Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boy Meets World - O's Birth Story

It's a boy! A big beautiful boy! And we are in love. We chose not to find out the sex of either of our babies. Well, I chose not to. My husband really wanted to know, but thankfully he went along for the ride with me each time. There's something about hearing "It's a boy/girl)!" in the delivery room that has really been worth the wait for me.

Here are the stats. The little guy was 9 lbs 11 oz. and 21 inches long. Head was 14 3/4. To me, he looks quite normal, but every nurse has commented on how big he is or about the fact that they hope I haven't bought newborn diapers or clothes. Either way, the little dude is perfect. And that's about all for the non gross, non emotional, or non controversial stuff. Just a warning ;)

Why a VBAC?
I'll start by saying anyone's reasons for attempting a VBAC are intensely personal. I'm just sharing because they are mine and if anyone can find anything helpful in it, sharing is worth it. I'll note that in the telling of my story, judgement of others for making different decisions or choices should not be inferred at any time. 
There were a few reasons I chose to attempt a VBAC. First, I really didn't ask a lot of questions during my first pregnancy, just took things at face value and unfortunately, didn't research much. The things that have become so normal in birth these days, I simply did not think to question. I went into my first son's birth thinking I would go into labor naturally, go as long as I could without an epidural, push him out and go home. Easy as that. A C-Section was not part of my plan. Instead, I had an induction at 40 weeks. That led to pain I couldn't stand so I was having an epidural by 5 cm. The more natural birth I wanted turned into intervention after intervention, ultimately ending in a C-Section. After doing some research and learning about the correlation between all the interventions and C-Sections, I was determined not to let history repeat itself. A vaginal birth is what my research told me is best for my baby (obviously there are times when a CS is necessary) so that was the most important reason for me to attempt a VBAC.

My other reasons are very personal and I think one would have to go through them to really get it, but I'll try to explain. They are more emotional. As I told my OB, I felt very absent after my first son's birth. I was out of it (literally in and out of sleep), shaking and nauseous from the anesthesia that I could not physically hold my son for a few hours. That's time I can't get back. I also spent so much time grieving the loss of the birth I felt I didn't have. That kind of statement tends to bring out the "healthy baby is the only thing that matters" sentiment from everyone. I've heard it a lot in 3 years. And I completely agree. I just don't think that grieving over something you wanted and didn't get means you aren't over the moon excited about your new, healthy addition. Because I definitely was and I am now as well.
The whole C-Section experience was just traumatic for me. Not just emotionally, but physically. The CS recovery was a pain like I'd never had before. At the hospital they had to force me to get out of bed. It just hurt too much. It took about a week before I could stand fully upright without blinding pain. I'd never heard of a reaction like that and don't really consider myself to be pain intolerant. There was so little I could do on my own for so long, I'm not sure what I would have done without my husband staying home with me for 3 weeks.

My final personal reason will likely be hardest to understand, but to put it out there, I just felt defective. It was like my body failed me so many times and I needed this experience to help me feel like my body does know what it should do. In 2007, I was diagnosed with Graves disease. It's an auto-immune disorder. Essentially, my body thinks my thyroid is foreign and spends its time attacking my thyroid. The condition has been a roller coaster for me. It improves then gets really bad. I gain tons of weight then lose tons.
I had a miscarriage in 2008 after seeing the heartbeat - when your odds of miscarriage become 1%. That was followed by another in 2009.
Then there was the CS which you've heard ALL about :)
Shortly after my son was born in 2010, he had severe weight gain issues. To the point where he was about to be labeled a failure to thrive. He had been diagnosed with reflux, but as it turns out, he never had that. My body was just not making the amount of food he needed. To this day, I get upset thinking about it and wondering how I didn't know, but the pediatrician missed it too as he was eating constantly. It was a trip to a lactation consultant that confirmed the supply issues.
The following year brought another miscarriage after seeing the baby's heartbeat.
None of this is meant to make anyone pity me and I'm hoping nobody thinks I believe I have it the worst. My medical condition is manageable and despite 3 miscarriages, not being able to deliver the way I wanted or make enough milk, I have the most beautiful boys and I'm very blessed - and I know it. I'm simply explaining why I feel as I do. I want to know that my body can do something right and that I'm not damaged, broken or defective.

O's Birth Story
Little O's journey into the world began a minutes after his "due date" passed. Everything up until then felt really normal. The occasional tightness in the belly that I thought might be a contraction, but those only happened a few times a day, so it was nothing too exciting. Then, about 12:20 am (day after due date) I had the overwhelming urge to use the restroom. It wasn't an abnormal occurrence being that pregnant, but I had just gone to bed less than 2 hours earlier and hadn't had anything to drink in hours. When I was finished I stood up and felt a quick gush of fluid. I was sure that I was not done using the bathroom and got embarrassed. But then, another gush. And another. Even there in the dark, I knew what was happening. I was scared because I expected to feel something. Anything. But I felt nothing except more fluid loss every time I made a move. I yelled for my husband and hopped in the shower because I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't go back onto the carpet. So I just kept yelling and showering until he showed up.

