Where to begin. I decided to start writing Vinnies birth story at the 40 week mark, the day after my 40 week hospital appointment. At this stage I am unsure how this story will end…or shall I say begin, but I thought it was important to document each stage of my attempt at a Vaginal Birth After C-section (VBAC) versus an elective C-section, for all the women out there facing this same situation.
My last blog left off at 39 weeks, at that point I had one membrane sweep at my hospital appointment which unfortunately did not result in labour. At that appointment I was told I was 1-2cm dilated and that if I progressed further, breaking my waters would suffice as an induction of labour. Heading into my 40 week appointment I was feeling hopeful. As I have mentioned previously, this last month of pregnancy is worlds apart from my first. My body has been demonstrating so many ‘labour signs’ so I went in with the hopes that I had progressed and that a sweep would possibly get things started. Well, I was wrong.
The doctor started by confirming Vinnie’s position via Ultrasound, and found that he was engaged. I knew that would be the case as Vinnie loves to head butt my cervix every night. She then measured his heart rate (which was perfect) and moved on to the sweep. The membrane sweep is a pretty uncomfortable ‘procedure’. The doctor or midwife sweep a finger around your cervix to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix in an attempt to release prostaglandins and kick start your labour. After she completed the sweep I questioned my progression since a fortnight ago…and she advised that nothing had changed.
After 2 weeks of aches and pains, Braxton Hicks, diarrhoea, cramps, I thought I would’ve progressed even just a little…but no. We then discussed the risks associated with induction. Myla’s induction ended up in an emergency C-section (EMCS) due to foetal distress, and me failing to dilate past 4cm. Induction is something I have little faith in. Firstly, induction after a C-section increases the chances of uterine rupture. To put it into perspective, if I was to be induced (the method being balloon catheter), I have a 1 in 100 chance of uterine rupture. Uterine Rupture is a tear in the wall of the uterus, most often at the site of a previous C-section incision. If the tear goes through all layers of the uterus the consequences can be dire for mother and baby. This is a risk I am not willing to take. I desperately want a VBAC but a 1 in 100 risk of a potentially fatal consequence is not worth it in my eyes. Secondly, induction failed me the first time and resulted in an EMCS anyway therefore why would I take a potentially fatal risk just to end up with the same result? After discussing it with my doctor and husband, it was decided that the only way for me to be induced, was for them to break my waters. In order for them to break my waters to induce me, I would need to dilate to 3-4cm on my own.
In light of the above circumstances, I have booked in for an elective C-section at 41+2. I left the hospital feeling OK about the above outcome. I could still potentially go into labour between now and then…and I finally started to accept that a C-section (if needed) wasn’t the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario would be me leaving the hospital without Vinnie. I then woke up at 4am and read @thesesonnydays VBAC birth story and all that positive thinking went to shit. I’m currently feeling pretty low about my current situation. I know it is ridiculous. I know how lucky I am. I know that some women can’t even carry a child let alone give two shits about how it’s birthed, but I can’t help but feel incredibly disappointed and sad by it all. I really do want a VBAC. It makes me sad knowing that I could have another scenario where Vinnie is born and I will only get to spend a short amount of time with him right away, then spend the next 45minutes being stitched up. Ill happily deal with an episiotomy and no epidural just to have the VBAC and normal birth I have always wanted. At this point I feel like my body has once again failed me. Yes, a healthy baby boy is ALL THAT MATTERS. I know this, but only those who have been in this situation will know how I feel. The day after my membrane sweep I underwent acupuncture as a last attempt to bring on labour…will it work?
Vinnie is here, and I got my VBAC:
Well, after all that worrying and disappointment my waters broke at 9.45am at 40+5. That morning I had woken up, done my usual clean, showered and got ready to go out when I felt a gush. It wasn’t a huge gush, just a small amount of water…I was convinced it was wishful thinking as I have had so many ‘this is it’ moments. I messaged my sister in law to see what she thought. She told me to lie down for half an hour then get up and see if it happened again. It did and I was officially getting my hopes up. I rang my mum to come look after Myla then rang hubby and told him to come home. As I was trying for a VBAC I was advised to go to hospital at the first sign of labour. At around 12pm I went to the bathroom and had a clear thick discharge – I was losing my plug! I actually cried with happiness. I really never thought I would go into labour.
We arrived at the Mater Mothers Pregnancy Assessment Unit at 12.45pm and waited to be seen. It was extremely busy that Friday afternoon between emergencies, inductions and spontaneous labour patients. I was finally taken in to see the midwife at 3.20pm. She put me on a heart rate monitor for 20 minutes to monitor baby. We briefly discussed my options going forward, if my waters indeed had broken. It was either a C-section or induction by the Syntocinon drip as I wasn’t yet contracting. I was hesitant about any form of induction as you know, due to the 1 in 100 risk of uterine rupture. After discussing it with the midwife, and then my husband, I decided to try the drip. I was told that we could start it at a very low dose to begin with, and if at any time I felt uneasy we could stop and go to option b: a C-section. This put my mind at ease. We spoke to the doctor and the plans were put into motion.
I was given a cannula at around 5.30pm as a precautionary measure, that way if a C-section was required again, I was ready to go. I was then admitted to a room to wait to be taken to birthing suites. I knew it was going to be some time before we were taken down (unless I suddenly went into labour) so hubby and I had dinner and did our best to get some sleep before the day ahead. At around 3.30am I started getting contractions. They were irregular in time and intensity. They started off as nothing, then started to hurt! What was I in for…
At 5am the midwife checked my heart rate, blood pressure and Vinnies heart rate and noticed that Vinnies heart rate dropped when I had a small tightening. To eliminate any worry I was placed on the heart rate monitor again to double check that everything was ok. This brought back bad memories, as Myla ended up in an emergency C-section due to her heart rate dropping when I was contracting. Thankfully after some time on it, she was satisfied that it was a one off.
