Caity’s VBAC Birth Story
It’s hard to believe that Caity will be four weeks old on Friday. I almost forgot how quickly those first few months fly by. Most days are filled with feedings and cuddles followed by sleepless nights with more feedings and cuddles. Before I started typing up Caity’s birth story I decided to reflect on Parker’s, which I wrote roughly two and a half years ago. It’s amazing to be able to read in detail the events of such an amazing day and look at pictures that capture those moments.
On January 17th I returned from a personal training session. I had told my trainer that day that I had been feeling a little off and asked if we could take it easy that night. At one point I said, “I doubt I am, but I almost feel like I am pregnant.” When I got home I decided to take a test. I didn’t have a specific reason to, I mean Rob had only been home for about 5 weeks, and wasn’t surprised when only one line showed up. I walked away to help put P to bed and tidy up the house. About 3 hours later I went in to get ready for bed. I grabbed the test and started towards the garbage when I realized there were TWO lines. Rob was on the bed, only a few feet away and I started smiling.
I immediately grabbed a yes/no test and took it while saying, “honey, I think I am pregnant.”
While the test was processing I read the instructions for the initial test and repeat, “I think I am freaking pregnant.”
Then I re-read the instructions and realized it said to disregard results after two hours.
“Oh wait, no I am not.”
Then looking at the second test I looked at him with watery eyes and said, “holy crap I am freaking pregnant!”
Followed by, “I swear the baby is yours.”
That night was filled with excitement, wonder, and of course going onto The Bump and stalking the September Month Board. We would be headed to Disney World on vacation in less than a week which meant food and ride restrictions, but that didn’t matter one bit. We made an appointment for 22nd for a dating US and to get some blood work done. They couldn’t see a heartbeat and my first HGC test (human chorionic gonadotropin) was low but the tech dated me less than 5 weeks along so both were nothing of concern. We scheduled an appointment for February 11th where we heard a beautiful heartbeat!
It was hard but I made it a point to document this pregnancy with as many photos as I did last time. I enjoyed using my Cricut again to help illustrate my progress each week.
I also continued with my weekly updates which was fun to compare with my pregnancy with Parker.
It was a little different this time around since we decided to find out the gender. I still didn’t want to find out during the ultra sound so we had the tech write it down on a piece of paper. We were headed to Ocean City that weekend for a mini vacation and originally planned to find out then. Curiosity got the better of me though… The night of our anatomy scan I was cuddling with Parker in the nursery. Rob was sitting on the floor reading us a story and the moment just seemed perfect. I had Rob get the piece of paper and in that perfect little moment we found out that Munchkin was a girl. We were having a little girl. I began to cry instantly. While I love having a boy, a girl meant I was able to keep a very important tradition in my family alive. Not only did we know in that moment we were having a girl, but her name would be Catherine Mary.
While in Ocean City we decided to make a gender reveal video to share the good news with our family, friends, and all of you.
We had Allison from Fairytale Moment take some maternity photos in Annapolis. We met early in the morning before everyone was out and about for the day. It was a beautiful cool morning and we had so much fun walking around and snapping photos.
My Moms group threw me an adorable sprinkle complete with games and even a bow making craft project! These ladies sure knew how to brighten my day and celebrate new life.
Even before I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC. I am grateful to have a healthy and thriving toddler but I am still not convinced I needed a c-section. This time around I wanted to give my body the best possible chance for a VBAC so I spent the next 9 months researching and trying everything I could to help my chances.
– Choosing a practice where my primary interactions would be with midwives.
– Hiring a doula to help me labor medication free as long as possible.
– Watching what I ate and staying active to keep my weight gain as small as possible.
– Weekly visits to the chiropractor to adjust and align my hips.
– Trying acupuncture, Evening Primrose Oil, and every other myth I could find to help induce labor naturally.
Even with all of that there was no guarantee I would go into labor on my own and progress without any help. It was a long shot but it was important for me to give my body a chance to do it first.
We had a few hiccups along the way but managed them as best we could. Some blood work that came back at 16 weeks showed that I was positive for ANA (antinuclear antibodies). I am certainly not a medical expert but from what I have read positive ANA’s in general aren’t a huge concern. However, during pregnancy the antibodies can attack the fetus causing miscarriage or other issues. At that point all it meant was going in for an extra ultrasound at 32 weeks to make sure the placenta was still in good shape and baby was growing. It was neat to see Parker and Caity side by side and I couldn’t believe how much they looked alike.
