The day of my due date, I was so over being pregnant. I was uncomfortable, tired, in a lot of pain from endless pelvic pressure, and I was just ready to hold him. My nerves over whether my VBAC attempt would be successful or not were getting the best of me, and I was almost ready to just schedule a repeat cesarean.
The week prior, I spent the afternoon in L&D thinking that my water was leaking (it wasn’t) and after being checked, I was ecstatic to learn I was just over a centimeter dilated and about 50% effaced. For someone whose body did NOTHING on it’s own the first time around, this was beyond exciting. Drew and I decided that we would be induced if I didn’t go into labor by 41 weeks, and scheduled the induction while still remaining hopeful that my body would work on it’s own.Fast forward to my due date. Not a single painful contraction or cramp, no more potentially leaking fluid, Asher seemed comfy in there. I went to my 40 week check up fully prepared to hear that my cervix had just closed back up. Imagine my surprise to learn that I was actually at two centimeters and 75% effaced.
Again, that may not seem like a big deal to some, but to someone who barely even progressed WITH drugs before, it’s a big freakin deal.
My midwife offered to do a membrane sweep (it hurts. a lot.) to try and get things moving. She told me Asher was head down and low, and she had a feeling we’d have a baby by the weekend.Drew was at the firehouse and Aiden was with me so we went to get some dinner before going to my small group meeting that evening. I noticed I was beginning to feel a bit crampy, but nothing major. We arrived at the small group meeting, and I was having what I assumed were contractions. They weren’t super painful. Just irritating and hindered my ability to focus.
Halfway into the meeting, my contractions became a little more intense. I sent Drew a text telling him I was going to head home, let my co-leader know that I felt like I needed to leave, and left. My husband had my fathers-in-law come pick up Aiden just in case (I never in a million years imagined I wouldn’t see him again until we brought his brother home!), and after a hot shower, we climbed into bed to try and rest in between contractions.
I could not get comfortable. The contractions stayed about eight minutes apart the entire night. They weren’t unbearable, but made it impossible to sleep. I don’t know how many times I got up in my sleepy stupor to pee or to pace around the room willing them to get closer/more intense. They didn’t.
Drew woke up, and asked if I thought he should go to work or not. At that point, my contractions were more intense, but further apart. I reluctantly told him to go, but to keep his phone close. The idea of having a quiet house to labor in sounded amazing at that moment. He left, and I waddled out to our living room with some breakfast, a timer, and my birth ball.I spent the entire day moving back and forth from the ball to the couch. I was exhausted, and the ball made my contractions pick up, but as soon as I would lay down they would essentially stop. I don’t think I ever really believed that this was it, and that I was actually in REAL labor. Finally, in the afternoon, I lost my plug and was hopeful that it meant I was making some progress.
Drew got home shortly after, and we decided to go get some dinner and walk around, hoping it would make things progress a little faster. The contractions picked up the instant I sat in the car. Gracious. I struggled to make it through dinner at Jason’s Deli, picking at my food between contractions. (Which were now down to 6 minutes apart.) After dinner, we went and walked around Target. I braced myself against the buggy while walking through each contraction. My contractions stayed around 5-6 minutes apart, but were getting more intense by the minute.
[At some point, I called the midwife, whom I remember told me to wait until they were a little closer together. I also remember temporarily hating that midwife. I do not, however, remember exactly when I called her.]
We left Target and headed home, and I hated this ride even more than the first. We arrived home around 8pm, and I laid on the bed to try and get a few hour’s rest. As soon as I hit the pillow, my contractions became unbearable.
Around 10ish, I got up and told Drew that I thought we should go to the hospital soon. I was losing more and more of my plug, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. Our hospital was 30+ minutes away, so I wanted to go. Even if it meant waddling through my contractions around the hospital.
I called the midwife to tell her we were coming, and texted my mom to let her know she needed to head to our hospital. We gathered up everything and got into the car.Longest drive of my life.
At one point, my contractions were down to three minutes apart and I seriously thought I would give birth in the car. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed my Hubs speeding more than five over until that night.
We finally arrived at UNC Women’s Hospital. I think it was close to or around 11 by that point. Drew drove up to the curb, jumped out of the car, and ran over to help me. We walked inside and he let the guard know that he would come back to move the car after he got me up to L&D. My contractions were still coming steadily at 3-4 minutes apart, and multiple times we had to just stop walking and Drew would literally hold my body up when I couldn’t. We were checked in and triaged. I was only at 4cm, so the midwife said I could be admitted if I wanted. I chose to be admitted and receive some pain meds to attempt to get some rest. We were quickly put into a room, my IV was placed and the monitors were put on my belly. The first sign of a potential uterine rupture in VBACs is the baby going into distress, so I chose to do continuous fetal monitoring. I wanted my VBAC desperately, but I wanted a healthy, safe baby more.The on call OB came in to have me sign the “just in case” forms for an emergency cesarean. I had yet to get any kind of pain meds or anything, and I was still contracting every 4 minutes or so. She proceeded to tell me that I would most likely end up with an emergency cesarean because my VBAC chances weren’t very great.
