Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Welcome Lil’ Chica, A VBAC Birth Story

She’s here, she’s here! Lil’ Chica *finally* made her grand entrance one week and one day after her much-anticipated due date. Later than anticipated and still right on time. And, once she decided it was time, she came pretty quickly! Maybe a little too quickly.

It all started the Tuesday after my Friday due date. Got that? Four days after my due date I finally got a sense that something was happening. Turns out, it was what’s called “false labor.” I don’t like this term. While it didn’t progress and bring my baby rushing into the world, I still think my body was working and preparing. So, sure, not the labor I was looking for, not as intense as it’d get, but also not “false.” Bah.
Since my due date came and went, and because I refused to schedule an induction, I got the lovely addition of nonstress tests every few days to be sure Lil’ Chica was still doing well. All looking good! Despite these assurances from the tech, I did ask about the position of the baby. This came following prompting from my doula who thought the baby might be slightly twisted, which would explain some of my start and stop labor nearly every day. (When the baby isn’t quite in position, contractions can start and stop to help the baby make the turn and get into the best possible position of birth.) Sure enough, though Lil’ Chica’s head was obediently down, her face was looking right at us, meaning she was posterior, or sunny side up, and needed to turn around. Ugh! That was Friday morning, one full week past my due date.

Following the news of Lil’ Chica’s posterior position, Husby and I went that same day to a specialized acupuncturist to hopefully get labor going. I was convinced from talking to my doula and friends that after one session, I’d be in full labor. Sadly, that wasn’t quite accurate. I mentioned to the acupuncturist the baby’s position and they added a couple needles to help her turn. All of this was meant to “open me up.” It worked at least in part. My mucus plug was lost later that afternoon. Wow, that thing is gross! Following acupuncture and Lil’ O’s bedtime, I also then did a circuit of exercises to help turn baby into position. Brutal, but it seemed to do the trick! Contractions that I could tell were the real deal started at 4 a.m. We waited until 6 a.m. and called our doula to come on over. We were going to have another baby!

Our excitement was evidently a bit premature. Sigh. Contractions continued, but weren’t progressing. Our doula was convinced Lil’ Chica wouldn’t be coming until the wee hours that night, so we should get as much rest as possible. By this point, we G’ma had already picked up Lil’ O, so I could try to relax and focus on birthing a baby. Following our doula’s recommendation, we went again to acupuncture and once there I may have insisted they do everything they could to induce labor. Bring it on and get her out!

Oh, did they ever bring it on! Needles were placed and contractions got stronger. Then, while still full of needles and breathing through one exceptionally strong contraction, my water broke. It wasn’t a small trickle like it’d been with Lil’ O. Oh, no. This was like in the movies. It was everywhere! Thankfully, the staff was extremely gracious and pleased the baby was so ready to come meet us.

It then took us a while, but Husby helped me hobble through the strong, strong contractions to our car and drove us home. I was a mess and so incredibly eager to get out of that car. In hindsight we should have driven straight to the hospital, even if for no other reason than the idea of getting back into the car was horrible. But we didn’t do that. We went home, where I promptly fell to my hands and knees to breathe and moan through the contractions. It was primal. I didn’t recognize myself. Then, oh God, I felt the need to push! I knew it was too early. Shoot, I was still at the house and our doula wasn’t even back with us! But there I was on our bathroom floor pushing away. I was scared, but Husby kept his cool and had me just focus on one contraction at a time. Bless that man.

That’s how our doula found us when she arrived very shortly thereafter: me on my hands and knees in the cramped bathroom with Husby kneeling beside me, encouraging me. She could see it was time. And, upon realizing that I was pushing, she knew we needed to get to the hospital pronto! I was not about to get back into that car though. I couldn’t do it. I felt paralyzed in my hands and knees position, even as my shoulder muscles were starting to protest from the strain. The three of us, but mostly Husby and our doula, swiftly came to the conclusion that an ambulance was needed to avoid having a baby at home. Now, a side note simply to acknowledge that a home birth can be a beautiful thing. In fact, I might look into that if we have another kiddo. This baby was not planned as a home birth, though, largely because of my previous cesarean section and the associated possibilities for complication, and we were not prepared.

So, I was coaxed out of the bathroom into our main living space, still on my hands and knees. That’s how the EMTs found me. All I saw were boots. There was a blur of a face of the one EMT who came down to introduce himself and talk to me, but mostly it was boots. Evidently a fire truck arrived at our place first and then the ambulance. I was oblivious to them aside from the boots. I was clearly in the zone. They somehow managed to get me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. I honestly have no recollection of how they did that. I just remember the brush of cool air on my face and the brightness of the sunshine as they wheeled me to the ambulance. They talked to me through the ride, even as I continued pushing and they got everything ready to deliver right there in the ambulance on the freeway on the way to the hospital.

Thankfully, Lil’ Chica waited a bit longer and let us get to the hospital. Phew! That sort of escort, though, does get you quick check-in service. We were in a birthing suite in no time! It ultimately took another centimeter of dilation and two hours of pushing to get Lil’ Chica out into the world. But she came. She came naturally and without another c-section. I got to hold my baby girl right away and keep her there on my chest. She didn’t need to be whisked away for testing like Lil’ O had been. I got to keep her. What joy. I was so overcome with gratitude. Gratitude to every person, especially those in the room, that helped me birth this little one; to our doula and the nursing team for their coaching; to Husby for being my constant support and partner; and to God for His grace. Oh my goodness, I had my healthy, beautiful baby girl. And I had her as a VBAC. Hallelujah!!

Custom onesie by my super talented bud, Jay

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