If you've read my son's birth story you will fully understand the depth and healing in this one.
After my sons traumatic birth and the difficult year that followed with a preemie, we were scared to say the least of ever becoming pregnant again. It was a desire deep within me, but after my body rejected itself while pregnant another baby wasn't a good idea. I researched, I sought answers as to a cause for the severe Pre-Eclampsia and H.E.L.L.P Syndrome that almost cost me and my son our lives.
Answers were few and far between. There is no known cause or test for what happened. Pre-Eclampsia, or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension happens in roughly 20% of pregnancies. H.E.L.L.P syndrome accompanies about 2% of those. Another pregnancy would be considered high risk. There was a 30% chance of the same complications, and that was enough. The fear of going through that again, or leaving my husband with two children to raise alone if I didn't make it.... haunted me. It caused me to decide that I would ignore the desire for another baby.
When my son was 3 1/2 I went with my parents to church. I don't go often, but when I hear Papa say "go" I go. I don't remember much about the service, but I will never forget what happened after. There is a couple there that ministers prophetically, my dad said "you should go talk to them" Papa said "go" so I went. They were ministering to someone else, so I waited. Others came to talk to me, but I said "no, I'm supposed to talk to them" When I got to speak with them Papa had a lot to say through them. After some time of prayer, we were just visiting. My son ran across the stage chasing his pa-paw. I smiled and said, "He's mine, he's my miracle baby" The reaction from them was immediate. Their heads snapped to attention like soldiers awaiting orders from a general. They waited for more. I told them that he had been a preemie, born 9 weeks early and only 2lbs 11 oz. Christine looked at me and asked if it was Pre-Eclampsia. She KNEW. It was deeper than prophetic insight, they had been through it. Their daughter was then 8 years old and had dealt with complications throughout her life.
Christine told me that when she was hurting she would ask God "Why? Why are you doing this to me? Why won't You help me? Can't you see me hurting?" I knew those feelings well. It was 3 years after my sons birth and I still couldn't look at pregnant women or women with healthy babies without jealousy and anguish. Christine told me something Papa had revealed to her, that when she had been hurting He was never up there in Heaven allowing her to hurt. His love isn't like that. When she was despairing and in pain He hurt too.
God was hurting for me?
It was a paradigm shift that changed my entire outlook on life. As a parent, when my child is sick or hurt, I ache for them. When they are in the hospital and being held down for every needle stick with wires attached, it hurts me on a deeper level than if it were me. There is something deep in the heart of a parent, a protective instinct to keep your child from harm. When your child is sick or has special needs and you have to stand aside, or even hold them down while they receive medical care you feel like you are ignoring that instinct. They are looking at you with eyes that say "Why are you letting them do this to me? Why won't you make them stop?" And with everything in you, you want to make it stop. But you can't. God's love for His children is no different. He is not some aloof priest sitting in a throne room un-touchable. He is Papa. Abba. Daddy. Father. In every way He is a Father. When His children hurt, He is not "up there" allowing us to hurt. He is with us, loving us and hurting because we are hurting.
As this realization took hold in my spirit on that February day, the couple I had been talking to prayed with me. I prayed with them. I had to let go, and tell God it was okay with me if He wanted me to have another baby. That statement, aloud in that room was the hardest thing I had ever done. It was also full of healing.
For the next year the healing continued. My marriage was healing, I was walking with Papa, learning how to be the wife and mother my family needed me to be. It was time. It was Papa's time. Before we ever got the positive test, we knew we were having a little girl. One day, Papa told me her name was Abigail.
We were not in the least surprised to see the positive pregnancy test, nor were we surprised when the 20 week sonogram said girl. Again I dealt with the nausea, sciatica and back pain, but it was different. I was quite happy with normal pregnancy complaints. I was actually excited to see my first stretch mark. This pregnancy was progressing beautifully. My body was doing what it was created to do. Growing a miracle.
