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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Birth of Baby Eddie

Almost ten months have passed since my son was born. Ten months of sleepless nights, endless diapers, non-stop nursing (22lbs already, ahem) and ten months of an ever growing love for my adorable baby boy. It's also been ten months since my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). If you've followed my blog, you know that my daughter was born via csection 36 hours after my water broke and how heartbreaking it was for me to miss out on the home water-birth I so excitedly planned. From the moment the doctor made the incision, I was already planning for my next birth. I felt let down. I felt that I had been robbed of experiencing the defining moment of motherhood. As crazy as it sounds, I was sad I never got to feel real labor pains and so I set out, determined to get my VBAC.

When I found out I was pregnant in February of 2016, the first thing I did was decide on a provider. I was under the care of Certified Nurse Midwives, up until I transferred to the hospital during Grace's labor, but I have to say I felt pretty disappointed in my experience with them. I expected them to have some special tricks and pull out all the stops when my labor stalled. Instead, they offered me low-level, medical interventions that did nothing to reposition my baby and after several hours with no progress, they basically gave up and sent me to the hospital. At the time, I didn't feel that they let me down. I really thought everything that could be done had been. Then I experienced labor with a Certified Practical Midwife, a doula and perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle, a chiropractor who specializes in supporting pregnancy and labor. Because I was adamant about VBAC-ing, I did a lot of research to find out if any OBs in my area would be a good option and I was saddened to learn that most local hospitals had about a 3-5% VBAC rate. Absolutely tragic. Learning this led me to look outside the (hospital) box and into a freestanding birth center, which just happened to be located minutes from our new home! From my first visit to the BC, I felt completely at home. In fact, at the information session, the midwife speaking, told us she herself was a "VBAC mama" and I had come to the right place. After mulling it over with my husband, we decided to have an out of hospital VBAC. The prenatal care I received during my second pregnancy was outstanding. To this day I still consider the women who work there family.

When women become pregnant after having a csection, one of the major deterrents their doctors will use to ensure a scheduled, repeat section is that of uterine rupture. It's scary. The part of the uterine wall that is scarred from the previous csection can come apart and the results can be deadly for mama and baby BUT here's the kicker, rupture happens in less than 1% of births and catastrophic (fatal) ruptures happen even less often than that! Pregnant women are particularly emotionally vulnerable and when a doctor, who obviously knows more about birth than you do, tells you you are risking your life and your baby's life by attempting a VBAC why would you even consider it?!? I'll tell you why. There are higher risks associated with a repeat csection than there are with TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) and VBAC. It's MAJOR abdominal surgery. The recovery process is hard the first time around and I imagine even harder when you're caring for a toddler. The cost of a csection is also something to consider, even though most of us have insurance to cover things, it's still expensive. We paid over $5k out of pocket for G's birth. There are valid reasons for having a repeat C but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the healthy mama who has no complications and a desire to experience vaginal birth.  

Ok, but on to the action. My due date came and went this time around the same as it did with G, completely uneventful. I had hoped I wouldn't be "late" again because the sonographer had already pushed my due date back five days at the beginning of my pregnancy and I thought for sure I would be holding a baby by the new date. Hahaha, my body is hilarious. In the middle of the night on the first day of week 41, my water broke. My first thought was "you have got to be kidding me". This was exactly how Grace's labor began, even down to the day, had they not changed my due date. I called my doula and midwife, both of whom told me to try and rest. Hilarious. I laid in bed trying to fall back asleep but with every movement of the baby, I felt myself hoping to feel pain, contractions, cramping, anything! Mostly I just felt annoyed. I stayed in bed until 7am then got up and made pancakes. By 10am, I was still not having any regular pattern to my contractions so I called the midwife back to check in. She told me I should pack up and come in to the birth center where we would try to kickstart labor with a "stim" kit. For some reason, I felt totally defeated already. So far, this birth was following the EXACT same path as Grace's and I had little confidence that I would experience the birth I so wanted.

