But first, a disclaimer.
I absolutely love birth stories. I just think they are so interesting to read, no matter how each person's story and choices are different than mine. But after Jack's induction, labor, and then c-section, I really struggled for a while when reading birth stories. I felt like so many of them took tons that made me feel like a failure. I think some of that was me, and my processing and dealing with the outcome of Jack's birth (which wasn't what I was hoping for). But I think sometimes it was the writer too. It is really easy to be so excited about how everything worked for you, to the result that you come off sounding judgmental.
So I want to share my birth story and I am excited too, because it did actually turn out the way I wanted it to. But, if it hadn't, it would have been okay. I think moms that are able to have regular births are great. And moms that choose repeat c-sections are great. And moms that try for VBACs are great, whether or not that works out (because what a terrifying choice!). And birth mothers are great. And adoptive moms are great.
I just hope that this story isn't judgmental sounding in the slightest (and please tell me if it is!). No matter what your story is, I know that you endured 40 weeks of pain to get your baby into the world and that is pretty incredible!
Alright. I mentioned before that I was hoping and planning for a VBAC. Which really is a little terrifying--not because of uterine rupture. I wasn't worried about that. I was really more worried about going through labor again and then ending up with a c-section again, like with Jack. And I was nervous about how I would feel if that was the outcome.
From the beginning, I did research on what leads to a successful VBAC. And the number one thing I kept finding was to have a doula. So I researched local doulas and we interviewed a couple. We ended up deciding on Corey Strouse. All of the doulas we looked at seemed great, but we both just really like Corey. And she had tons of VBAC experience.
Another tip for a successful VBAC is usually to not have an epidural. I really wanted a natural birth with Jack, so I was behind this tip too. I also tried to gain less this pregnancy and be more active (which happened anyway, with a toddler and move!). I used some spinning babies techniques to help the baby get into the right position.
Thankfully, the local hospital here does support VBACs. That doesn't mean every doctor is super encouraging--I found that at least one of the doctors in my practice was not--but on the whole, the other doctors were. But the doctors here will not induce a VBAC, which I was actually on board with. I was induced with Jack and I had NO desire to repeat that experience.
When I got into my 3rd trimester, we scheduled a c-section date of September 25th, a week and a half past my due date. I think some VBAC people would advise against that. I was totally okay with having my section scheduled. I think it helped me to know that I had that date down.
This pregnancy was so different from my pregnancy with Jack! With Jack, I had very little progress and really no contractions leading up to his inducement. With Gil, I had some progress and tons of Braxton Hicks and real contractions (again, I really think helped by being so much more active!). We met with Corey, our doula, two weeks before my due date, and she was reminding me that second labors are usually much faster. I didn't believe that this labor would be short at all, even though I had gotten to complete and pushed for an hour with Jack. I just thought I was in for a looong labor (and was okay with that).
Okay, here's where I'm going to be honest with you. The Thursday night before I was due, I took castor oil. I know, I know, there are some people who have problems with this. But I took a really small amount and drank lots of fluid. It didn't really do anything at all, so I took another small dose Friday morning. It worked its regular castor oil effects, but didn't give me extra contractions. Finally, Saturday night, I took another small dose that did absolutely nothing. So I have no idea if there is a direct connection or not.
But Sunday morning, I woke up at 3 a.m. with really intense cramping. I went to the bathroom and started a bath. I began to notice that the cramping was coming in waves, so I started timing them and realized these were contractions! For the first thirty minutes, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. Then for the next thirty minutes, they were 2 to 2 1/2 minutes apart. By the time I woke Bech up at 4, they were 1 1/2 minutes apart and they were miserable. For the next hour or so, I tried all of the pain helping techniques, including another bath and a shower, and nothing was really helping.
In the meantime, I had Bech calling Corey and the on call doctor. Corey said she would go ahead and head this way, either to meet us at home or at the hospital. The on call doctor (who was the one I really wanted to deliver! She had a VBAC herself.), after seeing that I was group B strep positive and a VBAC, said that we should probably head in. And I was feeling a ton of pressure and some nausea, so I felt like it was time to head that way.
We called our neighbor, who came to sit downstairs in the living room until Jack woke up. I threw the last of our toiletries in the hospital bag (which I had thankfully packed a day before!). And Bech threw the trash away while I yelled at him (because seriously--I'm in labor! Why are you taking the trash out?!?).
We headed out the door at 5:35, got to the hospital at 5:45, and got into a room at 6 a.m. That car ride was the absolute worst. If nothing was helping the pain at home, there was definitely nothing helping the pain in the car! And I may have yelled a little more at Bech ("Run that light!" "Drive faster!").
In planning to go natural, I really thought I could do it because I thought the contractions would be spaced further apart. I ended up getting the epidural with Jack because the contractions were literally right on top of each other, with no break in between. I told Bech during this drive that if we got to the hospital, and I was barely dilated (like maybe a 4), then I was getting the epidural.
But when we got there and got checked in, I was an 8! I was also a total brat to the nurse, which is so not me. When she told me that was going to put my IV in for the group B antibiotics, I snapped at her, "Well, you've got 1 minute before my next contraction!" Sorry, Kaitlin, I am sure you are a very nice person even if you went to LSU (seriously, we had an LSU nurse in State College...small world...).
They did all the basic check in stuff (monitor for a tad bit, IV), and after 30 minutes, I told them that I needed to push. They checked again and I was ready.
Y'all, contractions without pain meds aren't fun, but they are NOTHING compared to pushing without an epidural. The only good thing was that I knew the only way to make it stop was to get that baby out of me. I have never been more motivated in my life.
Also, I may or may not have yelled some strange things during my pushing, like, "Get this baby out of here" and "It's too late for the epidural now, right?" Oh well...
Also, the ring of fire is a very good descriptive term...
I pushed for 35 minutes, and at 7:09 a.m., Baby Gil was here!
Being able to immediately hold him made my VBAC so worth it! That was the hardest part of Jack's c-section for me, not being able to hold him. In fact, I had a small fever the very last time they took my temperature before the section, so he had to go to the NICU for several hours.
With Gil, we just got to hold him for an hour and a half! They didn't even weigh him until I asked them to (because I was curious).
I also loved the natural high of giving birth. I'm not sure how much of that was not having a section and how much was not having any medication. But I loved it!
So there's my story. 4 hours of labor, 30 minutes of pushing, and a successful VBAC! I still can't believe how fast everything went!
And sorry, Nurse Kaitlin and Bech, for yelling at y'all...