The birth of baby #3 was going to be my second – and last – attempt at a VBAC. If I couldn’t go into labor naturally on my own, this time around, I was going to commit to c-sections – in order to protect my scar and not risk rupture. I had had two emergency c-sections already (both for legitimate reasons – and different reasons each time), but I didn’t want to be stuck having c-sections if I could help it. There were only two hospitals in the entire Seattle area willing to try the VBAC with me, and Swedish Edmonds seemed very competent and confident that it could be done. They still made me set an “end date” though, and didn’t want me to go over a week late. However, because there was a scheduling snafu, they scheduled me for 9 days late. I found the arbitrariness of it amusing and frustrating. But I had 9 days to work with, so I prayed it would happen! I had never gone into labor on my own before though, so my hopes were low.
I had had many contractions over the last few weeks, and they seemed more frequent and more painful than the last two pregnancies, but I still didn’t get too excited. As I passed the due date and went late, I knew I was following the same pattern. Saturday night, February 18th, at 8 pm, when I was 4 days late, I started having painful contractions – but they were anywhere from 15-30 minutes apart. They weren’t getting closer together, but they weren’t stopping. I could function and talk and do normal activities through them, but, during the contractions, which were at least a minute and a half long, I had to stop and breathe. And I definitely couldn’t sleep through them.
At midnight, I called the doctor to let them know what was happening, just to keep them informed. They had told me they didn’t want me laboring at home, and this didn’t seem like labor, but I thought I’d let them know. They told me I should come in if they even got to being 7 minutes apart for an hour, just because I was a VBAC-er.
After being up until 6 AM that first night, I was miserable enough to go take Tylenol and get ice packs. It was my back that felt the contractions the most, so I put the ice packs on my back, with one on my front. I was exhausted from being up all night. Since the contractions were about 17 minutes apart, every time I’d start to drift off, another one would wake me up. With the ice packs, I got them about 45 minutes apart, and finally went to sleep – for about four hours total. I woke up the next day utterly exhausted.
But the contractions didn’t stop! They continued on, all day, at an average of 12 minutes apart. It was frustrating. We didn’t go to church that morning so I could sleep in, as well as pay attention to the contractions and be closer to the hospital.
Brad and I both used our phones’ timer options where we pressed “lap” any time a contraction hit. They just weren’t really getting any closer together as the day went on. They weren’t fun either, as every single one hit my back with some lengthy pain. I walked, took a shower, and even a lukewarm bath. Nothing helped. I was so tired.
Finally, by early evening on Sunday the 19th, I lost my mucus plug in two bursts. I thought I had lost my mucus plug with Rachael and Rosalie, but this proved I hadn’t. I had never seen anything like this – like a giant bloody slug. *shudder* Getting hopeful, I called the doctor again, and this time got Dr. Randolph Bourne, a male doctor in the practice who happened to be on call that day and the next. He was supposedly great with VBACs, but I had decided against using him during the pregnancy, as I had never had a man doctor and didn’t feel comfortable with it.
He told me that it was a good sign but, unless I was feeling sharp terrible pain in between contractions, had bright red blood, or they got to being 5-7 minutes apart, to go ahead and remain at home. *sigh*
That evening, we were eating our 10 pm meal, and I was trying to figure out HOW, on earth, I was going to get to sleep another night in a row with non-stop contractions, and we were watching a favorite episode of Stargate for fun. My back was so tired out from the pain, at this point, but I knew the contractions HAD to be doing something. Part of me still thought they’d suddenly stop and come to nothing. I didn’t want to hope I was actually going into labor.
During the hour that we ate, I finally hit 7 minutes apart, and then the last couple were 4 or 5! Getting excited, we called my parents, who drove the 20 minutes up from Kirkland to stay with the girls. It was 11 PM at that point, and I was so done. Wanted to actually be in labor and have this baby! The girls were in bed, but not asleep. I said bye to them and opened the door to my parents, telling them they could use the spare bedroom to sleep. Everything had been packed for hours, so I grabbed it all, and Brad and I headed out the door.
We got to the hospital around or just before midnight. Before doing anything else, a male nurse hooked me up to the non-stress test to watch Liliella’s heartrate through the contractions. I was sitting up and leaning forward to take the pressure off my back, but that was cramping her during the contractions, and her heartrate slowed way down. That gave Brad and me bad memories of Rachael’s birth (her heart dipped and stopped and started and they took her by c-section because she was being strangled in her cord). They had me lie back and Liliella did much better, but they still wanted me to stick around for an hour to double check. I was fine with that, and told the doctor so, explaining my history and how nervous her heartrate made me.
