I knew since before I got pregnant with my second child that I wanted to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). A C-section was never the plan for the birth of my first child. I put a lot of pressure on myself to try for a VBAC because I knew if I had another C-section, I would put a cap on how many kids I was willing to have.
When I first got pregnant with Natalie, my second child, I felt from the start that I was going to need to be induced. Based on my mom going overdue with me and a gut feeling, I knew it was going to happen. I talked with my doctors about it, and they said that I probably wouldn’t have to be induced, most women have babies before their due date. But for 3 weeks, I sat at 1.5 cm dilated and 60% effaced. The doctor who was on call to deliver Natalie was getting nervous and was not super comfortable with the idea of induction. There is a small risk of uterine rupture for VBACs in general, and to induce a VBAC puts you at a slightly higher risk than you’re already at. I talked with my doctor the Friday before my due date and told him I had to try for a VBAC. I told him that if at any point I showed any signs of a potential rupture, or he felt things weren’t going well, we could do a repeat C-section. My doctor felt comfortable knowing that we were on the same page, and he said we could try for the VBAC.
I called the hospital Monday morning, my due date, to schedule my induction. Later that day I went in for a final check-up to see if I had made any progress and to make sure things still were a go for my induction. I had an ultrasound to measure Natalie’s estimated size and she was measuring around 7 lbs 14 oz. I got checked and I had finally dilated more! I was 3 cm and 75% effaced. But the doctor who I met with saw Natalie’s size and was worried that I was too small to deliver a baby that size. So he told me he wasn’t comfortable with me doing a VBAC and called the doctor who was supposed to deliver Natalie.
I was a nervous wreck about having to have a C-section again! I was shaking so badly and trying not to cry. I just didn’t want to go this far without even the opportunity to try a VBAC. The doctor came back in and told me that he talked with my delivery doctor and that I was still good to go for the induction, but he told me he was very nervous and that he was going to cross his fingers and his toes (that made me pretty nervous to hear, haha).
Back home I went! I had time to prep myself and spend the last few hours with our first, Lillian, for her last few hours with Mommy and Daddy before Natalie came. I was super nervous about all the changes that would be happening to our family. I was nervous about how I could love and care for two children. I was starting to feel guilty for having another baby. I called the hospital again at 6 pm to make sure we were still okay to come in at 8 pm that night, and we were still good to go.
I tried to eat a light meal before we left, but was too nervous to eat much. Then Tanner, Lillian, my mother-in-law, and some of Tanner’s siblings sat with us in the living room and played with Lillian. It was then time for us to drive to the hospital. Saying goodbye to Lillian was really hard for me—I felt so guilty, and I had never left her overnight. We had never been apart for more than a few hours. I held back the tears until Tanner and I got in the car and then I started crying. I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks every few minutes on the drive down. I wondered if my body was starting to go into labor, but it didn’t really matter because I was still on my way to get induced.
I thought I was going to throw up as we got in that elevator to take us up to labor and delivery. Everything felt so close, and I realized that this was going to be a long labor if I couldn’t calm down, haha. I got changed into my hospital gown and got into the bed. The nurses came and hooked me up to the IV and they checked my dilation again. I was still at 3 cm and 75% effaced. They said because of that I may be able to skip the foley bulb and just get my water broken. The nurses were right—my doctor came in at around 9:30 and said he was just going to break my water. He said breaking my water may start labor and that if it didn’t we would start a low dose of Pitocin in the morning.
Breaking my water wasn’t easy because I was so nervous; it honestly was pretty painful for me because I was so tense. He tried a couple of times to break my water, but then sighed and looked up at me and I said, “I need to relax, huh?” and he nodded. I had a nurse hold one hand and Tanner hold my other hand. I relaxed and squeezed their hands and, finally, my doctor was able to break my water. It was the craziest feeling ever. All of that amniotic fluid gushed out and it just kept gushing out. It was kind of relieving because I felt like I had some extra room in me.
After having my water broken, everyone left the room and it was just Tanner and me. My contractions came instantly and increased in pain really fast. My contractions were every 2-4 minutes apart, and they kept switching between my stomach and my back. I would shake so badly with every contraction and get extremely nauseous. I only lasted two hours before asking for an epidural because I was stuck laying in that hospital bed.
Getting the epidural was the easiest and best part of labor. I was shaking really badly during the whole process because I guess that’s just what I do when I’m in pain? I felt some pressure on the lower right side of my back at some point in the process of getting the epidural placed, but the anesthesiologist did an amazing job placing it, and I felt great after that. He set it up so that I wouldn’t have to press the button for more of the epidural, but I did have that option to push the button for if things did start to pick up eventually. The nurses checked me once the epidural set in and I was between a 4.5 and a 5. I don’t remember how effaced I was. The nurses put a catheter in me, and then told us it would probably be a good idea to get some rest.
