I had an emergency C-section in 2010 for our first daughter’s birth due to “failure to progress” and felt very strongly that I wanted a VBAC for our next child. I figured I would go past my estimated due date (EDD) again, so may have to negotiate with the hospital to avoid interventions. I was actually very very lucky with the consultant I saw at my last two hospital appointments, despite him calling me “the most stubborn woman in Ireland”. He didn’t pressure me too much when I refused a sweep at 38+5 and again at 40+5. My next appointment was at 40+12, on Tuesday 30th April and I knew he would really start putting pressure on then to do a sweep and preferably book me in for rupturing of waters. I really wanted to avoid this as then I knew I would be on a time limit to have our baby.So I was doing everything I could to try and encourage my body to labour itself.
On the morning on Tuesday 30th April I woke at 1am needing a wee. Got back into bed and felt a contraction at 1.09am, didn’t think much of it, having had a few false starts in the previous couple of weeks and snuggled back down to sleep. By 1.50am I was having strong contractions every 5/6 mins and couldn’t sleep through them so decided to text my doula and have a cup of tea. I just knew that this was finally it, our baby was coming to meet us at long last! I text my friend Tania who was going to keep some close friends informed of the goings on. Twenty mins later the contractions were every 4/5 mins and I hadn’t heard back from my doula so I rang her as it would take her an hour to get to our house. I had a few contractions while on the phone and she knew by the fact I couldn’t talk through them things were definitely happening. My friend Tania said she would stay up and keep me company by text til my doula arrived as I was letting Graham, my husband sleep on.
I lit some incense and candles and knew that I didn’t want the tv or laptop on so started some crochet. I didn’t get much of it done as kept having to re-do it, but it helped me focus. I got Graham up then to put on the TENS machine as things were pretty intense and now every 3/4mins. Just before Mary (doula) arrived I asked Graham to ring CUMH and his mum (on call to mind our daughter) to let them know we’d need to go soon. I knew if I waited much longer I wouldn’t be able for the car journey.
Midwife we got was nice but said no to pool as it was against VBAC protocol as I would need continuous trace. I said I would agree to this as long as it didn’t stop me moving about as no way I could be lying in bed constantly. I knew that if that happened it would be end of my VBAC. She was supportive of this and got me a gymball
When the contractions were happening all I could do was breathe through them and tune everything out. I just kept repeating in my head “I can do anything for a minute”. Mary arrived and then Graham’s mum so we decided to go straight to CUMH. The pressure in the car was very intense and I hated being stuck in the one position. We got to CUMH at about 4.30am and went to the waiting room. They weren’t massively busy but all staff were occupied so we were in the waiting room for about 90mins, luckily just the three of us because at this stage during the contractions I was kneeling on all fours on the floor and moaning.
Mary plugged in her electric oil burner with a relaxing blend and was using counter pressure on my hips during the contractions which were every 2-3mins and it was such a help. By 5.30am I watched the sun start to rise and felt it was a beautiful day to birth a baby! But the TENS was starting to really annoy me and I knew I needed some gas and air to help me through the contractions. Finally got into triage at 6am and examined to be told was “just about 3-4cm dilated”. I hated that midwife right then as it was what I was told on being admitted in labour with Charlotte. She wanted me on the CTG then and told me I would have to lie or stand, squatting on the floor was not an option. I hated her even more then as I knew there was no way I could lie on that bed for 20 mins.
Anyway I said I’d stand, she put on the trace and Graham came in to me, he helped support me upright during the contractions and reassured me I was doing an amazing job. We overheard the midwife ring through to labour ward and neither of us too impressed with what we heard or her attitude when she came back into us but we chose to ignore her as once we got to delivery we wouldn’t have to see her again. So after the trace we were waiting another while to go down as there were rooms free but no staff. I think we got downstairs at about 7am.
Midwife we got was nice but said no to pool as it was against VBAC protocol as I would need continuous trace. I said I would agree to this as long as it didn’t stop me moving about as no way I could be lying in bed constantly. I knew that if that happened it would be end of my VBAC. She was supportive of this and got me a gymball so I was on that with the Entenox, on the trace and managing well. 8am and staff changeover happened. We got a midwife called Catherine, (which was the name we had agreed as a middle name if we had a girl as it’s my sister’s middle name) and a student midwife called Vicky (my middle name is Victoria). I took this as a sign these ladies were going help me have my VBAC!
