Every birth story is unique, miraculous, and beautiful in its own way. Whether it’s a water birth, a home birth, a hospital birth, or a belly birth, it is a tremendous accomplishment for any mom to conceive, carry, and birth a baby. No matter what way your baby arrives into this world, mothers should be commended for the dedication and endurance it takes to birth a baby and also awarded for the sacrifice and pain before, during, and after birth. It fascinates me that every pregnancy and every birth is different. Here is my story.
I had been having intermittent contractions throughout the entire week prior to delivery day and a few false alarms, which was new to me, since I did not experience that with my daughter’s pregnancy. To top it off, it was the week of Thanksgiving and I was anxious to know when he’d arrive since it was a holiday week, and I had a lot of people on standby for me.
Finally, the day before his arrival, I went to the hospital for a routine non-stress test and spent over an hour on the machines making sure he wasn’t under any distress. He passed with flying colors, however, the nurse and I noticed that I was having Braxton Hicks regularly about every 8 minutes. Just in case this was the beginning of early labor, I returned home that evening and we spent our night as a family of three decorating our home and dressing our tree for Christmas.
Around 1:00am that next morning, his due date to be exact, I started having regular contractions that were slowly but surely getting stronger and stronger. I called my doula and she said to try and sleep as much as possible and she’d call back in a couple of hours. By the time she called back, around 3:45am, I had lost my mucus plug and had some bloody show (again something I didn’t experience with my daughter).
Within the hour my contractions were roughly four minutes apart, lasting one minute, for at least one hour, so I called my doctor. He said he would call the hospital and reserve me a room and to come to the hospital when I thought I was ready. By this time my husband was awake vigorously cleaning the house and packing the car so when we came home from the hospital we would have a clean home. I, in the meantime, took a shower (something I regretted not doing with my daughter) and made a few phone calls to set up care for our daughter and our dogs. Once it was light outside we dropped off our daughter and dogs and made our way to the hospital. I was trying to stay as hydrated as possible and even ate a little food on the way.
My doula met us at the hospital and I was admitted immediately without having to go to triage. I assume this is because I was trying to have a VBAC and they wanted to monitor me as soon as possible. When we reached the room we unpacked the candles, the music speakers, and the essential oil diffuser and I started laboring in various positions, even though I had to be hooked to the monitors the entire time. Luckily I was assigned my favorite nurse (by my request) that I had during my daughter’s birth three years ago and she let me have extended trips (wink wink) to the restroom so I would have more freedom to walk around without the machines. My doctor was also on call at the hospital that day (since it was a Sunday) so I felt like it was the perfect case scenario with all the best care for a perfect birth. After about an hour, I was checked and even though I asked not to know how much I had dilated, I knew from the looks on everyone’s faces and the body language that it hadn’t been very much.
By this time, it was mid morning and I had been laboring for quite some time and the contractions were only getting stronger. I labored for an additional eight hours or so and my water even broke (which also didn’t happen with my daughter). It was at this time that I was checked again and I was told I had only dilated 3 cm. I was devastated. It felt like déjà vu. If you read my previous birth story blog about my daughter’s childbirth you may remember the reason I had a c-section with her was because after 36 hours of intense labor and various interventions I never dilated past 3 cm.
I typically blamed the first childbirth’s c-section on external factors and some psychological ones due to fear and anxiety (as I’m sure many first moms experience). I knew there must had been a biological component, but I couldn’t control something biological, I only could control the external and psychological factors – which were all different this time around.
In tears, I begged for an epidural. My contractions were minutes apart and very strong (unless I have an insanely low pain threshold). At first I felt like I was giving up on the natural birthing process but in that moment the pain surpassed any other feeling I had in the moment. I was given an epidural and felt instant relief and my doctor came back to check on me. I lost track of time but I know it was dark outside at this point. Because I was a VBAC candidate, I had to make sure I didn’t have certain medications like pitocin and that I didn’t labor for too long without dilating, in the case I may rupture my previous incision. My doctor said to rest and let my body do the work and he’d come back to check on me in a couple of hours.
When my doctor came back to my room he checked me and told me I hadn’t progressed. He also mentioned that he thought the baby was too far up and wasn’t ready to come down any time soon. He also mentioned a few other factors that he believed it would be difficult, if not impossible, to birth naturally. Based on my history, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and gladly and confidently opted for another c-section. If it was inevitable that I was going to have surgery there was no reason to wait. Within 30 minutes, I was in and out of the operating room and had my baby in my arms.
The first time I had a c-section I suffered a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, as well as uncertainty and was left with confusion and many unanswered questions. This time I left with no regrets and knew I made the best decision for my baby and me. I also knew that my body was just not meant to birth naturally and I am completely content with that now. I know now that there was most certainly a biological component to both births that prevented me from having a natural birth. I don’t know why but it doesn’t seem to matter at this point. I believe God was protecting my babies and me so we both could thrive in labor and childbirth the way we were meant to. Instead of feeling like less of a mom and a woman, I felt somehow empowered to choose the type of birth I knew was best for my body. I’ll never know what it feels like to birth naturally, and that was difficult to accept the first time around, but now I am at peace with the way I birth my babies.
Later on that evening, my doctor came in to check on me one more time before heading home. I knew by all the tugging during the surgery that it was difficult to get my baby boy out. Apparently, I learned that the baby had turned transverse again during labor and wasn’t at all in the correct position for natural childbirth. The reason for all of the tugging was because he was still very high and wasn’t even near the birthing canal. In addition, he mentioned something else about my pelvis and cervix that led him to believe that my body would have had a difficult, if not impossible time, birthing naturally. I wasn’t scared of the surgery since I already knew what to expect and it was just a matter of time that I would be done laboring and be well on my way of recovery. My doctor is such a phenomenal surgeon that he, himself, couldn’t even find the first incision in the OR. He doesn’t use staples and I tend to recover quickly. Within minutes of my baby boy entering the world, he was put on my chest and stopped crying immediately. My husband was in the room with me and while they stitched me up, my husband took our son back to our room so it was dark, quiet, and peaceful.
After we got back to our room, I did skin to skin for over an hour and then my husband had a turn at skin to skin as well. My baby boy also practiced eating and latched on quickly and effectively. I was in bliss. I had no idea where my phone was and it didn’t even cross my mind until early the next morning when I started letting family and friends know the good news. And it was at this point that I shut off from social media for the next 3-4 days before sharing the news with the world.
I had a lot of people routing for a VBAC for me, and I tried everything I could control to make it happen, but at the end of the day it’s not about any of them. It was about me and my baby and now a week later, I still know I made the right decision. I am not ashamed but proud of the birth that I had. I have a healthy baby boy (weighing 8lbs, 7oz, 20 in) that passed his APGAR tests with scores of 9 all around, passed his hearing test, his jaundice test, and his oxygen tests, etc. I also didn’t have any complications. A mother cannot ask for anything more.