This post shares Susie’s birth stories of her first child who was born via c-section, and her second child who was born via unmedicated VBAC. Susie’s previous guest posts include Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? and her Real Registry.
Two years ago, I gave birth to my daughter via emergency c-section. My water broke at 2 AM in the morning and things progressed pretty quickly until I got about 3 cm dilated, after which I stopped having contractions. At the hospital I was given an epidural and placed in a room to be monitored. Several hours later, I didn’t progress any further, so I was given Pitocin to speed up the labor. The issue that we were having was that every time I had a contraction, the baby’s heart rate dropped. 22 hours later I finally became 10 cm dilated, and I was instructed to push.
I pushed about 3 times before the doctor finally made the call to go with the c-section because the baby seemed to be in distress. I remember crying and telling my husband that I was sorry over and over again. I don’t know why I felt this way, but for some reason I felt guilty for not being able to push my baby out like every other mom. I was scared of the pushing for months during my pregnancy, and I wondered if my fear subconsciously prevented me from having a normal birth. Hey, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was afraid of pooping???
As I was being wheeled into the operating room I felt anxiety because I was worried that something was wrong with the baby. When you’re in a cold, white room while having all these surgical masks asking you a million questions at once, it can get a little scary. Later on, we were told that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck – twice, so it was a good thing that I ended up getting the c-section.
Shortly after the birth, I started shaking so much to the point that I couldn’t even look at my baby. My husband held the baby to my face and said,”look! It’s our baby! Look!” but I remember only a small glimpse from the corner of my eye and I couldn’t even get myself to reach out to the baby. I remember being told that the shaking was normal and that my body was exhausted from the labor, and then I pretty much passed out afterwards. I never got to hold my daughter until many hours later – we had to wait quite a long time for a hospital room, and because I had a fever during labor they had to keep the baby in NICU. The only way I could see her was if I went there myself, and it was a while before I was able to get out of bed.
Those first few days in the hospital were an absolute nightmare. I was in a lot of pain, taking meds every four hours on the dot, and at the same time, because I was adamant about breastfeeding, I had to walk to the other side of the floor in order to feed my daughter every three hours around the clock. It took over an hour and a half to feed, burp, and walk back to my room, and I only had an hour to get back into bed and rest until I had to do it all over again. Nightmare.
When I got pregnant for the second time, I had the choice to try and do a VBAC, or have another c-section. My recovery with the c-section was brutal – I was in pain for months after the birth, and I really didn’t want to go through with that again. After having my first child, my OB at the New York hospital where I gave birth assured me that I would be able to have a VBAC without any issues. However, I moved to Central NJ before I had my second child and my new doctor kept pushing me to have the c-section. She told me that my recovery the first time took much longer because I was in labor for 22 hours the surgery, and my body had much more damage. If I chose to have a scheduled c-section, my recovery would not be nearly as bad.
Throughout my entire pregnancy I constantly went back and forth trying to decide what I wanted to do. A part of me wanted to experience a normal birth, however the other part of me was still terrified of the pain of pushing and wanted to get it over with in a quick surgery. Also, the doctor scared me with the risks involved with a VBAC. There was a small chance that after labor my uterus would erupt and I would only have about 5 minutes to get to an operating room, and if there were complications, there would a chance that my baby or I would die. Another reason I was worried about a c-section was that I wanted the option of having four children (I know, CRAZINESS! But remember I said OPTION to, not definite haha), and if I chose to have another surgery, the risks would drastically increase after three kids. Speaking to friends didn’t help. Some thought I should go with the VBAC, while others assured me that they knew friends who were on their 5th c-section! I just couldn’t decide, and as the due date approached, I got more and more confused as to which way I should go.
Luckily, the choice was made for me.
I missed my 35th week OB appointment and ultrasound because Hurricane Sandy caused most of Central New Jersey to lose power. On the first day of the hurricane, I lost my mucous plug. I quickly googled what that meant, and read that it didn’t exactly mean I was in labor, and could take days or weeks before I started having contractions. We didn’t have power or cell phone service, so I just decided to wait. Each day I started losing more and more mucous. I tried to feel for any type of contraction, but felt nothing but discomfort. Finally, we all got our power back but it was another two days before I was able to reach my doctor. She told me to go to the hospital to get a nonstress test and monitor the baby’s heartbeat for a couple of hours, so I did, and apparently everything checked out fine; I only showed two mild contractions that could have been Braxton hicks, and I was OK to go home. However, the doctor wanted to do a vaginal exam so I was asked to go directly to her office for a checkup. After the doctor examined me, her eyes got super wide and in a shocked voice, she told me that I had to go right back to the hospital because I was 6 cm dilated! She even wondered how I was able to walk.
I checked the time and it was about 5 PM, right around the time I had to pick up my daughter from daycare. I still didn’t feel any pain, so I told her that I would pick up my toddler and wait for my husband to come home from work, and that I would go to the hospital after we put her to bed. She said that was fine since it didn’t look like I was having contractions, but she told me to get to the hospital as soon as I could and to not do too much walking around.
I picked up my daughter, which was luckily very close to my doctor’s office, and texted my husband to let him know that today was probably the day. I got home, closed the front door, then told my girl to take off her jacket and shoes while I went to the bathroom. The moment I sat down on the toilet I felt it – my water breaking. Shocked, I didn’t know what to do at first. I called my husband and he said he was already on his way home and should be home by 7:30. I looked at the clock – 6 PM. I called my mom who was about half an hour away and she freaked out and told me she was coming right away. She had to close her store an hour early, but it was a good thing because as soon as I got off the phone with her, the pain started.
