A beautiful VBAC Story!
Our first daughter Georgia had been born in 2011 by elective caesarean as she was in breech position for the entire pregnancy. I had desperately wanted to experience a natural labour for my second pregnancy – and my obstetrician said this was fine as long as I went into labour naturally and there were no issues with the baby’s positioning. I’m a naturally anxious person (I get tension headaches when I’m late for work!) and so I thought a hypnobirthing course would give me the best chance of having the natural birth that I’d wanted so much. I’d been listening to the hypnobirthing tracks almost every day since we did our course in October 2013. I found they were a great way to wind down at the end of the day.
This baby was definitely keeping us on our toes with her positioning. I was really wanting to try for a VBAC, but she was still in breech position at 36 weeks. At my 37 week appointment however she was head down – we were so excited. However at my 38 week appointment my OB told me that baby was in transverse position, and that if she hadn’t turned by the following Thursday (13th February) that she would be taken out by caesarean on Friday 14th. I was pretty sure that she wasn’t going to get into the right position (from our previous experience with Georgia) and so we were all geared up to have a baby on Valentine’s Day. I went to my appointment on 13th (38+6) February completely expecting baby to still be in the same transverse position, but miraculously she had turned head down again (but not engaged). So the caesarean for Friday 14th was cancelled. I actually felt quite thrown and lost for a few days, as the whole family had prepared themselves for having a baby the following day. It was a blessing in disguise though as we used our ‘extra time’ to have a lovely relaxing family weekend. On the Sunday we went to the beach for the day and had fish and chips and ice cream with our toddler. It was a lovely relaxing day and I thought “Ok baby, you can come out now”.
I noticed after going to bed on the night of Tuesday 18th February that I had period-like cramps all night. They were consistent and not wave like, so I didn’t think they were surges. The next morning (Wed 19th) I noticed when I got up that I had a bit of spotting. I wasn’t too concerned but thought I would ring the midwives just to double check. They said not to worry about the little bit of bleeding. I went about my normal morning with Georgia taking her to her swimming lesson at 10.30am. When we got home at 11.30 am I noticed the dull period cramping was back again, and then it went away. I put Georgia to bed after lunch and thought that I’d go and have a lie down too. After lying in bed for a while I realised that the period-like cramping was coming and going, so I downloaded a contraction app to see if there was any rhythm to it. I seemed to be getting them every half an hour or so, so I thought “This is probably early labour”. I listened to all of my hypnobirthing tracks and just relaxed, and when Georgia got up at about 3pm we just had some afternoon tea and played a bit. My husband Ben got home at about 4.30pm. It was a really hot day and I thought it would be nice for Georgia to have a swim in the kiddie pool, so I asked Ben to fill up the pool for her. He said “Why can’t you do it?” (as I had done it the previous day) and I said “Because I think I’m in labour”. He seemed a bit flabbergasted. We then thought that I should probably ring the midwives again as the surges were about 12 mins apart and my OB had said that if/when I thought I was going into labour to go in to the hospital and get assessed because the baby was in ‘unstable lie’. So we rang them and they said to come in within the hour, as my OB was doing an emergency caesarean that night and he could assess me. I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks in the car on the way in and also in the pregnancy assessment unit. My OB came and assessed me – baby was head down, but my cervix was still completely posterior and closed and my surges were not strong enough and very irregular. So he said to go home and come in for my normal appointment with him the next day at 10am.
So Ben and I went home and had a little bit of dinner and went to bed at about 11pm, I managed to get some sleep until about 2am, just waking up for the stronger surges. At about 2am they were becoming too strong to ignore and so I breathed through them in bed and dozed in between surges until about 6am. Each time I had a surge I would imagine myself going over a wave, I would breathe in as I was going up the wave and say ‘release’ in my head. As I was coming down the wave I would say ‘relax’. This was my mantra for my entire birth. I got up at 6am and went and sat on the fit ball and watched some TV and Ben made me some French toast for breakfast as I figured I might need a bit of energy that day!
