Saturday, July 14, 2012

A VBAC Is A Story of At Least Two Births

*To Read my First Birth Story, click here.*

Sunday, July 8th. (I’m 41+5 days pregnant based on charting my ovulation.)
I stayed home from church while my mom (who had stayed in town since my castor oil event), Blake, and J went.
I had been avoiding church for the last weeks of my pregnancy.  Well, it wasn't just church, it was people in general.  It's really hard to avoid being spoken to about your pregnancy when you are so visibly pregnant.  And I just wasn't mentally sound enough to answer any question whatsoever about it to anyone.  So I hunkered down at home.  I didn't think God would mind.
While they were away I guess I had a tiny bout of nesting.  But I just felt like cleaning a bit myself.  My mom had been so sweet to have been keeping up with the house for me, but that morning I just felt like I really wanted to do it.
While they were gone I also looked up a birth story on a friend's blog.  I had been feeling discouraged the day before from still being pregnant. (Having been induced at 42 weeks last time, I was still unsure my body really knew how to labor.) And I knew this friend went into her 43 week before she had her baby so I read her story.  I got to the part where when she was checked (before labor) she was 2 cm dilated and 65% effaced.  She needed to deliver the baby soon.  That night she took castor oil and went into labor.  I was instantly encouraged.  I thought if she could go from 2 cm and 65% straight into labor, then I am going to go into labor too.  So the rest of the day I had a much better attitude than I had been having.

The whole day I was feeling really uncomfortable.  The baby felt really low and my pelvis hurt.  I felt different than I had before, but I was not saying anything to anyone because I had already thought something had been happening so many times before only to find out "not yet."

My stomach felt unsettled, I really thought I had to go #2, but nothing was really happening on that front either.  After lunch (and deciding that I didn't really need the bathroom yet) I went to the gym to walk the baby out some more.  It was a lot harder that day.  I felt like my pelvis ached too much to go more than 2.5 miles (I had been doing like 3 or 4.)  I was having contractions on the treadmill, but I had had those all before.  I wasn't getting my hopes up.

The afternoon seemed uneventful.  I tried to stay in a positive mind frame, and not get going on the boohoo thought track.

Blake and I decided to go to another movie that night.  (We had gone to another one a couple nights ago, with my mom around to watch J.)  "Snowwhite and the Huntsmen" was at our cheap theater that night so for $1.50 a ticket we hit it up.  We got pop and popcorn (which nearly negates the savings of a cheap theater!) and I tried to tell myself not to think too hard about food and big babies.  I had been planning on having the slightest sip of pop only when necessary.
It was a good movie for me to see that night. Blake said it was a "girl power" movie, and it is.  But what does a VBAC hopeful girl need more than girl power?  So I sat in the theater seat with my hilarious-looking refusal to sit with poor posture.  (Meaning I would not put my back into the chair's back because then my pelvis wasn't in good alignment.  So I sat very "lady like" with my legs open to either side of the seat and my back straight as an arrow, resting on nothing.)  So as I sat with no shame in the dark among strangers, I let my mind wander about how I could be strong and fight --- how my life might not look like a fairy tale, but I was on a journey sort of like hers.  And I tried to give hopeful goodwill to the contractions I was having in the theater.  They were nothing more than the Braxton-Hicks I had been having for over a month now, but they seemed promising due to their steady frequency.  I remember looking in the back of the theater to see if there was a spot for me to pace if it turned into something I wanted to do.  But at the same time I also was prepared for them to just go away.
They just hung around doing some light waves through the movie. And I gave myself permission to have some pop (when I wanted) after I'd have one. (You should know I had been avoiding sugar in all forms like the plague because I wanted to have a smaller baby this time. So this was a rather huge emotional leap.)

As we left the theater I finally mentioned them casually to Blake, saying I hope they turned into something.  We had a bit of sunshine left so we decided to head over to a nice park/reservoir area and walk a little bit, just to extend the date a bit longer.  It was really pretty.  The air was cool (a surprising feeling after the recent heatwave) and the colors were mellow as the sun got low.  I wasn't feeling any contractions anymore, but I didn't get emotional over it.  I just walked with Blake.  My pelvis still hurt, so the walk felt waddley and slow.  We just held hands and talked.  We didn't walk far because we ran out of light.  So soon we turned around and went home.

