Archive | November 2011

Stepping in the Right Direction – My VBAC Story.

On December 19th, my  estimated due date, I woke up and went to the bathroom. Like the beginning of my last birth, I noticed “pink show” but was not experiencing any contractions. It was a Sunday and my husband was home, so we just chilled and had a lazy Sunday morning. By noon, I was starting to feel twinges of pain. I phoned Fiona and the midwife, I had hired for this  pregnancy. They both told be to take it easy, rest, and drink lots of water. I took their advice, made supper, watched Toy Story 3 with our 21 month old son, gave him a bath, and all went to bed. He made us laugh with his goofy poses before he fell asleep between us.

The pains started to get stronger. They felt worse when laying down, so I decided to rock with them in the rocking chair. I finally fell asleep around 1am and slept in the rocking chair until 5:30am. My husband decided not to go to work that day. These were our first “real” experience with real contractions so we were both unaware what to expect. We decided to take our son outside for a walk. The contractions were getting stronger and since we both didn’t know what to expect,  we decided to pack up and drive the two hours to see our midwife and doula.  We said our goodbyes to our son. He cried a little bit. I toughed through and hugged him tight and then said goodbye. I hated leaving him. I wanted him to come and experience the birth of his new sister or brother like others I saw on other birth videos.  Once in the car, I cried halfway to they city.

We were having this baby in the city because once you are sectioned, you are not welcomed back at the local hospital to give birth. They do not do “scheduled” cesarean sections, which I never wanted in the first place, and they do not accept vbacs.  Since we had to travel anyway and felt strongly about not having a repeat cesarean, we hired a midwife and doula. We booked a hotel room, this was going to be our “homebirth” away from home. We knew that the longer we stay away from medical interventions, the better off labor and birth would be. We were happy with our decision.

We discreetly checked into the hotel with our suitcases full of towels, blankets, clothes, a hose, and some tools. Fiona came by shortly after with her birthing pool but hadn’t bothered to set it up yet. She could tell I wasn’t that close. We ordered pizza, Fiona and my husband started to get to know each other more, we walked the halls, and looked outside at the lunar eclipse. By 9pm she said she was going to go home and rest and told us to call anytime we needed her. She instructed me to rest as much as I possibly could.

I laid on the bed with my husband and we watched some tv together. I still found the contractions hurt worse when laying down, so despite me only having 4.5 hours of sleep the night before, I got up again and decided to have a bath. The bath was warm and soothing. By 12:30 am on December 21st, I decided I couldn’t stand it anymore and needed Fiona again for some pain management. She came back shortly after the call and her and my husband rigged up the garden hose from the bathroom to the birthing pool. I timed my contractions with the phone while I sat on Fiona’s new birthing ball. They definitely were not long enough or regular to call the midwife yet.

Once the pool was set up, I went in and the water felt amazing. Fiona gave me a couple studded balls to hold in my hands during the contractions. My husband would massage my back. I tried different positions but found myself liking to deal with the contractions on my hands and knees. Periodically I would get up and out and walk to bathroom to pee and come back and sit in the pool. By 4am everything started to seem to be much more intense, but not unbelievably awful like my first birth. I enjoyed the few minute breaks in between contractions. Something I hadn’t experienced in my synthetic labor with my first. My husband commented on how wonderful I was coping, as he was still reliving our son’s birth.

I asked Fiona to call the midwife. I felt like I was in labor long enough and surely it was about time to birth the baby. Our midwife showed up with all her gear by 5:30am.

Once she was set up, she listen to the baby’s heart beat and checked my cervix. It was about 5cm. I started to worry inside … the memories of my last birth, even though it wasn’t as intense, started to flood back. I was getting scared that this was going to take a very long time. Fiona brought me back by asking “What are you worrying about?” I started to cry that I missed my son and I have been here way too long. She calmed me down and assured me that my son was fine and that he was sleeping, safe and sound. I knew she was right and refocused on breathing through the contractions and picturing my cervix opening.

