I love Robin's birth story! Robin and her husband are warm and loving people. They are also heavenly, out-of-this-world beautiful. Robin is tall, willowy, and fair, with graceful, feminine curves. She has a sweet smile...and in her story when she refers to using expletives during labor, well, she's being shy. Robin swore -- like a sailor! -- during her last 2 centimeters. This stunningly beautiful woman and her ivory complexion made rosy by the work of labor juxtaposed against the quantity of ways she used the word f*ck was just so funny and real, despite how incongruent it is with her normal vocabulary. The whole picture was so natural and loving and humorous; totally organic, just like birth. Every time I remember her giving birth, I see her husband's wry, surprised smile as he kissed her hair, and I can't help but smile myself -- more than a year later!
The birth of my second child was fueled by a lot of hope, apprehension, and purpose.
My first birth did not go at all how I had hoped. I say that partly in truth but not entirely; ultimately what I wanted was a healthy baby and a safe delivery, and I got bothof those things, thankfully.
During my first pregnancy I was sent for an ultrasound tocheck the baby’s position because I was having back pain and measuring a bitsmall. This ultrasound revealed the babywas sitting low but growing just fine, but it also picked up on a possible complication, a potential problem with the health of the baby.
Possibly catastrophic,but possibly nothing at all.
We were sent through a traumatic rush of doctors andspecialists and tests and results and conversations and counseling and at theend of it all (6 grueling, long weeks later) we were told chances were likelyeverything would be just fine but we would be shuffled in to a high riskpractice and scheduled for a c-section 10 days before my due date just in case. Not even the doctors could agree if this wasnecessary but we felt confused and pressured and like we would be irresponsibleparents if we did not go along with it. In the end our beautiful baby girl was born in *perfect* health, and we were very grateful.
When I became pregnant 18 months later with baby #2, I knew that I wanted to go for a VBAC. I had so much left over regret andfrustration at the entire medical community, mixed of course with gratitude andappreciation. The whole thing was veryconfusing -- and intimidating. My doctor said I would be a good candidate to “attempt” a VBAC, but she provided very little assurance otherthan “as long as the pregnancy is healthy and you go into labor spontaneously, then you have a chance. But we will only let you go a week late, just to be careful.”
That wasn’t good enough for me. I had never gone into labor last time, I wanted to experience that. Most people I know have ended up over due with an induction. I started researching and looked at statistics for everything I could find related to birth and VBACs and decided I need to hire a doula.
When we met Maria it was an immediate match for me. Besides the warmth of her personality and the depth of her knowledge there was a level of understanding I hadn’t realized I needed. She understood why this mattered so much to me. I wasn’t just another name on a file, this wasn’t just one more birth to be done in a day. I needed to give birth to my baby, and I was sad that I didn't have that chance with my first.
Maria and I focused on how to keep the pregnancy healthy and how to promote labor on time. I focused all of my energy on helping my body prepare for labor and birth; eating right,walking, massage, prenatal yoga, meditation. We also took a natural childbirth class and learned as much as we couldabout how to get through labor without interventions. All seemed to be going great and even the doctor became optimistic. In my head I was still nervous about needing another c-section, but I did my best to push this out of my mind.
Three days later I was in for my next appointment and myblood pressure had skyrocketed. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor to see if it would come down, and I did my best to pull out my inner Zen. It came down a tiny bit but not enough for their liking. I was told to come back in the morning and if it was still high I would be induced. I was a nervous wreck as I told Maria the news.
She told me to: 1) stay off my feet, 2) call for help with my daughter’s care, 3)take Epsom salt baths, and 4) salt one item on my dinner plate with sea salt. My parents arrived to take care of my daughter, and my husband packed our bags as I did my best to follow Maria’s instructions. I was trembling as they took my blood pressure the following morning and sure enough, it had dropped over 10 points. My doctor was shocked, and I was sent home.
After such a close call I decided to pull out all the stops to get the party started. My doctor did two membrane sweeps, I went to an acupuncturist, ordered a really spicy Thai dinner, and as they say when they say “what got the baby in there will also get the baby out!”
The day before my due date I woke up around 2am with mildcontractions every 12-15 minutes. I was suddenly wide awake as I was wondering if this was in fact true labor. Around 3:30 I had bloody show, I was thrilled! I woke up my husband and called Maria. Things were still pretty mild and not getting any closer together so we agreed to talk again at 8am. By then the contractions were still only a bit uncomfortable and maybe 10 minutes apart so we debated if my husband should go to work or not and decided to talk to Maria again around 10:30.
Around 9:30 I began to get very emotional and irritable asthe contractions were starting to get painful. I could still talk between them and they were not much closer togetherbut my husband called Maria back and she said she would come over around10:30. My parents took my daughter out and we decided to try a hot shower or bath.
By 10:00 the contractions were really picking up in intensity but not showing much consistency in timing. Again, I was ok enough between contractions so we debated when we might want to call the doctor. They had said 5 minutes long, 5 minutes apart, for 1 hour and we definitely were not there yet. They were maybe 7-8 minutes apart, 30 seconds long… and then suddenly they jumped to 2 minutes apart.
After a few strong contractions at 2 minutes apart my husband decided we needed to get in the car and drive the 15-20 minutes to the hospital. He called the doctor to tell them and they asked him to hold on. He said (as I moaned in the background) “there isn’t time!” He got in touch with Maria and rerouted her to thehospital.
She was waiting in the parking garage when we arrived and I remember seeing her face and saying “This really hurts, this is awful!” as tears streamed down my face. She reassured me that everything was happening just as it should and just to relax and breathe. The three of us arrived at the L&D check in and the contractions kept coming. They quickly admitted me, got me in a bed and gown and checked me as we were getting settled in. I was begging for some pain relief, and Maria advised I wait to see how far along I was before making any decisions. I remember praying that I was past 5 centimeters, because although I originally said I wanted a natural birth I didn’t think there was much more I could take. We all almost fell overwhen they looked up and announced that I was 8 centimeters already.
They put me on the monitor for 15 really long minutes and all looked good. Thankfully they took it off after that which is rare during a VBAC - so I was free to change positions which provided some much needed relief. Still, it hurt. A lot. I was begging and pleading for an epidural. Maria and my husband reminded me that I did not really want one and told me by the time they got the anesthesiologist in and administered it I wouldn’t need it anymore. I tried to tune everything out and focus on the music I had brought.
The doctor came in to check me again, and I was at 9 centimeters and during the exam my water broke. This again provided some relief but still, it hurt, and I was begging and pleading for an epidural. This time the doctor confirmed for me that, truly, by the time they got the anesthesiologist in and administered it I wouldn’t need it anymore.
Maria held my hand and said to me “the only way the pain will stop is to get the baby out.” A final check and 10 centimeters, but because of slight lip in the cervix, no one wanted me to push yet.
Maria leaned over to the OB and asked, “Do you think she can try and push around the lip?” A long minute passed as the OB considered the question, and then she finally agreed (we later learned it was her first day unsupervised!). Yes, I could push.
I kept repeating Maria’s words: “Push to make the pain stop.” I pushed that kid out in 20 minutes.
Harvey was born at 12:59, less than two hours after we arrived at thehospital. He was 7lbs, 8oz, 20.5 inches long.
Healthy, handsome, loved, and the product of a natural VBAC.