This is my account of Marshall's birth story for my records. I know I'll forget some of these details down the road and I want to have them recorded now.
Marshall's birth story actually has to begin at the beginning of my pregnancy with him. Actually, no. It should begin two years earlier with the birth of Maddux. I ended up having an emergency c-section with Maddux. His heart rate bottomed out and was not recovering and so the decision had to be made to get him out as quickly as possible. I have been asked if I felt any guilt about having a c-section and the answer is, unequivocally, "no." I made the decision that had to be made in that moment and I think I made the right one. I had a split second of guilt while in the shower after Maddux was born, but I told myself that I wasn't going to feel guilty about something I could not control and could not go back in time and change. And so that was that.
I still wanted to have a VBAC delivery for any subsequent babies. It was something I asked my doctor about at my 6-week postpartum checkup after Maddux was born. She agreed that I was a good candidate for a VBAC and that there was no reason she wouldn't encourage me to have a VBAC for subsequent deliveries. So that was the tentative plan all along. I knew that there were a lot of things that had to work out for me to try, though. I know some crunchy people who avoid medical intervention at all costs. I am not one of those people (crunchy or avoidant to medical interventions.) I was willing to abide by their standards for VBAC so that I could avoid any extra risks or complications.
My pregnancy with Marshall progressed fairly normally (for me.) I was sick the whole time and was actually convinced that Marshall was a girl. My appointments were good and fairly normal until my third trimester. In my third trimester (which is usually where it falls apart for me,) I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The concern with gestational diabetes is that the baby will become too big (macrosomia) and will complicate the delivery. This isn't a great situation for a VBAC. There are guidelines set forth by ACOG for VBACs and they state that a baby should not be macrosomatic for a VBAC delivery. I had several ultrasounds leading up to the delivery to check on the weight of the baby. I hate doing these ultrasounds because they're not very accurate and they can "sound the alarm" needlessly. But I jump through the hoops for my doctor.
I had an ultrasound on November 9th to estimate the weight of the baby and project what he/she might weigh at the time of my delivery. It was estimated that the baby would be about 9 lbs at the time of deliver. My doctor still felt comfortable proceeding with a VBAC. As my due date (December 5th) approached, things became a little more uncertain. Most VBACs are not inductions. The use of Pitocin can increase the risk of uterine rupture, so it typically isn't used. I started having my weekly appointments in my last month and I was 2 cm dilated at my 37 week appointment. That was encouraging! I thought to myself that maybe I really would get to have a VBAC delivery. I knew I would have to go into labor on my own (which I had never done.) I made no progress at my next 2 appointments. It was incredibly discouraging because I was walking miles everyday. I was eating all the foods that were supposed to induce labor. I was doing everything. All the old wives tales. Ev.er.y.thing. And no progress!
I had an appointment 2 days before my due date and I discussed my options with my doctor. I had been told originally that she didn't want me going much past my due date. We had agreed mid-pregnancy that December 7th would be the last day she'd let me "go" on my own. I had a hunch that I wouldn't go into labor on my own before then, so I basically begged her for more time. She checked me and I was 2 cm dialated and about 50% effaced. Not great, but a little bit better than before. She agreed to let me go another week and then we'd have to talk options again. I had to go in on Monday, December 7th for another non-stress test. I would also have to have another ultrasound to check on the weight of the baby on Thursday, December 10th along with a non-stress test. If I had not gone into labor on my own, my c-section was scheduled for December 14th. I went home from my appointment on December 3rd not that optimistic. I knew everything basically had to be perfect for my VBAC to happen. My parents came on Friday, December 4th. I had some strong contractions in the evening on December 4th and then they stopped. I had a non-stress test on Monday, December 7th and I was having contractions the entire time I was on the monitor. Not strong enough to hurt, but a consistent pattern. My doctor said that she may or may not see me at my appointment on Thursday December 10th. She said a consistent contraction pattern was good, even if my contractions didn't hurt. I woke up on Tuesday, December 8th with pretty painful contractions. I also lost my mucous plug. I texted Matthew and told him that I thought there was a good chance I'd be having a baby in the next few days. Then, mid-morning, my contractions stopped. This has got to be the most frustrating thing about waiting for a baby to come! Do not psych me out, baby! Do not make me think today is the day! I decided to go on a walk around our subdivision to try to get the contractions going again. It worked, but the contractions weren't incredibly strong or consistent.
Matthew took Maggie to Awana that night and took Maddux with him. My mom was with me at home. I didn't eat much for dinner because I didn't feel that hungry. I actually told my mom that everything I ate, I wondered if I would see it again because I tend to throw up while I'm in labor. I worked to clean out the playroom with my mom and try to sort through and purge the toys. As I was sitting on the floor, sorting through toys, I was having a difficult time sitting on the floor because I was having some contractions. The baby's head was really low and the pressure it was putting on my lower back and pelvis was really uncomfortable. I really wanted to finish sorting the toys, though, so I kept working. Matthew and the kids came home and we put the kids in bed. After they were in bed, I went back to sorting the toys and finished up around 10 pm. I told my mom goodnight and that I'd let her know if we went to the hospital in the night.
