Benjamin’s birth: my VBAC birth story
Holy. Geeze. Ben is 6 months old. HOW?! I thought it was time I share his birth story with you all because better late than never, right?
Let’s start with a little back story. Blaire was breech my entire pregnancy, thus forcing me in to a planned C Section and I was actually so HAPPY to have a C Section. Our birthing classes terrified me and a C Section seemed less terrifying, less chaotic and less unknown. (You can read more about her birth here.) So I was all for it! So, my first was a C Section and my surgical and healing experience was fine. I honestly felt much less anxiety over having a C Section, so I always just assumed I would always opt for one with any of my future babies.
Well, halfway through my pregnancy, the doctor I had seen for my fertility appointments asked why I was leaning towards a C Section. He gave me the stats on the chances of complications with trying for trial of labor about a cesarean (TOLAC) and said the odds of being able to have a successful VBAC were really good. He said knowing my previous health and that I only had the first C Section because of a breech baby, made me really an ideal candidate. So I was curious about trying and became obsessed with figuring out what would be the best option for me.
So, I consulted with my blogger friend Katie who is a doula and she gave me so. many. resources. I didn’t know who else I could voice my fears to and she actually made me feel so excited about the thought of a VBAC. I spent hours on the ICAN Facebook page reading stories. The more I read, the more I felt empowered and wanted to try for a VBAC. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also motivated by wanting to spend less time in the hospital, away from Blaire, and have an easier recovery, knowing I would be chasing her around.
Since Blaire was delivered via schedule C Section I had never felt a contraction, other than the light ones that felt like period cramps.
Alllll night long, Sunday, March 19 I couldn’t sleep. I was having pains that I had been having off and on for weeks. The doctor’s office had always said it was probably his positioning, he was low and was probably rubbing against nerves and causing pain. They had told me the only things to (maybe) help would be rest and lots of water. I felt this darn pain all night. I was awake until about 3am, when it finally faded away and I could fall asleep.
Because I was in so much pain all night, I decided to give my doctor’s office a call the next morning. There was one day over the weekend when Ben wasn’t quite as active as normal, so I figured if I mentioned that, maybe they would see me and try to figure out the pain I was having, so I called and left a message for a nurse.
I got Blaire to daycare and got myself to work. I wasn’t there for 10 minutes when they called and said they’d like me to come in for a non stress test right away, to monitor Ben and his movements to be sure everything was okay.
So I packed up my stuff and headed to the doctor.
Once I got there and was hooked up to the machine for the NST, they explained what they would be watching for and how long it would take. She explained what each number on the monitor meant. I was left alone in the room with some cold ice water (to hopefully get him moving), magazines and the tv. She said we would wait about 45 mins and see what his movements were like.
Again, I felt the painful movements, and each correlated with the number on the monitor that measured the tightness in my belly. It would jump up to 96ish and then make its way down. I thought it was picking up on him moving and the pressures he was putting on my belly. After about 40 minutes, she came back in and said everything looked great, he was moving enough and I’d be able to leave after seeing the doctor and probably being checked. Then she said, and you were having lots of contractions, did you notice?
My jaw almost hit the floor. CONTRACTIONS? CONTRACTIONS! That’s what had me awake all night? That’s what had been ruining my sleep for the past few weeks, off and on. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t realize that was what they felt like. They were about 10-15 mins apart so she said they were most likely Braxton Hicks. I couldn’t believe it! I had actually had contractions this time around. With Blaire, my C Section was at 39w 1d and I had not had ONE contraction. Now, I was 38w 3d and had been having them for weeks. Maybe my body did know what to do for labor! Maybe I would get my VBAC!
I waited in the waiting room, through more contractions, to see a doctor. The nurse came in and checked my blood pressure and said the doctor would be in a few minutes… but she didn’t have me get undressed, so I was disappointed. I hadn’t been checked since I had my Strep B test at 36 weeks. And then I was just 1cm and about 90% effaced. So I was hoping to hear I had progressed. So I asked the nurse if she thought the doctor would want to examine me. She said usually they didn’t until 39 weeks, and I wouldn’t be 39 weeks until Friday (it was Monday). I let her know about the contractions and she asked what I was when they checked me at 36 weeks. Since I was so effaced, she said they might as well check me. Well, I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 4. I WAS SO EXCITED. (AND ALSO TERRIFIED.) Since my contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, she said I’d need to wait until they were 4-5 minutes apart for 2 hours.
