I had a c-section with my first son, Ian, when I was 18. The only reason for the c-section was that he was breeched & I didn't know any different. He was a big baby (9 lbs 2 oz) and by the time we discovered he was breeched (at 37 weeks) it was pretty much too late. My doctors tried to turn the baby, via an external cephalic version, but it was unsuccessful. I was scheduled for a c-section at 39 weeks. Everything went well but recovery was very painful.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I began researching VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean). I knew that I wanted a VBAC because of the extra long recover time after my c-section, very little memory of the first 2 days after my first son’s birth, and the failed breastfeeding. There are several reasons why I didn't/couldn't breastfeed Ian including pain medication, hospital nurses who were well meaning, formula being conveniently dropped off, & high levels of stress.
I also decided that after much research I was much more likely to achieve a VBAC if I sought out a midwife. I tried to find a midwife through my insurance company but they didn’t have any. I also came up against a negative view of VBACs in general by most doctors and many hospitals who refuse to allow them. I was very surprised by this! Well, I decided my only option for the best possible outcome was to find a midwife and plan a homebirth.
I finally found a great midwife, Cheryl, at about 10 or so weeks into my pregnancy. She was happy to take me on and saw no medically necessary reason to have a repeat c-section. We began to plan the homebirth and I received great prenatal care from her!
About half way though my pregnancy we ran in to a bit of a problem. I did the required blood tests, which all pregnant women get, only to discover I had gestation diabetes. My body wasn’t processing sugars properly which put us into a sort of predicament. Gestational diabetes can cause a range of complications. Or have no effect at all. We just couldn't be sure on which end I would be. I began testing my blood sugars 3 times a day and went on a pretty strict diet. By the end of my pregnancy I was eating meat & vegetables only. All breads, fruits, juices, etc were off limits. That was so hard! Luckily, I was able to keep my blood sugar under control with just my diet & I didn't need to take an insulin shot.
Because of this new complication, Cheryl decided that it just wasn’t safe to have the baby at home. I was upset for awhile but I decided to keep my ultimate focus on having a successful VBAC. We were worried that we couldn't find a VBAC-friendly doctor so close to my due date but Cheryl found a great doctor, who fortunately accepted my insurance and who was willing to let me continue with my VBAC plans. We changed our location of the birth to be at the hospital where my new doctor delivered at. I began seeing Dr. Hurley at 38 weeks. I only saw her twice but I liked her anyway.
One of the complications of gestational diabetes is a higher chance of still birth the longer past your due date you go. Dr. Hurley didn't want me to go to far past 40 weeks. She was willing to let Cheryl & I try some natural methods to try to get my cervix ripened as quickly as possible. I began taking evening primrose oil and blue and black cohosh. I took those for approximately 2 weeks. On my last visit to Dr. Hurley she also stripped my membranes to hopefully help labor to start. Being a VBAC patient, I was not allowed to have my labor artificially induced (with drugs). However, on my due date Cheryl and I also decided to try to kick start labor by having me take castor oil. That was the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten. I mixed it with chocolate pudding & gulped it down as fast as possible. If you don't know what castor oil is… it's a laxative. There is a lot of controversy over using this & I would only use it as a last resort & for me it was a last resort.
Well, we succeeded! I went into labor on my due date! I had the castor oil at about 7 in the morning & I began noticing regular contractions at about 8am. A little after noon I noticed a slow leak (which was my water breaking). Contractions became intense around 3pm or so and painful around 5pm. I was in contact with my midwife during this time and we made the plan to meet at my parents house at around 6:30pm so I could continue laboring there since they were closer to the hospital. My doctor had agreed to let me labor at home until I got to 5 cm. Once we got there Cheryl checked me and I was at 2 to 3 cm. My mom was also my other labor coach and my dad was babysitting my older son, Ian. Justin was just really nervous & I was worried his energies would transfer to me so I didn't ask him to do too much but he was there!
I was in a lot of pain and sick to my stomach so Cheryl got me in the bathtub and had me gulp down some water because she was worried I might be dehydrated from taking the castor oil & because of throwing up earlier. I didn't feel like the bath was helping so I told my mom that I wanted to get to the hospital to get some pain meds. She took Cheryl aside and told her what I wanted. I guess my mom was worried Cheryl would fight me since that's what she's supposed to do. (The sooner I go to the hospital the more interventions I would receive & I originally wanted an unmedicated VBAC). Cheryl decided that she wasn’t going to fight me on it because she could tell I needed to go as I had my mind made up.
As I got out of the bath my water fully broke and gushed out everywhere. I was upset because I was trying to get dressed at the time and needed to undress & put on clean clothes. I was really surprised at how much came out since I'd had a slow leak most of the day. We left my parents house around 8pm. Justin drove me. On the way I remember becoming very quiet and withdrawn. I think it freaked Justin out. He was worried something was wrong but I think I was actually transitioning. We had an hour drive to the hospital & arrived there at about 9pm.
