Since my son Orion was born early (36w3d) by emergency c section, I felt that I was pregnant on borrowed time in my last few weeks. I anxiously awaited the arrival of Baby #2 feeling confident I could rock this vbac. My mantra was my body was made for this! I focused on the moment when the baby would be placed on my chest and imagined how amazing that would feel!
The day baby arrived, I was 38w4d along. I think I was already stirring or in a light sleep when I felt a warm trickle and my water broke in bed around 3am. I immediately knew what it was and heart pounding, I pushed my husband Tim awake saying "I think my water just broke." Thankfully it was not a huge gush so I was able to contain it until I got on the toilet. We called our doula Emily Smith and even though I was excited (mostly) I was also a little bit scared. I told myself “It's baby time! You can do this!”
Tim called his mom Sandie to come stay with our son Orion (2y3m old). It was funny to hear the one sided conversation they had as Tim only said "yes" and within two minutes she was at our house!
Grandma was ready!
The time on my phone was 3:20am when I grabbed it to go downstairs. I snuck into Orion's room and have him a kiss goodbye, making sure to whisper "I love you" to my first sweet baby one last time before I became a mother of two!
Once downstairs we called the doctor's office and Dr Bright told us yes we should go to the hospital. We let Emily know we were on the way and to come meet us there. I grabbed a banana and headed to the car, running down the final checklist with Tim - although we had been packed for weeks!
On the way to the hospital I started to have some contractions, but they were not long or intense. It felt more like period cramps that came and went. We arrived at the Inova Birthing Inn and got checked in. I changed into a hospital gown and was hooked up to the fetal monitor. It was weird to have tight bands on my belly, but I was comforted to see the baby's heartbeat and it was cool to see the waves of my contractions printing out on paper.
Contractions began to come more regularly. I was able to breathe through them, in and out my nose, and close my eyes to picture myself sitting peacefully on a beautiful beach.
While we waited for Dr. Bright, the midwife on call came in and we were happy to be in her care. She checked my dilation and I was 3cm and 80% effaced! It wasn't as much as I was expecting, but you have to start somewhere.
At one point, I was breathing through a contraction and the nurse asked me if I was having one. I said yes, but it's not bad. She told me she could see it lasted about 60 seconds, but I was probably feeling the peak, lasting about 20-30 seconds.
Finally around 4am, we were asked to move into the delivery room where we had much more space. I also remembered the room from my brief labor with Orion and I think that made me a little uneasy at first knowing anything can happen here. That feeling faded when my doula arrived! I felt so relieved she made it and we wouldn't be alone.
I had to get antibiotics right away in my iv, so they hooked me up to a pole with the hanging iv bag. The antibiotics burned in my arm so I was very happy when they were done. I took the pole on wheels and got up. I wanted to get up to walk and move through my contractions. Emily turned down the lights, put on clary sage in my diffuser to move things along, and Tim put on music for us. It was time to get this labor started!
The atmosphere was calm as we worked through the light early labor contractions. I kept up with my nose breathing, chatting in between, and going to the beach in my head. I swayed my hips, using gravity to hopefully make some progress. We laughed about the fact that I was "pole dancing my baby out" and we shared our boy/girl names. We didn't know the sex of the baby and I was so excited for the surprise!
At some point I started to get tired of walking. When you are in labor you lose all sense of time, so I don't remember how long I was walking. I went to sit on a rocking chair. It felt good to sway and rock while breathing through my contractions. I kept picturing my beach and beautiful clouds.
The contractions started to come longer and stronger. I had to start breathing out and keeping my voice low. Moaning "oooooh" and picturing a flower opening. I also would say "oooooh open, oooh-pen" I concentrated on handling each contraction as it came and trying to truly release each one. Emily encouraged horse lips - flapping my lips with an out breath - to let it go, so I'm sure I sounded funny but I didn't care!
Tim was encouraging, a strong hand to squeeze through each contraction. He was rubbing my back and arm. Whenever he had to step away, Emily was there to hold my hand instead. I felt very supported and did my best to block out all other noises/distractions from the hospital environment around me.
