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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Victory: My VBA3C

Introducing Kael Lachlan Rodney Arnold-McKenny, Born Monday Feb 8th at 12:21 in the afternoon. 7lb 2oz and about 19 inches long

Boobalumba Has Arrived!!!

It all started with a week of stop and start annoying prodromal labour. There really is nothing quite so frustrating as playing the guessing game every time the contractions start: is this it..... THIS time!!!? But after a week of lots of contractions and various other questionable symptoms, on Saturday early evening, I was pretty certain that we were definitely on the count down. Contractions continue during the night (for the first time) and although they slowed right down and became irratic, they kept getting stronger. Sunday morning the contractions slowed to a halt for about 3-4 hours, and when they started up again, it was like being back at square one. So I kicked Nick and the kids out of the house to go to a friends to watch the superbowl, and I set out to do some serious Relaxing: filled the living room with candles, put some of my favorite aromatherapy oils in a burner and put on soothing music- got settled into my super comfy rocking chair and just.... R E L A X E D. Soon enough the contractions were steady at about 8-10 minutes apart. Nick brought the kids home and tucked them into bed late that night, and we called my best friend Lynda over to be with us. by 3am I was definitely in labour and the contractions- while still only about 6-8 minutes apart- were strong enough to need to support myself and focus on breathing through them- rocking and swaying . We called our midwife to put her alert that the party was definitly "ON". By 5am the contractions were still 6 minutes apart but very strong and I had to decide what to do next.

I knew that the kids would be waking up soon and I really didn't think I could manage to deal with my labour AND them... So I made the decision for us to head off to the hospital. It was too early, I knew it was, but I was so tired, having not really slept in two nights and I just "Wanted to KNOW" where I was in my labour, to know how far/fast I was progressing. I think that this is one of the worst things that most labouring women do- worry about the Numbers: how many minutes apart. how many cm's dilated. How many hours of labour..... so easily turning into a downward spiral.

We arrived at the hospital and were met by one of our midwives, and so started the above mentioned downward spiral. She checked me at 6:30am and I was only 3 cms.... 3? JUST 3 centimetres?!? Oh gods!!! I was immediately despondent and completely depressed. 3cms is exactly where I was when I'd gone to the hospital in labour with keira...and exactly where I STAYED with my labour with keira (which this labour had so far exactly mirrored) - which ended up in a Caesarean section.

On my midwifes advice, Nick and I started walking the hospital hallways- "to try to ramp up the contractions" as she was convinced that I wasn't actually in active labour yet... another very disappointing announcement that brought me down even further. How was I supose to continue like this? By my opinion, my contractions were Damn strong- as strong as they were when I was close to transition with Quinlin (my VBA1C home birth baby).

.. So we walked the halls, stopping to lean on whatever I had available during contractions, and we talked and I cried....I was so despondent, so depressed, and after 2 nights of almost no sleep I was completely exhausted. How was I going to make it through this labour if the contractions were already this strong and I wasn't even in "active labour" yet!?! Nick was a huge support both physically and emotionally. While we walked we talked: about my fears, about the "options", and we both knew what the "option" was.... We returned to our room and talked to our midwife about the jumble of emotions, about the labour and my fears, and we decided that we would talk to the OB on call.... I knew then that we were taking the first step down the road to another C/S, but I was so caught up in my anxiety and despondency that I had lost hope.

When the Doctor arrived finally at around 9am I was desperate for some relief from the contractions. We talked and I will say that luckily I had an OB who wasn't a Pusher: Oh, he definitely wanted me to have the C/S- to remove the "risks" of my TOL , and to save the staff from the obvious stress of even having a VBA3C in their L&D floor- BUT, he made the suggestion that he check me to see how far along in my labour I was "before" we made the final decision. For this alone, I have a big amount of respect for the man, because at that moment I was so vunerable that he could of pushed me right down to the OR himself and knocked me out, and I wouldn't of made a peep..... But instead he checked me.

I was 8 cm!!!!

From down in the valley of emotional despare so dark and heavy that I could barely breath, I flew up to the top of the tallest mountain of elation!! 8 cm?!? I COULD do this!!!! Nick's face lit up in what I knew was a mirror expression of my own. 8cm was unimaginable.

"What do you want to do?" the OB asked.
"I want to continue to labour!!!" I almost shouted in excitement.

