Amanda and Tyson took Carol's Thursday evening classes at Seaside Women's Health in Encinitas, CA. Amanda and Tyson came to the course having experienced a surgical birth with their first baby and were aiming to prepare themselves for a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). Here is their story:
My "guess date" was October 30th, so when I began having regular braxton-hicks contractions on 25 October, I was very excited thinking that this was it! Each day the contractions would come on anywhere from every 5-15 minutes apart for several hours during the day, but much to my great frustration, they would always go away at night. This continued for 10 days straight! I would get so excited each day thinking that the baby would come later that night and then, despite my best efforts, I would feel disappointed each night that the contractions went away. To add to my frustration, were all the phone calls and emails reminding me that my guess date had come and gone and "when was that baby coming out?" and "had I had any contractions yet?". Of course I'd had contractions, 10 days worth! I was ready to scream!
So during this time, I started using acupuncture and acupressure and hypnosis all to try to get me to go into "real" labor. I also ate whatever spicy food I could, ate pineapple, tried different herbal teas, took long walks, had sex, anything I could think of..... I don't think any of it helped, but it at least made me feel like I was doing something even though my body appeared to not want to do anything!
I had a cesarean with my first child from a failed induction and I really didn't want to go through that again. I knew that if 41 weeks came and went, I would "have" to get an induction, which I felt would lead me to another cesarean. This was why I was so desperate to get things going on my own and why I was so excited every time the practice surges would start up again.
Finally, on Friday, 4 November, I woke up at 3:30am with "real" surges. They came on hard and fast - about 7 minutes apart and they were consistent! Finally! This was 2 days before my scheduled induction, so I was grateful and very excited. I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for that morning, so I was happy to go in and see if there had been any progress. I was only 2cm dilated, about 25% effaced and the baby was still up high. I had her strip my membranes to see if we could get things moving a little better (in my opinion, that was a much better option than a medical induction with pitocin!) But by 10 am my surges had started to taper off a bit to about 15 minutes apart. But they were still there so I remained positive that this was finally "it"! By 6pm, the contractions were back to 7 minutes apart and they actually continued through the night! In fact, I couldn't sleep. God bless my doula, Alisa, she was a big help and so encouraging and supportive - no matter what time I would text or call. I would text her throughout all of the practice contractions and the early labor and she was always there to help and provide advice. I couldn't have done this without her! :) She recommended a glass of wine and hot bath to hopefully help me sleep a bit. It worked but I was awakened again by about 3:00am with stronger contractions. I couldn't sleep the rest of the morning.
I kept having contractions throughout the rest of the day and they got progressively stronger and closer together. By about 6pm, they had gotten strong enough that I actually needed to stop whatever I was doing and breathe through them. But I was doing it and I was doing a fine job of it! I was proud of myself! The surges were also narrowing down to about 4 minutes apart - sometimes only 2 minutes apart - depending on my activity. They were very consistent and I was getting very tired from the lack of sleep. I tried to go to bed at around 10 pm, but the contractions would become really uncomfortable and I couldn't stay relaxed and breathe through them anymore. So I called my doula again and she said that if I felt that it was time to go to the hospital, then we should go and she would meet me there or at my house before we left - whatever I felt was best. I took another hot bath and thought about it for a while, then decided that we would go to the hospital and if things weren't as progressed as we wanted, we would leave and continue laboring at home. We told Alisa, our doula, that we would call her after we got to the hospital and we knew more about what was going on.
We got to the hospital at about 12am on Sunday, 6 November - induction day. I had an internal exam and was hooked up to the external fetal monitor. I had progressed from 2 cm, 25% effaced on Friday morning to only 4 cm, 50% effaced on Sunday morning - not a whole lot of progress for almost 48 hours of actual labor.... At least that's what I felt. But I stayed positive and felt that this would all work out the way I wanted it to. The doctor said that after reviewing my fetal monitoring strip, they were a bit worried about the lack of variation in the baby's heartbeat. I guess it's supposed to go up and down with the contractions and they weren't really seeing that. So, even though I was only about 4cm dilated, they asked that I stay so they could monitor the baby further. I agreed and we got checked into a room.
