Hey folks! As some of you may have heard, Baby Starfish finally arrived! Ripley Mae was born via unmedicated VBAC Friday, January 15, 2016 at 10:35pm. (The day after my birthday!) She weighed in at 8lbs 15oz and was 19 ¼ in. long. I love a good birth story plus, I'm hoping to inspire/encourage some moms out there who may be thinking about or planning a VBAC so, without further ado, I give you Ripley's birth story!
Being the antsy (in this case, read: worry-wort) person that I am and wanting desperately to avoid a repeat c-section, I had been doing some things at home to hopefully help get my body ready for birth after my 36 week appointment. (That was the only time I got checked and was barely 1cm and 50% effaced.) I got an exercise ball and did that a fair amount, continued my prenatal yoga, started drinking more red raspberry leaf tea, did “naughty things” a few times, yard work and walks, when able, and I'm sure there are more things I'm forgetting. Pretty much everything but eating certain foods. (Although I did start eating my beloved curry rice again. Yum!)
Naturally, since my body hates me, it was like the more/longer I continued doing some of those “natural labor inducing remedies”, the more it felt like it wasn't working. In other words, even the fake, Braxton Hicks contractions stopped. The Monday and Tuesday before I had Ripley, Myka and I stayed with my parents because 1) My mom was driving me nuts about worrying I would go into labor while my husband was at work (It's about an hour to his work and we live in the boonies. Lol) and 2) I was getting really bored being at home more often than I'm used to. Since nothing seemed to be working, I decided to resign myself to relaxing because I have also heard the more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to go into labor.
So, I was lazy and sat around the whole time we were there. My due date came and went on that Tuesday, January 12th. No surprise there. We headed home Wednesday and I noticed I was feeling a lot crampier “down there” than usual on the way home. I'd been having minor cramps on and off for about a month. I assumed it was just my cervix doing it's thing to get ready. I couldn't help but get my hopes up a little that day since it was noticeably more...uncomfortable?
I woke up Thursday, January 14th, which happened to be my birthday, and was disappointed that the cramping had gone away. I was a hot mess that day, especially after going to my doctor's appointment. My fluid level was borderline high at the growth scan the week before, so the doctor scheduled another “fluid check” and non-stress test for the following Tuesday. I was a hot mess when I got home. I was so tired of being pregnant, worrying about Ripley coming on her own, and really, REALLY tired of doctors and what I felt unnecessary interventions/tests/screenings.
I slept like crap that night, even worse than usual, if that's even possible. I think I only got a few hours of sleep between just not being able to get comfortable at all and probably worrying too damn much. When I did wake up Friday, I noticed the cramping was back and considerably more bothersome than it had been even a couple of days ago. Woo hoo! Never thought I would be so happy about period-like cramps! Lol
I had a few things I wanted to get down around the house, so Myka “helped” me clean the toilets, put dishes away, and a few other little things, I think. I decided to take a bath around 2 and try to relax, especially since a certain 3 year old was too engrossed in her movie to want to get in with me. Lol I was kind of glad she ended up changing her mind and got in anyways after a bit because I could not get comfortable with the cramps. It felt like I was actually starting to have contractions, so I downloaded a contraction app on my phone. They were only coming about every 30 minutes, so I wasn't too concerned.
After we both got done in the bath/shower, I made Myka lay down around 3:30 to take a nap. I put a movie in, sat down, and literally 10 minutes later started having stronger, regular contractions. Much to my surprise, I had 3 within a little less than 30 minutes, but I continued timing them for a whole hour. Again much to my surprise, they were already about 6-8 minutes apart. Since the doctor said to call if they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart, I called my husband, who had just gotten off work, and told him to skip stopping at the grocery store on the way home just to be safe. I also let my mom know that she would probably have to meet us at the hospital to get Myka that night instead of meeting Saturday like we had planned! Lol
I tried to finish gathering up all of the last minute things we would need for the hospital while I waited for John to get home. Not gonna lie: I was freaking out a little bit because I hadn't expected everything to happen so fast! Luckily, he got home a little faster than usual, we had to wake poor Myka up, who was sick and hadn't had a good nap because of all the coughing, and left for the hospital around 6:20pm. I had been reading WAY too much on the Babycenter Community and this whole time I was still worried that I was over-reacting and wasn't in real labor...until right before we left I used the bathroom and saw that I was losing my mucous plug. I told John, “I guess I'm not crazy after all.” lol
Our hospital is also over an hour away, so I was kind of surprised we got there faster than usual considering it was misty and people were driving like they had never driven when it's wet out before. You know. My mom got there a few minutes before us, so we sent Myka on her merry way and got inside around 7:20pm. On the way, my contractions had gotten to be closer to 5 minutes apart. By the time they finally checked me in triage I was dilated to 4/5cm.
Probably about an hour later when they checked me in my room I was at a 6. Probably another hour, give or take, later I was at 8. At some point during this nonsense I agreed to have my water broken because the doctor “didn't want my labor to stall”. HA! I knew that wasn't going to happen, but I had heard some people say the pain of contractions isn't as bad afterwards. Also false...At least for me.
