In continuing with our cesarean and vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) theme, our other owner, Ashley, shares her VBAC story:
On Thursday, June 6, my mom and Jordan came into town. We had just moved into our new house, in a new city, and I was due the 16. She was there to visit for a few days, and if baby came, baby came, and if not, then it wasn't meant to be. I was having some labor signs, and really felt like he might come any time. So she came, we waited, and nothing more than a couple of convincing nights of pre-labor happened. I was dilated to about a 3 by then, but every night when I went to bed, my labor would stop.
My mom left for home at 11am on Monday, June 10. I made the joke that NOW I would go into labor because "a watched pot never boils." I didn't really think it was going to happen, though, and actually texted my friend that I was going to get my house organized since I was "clearly never having a baby."
So, I organized. And I cleaned. And I folded clothes, and washed diapers, and unpacked boxes, and was basically in a daze all day. Around dinner time, I realized I had been having contractions off and on all day, and after I laid my second son down to bed, I finally sat down and realized they were kind of really consistent. I texted one of my best friends and told her. An hour or two later, they were still going, and we were still texting, so she asked me to time them a little, just to see. They were three minutes apart by then, and I was pacing my (tiny) house, because it just "felt better."
By the time my oldest son went to bed at 730pm, I was dilated to about a 4 and started having some bleeding. I still didn't want to tell my partner, who was at work, in case I wasn't really in labor. I texted my midwife, Heather, just in case it was for real, and I called my mom and let her know that I had been having consistent contractions, but I still didn't really think it was for real. Around 830, I texted my partner to give him a heads up that it "might" be for real. Within an hour, I called him and told him to head on home when he could, but that he didn't have to rush. I called my grandparents, who live just down the road, and asked if they would mind coming to hang with the boys.
My partner and my grandparents both arrived around 10 and 1030pm, and we headed out to the birth center. By then, I was having to focus through my contractions, but wasn't needing to vocalize anything (with my second son/first vaginal birth, I had to vocalize really early on and just "knew" I was in labor-- it wasn't like that at all by this point, so I still felt like I might be faking everyone out). We took a back road through downtown Georgetown to the birth center, and I only had one contraction the entire drive. I had this sinking feeling that my labor was going to stall. We pulled in around 11pm, and Heather and Summer (the student midwife) were there for us. I walked in, and immediately had to keep pacing the hallways through contractions. We decided to go outside and walk around to keep things moving along for me. At some point, I started having to vocalize through my contractions.
Around 1230, I asked Heather to check my cervix, just to see where I was. I was at a 6+. I labored in the shower for a while, and tried to labor in the bed for a while, but I couldn't get comfortable and just wanted to move. My partner turned on some music for me, a pop station, and I nearly died. I made him change the station three times and finally gave up because I just didn't feel like being annoying, but I wasn't happy with the music, regardless.
We decided to go back outside and walk some more, but it was over pretty quickly (I think), because I got to the point where I could barely move through my contractions and was leaning so hard on my partner during them, that it was basically pointless to hang on him and pretend we were moving around.
We went back inside around 130 (I think?), and I asked for another (my second and last) cervical check, because I started feeling the urge to push at the start, but not all the way through, my contractions. I was at an 8, nearly a 9. My midwife encouraged me to get into the tub and try to relax for a while. I did, and instantly regretted holding out on getting into the tub for so long. It was wonderful, and I got a little bit of rest in between my contractions (which hurt SO MUCH LESS in the water). Anytime I had to get out of the tub to pee was pure torture. I considered just peeing there, but I didn't want to go that far haha. I finally told my partner that I didn't care if it annoyed him, but that I had a HEAD in my vagina and I really needed to just put on some praise and worship music. He shook his head, but he didn't complain.
At some point, I started really feeling the need to push during my contractions to relieve the pain. My partner went and grabbed the midwives and let them know. I was STILL thinking in my head that I was going to stall out any minute and get sent home.
Once the midwives came in, they prepped warm towels and turned up the thermostat to get ready for the baby. I thought, "okay, so, this is where they tell me what to do and how to have this baby!" Much to my surprise, they just sat down, and would comment on the songs coming on Pandora, and talk to me between contractions, or tell me how great a job I was doing. I kept thinking that I wasn't doing anything but passing the time until someone told me what to do. At some point, my partner got into the tub with me, and was applying pressure to my hips as I pushed. I finally asked him to just press his fists into the back of my pelvis, rather than push on my hips. I'm not sure why, but it felt good to have some "pain" to focus on beyond my contractions.
I made a comment at some point that I felt like this was taking a really long time. Heather offered to check me, but mentioned that I could just do it myself, so I did. I had a bulging bag of water VERY close, and they thought that that was what was slowing me down and told me that my water would break any second and then he would come fast after that. I kept pushing as my body led me to, squatting over the edge of the tub during contractions, and sinking back to have my partner hold me up after. My midwives made a comment that the song that was playing (You Make Beautiful Things) was the absolute most perfect song to have a baby to, and I heard someone say, "well then she only has three minutes to make it happen!" I was still not really feeling like I was accomplishing anything, and then all of a sudden he was crowning! I instantly got a leg cramp and tried to stand up to get it to go away, completely forgetting that I HAD to stay in the water to deliver the baby now that he was partially out (still in the amniotic sac!). I had my partner and the midwives pulling me back into the water, and that was the moment I decided that I couldn't do this anymore and I could NOT have this baby. My midwife pushed my shoulders down and told me it WAS happening and that I just had to breathe and focus and finish delivering my baby. My water finally broke as his head came out entirely. Heather told me to breathe, and to push his shoulders out when I was ready. I was mildly hysterical (at least in my head, I'm told it wasn't as loud or hysterical as I felt like it was), but I delivered my baby into his father's waiting hands behind me at 353am. Once he caught him, he passed him between my legs to me, and I pulled him out of the water. He started making noise and fussing almost right away, opening his eyes to look at me and at his dad, who was holding me by now. The midwives covered us in warm towels and just let us be for a while.
Once Micah's cord stopped pulsing, they clamped it, and let dad cut the cord. We started making plans to get out of the tub for me to deliver the placenta (my request). I got out and started walking to the bed, and delivered the placenta right onto the floor by accident!
They got us settled in bed and cleaned up and checked out. Micah was ready to nurse in daddy's arms by the time that I was settled in bed, so we got to work on that right away. I got fed, got water, got some iron and herbs (I'm anemic during my pregnancies), and got some help getting cleaned up. When I was ready, they started Micah's newborn exam and I went and got cleaned up and used the restroom. I got back in time for him to be weighed (my guess was the closest!), and he nursed again. Once we were ready, we got to get dressed and head home in time for breakfast with our big boys. I'm not sure who was more surprised to see us walk in the door-- my grandparents, or my kids!
By far and away, I am thankful that I chose the midwifery model of care. I've NEVER been so respected and cared for. No one during my entire labor and delivery once said a negative word to me, or cast doubts about my body into the world. I felt absolutely in control, even when I was sure that I needed guidance to have my baby, I realize now that even in not "knowing" what to do, I knew exactly how to have my baby. I'm not having any more babies of my own, but I will never again hesitate to trust my body in all situations. It has birthed a baby in every type of situation-- a scheduled c-section, a hospital birth with TONS of management and people bossing me around and waiting for something to go wrong, and a birth center birth where I was in total control of the situation and did as I wished the entire time.