When I found out that I was pregnant with our second, I knew right away that I wanted to try for an “all natural” labor. My daughter had been born via c-section; she was butt down, legs all over the place, and I hated it. I hated the drugs, the being sliced open while completely conscious, and the recovery. So this time around I was going to attempt a VBAC, drug free. I wasn’t completely against the epidural but I wanted to try it on my own.
When you tell people that you are going to try for a drug free labor, you get one of three reactions. The first is “awe”. People look at you wide eyed and ask, “Really? Are you sure?” The second is “denial” – “No, I really think you should reconsider the epidural.” And lastly, my favorite from the veteran moms, is the eye roll and sarcastic, “Good luck with that.”
On January 18th, I was 2 days past my due date, and in a complete panic that my baby would never come. I just knew I was going to end up needing another c-section. If you’ve had a previous c-section, your doctor won’t induce for safety reasons. So when I went to see my midwife that day we set my c-section date, and I left the office in tears.
I had been walking around 3 cm dilated, fully engaged, and 70% effaced for weeks. What was he doing in there? After the appointment with my midwife, I had some cramping (she swept my membranes) but overall I felt completely normal.
Around 10:30 that night, I was lying in bed watching Netflix when I felt some cramping that made me jump out of bed. Hum…a contraction? I was sure it wasn’t, just some cramping from the membrane sweep. But they kept coming about every 7-8 minutes, and were strong enough that I couldn’t sit still though them. I started pacing the house and woke up Dean. About an hour later, the contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes and the only relief I could get was from sitting on my exercise ball. We decided it was time to call my midwife. We stayed on the phone long enough for her to listen to me have a contraction, and then told us to meet her at the hospital. We called my mom who came right over to be with Chloe, and we left for the hospital around midnight.
We got to the hospital quickly…the joys of suburb living, met my midwife, and got settled in a Labor and Delivery room about 12:30. I was already 6 cm dilated. My midwife asked my if I wanted an epidural, and I said that I wasn’t sure. She told me to wait a little since I still had time but we started an IV just incase I decided that I did want one.
While we waited for things to progress, I sat on the exercise ball, Dean rubbed my back, we took pictures. So far, I was handling it pretty well.
Around 1:00 my contractions were coming closer together and getting stronger. I started shaking and my teeth were chattering. I decided that I wanted to try sitting in the tub. Before I hopped in, “hopped in” is the wrong word, waddled shakily is better, my midwife checked my progress and I was 8 cm already. I was happy to hear that things were moving quickly.
I got in the tub and it was wonderful. It didn’t take away the pain of the contractions but it did help me to relax through them.
At this point, contractions were strong but I was still able to have conversations, and take pictures, in between them.
Around 1:45, I started to feel like I needed to push. I think I yelled that I needed the epidural now but my midwife said, “No”. Oh man. I was really going to do this the old fashioned way.
We began the slow process of getting me out of the tub. This took some time because every time I switched positions, I would have another contraction. But I was 9 cm! My midwife said she wanted me to lay still through one more contraction so she could break my water, and then I could start pushing. Lay still? That was the worst contraction yet.
My midwife warned me that I may push for 2 hours since, even though I labored with Chloe, I was pushing for the first time. Hell no. I am not pushing for two hours. I think I cried when I heard that.
I started pushing at 2:10, and let me tell you, the strength of the contractions and the feeling of pushing your child out is something out of this world. I felt like I had zero control of my body. The feeling reminded me of having the worst stomach flu of your life, dry heaving uncontrollably, except instead of needing to throw up, your body needs to push a baby out. The urge to push was so strong that I literally felt like my body was going to explode from the inside out. Dean patted my face with a cold towel. I couldn’t talk. My midwife told me not to scream. I now understand why people throw up and/or poop during labor. Luckily, I did neither.
Finally, after about 5 contractions (thankfully not 2 hours) I felt my baby boy slip right out (thank you Pilates By T and The Dailey Method for helping maintain my pelvic floor). Literally, that’s what it felt like. Something big and slimy sliding right out of you. It was not a pleasant feeling. I will forever remember that feeling. But as soon as he was out, the contractions stopped completely, and I felt normal again. Such an amazing example of what the human body can do.
At 2:37, a slimy, squirmy, 6 lbs 15oz human was placed on my chest. How surreal. I kissed his oddly shaped head, and I felt damn proud of myself.
We both look pretty exhausted here. Remember it’s the middle of the night and neither of us had slept. I felt like I just ran a marathon. But aside from that, I was feeling great. I was up walking around almost immediately after Ryan was born. That was not the case after my c-section. I was miserable, and shaky, and nauseaous.
I never thought I could actually have a successful VBAC, let alone a natural labor. It was honestly NOT that bad. Never anything I couldn’t handle. And this coming from someone who cries when she gets a paper cut.
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with short labors – 2.5 hours with Chloe, and 4 hours with Ryan. I credit that to exercise, pilates, and TDM.
Are you thinking about a VBAC? A natural labor? Let’s chat!