Off we went to see my OB for our normal appointment at 10am. The surges were about 6 – 8 minutes apart. He said that he would do a stretch and sweep and that if anything was going to happen, it would happen today, otherwise he was going to leave my caesarean booked for 11.30am on the following day (Friday 21 February) as I couldn’t let labour go on that long. He examined me and I was 1-2cm dilated and he did the stretch and sweep and sent us on our way. Within about 2 hours of getting home the surges were coming on quite strong, lasting for over a minute and were about 6 – 8 minutes apart. By about 2pm they were still strong and longer in length but were now about 1 -3 minutes apart. Ben suggested I get into the shower to try and get some relief while he rang our OB. He said to go straight to hospital. So off we went again to hospital, the car ride in upset the surge times a bit (which is apparently normal), but I just had my earphones in and listened to my hypnobirthing tracks all the way in and breathed through each surge. I couldn’t believe how calm I was – I had no tension in my head or neck, I was completely at ease.
On arrival at hospital I went into the pregnancy assessment unit into a single room where they hooked me up to a foetal heart monitor. I could see on the screen that the surges were strong and regular. A midwife came and assessed me and said that I was 5cm dilated and that I was doing fantastically breathing through each surge. Every time I felt one come on I just go into my zone. So at 5cm they said I was good to go around to the birthing suite.
I asked for a fit ball straight away as I found this was how I got the most relief. While I was sitting on the fit ball, Ben put my hypnobirthing tracks on the CD player in the background and my midwife hooked up the waterproof foetal heart monitor (it meant that I could go in the shower but not the bath). I got into the hot shower and sat on the fit ball. Ben directed the hot water all over my back and I just sat with my eyes closed, listened to the hypnobirthing tracks and breathed through the surges. At 6pm my OB came in to assess me, they got me up onto the bed and he said that I was 8cm. I was quite proud of myself to get to 8cm and remaining cool, calm and collected and not needing or asking for drugs. My OB broke my waters and he said he would ‘see me in a few hours’ and I remember thinking “Really? That much longer?” I got back in the shower but breaking my waters seemed to have triggered the labour to progress very quickly and strongly. The surges were coming on so strong, and practically one on top of the other so I felt I couldn’t get a breath in between each one. I started making all these weird noises and mooing like a cow, and then all of a sudden without any effort I blurted out “I can’t do this!” Ben knew that as soon as I’d said thi
s that I’d reached transition and the birth wasn’t far away. My midwife came in and said that I had to get out of the shower as they couldn’t get a good trace on baby’s heartbeat. As soon as I stood up I felt this intense urge to push – it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I yelled out “I’ve got to push now!” They quickly dried me off and hurried me over to the bed. I was screaming like a banshee ” it was a very primal experience. Ben had never seen me like that before, and I’d definitely never yelled and screamed like that before in my life! The midwives had frantically called my OB and they were telling me not to push yet until they had an opportunity to examine me. My midwife checked me and I was 10cm and ‘good to go’. After 3 big pushes the head had come out (my OB arrived just as the head was crowning), then with the next big push our baby flew out – no one caught her, she just flopped on to the bed! Our OB had made it with about a minute and a half to spare! They put Alexa straight on my chest. The intense relief and rush of emotions was indescribable. I had beaten my caesarean by 16 hours. Our little Alexa was born by successful VBAC 41 minutes after my OB ruptured my membranes. No drugs, no forceps, no ventouse. And I’ve never been more proud of achieving anything in my entire life!
Ben and I had to have a little giggle as I was being wheeled out of the birth suite. On the door the midwives had put up a sign saying “Quiet please, hypnobirthing”. This was the room that all the banshee-like screaming was coming out of! I truly believe though that the skills that I learned in the hypnobirthing course allowed me to get to 8cm completely calm and relaxed, and also to have the energy to get through that transition phase. So thank you Melissa, I had the perfect birth that I wanted so very much.
Kathryn and Ben, Ferny Hills, Brisbane