If I had one word to describe this whole experience, it would be, patience.
Patience, because he was born at 41 weeks and 1 day.
Patience, because I was in early labor for 60 hours.
Patience, because he didn’t get to come home right away with us and spent extra nights at the NICU.
Here is Thomas’s birth story.
On Friday, June 26th, I woke up at 2:30am to some early labor contractions. They felt different from the Braxton Hicks I would get during the night. Sort of period-like cramps in the bottom front and lower back. I remembered this feeling from when I went into labor with Penny. I also knew that it wasn’t full-on labor, so I went back to bed, waking up a few times to the cramping but sleeping rather well. I was excited – today could actually be the day!
We went about our Friday like normal. The contractions came every 8-10 minutes and lasted 1 minutes long. They were manageable, just early labor. We kept distracted with playtime, walks, stairs, and a few exercises to try and help the baby get in an optimal position so labor would pick up.
That night we made the decision to send Penny to her friend’s house, in case labor picked up in the middle of the night. I had high hopes that it would happen soon!
But then I woke up on Saturday, June 27th, feeling the same. Same timing – 8 to 10 minutes apart. Same length – 1 minute. Same intensity – manageable.
Our doctor had us come in that morning to check how the baby was tolerating the contractions. He did well on the NST, and an ultrasound showed plenty of amniotic fluid. She did a check – I was 4cm and 50% effaced – good news! She also did a membrane sweep (holy moly it was INTENSE) and we were sent off to walk, do stairs, and get things rolling. She was optimistic she would see us that night or early the next morning.
I had a bit of a break down on Saturday night. I was missing Penny something awful, thinking this would go for days, and I just wanted her with us. I was tired of walking, of doing stairs, of doing Spinning Babies exercises and all sorts of other things. The contractions hadn’t changed much and it just felt like it would go forever like this. In hindsight, I should have gotten Penny and brought her home that night to stay with us, but against my intuition I let her stay at her friend’s house. She was having such a fun time, anyway, I didn’t want to disturb that.
When I woke up on Sunday morning with the same old, same old, I told Brandon he just needed to get Penny, I couldn’t be apart any longer. The minute she walked in the door, my contractions stopped for almost an hour, but I felt so good. We cuddled and hung out together before things started picking up again.
A walk to Dunkin Donuts proved to be what got labor going. I was having to stop during contractions and breathe through them. The intensity was picking up, though they weren’t too much closer yet.
Then around 1:30pm, I lost part of my mucus plug, and that seemed to be what set me into active labor. The contractions started coming closer and closer together – we were timing them anywhere 3 to 5 minutes apart, lasting up to 2 minutes. They started getting intense. I was leaning against the kitchen table during each one, breathing and focusing through it. By 2:30 I said to Brandon that we should start getting things together. I guess it was just my intuition, I was surprised how quickly I came to the decision.
He woke Penny from her nap, got her stuff together, and brought her to a neighbor’s house. When he got home I said we just needed to go, now. I was dreading the car ride already! We were out of the house by 3:15 and up at the birth center by 3:45 – the fastest we’ve ever gotten there, I’m pretty sure.
Things were moving moving moving.
They brought us to one room, and then the doctor moved us to the deluxe room (which was pretty swanky and big, with a huge tub that I never got to use!) I was moaning and rocking during each contractions. They were intense. That’s the only way I could describe them. They didn’t hurt, they just made it so I had to focus completely. I never once contemplated any pain meds, though I did say a couple times, “Now I know why people get epidurals.” It was never an option for me, so it never crossed my mind. I was doing this the way I always intended!
Thank goodness for my doula and friend, Miriam. Thomas wasn’t in the best position – his back was to the right and he was stuck on my pelvis. She had me doing some terribly uncomfortable exercises: Rebozo sifting followed by lift and tucks to get him off my pelvic bone and into the pelvis. We followed all that with a side-lying release, per Spinning Babies, to open the pelvis and give him room to move. All the while, I was having intense contractions that were knocking me off my feet!
I don’t think the labor would have ended as well as it did without Miriam’s help. Everyone: GET A DOULA.
But then suddenly, I was having the urge to push. The only way I can describe that feeling was reverse puking. You know how, when you need to puke, your stomach tightens up and you can’t help letting go? It was the same but the other way. My body took over and I was suddenly getting strong urges to push during each contraction. I was super excited about this, of course, and let things go as they did.
I was on the bed pushing on my side by 6pm, though time for me had stopped. I couldn’t open my eyes, I just had to push during each contraction. Pushing was not as relieving as I expected it to be. Actually, it felt like the hardest part of the whole process! But dang it if I didn’t put my full effort into every push. I’m pretty sure I kept saying, “Do you see him? Is he there yet?!” It felt like forever, but I pushed for an hour.
And then he was there. Here. Some final pushes and his head popped out, and then more pushes and his little body slithered out and onto my stomach. The relief of being done was amazing. I tore a bit, but I don’t even care, because compared to having a c-section, this was nothing.
Thomas was born at 6:44pm on Sunday, June 28th, 2015. He was 8lbs 10oz at birth, and about 21.5 inches long. He was so much bigger than we expected; Almost two pounds heavier than Penny! He looks exactly like his Daddy. His hair was dark when he was born, but a few days down the line, we’re pretty sure it’s blond. His eyes are dark, a mix of brown and green.
I’m so happy that I got my all-natural VBAC, just as I set out to do. It was everything I could hope for!