By 9am (even though I turned the clock so I couldn’t see it, I still found a way to see it) I was starting to get very hungry. I was drinking a lot of Gatorade throughout the labor but my stomach was growling between contractions. My husband went to the vending machine down the hall, because he to was also hungry and starting to fall asleep while massaging my back and thighs. He brought back some Reese-pieces and mini cheese filled Ritz crackers. Each of his choices were very hard to chew and swallow before a contraction because they were dry or sticky. He begged me to eat because he knew I hadn’t eaten since supper last night. I refused and we had an argument over his choices. The midwife decided to leave and bring me back some yogurt from the restaurant down stairs.

Later Fiona decided I needed to switch environments. She suggested getting up and sitting on the yoga ball in the shower, which would feel good. I disagreed and didn’t want to move. I did listen to her though, and she was right it did feel good. I then decided to sit on the toilet backwards, which also felt good. I would moan during a contraction but at the same time hoping no one outside our hotel room, could hear me.

By noon  I was back in the pool on my hands and knees and I started to freak out. I was worrying that I was going to need another csection. Fiona brought me back to my senses again and assured me I wasn’t going to need another csection. Heidi mentioned breaking my water to speed things up. My husband was all for it, because he was so tired and wanted to get this over with. I truly didn’t want to. I remembered last time how everything hurt much worse when my water was broken. I lost Fiona. All I could hear was the midwife and my husband in the background, my head was swarming with what I should do. My exhaustion won the battle and I consented to breaking my water.

Once the midwife broke my water with her hook,  I saw some specks of blood floating around and then felt my baby pushing down. The pain immediately intensified. The bag of water that acted as a cushion between my pelvis and the babies head, was now gone. Fiona was back in focus and I started to exclude my husband and midwife who had made me do this. Fiona told me to moan “O” to help the cervix open. I did. I visualised my cervix opening. I then started to feel the baby pushing, not me pushing. It happened again – a lot of pressure in my back and on my tailbone. The midwife started to get the baby area ready with blankets, towels, and equipment. I could see myself reaching down to pick my baby out of the water soon … but the pain of the contractions were so intense I was starting to lose focus of everything and worry if I was going to be able to do this.

The midwife decided to check my cervix in hopes that this was time. It wasn’t. I was only 7cm. She got me out of the pool and situated on the bed on all fours with my butt in the air to keep pressure off my cervix. She was worried that the pushing of the baby was going to swell the cervix. It was really hard to stay in this position – I was cold, tired, and in pain. I started to swear at how much the pain was hurting.

Next thing I know, the decision was made that we were going to  the hospital and get an epidural. I didn’t want to go but because I was in so much pain, I felt like it was the only thing left to do. My husband dressed me. The midwife gathered her things and we were out in the hall. I made my self hold my noise until I got to the elevator and there I let out a loud moan. Once we were in the lobby, I tried to not make a sound until we got outside, my husband and Fiona, beside me. I couldn’t do it. A contraction came and I was in pain. People were coming inside as we were leaving. The air was nippy. I got in the front seat of our car, but I couldn’t sit so I kneeled, holding the head rest. Fiona got in the back and continued to redirect my focus with my breathing.

The drive took 7 minutes but felt excruciatingly longer. I told my husband to run the red lights … or at least I thought I did. Fiona kept refocusing my breathing. People stared as we drove by.

Once we were in the lobby, the midwife brought me a wheelchair. I couldn’t sit, so again I kneeled facing her as she wheeled me into the labor and delivery. The process was a complete hurricane. I was wheeled into one room only to be switched to another. Nurses gowned me and started putting in IV’s and asking questions. I yelled at everybody that passed by to make it stop now! The doctor on shift came in and gave me a look of  “O, a vbac!”. I swear she rolled her eyes, but she probably didn’t.

My midwife was gone signing all the paper work to transfer my care. Fiona and my husband stood by my side. A nurse came in with dreaded catheter and from my previous experience, I wanted nothing to do with it. She assured me that she wouldn’t do anything to my vagina that she herself wouldn’t like to be done to hers. I calmed down a bit and let her do her job. Unlike last time, she did listen to me and only proceeded after a contraction. About 45 minutes later the epidural came. The guy told me to hunch over my enormous, rock hard belly and DONT MOVE. All I could think was that he was just a stupid man and has no idea how ridiculous that notion was! The midwife was holding my hands and Fiona was telling me I could do this, even though I was muttering or yelling (I can’t quite remember) that I couldn’t.