I wasn’t comfortable with the male nurse doing a cervix check, so they sent in a sweet older lady. She said I was only 2 centimeters! TWO?! After 28 hours of labor??? I felt like crying. However, since they wanted to monitor me for an hour, she said she’d check me again after that hour to see if I could hit a 3 and stay at the hospital. I was horrified at the thought of being sent home to spend how many more days without sleep and in pain. Plus, I was having contractions every 5 minutes, so I had a hard time believing I wasn’t dilated further.
After an hour, Liliella’s heartrate sounded fine, and I promised myself I wouldn’t bend forward any more in this process so as not to compromise her any. (But, because of my back labor, this was MISERABLE.) I was still only 2 centimeters after an hour (although 80% effaced!), and so they sent me home, telling me to come back if the pain got to a point I couldn’t bear it, if my water broke, or if I started bleeding. I tried not to cry as I gathered my things.
“How am I supposed to put up with this for another night?” I asked. It was past 1 AM. “This hurts in my back a lot, and is coming every 5 minutes!”
“What you have is back labor.” The male nurse told me I could go ahead and do a c-section if I wanted one.
“Oh, man. What a shame that would be. I’ve come this far, and I might actually be going into labor. I wouldn’t stop now!”
Misinterpreting my word “shame,” he argued, “No shame in a c-section! You’ve already done what half the population can’t do: grow a baby.”
I appreciated his encouragement – and there was NO way I thought a c-section was shameful! Had had two beautiful ones myself already! – but I wasn’t going to give up, even if this labor went on forever.
“We could give you a shot of morphine,” he said. “It will take thirty minutes to call that up if you want it.”
Morphine scared me. I’d never had it before, and it sounded extreme at this point. “Did taking Tylenol yesterday slow down my labor? Could I just try that again? It took the edge off the back pain yesterday.”
They promised me it wouldn’t slow down true labor, and gave it to me on the spot. Stupid me – at this point Tylenol wasn’t going to do a thing. But I didn’t know that. 😛
Brad and I drove home, and I just sobbed. I was so exhausted, and disappointed with how slowly I was progressing. In my head, I envisioned an infinite number of days without sleep, and in constant pain.
By the time we got home, I was just miserable. I tried sitting in the bath again, but just sitting was miserable. I was trying so hard to be quiet because my parents and the girls were fast asleep. Brad told me to take my safe antihistamine sleep aid, thinking that would put me out even though I was in increasing pain. I took it, but that just made me drowsy AND miserable. I tried to lie down with the ice packs again, but couldn’t stand lying in a bed. I flung the ice packs off and paced the room in torture.
“We should’ve gotten you the morphine,” Brad said.
“I know! I’m an idiot!” I cried. Not knowing I was in some sort of transition, I thought I still had hours of being at a 2 in front of me.
Brad called the hospital back and told them to order the morphine – that we were coming back in to get it.
“I’ve wasted our whole night. I’ve wasted time and ruined your night,” I moaned, over and over again. Pacing, in the midst of another contraction, I felt a gush. “My water broke!” I exclaimed, feeling hope. “Now they HAVE to admit me!”
We drove back to the hospital, having only been home an hour(!), and this time I wept the whole ride, my back killing me sitting there. Brad wanted to drop me off at the front, but I didn’t want to be alone. As he grabbed my stuff out of the trunk, I put my forehead on the car and cried. I hurt SO badly in my back and bottom. But I wanted to walk. Walking made it bearable.
Not even caring that I was crying, we stumbled back into the ER. Brad thought I wouldn’t want to walk all the way to the maternity ward, so he barked orders to the lady behind the desk. “Get us a wheelchair now!” I’ve never heard him so authoritative. 😛
He rolled the wheelchair after me, but I ignored it, preferring to march down the hallway myself, finding that ever so slightly more bearable. I just about collapsed in the elevator though as the pain ripped through me. It felt exactly like someone was beating my lower back with a metal baseball bat. It was the worst pain I had ever felt, especially because it went on and on, with almost no breaks in between.
I could barely open my eyes because of my exhaustion and the sleep aid, and yet I was in terrible pain and couldn’t sleep. The nice older nurse helped me into a gown, and asked me to lie down on the hospital bed. I’d try, then pop back up again and begin walking in place moaning. Lying down was HELL. Yet they kept making me lie back down.
I was dilated to a 4 1/2! And rapidly dilating further. I most likely hit a 6 or 7 before I got the epidural. After over a day of getting nowhere, now my body was moving FAST.
At this point, I dropped all pretense of politeness. My voice got very soft and rapid. I kept moaning, in a soft weak voice, “Please! Please! I can’t do this. Make it stop. Can I get an epidural now? Where is it? Is it coming? I can’t do this! My back! My back! Please!”
Brad ordered people about and kept trying to comfort me. I really didn’t want him or anyone else to touch me, and I didn’t want to lie down.
