As soon as we found out that we were expecting baby number two, I began to study up. After having a traumatic c-section experience with Oscar, it was important to me to research and do all I could do to have a more positive birth the second time around. I think one of the biggest factors in having a successful VBAC was to have the right support team to work with me. I chose to work with Cynthia, a CNM, and Dr. Brett an OB that practice with the closest hospital. Jeremy read The Birth Partner to get ready for the baby's arrival, and we enlisted the help of a doula, Michelle.
On Monday, January 31st, the day after my due date, I went to an appointment with Cynthia. I was expecting a quick measuring of the belly, listening to the heartbeat and then back home again for more waiting. I was still hoping that baby would come at their own time (and I didn't think that would be for another week or so). Apparently they do a routine ultrasound around 38wks to see if the baby's growing well and I missed mine, so they took me over to the ultrasound room and Dr. Brett did an ultrasound. She was awfully quiet during the ultrasound and told me that the baby was measuring small and that my placenta was old and crusty. (ok.. no one ever said my placenta was old and crusty except me.. but she did say that it wasn't looking good). She said that if they didn't induce me there was the possibility that my placenta would stop functioning and that we could lose the baby. She estimated the baby's weight at around 6lbs and told me to come back in the evening for a non-stress test and to let her know whether or not I planned to be induced.
I cried a bunch because I was worried about the baby and worried about induction (have had a bad experience there before) and went and bought a couple pairs of preemie seized pants and a sleeper thinking I was going to have a teeny tiny baby that would be swallowed alive by newborn sized clothing. (Oscar had some preemie clothes that he fit in perfectly when he was born, and he was 8lbs!) I talked it over with Jeremy and Michelle, and everyone was in agreement that they may be completely wrong, but it wasn't a chance that we wanted to take.
We checked in at the hospital for the non-stress test and talked to Dr. Brett on the phone about starting the induction with a foley bulb. They admitted me to the hospital and Dr. Brett came and put in the foley bulb around 7. The contractions started up fairly quickly, and we spent the evening walking around the 3rd floor of the hospital, wishing we had eaten before we came. The night was fairly awful with rather intense contractions all the way up until morning. We woke up early and started walking the halls again. Things seemed to slow down after awhile and we laid down for a nap. We hadn't really heard anything from Dr. Brett about starting pitocin, and the foley bulb was still in, so I finally talked Jeremy into going to get something to eat. Michelle was in town, but hadn't come by the hospital yet since nothing was happening at the moment. While Jeremy was gone the foley bulb came out and I celebrated by taking a picture of it. I was so excited that finally something had happened! Everyone figured I was at 4cm at least.
Unfortunately, I wasn't. We agreed to go ahead and start the pitocin around noon and I stayed at 3cm all day! It was so discouraging! I was having lots of contractions, but they weren't even as intense as the ones the night before were. Around 6 or 7 Dr. Brett came in and I was still at a 3. She said they would let me go until about 12:30am on the pitocin and then turn it off for the night, let me eat some food (yay!!!) and then give me some sleeping pills. In the morning we would start again at 6am with the pitocin and if nothing was happening by 4 we would be having a different conversation. I was so worried we were headed for the operating room again. I posted to facebook that my labor had stalled and asked for suggestions - and boy was I glad I did! It helped to get all the suggestions and options from people and to know I had so many women rooting for me! Michelle got in touch with Cynthia, who said she had seen a lot of women stall out and then start over in the morning and have a great birth. I labored the rest of the evening with contractions finally getting more and more intense shortly before 12:30. At that time they came in, turned off the pitocin, gave me a couple sleeping pills and I got to eat the best sandwich and french fries ever. mmm. I was so hungry! The sleeping pills knocked me out in no time.
I'm really not big on taking pills (especially when pregnant), but I'm so glad I did. The next morning I felt quite wonky from the pills, but ready to get going again. I was feeling very optimistic because I knew Cynthia would be in to see me and the nurse that came on was my favorite when I had Oscar. Things were definitely looking up!
They started the pitocin and contractions started again. When Cynthia came in I was still at 3cm, so we discussed putting the foley bulb back in while I was on pitocin. We did that and a few hours later (I don't really know if it was a few hours... time that day was very strange and parts just flew by. I'm pretty sure it was a few hours though) I was at 5cm! yay! Celebration! The next conversation we had to have was about breaking my water. I decided to wait a little bit to see if things progressed on their own. Since time was NOT on our side, and our 4pm deadline was looming in front of us, I let her rupture my membranes, fully aware that things were about to get rough.
And boy did they! The next four hours(?) or so were hard, but as long as I stayed in a sit/squat position I could get through the contractions. Jeremy and Michelle stayed by my side and Jeremy put pressure on my back during contractions when I wanted. I have no idea how far apart contractions were because I felt like I blacked out in between and only came to when another one was starting. I think i was at 7 or 8cm the next time Cynthia checked me, and she wanted me to lie on my side for awhile, as my cervix was swelling a bit. I did NOT handle contractions well when on my side and did a lot of screaming. At some point another nurse came in and started getting the room ready for the baby to come. I couldn't stop looking at her and wondering what she was doing and could I really be about to have this baby?? unfortunately there was a shift change at 7 and I probably didn't make the best impression on the nurses that came on with all my yelling. There are hardly any noisy, unmedicated births at that hospital!
The next time Cynthia checked me I still had a lip left and she pulled it back and it was time for Alice to arrive! Everything was sort of a blur, but I remember everyone kept telling me to breathe. They sent Jeremy off to wash his hands (Cynthia game him the option earlier about whether or not he wanted to wear gloves and such) and I knew we were almost done! Shortly after, Jeremy was helping to pull her out (yes, pull her out.. Cynthia doesn't think I can have a baby any bigger than Alice was...) and he got to "catch" her. And then she was on me - all goopy and alive and awesome. We left her cord attached until it was finished pulsing and then Jeremy cut it (he had been a bit worried about cutting the cord, but after catching the baby, cutting the cord seemed like nothing). Alice self-latched and nursed and nursed and nursed.
It was a long 48 hours, but such a HEALING experience! We were so happy with the birth and all the attendants were so cooperative with us - even though we were doing things very different than they were used to. (I talked to one of the nurses later and she said she had read my birth plan and was terrified to do something wrong and upset me! But then she thanked me for the experience, because it was not their normal routine.) I'm so glad we had a birth plan, Cynthia and Michelle. I'm so glad Jeremy read The Birth Partner so that he knew things he could do that would help me and felt more confident in his role. I think those things made all the difference. I have a feeling that even if things had gone differently and I ended up with a c-section, it still would have been ok, just because I was actually involved in the process and decision making this time.
Alice Edith Jones was 8lbs 7 1/2oz and 20in long and was too big for those preemie clothes.