Being that I was hoping for a VBAC, ideally, I wouldn't go to the hospital until I at least had contractions and was well into labor, but something about the color of the fluid worried me. It was green and looked like it had tons of specks in it (we later found out it was because there was meconium in the fluid) so I called the on call OB, who had us come in. My husband called his brother to come stay with our son and we were on our way.

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 2am and were sent to triage. I answered a million questions I had already answered and was feeling pretty crabby and tired. They said they would have a doctor come check to make sure my water had really broken (do people really go the hospital after peeing themselves, thinking it's amniotic fluid???) but after taking a look, the nurse decided I was right and cancelled the doctor call since a check would put me at risk for infection.

We were finally admitted after 4am. We slept on and off until my OB came in at 8. By that point, I had mild contractions here and there but nothing major. I was sleeping through them. She told me she wasn't optimistic due to my history, but I was still committed to doing this my way unless there was a medical reason not to. We slept more after that but not for long.

Contractions took a noticeable step up an hour or so after she left so I felt it was a good sign that maybe it would happen on its own. We asked the nurse if I could walk the halls were told no because the doc's orders were for constant monitoring. I commented that it wasn't helpful for my labor so she called the OB and approved me for monitors that didn't need to be hooked into the wall. She knew from my paperwork that I did not wish for any pain meds unless I asked, so she simply stated that I knew where to find her if I needed them and she never once asked me if I did. This was most helpful. In my first son's birth I was asked over and over until I said yes. It was nice to have someone respect my wishes.

By 11, things were really rolling. And fast. The nurse got me a birth ball to sit on and that eased a lot of the pain of each contraction.  She soon did a first check and found me at 5cm. I thought it wasn't so bad and I really started to feel like it would happen.

The rest is a real blur as far as the time. It felt like minutes went by and I was a 9. It seemed really crazy how just a few hours before, I was feeling nothing and in a matter of hours, the contractions went from being 3 minutes apart to right on top of one another. I was getting no breaks between them (I think this was around 3pm). Admittedly, I wanted to ask for the epidural, but I reminded myself of my mission. I felt like my VBAC odds were better if I didn't do it. Hearing that I was at a 9 helped too. Almost done! I thought to myself...

Just like with my first son, we got to pushing and there were heart decelerations that concerned the OB and nurse. My nurse had me change positions frequently, doing her best to make sure I didn't get sent to the OR. There were also position issues. Baby was head down, but for weeks, had been looking to the left instead of face down. That can change at any time during labor but never did for me. The nurse tried to move him in my belly and massaged my hips, but the little guy wouldn't budge. My pushing was getting us nowhere. I remember at one point wearing oxygen to help with the decels along with all the position changes, but nothing was working. The OB was telling me we were going in for a CS. She didn't ask, so I knew something was wrong, but I was in so much pain I couldn't respond.

The surgery was another blur. I was still having bad contractions while I waited for them to get the epidural in so they could do the C Section. Once it was in, it was like I didn't realize it was happening. Maybe the meds weren't as strong with my first, but then, I could feel pulling and tugging, so I knew what was happening. And it took longer. I didn't feel anything this time. I was later told that baby O's heartrate took a dangerous dip shortly after getting to the OR so they had to go faster. I was asking for him, but my husband wasn't brought in there until they were about to pull our son out so I know things went much faster than expected by anyone.

Now the most important part. I turned and saw my husband there and the doc asked him to call it. I bawled when I heard him say "it's a boy". The moment we'd been waiting for. Baby looked good so they wrapped him up and handed him to my husband so I could be stitched up and we could have our family time before they needed to do all of his measurements.

I've been surprised at how at peace I am with the outcome. I mean, I have wanted this since the day my first son was born. It was the last question I asked the OB before consenting to that first C-Section after 3 hours of pushing, "Does this hospital allow VBACs?" I guess it's because in the end, despite getting the C-Section, I got almost everything I wanted. First and foremost, O is healthy. He chose his own birthday. He was without any drugs as long as possible - they kind of have to give them to you for the CS :) I got to hold and feed him pretty much right away. So except for those last moments, it was really everything I wanted. And the healing this time is going a million times better. I was up sooner and doing things on my own and having much less pain.

So I won't spend years this time rehashing the experience and wondering if there was something I could have done differently. I did it. I did my research. I fought against all the unnecessary intervention. I fought against weeks of pressure to just do the C-Section. Some will ask what that gained me since I ended up in the OR anyway. Well, that's the one thing I really can't put into words.

1 comment:

  1. ohhh brandi!! thank you soo much for sharing your story! it was absolutely beautiful!!! enjoy this time with your newborn!!! :)