I want to go ahead and write this down before I forget the details!
First of all, my pregnancy with Landon was great. Everything went smoothly, I felt pretty good the entire time. I wasn't as swollen as I was with Lexi and I didn't have such bad heartburn.
I had switched doctor's offices because my previous doctor's office in Florence wouldn't allow me to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I wanted to choose a doctor's office that was at least OPEN to the idea of me trying. If it didn't work out, then I'd know that I did everything I could to give myself the best chance of an easier recovery.
My friend Ashley had found a doctor's office in Columbia that she saw the midwives at that had a doctor's side of the practice that allowed VBAC's. So I looked into the office and local hospital (Lexington Medical Center) and decided that I would like to give it a try and talk to the doctors and see what they had to say. Based on my research I was a great candidate for a VBAC... I had been healthy (a healthy weight, pregnancy) and the only reason for my C-Section was because Lexi was breech.
My first experience at the dr office was awesome. The doctor I saw was very through and she had reviewed my surgical notes and when I asked about a VBAC she said she thought I was a GREAT candidate. She said most people choosing to VBAC have a 60-80% success rate and she would put mine above 80%. That helped me make my decision to go for it.
From then on, I rotated around the different doctors (definitely had some favorites) and found mostly supportive doctors for my VBAC. There was only 1 doctor who said she wasn't a fan of VBAC's and so I tried to avoid scheduling her not to have a negative opinion when I was trying to imagine a positive birth experience (I know that sounds hippyish!).
Fast forward to 39 weeks. They had told me for weeks that he was head down and ready (which I probably annoyingly pestered each doctor's visit to confirm) and they said they would go ahead and schedule a C-Section just in case he didn't come by 41 weeks. That was the one limitation this office had... For safety they wouldn't let me go past 41 weeks (That was on Thursday Nov. 19). I was doing EVERYTHING possible to get this baby out on his own! I scheduled my next appt for Monday, Nov. 16 which I was 40 weeks 4 days with my favorite doctor. I still was not really dilated at all (0 *maybe* 1cm) but she said his head was very low in position. She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes... I had read about it but wasn't sure if I really wanted it done. I asked what she thought and she said if she wanted to have the best chance of vaginal birth she would do it. So I agreed.... OUCH. I left not knowing whether that would have an impact because she says it doesn't always work but it was my best shot.
We went to lunch in Columbia and I had some cramping which they said was normal. We ate tacos for dinner (which would prove to be a bad choice!) and went for a walk where I was having some discomfort and not sure if it was braxton hicks or not. It subsided and we put Lexi to bed, I took a shower and we went to sleep around 11:15. Around 12:15 I woke up having some bad cramps. They would come every few minutes and I started timing them in bed before waking Marshall up. I got on my phone googling "how you know it's real labor" haha. They were pretty inconsistent sometimes 2 minutes apart or as much as 7 minutes apart. I decided they were worth waking Marshall up and talking about what he thought. I got up and walked around and drank some water to see if maybe they would go away and they were still coming and getting more painful.
Our drive to the hospital is an hour so I REALLY didn't want to wake someone up to come stay with Lexi just to get to the hospital and be sent home. I decided to call my doctor's office and they got the doctor on call to call me back. His response was "if they're not incredibly painful, I wouldn't come". To that, Marshall also said "my gut tells me it's not real labor". I ended up calling my mom (because isn't that what all people do?!) and asked her what she would do. She said it's better to be safe than sorry and she said she was on stand by to get in the car and come so she could be at the hospital too. Little did I know she got in the shower and had already made her mind up to come even if it was a false alarm :)
I was still really uncomfortable and so I decided to add my friend and neighbor Jennifer to the conversation. She knew she was "on call" to come and stay with Lexi if I were to go into labor at night. I called her and told her what I was feeling and that they had stripped my membranes that day and she said probably the wisest thing makin it easier for me to make the decision to go to the hospital. She said that if they did that procedure something is happening whether it's real or not yet- it's coming! She also said she doubted they would send me back home.
I was starting to have to really pause and breathe through the contractions and told Marshall to get up because we were going! I had already had my bag packed but we needed some last minute things and I tried to eat some yogurt and granola because I knew once I got to the hospital they wouldn't let me eat. I grabbed a water and gatorade too for the same reason- to drink on the way. Jennifer got to our house and told us congratulations because she knew I was in labor! On the way out the door I threw up and Jennifer said that was a good sign!
We left around 2:45am and on the way to the hospital my water broke...in the van. You always hear about this- in the middle of the night, water breaking. I looked at Marshall and said I TOLD YOU I WAS IN LABOR! We were still about 20 minutes away from the hospital and once my water broke the contractions were INTENSE. We pulled up to where we thought we were supposed to be (where they told us to go for the C-Section) and I told Marshall to RUN and find out if we were in the right place. Turns out it was the wrong place and they were locked because it was the middle of the night. He found someone who told him to go to the Emergency room side and they would admit me there. AHH! Then we had to go over speed bumps. Fantastic.
We got to the Emergency room and got out and they made me fill out some card (I had already pre-registered though) and then took me up to the 2nd floor to Labor and Delivery. They checked and confirmed that my water had broken and were asking me a million questions and made me have a fluid IV and a round of antibiotics for being StrepB+ before they would let me have an epidural. The nurses were trying to go as fast as possible because they were looking at my contractions coming and saw that they were off the charts and coming so fast I was having little break in between. Finally, after 2 hours I got the epidural. When I got to the hospital I was at about 4 cm and after the epidural they checked me and I was about a 7-8. This was around 5:45am. Once that happened I was MUCH more comfortable. It was only fully effective on my left side so I could still feel the contractions on my right a little.