The nurse kept saying, “Come on, Rachael. Lie down.” They wanted to keep the monitor on me to watch the baby’s heartrate through the contractions, but I wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that I was having a baby at that point. I felt like I was dying. I told Brad, “This is what dying feels like!”
The only time I remember feeling irritated is when the nurse said, “You have to do this, Rachael. Every other woman does.”
That wasn’t comforting. 😛 Otherwise, everyone was very nice. And they were hurrying fast. I was moving very fast, and they wanted to get that epidural in for me. The only good thing about the excruciating back labor was that I wasn’t once worried about my scar and VBACing – because I felt no pain in the front of me!
They started an IV with some sort of pain med, but it did absolutely nothing. Finally, thirty minutes later, but it felt like three hours, the anesthesiologist with the epidural arrived. I couldn’t even sit still on the bed to get it, and he had to insist I sit back down quickly in between rapid contractions. They had Brad sit in front of me, and he started breathing hard. He hates needles. That was the only time I snapped out of my exhausted moaning, and turned to him. I felt like I snapped into clarity worried about him. “Are you okay, Braddy?” I kept asking him. He insisted he was, and they put in the epidural.
Unfortunately, at first, it only worked on one side! “My right side! My right side!” I murmured a bunch. They had me roll to the side and I prayed it would fully kick in. Finally, I only felt the pain very low in the front, so I upped the level once. Other than that, it worked beautifully, and all pain left me! HALLELUJAH! That’s when the shakes started, which were obnoxious, but I get them every time I give birth – even with c-sections – and I can’t stop them. Just a hormonal reaction I can’t control. I shook until I had to push.
I was only in labor about an hour or two before I was fully dilated and ready to push. They called the doctor and broke down the room. From the ceiling, they pulled a giant object that looked like the steering wheel of a ship. “What’s that?” I asked, feeling like a subject in an alien spaceship about to be probed. They told me it was a light. That thing was HUGE. 😛
Randolph Bourne, the man doctor, was still on call, so I realized I was being delivered by a man after all. Oh well! There were like five people in the room – I felt like I was on display for the whole world! The man nurse, the man doctor, and like three other nurses, all crowded around staring at me, all propped up ready to push. *groan*
The pushing process only took 45 minutes! And, during it, we sat and chatted. Seriously. The mood was so calm and relaxed. He asked me about my hobbies. I told him about my books on Amazon, homeschooling my kids, and teaching piano! Hahaha! They wanted me to wait to push through contractions, but my original older lady nurse would get excited and have me push too early, and the doctor would tease her for it.
“I’m VBACing. I’m doing it!” I said to the doctor, as it suddenly hit me with delight that I was having a baby.
“You did this all yourself. No Pitocin. Good job!” he replied.
That was a pretty good feeling!
I could feel Liliella dropping into the birth canal lower and lower, but there was no pain. It was fascinating. Like having a bowel movement. 😛 At first, I wasn’t pushing quite right, because I couldn’t feel myself push whatsoever. I also would let out my breath when I pushed instead of holding it. I explained I had weight-lifted since I was 12 years old, and always let out my breath when lifting a weight.
“You’ve been pooping even longer,” the doctor quipped. “Do it like that!”
Brad held a leg and the nurse the other, and I got it right. Then I pushed great! Only 45 minutes later, she crowned.
“We see blond hair!” someone called out.
I felt shock at that moment. “She’s BLONDE?” Never had I imagined, with Brad’s dark hair genes, that we’d get another blonde!
“Do you want to see with a mirror? Or reach down and feel?” they asked.
“Noooo,” I shuddered. Ignorance is bliss, in my book. 😛 Brad said later that there was a lot of blood. I’m glad I didn’t look. Haha.
And then she was out! At 7:04 AM! With a cry – that went on for twenty minutes (Baby was grumpy from the getgo 😛 ) she was there!
“Do you want me to put her on your chest?” the male nurse asked.
I had NEVER had that option with the c-sections before, so I was stunned and took a second to speak.
“We’ll clean her off,” he reassured me.
Horrified that he’d think I didn’t want to hold my baby if she was bloody, I quickly said, “No, no! I don’t care about that! Of course I want her on my chest immediately!”
And there she was! Brad cut the cord, and my tiny blond baby was put on my chest. She didn’t want to nurse for a bit, but I tried. She was so precious! Praise the Lord, I made it through 35 hours of back labor, got the VBAC I had prayed for, and had my beautiful, wonderful, miracle of a third daughter! I instantly called my girls in to meet their sister. All the joy!
Liliella Violet – born February 20th, 2017, at 7:04 AM, 7 lbs, 2.8 oz, 19 inches