When I arrived at the birth center, I got settled in to my room, a spacious birthing suite with a queen size four poster bed, deep soaking tub, private bathroom, sofa and recliners. My midwife checked my progress. I was only dilated to 2cm. She then got me going with the Labor Stim kit she had mentioned on the phone. The kit is a circuit of homeopathics, tinctures, breast pumping and walking but starts with a dose of the oh, so pleasant castor oil. It's an hour long circuit done four times, so that took up the rest of the morning and early afternoon. I did a lot of walking and squats and bouncing on the exercise ball to induce contractions but things were slow going. We ordered pizza. Can I take a moment to say what a big deal this was for me? During G's birth, I was famished. I finally consented to the csection because I had zero energy to wait her out a minute longer. I couldn't eat much of the pizza we ordered but even just having it in the room was a big morale boost to me... yes, I just called pizza a morale booster, you can judge all you want. I saw my chiropractor (just down the hall from my suite). We watched YouTube. We Prancercised down the hallways - look it up - I'm not joking, we did this. Occasionally, my midwife or the student midwives would pop in, listen to vitals, tell me to keep doing what I was doing and then leave me alone to hang out with my husband and my mom. Everything around me was calm and un-rushed but inside, I was experiencing so many emotions. One minute, I would be relaxed and confident that it was just a matter of time. After all, my contractions HAD begun to pick up some. The next, I was tearing up and mentally preparing for a repeat C. 

Notice the Papa John's box on the tub ledge... 

In the evening, my mother-in-law brought Grace to visit. I missed my girl and she lightened my mood so much. 

This was around 6pm. My water broke at 2am the night before. As with G's birth, the pressure to have the baby before 24 hours of the water breaking was looming large. I just didn't see how things were going to change in time. I was definitely NOT in active labor. A contraction here or there would be hard to talk through but for the most part I was not even uncomfortable. I had hired an RN to attend my birth since she could administer IV drugs and since there is a small risk of uterine rupture, it made me feel more secure knowing I would have pitocin (to stop hemorrhaging) if something went wrong.  As we were playing with Grace, my midwife and the RN came in. They suggested that since my water had been broken for so long, I should start an IV of antibiotics to prevent any infection. Then, my midwife told me something that was a HUGE emotional win for me. She told me that by getting the drip, I would have an additional 24 hours before we would need to transfer to the hospital for failure to progress. I don't think I have ever been so excited for someone to stick a needle in my arm! 

About this time, my chiropractor finished up with her last client of the day and came in to check on me. Seeing that my contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, she suggested that we try the Spinning Babies Walcher's technique. She had me lay on her table with my legs dangling off the end (with support between contractions) for 10 contractions. It was during this time that I started to really notice a change. Suddenly, my contractions became very different. I could physically see a change in the baby's position in my belly as well. After what felt like an eternity on the table, I made it through 10 contractions and went back to walking the halls. 

My doula arrived and my sweet husband decided it was a good time to run out and grab us a bite to eat before things ramped up any more, I agreed. About 10 minutes after he left, I could no longer joke around like I had been. My contractions were starting to require all my attention. I remember during one particularly strong one, Grace started rubbing my back saying "just breathe, mama" ahhhh, that girl! I kissed her goodbye and sent her and my mother in law back home.  By now, it was after 9pm and I was tired. I had been on my feet all day trying to walk this baby out. I asked my doula if I could lay down for a bit. She suggested we try another Spinning Babies technique, the side-lying release position. She turned on my Hypno-Babies track, dimmed the lights, attached her TENS Unit to my lower back to help me through the contractions and proceeded to hold me up as I laid on my side with my top leg hanging off the bed. Within two minutes of being in this position, I was in another world. I didn't realize it at the time but transition had hit. Wave after wave, the contractions pounded me. I didn't get a break. I remember asking her if the TENS Unit was turned up too high and maybe that was the problem. She softly laughed and said something to the effect of "No, hun, this is your labor. It's happening". I had no concept of time. I could have laid there for 5 minutes of 5 hours and it would have felt the same. I just remember praying. Calling out to Jesus and moaning deeply. I read about that low moaning sounds will help your body open and that's what I did. Mr. B came back at some time during this and returned to find everything had changed. The poor guy wolfed down his dinner and then did his best to comfort me. As I was laying there I feel the need to use the restroom. I know, I know, EVERYONE says having a baby feels like you have to go to the bathroom. That may be, but I was NOT taking any chances, so I made them help me to the toilet. This is where ish got real. Sitting down lined everything up and labor became so intense at this point I literally could not move. Laboring down is  a THING. I was clinging to the handicap bar (thankfully, someone gave me a pillow but not before I bruised my forehead pushing it into the bar!) when I suddenly felt my body push! Let me explain, I did not push, my body did, all on its own. I told my doula "I'm pushing!! I'm PUSHING!" she looked to Mr. B and very calmly directed him to find the midwife and tell her to get in here NOW. The next thing I know, there were like 10 people in the small bathroom space. My midwife checked me (this was the only time since I had arrived that she checked me, so I had zero clue to my progress) then she said THE most beautiful thing I've ever heard "You're complete! I can feel his head right there" then she asked me if I wanted to have my baby on the toilet! LOLZ!!! UM, NOOO!!! I do not want to have my sweet, perfect babe on the toilet! She told me I needed to get back to the bed immediately or I wouldn't have a choice. With Mr. B's help I made it on to the bed and my midwife told me to get on my hands and knees. Huh? Ok. Who am I to argue? 

