I am so happy and so thankful and so excited to tell the world that our sweet little Coben (Coby) — our 12th child, our 7th son is HERE!!!!! He was born at 2:50pm on October 31 – a sweet little treat, a Halloween baby. He’s perfect in every way and everyone from Kerry down to Elly is absolutely elated to have him home. In fact, we “fight” over who gets to hold him, there should literally be a sign-up sheet, or a “keep the hour sheet” on the fridge. It’s so competitive that poor Dan finally got to hold his newborn baby boy for the second time yesterday — he was thrilled and refused to relinquish him to anyone until Coby became famished! I am lucky because I’m nursing him and so he has to come back to me at least every hour (oh yes, this baby of mine eats when I miss him) and then I don’t let him go forever!! I also get the luxury of spending every glorious night, all night uninterrupted, just me and my precious little Coby. We talk, we snuggle, he feeds — I am soooo blessed, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to inhale his beautiful smell, gaze into his blue eyes, nourish his tiny body, memorize his every feature, snuggle his sweet self – there’s just not enough time.
I want to share Coby’s birth because it’s not your typical birth, in fact it’s quite a rare birth. I can’t find the exact statistics, but suffice it to say when you Google VBA2C you get a lot of mixed feedback. A VBA2C is Vaginal Birth After 2 C-Sections. In 2004 ACOG (American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecologists) came out decrying VBAC in general as too dangerous and as a result most physicians and hospitals refused to allow their patients this option in their birthing plan. Anyone who had a prior C-section was forced into a repeat … this is what eventually happened to me in 2010. Fast forward to 2010 when ACOG reversed it’s 2004 statement and has symbolically embraced the idea of VBAC even for women with one or more prior C-sections. Still, it is difficult to find an OB and a hospital willing to allow a mother to make this decision – the medical field is wraught with malpractice suits and few facilities are willing to work outside their statisical haven.
When I was pregnant with Elly, my OB was, on the surface, open to a VBAC, but little by little she introduced fear into our conversations. “Valley View Hospital will not allow you to do this. You’ll have to wait at home until you are in the final stages of labor and show up ready to push,” she said. “You’ll have to sign your life away, literally,” she said. “If anything adverse happens, Valley View is not equipped to handle an emergency of this level,” she said. All this in the final 6 weeks of my pregnancy. And she’d counter her fear mongering with messages of doom, “If you do a repeat C, you’ll never find a Dr. anywhere in the United States who will do a VBAC after 2 C-sections,” she said.
In the months preceeding she had made VBAC look all butterflies and rainbows-esque. In the end she ditched me and handed me over to her colleague who refused to contemplate a VBAC and I had a repeat C. Looking back and knowing what I know now, she was off her rocker. She was walking a tight rope of malpractice. While VBAC’s are safe and women who attempt them have a 90% success rate, the advice she was giving me was reckless and uninformed. I think perhaps, she was on the fence and thought it was safe, but the what if’s kept freaking her out?! Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely delighted with my two C-sections, I don’t regret them in the least. They were beautiful experiences as well and I came away with nothing but great memories and 2 beautiful, healthy, thriving baby girls. In fact, I wouldn’t change their births for the world, I own those birth experiences, they are mine. And, truth be told, C-Sections are the only way to honestly get the rest you need to recover and the time you need to bond with your baby when you have a large family! The birth of our children is simply a vehicle to having that healthy, precious, God given baby you have been awaiting for months, if not years. The safest, most efficient way to do that is what the focus ought to be, not on “the beauty” of it all, because, truth be told, birth, regardless of mode, is pure unadulterated beauty. A woman who gives birth via C-Section has not had a lesser birth experience, we as a culture must draw back the curtain of judgment and rejoice all births, all mothers, all babies – birth is beautiful in all shapes and forms!
