Vaginal Birth After Three Cesareans - God is Gracious
I've had 3 c-sections. The first CS was after a long labor, transferring from birth center to hospital, and at least five hours of pushing. My second labor wasn’t as long, but I felt stressed by the nurses and doctor in my room, so much chaos, and after two or three hours of pushing I just wanted the whole thing to be over. I had a bladder injury and had to have a catheter for a week or two after that one. My third CS was just a scheduled repeat. We had moved earlier that year and things were stressful. My doctor gave me the option to try again but my husband wasn’t on board and I didn’t feel much support in that direction from family. That was my easiest recovery.
I found out that I was pregnant again the first part of March 2020. I mentioned to my doctor that “I guess I can’t try again,” just to make sure we were on the same page. One of my younger sisters was also pregnant at the same time (her first). Her baby was born on August 20, and it had never even crossed my mind that I might have a hard time with her birth. Her labor was a lot like my first. Long, hard, pushing for 4-5 hours, but where my first ended in a CS, hers ended with a natural delivery. And I ugly cried All. Day. Long. I could not stop sobbing. I finally talked to my husband about it. That I wanted to try again. I NEEDED to try again, and he was fine with it. Once I decided that was what I wanted, the whole pregnancy seemed to change. I was so excited! Where before I felt like it didn’t matter what I did, how I sat, what I ate, etc. because I was just going to have a CS anyway now I was so excited for everything! I asked in a momma’s group on Facebook if anyone has done a VBA3C (vaginal birth after 3 cesareans) and one person had. I started talking to her and got a lot of encouragement. She added me to a couple VBAC groups and I found a lot of information and studies that I read and reread and printed out to take to my doctor.
I also prayed about this decision. I like Gideon prayers-do this if yes, and this if no-so I prayed that God would give me a very clear yes or no. A half hour later I went on Facebook and one of my friends had posted this: “It’s impossible,” said pride. “It’s risky,” said experience. “It’s pointless,” said reason. “Give it a try,” whispered the heart.’ I felt like that fit my situation exactly and God was saying “Yes, go ahead.” Another friend recommended Hypnobabies, so I started listening to the tracks. They didn’t really resonate with me, felt a little unnatural and just not me.
I remembered seeing something about Christian Hypnobirthing in my mama group, and decided to pay for it. I immediately fell in love with it. My favorite tracks were the ‘Encouraging Scriptures’ and ‘Prayers for Strength’. They just reaffirmed the “Yes” from God, and that He was in control. Something else that helped strengthen my trust was the book Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. Several ladies from my church recommended that and it was astounding to me. Another thing that happened was that God gave me a song. It seems that at every hard time in my life there is a song that is just IT for me, and this time my song was WaveWalker by Citizen Way.
My two babies that I labored with were not in good positions and I didn’t want that to happen again so I started doing some Spinning Babies daily exercise and Miles Circuit, but mostly just tried to spend a lot of time on my hands and knees every day. I was also drinking a lot of red raspberry leaf tea (with added beneficial herbs because plain RRL is gross), and eating dates (helps soften the cervix). I was also listening to the Scripture track on the app whenever I’d lay down for a nap or started to get stressed out. I even got my 3 girls to lay down and listen when we needed breaks throughout the day.
After making the decision to try for a VBAC, I faced having to talk to my doctor. I hate confrontation, but I knew that I was supposed to do this, and I had read and reread about the risks. I was really scared to discuss it, but then I kept having things come up at my appointments. Either something came up for me (vehicle trouble) or he was in surgery so it gave me more time to get my head around the facts. When I did finally talk to him he said that they couldn’t force me to have another CS, but it’s really not a good idea even though there aren’t very many studies on VBA3Cs. I asked him about going at least until my due date and he said that was fine.
A few weeks before my due date, they put me down for a CS at 39 weeks. I said there’s no way I can do that because I was supposed to be getting 10 bushels of apples that I had to can (we love homemade applesauce). I asked again about going to my due date or even a few days past. My due date was Wed. Nov. 18, 2020 and we agreed on the 20th. I felt like that was at least giving me some time to go into labor. I did an ultrasound at one appointment (I had declined any throughout my pregnancy) just to make sure baby wasn’t breech and to see where my placenta was. Since I had an anterior placenta I felt that if it was near my CS scar that would make any risks go up and I didn’t want that.
