Friday, November 16, 2012

An tale of two births.

I've wanted to write this post for a long time. This is going to be long so if you can get through it, congrats!

I want to first say this. I hate 'comparing' the birth of my children. I mean, I feel sometimes I do that a lot because they were just night and day. The way my children were born really doesn't matter in how I love them or parent or what not. I love both of them. They are both amazing in their own ways and their births were both equally special to me. Both births were equally emotional in different ways and even both had moments where they were scary but all for different reasons. Oddly enough, even as rough everything after Brady's birth was, I wouldn't change a thing. It made me want to fight for the birth I hoped for the first time but I think in that, I bonded with Brady so very quickly because of it. Not to say I didn't bond with Ben, it was just different. I get asked a lot which delivery was 'easier' or 'better' or whatever word they would use to ask and I feel awkward in a way with my answer. I know how to answer that in terms of recovery but I think they are both equally perfect and amazing in their own ways. A child's birth (either through a natural birth, a c-section or through an adoption) is such an emotionally charged experience. I had a super easy recovery with Bennett and sometimes I do feel guilty for saying that because I don't want it to somehow lessen Brady's experience. It's such an odd feeling but as I've said, I look back and they are both so amazingly different and full of such raw beauty and joy.

If you want to read both birth stories, you can find both at the top of the blog.

So, back to this post. I've wanted to write it for many reasons. When I was looking into doing a VBAC, I found limited information, scary stories or not much at all. In talking to people about my hopes for Bennett's birth, they were surprised I was able to 'find a doctor to let me do that' or would ask 'is that safe?!?' I also want to remember if we ever decide to have a 3rd on why those contractions are worth it in the end.

I think with Brady's birth, many things went wrong and it was a combination of things that didn't happen that did with Bennett. For one, I never felt a single contraction with Brady. My water broke with Brady and nothing every happened in the next 24 hours. I often wonder if I had I not started spiking a fever, if I would have started to dilate. With Bennett, I went from basically barely a 1 to 10 in a few hours (after almost two days of early labor.) With Brady, membranes were swept a few days before my water broke. I think if I had not had that done, my body would have been more ready. Who knows, really.

When I went into my first appointment with Bennett, my OB looked at me and said, "VBAC?'' It was a no-brainer. Here were her 'requirements' if I was even going to attempt one.

  •  No induction, meaning, I had to go into labor on my own. I didn't feel like this would be an issue though I got nervous towards the end.
  •  With that, no pitocin as it can increase the risk of Uterine rupture.
  •  No complications.

Towards the end, I was a mess. I was crabby, anxious and just a mess. I hated that I didn't know if I was really going to have this chance at a VBAC or not. It was all I thought about and I wanted this baby out because I wanted his birth to be over with. I'm grateful that I was able to have the birth I wanted. I was able to hold Benny right after he was born and to try nursing immediately  Not to say that those with a c-section couldn't have those things  but I know if I would have had another c-section, things would not have gone well. Since I had have complications before, I was more at risk for those again and to make things more complicated, the hernia repair increased my risks for MORE complications.

I wanted to share why I think it worked out and maybe help someone else or make someone feel that it could be a possibility! I had never met anyone who had one and to say that the information I found was limited and scary. I think the hardest part of this all was not knowing what to expect or to not know if I was going to have a c-section or not but I think a lot of things all lined up right this time.

1. Supportive doctor: My OB wanted this for me almost as much as I did. With having had a c-section and then a hernia repair, cutting into that mesh from the repair was last on her list of things she wanted to do but also knew it was in my best interest to try a VBAC. It was her first thing that came out of her mouth after, "Congrats!"

2. Supportive nurses: I was worried about this as not every nurse is the same and with Brady I had been in labor so long, I had several. It was bascially a luck of a drawl and this time I got so lucky! When I got to the hospital the first time, I was mad they sent me home. I was just done. I was so nervous and I wanted to know in the end, we were all ok. So, when I came back and the contractions were awful and I she told me I was still a measly 1 cm, I lost it. I almost gave in and said, do whatever you want. I'm done. After a while, nothing was happening but my pain was just increasing and combined with no sleep in 24 hours and the anxiety of the unknown, I needed to relax. So, while they finally agreed to give me an epi, comment was made that it is going to lead me closer to a c-section. When the shift change happened, I was unsure and nervous but I had the most amazing nurse and I think I can thank her for helping to get me my VBAC.

