I don't know that there's been a day where I haven't thought about Kaylee's birth...and how incredibly grateful to the Lord I am that I was able to have the natural vbac that I desired. It was certainly a healing experience for me. If you don't know how my first birth went, you can read it here.
Wednesday, July 20th, Septtro suggested we head to the mall to walk. It was too hot to walk outside. So, off to the mall we went. We did a couple laps and headed to my check-up appointment. I was 4 days past my due date. The doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to check fluid levels (everything else looked great). Once I heard, "If there's not enough fluid, we need to have the baby", I declined the ultrasound. I wanted no reason for them to push for induction and since I was only 4 days past my due date, I didn't see a risk in waiting a little bit longer. I don't think the doctor understood at all why I would refuse. But I was just trying to protect myself and my baby girl from any possible unnecessary interventions - or pressure to have any.
Before going home, I went by the natural health store and picked up some red raspberry tea and a bottle of evening primrose oil. My doula mentioned this may help get things going. I've always said I wonder if these "natural induction methods" aren't a bit more mental than anything. As in, "If I take this, I'll go into labor" and because your mind can be so powerful, you start labor. I drank a cup of the tea before bed and took one dose of the evening primrose oil. Rilynn stayed with my mom at her house so we could go enjoy our church's care group toddler-free. She also had our dog, Suka. I joked with her that this would be a good night for me to go into labor since she already had Ri and Suka with her.
Early Thursday morning at about 2:30am, I woke up, as usual, to use the restroom. I was unusually hot. So I went to get an extra fan and had it blowing directly on me. At about 5:00am, I woke up to a sort of popping feeling. I remembered my friend Kelli describing her water breaking feeling like that. I lied there for a second, wondering if that's what it was. Then I felt like I was about to wet my pants. I quickly got up to head to the bathroom and barely made it to the potty before a bigger gush came. I must say, I still wasn't sure. I figured I wouldn't have peed myself that much, but still, I wasn't sure. I immediately called Septtro into the bathroom and we started wondering together if my water had really broken.
After sitting there for a while, it became apparent, it was my water. I debated whether to call my doula right away and whether to alert my mom. I waited until about 6:00am until I called my doula. She was actually at her other client's birth at the time. What are the chances?? She said she'd come to our house after her client delivered, which appeared to be soon. I wanted her to be at the house so she could help me with pain management and help us know when to head the hospital. I most certainly didn't want to arrive at the hospital too early and have labor slow down.
Close to 6:30, I decided to call my friend, Holly. She had a home birth last August and had attended a few other births and I thought she might be a good fill-in doula. :) Of course, she didn't answer her phone as it was early in the morning. I left her a message. My doula had suggested I try to lie down and rest and that this would probably be a long process. But my contractions were already starting to get pretty intense. There was no way I was going to be able to rest.
Septtro and I continued to time the contractions. They went from about 7 minutes apart to 4 minutes to 3 minutes in the span of about 45 minutes. Septtro was keeping in contact with my doula via phone and she suggested we get in our tub at home. By the time I was in the tub, my contractions were extremely intense. We tried to keep timing the contractions but I was afraid I'd drop my phone in the water (we used an application I downloaded on my cell phone - thanks for the tip, Shawna!) so we stopped. This was obviously the real thing.
Septtro reminded me that I needed to eat and drink. I was going to need energy for sure! So he made me a glass of Innergize and got me a stick of cheese. He had to keep reminding me to eat and drink, which was good because I certainly wasn't thinking about it.
My doula asked to speak to me (although Septtro had to put me on speaker at this point because my contractions were so intense) and reminded me to be in control of the contractions and not to allow them to control me. I was continually humming through every contraction, making sure my throat stayed good and open - almost like a deep yawn (as I had read this is directly connected to opening the cervix).
At this point, my body began pushing on its own. I know that sounds weird. But it's what happened. When there would be a very strong contraction, my body would push.
I started to wonder if maybe we shouldn't head to the hospital. And I started to get a little nervous that we might have a unassisted home birth. As much as I wanted a home birth, I wasn't mentally prepared for one at this point. Septtro called my doula again and she said things were still in the early stage and she didn't want us to get to the hospital too soon. When there was bloody show, then maybe we should head to the hospital.
Septtro got in the tub with me. I had my eyes closed pretty much the whole time and I would squeeze Septtro's hand through a contraction. I later realized that neither of those things were helpful in managing the contractions. I needed a focal point and I needed to work with my body and not be tense.
Not long after we last spoke with my doula, I saw a tiny bit of blood. Septtro said it wasn't blood. Then a couple minutes later, it was pretty clear - bloody show.