We had been given "homework" by my Chiropractor... one of those classic natural induction methods… she was very adamant about it being more beneficial than primrose oil...
So, after being… err...studious ---
my pelvis ached even more and laying down just felt wrong to me.  Not like I couldn't bare it, it just felt like I shouldn't, in my gut.
So I instinctively sat on the bed as open tailor-seated as possible.  It was 11:00 pm.  Blake was finishing up something for work on the laptop, so while he did that I just sat and, well, meditated.  I've never been one to meditate in the official sense --- but this was basically that: the posture, pose, and calm.  I just sat and held my belly with my eyes closed and waited.  I felt so at ease.  I felt so in tune with what needed to be done.  I wasn't having contractions, but I was feeling an emotional energy, and I wanted to sit there with it and just feel it.  I remember wondering what Blake was thinking about me sitting there doing something so out of character, but he just let me be.
Pretty soon I was having contractions.  Calm, soft, but confident contractions.
I sat and meditated through them.  Totally at peace.

I decided I would turn my hypnobabies on.  This was by no means the first time I had listened to the "easy first stage" track... as I had thought I was in labor many times before.  So I still wasn't committing to the event.

Soon they started to pick up.
At this point, my emotions wanted to speak up, they wanted to either lay claim to the fact that I was in fact in labor, or they wanted to shy away from it and get scared.  They wanted to talk to me.  But I told them I was busy.
I was starting to think it was the real deal now, or at least it was close enough that I felt like I deserved to eat some frozen pizza.  (My comfort food of choice that I was trying not to overindulge in during pregnancy so the baby wouldn't be huge.)  I figured it couldn't make the baby bigger at this point.
So I ate some frozen pizza while I hypnobabied.

By this point I felt like music, not hypnobabies tracks.  I had read a birth story that week in which the women had used hypnobabies, but she also talked so beautifully of what songs she listened to.  So that was fresh in my mind, and it inspired me to just do what I really wanted.
The contractions were making one of my hips (I can't even remember which) hurt, so I wanted to do what I could about that.  (You know my paranoia about a tilted baby, the fact that one side felt any different than the other was not ideal seaming.)  My gut said to kneel in bed, put my hands on the headboard, and rock my pelvis side to side with the waves.  I just let myself dance to the music.  I had turned on the "Adele" Pandora station.  Between the sensations I sat back down in my tailor sit and meditated some more.  I can't even really revisit the mental state I was in.  It was the calmest, most empty my mind had ever been, but still full of focus and purpose.  When a wave would come, I would bolt up, grab the headboard and sway.  Sit back down.  Over and over.

It felt like barely any time had passed before I needed to "sing" "ahhh" through them, as I swayed.
I was committed to taking every contraction one at a time.  I had committed to that 2 years ago, after J's birth where I did the "bad math" (trying to figure out how much longer till 10 cm) during my labor --- thinking ahead instead of staying in the moment got me bowled over by contractions.  I was determined to not do that again.
This time I was committed to laboring for the rest of my life if I had to, but I would be doing it one contraction at a time.
There were a couple of moments where I wanted to jump ahead mentally.  I asked Blake to talk me through it.  He was awesome.  He talked in my ear as I swayed and told me how I could do this.  He prayed with me through some.  He told me my "singing" was beautiful. (Tonally, I can attest that it was not.) He was right there with me, keeping me calm.

Once I needed to sing was when I remembered thinking that I should probably time these.
I had been really hesitant to time them because I couldn't even remember how many times I had started timing things, texted my doula and then been told I was probably dehydrated, or just had everything fizzle out so that I had just wasted an hour doing a pointless activity.
They were about 3 minutes apart, about a minute long.
I still didn't think I was too far along.  I felt like I had just started this thing.  I didn't feel like anything was as strong as I would have expected it to be.  It was about 3:00 am.
I texted Diane, my doula, what was going on and she asked if I wanted her to come now.  I hesitated for a moment.  I didn't want to have her come too soon, I wanted to be well into labor before I had her here --- it just was what sounded emotionally appealing to me.  But after another contraction, and thinking about how she was about 45 mins away, I said "yes I would like you to come."  She told me I should call Sheryl, my midwife, now.  And she also told me to fill the birth pool up now.  So Blake went and woke my mom up and they got that all going.

I felt kinda funny about calling Sheryl.  I still was half in denial that I was in labor.  And I also knew she would be wanting to assess how I sounded.  I didn't feel overwhelmed by anything so far, in the slightest.  So I was thinking she would be hesitant to say I was really in hard labor.
I did have a contraction on the phone with her, and I did want to "sing" through it, but it's funny --- I feel like my contractions all had tons of respect for me, I'm not sure how else to describe it.  After an induction last time, my own contractions felt so responsive to me.  So with that going on, and my sort of embarrassment to have my contraction eavesdropped on, I had a really easy one over the phone.   Sheryl said, "Well that didn't sound too long.  I will pack my lunch and then head over."  I said ok, still thinking I had probably called her too soon.

