Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Grand Entrance of Elias: my VBAC birth story

Elias Leigh Kroboth
8 lbs, 21.5 inches
February 22, 2012
Well, world, our Baby Dos has arrived. He made his grand entrance on February 22 at 2:47 AM, after what I'd consider a long labor (but maybe that's just me) and a successful VBAC (hooray!).

To begin his story, let me back up a few weeks. We had chosen our doula, Ashley of Birth Right Doula Services to support us during labor and help us do all we could to avoid a repeat c-section. I'd been going weekly (and sometimes biweekly) to my chiropractor for adjustments, since my pelvis was not quite aligned. And, proper alignment was important for labor and vaginal deliveries. And, starting at 38 weeks, I was having induction massages with the wonderful Cheryl of Great Blue Heron Massage. Her wisdom and encouragement proved to be a very important part of my journey.

All along, I just had this feeling that I was going to have a VBAC and it was all going to go well. That was that. I remember telling Ashley that I just knew it was all going to work out. That feeling pretty much continued until labor was here and I started to freak out a little. And then, when it came time to actually deliver, I started to panic about my c-section scar and possible rupture. But, you know, that's just me. The worrier.

Starting on Saturday, I was having 'real' contractions. I woke Rusty up and said, I think we're going to have a baby today. He shrugged me off and said, you take forever to do anything Kira. It'll probably be more like Wednesday. (Funny, I just now realized he was right.)

For the next few days, the contractions were constant while I slept (well, tried to sleep), but would come and go during my waking hours. My doula and I realized that it was my mind (and anxious thoughts) that were keeping me from going into active labor. Only when I was in bed and relaxed could my body do what it needed to do. So, each night, I'd go to bed and have contractions all night. Wake up and they'd taper off.

That is, until Tuesday morning. They had a new level of pain associated with them. Their regularity was taking a notch up and I asked Rusty to take me to my appointment with Cheryl. I didn't feel comfortable driving should the contractions happen to continue. And I knew, once Cheryl worked her magic, it was possible the contractions would keep right on coming. We ventured to see Cheryl. She was so reassuring and kind and encouraging. She said my body was ready, the baby was in perfect position and it seemed I was on my way.

12 noon: On the way home, contractions really began. I would have to stop what I was doing while they came and went. I called Ashley and said, I think this is it. I really wanted her there because it was in my nature to freak out and just run to the hospital so that someone would take care of me. And Rusty, well, he wasn't much help. He was a nervous wreck too. And this was my first time actually going into labor. So, neither of us knew what was normal and what wasn't.

4PM: The afternoon continued. So did the contractions. Ashley arrived with her bag of tricks and I felt immediately more comfortable. We decided to go to the OBGYN and have them check me. I was at 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Which, kind of bothered me because it hurt so bad already and I was only at 2?!

We came back home and Ashley and I walked around the neighborhood. I know we looked crazy. Contractions would come and I'd lean on her and sway. Or I'd find a tree to help. The movement really got things going. I couldn't really eat dinner with everyone, I went and laid on the bed with my hips in the air and my head on the bed. Cheryl said this seemed counterproductive, but would help the baby get in position. While doing this, I felt a pop and what I would describe as warmth bubbling out and upwards (because, remember, I was inverted).

Yep, my water broke. And the fluid wasn't exactly clear. So, I called my doctor and she said to head to Rex. My plan to stay at home as long as possible was kind of cut short with this new development. I called Rusty down from bathing Asher. I called Joni over to watch the big bro and we loaded up. I was in some serious pain at this point. The intensity was wild.

7PM: Once we arrived, they made me lay in the bed for monitoring. I was only at 3 cm and 90% effaced (cue another panic because this seemed so slow after all of the pain). I didn't want to lay in that darn bed. That was the worst position ever for what I was feeling. But, Elias wasn't responding well to labor (that was familiar from Asher's birth) and they wanted to monitor me for an hour or so. There I laid, with Ashley holding one hand and Rusty holding the other. I'd only get up to use the bathroom and my sweet husband would go with me and help me work through the contractions along the way.


The nurse didn't seem too keen on me getting up and moving around. They offered me some IV pain meds to take the edge off, but said it would likely chill the baby out, too. Which, to me, didn't make much sense. They wanted to see some activity with Elias's heart rate, so why would I take something to mellow us out? I asked to please be allowed to get up and walk around (even though everything in me wanted my epidural right. then. and. there.).

I told myself that I needed to do everything I could to keep things going without intervention to make the probability of a VBAC more likely. I wanted to look back on this labor and know that I did all I possibly could to try to keep things progressing naturally. And I knew that I owed it to myself to deal with the pain and do some walking - postponing the epidural for a while.


10 PM: I was given 45 minutes to do what I wanted. I walked and squatted. And at the end of that time I said, I can't do this anymore. I need my epidural. I just can't handle it. I was leaned across my bed. I remember the moment so clearly. I was exhausted from laboring for days, not sleeping well and just being plain physically drained. I needed relief.

The epidural was put in place, they checked me and I was at 5 cm. Yay for progress! My goal was to make it to 6 before the epidural, but this was close enough for me. I was so proud of myself for walking. And for stressing to the nurse that I needed to get up and out of that bed. I had done what needed to be done.

