wombatgirl: Dana Lu's Birth Story
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 2:50 PM
"Then the "ring of fire" came on... I could NOT believe
how horrifically painful this was. All of those movies of women
giving birth and stories I'd heard were suddenly so real to me..."
I am still in total disbelief that I achieved a VBAC birth, and also that I went into labor three days before my due date. I totally thought I would be at least a week late and that I would wimp out of the VBAC. With my first pregnancy, I was a week late. I labored, then pushed (for three hours) before we gave up and I had a c-section. The reason was that her head was left occipital transverse -- one of the most difficult head positions with which a baby can navigate the birth canal.
For the recent birth of my second baby, I went into labor at 3 a.m. on December 2, 2008; but I was worried it might be false labor, since I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks. My husband Chris had been up with our 2-year-old, Annelise, the night before (she had a nightmare), so I wanted to wait as long as possible before waking him. After I realized that the contractions were five minutes apart, each was about a minute long, and all together had lasted about an hour, I called the midwife On Call at Mass General Hospital. It was 4 a.m. She thought it was real labor because the contractions woke me up, and I had major diarrhea (gory!). Because I was still worried it might be too early to go into the hospital, she told me to run a bath and immerse myself in it to see how that may or may not affect the contractions. I soaked for an hour, and the contractions stayed consistent.
Annelise woke up from another nightmare at 5 a.m. and Chris went to soothe her. He heard me splashing in the tub and immediately started running around in a happy excited way and gathered my half-packed suitcase (I really thought I'd be late, so I had planned to finish packing later in the week). Then he called his parents to come over and be with (slumbering) Annelise.
Off to the hospital
My contractions became slightly stronger as Chris drove us north to Boston. We arrived at M.G.H. at 6 a.m. A midwife checked me and said I was fully effaced, the baby was zero station, and I was five centimeters dilated! This was quite a shock because while the contractions were strong, they were bearable. This was totally different from my first delivery. With my first baby, I was induced by Cervidil and Pitocin when I was two centimeters, in agony, and asking for an epidural -- the nurses thought I was a total wimp. This time, I was able to withstand the pain until I was seven centimeters before I said to the nurse Dorothy, "I'd like an epidural now!" In conclusion, laboring without being induced was a piece of cake compared to enduring an induced labor.
The nice thing about M.G.H. was that they didn't need to catheterize me when they gave me the epidural, like they did at New York Hospital, where Annelise did. So when I pushed, I didn't feel like I might also push out the catheter or something. And my epidural wasn't one of those push-button ones that I controlled, so it was one less distraction. Also, the midwives and doctors only checked my cervix about three times, versus about 10 times at NYH. My OB came in to see me, which was really nice because I requested a midwife to attend the birth and she totally didn't have to do that.
The midwife On Call, Tina, said the baby was still at zero station, and that she was posterior instead of anterior. She had me lie on my right side to encourage the baby to turn around. It sort of worked, but Dana Lu changed her position several times before being born.
Time to push
At 12 noon, I was fully dilated. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed again, and I was disappointed that the baby wasn't out yet (though probably only 10 minutes had passed, ha ha). I couldn't really feel the contractions at this point. However, the epidural gradually wore off, and I could definitely feel them by about 1 p.m. I could feel myself getting sore and raw from all of the digital exams, and the exertion. I kept pushing, but I think a lot of my pushes were ineffective because I kept pushing down instead of up, and the baby wasn't moving down. We tried every position possible: All fours, straddling the bar, side-laying, etc.
At about 1:30, I became pretty exhausted and discouraged. This was made worse when the midwife said she was a little disappointed that she hadn't seen more of the baby by that point. I was so sad to hear this, but with the next push I actually moved the baby a significant amount. Throughout all of this, the baby's heartbeat remained a strong at 140-150 b.p.m., and Chris was so helpful and strong, constantly coating my head with ice chips, telling me when to exhale, and saying I was doing great.
At 2 p.m., however, I became discouraged again and I said to the midwife, nurse, and Chris: "I give up. I want another c-section." They all looked so sad and crestfallen. The nurse had suggested that I look in the mirror about five times prior, but I was ambivalent because I was so focused on my discomfort (mostly the pressure). She finally brought it to me so I could see Dana's head. This motivated me a little bit, but then I also realized that I was very, very swollen down there from the pushing I had done, and if I had to ALSO have surgery on top of that pain? No way! At this point, I started yelling (I had been trying to be quiet and a "good" patient before this) at Tina, Dorothy, and Chris. For example, I remember saying, "Tina, this REALLY HURTS!!!!! I CAN'T DO THIS!!!"
Getting through the worst of it
Then the "ring of fire" came on just before 2:30... I could NOT believe how horrifically painful this was. Wow. All of those movies of women giving birth and stories I'd heard were suddenly so real to me! I thought of my grandmothers, their mothers, and every mom I knew... my epidural was non-existent at this point. The relief I felt when little Dana Lu finally slipped out was indescribably wonderful. Holding her in my arms immediately after was nice of course.
She was 8 lbs, 15.5 oz, 21 inches. The midwife said if she was just 8 oz less and if her head had done the "banana" thing babies' heads usually do (her head stayed very very round), then I would've only had to push for an hour at the most. I pushed for two and a half hours.
I tore to the third degree (fourth degree is worst), and all of the nurses I encountered were very proud of me when I'd tell them I was a VBAC.
I'm healing really well, so I do think this recovery is better than a c-section. However, if we go for Baby #3, I'm certain that baby will be at least 10 lbs! So maybe I'll schedule a c-section. I don't know yet.
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