At my 39 week appointment (11-11-20) I declined the Covid test that they strongly recommended because I'd heard different things about what the policies would be if I was positive. That weekend I developed a sinus infection and headache that I knew would turn into a cough as my sinuses started to drain. I also got a call from the hospital reminding me of my CS appointment ON MY DUE DATE!! I was sure there was a mix up somewhere and wasn't sure if I should ignore it or call and see what was going on because that wasn’t what we had planned. On Tuesday my SIL came over to spend the day (she lives a few hours away), and I felt well enough to call the office and see what was going on with my CS. It turned out that it didn't suit the doctor for Friday after all, so they changed it to my due date. I was pretty upset and ready to freak out. They wanted me to come in a discuss it with him even though I was sick. Because my sinuses were starting to drain, I was coughing, so they wanted me to test for Covid before they saw me. I agreed because I thought that if it came back positive then I really didn’t want a CS because I’d have to recover from two things at the same time. They did a rapid test and a normal one, and I was positive. They wouldn't come in the room with me after that, but called me to talk to me. Since I was positive for Covid, they DEFINITELY recommend a RCS, but if I decided to cancel I could come in the next Monday for a checkup. I did cancel and went home thrilled. (God gave me that out!)
My due date came and went, and my sinuses felt much better. I really did not want that baby born while I was sickish. On Friday (11-20-20) my SIL came back over to stay until Baby was born. Saturday, nothing, and I went to bed praying for labor. All night I prayed for labor—every time I woke up, even in my sleep! I woke up Sunday (11-22-20) telling God I really need to go into labor TODAY because I knew if I went to my appointment on Monday they'd push for a CS and I wouldn't know what to do.
It's Sunday morning tradition for my husband to make French toast, so while he was doing that, I sat on the couch with my coffee and chatted with my SIL. I got up once to go to the bathroom and felt what I thought felt like lightning crotch. I didn't think it was a contraction, but it had been so long since I'd been in labor that I didn't remember where contractions started or how they felt when they started, so I Googled. Google said they start at the top and spread down and this was at the bottom, so I figured it probably wasn't anything. As the morning went on though, I was still having them so I downloaded a contraction timer and started timing. They were 10-15 minutes apart, 30 seconds long when I started timing around 11:00. I made lunch, did some puzzles, anything to stay up and moving around. I messaged our pastor's wife to ask her to pray for me, let my mom and sisters know that stuff was happening, and messaged my two friends.
By 3:30 contractions were 2½-3 minutes apart and around 45 seconds long and I was in my room away from everyone else. I repacked my purse and hospital bag, rethought my birth plan and decided to only give them the baby part of it. I was trying to concentrate by humming through my contractions (Old Church Choir, and Wavewalker). 4:00, I called my husband back and told him that I don't know when, but take the car seat and my stuff out just so we don't have to later. He said he also wanted to shower before we go, so I said he probably should get that done too. My contraction app was saying still not active labor, but I remembered from my other labors that my contractions aren't "normal", usually not even lasting a minute at the end. While my husband was in the shower I called one of my friends to see what she thought about when I should go in. I didn't want to birth at home or on the way just because at that point I was thinking "What if I can't do it?" I really felt like I either needed to pee or that my water was about to break, but I needed help to go to the bathroom. She talked to me for a while about that, take a towel along when going to the hospital to wrap baby in (just in case), go pee and get hubs to get a trash bag and towel to lay on the floor in case water breaks, no I'm not going to rupture, and it's fine if I don't end up with a vaginal birth because the whole time I've been saying I just want to try and that’s what I'm doing.
(And I remembered, "Oh yeah, I have the statistics and my chance of rupture is around the same as me—a healthy adult—dying from Covid—which I'm positive for.) About that time my husband got out of the shower and got me the trash bag and towel while I was in the bathroom. I stayed in for several contractions and then went back to the bedroom. I had been on my hands and knees before, but I stayed standing for a couple contractions, holding on to the bed and wall when I felt my water pop (around 5:30). It was such a weird feeling! Kind of hurt but didn't. I know I made some kind of weird noises because my two youngest daughters came running back and my 3yo was ready to freak out because "Mommy peed on the floor!" My 6yo wasn't sure if she should be scared or laugh! I called for my husband that we are leaving now, and went out the door without even telling anyone bye! My contractions were very painful now and while my husband was trying to drive carefully, there were lots of curves and railroad tracks that made me feel like I was being slung around! Halfway to hospital (30 minute drive—on a normal day) I realized that knocking (punching) on the window really helped me concentrate and not have the contractions overwhelm me. But then my husband started worrying I was going to break the window! I tried to message a few people that we were on the way but stuff wouldn't go through and I discovered later that I had somehow turned off my mobile data. When we got to the hospital he ran in to get me a wheel chair, and went to park the truck while they took me up.
