*Warning: this is a very long post, but for my own personal reasons I didn’t want to leave out any details.*
To try for a VBAC or schedule a repeat C-Section was always the question?
Let’s begin by giving you a brief history, a quick overview of (my first born) Zoe’s birth story…
There was no debate or doubt when I was pregnant with Zoe… of course I would try an unmedicated vaginal birth. “I’m a woman! My body was made for labor…” everyone would tell me. So I watched all of the natural birth documentaries, and the thought never crossed my mind that a c-section could be a possibility.
Turns out, after laboring naturally for hours on end, at 4 centimeters, I wasn’t progressing. (I only made it to 5-6 centimeters). My OB started the interventions to help the active labor progress. First I got an epidural, then she broke my water – still no progress. Then she started pitocin. I was on the highest I could be for most of the day. Still only a little progress. At this point, it had been 36 hours, and although neither Zoe nor I were in any stress my OB suggested to have a c-section. I was ready to meet my baby, and thought it’s better to do a c-section now while no one was under any stress, instead of waiting for when an actual emergency happens. So off to the OR I went, to meet our baby girl, Zoe. (You can find Zoe’s full birth story here.
Now 2 years 7 months later, present time… Ava’s birth story.
Over all my pregnancy went well. (Stay tuned for some posts on my pregnancy and running through pregnancy.) I tried my best to stay fit and active, and nourish my body with the cleanest food. I ran most of my pregnancy averaging 15-20 miles a week, during the 1st and 2nd trimesters. I definitely eased up on the running once I entered the 3rd trimester, and started practicing prenatal yoga.
One day after prenatal yoga, I started chatting with three other mamas. Because of medical reasons, two of them already had their labors scheduled – one with a repeat c-section, the other one with an induction.
It made me think about my own birth plan, which at that moment was nonexistent. At the end of most of my OB appointments my doctors would ask, “When are you going to schedule your repeat C?” Only one doctor mentioned VBAC. It made me question what was the best and safest way to deliver… Did I have a medical reason that I didn’t have knowledge of? Was I not a good candidate for a VBAC? I was more confused than ever.
So at my next OB appointment, my doctor and I came up with a birth plan. I couldn’t be induced because I had a previous c-section, and pitocin causes to aggressive of contractions which could cause a uterus rupture. So I scheduled a repeat C-section for March 21, 2018 – two days before my due date. My doctor didn’t want me to go passed my due date, because of my history – Zoe was overdue by 4 days and she was measuring above average plus being in there for the extra days gave her a little more time to plump up even more. She came out weighing 8 lbs 15 ounces, which is a pretty large baby especially for my petite frame. I ended up with a c-section due to failure to progress because of her size. We didn’t want a repeat of the same thing.
I chose Wednesday, March 21, 2018 for my scheduled c-section, because it is one of the first days of spring and because my doctor (Amy Porter) who delivered Zoe was going to be available that day. She did a wonderful job on my C-section the last time and I felt comfortable with her. However, if baby decided to come naturally on her own, we would go with the flow and try for a VBAC. We also took a good look at my 36 week ultrasound to determine size of baby and position. I knew she was going to be a good size baby because she was already measuring 6 pounds which was similar to Zoe at the 36 week ultrasound, except Zoe came late and this one was definitely coming early, on the 21st if not sooner. She was head down and ready to go.
I was pretty happy with this birth plan. It made perfect since.
but… of course nothing goes as planned.
On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 I started to show early signs of labor. My cervix started to soften, and strong contractions began. That night I was up all night dealing with them.
On Thursday, March 15, 2018, I headed into work with more contractions. In my mind, I questioned, “Am I going to make it to my scheduled c-section, with contractions like this, a week early?” I didn’t want to head to the hospital too soon, because last time I progressed so slowly. If I was going for the VBAC the best idea would be to labor as long as I could at home. But I was a little worried, because I definitely needed to have an epidural, especially if I was going to try for the VBAC. My doctors strongly recommended an epidural because if they needed to do an emergency c-section I would already be prepped.
