Ever since my cesarean birth with my second baby, I knew I wanted to have another vaginal birth. I did not want to have another cesarean and did all that I could to avoid one during this pregnancy. I had planned and prepared for my unmedicated VBAC. After months of preparation, the day finally came.
After two weeks of prodromal labor, two false-alarm visits to Labor & Delivery, and an external cephalic version to turn baby girl head down since she was breech, like my second baby, my birth time had finally arrived at 36 weeks 5 days. You would think after going into labor on my own two times before that I would know when it is real labor, but this little girl was a trickster.
I had my growth scans done with Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM), due to Type 1 diabetes, and they said she was around 8 lbs 11 oz at 35 weeks. Two different MFM doctors told me that I should have a repeat c-section especially since my first baby was 8 lbs 13 oz, and had shoulder dystocia. On top of that baby girl was breech and she would more than likely be bigger than 8 lbs 13 oz at delivery if I went to 40 weeks around August 28, 2016.
I went in to my OB, Dr. Sean Edmunds, for my 36 week appointment on Friday August 5, 2016. We had previously talked about doing an induction soon because baby girl was getting big and chances for successful VBAC went down the bigger she got. He told me that MFM wouldn’t approve an induction this early because her lungs may not be ready. I was contracting quite frequently at this appointment and Dr. Edmunds said that he’ll probably be seeing me this weekend in Labor & Delivery. He sent us down to talk to MFM and go over our options for induction. The MFM doctor said that we could have an amniocentesis at 37 weeks to see if baby girl’s lungs were developed enough for an induction, or just wait until 38 weeks for the induction. We were pretty sure that baby girl was coming before that so everything he was saying was moot. This MFM doctor told us that if I were his wife he would want me to have a repeat c-section. I followed my instincts and made my decision to TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) based on my gut and evidence based information instead of fear. Dr. Edmunds was supportive of my decision, even though most of his colleagues were not.
We got home around 11:00 a.m. and I asked my mom took our two boys since I was contracting and Chase, my husband, would be working and wouldn’t be able to help out. My contractions were getting a lot stronger now and I started losing my mucus plug. With my other two I had never seen my mucus plug, but this whole pregnancy was way different than the other two. I tried sleeping through the contractions because that was the only way they would stop the previous two weeks, but now they were waking me up. Since I couldn’t sleep, I asked my husband to play the card game Rummy with me. We played Rummy between contractions, even while I was in the tub. Around 7:00 p.m. the contractions got more intense and closer together. We decided it was time to leave for our pre-birth place, Little America, and call the photographer and doulas. We wanted to labor somewhere closer to our hospital in case anything happened, but not at the hospital so I could not be disturbed. Little America also has great tubs!
When we arrived at Little America I waited in the car while Chase got the keys to our room. The contractions were pretty strong now. Once we got up to our room, room 902, Chase filled up the tub for me and I labored there while my birth team arrived. I labored in the tub for a while, and then I felt like I needed to change positions. I labored standing, on hands and knees, in the bed on my side, on the birth ball, with rebozo sifting, basically everywhere and in all positions while my doulas and Chase applied counter-pressure. This was unlike my other un-medicated delivery where I didn’t want to move at all. After laboring for 6 hours at Little America I was getting tired and things seemed to be moving slowly, so we decided to go to the hospital to see what was happening and decide our game plan from there. I started crying because I felt like a failure. My doulas came down to my face and told me that I was not a failure and that I am still doing it. This helped me feel better and get me back into my zone.
We arrived at St. Mark’s hospital and walked to Labor & Delivery stopping every so often to breathe through the contractions. The nurses asked me if I needed a wheelchair, but we told them I was fine. They took us to room 13. They gave me a band to hold the monitors in place and told me they would get me a different gown to wear. I told them “I’m wearing this”, pointing to my Pretty Pusher. Chase handed over my birth plans (Plan A: vaginal birth and Plan B: cesarean birth) to our nurse, Chelsea, and I continued laboring. I let her do a cervical check but told her not to tell me what I was. I found out later that I was 5 cm and 100% effaced. One of my doulas went in the hall to talk to Chelsea so that we could decide on a game plan. My doula didn’t tell me my dilation but wanted to let me know that I was 100% effaced and said that I was further along than she had expected.
