August 2, 2013

Willow's VBAC Birth Story

Dear Willow,
I hope in 20 or 30 years, when you decide to have children, that a VBAC is no big deal. I hope that it is looked upon as commonplace and something to strive for with your 2nd baby if you happen to have a C-section with your 1st baby.
I seriously didn’t think that I would be allowed to have a VBAC with the team, hospital, and way that I wanted. I figured my blood pressure would spike once or twice, and the doctors would roll me into the operating room. I WAS WRONG, AND I GOT MY VBAC!

disclaimer: this is me TMIing all over the internet again.

FALSE LABOR
The day you were born was more like the finale after a really long weekend of sporadic contractions that started Thursday afternoon; your Grammy and I started timing contractions around 4pm. They were slow and a little irregular, but after a warm bath around 11pm, they were steady at about 8 minutes apart. I couldn’t sleep- I was nervous, and I kept thinking, “This is it!” So I waited until about 1am, when the contractions were 4 minutes apart. I woke your daddy, and we started towards the hospital, which was about 40 minutes away. Your Aunt Jessi was at our house watching Maggie.

We called your Grammy and Papaw and told them that we would call back as soon as we knew if we were actually in labor. But as the car got closer to the hospital, the contractions got weaker and farther apart; and it didn’t matter what I tried- I couldn’t willpower them any closer together. We went ahead and went into the emergency room, where we checked in, and I told the lady at the desk that I was a VBAC. She sarcastically asked, “Why?” I was then wheeled upstairs where I asked for a nurse that didn’t “scare easily and was VBAC-friendly.” I was determined to still try this VBAC.

They took me to my room and hooked me up to the blood pressure machine, but the first reading was borderline dangerously high. “Oh sh*t!!”  I was afraid they were going to pull you! Over the next few hours, I rested on my left side to bring down the blood pressure, but my contractions slowed down and stopped registering on the computer. Your Grammy and Papaw drove all the way up there (without telling us) just to find out that it was FALSE LABOR.

I WAS GOING HOME.

I was told to rest, lie down, and come back when the contractions were steady, 4 minutes apart, and I “couldn’t talk during them”. I had to do the walk of shame out of the hospital without a baby.

Your daddy and I got home around 5am, and we were so tired.

OVER THE NEXT 3 DAYS
I had weak sporadic contractions, so I stayed at home resting, watching TV, and sleeping. Grammy and Papaw took Maggie that weekend so I could sit on my tooshie and not worry about a toddler.

SUNDAY
Sunday came and I needed to get you out, I tried all the tricks to get my body to go into labor, I walked, I ate spicy food, I even tried the #1 thing to induce labor (wink wink). Your Grammy and Papaw had to return Maggie on Sunday night, but they agreed to stay until she fell asleep so I could continue to rest. Papaw bought tacos with lots of jalapenos and hot salsa for me. I ate all of it.

I don’t know what actually started the stronger contractions, but I’d like to think that it was a combination of everything I was trying that day. When the contractions started up again with more intensity, Grammy got excited and started timing them. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, or get too excited. Papaw ran out to buy a home blood pressure machine so we could monitor my blood pressure ourselves.

Over the next few hours, we timed the contractions. Four minutes was the magic number, and they were steady, intense, and regular. They would start in my lower back, creep around under my pregnant belly, and end up on top of my belly. They were just like menstrual cramps, but much worse. We also took my blood pressure several times and the readings were too high for anybody, let alone for somebody in labor. But I lay down on my left side and tried to relax.

Around 8pm, we decided to go to Labor & Delivery again. We called your Aunt Jessi to come watch Maggie that night and called your Daddy at work to come drive me to the hospital. Your Grammy was on the phone with on-call nurses to see if this was it IT. While we waited for everybody to arrive, your Papaw sat at the edge of the bed, telling me stories and making fun of my bedroom d├ęcor. He even tried on some hats that your daddy had lying around; it definitely helped pass the time.

Once Aunt Jessi and your Daddy had made it to our house, we all got ready to go. Your Daddy and your Grammy escorted me to the hospital; the last words that your Papaw said to me was “get the pain meds”. I told him I would.

All the way to the hospital, the contractions were steady. We rode in silence, except when I said, “time” to indicate I was having a contraction.