I started to feel nauseous, so someone got my trash can for me. It was the same one I was attached to when I was in labor with Orion. The perfect height and strength for leaning over, this time on all fours. Emily grabbed the peppermint oil for me to smell and that held off the nausea at first. Then as you do in labor, your body wants to be empty and you have to go to the bathroom. Tim helped me to the toilet and I stripped off my gown. I remember grabbing the gown just saying "off" and off it went.
I labored on the toilet for awhile. Emily placed a strand of white Xmas lights in the bathroom so we could keep the lights low.
When the contractions started to get intense, it felt best to be on all fours hovering over my trash can as I felt I was going to get sick. I started to throw up and as much as that sucked it also felt better. Someone wiped my mouth with a warm washcloth and kept offering me sips of coconut water which I only sometimes accepted.
My lower stomach was getting so tight with each contraction and I felt that it could not rest. The cat/cow back stretch and trying to breathe deep helped. Tim and Emily were both by my side keeping my voice low, encouraging my moaning and breathing and helping me to let each contraction go. At some point I started to shiver and shake. We put a towel down under me and I think someone covered my back with a towel or a sheet to warm me up. I think the shaking was from adrenaline though and not from being cold.
At this point my nurse came to tell us baby's heartbeat wasn't doing what they wanted so we needed to try a few things. I had to first switch positions and then we can try fluids and then oxygen to help baby out. I started to get freaked out. I know a baby in distress is a reason for a c section and I kept thinking what if all this labor is for nothing? I tried to stay calm and just focus on my contractions. I also didn't have much of a choice. I must have been in active labor because each contraction demanded my attention and I found myself focusing all my efforts inward to relieve the tightness and get through it!
At some other point, Dr. Bright checked in and recommended that I get an epidural. She said because I was a vbac, it would be a good idea to have it placed even if I did not want the medicine yet. I declined and asked if I could think about it. In my head I wanted to get to 8cm (this is how far I got on my own with Orion before the c section) before I got an epidural and I felt things were progressing quickly. A few more intense contractions though and I started to lose my resolve! There was just no resting, the contractions were coming so fast!
We had to move to the bed for baby's heart rate. I tried to stay in another position knelt up leaning over the back of the bed, but I found myself pushing back to all fours when my contractions came. The contractions were coming closer together - longer & stronger. I started to get this scared panic feeling. I wasn't sure I could keep coping! I wanted the contractions to stop! I started to ask for my epidural. The bottom of my stomach was so sore and tight! I felt like I couldn't get away from the pain, couldn't rest, wasn't really able to let them go!
Dr Bright checked my progress. I flipped on my back and she guesstimated that I was 6cm dilated. This number was deflating. I started to lose hope and drive! I started to feel overwhelmed thinking I wasn't to 8cm yet! I think at this point I was angry with contractions. I kept moaning but louder, as low as I could, and started saying "come on baby" in between my very deep breaths!
We had to wait what felt like forever for the anesthesiologist! Just before he arrived, I started to throw up again. There was nothing left to come out. Emily told us every time you throw up your body can dilate 1/2 to 1 more cm. It did feel good as when you are throwing up for that moment the belly pain was gone.
I was getting a little miserable. But somewhere in there I had a peaceful moment of rest. Leaning back in childs pose I stretched and relaxed my belly. Someone was rubbing my back and I was able to place my head down on the pillow for a moment. That was the best!
The anesthesiologist finally arrived and I had to change positions to get prepped. I remembered getting the spinal for my c section was the scariest part last time. I was in very active labor now with contractions coming so close together I couldn't compose myself. The doctors/nurses said I had to keep very still and they had to work on me even through my contractions, but it would be good to distract me from the pain of placing the epidural. I was terrified and started to panic and scream. Emily and Tim kept me breathing, but also made me focus. "Lock eyes with Tim, Lock eyes with Tim. You can do this" I had Tim's hand and his eyes doing my best to focus on him and breathe!
