Hey mamas! Welcome to the ninth post in my Honest Birth series! I’m excited to share another real mama’s birth story, because I think it’s so important to share our childbirth experiences with each other. My goal with this series is to provide a place for women to share their birth stories without holding anything back, as well as compile stories for pregnant mamas to read in preparation for their own childbirth experiences. Every mama is different and every birth is different, and I believe that when we share our stories we help each other.
Today I am featuring my friend Britt! We met in college at BYU in 2010 (which sounds like FOREVER ago!) and have been friends ever since! Britt and her husband live in Idaho with their two kids, Abe and Eliza, and Britt is currently pregnant with her third baby and is due in May! Britt blogs at My Little Sunshines and write about motherhood, faith, and books! Today she is going to be sharing the VBAC birth story of her daughter, Eliza!
Ready to read the first VBAC birth story of the series? Let’s do it!
The Birth Story of Eliza Hanson
Towards the end of my 2nd pregnancy, I was, frankly, a mess. I had a lot of conflicting thoughts, feelings, and emotions running through me. You see, my first labor and delivery had taken me by surprise: at 37 weeks and 1 day pregnant, my water broke spontaneously at 5 am while I was laying in bed. Fast forward a short 7 hours later, and at noon my little 6 pound baby was born via a cesarean section, after he had not being able to tolerate even the smallest of contractions.
So here I was, 19 months later, wanting to attempt a vaginal delivery after cesarean (VBAC) but feeling like a first-time mom all over again. I didn’t really know what contractions felt like, I wasn’t sure if I would go early or late, and I had an option of a scheduled C-section, if I wanted it.
If you’ve ever been pregnant before, you know that the last few weeks of pregnancy drag on, and can be downright miserable. As 37 weeks came and went with this pregnancy, with no labor signs whatsoever, I found myself wanting to just schedule a C-section so I could have my baby, because what if I attempted a VBAC and had to have one anyway? What if I made it 3 more weeks, just to never go into labor naturally and again, have a C-section anyway? (Most doctors will not induce an attempted VBAC delivery because the risk of uterine rupture goes up.) Should I just go with a planned delivery, even if I was giving up the vaginal delivery I really wanted, deep inside? I didn’t hate my C-section experience, so should I go with what I knew? Having a scheduled birth would be nice!
At my 39 week appointment, I found myself postponing my C-section for one more week, just in case this baby decided to come naturally, even though my doctor pronounced (after a painful examination) that my cervix was nice and high and closed up tight. (Just what I wanted to hear!–Not!) I left unconvinced that I was going to go into labor and that I’d be showing up at the hospital the next week for my scheduled C-section.
The next morning (at 39 weeks and 4 days), I woke up feeling a bit off, feeling a few twinges in my abdomen area. These twinges were so slight that I convinced myself that I was making them up because I wanted to go into labor so badly. I got up, and went about my day as a SAHM, caring for my 19 month old son, Abe.
By early afternoon, I could tell these twinges were definitely happening, and not in my head, and at around 4 pm I downloaded a contraction timer, just in case something was happening, and texted my husband, Kyle, asking him to pick up dinner on his way home from work because I was maybe having contractions. When I first started timing these “contractions” they were little more than slight cramping, and coming about every 20 minutes or so, lasting about a minute each.
Kyle came home from work, and we went about our evening routine, and my cramping grew slightly stronger and closer together. We put Abe to bed and called my in-laws, who live 2.5 hours away and were on call to watch Abe when we went to the hospital to have a baby. We let them know what was happening, but that we weren’t sure what was going to happen in the next 24 hours or if this was even the real thing. They (luckily!) said they’d come straight away, just in case we ended up needing them.
