For the past two weeks before my labor day, I’ve been experiencing false labor, noticeable contractions but no regular intervals. I was talking to my baby and telling him/her (I didn’t know the gender yet) to come out already so we can go back to our hometown the soonest, but I guess the baby has his/her own plans. True enough, two days before my 40th week, I went into spontaneous labor.
I was getting a bit discouraged that my baby hasn’t come out yet, but since this is the day I was scheduled to have my checkup, I decided to go. However I found that my doctor won’t be in till lunchtime, so my husband suggested that I take yoga class first to kill time and to get some needed stretch exercises. Good thing I did because I had a great time. My yoga teacher was sympathetic of my situation and taught me some labor positions and exercises. She even gave me a bonus—a foot massage, which I welcomed so much since I have been walking a lot for the past weeks just to jumpstart labor. After the class, my yoga teacher wished me luck and told me to come back on Wednesday just in case I won’t give birth yet. She was so sweet, but I told her I’m determined to give birth so I’ll make sure I won’t be going back on Wednesday, then I headed to my doctor for checkup.
When I saw my doctor, she was a bit surprised to see me. She said she thought I already gave birth since I skipped my checkups for the past two weeks. I told her I got busy with yoga and other activities, but honestly, I just didn’t want to wait for long in the clinic with the rest of the pregnant women for another checkup, although I was diligently monitoring the movement of my baby the whole time. She then proceeded to give me an internal examination, the first I ever had during the whole duration of this pregnancy. I was delighted to find out that I was already 3-4 cm and 80% effaced. My doctor said if I won’t go into labor tonight, I have to undergo a stress test for the baby two days after. I was very glad as I was going home. I remembered to stop by the hospital to get the admission form so I won’t have to do that during labor time.
That afternoon, I was more inspired to do my walking schedule. I thought it might just be my last walking schedule.
Dinnertime, I was already feeling some regular but bearable contractions. My husband noticed that I was a bit edgy, not knowing that I was already in early labor at that time. I didn’t want to tell him yet since the contractions were still far apart. I was starting to time the contractions then. Around 11:30 PM, the contractions were already 7-8 minutes apart with a minute duration. My husband asked me whether we should be doing labor exercises to speed things along, but I told him we just get some rest for the meantime. I didn’t want to go to the hospital so early in labor the same as my second childbirth.
It was around 1 AM that I woke up and felt strong contractions already. I timed the contractions, and I found that they were 1-2 minutes apart. I hurriedly put some makeup on in between labor exercises (I want to look nice in my VBAC photos lol). I was getting excited. I thought, “This is it! There’s no turning back now!” After an hour, I went downstairs to get some hot chocolate and toast to give me that needed energy for labor. I then woke up my husband, who was snoring by now. He then asked me if I was really sure the contractions were real. I told him yes and that we needed to get to the hospital already.
So he prepared our stuff while I ate my snacks. When we went down, we found out that the extra car wasn’t in the garage. (We were living with my friends then, and their other car was borrowed by a family member.) I wanted to panic, but I just had to focus on the strong contraction coming. As I was doing my pelvic rocking against the wall, I thought, “Oh God, can I do this?” I told my husband ahead of time that if ever I would come to a point that I would doubt myself, he has to remind me that I can. He did just that while kneading his knuckles into my back. This relieved me a lot.
During my short rest, the taxi arrived. It was already 3:00 AM. The trip to the hospital was uneventful. I was doing my deep breathing during contractions. I was aware that the contractions are getting stronger and stronger. I knew that my baby’s birth was near.
When we arrived at the hospital, we went straight to the emergency room. Since I filled up the necessary form last night, my husband just handed it to the nurse, and then I was escorted to the labor room right away. The staff wanted me to use the wheelchair going up as it was hospital protocol, but I refused his offer. He told me I have to follow the rules, to which I impatiently answered that I can walk myself up to the labor room. He can’t do anything but give in.
On my way to the labor room, I was stopping once in awhile to do pelvic rocking during contractions. I was glad when we finally reached the OB wing. I then changed to the hospital gown and went inside to be checked. My husband was still in the changing room, waiting for his scrubs. I was so relieved to find out that I was already 8 cm and 100% effaced. The nurses told me that it will just be a little while before I give birth, so I have to go to the delivery room while they call my doctor.