This infuriated me. I signed the papers as quickly as I could manage so she would get the heck out.
She finally left, and the next hour or so was a blur as my walking epidural was administered. The anesthesiologist was phenomenal. I highly recommend the walking epidural. I could still move and feel my legs, and also the tightness and pressure of each contraction, but with barely any pain whatsoever. It took rolling from side to side a few times but eventually it took all over.
Then the waiting game started. I was told to “rest.” Ha. Eventually, my parents arrived and helped entertain me. Hubs and my Daddy snoozed while my Mom and I chatted endlessly about nothing. I think she sensed how scared I was and knew I just needed to be distracted.
Around 5ish(?) I started feeling like I was peeing myself every time I shifted positions. I thought maybe my water had broken, but it wasn’t constant so I wasn’t sure. Shortly after, I felt this strange gushing feeling. It still didn’t feel like my water had broken, but I knew it was something unusual so I made my poor momma check. She looked only to discover that my bag of waters was bulging in a way that was comparable to a water balloon. So. Freaking. Bizarre.
I called the nurse, who called my midwife. She came in to check me, and as soon as she touched my “water balloon,” my water gushed out. I was also completely dilated. I didn’t feel the urge to push just yet so she had me sit up in my bed with my legs in the butterfly position so I could “labor down.” I sat like this for an hour or so. Somewhere in that time frame, my amazing doula, Lesa Williams, arrived. (If you’re in the NC Triangle area and having a baby any time soon, you should check her out by clicking here.)
Around 7am, nurses and midwives started trickling into my room. The baby nurse came in to set up the warmer, and I think that is when I finally had the ‘holy crap, this is actually happening’ moment. The nurse asked if I was feeling any pressure yet, (I definitely was) and if I wanted to do a few “practice pushes.”
FYI, the term “practice pushes” is stupid. They’re real pushes. There’s nothing “practice” about them.
I did a few, and more nurses and my midwife came in, as well as an OB med student. At some point in labor, you stop caring about who walks into your business, don’t worry.Around 7:45 or so, I started the real thing. Shortly after 8, my epidural wore off. I pushed like a madwoman. I was so freaking determined and I was so freaking exhausted. Drew was still holding me up, physically by helping me lift my head and chest to bear down, and emotionally because he knew I was terrified. He really was my rock. My doula stood next to him with a nurse or two next to her. A sea of midwifes and nurses floated around behind them, and my Momma stood next to me and my Daddy stood above my head, armed with a cool washcloth for my forehead. They both wanted so badly to be present for Asher’s birth, since they weren’t allowed in the OR for Aiden’s.
The midwife insisted at one point that if I looked at what I was doing in the mirror, it would help me have stronger pushes.
I did not want the mirror.
And it didn’t help.
So they put the mirror away, and I started making more progress. Everyone started telling me that they could see him coming and that he had a full head of hair.
And then my Husband asked if he had time to go pee. Yep. Baby’s head is coming out, Husband has to pee. A nurse told him that he had better hurry, and he went. I could’ve killed him. Asher began descending more, and I yelled (the only time I yelled..FYI) for Drew to get back out, and now. He finally did, and I was relieved.
I pushed a few more times, and he started crowning. By then, my epidural was non-existent and the ring of fire is a real thing, people.
There was barely any time between contractions anymore, only just enough to catch my breath. The midwife looked up at me and said, “this one is it, push.” I looked at Drew, waited for the contraction to start, and pushed with all my might.
And at 8:45am, after just over a hour of pushing, he was out.
Another push and the rest of him was out too.
It took a second for him to make a sound, but then he started crying and it was the most amazing sound I ever heard. I reached down and pulled him onto my chest. He immediately looked up at me, and I cried. I was so overwhelmed with love and joy that I couldn’t even really speak. The pain was gone, the exhaustion was gone, and it was the moment that I had spent the previous nine months praying for. We had delayed cord clamping, and then the placenta came out without any issues. He latched on and stayed there while I received a few stitches. He only left my arms for a few moments while he was weighed and measured. All 8lbs, 8oz and 20 inches of him were absolutely perfect. Drew picked him up from the warmer and I watched as his Daddy fell completely in love instantly and shed a tear or two as well.
This birth experience was exactly what I needed to heal from the trauma of my first one. While Aiden’s birth was beautiful in it’s own way, Asher’s was everything I could have asked for and more. The healing processes were night and day different. Ash was born Friday morning, and I was up and going to the bathroom unassisted by Friday afternoon. I took a solo shower Saturday morning. There was no obnoxious swelling, minimal pain, and I was back to “normal” within a few weeks.
PS, in case you wondered, my midwife forwarded my delivery notes to the OB who told me I couldn’t do it.We’re now finally beginning to settle into life as a family of four, and you can follow our daily adventures by clicking here. 🙂