While at the hospital with this experience still fresh and only one child is on top of me at the moment. I thought what better time than to write about the last few days.
Wednesday morning I woke up at the usual time of 4:45 am with my husband’s alarm not only contracting. Which had become my normal state of life in the last month of pregnancy. Constantly contracting. But that crampiness you typically get with “that time of the month.” I asked him to stay home. Wednesday was the day. Then the contractions stopped and didn’t start again. This would go on for the next few days. Labor would start. Labor would stop. And I was getting more upset by the minute.
The good thing was that my husband took the rest of the week off and we got almost everything done on my to do list. Including getting the boys back into their room! Hooray.
I felt so confident that Sunday would be the day I went Saturday for a pedicure. Gotta have pretty toes for delivery! Out for Sunday brunch and sure enough contractions started at 8:00 am and hung around. At 11:30 am I began timing them. I was so pissed off at my body I refused to time them until they were strong and close enough to not stop. After an hour of timing and they were about seven minutes apart. The contractions weren’t enough. I was on a hunt for the plug.
With Van’s birth by the time my contractions were coming every five minutes I was already 9 centimeters dilated. So this time we decided to err on the side of caution. At five o’clock when I lost all of my plug my midwife Jessica began to head over to my house. When she arrived I was already 5-6 centimeters. We sat, talked. I ate dinner. She loaded me up with electrolytes. At around 7:30 pm we started out for the hospital. Taking our time we arrived somewhere between 8-8:30 pm. Jessica suggested we walk around a bit before checking in to see if we could get my contractions, which practically stopped on the car ride, closer together.
We walked and walked. I did some forward leaning poses on the damp cement benches and when the contractions didn’t seem to get stronger or closer together. We headed back to the car to try to rest a bit to see if that would do it. Jessica was trying to make sure I was ready for the hospital and the scrutiny that comes with having doctors and nurses on top of you “managing” your labor. During this time the doctor was calling Jessica asking “are you there yet?” What the hell are you all doing out there! I was afraid the prognosis would be to head home with a stalled labor instead of into the hospital to deliver.
After an hour of lying on my side in the back seat of my car I had three very strong contractions. At this point around 11:30 pm I was 7 centimeters, soft and 90% effaced. We headed into the hospital and crying I felt relieved. We were finally having this baby.
I got checked in. Headed to the same water birthing room I delivered Van in and did all the initial monitoring, poking and prodding. I was now 8 centimeters according to the resident. I received my hep lock and my twenty minute strip while Jessica filled the tub. I was now in for the long haul. Everyone was so excited for the water birth that was about to happen. The doctor pulled my midwife aside giddy with excitement over attending her first and the resident asked if she could whiteness as well. There was so much hope and joy.
Contractions on my side. Contractions in the water. Contractions while squatting. Contractions on the ball. Contractions on the toilet. Contractions while standing. Contractions, contractions, contractions. Nothing was moving this labor train along. So when the doctor suggested breaking my water for the second time. Jessica and I conferred and I agreed.
And then there was the meconium.
My water birth was shattered to pieces. I could now labor in the tub but the appearance of meconium meant I would not be delivering in the tub.
And I cried.
Next check, I was still 8 centimeters and 90% effaced. But the concern became the babies head which was sitting sideways (transverse) in my pelvis at a -1 station.
While my body was doing all the work baby Maddox continually kept trying to turn. He was a champ and his heart rate stayed as steady as a galloping horse. Giving the doctor the opportunity to allow me some lee way.
At around 3:30 am with still no more progress the suggestion then became an epidural and pitocin.
And I cried.
The hope being that stronger, more effective, closer together contractions would not only get the job done but almost force his head to turn. I agreed.
From my past experiences I have a very strong respect for anesthesiologists and what they do. They can literally make or break you. The one we got however was a total J.E.R.K.. He didn’t make eye contact. Mumbled his name and instructions into the binder in front of him and when I asked him to wait until the contraction was over to start, he basically told me to just deal with it. “We would get through it.” He got the epidural in and I immediately felt pain in my left side which I would continue to cope with until it was removed hours later. Not only was he a jerk but he also sucked at his job. The epidural did not work properly and 30 minutes later I was still feeling the contractions. The words “this is bullshit” left my mouth more than once since after receiving an epidural I was done with feeling pain. I was ready to be numb. Thankfully the “booster” they gave me through the line was enough to relax my body into strong, steady contractions.
