Amelia's Birth Story

Amelia Kate Aiken
August 5, 2014
7.5 lbs, 20.5 inches

From the time they told me I was an excellent VBAC candidate after Nora's birth, I knew without a doubt it was what we desired. Throughout my entire pregnancy with Amelia, I was confident that labor would begin on its own, and I became even more optimistic with reports that baby was engaged and in perfect position at 38 weeks, not to mention that I was having consistent contractions for anywhere from 2-6 hours at a time. However, as 40 weeks came and went and we started talking about the "what ifs" at my prenatal appointments, the reality of a repeat c-section started sinking in.

Anxiety and fear crept in as we awaited the unknown, and we realized we were trying to seek comfort in things outside of God and each other. Matt suggested that we each fast from something, so the nearly two weeks of waiting was spent fasting (from video games and social media/blogs) so we could focus on prayer and drawing close to the Lord for our hope and comfort. If Millie's birth were to be via c-section, we didn't want to be completely devastated. We needed our hearts to be grounded in the truth that her birth was for his glory and that he had already planned out her arrival perfectly. This post is meant to document everything surrounding my labor and delivery of Millie though, so I'll focus on that.

This is the last photo of our family of three! It was after church, 42 weeks and 4 days.

My BPP ultrasound was scheduled for Monday morning at 42 +5 days. Contractions woke me up that morning at 2am, coming approximately every 5 minutes. They felt different, but I had been kept awake by consistent contractions for more nights than I could count so I tried to dismiss them. I went back to sleep, intending to go for a walk if they were still coming when I woke up. 5am rolled around, and they were still consistent. I woke Matt up at 5:45 to walk with me, hoping they would pick up before my 8:15 appointment. By the time we got to the ultrasound they had stopped though. Baby looked perfect and scored an 8/8 on the BPP, but my fluid levels were borderline low. Since I was approaching 42 weeks, the midwives weren't comfortable with waiting much longer. My Bishop Score was really low (essentially meaning that my body was very unfavorable for induction). We had prayed the night before that God would make any decisions we had to make abundantly clear so while we were disappointed, we didn't push back. She sent us home, and around noon we scheduled a c-section for 9:30 the next morning. At this point, the reality of a repeat c-section set in, and I was devastated. While Nora's birth was nothing short of a miracle - the surgery literally saved her life - it was traumatic, recovery was very long, and my immune system was shot for a long time. My heart was yearning for the natural birth experience I had been so fearful of the first time around. Not to mention that it's hard to find hospitals that allow VBA2Cs, the risks increase with each surgery, and most doctors limit the number of children you can have via c-section. Most of all, my heart was yearning for the natural birth experience I had been so fearful of the first time around.

The Lord has such a way of tenderly shaping our hearts. Matt and I both knew that she would be born in His perfect timing, but it was hard to truly believe in our hearts. I started researching "gentle" or "family-centered" caesarean birth and continued to pray that we would be filled with joy regardless of the circumstances. Right around the time I accepted that the birth of this little girl would be a blessing no matter how she entered the world (about an hour after scheduling surgery), I started having contractions. I noticed them regularly and briefly timed them coming every 4-5 minutes then ignored them again. A couple hours passed, and I was still noticing them so we went for another walk #2 of the day. During our walk they sped up to every 2 minutes on the dot lasting about 40 seconds each, but I could easily walk and talk through them. I was hoping I was really in labor but doubted that I was. I decided to go up to our bedroom for the rest of the afternoon so I could rest. My parents were in town already, and if this was real labor I wanted to relax as much while I could. I labored on the birth ball in our room until dinner time. By then contractions were still consistent but didn't really seem stronger to me so I was still doubtful. Matt made a pbj sandwich and sliced an apple for me, and after dinner we walked again (up to 4 miles now!). By 8pm I could tell contractions were picking up in intensity and was confident that I was in labor! We were excited but had no idea how my body was progressing (and whether I would be far enough into labor to avoid a c-section in the morning). I took a shower, shaved my legs, and dried my hair. Matt was timing contractions and would tell me when one was coming so I could stop and focus. Around this time I also started having back labor.

We called the hospital around 9pm, and after talking with Lori, the midwife on call who also labored with us for Nora's birth and sat next to us during surgery, decided to "test" whether I was still in early labor by taking a bath and drinking a lot of water. I lasted maybe 15 minutes in the bath before determining we needed to go. Since I wouldn't be able to labor in the shower or tub at the hospital, we were so thankful we had been able to do both at home! We quickly got dressed, packed up the car and were on our way! The car ride was great. I had dreaded having contractions in the car, but it wasn't bad. It was dark, we had music on, and we were making progress is getting there (literally)! 

Since it was after hours, we had to enter through the ER. I keep giving Matt a hard time - only because he is typically so great with directions - he couldn't find the ER entrance AND THEN parked in the parking garage and made me walk to the entrance. Looking back, it was a great decision to get a little more walking in and let gravity do its job, but still...who walks to the ER when they're in labor? I finally got settled in a room, and the nurse started an IV, hooked me up to the monitors, and placed an order for antibiotics (to be treated for Group B Strep). By the time Lori came in to check on me, it was 11pm. I was 5cm, and we were thrilled I had progressed that much before getting to the hospital! She left Matt and I alone to labor.