My memory of this part is kinda hazy.
I think around now I threw up.  A couple times.  (Goodbye frozen pizza.)
I remember leaving my room to go to the bathroom, making eye contract with my mom.  I remember making a funny face to her, I was thinking, "I'm still not sure I'm in labor, don't get excited yet."  Then I disappeared into the bathroom to finally have the before-the-baby bowel movement.  I remember being happy about that because I felt like I hadn’t actually gone #2 in years -- that end of pregnancy baby in the way constipation.  And then standing up just in time for a contraction to come.  And I said "oh crap!" because I was thrown off by being in different surroundings now.  I didn't know how I wanted to get through this contraction. I didn't have a ritual here in the bathroom. I leaned forward, put my arms on the wall and sway/bounced.  That contraction was harder to deal with.  Didn't like it.  But I knew it was just because I was not as in the zone for that one.  So I hightailed it back to my room after that to get ready for the next one.
I think at that point my contractions got a bit stronger, so that I wanted to try some new things.  I remember grabbing the birth ball and setting it next to the bed so I could try a contraction while sitting.   Hated that.  I think I chucked the ball over the bed and out of my way and went on to stand next to the bed and lean through the contraction while trying to sway, but my legs where getting very shaky during the contractions, so I kinda just gripped onto the bed and became the contraction --- I don't remember what I did during it.  I know I was "singing" (Ahh).
Somewhere in this part, I think I tried to lay down and listen to hypnobabies again, because my legs were getting tired.  But I couldn't lay down for anything.  And I didn't like hearing talking.  It was music-only time.  So I just kept doing what I was doing, and I remember being glad I kept my legs in shape this time so I could have the stamina I needed.

Now I remember Blake being back.  He must have filled up the pool.
Now I remember asking him to push on my lower back, to give me counter pressure.
The timing was perfect.  He came back just when I started to need this.
I don't remember if I labored next to the bed some more with him or not.
The next thing I remember was feeling so tired that I had to lay down --- at least between contractions I thought.  My legs had been trembling so much through recent contractions that I felt like my muscles couldn't stand anymore.
I laid on the bed to rest and finally that felt right.  I didn't end up moving for the next contraction, I just desperately needed Blake to give me counter pressure on my back while I "sang."  We still had music on, and I just kinda absorbed it.  At this point my whole body started to tremble.  But it didn't overwhelm me.  Seriously, at no point did I feel like I was out of control or not able to stand what was going on.  This part was intense, but I almost liked this stage because I felt like I was getting respite (between contractions) while laying.  And I almost felt like I disappeared into the contractions, where I was almost not in time or space anymore.  In retrospect I think this was transition --- but in the moment I would have never of thought that.
This was when my doula arrived.
She came in and laid her hands on my legs and said, "look at you shaking," in this encouraging way.
I remember thinking her hands felt very calming.
She asked if I wanted to get in the birth pool, "I don't think its too soon."
I said yes!  I was very excited about that birth pool.  (A HUGE disappointment of my induction was no water of any kind.)

Somehow, I think Diane snuck away for a minute to call Sheryl and tell her she thought I was already pretty far along.

I got up after a contraction, and walked to our spare room, threw off my underwear and got in the pool.
My oh my goodness, best feeling in the world!  It was like my whole body just melted.

I made sure to have my laptop come in the room and play more music.
Diane encouraged me to relax as much as possible between contractions, to focus on purposefully relaxing all my muscles.  Sounded awesome, sign me up!  I leaned back on the pool's inflatable walls and went as limp as possible.  The water was warm, but not super warm.  Blake started adding more hot water to the tub, since we had drained the water heater earlier when filling it most the way.  The new warm water was coming out of a hose near my feet and the sensation of it coming in was possibly the best feeling ever.  With that warm water rushing by my toes and up onto my legs, I felt myself relax even more.

Then a contraction came, and I was a bit thrown off again by being in a new place.  I was not really sure how I wanted to roll with it, now that I was in the pool.  It made the first contraction in the pool a bit more emotional internally.

I rushed my body over to the side where Blake and Diane were and leaned over the side so I could hold their hands.  I also wanted Blake to put counter pressure on my back again.  I also remember desperately telling Blake to pray.  "Pray! Pray!" I would demand.  I know I did this numerous times throughout my labor.  But once I was in the pool, I NEEDED those prayers.   Having those prayers kept me from letting go mentally and losing my ability to cope.  They were my glue.  And the thing is, I don't even know what He was saying, I have no idea, but having it there, out loud over me, was my sustenance.
Soon Danielle, my midwife's labor and delivery nurse, arrived.  I had talked to her on the phone once, but had never met her.  I did know she had a VBAC2 with Sheryl, so I liked her already.  She introduced herself, and I liked her presence.  Sheryl had sent her ahead because I was closer to the end than everyone thought I would be.  So she wanted someone there just in case.  I kinda realized that in the moment, but not entirely.  I just liked having someone "official" there.  I felt good.