I read all the books again, this time reading all of the "what if's." I researched online about VBAC's, and knew that I not only wanted a VBAC, I didn't want any interventions or medications.
As I sought for information on birth, and later cloth diapering, I was introduced to Diaperswappers. An online forum for cloth diaper trading and forums about life in general. I joined the discussion group of other women due in the same month I was. I found mama's there that have become true friends. I found the support there to believe in my body's ability to give birth naturally.
In discussions with my new OBGYN I went over what I hoped for the birth of our daughter. He always listened carefully and answered my questions. Validating my concerns and easing my fears. I was not convinced that he was totally on board with my drug free VBAC wishes, he was just very laid back and had a "wait and see" mentality. I was ok with that. I worked on my birth plan. Wrote it, re-wrote it, trashed it and started from scratch, then touched it up. I didn't finish it until about 6 weeks from my due date. It was straight forward, simple and flexible. I didn't want an Epidural, but understood that if my blood pressure was sky high again, I would accept one. I didn't want to be continuously monitored, but giving birth in the hospital, I figured I would be.
As each week passed I was further relieved. Especially around 28 weeks. I wasn't sick. I could barely walk, but I wasn't sick.
31 weeks came. I had made it. I was farther along in my pregnancy than I had made it with my son.
32 weeks. Not sick
33 weeks. Blood pressure was behaving.
34, 35, 36, 37.
Thirty-seven weeks. I was full term! I could breathe. I had made it! My body had arrived at what is medically accepted as full term. Sweet peace. Strangely enough as the baby began to drop the pressure on my sciatic nerve and coccyx lessened and I could walk normally. I felt pretty good! I was huge, pregnant and miserable from heartburn but I was 37 weeks and elated that I was STILL PREGNANT.
That week I finally got around to packing the hospital bags, sterilizing the breast pump, setting things in order. I felt settled, peaceful.
39 weeks, it was Thursday and I woke up full of energy. I had to clean. I scrubbed the kitchen cabinets. All of them. When I got to work that night I cleaned everything I could find. I was quite obviously nesting! Saturday came and it was my last day at work, a short shift. I walked around like always, my due date less than a week away. I had a couple of contractions that were different than the others. They were the real ones, the kind that started in the small of my back and wrapped around to my lower abdomen and felt crampy. They made me stop and take notice.
After work I went to my parents for dinner, I laid on the couch eating fresh pineapple and then had Pepperoni pizza. We headed home and I was noticing a few more sporadic contractions. By about 9 PM they were more intense. We headed to bed but I was waking with contractions so I got up and started to time them. This was IT. I could rest between the contractions, they were 3-7 minutes apart but not completely regular, and I couldn't sleep. Finally about 2am I had taken a shower and woken my husband. I was having back labor. The contractions weren't terribly painful in themselves, but the back pain was quite noticeable.
Around 3am I thought I was closer to going to the hospital so I called mom and dad. They came over, we sat around and waited. I fell asleep, but still woke with contractions, now 10-15 minutes apart. 7am came and there was the sunshine! I knew I'd meet my girl on November 15th. A good day to have a baby! Finally around 10 I called the nurse, and she told me to go ahead and go in to be evaluated. I had lost some of my plug through the night. I was only a 2 when we got there, but I was a 2! I walked the halls for a couple of hours and got checked again. A squishy 2, I was making SLOW progress. We went home, I had some soup. I had to signal my husband with every contraction for counter pressure on my back. I was resting after having been up all night. I still wasn't really sleeping, but dozing between contractions. At about 7:30 I was really working to get through contractions, but I was handling them with counter pressure. My husband said "lets go" So back to the hospital we went, I was a 4 1/2. More progress, but SLOW progress. They admitted me, and I sat in the rocker for an hour or so and rocked and breathed through my contractions.
