I did it! My baby and I did it! Our newest family member, Farrah, arrived precisely on her due date Wednesday May 13th at 3:44pm via a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). Despite all the bets on a Mother’s Day baby, Farrah decided to be that rare baby who proves the “guess” date right. Onto the birth story.
I had my doubts about my baby being born on her due date. Worst case scenario I imagined my labor would go like my first and I’d deliver a day ahead of “schedule”. So when the 12th rolled around and there were zero signs of labor I took extreme measures…well extreme measures for a big, frumpy, exhausted pregnant lady. I had sex. As a back up, I had my husband employ some massage techniques on labor inducing pressure points on my feet and ankles. I’m not sure exactly which one did the trick but around 4am on the 13th I woke to some solid contractions. I was so excited about them I couldn’t sleep and just lay there breathing through them and bubbling with excitement.
I dozed off and woke up around 6am with Dessa who was bright eyed and bushy tailed and had no idea what the day had yet to bring. I let my husband sleep for a bit while Dessa and I enjoyed some breakfast and play. My contractions were relatively strong (a 3 on a 1-10 scale) but still far apart. Once Jeremy woke up, we kept about doing things around the house and even watched a bit of movie when Dessa went down for a nap. Around 9am, though, the contractions got particularly strong and I decided to take a nap to store up some strength.
I got in bed and put in my Hypnobabies CD. I truly believe those CDs played a major role in moving my labor along; they allowed me to relax my body so that things moved pretty quickly. After lying in bed for an hour, I decided to get in the shower. The strength of my birthing waves by now had moved from a 3 to a 5 so a warm shower seemed appropriate. The shower was amazing and really did ease the pain of the contractions. After my shower, Jeremy called his mom to come hang out with Dessa while we labored on (no pun intended). I also called my midwife to let her know what was going on. She advised us to keep an eye on the contractions and if they didn’t meet the 5-1-1 rule to drop by her office near closing to make a plan for the evening. So we labored on at home.
Jeremy went to get in the shower and he told me to just tell him how many contractions I had while he was in there, not to worry about timing them. As he was getting ready to step in I got the first of level 7.9 contractions (I’m ranking it low because what was to come makes these early contractions seems like cake). The contraction was so powerful I was afraid to be alone with Dessa so I told Jeremy he had to figure something out. He ended up taking a shower with her which she loved and was great because I could focus on managing the pain. It was during his shower that we both realized how far into this labor we were. While he was in the shower I walked around the house – swaying, humming, bouncing on my exercise ball, leaning on the wall, breathing, laughing – and I’d shout to him which contraction I was on while he was in there. Quickly we realized they were really close together, long lasting and intense. In less than 15 minutes I was easily up to 10 contractions.
His mom arrived at our house and by that point I couldn’t even have small talk with her. I remember at one point she was telling me a story and I just had to walk away into another room to be with Jeremy. For some reason it took us forever to get out of the house. Our bags were packed but we kept thinking of last minute things to do and I was overcome with nesting wanting to clean this and that little area of our home. I imagine we left our house around 2pm. I feared the car ride because I didn’t know how I would manage the pain sitting down for a 20 minute car ride. Again, I turned to my Hypnobabies CD and it was truly a lifesaver. The car ride was insanely easy to manage. And by easy I don’t mean I didn’t feel any pain but I was focused and centered and my mind was completely in control. It helped too that we made it to the midwife’s office in about 12 minutes.
I clung to the chants in my Hypnobabies CD. Anytime I felt myself coming close to losing control or getting too emotional or off center, I’d rub my belly and remind myself that the pain was necessary to get my baby into my arms. I reminded myself that the stronger the contractions got the closer I was to holding my baby. I won’t lie – I was shaky from the moment I left my house. I know now I was in transition but then I thought I was just being emotional. The CDs were a key factor in getting me through.