I didn't notice or realize this, but at some point, shortly after Danielle arrived, she went out the the living room to call Sheryl and tell her that my contractions were back to back, and she hadn't been able to check me because of it.  My mom thought she seemed a bit nervous, like perhaps she would be catching the baby before Sheryl got here.  Danielle didn't let on to me at all that she was a bit worried.
And at this point I still assumed I had hours and hours to go.  I wasn't even aware my contractions were back to back.  (When my mom told me this part of the story I just kinda got baffled, because I just don't remember it feeling that way.)
I just remember having contractions with Blake doing counter pressure and praying, and Diane instructing me to make my moans low and into my bottom.  She was good at directing me to work with what was going on.

Danielle had me stand up to listen to the baby's heart rate, and when she checked she said something like "Wow, she is so low I can hardly pick it up.  She's past her pubic bone."  (She did pick it up, and the baby was fine.)  Hearing that was amazing!  J had gotten stuck at my pubic bone, wedged in there so tight that we needed a C-section.  And here I am, feeling very on top of everything, with a baby already past my last obstacle.  I love that Danielle said her thoughts out loud --- they gave me strength.  They were part of God holding my hand through this.

Part of me still couldn't take it in though.  Part of me felt like it couldn't be true.

When I had a moment's pause, I let Danielle check my cervix.  I was fully prepared to hear you are at a 5.  (I think I just picked that number because that's when I got an epidural with J.  Five was when I fell apart.   So I didn't think I could be past a five this time.)
Danielle said, "Oh yeah, you are complete.  The baby is low and you have a squishy bag of water."

I don't even know if I had an emotional response to that.  I think I was just dumbstruck.  I think at that point I was so peacefully happy that my contractions went along with it, and did that thing where they stop for a bit before you feel the urge to push.
So I just leaned on the side of the pool near Blake and Diane, and rested.

Pretty soon I was having contractions again, and I must have sounded different.  Diane asked me if they felt different, like pushing contractions.  I said yes.  But I was still kinda confused.
They did feel different, but not very, very different to me.  I expected a huge shift in sensation.
I think the main way they felt different was that they were more powerful.  And since I didn't initially realize they were pushing contractions, I didn't really cope with it that well.  They weren't easy to ride out by doing what I had done to that point.  (Makes sense, but I didn't know it in the moment.)
Diane told me to try and push with them.
I did so, but hesitantly.
You see, I was certain that I didn't know how to push.
With J's birth, I pushed for two hours, with an epidural, and all the while she didn't move an inch.  Of course, that was due to her head being tilted to one side.  But with the memory of that former midwife telling me "Yes, push just like that" on certain contractions, but not seeming impressed with my pushing on other contractions, all while I could not tell what on earth was different between the two times --- I was just sure I had no idea what to do at this point.
I also wanted to trust my body, and I remembered hearing so many women say it was as if their body pushed for them.
So with the two thoughts in my mind, I lightly pushed through my next contraction.
It did feel better.
But I also felt seriously intimidated.
Having that break between stage 1 and stage 2 gave my mind the chance to wake up and start throwing thoughts at me.  I started thinking about "the ring of fire."  And how often when you push the baby comes down, slides back up, comes down, slides back up for a while.  That weirded me out. I started wondering how it would feel inside without being numb.  I started to worry.  I started to want to freak out.
I just was honest and told everyone in the room.  I told them, "I want to be scared.  But I don't want to be scared."
Danielle told me, "Every VBAC momma has this moment."  I knew that, and I knew I would have it beforehand.  But something about having her know what that's like, and having her in the room was really helpful.  Blake and Diane said some things to me too --- but I can't remember them.
I remember the next contraction starting, and saying out load "I'm scared” as I was feeling naked terror (body, soul and mind total bare and totally terrified) --- and then stopping myself in my tracks and envisioning my pictures I made and forcing myself to say out loud, "I am Brave."  I made myself say it a few times, so that I could almost believe it, at least enough to move forward, then took a deep breath and pushed.
I had read a book that described pushing as taking a french press coffee pot plunger and pushing it down with your muscles under your ribs.  (You are talking to a former barista here, and that made tons of sense to me!)  I envisioned my plunger.

It felt better again.
I wanted to get scared.  But it felt better.

During one of my pushes my water broke.
It shocked me.
All of a sudden I felt a burst, and it stung --- Like if you blow a ballon up too full and it bursts in your face.
I looked down and saw it. It was white-ish. I will never forget the way it looked. It reminded me of octopus ink sprayed in the water.
The surprise scared me and I stopped pushing.
So the rest of that contraction was really rough.
I just kept saying, that really scared me, I don't know what to do.
It took me a minute to get my head back in the game, and be able to push again.