Everything looked good in terms of my ANA during the ultra sound. The Dr., who I later found out is a little too paranoid, was concerned about the size difference between her head (40%) and belly (80%) and said she would get stuck in my pelvis. She required me to take the 3-hour GD test for a second time as the size difference can usually be attributed to GD. This was the first time I challenged a Dr. and told my practice I wouldn’t take the test for a 4th time (1-hour at 18 and 28 weeks and 3-hour at 29 weeks). Instead, I would follow the GD diet and test my sugars. At the 36 week follow-up the ultra sound looked good, Caity was measuring 7 pounds, and the other doctor didn’t seem concerned. He was actually excited I was trying for a VBAC.
Right from the beginning I had it in my head I would go into labor around 37 weeks. No reason why other than my water broke with Parker at 38 weeks and I always heard the second child came earlier. So at 37 weeks 3 days, when BH contractions started at 4am and by 8am they were still consistent, I really thought that was it. While they weren’t painful, they didn’t go away when I walked around, ate, or took a shower. I had an OB appointment at 10am so we decided to get breakfast as a family and gave a family friend the heads up we maybe dropping Parker off in a few hours. We found out at my appointment that I had made a little progress, 3cm dialated/80% effaced/-2 station, but nothing to indicate I was in labor. After that the contractions seemed to tapper off and disappeared around 11am.
I was pretty discouraged after that but Rob and I tried to find the positives and spend the next few days keeping busy and getting as much as we could crossed off our to-do lists. Around that time I came across a FB page called, Prayers for Shane. It really put things into perspective for me and I started focusing on how amazing pregnancy is and how grateful I am to be carrying a healthy baby. I decided to take a different approach in my 38 week update and focused on all the things I will miss about being pregnant.
… being pregnant is such a great conversation starter in the store, especially when it looks like you are going to pop any second
… sitting in baby girl’s room quietly watching my belly move wondering what she is doing in there
… having an excuse to sit down while I watched Rob vacuum the house
… feeling those hiccups in my lower belly multiple times a day, she is just like her brother when she gets them once she has them all day
… the satisfaction that even if I didn’t get much accomplished on any given day, I was still busy growing a human
… the hustle and bustle of wondering if each little cramp or kick will send me into labor
… dreaming of what she will look like
… taking photos of my growing belly
Wednesday the 17th Rob had off from class so I loaded Parker in the car and we went to my local moms playdate. It was fun to see everyone and give Parker some time to run around. We picked Rob up and had lunch at Panera before he went into the office to check his mail. I caught up on some blogging and scheduled a few posts for later that week. After dinner we pulled out all of our pouch making supplies and got to work making a huge batch of yogurt smoothie pouches for the next few weeks. Parker had a blast helping Rob with the blender while I filled and sealed them.
That night was a little rough and I had a really hard time sleeping. I also noticed that I wasn’t feeling Caity move around much. The evening was her active time so it was easy to notice something was off. By 7:00am I was getting pretty worried and Rob decided to stay home from class and take me to L&D (for the 4th time this pregnancy). Parker didn’t usually go to daycare on Thursday’s but we were able to drop him off. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way in and I didn’t think to get something more substantial than a bagel since I thought we would be home by lunch time.
We arrived at L&D around 8:30am and found out they were extremely busy and I would need to go downstairs to the perinatal office for my NST.
Around 9:30am I was hooked up to the machines and we heard that beautiful heart beat. Even though we could hear a heartbeat I ended up failing the NST because I couldn’t feel her moving. The tech at that point said we would be admitted and most likely induced. We moved to the U/S room where a tech checked everything out. Aside from having extra fluid, everything looked good. I expressed concerned about her still being at a -2 station but she said that Caity was just floating around and when my water broke she would most likely drop. The doctor came in and said everything looked great and he thought I would be sent home but I needed to head back up to L&D to speak with our midwife and be further evaluated.