My midwife examined me and with a giant grin announced I was 6 1/2 cm. She told us to go to the hospital and that I could bypass the triage and get admitted right away. She said she saw us having our baby within the next 4 – 6 hours and that she had a few more patients to attend to and then would meet us at the hospital. So off we went. We made it to the hospital in about ten minutes and the contractions kept on getting stronger. As I was getting signed in I couldn’t believe how powerful the sensations were; I felt like they could truly break me. And I mean that literally not emotionally – I really thought the contractions were going to break bones and organs inside.
The woman admitting me was asking way too many questions and suddenly I had to take the biggest poop of my life. I asked her where the nearest bathroom was and she asked why. I told her I had to poop. She said something but I can’t hear a word she says at this point and I had to get my point across and I said, “No listen I have to shit my brains out.” The look on her face changes and she shouts to the triage nurses to get me on a bed and into a room because I’m having a baby. They rush me into a triage room and onto a bed but all the while I’m keep telling them – Look I’m not having a baby, I promise…I just have to shit my brains out. They assure me that’s what the urge to push feels like.
The hospital midwife comes over and they tell me we’re going to a room to have a baby. I get wheeled up in a bed that I refuse to lie down in so I sit instead. Finally in the room, they tell me they have to examine me now since it seems like I have to push so badly. She confirms I’m 10 cm! It blows my mind and just like that I’m ready to push. Somehow I imagined more guidance though I’m not sure from who. I kept asking ok so what do I do and they just said follow your body and bear down when the urge to push comes on. I was like – huh? What the heck is bear down? How do I do this if I’ve never done it before? Some one give me instructions!
So I follow my body’s cues and kneel on the bed facing the back of the bed where your back normally lies. I hold onto the bar behind the bed and have Jeremy push into my back during each contraction. I can’t describe this pain. It’s like nothing ever before yet somehow I’m insanely in tune with it and attentive to what my body needs. My midwife can’t make it yet so the obgyn she practices with arrives and he does a wonderful job of letting me do my thing. He steps back and tells me to just listen to my body. He steps out of the room and I keep laboring.
I almost forgot! Before I turned to kneel on the bed, I was sitting in an almost completely verticle position and having a contraction. I felt like more should be happening but it was just my mind getting confused with all the Hollywood images of labor and what was actually happening. I kept asking them, “Doesn’t anyone want to take a look down there? How will you know to be ready to catch the baby?” So to appease me, the hospital midwife sat on the foot of the bed and leaned over to take a quick peak at what was going on down below. Like a perfectly choreographed movie scene, my water broke all over her. Like not a little splatter but more like a giant water balloon burst into her face. It was hilarious and just what the occasion called for.
So right, I’m bearing down.
The bearing down and contractions are beyond intense now. I feel as though my whole pelvis will burst with the force of the head of my daughter. At the same time I am shocked at the power of my uterus and can’t imagine how any infant can survive the pressure of a contraction. If my head were being squeezed with such intensity, surely I’d be dead. I tell them how it feels as though she is right there and sure enough she’s crowning. They make me turn around to push her out; they tell me she will arrive in this next push. I look in the mirror I’ve requested and can’t quite compute what they’re telling me. All I see is a grayish white thing peeking out a long peep hole – it doesn’t register. So the contraction arrives and I bear down like my life depends on it and then a bit more and she bursts into the world. Her head and very, very shortly afterwards the rest of her.
Then it’s like any other day. I have a baby on my chest and I feel fine, like myself and in the moment and awed. I keep saying out loud, “Oh my God! I just had a baby come out of my vagina!” The two key phrases for the day were “I have to shit my brains out” and “I just had a baby come out of my vagina” I said those two things more times than I can remember. It’s such an amazing experience to deliver vaginally and without drugs. I don’t knock anyone who has a c-section (duh I had one) or who takes pain meds (duh I took them with Dessa) but if you can, I strongly, strongly encourage women to give natural childbirth a try. I am amazed by my body.