Right away, that same doctor came in after only an hour or so and said that they wanted to start me on pitocin - this was about 2 am on Sunday. I suggested that they take me off the monitors (since they had shown that the baby was fine during that hour) and let me walk around a bit, since that always seemed to ramp up the contractions. The doctor agreed, even though we could tell that he didn't much care for my "take charge of my health" attitude. The OB/GYN on call came in at around 5am and said that if I wanted, he could break my water to help get things going a little better. I agreed to this, because I knew that they would start pushing pitocin on me because I was due to be induced that day anyway and if I didn't make enough progress, who knows how long I'd be able to hold them off. So he broke my water and it was nice and clear - good! The contractions continued and we called my doula in so we could work with her through all of this. Her and my wonderful husband would take turns helping me to the bathroom and helping me walk around and work on my HypnoBirthing visualizations and relaxation. They were great!
But by 11am we still hadn't really progressed and they were thinking that my contractions weren't adequate enough (it doesn't help that their monitor wasn't working properly - which they later figured out and fixed). So we agreed to pitocin - this was, after all, more than 48 hours after "real" labor had started and I was getting very worn out.
We started pitocin out at a level 1. My contractions definitely picked up strength and I had to really focus with my breathing and changing positions in order to get through them. Over the next few hours they steadily bumped up the pitocin level - never without my permission though - because my contractions still weren't adequate enough. After about 4 more hours, the pitocin was up to a level 5 and my contractions had become unbearable - there was only about 2 minutes between contractions and they were lasting 10 minutes each! I remembered Carol emphasizing that you had to stay relaxed in order for your body to open up and allow the baby to come down. I couldn't relax anymore so we asked them to turn off the pitocin for a little while so I could at least try to catch my breath. They came back in about 20 minutes later wanting to turn the pitocin back on and I started crying thinking of the unnatural and painful sensations I had been feeling and knew I couldn't keep it up and stay relaxed at the same time. They checked me again and I'd only progressed to 5 cm, still just 50% effaced. After discussing it with my husband, the doctor, and Alisa, we agreed that the epidural might help me relax more and continue the pitocin at the same time. The doctor also suggested using an internal contraction monitor to see how effective my contractions really were - it was supposed to be more accurate than what they strap onto your stomach. So we agreed to that as well.
The internal contraction monitor showed that my contractions weren't "adequate" enough - they kept saying that, but I have no idea how they came up with a number to rank what is adequate and what isn't. Therefore they asked to bump up the pitocin even more. I agreed since I now had my epidural and was feeling much more relaxed and calm. I could still feel the contractions but they required very little effort on my part to get through them. They steadily kept bumping up the pitocin. When they got to about 15 on the pitocin (around 5pm as best as I can recall) they said that, again, the baby wasn't really showing the variations in heartbeat that they wanted to see and therefore wanted to use an internal fetal monitor. I agreed since we already had so much else going on, I wanted to make sure that the baby was ok. When they inserted the internal fetal monitor, they checked me again and said I hadn't really progressed, still about 5 cm, still only about 50% effaced. We were definitely getting anxious at this time, thinking that this might lead to another c-section and the staff had hinted about it too, but we weren't ready to throw in the towel yet. We managed to stay positive and keep thinking that things were all going to work out all right.
It was also around this time that mine and the baby's heart rates both skyrocketed. My heart rate got up to the 120's and the baby's was in the 180's. My temperature had also gone up and the doctor concluded that I had contracted that uterine infection they always warn about or threaten will happen if your water has been broken for too long. I think it was called "chorio" or something like that. So now we needed antibiotics through the IV and they were really getting nervous about things taking so long. We managed to convince them to let us keep going, since, in my opinion, we already had antibiotics, so we would be covered if anything else went wrong, right??? (LOL)
There was a new resident doctor working with us at this point and his wife had just given birth a couple of months ago using HypnoBirthing. He was very supportive and was doing all he could to work with us and let us make our own decisions. He discussed our situation with the on-call OB/GYN and since this was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), they had to agree on how high they could safely kick the pitocin up to, since I still wasn't progressing very well. Our doctor said he was comfortable with a level 20 but the OB said she was comfortable with a level 40! They compromised on 30. But first they kicked it up to 20 and we waited some more. Even at a level 20, my contractions still weren't "adequate" enough, but a few hours later, around 9pm I think, they checked me again and said that I had finally progressed to 6 cm! Yeah!! Progress! I was thrilled. Who needs "adequate" contractions anyway?? Since I had progressed some, I asked that the pitocin level be left at 20 and not increased like we had discussed. The doctor agreed that would be fine.
