Meredith’s VBAC Waterbirth

“I looked over at Barb and asked her how long I pushed. “Do you really want to know?” she said. “3 hours and 8 minutes. I honestly thought I had only been in the tub about 30 minutes. I was just in such dream like state that time sort of just stood still.  I think I was really able to doze off between waves.  I told Julie that I used my hypnobabies backwards.  I was very present during the waves but went deeply into a hypnotic state in between them.  Once I was in the water, I do not remember having pain.  It was really an amazing experience. Once a skeptic of hypnosis during childbirth, now convinced.”

The birth of our son was much different than the birth of our daughter. When she was born on November 9, 2011 by c section it changed the path of my life in many ways.  Her birth was traumatic yet eye opening.  It took some time to heal from her birth but when I did, I knew when we had another child things would be much different.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Kase I started planning.  I wanted a doula, a midwife and a hypnobabies class.  I knew each of these things put together would increase my chances of a successful VBAC.  I hired Julie Byers as our doula and took her hypnobabies class.  We chose to use Greenville Midwifery Care for our care providers.  I could not have been happier with all of these decisions.  My husband and I learned so much from Julie’s class. By the end we both felt empowered and not scared.  There were definitely moments where we both felt a little sadness that we did not have this information when my daughter was born. I loved going to see the midwives.  Our visits became a special time for my daughter and I.  She loved “listening to the baby” and each of the midwives made her feel so included in the whole process. I actually shed a tear as I left my six week follow up appointment because I had enjoyed my time with them so much.

My pregnancy with Kase was uneventful much the same as our daughter Kennedy. I was very comfortable and active the whole pregnancy.  About 2-3 weeks before our guess date I started to have more uncomfortable practice waves or braxton hicks.  We learned that this was prodromal labor.  There were many nights when I thought “this is it!” only to have the waves conk out by morning. I just kept telling myself that this was great practice and hopefully Kase would come much sooner than Kennedy did. I also realized that the “long labor” I experienced with Kennedy may have just been prodromal as well.

April 5th, the day before Kase’s due date, was Kevin’s Birthday. It was a sunny Saturday so we were able to go out with Kennedy to the park and lunch. It was such a great day.  I remember sitting down at the park watching Kevin push Kennedy in the swing thinking how blessed I was and that this might be our last day as 3.  Little did I know, Kase would arrive about 24 hours later.  I honestly think, that stress free wonderful day with my family was really what I needed to relax and really be ready for Kase’s arrival.  About 7:00 that night I started to leak a bit of water and my waves were coming about 5 minutes apart. I didn’t think much of them because this was pretty typical for the past 2 weeks.  The waves continued and the intensity started to pick up through the night. I tried to sleep but was unsuccessful. I told Kevin to call Julie to tell her to meet us at the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 2:30am and Julie met us in the parking lot.  We arrived in triage and waited for Barb, the midwife on call.  I remember Kevin joking that both of us had on mismatched socks that night.  I was pretty calm but the waves were intense.  Barb came in to check and told me I was only dilated 1 cm.  I was pretty disappointed since this was starting to replay my daughters birth.  The difference was this time we went home. With Kennedy, we stayed at the hospital when it was really much too early to be there. We said our goodbyes to Julie as we both headed back home.  We decided it would be best for her to go home and for me to try and rest.

I laid down to try and get some sleep but it was very difficult. I listened to some scripts as the waves continued to come. I tossed and turned in bed which later I realized I may have inadvertently been doing “the rotisserie”, one of Julie’s techniques she had told us about in class to get things moving. I don’t feel like I really slept but Kevin tells me he knows I did because I was twitching. Around 8 am we called Julie to talk about what was going on and she asked if she should come.  We decided for her to wait and I try and continue to rest.  Around 9am we called Barb.  She emphasized rest as well. We called Julie back about 10 minutes later and asked her to come.

Julie arrived a little after 10:00am. She came up to the bedroom where I was.  I was having a really hard time relaxing into the waves. Standing and leaning over the bed felt best.  She offered some compressions on my hips but I turned them down.  I had always imagined wanting hands on me during birth for massage, compressions, etc. but for some reason I just needed to get through them myself.  We talked about my fears which I really believe helped to get them out.  We were not up there very long before I started to tell Julie I wanted to go.  Both Kevin and Julie felt it might be too soon but I just had a feeling I really needed to leave.  We headed downstairs and I headed straight for the car. I’m not sure I even stopped to tell Kevin we were leaving. I was on a mission. I knew it was time.  Julie actually had to go back inside and tell Kevin it was really time to go.  He knew his job was to keep me home as long as possible, so he was hesitant to leave.  We finally left the house around 11 am.