I don't remember exactly when Sheryl showed up, but I think it was around that time. (But it could have been much earlier.) I remember being happy she was there, but I also hadn't been scared that she wasn't.
Once again, I figured I would be pushing for days on end --- I just figured I would need to.

I remember saying things still about wanting to be afraid.  I remember asking Sheryl if it's ok if I don't feel the baby inside.  (I had assumed she would be burning me all the way down, and that I would feel exactly where she was the whole way.)  She told me "most women don't feel where the baby is, some do, but it's ok that you don't."  So I felt better again.  (I had kinda worried she somehow slid way back up to my ribs or something.)
At some point Sheryl checked the baby's heart rate and she said "oh yeah, that's a happy baby."  I think that was shortly after Sheryl arrived.

I kept up with the pushing.
I had been upright, holding the side of the pool.  I kept feeling better having my legs bent and right below me, but everyone kept asking me to open them (of course this makes sense to do, but I think it made me more nervous, so I kept un-doing it.)

And then Sheryl went to check the baby again.
I heard Danielle say something low to Sheryl.  Sheryl concurred.
Then Sheryl quickly, and clearly, and authoritatively told me, "We need to deliver this baby, get out of the pool, lay on the ground, hold your legs and push."
I popped out of the pool.
I remembered a Youtube video I watched that was similar.  I thought I was glad I had watched it, in it the baby was fine, it took the baby some time to breath, but it was fine.  I just told myself this was the same.  I also clearly flashed back on Sheryl telling me in the office that we would not let anything bad happen to the baby.
So I wasn't afraid.
But when I got on the ground and started pushing, my mind did start questioning.  "It took you two hours of pushing and you got nowhere last time.  How are you going to do this?......  You have to do this --- your baby has to have you do this!  I hope you can do this.  I hope I can do this."
And then I decided I had no choice, I would.
I didn't have time to think about how I was pushing, I just had to push.  I pushed with every fiber of my being.
Sheryl was saying "This is no time to play around."
I took a breath, and pushed more.  I took hardly a breath and pushed, break, pushed.
Sheryl said, "I'm going to cut you.  I'm sorry."
I felt like I said "that's ok" but I probably didn't have time.
She cut and I screamed. That was actually the worst feeling I had during the second stage. I really didn’t feel the baby or any burning. But the cut hurt.
For one instant I worried what pushing would feel like post-cut, but then I overrode it and pushed pushed pushed.
(It didn't feel different.)
I pushed with my whole everything and then some.
I pushed with all the air in the room.

And I felt her head come out.
Not clearly, but I knew it. It didn’t hurt at all. I just felt it. No ring of fire at all (maybe because of the episiotomy?) I just felt her.
She was warm.
She was slippery.
Then I felt the rest of her body come out.
And then she was quickly being handed to me, set on my belly.

So warm, wet and slippery.  
It seemed like the towel appeared out of no where.  
And there she was, on my belly, covered in a towel.  
I was saying "Oh my baby.  Oh my baby." rubbing her back.  

And she cried.
She was wide eyed.
Cried again.
And then just calm.

She had her cord wrapped around her neck, but it was loose, so that didn't seem to be a problem.   Sheryl thought that her heart rate went down because the cord was getting compressed on some of my bones when she was that low.

Sheryl seemed nervous about her at first. Since she cried and then was calm. Sheryl kept rubbing her and asking me to talk to her.
But it was really hard for me to.
"Oh my baby.  Oh my baby.”
Was all I could muster. And I couldn’t do it much.
And I laid my head down and thought "I did it.  I can't believe I did it.”
I was spent.
But in a lot of ways I didn’t felt spent enough to feel I did it -- climbed the impossible mountain.
I felt guilty I wasn’t more concerned for my baby, but in my heart I knew she was fine. I knew she was ok. And I was also now totally out of it. I was tired, it made sense to me that we would both lay quite now.
At 6:10 am she was born.
She was fine. Sheryl seemed happy with her pretty fast and let us just rest together.

It was weird.
I felt really normal.
I didn't cry.
I just felt really calm.
And really normal.

Right about then my mom and J came in the room.
And J came right away to see her sister.  She already was in love, smiling, and saying adorable things my mind couldn't retain yet.

I felt my love for J explode even more, and I felt immediately in love with not only the way I just birthed her sister, but also with the way I brought J into the world.  In that moment,  the part of me that had been ashamed because I felt like I had failed healed.  I knew in a carnal way that all birth is a miracle.  And I knew I had been strong all along.  And I knew I would never change anything I've experienced.  There were my two girls.  I was blessed beyond anything.

Blake got to cut the cord.  

(We were sad that he didn't get to last time.)  
I remember having a split second fear this time, that the cord got cut before he got the chance, but I think they were just getting it ready.  

Around then I started the postpartum shakes.  And I got more towels set on me.

