Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Whole Story

It's a long one, and it's one of those stories that could have had a very different ending if any one little detail changed.  If you make it to the end, you should get a prize :)  I'm very relieved that it all ended the way that it did with a healthy baby and mama first and second with the successful VBAC.  I'm not sure I can completely explain why it was so important to me to try for the VBAC, but before I tell the story of our newest little one's entrance into the world, I'm going to try.

My first pregnancy, in a lot of ways was about fear.  Fear that something was going to go wrong.  Fear that at any moment our dream could be over.  Fear that we might never be parents.  Bean's birth wasn't much different.  Our doctors instilled fear into us.  They were vague about the results of our non stress tests.  They made it sound like hitting 41 weeks would be dangerous.  I was scared and wanted to make sure our baby made it into this world safely, so against my gut I let them induce me at 40 weeks 6 days.  And as the induction went along, I slowly gave away any control that I had because I just wanted to have my baby be alive.  I was so scared all along the way.  Then after she was born, I was scared of what was happening to my body.  I was so sick from the anesthesia and things they pumped me full of when they determined that I was anxious during the delivery, without consulting me.  I was scared to move around, scared to take a shower, just really scared of how to help my body heal and take care of a little baby.  It was the happiest time of my life, but there was a film of fear that covered all of it.

I guess I should have taken that experience and found myself a new doctor right from the beginning this time, but honestly, I didn't really think I had much choice. I thought I'd end up with another c-section.  So as time went by and I realized I had options, and it got farther into my pregnancy, and it seemed like my doctors were supportive, I didn't know what else to do but just stay.  Which I shouldn't have.  They were not supportive, they just claimed to be and this time around I didn't want to be afraid all the time.  I didn't want to let them tell me how to feel just so they could make their lives easier and schedule my babies birth.  I have never been in control of how my babies were created but this time I had a small shot at determining how this one came into the world and I wanted to try.  That decision was made with a lot of research, thought, and discussion with medical professionals.  It wasn't taken lightly and if at any moment it looked like there was any reason to go another direction, I would have done it in an instant.

Needless to say, I was relieved when I started having contractions early Tuesday morning.  By mid morning they were about 5-8 minutes apart and I called my doctor because they wanted to be cautious and have me come in early because of the VBAC.  They told me to come into the office and of course, I got to see the idiot doctor.  He saw that I had a scheduled c-section on Wednesday and didn't bother to look at or remember anything else about me, so he quickly just said they'd send me up to the hospital and do my section that day.  I quickly reminded him that I wanted to try for a VBAC, which was fine until I told him that since I went into labor, I wanted to cancel the section scheduled for Wednesday morning.  He didn't like that one bit and told me that it wasn't safe to go past 41 weeks, that most places won't let you go past 40 with a VBAC (which isn't true).  I told him that if I hadn't delivered by then I wanted to wait until at least the end of the week and that's when I found out the truth.  He didn't want to wait because he didn't want to mess up his schedule.  None of my doctors were working on Friday so he said that would be impossible.  I essentially told him that I didn't care if one of my doctors was available, that I'd take whoever was and that I wasn't going to have the section the next day.  At this point it was clear he was annoyed with me and sent me to the hospital to be monitored and discuss the rest of it.

My other doctor was at the hospital when I got there and got me on a monitor to see what was going on.  Of course as soon as I got there my contractions slowed down.  We walked the halls for a couple hours, and in the first hour I dilated another centimeter and was at 3.  The problem was that my contractions only really picked up and got strong when I was walking around, not when I was on the monitor.  So nobody really believed I was close to being in labor.  My doctor wanted to break my water and start Pito.cin but I told him I didn't want to do that, that I wanted to go home.  Everyone agreed that I could but only if I came in the next morning to get checked again, so we headed home.  Little did I know at that time, but they didn't just schedule me for a check the next morning, they scheduled me for an induction, completely against my knowledge.

That afternoon I did a lot of walking, bouncing on the exercise ball, essentially anything I could think of to try and get labor going faster.  Nothing seemed to be working, my contractions were the same.  We went to bed around 11 and a half hour later I started feeling really strange.  Then I started getting nervous and worried that I was crazy for laboring at home at this point when I'd had a previous c-section.  I started to really scare myself so I called my doctors office to tell them I wanted to come back to the hospital and as I was talking to the answering service, my water broke.  Which explained the weird feeling.  Back to the hospital we went.

