Powerful VBAC after two Cesareans; Lubbock Birth Photographer Tells Her Story
Being a birth photographer gives me a platform. A platform to empower, and encourage women to have the birth they want, to educate them, to show them how strong their bodies are, and how beautiful birth is. I want to thank every single one of my clients who have trusted me in their sacred birth space, and left it to me to document this momentous day. I also want to thank the mama’s who have allowed me to share their images, and tell their stories. You are making a difference. Today though, I would like to share my story. Images by my dear friend Elise Hurst Photography.
Let me start with a little back story. In my first two pregnancies I developed Pre- Eclampsia in the third trimester which both led to emergency cesareans. This time around I was really hoping for a VBAC. This baby was also a surprise gender! For me a VBAC was so important because I wanted to know what a contraction felt like, I wanted to be comprehensive when they laid my baby on my chest, I wanted my healing process to be easier, and many more reasons. I did the research, I prepared my body. I was seeing a chiropractor (the awesome Dr. Jenna Hillman), eating a high protein diet, and taking all my vitamins. About two weeks before my guess date I started feeling some pain in the lower left side of my abdomen. I talked to a few friends and decided to stay in bed and rest for the day. The pain decreased but was still there. At my next appointment a few days later I brought it up to the student Dr. and then brushed it off as round ligament pain. I nodded and went home. The pain persisted, gradually getting a little bit worse, but not bad enough for me to think something was terribly wrong. It felt kind of like muscle pain. I was a little worried but didn’t want to make a fuss. Around 39 weeks I was thrown into prodromal labor. I started having consistent contractions around 4 minutes apart but nothing too strong yet. My amazing doula, Sarah, came over and rubbed some oils on me, rubbed my back and help me pin point where the pain was coming from. She could tell I was tired. Later that night they picked up, about a minute apart and a little bit more painful. My mom, Elise, and Sarah came over, thinking this was it. We headed up to the hospital together! My contractions were strong and consistent but apparently weren’t helping me progress. They sent me home. This continued with another trip to the hospital and back home before they decided they should induce me. Something wasn’t right. I was laboring with no progress, not sleeping, and hurting in the left side of my abdomen.
At 41 weeks I went in a 8 am to be induced. They started pit immediately, really low. My contractions that I was already having picked up pretty quickly but weren’t frequent enough. We continued to push pit up to 20 (where they cap it for VBAC patients). I labored all day and through the night. That night things took a turn for the worse. They put in a foley bulb and after that my contractions were coming quick and strong, with each contraction now the pain in my abdomen grew stronger. It turned into a constant stabbing pain that didn’t go away during contractions. I was crying and ready to give up. The contractions were nothing compared to this. They gave me pain medicine, which was awful and made me feel drunk but provided a little enough relief for me to rest a couple hours. They checked me, I was now a four.
By the time the sun came up I was in a lot of pain. The pain medication wasn’t working, and the contractions weren’t helping either. I started talking to my husband about an epidural. At this point I had laboring with pit for 26 hours. He told me I shouldn’t do it, that I would be so mad at myself, and that is when I explained to him they it wasn’t the contractions. This was different. This is knife stabbing, intolerable constant pain. He agreed thats what we should do. (The nurse’s had already been pushing me to get it anyway..) They checked me, I was still at a 4. The anesthesiologist came in and did his thing, I did not make his job easy. I felt defeated. As soon as it kicked in, that one pain I was trying to get away from got WORSE. It was now the only thing I could feel. They insisted I keep pushing my button for a boost. I was angry, I didn’t want to be numb, I wanted to push. I begged them to take it out, or move it, that it was wrong… something was wrong. They came in and decided to give me another boost instead (cue even more anger on my part)! Once again (like I had said) it made it worse. I started to hear bubbling in my abdomen, I told my husband and he could hear it too. We told my nurse but she insisted it was just gas. I didn’t believe her. We later would find out that this bubbling we were hearing was blood. We attempted to roll me on to my side. At this point I cant even feel my legs...at all. As soon as I rolled onto my side, babies heart rate dropped, low. We quickly turned me back over and it came back up. I was in writhing pain, could barely talk. All of this happened within about 15 minutes of them giving me the epidural, they checked me again and I was at a 10. Babies heart rate started dropping again. We needed to get him out, I couldn’t feel my legs, but this I knew I had to do. I pushed as hard as I could, I had no idea if it was doing anything but I watched their faces and continued to push. They got out the forceps and with one last push he was out. “It’s a Sam, baby! We have another boy.” These are the words I could hear, but why did it sound like he was saying them through a tunnel? They placed him on my chest, the moment I waited so long for, but I couldn’t hold him. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t have the energy. I was dying. I was slipping away. I whispered help. I finally saw the realization on Smiley’s face. He took Samuel into his arms and watched from the corner, not taking his eyes off of me, tears streaming down his face. I wanted to reach out, to tell him I love him. But all I could do was try and keep my eyes open. Sarah demanded that of me, I swear she saved my life. She wouldn't let me go to sleep. my blood pressure was in the 20’s, it was cold, I was so so tired. They kept stabbing me, in my arms, in my neck, my wrists. Everyone seemed so eerily calm, I continued to whisper for help. Finally the anesthesiologist told me I could go to sleep.
When I woke up I thought I was dead, I yelled at the nurses, until finally my mom walked in. I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief. I couldn’t believe I was alive. This couldn’t be true. They told me my uterus ruptured two weeks ago. That my body created a hematoma that kept Sam from slipping into my abdomen. That during labor the hematoma burst (the bubbling, and heart rate dropping). They told me it was a miracle I was alive, that they have never seen a case like this. Samuel was great. 9lbs 2 oz, healthy baby boy downstairs in daddy’s arms. I had lost 10 units of blood and recieved 2 blood transfusions before they transferred me to the OR. Dr. Thompson saved my life. This can only be an act of God, these series of events that kept me alive. It was a long road to recovery including more blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, in and out of the hospital, but we are here today. Alive and well!