First, let me tell you that this is a birth story. So, by nature, it will be TMI. If you don’t like birth stories or just don’t care to hear mine, skip this post. I know I have some male readers who probably don’t care a lot about birth and that is fine. (Although, deep down, they may really care and be really interested and it is fine if they want to read this. I’m just saying you don’t have to, not that you are not allowed to.) Also, since it is my birth story and something very personal I’m not going to allow mean or negative comments. I’m fine with comments. I’m fine with questions. But I’ll be deleting any mean comments. My birth, my birth choices. I know they aren’t for everyone, but they are for me and I am happy with my choices.
Aidan’s Birth Story is Here.
Emery’s Birth Story is Here.
Not sure where Imogene’s is, but she was born, I assure you. (If I cannot find it, I may post it here some day, but not today. Today is about Ransom’s birth.)
A little background would probably be helpful. If you want more details, you can read the two stories above. In 2007, I had a c-section for a breech baby- that would be Aidan. That changed the course of my reproductive history. Little did I know when I signed that consent form, I’d be signing up for a battle to have my subsequent children. I didn’t know VBAC was such a huge deal. I did not know that pesky 4.5″ incision would so drastically limit my future birth choices. Not that I was happy about having a c-section, I was pissed about it. But I didn’t realize it would continue to suck years down the road. I thought it only mattered for that birth, but it matters for the rest of my reproductive years.
I jumped off the c-section train immediately. With Emery, I found ICAN and looked into my options, few as they were. I decided to try for a VBAC with Dr. Joseph Tate. Even with my uterine anomaly, I had a very uncomplicated and straight forward VBAC without complications. The only thing I would have changed about my first VBAC would have been my labor support.
With this pregnancy, I decided I wanted a doula. I wanted that extra labor support. The Pastor and I were blessed to find Jessique Brown. We both “clicked” with her and hired her to be there for the birth of our fourth child. Of course, I stuck with Dr. Tate for my second VBAC. I know I had a few more options, already having one VBAC under my belt, so to speak, but really, when they wouldn’t allow me the chance to birth normally last time, why would I trust them now? Plus, we love Dr. Tate. (The Pastor might have boycotted the birth had I gone with a different provider!)
I had the dreaded prodromal labor for a couple weeks before the actual birth. I was a little more nervous about this since I knew there would be no Trebutaline to “rescue” me from early labor this time around. I was on my own with no drugs to keep baby in. I told everyone I knew to pray very specifically that the baby would stay put until AT LEAST 36 weeks. I wasn’t really shooting for more because 36 weeks seemed so impossible to me. I also asked the very wise ICAN ladies about natural ways to keep babies in. Their suggestion was to drink half a glass of wine and take a warm bath when the contractions kicked in. I didn’t think it would work. I was convinced it wouldn’t. But it worked! It worked as well as taking prn Trebutaline!
At 36 weeks, the contractions decided to kick it up a notch. I had days of contractions getting to 10 minutes apart for a few hours, then stopping. They’d pick back up to every 6 minutes then fizzle out again. Every day I would think, “This has got to be it!” only to have the contractions just stop.
At 36 weeks 5 days, the contractions were coming every 5 minutes. They still were not very strong, but they were picking up in length. The Pastor called his mom to come. (She was the designated care giver of the older 3 while we were in the hospital.) I decided to see if I could get some rest, since the contractions weren’t strong. (And I admit, I did a big no-no thing. I checked my own cervix. *Gasp!* It was still high, but was seeming to be effacing. However, I knew I was only dilated a couple centimeters. This gave me the confidence to know I didn’t need to rush into the hospital just yet. I still felt like I had some time before things really picked up.) When I laid down, the contractions spaced out to every 10 to 12 minutes apart. So, I rested. Well, I rested as much as a person can when they are in early labor.
The next morning, at 36 weeks 6 days, the contractions picked back up early in the morning to every 5 to 6 minutes apart. I decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. I was feeling like it could be it, but wasn’t sure. (I typically don’t have very painful labors until I get to transition. If I waited, as the books say you should, to feel that seriousness and that level of pain to go to the hospital, I would likely never make it in.) I figured I’d go in, they’d put me on the monitors and check me and let me know if it was looking like it’d be today or just more prodromal labor. I know Dr. Tate well enough to know he’d send me home if I wasn’t in active labor. (Not all doctors are like this, so many people have to be very careful about going in early in labor.) I let Que, my doula, know that we were going in and told her we’d call her if we needed her to come up there.
