By Christabelle Allestad
Josias wiggled anxiously as we stood at line at Wal-Mart.
"I wann dis!" he exclaimed, holding up a Golden Book with a dump truck on the front some patron must have left before us.
"No, baby," I said, "Put it back."
He put it back and frowned.
The man in front us picked it up and put it his cart.
My big pregnant belly made my back hurt. "Tomorrow, this child is coming!" I thought with a mix of dread as well as anticipation. All my hopes of a vaginal birth were slowly disappearing. The repeat c-section was scheduled for tomorrow. "But I suppose God's in control," I reminded myself.
With that thought, the man in front of us finished checking out. He turned to my son and handed him back the book I'd refused him. "A gift from me," he said and gave me a smile, "Be good for your Mama!"
I smiled back graciously and waited for my groceries to scan. I tried to hide the tears that came unbidden to my eyes. Perhaps God still knew where I was after all!
I was discouraged. As I drove home I thought of the different ways we'd tried to start labor. We'd tried sex. (I'd read somewhere that semen contains prostaglandins, a cervix ripening agent.) Our doctor recommended nipple stimulation. (Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes contractions.) A week from my due date I'd agreed to let my doctor "sweep" my membranes during a vaginal exam, thus separating the amiotic sac from the cervix in hopes that my body would kick it into gear. I'd had some light contractions on her due date, but since then, nothing. I walked, I climbed stairs, I prayed furiously.
When I got home, we got a call from the hospital confirming our appointment. "7:00 am check-in. Surgery around 9:00 am. We'll have you in your room by noon!"
It felt surreal. I ate dinner and had a snack before bed. No more food till after surgery. Surgery! I'd finally consented. It had been weeks of back and forth. My first baby had been c-section for fetal distress, so my chances were better statistically. This doctor had delivered VBACs before, so I knew he'd had success. He was the one who had told me my low transverse scar was good for laboring! But he was a surgeon and told me there were risks involved. I could labor and still end up in a c-section. There was a possibility, albeit slim, that my uterus could rupture and baby could die. He wouldn't induce me for that reason. Labor would have to start on its own. "A c-section is more risky for you, but it's the safest course for your baby," he told me. But I wanted to try. I was realistic, but I hoped beyond hope I could do what many women did without any help, give birth! And this was my shot. If I could only have a chance.
He wanted to schedule me for the day before my due date. Is that giving me a shot? I'd wondered. I wouldn't do it. Weeks past and I'd hardly had any contractions. I had dialated a little, but it meant little. Finally, it was close to my due date.
"Have you considered scheduling? We can put it off, but babies only get bigger..."
I couldn't fight it. My mom has big babies. My last had been 8lb 13oz and I hadn't been able to deliver him vaginally. Maybe it was genetic (my last doctor had said my pelvis might be too small to give birth vaginally). I scheduled the c-section for six days after her due date.
Which was now coming tomorrow. I tried to sleep that night. It was long and tedious. I woke to potty. I had very little control over it, however, and a bit of excitement came over me. I tried to go back to bed. As I lay there, I began to feel a tightening sensation in my abdomen. It was mild at first, but the next few were a bit stronger. I couldn't wait any longer. I woke my husband up.
"I think I'm in labor!"
"What?" with a couple blinks.
I got up again, this time sure my uncontrolable bladder was really my water breaking. My contractions were rhythmic and constant. Hubby grabbed his watch and began to time them. Five minutes apart! I couldn't hide my annoyance, however, when he began to PREDICT them though!
Sure enough, every time he counted out five minutes and told me I should be feeling one, I did. Hope surged through me!
It was six in the morning at this point and we scrambled to get everything together before we left. We still had to drop off Josias before we made it to the hospital.
The walk to the admitting office was slow and frought with contractions. I had to shake my head with irony as I doubled over in contraction signing in for our c-section. My husband handed her over the insurance card and casually said, "But she's in labor."
"Oh!" the woman said, "Will they let you labor?"
"I sure hope so!" I said.