Finally I couldn’t feel from the belly down. I started to worry now about my incision and if it was going to rupture, it definitley felt like it was going through a lot! Fiona kept bringing me back to the positives. I was told to get some sleep. Fiona and my husband were going back to the hotel to clean up the room and Fiona to pack up her things. The midwife was going to stay with me until they came back. I slept, drifting in and out to see the midwife still beside me. Fiona and my husband came back. We were then introduced to Constance, our nurse. She was an older, very relaxed, Jamaican woman with a thick accent.  She made the room much calmer as soon as she was in it. I still believe today, she was an angel in disguise  sent by God.

Fiona and the midwife said they were leaving to get some rest. Fiona wanted us to call her as soon as something changed. The midwife only wanted to be called if we needed her back. My husband made the chair into a cot and fell asleep immediately. Once everyone left, Constance told me she would do a cervical check. She informed me that I only had a “frill” of cervix left, nothing big at all. She was also the first person to notice that the baby was in a posterior position. This is probably why I was having back labor and the labor in itself was taking a long time. But she told me to not worry and that “Babies are born how babies are born”. I could tell that she had a lot of knowledge. I was very comforted by this lady who I just met.

She told me to rest some more. At about 8pm Fiona was back. Apparently she just needed a shower and some to time cry. Bless her heart. She didn’t seem like someone I “hired” anymore, but more of a good friend.

About five minutes later the new doctor came in. To this day I have not met another woman or professional as cold and rude as she was. We dubbed her as evil Dr. Darth Vader. She walked in looking at her charts and spouted out a bunch of medical lingo. She didn’t look at my husband, she didn’t look at Fiona, and she didn’t even look at me! She then announced I NEEDED another cesearean section. I didn’t say anything – shocked, scared, and speechless. She looked at me for the first time, annoyed. I then mustered up my courage and told her I wanted to phone my midwife and talk to my doula first. She looked at me like I was rather a mental patient than a woman in labor. Then told me she would be back in two hours, she was very busy.

Fiona mentioned there was another option and that was pitocin to restart contractions again and move things along. I called my midwife and she confirmed. I was worried about it, because I had done my research and knew pitocin could rupture the incision. Fiona brought me back and told me  it was best to try this first.

Fifteen minutes before she promised, Dr. Darth Vader strutted in. We told her our decision. Very annoyed, she checked my cervix.  I was 8cm. And I will always remember these words come out of her tight little mouth –  “you are NEVER going to dilate, so we NEED to do a c-section”.  I stood my ground. She huffed that I had 2 hours ONLY to give pitocin a try. She would be back at midnight and if nothing changed, I was getting a c-section.  As she left, the nurse hooked up the pitocin, and I silently prayed to God to help me dilate. I knew that if this fowl woman performed major surgery on me, I was sure to die.

As soon as the room was clear, Constance said I was farther than 8cm because “my fingers are much bigger than hers!”. My midwife was back. I decided to get on my hands and knees, even though I couldn’t feel the bottom half of my body, and rock my hips. I was determined to do everything in my power to help my baby and I.

Once I got really tired of holding and moving my sensation-less body, I asked if the back of the bed could go straight up. I was hoping that by sitting in a yoga meditative position, it would force the baby’s head down on my cervix. Shortly after, I asked for a bucket because I was sure to vomit. And I did. Quite a few times. A man, who I am still unsure of who he was and what he was doing there, sat in a chair and asked if I needed some gravol. Fiona and Constance both yelled “NO!”. They assured me this was the best sign ever – this meant the baby was ready to be born.

Just in time because Darth Vader showed up. She put on some gloves and I crossed my fingers and prayed. She muttered through her teeth that I was fully dilated. Everyone in the room cheered! She gave instructions to another nurse that I could start pushing and left.