The position I had to be in for my epidural was hard to maintain. I was really uncomfortable to say the least! They needed me sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched forward with my feet up on a chair in front of me. They started to wipe down my back and place a plastic piece on it when all of a sudden - a large contraction came and I felt an incredible pressure downward! So much pressure I started to scream and I was begging to get down.
I lost sight of Tim in this moment and grabbed on to my new nurse Eric who happened to be standing directly in front of me, probably to help keep me still during the epidural. I had a death grip on his two arms although my focus/gaze was everywhere else. I was screaming these high pitched panic sounds!
Emily roped me back in saying "Breathe out, blow out the birthday candle, blow out the birthday candle as hard as you can, like you never have before" I blew out the biggest breath I could and kept doing that over and over again. She told me "It's OK, you are ok, that's your baby! That's your baby, this is what you wanted!" I remember thinking why did I want this? But I knew she was right. I did want this!
There was no time to place the epidural, our baby was coming! It was time to push!
Things got chaotic at this point. All of a sudden lots more people were in the room and things were happening around me. The midwife was back. I tried to get away - I wanted out of there. I tried to go back to all fours facing the foot of the bed, but then ended up laying on my back with legs up in stirrups. Emily and Tim were on either side of me at the head of the bed.
The contractions kept building and I had to switch gears from breathing out to bearing down and pushing. This switch took a few contractions to get the hang of. There was so much pressure, stretching and pain! I kept screaming, moaning, grunting, pushing and groaning. Emily and Tim encouraged me to hold my breath directing all my energy down to my belly and push! There were lots of cheerleading nurses around too. Someone was counting for me and directing the pushing.
Another nurse held up a mirror for me to see. I was shocked and then frustrated to see when I would push baby's head would crown, but in between contractions and pushing it would go back in! How will I ever get this baby out?!?
Since I was prepped for the epidural and I thought I had felt a pinch of the needle, I really thought there was pain medicine on the way! I kept thinking it's OK, any minute now the meds will kick in! I only found out afterwards that I never got any meds!
I was instructed to let the contractions build and to push with them. I could only breathe out fast panting breaths in between. At some point there was an oxygen mask on my face in between pushing. I think it was Emily who instructed me to place my hands behind my legs to give myself some leverage to push. I didn't want to let go of my supportive hands to hold, but it was good to have a strong grip on my own legs!
Each push moved baby into a new position further into the birth canal and closer to being born. Emily later told me I only pushed for about 20 minutes!
When baby's head was crowning, I felt incredible pain and burning as I tore. At one point I got frustrated and yelled "pull it out!" I decided contractions be damned, I will push now! But that didn't help. I had to wait just a moment more to let it build. The hardest part was the largest part of the baby's head. I had to wait and breathe but there was so much pressure.
I remember asking “hair?” because this baby's full head of hair was visible in the sonograms! We had previously joked that I would push harder when someone tells me they can see baby's hair! One more big push and pop baby's head was out! There was a gush of fluid helping them along. This was a relief!
I felt twisting and more pressure as I pushed out each shoulder and then gush - the rest of baby slipped right out! I screamed "My baby! My baby!" The midwife placed the warm baby on my belly and it was amazing! I still had lots of pain and burning, but I did it! I had given birth to my baby!!!
It was 7:26am, only 4.5 hours since my water broke! This had been a fast labor! I was surprised baby didn't cry much at all when they came out, but instead was just alert.
At first we had no idea if baby was a boy or a girl. We were just so thrilled baby was here! The nurses were wiping baby off and Emily said “they don't know!” Someone opened baby's legs and we were so surprised to find out we had a baby GIRL! We were both shocked and I think Tim was the one who shouted out “It's a girl!” It was such a happy wonderful moment! She was absolutely worth the wait!
Elora Lynn was 6lbs 6.7oz, 20in long. She had an Apgar score of 9! She was perfect healthy and so beautiful! We did it!