The contractions were good enough that we held off on the pitocin. While my nurse regaled us with stories of VBACs and uterine ruptures…
I held onto the hope that at least I could pull him out and save the tiniest bit of the birth plan I had worked so hard to create.
7:30 am. Shift change. No progress.
By the time the new doctor had arrived I had accepted that this baby would be arriving surgically. I had massive déjà vu to Charlie’s birth where his craniosynostosis kept him from ever even entering the birth canal and I was terrified Maddox might be born with the same condition. I knew by what I was feeling that he was stuck. If only he could turn. He would be out. If only…
And I cried.
The doctor, Jessica and my husband convinced me to at least try the pitocin for a few hours in the chance that it might force him out despite his head position. I agreed. Try everything, have no guilt that there wasn’t more you could have done. By this point I was as ready for the cesarean section as I would ever be. But I tried anyway after a discussion about uterine rupture.
By 10:00 am I was being prepared for the operating room. The only change I had made was for Maddox’s head to tilt into an even worse position. And everyone finally agreed with me. He was stuck.
I cried and cried.
The Universe however has a sense of humor, when who comes walking into the room but the infamous Olga from Van’s birth. We had instant recognition and Jessica, my husband and I couldn’t help but laugh.
I was wheeled into the bright white operating room. Moved. My chest and legs were covered with warm towels since the OR was freezing. They began pumping me full of medication to numb me. My arms were laid out. I was exposed to the world while my world at that time went on around me. I watched everything in the giant overhead lights. Once they finally got the drape up. Jessica and my husband were allowed in. Surgery began with the doctor testing me to see if I was completely numb… I wasn’t.
The original incision sight was numb but everything above it was not. While I was told I’d be numbed from the ribs down. The doctor started anyway while the anesthesiologist pumped more medication into me. The pain was unreal which I very loudly vocalized.
Sure enough Maddox was completely stuck. The conversation between the doctors when something like “we should have done this sooner.” Once they finally wrenched him free him from my body, his first cries where the sweetest sound I had ever heard. His sutures were checked a dozen times and thankfully Maddox was born without craniosynostosis. He was however one ounce shy of 9 pounds! We were expecting a 6-7 pounder. Expectations be damned.
The baby was measured and then whisked off along with my husband, my plans for delayed cord clamping, skin to skin and immediate nursing, to make sure that with the meconium and being stuck that he was okay.
About an hour and a half of putting humpy dumpy back together again and when the doctor was finished he informed me that an artery on my left side had been cut and that I had adhesions on my right side. Scar tissue from my uterus attached itself to my bladder which was causing the pain on the right side I had been feeling throughout the pregnancy. When I had asked Jessica if it could have been adhesions, only a week prior, while she did not think so, It was again reaffirmed how in tune with my body I really am.
Finally the baby was brought to me in recovery desperately looking to nurse. He latched on like a pro and eventually we were brought to our room where I would begin the recovery process.
My midwife commented on how sometimes when we go through a traumatic experience, the Universe sees fit to have us relive that experience but only in a much more positive light in order to really, truly heal from it. This labor and delivery were so similar to my first and yet so completely different.
Although this delivery was about as far from my vision as it could possibly could have been. The second VBAC isn’t supposed to go like this! When it really comes down to it, I was respected the whole way through. Decisions weren’t forced upon me, they were offered and only seen out with lengthly considerations and my consent. At the end I did not feel traumatized or victimized like I had the first time. I had doctors willing to do whatever they could in attempts to realize the birth I wanted. It was only when that birth was clearly not possible that we went forward into the operating room. My mantra throughout this pregnancy and delivery becoming; I can’t complain.
I might not have gotten everything I wanted or even expected but in the end I had to accept that which I could not change nor control in a situation where there was literally nothing I could do to change or control what was happening.
Emotionally I feel good about the roller coaster that became the birth of my third child. Physically, I have a lot to heal from. With his head stuck in my pelvis, during the twenty hours I labored naturally, all of the pressure was put right on one specific spot in my back. The surgery itself was incredibly painful as well but I’m alive. Our baby is healthy and I have three amazing men taking care of me while I heal.
I wish I was one of those women who had easy deliveries. Who had them go as planned. Unfortunately I am not. But while plans may change what is important is that a woman’s dignity and respect do not go out the window with them.
I was waiting for my husband to bring the car around when we were leaving the hospital after four long days. I was talking to a woman who told me that having all sons in her country meant that I was a strong woman.
I couldn’t have agreed with her more.