After waiting a bit I delivered the placenta.
(I had always been intrigued by the idea of this stage, since I had nothing to do with it last time.)
I pushed it out.
That was really weird.
It was a smidgen hard to do, but also really easy.
It felt big but small.
And oh so smushy.
And oddly heavy as it slid out.
{6:18 am the placenta was delivered.}

For one second I thought, "Yay I'm done!" but then I remembered I would need stitches.

Sounds silly.  I just pushed a baby out of me, but I was really scared to be stitched.
The idea of sewing a person just disturbs me.  I was squeezing Blake's hand off.

The numbing shot stung.
I was saying "Ow.  Ow.  Ow.  Ow."  Then I apologized for being overdramatic.  How silly to be more scared of the stitches than the rest.  But everyone said nice things.
But after that I really didn't feel most of it.  Some of the last stitches hurt pretty bad, the numbing was just barely there, but I agreed with Sheryl that another numbing shot would sting worse than just getting these done.

I think my mom was holding the baby at this point.  

Sheryl noticed I was really oozing blood so she pressed around on my belly a lot.  That kinda hurt, but she was checking for something.  I was pretty unaware at this point.  Eventually she found a spot and pressed down on it, and that sent a huge blood clot out.  After that she seemed happy with what was going on.  I wasn't "oozing" anymore.
I was nervous, and asked "I'm okay, right?"  And Sheryl told me "We wouldn't be this calm if something were wrong."  And then she explained to me how after the placenta detaches blood clots form.
I bled a bit more than standard, but not outside the realm of Okay.

Now I was supposed to get up and take a bath.

Next thing I remember was vaguely hearing Sheryl say "Lydia!" while I heard soft music -- the most beautiful music ever, and saw something like a blue world swirling around me.  I opened my eyes and felt like I had woke up from a hundred year nap, and I remember being happy about that because I was so tired.
I actually had no idea who I was or what anything was for an instant.
Then I realized I was laying naked on the floor because I just had a baby.  I remember feeling shocked that I had a baby.

I had fainted.

I had to be talked into the idea that I had fainted.  I was really shocked --- I had never fainted before.  It's really weird.

I actually ended up fainting a few times after delivery.

Sheryl wasn't worried, and told me this has nothing to do with a home birth, "you very well could have fainted last time as well, but since you were always laying down after the c-section you wouldn't have."
Apparently lots of people in my family are prone to passing out from cuts and things.  Since I lost a bit more blood than normal, it's easier to pass out.

Then I was given all this sugary stuff such as like a spoon of honey and ginger ale.  Even though I didn't feel like eating it, my hilarious mind was ecstatic to be ordered to ingest sugar again!  (I had sworn the amazing stuff off trying to have a smaller baby.)
I ended up throwing up all my sugar.  But I didn't care.
At this point, I had done it, I made it through --- and I was fine with anything happening to me now.

I also got a couple shots to help with postpartum bleeding.

Eventually I got in the bath and my baby girl came back into my arms.  I nursed her in my bath tub.   And she latched well right away.  I just leaned my head against the wall and rested. Honestly, at this moment I just wanted to sleep. I wasn’t so interested in anything. I felt guilty again for not being more baby-enthralled. But I just wanted to sleep it off -- all of it -- the whole 9 month (but actually 2 years) of pregnancy fears, striving, and tension. I tried, but I hadn’t bonded with baby during pregnancy -- I just feared what she might do to me. I wanted to get to know her, but I couldn’t move past my fear. So right now in the bathtub she was sort of a surprise to me. A baby comes from a VBAC? Of course she does, but I’m so so tired. I promise to take care of you baby, I know we belong to each other, but every ounce of me is shutting down now from two years of nonstop trying to get here.

I think it was around now that I learned my new baby was 8 lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long.
It was pretty silly at this point to be concerned about it, she was already out, she fit --- but I was so relieved to hear she was less than 9 lbs.  I just wanted all my pregnancy diet efforts to show results and now I felt they did.  I know some people call 8 lb babies big, but I sure don't!  :) Especially when the are past their due date.

I fainted one more time in the bathroom trying to get back to my bed.
After that one I started saying over and over "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Everyone kept telling me I didn't need to be sorry, so I said "I'm sorry I keep saying sorry."  And they laughed at me.
And after that I chanted "I'm sorry." the entire time that Blake, Diane, and Danielle carried me to my bed.  I just couldn't stop saying it.  I get chanty when I have babies.

I laid in bed and was brought oatmeal and Blake and I emailed and texted and Facebooked our new little girl's arrival.

I hadn't expected to be confined to my bed after a VBAC.  But with all my passing out, that's where I was for the day.
Recovery from my VBAC has been a lot harder than I had idealized before hand, but it has been good.

It was all different than I thought.
And I am still processing everything all the time.