Room #1
We got to the hospital right before 10pm, so we were able to walk right into L&D without having to go through the emergency room like we did during “False Labor” day. I was checked into the triage wing and hooked up to the machines. My blood pressure was ok, you were ok, the contractions were there, but the nurses couldn’t get them on the monitor. Your Daddy and Grammy took turns trying to sleep and help me through the contractions; they even lied to me about the intensity of the contractions on the monitors.

Even though the contractions stayed consistent, they still weren’t showing up very well on the monitor, so at 1am the nurses started drawing up the discharge papers (I didn’t know this at the time). I was just sitting in the dark room, working through the contractions, while lying on my left side when MY WATER BROKE. Felt exactly like a water balloon had been popped between my legs. So weird.

The nurses were surprised, and admitted that they were going to release me. The contractions doubled in pain, but I was still only at 3 ½ centimeters. But once the water breaks, you don’t get discharged; you are GONNA HAVE A BABY!

This is when I took off my own blood pressure monitor, which I believe was the 1st thing that helped my VBAC be a success, because I believe my blood pressure went up after my water broke (prior to the epidural). Had I gotten a bad blood pressure reading, they would have sectioned me.

Nothing that your Daddy and Grammy could do could ease my pain, and the nurses wouldn’t let me move around because it was putting “stress on the baby” (whatever). I had your Daddy text the birth photographer my status. The nurses were trying to transfer me to the Labor and Delivery section of the hospital, but nobody seemed to be in a hurry. Everybody knew by this point that I wanted to get the epidural; I was a little mean and short-tempered during that time. When you are in that much pain, you really just want to hold your breath and power through, but that was my problem- you can’t “hold your breath”. The hardest part was breathing through the contractions. Breathing felt wrong and seemed to make the pain worse. I really just wanted to grit my teeth, hold my breath, and wait for it to be over with, but that’s not how it works. Everybody kept telling me “Breathe Crystal, breathe!”

As I said before, nobody was really in a hurry to get me into an epidural or a room in Labor and Deliver. But the triage nurse came in one hour later to see how I was progressing, and “WHOA 7 ½ cm! Let’s get you to L&D!” She moved faster; in fact, she ran down the hall, pushing my bed.


Room #2
Once I got to L&D, I was handed off to nurse Tonya. The contractions were bad, and I really just wanted to thrash around and kick a lot (but that wouldn’t have helped). “Breathe Crystal, Breathe!” The anesthesiologist arrived, and couldn’t have hooked me up fast enough. Once a woman goes into transition (8 – 10 cm), typically, the epidural is no longer allowed. Once I was sitting up, hunched over, using Tonya as support, the anesthesiologist started his procedure. Then Tonya yelled at your Grammy for videotaping the process- big no-no. I mumbled something to the nurse under my breath about your Grammy being crazy. She has always been the type who would rather ask for forgiveness than permission.

I immediately started feeling better, but it took about 20 minutes until I was calm and feeling less pain (mostly just pressure). My blood pressure was fine at that point, and I believe that I have the epidural to thank for that (reason #2 I believe my VBAC was a success). Every few minutes, I could feel pressure as you got closer and closer to arriving. I was shaking from the epidural, and I continued to shake for the next few hours, even after you arrived and I stopped receiving pain medication.


The birth photographer, Caroline, arrived right after the pain meds. At that point, it was just a waiting game. I talked and chatted through the “pressure” contractions, asking everybody questions and trying (unsuccessfully) to sleep between the contractions.

At 4am, I was 10cm, and I remember asking everybody to guess what time you would be born. Unfortunately, I still didn’t start pushing till 5am because the OB doctor wasn’t ready. They even gave me a drug to “relieve the pressure”, and slow the process. Once I did finally start pushing, it seemed unreal that it was actually happening! I was going to have a baby the way I wanted. The doctor wasn’t in the room at first/ It was just Tonya, Caroline, your Daddy, and Grammy. My OB, Dr. McElroy wasn’t there, so the doctor on call, Dr. Irwin, delivered you. I’m not 100% sure he knew it was a VBAC (3rd and final reason I think my VBAC was successful).