My contractions started to regulate (and hurt) at around 7am, I didn’t know how to sit or stand to cope with them! I kept thinking back to Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills book I had read in preparation. I tried her methods, particularly the moving of my legs…it still effing hurt. I tried to visualise the pain as good pain…it still effing hurt. I would find one position comfortable for a few contractions, then have to change it up. I couldn’t bloody stand for some of them! How was I meant to stomp around the room? One word was going through my mind at this point – EPIDURAL.
At 8am we were finally taken to the birthing suite – it was time! Once we arrived at birthing suites I met Jo, our midwife. I had a shower to freshen up, and was then hooked up to the heart rate monitors to monitor Vinnie closely. Jo then went on to prep the drip and antibiotics.
At 9.30am Jo examined me to see if I had dilated, I was 2cm. What the actual fuck? After all those painful contractions, I was 2cm? I was extremely disappointed. As time passed the contractions began to intensify, so Jo asked me about pain relief I had considered. After reassurance from Jo that an epidural wouldn’t derail my plan to have a successful VBAC I decided to have one. In the meantime she had given me the gas to try, all that did was make me giggle like a lunatic! Around 10am the anaesthetist came in and administered the epidural, Jo did my catheter and that was it for feeling any pain…well I thought it was!
At 11am I tried to get some sleep as I assumed it was going to be a long day considering I had only dilated 2cm at 9.30am but, my contractions were intensifying and the epidural wasn’t working as well as I thought it would. I had excruciating pain in the right side of my pelvis. I likened it to the SPD I had experienced in my pregnancy, but a million times worse. Jo didn’t want to increase the epidural as it would dull the urge to push later on and I agreed, so I continued to battle through. I had no issues moving my legs/body and honestly felt every contraction. They say the epidural doesn’t work for everyone and I MUST have been one of them as I went from relaxed to fucking shoot me in a 1 hour period. I started getting the shakes yet I wasn’t cold, my back was killing me, the pelvic pain was excruciating, the contractions were so close together and I felt the urge to poop. Jo didn’t want to internally examine me too often to avoid any infection (as my waters had broken a day ago) but as I was exhibiting all the signs so she went ahead. It was 12pm at this stage – I was 8cm dilated!
I did not expect that and neither did Jo! I was in the transitional phase of labour. Jo assured me that once I had dilated to 10cm and entered the pushing phase that it wouldn’t be as painful. Looking back it hurt like hell but it was pretty funny, I remember screaming out to Jo ‘I need to poo, I am going to poo’ and her saying that was good! Umm Jo, I don’t want to poo on the bed in front of you or my husband haha. As I was screaming in pain, Jo checked me again at 12.25pm – I was fully dilated and I could start to push! All I could think about when it came to the pushing stage was my girlfriends, and how they had said they had pushed for hours and hours with their babies. I COULD NOT DO THIS. I can’t be pushing for hours and hours…I didn’t have it in me. The sounds I was making when pushing, were comparable to a wilder beast. I might’ve scarred the hubby for life. I remember telling him to hold my legs then hold my hands, then squeeze my feet and changing my mind every second haha. At one point I looked up at Chris mid contraction and he was chuckling…I wanted to kill him. The psycho came out in me and I blasted him, then wished in my head that one day he would have to pass a kidney stone…yeah, I was not in a joking mood.
OK so I was pushing, and pushing. Another midwife came in to help Jo. She told me to close my mouth and focus all my energy pushing into my bottom. She basically told me to shut up – she was on my post birth hit list. Haha no, I understood what she meant and it did help. I had to push three times per contraction – it was hard. I could barely suck in enough breath by the third to push and exhale out. I had my legs in stirrups and arms wrapped around my thighs pulling up at each contraction. I kept saying ‘I can’t do this’. I truly believed I couldn’t. I was inexplicably tired. At that point I wished they would cut me open. Between contractions they encouraged me to rest and breathe. Honestly, how was I meant to do this for hours?
Well, thankfully I didn’t have to! Vinnie was well and truly nearly out. I just had to keep pushing. Before the final pushes Vinnie’s heart rate began to drop, and fast. It went from a 130 average to 70, at one point dropping to 60. Before I knew it Jo had called in the doctors. The room went from hubby, myself, Jo and the other midwife to about 12 people. In between the contractions and me delirious, I heard them mention forceps, vacuum and episiotomy. All three of these things were on my ‘not me’ list. In order to give baby the space to push out the doctor performed an episiotomy. She put some local anaesthetic into the area and cut me. I was then advised on the next contraction to push like hell and I wanted to! I didn’t want them to use a vacuum or forceps. I pushed so hard that I popped blood vessels in my face! After 23 minutes of pushing Vinnie was born at 12.48pm. I did it! I remember seeing Vinnie being placed onto my chest and hubby and I in absolute awe of what just happened. We couldn’t believe it, we were amazed. The room was full of people still, with them stitching and moving about but all I saw was Vinnie. I got the VBAC I wanted. After 9 months of hoping, it all worked out, and most importantly I left the hospital with our healthy baby boy.
A few pics from the day that we managed to take in between all the commotion.