I wasn’t sure I would post Sara’s birth, but someone wanted to hear it, and I love the story, so here goes…..it’s really long, so be forewarned!
Sara’s birth really begins with the birth of her sister, Lily, and continues with her brother, Webb’s birh. I will keep them short so as not to bore you all! If you want to get straight to the actual birth, skip to *****
When I was pregnant with Lily I really looked forward to a beautiful water birth at a local free standing birth center. That dream was shattered when 50 hours after my water broke I had a c-section due to failure to progress (I never got past 7 cm). The surgeon later told me that there was no way she would have fit through my pelvis and that I should never try to labor again – I had given it a good shot. Now, I should tell you that this huge baby that would never fit through my pelvis was only 7 pounds 10 ounces. Granted, she did have a big head (97th percentile), but still, she was not big.
When I got pregnant 9 months later, I knew I wanted to vbac. The birth center wouldn’t take me due to a prior C, so I went with the Navy midwives. We were also moving across the country, so I knew that birth center wasn’t an option anyway. So, when my water broke first with Webb as it did with Lily, I was nervous. I didn’t want a repeat. Thankfully, my birthing waves began within a half hour. 12 hours later my son was born via c-section. I never got past 9 cm and I truly believe this was a case of failure to wait rather than failure to progress. If I had known then what I know now, I would have demanded more time. Webb was 9 pounds 10 ounces.
When Webb turned a year we found out we were pregnant again. We were back where Lily was born and I began to look at my options. I started with the Navy midwives and was told at my first visit that I could have a vbac. At my second visit I was told that my c-section would be scheduled for a week before my due date. I said I did not want a C, and we fought it. Ultimately, the hospital did all they could to keep us, but I knew it would be a battlefield while I was in labor. They said I could attempt a vba2c, but I knew that there would be loads of restrictions and that it was likely I would not have supportive staff. I started to look elsewhere.
I interviewed home birth midwives as well as an OB. In the end, we ended up going with the OB. My husband was scared of a homebirth since I had never had a child vaginally. This OB ended up being absolutely amazing. He was supportive and honest. He respected my wishes and yet was upfront about everything. He told me that we needed to trust each other. I needed to trust that if he said a c-section was necessary that I would believe him and not fight it, and he needed to trust that I would not do anything he felt was risky (he had some patients in the past who did not take his advice and ended up in the ER). He told me the risks, but said that he thought I could do it. He was amazing throughout the entire pregnancy and told me I would be having my baby vaginally. He did this right up until my last appointment….I later found out from my doula that he was actually worried because I was late and while that did not concern him, the fact that I had very little efacement did. He was worried I would not progress – but not once did he let me know this! Talk about being supportive!
For weeks I had been having prodromal labor. I lost my plug about two weeks before my birthing time actually began. This was about a week before my due date. I kept thinking it would be time due to the loss of the plug and the continuous waves, but this baby was happy where she was! Finally around 9 days after my due date, my doula asked if I wanted to stop by her house after my OB appointment and she would massagea my feet and do some pressure points. She also said that if I wanted to take some homeopathics that she had they could help encourage labor to begin, but if my body or baby weren’t ready it would do nothing. So I went to her house and relaxed for a while and just chatted. I took the homeopathics (and she sent me home with some too) and went home. I continued to take the homeopathics and by the next morning my birthing waves were remaining consistent. They were still pretty far apart but regular. We made arrangements for our children, and then did a few things before heading up north that afternoon.
I should say that we had a plan that is a little different than most. The hospital that we were birthing at is about 30-45 minutes from my house. My doctor said that while he was okay with me having a vbac, the hospital wasn’t. Therefore, he still had to recommend a C once I got to the hospital. He told me that if I was going to refuse the c-section he thought I should labor at home as long as possible. Over the course of my pregnancy I became very close to my doula and she offered her home for me to labor in (she lives about 3 miles from the hospital). So, the plan was to labor at my doula’s, and then go to the hospital at the last minute to have the baby.
So around 3:30 or so in the afternoon we went to my doula’s house. I listened to my HB on the way up there and then while laying on the couch at her house. She was amazing! She had all the lights off and had lit beautiful candles around her home. She had her hot tub ready for me when I got there. She had also put a blow up mattress (made up with sheets, blankets, and pillows) near the hot tub in her gorgeous and very private backyard. It was amazing. After working through the waves on the couch, we decided to move to the hot tub. So, my husband and I got in the tub and relaxed. It truly was wonderful. The water felt so good and I really relaxed even more. The only thing I wish I had done differently is that at this point I stopped listening to my ipod. We put music on instead. After a while I began to feel some discomfort, but it was mild.
My OB knew where we were and he checked on us to make sure all was okay. He even stopped by and dropped off a dopler for us to periodically check the heart rate of the baby. While he was there I was beginning transformation and was having more discomfort, but again, it was totally manageable. He later told me that it was absolutely beautiful watching my husband and I in the tub. At some point (when my husband was exhausted, hungry, and shriveling up like a prune) he and my doula traded places. My doula got in with me and supported me and had me change positions a little. I really had no concept of time, which is why I keep saying “at some point” or “a little later” and such….I just really didn’t keep track.
