Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Oldie But Goodie: Sarah's Amazing VBAC

I have contemplated how I want to present this for weeks. Sarah herself joked about how much she had to say to about her very fast labor! In the end, I've decided, who am I to edit this amazing woman's birth story? I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I think you will too.

Why is this VBAC so special? I have chills as I write that question. About a year ago, I posted a picture of Sarah right after her c-section that took place 2 years ago. Without going through all the details, it was a nightmare. They had taken my class by DVD, and while I had met with Sarah a number of times, I had never met her husband, Kip, until that day on the phone. We spoke for about 30 minutes and it broke my heart. I could feel the love that he has for Sarah, and he had felt so helpless as their birth spiraled out of control, ending in a c-section. If you would like to read what she wrote about her previous experience, you can find it at the previous post titled "Ah, the Glorious C-Section."

Sarah and Kip, like so many couples, struggled with depression over the event and went through an intense healing process. Breastfeeding was such a struggle with the first baby, and when Sarah started the baby on formula, she went through tremendous guilt and more depression. Kip wasn't sure he ever wanted to go through this again, but Sarah knew her body could do this. When she found herself pregnant again, she hired a midwife at Gentle Beginnings Birth Center and planned for an out-of-hospital birth.

I love the look on Sarah's face and I have no doubt that she was saying a silent prayer of thank- fulness, healing, and amazing power. What a strong woman. Enjoy her story in her own words:

Jackson’s birth story
Born 8/29, 9 days past EDD by VBAC waterbirth

“I love you Lord,
And I lift my voice,
To worship you,
Oh my soul, rejoice.

Take joy my king,
In what you hear,
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
In your ears.”

This was my song during labor… it helped me to survive the hardest 4 ½ hours of my life! Compared to my first labor and eventual c-section w/ Kate, this was short and 100 miles an hour – less to tell (so why is it so long!) 9 days past EDD, my mantra of “Be still and know that I am God,” from Psalm 46 was starting to waver and I was starting to be anxious. After speaking w/ my midwife and starting Master Gland on 8/28, I went to bed grouchy w/ no contractions. My husband & his parents went to a high school football game & I stayed home w/ Kate.

I woke up at 4:30am and felt terrible, but assumed it was food related again since I had developed a sensitive tummy around 38 weeks to many different foods. By 5am I was starting to believe I was in labor, but not worried. I wasn’t experiencing contractions as I had expected them to feel, but still believed that things were starting to warm-up. (I never went into natural labor w/ Kate, but was induced due to high BP at 41 weeks.) I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I made myself a big bowl of rice krispies & strawberries since it was easy & sat down to relax & catch up on facebook and emails. I also found an online contraction timer, but the contractions I was experiencing were irregular and all over the place & impossible to chart well. I felt frustrated, and unsure if I was really in labor of wondering if something might just be wrong.

By 5:30am, I really needed to focus much more on my contractions instead of my computer work and started to feel much more uncomfortable. I so badly wanted to wake up Kip and call my doula, Camron, but decided that I should wait until 6am to wake them. It was a Saturday morning, and I figured that 6am was a ‘reasonable’ time to be awakened compared to 5:30. I also figured that since my last birth was more that 30 hours, they would probably need all the sleep they could get since I was sure I was going to have another marathon labor. By 6am I woke up Kip, and my contractions were getting painful at this time, to the point that it was difficult to talk. I remember specifically saying, “You need to get up, and you need to eat some breakfast. Like, right now.” I called Camron, and told her that I thought I was in labor, but that things were inconsistent. She told me she’d get ready and come over, and ordered me into the shower.

In the shower, though the pain was relieved due to the hot water, I could still feel the intensity building. “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45. Suddenly in the shower my heart was just swelling with a praise song (lyrics above) and I remember leaning on the wall of our shower and sort of muttering this praise song. Hadn’t heard it in a long time, and not one of my favorites or anything but it appeared on my tongue and I lifted it up to the Lord! I felt calmer instantly. Kip called Camron to tell her that I was getting serious, and that she should probably hurry.

I told Kip that he needed to call his mother to come get Kate. His response was “Aren’t we going to drop her off on the way to the birth center?” I quickly said ‘No way!!” to having enough time to do that because of the intensity of my contractions and his mother headed our way. At this point, Kate woke up which was really hard for me. She’s very sensitive to my physical feelings and I didn’t want to show her I was in pain. (She was 21 months old at the time.) I labored on my yoga ball on my hands and knees until Kate was picked up.

