Even just four days later, I'm having trouble remembering details, so I want to get this written down now before I forget even more.
At my weekly doctor’s appointment Tuesday, my doctor asked about scheduling a c-section sometime after 40 weeks. She said she’d let me go as long as I wanted to 42 weeks but that we should get an OR scheduled as they book up quickly. I choose January 19 – I’d be 40 weeks 5 days then. But then I started praying. I prayed and asked others to pray for labor to begin soon.
I’ve been researching VBAC since after Caroline’s birth and knew that my priority was going in to labor on my own. I had come to peace with the possibility of another c-section, but I really wanted to go into labor on my own to ensure the baby was ready and to give baby the benefit of as many labor hormones as possible.
I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months, but they had been coming, at times in the last weeks, in regular intervals with a bit more discomfort. While I wanted baby to be born soon, I had a few dates in mind that I preferred not to have as baby’s birthday. I didn’t want the baby to be born on Epiphany, January 6, because we like to do a final Christmas gift on that day in observance of the Kings bringing gifts to the Christ Child. That would take away from a kid’s birthday and vice-versa. Our wedding anniversary is Jan. 7, and though, that would not be as much of a problem, I’d rather everyone have her own special day. Then, the 10 and 11th of January were the days we found out about and delivered the pregnancy I lost. I would have dealt with that had I given birth those days, but I just didn’t really want to. So, that left January 8 and 9 if I wanted to get the baby out sooner rather than later.
The morning of our anniversary, I was home alone. John dropped Caroline at school, and I set to taking down Christmas decorations. I noticed some cramping and would sit down often. I also had some bloody show but not a lot. I knew that could mean labor was coming or it could still be a week, so I tried not to get excited. The contractions continued, so I took a walk around the block to get the mail and see if that would change them at all. Contractions continued, so I called and asked John to pick Caroline up at 1:00 and work from home the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t want him to get all excited yet because I wasn’t positive, but he did come home and work / occupy her for me for a few hours. I rested on our bed through contractions, taking breaks to get things together for the hospital and a few days away from home. I called my dad and sister and alerted them but told them not to get on the road yet. I wanted to wait until the hospital admitted me or my water broke. I called my friend Stancey to see if she was free to watch Caroline for a couple of hours until my sister could get here. She didn’t have her son with her but was getting a pedicure down the street. We dropped Caroline off at the nail salon. John walked in and just sat Caroline down on Stancey’s lap as she sat in the massage chair.
At the hospital, I was encouraged to hear that my nurse had a VBAC herself. We got through a few questions in the triage room and headed to Labor and Delivery. I got settled in the bed there but could not get comfortable with the monitors and being on the bed. I tried to stand and sway through a few contractions but we’d loose the monitoring then. I knew that was a possibility but was not going to refuse continuous fetal monitoring. I got into bed, asked for the epidural and some Stadol to hold me over until then. We did get a shift change of nurses during this time, and I liked my new nurse, too. My contractions were coming regularly, but the baby was still really high. I had a different doctor since it was the middle of the night – Dr. Scheiffer. She broke my water and put a contraction monitor internally. The external fetal monitor was working fine so we didn’t need to place that internally. When I was around five centimeters dilated, I got really uncomfortable – almost like I was having a panic attack. I was freezing, shaking. I was uncomfortable. I just wanted it to all be over. I wondered if that could be transition, but I was only five centimeters dilated. The baby’s heartrate was not responsive during contractions at that point, either, so they recommended a c-section. I immediately said yes. I just wanted it to be over.
In retrospect, I think that panicking my body did was a sign. In the operating room, I could hear the doctor and nurses whispering and talking. I had specified in my c-section birth plan that I wanted to be talked through the operation, so I asked what was going on. The nurse came to my head and said that they got me in just in time as I was near rupture. When the doctor broke my water (it had been broken during labor but the baby’s head sometimes put pressure in areas so that it doesn’t all break), there was blood in the water. She said that indicated either a small placental abruption or the beginning of uterine rupture. Baby is absolutely fine, though, as am I! It seemed like it took hours for them to get to the baby and get HER out. John called it when he saw her! “We have another daughter!” he said. The pediatric nurse came over and introduced herself to me and said she had read my birth requests for after delivery and they would honor all of those. John went with Elizabeth and the nurse to the nursery, and I stayed behind to get sewn up. I was FREEZING! The anesthesiologist was great. I kept asking him to bring me more warm blankets and eventually he brought me a blanket that they hooked up to a sort-of hair dryer and just continuously blew it full of hot air. At some point, someone came in and informed us the baby’s weight was nine pounds two ounces.
I did get warmer in the recovery room. I chatted with my nurse and waited for my baby. I had a slight fever, I think due to being under that blanket, for a little bit, but it didn’t last long. They brought my baby girl, Mary Elizabeth, to me, and she latched on and nursed right away. John called my dad and sister and daddy got there shortly after.
It was such a busy night in Labor and Delivery that there were no Postpartum rooms available. They cleaned up my labor room and put us back in there for the night. It was a nice big room, so it was good to be there for a while. In the early afternoon, they removed my IV and catheter. I was able to walk around a bit then. I had a few visitors in my labor room before we were moved to the postpartum wing (and smaller room) just before 7 p.m. shift change. My recovery went well, and we came home on Saturday.
We are doing great! We are so much more confident and relaxed with this second baby, and I think our state of mind makes it easier.