I headed in to take a shower and realized that I was actually in some pain. I decided to take a shower to see if that would help the pain subside. As I went into the bathroom to take a shower, I told Matthew that he should probably go to bed because we'd be getting up in the night to go to the hospital. He ignored me of course. :) After my shower, my contractions weren't gone. They seemed stronger, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. I had been timing my contractions earlier in the day and decided to start timing them again. I got in bed around 11 to try to sleep and time my contractions and realized while I was timing them that they were pretty close together - 3-5 minutes apart. It finally got to the point that they were 3-5 minutes apart for an hour and I was in so much pain that I couldn't really lay still anymore. I got up to wake Matthew up and when I stood up, I was hoping my contractions would spread out a little bit. NOPE! Pretty suddenly, my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and I was yelling at Matthew because he was ignoring my attempts to wake him up and I really didn't want to have a baby on the floor at home! He wasn't totally packed (?!?!), so he told me that he was going to "get some things together" while I went to tell my mom that we were going to the hospital. When we finally got in the car and drove down the street, Matthew realized that he had forgotten his driver's license. For some reason, I was adamant that he go back for it? So he did. And then we got back on the road and my contractions were anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart. He was driving pretty quickly and there wasn't any traffic since, at this point, it was about midnight.
We arrived at the hospital and had to go in the emergency room entrance because of the time. I told them that I was there for labor and delivery. The people working the ER desk were probably in their early 20s. Their eyes when I came in, obviously in labor, were huge. Ha. Poor kids. Don't have unprotected sex, kids, or this could be you. They got me a wheelchair and took me up to Labor and Delivery. Once I got up to Labor and Delivery, nobody was in a hurry. I had a scarf on and I was covering my mouth when I had contractions so I didn't scare anyone. I guess they assumed I was being dramatic? They slowly got my paperwork and put me in a triage room. When a nurse finally came into the triage room to check me I was having very strong contractions about 3 minutes apart. I'm not sure what she was expecting to find when she checked me, but her eyes got huge and she said, "WOW! You're 5-6 cm dilated. Did you want an epidural? We need to get you to a room."
Ummm yes to all. That's what I was trying to tell you when I came in at midnight in labor. This isn't my first rodeo, you know.
Suddenly, everyone was in a hurry. They got me to a room and called the anesthesiologist. They told him to hurry. He actually listened and was there within 10 minutes. They tried to get me to sign paperwork between contractions. The handwriting on that paperwork is the worst of my life, probably, and it drove me crazy then and drives me crazy now, thinking about it.
They checked me before the epidural and I was between 6 and 7 cm dilated. My contractions were terrible and I had stayed on top of them up until that point by using a contraction timer to distract myself. I am a task oriented person and the task of keeping track of my contractions kept my mind in a good place. But right before the epidural, I was loosing it. I wanted to chuck my phone across the room. I felt nauseous and asked for something to throw up in. Matthew had to leave during my epidural (per the hospital's policy) and the nurse stood in front of me, talking me through the process of what was happening.
The anesthesiologist told me to stay still (duh) and that I was going to feel a poke, a deep poke, and then a rush of fluid to the site. Cool. Just give me the dang epidural. I don't care what it feels like. Apparently, though, a lot of people have following instructions? After my epidural, I joked with the anesthesiologist and the nurse about having a low pain tolerance. They both looked at me with surprise and the anesthesiologist said, "Actually, you were the best patient I've had in a long time. Most women get epidurals at 4 cm and cannot stay still. I was really nervous to give you an epidural because of how far you are into labor. Most women cannot stay still the further they're dilated. I didn't think you'd be able to stay still, but I decided to try to give you an epidural because I saw you were a VBAC and thought it was probably important that you have one just in case. I'd say you have a high pain tolerance!"
Thanks, man. Just give me the pain relieving juice.
I finally got to sleep. It was probably 2 at this point. I slept until about 3:30 and the nurse came in and checked me. Her eyes shot up and she said, "Do you feel like you need to push? You are completely dilated - 10 cm."
I didn't feel like I needed to push, so she graciously let me sleep. And sleep and sleep and sleep. It was about 8 am. The doctor doing rounds. She was worried that I didn't feel the urge to push. "We need to back off her epidural a bit," she said. "Well, let's try some practice pushes first. Why don't you push for a few contractions and I'll be back in a bit. How long did you push for your other two?"
"Over 2 hours for both and one ended in a c-section."
"Okay, just do some practice pushes for a few contractions and I'll be back."
So, with the nurse and Matthew, I pushed when I felt like it one time. And the nurse's eyes got HUGE.
"STOP PUSHING. THAT BABY'S GONNA FALL OUT!"
She frantically called the doctor to come back. She called out into the hall for another nurse to help her.
At that point, I was just ready to be done, so I pushed when I wanted to (haha that poor nurse.) She was great and let me do whatever my body wanted to do. The doctor came on basically my last push. I pushed and Marshall came out.
"It's a BOY!"
"You're kidding! Are you serious!?"
"It's a boy! What's his name?"
I couldn't believe it was a "he." So much joy. Relief. Happiness. Satisfaction.
They put him on my chest and I held him while they cleaned things up. When they finally took him to be weighed, I was confident that he didn't weigh over 9 lbs. He didn't feel like he did and he didn't look like it either.
"9 lbs 3 oz."
"WHAT!?! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE! He weighs MORE than Maddux did?"
But he did. And I had a VBAC. And he was fine. And I was fine.
Happy 1st Birthday, Marshall! I've enjoyed getting to know you this year.