My story began on June 8, 2007. I was 21 years old and pregnant with my first child, my son Everett. I was young, naive when I look back, and I really was not prepared for labor. I thought I was. I thought I had gone to enough classes, read all of the books and I was delivering at a well respected hospital. My mom had 3 children naturally, my grandmother 4 (one was even breech) and my great grandmother delivered 5 babies naturally. I was meant to do this, so how hard could it really be?
I was so wrong. At 36.6 weeks, my water broke “up high” the day or so before but I really didn’t know (young and naive, remember?). I thought it was just a trickle of urine but I noticed it was becoming more frequent. So I called the on call nurse, I was crying because I thought I was peeing myself uncontrollably. She, obviously knowing a little more than me, told me to go to L&D. So I did. They confirmed it was my water and confirmed that I wasn’t contracting. So the clock started. We had 24 hours to get this baby out of me…so pitocin was started. They couldn’t pick up my contractions so pitocin was increased…this continued for 14 hours. I wanted nothing for pain relief because I felt that I needed to do this as naturally as possible, after all, all of the women in my family have. Somewhere at 8 centimeters the doctor on call (mine left for vacation that day) checked me and said “I can still feel a bag of waters, so I’m going to break this”. Well apparently I had two bags? After that he placed internal monitors, and did an amnioinfusion because he thought the baby needed a little help.
Around 9.5 centimeters with a reducible lip, the baby started having decelerations and the heart rate was not coming back up. I was exhausted, scared and delirious from pain. It was all a blur. I was told we needed an emergency c-section because the baby was not doing well. I consented. I remember getting numb from the spinal and asking if I should push (funny now lol) within a few minutes I heard him cry. I cried. My partner at the time cried. It was such a sweet moment. I justified having a c-section because my 5 pound 12 ounce baby boy and I were safe. I healed as well as I expected having nothing to compare it too.
Fast forward 3 years. It’s now 2010, my now husband and I are expecting my second baby boy (his first) and I asked my OB about a VBAC. He flat out said no. He said he would have to send me to a hospital over 3 hours away if that’s what I wanted to pursue. I didn’t. I knew I could deliver early and the thought of driving 3 hours in labor scared me. Plus he told me all of the risks and that scared me. I brushed the thoughts of a VBAC out of my mind. So at 37.4 weeks when I went into spontaneous labor, I went to L&D and went from 0 to 3 centimeters in 2 hours, my OB comes in and says it’s time for my c-section because I’m in labor. The thought of a VBAC entered my mind, after all I was in labor!! So just as a last ditch effort asked if I could VBAC. He said no, absolutely not and off we went to the OR. I cried the whole way there. My husband assured me it would all be ok. I wasn’t crying because I was scared, I was crying because I felt like something was being taken from me. And it was. I lay there on the operating room table, cold and nauseous. Strapped down and puking from the medications. Our 7 pound 4 ounce little boy arrived and that was that. No skin to skin. Nothing. I was wheeled back to my room where I waited to feel my legs and waited to have my catheter removed. I felt all dignity leave when two nurses had to spread my legs to clean me up because I couldn’t feel them. I puked some more because of the meds they gave me in my spinal. We went home, I healed physically and life went back to normal.
In 2012 I shockingly found myself pregnant yet again. I say shockingly because we truly were not trying or expecting a baby. I had some complications in the beginning, lots of bleeding, the term “threatened miscarriage” was plastered on my chart. I was told I had a blighted ovum and to prepare for a d & c. I begged for one more ultrasound. Thankfully not only did we see one heartbeat we saw two!!! I was ecstatic!! That joy quickly faded when 2 weeks later my follow up showed one of the babies no longer had a heartbeat. I was crushed. I had to endure quite a few ultrasounds where we could still see the motionless little body. I was happy to have a very healthy and active baby but was still mourning the loss of its brother or sister. At 36 weeks and 4 days my water broke. It was a huge gush and I was contracting irregularly. It was around 11:30 p.m. when we got to the hospital. My doctor again was on vacation so I got the on call OB. She was yawning when she came to see me. She was explaining the risks of a third c-section and I once again asked (hoping she might say yes) if I could try for a VBA2C. She laughed and said no. I again was crying. Just so many emotions. I had an awful anesthesiologist who tried 3 times to do my spinal. It finally worked.
