Benjamin's birth story starts with Genevieve's birth story. The reason I say that B's story starts here is that I ended up with a c-section with G. Once you have a c/s, your birth options become very limited. I knew that I wanted to try for a VBAC with B. A VBAC is a vaginal birth after cesarean. I won't get into VBAC vs repeat c-section and too much of the "political" nonsense surrounding this topic. Let's just start with the fact that finding VBAC providers is difficult.
In FL, there are 2 options if you want to have a VBAC. You can have a home birth (HBAC) with a midwife (MW) or a hospital birth with an OB. If you choose the hospital route, your options for OBs are limited, although the options in Central FL seem to be expanding. Also, your best bet for a successful hospital VBAC is to show up to the hospital as close to pushing as possible. We decided to opt for the hospital choice for a few reasons. I found a physician that seemed to be decently supportive or at least went along with my wishes.
All was looking well, but at 30 weeks, we ended up moving from FL to NC. I only had a couple of weeks to research my birth options. I discovered that the 2 options in NC are either a birth center birth or a hospital birth. Everything I read seemed to support the idea that hospital VBACs are very difficult in NC. I attempted to contact the Charlotte chapter of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) to locate a provider, but never heard anything back. I found a birth center (apparently only 1 of 2 in NC) that is only 30 minutes from us. They have an OB and 2 CNMs (certified nurse midwives) and do VBACs. Perfect.
So we planned for a birth center birth. However, at my 38 week appointment, I was told I needed to pay my balance that day or I couldn't be a birth center patient. I wasn't aware of this policy and this was the first that I had heard of this. I wasn't able to pay the entire birth center fee that day, so I became a hospital patient. (The birth center is not in network with our insurance, so we would have to pay a big chunk out of pocket.) I was very upset at the last minute change in plans, but reminded myself that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan.
LABOR & DELIVERY:
Around 38 weeks, I had about 12-18 hours where we thought labor was starting. I had pretty good contractions that were about 4 min apart and lasted 60-90 seconds. However, that fizzled out, so we just waited. I would oftentimes have contractions at night, sometimes all night, but nothing ever came of it.
I was due June 21st and pretty much assumed I would go a week or two late since G came at 41 weeks 5 days. On June 18th, I started having some mild contractions around 1 am. They were kind of more like gas pains, but they were uncomfortable and there was no sleeping through them. Around 3:45, I woke up with stomach issues and then started having some very strong contractions. I woke Chris up at 4 to tell him I thought things were starting up and I was going to head to the tub to relax.
Once in the tub, things started slowing down, but the contractions were strong. I decided I didn't want to stay in the tub and instead decided to bounce on the birth ball. I leaned over the bed during contractions and swayed. Also, I started to have bloody show while in the tub. With G, I never saw any blood until I was about 8 cm. Chris texted the doula at 4:22 am to let her know that things had picked up and I had bloody show. Chris spoke with the doula around 4:45 because she hadn't responded to our text. I think at this point contractions were about 3-4 min apart and strong. Chris told the doula she probably had a couple of hours, but we would contact her when we needed her to head over. Chris called her about 15 min later to ask her to come and she arrived around 6 am.
When the doula arrived, I was in the tub and was already having the "I can't do this" thoughts. When she came in to see me, I voiced my concern with the 30 minute drive to the hospital. Around this time, I started getting the shakes. She asked what my transition signs were with G and I couldn't really say because I went from barely any labor to transition. She left and said she'd be right back and apparently this is when she told Chris we needed to get to the hospital because things were happening fast. She came up and said I should get out and get dressed. I sat down on the birthing ball during a contraction and had to run to throw up in the sink. We definitely needed to leave!
We left the house around 6:40 am. I was in denial that I was really in labor and knew that I would be 1-2 cm when we got to the hospital. One of Chris's co-workers was going to watch G for us and she was meeting us at the hospital. I was on all fours in the backseat and G was in her carseat. I was definitely vocal and G would just say "mommy, baby, work." Yes G, mommy was working on getting the baby out. We got to the hospital a few minutes after 7 and Chris's co-worker got G's stuff out of the car. I sat on the birth ball in the parking lot next to the car to make it through contractions.