All of a sudden I realized I could be having a baby any day. I panicked. I had run out of deodorant that morning. I NEEDED to get to Target ASAP. I was not going back to work… I had things to purchase. I downloaded a contraction timer and tracked them. While I was there I decided to stock up on groceries so there’d be some food at our house for my mom and Blaire. I let my mom know about my doctor’s appointment and told her I’d keep her posted, since they live an hour away. I was at Target for about an hour and my contractions had dropped to about 5 minutes apart. So I rushed home to get my stuff put away and finish packing my hospital bag. I told Jason it had been an hour and that he should get ready to leave work in case they kept their pace for another hour.
I finished packing mine and Ben’s bags for the hospital. I wrapped up the gift Blaire had gotten for Ben to take with to the hospital. I tried to pick up the house. I ran out of time and didn’t get to wash and cut up the strawberries I had gotten for Blaire. My app started freaking out on me and telling me to call and ambulance because my contractions had been a steady 4-5 minutes apart for 90 minutes. So I started freaking out, texting Jason to HURRY UP and get home. He still had to pack his bag.
We headed to the hospital and I couldn’t believe it. I was having a baby today. TODAY. Thank God I had turned in Blaire’s daycare paperwork that morning to would allow someone to pick her up besides me or Jason.
We got to the hospital around 1:30PM. They hooked me up to a machine in a triage room to monitor me. They checked me, I was still at a 4. I was starving and hoping for a grilled cheese. Nope. No food. (Except for the snacks I had snuck in my bag.) We were allowed to get up and walk the hallways, trying to progress my labor, for about 45 minutes at a time, then they would have me get hooked back up and they’d check my progress. At 4PM, I was discharged because I hadn’t dilated any more. I had so many emotions. I was so excited that I got to go get Blaire from daycare, and go to Panera and get my cute robe I had forgotten to pack. But I was so sad I wasn’t actually having a baby that day. My mom was already on her way to town when they discharged me, but I told her to turn around and head back home. It wasn’t baby day. She offered to come anyways, but I was sure I’d be pregnant forever.
After dinner at Panera, we took Blaire to a park. I was in so much pain I couldn’t get out of the car. I felt nauseous and sick and needed to go home. Jason and Blaire packed it up and got me home. They played with her water table on the back deck while I felt like my body might actually explode into 10913 pieces at any second. Really cool. I finally called back to my doctor’s office, crying, and they put me through to a midwife at the hospital who said if I was really in that much pain, I could come back and get checked again. By this time it was 6:30PM. My mom would take an hour to get here and I couldn’t wait an hour. We asked Jason’s parents if she could come over to their house, I knew she’d be excited about a sleepover and wouldn’t throw a huge fit and be upset with us for leaving if we weren’t just leaving her at home. So she packed up her bag, put on quite the outfit, and we headed over to drop her off.
We finally made it back to the hospital at 7:30PM. The main entrance was closed so we had to go through the ER. We had to wait for someone from the floor to come down to get us. We sat in that ER until 8PM. Well, Jason sat. I kneeled on a chair and felt like I may actually have our baby in the ER waiting room. FINALLY someone came down to get us and we were put back into a triage room to be monitored and checked. I. was. at. a. 6. Also I felt like I was dying. They took us to a labor room and let me know I was being admitted. I had to fill out and sign a ton of papers, just as I had done back at 1PM earlier in the day. And it’s even more fun when your body is revolting against you.
8:45PM: We got to the labor room and Jason ran down to grab our bags from the car. While he was gone, my doctor came in to check me and asked if she could break my water. I asked if it would be better to wait until I got the epidural to do it, since I had read earlier in the day that it didn’t hurt to break your water, just that sometimes it intensifies your contractions quickly. And yes, both of these things were true. Jason got back to the room and I let him know they had broken my water at 9PM. And within 10 minutes my contractions were more intense and more frequent. I begged for my epidural. Since I was a VBAC, they let me know the Anesthesiologist had to stay on the floor all night, so it wouldn’t be too long before I got it.
Earlier in the day we were the only ones in the labor area. Later that night, every room was full. My nurse was busy getting all of my paperwork and meds together for the epidural. I buzzed the nurse’s station and asked if there was anyone who could help tell me what to do during my contractions. They said if they did that, my epidural would be delayed, but that I should just try to keep breathing through the contractions. So Jason coached me through breathing and it made me angry. (Sorry, Jason.)