My reasons for wanting a VBA2C were simple. I wanted the experience of labor again. I wanted the excitement, the unknown, the “am I in labor?”, the knowledge that at any moment of any given day I could have a baby. I wanted to experience the pain and I wanted to physically deliver my baby. But, if I’m to be honest, I am shocked, I am in total disbelief that I was actually able to do it. Why? I was terrified. The “what ifs” were driving me so crazy, I was physically ill. But it wasn’t always like this. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I knew this was my goal. I called a Dr I had met in Grand Junction and asked him if he knew anyone on the Western Slope who did VBAC’s after 2 C-sections. He gave me the name of my Dr. — Dr Simms. I made an appt, met her, we discussed my history and she determined that yeah, sure, I was a great candidate. After all, I had had 9 previous success vaginal births, my C-Section was due to a breech (stubborn) baby and the 2nd was a routine repeat. As the months wore on, predicatably, I became more and more in doubt of my decision. Dan was solid in his support, he never wavered, he knew with certainty I would be fine. He now believes God spoke words of encouragement and calm into his soul. I, however, wavered to the point of stress induced exhaustion and in the early stages of labor at any given moment I knew I was going to quit. If it hadn’t been for Dan’s love, support and encouragement, it never would have happened. I kept an ongoing text messaging conversation with one of my best friends, a mom of 10, well into the 2nd stage of labor because she was sending me biblical quotes that kept me focused on God’s love and divine power. If it hadn’t been for her, I could very easily have quit. Having a VBA2C is not something anyone can do alone. You must have the support of a spouse and of your doctor and hospital staff. I was not shy in hiding my confliction. I questioned and questioned and questioned. My doctor answered and answered and answered. If she’d given me an easy out that morning, I would have taken it. If anyone had said, “Susie, you sure you don’t just want to schedule a C-Section?” I would have undoubtedly said “YES!”. My ability to conquer my fears had nothing to do with my inner strength, they had everything to do with God, Dan and my friend Susan, along with Dr Simms’ calm demeanor and her constant resolve, “We are having a baby.”
But, back to the birth story …
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, I was 40 weeks and 6 days and I had a Dr’s appt. I went in, I was 4 cm’s dilated, and only 50% effaced, he wasn’t really ready to be born, but I had all these statistics in my head and one was the failure rate of moms who go past their due date. Dr Simms wasn’t concerned, but I was. Further I had made a deal with God, yes, I make these often, and had promised that I would not go past my due date by more than one week in my quest to have a VBA2C. I would schedule a C-Section. Dr Simms told me I had two options. I could schedule a C-Section or I could be induced via Pitocin. PITOCIN? In a VBAC? Whatever are you talking about? My head was screaming in disbelief. 20 questions ensued and she told me we weren’t weighing risks, we were going with our gut. She wasn’t concerned in the least in a slow induced VBAC, she wasn’t concerned about performing a C-Section and she wasn’t concerned if I wanted to wait until 42 weeks to discuss. I honestly have the VBAC moms dream OB. But I am not the VBAC OB’s dream mom! LOL. I asked about stripping my membranes and she said she’d done that in the last few visits. OK! Wow, I didn’t even know that! She then informed me she was going our of town on Thursday for a few days … if I were to go into labor over the weekend, an on call doctor would take care of me. No! No! No! No! Have you seen Knocked Up? That’s how I feel about not having MY doctor deliver MY baby. As I saw it, my options were for Wednesday, just which do I pick. I told her I’d call her later with my decision and went on my merry way! I called Dan, he said exactly what I knew he was going to say — he was 100% in support of the VBA2C, but whatever I wanted to do was great. I called my Aunt who is a nurse and I called my aforementioned friend and was surprised when she told me to go with the VBA2C, that God would keep me safe. Was I the only one with clouded vision? I guess so. I called my dr and we scheduled an inducement for 8 am. And then … it hit me. I was going to meet our baby the very next day. Excitement, fear, anticipation, love, thankfulness … I was overwhelmed with emotion and cried the entire way home! I couldn’t wait to meet our baby.
