I’m excited to announce that our baby boy is here, and while his birth wasn’t all smooth sailing, we have a healthy little guy and a very happy, healthy mama.
As I mentioned in my 40 week update, Braxton-Hicks had started ramping up toward the end of week 39. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night all involved painful contractions about 5 minutes apart and multiple moments where I thought maybe I should call in my parents to take care of Isla just in case. Ultimately, though, each night I went to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning, contractions had spaced back out to about 20 minutes, so I was glad I hadn’t called them in for a false alarm.
By Sunday morning, my back was aching from all the contractions, and I was grateful to get a 3-hour break from contractions while we ate breakfast out. When we got home, Kellen and I set to work on cleaning the house. I hoped that scrubbing toilets and floors would get labor started, and sure enough, contractions picked back up. When Isla went down for her afternoon nap, Kellen and I also laid down, and I noticed (but didn’t take too seriously) that my contractions were still coming pretty steadily and close together. Once we were all up, we needed to run to the mall on a time-sensitive errand I’d completely forgotten about, so off we went.
At the mall, I’d just managed to do what needed doing and meet back up with Kellen and Isla to head to the kids’ play area when I felt a gush. It took me all of a second to identify my waters breaking, and I shoved the hoodie I’d fortunately brought with me between my legs to keep from dripping on the floor. Kellen went to get the car, while Isla and I waddled to the nearest exit, Isla crying because she’d wanted to stay and play, me smiling/grimacing politely at all the curious onlookers.
Once we got in the car, we called grandparents, OB, and doula, and established that we were fine to labor at home for a while. At home, Kellen and I wrapped up last minute things on our to do list for home and work, finished packing, grabbed some food. I took a shower and changed clothes into something I thought would be comfortable to labor in. Contractions were slowly ramping in frequency and intensity, but were pretty easy to breathe through. My parents arrived, and we got Isla in bed for the night by 8 o’clock. Around that time, the doula called and advised I try to get some rest since my body didn’t appear to be in a hurry.
As soon as I laid down, my contractions got extremely painful and started coming much closer together. I waited it out through two contractions before realizing I wasn’t going to be able to do any more of them lying down. When I got up, they kept going and were coming every 2-3 minutes, so we decided to go into the hospital. We arrived at about 9, and shortly after getting into a room and being urged into a hospital gown by two young nurses, my contractions began to space out and become easier to breathe through. The OB checked me and said I was only 2 cm, 80% effaced, and baby was -3 station. Our doula, who was already at the hospital attending another birth, stopped in and knowing my feelings about the hospital and seeing that things were slowing down suggested we head back home, where hopefully labor would pick back up again. Our OB agreed with her and signed our discharge papers.
We returned home, where I got back in bed and promptly began having intense contractions again. Kellen managed to take a shower, but his plans to bake brownies for the nurses had to be scrapped because it pretty quickly became clear I needed to go back to the hospital. We arrived back at around 11 o’clock, me bellowing like an angry cow every few minutes, barely able to look at, much less speak to, anyone. I don’t remember a lot about the next few hours, other than everything hurt, and the only position that I could stand to be in was standing and leaning on Kellen. Our doula was still with her other patient, but her back-up was there and very sweet and helpful, but I didn’t want to be touched, talked to, or moved, so I wasn’t able to take a lot of her advice.
Eventually I said I was done and demanded an epidural. There was a flurry of activity, then a long wait. The anesthesiologist arrived at around 2 AM along with sweet relief. It wasn’t a strong epidural, so I could still feel contractions, but I put on a Hypnobabies track (we’d tried earlier, but I couldn’t listen to it) and managed to get some sleep. At around this time, our doula’s first client delivered, so she transferred over to our room, and the back-up doula who’d been with us up until this point went home.
At 4:30, the OB came in and said my contractions had spaced out to every 10 minutes, and given the fact my waters had been broken for 12 hours at that point, she didn’t want to waste any more time. She suggested a low dose of pitocin, which would require an internal pressure monitor since I was a TOLAC patient. I wasn’t sure about it, but our doula talked me through it, and it seemed like the best option. While the OB placed the internal monitor, she also checked my cervix. I was only 3 CM, 90% effaced, and baby was at -2 station. I was so disappointed, but our doula focused on the progress that was being made and stayed optimistic. Once that was complete, we all went back to sleep, since it looked like we still had a ways to go.