10PM: Well, they came to do my epidural, which I was really nervous about because they had trouble getting my spinal in for my C Section – it literally took 20 tries – and it was terrible. Jason let them know I was nervous about it and they said not to worry, this time would be different! He had to sit on the couch across the room, but at least he was allowed to be in the room, since he wasn’t for my spinal with Blaire. I asked if they’d be able to take a break when my next contraction came on and they said “Nope” and I would have to hold completely still, even through the contraction. This made me want to throw things. Because it was going to be impossible. I prayed I could hold still. I prayed it wouldn’t take 20 tries. I prayed it would work well and my pain would subside. Well, somehow I did it. I stayed still. It worked perfectly. My pain was instantly dulled and nearly gone within a few minutes. I could feel a little tightness in my ribcage with each contraction, which they said was perfect!
Midnight: My doctor checked me and I was at a 10! They had me do a “practice push” and gauged where he was placed. Since I wasn’t in any pain, they said we could rest for a few hours and they’d just let me know body push him down a little further. In retrospect, I probably should’ve tried to sleep. Instead, Jason and I talked. We talked to each other, our nurse came in and hung out with us. It was so good because it kept me from being too nervous about what was in store for the next few hours. We were on the 5th floor of the hospital, so it’s really pretty during the evening. We had large windows in our room and left them open to look at all of the lights and the moon. It was so calm and quiet and it was amazing.
1:50AM: Our nurse had me start pushing. She and Jason were on either side of me and she coached me through what to do. I’ll be honest, my first two pushes of each set were always super lazy. And I wish I would’ve realized it sooner because I probably could’ve pushed less. My contractions were about every 3 minutes at this point. After about 90 minutes, I started to feel nauseous and got sick. It was so terrible and gross, but also weird because the nurse had joked earlier about how helpful sneezing/getting sick was to move a baby down and she was right. All of a sudden he was there and there was no doctor. She asked Jason if he could go out to the nurse’s station and get a doctor. OF COURSE there were no doctors.
3:40AM: My doctor and the midwife from my practice were both in delivering other babies. A ton of nurses rushed in the room and said it would be fine, they’d be able to deliver him. I silently panicked. Thank God, within a minute, the midwife rushed into the room and introduced herself. She got herself ready and said not to worry – she was here and she could deliver him. Not a minute went by and my actual doctor came into the room and said she would deliver him. A few more pushes and Benjamin was here and on my chest at 3:50AM. He was so warm and so cute and I cried. (Also this is the part where Jason said he was so perfect that we needed to have 6 more.) I was so happy and I couldn’t believe it. He was here, we were both healthy and we were suddenly parents of two healthy kids. With Blaire being a C Section, I didn’t get to see her until she was all cleaned up and swaddled. So I was so excited to get to snuggle this vernixy little baby. While we did skin-to-skin my doctor repaired my episiotomy. He latched fairly quickly and we were all able to sleep for about an hour while they took him and cleaned him up. During that skin-to-skin time on my chest he never stopped staring at me. Knowing this little baby knew he was in the arms of his mama is enough to make me cry again right now.
6AM: We were taken to our hospital room and my legs were still numb from my epidural. HA! So I had no choice but to lay in bed and go back to sleep. We were able to sleep about two hours before nurses were back in to check us both. And then I was excited to get my little Blairesy there to meet her baby brother. We asked Jason’s parents not tell her his name or where they were going. But, since they were coming to the hospital and she had the gift she had gotten for her baby brother, she knew where she was going and she asked in the elevator on the way up to our floor if she was going to meet her baby brother?! We have been up to visit friend’s babies and she also got to go up to the floor during her big sister class, so she remembered!
Jason brought her in by herself to meet Ben and she was so excited. She came right in and sat up on the bed with me. She whispered and asked “Is that MY baby brother?!” and pointed at Ben. She said he was so cute and she loved him and wanted to hold him right away. We let her open the gift she got him and “show it” to him. Then she got to open the gift he had gotten her. She couldn’t believe her brother already knew she loved Moana! And she still remembers that he got her that movie and a Moana shirt.
If you made it this far, you’re either a true friend or you just really love babies and birth stories. Those few days in the hospital after Ben’s birth were so tiring and they went by so quickly. I couldn’t wait to get him home where we’d all be more comfortable. But, gosh, there is just something so magical about the world stopping around you and getting to do nothing but soak in your sweet newborn.
I made it this far and I’d like to call you a trie friend, but I just really really love birth stories. Every little person has their own and it’s so amazing! I’m glad you got your VBAC! Thanks for sharing ?