With her first daughter, Annie was induced at 34 weeks due to severe preeclampsia.; she was on magnesium sulfate in labor and ultimately birthed via cesarean. In this blog post, Annie shares the story of her VBAC. Due to her history of hypertension (both in and out of pregnancy), Annie was counseled by her providers to give birth to Madelynne by 39 weeks. Because of good blood pressure readings and baby’s health in biophysical profiles, Annie was given the all clear to birth with her practice’s midwife, and received co-managed care from Dr. Bagley and Meghann Batten, DNP, CNM.
Born 4/25/2019 at 7:38pm
5 lbs 8.5 oz, 17.5 in
In the week leading up to Madelynne’s birth, I felt different. My mind was somewhere else. I had started nesting like crazy and was really distracted at work. Physically I had more energy and mentally I was relaxed and calm. I was happy to be 17+ days past the point at which Eliza was born. I was confident and feeling ready for labor. I also found myself reading and repeating in my head those birth affirmations that I had printed and kept at my desk, actually believing in them. I even said to my boss, and then at the VBAC group, that I didn’t think I would get to 39 weeks or need to be induced - I just had a feeling. Everything was falling into place and whatever path my birth would take would be the right one, and I wouldn’t have regrets this time because I had done all I could do to try for a VBAC. If for some reason I did end up with another c-section, I’d know that it was how my baby needed to be born.
On Monday before Madelynne’s birth, Amy (doula) came over in the evening for our in-home prenatal. We talked a little about Eliza’s birth, then my goals for this one. She was the first to suggest sex to get my cervix to start softening. Little did we know that later that night would be the last time we had sex for well over 6 weeks. I didn’t have too many questions for Amy, but that didn’t really bother me too much because I think it just meant I had done everything I needed to do and that how labor started was essentially out of my control at that point. I could have brought up my “worry list”, but I honestly didn’t feel worried or anxious about the things that I had written down when I wrote it a few weeks before.
Since I was leaning towards an unmedicated birth, and per Amy’s suggestion, I made an appointment to talk to Meghann about how she might be involved. I met with her on the Tuesday before Madelynne’s birth and we agreed that I would see her for my appointments moving forward and call her when I went into labor. We talked about possible induction tools and things I could do at home to prime my uterus and cervix to encourage spontaneous labor - red raspberry tea, EPO (evening primrose oil), dates, sex. I had already been drinking the tea, started the EPO that night, and would need to get some dates. I also learned in that appointment that Meghann was much more liberal in her interpretation of 39 weeks; she literally said “39 weeks and 6 days is still technically 39 weeks.” The induction tools she mentioned were castor oil, Foley catheter, and pitocin. I left that appointment feeling good and confident.
The next day I was even more preoccupied at work with pregnancy stuff and poor Isis being so sick and having to go to the vet to be hospitalized. It made for a less than productive workday. I did my best and managed to not be terribly anxious about crossing off my to-do’s. That evening, I made it to VBAC group on time and was able to talk through the few remaining concerns that I had, share how things developed with Meghann, my birth plan, and that I was feeling super optimistic and ready for whatever would happen. I left MyBirth and went to ALDI to get some dates, then over to CVS to try to find some weird medicine to drop off at the vet. Then I got home, joined P.J. on the couch and had some cereal, then went upstairs about 11pm.
At 1:15am, I woke up with an uncontrollable urge to pee. When I sat up, I saw the bed was already wet. When I stood, a wave of fluid came rushing out and ended up completely soaking me as I rushed down to the bathroom. I finished on the toilet and knew my water had broken. That’s when adrenaline kicked in and my heart started racing a bit. I got back upstairs after cleaning myself up, then turned on the overhead light and woke P.J. I hesitated and said “um...I’m pretty sure my water just broke...” Then I pulled up our hospital packing list and P.J. started throwing things in bags while I collected myself. The first person I called was Amy. I told her I thought my water had broken, described what happened, and said I wasn’t yet having contractions. She said to go back to bed and try to get some sleep and we would check back in the morning, unless something changed overnight. Then I called Meghann and had the same conversation, though my contractions had started at that point but were mild and about 5 apart. I also texted Meg and Sara (sister and BFF), Amy and Gerri (bosses), and Megan (therapist). Meg called me in a panic but I assured her it was all fine. Megan said she had actually lit her birth candle that night and was so excited for me. Eliza then got up briefly, so we quickly got her back to bed and then ourselves, though I of course couldn’t sleep until about 3 or 4am.