I went to bed between 9 and 10 pm, figuring if this was the real deal, I needed to catch some sleep before “real labor” kicked in. However by this time, my cramping was uncomfortable enough and frequent enough that it was hard to actually get any sleep at all. Kyle waited up for his parents to arrive, and then joined me in bed around 11. I laid in bed another hour or so, but by 12 midnight these cramps kicked it up a notch, and were turning into some real contractions. I got out of bed, and took a book out to the couch, figuring I could get some light reading in while I labored a bit more (HA). No reading happened as I continued laboring, breathing through, and timing contractions, and by 1:30 I was contracting every 5 minutes or so, and they were lasting about a minute each. I woke up Kyle, needing him to be awake and supporting me during my pain 😉
I called the hospital, and spoke to a nurse, and basically asked what I should do. Remember, I hadn’t ever really labored before so I felt immensely unprepared and unsure how long this was going to last and knowing that I was technically a “high risk” labor since I was going for a VBAC. Plus the pain wasn’t unbearable yet, and I just frankly didn’t know if these contractions were going to be doing anything. The nurse, unfortunately, was very unhelpful, and basically told me I could come in whenever I wanted, and that I could try to take a bath first, to see if that slowed my contractions at all and/or helped ease the pain.
I decided to hop in the bath, and was in there a good long while, contracting every 3-5 minutes, and Kyle sat on the toilet seat next to me the whole time (bless him!). I also took the opportunity to shave my legs in between contractions, haha! I hadn’t in like a month, and figured I might as well! After 45 minutes or so, I decided we might as well go to the hospital, to see what was happening, since my contractions were still going strong. I got out and got dressed, put together the last few things in my hospital bag, and Kyle quickly showered, and then woke his dad up to tell him we were leaving for the hospital.
We live a quick 10 minute drive from the hospital, and let me tell you that contracting in the car is NOT FUN. Also, learn from my mistake and get some REAL FOOD on the way to the hospital, even if you’re contracting every 3-5 minutes, and even if (especially if!) it’s the middle of the night.
We got to the hospital around 4 am, and made it up to labor and delivery, where I was checked and found to be hovering between 4-5 cm dilated. This was so refreshing for me to hear, knowing that my body was doing something, and that I wouldn’t be going home without a baby. Between checking in, contracting, getting settled in my room, and the nurses’ shift change, I was again checked for dilation again around 6 am, and they found that I was at about a 6-7 cm dilated. (PS, shout out to labor and delivery nurses! They are so amazing!)
Since I had never experienced full-out labor, or received an epidural (I got a spinal block with my C-section) I wasn’t sure I wanted an epidural, or how I would handle contractions. When I was checked at 6 am and found that I was between a 6 and 7 cm, I was having to breathe through contractions and couldn’t talk through them, and decided it was as good a time as ever to get one. I don’t love the process of getting a big ol’ shot in my back, but I got it, and it did provide relief!
At 7 am, my doctor came in to check on me, and to tell me he was going into surgery, but when he was done, we’d break my water and have a baby! 9:30 rolls around, and the resident doctor comes in to break my water, check me, and get me ready for delivery. She broke my water, and as she had me scoot even further down into a pushing position she looked a bit shocked and said something like, “Oh, I see hair! No practice pushes for you!” My doctor was called, he came in around 10 am, and I immediately started pushing. 10 minutes later, at 10:10 am, a sweet little girl was placed on my chest. It was sweet and wonderful and a really amazing experience. I literally pushed a baby out of my vagina, and that’s weird and awesome. Eliza was 20 inches, and 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and I ended up with a 2nd degree tear (not so pleasant…). Post-partum recovery is its own beast for sure, and for me at least, it took about 2-3 weeks before I felt like I was (mostly) healed up down there.
Eliza is now almost 2 and a half years old, and I’m 27 weeks pregnant with baby #3. I’m still glad every day I had the opportunity to experience a vaginal birth with her, and am looking forward (hoping!) to experience another one in May! This time I’m even thinking about going unmedicated, so check back with me then to see if I accomplished that or not! 😉
Awesome, right!? I loved Britt’s story (“no practice pushes for you!”) and am so glad she let me feature her on my series! Britt also wrote a super helpful post all about the differences in postpartum recovery for C-sections and vaginal births, so if you’re interested in that you can read it here (especially helpful if you’re trying to decide what kind of birth you want!). Make sure you check out Britt’s blog, My Little Sunshines, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Thanks to Britt for sharing Eliza’s birth story and thanks to all of you mamas for coming to read it! Check back in two weeks for another Honest Birth post!