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  • Kristen Bowles (A Doula Client)

{Birth Story} An Even Quicker VBAC

This is the birth story of Kristen's third baby girl. To fully understand the title, be sure to read the birth story of her second baby here!

This pregnancy started out in a way that surprised us all (read more about my surprise pregnancy here). Some of those emotions and fears continued to run deep throughout this entire pregnancy and birth. Now with my newborn in my arms, I’m truly grateful for God’s provision through it all. Throughout this pregnancy I continued to stay active: running up until 34 weeks pregnant then walking at least 30 mins/day, going to prenatal yoga (Radiance Yoga), going to biweekly prenatal chiropractor visits (Sonder Mind and Body), prenatal & induction massage (Touch of Serenity), and VBAC (vaginal birth after a caesarean) class and preparations with my doulas (Natural Baby Doulas). During the last weeks of the third trimester I started doing daily squats, Miles Circuit, taking 5-w supplements, and eating dates. Since my 2nd daughter was a natural VBAC birth (Rebekah’s Birth Story) I was doing all the things I could to get my mind and body ready to prepare for another successful VBAC attempt. I still had an understanding that anything can happen during birth, but I wanted to look back knowing I tried my best to do all the things to get this baby ready and in the optimal position.

The last two weeks of my pregnancy I was 2 cm dilated, about 50% effaced, and the baby was at -2 station. Two days out from my due date, I had an induction massage. With my 2nd baby this massage worked (at 2 days past my due date) to induce my labor within 24 hrs. so I was hopeful again this might “do the trick”. That evening I had low back pain and was feeling rather cranky so after dinner I immediately went to bed. I woke up a few hours later thinking I was having contractions so I got a snack and started to time them. After an hour or so I called my doula, Jessica, to let her know what was going on. The contractions were consistently 5-6 mins. apart lasting 1 min/each for about an hour even through changing positions, taking a shower, etc. After an hour or two we decided to go into the hospital since my 2nd daughter came so quickly we wanted to make sure there was enough time, especially to get enough of the antibiotics for being Group Strep B positive. We arrived at the hospital at about 2:40 am, and about an hour later after all the paper work, vitals, etc. I was checked and was 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and -2 station with contractions every 3 minutes. This was disappointing, after nearly 4 hours of consistent contractions my body wasn’t making any more progress than it had over the last two weeks. My doula suggested getting out of the bed and moving around to see what happened. The nurse said she’d be back in 15 minutes to check again, and 1 hr. and 15 mins. later she returned. Needless to say we were all getting frustrated. Then she checked and estimated I gained another 0.5-1 cm in dilation. She reported to the doctor on call from my practice. The nurse returned and said that I wasn’t in labor since my body wasn’t progressing. I could follow up with my OB on Monday. This was so disheartening not only wasn’t my body responding to the pain of consistent contractions, I was being told my body wasn’t in labor either. My doula was encouraging trying to talk me through that once I got home to rest and try to sleep through the contractions and that they’d either dissipate or pick up in intensity or my water may break and we’d need to come back in. She went ahead to go home and we waited on the papers to be discharged.

While we waited I was laying down trying to sleep through the contractions, again still 3-5 minutes apart, and I was asleep a few minutes before I awoke with my water breaking. My husband ran out into the hall telling a nurse we’d now need to be admitted, since I was Group Strep B positive, and needed to start the antibiotics. They found meconium in the water that broke, and informed me this would mean a few more nurses to watch the baby when she’s born. My husband then called my doula back to tell her the news, and she made her way back to the hospital. Mentally, I was encouraged there was now some progress and the baby would be coming. However, I was tired and worn out from nearly six hours of contractions. My doula helped set up the TENS unit on my back to help relieve some of the pain. I arrived in the labor/delivery room at 6:30 am and talked to my doula about wanting an epidural. The doctor on call wanted to check me and I was now 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and at 0 station. I originally wanted a natural VBAC like my 2nd daughter, however I realized I had nothing to prove to myself and I was ok letting go of that idea and accepting the medication. My contractions were much more intense after my water broke. My husband was a great support not only giving me water but also encouraging me each step of the way. I knew the epidural was on its way but the pain was still there and real. During contractions my doula massaged my hand telling me “relief is on the way…you’re one step closer.”

The anesthesiologist came in around 7 am explaining the epidural, had me sign the papers, etc. He had me sit on the side of the bed with my back in a C-shape and as soon as I sat up from laying down I looked at my doula and said I felt an increase in pressure. The nurse who had already taken the monitors off of my stomach, so the epidural could go in, checked me (10 cm dilated and +2 station) and much to our surprise she said it’s time to push! I could not believe it! I started to freak out! Tons of people ran into the room to set up the table, and my husband remembers I started almost hyperventilating. He said it was so hard to watch me at this time in so much pain, and go from not much progress to “go time”. My doula tried to get the nurses to give me nitrous oxide but later the doctor told them to get it out of the room before it was administered to me, because it was in the way. It was all insane to say the least. I went from 4 cm dilated, about to have an epidural, to pushing my baby out all in 20 minutes!

Once the doctor arrived I was able to take some deep breaths and was able to push very effectively, especially since I had done it before. While pushing it was difficult to get baby’s heart rate so they had to monitor it through a scalp monitor. They gave me an oxygen mask to help increase the flow and help the baby’s heart rate. When her head was almost out her heart rate dropped even further, in the 60s, so the doctor used a vacuum to help her come out quickly to reduce any serious risks. She was born after just a few pushes at 7:18 am at 8 lbs. 7 oz. She then came straight to my chest, with the cord still attached. I was so, so happy to have her in my arms and hear her first cries. I was able to hold her immediately, cut her cord, start breastfeeding, and held her close skin to skin the first few hours of her life! It was a whirlwind to say the least, but I’m so, so thankful my body knew what to do all along, even though I doubted my ability to stay strong. McKenzie is such a joy and the perfect baby to complete our family!

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