For the next few hours we sat in the dim room and relaxed. Rusty and Ashley were right by my bedside. The nurses swapped out for some reason or another, but I liked the new one better so I was ok with that. Around midnight I told Ashley that I felt pressure. (She later told me she didn't think it was possible it was 'that' pressure because it hadn't been very long.) I chalked it up to the fact that I needed to empty my bladder and had the nurse come handle that.

1:15 AM: By the time that was done, they checked me and I was at 9.5 cm and 100% effaced. Holy crap. This was going to happen. Ashley and Rusty were so congratulatory and were pumping me up for delivery. I was starting to get really, really nervous. I had everyone checking my c-section scar for any sides of pulling. I was asking over and over about how a rupture would feel even though I had an epidural. I realized I was going to get to push, and didn't know if I could even figure out how to do that. The labor equipment was wheeled in.

We talked about my preferences for delayed cord clamping and having Elias immediately placed on my chest. Everyone was very supportive of everything. But, after that last check, the nurse told me that there was meconium in my fluid. This meant that the respiratory nursery team would be in the delivery room and that Elias wouldn't come to me first. They would need to suction him out and remove any gunk that he may have ingested. The good news is, my fluid was clear hours earlier, so it's not like he'd been floating around in the funk for a long time. So, we held out hope that he hadn't swallowed anything.

While waiting for that final half a centimeter, we realized Elias's birthday would be 2/22. Then, we realized we were in room #222. And then, we realized it was about 2:10 AM and, if we somehow could make it happen on our time clock (which clearly wasn't happening), he could be born at 2:22 AM. How cool is that? But that time came and went. The nurse checked me and I was fully dilated and ready to push.

Ashley had Rusty preparing cool washcloths for my head and neck. My entire body was shaking. Ashley said that's common during transition and that my body was probably reacting to some of that despite the epidural. We popped a few honey sticks in me to get my energy up. And, we began to push.

2:30 AM: I starting pushing somewhere around this time. I just remember thinking, there is no way this is working. I don't feel anything. I don't think I know what I'm doing. But I guess I was doing it right. Ashley was rooting me on. Rusty was (beside my head) cheering me on. They could see Elias's hair and that was encouraging.

2:47 AM: I pushed through 4 or 5 contractions and Elias was born! I did it! I did it! Elias was here and healthy and crying (although under the care of the special care nursery nurses). I could see them caring for him across the room while my doctor finished working on me. I was in no pain at all.


Elias was cleared of any gunk and placed on my chest with a pile of warm blankets on top of us. He immediately latched on and began nursing. I was such a proud mama! He looked up at me and held my finger. I stared down at him, in awe of what just took place. Even now it seems like a blur.




Rusty watched these first moments with me and Elias from by my side. I was thankful that as the daddy, he knew how important those first minutes were for us and just stood back and let us bond.


After a while the baby washing team arrived to give Elias his bath. They measured him. 8.0 lbs and 21.5 inches. He liked having his hair washed; it calmed him.


The nurses prepared me to move to my recovery room and Rusty held Elias for the first time. He had such a proud and happy look on his face. Love that moment. Love. Love.


Because the birthing center was overcrowded (I think it's because of the previous weekend's snow weather system), my recovery room was the door across the walkway which was actually still in the delivery area. (Apparently there were moms giving birth the next day in the main hospital tower of Rex because the birthing center was at capacity. It was wild.)

We tried to get some sleep. But my adrenaline was going bazerk, so I didn't sleep at all. Elias was proving to be quite the little sleeper and nurser, of which I was very thankful. Rusty snored next to me in the recliner. And I found myself reliving the events of the day, and looking forward to seeing Asher the next day.

In the morning, Asher arrived. The big brother. I fought back tears the whole time. I knew that this was going to rock his world. I knew he wouldn't completely understand. And I just wanted to make it all ok for him somehow.



He did a pretty good job of ignoring the baby in the room. We eventually got him warmed up enough to want to say hello and give his brother a kiss. Then, he was back to crawling under the doorway curtains, getting into everything and giving me a heart attack with all the germs he was surely encountering. (Even now, Asher does a stellar job of ignoring Elias when he wants to, but we're making progress. Slowly. More on that later.)



My recovery has been fantastic compared to the c-section. It was an amazing, amazing experience. I'm so thankful for everyone on my 'VBAC team' and for the blessing of being able to go into labor naturally and vaginally deliver my second son. I'm slowly healing, but healing nicely. I started taking my anxiety meds while at the hospital, so that those would be in my system to hopefully ward off any PPD. Of course, I'm not getting much sleep, but I'm so thankful for two healthy boys and a wonderfully supportive husband and family.


Our first night home, I was downstairs feeding Elias and Rusty was upstairs bathing Asher. He texted me and said, We are a family of four now. How great is that? So great. So very great.

Welcome to our world, sweet E. We are so glad you're here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting! I have been checking to see if you had posted, as I was anxious to hear all the details. I happened to be on line tonight and saw when you came on. Glad to hear you are all doing well.

Love,
Mema

Jennifer said...

This is so great! I'm having my first baby in June and this really helps me to get a good idea of what labor looks like:) Thanks for sharing your story and I'm so happy everything went like you wanted.
~Jennifer

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