The midwife informed me that once I started pushing, the clock starts to tick. Constance had to say goodbye, her shift was over. My husband begged her to stay, but unfortunately she couldn’t. She congratulated me and gave me some more encouragement and left.  The other nurse put a ballet bar up in front of me, hooked onto the bed. The midwife tied a sheet to it, so I could pull it while I pushed.

I started to push. After a few pushes my midwife brought in the mirror, so I could see how I was doing. I watched a couple of times and asked for it to be moved. About half an hour in, a wave of exhaustion hit me. It was very hard pushing a baby out especially when you couldn’t feel anything. I also had very minimum sleep in the last 3 days. As I rested, my eyes started to feel droopy but then I noticed the clock, and I knew Darth Vader would be in any minute wanting to cut me open. I started to push with all my might.

As the head was crowning, there were four others in the room only –  Fiona, the midwife, my husband, and a nurse sitting beside me. The midwife rubbed some oil, to help prevent tearing. I wasn’t tearing. The baby was coming out perfectly. Fiona excitedly asked “Lisa, how is this baby coming out?” I replied “Out my vagina!”. She laughed.

From here, everything happened like hurricane. Darth Vader showed up, gowned, gloved, and started yelling at me to push. As the head started to come out, my husband remembered delayed cord clamping . The midwife cautiously mentioned it to Darth Vader and she yelled in return “ONLY if the baby is BREATHING!” She continued to yell at me to push.

The baby’s head emerged with a nuchal hand. She cranked the baby’s head like it was an owl, to the “right” position so fast and started yelling that the baby had shoulder dystocia.  A nurse started vigorously pumping my stomach. Darth then yanked my baby so hard and so fast out of my body, on December 22, 2010 after an hour of pushing.  I watched, helplessly as my new baby came out. I waited for this for a long time, but was unable to savor such an amazing moment. The cord was immediately clamped and cut.

Next thing I knew the whole room was filled with many nurses. To be honest, the next seven minutes are very blurry. I remember my husband telling me he was wrong, that the baby wasn’t a girl after all but another boy. I was happy to have another boy, that’s what I secretly wanted. Fiona stayed as close to the baby and my husband as she could.   The midwife held my hand while Darth Vader dealt with my placenta and sewed the 2nd degree tear that she caused when she ripped the baby out. I kept asking if he was going to be okay and the midwife would always give me the same “I don’t know” reply. Darth Vader said nothing.

After seven minutes of intubation, my son started breathing on his own. A nurse set him on my chest. His cries were feeble. I held him tight and kissed his head. Fiona took pictures and my husband stood proudly over us. Darth Vader left and we never saw her again.

After a couple of minutes of holding my son, the nurses whisked him to the NICU. My husband and Fiona followed them. I was left alone with one nurse who gave me a dry roast beef sandwich and a T3 for a headache that came on all of a sudden.

Fiona came back, very excited. She wanted to know what my guess was on the baby’s weight. I shrugged and she showed me the camera. My son was on the weigh scale with “9lbs 2oz” on a screen above him . He was 4 ounces smaller than his brother’s birth weight. I just had a baby vaginally, that 21 months ago, doctors told me was impossible.

Once I started to get feeling in my legs, I was allowed to get into a wheelchair and go to the NICU to breastfeed my baby. He latched immediately and I sat in front of two nurses cooing at my gorgeous baby. About 20 minutes later, I was set up in our recovery room. Our son joined us about 4 hours later. We stayed there for 2 days, which is another story in itself!

On Christmas Eve, 2010 – exactly one year after my miscarriage, I brought my brand new son home. It was a wonderful Christmas!

My husband and I were on a natural high for about two weeks! It was very strange to see my husband coo over our new son. He was so happy, we were so happy. It wasn’t the natural waterbirth that we hoped for but it was a step in the right direction and we had him by VBAC. That’s an amazing feat in itself. The best part was that I could actually move, walk, and roll over to care for my baby.


