Happy Thursday y’all! It feels SO good to start posting with some regularity again! Thank you for your feedback on my Instagram- most everyone wanted to hear about Adaline’s birth and my successful VBAC at Duke University Hospital!
My second daughter, Everly’s birth was very difficult and it ended in an emergency C-section due to her size and positioning. When we moved here to Durham I found out I was pregnant with Adaline about one minute later (surprise!!) When I called the OB group at Duke I gave them my birthdate and they automatically put me with Maternal Fetal Medicine or “High Risk” OB because I would be 35 at the time of delivery. (I had no idea 35 was “Advanced Maternal Age”!) Oh well! The doctor who ultimately delivered Everly and got us out of that bad time was an MFM so I knew I would be in great hands this pregnancy! And I was right!
For my whole pregnancy with Adaline, the doctors told me that they would do whatever I wanted for the birth- meaning I could schedule an elected repeat C-section or I could try for a VBAC. I felt really, really torn. Everly’s birth had been scary but with a happy outcome- I did my research and read about the risks involved with a VBAC (the risk for uterine rupture is less than .7%) as well as spoke with friends who had taken a variety of paths after their C-sections. A few of my patients/clients are OB’s so they gave me their opinion too, which I am so grateful for! I also really struggled with picking her birthday for her. I am really into Astrology and the time and place that we are born are important things that affect us for life. I really struggled with knowing what the best time for her would be! At the 32 week growth scan I requested to meet with one of the Attending MFM’s in the practice- and this decision was serendipitous. My doctor has 4 girls of her own, is extremely passionate about being in OB and she felt very, very confident in me and my body’s ability to labor and deliver successfully without incident. I needed to hear some encouragement and advice either way, and hers came right on time. I decided to let myself go into labor and trusted that we would have a backup plan in place so that things wouldn’t get to “emergency status” like they did with Everly.
My due date was Thursday, April 19th. On Sunday the 15th I woke up feeling SO grouchy. I had stopped work the Friday before and had had a very relaxing Saturday with my husband- my parents took the girls and it was SO lovely. But on Sunday I just felt absolutely pent up and impatient and I didn’t want to leave the house! So, I didn’t. These feelings increased throughout the week and so I KNEW I would be going into labor very soon. On Wednesday, April 18th at 5:30am the contractions started in a regular pattern but they were not painful or strong. I knew this was it! The girls went to daycare for the day and I nested like crazy, doing laundry and cleaning and tidying everything and made sure my hospital bag was packed and ready at the top of the stairs! We arranged for my Mom to pick the girls up from school and bring them to our house for dinner because I went to the hospital in the afternoon to have Adaline’s heart rate monitored. The nurse told me to come in when the contractions were 5 minutes apart even if they weren’t painful. Everything looked perfect with Adaline so we went home and sat with the kids and my Mom during their dinner and then my Mom took them to my parents’ house.
The contractions died down at this time from around 6:15-7:30pm, just enough time for Tony to take me out to dinner! I wasn’t uncomfortable and so I was able to sit and relax and chat with him and just enjoy our alone time. When we got home, however…. it was like my body knew it was go time after that meal! (We ate at Picnic near our house- I had the Pulled Pork and fries- not the healthiest but definitely gave me lots of energy for what was to come!) The contractions came on in FULL force every 3 minutes- I looked up at the clock after pacing the living room and it was 9:30pm already! I couldn’t believe it! I had the show “Fixer Upper” on binge mode- April 19th (the next day, also my due date) happened to be Joanna Gaines’ 40th birthday. I thought to myself “Ok- if I am going to have a little girl who shares a birthday with Joanna Gaines she will clearly be a special little person so I need to remind myself of what I’m getting when this pain is all over!” haha!
I started getting REALLY, really tired and also felt cold so I went upstairs to our bedroom. Tony took a nap on the couch downstairs and I told him I wanted to wait to head to the hospital at around midnight because I wanted to give my body a chance to make some progress dilation-wise. Once I got to the hospital I wanted to get admitted- I didn’t want to have to pace the hospital hallways or get sent home again!