I began to already dread the ride to the hospital. We were a good 25 minutes away. Septtro was very calm and began getting things into the car. He helped me out of the tub and into the car and off we went. I remember he was playing the radio and singing along on the ride there. And I remember thinking, "How can you possibly be singing at the time like this?!" :)
I continued humming through my contractions. We arrived at the hospital at about 8:30am. When I got to the triage room, the nurse said, "You sound like you have the urge to push". Um, yeah. My body had been doing that for over an hour at this point. So ya know, I figured, I'm gonna be at least dialated to 6 cm.
The nurse checked me. She said, "You're about a 2-3". WHAT??! You have GOT to be kidding me! This was obviously a blow to me mentally. I started counting in my head the standard "you should dialated a centimeter an hour" and dreading it taking that long - but at the same time, reminding myself that by dinner time, I would have a baby. This was at 8:45am. The nurse told me that I shouldn't be pushing or my cervix would swell. But I couldn't help it. I wasn't really pushing, my body was doing it on its own.
They admitted me and started monitoring the baby's heartbeat. I had to stay in the bed for this and that was very hard for me as I was in quite some bit of pain. I kept telling the nurse, "They said I could move around". They eventually got a portable monitor so I could move around. But because I was a vbac, the doctor wanted a 20 minute continuous reading on the baby. I was doing all I could to get into a position that would help me manage the pain better, but it wasn't always condusive to getting a good read on the heartbeat. So the doctor decided to come in the room to tell me how important it was to get the reading he needed - during a contraction. I specifically put in my birth plan not to speak to me during a contraction. But after ignoring him while speaking to me during one, he decided to say, "Hey I really need you to listen. This is important". I threw my head over towards his general direction and let him say what he wanted. If I had anything to throw in his general direction, I think I would have.
The nurse was great. She was nothing but encouraging. She even encouraged me to visualize my pelvis opening and the baby coming down the birth canal - things I had read in my natural child birth books. When she wasn't looking, Septtro would give me more to drink and hand me a container of blueberries to snack on. I think the nurse knew, but she didn't say anything.
My doula still wasn't with me. The birth of her other client ended up taking a lot longer than expected. I asked Septtro to call her to ask her some positions to manage the pain. That's the main thing I didn't really research for myself since I was relying on her experience to help with that. But what I did know was that I needed to be in tune with my body and work with my body. I finally found that bouncing on the birthing ball at the end of the bed, facing Septtro, and focusing on his mouth as he hummed along with me during contractions eased the pain quite a bit.
I asked the nurse to get into the tub. They had tubs at this hospital that they would let you labor in (but not give birth in). "We don't have any, honey but we'll get you one as soon as we can". Oh great. Things were really not going well so far. No doula. No tub. How in the world was I going to do this? In fact, yes, I did say, "I can't do this" to Septtro...several times. Part of me said it because I really wanted to know if he believed in me. Of course, he replied, "Yes you can".
Pretty soon, there was a knock at the door. It was my friend Holly. Apparently, she had seen my mom post on Facebook that my doula wasn't able to make it to the hospital yet and when she found out I already called her, she encouraged Holly to come up to the hospital. She told me that I should get into different positions to help the baby get in the best position for delivery. But it seemed every position I tried didn't feel good. But we still tried a few different ones for as long as I could tolerate it. She rubbed my back, fetched a warm washcloth, and hummed with Septtro and I.
Periodically through the process, I was talking to my baby. I was saying "open" and visualizing her coming down through the birth canal. I was encouraging her. And I was encouraging myself. I said a few other times that "I can't do this all day". Holly reminded me that I just needed to take one at a time.
I remember at one point, I felt like I could throw up. I remembered this was usually a sign of transition. I didn't tell anyone I felt that way. And I didn't throw up. I thought it was too early for me to be going through transition anyway. I soon learned that it felt better to go limp after each contraction. So I would roll forward and lean against the bed while on the birthing ball, and Septtro would hold my arms so I wouldn't fall to either side.
At about 12:30pm, they checked me again. The nurse said, "Oh, you're complete". I remember looking at Holly's face as she looked at Septtro with quite a surprised look. I had dialated from a 2-3 to a 10 in 4 hours. And the baby was at a plus 1 station (plus 3 station is when the baby's head is crowning).
Holly leaned over and whispered, "You're about to see your baby's face". I can't tell you how powerful that was to hear.
So, here comes the pushing stage. I pushed for a while when I was in labor with Rilynn. I must say, I was nervous. Could I push out this baby when I couldn't push out my first??
When I got the green light to push, it felt AWESOME. I know that sounds crazy but it's true. I no longer felt any pain, just relief is the best way I can describe it. At first, I was pushing as soon as felt the contraction. I soon realized I needed to wait until it built up a bit so I could get some good, long pushes in.
Holly graciously excused herself at this point as Septtro preferred it to be just us when the baby was delivered. I started out pushing at the edge of the bed on my knees and used the birthing bar attached the bed as leverage when pushing. I knew I had to have gravity on my side and that was my goal.