We finished up there around 11:00am and made our way back upstairs to register and get checked into CDU for evaluation. I wanted to talk with the midwife about our options before committing to being admitted. Since CDU was so busy and it was clear, at least to the nurses, that I was going to be admitted they brought us to a L&D room. Ashlee, a midwife from my practice, came in a few minutes later and we discussed our options. She explained that at 38 weeks 4 days they couldn’t induce me unless I was progressing. However, she had talked to the OB and they were both concerned about not being able to feel her move. While they didn’t think anything was wrong, if I were to be sent home I would most likely just end up coming back in a few hours when I couldn’t get a passing kick count. It was just about 12:00pm by then.
I had given my Mom a heads up earlier that morning and when we called at 12:00pm to give an update she said they were on their way to VA. They wanted to be here to take care of Parker if we ended up staying. If we didn’t, it would just be a fun long weekend visit. I was able to relax a little more knowing they were on their way and Parker would be taken care of. We had planned for multiple scenarios but in the moment knowing he would be alright really calmed my nerves.
I spent the next few hours walking the halls, stretching, and meditating. Rob decided to sneak in a meal which I didn’t mind because a hangry husband is an unhelpful husband 😉
At 3:00pm Ashlee came back in to check my progress. I was about 4cm/80% effaced/-2 station, pretty much the same as before. At that point I had come to the realization we would be going home again and even decided what I wanted to eat for lunch. To my surprise, Ashlee said that she had talked to the OB again and they weren’t comfortable sending me home. I had the option to stay which would mean induction. We had been over many scenarios over the last 9 months and I knew that meant breaking my water, the only option I really had.
It was a difficult decision and we asked for a little time to decide. Once they broke my water I would be on a clock and there would be no turning back. If my body wasn’t ready I would most likely end up having a RCS (repeat c-section). Rob and I spent the next hour talking about it and at 4:00pm we decided that we were not comfortable going home if I couldn’t feel her move. I would start antibiotics since I was GBS+ and Ashlee would break my water around 9:00pm. We called our doula, Jen, and asked her to arrive around 9:30pm.
Once all of the decisions had been made Rob rushed home to pick Parker up from daycare, give him dinner, and wait for my parents to arrive. Before he left he asked what I thought about my Mom coming back with him so she could be present for the delivery. It had never really been an option because the likelihood of them being here when I went into labor was minimal. It took me about 5 seconds to say yes and realized what an amazing surprise this would be for her.
The nurse came in around 5:00pm to start the IV and antibiotics. Of course the nurse had trouble, just like with Parker, and an anesthesiologist had to come in. Luckily she was able to get it on the first try. The antibiotics sting a little so I asked for a cold pack to numb the area a little. The next few hours were rather lonely. I decided to pull out a gift I had received from a dear friend and meditate a little about what the next few hours would bring.
Rob and my Mom returned around 8:00pm. Just long enough for hugs and a few comments of how crazy the day had already been. Ashlee came in shortly after 8:00pm and said she would go ahead and break my water now. I am pretty sure shift change happens around the same time and I think she wanted to be the one to get my labor started. 🙂 The actual process of breaking my water was pretty neat and not painful at all. They use a large plastic hook and it takes about 2 minutes.
By 8:15pm the contractions started. They were sharp but manageable for about an hour. Our doula arrived around 9:30pm, perfect timing, as things really started to amp up around 10:15pm. My “birth song” started around 10:40pm and the labor pains are mostly a blur from that point on. I know that we tried many different positions but the only thing that worked was leaning over the bed and swaying side to side. The contractions were getting stronger and there was less of a break between them. At 10:55pm I told Rob, “I had enough”. Jenna who had walked into the room a few minutes earlier and indicated to Jenn, my doula, she would duck out so she doesn’t hear something she couldn’t “unhear”. Jenn encouraged me to get checked before I make a decision to get an epidural. Even though I had progressed quiet a bit, 6cm/90% effaced, it didn’t help with the pain or give me strength to keep going. I remember Jenna chuckling as she was checking me and commented, “I thought you were going to be my difficult one of the night”. At that point I didn’t even have enough time between contractions to think. Jenn made sure I knew that getting an epidural meant I had to get into bed. I asked Jenna if she thought I would stall at the point and she was pretty confident I wouldn’t, that the contractions were so strong and I was making such good progress it would still continue. That was enough for me and I officially asked for the epidural.