When I had a short break at work I called my doctor’s office to chat with Heidi, the nurse. I revealed to her I was showing early signs of labor with sporadic inconsistent contractions throughout the day and night. She told me not to come in until the contractions were 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long.
I downloaded an app called, Full Term, to record my contractions. This helped me keep track and I highly recommend it!
Later that night, I was up again all night long with contractions. I was exhausted. It had been two nights in a row with absolutely no sleep.
On Friday, March 16, 2018, after my cleaning lady came, I headed to the doctor in the afternoon to have my cervix checked. I saw Dr. Nicole McClendon, she told me I was 2-3 centimeters dilated and my cervix softened 90% . She suggested I go straight over to labor and delivery. She couldn’t promise I would be having my baby that day, but because I had a previous c-section and might try for a VBAC she didn’t want me laboring at home without a doctor’s supervision over the weekend. I questioned her at first, because of my history – last time I was already 4 centimeters dilated before heading to the hospital. But she told me every labor is different and although, unpredictable, labor could happen very quickly.
So off I went… But first I had to stop home. My house was clean, but my hospital bag wasn’t even packed yet. I had some things prepped, that I just needed to get it in the bag. I also needed to go home, to let Zoe, my 2 year old know I was going to be at the hospital for a couple of days to have her baby sister. She knew she would be staying with Gigi while I was in the hospital.
Around 5:00 pm, I arrived at Labor and Delivery. They hooked me up to a monitor for two hours to check my contractions. After two hours, still the same, no progress. Dr. Paik came in, to explain to me, I was in early labor, but not quite active labor. She went over my options.
Ideally the two safest options would be to either have a successful VBAC or have a controlled scheduled repeat C-section.
The least safe option would be trying for a successful VBAC, but then ending up with an emergency c-section.
She also told me that I could stay and have a c-section that night, but because I had eaten at 4:00 pm, I would have to wait at least 6 hours.
I was so confused on what to do, but because I had eaten, and was only in early labor, plus didn’t progress in the last two hours DR. Paik told me that I had time to think about it. She advised me to go home and even said that it was totally possible that these contractions could ease up and I might make it to my scheduled c-section on Wednesday the 21st. However, if contractions became unbearable I could call anytime, even if it was the weekend.
So I went home, to labor more at home. Turns out I was up again all night with contractions.
The Birth Story
On Saturday, March 17, 2018, I called Dr. Paik first thing in the morning. I had a strong intuition that I would be laboring like this with slow progression and it would end in a c-section. So I asked her if I could come to the hospital and have a repeat c-section. She told me she could take me now and asked me, how fast I could get there.
After dropping Zoe off at Gigi’s we headed to the hospital.
I was placed in a room and hooked up to a monitor. It would take about two hours to prep me before the c-section. At this point, they were checking for contractions and I not only would meet with Dr. Paik one last time before surgery, but also the rest of the team. They also did a quick ultrasound to check if baby was still head down.
Surprisingly, my contractions were closer together – they were four minutes apart. Ugh, maybe I was progressing. Baby was head down and ready to go. I met two students who would also be there during the c-section. I met my anesthesiologist, who would perform a spinal on me.
It was go time…
My husband got dressed and ready. We walked over to the OR together, but he waited in another room while I went in the OR alone to get prepped.
It was cold and bright. I started to tear up. The operating room is a bit overwhelming, not cozy at all.
I hunched my back and received the spinal. Within a minute my body turned really warm and tingly. I was numb from the chest down. It felt a little hard to breathe. Last time my arms were strapped down, this time they weren’t. Soon the blue curtain was up and my husband was by my side holding my hand.
My last c-section was super quick. I felt like everything was rushed and Zoe was out in ten minutes.
It might have been because there were two students there, or maybe it was Dr. Paik’s style. But this time around, it felt like it took longer.
I kept hearing the team chatting, maybe it was Dr. Paik explaining things to the students. I even heard a laugh, – the laughter relaxed me.
