The following is Christi’s birth story, a natural hospital VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Christi’s Birth Story – A Natural Hospital VBAC
Before the birth of my second child, I did all kinds of research and mentally prepared myself to have an all-natural VBAC. I was super excited to do this! I read every single post on the birth process on Mother Rising and watched all kinds of birth videos.
On the morning of June 10, 2018, my water broke at 2am while I was in bed, half awake, feeling some mild contractions. It felt like a little bubble inside me just popped. Immediately, I got up to go to the bathroom and it gushed out. My mucus plug came out, too.
I had a surge of adrenaline as I realized this was it! (I thanked God I didn’t have to get induced because I was already 6 days “overdue”)
After that I went back to bed to see if I could just fall back asleep. Labor quickly followed with consistent contractions coming every 3 minutes. I tried resting in bed but the contractions were way too strong to really do that, so I texted my mom, Joy (my doula), and Krista (back up doula) to let them know. (Laboring in bed on my side was painful on the back, probably because baby girl was still sunny side up.)
The Birth Team Arrives
My mom arrived around 2:45am, Krista came about 4:30am, but Joy wasn’t responding to my texts.
I labored mostly on the ball, and Mom and Krista did counter pressure on my lower hips. I also did hands and knees with Krista using her robozo to see if baby girl would turn.
Things felt like they were moving quickly! Contractions got longer, more intense, and closer together. A few times I had 2 contractions back to back with no break in between. I was able to stay focused and calm as things progressed.
We finally got a hold of Joy and she arrived about 7am. I was wondering if my contractions were close enough together to go to the hospital!
The whole stage of labor at home seemed to go really fast! In my expectations I had braced myself for an experience that would drag on and on. (And that’s not how it felt at all.)
We had wanted to labor at home as long as possible to avoid any interventions from the hospital staff since this was a VBAC.
I Think We Should Go!
Joy was with us for about 30 minutes before we decided to head to the hospital. I had a contraction that double peaked and said, “I think we should go!” Joy sat in the back with me in the car and helped me get through the drive. I was pretty sure I was in transition or very close to being so.
Upon arriving at the hospital, (around 7:45 or 8am) I was pretty much in the zone at this point and barely registered what was going on around me. They wheeled me up to 2nd floor and got me in a room right away. My husband gave them my birth plan and made it clear we wanted a natural birth with no medical intervention if possible.
An Early Urge to Push
I now was having contractions that made me want to bear down at the end of them. They had me pee in a cup, then everything seemed to go fast after that. Julie, the midwife, asked if she could check me because I’d said “I feel like I gotta poop.”
I managed to get to the bed and she said I was at 8cm. A nurse put in a hep lock and a belt for baby’s heart rate. I barely noticed any of this happening.
Most of the hospital staff just kinda left us alone to do our thing at this point, which was nice! They later told me they felt comfortable doing that since I was in such good hands with two doulas and a supportive husband.
Contractions were SO powerful. I had nothing on from the waist down but I didn’t notice or even care at this point! I knelt by the bed, did hands and knees on the bed, sat on the ball, leaned on the ball on the bed, squatted, etc, in effort to try to find a good position.
Nothing felt right. This was so hard. And intense. And exhausting.
The urge to push was so powerful, I couldn’t stop it. I felt like I was just along for the ride and I didn’t have a choice. Thankfully, the midwife checked me again and said I was complete, so we could start pushing to get baby out.
- The first position I tried was lying on my back/side with them holding my legs way back to open my pelvis.
- Then I tried hands and knees.
- Then they brought up the bar at the end of the bed and I squatted while holding the bar, but this was so physically taxing that I had to stop. (And I wasn’t excited about squatting because I remembered what I’d read on Mother Rising about squatting!)
Instructions were coming at me from the birth team: “Curl around your baby as you push! Tuck your chin! Breathe for your baby!”
As I felt a contraction coming, I would start shaking my head no, almost resisting it. My doula would say, “Nod your head yes, this is a good thing! This is bringing you your baby!”
She also said things like, “Pretty soon you’ll be holding your little girl! You’re almost there. God had this ordained from the very beginning. He knows everything about her little body and yours. Keep going.”
Then they had me prop my feet on the bar and lean back while I pushed. I was pushing with all my might, wondering why this was so hard and why baby girl wasn’t coming out.
A Big Difference
Joy told me to wait to push through the contractions until I reached the peak. Before, I’d been pushing as soon as I felt it coming. This made a big difference. I could feel baby girl more at my vagina now instead of this just feeling like a huge bowel movement.
It started to burn. Midwife Julie told me she needed to check to see where the baby was, so she waited til the contraction ended and checked. “Yep, she’s right there! We need to get her out.”
I was struggling to get a breath. The contractions were so powerful and close together there was no rest in between. I found myself gasping for breath and feeling like I didn’t have control over my breathing anymore.
They put an oxygen mask over my face to get more air for the baby, but this made me feel so claustrophobic that I found myself trying to rip it off.
Julie told me calmly but seriously, “Her heart rate is lower than we’d like. We really need you to push to get her out.”
I was so exhausted and just wanted this whole thing to be over! I know I even commented out loud, “I’m sooooo tired.” Here I was pushing with all my might, I just couldn’t imagine pushing any harder.
Joy prayed out loud at one point. I thought to myself, I didn’t come all this way and do all this work just for another C-section. No way! This motivation kept me going.
As I would push, they would see her head appear and start urging me enthusiastically to keep going. Each time I pushed and she didn’t come out, I felt this horrible sense of disappointment because I knew I’d have to do it again…and it was so HARD. It was exhausting.
Finally, they tied a sheet to the bar and instructed me to pull on the sheet as I pushed instead of pushing my weight into my feet and hands (as I was holding on to Dave and Joy). I was supposed to “curl around” as I pulled the sheet and pushed with my body.
Joy instructed me to release the tension from my face and let it flow through my bottom instead, so I didn’t lose energy unnecessarily.
The noise of everyone got louder as I got closer. Everyone was urging me on, to keep going, you’re almost there! I let out a big scream as I pushed with all my might. As I felt a contraction coming, I gathered every ounce of strength I thought I had left, prayed out loud, “God, help me!!” And pushed as I screamed and everyone else gave a huge cheer.
I felt it burning and burning but could feel her slip out. I thought I was done so I paused in my pushing. “Keep going!! One more!!” It felt like everyone was yelling and cheering. So I gave one more great push and felt her come all the way out. Immediately there was relief from the pain and pressure, and I lay back, gasping for air.
I was so relieved it was over! They placed my sweet, wiggly baby girl on my belly and waited for the chord to stop pulsing before asking if we wanted to cut it. Then we got my shirt and bra off so we could get her latched on.
I had to give one little push to get the placenta out, but that was super easy, thankfully. Then they pressed on my uterus, which of course didn’t feel so great.
They determined that I had quite a bit of tearing that had occurred (apparently her elbow tore me up on the inside before she even came out) so they spent a while fixing me up down there and while I was doing skin to skin.
Baby Alyvia was actually born with her arm up over her face, as if she were patting herself on the back. This is why it was so difficult to push her out, but no one realized this until she actually came out that way.
Later a nurse told me, “Well, there’s no doubt your pelvis would be able to deliver a big baby, because the way she came out was like pushing out a baby and a half!”
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I’m so thankful to have had a resource like Mother Rising to educate myself ahead of time.
And I LOVED having a doula. I plan to have a doula for any other births in the future. The support and knowledgeable feedback a doula offers is amazing in the labor experience!
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