When I became pregnant with Marlie, I knew I wanted to have a natural birth. At 37 weeks we found out that she was breech. I was extrememly disappointed that I would have to give birth to her by cesarean section. Other than the fact that it gave me Marlie, my c-section was an unpleasant experience. I hated not being able to hold my baby right away and once I was able to, I was shaking so bad that Bryan had to support my arms. Thankfully, I had no complications from the surgery. Even though I was in excellent physical condition, the recovery was difficult and frustrating for me. I decided almost immediately that if God blessed us with another child, I would do everything I could to have a vaginal birth.
Bryan returned home from Afghanistan on 13 April 2011, and on 16 May I had a positive home pregnancy test. I already knew that I wanted to try to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and began to learn everything I could about the process. I was encouraged when on my first OB visit at Fort Campbell, the midwife told me that I would be an excellent candidate.
We moved to Athens in August and I found out that only 1 OB in the whole town was giving women the opportunity to try a Trial of Labor (TOL - basically giving them a chance to try a vaginal birth). I was excited to meet Dr Sepesi, but I left my first appointment with my head spinning. He is very much a straight shooter and told me what his preferences were if he were to allow me a TOL. I eventually came to appreciate that he was so honest - whether it was what I wanted to hear or not! As time passed, I also realized that there were many details of my labor and delivery that we would be able to compromise on so that both of us would be comfortable.
During my pregnancy I also started attending meetings of the local chapter of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network). I learned even more about VBACs and even made peace with the possibility of needing to have a second c-section. I also began to hear repeatedly that it was highly recommended to hire a doula if you wanted to try a VBAC. I had hoped that Bryan and I would be able to take Bradley Childbirth classes but there were none available in our area. After MUCH indecision, we decided we would like a doula from Two Bee Birth Services to support us. Kate, Claire & Emily helped us fine tune our birth plan and knowing they would be there for us gave me extra confidence about my labor and delivery.
As my due date approached I began to have a little anxiety because I had shown no signs of labor. Dr Sepesi assured me that he would allow me to go to 41 weeks but we would have to discuss intervention before I reached 42. 24 January was my due date and after dropping Marlie off at school, I walked around our very hilly neighborhood. I had exercised throughout my whole pregnancy so that I could be as fit as possible to endure labor.
My mom came to town that afternoon so that we could have lunch and do a little bit of shopping for the baby. I suggested that we go to Red Lobster since that is where we ate dinner the night before I had Marlie. Even though her arrival was scheduled, I thought maybe it might still bring us some good luck. After lunch we headed to the mall and picked up a couple of outfits for the baby. After being on my feet most of the day, I was pretty worn out by the time we were done. By the time I went to bed that night, it was pretty clear that this baby would not be coming on the due date.
Just a few hours later, at 1237am, I felt my first contraction. I stayed in bed to try to rest and relax, but never completely fell back asleep. Between 3 and 4am, we began trying to time the contractions but they were very irregular. I decided to start making some phone calls so that everyone would be on stand by. We called my parents to give them a heads up since my mom was going to be in the delivery room with us and my dad may need to help with Marlie. We called the doula to give them a heads up but didn't ask for any assistance yet. I finally spoke with Dr Sepesi. He had been at the hospital all night with deliveries and told me to come in to his office when it opened later in the morning.
I laid back down for a couple of hours and finally decided to take a bath.
Around 7am I felt my water break and it seemed like things began to move very quickly for me. Marlie woke up and Bryan tried to get her ready for school while helping me through my contractions. We found that a hot towel was the most comforting thing for me so he was constantly rewarming a towel that I would place on my belly or back. Once I started getting sick, we knew I wouldn't be able to hold out until my doctor's office opened. My mom was on her way to Athens to help us get Marlie to school, but we went ahead and called my sister to ask her to come stay with Marlie until Mama arrived. Mama actually ended up beating Avery here, so we headed to Athens Regional Medical Center while Mama took Marlie to school.
Bryan & I arrived at Athens Regional around 9am and were immediately given a room. Our doula, Claire, met us at the hospital and my mom arrived after dropping Marlie off at school. On the way to the hospital I told Bryan that I would be so disappointed if we arrived and I was only a few centimeters dialated. We were very surprised when the nurse checked me for the first time and I was already 8cm! I knew then that I had avoided an epidural and was so relieved. I also wanted just a hep lock and no IV so once they got that set up, I was ready to have a baby. I wanted to start pushing as soon as we got settled in the delivery room, but the nurse wanted me to progress a little bit more first.
We also had to wait for Dr Sepesi to arrive to the hospital, but once he did, he was in and out of my room. I really wanted to start pushing and they finally allowed me to. It took me a little while to get the hang of it but soon I figured things out. My physical exhaustion from getting less than 2 hours of sleep was more of a challenge for me than the pain of childbirth. At one point Dr Sepesi mentioned that he might need to use the vacuum because the baby's heart rate would drop during each push. That turned out to be the motivation I needed to deliver the baby. At 1104am, our baby girl entered the world. She came so suddenly that the nurse ended up catching her with Dr Sepesi giving her guidance.
Bryan & I had never officially decided on a first name so I asked him to go with his choice which was Emma. Ruth was her middle name that we had chosen from the Bible. She weighed 8lbs 14oz, which was much bigger than Marlie at 6lbs 8oz. I honestly thought they had weighed her wrong or I had heard them wrong when they told me her weight! Dr Sepesi told me that if he would have realized she was going to be that big, he might not would have been so open to the VBAC.
After getting a chance to recover a little, it was time for us to move to the Mother-Baby wing. The nurse tried to help me get up and to the bathroom so I could clean up a little. After taking a couple of steps I became very weak so Bryan helped me back towards the bed. The next thing I knew, I was lying down on the foot of the bed because I had passed out. After making it through the labor and delivery fine, I now had to get an IV just to get my strength back! Once I had my IV for a few minutes and some of my trusty Gatorade, I was feeling much better. To be on the safe side, the nurses decided to roll my bed to the mother-baby unit. Thankfully that little incident was the only hiccup during our time at the hospital. We spent the next 2 days loving on Emma with Marlie coming by to spend time with us too. We were both released on Friday and went home to start our life as a family of 4.
We are so thankful that the Lord blessed us with another precious baby girl. It has been such a joy getting to know Emma and seeing the bond that is forming between her and her big sister.
Having a natural, vaginal birth was just as amazing as I hoped it would be. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely make the same choices.
Welcome to the world!
I loved having her placed immediately on my chest.
Our healthy girl
Bryan cut her cord both times
8 pounds 14 ounces!
Parents of 2 precious girls
Joy & exhaustion
Ready to go home
In good hands
3 weeks ago