They didn’t waste anytime and the epidural was inserted at 11:24pm. The next 20 minutes were hard because I had to manage the contractions in bed. At one point I think I had a hold of Rob’s hand so hard he was in pain. They slowly became less intense until I started to relax around 12:15AM and everyone described me as my chatty self again. I asked Rob to comb my hair which always relaxes me.
Now it was time to wait. Jenn advised all of us to try and get some sleep since we had been up for about 20 hours at that point and still had a long road ahead. I really did try to sleep but I was too excited.
Around 3:30AM Jenna came back in to check me. I was pretty much there but she wanted me to sit up for another hour or two to help Caity finish dropping. Since I was trying for a VBAC Jenna wanted me as far along as possible to limit the amount of pushing I would need to do. Jenna also wanted to wait until there was a break in the OR just in case something happened and I needed to be rushed in. While a little scary to think about, it was nice to know she was considering all of the possibilities and really looking out for me.
By 6:00AM it was time to begin pushing. At that point I was still in disbelief that a VBAC may actually happen. My body had already done so many amazing things in the last 10 hours. I was progressing 100% my own exactly the way it needed to happen. Pushing was weird and nothing like what I expected. I can’t tell you what I expected, but it wasn’t that. The time between contractions seemed to slow and I know a few different times I fell asleep between them. Yes, I managed to fall asleep with my feet in the air and 4+ people staring at me. I felt like I was pushing forever and wasn’t actually doing anything…
Then Jenna and the nurses started to get set up and she told me that you know things are getting real when she puts her gear on. She was nothing short of amazing and extremely calm as she walked me through the next 30 minutes or so of pushing. During each contraction I was pushing three times and she would tell me what size push she wanted. It was getting close to shift change and Jenna jokingly said she wasn’t gonna give me up and I had until 8:00AM to have this baby. Little did she know I do really well with deadlines!
At 7:15AM everyone started to get emotional around me, even the staff, and Jenna told me they could see her head. My Mom commented that she had hair and a precious little face. Around 7:30AM Jenna said that we were far enough along she could be vacuumed out which meant there was a really good chance I wouldn’t be needing a RCS. It was so hard to fight back the tears and I even turned down using a mirror at that point. I told them I was so afraid I would be overcome with emotion that I wouldn’t have enough focus. That’s when Rob and my Mom decided they would video the rest of the birth for me to watch later (something I HIGHLY recommend). After a really long break and a few more pushes her head was out, along with her hand, and at 7:47AM she was placed on my stomach. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized what had happened. Caity was here and I pushed her out myself. I asked if they could move her to my chest but Jenna said that my umbilical cord was extremely short and it could go any further. We had asked for delayed cord cutting so after it stopped pulsating my Mom did the honors of cutting it at 7:50AM.
The emotional journey that had started about 24 hours before was over but a new life was just beginning. I laid there in awe of everything that had happened. My VBAC was possible and became a reality at 7:47AM on September 19th. I gave my body a chance and am so lucky it cooperated.
I was the first one to hold the baby girl I had been carrying for 9 months. She looked into my eyes, felt my skin, and listened to my heartbeat from the outside side for the first time.
While it wasn’t planned, I am so happy my Mom got to be there. She had two c-sections so this was all new for her. She get to see Caity’s face, even before I did, and witness the ups and downs of labor.
Caity had a great APGAR score and weighed in at 8lbs 3 oz (the same exact weight as her brother).
We stayed at the hospital for about 30 hours which was enough time for both Caity and I to be checked out, attend a breast feeding class, and even complete the paperwork for her birth certificate and social security card.
Caity wore the same outfit home as her brother with a special hat made by her Auntie Ah Ah (my sister).
It was so different being able to push Caity out of the hospital. While I was sore and somewhat uncomfortable, it was nothing like my c-section.
Parker was anxiously waiting at home to meet his little sister, although he had no idea what that meant!
My Mom always said you wouldn’t think it possible to love a second as much as your first, but you do. That is so true. My love for Caity was instant just like Parker and it came so naturally. I was meant to be the Mamma of these two amazing children and I can’t wait to watch them grow and support them along the way.