I whispered to my husband, “Where is the baby?” The nurse assured me that it always seems a lot longer than it actually has been. I made my husband peek over the curtain to see what was going on. Then the nurse told me that they had just pulled out the head. A couple moments later, at 12:37 pm, I heard my baby cry. It was the strongest, highest pitched squeal I have ever heard. I quickly saw her as the nurse rushed her to get her cleaned up. She has a full head of dark brown almost black hair!
I told my husband to run over to take photos of her, and soon enough she was in his arms while they were stitching me up.
The nurse said she was healthy and beautiful, then she asked, “Does anyone want to guess her size?” I knew she was a big baby. She felt so heavy in my belly.
Then soon enough she was in my arms, weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces. Measuring 19.5 inches long.
Although, I thought she was big, I didn’t think that big. Zoe came out weighing 8 pounds 15 ounces, but she came late and was in my belly for longer, 40 weeks and 4 days. This little one came a week early, being born at 39 weeks and 1 day. If she had stayed in there for the same amount of time as Zoe had, she would have been over 9 pounds.
Once baby was in my arms, we headed right over to the “Mommy and Me” recovery room.
Dr. Paik came into my room to check on me. She also informed me that she was thankful that we did the c-section because it turns out my uterus was very thin where the previous c-section was done. She told me that she saw a mass and thought it was a fibroid but then realized it was a hand. Maybe my uterus was thin from being stretched out from babies both weighing over 8 pounds close to 9 pounds. Also the fact that my baby was 8 pounds 12 ounces, there was a very great chance I wouldn’t have progressed and most likely would have ended in a c-section anyway.
Turns out that I’m not an ideal VBAC candidate. The best candidate for a VBAC is someone who has already had a VBAC or someone who has never went into labor, and had a c-section because of a reason based on baby, such as being breeched.
Anyway the recovery room was really nice. I stayed there recovering for 3 nights, being discharged on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm.
It was enough time to really get to know my newborn. I stayed up throughout the night nursing her and snuggling her. All of the nurses were fantastic. It definitely was a more relaxing time then the first time around.
However, I was totally ready to leave by the fourth day. Although, Zoe, my two year old, came to visit everyday, I missed her and was eager to get home and start adjusting as a family of four.
Zoe impressed me so much! She was so excited to meet the new baby. We captured the moment on video and I will forever cherish it. She also did a wonderful job spending the days we were in the hospital, with Gigi. And understood that I had to be at the hospital to recover and take care of her baby sister.
Choosing the name
Before leaving the hospital we had to choose a name. We didn’t choose a name until I filled out the birth certificate the day we were discharged. I had a long list, that included Demi and Lux. A lot of people were giving us Irish names since she was born on St. Patty’s day. However, we ended up choosing Ava Giselle. Ava has always been on the top of our list. It is a name that both my husband and I love. We like it because it is a three letter name, and has an interesting letter in it similar to Zoe. It also can’t be nicknamed and it is easy to spell. Overall it is a beautiful name and was one of the names we considered using when Zoe was born. This middle name Giselle has no real significance except that I always loved the name. We also love the spelling with the double L, similar to Zoe’s middle name with he double N.
After choosing a name we were finally ready to head home…
Now that we are home sweet home, I’m helping Zoe transition to big sister the best I can. We’ve had some great support from family too. Gramps and Grams are in town. Aunt Jackie even came for a surprise visit. Gigi continues to help out.
Although, I am eager to start running and lifting again, – gotta get the glutes in shape again- so I see a lot of dead lifts and squats in my near future. I’m excited for my fit postpartum journey to begin, and see the progress I can achieve. However, for now it’s important to slow down and heal up. I’m trying to be kind to myself, since I had a c-section, which is major abdominal surgery. I’m also trying to take it easy and enjoy this time loving and snuggling my newborn, my two year old, and my husband! Cherishing this family time is so important because this time will go by so fast.
Motherhood is an incredible thing, and I can’t even express in words how thankful I am for my girls.
Welcome to this beautiful crazy world Ava Giselle. We love you, even before your very first breath.