So first, the most important details. Ryan was born May 30 at 4:46 pm. He weighed in at 9 lbs 4 oz - so definitely not the 7 lbs 14 oz I dreamt of, but to me he did not look 9 lbs...even comparing him to Alexander's newborn pictures. My VBA2C was successful - with no epidural either! And I definitely think that the labor was hard and fast. It's hard to know where to count the labor's start...if I start from the foley induction, it was less than 20 hours. If I count from the pitocin then it's about 9 hours. And if I count from when I started to feel like I was in labor and "couldn't do life" then it was about 4 1/2 hours.
There are always a few sides to every story. Mine is pretty cut and dry. I was singularly minded in getting Ryan earth-side safely, managing the labor and keeping the fear at bay. My husband's version is much more rockstar and emotional...maybe I can convince him to share his version.
I showed up to the hospital the evening of the 29th for my induction. I was disappointed my body hadn't gone into labor on it's own, despite having prodromal labor for almost two and a half weeks. But there was a peace in the orderliness of it; I didn't have to figure out managing the other two kids while in the beginning stages of labor. There was no rushing to the hospital, etc. Standard hospital procedures; put on the gown, monitors, IV's, sit and wait. I had to have an IV for penicillin since I was positive for Group B Strep. Let me tell you, they warned me it would burn but that sucker bothered me more than 75% of my labor. Sometime later the resident came in and we started the induction with the Foley bulb. If you don't know what a Foley bulb is, it's basically a water balloon that manually dilates you to 4 cm. They told me it could take up to an hour, and in less than 10 minutes mine fell out and I was dilated. Worst period-like pain ever.
I'd been having some contractions on my own and after a little while a doctor and resident came in while I was trying to catch some sleep to inform me that the baby's heart rate was having some decels and questioned me if i was sure I wanted to VBAC. My OB prepared me for this and I knew he was monitoring as well and if he had any concerns he'd come in and he'd be honest with me. I told the on-call doctor I was sure I wanted to proceed. Of course, this tripped off my fear meter. Decels were exactly what led to my c-section with Ethan. My sweet doula friend made a "Faith Over Fear" sign for my labor room and I kept trying to focus on it and at the same time I had my ear tuned to the baby's heart rate monitor...sleep was not happening. Anyhow, because of the decel and because I was contracting on my own they decided to hold off on the pitocin until the following morning and basically let my doctor be in charge of it since it would be his day to be on-call. For the most part, other than blood pressure and blood sugar checks, they left me alone.
One nurse commented that I was having some pretty impressive contractions and asked me if I could feel them. I could, but at that point they were manageable and felt nothing more than cramping waves. Brandon enjoyed watching the monitors and pointing out when I'd get a "new high score".
Around 7 am, we started pitocin low and slow. They doubled it about every hour. Around 12:30 pm Brandon said he saw a change - I was no longer able to finish sentences and I started to introvert. It was around this time that I think I had decided to try some of the labor aids; peanut ball, exercise ball, etc. Spent some time doing hip circles on the ball, swaying like a hula girl. My nurse had another birth to attend across the hall; that mom's water had broken and she and I were on the same screen for the contraction monitors. I watched her contractions and mine...they were pretty similar. Things get a little less detailed now, I wasn't out of it - I just became ultra focused on managing and wanted little distraction. I kept repeating to myself "Faith over fear", "pain with a purpose" and at some point "transition" and I became vocal; moaning, groaning, panting, etc. I just kept remembering Ina May's book saying how important it is for dilation to keep your jaw relaxed. Relaxation helps dilation. At some point someone came in to check me and I was 6-7 cm dilated and some other signs of progress and my doula and I did a little happy dance.
I didn't intend to birth without an epidural. It wasn't something I was adamant about. But I knew that if I had one it would more than likely slow things down. And I knew that being dilated at 6-7 things were going to move pretty quickly and there really was no point.
I had another nurse come in who ended staying the duration through delivery. She recommended trying the "dog piss" position. It's a modified SIM's position from the Miles circuit. You lay on your side, almost rolled onto your belly and have the upper leg draped onto a stirrup. So, you really do look like a dog taking a pee. Anyhow, the leg that ended up on the stirrup was the bum leg. And I really hated this position. At this point contractions were intense and one on top of the other. In this position it was even more intense pressure and all I could think it I want to be on my hands and knees or sitting up. I begged and almost cried to be let out of this position and they kept encouraging me "just a few more minutes....let's go for 15 minutes, then we will let you change." I felt my water break; that popping and gush...there's no doubt, it's nothing like peeing yourself. Finally my 15 minutes of torture were up and I had the bed changed into the chair position. Also, at some point a resident came in and mumbled about decels and wanting to put a monitor on the baby's head. I knew this baby was coming soon and honestly, I didn't want anyone touching me. I may have threatened to kick her if she did...not sure. I ended up putting my hand on my belly where they were trying to get Ryan's heart rate and yelled out "Come on Ryan! You can do this, give them a strong heart rate."
My OB arrived around then. He'd had a busy day as on-call. He'd already attended a few births and performed 6 c-sections. When he entered the whole atmosphere changed. Lights got dimmed, pitocin got turned down so that baby and I could recover between contractions. He asked where the music was and I told him it was a distraction, his response was "but Baby likes music". We turned on the playlist I'd created for Ryan. I don't remember exactly what song played but was incredible how perfectly timed each song was for this last stage of labor. My OB is a teacher and had an intern with him. They checked me and I was 10 cm, fully effaced and baby's head was right there...it was go time. I could feel my body pushing on it's own but the OB and nurse also coached me through pushing. That is one thing I do regret is the coached pushing, it didn't feel right and I think it contributed to the second degree tearing I had. I wasn't in the mindset to count, but according to Brandon and the nurse I pushed about 6 times, I think it was more but overall it was about a half hour of pushing. The OB had me stop and reach down and pull Ryan up, a surprise I never thought of and amazing - I'm so glad he had me do that. All I remember from there is looking at Ryan, drinking him in, trying to figure out whose features he got, in awe of how much hair he had, and I remember Brandon crying. I'm not making fun of him, I was touched that he was so moved by the experience. Ryan looked up at me and I said "hey Ryan, I dreamt about you." And his little face looked like "I know..." He was calm and alert and strong.
Brandon started texting and calling family and my sister and mom ended up texting me that they were at the hospital. My sister was supposed to be at the birth as a support person but her work schedule got flipped around. She was showing up to finally be there as support and got there 20 minutes too late instead! I think that worked out for the best because then she and my Mom were able to stay and enjoy Ryan and help me out in recovery while Brandon went home to be with the big boys.
"She believed she could, so she did" - this is a quote I've run across a couple times recently and I really love it. I ordered a gift for my doula and there was a temporary tattoo in the envelope that had this quote on it. I put it on my wrist for a few days. Three weeks after birth and I'm still surprised that this is real life; I have my 3 boys that I dreamt of in 2008, that Ryan is here and I had him via VBAC despite all the hurdles and frustration that I encountered the first 32 weeks.