About a year after having D&A, my Dr. H and I decided on Columbus, Ohio as the place to start our new post-fellowship lives. I bid adieu to Big Law and prepared to start my new life as a stay at home mom to twin toddlers. We had toyed with the idea of having a third, but dismissed it when we found out that our new insurance didn’t cover IVF related expenses. We were done, and I was ok with it.
I finally weaned David at 16 months on the drive down from Minneapolis to Columbus. Finally having my body all to myself, I dedicated myself to getting fit. I joined CrossFit and did a Whole 30 and got in the best shape of my life – all within about 90 days. Meanwhile, something very very strange started happening – I started getting my period about every 35 days. Weird right? It happened twice, until it was time for a third “regular” period to come and it didn’t come. I posted in my success after infertility board that I was bummed that my cycles were becoming funky again after being regular, diminishing my hopes of having a “free baby” someday. They told me – “Test you idiot”
Oops. (And yes I know there’s pee on it – it’s the only picture I have)
I told myself, it’s a fluke. There’s no way this would turn into a real baby. But sure enough, it did. We were told we were having a healthy baby boy. We walked around dumbfounded for the next couple of months, until I started to actually come to terms with the fact that WE WERE HAVING ANOTHER BABY.
Once I processed the idea that my body had actually figured out how to make a baby, I immediately knew I wanted to try a VBAC. I found a practice headed by two women who were “VBAC friendly” and planned on keeping the healthy diet and exercise regime that I think helped my body get pregnant in the first place. I wanted to get my body “ready” for delivery, so I decided to check out a pre-natal yoga class at a new studio in town taught by the lovely Sarah. From that moment on my VBAC felt possible. I practiced yoga several times each week and listened to the Hypnobabies program during nap time every day.
Dr. H was ambivalent about hiring a doula. He had seen L&D nurses do their work and didn’t see the need for one. But, when Sarah graciously offered her services to me as an apprentice doula, we jumped at the chance. Sarah steered me to some resources to learn more about what I needed to do to have a VBAC. There I learned that the most important thing I needed was time for my body to go into spontaneous labor. My friends and family assured me that my activity level (chasing around toddlers and working out) would ensure that I would go into labor well before 40 weeks, but I had a feeling this would not be the case. My body is still a little jacked up after all, and sometimes it needs a bit more time.
Once I hit the third trimester, my OB and I began to discuss delivery. She originally “gave” me 40 weeks to go into labor, and told me that a scheduled C-section was necessary afterwards. I pushed and pleaded and got her to agree to “giving” me until 41 weeks, 1 day.
I had a “stretch and sweep” at 38 weeks 5 days and was so excited to feel my first contraction! I downloaded a timer, walked around my neighborhood and watched as they went from 10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart. They weren’t that painful, but I could feel the pressure and thought that it was the real thing! Sarah came over and hung out with us until I was having consistent 5 minutes apart for an hour. We packed up the cars and headed into the hospital…contracting all the way.
I walked into triage, laid down to be checked and was told I was ONE. Say WHAT?!!?? I’m sure the nurse who checked me was a wonderful person but I will hate her guts until my dying day. I thought she was lying. I thought she was out to get me. I couldn’t do anything but go home and cry. Sarah was convinced that I was having prodromal labor due to malpositioning and spent the night doing crazy doula maneuvers to turn the baby around. Labor stalled.
Prodromal labor lasted for the next 16 days. I would have contractions every day, sometimes for hours. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. Time stopped. My friends brought me food. The week that Dr. H had off to help deliver and bond with the baby passed. I was a walking, emotional train wreck. EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT was dedicated to getting the baby out. I walked. I pumped. I tried walking and pumping. I went over the logistics of who was going to care for me and the babies for each day that I could go into labor on my own until the day of my scheduled c-section.
My sister Amy came into town late Monday night with my 5 month old nephew and her au pair. I had until Friday to go into labor. We stayed up all night talking about how I would go into labor and about how I needed to be positive. I went to bed resolute in the notion that I just needed MORE TIME – and without it I was headed for a C-section.
