Leo’s VBAC birth – part 1

Hi friends!  I have a bit of time now to write about Leopold’s birth!

On Friday, May 15th, 2015 I had a prenatal appointment with my doctor.  I was due on the 10th but Leo didn’t show many signs of being willing to get with the program, so she wanted to discuss other options for his birth.  I had been pretty irritated with her the last couple appointments I’d had because she was making comments like, “Well, what are you going to do if this baby is as big as your last?  The risk of shoulder dystocia increases with larger babies.  Are you really willing to risk having a child who has cerebral palsy when you could have prevented it?”  Shit like that, it felt like fear mongering and bullying.  She really wanted to nail down when I would “allow” another C-section pretty much, or at least that’s what it felt like to me.

I kept telling her, there was no reason to think my body couldn’t do this.  I had been having chiropractor appointments and I’d been pretty good about watching my blood glucose after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so I was fairy sure this baby was going to be smaller than Ezra (who was 11 lbs 3 oz for those who forgot).  I told her my plan was to labor at home for as long as I could and then I’d head in.  I didn’t want to be put on anyone’s timetable and have them tell me, “You haven’t progressed quickly enough, we need to get him out.”  She told me that she was a patient provider and as long as everything looked good I could labor as long as I wanted at the hospital, but also to warn me that if I went into labor on the weekend that she wouldn’t be the one to deliver and not all doctors would allow a VBAC.  There was that word again, “allow”.  I hate that word.  I told her I’d think it over.

In the meantime if I didn’t go into labor over the weekend, she wanted me to come in the following Monday and we’d induce by breaking my water.  I told her I could probably be ok with that, and I had her strip my membranes before I left in the hopes it would stimulate labor.

I cried a little after she left the room because I felt like a failure.  I didn’t want to induce labor artificially and I didn’t feel like she had my back and I felt like I was losing control.  I came home and had a little cry again before I told Jesse what the options were.  I had heard that after stripping membranes that labor could start within a couple hours, but that didn’t happen.

The next morning around 6:30am I woke up to pee again and was kind of crampy but didn’t think much of it.  After a little while, though, it became clear that these were contractions!  I got up Jesse to get him moving and it quickly came to the point where I was having to really breath through the contractions.  Jesse moved at a snail’s pace getting himself ready and also Ezra, it was really irritating.  Especially when he said, “I thought you wanted to labor at home for a long time.”  You just don’t say that to a painfully contracting pregnant woman, you know?

Eventually we were all ready and dropped off Ezra at Velvet’s house.  We got to the Riverton hospital and got checked into triage where they found I was at 5cm.  Triage was painful in that I had to lay down to get checked and laying down was awful.  Probably in fairly short order I was moved to a labor room, but it felt like forever.

This whole time I had planned on not getting an epidural again because I thought that maybe that’s why I couldn’t push out Ezra before, but when the nurse came in and asked if I wanted the epi, I very quickly told her I wanted it.  The anesthesiologist worked fast and I liked that the dose she gave me still allowed me to move my legs around quite a bit.  The epi took the edge off, but I was still in control.  They told me I could dose myself again later if the original dose started wearing off and I did end up pushing it again around the time they broke my water because I knew that the pain would be worse at that point.

I met the on-call OB when he came in to break my water.  He seemed pretty chill and I liked his bedside manner, cracking vagina jokes.  He was pretty funny and when I told him I was going for a VBAC he seemed very supportive of that.  I really liked that he didn’t try to pressure me into a C-section and appeared confident that I could birth this baby on my own.

Velvet wanted to come see the birth and I was supposed to call her when I got to 8cm.  She had taken all the kids to see a movie but said she’d leave early if needed.  After I got to the labor room I was checked again and had progressed to 6cm, and about an hour after the epidural I was checked and was at 9cm!  I texted Velvet to let her know (the movie had been on for less than 15 minutes at that point) and she was able to get a friend to come to the movie to stay with the kids.

After Velvet got there the nurses said it was time to start trying to push to see if we could get Leo to come down the canal.  I had been wanting to push on all fours because I’d read that was the best position for birth, especially to try and avoid shoulder dystocia because it allowed the pelvis to open up the widest, but at this time I was fine with pushing on my back, and the epi made it kind of necessary to push in that position anyway.

For the longest time it didn’t seem like anything was happening, but the nurse assured me I was doing everything correctly and that the baby was moving down like he was supposed to.  I didn’t keep track of the time, but I’d say it was probably about 30 minutes of pushing and they told me to stop because his head was crowning and now we had to wait for the doctor!

I waited a good 15-30 minutes for the doctor to show up and once he did he had me push a few times and then the head was out!  He told me to keep pushing and in the next push the body was out, too!  The birth itself was awesomely easy.

Leopold William Whitaker was born a little after 2pm on May 16th, 2015.  He was 11 lbs 14 oz, 23 inches long!  All that work to have a smaller baby, and he was 11 oz larger than Ezra.  From beginning labor to birth it was about seven or eight hours.


They put the baby on my chest and I told them I wanted to wait to delay cord clamping until the cord stopped pulsing (there are a lot of articles out there now showing why it’s a good idea to delay cord clamping).  While we were waiting on the cord, the nurses were working to dry off the baby and get him crying.  His little cry was so pitiful and adorable!  I just couldn’t believe when it came down to it how effortless it was!  Thank heavens for the epidural!

After Jesse cut the cord, the nurse took Leo over to the baby table to weigh and measure him and the doctor took stock of me.  I had a second-degree tear which I thought was not too bad all things considered.  I had heard that when delivering the placenta it should not be tugged on because it could cause pieces to break off in the uterus and that causes hemmoraging, but the doc was tugging on it and I figured he knew what he was doing, but the placenta did in fact tear.  Apparently he was able to get it all out, though.  The doctor stitched me up and then left me in the hands of the nurses to massage the belly to make sure I stopped bleeding and stopped passing clots.

Unfortunately, I kept passing clots, and large ones at that.  Eventually a really large piece came out and the nurse thought it looked like a piece of placenta so she called in another nurse to check it out.  I was getting a little tired at this point and had lost a good amount of blood, maybe two liters by then.  The doctor was called back in and it was decided they would do a D&C and scrape out the uterus to make sure no lingering parts of placenta were still in there.

The anesthesiologist was called back in to re-dose the epidural line and she gave me two doses.  I was worried because the last time I had a baby I ended up in surgery as well and I didn’t want all my hard work to be for nothing.  Getting wheeled into an OR is very scary.  Having to move from one table to another without being able to feel your lower body is scary.  Having your arms strapped down is frightening.

At that point it was supposed to be about a 20-minute procedure.  My body felt completely dead from the chest down.  That freaked me out as well, how far up the epi affected my body.  They strapped my legs to these harnesses and it was like I was literally in an L shape with my legs dangling dead weight in the air.  It was so weird to see my legs up there but not be able to feel them.  They put a drape up so I couldn’t see anything and I just kind of drifted in and out.  I’m not sure how much blood I’d lost that point, but I do know they were worried they weren’t able to find the source of bleeding and they kept pushing saline fluid bags on me.

They finally found there was a cut deep in my vagina and worked to close it up.  The doctor said it might have been from a toenail or fingernail cut while I pushing out Leo.  I found out later that it was such a cut in such a place that when the doctor tried stitching it up it kept coming undone.  After I was all stitched up, they moved me back over to my original table/bed, and I guess that’s when my heart stopped beating.

Part two coming at some point…