|Posted by babybumpdoula on May 8, 2012 at 3:45 PM|
I was designed to be a mom, and had known from a very early age that that was my purpose in life. I was obsessed with pregnancy and birth, and ironically a TV program that ran on Access TV (back in the eighties) specifically about VBAC births. Who knew I would need to recall that info years later with my second child?
My first pregnancy was perfect. I had nothing to complain about, and just adored being pregnant and feeling this beautiful life grow within me. I had waited many years for this, and was taking the pregnancy day by day, enjoying each new milestone. I loved being pregnant! I wasn’t even upset by the fact that I was well overdue until my niece was born. Then I was ready to hold my precious baby. Sure enough the next day, on November 20th I went into labour. No prenatal class, no book, no TV show prepared me for what I was about to go through. I had intense back labour that went on for hours. I finally agreed 38 hours into my labour for an epidural. Five hours after that procedure, having made little progress, the on-call OB thought it best to break my water. She was very concerned when along with the water, came alot of blood, and lots of clots. I remember her telling the staff in the room that she was prepping the OR and would see us in there immediately. My husband and I were suddenly terrified that we were losing our child, and I tearfully remember telling the neonatologist that had been paged to the OR to please make sure my baby would be okay. At 12:38pm on Monday November 22th, five minutes after being wheeled into the OR, and after 43 exhausting hours of labour, my baby boy was born. It turned out that my placenta had started separating “some time ago” as there was plenty of old dark blood and clots. Although the c-section was traumatic, it was also life saving. I am VERY thankful to the staff for saving my baby’s life.
However, I missed out on a lot of bonding time in the immediate post partum, as I was in recovery and my newborn was being treated in the NICU. I didn’t get to hold him until he was over 2 hours old (and only for the fastest 3 minutes of my life), and he was not brought into my room until he was nearly 6 hours old. He had a hard time getting breastfeeding established but once I had him back from the NICU, he was never out of view (when I couldn’t be with him for any procedures, my husband was). I felt robbed of a great birthing experience and mourned over this. Comments like “Be thankful that he is here, and healthy” only made me feel shame, because I was thankful for all of that but I felt something was missing. Who wouldn't be happy that they were finally holding their baby? So I had a bit to process after that, and vowed the next time, I would do it my way.
My second pregnancy was actually a bit of a surprise. We had been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant with fertility drugs and had an appt with the fertility clinic booked a couple of months away. We were not on any drugs when I started feeling different. A quick test shockingly (but very pleasantly happy) confirmed we were pregnant! This pregnancy was vastly different to my first. I was sick and nauseous for the first few months, having a huge aversion to red meat. I was more tired than with my first, and had the worst sciatica pains. But somehow, through it all, I knew this birth would be different, just as the pregnancy was turning out to be. I read, watched and partook in anything VBAC related. I refused to book my section, and actually looked for other OB’s when it was pushed aggressively.
The placental abruption with my first birth had sealed my fate – because I had no known risk factors, and since it was a first birth, my second birth had to be in a hospital, where I would be more closely monitored. I did not argue that, as I had done my research and knew, for baby and I, that was the safest option. If it were to happen again, I would be mere minutes from an OR.
My second labour proved to be different in many ways. For example, we hired a doula and she helped us more than she will ever know. We educated ourselves about everything VBAC related. We knew the risks of a VBAC, we knew the positives and negatives of each procedure, we were prepared. My labour started at 4pm on August 22, two weeks ahead of my due date. The labour was not without work and tears. Again, I had an epidural, but was at 6 cms this time, not 4 cms like my first birth. I knew this could set me up for the repeat section I did not want. I talked to my unborn child and I prayed for peace with my decision. My water broke (clear, blood and clot free) during an internal that also told me I was fully dilated! That was one of the best moments of my life! So far, I was doing it my way! I was able to push my baby from a floating position to that of an engaged one, and avoided the section the OB standing in front of me was telling me would happen if my baby would not descend. I pushed hard for about 2 hours, but was worth it when I looked down and saw my posterior son, not yet fully born, looking at me! The time was 10:22am, Thursday August 23rd (only 18 hours of labour!) He slid out and I got to see him take that first breath and I could see him cry. I did it my way! The OB placed him on my chest and told me the odds were 10% to do what I just did. I never cared about the odds, but I got my dream birth. I wiped vernix from my baby’s face, I kissed his head, I watched him cry. I breathed in his newborn smell and checked over every square inch of him.
I felt that I had won the war, but without an additional 15cm scar I already bore from the first battle. My beautiful son nursed within 30 minutes of birth and it was pure euphoria in the room.
Looking back upon these two remarkably different births, I have asked myself (and have been asked) if there was anything I would’ve done differently. The short answer is no. The harder you have to work for something, the sweeter the reward. The outcome was the same, but the paths were so different. Everything I missed out with my first birth, I made up for with my second.