Hospital Birth | Natural VBAC | Durham, NC
I had the privilege of getting to know Christine and of being at her birth. Christine was attempting a VBAC. She had a very long, difficult birth with her firstborn, and she really wanted a better experience this time around. She made sure to do everything possible to insure that happened, including switching providers to a truly VBAC friendly provider, Women's Health Alliance Midwifery, and taking a really awesome childbirth class. She also hired me to help her through labor and birth.
On the morning of September 8th, Christine sent me a text message to let me know she had been having contractions that were five minutes apart for a few hours, but that weren’t very intense yet. It was raining, so she went with her mom to the mall to walk around in hopes of moving labor along a little faster. After walking around for a while, she went home to rest some. Around 7:00pm, Christine texted me again to let me know that the contractions had intensified and were now 3 to 4 minutes apart. She felt that it was a good time for me to come over.
I arrived at Christine’s house around 8:00. Her husband, Steven, was busy making sure everything was packed and ready to go to the hospital for when the time came. Christine was having to stop and breathe through contractions. She was doing an amazing job getting through them. Steven was being very encouraging. At this point the contractions were about 4 to 5 minutes apart, but definitely getting more intense. I decided to do some counter pressure on Christine’s back to help with the pain. She found this very helpful. In between contractions we just chatted. After about an hour the contractions really started to pick up. They were getting closer to 3 minutes apart, lasting longer, and it was obvious they were becoming much more intense. At this point I suggested to Christine that it might be a good time to call the midwives just to let them know what was going on. I told her we didn’t have to rush there, but to just start kind of thinking about going in the near future. I could tell immediately that she felt anxious about this. So she started explaining to me that she did have a lot of anxiety about going to the hospital too soon. She wanted to be sure that this birth ended in a successful VBAC, not a repeat cesarean. I definitely wanted her to be as comfortable as possible. I didn’t want fear to impede her labor progress. I knew we still had some time so I suggested she try getting in the shower. I thought that maybe this would give her some time to think, process, and prepare for calling the midwives and heading to the hospital. We went upstairs and Steven showed me their daughter’s room and the baby’s room. They had really worked hard on them, and they looked amazing! Steven and I sat and talked while Christine was in the shower.
After Christine got out of the shower she seemed to be feeling a little more confident about going in. We took our time heading downstairs. Steven called the hospital. Leigh Ann, the midwife on call, returned the call. She spoke with Christine and Steven (when Christine was having a contraction). She said to go ahead and come in. We slowly got our things together and headed to the van. Steven drove, and I sat in the back of the van with Christine. Riding in a car while in labor is very uncomfortable. In an attempt to help relieve some of the pain, I put a rice heating pad on Christine’s back. I held her hand and rubbed her shoulder during each contraction. She did incredible in the car. She was definitely in her labor zone, but she did amazing working through each contraction and staying calm.
We arrived at the hospital around 11:00pm. We had to go through the emergency entrance since it was the middle of the night. That made things a little more difficult and time consuming while checking in. Eventually we were walked up to labor and delivery. Christine was breathing, swaying, and leaning or squatting through each contraction. Steven would hold her hand or put his arm around her, while I applied pressure on her back. Leigh Ann came in and checked her cervix. She was 6 cm dilated and baby was at +1 station. The nurse came in and put the wireless heart rate and contraction monitors on Christine to see if baby was handling labor well. He was. The nurse tried to put a hep lock in Christine’s hand. She was having a lot of trouble finding a good vein to put it in. She finally called for another nurse. Christine really wanted to get in to the tub to help with the pain. It was taking a little while for the other nurse to come so Christine went ahead and got in the tub. The other nurse arrived and was able to put the hep lock in while Christine was in the tub. The water helped a lot with the pain. However, it was quite clear that Christine was in transition at this point. She was doing a beautiful job working through each contraction. She looked so strong and powerful while laboring. Steven sat by the tub holding her hand and encouraging her. I applied a cool rag to her head and neck, reminded her to drink, and encouraged her.
After Christine had been laboring in the tub for a little while, she said she felt the need to push. She was hesitant to have the midwife check her cervix again. It hadn’t been very long since she was first checked. She was afraid that if she hadn’t progressed much she would become discouraged. Still she insisted that she really felt like she needed to push. Leigh Ann came in about this time and went ahead and checked her. She was completely dilated! Leigh Ann suggested she push in the tub for a little while. Christine pushed whenever her body felt the urge. After a few pushes her water broke. After a few more pushes Leigh Ann suggested that Christine reach down so she could feel the baby’s head. She did, which helped to motivate her even more. She pushed a little while longer, and then Leigh Ann instructed her to get out of the tub. The midwives at that hospital aren’t allowed to deliver in the tub. Christine got out. We wrapped her in a warm blanket. We made sure the lights were turned down low. Christine squatted on her own through a few contractions. Then Steven sat on the couch and held her body up while she squatted and continued pushing. Leigh Ann, the nurse, and I sat by and cheered her on. Leigh Ann and the nurse were having trouble getting a good read on the baby’s heartbeat while Christine was squatting. So Leigh Ann suggested she move to the bed and push side lying.
Once on the bed side lying they were able to find the baby’s heartbeat again. Steven sat next to Christine’s head and held her. I held up her leg. The baby began to crown. Leigh Ann again told Christine to reach down and feel the baby’s head. She did and it brought a huge smile to her face. She kept pushing, but she was having some trouble getting the head out. Leigh Ann asked the nurse to roll the mirror over. Christine looked in the mirror and saw that the baby’s head was coming out. I think at that point she truly realized she was doing this. She was going to have a VBAC! It was just the motivation she needed. Shortly after, she pushed the baby the rest of the way out.
Ethan was born at 1:30am on September 9th. He was placed on Christine’s chest, and she was beyond excited. Both Christine and Steven were beaming with joy and happiness. I have never seen a more beautiful reaction than the one Christine had. It brought me to tears. At that moment she looked so empowered. She learned her body was capable of something truly amazing, and she was head over heels in love with her precious baby boy. Christine worked so hard to give her son the best start she could, and his birth taught her that she truly could do it! Ethan’s birth is one that will stick with me forever. Christine was one of the most beautiful and powerful birthing mothers I have ever seen.
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