I had an AMAZING nurse with me the entire time and basically through the whole first part I had 2 nurses beside me the entire time. They were monitoring Landon's heart rate because it kept fluctuating and had me turning different ways, sitting up, to see what he tolerated the best. At some point my blood pressure dropped so they gave me some oxygen and when they took my temperature said I had a slight fever (it never got above 100.3). They weren't too concerned about the fever though because I was already on antibiotics and they gave me some tylenol for the fever. They continued to monitor us and within a couple hours shift chance happened and the doctor that was on call starting at 7:30am happened to be the one I liked least- who was the least pro VBAC. I thought GREAT, she's going to push me to a C-Section. My mom had gotten there around 6:45 (I think?) and I was so thankful she had left when she did!
The doctor came in and her demeanor was immensely different from the office when I'd seen her. She was caring, compassionate, and trying to give me all scenarios to get him out. She told me I was still around an 8-9 and would give me another hour to get him past the "bones" because for now, his heart rate was stable but it kept dropping a little lower. One nurse mentioned pitocin and she said No! She doesn't need it, her contractions are beautiful! The only problem was that they were coming SO fast that Landon wasn't getting a break in between so he was in some distress. They talked about giving me something to slow down my contractions but then decided to just watch how things go. I'm so thankful for this!
She came back in an hour later and said that I had a little bit more to go and I said I was feeling some pressure to push which she said was a great thing! She said we would try to push and see how things go! He wasn't quite past the bones yet but she thought we could make some progress. Like I said, I still had some feeling on my right side so I could tell when the contractions were coming and was able to push when they came. She had told me if this didn't work we would have to talk about moving to a C-Section, especially if his heart rate dropped too low unexpectedly.
I started pushing and pushed for about 25 minutes before he was out! He came so quickly... I was overwhelmed that I was able to successfully VBAC! I cried and couldn't believe he was finally here! I did end up having an episiotomy that I was unaware of while pushing, but compared to a C-Section I will take it!
He came out so quickly that he had swallowed some amniotic fluid so they had to suction him and the doctor thought about giving him some oxygen but after a minute he was fine. I looked around when he came out and counted at least 8 people in the room (4 nurses tending to him beside us). There was also a student (who was witnessing her first birth-an eventful one!) which I had agreed to earlier in labor. Throughout my labor I had several people come in, one of which I think was the charge nurse who told me everyone was cheering me on to have a VBAC. Apparently I was a hot topic among the nursing staff ;)
He was perfect. 7lbs 13.5 oz, 20 1/4 inches long, born at 10:33am November 17, 2015. I was so thankful to have such a support system... Marshall and Mom, my doctor and nurses! It was an amazing experience.
My story doesn't stop there though. Landon was with us for the day and nursed like a champ. He was a great baby! Mark brought Lexi up to the hospital around 5:00 to meet him and she was wide open! She was excited but not fully understanding what was going on. They told us they were going to do some bloodwork on Landon because he had a fever after birth and then we would know the results later that night.
Mom went to her hotel for the night and we had a nurse come in and tell us his bloodwork looked fine and that he was doing good. About 15-20 minutes later the same nurse came back to our room to tell us she had some bad news. While the initial bloodwork came back normal, there was also a later part that came back abnormal. It showed there was some sort of infection and she let us know that he would not be able to stay with us and he would have to go to the Special Care Nursery (what they call the NICU now) and we would not be able to take him out. She then told us once they got him settled we could come see him.
I was absolutely crushed. Between the emotions of the day, exhaustion, hormones and craziness I was a mess. I cried and had Marshall call my mom and tell her what was going on because I couldn't even talk about it. I'm tearing up just thinking about how that felt.
We had to scrub in before going in the nursery and they told us they wanted me to get on their nursing schedule and come every 3 hours (starting at 11pm that night) and set an alarm to come. It was so sad to see him hooked up to all those things and have an IV. He was going to get 2 rounds of antibiotics over the next 48 hours and they would have a blood culture to see if that came back positive as well. After the 48 hours they would retest and if it was clear then we could go home. If it wasn't they would have to do more testing to see what kind of infection and/or switch antibiotics. They said he could be there up to 7 days if this first round didn't work.
Over the next 2 days we got no more than 2 consecutive hours sleep because I would go to the nursery to nurse (which was a little bit of a walk especially for me still healing) and I would nurse for anywhere from 20-45 minutes. Then we'd head back to our room and get up a couple hours later.
On Thursday (the day I was supposed to be discharged) we were still waiting to hear what would happen with his results and whether we would be able to take him home with us. The doctor in the Special Care nursery said she thought he looked great and we would know sooner if we could take him home. Around 2:00pm we got the clear from her that the bloodwork looked normal and that if the culture was still negative we would get to take him home around 5:00! I (again) cried and was so grateful that we were able to take him home with us!
Our nurse was amazing and prolonged my discharge so that we could hang out until he was ready (she said they normally like to discharge people around 12:00pm). It was a roller coaster of emotions over those few days. We are thankful he is healthy and we are home celebrating his sweet little life.
About to leave the hospital...