Here is where my story gets a little tricky. I personally feel like I need to leave some details out. Not because I am modest, or shy, or anything like that. I would truly love to tell the entire story….and someday I will. But, at this point in time I must only tell part of the story. I hate doing this because it makes us look foolish and risky, but we really weren’t. I also hate doing this because it makes us look as if we went against our OB….again, I assure you, we didn’t.
When I started to feel a little pushy, I got out of the hot tub for a minute. Well, when I did, my water broke. I knew then that I would not be able to get back in the hot tub because of the chlorine. This is where I started to experience some more discomfort. Again, it was manageable, but it was there. The Hypnobabies did help a lot though and I am so thankful for it. We soon realized that during labor my baby had turned posterior. This was probably the reason for the discomfort. When I got there my doula had checked me out and Sara was not posterior, so she had turned at some point. This was making things more difficult. This also made it more difficult to determine when to pack up and go to the hospital. While I was feeling pushy, Sara was still very high and no where near crowning. I was advised to push a little to see if we could get her to descend.
Keep in mind, while this is my third baby, this is my first vaginal birth. So we knew that it could still be a while. So, I began to push. And push. And push. I was making very little progress, and I must say I was becoming exhausted and discouraged. My baby was not positioned well, and we tried everything. I don’t know how to explain it, but she was posterior, and was essentially hanging out, as in over my pubic bone – so she was not coming down straight. My doula had me move into so many positions and eventually the thing that worked was sitting on the toilet backwards and pulling up on my lower stomach (trying to pull Sara towards me) while I pushed. I pushed for four hours in various positions. We all had a lot of discussions at this point and due to several factors, we decided to stay at my doula’s house rather than transfer to the hospital. Once I could feel Sara’s head with my hand, I got a new surge of energy – it was amazing!
I finally pushed her big noggin out (she was still posterior – she never turned) and her shoulder got stuck. I could not believe that we had a case of shoulder dystocia. So, my doula flipped me over on all fours and we thought for sure it would work – it usually does, right? Nope. Sara was not budging. Thank goodness my husband had no idea what was happening – I think he would have been scared. Amazingly, I was not. So, the next thing tried was pubic pressure while reaching in to dislodge the shoulder. I have to tell you, this is where I felt my pain. I don’t want to scare anyone, but it was excruciating. Having an arm inserted in the vaginal opening when the baby is partially out was just too much and at this point I tore (I did not tear when her 97th percentile head came through!). Once Sara’s shoulder was dislodged, she came right out! She was born at 2:27 am on November 16. She was bright pink almost immediately – it took her a few seconds to pink up and cry, but she was fine. Her shoulder was checked and thankfully no bones were broken in getting her out. After the cord stopped pulsing, we tied it with dental floss and cut it with a knife (my doula could not find any scissors)! I then delivered the placenta. It was all so amazing – I was able to put Sara on my chest immediately and breastfeed.
We talked to my OB about everything and he checked me out. I ended up needing stitches, but he told me I did not have to go to the hospital if I did not want to. I would just need to go see him again soon. We also had to make an appointment for Sara with her pediatrician for later in the day. Since this had not been our plan, we had no carseat, no diapers, nothing – we figured my husband would be going home to get our other kids after Sara was born and would get the carseat then. So, while my doula cuddled with Sara (wrapped in clean warm blankets) my husband brought me out on to my doula’s deck by the hot tub and helped me get cleaned up in the shower. I could have gone upstairs, but I was so weak (I had forgotten to eat this whole time) I didn’t think I could make it. After I got cleaned up, I ate a little and then my husband helped me upstairs. I slept for a while with my beautiful newborn while my husband made the trip home to get our carseat and diapers and some food for everyone. We went home that afternoon and after visiting the pediatrician, spent a lot of time cuddling in the bed together! Oh, and 16 hours after Sara was born, she weighed in at a healthy 9 pounds 5 ounces! While this was not my motivation for wanting the vba2c, it felt pretty darn good to tell all those people who told me I couldn’t do it, that in fact I DID do it! This was an amazing experience for me. I can’t tell you how good it felt to finally have my vaginal birth! After 2 c-sections I really questioned my ability.
So there it is. I am amazed if anyone made it this far! It was truly an amaing birth….I think if we have more children, I might just plan a home birth to begin with. Being in a home environment was so comfortable and private. It was beautiful!
I want to add a little bit of encouragement for those of you out there who are doubting yourself. You CAN do it! A couple months after Sara was born, my doula and I were talking and she asked me if there was anything I would have done differently. I immediately answered “no”. Well, the more I thought about it, the more it nagged me. There was something that I would have done – I would have listened to my HB more during the birthing process – waves and pushing. When I saw my doula again, I told her this. I told her that I felt like I was kind of losing it and not controlling myself well. She was floored. She asked me if I was kidding! She said I did amazing! She said that I may have felt that way on the inside, but I did not look that way to those that were there (except for the shoulder dystocia part – I did yell out then). She said that I was so calm throughout it all…that at one point when I was sitting on the toilet pushing (towards the end of my four hour pusing), I just looked up at her so calmly and just said “I don’t think I can do this anymore”….not screaming it, just calmly stating a fact. I was so happy to hear that – it made me feel so much better. And it also made me realize that while I didn’t listen to the HB the whole time, it made a world of difference! Thank you Hypnobabies!