My mom & Cheryl followed in their cars. Ian and my dad stayed back to wait. Cheryl needed to stop by her office to pick up my records so she was a few minutes behind us. We went in through the ER and I waited in a wheelchair. I remember being watched by all the other people in the ER. It was a busy night! They called labor and delivery and someone came down and got me. She started pushing me so fast that I got dizzy and yelled at her to slow down but I don’t think she did. Anyway, once we got to the right floor they put we in a triage/holding room where I changed and where we were supposed to get my information put in the computer.
Here is where things go fast. By now it was 9:30 pm & pretty quickly after I changed I told my mom and Justin that I felt a lot of pressure and that Justin needed to get a nurse. He brought one back and she immediately checked me and said I was already at 8 cm. She rushed out to get the labor room set up, to call other nurses and to page Dr. Hurley. I was quickly taken into the labor room. One nurse was trying to get my info into the computer so I was being asked a lot of questions, another nurse was checking my vitals, & putting in an IV (or attempting to, she wasn't very good & had to try several times while I was painfully trying to hold still for her), and the pediatric nurse was setting up the baby station.
My midwife and doctor arrived at the same time. Apparently, they met on the way up and were both surprised at how fast my labor was going. Later Cheryl told me that Dr. Hurley got a page that I was ready to push while on the way up in the elevator & they were both stunned as they thought I would progress much more slowly & the baby wouldn't arrive until 2 or 3 in the morning. But the baby had other plans.
Anyways, I was having a really hard time with the pain and wanting to push and trying really hard to hold it all in that I became overwhelmed and asked for some pain meds. It was too late for an epidural & I didn't want one anyway so a got something in my IV. I can’t remember what it was called but everyone made sure that it was what I wanted and Cheryl made sure I understood the potential hazards of the medications as a VBAC patient.
Within 10 minutes of receiving the medication Dr. Hurley checked me and said I was ready and fully dilated. I remember I had so many plans in how I wanted my baby's birth to go but there are a place for plans and a place for when you need to go with the flow. I had wanted to squat to push but I completely forgot about that or anything other than the need to push. I rolled over onto my back and put my feet in the stirrups like I was asked to. Cheryl was an excellent coach & told me that the fastest way to get the baby out was to curl up over my belly & push with all my might.
I pushed. Let me tell you, there is no way to describe how that felt. It is a deep, primal need. One that comes from within. It is inevitable & not to be feared but embraced. I embraced it whole heartedly.
Dr. Hurley let me feel the baby’s head as "it" crowned. We had a sonogram when I was 35 weeks pregnant but we did NOT find out the sex of the baby so we didn't know if we were having a boy or girl!
Dr. Hurley helped me deliver the head by applying pressure around. I learned later that they kept loosing the baby’s heart rate on the monitor so the faster I delivered the better outcome we all would have. I tore but I asked to not have an episiotomy. (I researched that getting an episiotomy could potentially cause more damage if you tear on top of it resulting in more damage that needs repaired.) I'm glad I didn't have one because if I had I probably would have needed more repairs.
3 pushes later and our SON was born!
Jameson Maddox was born at 10:23 pm! He was 8 lbs 3 oz and 19 3/4th inches. We call him "Jamie".
We were only in the hospital less than an hour and a half before he joined us. From the beginning of my first labor pain to delivery was only 14 1/2 hours with only about 4 hours of that being active labor. No one realized how quick it would be and we’re all glad that I asked to go to the hospital when I did. He was born so fast that my pain meds hadn’t kicked in and they hadn’t time to affect the baby (make him sluggish).
Jameson was doing really well and having no breathing problems or any other immediately noticeable issues due to the gestational diabetes. Once he was out he was put on my belly where I got to cut his cord. Justin didn’t want to cut the cord. He pretty much stayed up by my head the whole time. I'm just glad he didn't pass out.
The pediatric nurse was really great. She made sure she asked me or let me know anything before she did it and she let me nurse as soon as possible because she knew how important that was to me. She cleaned up Jameson while I was being stitched up and before we realized it everything was said and done.
We were taken to the recovery room where we all stayed the first night. I wanted to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible. But we wanted Jameson to be circumcised and the pediatric doctor said they wanted to wait until he was a day old so there wouldn't be any complications. We ended up staying for 2 days and I got to observe the circumcision. I’m surprised but very glad that they let me. If I ever have another boy (which is highly unlikely) he won't be circumcised. I don't think I can put another child though that.
I had a great day nurse but I didn’t really care for the night nurse. They woke me up more than the baby did to constantly check my vitals and temperature. I also had my blood sugars tested a few times & they returned to normal. Jameson also had his tested and his were normal. I guess the gestational diabetes was just a fluke!
I am so happy to have given birth vaginally. I was up on my feet the next day and while I’m a little sore I’m not in any pain. I remember how much pain I was in after the c-section and this was nothing compared. I’ve also had no major issues breastfeeding, which is great!
It’s nice to be able to relax this time around! We’re all adjusting slowly but nicely to having a baby in the house and I hope things just keep getting better!