Anyhow, the last time they checked me they said I was at 9/10...and my body promptly started pushing as soon as she was done checking me! It kind of freaked me out, actually, because, well, I wasn't expecting it and wasn't really sure what to expect since I had an epidural with Myka while pushing and didn't really feel the urge to push with her, even though I did so for over 3 hours. Oh yah. Did I mention I had absolutely no pain medicine? Yes, I actually planned on skipping it because I'm crazy. Do I recommend skipping the epidural or spinal block? Ask me again later...
All in all, I think I pushed for roughly half an hour. It didn't even feel that long because everything happened so fast. In fact, silly me, was all prepared this time around and had burned some music onto cd's, brought the exercise ball, a back massager, and had not one but TWO birth plans made out: a short version and long one. All that stayed in the car and never made it's way inside the hospital until after the fact. Anyways, back to the gritty stuff...
Like I said, my body was literally doing the whole pushing thing on its own. I had nothing to do with it. I told John when he said something later about not having the epidural so my body could feel the cues to push that, “I didn't have the cue to push. My body was doing it whether I wanted to or not. I felt like I was possessed.” lol I probably sounded possessed too...or at least like a wild animal. I sure felt like it. Lol
I finally got to a point between contractions to where I tried sitting up to see if that would help with the pain, even though I was already pushing. When I had my next contraction I promptly shook my head and laid back down because there was a lot of pressure down there. After a few more pushes I could feel her head working its way down. For whatever reason, they couldn't find my on-call doctor even though I had already seen him, so they had to page another one from a different practice who was also there to come in. Her head was already partially, if not all the way, out by the time he got in the room. They told me to stop pushing for a second at one point. Ha! Again, I told John I totally understood the women now who said they couldn't stop pushing. You really can't. It's out of your control.
Anyways, after 2 or 3 more pushes she was out! The whole thing was totally crazy! She did swallow a little bit of meconium, but other than that the whole experience was pretty much everything I had hoped for...and having a healthy baby too, of course. :) They didn't have to spend too much time getting the yucky stuff out of her stomach and lungs, and they promptly gave her to me when they were done. Oh. She came out so fast too that I ended up with a partial 3rd degree tear, but it honestly hasn't bothered me that much, especially from what I have heard from other people who have had tears.
Ripley left, Myka right
I am still in awe/shock of how quickly it all went. I was afraid I wouldn't know when I was in labor for sure and that it would be super slow since I didn't have pitocin this time. Boy was I wrong! I only labored for 7 hours altogether! (It's probably a good thing too, otherwise I might have changed my mind about the drugs. ;) Not going to lie: I asked my husband a few times at the hospital why I thought it was a good idea to go without. Lol)
I also can't get over how much of a better experience it was than Myka's birth, mostly due to hospital policy and staff. I had to constantly ask for her to be in my room. They actually encouraged people to keep their baby's in their rooms as much as possible where I had Ripley, which I did except one night where I only had the nurse bring her in for nursing. (I didn't sleep at all the night after I had her or any during the day. I really needed the rest.) I wasn't allowed to walk around the halls at all with Myka or put our clothes on her. I got to do both with Ripley.
The staff at the hospital here were WONDERFUL about encouraging breastfeeding. Besides having an actual breastfeeding consultant, the nurses helped as much as possible too. They didn't even have a consultant in Arkansas and the lady who did try to “help” basically said, “just keep trying this or this” and that was it, basically shrugging her shoulders and walking away. The lady here spent a good half an hour with us, I believe. She even gave me some goodies to help Ripley latch on because my nipples are kind of uncooperative, surprise, surprise.
Even though I have the tear, I didn't opt for any narcotics afterwards because I really didn't feel like I needed them. So, by the next day I didn't even have to have the line in for an IV any more, which I was happy about. I loved being able to get up and about sooner and not being hooked up to a bunch of stuff. I think the nurses thought I was crazy, though, because I didn't even want the naproxen half the time they offered it. I kept telling them as long as I didn't sit too long the tear didn't bother me. Lol We were watching a bunch of X-Men movies the other day and I told John that maybe I am part Wolverine and just heal really fast. Lol
As long as this is, I feel like I'm forgetting some things I wanted to mention because I am already sleep deprived. Lol I am just so glad I got to experience at least one natural birth because I have always wanted to and this may or may not be our last baby after all. ;) I was actually kind of gloating afterward. I even looked at my husband a few times and said, “I did it!” (Please don't feel like I'm belittling you or something either if you have had a c-section or have never had a vaginal birth. Like I said, I had a c-section with my first daughter. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!)
Oh. Speaking of gloating...The doctor who happened to be on call the weekend I had Ripley? The same one who felt the need to mention it to me two appointments in a row that I had the least likely chance of success for a VBAC according to my “previous birth scenario”. :P Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
If you've stuck around this long, thanks so much for reading till the end. I'd love to hear your birth stories as well in the comments or even an email! Stay tuned for a new baby update “segment” coming soon called “Life With a Newborn” where I'll be brutally honest about how things are going physically, mentally, and emotionally for me with a new baby AND an active 3 year old!