BABY TIME
Around 4:45 or 5am, Tonya calmly told me to start pushing the next time I felt a contraction. I felt so calm (nothing like you see on TV). After several minutes of learning how to push with Tonya, (I pushed too much with my face, rookie mistake), Dr. Irwin came in to suit up; this ensemble included goggles! Your Daddy moved around to my right side, and Tonya moved to my left so that she could keep track of the monitor. I asked the doctor not to give me an episiotomy and that I wanted a slimy baby on my chest as soon as possible. I pushed and pushed, and I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything. I was surprised how quiet the room was- I wasn’t screaming, nobody was talking, everybody was just looking at the monitor and asking me to push when I felt the urge to push. They called in a nursery nurse to be there for you, but really it was a very simple, quiet moment without any complications. When I pushed, Tonya would place her arm around my neck to help me sit up, and she held on to the back of my knees.

I pushed and people cheered me on, until your Grammy and Daddy said they could see the top of your head! You had hair! This excited me, and gave me a burst of energy (my kid had hair!!). I pushed a few more times, until you just slid out. It was 5:21am. After the doctor sucked all the fluid out of your mouth, I could hear you scream; it was the best sound ever. The doctor asked your Daddy if he wanted to cut the cord, to which he declined at first; but we all pressured him into it. Later, the doctor complimented your Daddy on his cord-cutting skills because he did it without spraying blood everywhere.
The doctor placed you in my arms, and you were so beautiful (and slimy) with your cute little pointed head. Your nurse helped me hold you for a few minutes (because you were slimy and slippery). I was in awe of what I had just done. I just kept saying, “I did it”. You were stunning and there is nothing comparable to that moment. Nothing. I hope I’m there when you have your 1st baby.
They took you from me, and over the next few minutes, they wiped you down, stitched me back up, weighed you (6lbs 9oz), and measured your head and length (20 ½ inches). I just kept thinking and saying, “I did it”. Within a few minutes they had everything cleaned up, the doctor congratulated me, and he left. Your Daddy handed you back to me; you were all bundled up with a hat on. I got to nurse you immediately, and you latched on, which was great. We took a few more pictures, and I got to talk to your Papaw and your Aunt Jessi on the phone. I cried so hard- happy tears.
Within the next hour or so, I announced your arrival via Facebook, and your Papaw and Aunt Jessi came by with your big sister. It was early in the morning (6:30-ish) and Maggie was still very sleepy when she got to meet you. She was actually more interested in the new surroundings and the nearby banana than the fact that we had a new baby (but don’t worry! She was more interested in you the next day when she met you in our home without any distractions). Aunt Jessi made a McDonalds run and my first meal after you were born was a McGriddle. Don’t eat those; they are bad for you. I sent a couple of text messages to my work colleagues, and Grammy texted the whole family.

Everyone left the hospital, your Daddy laid down to take a nap, and just the 2 of us spent some time together. You still had blood matted to your hair under your hat. You were so brand new. I was in awe, and I was so excited and energetic. I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be considering I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and I just birthed a baby. I was running on adrenaline and pure love.
Room #3
Over the next few hours, I figured out how to function again. They bathed you, and we moved into the postpartum wing of the hospital. But that was short-lived because the first time they took my blood pressure in postpartum, it was 110/199, so they sent me back to L&D to be hooked up to magnesium. All without my lunch.
Room #4
After being hooked up to the magnesium and all the other contraptions that come with it, I got to see Dr. McElroy. I talked to her about the delivery, my medications, and how long I would have to wait for the cherry pie I wanted to order. I learned of the Moore, Oklahoma F5 tornado that afternoon, followed by your first few visitors. First, your Grandma Roznik brought you gifts and sparking grape juice. That night, my Aunt Marsha along with my 2 cousins, Trey and Logan, came to visit you for a few minutes. Tuesday your Grandma Betty Mabry came to visit us.

I had to stay in L&D until 24 hours after you were born. Your Daddy and I drifted in and out of sleep, and I woke up every once in a while to nurse you. (I forgot how much that hurts the first few days). I remember wishing you “Happy Day One” around 5:30am.

Room #5
My blood pressure leveled out, and we moved back to postpartum before breakfast that Tuesday. The rest of day two was quiet and peaceful. It was spent resting, showering, watching the developing storms, paperwork, finalizing your birth certificate, and convincing the nurses that I could go home (half-way joking that I should be allowed to take one of the postpartum beds with me).

We left the hospital around 4pm that day. Just you, your daddy, and I drove the 40 minutes home with dark storm clouds overhead. I rode in the backseat, and you held onto my finger tightly.

WE DID IT. You are my VBAC Baby. I love you so much, Willow Rai Roznik.