Of course, he then started on the litany of risks, and rules I "had" to follow. He sugested that we break my water to help get things moving along which I readily agreed to (hell, if he'd sugesting cartwheels while holding a bottle of nitroglycerine I'd of eagerly agreed with him!). So he quickly broke my membranes and with a huge rush of lovely clear amniotic fluid I instantly felt baby Boobalumba drop down a bit farther. Continuing with his sermon, the OB warned me that he'd give me "One hour" to show some progress and that we would discuss "the Options" when he returned.

For the 20 minutes or so, the contractions eased off in severity though getting closer to gether. I was laughing between contractions and joking with nick and my midwife..... that break was short lived though as very soon TRANSITION fell on me like a lead curtain.

Oh it was BAD.

After an hour the Doctor returned and checked me again- still 8 cm. Tsk tsk tsk is what I got, and again he started on listing the risks and lecturing me on the dangers of having a uterine rupture if I didn't hurry up and progress. I argued with him that the fact that Boobalumba was lower WAS progress and he immediately lost my high regard of him by shushing me and telling me off like a naughty child.

Have I mentioned that I don't take lightly to someone treating me as an inferior being? Hackles got raised, and Nick quickly set about to calm me down. We were Given another hour.

Oh gods!!! Contractions were now never ending waves that carried away with it any semblance of humanity that I had left. Occasionally interesting flashes of insights penetrated through the haze of transition: thoughts of caged mountain lions screaming in rage at their captors. Comparisons between myself and the lone wolf caught in a trap that gnaws it's own leg off to try to escape.... for I was the trapped animal. trapped by the hospital staff, policies, doctors and my midwives - hooked up to a fetal monitor that inhibited my ability to move, inhibited by people telling me where to go , how to position myself and reminding me of the clock that continued to tick towards the "Dead line".

Now some of what I"m about to relay is what I learned happened later from Nick. At this point my chronological memory that records the events as they happen becomes seriously irratic with gaping holes big enough to drive a truck through.

At some point during my transition to blubbering mess, my girlfriend Lynda showed up after taking my kids to her parents house. Between Lynda and Nick, I had a small bit of calm to cling to as they took turns talking to me, feeding me sips of water ,rubbing my back and helping me get as comfortable as possible.

Then my second hour was up. The OB arrived and announced that I was still just 8cm, that my cervix was inflamed.....I begged for relief. I was ready to admit to defeat. I managed to beat back the contractions and somewhat cohearantly tell the doctor that if I could just relax for a minute, just have a moments respite to gain control of myself again.... If I was heading down the hallway to the Operating Room anyway, then give me the epidural so we could try just one last time to finish this dialation thingy that they were all so hyper about..... Nick discussed it with the Doctor and they arranged to get me an epidural and Nick bargained a further half hour aftewards to see if we could achieve the final 2 cm that they wanted.

Immediately the room seemed to fill with people- two maternity nurses bustled in to set up an IV and I remember biting the head off one of them for even thinking about putting the IV into the back of my hand.... my second midwife was there... the noise levels rose substantially and I felt like I was in a stadium surrounded by over whelming crowds. I vaguely recollect my midwife checking me again and saying that she thought the cervical lip could be moved.... and that she did something down there that wasn't' pleasant. Then they all decided that I needed to be laying down: RIGHT NOW. "Take the pressure off the cervix" "let the swelling go down".... snippets of directions, with me arguing that I didn't' WANT to lay down. I CAN'T lay down. I WON'T lay down.... yet somehow they had me down flat on the bed, taking away the last vestige of control that I had over this 3 ringed circus.

More people flooded into the room- the anesthesiologist with cart loads of paraphenalia. At somepoint they kicked Lynda out of the room on some flimsy excuse, leaving me with one less island of support to cling to.

At this point I remember feeling "The Push". I remember telling "them" that I needed to push, that I felt THAT pressure, that I needed to poop.... and I remember "them" telling me not to push, that it was too early, that I wasn't fully dilated to the golden 10. They rolled me to my side to get ready for the epidural, hands on me every where, voices ordering me to do this and do that, curl into a ball, hold still, don't move.... I tried to follow orders. The small inner voice of logic screamed at myself to listen, "don't move you idiot!! that's a needle in your spine!!!" But the primal me all of a sudden was engulfed by an all consuming command "PUSH" ....Out of the confusion of the moment, standing out from the roaring crowds came a scream "I HAVE TO PUSH!!! I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!!"

The crowds yelled back at me "don't move!!" "Don't Push!!!" ...