At this point, Kip and I began to argue and bicker. I still wasn’t positive that I was in labor, which in retrospect is just silly. I was experiencing strong contractions that I couldn’t speak through, and my train of thought was all over the place and I wasn’t making sense of finishing thoughts & sentences. Kip kept asking me questions, and my answers were mostly “I don’t know.” In hindsight, this should have clued him into the fact that I was really in labor and focused inwardly, unable to carry on a good conversation. Instead, it just really frustrated him because he thought I wasn’t communicating my needs well to him. Oh well – now we know better for next time!

Camron arrived at 7:35 to see me laboring on the side of the bed, w/ my contractions 2-4 minutes apart. She wasn’t sure what was going on w/ my irregular contractions; they were all over the place, and only lasting about 30-45 seconds, and a few minutes apart but super intense and I wasn’t able to speak during them. Camron started to think I was farther along than we had originally thought, and asked me to go to the bathroom and asked Kip to help me to try & relax. Relaxing and peeing was totally out of the question – I felt like I had to pee so badly but just couldn’t relax and this was really starting to bother me. At 8am I had a 1 minute 45 second contraction and Camron asked if I was pushing and I told her ‘no’, but in retrospect I think I might have been ‘trying’ and didn’t know it yet. At 8:02 Camron called our midwife Ann and they decided it was time to head to the birth center so we started collecting our things.

At 8:09 it was DEFINITELY time to go to the birth center, the waves of contractions were short and hard, almost angry feeling. I remember crying from the pain, thinking that I couldn’t be that far along and that if I was feeling so much pain how could I make it another 30 hours like my last labor? Camron and Kip just kept reassuring me, and she gave me a pad to wear in case my water broke in the car. The walk to our car was absolutely the longest and hardest walk of my life, and looking back at it I now absolutely see the benefit of homebirth and never having to leave your sanctuary when you are at that point in labor! By 8:15am we were standing outside, leaning on the car until the contraction was over to leave and I yelled at the 2 of them “JUST GO!” in the middle of the contraction. I knew it didn’t matter how bad it felt, we had to get moving before this baby came.

At 8:30am Kip picked up the speed and we hit 90mph down 820 towards the birth center. Praise God that the cops weren’t around! I remember telling Kip that either my water had just broken or that I had finally gone pee. (It was my water breaking, thanks for the help Camron – you saved our car!) I kind of went to another place mentally in the car – I had no concept of time or distance other than it was taking too long for my liking. I had one hand down on the middle console pushing my bottom up and the other hand pulling my whole body up from the handle bar attached in the ceiling. Kip asked me if I was pushing and I kept telling him that I didn’t think so, that I was trying not to, but I really had to go to the bathroom. Piece of advice – transition in the car stinks, so try to avoid it!!

At 8:48am we pulled up to the birth center, and Ann and Marsha (my midwife & her assistant) met me at my car door and unbuckled my seatbelt for me. They lovingly and swiftly escorted me into the back bedroom to check me. I remember walking past the sign they had put up front, “Ssshhh! Mother in labor.” I thought, “wow! That’s for me!” When we got there I was calm and seriously working hard, feeling like I was going to lose control soon. I told Ann I needed to push or go to the bathroom. She checked me and said, “Honey, you feel like you need to push because you are complete and +1, and this baby is ready to come! If you want to do this in the tub you need to go there NOW, or we can just do this right here on the bed!” I remember Kip asking if I had heard her, and hearing how encouraged he was at her words. Everyone suggested I get in the tub if I felt like it, and I really wanted some pain relief if possible. As I walked to the birth tub, I remember seeing the copy of my scriptures for labor laying on the table. I remember feeling so relieved that someone else had seen them, that the midwives and looked at them and prayed for me even before my arrival! I had a suitcase full of gear for labor and scriptures with lots of good intentions but my labor was going too fast to use any of it!