The nurses were wondering the same thing as we arrived. I dressed and went to sit, but was told "not to get too comfortable, because we might be moving rooms." To move to the labor floor instead of the surgery floor would be wonderful! I tried not to get too comfortable. As the nurse went out to get my chart she found my doctor outside. She brought him in.
"I hear your water broke..." his face changed as a contraction hit me, "and it looks like you're in labor. What do you want to do?"
"Labor." I told him.
I'd have to resign the consent form. I would be changing rooms. But he was agreeable. Is it possible to be giddy in labor?
Labor was going really well. I watched the moniters as each contraction hit. Baby was doing just fine. The nurses put in guesses as to girl or boy. One thought boy on an old wives tale concerning low heartrates. The contractions were stronger, harder, I could feel it as well as see it. I breathed and moaned through each one. I was so thankful to be in labor, I didn't mind. But they were starting to hurt and those in the room could see it.
"Honey, there's no shame in pain meds. Can I get you something?"
I shook my head.
"Well the epidural guy's downstairs if you end up needing it."
I was breathing too nosily to answer so my husband answered for me, "She's afraid it will slow down labor."
And I was. And I knew Pitocin was not an option. Besides, I'd had Pitocin and an epidural with my last and hadn't managed to get past 8 cm, how much slower with an epidural and NO inducing? I was sticking it out.
I labored all morning and into the afternoon. At three, I had a nurse change. I was vocalizing pretty strongly by now.
"She sounds like she's ready to bear down," the new nurse said.
"Nope, she's only an 8. She's still got a few hours to go."
My current nurses prediction scared me. A few more HOURS? I began to hurt all over, losing my nerve. I couldn't do this for that much longer. An epidural was giving up. I'd still end up in surgery. But I didn't care. I consented for the epidural and waited in agony until the man with the drugs came.
Everything was whirl of pain and waiting. I didn't even sign the consent for the pain meds until after he'd already administered them. Finally, I was resting comfortably and watching contractions that I no longer felt print out on the piece of paper coming out of the moniter.
I sighed. My husband leaned in close.
"You're a nine," he said.
I looked at him blankly, "What? When?"
"The nurse checked you right before you got the epidural and said you were 9 cm." He grinned.
I was dumbfounded. 9 cm! Just a little further to go! I began to gather some more confidence. The nurse cheered me on.
"Not too long and we'll be having this baby!" she said.
The next three hours were LONG! We waited for the nub to disappear in order to begin pushing. Then it happened!
I began pushing at 6:00 pm. The nurse coached me through it.
"Push into your tailbone!" she directed, "That's good!"
Over and over. She could see the head. Oh there's hair! Beautiful! She told me to stop and called the doctor. I wished for a mirror!
I couldn't feel a thing as my girl came into the world, but I heard her cry! The nurse put her immediately on my tummy and tears of joy came to my eyes.
"What's her name?" the nurse asked.
"Abigail Joy!" I exclaimed.
My tear was stitched and the grandparents let in. I gloried in my little one! She nursed like a champion and I got dinner, too (my first food in 22hrs!). We slept later, our little family, all the while thanking God for my beautiful little one.
Six weeks later I walked into my doctor's office, baby in hand.
We went through the normal preliminary questions. "How's the bleeding?" "How's nursing?" Then we got to one she didn't like the answer to.
"What are you guys using for birth control?"
"We're not." I said.
"What?" the nurse said.
I shook my head.
The nurse gave the doctor a look and waited. I suppose this was his cue to give me the spiel about how babies could come at any time and how I should be on birth control in order to be safe and so forth, but apparently the doctor was too busy to catch it. He finally looked at her and smiled.
"This woman just had a 9lb 13oz VBAC that I told her she wouldn't be able to have. She can do whatever she wants with her body; I'm okay with it!"
When everything was done he came up to me and shook my hand.
"I just wanted to say, 'Congrats!'" he told me, "You fought me at every turn, but you knew it and you did it. Enjoy your baby!"
And I did.