the 75 I gained with Lexi.
This time around I was able to avoid bed rest for high blood pressure, which kept me even more active. However, by 39 weeks my BP was slowly creeping up again. Nothing dangerous, but we were watching it.
I had an appointment with my midwife the day before Thanksgiving, and the day before my due date. The labs I did the previous week showed I had a little protein in my urine, but she wasn’t concerned because I had very little swelling, my BP at home while resting was perfect, and my blood tests came back great.
We talked about how I didn’t want to go much further than 41 weeks and I asked about my induction options if the baby wasn’t there by the following weekend. My midwife said she would ask around to the other doctors.
I was told to go to the hospital on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to have some repeat labs and a non stress test for the baby, and we went on our way.
Cut to Thanksgiving. Nick, Lexi and I enjoyed one last family outing as 3. We saw The Good Dinosaur at Alamo DraftHouse and ate our lunch there. It was really the perfect day. I teared up as we were leaving the theater knowing soon we would be a family of 4. Little did I know how soon.
We got home and were relaxing on the couch when my phone rang. It was the on-call midwife at the hospital. The on-call doctor had looked over my chart and was concerned about the protein in my urine from the previous week. They wanted me to come in for monitoring and labs. I was in shock. I was assured it would take less than an hour and it was ok to bring Lexi. So the 3 of us loaded up in the car and went to labor and delivery.
Once at the hospital they took blood and hooked me up to monitors to check the baby. About an hour later the doctor came in and said I was still spilling protein and they were concerned it could get worse and we should induce that night.
I was blindsided! We had Lexi with us and no family in town. I didn’t have a bag packed. I also knew my best chance at a VBAC was to go into labor on my own. I asked to go home and come back in the morning. I wanted to put Lexi to bed one last time and pack my own bag.
After talking to the doctor and the on call midwife and our doula we decided it was best for me to stay and start a slow induction that night.
Nick took Lexi home and we called my parents to come watch her.
Around 10pm the on-call midwife, Ava, came in to start my induction. Because of the risk of uterine rupture we couldn’t use the same drugs we used with Lexi. Instead we used a cook catheter. They filled a balloon like catheter with water to manually dilate me. It was uncomfortable but not painful. They gave me a sleeping pill to help me relax and get some rest.
After it was place Nick came back to the hospital because my parents had arrived from Chicago to watch Lexi. He brought me dinner. It was the last solid food I would eat for 24 hours.
At 7:30am on Friday Ava woke me up to remove the catheter. It had gotten me to 4 centimeters, which was the goal. And I was having light contractions on my own! She gave me a huge hug and told me I was going to get my VBAC.
The nurse then let me order some Jello and an Italian ice. Because I was a VBAC patient I was treated like I could be taken for surgery at any moment. It was very frustrating. I was so hungry and thirsty all day long. I snuck drinks of water whenever possible.
At 9am my nurse, Kelsey started Pitocin. I had the drug with Lexi after I stalled out. It makes contractions very intense without a break in between.
We started it very low, though, since I was having some on my own.
At 10am our doula, Jessica, arrived. After that she and I walked the halls and sat on the exercise ball to get me progressing more.
Over the next few hours they slowly increased the Pitocin and I alternated waking, bouncing and laying down using a peanut shaped exercise ball to help keep things moving.
Around 2pm things suddenly got very intense! It was a very sudden change that I had trouble coping with. I asked to get into the bath tub, which helped so much with Lexi.
Just before 3pm I got into the huge soaking tub in my room. I was expecting instant relief like I had during Lexi’s labor. Instead things got even more intense. I wasn’t getting a break in between contractions. They were coming one on top of each other. I felt like I couldn’t even catch my breath. On top of that the monitors around my belly kept sliding as I was trying to find a comfortable position so Kelsey had to keep trying to put them back on. Having someone constantly touching me and pulling at the monitors hurt my focus even more.
After only 40 minutes in the tub I said I needed an epidural. It was not at all in my plan but I knew my body was very tense from the back to back contractions and I knew that would slow me down. Jessica tried to talk me out of it- like I had requested prior to labor- but I told her I knew I needed it. I was afraid of stalling for hours like I did with Lexi and knew I needed some way to relax.