Our third little boy joined us at 6 pounds 13 ounces. The OB came to see me after she stitched me up and said “everything looked ok in there if you would want to have more children”. And left. I never saw her again. I ended up having a spinal headache from leaking spinal fluid. A different anesthesiologist stuck me 14 times trying to find a vein to get blood for the patch to fix it. I was beyond traumatized. Wes ended up in the NICU for two days and that’s where I spent my time. Noticing a common thread here? I was never prepared for the birth I wanted. I knew if we were ever going to have more children it was going to be different.
2016-17. It had been 4-5 years since our last baby. We really wanted one more, and I knew I was going to have a VBA3C this time. Funny how hard it is to get pregnant when you’re actually trying…we got our positive test in October and I knew we would have another June baby! I also knew this time would be different. I immediately switched OBs. There was a new office in town that had two OBs and multiple midwives. They prided themselves on women centered care. I also knew that they had done VBA2Cs before but I didn’t know about any VBA3Cs. So my first appointment arrives, the intake nurse is a nurse who actually worked L&D and I knew her from my previous pregnancies. She asked me how I wanted to deliver this baby. I was amazed that she didn’t automatically put me on a c-section list. I said “I want a VBA3C”. I said I know the risks and I also know they aren’t much different than a VBA2C and I know I can do this”. She smiled and said “I know you can do this too, so let’s do it”. My heart soared, I cried and she cried and it was great. I met with Dr. Brown that day and she went over the risks and her set of “rules.” She wanted me to labor naturally, no inductions and she didn’t want me to go beyond 39 weeks. I will admit I felt a little put off but considering I’ve never been pregnant beyond 37.4 weeks I thought “easy peasy”.
I was sent to a high risk perinatologist, she did an ultrasound and checked my scar and placenta placement. We reviewed my previous OR reports and went over the risks. She felt I had a good chance at being successful. We talked for almost an hour that day in her office. It was great! I left each appointment feeling better about this decision. Each of my OB visits consisted of talking about my VBA3C. I had some NPs who were skeptical and tried talking me out of it. I requested very nicely to not see them again. If they didn’t believe in me I didn’t need them caring for me. Dr. Brown again brought up me scheduling a c-section at 39 weeks. This broke my spirit a little, I felt like I was being pressured into a c-section, being set up for failure. So at my next appointment I met Dr. Duckett. When I mentioned the scheduled section she immediately said she did not feel that was necessary and said if I went beyond my due date we would talk about it but did not want me to stress about it. I immediately felt a new sense of “I can do this! I’m going to do this!!”
Fast forward to my “39” week appointment, this was actually scheduled at 38.5 and it was on a Tuesday. I again met with Dr. Duckett, she checked me because I had been having some regularly irregular contractions for a few days (prodromal labor at its finest) and to my surprise I was 2 centimeters and 50% effaced. She stripped my membranes. I had no idea what she was doing but she said “are you still planning a vaginal birth?” I replied yes! And that’s what she did, she said “well maybe this will stir some things up!!” My oldest son had trumpet practice that day so I took the younger two to the park while we waited for him. I was definitely crampy and having contractions. Still irregular… I went home and made sure my bag was together and ate small snacks and drank water to keep myself nourished and hydrated knowing that labor felt very close.