Tanner and I tried to sleep, but Tanner was pretty restless and I was too nervous to sleep. I was worried something would go wrong. The nurses kept having to give me blood pressure medication because my blood pressure kept dropping. That can happen sometimes after getting an epidural. They even gave me an oxygen mask at some point to help bring Natalie’s heart rate up. I think I slept maybe an hour total that night.
The nurses came in and checked me around 5 in the morning ( I think?) and I was around 7 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I started to feel more pressure with my contractions after they checked me, so I pushed my epidural button, but I regret doing that because I wasn’t able to feel much when it came time to push. My doctor came back in sometime between 6 and 7 in the morning and checked me again and I was fully dilated and ready to push. I was shocked and scared, but also really proud of my body for making so much progress so quickly. My doctor told me that he actually had to go do a scheduled c-section for another patient, so he wouldn’t be able to deliver Natalie. Our midwife, who Tanner and I also love, was available to do the delivery. We were very happy with that because we knew we were in good hands with her.
I told the nurses that I wanted to wait a little longer to push, and they said that that was actually a good idea. They said that if I wait it would allow my body to move her down on its own. No more than five or ten minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure in my bum, and I knew it was time. I was so nervous, though! I almost didn’t want to push. I didn’t feel ready to meet her. I also didn’t think I had enough energy to push for an hour or two because that’s typically how long it takes to push out a baby.
We called the nurse and things started to take place. The midwife came in; we also had a nurse and a nursing student who was shadowing her come in, too. They set up the bed so that I could start pushing. I had Tanner supporting one leg and the nurse supporting my other leg. I was told to pull my legs into my chest and push down really hard. I would push three times within one contraction. My contractions were starting to space out, though, so they gave me some Pitocin to bring them closer together. I pushed really hard, and I actually pushed Natalie out in fifteen minutes. After pushing her out, the midwife checked my C-section scar for any rupturing, but she said everything felt great and I was all clear!
Natalie was born at 7:38 am on November 5th, 2019. She pooped the second she came out of me, haha. She was very purple, but she did cry! It was so nice to have a baby come out and cry. I got to do a few minutes of skin to skin, and the nurses made comments on how big of a baby she was. They did have to take her and try to help her breathing. She came out so quickly that she didn’t get enough “squeeze” is what we were told. Basically her lungs didn’t get prepped enough from pushing because she came out so quickly. I only had one second-degree tear and a couple of smaller first-degree tears, which wasn’t bad given her size. Natalie weighed 8 lbs 13 oz, almost a pound bigger than they estimated! I felt super proud that I was able to push out such a big baby in a short period of time, and with only one second-degree tear.
Natalie was still having a hard time with her breathing, so they had to take her to the NICU to put her on oxygen. Tanner went with Natalie while they set her up there, and I was getting stitched up. Tanner and I weren’t too worried though because we knew she’d be okay. The nurses said we were the most chill parents about having their kid taken to the NICU, but we told them it wasn’t our first time having a baby there. A good amount of the nurses at the hospital actually remembered Lillian’s birth, were there for it, helped Lillian or me personally, or heard about it.
Natalie spent 3 days in the NICU because it takes a few days to get the babies off of the antibiotics they put them on. Most babies get put on antibiotics (if not all babies) when they are admitted to the NICU. She got off of the oxygen after a day there, so it was just weening her body off of IV fluids and antibiotics that kept us there. Nursing was a bit difficult at first because she had so many wires hooked up to her, and she preferred one breast per feeding. She nursed so much better than Lillian, though. Nursing contractions were super painful, and that really surprised me because I did not remember experiencing those with Lillian. I had contractions every time I would pump or nurse the first three days.
We were finally able to take Natalie home Friday morning! We had had her Tuesday morning, so we were really ready to get out of the hospital and have her meet Lillian and the rest of the family! Everyone was so excited to meet her. Lillian was so soft, sweet, and loving with Natalie. She gave her the softest kiss on the arm when she got to hold her. It just melted my heart to see my two girls together and to finally be a family of four!
My labor was around 11 hours total, which I feel is pretty good for a first time vaginal delivery and an induction.
It was such a relief to have a successful VBAC. I am so grateful for my doctors for letting me get induced, even though it is risky. But, there is always some amount of risk in any birthing situation. I was comfortable with the risk associated with this VBAC, and it was worth it because I was able to successfully have Natalie that way. I am so grateful for both my birth experiences, though. I am grateful I have been able to experience the miracles of birth through two completely different and amazing birth experiences.