I soon decided I wanted to stand and push. So I stood, facing the edge of the bed; and when a contraction would come and I felt it was time to push, I would hoist myself up onto the top of the birthing bar and go limp and just push. Septtro kept saying I needed to sit on the birthing ball in between contractions but when I tried, the pressure was too great. It wasn't comfortable. So I would lean up against the birthing bar and go as limp as possible in between contractions.
I was pushing for about an hour when the doctor came in and said he might have another doctor come in to help because they were very busy (yeah, I know...I'm pushing my baby out and I'm still in the triage room). He said he wanted me to be on the bed when the baby crowned because if her shoulder got stuck at all, it'd be easier to help get it free if I wasn't in the standing position. I REALLY didn't want to be in the traditional flat-on-back position because I knew this wasn't the best position to prevent tearing and help the baby descend (hello, gravity). But he said I could be on my hands and knees and hug pillows if I wanted, just as long as I was on the bed.
Around 2:00pm or just before, I started to feel a bit of a burning sensation. I recognized this as the "ring of fire". But it would come and go. So I figured her head was getting sucked back in a bit after a contraction was done. The nurse had left at this point. They later explained they assumed it would take me much longer to get to this point of pushing. She checked and said, "Yep, the baby is right there".
They started getting the warmer ready, blankets, more nurses came in. None of this happened when I was pushing with Rilynn. All I heard was "She's not really coming down". I felt like nobody felt like she could actually come out at all. But now, they were preparing for a baby to come. This gave me more confidence.
I did have a different doctor now...my favorite one out of the three in the practice. I continued to push when I felt the need. Nobody was telling me when to push. That was nice. The ring of fire got a bit more pronounced. But I wouldn't say it was the worse pain or horrible pain. I just knew I was so close to seeing my baby and wanted to badly to finally see her! The nurse reminded me to allow things to stretch and not to go too fast with my pushing. Soon after, her head was totally out. I gave about two more pushes and her shoulders weren't coming out. The doctor then said, "Ok, let's flip her". So...with the baby's head out, I was flipped over onto my back. In a couple more pushes and with the help of the doctor, out she slid - at 2:15pm. I looked down and absolutely could not believe it! I did it! We did it!
They suctioned her and kept her on the edge of the bed entirely too long for my liking. I asked to hold her. They finally gave her to me. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating before Septtro cut it (he wasn't able to do this with Rilynn's birth).
I looked in her sweet eyes and told her we did it. We did it!
She nursed right away and my placenta was delivered very quickly. I asked to see it and the doctor showed me where the sac was - pretty fascinating. What an amazing organ it is!
My doula didn't make it until shortly after she was born. Turns out, her other client's birth just went on a bit longer than everyone figured.
I did tear. They initially said it was a 2-3 degree tear. But then the nurses kept referring to it as a 4th degree. I then found out it was because it almost was. Except it somehow was like an upside down "Y" tear. Thankfully, that was better than a 4th degree. Not ideal, but hey, I'll take that any day over surgery.
They let us have some kangaroo time and then took her across the room to weigh her. The doctor guessed 8 pounds 8 ounces. I guessed 8 pounds 6 ounces. Then, the number popped up - 10 pounds 3 ounces! That couldn't be right! That's almost 2 entire pounds more than Rilynn weighed! I had pushed out a 10 pound baby?!?! She measured 21 inches long.
After I was stitched, my mom and Holly came in with Rilynn.
Rilynn did very well and was very interested in her new sister.
Soon, they brought me food. I wasn't able to eat anything after my c-section with Rilynn due to the medication (liquid diet only). So, needless to say, it was great to be able to eat right away. But the best part, honestly, was to be able to hold my baby right away; to stare at her and speak to her and just love on her.
The next couple of days, my legs were very sore and if I would be on my feet too long, my heart would race a bit and I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. All this because of how I pushed standing up and how I used the birthing bar. As much as it wasn't the greatest feeling, it reminded me of how hard I worked...so I was ok with it.
What I learned from the experience is that giving birth naturally is a process that starts from the first moment you find you're pregnant. You have to eat right, exercise, do some exercises to help the baby get into the right position, educate yourself, and most importantly, you have to surround yourself with POSITIVE people. I don't know how many times I thanked the doctor and nurses for their encouragement. It makes a difference, let me tell you. It wasn't just the nurses and the doctor, or Septtro and Holly, it was the community of women who supported my efforts - doulas, midwives, friends. So to those of you who encouraged me, helped educate me, prayed for me - thank you!
Would I do a natural birth again? Absolutely. Yes, there was pain. But man, there's NOTHING like working with your body and feeling your baby being born. I can't thank God enough for how He worked that day. Things didn't seem to be going as planned at all. But He allowed me to ultimately have the birth I desired.
That time I stopped praying...
2 months ago