The anesthesiologist arrived about 20 minutes later and I requested a very light epidural so I could still move. Placing it was much easier than it was with Lexi, but it was still very uncomfortable. I hate the feeling of a needle in my back and with non stop contractions it was hard to hold still. I think I almost broke Nick’s hands holding him so tightly to keep from moving.
The epidural was a walking epidural so while it took away about 80% of the pain I still felt pressure with every contraction and I had most of my movement. We spent the next few hours getting me into multiple different positions using the peanut ball. I was even able to get onto my hands and knees. Anything to move the baby lower and help me dilate.
Around 6pm after our nurse kept having to fix the monitors on my belly we decided to break my water and put in some internal monitors.
The new midwife, Megan, checked me when she broke my water and I was 7cm. She also noted that Blake’s head was “like a bowling ball.” She said he was very low and his head was still very round with no molding. She said it was a great sign for my VBAC because it meant he had plenty of room.
With the internal monitors my stomach and back got a break from the bands that had been around them since about 2pm the previous day and we could really move me into different positions to get past the last 3cm.
Around 8:30pm I felt different. I could feel intense pressure and suspected I was completely dilated but I tried to ride with it and let Blake get lower on his own. With in about 10 minutes my whole body was shaking.
We called the on-call midwife, Theresa, at about 9pm to check me and she said I was complete! It was time to push! It brought me to tears to know my body had done it. Now I had a little more work to do to get Blake here. They turned down the epidural so I could have even more feeling and mobility.
About 20 minutes into pushing Blake’s heart rate dropped very low and then shot way high. Theresa called the on-call doctor, Dr. Winter. I had been told before that he was the most VBAC friendly doctor in the practice so I was hopeful he would help me keep fighting since we were so close.
Dr. Winter asked me to stop pushing and breathe through some contractions. That was so hard to do! I now had full feeling and they were intense. They gave me oxygen to try and help Blake.
The room started filling with more and more people and they were all just watching the monitors and Blake’s heart rate.
I kept my eyes closed tightly. I just kept telling myself it was going to be ok no matter what happened. If I needed a cesarean I could do it again but I just tried to stay positive.
Jessica asked if we could try pushing again and Dr. Winter agreed it was worth a try. She grabbed a sheet and she and I played a sort of tug of war game with it. Using the leverage I got from pulling on the sheet helped a lot. And instantly Blake’s heart rate stabilized. He was ok. We could continue pushing!
Soon I could feel a change. Everyone kept saying they could see more and more of Blake’s head. Nick announced Dr. Winter was taking off his watch so we must be close. That made me laugh and gave me the energy to keep going.
At 10:11pm, about an hour after I started pushing, I felt a pop and out came Blake’s head. He was already screaming before my next push delivered his shoulders!
Instantly he was on my belly. The nurses worked to clean him up without ever taking him away.
I couldn’t believe it! I had done it! I dreamed of this moment ever since Lexi’s birth and we had done it. I couldn’t stop laughing and crying. I was just so happy!
Nick gave me a hug and said “I told you it was going to work out.” He was right. He had faith the entire time even when I worried I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Soon Blake wanted to nurse and latched on with ease, just like his big sister.
With in a half hour our room was about empty. The nurses tucked him in on my chest and said they would come back in a few hours to weigh and measure him. We had uninterrupted bonding time.
As the last nurses were leaving one asked if anyone had called the OR to tell them we weren’t coming. That’s when I realized how close we had come to needing a cesarean. If it weren’t for Dr. Winter, I would have been rushed to the operating room. He took time to let Blake recover and saw how effective my pushes were and let us continue. My midwife told me the next week that he told her it was the right call to give us time. He said Blake came out screaming and so responsive that he knew there wasn’t ever an issue.
I am so thankful for doctors who believe in a woman’s right to options and those who trust our bodies to do what they are made to do.
It was a lot of hard work and some scary moments but I am so happy with how things went. I knew instantly it was the right decision when Lexi came to visit the next day and was able to jump right in bed with Blake and me and I never had to worry about her hurting an incision on my stomach.
This picture below shows all of the emotions that flooded out when Blake was born. I’m still so happy and proud we were able to have the birth we wanted.