That evening the contractions started to get a little more noticeable but I just tried not to focus. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. The next morning (Wednesday) around 4 a.m. I woke up to a nice strong contraction and about 30 mins later another. This continued until I got up around 7 and had a lot of bloody show. I mean a lot, I knew at this point things were progressing. I did what my mom had told me, I continued to walk, keep busy, and eat and drink when I felt the need. I rested when I needed to, although that was a bit hard with 3 kids running around and a husband at work. By Wednesday evening my husband asked how I felt, I told him to not be surprised if we had a baby by the next day. Sometime around midnight I was dreaming that I was in labor… it must have been the real deal because at 1 a.m. sharp I was awakened with a super strong contraction that lasted over a minute, 5 mins later another one and again 5 mins later. This continued regularly for another 40 mins before I got up and realized this was it. Suddenly they started coming every 3 mins. I woke my husband up and we called his mom. My sister was already at my house so she stayed with the boys until his mom could get there. We got to the hospital around 2:30 and I could hardly get out of the car. It felt like my pelvis was breaking in two. We got up to L&D, the intake nurse put me in the triage room and I got checked. I was only 3 and still 50%. I didn’t expect more than that because I had only been having contractions every 5 mins for an hour and every 3 mins for another hour. My intake nurse looked terrified when I told her I was having a VBA3C. I had to laugh and reassure her everything would be fine.
She called Dr. Duckett who said to have me walk and labor without monitors until she came in. So we walked for about 2 hours. The nurse looked skeptical because she couldn’t pick my contractions up on the monitor but I was having a really hard time even talking through them. Half the time I could hardly stand when one would hit. My husband was literally holding me up during these contractions. But, Dr. Duckett insisted she not send me home. I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug (it looked like a big bloody mucuousy cork!) so a little after 7 a.m. the midwife Myra came in to see me. I was now 4 centimeters and 90% so I was admitted, she stripped my membranes again just to keep everything moving, but I wasn’t moved from the triage room to a labor and delivery room until 8ish. Again they were still struggling to get an accurate read on my contractions. Around 9 a.m. they checked me again because I felt a lot of pressure. I was 6 centimeters and 100%. At this point I was really uncomfortable during a contraction, but between them I felt great! I did ask for an epidural, I did this because I did not want to lose control like I did with my first. I knew that my body tensed with pain and I wanted to relax and just let this all happen. I got an epidural around 930-10am and Dr. Duckett broke my water. I managed to sleep a little despite the adrenaline rush. The nurse was able monitor my contractions and the baby with the internal monitors. Around 11 a.m. I felt something. It wasn’t pressure but it felt like something was just “there”. I asked my husband to look because I felt like the baby was there, he looked and then responded “I have no clue what I’m looking at so I’m going to get the nurse”. She was actually just walking in and for some crazy reason she had a bag of pitocin. I asked “why?!” And she said “oh just to help things keep moving along..” I said ” Well I don’t think I need it, can you check me?” She checked me and I was complete and the baby was right there! She went to get Dr Duckett, when she came in she asked if I wanted to try some practice pushes. Which I did!
My epidural was awesome in the fact that I could still move my legs and feel pressure but not pain. It didn’t interfere with my pushing at all! We turned it off at that point. I gave 3 practice pushes and the Dr was like “You were meant to do this!!” Her saying that gave me this rush and reaffirmed everything I was doing!! The rest went so fast! He was out by 11:40 which was about 20 mins after I started “practice pushing” and about 10-15 pushes later! I was able to successfully deliver a 7 pound 11 ounce baby boy at exactly 39 weeks on the very day they wanted to schedule my c-section. I only had a small tear and needed just a few stitches. He was placed right on my chest where he stayed for a solid hour and nursed like a champ. I know I had some interventions, however nothing was done without a lot of thought, prayer and consideration. Everything went exactly how I had imagined it. I labored in a safe environment with a doctor who I trusted completely. I was able to deliver 3 and a half hours after being admitted and I felt 10,000 times better than I ever did after a c-section. It was still sore. I can’t say one is less painful than the other, but I didn’t feel super weak or sick like I did after my sections. I could roll over and hold my baby without pain. My bottom was sore for about 10 days and sort of felt “bruised” for about 2 weeks. The beauty of all of this is, I labored and delivered in the very room this all started in exactly 10 years and 1 week prior, I finally had the closure I needed, I knew my body wasn’t broken. I have never been so proud of myself like I was that day. It was indescribable.