Now the first important piece of the puzzle fell into place when we first got to the hospital.  We were lucky enough to get an amazing nurse (I'll call her B) who was fully supportive of the VBAC.  She put me on the monitor for awhile and then let me walk the halls.  That lasted for maybe an hour when my doctor called and found out I wasn't on the monitor all the time and told them that I had to be.  Which was discouraging.  My contractions slowed when I was just sitting around and I didn't want labor to stall.  I talked to B and she said that while I had to be on the monitor, I didn't have to be in bed.  So I paced the room, bounced on the birthing ball, rocked in the rocking chair, did squats, anything I could.  Every couple hours a resident would come check me and the most I dilated to during the night was 4 cm.  I was discouraged.  The resident kept checking in with my doctor and offering Pito.cin but I wasn't ready yet.  B offered me multiple natural methods to try to get labor going and they seemed to work in making the contractions stronger but not closer together.  B also told us that our doctors group was not very VBAC friendly.  That they might claim to be but then they did everything possible to try to keep it from happening.  I felt like they had pulled one over on me, and I wasn't happy about it.

The next morning before B left, we talked about what to do next.  I decided that when my doctor came in I would ask for some pain medicine to get some rest and then start some Pito.cin.  Not a lot, just enough to see if it would help without risking anything.  B headed home but said she had a shift later that night and would be back.  My new nurse was just as wonderful (we'll call her A) and I knew her opinion of my idiot doctor immediately when she came to "warn" us that he was on his way.

I wasn't prepared for what happened next though.  He waltzed into our room, cup of coffee in hand and said "So, are you having contractions?"  Now, this is not the best question to ask a woman who has been fighting through the pain of contractions for the last 24 hours.  Of course I'm having contractions.  Unfortunately, in my attempt to keep labor going, the contractions weren't showing up on the monitor because I was moving around so much.  And if it wasn't on the monitor, then he didn't believe it was happening.  He then started ranting about how he wasn't going to start Pito.cin, he wasn't going to do anything.  He was going to preform a c-section and that's all there was to it.  That they had given me more flexibility then they should have, that the hospital policy is for VBAC's to not go past 40 weeks (not true), that my labor was stalled at 4 cm just like my first pregnancy (which he determined without an exam), that the baby was too big (also no exam), and that he wouldn't risk a rupture and the life of my baby.  The way he spoke to me, took my breath away and now that I'm a week out, I have a million things that I would have said if I had been able to think of them.  Instead I told him that the last thing I would ever do would be to risk my baby and that I wanted the pain medicine so that I could get some rest and consider my options.  He agreed "if I was really in that much pain" and left the room.  

Hubby and I just looked at each other and I started to cry.  Not about the VBAC, at that point I figured that was a lost cause.  I was crying because I deserved to be treated better.  Just because I had somehow wounded his ego the day before, did not mean he could speak to me the way he did.  I cried because the idea of having that man cut me open, made me physically ill.  The idea that he would be the first one to touch my baby.  Moments later A came back in to check on us.  She apologized and said she hadn't realized our doctor was in the room or she would have come with him.  I finally got the guts I should have had months ago and asked her if there was any way at this point in time that I could get a new doctor.  She got a big smile on her face and said that she had just told someone that she wished I would ask for a new doctor.  She said that the chief of OB was on call that day, that she was very VBAC friendly, and that she would surely take over my care.  Then A took off to make it all happen.

About an hour, maybe an hour and a half later after a visit with the patient care liaison who interviewed us about what happened, some calls to some bigger chief in the hospital and coordination between my idiot doctor and the new one, we had a new doctor (Dr. G).  She was AMAZING.  I can't even tell you what a difference it was.  First of all she actually examined me.  I was at 5 cm and she said that baby wasn't big.  She looked at the monitors and all of my stats.  She said that the baby and I looked great, there wasn't any reason to stop trying for the VBAC and that she would do whatever she could to help me.  She explained the idea of using Pito.cin more, talked about the risks and benefits, and let us decide what we wanted to do.  I choose to go ahead with the pain medicine I had talked about earlier to get some rest, and start the Pito.cin.

