This was my third baby, but I’d never experienced spontaneous labor before.
My hopes for this labor?
I wanted to go into spontaneous labor, I wanted to labor at home, I wanted to not go into the hospital too soon, and I wanted another victorious VBAC. Did I want an epidural or to go natural? I wasn’t sure. Every time the midwife asked me, I said I wanted to wait and see.
How did I prep for this delivery?
I did very little, this time around.
With my last two pregnancies, I had read all the books, taken the Mama Natural online birth course, did red raspberry leaf tea, and dates. Did some chiropractic care, massages, and spinning babies. With my last VBAC, I was walking 2-3 miles every day, drinking the tea, eating the dates, visualizing. Never reclined. I had done all the things.
But this pregnancy? Frankly, I was tired. I had traveled back and forth from Nebraska to Texas and back again half a dozen times over the course of the summer, for my husband’s job. I had been solo-parenting for weeks at a time while hubby was in Texas working. I was so tired, and I didn’t ever establish an exercise routine. I brewed myself the RRL tea, but most of the time I was too busy to remember to drink it. I bought dates, and never ate a one.
The last half of the pregnancy flew by, and while I felt panicked about not being prepared, I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to do the things I knew might help prep my body for a VBAC. So I finally let it go. I was prepared as I was going to be. I hoped I would still get a VBAC, even though I didn’t do all the things, and I am glad to say I did!
What led to my 2VBAC success?
Having a supportive provider. I will say that again, and again. Your provider is such a HUGE key to the puzzle.
I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy. I was hypothyroid, but managed it with meds. I had placenta previa at 11 weeks, but it was gone by 20. Baby was transverse at twenty weeks, but head down by thirty. I was GBS+, but everything else looked good.
The Week Of
The night before I turned 39 weeks I had a bought of really strong Braxton Hicks. That made me realize I wasn’t prepared at all–didn’t have my bags packed, didn’t have baby clothes washed, didn’t have snacks packed. So that kicked me into gear, and over the next few days I charged the camera battery, washed all the things, packed our bags, and got everything totally ready to go. Then throughout my 39th week I had contractions on and off. Nothing too major.
Again, I know experiencing contractions can be prodromal labor, and you can do all the things–curb walking, the Miles Circuit, Spinning Babies, to get baby in a better position for birth. But again, I was just tired. I opted, instead, to take naps and deep clean my house and just not even try to get labor going.
On Tuesday, 39 weeks + 5 days, I had time-able contractions all afternoon. I turned on my Gentle Birth timer app (highly recommend!), and listened to the lady talk me through contractions. I told my husband it may or may not be the day. But they eventually slowed down, and stopped.
The Day Of
Thursday morning, my due date, I woke up at 3 AM having strong contractions. My husband was up getting ready to leave for work (he had a big concrete pour that day) and I told him he may have to cancel his concrete pour. He left for work, and my contractions were getting closer together and more painful.
I watched a movie while the kids slept and worked through contraction after contraction. I finally texted him to cancel everything and come home. We live an hour away from the hospital, and my midwife had told me to head in when I was having contractions 5 minutes apart for an hour. My contractions were 5-12 minutes apart, and I figured they would get closer throughout the morning.
At 7 AM my kids both woke up, and my contractions slowed to 20 minutes apart, and then totally stopped. By the time my husband got home at 8:30 they had totally stopped. So we decided we would move on with our plans for that day–he’d go get some work done, I’d drop off the toddlers at my parents’ house, and drive in to my midwife appt.
I dropped off the toddlers, and went to see the midwife. She was pretty nervous, after hearing about all the contractions I’d been having, and felt really worried about me living an hour away. She wasn’t going to check me, but decided that she’d better since I might be a few centimeters dilated already. She checked me, and I was 2-3 centimeters. She told me that she thought my kids waking up had shut down my labor, because I was a mom, and was thinking about being responsible for them. She said if I could have the kids do a sleepover at my parents’ house she thought I’d go into labor that night. The midwife, Katie, who had delivered my last baby, called out: “Bethany! See you at the hospital tonight? VBAC? Wahoo!” We joked about it, little did I know it actually was going to happen.
On the way to pick up the toddlers, I got hit with another contraction or two. I picked up the toddlers, and contracted all the way home. Then got home, and took a little nap with them. The contractions fizzled out. We spent that evening doing outside work, and I was growing pretty uncomfortable, although still not contracting regularly.
That evening, we were making supper. I had just texted my Mom that I didn’t think anything was going to happen that night when the contractions started up again, and they felt like the real thing. They were instantly 7 minutes apart, and so I asked Mom to come stay the night with the kids.
The contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart, and getting closer together. We grabbed our packed bags, kissed the kids, and hopped in the truck. I cried for the first fifteen minutes, about leaving the kids. It always feels so hard to leave them to go to the hospital. We drove an hour to the hospital, I was sitting backwards in the passenger seat listening to my Gentle Birth app, working through contractions. We got to the hospital, and went to the wrong door, it was locked. We had to slowly walk all the way around the hospital to find the right door, through the lobby area, and up to the right floor. It was SUPER uncomfortable to do while in labor.