Seconds away!!!

Then it came time to push. This was my favorite part of the entire labor. Now, I could actually DO something. I have never considered myself a very strong person until that moment but let me tell you, I. AM. STRONG. Some crazy, Amazonian warrior princess got turned loose inside of me and six pushes later, baby Eddie was born!!! All 8lbs 6oz of him. He was a pound and a half bigger than his sister and I did it! I got my VBAC! It was the most empowering moment of my life. It took about three hours from the time we finished the Walcher technique until I was holding my son in my arms. I am convinced that had I been under the care of a chiropractor or midwives who practiced the Spinning Babies techniques during Grace's labor, I would not have ended up having a csection. The technique coupled with the mental release from knowing I was no longer trying to beat the clock, allowed my body to do what it was supposed to do and fast! 

Welcome to the world Baby E!!!

Eddie was born just after 11pm. We stayed overnight and came home around 7am the next morning. I felt incredible. Slightly sore but incredible. 

The recovery from this birth was night and day from my first experience. I still can't believe that three days after he was born we went to a neighbor's Halloween party and then took G trick or treating (granted my stay was pretty short but hey, I still went!). My midwife and doula both paid me home visits to make sure we were both healthy and thriving. My whole family, and some of my neighbors, still see my chiropractor on a regular basis and if I become pregnant again, I will undoubtedly give birth with my midwife.

Meeting baby brother the next morning!
I know that the style of birth I chose is not for everyone but it is for some and some of you reading this don't even know it's your style yet. Before becoming pregnant, I had never even thought about an out of hospital, much less an unmedicated, birth but I'm here to tell you, you can do it. I don't like pain. I don't have a high pain tolerance. If I stub my toe you'll hear me holler throughout the house. Labor was INTENSE but once it over it was over and it was exhilarating to fully experience childbirth. My final thoughts on birth and VBAC are this: If you're a first time mama, research the heck out of how birth is done in the U.S., read the books, watch the documentaries, EDUCATE yourself, know your options. If you have had a csection (or two), don't automatically think you'll never be able to give birth naturally. Talk to different providers, find the right fit for what YOU want. Don't let yourself be coerced into doing what's easiest for the OB, know the ACOG stats. If a VBAC is what you want, find a VBAC supportive, not tolerant, OB or better yet find a midwife. Hire a doula and mentally prepare yourself for whatever the outcome may be. Make peace with the fact that you might end up with another csection but most importantly, believe in your body's ability to give birth naturally and find providers who will help you accomplish this!

Thank you for taking the time to read my birth story. I know it was long and preachy and full of TMI but that's the beauty of childbirth and womanhood, we all have unique stories to tell and hopefully, in sharing them, we can help each other have better births!


Mrs. B

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhh! This is perfectly sweet, powerful and beautiful! So, so honored to have been a part of your beautiful birth! :)