An hour later, I started getting all shivery and started feeling a lot more pressure with the surges - my epidural was really starting to wear off. I was glad that my epidural was wearing off because I wanted to be able to feel what I was doing while pushing. I got more shivery and shaky so I asked that the nurse check me again, since I was also feeling a LOT more pressure like I could feel the baby's head coming down. The nurse checked me and I had progressed to 8cm, 75% effaced and the baby was at about +1 station (as opposed to the -3 station the baby had been sitting at all day)! Needless to say, I was thrilled and so were Alisa and my husband!
Within the next hour, the epidural wore off more and the pressure continued to increase. I started feeling like I needed to push or poop or both, so I asked the nurse to check me again. She said I was complete and we could start pushing as soon as the doctor was finished with the other delivery he was working on. So while we were waiting for the doctor, I did my J breathing/pushing, trying to get the baby to come down. I couldn't help it, I had to do some pushing while waiting for the doc, the pressure was too great to just lie there. After about an hour, the doc finally came in and they said I could start pushing. The nurse said I had moved the baby further down on my own but now there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, so I needed to try to get the baby out a bit faster. Now I was really pushing. I tried my best to not tense up my face - since Carol said that tensing your mouth/face would make you tense up down below too. I could definitely feel EVERYTHING at this point and I was able to push really well - or so they said. It took about 1 hour to push the baby out - a big baby boy! Immediately they whisked him away to try to get any fluid out of his lungs and try to prevent him from breathing in any meconium.
Edward Patrick Nicolet was born at 1:11am on 7 November, 2011. He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Since I did have to push aggressively, I got a 2nd degree tear and had to get stitches. Edward did end up breathing in some of the fluid and had to be put on oxygen. He also ended up with a little of my blood in his system, and he got a little blood jaundice and had to be put under the billirubin lights for about 18 hours and then again for 12 hours about 6 hours after that. So I was not able to nurse him for the first several hours. They did let me pump and they gave him my colostrum via syringe.
Backing up a little bit, I mentioned that this was a VBAC. When I had my c-section with my first baby, I hemorrhaged for some unknown reason. This time I also hemorrhaged. They aren't sure why but my thought is that after both deliveries, they pulled on the umbilical cord to get the placenta out and maybe the blood vessels just hadn't closed off enough both times before the placenta detached. This time, they got impatient with my placenta because almost 30 minutes had passed since Edward was born and the placenta still hadn't detached. They wanted it out of the way in case I hemorrhaged again and they wanted to get me stitched up. Who knows, I think it's very possible that their impatience to see if I would hemorrhage (and therefore deal with it promptly) might have actually caused me to hemorrhage! Regardless, I think a 2 for 2 record with postpartum hemorrhaging makes me a really bad candidate for any possible home births in the future!
We are all doing fine and well now and I would have another baby again, if it's in the cards for me. :)
I feel like the HypnoBirthing course helped us to make more informed decisions and helped us figure out what was a scare tactic and what was a valid concern on the part of the doctors. I feel like things turned out well, despite all the complications. I'm honestly not sure I would still feel this way if it had ended in a c-section because I would have second-guessed everything that I did and all the decisions we made starting from the moment I first walked into the hospital. But I'm very happy with the fact that I had my VBAC. :)
Congratulations, Amanda and Tyson! Thanks so much for sharing your VBAC story, I'm so happy to hear the HypnoBirthing techniques were so useful for you, even in the midst of some special circumstances! Congratulations again, and enjoy your babymoon!
If you are in the San Diego area and are interested in learning more about Amanda and Tyson's Doula, Alisa, please visit her website at: http://www.alisaokamoto.com/
If you have had a Surgical Birth and are looking for resources and support post-partum or for a future VBAC, visit San Diego's local chapter of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) or find a local chapter: http://sandiego.ican-online.org/
If you are interested in taking HypnoBirthing classes in San Diego, please visit our website at www.AWellLivedLife.Net to learn more and to see the schedule for upcoming classes. Carol & Kelly teach classes in North County San Diego. If their schedule doesn't fit your schedule, please contact them and they will refer you to other local practitioners. If you are outside San Diego, CA, please visit www.hypnobirthing.com & go to Find a Practitioner to find a class near you.