We talked about breaking my water but I was really afraid to. I had A LOT of fluid (polyhydramnios) and I was very concerned about cord prolapsed because I had some dreams during pregnancy about it. I also knew the contractions were going to get more intense when my water broke and they were already pretty intense. After 3 more hours I decided to let them break my water because I was starting to get exhausted. Chelsea said the Hospitalist would come and break my water since Dr. Edmunds wasn’t there yet. While we were waiting for the hospitalist to come, I had a contraction and during that contraction I remembered that Chase and I hadn’t put on my special jewel stickers. As soon as the contraction ended I said, “Chase…”
He said, “Yeah?” with concern in his voice.
“We forgot to vajazzle!” My birth team just started laughing, then asked what I was talking about. I explained what it was and luckily we had packed the jewels in the birth bag. Chase hurried and put some on while the nurse was facing the other way. Really, I just wanted to see what the hospital staff’s reaction would be.
After a while Chelsea came in and said Dr. Edmunds was here so he would break my water instead of the hospitalist. Dr. Edmunds came in shortly after. He walked in with a big smile on his face and said, “So you’re 5 cm dilated!” I had just finished a contraction and looked at him teasingly and said, “You’re not supposed to tell me.” He felt so bad for telling me, because we had gone over it in our prenatal appointments, and hurried to read my birth plan so he didn’t forget anything else. They laid me down so they could break my water. He did a cervical check at the same time and discreetly told Chase what I was (I was 6 cm). I asked Chase if I had made any progress and he told me I had. Surprisingly there was not a lot of fluid that came out when they broke my water. I got up and wanted to sit on the ball for a little bit. Once I started swaying on the ball tons of fluid came out and soaked the floor and my ball.
I still wanted to move a lot, so I labored sitting in bed, standing up, sitting on the toilet, sitting on the ball, squatting with the squat bar, etc. There was a point when I was sitting on the bed where I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. The contractions were so intense and it felt like it was taking FOREVER! My doulas and husband told me to change positions and applied more counter-pressure and provided distraction. I went to the bathroom and before I sat on the toilet another contraction came. This one felt different and I started pushing at the end of it. As I was on the toilet, Chelsea said I needed to come to the bed after I was done so that I didn’t have my baby on the toilet. I went to the bed and hung over the back of it while on my knees. Chelsea tried to check me but wasn’t able to in the position I was in, so I rolled over so she could check. She told the room I was 8 cm. She probably forgot that I didn’t want to know. I was so mad that I was only an 8! I told everyone that I really couldn’t do it anymore and I needed the drugs. I felt like I was yelling at everyone to just get me the drugs. Everyone was just trying to distract me and tell me I was going to be done soon. It really didn’t feel like it.
Finally, Chelsea said that it was too late for Fentanyl, that I needed a bag of fluids before getting the epidural, and that the anesthesiologist wouldn’t be here for about 30 minutes. It was going to be about an hour before I could have anything and they were certain baby girl would be here by then. She told me that she would start the fluids if I wanted her to. I told her to start the fluids. My doulas had me get on my hands and knees hanging over the bed again so they could provide counter-pressure. A lot of these contractions felt like I needed to push now, so I did. I’m not sure when Dr. Edmunds came in, but he came in and checked me and I was finally 10 cm. I just pushed when I needed to and rested in between contractions. My arms were feeling very tired and shaky so my birth team convinced me to lie down on my left side and continue pushing that way. I kind of just plopped down, I was so tired. My butt was basically hanging off the side of the bed, but Dr. Edmunds was fine catching in that position. I pushed a couple more times before baby girl came out. Dr. Edmunds told me to reach down and grab her since he knew we wanted to catch her, but I was so tired and I didn’t feel like I was in a good position to grab her, so I said, “Just pull her out!” A couple of more pushes and her body was out. Her body felt massive coming out, much bigger than my first baby. Baby girl was born at 7:28 a.m. on August 6, 2016 via an unmedicated VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)! After her body was out a HUGE gush of fluid came out. I literally soaked everyone that was on that side of the bed. I ruined a couple of people’s shoes because of the flood of amniotic fluid.