The next morning we woke up at 6 am (not that I slept at all) and drove the 1 hour to the hospital. When we arrived, the nerves set in and I was extremely fragile!! The first thing I said after the nurse walked out of the room was, “That’s the bed I could die in.” Yep, that’s what I said. I guess it’s too much Discovery ID, but the bed looked to me like those you see in the execution room. Dan looked at me as though I was crazy and talked me back from that ledge, LOL! My Dr’s only demands in regards to this VBA2C were that I arrived at the hospital immediately after contractions began and that I consent to constant monitoring … no walking around the hospital. Those conditions were the least I could do to ensure a healthy delivery and so of course I said Sure! I was given an IV by the nurses, “In case we end up in the OR.” around 10:40 or so and then we started the Pit at a drip of 2. I was still about 4 cm’s and still only 50% effaced (stress!). It was about this time I started to calm down, breath a little. My friend Susan had send me a text quoting 2 Cor 12:9, “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into it’s own in your weakness. Just let christ take over. So the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” One of my favorite verses, and I started to relinquish my need to control the situation and simply bask in the glory of an imminent delivery. At 11:15 Dr Simms came in and checked me, still only 4 cm’s and 50% effaced, she turned the pit drip to 6 and broke my water! One hour later I was at a pit drip of 8. Each time they increased it, I inquired if this was considered slow, Sandy, my nurse, assured me it was.
At 1:15 I was at a pit drip of 10 and the nurse said they would go to 20. I remember texting my friend saying it was “about to get sketchy in here.” Up until this point, Dan and I had been joking and kissing and taking pictures and video. It was a relaxed scene, I was chillin, my loving hubby does that to me and he was having fun talking and taking my mind off of things. At 1:30 I was in pain, a lot of pain … pitocin is evil! I prayed for intercession for protection to St. Gerard Majella, St Monica and our Mother Mary. Then I called for the juice. I had no intention of going natural — I’ve had 12 babies, I have nothing to prove. I’ve done natural, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The juice man came around 2:10 and was the slowest stinking anesthesiologist in the world! He spent a lifetime setting up and talking to me about the bloody risks, like really who cares about the damn side effects, really? This was a different type of pain than in any of my previous labors, where I’d always had back labor, this was painful, but not nearly as painful as the back labor, though pain is pain and a lesser excruciating pain is not at all welcoming. In previous labors I would be bruised on my back from the pressure I’d begged Dan to apply to my lower back. This pain was all in my hips and it was strong! I was clinging to Dan as tight as I could moaning in his ears as he gently coaxed me into breathing out the pain. I heard someone say, “I love the support, they are great.” Dan is amazing in all situations, but he is an absolute rock during labor. He never leaves the room, he stays right by my side from beginning to end. I never need anyone as much as I need Dan during deliveries.
At 2:30 the anesthesiologist asked if I could sit still through contractions and promptly (ha ha) started the epidural – and it was an epic failure. It only worked on my left side, the epidural had no effect on my right side, but at this point it was a fruitless effort because the nurse checked me and we were ready to roll. Coby’s little head was at a -1 and she announced we were going to have a baby in 5 minutes. At some point I announced I had to push, then the rush to find Dr Simms ensued. Then the rush to find any doctor ensued. I remember being slightly ticked as the nurse held my legs together, I said, “I thought they were supposed to be right here?!?!” She replied, “they are.” Hmm, I don’t see them. Eventually, though in reality not much time passed, Dr Simms, in her nonchalant, calm way, sauntered into the room, sat on the bed and said, “OK, let’s have a baby.” I asked if we were out of the woods in terms of uterine rupture, she said, yes and I said yay. Then I had to push, I told them we were doing this in one push, and they said, “OK”. I pushed with all my might and Coby’s little head appeared, I pushed again and his shoulders appeared and then I pushed no more! Instantly Coby was on my chest, Dan had tears in his eyes, I was crying, Coby was crying, Dan was hugging me, I was grabbing him, we were kissing and between us was this absolutely perfect newborn baby boy! It was perfection. It was glorious, divine, and it is my birth experience, mine! I wouldn’t change it for anything! I wouldn’t change any of my children’s births!! I have achieved perfection in them all!!! God is good ALWAYS! And Coby … oh my! he is adored and loved and cherished and the sweetest little baby in the whole wide world. Thank you God for deeming us worthy of such a special, miraculous gift!JMJ