Recovery – the Journey to a VBAC

As traumatic as the birth was, surprisingly, it was nothing compared to the recovery. I was broken physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As the anesthesia wore off, I slowly started to get feeling back in my body. Sensation started with my toes,  followed by my legs and worked it’s way up. In a matter of minutes, it felt like I was suddenly hit by a semi truck. My back was stiff and sore, my stomach was throbbing in pain, and my head was pounding. I realized  I could barely move. And with each effort to get comfortable, I was terrified my insides would fall out through the incision. Once the nurse gave me my baby, I held him tight, with no intentions of letting him go.

My mom came while my husband left to go home for a shower. Understanding my need to keep my baby with me, she encouraged me to sleep, keeping an eye on both of us. After being awake for more than 24 hours, I reluctantly took her orders while my baby stayed in my arms. As I started to power down, my body would startle and jump awake causing my stomach to throb. On the third attempt, I was asleep for about five minutes when it automatically convulsed – causing horrendous pain. My body was in shock from everything that happened to it. The connection between my body and brain was temporary severed. It was suppose to birth a baby but hadn’t, it was pumped with so much drugs, and now was recovering from a major surgery. It was almost like it wouldn’t let it’s guard down, scared of what would happen next.  My body was having a hard time relaxing, even though I desperately needed some sleep.

Later that day the horrible catheter was removed and 3 nurses came in and told me I had to start moving my legs and that I needed to learn how to clean myself. I started to tear up just thinking about how painful it was going to be to move. They said it was for the better. My husband took our baby and set him in the bassinet. He then braced me as I tried to stand. My legs tingled, my abdomen throbbed. We shuffled, I hunched over like a 90 year old lady to keep the pain at a minimum. He held my arm and we slowly made it to the bathroom. I sat down on the toilet in pain. The blonde nurse  gave me a peri bottle and instructed me what to do. Barely able to bend over an inch, I burst into a crying frenzy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see what I was doing and I was in so much pain. Seemingly annoyed at my pathetic behavior (you gave birth like billions of other women, what are you complaining about?), the nurse took the bottle and rinsed my vagina with cold water. My husband stood back in the doorway, staring. When I got back to the bed, I felt humiliated. I was crying, I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t clean myself. I hated every moment of this.

As the day progressed, visitors came and went, nurses came and went, and then the surgeon came in later that evening. He asked me what I thought was the appropriate time to go home.  I begged him for tomorrow. As the nurse fixed my IV, he told me that wouldn’t be the case. The standard after a csection was to stay for 3 days. At absolute minimum it would be 2 days.  As he left, I cried some more. I was already in this hospital long enough. I wanted to go home, to my own comfortable bed.

The next two days were the pitfall of my dream. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t pick up my baby when he cried in the bassinet. My husband would have to get up, pick him up and bring him too me at every whimper, cry, and feed. He would change his diaper every single time. My husband was amazing, but I could tell  he was regretting the whole decision of having a child. He slept on a cot beside me and the baby. During the night, was the hardest because my husband was exhausted and a deep sleeper. I woke up to my baby squirming, I tried to get his attention to bring me the baby. After a few attempts of throwing whatever I could get my hand on, I think it was only a hat and my pillow, a nurse came in because my baby was screaming. It made me so sad. I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be.  I was slowly breaking inside.

Saturday came and I was determined to leave. I got up and started hobbling around in pain. I decided to take a shower, prove to them that I was capable to go home. A nurse came in, surprised at my improvement. I asked for the doctor. Two hours later, she came in and said that I could go if the baby’s blood work came back fine. It did and my husband  rushed us out of that hospital so fast,  I didn’t even get a picture of my son in his “coming home” outfit. As he tried to lift me into the pickup truck, I cried in pain. I cried all the way home as we hit every little bump. When we got to the house, my mom came running out for a hug. I snapped “Don’t touch me”. The look on her face, still puts a lump in my throat. I was so miserable.

It wasn’t that great being home, as I thought it was going to be. I cried at everything. My husband did everything. I missed my son’s first bath because I needed a shower, which was a half-hour long project. As the water ran down my yellow body, I followed it to the stapled up mess on my bikini line. It looked like I just walked out of some horror movie. I cried some more.

