You might remember three years ago when I raved about my labor/cesarean experience that brought Greta into the world. Well this time was even BETTER.
Let me begin by saying how grateful I am to my OB, who will never read this blog post. My goal for this birth before I was even pregnant was to have a successful, drug-free VBAC. Preparing for such an experience led me to read a lot of traumatic hospital birth stories; a lot of accounts of unsupportive, sometimes downright mean doctors and hospital staff who left women feeling cheated, bullied, and ultimately robbed of the birth experience that they wanted and deserved. I never, ever encountered this from my doctor. He was supportive from beginning to end, giving his opinions and advice without being threatening and leaving all decisions ultimately up to me. He didn’t go on and on about the risk of uterine rupture during VBAC—in fact, at the very beginning he said there was no reason I shouldn’t try for one because I had no extra risks for uterine rupture in the way of thinning and that my incisions were great. I feel like with all the horror stories out there of Big Meanie Doctors I was very fortunate to have the prenatal experience that I did.
And now, here’s the birth story:
My doctor and I had "penciled in" a c-section for the day after my due date because it was a scheduled surgery day. He wanted us to have a bail out plan, but at every appointment he said he hoped he'd see me at the hospital soon. But he kept not seeing me there because no matter how hard I tried, I just wouldn't go into labor. The day before my last doctor appointment before my due date (when we were going to talk about whether or not to go through with the c-section) Martin and I got a 24 hour stomach bug--nothing major, but the next day I didn't really think it would be very considerate of me to go spread my germs to all the doctors office staff. So I called to reschedule the appointment, and try to reschedule my cesarean--which the nurses told me I couldn't do. I tried really hard to remind myself that they didn't know the full story, they didn't know that the cesarean was penciled in, etc.... but still, I was beginning to freak out a little bit... especially as time went by and it was the afternoon of my due date before I heard back from anybody about it. But, the "anybody" happened to be my doctor calling me and telling me that I absolutely did NOT have to have a c-section the next day if I didn't want one, but that if I did want to go that route, I was welcome to keep my noon appointment. We talked over pros and cons, I talked with Martin, I scheduled a regular appointment for the next day, therefore cancelling my scheduled c-section, and less than 24 hours later my labor began.
Funnily, this labor was an exact mix of my Anja and my Greta experience. My water broke as I got out of bed on Thursday morning—exactly the way it did with Anja, I just happened to be getting up a couple hours later. So there I was, stranded on my bed having the most massive amounts of liquid imaginable pouring out of me, Martin downstairs and me unable to shout for him because the girls were sleeping right there. Eventually I was able to waddle downstairs and get a towel to sit on. I had a cup of coffee and my contractions started up right away. Our “plan” had been to labor at home for a long time. And I did for awhile—and I took a shower (best thing ever)—but then Greta woke up and my contractions were coming really close together though they weren’t incredibly intense yet, but at some point it occurred to me that I would much rather labor someplace else, where there would be a designated custodial staff to clean up my leakage, rather than have my amniotic fluid pouring out all over my house. So we called The Grandparents to come be with the girls and Martin and I headed off to the hospital.
Early labor went really well! Everything was looking good and my contractions were working very efficiently, though they were super long and super close together. As I was getting ready to go back to the shower for awhile the anesthesiologist came in, who happened to be the same doctor who administered my epidural with Greta. (Really nice lady!) She was going off to surgery and had come to offer me an epidural before she went. At this point my contractions were lasting four minutes and coming a minute apart, so it didn’t really take a whole lot of arm twisting before I agreed to have one. So there went my chance for a drug-free birth, but I didn’t really care because Martin and I had a pretty fun and relaxing afternoon. We just hung out and were happy all day. It was kind of like an all-day date! And while the epidural dulled the pain, it didn’t take it away completely so I was still able to concentrate and make progress all day long. It was awesome! Eventually in the afternoon I got to 8cm.
And then I stopped.
And I stayed at 8 for hour after hour as evening came. And during one check he said the baby was getting a pretty big conehead, and it looked like it wasn’t going to be able to make it through my pelvis. Again.
My doctor would have given me more time if I had asked. He had been so optimistic and supportive all day long, but the conehead thing kind of did it for me. That, and the fact that it was getting late and I was starving and I just wanted the baby out and, you know what? I’d given it a really good shot. I feel like I did a really good job making labor work for me. I read a lot of stuff throughout my pregnancy about laboring for a purpose and I applied all the techniques I knew and they worked all day up to that final point. And I have a feeling that even if I had dilated all the way, that baby never would have been able to get through.
My doctor didn’t do the surgery, but the doctor who did was really, really nice. Much like with Greta’s birth, the operating room had a very pleasant, birthday party kind of feel to it. I don’t know if any of those nurses and doctors actually do care, but they ACT like they care about what’s happening, and that means so much. And when the doctor pulled her out through the whole in my abdomen and announced she was a girl, the next thing I heard him saying to her was “hello, sweetheart!” and it made the experience that much nicer.
I love cesareans. I love the feeling of having almost-total numbness but still being able to feel what they’re doing to you as they slice away your internal layers and then pull out a baby. I’d forgotten how cool it is.
Still, it was too bad I didn’t get my VBAC. The day afterward the doctor who did the cesarean came in and he told me all about how optimistic my doctor had been about the whole thing, how he’d been calling him to update him with every development and how hopeful he was that it would work out in my favor. Isn’t that so nice?!
And so, once again, I don’t feel cheated or betrayed or mistreated in any way. I feel like we all gave it a good last shot and it just wasn’t meant to be.
Hooray for happy endings!