An hour or so later I was at 6 cm and the pain was getting pretty bad.  I always wanted to try to make it through labor without an epidural but since both times I had Pito.cin, I just haven't been able to do it.  I was worried that the epidural would stall things but within an hour I was at 8 cm and another hour or so and I was at 9 1/2.  It took awhile after that to get to 10 and Dr. G had to head home because her shift was over and her husband was actually in the hospital, otherwise she said she would have stayed.  The doctor who took over was fine though and the resident who had been with us all day was still there.  Finally it was time to start pushing.  Unfortunately, at this point my epidural had stopped working on one side (the same thing happened with Bean) and the resident realized that the baby was actually sunny side up and cocked off to the side.  My temperature was also starting to rise and my water had broken about 18 hours before.  I saw the look that the resident gave the doctor and I knew what it meant.  She was skeptical about this actually ending as a successful VBAC and I started doubting it a bit too.

They had me try pushing a few times and I was struggling.  We all decided to turn off the epidural completely.  I could feel everything a lot better but the pain was overwhelming.  The contractions just didn't stop.  It was one continuous contraction with highs and lows.  They kept telling me to push with the contraction but I couldn't figure out when to do it.  I remember crying and telling hubby that I couldn't do it.  That I'd tried so hard but I had failed.  And then out of nowhere, B came into the room.  She was back for her second shift and while she clearly had other things she was supposed to be doing, she choose to stay with us instead.  She told me that she wasn't going to let me give up now, that I'd come this far, and that I could do it.  She helped me figure out how to push, and except for a time when she had to leave, I started making rapid progress.

After she came back I really started moving fast.  The next thing I knew, the baby was on it's way to being delivered.  I remember hearing them all telling me to push and how excited everybody was.  I remember pushing so hard that she was born before they could get the doctor in the room and that I didn't even have the chance to stop when they told me to.  She came flying into the world and she was perfect in every way.  I on the other had had taken a beating.  I don't know if it's just my body or the way she was positioned, but I had a lot of tearing and it took them quite awhile to stitch me back up.  Even with all that though, it was so different then after my c-section. I felt like myself, I got to hold her and nurse her and be with her from the moment she was born.  I remember it all and I wasn't afraid.  It was the hardest thing I've physically ever done, but the fear wasn't there.

The rest of our hospital stay was quite short and uneventful.  Our favorite nurses stopped by to check on us and I thanked them over and over.  If it hadn't been for them, I don't know if I would have made it.  All the nurses who came in to take care of me knew about our situation and congratulated us for standing up for ourselves.  The whole thing was kind of surreal.  I'm the kind of person who usually goes by unnoticed, so to have everyone on the floor know who I was, was a little strange.  Dr. G agreed to take me on as a patient from here on out and I called my old doctors to get all of my records.  I heard one of their voices in the hall the day after the baby was born and that's as close as I need to come to them ever again.

Today it's a week since all this happened.  A week since our new little baby was born and I'm over the moon.  Bean is an awesome big sister.  There has of course been some roads bumps as she gets used to sharing us, but it's been going well overall.  I just feel like I'm living a dream.  I can't believe that we made it through the baby making process again.  I can't believe that we're a family of four now.  But I am loving every minute of it and I have to say that feeling physically so much better this time makes it even easier to just soak in all the wonder of it.  Finally, my body figured out how to do something right.


  1. In so glad you are feeling better this time!! Congrats on baby girl and on standing up for yourself!!

  2. HOORAY! Way to go, Mama! Good for you for standing up for yourself, and advocating for the birth that you wanted. So happy for you. :) :) :)

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your birth story! I'm so glad you told the WHOLE thing. First of all, I'm so sad and sorry about your experience with your doctor! How awful. I cannot imagine being treated like that, especially during labor! I teared up when I read that you requested a new doctor and that she was VBAC friendly. Hurrah! I so admire your courage and the way you advocated for yourself and your baby. The last line about your body figuring out how to do something right - I wrote a post about that very thing. Here it is:

  4. Well done, Mama Bear! :-D
    I am very happy for you- you have seen your dream coming true and you are living it. I am happy you got your VBAC, too, and I hope you are already feeling better. It would have been hard to recover after a c/section with a toddler a home.

  5. Thanks everyone! I know this was super long, and you should all get a prize for reading it! I wrote most of the detail for myself and someday for our little one. I know how easy it is to forget things even though right now I say that I'll never forget a moment of it. I am really proud of how we handled everything and it does just feel like it was all meant to be somehow.