The hospital I was going to doesn't pre-register, so we had been told to go to the ER and then we would be taken up to l&d. We had to give all of our insurance and personal info. Meanwhile, the nurses from l&d were on their way down to get me. I was offered a wheelchair several times, but walking felt much better than sitting down. I had to stop a few times on the walk to l&d to work through contractions and a few hospital workers came to make sure everything was ok.
We made it up to l&d and the nurse needed to check me to let the MW know my status. She checked me around 7:15 am and I was at 7 cm. I couldn't believe it! I shouted "hot damn!" lol. The hospital has jacuzzi tubs, so my doula was getting mine filled for me. I went in after being checked. The water felt very good, but the contractions were super intense. I know I started asking for the epidural at this point and said I couldn't do it. They said they wanted to check me first and then we would decide a course of action after. Also, the nurse had originally said that I could decline the IV access, but was then told by my OB that I would need a hep-loc. When she first attempted to put the line in, she hit a nerve. This was the first time I literally screamed and it was a very loud "Owww! Shit! What are you doing?!?" She pulled that out and tried a different vein and was successful.
Around 8 am, the MW checked me and said "you ready to push?" You're at 9 1/2 cm. Ummm, what? No, I'm not ready to push. Lol. I didn't feel the urge to push yet and decided to lean over the back of the bed while on my knees. After just a couple of minutes, my water broke. At this point, a bunch of people came running into the room with all of the delivery equipment. However, contractions actually became much easier to deal with and they spaced out quite a bit. We all did a bit of chit chatting and I just did some gentle nudges or bearing down during contractions. This lasted a couple of hours before they decided to re-check my cervix. After checking, they told me I was back at 7 cm. Ummm, what? No, that's not right! Apparently my bag of waters was what was making me dilate so fast. The baby's head was high and not dilating my cervix.
It was now around 11:30 am. I believe contractions started picking up and were quite painful. I was told not to push or anything because my cervix was swollen. I was having a hard time not pushing. Pushing was what gave me some relief. I started asking more seriously for the epidural. My doula suggested I get back in the tub, so I agreed to give that a try. The contractions were very intense and uncomfortable. I was in the tub begging for the epidural because I could not fight against the urge to push. It was not fun. I was having low back pain during contractions, so Chris and the doula would use a tennis ball to massage my lower back. It definitely helped.
I started begging for some relief. We talked about Fentanyl via IV to give me some relief. The nurse was really trying everything to help me stick to my desire to go epi-free. I knew I needed something, so I agreed. Also, they had already started fluids at this point. My BP was really low (like 80 or 90ish/30 or 40ish). The fentanyl gave me about 45 min of relief. I still felt the super strong contractions, but was able to rest in between. During this time, some twit came in to draw my blood. I saw twit because she would not wait for my contraction to be done before drawing my blood. I now have the biggest bruise from her. Not cool.
They gave me another dose of fentanyl around 2 and it lasted for about 45 min. At that time, I said I was serious about the epi and did not want anymore fentanyl. I did not want to continue to fight the urge to push and I had not dilated anymore. My MW came and asked me "Is this what you really want?" and my answer was yes. The anesthesiologist came in and had me lay on my side. Just an FYI...if you ever have an anesthesiologist ask you to do this, it is b/c they are lazy. Ask for someone else. I had to attempt to curl into a ball while laying on my side and having very intense and close contractions. He had difficulty with the epi. He said something was blocking it and was unable to put the meds in. He pulled back on the catheter a bit and was then able to get the meds in. This took about 45 min to an hour. I think it was around 3 pm when the epi was placed.
The epi was good, but it wasn't heavenly. I could still feel lots, but it wasn't nearly as bad. We had the anesthesiologist come back in bc the epi was not working properly. He gave me a bolus and that seemed to help. When he came in, I asked if there was anyone else that could do it and he said no. That was a flat out lie bc they had a nurse anesthesist that could have done it. When my nurse heard what he told me, she called his supervisor and we got the ok to go over the anesthesiologist's head and ask directly for the nurse anesthetist (crna). The CRNA was great. I didn't want the epi re-done (in hindsight I should have had it redone), but he kept me comfy.