After the rocking chair I sat on a birthing ball and bounced lightly, swaying my hips. Still needing counter pressure to help cope with each contraction. My nurse was fairly quiet and content to let me do my own thing. I allowed the monitors while I was sitting close enough for the cords to reach. I was very pleased that my nurse and the doctor on call for mine, who was out of town, were working to follow my birth plan to the letter. They made sure I understood the risks of proceeding with a VBAC, I assured them I understood.
I was controlling my own hydration since all I had was a Hep-loc in case of a true emergency. The nurse was reluctant to give me much water at first, but complied every time I needed a refill. At some point I was a bit more than a 5, and decided to sit for a while in the jacuzzi tub. That in itself surprised me a bit, as I had been told that particular hospital didn't allow you in the tub after a 5. It was nice in the tub, and I stayed for quite a while. It was 3 or 4am when I got out of the tub and decided to lay down for a bit. I was exhausted. I was about a 7 1/2 by that time. An hour later I was an 8, and sleeping between contractions. It was about an hour later and I was only an 8 1/2. Moving very slowly. I was still having the back pain, and my mom was using counter pressure and massage to help me cope.
After being "stalled" for a while the nurse mentioned rupturing my membranes, and that it "might" help the last of my cervix to "melt away" I was so tired at this point that I decided to let them do it, even tho I had previously decided I didn't want that. It was an hour later when the doc came and checked me and broke my water. I was still an 8 1/2. Very very soon, as in minutes after they broke my water I needed to push. The urge was over whelming. I was checked again, 8 1/2. They had me turn on my left side, it was extremely hard not to push. In fact I was pushing, but not bearing down. I couldn't help it. The only thing they ever told me in class was to blow if you need to push, but aren't complete. So I blew. I blew to the point I finally got oxygen between contractions because I was hyperventilating. In all I fought the urge to push for an hour and a half or 2 hours. During each contraction I was holding onto the railing for dear life and blowing to try not to push. I remember asking God to let me push!
FINALLY I heard the word, "complete" I could push!!!! I would push!
I was pushing! The nurse offered to bring the squatting bar in, and I declined because it felt so good to not fight my body. So there I was, pushing in the typical hospital position, but by my choice. The nurse was following my plans and stretching my perineum while I was pushing. I pushed for a long time. I pushed when my body told me to, and that was even more than they were telling me to. My mom and my husband were holding my hands and helping me through it. I pushed, and pushed. I pushed. After nearly an hour of pushing the baby was no longer travelling back up the birth canal, and she called the doctor in for delivery. I pushed and pushed some more. She was crowning. It was in this moment, I realized that a miracle was coming out of me. I wasn't just giving birth, I was part of a miracle. My body was bringing forth a tiny little person.
She was here. The doctor waited for the cord to stop pulsing, my husband cut it. I had expressed my wish to hold her immediately after birth, and so he asked me if I wanted her, all naked and gooey. Indeed, I wanted her. She was crying the most beautiful newborn cry you can imagine. I laid her on chest and spoke to her, she immediately calmed down. With the help of the nurse from the nursery, she was latched on and nursing beautifully within minutes of being born. She nursed on both sides, and then they checked her out, by my bedside. I did tear a little, but not on my perineum. My baby girl was born at 6:48am, November 16th 2009. After 34 hours of labor, she was here. She was healthy. I did it! I had no drugs, and little intervention. In a hospital proud of its 98% epidural rate, and wing built for C-section recovery, I had a successful, drug free Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.
Are there things that I could've done differently? Yes. I could've said YES to the squatting bar, and NO to them rupturing my membranes. But I was so tired at that point, I didn't care. In the end, my body was left to do what it is supposed to do. Labor and birth a baby. My body took it's time in doing so, but looking back now I am almost thankful for the long labor. I got to treasure it. I never got the chance to labor with my son, and as hard as it was, it was a very healing experience. My body grew, labored and delivered a healthy, full term baby girl.
My baby girl, was 8lbs even, 20 inches long and perfect.