The Birth Story of Evelyn Joy
Up, Down, Up, Down… It was just after 3:00 AM on July 21st and I could not get comfortable in bed. Standing up I felt great, but as soon as I laid down again I felt cramping and stomach pain. “Was this it? Was today the day?” I wondered as I continued to try to find a comfortable position in bed.
After about 20 minutes of this and feeling a more consistent set of cramping I concluded that I was in fact in labour, and all of a sudden I was feeling slightly panicked. I hadn’t packed a hospital bag for James and I or overnight bags for the kids while they stayed at my in-laws. I just really really did not expect her to actually arrive early.
I had books I wanted to read about having a VBAC, I felt like I hadn’t done enough praying and I really wasn’t feeling super confident in myself about successfully having this child vaginally. An F bomb came out of my mouth and I hung my head feeling overwhelmed with emotion. I gave myself a mini pep talk, said a prayer and trusted that God’s plan is always better then my own.
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My sister got a phone call around 3:30 AM as she was invited to attend our birth (she is interested in pursuing a hobby career as a Doula). When she answered I said, “It’s happening, at least I think it’s happening.” She asked me questions about the pain and reminded me to start tracking contractions. It just so happened that my last midwife appointment was earlier that day (where I turned down a membrane sweep because I said, “No, I don’t think I am ready to speed this up yet.”) and my sister coincidentally joined in on the appointment as she had one right before mine. We remembered the 411 rule… sort of… we remembered it being said, so we looked it up and started timing. At this point each contraction was about 30-40 seconds long and about a 5 minute gap between each one.
We remembered that my midwife also recommended that it is a good idea to take a bath. Baths are known to be a good indicator if your labour is progressing at a steady pace or if the contractions are just pre-labour, if it is early labour going in the bath will actually slow down your contractions. By the time I got into the bath the time between each contraction was close to 4 minutes apart and about 40-45 seconds in length. With some time in the bath I noticed that the length between each contraction slowed back down to 5 minutes but the length of each contraction was approaching 50-60 seconds in length. I called my midwife.
At this point we were both pretty excited because my midwife was going to start her off-call days at the end of the weekend and I of course really wanted it to be her to catch my baby girl. She inquired about the timing of my contractions, and said it seemed like we had some time before heading to the hospital. It was about 4:00 AM at this point and I agreed that being home and staying in the bath for as long as possible would also be the best idea.
James had awaken from his deep sleep (I woke him up when contractions started but we agreed he should get more rest if he could) and after my bath we both began getting clothes and bags together for us and the kids. We decided to phone his mom around 5:15 AM to let her know that labour had begun and asked her to come to our house for 6:00 AM, she has about a 20 minute drive and we wanted to make sure no one was feeling rushed or panicked. Once she arrived we called the midwife again and gave an update on my contractions; close to 4 minutes apart and about 50-60 seconds long for each contraction (plus some smaller contractions would pop up every once in a while between those times).
We agreed that we were getting close and said that we could likely stay home for another half an hour and then she would meet us at the hospital. At this time it was close to 7:00 AM, I sat on the couch in our living room talking to my mother-in-law and hid my face between each contraction. I took deep breaths and laboured quietly through each contraction (I was later informed that I am in fact a quiet labourer compared to many). I made a comment about how labour is so weird, because when there isn’t a contraction happening everything seems so normal and then bam, a contraction hits.
The phone rang and it was my midwife to say that after further consideration she thought it be best that we head to the hospital right now, she said that my contractions were picking up quite quick and we were better to head there now to get assessed (backed with the knowledge of attending two of my sisters births, she knew we tended to deliver quickly). With a midwife, if you are having your birth in the hospital they meet you there to do your assessment in triage and then stay with you throughout your delivery. At this point we learned that my midwife was at a home birth (she was the back up midwife) and might not make it to the hospital for our initial assessment but that one of the nurses would give her a call once we arrived.
Since I had previously had a C-Section, my baby’s heart rate needed to be monitored the entire time during labour, I was set up to a machine that recorded the baby’s heart rate and had to push a button every time that I felt baby kicking. The nurse left and came back after about 20-30 minutes, she let me know she was going to see how dilated I was and that she would then be informing my mid-wife to touch base on when she thought she might be able to arrive.
“You are 8 cm!” she said with a pretty surprised look on her face. Apparently I handle my contractions very well! We were all a little bit surprised and pretty thankful that we decided to go to the hospital when we did. She said she would be getting a room set up right away. My sister arrived to the hospital moments after this and was also quite surprised because when we talked an hour earlier, I’d told her not to rush and take her time.
