At 39 weeks of pregnancy, pressure waves arrived in the middle of the night about 10 minutes apart. I thought “this is it” but after I got up and ate, they stopped. I went to my 39 week exam a few hours later.
My 40 week appointment came and went without baby's arrival. I started having more nightly cramping and pressure waves. I'm pretty sure my mucus plug was gradually coming out too. I was ready for this. Thursday night (3/14/13) brought some waves off and on. Friday night (3/15) brought even more fairly consistent pressure waves but they tapered off. I was frustrated so tried various things to kick start labor, such as, spicy food, belly dancing, and walking. It was almost impossible to walk outside with the ice and snow and I figured a good walk would help get things moving so we headed to the Mall of America on Saturday morning (3/16). I had a few strong waves while walking. Later that day, we downloaded the Turn Your Posterior Baby track because the baby was in a posterior position. I didn't feel any changes. A few hours later, we attended the neighbors St. Patrick’s Day party. I had some waves there so we left early. Saturday night brought even more consistent waves. I hoped it was really my birthing time. It was almost impossible to sleep through all the waves.
Sunday morning (3/17) the waves kept coming but inconsistently. My mom came to take care of our son. I was glad she was there because I needed Rob focused on me. We downloaded a contraction timing app so we could more easily time them. I kept texting and calling our doula, Aileen, with updates. We decided to have her come over Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t bare the thought of going another night without sleep or without our baby’s arrival. After she arrived she started reciting birth prompts through each pressure wave. We tried the Side Lying Release to help turn our posterior baby. She guided me through some increasing pressure waves. We tried some abdominal lift and tucks and I laid down to do the Fear Clearing script. Unfortunately, my waves slowed as soon as I laid down. Aileen, our doula, thought it would be best for me to get some sleep.
After she left, my waves increased again and I was unable to sleep. We put in a movie to keep my mind off things. Rob helped me through each wave, rubbing my back and doing some birth prompts. My waves kept coming but not consistent enough or close enough to merit a call to our doula or the on-call midwife. I was having a hard time keeping food and liquids down and was getting dehydrated. I finally decided to call the on-call midwife at 9:00 pm. She suggested going to St. John’s Hospital to be evaluated and get an IV to prevent dehydration. She also suggested a sleep aid to help me sleep, which sounded good to me. As soon as I hung up the phone my waves started coming every 3 to 4 minutes and didn’t let up. The waves felt more uncomfortable when I was laying down so I lowered myself to my hands and knees or to my knees with my head resting on the couch. Rob got everything ready for the hospital and prepped the car. He thinks that I had a mental block and everything picked up as soon as I knew I was going to the hospital.
We arrived at St. John’s at 10:00 pm. I was having wave after wave in the car and on the walk to the maternity center. I was able to breath and relax through each one. As soon as we walked in, a nurse said “Are you Lindsay?” I felt so welcome and in good hands. We went to room 20 (the same room we viewed on our hospital tour and the same room I visualized). They hooked me up to a monitor. Baby was fine. The midwife, Kathleen, checked my cervix, I was dilated to 5 cm. She said we should be celebrating that fact. I was too tired to celebrate. She said I was doing a great job breathing through each wave. She said I wasn't in active labor yet based on the fetal monitor they had hooked me up to. She said we would do the IV and see how my body responds. I could not get a sleep aid if I go into active labor. I was disappointed. I hadn't slept the night before and wanted to be well rested before meeting my baby. Around 11:15 pm they hooked up my IV. I had visualized getting an IV port ahead of time because the midwives told me that as a hospital VBAC patient I would need IV port and Continuous Fetal Monitoring. I was not excited about either one but I made sure the hospital had a mobile monitor so I could move around during my birthing time.
I went into the "OFF" position before the nurse inserted the needle. It took her and another nurse 4 attempts which is what I was afraid of. When my first child was born, it also took them 4 attempts at an IV. Apparently, my veins like to wiggle. Finally, my body got the fluids it needed. I was also drinking juice and water but vomited them up. I cannot remember all that happened next but I asked if we should call our doula and the nurse and the midwife said" YES". I thought to myself "I am going to have this baby soon". Rob called Aileen and she got there quickly. Once she got there, we took a walk. I could not stand through the intense pressure waves so I got on my hands and knees about three times as we walked maybe 50 feet and turned around.
Aileen and Rob did birth prompts and rubbed my back through each wave. It was very manageable. I felt fully supported physically and emotionally by them. We returned to the room and I asked to use the peanut ball because I heard it could help turn a posterior baby. The midwife had me lay on my right side and put the ball between my legs. It is supposed to create more room to help the baby move. I'm not sure how long I was laying there but my water broke at 2:00 am. Shortly after that, I remember going to the toilet and I started feeling "pushy". My body was involuntarily pushing. I said "I don't want to have my baby on the toilet," and we all got a good laugh out of that.
I went back to the bed so I could have the midwife check me before I started pushing again. I wanted to make sure I was fully dilated and I was! At 2:40 my body started pushing the baby out with each wave. I got on my knees and rested my head and hands at the head of the bed that was fully inclined. This was a position our Hypnobabies instructor, Lindsay, showed us in class. Thankfully, the midwife said I could be in that or any other position I wanted to birth my baby. It felt so good to push. I could not tell where the baby was...I must have had hypno-anesthesia running through me. I didn't consciously turn my switch "on" or "off" as I imagined I would. I couldn't really hear the Pushing Baby Out track that was playing in the background either. I just followed my body's cues to push when I felt the need. I pushed with all my might and it felt GOOD. Everyone in the room was so encouraging. It was helpful for them to say I was doing a good job and that certain things were normal, like pooping. ;-) Pretty soon, they said they could see the baby's head and I should feel it. When I felt it...it was gone. She had slipped back inside. A few more pushes later and she was out. She turned on her own as she came out. I was amazed that pushing her out did not hurt. (The pressure waves were definitely more uncomfortable than the pushing.) Violet Eve was born at 3:05 am. She weighted 8 lb 4 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. She was perfect.
When people ask me how long my birthing time lasted...I am not sure what to say. When did it officially start? I only know when it officially stopped. It was a long series of false starts and stops but it got me to 5 cm before arriving at the hospital. It doesn’t really matter because I had an amazing experience that I will never forget. I am SO happy that I tried a VBAC and was successful at it because of educating myself and Hypnobabies!
I am thankful to the hospitals and providers that allow women to do a VBAC. I am also thankful that I was healthy and low risk. The recovery from this vaginal birth was so much better and easier than the c-section recovery.