I got to the hospital and decided to take the stairs up to the maternity floor. Two elevators were down at the hospital and I wasn’t happy with the thought of everyone cramming into the one working elevator. Plus, I thought the extra exercise would be good, especially in early labor, to move things along. Well, turns out, they lock the stair access on the maternity floor. Something about abducting babies or something. So, I walked up to the next floor (4th floor), also restricted access. So, I walked all the way back down the stairs to the lobby to take the one working elevator up to the maternity floor. I got much more exercise than I bargained for on that one. Once I got there, I got checked in and finished my coffee. (The Pastor stopped at The Daily Grind and had them make me a Capitol Street Caramel. Yes, that is a Cups drink, but he has TDG make them for me every now and then.) They got me into a triage room and got me on the monitors and the nurse checked me. I was 3 cm but still pretty high and effaced somewhere around 30 – 40%. I decided to walk for an hour, check again and see if I was dilating more. Since 3cm wasn’t exactly definitive.
I walked the halls for an hour. (Luckily I wore my Toms this time instead of cheap flip flops.) I went back to be monitored for 15 more minutes and get checked again. This time, I was close to a 4, slightly lower, 50% effaced, and with a bulging bag. We decided to stay, since it seemed the contractions were heading in the right direction. I walked for another hour, then moved to my labor and delivery room. Tamarah was my L&D nurse and she was awesome. Without me even asking, she put me on intermittent monitoring and never once asked me to get in the bed to be monitored.
Que arrived at 1:30. I was still only feeling very moderate discomfort at this point. I walked around my room, squatted, sat on the birthing ball, and just hang out with The Pastor and my doula. I sipped on Vitamin water and regular water while hanging out.
At 3:00 pm Dr. Tate came in to check me. I was 5 cm and 50% effaced and -3. He stripped my membranes at this point. (Stripping your membranes hurts, just so you know.)
At 4:45 pm Dr. Tate came to check me again. (You can always refuse these checks, but I get them. Why do I get them? Well, my labors don’t hurt much for most of the labor, so the only way for me to know if I am making progress is to be checked. Most women will know their progressing by how they feel. I just don’t really get those “feelings.”) This time, I was 7cm dilated and 80% effaced. He said he would lean toward breaking my water at that point and asked what I thought about it. I told him I was actually okay with that. I knew I needed more pressure on my cervix to get the baby out. Breaking my water would put that extra pressure on my cervix. So, he got the hook and broke my water with the next contraction. Not very much water came out, though we knew there was plenty of fluid in there. I joked with him that he would get sprayed when the baby came out. He told me to call him if I heard the baby cry. A tech came in to set up the table for delivery, although I wasn’t feeling close to that yet.
At 5:50 pm, my contractions started getting painful. I started having to turn inward during contractions and relax and moan to get through the pain. I was able to relax my upper body entirely, but just couldn’t get my butt and hips to relax. (I was sitting fully upright on the bed at this time.) I told Que what I was feeling and she suggested I get on my knees on the bed and relax my upper body over the top of the bed. (The bed was shaped like a chair at the moment.) I turned around. Immediately, a lot of fluid came out and there was suddenly a lot more pressure. Que squeezed my hips through the next contraction, which helped so much. With that next contraction also came that urge to push. (And when that urge hits, there is nothing you can do but push.) I wasn’t exactly aware of it, but The Pastor ran out in the hall to find the nurse or Dr. Tate to let them know I was pushing.
Dr. Tate and a resident named Mark ran in. Dr. Tate asked if it was okay for Mark to be there. I told him I really didn’t care. Dr. Tate asked me if I was going to be delivering the baby in my current position and I informed him that I wasn’t moving. They did lower the head of the bed so I was on my hands and knees instead of upright on my knees. While I pushed, Que put cold rags on my neck because I was burning up. Dr. Tate, Mark, and Tamarah tried to figure out what position the baby was coming out it. I told them he was LOA, but I guess they needed to confirm for themselves. No one counted as I pushed, I just pushed. Dr. Tate did let me know when to push lightly or hard. The Pastor informed me of my progress as Ransom was coming out. (“I can see hair.” “I can see his ears.” “His head is out now.”) I pushed for about 5 to 10 minutes, and then Ransom was born at 6:15 pm! He had the cord loosely wrapped around his neck, which isn’t unusual. I only add it to the story so you know it is a normal, not a big deal, kind of thing.
I rolled over onto my back, and they put Ransom on my chest. He looked so tiny! He turned out to be 2 oz. larger than Emery and my biggest baby yet at 6 lbs. 15 oz. The placenta was delivered (and shown to me) while they were getting Ransom all suctioned out. At 7:15 pm, I had another first. I got to breastfeed my newborn! I’ve never gotten to do that before because they were all early and whisked away before I could feed them. Ransom breastfed for about 20 minutes only an hour after he was born! (That is a really, really big deal to me. I’ve only gotten to hold 2 out of 4 of my babies within the first hour of their life. So breastfeeding was a huge deal!)
I fared pretty well with the birth. No tearing. No bruising. Not much bleeding.
I am also very happy about how the birth turned out. I had great support and had a great birth! My second VBAC was great!
In case you are wondering, here are the interventions I accepted: heplock, intermittent fetal monitoring before 7cm, continuous fetal monitoring after 7 cm, cervical checks, membrane sweep, and AROM. I also had counter pressure during the pushing stage.