If my birth story were a movie, I feel like this name would be most appropriate-- Something's Gotta Give. But apparently, nothing would give. What-So-Ever. Not with Niall and not with Brendan.
I was convinced that Niall's disaster of a birth story was a fluke, considering I was induced and nothing happened. I figured that my body just wasn't ready and you can't force a baby to come out if he's not ready. So I chalked it up to the intervention of the OBs, not me.
Now I'm convinced that my body was beautifully designed to carry a baby for 9 months, but not to labor and birth one. After 2 different natural birth classes that prepared me with as much knowledge and confidence as humanly possible, I now know that there just has to be something wrong with me. At least that's what I'm telling myself to make myself feel better, so work with me.
With Niall, I went through 40 hours of induced labor and only made it to 2 cm dilated. With Brendan, I went into natural labor, all on my own (WooHooo!! The part I was the most worried about actually happened!). I woke up on Wednesday night around midnight (I guess that's technically Thursday) with contractions that were about 30-50 seconds long, 5-8 minutes apart. This went on until 5am. What a great sign! This had to be it. Matt called in and took off work, my in-laws came over and picked up Niall... and then it stopped. No labor for the rest of the day Thursday.
Thursday night/ Friday morning, I woke up at 2am with contractions that were 40-60 seconds long, 4-7 minutes apart. This had to be it! Matt called in and took off work... and then nothing happened for the rest of the day Friday.
Until about 7pm. They started as just a crampy feeling and quickly grew into really painful contractions that were a distinct 3-4 minutes apart, 60-90 seconds long. This went on for 2 hours and I was gently moaning through the contractions because of the pain. THIS HAD TO BE IT. We called the midwife, threw our bags in the car, and drove 20 minutes to the hospital.
Just to make things interesting, as we pulled into the parking lot, it started snowing hard-core. There was no going home, no turning back. As I walked into the hospital, I had to throw myself against walls and moan like a wild ape (to my complete humiliation) in the direction the onlookers in the lobby. THIS WAS IT!!!
The nurse checked me to let the midwife know how far along I was before having her come in. I couldn't wait to find out if I was 5, 6, maybe even 7 cm at that point. Was I on the verge of transition?? This felt so different than my labor with Niall. Things were really happening, I could feel it.
Drum Roll Please....
I could feel my face turn white and all my muscles just collapse with disappointment and defeat. This couldn't be happening again.
My initial plan was to turn around and go home if I was any less than 4 cm, but I didn't anticipate such strange circumstances that would keep me at the hospital...
a) it was really bad weather and we shouldn't have been driving back and forth in it
b) I would have no idea how long I should wait to come back-- I met ALL of the criteria for coming to the hospital: contractions should be 5-7 minutes apart, 1 minute long, uncomfortable, for a couple of hours. I was 3-4 minutes apart, 1 1/2 minutes long for 2 hours, moaning with discomfort. If I went home, how would I know when to come back??
So my midwife suggested I walk around the hospital for a while to get things moving and see if we could get to 3 or 4 so I could be admitted. She was on her way.
I probably walked around for 2 hours and when she checked me, I was 3 cm. I saw a lot of hope in this, because I was 1 cm farther along than I ever made it with Niall. It seemed like things were moving along and this was actually gonna work.
But 15 hours from the start of my intense, 3-4 minutes apart contractions, I was only at 4 cm. I was exhausted from not sleeping the previous 2 nights (being kept up with false labor) and in serious pain for more hours than most people do their entire labor, pushing and birthing- only to find out I wasn't even half way to the finish line.
I opted for the epidural at that point and was finally able to rest, which I felt really good about. But I also knew that the epidural would likely slow down my labor. This led to my midwife eventually breaking my water, which also got the clock ticking in terms of potential infection. 7 hours later, I was only at 6 cm and my epidural wore off. My contractions were ON TOP of each other and so painful that my moaning turned into this horror movie- style gyrating yelling.
I was seriously terrified because I knew that I still had hours to go until I got to 10 cm, a good 2 hours of pushing (average for first timers), and could absolutely not get through this without the epidural. In the 20 seconds or so between each agonizing contraction, I would try to catch my breath and hold it together because they were now so intense that little Brendan's heart rate was severely decelerating with each and every one.
I could hear the beeping of the monitor slowing down to a seriously scary pace and my heart would just pound out of my chest because I knew that even though there was a good chance it was just the baby squeezing down, there was also a good chance that this was a sign of uterine rupture (the most common concern for VBACers). My midwife was slightly concerned, but not convinced there was an emergency yet at that point... we were running up against some time constraints in the coming hours, but we still had some time. But I just didn't want to risk anything anymore. We had a conversation about the risks of uterine rupture and I was officially scared.
I'm a worry wort as any of you who know me can vouch for, so I knew there would be no getting that out of my mind for the remainder of this birth. If I had a potential 4,5, maybe even 6 more hours... that "uterine rupture" was going to be racing through my mind for the remainder of this journey. We decided to call it.
I cried and moaned through the contractions while I waited for the doctor and anesthesiologist to come in for me. I sobbed to Matt, asking him what was wrong with me. I sobbed to myself, asking God what was wrong with me. I thought about how my plans for having 5 kids were going to be shattered. How I would be lucky to have 3-- it's scary to even think about having another c-section, so I won't let my mind go there yet. But Matt reminded me of how blessed we are and how many people try to get pregnant and aren't able to have children, and I know he's right. It's just hard when you have this dream and things suddenly change.
Anyway, I couldn't be happier about switching hospitals and switching to the midwives. The care that I received this time compared to my experience with Niall was like night and day. The midwife held my hand pretty much through the whole thing and told me what a great job I did and how we really gave it our best shot and there was nothing to be ashamed of.
And when Brendan came out, she took that baby away from the doctors so fast, I barely blinked and she had placed him on my chest and held him there for me since I couldn't move my arms. All of the nurses and hospital staff went out of their way to make sure Brendan stayed with me as much as possible- through all of the tests, baths, shots and procedures. I basically held him and they did everything with him right there in my lap. They helped me with nursing, they helped me with questions I had, questions I didn't even think of and they were so attentive and responsive. I will definitely be going back there for the next (and probably last) baby.
Here's the freaky part of all of this-- after feeling like such a complete failure through my 2 botched births, my midwife came in to my recovery room a few hours later and said "I'm not sure if this will help you emotionally or not, but I feel like I should tell you that the doctor said your scar was shockingly thin... I'm not going to say it would or wouldn't have ruptured, but it looks like you probably did the right thing." And I'll never know what would have happened, but I do feel better knowing that.
I just wanted to experience a normal, natural birth; a normal, easy recovery; and have the option of having as many kids as I want. My recovery will certainly not be easy with a baby and a 2 year-old, but life constantly throws you curve balls and it's how you handle them that shapes you. I'm finally at ease with the way things went down. I have 2 happy, healthy kids and no complications with my own recovery, so I couldn't ask for more. I can't wait to see what's in store for our little family in the future.
Welcome to the world, Baby Brendan!!
Niall loves your votes!