Well Rounded Birth Prep

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Monday, July 26, 2010

My friend's 50 min, unmedicated VBAC labor!

I was driving the kids to Vacation Bible School this evening when I got a call from Adam at 5:45 p.m. He told me that Michelle's water had broken and they were at Subway. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on with the timeline, but here's what I did know:

  • Michelle had been fighting preterm labor since 25 weeks along this time. She was now 38.5 weeks along, which is "full term."
  • Michelle had been at 5 cm dilated for about 2 weeks, until her most recent checkup, when she was 6 cm.
  • Her cervix had been thinning for months.
  • Her last labor was about 4 hours total.
  • She wanted a non-medicated, as-intervention-free-as-possible delivery but has a rare blood clotting disorder which put her at certain risks (hemorrhage from her necessary blood thinners, etc.) and this was to be her 2nd VBAC as well.
I had figured for weeks that as soon as Michelle's water broke, it would be all over. That's all it would take. She would have him within an hour or something crazy like that.

I dropped the older three kids off at VBS, then dropped my 20-month-old at a friend's with all the kids' car seats, since Rick (my husband) was still at work and would have to come get the car seats then the kids after work.

I left immediately to meet Adam and Michelle at the hospital. I forget who called whom and when, but I told Adam I was dropping my kids off and would meet them there. Adam said the ambulance wasn't there yet and Michelle felt like pushing with each contraction.

Uh oh. At that point, I realized with a mixture of excitement and dismay that I was not going to make it to her birth.

I arrived at the hospital at 7 p.m. or a little earlier. This was not quite 1 hr 15 minutes from the notification that Michelle's labor began. I found my way to L&D only to be told by the nurses that I would be allowed back there in a little while; they were cleaning them up.

I missed it. But that's OK, Michelle said she feels like she missed it, too.

She filled in the blanks for me. She had been eating a Subway spicy Buffalo chicken sandwich in hopes of throwing herself into labor. (Her OB recommended an induction with AROM and a low dose of Pitocin for this upcoming Thursday if she hadn't delivered before then. Michelle so hoped to avoid an induction.) While they were eating, Michelle thought she may have felt her water break a tiny bit. She told Adam, who then called me first. They thought they had plenty of time. Why? I don't know. But they thought that since Michelle didn't have any contractions yet, they could finish their sandwiches, drive home, pick up their birth ball and a few other things. As soon as Michelle got up and went to the bathroom, her water broke the rest of the way and she was immediately in transition. Her contractions were close together and very intense--instantly.

Somebody called an ambulance (I forget who). Neither of the EMTs in the ambulance had ever attended a birth. Michelle did such an amazing job coping with this precipitous labor.

To make a long story short(ish), they pulled the ambulance over and parked it, one block from the hospital, while Michelle pushed out Zachary. He was 7 lb 4 oz, almost 2 lb bigger than her previous VBAC baby. Her labor was 50 minutes from start to finish. Amazing!

I got there about 20 minutes after the birth and felt a little helpless. I had brought my birth ball and doula bag, complete with every sort of massage tool, aromatherapy, battery-operated fake flickering candle for ambiance, you name it. I guess it was a moot point now.

I took a few photos for them. Michelle gave me permission to post her story and photos. At least I could make myself that little bit of useful. I know there's nothing more I could have done. I came to visit Michelle while she was on bed rest and gave her mini-versions of my childbirth classes, adapted for her needs. I called and checked in. I encouraged Adam and Michelle to draft a birth plan for their preferences. And you know what? They got almost everything on their birth plan. Maybe that's the way it needed to happen in order to achieve their goals.

Proud new parents.

Here I am in the corner, basking in Michelle's glow. I'm so proud of her! She did such a wonderful job! What a beautiful son! He's such a content baby and is nursing well.

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