An hour after the epi, I had gone from 0-4 and my water had broke. The nurse and midwife on staff there looked at me and I felt like they were giving me the okay, that this was really going to happen. I felt like they were cheering me on. It was JUST what I needed. During labor, my nurse kept positioning me and I was getting frustrated at this odd way she had me but I think it truly helped me move that baby down. I tried bouncing on a ball with both births and other things but I think this was key for me along with relaxing.

3. Minimized interventions: I was one who always planned on having an epi but with Brady, I was so nervous and I had so much against me, I think it all just snowballed. With Bennett, I was glad that I couldn't get pitocin or anything because it gave my body the chance to do what it needed. I also requested not to have my membranes swept this time because I'm truly convinced that is what led me to where I got with Brady. I'm glad I also didn't let them keep me after the first hospital visit because it could have very well snowballed from there too. I went home, relaxed, slept a teeny bit and that is when things kicked into gear!

4. Epidural. Oddly enough, I think the epi was key to getting where I needed to be. I was nervous about getting it this time because I was worried it would lead me to a c-section again (even as the first nurse I had said!) but after being in labor for over 30 hours and NO sleep, my body was exhausted. Your uterus is a big muscle and when they tire, they don't function as they need to be. So, basically, I was contracting but my body was so exhausted, it wasn't do it's job of dilating. I find it odd enough that once I got the epi and could really relax, I went from basically 0-10 in a few hours. It was just what I needed!

5. Supportive family: Blake was amazing through all of this. Having not been in this position the first time, he had no idea what to expect and I think it truly bonded us even more. My family was great in giving me the space (well, most of them, ha ha!) I needed when I was trying to relax and get through contractions. I wanted no one there and most of them heard my requests. I wanted to be able to focus and relax the best I could and I think that helped!

6. My own desire for a VBAC because of my past experience: I know a lot of women are determined to have a natural birth or want something to go their way but these sweet babies of ours have their own plans. I think that me wanting this so bad was key in no giving up. I've admit, there were times I considered giving in, especially in the heat of the moment after 30 hours of constant contractions and pain, I was so over it. I kept reminding myself of WHY I wanted this so badly. Why I needed to do this. I think that is what helped me in those most difficult moments and even though it was easy to say screw it, I knew deep down inside, I had to give myself the chance. I knew I would regret it if I didn't and I also knew that I had come so far, there was no turning back. I was terrified. I mean they tell you about the risks all the time and who wants to hear about 'uterine rupture' but without remembering all I went through after Brady's birth, I would not have gotten through it.

7. Brady: I knew with Brady I would love him regardless but as a new mommy, I had no idea the force that you love your own child with and I was excited for that again but at the same time, I wanted to be able to be the best mommy I could for Brady after especially because it was going to change his life. I knew there was a chance with a c-section, the complications were possible and I didn't want that to happen again for his sake. It helped  a lot during it all to picture his face and all the things we were going to do as a family of four when things got tough!

To be honest, after he was out, it was the most amazing feeling, I've ever felt. A rush of pride, joy, elation, relief and peace rushed to me all at once. The contractions sucked, yes, but knowing that I was able to do this for myself and my boys was the most amazing thing. Granted, I know it doesn't work out for everyone and there were things that could have prevented me from it as well but I'm so grateful that it was something I even pursued! So, I think the last two things were key in it all. If things were not so hard the first time around, I might not have even thought of trying for a VBAC!

I'll write another whole post about recovery because that is a whole post in itself but this time around, everything was so easy, it made the transition much easier for our whole family.

These kids are so worth it all though. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. In.a.heartbeat!


Valerie said...

Its like I could have written your level of pain and feelings from the first birth gone wrong. We're soon to be TTC for #2 and I desperately want a VBAC. I've studied and am an uncertified doula now because I wanted to arm myself with as much info as possible to avoid another birth like the first. Our firsts were very similar and I'm feeling terrified to try again because I know I can't go through that again. But with that fear comes a crazy determination that I know I have to do it this time. Your words were perfect for me in this place and in this time. Thank you for writing them.

Nicole said...

Ditto the comment above. After preparing for a natural birth I had a c-section due to a breech baby. Determined to VBAC the second time around, stories like yours make me very hopeful. Thank you for sharing.

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