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I was 40 weeks pregnant and I was done. I tried all the usual ‘bring on labour naturally‘ cures: hot curries, long walks on the beach, lots of sex. I drank so much pineapple juice that my throat was red raw. I wanted this baby to come out so badly that I was even happy to go in for an early induction. But this was my third baby and possibly my last chance at an all-natural, calm birth. I’d had one hardcore induction with my first baby at 42 weeks and a planned c-section with my second, due to complete placenta previa. This time, I wanted to allow my body to do it’s thing, by myself when I was ready. It was my last baby, my body knew what to do right?
So, the days passed… and passed… and my excitement and confidence started to slip. I felt like a time bomb was ticking away along with the baby, with each check up marking another ominous tick. Each time, my disheartened doctor would inform me that the baby was still too high up. Tick, tick, tick.
When I hit 10 days after my due date; my supportive doctor said sadly; “you know the baby has to come out this week?”
I was excited to meet my baby but I was scared that my plans for a natural birth were slipping away. My doctor booked us into the birthing suite and I prepared for an induced VBAC. The midwife on duty asked me what my birth plan was. I replied simply; “I want my body to GO into labour and for this baby to come out of my vagina.” We all laughed and she told me how much she loved a simple birth plan. I really wanted this VBAC and not just for emotional reasons. I knew my husband would be going away for work in the weeks after the arrival of our bub, and I didn’t want to be recovering from major surgery while looking after two busy young children and a newborn. I was going to give this the best effort I possibly could.
The doctor inserted the balloon catheter to stretch my cervix and I spent the night in hospital hoping for things to start naturally. I got a few contractions overnight, but nothing more than a bit of discomfort. In the morning, my doctor came in to check everything and she let me know that she didn’t think the balloon had worked, then within seconds I had dilated to 5 cm. Yes, for real.
The doctor was laughing as she said; “you’re blowing my mind, you have just dilated to 5 cm!” This gave us confidence that everything was going to go to plan, our VBAC had a much higher chance of actually happening now.
Next my waters were broken and I was told to start walking to put myself into labour. I had three hours to walk around and then I should come back. My husband and I walked down the hill and I made sure I walked one foot on the curb and the other on the lower ground, moving my hips, trying to set my baby alarm off.
After three hours of waddling around the shops, I was getting minor contractions and I returned to the hospital to bounce on the fit ball. The midwife looked at me and told me I looked way too happy, so it was time to start with some low doses of the hormone drip. You need to be very careful inducing a VBAC and some doctors won’t even do it, but my doctor wanted to give me every chance to have a safe and healthy VBAC.
Things got serious once that drip went in. I was in labour and I was progressing fast. It was like my body now knew what to do and I was screaming in agony. I kept having flashbacks to my eldest daughter’s birth, which didn’t help with my confidence or the pain. Things were moving really fast, but I couldn’t actually believe that I would be having a baby any time soon. It was almost 3 pm and I had spent over an hour in the bath with some beautiful essential oils (I didn’t care about the oils at this stage, but the midwife was lovely adding them in!). My husband was being a great support, just quietly sitting there taking my pain as I squeezed his hand through contractions and also taking embarrassing videos of the faces I was pulling.
The midwife could see I wasn’t comfortable at all and knew things were getting close to Go time. She got excited; “Are you ready to have a baby Cass? Are you ready?” I was in too much pain to get excited and, to be honest, I just couldn’t believe her that things had progressed so quickly. I had only been in active labour for a couple of hours.
She asked me to get out of the bath so she could check my status. I didn’t want to get out of the bath, I didn’t want her to tell me that she was wrong, the baby actually wasn’t ready at all. I reluctantly pulled myself out with help from my husband; I could see in the midwifes eyes that we were ready to birth this baby.
I screamed and I pushed and I screamed and I pushed. I kept doing that for about 20 minutes to half an hour until my doctor asked me to stop. I shouldn’t push much longer as this was a VBAC and the risk of rupturing my uterus was high. So my doctor paused me to checked me again and we discovered that the baby had gone all the way back up… typical!
Half an hour of pushing my guts out for my baby to have dug itself all the way back in. My doctor said we should wait an hour or so and get going again… what? An hour or so? Waiting in this pain? Hell, no. This was when I asked for some pain relief. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted an epidural. I talked myself into thinking it was a great idea. I hadn’t had one before, it was time I’d tried one.
I remember screaming my lungs out, I was never this loud in my first daughter’s birth, I was quiet, and reserved, I kept things in, which worked for me at that time. This time, I was a wild animal, screaming through the jungle. I screamed through each contraction and there was no holding back, I screamed at the anesthetist to put that needle in my back and the waiting time felt like a lifetime.
Once the epidural kicked in and the pain was gone, the whole birthing environment changed. It went from a crazy forest full of screeching birds, to a place of peace, calm and very clinical. I could think again. I had a rest and scrolled through Facebook on my phone. I sent a few text messages out. It was all very surreal.
My natural birthing dreams were out the window by now; I just wanted baby out and happy. An hour later it was time to PUSHHHHHH!!!! I pushed for another hour and the baby went all the way back up again. We waited another hour and then pushed again for half an hour, all for the baby to do the same trick. It was at this time that my doctor looked at me with a face of sorrow and said: “I’m really sorry Cass, but I just don’t think this is going to happen. There is someone in surgery right now but let’s prep you for a c-section and I will check you one last time before we go down to the theatre.”
The room stayed quiet, I signed papers, and then I lay there, praying. Praying one last time that this baby would come down. I didn’t want to go through all this just to be sent down to theatre.
Just before we were due to be wheeled downstairs to the operating theatre, the doctor did one last examination. To everyone’s surprise, our baby had come down just far enough for a forceps delivery. I couldn’t believe it. The doctor couldn’t believe it. It was actually going to happen! Of course, then all my fears went to what the forceps would do to my new baby and how selfish I was to not want a c-section but instead damage her with forceps. Oh the joys of mother guilt from the get go… But then, in just three pushes, our beautiful baby was out!
She was perfect in every single way and she was ours.
My husband was on the phone to my mum and I heard him saying; “yes it was a natural birth.” I laughed and said to my doctor; “There was nothing natural about that birth.” She smiled and said, “We’ll just call that a vaginal delivery.”