And now we wait, and wait, and wait. We pretty much assumed that he had turned posterior (OP) bc of the quite visible lump in my belly. We started turning from side to side every 30 minutes or so to try to get him to turn. None of that was helping. Then I remembered that peppermint essential oil on the low back is supposed to get OP babies to turn. I asked my doula to get my peppermint and rub some on my low back. It was around 9 pm. (Chris had gone home to take care of the dog.) Meanwhile I was texting my new chiropractor in NC and my former chiro in FL. My chiro in FL told me to apply clary sage & cedar wood to the top of my head, fennel on my ankles, and valor on my chest. I had Chris do all of these when he returned.
While Chris was gone, my doula asked me how I would feel if they suggest pitocin. I wanted to avoid pit, but if pitocin was going to help me get my VBAC, I was okay with it. I wanted to know I had tried everything to avoid a c-section. Around 10 pm, the MW came in and made the suggestion that we start pitocin. I was okay with it. She said that they are very conservative and will only do the minimum to get things moving along.
I asked my current chiro to come adjust me bc something was causing him to not descend. The chiro came around 11 pm and adjusted my tailbone. My tailbone had been good for at least a couple of weeks, so we think this might have been holding things up. She hung out for a bit and we all chatted and then she adjusted me again before leaving.
At some point, I developed a fever and needed antibiotics. I was having the shakes pretty bad, but I had been having that for a while. It took a couple of doses of abx, but the fever did come down. Also, my contractions increased in intensity when the epi was in place. That was a good thing.
Everyone decided to get some rest. I tried to rest as much as I could. I was exhausted. I could still feel contractions and was starting to have some back pain. I was also having a lot of low pressure. I kept saying that I needed to poop, but that obviously wasn't the case.
Around 4 am, I was rechecked and the OB told me I was complete. She asked if I wanted to start pushing. I was still exhausted, so I asked if I could get another boost on the epi to get an hour of rest and then we would start pushing. You would think I would be super excited to push, but I knew that I would need my strength. She said "great, sounds like a plan." The CRNA came in to give my epi a boost.
After about 20 min, there was no way for me to stop the urge to push. The OB came in and checked and said I was complete and at +1 station. She had the nurse come in to work with me on pushing. I pushed for about 20-30 min before the doula suggested I turn on my side. I was having excruciating back pain on the left side. Once I rolled over, I asked the nurse to let me do my thing for a bit. I just worked with the contractions and gently nudged/beared down. Around 5 am, the back pain became even worse and I began to have a burning sensation along the left side of my uterine scar. The nurse went to get the OB bc this can be a sign of uterine rupture.
The OB came in and checked me and said the head is right there. She became exactly what I needed. She was stern and forceful without being too much. When I would push, she would say "don't stop, don't stop, don't you stop!" It might have been too much for some people, but it is exactly what I needed. I really felt like I was going to rip in two. I was screaming like a crazy person and swearing. Oh yes, I turned into that lady. I was also in denial that this was happening. I asked if I was close to crowning and the OB was like "ummm, you are crowning." Thank goodness. She asked if I wanted to reach down and feel his head and I said no. Again, I was in denial that this was happening. I gave a few more pushes and out he came. The OB told me to reach down and grab my baby. I said no b/c again, I was in denial. She kind of threw him in my hands and I put him on my chest. He was born at 5:20 am on June 19th.
Holy cow, did this just happen?!? The first words out of my mouth were "I did it!" Any VBAC mom knows the feeling. To go from feeling that I am defective to the realization that there is nothing wrong with me is amazing. He started crying right away and was pink right away. He got 9 & 9 on his apgars. We waited a few minutes for the cord to completely stop pulsing and then Chris cut it. I asked him to take the baby because I had the shakes so bad. I was scared I would drop him. He had a head full of red hair, just like his daddy. We named him Benjamin Thomas. :)
I just had to deliver the placenta which was no biggie. Then the OB had to put in a couple of stitches and that was that.
Remember how I said everything happens for a reason? Yep, I truly believe that. I know that if I had had any other provider, I would have had another c-section. While we were waiting for my body to get to 10 cm, the OB told me that there was no reason to cut this baby out.
Oh, his stats were 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 1/4 inches, so he was a bit smaller than his sister, but he came exactly 2 weeks earlier than G.