My Empowering VBAC
Jethro was due on 8th March but as his due date came and went we were getting more and more convinced that he wanted to stay in there for the long haul! I was very ready to meet our new baby from the beginning of March and had no idea how long he would still have us wait!
On 15th March my husband, Pete, our fantastic doula, and myself went along to the Royal Womens’ for my 41 week appointment. It was an appointment I was sure we wouldn’t reach! Pete and I had already tried a number of natural induction techniques but nothing seemed to be kicking labour off. In fact even the Braxton Hicks contractions which had plagued my pregnancy seemed to have packed up and gone home. At the appointment I asked the midwife to try a strip and stretch to see if we could get things moving along. I was determined not to have an induction so she had a go. The news was not great, the cervix wasn’t looking favourable and was only slightly dilated. I was gutted and promptly burst into tears. I was utterly determined to have a natural VBAC and I felt that that might be slipping away from me.
The midwife took us off to see the consultant, to arrange our next step. We talked to the doctor for the best part of an hour and endured various guilt trips while still being determined to go to 42 weeks and not conceding to an elective Caesar. We felt emotionally exhausted by all this. Finally the doctor did an internal and told us that things were not as unfavourable as we thought, chances were that they would be able to an artificial rupture of membranes as a means of induction. We all just felt like we had put up with all that emotional torment for nothing. The doctor still wanted to check that everything was ok with the baby and that he was coping well with being in there still so she ordered an ultrasound to check on the amount of fluid in there as well as placental function. She also wanted us to have bi-daily CTG monitoring to make sure that things continued to be well with me and with baby.
The scan showed that there was plenty of fluid left in there which was great news. They also predicted that baby was weighing in at 4kgs already – holy smokes – that worried me! The CTG that morning also showed that the baby was doing well, very very active and really letting me know that things were very comfy in there!
We went back for our next trace on Saturday 17th March where again the CTG showed that baby was very happy in there. Since the strip and stretch from Thursday had done nothing I asked for another one – I wanted to avoid induction so badly! The internal showed that we were up to about 2-3cm dilated now, but the cervix was still long. The midwife reckoned it wouldn’t be long now and I felt very encouraged. I made sure I went for long walks and kept as upright as possible, but Saturday and Sunday passed with nothing.
The next trace was due on Monday 19th March so Pete, our doula and I headed in yet again. I had been feeling pretty rotten, I had a headache and felt a little like I was getting a cold. I mentioned this to the midwife setting us up on the CTG and she insisted that we see a doctor before we leave. The doctor wanted (for no particular reason as CTG continued to be good) to induce there and then. Well having come this far and already knowing that Wednesday was going to be induction day, I didn’t want to bring it forward and we (read Pete & our doula!) stuck to our guns. We endured the inevitable one sided guilt fest from the doctor about the risks we were subjecting baby and me to.
Tuesday 20th I started on my 3rd homeopathic remedy intended to kick things off. Around 10am I started to feel some regular contractions which were about 10 minutes apart. They woke me from my snooze, but they weren’t painful. Pete and I decided to try a walk and the contractions continued at the same interval. After 3 hours of promising contractions they completely stopped and I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to be induced the next day.
Wednesday 21st March we arrived at the hospital at 7am for our planned ARM. We were shown into the room where I had laboured with Cameron and I just couldn’t cope with being in there. Our doula kindly went and asked if we could be moved rooms which they consented to. We were shown into Birth Suite 7 and I felt much more at home in there. There was a little nook under the windows with an arm chair and table. It was really quite comfortable. I wanted to keep away from the dreaded bed if possible! Our midwife came along and introduced herself, and we all had a chat and giggle while we waited for the doctor to come and get things going. She was a real giggle and made me feel very comfortable – if not distracted by her bizarre comments about my feet!
Finally the doctor put in an appearance at 10.00am. For about the 100th time during the pregnancy I had to go through my birth plan with the doctor and explain to her that we understood the “risks” we were taking (by not having routine cannulation and intermittent rather than continuous monitoring) and finally to sign a declaration to this effect (believe me, getting this VBAC was a long hard struggle against protocol and procedure). Eventually she performed an internal and found that I was 3-4cm and my cervix was effaced. Very encouraging. Things were certainly happening in there all by themselves and I hadn’t even felt them! She asked if we still wanted to go ahead with the ARM and I consented to that. At 10.30am the waters were broken – such a peculiar feeling! They did a CTG trace to make sure baby was ok and we were finally allowed to go off for a walk to see if we could get things going. We were given 4 hours (negotiated from 2) to get labour underway. We headed off to the canteen to get something to eat – I couldn’t face much but thought I ought to eat and then we started walking up and down stairs to get the head onto the cervix as hard as possible. I was feeling some tightenings, but nothing painful or regular at that point. After an hour we went back as the doctor wanted us to have another CTG trace. Baby still looked happy. But while we were there they decided that since there was a small amount of meconium in the fluid that they wanted to hurry things along some more with a syntocinon drip. We refused. I wanted my 4 hours and I wasn’t backing down. Besides I knew things were happening.
