I went into my second pregnancy with a completely open mind; ready to accept whatever happened. I had to let go of all of my expectations. The first time around I did everything that I thought I was supposed to do and still fell victim to interventions, bad doctors & ultimately a c-section. I felt defeated, I felt like a failure and I certainly didn’t own it.
I refused to set myself up again. I wanted a VBAC desperately, but I mentally prepared for another c-section to save my sanity & protect myself. We switched to a practice that was supportive of VBACs that contained three doctors and three midwives. But each time we met with one of them they made me feel that my nonchalance was a weakness, rather than my defense.
Tom was my advocate. He too was ready to accept whatever happened, but he was the one person who really saw how tormented I was by my c- section; he knew what a VBAC truly meant to me. He became my voice when I started to feel like “they” doubted my ability & commitment. I had such a hard time saying, “Yes, I want a VBAC.” because if I said it out loud and it didn’t happen then I would feel like a failure again.
I went into preterm labor at 34 weeks.
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I was admitted to the Birthing Center that evening; leaving Hudson for the first time ever. Tom & I discussed the possibility of being transferred to another hospital (one with a NICU), having a repeat c-section and a premature baby. Thankfully, Davis wasn’t ready to make his grand entrance; I was merely dehydrated, a few IVs of fluid stopped the contractions. Because of our similar schedules, I saw Nancey, one of the midwives, the most. I think that she too doubted my intentions at first, but after that night she saw past my fear & realized how dedicated I was to idea of a VBAC.
The thing about VBACS is that you “have” to go into spontaneous labor. Not many doctors will induce you, nor did I want to be induced. However, since I did not go into labor myself with Hudson it was a concern that I never would (in compliance to Western medicine’s 42 week gestational calendar).
The 40 week mark fell on a Sunday. I had spent six weeks, or at least two, worrying that he would arrive early and here we were starting to worry that he would come too late.
I spent all day Wednesday cleaning our laundry room from top to bottom. By Thursday evening, contractions began. We arranged for Hudson to go to our friend’s house. On the way there I called the Doctor on call…he was the reason that we had switched to this practice, yet I never met him because every time I made an appointment with him, it was canceled for one reason or another. I don’t remember the conversation word for word, but this is how it went. “You’re not in active labor.” “I just sat down to dinner.” “If you do go into active labor you do not need two caretakers (referring to himself & the midwife) and I have to be there because you are a VBAC candidate.” I hung up the phone, once again feeling defeated by arrogance. My contractions stopped. Tom and I went home and watched a movie.
On Friday morning I felt crummy & disheartened. I went to our friend’s house, but soon admitted to myself that I just couldn’t be there. I asked if I could leave Hudson there a little longer, at this point my parents were on their way.
I went home, got in the bathtub, and called Nancey. I had a huge list of questions for her and she immediately put me at ease. She said that if I went into labor over the weekend, and I wanted her to be there, to call her directly. A huge weight was lifted.
As my family slept upstairs, I hung out on the couch trying to sleep and timing contractions. At around 7AM I got in the shower. When I was done I decided it was time to go to the Birthing Center. I called Nancey, she told me that I still sounded excited and that she thought that I had time. With my parents at our house to watch Hudson, and the birthing center 45 minutes away, I was ready to get the show on the road. I told her that it was where I wanted to be and she obliged.
We arrived around 9AM. Because I was a VBAC candidate and had previously gone into preterm labor, they monitored me for about an hour. At the end of the hour I was told that I could go as far as the front porch and labor however I would like. I got in the shower.
As lunchtime approached, Nancey asked if it was alright if she ate with her husband. We said yes and she went on her way. Suddenly, labor began to progress quite rapidly. My contractions were stronger and more painful. Yet, as Tom pushed hard on my low back, I felt like I wanted to sleep. I needed energy. You see, as much as I would have loved to have a natural birth, the vaginal part was my goal and in that moment of vulnerability, pain relief was my stepping stone.
Nancey returned and I told her how I was feeling. Given my past history, she did not want me to stall, so she was apprehensive. She agreed to check me and to everyone’s surprise I was at about 7cm. She suggested an intrathecal anesthetic. I had never even heard of it! She explained that it would take the edge off for about 2 hours, but would then wear off so that I would have full sensation to push.
Eventually, I began to feel my contractions again. I was checked, but unfortunately only at 7.5cm. I tried laboring in different positions. For about an hour I leaned over a yoga ball, which was placed on the bed. Tom kept pressure on my back and Nancey sat, crossed legged* on the floor monitoring me.
I progressed to 9cm.
Davis’s heart rate became erratic. I began to mentally prepare for a repeat c-section.
Nancey continued to confer with the doctor, yet I never once saw him. She came back to the room and said that they were both comfortable giving me Pitocin to give me one last push. Although I trusted their judgment, the reason many doctors will not induce VBAC candidates or give Pitocin to speed up labor is that it can cause a uterine rupture. I told Tom that I would rather have a repeat c-section than an emergency repeat c-section. At this point I wanted a healthy baby & a healthy mama…
I expressed my concern and voiced my decision. Nancey left the room again to inform the doctor.
When she returned, she checked me once again (apologizing over & over again for checking me so many times)…took one look at me and said, “I think that you can do this; you are not a full 10cm, but you can do this”. And so, I pushed.
On August, 17th, 2013, our second Milkie Monster was born via a successful VBAC.
I will never be able to thank Nancey enough. *Remember the part about her sitting cross legged on the floor for an hour…well, after Davis was born she told us that she would not be available for my 6 week follow-up appointment because she was having hip surgery!! How’s that for dedication!
Nancey was my advocate, she believed in me, she listened to me and she never gave up. I know that the outcome could have been very different based on a number of variables…and I’m already contemplating how I would go about a third birth (2nd VBAC) IF/when the time comes. But my confidence has been restored. I know that I can have the kind of birth that I want.
I just might have to kidnap Nancey…