But I did it.
I gave birth, after two years of waiting and preparing and following what I felt God telling me.
And I did it in my own home. (Something I never saw myself doing. Ever.)

I did a separate post on how I came to chose a home birth.  I just figured this post would be too long with everything that I could write currently.  My brain is on fire with processing.  Get ready for posts looking forward, backward, and side to side.  

Edit in later: To my surprise, boding with my VBAC baby was harder than my c-section baby. Despite all the studies talking about interventions delaying bonding. I was the other way around. I’m positive my delay was from the emotions I wrested with during and before my second pregnancy which kept my mind off my baby on the birth experience.
     But I did bond. It just happened differently than the last time. It took a lot longer. It ended up happening during a few different times when I got to be alone with just her over a few months and we got to know one another.
    During one of the times I apologized to her for being mad at her on the days where I was still pregnant and I thought she’d ruin my VBAC, and for the the distance I thought it put between us. I felt like that helped. She was a new born, but I talked to her like a grown up, cried and asked her to forgive me. We moved on pretty smoothly from here. But it was a few months later when she could smile and we got to go Christmas shopping, just the two of us -- I had her by a baby carrier, I showed her a present I was thinking about and she just beamed at me and we both got a kick out of our “conversation” when I really felt like, “Ok now we are a team -- we are gonna get along just fine.”

Being a mom, becoming a mom, it’s all very intense, and none of it clean cut. Intricate. Difficult. And Beautiful.


  1. That was really beautiful Lydia and so well written. I could almost picture it all. So happy that everything worked out so well. You are very brave and have a beautiful family. So proud of you!

  2. Loved every bit of your story friend! It's beautiful and tear jerking! So proud of you and all of your hardwork and the healing that God did and is still doing in you! Love you!

  3. Amazing story. I'm so so so very proud of you Lydia. I can relate to so many different things in your story, both with your first birth and your second birth. I know what you mean about feeling completely healed from the first birth with the second birth. Such a beautiful story - thank you for sharing! And very excited that it was a home birth - that was an unexpected surprise. Isn't home birth just an amazing experience? Awesome post!

  4. Beautiful birth story! You did a GREAT job! Congratulations.

  5. at this point (through tears) i can't remember how i found your blog. i love birth stories, my daughter has had 4 home births and one transfer (all was fine, he just got stuck). i've been blessed to be at and participate in three of her births. what a miracle birth is, how amazing the birthing journey is. you did an amazing job! i'm so glad i stumbled onto your story. it was precious as is your family.

  6. What a beautiful journey Lydia. Absolutely awe inspiring and so beautiful.

  7. I just stumbled onto this VBAC story while reading up on how a maternity belt might help with fetal position in late pregnancy. I'm 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, have been pretty diligent about fetal position, and baby is LOP - not ideal, but better than last time thus far. I can relate to so many of the emotions you shared, and imagine that if I make it to a vaginal birth, many of the other feelings will be the same. I guess we'll see! It's always helpful for me to read VBAC stories where the women didn't entirely believe they would pull it off. I get it in my head that "well, if I don't believe I can do it, I probably can't" - so there is this new pressure to be very optimistic! When really, I just need to be optimistic, also realistic, and just prepare and hope for the best. I also loved the pictures you made, I will probably look at them a few more times over the next couple weeks!. Thanks for a great story!!

  8. Aw...what a sweet story! Going through with a VBAC is sort of surreal, isn't it??? Especially giving birth at home after a cesarean. Beautiful baby! (I followed your link from a comment you left on my guest post at Growing Home: "You've Had How Many Cesareans?!")

  9. I don't even know how I came across your post, but I'm so glad I did! I am at the business end of a planned vbac and I could have written all the fears and emotions you have expressed. Although I completely trust my baby and body, and I am definitely frightened of assuming I am in labour as I didn't get a chance before I was induced last time. I am bookmarking this page so that when my doubts creep in I can feed off some of the energy you have given me through your encouraging and inspiring birth story. Thank you for that, I really hope I can stay strong to have a positive result like yourself :-D

  10. My sister sent me a link to your birth story and having had a c-section with my 2 year old daughter and not being entirely healed emotionally from it yet, I hesitated on clicking. My husband and I really want another child but were so tramatized by the first birth that we are both hesitant. I really want to have a VBAC at home as well, but everyone upon hearing my dream loves to share their fears with me and I cannot help but be affected by them. Your birth story is absolutely beautiful and I feel so lucky to have read it and that you were brave enough to share it. You have made me remember my dream. Thank you so much.

