I DID IT! That was the first thing I said to my husband as I held my sweet baby boy in my arms for the first time. I successfully VBAC’d, and achieved what I have been dreaming about and praying for since the traumatic birth of my first son Liam. If you’ve followed my story then you know, I wanted more than anything to be able to have the natural birth that I desired the first time around. I wanted redemption, and redemption is what I got. I birthed my son Nolan Reid into this world naturally and unmedicated on 11/20/13 at 4:15am.
Here’s Nolan’s Birth Story….
My journey to a VBAC was long, and mentally exhausting at times. I wanted more than anything to have a natural, normal birth and I pulled out all the stops to try and achieve this. It was not easy, and at times I felt defeated. I felt broken, and that I was the only person in the world that had a body that wouldn’t work right. I worked so hard to overcome these mental road blocks and I honestly am still in shock and disbelief that I DID THIS.
At 41 weeks exactly, my midwife offered to strip my membranes. I knew that my body was feeling “different” then it did with my first son Liam at that point in the pregnancy. I felt that it was doing “something” although I couldn’t describe it for you. I had lost parts of my mucous plug the week earlier which I hadn’t lost at all with my first son. My midwife was so confident that this would work for me and I had high hopes and really focused on maintaining a positive attitude throughout the day. I had my membranes stripped 3 times with Liam, so I was very skeptical. I met up with a friend at the mall to do some walking and have lunch. Nothing eventful was going on, but I definitely felt cramps……and slightly violated from the procedure. (If you’ve had it done before, then you know what I mean).
I continued on with the rest of my day feeling random braxton hicks type contactions which had been normal for me throughout my pregnancy. I took a nap while my son napped that afternoon. My husband had class late into the evening so I knew I’d be on my own for dinner and bedtime with our son Liam. During our normal evening activities, I was having contractions, but didn’t think much of them because they weren’t exactly painful, just slightly different from my normal braxton hicks. I didn’t time anything, just kept on doing what I was doing. I put Liam to bed around 8:30pm and sat down on the couch. I was exchanging text messages with some friends and my doula and felt that I might be in early labor since the contractions were getting a little bit painful.
These photos were taken around 7:30pm before I put my son to bed. I’m so glad that I got lots of snuggles that night before labor started!
My husband got home around 9:30pm and I told him I think tonight might be the night and that I started to have contractions. I decided to get into the bath and try and relax. The contractions were happening more frequently, and my husband sat in the bathroom with me and we just talked about what the next thing to do was. I let my doula know what was going on. As soon as I got out of bath, I went to the bathroom and lost a very large part of mucous (more than I had lost in the previous week). Within 10 minutes of this happening, active labor started for me.
My contractions started to come between 1 and 2 minutes apart lasting 30-45 seconds long and increasingly more painful. By 10:30pm we called the midwife who suggested that I try and stay home until contractions started to have a more consistent pattern. By 11pm I was calling my doula over and having a very difficult time concentrating during the contractions. She was on her way, and suggested that I try and rest and use birth ball to lean over during the contractions. It was becoming very painful and resting was impossible for me but I did use the birth ball for a while before deciding to get in shower. My doula arrived while I was in shower and she helped me work through contractions for about another hour and a half. During this time things quickly escalated. I started making noises that I never knew could come out of me! It was primal instinct in all it’s glory! My sister was there to watch Liam and she said she has never seen anyone in so much pain.
Throughout this whole time, the contractions were always 1-1.5 minutes apart, and still only lasted about 45 seconds apart. The pain just increased tremendously over time. My doula encouraged me to try and stay home longer, but I was terrified of the car ride to the hospital if I waited much longer. How the hell was I going to get through these contractions in a car? This was the only thought going on in my head. My husband made the decision to pack up and get to the hospital ( Later I told him that I was so grateful to him for making that call). My husband called the hospital and they had a tub room waiting for me. It was the WORST CAR RIDE of my life. Im sure other woman may be able to relate. I wanted to die, NO JOKE.