That night  I slept on the couch. My bed was too high for me to get up into without wincing in immeasurable amounts of pain. I rigged up some chairs and put a baby basket on them, beside me. That whole idea was abandoned at his first whimper when I realized I couldn’t roll over every two hours in pain just to pick him up. He slept on my chest, listening to the pounding of my heart. I remember his tiny hands and his sweet baby smell.  I rubbed my lips against his soft black hair. For the next four nights, this is how we slept.

The next three months, I was an emotional basket-case. I cried at everything. My relationship with my husband was crumbling. We fought over everything. He started to enjoy working late  and spending every weekend with his guy friends. Now that I was capable of caring for the baby, he wanted nothing to do with his son unless it was absolutely necessary. I became the mama bear –  nobody could touch or care for my son except me.

At the next and last doctor appointment for my son, I asked the doctor if all my babies would be born via cesarean?  She told me yes, as it would be very risky for someone like me (I’m assuming she meant my small size?) to birth naturally after a cesarean because of the risk of rupturing. I went home and cried to my husband. He held me close and we shared a tender moment, one in a very long time. He wiped my tears away and we both agreed we didn’t want anymore babies. My dream of having a large family was over.  The fear of being  cut open again, won.

Maybe it was because summer was here and the sunshine and bettered our spirits, but my husband and I seemed to let go of our traumatic experienced. It was great to float down the river on an air mattress – just the three of us, soaking up the sun. We enjoyed our son very much – his love of water, his first laugh, crawling and getting into everything. He was a true boy and mischief was his middle name! He learned to walk at 8.5 months old. We were so proud!

At this time I very surprisingly discovered I was pregnant! Sadly, I wasn’t overjoyed. I was horrified. I didn’t think about having another little one. All could think about was having another csection or attempting a obviously failed  vbac. Either way, I knew I was going to die.

After a week of depression – I realized I had to do something. The baby was going to continue to grow inside of me and it needed to get out somehow in roughly 8 months time. I was determined it wasn’t going to be by cesarean section.  I searched the internet for midwives and birth centers in my province. I found a lovely one that looked nothing like a hospital but more  like an English cottage. It was very homey.  It had a playroom for older children. They excepted vbacs and explained what would happen in case of an emergency. I loved it! It was six hours away but this is where I wanted to be, this is where I already felt safe.

I sent an email right away. A wonderful, loving, tender, motherly midwife called me the next day. Her name was Toby. She gave me the time of day to answer all my fearful questions and explained to me that my body was meant to give birth and that it COULD do this. I could here her children playing in the background, and yet she stayed with me on the phone for about an hour. She told me how powerful the uterus was and how amazing it heals. Once our call came to an end she gave me the assignment of finding a doula in my area. The doula was going to be the most important part of our journey to achieving a vbac.

The next day, I came across Pure Love. It was the perfect name and I contacted a doula called Fiona. She had a Scottish accent and also gave me more hope that having a baby vaginally was possible.  I immediately felt connected with her and she gave me more confidence in myself. We scheduled a date after Christmas to meet.  In the mean time, I was allowed to call her at any time with questions and concerns. I was so comforted by this woman.

Christmas soon arrived and we were traveling ten hours away this year to spend the holiday with family. I was very much in the Christmas spirit and very happy. It was my son’s first Christmas and I was very excited as well as being 8 weeks pregnant. I was finally overjoyed. We stopped halfway for a bathroom break. I noticed some dark blood in my underwear and told my husband. He assured me not to worry. When we arrived at our destination, I phoned Fiona. She also assured me not to worry and that it could just mean spotting, it was normal around this time. She told me to take a bath and relax and enjoy the festivities. I did what she told me. The next day, there was more blood and it was now red. By midday it resembled a period. On Christmas Eve, I called Fiona again and she confirmed it was most likely a miscarriage. I cried. This lady that I never met, cried with me. She explained to me what to expect next, what to keep an eye on, and to rest. She told me if I needed to call her on Christmas, she was here for me.

The miscarriage took about a week to complete. I lost my a baby. I was sad, but because of the experience, I knew that I truly did want more children. The next three months I allowed my body to heal from an 8 week pregnancy. We celebrated my son’s first birthday in March. A month later On April 7, 2010 – I received a positive pregnancy test. I was definitely overjoyed!