I started this post almost a month ago. If you read my Crazy/Lazy post you shouldn't surprised that it's taken me this long to finish it.
Most of my readers already know that April is (was) Cesarean Awareness Month.
For those of you who don't please take a little time to check out ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network). In honor of this (last) month, I'm finally getting around to writing about the amazing VBAC I was able to be a part of a few months ago.
I met L a few years ago at a meeting of our local Birth network. She had recently given birth to her daughter via cesarean. It was obvious, to anyone who who listened to her tell her story, that the birth had been a traumatic experience. During the many months she attended Birth Circles we were able to watch her heal and grow stronger.
I was beyond thrilled when I got an email from her with "Won't you be my doula?" in the subject line. My good friend Jenny was the doula at her last birth and the plan was for her to have both of us there this time. At first her husband J thought it was a bit excessive to have two doulas (she actually wound up with 3 at her birth but I'll get to that later) but we quickly won him over with our charm and good looks ;-)
We spent the next few months preparing for her birth, attending Hypnobirthing classes, and just getting to know each other better. During this time I realized that she and my sister were due around the same time. I was so torn, there was no way I was going to miss my sister's birth but I really wanted to be there for L.
Towards the end of her pregnancy L was convinced that this baby was going to be born early. When she hadn't given birth by the time I left for OH, I started to worry that I wouldn't get to be there. My sister had her baby early and I wound up coming home a week sooner than planned. It's a good thing I did. L went into labor less than two days after I got home.
I was at the movies with my friend Elf the night L called. She said she wasn't in labor but by the time I got home from the movies, she called and said she and J were getting ready to head to the hospital.
I originally thought that the plan was to labor at home as long as possible so I was surprised that things had changed so quickly. I called Jenny to find out if she had more information about what was going on. We both thought that she may have been going in too soon but we decided to follow L's lead and meet them there.
When we got to the hospital L was being monitored in triage. The nurse told her that they would monitor her for while to see how often she was contracting. If she wasn't contracting frequently enough, she would have to "get behind" all the other laboring moms they were dealing with. I think L and her baby started to feel a bit of performance anxiety. She mentioned someting about being put on the clock "just like last time". That was the first of a few times that we would have to gently remind L that this birth wasn't going to be like last time. The contractions slowed down so we were told to labor in the waiting room until they called her name.
We spent a few hours in the waiting room. That night it was full of non-laboring pregnant women. L seemed like the only one who was working. We assumed that all the other women we waiting for their inductions.
Right around the time L started needing help working through her contractions, they called her name. Perfect timing, we thought. When she was checked she was just barely dilated. She was pretty discouraged. She was having contractions pretty consistantly, they just didn't seem to be doing a whole lot. Jenny and I figured we needed to do everything we could to help get this labor going. We were given the OK to walk the halls to try and get things moving. During this time, Jenny and I pulled out every trick in the book. We made suggestions about positions, we rubbed, we massaged, we made her do "sumo stomps" up and down the halls. The whole time we were doing all this "stuff" I was cringing inside (I found out later that Jenny was too). I'm more of a "listen to your body" type doula and not a "now do it this or that way" one. After a few more hours doing everything we could think of, we went back to triage to see if any of it worked.
When she was checked, we found out that not much progress had been made. Understandably, L broke down. She was very tired and had been working so hard. The news that things were pretty much the same was hard to take.
Fortunately, we had an incredible triage nurse (who had previously been a doula). She told L that the best way for her to have a successful VBAC was to get out of the hospital and get some rest. L and J agreed but they didn't want to go home because they didn't want to disturb their daughter and the people at their house who were caring for her. Someone provided us with a list of hotels that were close by and offered discounts to patients of the hospital. The only problem was that there a big event going on & most of the hotels were completely booked. After lots of calling around we finally found a hotel about 6 miles from the hospital. The awesome doula nurse gave L a sleeping pill and sent us on our way. As the sun was coming up, Jenny and I went home and L and J went to the hotel.
I tried to get some sleep but I had to take care of Thing 1 and Thing 2 (the other Things were at school).
I'm getting really sleepy but I know that if I save this as a draft it may be another month before I finish it. I'll post what I have and write the rest in the next day or two.