    1. Oh Roslyn, Thank you for sharing. I felt so much like you did and went through all that too! My family especially were worried about me. (Watching "The Business of Being Born" helped my mom to trust my midwife much more. -- But don't watch the VBAC episode of the second edition, and DONT let your family watch it -- its full of scare info.) If you ever wanted to get in touch with me. You can email me at 1lydiajohnson[at]gmail[dot]com. You will be on my heart.
      I just did a post recently you may or may not find helpful where I share the most emotionally difficult parts of my second pregnancy (during which I feared giving birth.)
      I have shared lots of my heart along the way and after the fact. I hope you can find some encouragement or helpful information through out.
      As my c-section was due to my daughter being malpositioned, I also blogged lots of information I learned this time from my midwife about how to have a healthy pregnancy and how to help my baby be in a good postion for birth. You can find that here:

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I stumbled upon it looking for info on OFP and for some reason it is more encouraging to me than all the others I've read. I'm planning a VBAC in about three months after a 3 day labor on my first where even pitocin didn't do much. I've been convinced that my body doesn't know how to do this, so your story is very encouraging.

  12. Thank you for sharing,
    I'm still early along in my second pregnancy so haven't needed to think much about the birth. But I have been, #1 got stuck, and with the epidural there are all the same thoughts of 'do I even know how to push?'. Also always the ever present, 'will I need forceps again?'.

    It was really helpful (and emotional) to read your story and how you prepared yourself. I started on your post about the best way to prepare for labor (found via pinterest) and ended up here. I guess any kinds of intervention can bring about a very similar emotional response second time round....

    :-) I'm babbling and stumbling over my words. I just really want to say a big thank you.
    Thank you for being so open, and vulnerable with your heart.

    Take care xxo

  13. WOW! As a retired RN, I have been involved with quite a few women's births. I worked mainly the recovery room, so most of my experience was post-partum. I used to teach Lamaze and just loved it. My first baby came so very easily, thought I was still in early labor and was still at home when I started with the URGE to push! Thought my second baby would be equally easy, but had an abruptio placenta and needed an emergency C-Section. I was devastated. It took me many years to accept it and feel OK about myself again. Anyway, to get back to my point, I have never read a birth story as moving as yours. Thank you so much for sharing it. I am a grandma now, but I pray that your courageous, uplifting story will encourage the many women who will read it. PS: I am not against home births at all, despite my own story. My cousin gave birth to all 3 of her children at home; my Aunt said they were all beautiful experiences. May God bless you and your family :-)

    1. Oh Thank you so much for sharing all that with me. I connect so deeply with the idea that you struggled to accept your c-section and feel ok about yourself again. I did too after mine. It actually took me about 3 years to stop feeling so traumatized by it (and I had my VBAC 2 years after my c-section, so about another year of healing was still needed after that.) I’m glad you shared that with me, I’ve mostly talked to women who’ve had a c-section with their first child, so I wasn’t sure if the c-section emotional pain was due to the idea that they weren’t sure they could birth on their own. It’s another level of “I’m normal”-comfort to hear a c-section can be an emotionally challenge even for women who’ve birthed before. And I find something very sweet about how much I can feel your heart in the memories even with the years gone by. Birth is so momentous. It means so, so much. Thank you for a peak into your heart. And thank you for your sweet prayers. May God bless you and your family as well. :)

  14. Thank you for writing this. I'm currently 25 weeks and preparing for a VBAC2. I initially found your blog researching the Brewer diet (more because my eating habits stink than because I want a small baby!)and was so encouraged by this post. Thank you!

  15. I just stumbled across your blog while searching for ways to get baby to engage into station (right now 39 wk 3 days and totally unengaged--this was absolutely the problem with my first birth--> c section.) Planning for vbac this time and totally worried it will end up like the first- totally dilated with baby still high in my pelvis. Did all the hard work pay off? Had she engaged before you went into labor? Congrats on the successful VBAC!

    1. Hi Kealy,
      I very much relate to you, in where you are at. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
      The good news for you is, for as much as I worked on everything, my midwife never told me my baby was engaged. At check ups I remember hearing "still floating" a lot and freaking out.
      The other good news is, they say it's really uncommon for subsequent babies to engage before labor.
      My midwife just pushed doing as much time as possible on my hands and knees to help baby be in a good position, as well as seeing a chiropractor.
      I've since had a third baby, who was another at home VBAC. I have long pregnancies (third one, my longest--going into labor on 42 weeks exactly) so for me, the biggest help was just advocating for myself by finding providers who would allow me to go into labor naturally even if it took extra time -- I believe that helped those 2nd and 3rd babies be ready and already in the portion they would choose (my first was induced at 41+5, and I don't think she was really and didn't have time to adjust the way she needed to.)
      My advice to you is: time on your hands and knees (I would make a pillow or beanbag nest for my belly and read or watch Netflix as long as I could stand it like that.) And then do your best to trust. Your body is made for this. It's already allowed two babies to be formed and grow inside it-- it's amazing! Do your best to embrace that.

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