I put Fixer Upper back on and sat in bed. The contractions gave me a little break and spaced out- sometimes 8 minutes apart and sometimes 15. It was just the rest I needed. At 11pm I covered myself in blankets and I just could NOT get comfortable laying there. The contractions picked up in intensity as well as started coming every 3 minutes consistently.
WARNING: Content getting a little more graphic now- read on only if you are interested in hearing.
I could feel her little head very clearly with each contraction and so I knew things were progressing really nicely. It was time to go to the hospital so Tony hopped up off the couch and we headed in. In triage, my nurse was SO sweet. She told me I was doing great with each contraction. And the best part was my Doctor, the one whom advised me to try for the VBAC, was on call that night! It was so comforting to see a familiar face! I asked her, “Okay- so is there anything I should be looking out for sensation wise if a rupture were to occur?” She told me, “You would have searing pain at the incision site that would get worse or not resolve in between contractions.” So, as much as I was ready for that epidural I decided to hold off for as long as possible so that I could monitor my pain. I got admitted and walked into the delivery room. My nurse was SO awesome. Tony was too. With this labor, it was so intense and so the best thing for me was to sit upright in the hospital bed in Cobbler’s Pose (my feet pressed together). I made sure I breathed deeply with each contraction and I also made very low sounds in my throat to help keep bringing her down. From 1-3:30am my nurse and Tony distracted me by asking me a ton of questions about skincare, injectables, anti aging, and plastic surgery. This was the best because it really took my mind off of the pain and also put me in a happy emotional state. As you all know, I could “talk shop” all day long, especially when people are actually interested! We also talked about why we each chose our professions- what we love about it. Tony shared why he likes being a doctor and my nurse shared why she loves Labor and Delivery and how she’s going to do it forever (and she should because she was SO amazing!)
At 3:30 a second year Anesthestia resident came in and prepped me for the epidural. He was so professional and skilled and put me at ease. This was the point where I thought to myself, “Okay. It’s time to leap. I need to trust that my incision healed enough and that my body will see both myself and Adaline through this.” And trust me- at 6am when the lights were off and I tried to sleep I definitely had all of my fears come through my mind again- “What if I push and she gets stuck?” “What if I have to get wheeled into the OR again?” “What if my uterus DOES in fact rupture?” “What if Adaline dies?” “What if I die?”- THAT thought. The feeling on the verge of life and death- I KNEW that was the signal that her birth was very imminent. When I worked in Palliative Care at Strong Hospital in Rochester, that gateway between life and death is palpable the second you walk onto the floor. The energy was so strong some days it used to make my eyelids flutter as the doors opened and I walked down the long hallway into the unit. I knew that if I was sensing the “veil”, that it wouldn’t be long before she came into the world. And I wasn’t wrong- I was in transition- the time of dilation between 8 and 10 centimeters. It is the most intense both pain wise as well as emotionally intense, and it’s also the shortest stage (although it feels like the longest!)
Now, I had midwives with both Isla and Everly and I missed them a lot at times this pregnancy. Lo and behold, who walks in at 8am but one of Duke Birthing Center’s on-staff midwives! She would be attending this birth. It was so meant to be! I had a little more to go dilation wise and she had to rush to another birth. At 8:45 she came in and it was time. Two OB residents came in, another nurse and a stork nurse. I started pushing at 8:50 and she was born at 9am on the dot- 3 contractions. She came out SO easily- I got the sense that she would as my labor progressed so I really tried to center my faith in that, and most importantly, my faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ. In that moment in the dark I felt His presence. “Do not be afraid, I am here.” I knew He would take care of us no matter what would happen- for better or for worse. <3
She weighed 7lbs 1oz, 19 1/4″ long- she is just perfect!!!! She didn’t cry at first (but oh my gosh I did when she came out! I was SO relieved!!!!!) I left the hospital 24 hours later feeling absolutely fantastic- Adaline slept for 6 hours her first night in the hospital, probably because she was so tired from her journey! Now I am enjoying the baby snuggles and getting through the night wakings by napping through the day. My doctor came to visit the next morning to meet Adaline. I am so grateful to her for encouraging me to try for the VBAC, and I’m even more grateful that it was successful! More than that- I am so grateful to have another beautiful, healthy daughter to join our family! She is the sweetest, most precious baby girl and her sisters are so in love with her already!