The ride to the hospital was pretty difficult.  Mostly due to the horrible condition of I-85.  The waves were getting much closer now, sometimes 2 minutes.  At one point I remember saying to Kevin, “he is coming now!” He said I actually looked between my legs to see what I could see.  I never reached the transformation stage with Kennedy so this feeling was new and intense. Feeling Kase move into my pelvis was exciting because I knew it meant he would be here soon and my body was doing this!  We arrived to the hospital around 11:45.  I remember leaning on Julie and laying my head on her shoulder in the elevator thinking she was just the perfect size for leaning on and her hair smelled really good.  I just felt this energy from her that gave me confidence. There were not a lot of words spoken during that time but it was exactly what I needed. When we got to the L & D floor I began to have a pressure wave. Kevin made the others in the elevator wait on me to get through the wave before we got out. When we arrived to the triage room.  I went straight to sit on the toilet. This felt comfortable to me because I was feeling a lot of pressure and my body was starting to push for me.  I really did not want to move from where I was but the nurses had to monitor me before I could be admitted.  I finally got up to the bed and the nurse started to put the monitors on. I began to have a wave and I told her to stop. She continued and Kevin told her to “give me a minute.” She left sort of in a huff.

Barb arrived around noon and checked me. I was 8 cm dilated, fully effaced and and at -1 station.  This was music to my ears. I felt such relief that I had made it this far. I felt confident and not scared.  I walked through the hall with Julie, Barb and Kevin in my socks and penn state t shirt, wrapped in a sheet. We stopped a few times and I leaned on Julie through some waves. When we got to the room they were just beginning to fill up the tub.  They began placing the hep lock.  This was difficult for the nurses because I did not want to sit or lay down. It took a couple of tries but they finally got it placed.  Barb checked me quickly again. I was fully dilated.  One of the nurses wanted anesthesia to come in for some reason (HELLO-water birth and fully dilated!). One of them came and Barb shooed them out. I was really not aware of any of this going on.  I found this out later. At 1:00 the tub was finally full enough for me to get in.  I remember practically diving into the water.  Instant relief. It felt so good.

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After about 10 minutes in the tub my water finally broke.  One of the nurses had me sign papers in the water which I thought was strange but I didn’t let it bother me.  Mom arrived during this time.  Janelle, a nurse and student midwife also arrived. I remember opening up my eyes and seeing her smiling at me. I had my eyes closed for much of the birthing time.  At one point I think there were maybe 8 people in the room but I did not care. I was in my little tub in my own little world, in the zone.

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Wave after wave I pushed. I was really very comfortable. Pressure but not pain.  Julie and Kevin wiped my brow with peppermint towels from time to time sometimes waving them over my head. That felt really good and kept me cool. Kevin massaged my head. I switched positions several times and continued to push through the waves.  Mom was beside Kevin just quiet as a mouse. Really the whole room was super quiet. We had planned on music but silence felt better.  Kevin held me up under my arms through much of the birthing time. Having him right behind me was so comforting.

I remember Barb’s soft voice coaching me through some waves and pushing saying “soft and smooth like butter.”  She was reminding me that my perineum was stretching just like it should. It really helped to take the fear away of tearing as Kase was born. That was one of my fears. Sarah, another student midwife would hold my foot sometimes when I was in a leaned back position.  Everyone around the tub was so uplifting. Their encouraging words meant so much.  After what seemed like to me, only 30 minutes Kase finally started to come out.  I remember Barb telling me to quickly get in a squat position as she helped him out.  I sat back and he was in my arms.  He was so peaceful.  To this day he still makes that same scrunched up face at me when I pull a t shirt over his head.  Everyone in the room talked about how big he was. A couple of hours later we would find out he was 9’7 ounces and 22 ¾ inces long. A big boy! I did not tear.

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I sat and held him as his cord pulsed.  After a few minutes Mom came over to cut the cord.  I looked over at Barb and asked her how long I pushed. “Do you really want to know?” she said. “3 hours and 8 minutes. I honestly thought I had only been in the tub about 30 minutes. I was just in such dream like state that time sort of just stood still.  I think I was really able to doze off between waves.  I told Julie that I used my hypnobabies backwards.  I was very present during the waves but went deeply into a hypnotic state in between them.  Once I was in the water, I do not remember having pain.  It was really an amazing experience. Once a skeptic of hypnosis during childbirth, now convinced.  

The nurses helped me to climb out of the tub into the bed to deliver the placenta.  Whoa wobbly legs!  Kevin took Kase and held him skin to skin. 

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I delivered the placenta easily.  What a weird feeling that is!  They brought Kase over to me and he began to nurse like a champ, 22 minutes after his birth.  After the marathon of pushing I somehow felt energized.  I could not believe what I had just done.  I still felt like I was in a dream. I remember sitting there thinking that the way our society views birth makes mothers fearful. I once had this fear. After experiencing the birth of my son I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “there really IS nothing to fear!  Your body knows exactly what to do! Let it!”

Giving birth to my son was healing.  I was worried that it would make me feel sad again for my daughter’s birth. I talked to Julie about that at one of our meetings before Kase was born. Surprisingly I did not feel this way. My body birthed them both, just in different ways. I learned from my experience with her. I truly believe all of our experiences happen for a reason and they shape the paths of our lives.  
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