At 7:30, we met our new nurse and OB (another OB within the practice we’d been going to that rotates patients through all the care providers, so I knew her pretty well). The OB said she was happy with our progress overall but that contractions hadn’t become regular or powerful enough for her to want to check me again. The doula agreed it would be a good time to be a little more active, and since my epidural was so light, I was able to sit up in bed in a modified squat position and do Hypnobabies and visualizations. I could feel a lot of pressure in my pelvis, and our doula said that was reassuring, as it meant baby was getting nice and low, and to let her know when I could feel the pressure in my rear end because that meant it was close to go time.
At around 11:30, baby started having late decels. This meant no more squat position and instead a lot of flipping back and forth from side to side, rotisserie chicken style. The OB also wanted to check me to see how things were coming, since lack of progress might indicate we’d need to forego the VBAC attempt. I was only at 5 cm, but baby was at 0 station, which both the OB and doula thought was great progress. The doula thought a side-lying release might be just the thing to knock me into transition, and the OB agreed. So more rotisserie chicken-ing, this time with a leg swung off the bed.
Sure enough, things started to pick up. Even with my epidural, I could feel tons of pressure and contractions, got the shakes, couldn’t eat or drink anything other than water, and felt sick. The doula was pretty sure things were moving along and that rest before pushing was my best bet. I requested to top off my epidural so I could actually sleep, since I felt like complete garbage, and after the anesthesiologist came I tried to nap in between being flipped over every half hour or so and having my vitals checked.
At 2:30, the OB came back because not only was baby still having late decels, but I was now running a low grade fever 22 hours after my waters breaking. She felt reasonably certain the fever was not from infection, but since she couldn’t guarantee it, she needed to check me so we could decide whether I would be giving birth vaginally or via c-section. The check was quick and easy: I was complete and baby was at +2! To my total astonishment and disbelief, it was time to push!
I have to be honest. While I’d planned for a VBAC, worked hard for a VBAC, done everything I could do to ensure a VBAC, I don’t think I ever truly believed I would have a VBAC. Between my pregnancy and birth with Isla and the miscarriages and infertility we experienced trying to have a second child, it was hard for me to believe my body could do anything right in the reproductive department. Especially when my body seemed so reluctant to move labor along, a big part of me had already resigned myself to another c-section. I’d believed it was just a matter of time before someone called it and said it was time for surgery.
Instead, my OB, doula, and nurse all coached me on how to push, and on my next contraction, we got down to business. Pushing was for the most part fun. The epidural was light, so I could feel his position pretty well and had a good idea of the progress we were making as things went along. I knew I was moving him down with each round of pushes, and it was so amazing to know how close he was to being born, instead of waiting for a doctor to confirm after the fact that your baby had indeed been delivered.
At a little before 4 o’clock, the top of Ian’s head was visible, but my fever had spiked just above their cut-off for infection risk. The OB explained that if we waited too much longer, she would have to call in the chorio team to take baby to the NICU for 24 hours of observation, because at nearly 24 hours ruptured with a fever, my risk of infection was high. She said we could do 10 more pushes unassisted and baby would probably have to go to NICU, or she could help him out on the next contraction with a vacuum, get him out right away, and reasonably justify not sending him to the NICU. It was an easy choice.
Two more pushes with the help of the vacuum, and Ian was here and on my chest at 4:01 PM on April 25, just shy of 24 hours after my waters had broken. It took him a bit to get crying, but once he did, he had the cutest little velociraptor squeak. He had a tiny bit of dark-ish silky hair, a tiny nose and chin, and full cheeks just like his big sister and daddy, but I immediately recognized the eyes as being like mine. And when he peered up at me, they were the darkest blue with brown already showing in them. I’m almost certain they’ll be nearly black like mine, too. He was a teeny little peanut of a guy, 6 lbs. 9 oz. and 20.5″ long. His feet were tucked up under him just as I’d been feeling them for the previous 22 weeks or so, my little pretzel.
In other words, he was absolutely perfect.