We went off for another half hour walk around the hospital. I was feeling so hot that I couldn’t go outside into the heat again so we just walked and walked the corridors. The contractions were getting stronger now and I had to step to breathe through them, again, they weren’t painful just intense. After half an hour we went back as requested. As we were walking down the corridor I said to Pete, “what time do you think the baby will be born?”, his reply, “I reckon just before Neighbours, what about you?” I said, “I think the baby will be here by 5″. I don’t know where I picked that arbitrary number from! It was after all only 12.30pm!
By the time we got back into the birth suite I wanted to get into the shower and relax a bit. I got into position on the birth ball with Pete behind me holding the shower on my lower back and our doula talking me through some positive affirmations which she also pinned up on the wall of the shower to help me focus. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together but I wasn’t feeling pain per se, just really intense tightenings. I focused on my mantras with each one. My Hypnobirthing practice was certainly coming into its own! Pete was fantastic and with each contraction gave me counter pressure into my lower back – such relief! The midwife recorded that I was in established labour at 1.15pm. I have no idea how far dilated I was or how close the contractions were as I rejected any monitoring or VEs (except the Doppler). At about 2.30pm the doctor was determined to do a CTG trace as I had so far avoided one, but I wouldn’t get out of the shower! By 3pm I knew I would have to get out of the shower and move into the room. When I came out I just flopped onto the bean bag on all fours and there I stayed! Almost as soon as I got there I knew I was ready to start pushing as felt that I was ready to do a poo! Around this time there was a midwife shift change and our very supportive and understanding midwife was replaced with a much more stern midwife who was rather abrupt and kept trying to talk to me. She didn’t really believe that I was already at second stage.
So anyway I started pushing. After an hour and a half (which felt like about 10 minutes to me even though it was hard work!) the new midwife was determined to get me into a different position to get the baby out – she didn’t feel I was making sufficient progress. I was annoyed that she moved me because I was very comfortable where I was, but she was insistent. After trying a couple of positions I was pulled into a squat against Pete. With the next contraction I felt a huge urge to bear down and to everyone’s surprise, including the midwife who skidded back across the room, a head suddenly appeared! I hadn’t felt a thing! He gave a cry while still hanging out there! Then with the next contraction everything else came out! I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t felt it at all, but I looked down and there was my beautiful baby! I just kept saying, “I did it, I did it!”. The midwife assigned to baby tried to clean him up, but Pete said, “straight up to Lucie” and I was passed my slimy, gooey little baby. Neither of us thought to check the sex, we were just in awe. Eventually someone said, “did anyone catch the gender?” We looked and said, “it’s a little boy!” A few moments later I named our second son Jethro, Jet for short. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of euphoria I felt. Not only had I naturally delivered my beautiful baby boy, but I had done it against all the hospitals odds because I was determined and stuck to my guns. I could not have done it without Pete’s incredible support and constant assertion that I was doing a brilliant job or without our doula’s support and helping me to focus.
Jethro was born at 4.53pm (how was that for a prediction!), and weighed 3.605kg (7lb 15oz), length was 54cm (21 & ¼ ins) and head circumference was 35.3cm. And he is perfect in every way!
The cord was left until it had stopped pulsating and then I was able to cut it. I had non stop skin to skin contact for 3 hours with my gorgeous little man and after about 40 minutes he self-attached to the breast and had his first feed. I just wish I could describe the incredible feelings and emotions I experienced – it was like nothing I have ever felt. He fed for so long that the midwife suggested that we had put another few ounces on him since he was born!
I lost a lot of blood and discovered that I had lost a litre and there was some talk of a transfusion – luckily we avoided that. I also found out that I had a second degree tear which would require stitches and possibly surgery – thank god that was avoided – I had done so well. I was disappointed because I felt that the change of position had led to this tear, I feel confident that I would have birthed if I had stayed where I was comfy. We went up to the ward at about 9pm and Jethro decided to party on his first night out! He wanted to feed often and to be held non stop. I don’t know if it was the hormones or what but I stayed up all night with him walking around and rocking and cuddling him when he slept. It was perfect. Determined to come home the next day we jumped through all the hospital’s hoops and were eventually discharged at 4.30pm on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Jethro made his grand entrance!
My milk came in within 48 hours and we have one gorgeous, contented little man at home with us! Now we just need him to learn the difference between night and day!