I spent the entire morning on Tuesday calling around to practices to see if they would take a post-date VBAC candidate and let me go to 42 weeks. Finally, a practice agreed to meet with me Wednesday morning as a second opinion. The only catch was that this practice shared call with my current practice – making for an awkward situation. I didn’t care. I got that consult on the books and walked around with a big smile on my face, as surely NOW I would get my VBAC.
Tuesday night at 10 pm I pumped next to my sister for a couple minutes while bouncing on the ball. After a few minutes, I said “F this – I’m tired of doing it” and tossed the pump aside and fell asleep.
Two hours later, I awoke to a strange feeling and ran to the bathroom. My water instantly broke and I was feeling intense contractions. I yelled to Amy to get out of bed. She sleepily grabbed me a diaper to mop up the fluid that was gushing out and told me to relax – it might be awhile. I called Sarah and laid down in the nest my sister made me on the couch and listened to Hypnobabies. I told Dr. H my water broke, but agreed that he should keep sleeping as he had to be at a hospital about an hour away at 7 am (the plan was for him to try and get coverage and then meet us at the hospital later that day in time to watch the birth)
Sarah arrived at about 1 am as my contractions were getting stronger. I remember trying to make brownies around 2 am and giving up because my contractions kept getting in the way. All three of us decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. It was drizzling and wonderful. I began to go from groaning through contractions to “moo-ing” Around 4, Sarah and Amy apparently looked at each other and said “it’s time” and packed me inside Sarah’s car.
This time, I did not walk to triage but instead was given a wheelchair by the nice front desk man who saw me fall flat on the floor in the vestibule, mid-contraction. I went to triage and got checked by a very nice and spunky nurse, Molly. 5 centimeters. Different ballgame.
I got wheeled into my L&D room and got as comfortable as I could kneeling on all fours on the bed, facing the wall. People kept coming in and asking me to sign forms. Sarah and Amy kept me focused and Molly typed in a bunch of stuff in the computer. The pain was intense, but bearable. After about 30 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about an epidural. I told her I didn’t want one. She said that she didn’t care (which I thought was strange) and told me she had papers for me to sign. Exhausted from having been up with me the night before, Amy went to go grab a coffee.
5 minutes later, things were getting crazier with my contractions and Molly wanted to check me. This time she told me I was at a 5-6 and “really low” I felt offended – wasn’t I a 5 hours ago? Well, no, she explained, it was about 45 minutes and it was more like she stretched me to a 5. Time was moving very slowly in my head and I was losing my grip on reality.
Molly and Sarah could see that I wanted this baby out quickly. Sarah had me lunge against the bed for a couple of contractions. Molly gave me this horrible torture device called a peanut ball that I used for one contraction each on each side. In a matter of 20 minutes, my contractions went from “wow – intense” to “holy fucking shit what the fuck is going on.” Sarah was right there with me providing counter pressure and letting me lean into her for each contraction. Molly went to check me again as I was in the throes of a contraction against the bed. I had promised myself silently that if I was still at a 5 that I would get an epidural. Nope – I was at an 8.
The next 5-10 minutes were spent with me gaping at Sarah – trying to come to grips with the reality that this really was happening and Molly trying to get a doctor in the room. I had another OMG I can’t even stand it contraction and Molly checked me again – I was at a rim. Amy came back with her coffee to see a tray full of tools and me on the bed in pushing position. She called Dr. H who was on his way to work – unable to make it in time for the birth.
We had to wait for the on-call doctor but there was a resident who came in as my bulging sack of waters burst and I started pushing. I did not push out a baby right away. Finally, the on-call guy arrived (not one of my doctors) and I was given the go ahead to push. I had no idea how to push a baby out. Everybody was telling me to do something differently. Amy, who had been offering me moral support this entire time and who is really good at telling me what to do, locked eyes with me and talked me through everything. The anesthesiologist came by with her papers and made me sign them mid-pushing. It took four pushes. I roared. I screamed. At 6:40 a.m. I was told to reach down and pull the baby out. I reached down and met Andrew. In that moment, I knew that I was invincible.