VBAC mamas have to be continually monitored other than while using the bathroom, so walking the halls, showering/bathing, etc. were out of the picture for us. Regardless, I wanted to be out of bed as much as possible to help things progress more quickly. I labored on the birth ball and standing up, leaning over onto the bed for a couple of hours. This part of labor was really fun. Matt had set up our essential oil diffuser with lavender and would massage my back through each contraction. I felt really relaxed and confident even though I was in the hospital. I relied on Matt through each contraction, but for the 3 minutes or so in between I was able to talk and laugh and converse with the the nurse and our midwife when they came in. As contractions got stronger, Lori would lightly stroke my arms up to my shoulders, while Matt put counter-pressure on my back. She also put ice-cold washcloths on my neck, which felt amazing. I remember getting up to go to the bathroom during this time and telling Matt that I was really enjoying labor!

Back labor got increasingly hard though, and I wasn't enjoying it any longer. By the time Lori checked me a couple hours later around 2am, I hadn't progressed much. I was still a 5, and she said she could stretch me to maybe a 6. I was really discouraged because things felt a lot harder than they had hours ago even though I was in about the same place. Pushing seemed really far away. She suggested breaking my water to speed things along. After initially having a minor meltdown, knowing things would intensify even more, I calmed down and agreed that it was needed. Sure enough, contractions picked right up! Back labor was so strong now that I couldn't really talk even in between contractions. From this point on, I ended up staying in the bed for three main reasons - the pain in my back was too strong, my legs were pretty tired and shaky from standing for so long, and I hated the feeling of fluid leaking when I stood up. Looking back, I should have gotten out of that bed though. I kept telling Matt I couldn't do it any longer. Finally, we asked for nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas), which helped me just barely get through each contraction.

Another couple of hours passed, though I hardly remember them. Around 4:30am I was still about a 6. Lori tried to place an inter-uterine monitor (not the same as internal fetal monitor) to measure the strength of my contractions to determine whether they were going to help me progress all the way to 10 cm or not. If not, they were planning on giving me a low dose of pitocin. VBAC success rates go down with the use of pitocin, and I also didn't think I could handle contractions on pitocin at that point. By God's grace, my cervix was too posterior for the monitor to be placed, so Lori left. We have no idea where she went (we assume she was consulting with the OB on call), but she was gone for about an hour. I hardly remember this, but I needed to pee so Matt helped me out of bed. I had three contractions in the bathroom, and by the time I got back to the bed I remember begging for Lori to return. I wasn't really sure what feeling "pushy" felt like, but I thought I was feeling that way. Maybe. I just knew I wanted her back in the room immediately. By the time she came in at 5:45am I just had a tiny lip of cervix left. She helped me lie on my right side and put a table under my left leg, instructing to push through the next contractions if I felt like it. After just one or two more contractions it was time to really push, and I was so ready to be nearing the end!!

They rolled a big mirror out, and I was able to watch myself slowly bring Amelia into the world. After watching, I can't imagine pushing without actually seeing the work I was doing. I highly recommend requesting a mirror. The first few pushes were amazing. I made really good progress and was thinking she was going to be here in no time. Once we began to see her head, everyone realized she was OP (sunny side up), which explains the back labor...but she had been face down less than 24 hours earlier at my ultrasound! After probably 20 minutes of pushing, it was apparent that she wasn't coming out as quickly as I had thought, and it was getting harder and harder. I was completely exhausted and falling asleep in between pushes. Pushing felt good, but as soon as the contraction was over, I had so much pain in my back that I can't begin to describe. I don't remember what it felt like but remember yelling "NOOO" each time the contraction ended. After about 3 hours of pushing, Amelia began to show signs of not tolerating pushing much longer, and Lori told me that we needed to get her out really soon. She had me push on my side and then on hands and knees, and then asked me to roll over to talk about our options. Matt and I were both thinking they were going to push her back in and take me to surgery, but she just suggested helping her over the muscle with a little episiotomy. YES!! GET HER HERE NOW! was all I could think. Four little cuts and a few pushes harder-than-I-ever-thought-possible later, and she was on my tummy literally gazing into my eyes. God had ordained for Amelia Kate to be born at 9:22am on Tuesday morning by VBAC. My repeat c-section had been scheduled for 9:30am that same morning. I think I will always get chills when I think about it.

Having a natural birth was the single most amazing experience I've had in my life. It is also the sole time that I have felt 100% physically, mentally, and emotionally incapable of doing something with my own strength. I had to rely completely on the Lord through each contraction from about 2am - 9:22am when she was born. Of course, Matt and Lori were there to practically support and encourage me, but through the majority of those intense contractions the only thing getting me through were simple prayers. Jesus, help me. Lord, bring her now. God, give me strength. 

I read a blog this week titled "Birth Without Epidurals Isn't Superhuman." It isn't. Women do it every day. While natural childbirth used to be the norm, it is increasingly rare today. It's hard for me to believe that many women plan their birth to be heavily medicated before experiencing a single contraction. If you fear childbirth in any way (I was afraid of many aspects during my first pregnancy), know and believe that your body was created to give birth! My VBAC was a healing experience. I've never felt more confident in my body than immediately after birth. It also made me very keenly aware of my weakness and brought me back to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 that hits me so hard in the face time and time again. You'd think I would get it by now :).

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

I really don't have anything else to say other than thank you to every single one of you who knew our situation and prayed. God so sweetly granted us the desires of our hearts, and drew us closer to himself and each other.

Minutes after Millie was born!!
With a newborn photo of Nora for comparison

Love at first sight.
Just before moving to postpartum
Finally, pregnancy, childbirth, VBAC, etc. is all very dear to my heart. 
If you have any questions, I would love to chat. Email me.
+, Lauren Aiken

1 comment:

  1. Aw so glad you got to do a VBAC like you wanted and that she's here safe and sound! She's adorable :)