Some months ago, I shared my birth experience from my first son, and I announced that I was going to attempt to have a VBAC with my third child. Both of my other pregnancies were C-sections, which made a VBAC an unlikely option.
I would like to announce that despite the pushback from my medical team, who offered little support and appeared to simply be humoring me, that my son and I accomplished what my doctor believed I could not. My third child was born by VBAC on April 6, 2011.
It wasn't easy, and I have to say that there were a few points where I was almost ready to throw in the towel. But I'm SO GLAD that I didn't. It was worth it.
I was starting to worry because my due date was April 3, and there were no signs that I was going to go in to labor. What if the baby got too big? My last son had been 9 lbs 8 oz, and he was 2 weeks early. I started doing everything I read about to try to induce labor: walking, sex, spicy food, you name it. The only thing I read about that I didn't try, because I was just SURE that it wouldn't work was castor oil.
And then, after a long day of self-pity because I was still pregnant and knowing the next day my doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to see how big the baby was, and try to talk me in to scheduling my c-section, I caved. The worst thing that could happen from castor oil was some scary bowel movements, right? So when my husband got home from work, I announced my plan. He thought the same thing I had thought: it really didn't seem like it would work, and would just make me uncomfortable. BUT PEOPLE, I WAS DESPERATE!!
I took the castor oil at 7pm, and waited impatiently for something to happen. By the time I went to bed at 11, I was sure that it wasn't going to do anything at all.
Then, at 2:30 in the morning, the pain started. I thought it was all just from the stool-softening effects of the castor oil--I really didn't think I was experiencing labor pain at all. But after several lovely trips to the bathroom (because yes, it REALLY DOES work for that purpose), I realized the pains were a little...regular. So I timed a few. Five minutes apart. Hmm. Then, there was the famed "bloody show." At which point, nearly giddy with fear and pain and excitement, I was truly convinced that I was having contractions. I danced around the house, stopping to breathe through contractions and wondering when I should wake up my husband. At 5:30, I decided he should probably get his butt up and start helping me get ready to go to the hospital.
By 7 when my husband's parents came to take our other children, my contractions were 2 minutes apart. My mother-in-law was convinced the baby was going to arrive on the way to the hospital. I wasn't so sure of that, but I was definitely convinced that this would be my baby's birthday!
When we got to the hospital, I was still only 2 cm dilated, but my contractions were strong and regular and I was 80% effaced. After an hour, I was already at a 4 and they officially sent me to labor and delivery. In this span of time, I had to "explain myself" at least 3 or 4 times to nurses and doctors who were curious why I wanted a VBAC. And none of them seemed terribly impressed with my reasoning. But I carried on, making sure I let them know that I NEEDED to be able to walk around this time, and I would NOT be put on a full-time fetal monitor. My nurse was amazingly helpful--even after my doctor said I "had" to be on the monitor constantly, she let me take it off for at least 20 minutes every hour so I didn't have to stay tethered to my bed.
I easily got from 4cm to 7cm within a few hours, but then my doctor decided to break my water and my hall-walking rights were totally revoked. It was at this point that my labor stalled and I sat in the bed, zombie-like, fearful for each new contraction because they hurt so much while I was laying down (my back labor was atrocious!). My doctor was ready to throw in the towel--the baby's head hadn't engaged and I wasn't dilating anymore. My beautiful, wonderful nurse pushed so hard for me to continue; she was really my saving grace.
I had been laboring naturally, and I had just decided to have an epidural. It was no one's choice but my own. None of the nurses or doctors had pressured me, which was kind of surprising...I was expecting to be asked constantly if I wanted one. But I was pretty sure I was getting too tired to continue, and asking for an epidural was my last-ditch effort to fulfill my VBAC dream.
When my nurse heard my decision, she told me she was pretty sure it was all I needed to help me relax enough to go all the way. She was right. It took an hour for me to go from a 7 to a 10 after the epidural was administered. All of a sudden, it was time to push! I cried tears of joy when my nurse checked me and then clapped her hands and said, "You did it! He's going to be here soon!"
The pushing was SO much harder than I was expecting, even with the epidural. To all of you ladies who do that part completely natural, I salute you. No one can ever know exactly what that means until they have gone through it themselves! I pushed for an hour, and my son was born at 9:30 pm, 19 hours after labor had started.
Judah Patrick was born on April 6, 2011 at 9:30pm. He weighed 8 lbs 3 oz and was 21 inches long.
I owe a very special thank you to my nurse, who stayed 3 hours past the end of her shift to stay by my side and make my VBAC a success. I also owe thank you's to my husband and mother-in-law, who coached me through my pushing at the end, which was definitely the part of the process where I most felt like giving up.
Now that I've had a baby both ways, I can definitely say that VBAC is something every woman should try (as long as circumstances allow, of course). Birthing a child the "normal" way was special. It was empowering. And even though I love all my children equally, I think it formed that initial bond between me and my son slightly sooner that it was formed with my other two children.
If you are planning on trying for a VBAC, be strong and fight for yourself. You will not regret it. (This is coming from someone, by the way, who ended up needing an "abnormal amount" of stitches following birth. So it's not like it was easy or something, hehe).