My VBAC birth story
I got my VBAC!
On December 14th, 2011, at 11:11 a.m., I had a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), and met my beautiful baby, Kara Elizabeth, for the first time.
What happened last time
As you may know, I had a c-section birth with my son in 2009, due to breech presentation.
While a cesarean wasn’t in the plan with Evan, it was necessary, and I really thought from that point going forward that a subsequent c-section was my only option for future births. You see, my hospital did not offer VBAC — period. This fact erased any lingering glimmer of hope that I had of ever experiencing a vaginal delivery.
I was never truly happy with the OB, practice, or hospital that I used during my pregnancy with Evan, yet I saw myself heading into the same scenario when I found out that I was pregnant with baby number two last April.
After walking out of my doctor’s office feeling frustrated yet again, I made a huge decision. At 14-weeks-pregnant, I walked out of my OB’s office, medical records in hand, and I moved to a new doctor, in a new practice, who delivers at a different hospital.
After my first appointment with the new doctor, I found out that he supported VBAC, and felt that I was a great candidate. I can remember walking out of the office that day feeling like a new door had been opened for me. It was a truly amazing feeling, and I spent the better part of my pregnancy fantasizing about what this could mean for me. Would I really be able to have a baby vaginally?
The big day
On December 13th (my 32nd birthday!), I went to my doctor for a regular 38-week check-up.
My blood pressure was sky high, and had been a little high several times in previous weeks. I was hooked up for a NST, and my doctor concluded that he would like me to go to the hospital for some closer monitoring of my blood pressure and baby.
I met Zach at work, and we headed to Columbus to the hospital. I really figured that it was going to be a wasted trip, and that they would be sending me home to endure another week or two of being extraordinarily, painfully pregnant.
We arrived, and the testing began. Just when I thought they were going to send me home, something funny happened on the monitor. The baby’s heart rate seemed to have decelerated briefly, and after consulting my doctor, the consensus was to go ahead and start a slow induction.
Yes, I know that with inductions, come a lowered chance of a successful VBAC. At this point, I was just going with the flow, and doing what my doctor recommended for my health, and the health of the baby.
I kept hearing the words “slow induction”, and the idea here was to induce my labor as gently as possible to reduce the risk of uterine rupture.
I was started on a Pitocin drip, but nothing exciting happened during that first hour or two. In fact, while I was having mild contractions, I was not progressing at all, and still sat at barely 2cm dilated after several hours.
The next thing I began to hear were the words Foley catheter uttered here and there. The plan of attack to get my labor under way was to insert this catheter into my cervix, to manually help with dilation. Honestly, the idea of this freaked me out more than anything, and I was becoming very nervous.
When the resident who would be putting the Foley in entered the room, I was even more nervous. What I saw before me was a baby-faced young man, who looked no more than 18 years old. I suddenly felt like I was on some kind of doctor-drama made for television.
The Foley wasn’t as bad as I expected, and soon enough this manual dilation combined with increasing Pitocin sent me from zero to a million on the pain chart.
I went from being tolerably comfortable with manageable contractions, to OHMYGODKILLMENOW contractions that were coming fast and hard.
Having went into labor naturally with Evan, and reaching more than 6cm before my c-section with no pain medication, I felt that these drug-induced contractions were just unreasonably, HEINOUSLY bad. There was even a moment, when I was shaking from head to toe with pain, sweating, and begging for some help that I asked if I could still change my mind and have a c-section. I was in that much pain.
At this point, they called my doctor, who said to go ahead with an epidural if I wanted it.
I wanted it. I got it, and it was good. They did end up having to dose me a second time, though, because I could still feel the pain down one side.
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, aside from hot flashes and nausea. I was numb from the waist down, and able to fade in and out of sleep, and Zach slept in a chair beside me.
My water broke overnight, and I didn’t even know it. I kept asking the nurses if it was normal that I had NO FEELING in my legs, and they said it was, and that I should be happy that I couldn’t feel the pain. I was pretty happy that I couldn’t feel the pain.
By morning, there were nurses scurrying around saying that I was 10cm dilated. The doctor was rushing to the hospital, and I was just kind of being still, waiting for the main event.
Soon, my legs (which may as well have belong to a corpse, because I could not feel a thing), were lifted up into the stirrups, and with the help of a nurse, my doctor, and my husband I was coached to push even though I couldn’t feel the muscles that I needed to do the job.
So, epidural meant no pain, but also no feeling or ability to adequately push. Kind of bizarre, and I am still not sure how common this is.
Kara makes her grand entrance
After an hour and a half of grueling pushing that left me very little time to breathe or recover between rounds, my we were close to the end. My doctor lowered a mirror and showed me Kara’s head, which was covered in long, thick black hair. My OB used this vision to motivate me to push through to the end, and in a rush, I saw my little girl emerge from my body.
Joy, relief, and tears were had all around, and immediately, my screaming, pink, beautiful little girl was placed on my chest. She was perfect.
I can’t believe that I pushed this child out of my body. I can’t believe that I got my VBAC. I know it may sound silly, but I feel somewhat like a superhero for this act.
I am proud of my VBAC, and sort of want to curl up and live in the memory of Kara’s birth story.
If you would like to see some more images of Kara’s first day, be sure to check out my first post on Babble’s Baby’s First Year blog today. I’ll be documenting Kara’s first year of life there daily!
My healing is going well, and it is truly amazing (in my case, anyway) how much easier a vaginal delivery is when compared to the trauma and healing time that accompanies a c-section.
I am so thankful to God for this perfect, precious little girl, and for the chance to know what it is like to give birth vaginally.