I recently gave birth to my second son. It was a whirlwind of an experience but one that changed my life yet again.
My first son was born via a surprise C-Section. (If you want to learn more about my first birth, read When You Experience a Traumatic Birth). That left a mark, and I’m not just talking physically. It took me almost all the way to my second pregnancy to recover from the trauma of my first birthing experience.
When I found out that I was pregnant with my second, I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC. My OB told me after my son’s birth that I am a good candidate for it. So I knew this was my goal.
Once my pregnancy was confirmed, my OB put in the notes that I wish to try for a VBAC. Other than that, she treated me like any other low risk second time mom.
My wish for a VBAC started slipping when we discovered my son was breech. He stayed breech till my 36th week appointment and then flipped into a head down position. (Want to know how I helped him? Read Flipping a Breech: My Experience). Things proceeded as normal after that.
After week 38, I kept getting antsy about him not making his appearance. I know it’s silly. Babies usually come on or after their due date. But my first son came early, so I figured my second one will too. Instead, he decided to wait till his due date. What a punctual gentleman.
My OB helped expedite his appearance by doing a cervical stretch. I was terrified of going over and having to have a C-section again. And I’ll be honest, I wish I didn’t. When your OB says that the stretch is uncomfortable, they’re LYING to you!!! It’s not uncomfortable, it’s EXCRUCIATING!!!!! You also bleed and cramp after, which makes it that much more worrisome with a VBAC. On the plus side, it did send me into active labor 36 hours after. But I do wonder if the induction massage helped as well?
My labor started similarly to my first one. My water broke late in the evening and my contractions started picking up. They were manageable for about an hour and then they decided to take it up ten notches. I went from being able to relieve my pain with a hot shower and counter pressure, to seeing stars every time my contractions peaked. And they peaked and they peaked without much of a break in between. By the time we got to the hospital 2 hours later, I couldn’t move and needed to be wheeled up into the maternity ward.
Epidural was not part of the birth plan. I wanted to FINALLY experience a natural birth. I just didn’t count on the fact that I was going to experience pure hell, also known as back labor, this time around. But I did. And thus my dream of an all natural un-medicated birth went out the window.
I’ll be honest, I’m not very pro-epidural. I think they come with more risks than doctors like to let on, the biggest being stalled labor. However, there are situations where epidurals help the labor process rather than hurt it. It was definitely the case with my labor. My labor was so fast and furious that it needed to be slowed down. Even though I was almost fully dilated by the time I received my epidural, my son was nowhere near ready to be pushed out. He was still hanging out above my pelvis. And I’m not sure I would have been able to push given the level of pain that I was experiencing.
After the epidural came the very needed relief. My contractions didn’t hurt anymore and I was able to relax and allow my son to come down. My doula was helpful in using a peanut ball to help my hips open up while I was resting. After about 6 hours of relaxing, my midwife wanted me to start pushing. My son didn’t descend all the way yet, but I think because this was a VBAC, my midwife wanted to shorten the labor process as much as possible. And so I started pushing.
It started out being an uncomfortable experience. My epidural was not set very high and I wasn’t completely numb. I could feel my legs and could stand on my knees, if I used the bed as support. So I could feel myself pushing and the baby descending down the birth canal.
And so I pushed and pushed for two and a half hours!!! It was pure hell!!!! During this stage, I remember thinking “A C-Section is so much easier!”
When he was finally crowning, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that I was almost done. Despite the epidural, I felt his head come out and the pain that went along with it. I felt like I was being torn apart (which I was). And once the head came out, my midwife swiftly pulled the rest of him out. I was in such disbelief. The whole time I kept thinking, “He won’t come out. He’ll get stuck and I’ll be having another C-Section”. But he proved me wrong.
When they put him on my chest, tears started rolling down my eyes. He was so warm and he was mine. He didn’t cry very much and just settled in on my chest. I loved having him there. It helped distract from the extensive repairs that my midwife and OB were conducting. And for that I was very thankful that I had the epidural in place. It numbed the pain and I could concentrate on cuddling my little munchkin.
I felt so proud. I DID IT! My body was not defective and was able to birth a child. And a large one to boot. He was born 8lbs 13oz. And apparently had the head circumference of a 10lb baby. And yet he made his way out, safely, and all on his own.
Despite having to give birth in a hospital, having an epidural and having extensive tears, this birth was so emotionally healing for me. I felt so happy and so at peace with everything. I felt immensely proud of what my body managed to accomplish. And now looking back on it, I’m glad I got to experience both a C-Section and a VBAC. I can now honestly say that I know what each one feels like. And I know that both have pluses and minuses to them.
I hope that reading my birth story will help my readers with their impending labor anxieties. I want you all to know that no matter how the labor progresses, “You Are AMAZING and STRONG!!!!”
Please, share your birth stories in the comments. I’d love to find out how the experience(s) went for you.