Just after the changeover the consultant and her team came in. I didn’t like the consultant and she didn’t like me much either as she wanted to have me examined sooner rather than later and if no progression wanted to rupture my waters. I straight out told her no and she then started to spout about uterine rupture, told her I knew the risks and how low the percentage was. Said again breaking of waters was not happening, to which she replied “so you’re willing to risk you uterus rupturing as opposed to having your waters broken?” Yes says I! She made the other doctor note on my chart I’d been informed blah blah blah. The last doctor out was the doc who had seen me in A&E last week when I had a false alarm and as she left said “good luck” and gave me a big smile. Then had a good laugh with Catherine, Vicky & Mary about how I’d told the consultant what’s what and stood up for what we wanted.
I wanted the loo so Catherine took me off the trace. I sat on the loo for a while, but then decided to chance asking Catherine could I have a bath, as she seemed really supportive of our birth preferences and a hands off approach from her. She ran the bath and we sneaked over as doc has said explicitly no to pool and bath due to continuous trace, blah blah 😉 In the bath for a while, sucking on Entonox, moaning through the contractions but felt I was starting to panic a bit and needed something more. Really didn’t want pethidine as I felt this was where my labour had slowed the last time and DEFINITELY didn’t want an epidural. So chatted with Graham, Mary and Catherine about options. Decided Catherine would do an internal exam and then we’d form a plan. I was terrified of another exam and being told “only 4cm” I was so afraid I wouldn’t get past the point things stalled on Charlotte.
A couple more contractions and some intense pressure and our daughter slid out onto the bed between my legs in a gush of fluids. She let out a big roar of indignation and I reached down and lifted her up to my chest.
Such a relief when Catherine said I was “a loose 8cm” I seriously cannot explain how elated I felt, that my body had done this and knew that there was no way this was going to be a section! I was getting my VBAC. So my waters were bulging A LOT and Catherine said that was what was contributing to the amount of pressure down below. My options were for her to release them to relieve some of the pressure or for me to have pethidine to take the edge off things and wait for them to release themselves. I felt strongly I wanted my membranes to release themselves and at this point felt pethidine wouldn’t slow things down, so opted for that. Think that was about 10am. Timings are a bit off in my head.
So after that I was on the ball again, then on the toilet for a while but I couldn’t settle and decided the shower might be nice. Hopped in with the hot spray directed onto my lower back, Entonox in my mouth and was there for a while. Pethidine definitely took the edge off but was feeling serious pressure between my legs, reached down and could feel something, but knew waters still in tact so said I thought Catherine should check me again. She did and said that there was a big cervical lip and if she pushed it back I was 10cm, but it was slipping back over baby’s head. She said she felt it was preventing waters releasing themselves. So we agreed she’d break them. The relief from that was unreal!! That was at about 11am I think.
Catherine then wanted to do a CTG. I only found out after Alicia was born it was because there was meconium in the waters. I was on the gymball and poor Vicky was having to hold the CTG in place the whole time. So after a while I was unsettled again and got on the bed, kneeling over the back of it. I felt major pressure and asked Catherine to check me as I could feel something between my legs. She checked and told me we’d hit double digits! I was so pleased with myself and knew we’d soon meet out beautiful baby. So I was standing beside the bed when I felt Alicia start to descend.
I stayed in this position for a while with legs spread and could feel her slowly making her way further down with each contraction It was surreal and amazing. But I couldn’t settle so got to the kneeling on the bed again. Graham was standing beside me holding my hand and telling me how fab I was doing, Mary was behind me taking pictures as our daughter’s head emerged. A couple more contractions and some intense pressure and our daughter slid out onto the bed between my legs in a gush of fluids. She let out a big roar of indignation and I reached down and lifted her up to my chest. I saw we had another girl and looked over to Graham to tell him. He was crying and shaking and I have never loved him so much.
I announced to everyone we had another beautiful girl and turned to sit with her in my arms. Within about 15 mins Alicia started to nurse all by herself pretty much. We wanted delayed cord clamping so really at this point it was waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. I’m not sure how long this took, but think it was about 30mins. Graham cut the cord and then he had cuddles with Alicia while Catherine cleaned me up and she said I’d need a stitch due to second degree tear. We rang family and text close friends to inform them Alicia was here. Vicky got us all tea and toast which was amazing! Even though I’d had smoothies and snacks during the whole labour I was starving!! Mary left a bit after that and then Catherine went on her lunch break so we were left just the three of us til about 4/4.30pm when we transferred upstairs.
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