Eventually, we got settled into our room. The nurse gave me a bouncy ball, a robe, and started hooking me up to the IV, and the fetal heart rate monitor. My midwife came in, and checked me–I was 4 centimeters! It was the same midwife I’d had for my last birth, and she reminded me that we were in the same room I’d been in when I had my last VBAC! “This room has good luck! It’s the perfect room for you!” she said!
The midwife left, and I labored on. As the hours ticked by, I started having more and more trouble coping with the contractions. We tried different positions (didn’t help), nitrous gas (I really didn’t like it), and the bouncy ball (a no go). My midwife came back, and I asked to use the tub. They put the wireless monitors on me, and I got into the bathtub, which I felt like cut down my pain by abut 30%. It made things more manageable. The nurse and midwife sat with me as I labored in the tub.
While I was in the tub, the baby’s heart rate wasn’t being tracked. They had a hard time tracking it in the bathtub, but my midwife told the nurse she wasn’t worried about it. I was in the tub a long time, but eventually the midwife wanted me to get out so they could check on baby’s heart rate.
I really didn’t want to get out of the tub. I got out, and the contractions were on top of each other. I couldn’t figure out a position that would ease them at all, and I started feeling like I was losing all control.
It was at that point I started asking about an epidural. I talked through all the risks with my midwife, then my husband asked everyone to leave the room so we could talk about it. We talked about it, and I told him I really wanted the epidural.
They placed the epidural, and the contractions went away. I immediately started shaking. I was going through transition. We were almost there. With my last birth, the epidural allowed me to relax and my birth progressed rapidly. The same thing happened this time.
I heard and felt my water break.
They checked me and I was 10 centimeters. They went to get my midwife.
I started pushing.
I expected pushing to take less time, since this was my second vaginal birth, but since they had just placed the epidural less than an hour before, I had a harder time feeling to push. Also, my uterus was really tired. Once it became time to push, my contractions spaced way out. We had to wait forever for each contraction, so they finally gave me a little pitocin to speed them up a little.
The nurse (more about her later) was authoritatively counting down and making me push for ten counts. I finally asked the midwife if I could push without the countdown, just letting my body decide, and she said yes. And the annoying nurse quit counting down.
I was getting pretty annoyed with how long it was taking me to push this baby out. So I asked for a mirror. As soon as I could see the baby’s head in the mirror, my pushing worked! I just needed to see it in order to figure out how to push.
The best part of the epidural? I felt calm, and relaxed during pushing. I held my husband’s hand, we could look at each other and talk about the baby coming, and I was able to watch my baby be born with the mirror. I never thought I would want to see baby come out, but it was honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed. She was born, and given to me. I only had a first degree tear! I had minimal blood loss (at the time of birth), and I was so happy! She came out looking so chubby and angry! With so much hair!
My midwife finished repairing me, and told me good job. And left. The nurse was busying herself around the room, and then she checked me and started panicking. I was bleeding a lot, and passing big clots. They ran to get the midwife’s approval to give me pitocin and cytotec.
I ended up losing 950 millimeters of blood, most of it after birth (I only lost 100 at the birth). They ended up running several bags of pitocin, and then ordering a medication to help my uterus start to clamp down. My uterus was tired, and not contracting well enough to stop the bleeding. The next day, I felt worse than I’ve ever felt before. So weak, barely able to talk to the bathroom, and just awful. Luckily, my hemoglobin was on the high side so they didn’t have to do a blood transfusion. I spent two days at the hospital, and then was able to go home.
Once home, I still felt pretty weak for awhile. But then once I caught up on rest, I started feeling more like myself. And a few weeks out, I can say that I do feel better more quickly than I did after my first VBAC
I got so many things I wanted! I really liked being able to go into labor on my own. I liked making the decision when to go to the hospital, and the experience of driving into the hospital with Saia. I got to try the tub for the first time, and I got the same midwife as last time which was fun! I went into spontaneous labor, my labor was shorter, I was able to try other pain coping techniques, I was able to see my baby born. She came, and she was healthy and whole!
I really hate laboring in the hospital, I felt so good laboring at home, and I wish I would have spent more time at home and less time at the hospital. I feel like once I get to the hospital, and they put in all the IVs, I just feel so incredibly uncomfortable, tied down, and my pain increased.
We had a rather terrible nurse. She made several mistakes, made a lot of inappropriate comments, and didn’t listen to me. After birth, I kept asking for things like socks (“I don’t know if we have those here”), a snack (“hmmm, I might be able to find you some chips”), and told her I was shaking and cold (“sometimes it is what it is”). Another nurse finally came in, saw me lying under a sheet with my whole body shaking, and offered to get me a few more blankets. This nurse traumatized me in a lot of ways, and I wish I would have asked for a different nurse. But she started her shift when I was going through transition, and I just wasn’t mentally aware enough to advocate for myself at that point. It really made me rethink having a doula, and it might be something we look into for next time, so an outsider can help me advocate for myself.
For next time
I am really thinking about doing a natural birth next time. I’d like to avoid the hospital for as long as possible, so I think I might just go get checked and then wait to go in until I get really closet to delivering. This might mean getting a hotel near the hospital, but I feel like it would be a much better experience than laboring at the hospital.