Once I arrived (around 1:15am), they wheeled me right into a room and skipped triage all together which I was thankful for. I was that crazy woman you see in the movies screaming like a lunatic in the wheelchair being pushed through the hallways. I did my very best to maintain low moans (which is supposed to help, I guess), but had to frequently be reminded to control my breathing and try and remain focused.
My midwife wanted to check me before I got into the tub which was extremely difficult to do between contractions. I was a 5-6cm and I thought, OH MY GOD, I cannot do this much longer. I wanted drugs. When telling my husband and doula that I wanted drugs, they both did an amazing job encouraging me and reminding me of what I wanted for this birth.
I finally got into the tub and labored in the tub on my hands and knees for a short period of time. Too short for anyone to believe that I was starting to push. My body just took over and it was pushing. The only way I can describe that feeling is as being a passenger in my own body. I had no control. I did not experience this feeling while pushing during my first birth. With the epidural, everyone had to tell me when to push.
My doula notified the nurse and midwife that I had started to push, and my midwife checked me and sure enough I was 10cm and ready to go. Which of course I already knew because my body was just doing it regardless. At this point they were still trying to start an IV on me because of my history of bleeding after the birth of my first son. I was annoyed by this, but also felt it was important to have given my history.
I ended up getting out of the tub and pushed squatting at the chair for sometime, while I was trying to get into the bed. I pushed a few different positions that my midwife suggested, and after about 1.5 hours of pushing, Nolan Reid was born at 4:15am. I did not think I was going to be able to do it. They set up the mirror for me and I was able to watch the entire birth. Nolan’s shoulder’s did get stuck on the way out, and they had to push down really hard on my stomach to try and get him out and they ended up cutting cord quicker than I had wanted. But, he was okay, and they put the baby right on my chest and it was AMAZING. It was that magic moment when you’ve worked so hard and then all of a sudden with one last force of energy that you didn’t think you had in you, you are left holding the precious life you created in your arms, finally. I still cannot believe that I actually did it. Unmedicated and naturally. I had this overwhelming feeling of amazement that my body was not broken and that I was the strongest woman to ever live! Funny what all those hormones can do to you!
I absolutely LOVE this picture that shows my midwife smiling down over us as we meet our precious new baby boy!
There are no words that can describe how I was feeling in this picture. So many emotions and I’m so glad they were captured here.
I did however have some complications afterward because my placenta wouldn’t detach. (I tell you, it can never be completely drama free with me). They had to manually detach my placenta (OUCH)! and then because of retained placenta, I had to go back to the operating room and get a D&C. After all that, I had to get spinal anesthetic. Seriously! I did end up losing quite a bit of blood requiring blood transfusions which was all extremely scary. I’m not going to focus on that in this story though, because even after all of the after birth drama, the actual birth of my son was everything I could have hoped and prayed for.
My first born Liam meeting his new baby brother. I just can’t get enough of this sweetness.
After everything, and the complications I experienced after the birth, I can say that I feel one million times better than I felt after having a cesarean birth. I was walking that night and feeling wonderful, even after all the blood loss. It truly is amazing how resilient our bodies are.
There are no words that can really explain how much having a VBAC meant for me. Some woman may not understand it, and some woman may know exactly how I feel but, one thing I do know for sure is that I would not have been able to do it without the support from my husband, doula, midwives, and close friends and family. They helped keep me calm and reassured when I was sure that my body would fail me again.
To all woman who have experienced a traumatic birth, I would like to tell you that it is okay to mourn the loss of the birth that you wish you had. It is also okay to want more and to do everything in your power to rewrite your story. You will never be able to change the traumatic experience, but you can heal from it. I am proof of that. Don’t give up on your body.
The mantra that I repeated to myself daily throughout my pregnancy was “Trust in my body to do what it knows, trust in myself to relax and let go”. I did exactly that. I trusted by body even though it had let me down before, and I learned to let go of my past experience and allow a new story to unfold. A story of love, healing, and happiness.