I then asked for the birthing ball. That’s where I labored while waiting for the delivery room to be ready. When I asked for water, the nurse told me that I couldn’t take anymore liquid. I then told them that I have submitted a birth plan, which my doctor approved. They hurriedly looked for it and found out my history and my preferences. It was during this time that my husband came to the hall where I was. He gave me water, which I gulped down because I was super thirsty.
It was already 4-4:30 PM then, and the contractions were coming one on top of the other. I went on all fours on the hospital floor to be able to bear it. I was already crying a bit because it was getting uncomfortable. I wanted to push already, but my doctor hasn’t arrived yet. Finally, when she arrived, the delivery room was also ready for double setup (in case I needed to have another C-section).
My doctor told them they will just put the IV, then she will check me if I was ready to push. But the nurse who was putting the IV was having a hard time looking for my vein. It took her five tries before she successfully did it. (I had hematoma on my left arm because of this, and the bruising didn’t go away until after 3 weeks.) Meantime, I was already having a hard time coping with the strong contractions. My doctor had to remind me to focus and do deep breathing, but my semi-reclined position was preventing me to labor; and since she hasn’t checked me, I wasn’t allowed to push yet. This was the most challenging time for me.
When the IV was in placed and my doctor checked that I was 10 cm, my work started. It was technically my first time to give birth naturally, so I had to find my way. I had to think what to do: breathe in, hold breath, then push. First two tries I felt I didn’t do anything to push the baby down, but my doctor was so encouraging. She told me to do deep breathing and that the baby was going down.
On my third push, my doctor told me she can already see my baby’s head. That gave me strength. I pushed as hard as I can on my fourth try. She then told me that my baby’s head is bulging. All the more I was encouraged. I mustered all my strength and courage to push my baby out, not a single moment thinking of my scar or uterine rupture. I was so focused to give birth to my baby. On my fifth push, my baby literally flew out I didn’t have a chance to experience the so-called ring of fire nor was I able to hold his head like in most VBAC stories I have read. As a result I had a third-degree tear. I was in high energy during this time. I was shouting “Oh my God! Baby, I love you. I love you.” Funny thing was since I didn’t know my baby’s gender, I had to stop marveling about just what happened and asked, “Is this a boy or a girl?” Then I lifted my baby to confirm his gender. I have a bouncing baby boy at 7.7 lbs, my biggest baby so far! My husband, who was equally overjoyed for the outcome, cut the cord (for the first time). It was such a precious moment for me to know that he was able to do this for my son. It was a fulfillment of what I could consider a perfect childbirth.
While I was kind of distracted, my doctor didn’t waste time to repair my tear. Although my attention was with the baby as I tried to put him to my breast, I could still feel the pain of the suturing. Little by little, my energy began to get drained, and I was starting to feel tired. All the pushing was definitely hard work. It took an hour for the tear to be repaired, and when it was finally done, I was wheeled to the recovery room where I was observed for another hour. All the nurses who passed by knew that I attempted a VBA2C and successfully did it. I was first VBA2C case in that hospital. The nurses were in awe and congratulated me for a job well done.
The sun was just rising, and I was just lying there, all the time grateful for my life and the opportunity to birth a new life into this world–naturally. To me it was pure bliss. I was also grateful for all the people who supported me. I have a reason to believe that indeed choosing the right care provider and support system is a big factor in having a successful VBAC. Definitely, if my doctor didn’t believe I can do it, this story would have ended differently. Of course, I have to believe in myself and my body that I can do it. For us, it was the most perfect birth, the birth we have always wanted for our family.
For six years, I’ve been wanting to write this story, and the universe has allowed me to finally do it through my third baby. It took a lot of courage to really go for VBA2C even if the odds were against me. However, this day definitely marks a milestone for me. It is an event that will forever be etched in my memory. Truly, there is no impossible thing in this world. My baby will always be a reminder to me to take risk and have the courage and faith that all things will work out for good.