They were telling me not to push, getting me into the bed, etc. and I was just thinking that this was feeling overwhelming. To not push I reached up to the headboard and started punching that during my contractions. When the doctor came in they were asking me questions about what number child this is, how my others were born, etc. The doctor was in the same practice as mine and I remembered that I found out that he had delivered a VBA3C a year or so previously. I was probably saying dumb things, but I had been watching Friends the last while and I was thinking of Joey and his sympathy pains so I asked if anyone is having any. And apologized in advance if my feet stank but then pointed out that they were all wearing masks anyway so they wouldn't be able to smell them. They did call to get the OR ready in case, and I told the doctor "Look, I just wanted to try again, but if I need a CS, that's fine." He looked at the clock and said "We'll go until 7".
That gave me about 40 more minutes, and at that point I was thinking there is no way I can last that long and I just want a CS now but I CAN'T bring myself to ask for one, so I kept pushing. I was glad that I didn't have my birth plan with me when I went in because I had on there that I didn't want to be coached and I really needed the coaching by then. I did ask about different positions, and they wanted me to try on my back first. I was actually fine with that because for some reason I've always been able to push better on my back. I did say something about an epidural and it probably being too late to get one, and the nurse said "Yes, but you're doing great without it!" At some point I noticed that my hand was skinned and asked what happened to it. The nurse was like "Um, you were punching the headboard!"
My husband still wasn't up and I asked where he was. The nurse said that he was waiting outside (which I thought meant outside the room) and that he couldn't come in because they're only allowed a certain amount of visitors. I didn't know it until later, but after he parked the truck and came back in they had security there to escort him out. He immediately called my family and asked them to pray and messaged his church men's group and they were praying as well. He said the nurse called him to let him know how I was doing, and he was in tears that he was going to miss the birth of his child. Then they called again and said that if he signs papers that he will not leave my room they will let him in. He was ready to sign anything by that point and he was up soon after that.
He said the first push he saw he was shocked because my others had never moved that much and he knew that this baby was going to come naturally. They were telling me that I'm going to have this baby soon and I really didn't believe them. I was sure that they were just saying it to keep me pushing. Then the nurse put a blanket on my chest, I asked what that was for and she said, "You're going to have this baby in few minutes." They were telling me that I'm going to feel burning and I have to just push. The doctor told me he was going to numb me and when I asked why he said I'm going to tear so he's going to cut a little.
I think that was when I realized that they were serious and I really was going to have this baby. I didn't even care that he cut me. I didn't feel burning, but I did feel tremendous pressure and he was out! I could not believe it!! After pushing for only an hour! Our fourth child, the first boy, and he immediately peed on my husband.
Seriously, I was so shocked that he was born naturally.
I had people praying and believing in me and believing that God was going to give this to me, and while I believed too, when it came down to it, I didn't think I could do it. Because I was Covid positive I had to either send baby to the nursery the whole time or keep him with me the whole time. I of course chose to keep him with me. I had wanted that anyway, but the hospital’s normal policy is that they take baby to nursery for the newborn screens. I had to sign papers that I chose that and that he wouldn't leave my room.
My husband ended up having to go home on Monday afternoon and Baby and I were able to leave the next day. They wanted to keep baby 48 hours because I was GBS positive (the doctor's office had never even let me know!) and they wanted to make sure baby was fine. Because I was positive for Covid, they also did Covid tests on baby at 24 and 48 hours. It crossed my mind to be scared about those results but after thinking it through I just knew that those tests would be negative because there was so much throughout my pregnancy and labor that was God and I knew I didn't have to worry about it. Both tests came back negative.
My recovery this time has been shockingly easy, and I thought recovering from my third CS was easy. Baby St. John (pronounced Sinjun) is named after his daddy and grandpa (his middle names are after his other grandpa and great-grandfather). His nickname is Jack. St John means God is gracious. God was SO gracious throughout this time. He was there when I didn’t know the future, teaching me that it’s ok to not have everything planned, but just rest in Him. He worked everything out even when I didn’t see how it would work.
God is gracious.