I was concerned about shoulder dystocia because of my first baby getting stuck, so I asked if she got stuck. Dr. Edmunds said, “I don’t think so, she just had a big body.” He handed her to me and we snuggled. I had asked for a lotus birth with baby girl because I wanted my photographer to capture her attached to placenta and because when I had asked my previous doctor for delayed cord clamping I didn’t get it. I felt like if I asked for an extreme, maybe they would meet me in the middle. Dr. Edmunds was amazing though and left her attached to the cord. The nurses were saying that she was cold and they needed to get her over the warmer, but Dr. Edmunds said, “She’s still attached to the placenta.” I finally got more than 2 minutes of skin-to-skin with one of my babies! It took about an hour before the placenta completely detached. Some of the membranes were still attached inside so Dr. Edmunds cut the membranes a little so they could take baby girl over, still attached to her placenta, to help her because her blood sugars were low and her breathing wasn’t awesome.
Since the membranes were still attached, Dr. Edmunds had to do a manual sweep. He said he would try to be done by the count of 10. My doulas were holding my hands and counting for me while he reached inside and got the clots and membranes out. He did about 5 of those. Man, those sucked! After the fifth he said, “Okay I think I’m done.” I asked, “Forever?!” He laughed and said yes. He then examined me for tears. He said I had a 1st, maybe 2nd degree tear. While he was stitching me up they weighed and measured baby girl. Dr. Edmunds and I guessed around 9 lbs and my doulas guessed around 9 lbs 2 oz. She weighed 9 lbs 10 oz and was 20 inches long. She was only 4 oz lighter than my c-section baby and almost a whole pound heavier than my baby that had shoulder dystocia!
The nurses came over and told me that baby girl’s blood sugars were really low and they needed to take her to the NICU to start a glucose IV through her umbilical cord. This broke my heart because I had tried so hard to keep my blood sugars down so this wouldn’t happen again. (This happened with our second baby). Baby girl and Chase left to the NICU. Dr. Edmunds came back in to give me an update on baby girl. He said her blood sugar was so low the monitor couldn’t read it, but that she was getting the help she needed.
Every time I moved I felt some blood come out. I didn’t remember this happening with my other children, so I was kind of concerned. I asked Dr. Edmunds to take a look at my bleeding to see if it was a normal amount. He said it was a little more than he liked so he wanted me to have some Pitocin. I was hoping to avoid it unless it was necessary, but now it was necessary. As soon as they started the Pitocin I felt short of breath and had REALLY bad cramps. I hate Pitocin!
My birth team stayed for a while after and chatted with me and made sure I was okay before taking off and getting some well deserved rest. My new nurse, Michelle, helped me get into a wheelchair so that she could take me into the NICU to see my baby girl. In the NICU it looked like my gown and the walls were sparkling. I thought it was just the Percocet kicking in. I told Chase that I felt super high. A couple of seconds later one of the NICU nurses handed me a cup to throw up in because I wasn’t looking so good. The next thing I remember is that same nurse asking me if I’m okay. I lifted my head up and couldn’t see well, my ears couldn’t hear well and were ringing. I asked what was happening. I had just fainted for the first time in my life. They wheeled me back to Labor & Delivery and did some blood work to see what was going on. My bleeding wasn’t bad, and the blood work came back normal, so they gave me a bag of fluids through my IV to see if that would help. Since my birth team had left, Chase called my mom to come keep an eye on me in case I fainted again so that he could go be with baby girl.
Baby girl had to be weaned off the glucose IV slowly so her blood sugars wouldn’t drop. She was finally about to be weaned off after almost a week when her oxygen levels started dropping. We ended up staying in the NICU for 9 days. We didn’t leave the hospital the entire time and only left her side to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom. It was a LONG 9 days. On day 8, she failed her car seat test twice. They did her car seat test again on day 9 and she barely passed. They finally let us go home with a pulse oximeter to measure her oxygen levels and some rescue oxygen if her levels got too low.
I am so glad that most of our plans actually got to be a reality. It would not have happened without all of our hard work, preparation, Hypnobirthing classes (those really only helped during pregancy), The Bradley Method, and help from our amazing birth team. Even though they were not the star of this show, this show would not have happened the way it did without them.
Sadly, nobody ever did notice the vajazzling.