At about 8 AM we got our hospital room, I remember stepping into it and being so happy about all the natural light that shone through the windows. My midwife arrived as we were getting settled and then I was hurried to get hooked up to have the heart-rate monitor connected as well as have my IV put in (another precaution set up when going for a VBAC). Once set up, my contractions were starting to get much more painful; I has experiencing the pain in the joints of my legs and hips. James and my sister were helping make sure that I would have water between contractions as well as applying cold cloths to my face and the pain areas of my legs.
I started out laying on my side but the pain in my legs and joints was getting stronger. With the help of my birth team I was moved onto an exercise ball. This switch was so beneficial, I felt so much more comfortable and the contractions felt less aggressive. Though it wasn’t long until I needed to switch again, we thought that standing, leaning up against James and swaying side to side would be a good switch. Nope. I believe I said, “I hate it.” and then moved back onto my side on the bed. I could tell we were getting close.
I wasn’t told it was time to push, there came a point where my body took over and when my contraction hit my body began to push. I thought it was really neat how your body all the sudden just switches over, I didn’t expect it but it was time to really get things started. My midwife checked to make sure that I was in fact 10cm. I was, we were in the clear and making progress to meet baby girl.
My eyes went from open to closed and I was thinking about all sorts of things. I wondered what my face looked like as I pushed, I knew it must have been intense and most certainly not pretty, I remembered how I told James not to crack any jokes this time (with Sophie he tried to make some jokes and I wasn’t having any of it), and I watched my sister and admired her strength being in the room and supporting someone she loves through all the beauty and all the pain.
Some specific moments stood out to me while pushing, James was petting my hair and holding onto my hand, He stayed beside me and was such a supporter. My sister was making sure I had water, also letting me squish her hand though each push and being such an encourager. The nurse who was monitoring baby’s heart rate made a comment that stood out so clear to me, “Baby is as happy as can be right now.” She had no idea, but that was the best thing she could have ever said. Sophie’s labour ended in a C-Section because of her heart-rate rising too high and the stress that was being placed on her, so to hear that this baby was happy allowed me to relax and focus on pushing correctly.
My first push was always weaker than the second and third, it was suggested that I save the energy from the first push and only push when I really really felt it. I started taking this advice and I could start feeling baby moving downward. This was something I never felt before, this was when I knew it was happening, when I knew that I was going to do this vaginally. There wasn’t going to be a C-Section, I was really really going to be doing this! I was feeling super weak, my eyes were watering continuously and I was sweating more than ever, but the feeling of confidence that I could really do this was overwhelming and helped me regain energy.
“You are going to start to feel some burning,” said my midwife. My thought after she said that, was holy crap that is exactly what I am feeling, the next push was a big burning sensation, but it is also an unreal feeling because it means you are almost there, therefore the pain is kind of irrelevant at the time. I was laying down on my side with one leg raised into the air and being asked to curve my back upwards putting my face in pretty good view of what was happening. I never thought I would want to see, but it was incredible, I could see her!
After a few more big pushes out she came, I was shaking. Shaking more then I had ever shook before. She was here and she was placed directly on me. My eyes started to water more, I couldn’t believe I did it. I never fully believed that I could do it, but I did and in all the residual pain I was so so proud of myself.
The feelings I felt in this moment were so overwhelming; Empowered. Blessed. Accomplished… to name a few. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to have this VBAC until it actually happened. I told myself through pregnancy I was ok with another C-section but that I just wanted to try, not taking what felt like “the easy way out” was a hard decision to make and one that I will never never regret.
My sister took a few photos and a video right after she arrived. There is a video of James rubbing my head and stroking Evelyn. It is so special; he was amazing and the love in his eyes is so real. That moment of her coming out and the few hours after are so, so special, the time together to just bond and stare. Welcome to the world baby Evelyn.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this story, I really didn’t know if it would mean as much to anyone besides my close family and friends. I had a few people on my Instagram ask for me to share because they were also about to go for a VBAC and would love to hear a success story. Because of this I am being open and vulnerable because one thing that made my decision to go for a VBAC hard, was knowing so few success stories. I want you all to know that that is not the case and that you can do it!
Believing in yourself isn’t always the easiest thing when you have tried and failed in the past, but believing that it is possible is so important. I was told by all my nurses that I had an amazing chance for a success story and I am so happy that I listened to them through my fears.
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