Our precious son, Rhys Andrew, arrived safely and happily on July 7th, 2010 at 4:07 pm. He weighed 8 pounds, 2.1 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Though I did eventually have a repeat c-section, I was blessed to labor completely naturally until I entered the operating room, and it was an amazingly intense experience. Below is the text of the very long email I sent to my VBAC supporters, detailing Rhys' birth.
I did end up having a repeat c-section, but it was an absolutely beautiful experience and I am at peace with everything that happened. Because of some autoimmune issues, I was induced at 39 weeks, but we got our doctor to wait until after the long holiday weekend, which meant the induction was scheduled for the day before my due date. I was already 4 cm. dilated and 90% effaced, so all it took was having my water broken to get things going. That was done at 8 am, and since I was already having contractions, they just became stronger and closer. R. and I wandered the L&D halls for a while, and came back to the room to rest and call our doula around 10:30, as
things progressed. Contractions got really strong and close together quickly, and by 11 that morning, I was beginning to feel really out of sorts and like I was losing my nerve at attempting a natural birth, which are classic signs of transition.
My doctor came to check on me around 11:30, and she suggested postponing a vaginal exam, since she didn't want me to be disappointed at that point. I agreed and continued laboring, and the contractions kept coming really close together, like 1-3 minutes apart. At some point, I mentioned that I had to use the bathroom, and my doula asked if I needed to have a bowel movement. I said I thought so, and she reminded me not to push if I felt lots of pressure. R. went with me to the bathroom and I sat on the toilet for a couple of contractions. That's when I started feeling more pressure and told him that it was not a bowel movement, but the baby! My doula must have been right outside the door listening, because she burst into the room and told me not to push, but to blow through my mouth. They got me back to bed, called the nurse, and things started going fast from there.
The doctor checked and said that I was 8-9 cm. dilated and the nurse told me to prepare for an intense few minutes as I dilated the rest of the way. Right after she said that, I started feeling the urge to push, and R., our doula, and the nurse coached me through the contractions for a while. K., my doula, actually whispered that it was okay to push a bit if I really needed to, but not too hard. That helped to ease the pain a little. When my doctor checked me again, I was almost 10, but with a bit of lip that she could push back on the right side of my cervix. I labored for a bit on my right side
to try to melt it away, and things were soon set up so I could start pushing.
Pushing was an amazingly intense experience, and I literally used every ounce of energy from my whole body to try to bring my baby out. It is something I will always remember. The nurse was great at guiding my pushing and really helped me focus on where and how to do it. I began to notice what felt like a rock in my bottom (which was probably Rhys' head), and I concentrated all of my energy on pushing that out. I pushed and pushed for almost 2 hours, and the nurse could see Rhys' hair on the other side of my pelvic bone. He was moving lower during contractions, but would slide back in between, and we tried different positions to try to get him past. I was exerting all of my energy, and I just couldn't get that stone to move. Eventually, my doctor came back and said we were looking at the same outcome as my first delivery, just under different circumstances.
It took R. and me a few minutes to fully comprehend what she was saying, but we soon realized that Rhys had not descended at all during the process and he simply was not going to come out vaginally. I was extremely frustrated at that point and having contractions one minute apart, so we asked for a couple of minutes of privacy to discuss things. K. stayed with us and helped me through the contractions, urging me to push, but not as hard. We decided that the c-section was the best option for us, and we knew that we were doing the right thing for Rhys, so we let the nurse know our plans.
The scene in the room quickly changed as I was prepped for surgery, and since I wasn't on any meds, just a heplock (a port for an IV), they had to start an IV in the room before administering the spinal. I was still having expulsive contractions and pushed through them to ease the pain, and since R. was not allowed in the OR while they administered the spinal, I begged my L&D nurse to stay with me so I wouldn't be alone. I couldn't imagine pushing while they wheeled me to the OR, and I think she gave me something to lessen the contractions just a bit. She assured me that she would not leave me, and she stayed with me the entire time, helping me onto the table and letting me lean over her as they administered the spinal. I had several strong contractions while it took effect, and she coached me through them.
Soon, I was all set up, R. came in, and the surgery began. I was shivering like crazy and they put a plastic sheet filled with warm air over me to help. I also noticed a lot of tugging this time, which I didn't experience with James at all. The doctor soon told R. to stand up, and he filmed Rhys right as he emerged from my body. It was amazing, and R. was crying the entire time. They then lowered the screen and I got to see Rhys for a minute. R. then went over to Rhys while he was assessed, and they kept him near my left side, so I could see and hear them the entire time. When the nurse weighed Rhys, she told R. to announce his weight, and the entire room oohed and aahed when his weight (8 lbs. 2 oz.) was announced. R. was allowed to hold Rhys, and he carried him over for me to see him. They stayed with me in the OR for a little while before heading to the nursery for the rest of the assessment. We felt like active participants in our son's birth this time, while James' arrival had felt more like a tooth extraction.
The closing up took a while and I kept asking if the doctor was finished, because I was so ready to meet my little boy and see R. again. After what felt like forever, they wheeled me to recovery and R. and Rhys joined me in a few minutes. We stayed there for over an hour, just nursing and enjoying Rhys, who latched on immediately and nursed like a champ. My labor nurse gave us lots of privacy and she told me later that the nursery kept calling to get Rhys back for his bath, and she told them that we weren't ready to give him up yet. So this time, R. and I got the quality bonding time with Rhys that we had missed with James. After an hour or so, I was taken to postpartum and R. went with Rhys for his first bath.
I ended up with some major abdominal bruising, most likely as a result of taking baby aspirin for a clotting disorder, so I've had complications with my incision. Rhys' little head, which was 14 inches around, also got quite mashed in the pushing process, and he had bruising and serious molding that took days to disappear. Just looking at his head let me know that he was simply not going to fit through my pelvis, and I know we made the right decision regarding the c-section. He was in the optimum position for birth, but he simply couldn't fit through my pelvis, and I'm going to find out more about this at my 6 week appt.
It's so strange, because it took a second surgery to heal my sadness from my first birth experience. I just feel so blessed that I was able to experience about 95% of a natural birth, which I will always remember, and we know that we did everything possible to have the best birth for Rhys, which is all that anyone can ask for. We're completely in love with our little son, and my only sadness is in the fact that I can't lift James right now. But I'll get better and be back to normal soon. I have no regrets at all.