I walked to the bathtub and stopped to push really hard for the first time on the side of the tub. Then I got in, and pushed while sitting on my hands and knees. I remembered Donna (my birth instructor) suggesting this position in labor, and once I got into it I felt like I couldn’t get out! It just felt right, and even though I felt like I had a little less control since I couldn’t see what was going on I fully trusted my birth team who were literally right behind me! I remember Ann praying for me, Marsha coaching me, Camron keeping my hair out of my face, and Kip right above my head whispering encouraging words as I pushed. As I was pushing, Lynsey (the best birth photographer!) showed up just in time to capture Jackson’s arrival. He was born at 9:15am, less than 30 minutes after our arrival! Praise God! My midwives had to use suction to get some of the meconium-stained fluid out of his mouth but then I turned around in the water and took my baby boy! They gave him to me, and he was quiet for just a moment and then cried out to let us hear his voice. It was so wonderful to relax in the birth tub with him and hold him in my arms while the midwives helped me to deliver the placenta. Kip got to cut the cord. I remember being in total shock and disbelief about what I had just done. Only 4 hours before I wasn’t even sure I was in labor!

We got out of the tub for the midwives to check us over (no tearing!) & clean up the tub, and then we got back in for our herbal bath, which was just amazing and so relaxing. Jackson was quiet, opened his eyes so wide for us, and sucked his thumb sweetly in our candlelit bath. Ann told me that thumbsuckers are sweet babies and she was sooo right! Kip helped me to clean the little bit of vernix that he had in his hair, and we went back to the bedroom where we had breakfast in bed and I nursed him. Kip’s parents brought Kate down to meet her little brother, and Lynsey captured their first meeting in a sweet photograph. My birth team kept asking us if Kip and I wanted privacy w/ our new baby but I didn’t! I was so happy and proud that we had accomplished our vbac, and I felt SO GOOD that I was glad to be in the presence of everyone that had helped us to get there! I remember laughing quite a few times after he was born, knowing that I had been surrounded by successful VBAC’ers (Lynsey & Camron) and that I had just pushed my baby out! They took Jackson’s measurements, 10 lbs, 11 oz’s and 21 ½ inches long! I remember laughing at the look in Kip’s eyes when he held up the scale to weigh him – you could tell he was thinking “Am I reading this thing right?!”

It was so strange, just 3 ½ hours after his birth, being gently escorted by my midwives back to my vehicle. Hadn’t they just taken my seatbelt off?? Was I really done and going home with my baby? It just didn’t seem real! I can’t begin to describe how great I felt after his birth – physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’ve never felt so ALIVE as I did that afternoon (and hungry, too!)

The differences between my 2 birth experiences are night and day, especially in the care that we received as a family. Within 48 hours of Jackson being born, we had house calls from our midwife, our chiropractor, and our lactation consultant. I really had a team of people surrounding me with Christ’s love and support, helping me to figure out the ‘new mom thing’ with Jackson. The care that we received from these women was a true testimony to the rest of our family as to the reason we made our birth choices to a family that hadn’t been too confident in our choices to use a midwife & birth center.

Physically, recovery is so different w/ a VBAC than with a c-section. Ann warned me and was correct, you feel SO GOOD compared to your c-section that you have to be really careful not to overdo it & exhaust yourself. Breastfeeding has been so successful with Jackson, and I haven’t struggled with feeling blue like I did after my c-section. Jackson is a sweet-natured baby who slept so much during the first day or 2 that I worried about him! His gentle beginning has surely affected his temperament in a very agreeable way. Kate just turned 2 this week, and she is a firecracker that lights up our life with her vivacious spirit. She came into this world with a bang and is a spitfire for sure, and I look forward to see how Jackson’s personality develops and to see if his labor and birth experience shape his character. I can’t even begin to describe the healing that has taken place since my vbac, and I now feel so alive and encouraged about our family and look forward eagerly to see if God blesses our quiver with more arrows!


Camron Dearing said...

Sarah, i am SO proud of you and Kip. being at your birth was a blessing to me! your baby boy is so blessed that God hand picked up to be his mom and dad! you are so strong, you amaze me!


Anonymous said...
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Lena said...

So beautiful!

Katie said...

What a beautiful birth story, thanks for sharing!

Sarah L said...

Sarah, what an AMAZING birth story. In many ways, it is very similar to my first labor - erratic contractions, not knowing I was in labor, the flat-out intensity of a fast, hard labor. I'm so glad you were able to have such a beautiful, healing birth. God bless you and little Jackson.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading this! I just had my second baby in Dec. at a birth center recommended by Donna. It was a night and day difference from my first in a hospital setting. You've inspired me to write my birth story.

C. Beth said...

What a totally beautiful story. It reminds me so much of my second birth. Not a VBAC, but it was my first natural birth. Water birth at a birthing center, 35 minutes after I got there. 4 hrs 45 minutes of labor. And I sang worship music during my labor. SO beautiful. Congratulations (a couple of years late!)