I tried to heat my daughter up a quick dinner but I was barely able to stand, so I just gave her some crackers and turned on an episode of Calliou to keep her busy. By the time my mom came home at 6:45, I was crying, sitting on top of a disposable blue pad and hanging on to the dining room table for dear life. In the meantime, I was exchanging texts with my husband, who was having trouble getting home from NYC. Because of Hurricane Sandy, commutes were a nightmare and they weren’t letting him get on the train!
For some strange reason I was really calm, but my mom was frantic. Wide-eyed, she loaded my daughter in the car without shoes and then helped me get in. I kept telling her that it was going to be a while before I gave birth anyway and that she didn’t have to worry so much.
Boy, was I wrong. By the time I was admitted, I couldn’t see straight from the pain. I was told that I was already more than 8 cm dilated by the time I got in. I begged for the epidural but they told me it was much too late and that I would have to give birth naturally. I was terrified. For 9 months I was afraid of pushing WITH an epidural, and now they were telling me I would have to go without! On top of that, my husband was nowhere to be found.
Hubby finally got to the hospital around 7:45pm when I was about 9 cm dilated. Through the pain I heard the nurses talking amongst themselves about how I was a VBAC and if I should be prepped for a c-section. I was in so much pain that I screamed out, “GIVE ME THE C SECTION! GIVE ME THE C SECTION!!!!!” Anything to get rid of the pain, I was desperate! The doctor then told me that if I REALLY wanted the C section, I would have to tell her NOW, but that because I was so far along, it would probably cause more problems, and so far, I was progressing well and everything looked normal.
Through tears I came to the decision to push. 10 minutes later, I was 10 cm dilated and screaming!
Thinking back, I don’t think I was screaming from the pain. The nurses told me that when I was fully dilated I would feel a lot of relief, and they were right. I was screaming because I felt something I never thought I would feel. My uterus was pushing the baby out! On its own! Without me pushing! It was the craziest feeling I’ve ever had. I was screaming that my baby was coming out. I actually screamed it, “OMG THE BABY IS COMING OUTTTTT!”
I don’t even remember how many times I pushed, but it wasn’t that many. My baby boy slipped out at 8:17 PM, 3.5 weeks early. But get this – he weighed 9 lbs, 13 oz. 9 LBS 13 OZ!!! The nurses were shocked at his size, especially because he came out so fast.
My experience with a VBAC was amazing. The second he slipped out, all the pain was gone and I felt exhilarated. I had a little bit of shaking but not nearly as bad as the seizures I had after my c-section. They even placed him on my chest for some skin to skin time, and the feeling I felt is indescribable. Even typing this out brings tears to my eyes. With my c-section, I was heavily medicated, exhausted, and felt no attachment to my daughter because I couldn’t even look at her or enjoy the fact that she was born. With my son, I felt alive with adrenaline and I was completely aware of everything around me. I didn’t feel tired at all and the crazy thing was, after it was all over I immediately thought, “hey, that wasn’t so bad.” This is coming from someone who was convinced that she was going to die on that day. Literally die.
I never understood why anyone would want to give a natural birth. I thought, why would they want to feel that pain if they can have an easier birth? But I can understand now. Also, having an epidural doesn’t always make things easier. I was told that some moms preferred to give birth naturally because an epidural can prevent them from feeling the contractions and it’s difficult to know when to push. I can understand this because I did push with my daughter as well, and I didn’t feel the contractions either. I was only told to push from the doctor and I pushed and pushed, but I didn’t quite know WHAT I was pushing. With my son, there was nothing I could do BUT push, because my body did it for me. I was just going along with what my uterus was already doing, and pushing actually felt good. The real pain comes from the contractions leading up to being fully dilated. Don’t get me wrong — it was still very painful, but not really. It’s very difficult to explain.
Friends have asked if I would go naturally again and I tell them “NO WAY.” Yes it was a wonderful experience, and if someone told me they were thinking of going without the drugs, I would tell them to go for it! However, if I have a choice in that moment when I’m in labor for the third time, I don’t think I could pass up the chance to relieve the pain. I have respect for women who choose to go naturally and STICK with their plans, because I know a few friends that wanted to try and couldn’t handle it. I know that the only reason I was able to survive this was because I had a very short labor and I didn’t have a choice. If you really want to try declining the epidural, I would probably recommend waiting for your second child, because first babies tend to come after super long labors while second babies come much faster.
I’m very happy with the way things progressed. If it wasn’t for Hurricane Sandy, I would probably have discovered my baby’s large size earlier (which is a whole ‘nother story) and probably would have had a scheduled c-cection shortly after. I liked that my baby came naturally in his own time, the way he wanted to come out, and I’m so grateful that he’s healthy and that there were no complications. But like I said, NEVER AGAIN will I go through that if I can help it.
We’d love to hear birth stories from more mamas of 2! Please submit your birth story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natural Birth Stories part 9 of 121. My Mom's Birth Story by Mrs. Bee
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3. Sam's Birth Story by Birth Stories
4. Baby H's Birth Story by Mrs. Hopscotch
5. Wonder Baby's Birth Story by Mrs. Superhero
6. Toddler Girl's Birth Story by Mrs. Superhero
7. How Baby HH Came to Be... by Mrs. High Heels
8. Baby Squiggle's Birth Story by Mrs. Pen
9. Susie's Birth Stories by Birth Stories
10. Baby Confetti's Birth Story by Mrs. Confetti
11. Baby Boy Heels' Birth Story by Mrs. High Heels
12. My Birth Story and Giving Birth Again by Mrs. Chocolate