Despite eating spicy foods, walking, receiving acupuncture, drinking herbal tea, and squatting instead of sitting while playing with my son, I never went further than Braxton hicks and (possibly) early prodromal labor.
At 41 weeks and one day, my doctor wouldn’t let me carry her any longer. Since I had an unexpected cesarean with my firstborn, due to fetal distress, I knew my best bet for having a VBAC would be to go into labor on my own with limited intervention. My options were to schedule a c section or schedule a foley bulb induction. I scheduled the induction. My husband and I went on a date the night before the induction and I am so glad we did because the two of us have not been able to go out to eat since then.
My doula met my husband and me at the hospital early the morning of the induction to help get things started. It was freezing and snowing outside. I was excited and nervous. It took three tries to get the foley bulb in. They thought my daughter was breech for a minute. I cried. My doula left and told us to keep her updated and that she would return when I was ready. My husband and I talked, we listened to music, we played cards and diffused essential oils as the nurse sporadically checked my monitors.
Everyone prepped me for surgery: “no food”, “if this doesn’t work we will have to do Pitocin”, “Pitocin could lead to another c-section” etc. I heard the phrases, but let them go. I envisioned my vaginal birth. When the foley bulb came out, I was having steady contractions on my own! I followed up with nipple stimulation and before I knew it, I was in active labor and asking my husband to get our doula. Things were progressing quickly. My husband and doula and I took turns lifting my large belly during contractions to keep my daughter’s head engaged in my pelvis as I moved around the room. (She was lying forward in my womb and my cervix points back, so that and the fact that I had A LOT of amniotic fluid, caused her to sort of float and not engage properly during contractions without us encouraging her through lifting my belly.)
I took long breaks in the bathroom where I was able to disconnect from all the monitors. I listened to a hypnobirthing CD when I felt overwhelmed. I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth. I moaned. I was in the zone. When I finally gave my doctor the OK to check my progress, I was at 8 centimeters. Hooray! We were all surprised because my cervix still felt really high. My water broke when she checked me – a flood of water released like a never-ending faucet. I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth. I moaned. I was in the zone.
The sun came up the next day. I had been in active labor for 10 hours and was still not fully dilated. My body began to tighten up as the contractions continued. I was at 9.5 centimeters for an additional 6 hours, wanting badly to push my baby out, but physically couldn’t. They wanted to put me on Pitocin. They talked about a c-section. They wanted to give me an epidural but feared my body would not produce strong enough contractions if I was too relaxed. I knew I couldn’t be on Pitocin without an epidural. I worried about fetal distress. I worried my body would seize up and never release without an epidural since my birthing waves were so strong and close together. I worried if I did nothing I would end up in surgery after all my hard work. I felt like I was losing it. I needed something. I talked with my doula. We started Pitocin and I got an epidural. My blood pressure dropped and I was given a shot and intravenous medicine to help regulate it. It felt scary and hectic.
Suddenly, the only people left in the room were my doula, my husband, and me. We turned down the lights and I laid on my side with the peanut ball. I tried to sleep. Sleep wouldn’t come. I was shaking from the epidural. The end felt near and also far away. I breathed. I meditated. I zoned.
The doctor and nurse returned. I was at 10 centimeters! I moved to a position for pushing and began working diligently to bring my baby into my arms. They talked about the chance of still having a c-section. They worried my baby was too big for me to birth vaginally. After pushing for a while we could see the top of her head and her dark curls. The doctor asked me if I wanted to feel my baby’s head and I said, “No, I want my whole baby.” A few pushes later, she emerged from my body and was laid on my chest: a warm, fresh being. I cried and held my miracle.
I did it!
Despite carrying her for over 41 weeks, despite my baby not engaging properly without help, despite a long active birth, despite a lot of amniotic fluid, despite having a previous c-section, despite many comments suggesting surgery throughout my pregnancy and labor, I was able to birth my baby as I envisioned. I had my healing birth.