Although I had a really positive c-section (breech presentation) with my son, I was keen to experience labour and go for a vbac second time around.
The week before my daughter, Pia's due date I found myself in hospital being scanned for a suspected big baby. They predicted she was at 9lb 4oz but I was unconcerned. I was only a few days away from being due anyway. Ultimately I was given a contradictory leaflet about shoulder dystocia and told that I should be induced right away.
Well I’m afraid I nearly laughed the registrar out of the room! My husband wasn’t even present, my car was busy costing me money on the car park and didn’t he know I had a dog at home waiting to be walked?! Needless to say I walked away, feeling somewhat bullied/stressed, but promising to return on my due date for further discussions re induction.
I was determined to let things happen spontaneously. I was also determined that I would make my son's playschool Christmas trip and the following week, his nativity.
Having successfully completed the trip to soft play, I sat down that afternoon and googled reflexology. I then set to work pressing on those points recommended to get labour started. Later that evening I started to get very mild cramping, so mild I thought I was imagining it. Then around 10.30 I experienced a show. I went to bed, cramping slowly getting stronger and at half past midnight I felt a pop as my waters went! I decided to stick things out at home for a while and by 5am things had started to get quite intense, so we headed into hospital. I remember remarking to my mum as she arrived to watch our son that contractions were ‘a bit unpleasant’ she laughed and encouraged me to continue breathing through them.
We had to wait some time to get into the ward and then again to be triaged. During this, I had a spectacular gush of water and left quite an impressive puddle, much to the horror of the other woman in the waiting room who was a few weeks off being due. I was very naive in thinking that once my waters broke that was it...when in fact it kept on coming (and in quite some quantity) right up until birth.
My time in triage felt long and uncomfortable. I spent an hour hooked up to continuous monitoring, as each attempt to get a successful 20 minute trace didn’t quite work. I found this very uncomfortable and incredibly hard to sit still in one position. Monitoring complete, I decided to accept some pain relief, agreeing to be examined first. The midwife was shocked to discover I was 7-8cm dilated and I was marched straight through to labour ward pronto!
Unfortunately the pool room was unavailable and my rough plans for an active labour went out of the window as I was ushered onto a bed for continuous monitoring. However, with the addition of gas and air, I honestly didn’t give any of this a second thought. In hindsight maybe not staying mobile did slow things down a bit, but at the time I was happy, comfortable and I felt in control.
I was looked after by a wonderful third year student midwife who was incredibly supportive and encouraging. We were also lucky enough to have a senior midwife with us. I am eternally grateful to the latter, without whom I don’t think I would have had an unassisted vbac. She knew I would be able to birth on my own and so managed to keep doctors at bay even as I exceeded an hour of pushing.
As I neared 2 hours, the decision was made to perform a small episiotomy and almost as soon as it was done, our daughter arrived at 12.15pm, 2 days early weighing 9lb 1oz. It was only in these final moments that I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to keep going. Up until then I felt really proud about how I'd managed to cope.
After my husband declined, I was quite excited and proud to be able to cut the cord myself. Following that, I also enjoyed a tour of the placenta (well, when else was I going to get the opportunity?!) and a cracking egg sandwich.
Following stitches, we were moved to a room in the midwife-led unit, where we enjoyed more food and I had a bath and a shower prior to discharge later that night.
I remained on a high from the birth for a few weeks after and felt a real sense of triumph at having achieved it all myself. I also felt intense gratitude to the two wonderful midwives who stood by me and supported me throughout, what angels!
All in all a wonderful experience. And we did make our son's nativity the week after, I couldn’t have timed it better!