We aren't sure if we'll have a third child or not, so I have definitely been feeling a little nostalgic, reflective, and (I admit it) a bit teary these past few days. I have shared my birth story with a good number of people, and have debated whether to put it up on my blog or not. It is a happy birth story in the sense that he was healthy, and I was healthy, but getting to that moment was difficult and traumatic. And I don't use that word--traumatic--lightly. At all. However, I do want to say although it was traumatic for me, and it took me a long time to process and heal, I know there are many, many others who have been through worse than I have...and I just want to acknowledge that.
So, I am going to post Arlo's birth story below, but please be aware its not all warm and fuzzy. I wrote this out when Arlo was only a few days old and have only changed/edited a few words. Here goes:
I was due January 8th and my due date came and went. I was surprised, because Rafe was born a few days early and I've heard that subsequent children are typically born earlier. Here in the UK, they don't check for cervical dilation or effacement until you are past your due date...which was a shock to me, but I luckily found out that fact ahead of time so I was prepared. On my due date appointment with my midwife, she agreed to give me a cervical stretch and membrane sweep on Sunday.
Sunday, 40+4, my midwife tried to do a sweep, but my cervix was still high and closed. I couldn't believe it, as I had been having braxton hicks contractions for the last two months, and they were definitely increasing in strength near the end. I was sure they were doing something! Since my midwife couldn't do the stretch and sweep, she basically just irritated my cervix, and I had a show and lost my mucus plug that night. We agreed to have her come again on Tuesday to try again.
Tuesday, 40+6, I was dilated to 1.5 and my midwife was able to do the sweep around 2:30 in the afternoon. She was very pleased and surprised with my progress in only two days. After the sweep I took a nap, then got up and started getting things ready for dinner. I started having contractions at 5:30, and they were fairly close together (meaning around 5-10 minutes apart). I went about last minute household things, made dinner in early labor, and John helped clean up. By 7 or 8pm I knew I was definitely in labor, by 9 contractions were less than 5 minutes apart, but were very sporadic and varying in length. The contractions stayed the same, and I called hospital around 11:45 to confirm I should try to rest rather than come in. The midwife at the hospital confirmed that. I went to get in bed, and tried to rest through contractions. I felt a distinct "pop" or "click" at 12:50am, and contractions were immediately more regular at 3:30 minutes apart lasting for about a minute after that. I wanted to give it about an hour to be consistent before calling the hospital again, and 20 minutes before that hour was up my water broke during a contraction at about 1:30.
Everything kicked into high gear and contractions were immediately more painful and stronger. We called our friends to come and watch Rafe, and got in the car 20 minutes later and arrived at the hospital a bit before 2:30am. The car ride was definitely a rough one, but I was thankful for zero traffic as we zoomed down the A1.
Once we arrived at the hospital I was given gas and air (laughing gas) and was checked at 4cm and 100% effaced. The gas and air wasn't quite managing my pain, so I was given a shot of pethidene (known as demerol in the US). That helped take the edge off, but at that point Arlo's heart rate was very concerning to the midwife and they called in the consultant (OB). Arlo's heart rate kept dipping and staying very low for too long, nearly flatlining. They were first concerned about the cord being wrapped around his neck, and then thought my uterine scar from my previous c-section was rupturing.
The consultant called code blue, hands were quickly taking my clothes off and trying to get me into a hospital gown, I remember taking my wedding rings off while someone else took my earrings off, and then I was carted away to more shouts of "code blue!" and "we have to get this baby out NOW!" I looked at John as I was being wheeled out of the room and he looked completely terrified and dejected. I didn't get a chance to say anything to him, it was all so fast.
They had to put me under general anesthesia, and I remember lying on the table just waiting for it to kick in.
The next thing I remember is knowing that the surgery was over because my scar was on fire. I have never been in so much pain in my life. I don't remember much but being very agitated, feeling like the oxygen mask was suffocating me, and I couldn't even open my eyes because my lower abdomen was searing me. I was moaning and crying, and people kept saying reassuring things and that they gave me morphine and it would work soon. I remember squeezing John's hand very, very hard. The morphine didn't work, and 45 minutes later I was given something stronger by the anesthetist.
Finally, when I woke up again it was light outside, I was more lucid, and I could see John sitting next to a cot with Arlo in it.
I don't know whether it was the gas and air or pethidene that put Arlo into distress, or if he was already struggling before we even got to the hospital. But, it was about an hour, maybe even less after arriving at the hospital that I was being taken to the OR.
The result was not the VBAC that I so wanted, but the Lord has given me peace about the way things went, and I am incredibly thankful to have two beautiful healthy boys and a loving and supportive husband.
In hindsight, (and after reading the doctor's notes from my hospital stay) I am pretty certain that Arlo was already struggling when we got to the hospital. I truly think my waters breaking was the Lord's way of getting me to the hospital in time for Arlo to born alive and healthy. Thankfully, his Apgar scores were perfect and he didn't even need to stay in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit, the UK's version of NICU).
We are so thankful for this little guy, and have enjoy celebrating his first year with us!