I woke up the next morning about 6, right as Amy and Gerri texted me back. I was on the phone with them by 6:30 and off about 15 minutes later. When Eliza got up we told her what was happening and she seemed genuinely excited. P.J. got her ready for school and dropped her off, then ran some errands. I took a nice long shower, knowing it would be a bit before I could take my next one, then had some breakfast and talked to dad and Bethie. Meghann called me just before 9. Since my contractions had stalled but I was still leaking fluid and the baby was moving, she said to do a castor oil smoothie and take a brisk walk. I made the smoothie, did some dishes and waited for P.J. for what felt like forever. He got home, we finished packing our bags and Eliza’s, my contractions started back up, then we headed over to vitamin shoppe and fedex. We took our brisk walk around Target because we needed to get some snacks anyway, and the pollen outside was unbearable. I talked to Meghann again while walking through the store, while still having contractions that I could walk and talk through. We would check back in in a couple more hours.
We grabbed lunch around noon, when the contractions really started to intensify. I didn’t think I could do a pedicure at that point but I was determined to power through. I was so glad we did and now think everyone should get a pedicure during labor as it’s a great distraction and way to pass the time. Next we went home and I called Meghann and Amy, then we went in to get checked. P.J. dropped me off at the entrance and I slowly waddled down the hallway while he waited for the valet. We didn’t have to wait long once we made it to the doctors office. Dr. Bagley saw me in the waiting room as I was standing and trying to hold it together, so she brought me back to an exam room. Meghann came in, said I was about 5? cm and tried to move some weird scar tissue away from my cervix while I was having a huge contraction. That pain was probably some of the worst that I felt the whole time I was in labor. Meghann said I could go home and labor for another couple of hours and then come back, but I think my body language may have tipped her off that I didn’t think I could do that. So she left and went to get our delivery room set up.
When we arrived at L&D, the Christmas lights were already hung and the essential oils were diffusing. I think she left at that point and my nurse got me set up on the monitor. When we were done on the monitor, my nurse told me that Meghann wanted me to walk for an hour or so. In hindsight I realized that I was probably supposed to still be on the monitor, but as one nurse said when I asked about the intermittent monitoring after the fact, “Meghann does what Meghann wants.” I didn’t complain.
Amy met us as we were making our first lap out of L&D. After a little walking I started squatting during contractions, which is where those prenatal yoga classes really paid off. We made it back to the delivery room after about an hour. I think I started to ask about pain meds. Meghann said she didn’t think I needed it and that it would slow things down. The rest of my labor included the shower, toilet (when Dr. Bagley showed up to say hi), and the tub. I was in the tub for a while, sleeping in between contractions.
At one point when it was just me and P.J., I asked again for pain meds. He went out and came back in, then I got out of the tub as I was in transition. I started saying “I can’t do this, I can’t.” I was so hot and sweaty, I just walked, naked, back to the bed. On my way over there my nurse said something about having a baby soon. I started pushing soon after getting in the bed, first on my side, then on my back. I screamed like a wild animal for most of it. At least until they told me to stop. P.J. fed me water and cheered me on. In the middle of that ring of fire, P.J. said “don’t listen to the devil woman.” I said, “but it hurts.” I pushed more quietly, maybe with some grunting?, for maybe 4-5 times, then the baby came blasting out. I was so relieved, amazed, and everything in between.
The MyBirth doulas are nothing short of AMAZING. Choosing Amy as our birth doula has to be one of the best decisions we could have made during our second pregnancy. Amy was so supportive and encouraging throughout my pregnancy, offering great advice and positive feedback, especially when I was feeling anxious about the birth process. During labor, she was always one step ahead and knew what I needed before I did. I’m about 7 weeks postpartum now and still feel like I can out with updates or questions anytime. Amy is the reason I now understand why people say everyone should have a doula for their birth.
And I would be remiss to not give major props to Emily, who I first met about 3 years ago at an ICAN meeting a few months after my first daughter was born. I’ve been going to her VBAC support group ever since. She has been such a major inspiration in my journey from healing from a traumatic birth through achieving an unmedicated VBAC.
I can’t say enough good things about the MyBirth team and how grateful I am to have found and embraced everything they have to offer to new and expecting parents in Richmond.