What came next is a moment of clarity that I will remember to my last breath, it came so clearly and so powerfully that it is permanently etched into my brain: I PUSHED. With every fiber of my being. Every muscle, every tendon, every vital organ.... I pushed once, then again. And I felt baby boobalumba burst through some invisible barrier and move down into my vagina, felt every contour every millimetre of his decent. And a primal growling scream rose out of me that was like pure energy. I was filled with a sense of exhilaration as endorphins flooded my system.....I CAN DO THIS!!!! I CAN BIRTH MY BABY!!! Only to cut off by grabbing hands and barking orders from the maddening crowds "Stop!! Don't push!! don't Move!!..." Voices tumbled over top of each other "Is the baby comeing?" Can you see the head?" "I can see the Head!" "Turn her around" "Lay on your back!" bellowing voices barking orders at me.....

The human Dani fought with the primal dani to take back control. The human logical Dani KNEW what she needed to do. Knew that she needed to take back control of her body- not just from the primal Dani, but from all of these people who were trying to control her. I needed to get up. I needed to get off my back and upright. I needed to find my voice and make these people all shut up and LISTEN TO ME.

Another contraction and another push. This time my midwife cheered me on "Push!!!!!", and I did, feeling the baby's head start to crown, the burning that brought with it that all encompassing need to keep pushing..... only to have it all come to a crashing halt: The epidural kicked in, to block all the sensations of the contractions. The voices yelled at me to push, but the urge was simply gone. Along with the realization that my guide had disappeared came the fact that I couldn't breathe. "They" kept yelling at me to push, to lay back and grab my legs and pull them back.... and I couldn't find my centre, couldn't breathe in the air deep enough to get a full breath, couldn't feel the contractions to cue me to push..... I needed to get up. I HAD to get up, I tried to tell them to let me up.... but they just kept pushing me back and telling me to grab my legs.....

"tsk tsk tsk we missed another contraction."

"Dani you HAVE to push, the baby's head is half way out!!! You HAVE to push!!!"

HELLO?! I'm perfectly aware of exactly where the baby's head is thank you very much!!!!

I tried again to tell them that I couldn't feel the contractions, that I couldn't breathe..... but the crowds drown me out with their incessant comands and natteringly annoying verbal diahreah.

I reached down and felt the top of my baby's head and ran my fingers through the masses of soggy hair. Someone pushed my hand away and forced me to grab the back of my thigh. The human Dani sighed in resignation. They couldn't hear me, they wouldn't listen. I had no choice but to do it "their" way. So ignoring the roaring of the masses surrounding me, I breathed in as deeply as I could and P U S H E D.

The relief of his head coming fully out is one that every woman who has given birth can no doubt relate to. I again reached down. I wanted to birth my baby. I wanted to grasp his slippery body as it came out of me, as we started our journey as two seperate beings. I wanted to be the first to hold him.... then someone pushed my hands away again and forced them back to my legs. And so again I pushed as "they" ordered, and baby boobalumba was born.

Strange, But as soon as he was delivered onto my belly, the human Dani completely took over again. I immediately reminded my midwife not to clamp the umbilical cord, and asked for a warmed blanket to put over both of us. Once the cord was cut a few minutes later, my midwife asked me to push to deliver the placenta. At that point one of the nurses made a motion to press on my belly and I immediately slapped her hand away and told her no, then told my midwife that I did not want any cord traction applied. As the epidural was now firmly in place and I had no feeling at all, I concentrated on muscle memory and pushed....HARD, delivering the placenta in one quick swoosh. After that, it went according to "the plan". At one point one of the nurses tried to rub Boobalumba down with a towel and I pushed her away again, but after that no one interfered with me and the baby, no one tried to weigh him or measure him or clean him. The left me alone to be with my baby.

Now that clarity had returned I could concentrate on my baby. Could interact with the people around me as a rational being again. I immediately started asking Nick for details and found out that Lynda had been kicked from the room, and that Nick had run out into the hallway as soon as Boobalumba was born to grab her and bring her back in. He also told me that the nurses wouldn't allow him to take a picture as our son was crowning. That made me so angry. But mostly I basked in the warmth of knowing that I DID IT!!!!

Oh I was MAD.

REALLY MAD!!! But on the surface I was able to enjoy the victory for what it meant to me personally: a personal validation that I was not broken. Though the birth had not gone even remotely as I had wished and my birth plan was basically trampled on by galloping hordes. I DID IT.

Writing this down, now over a week later, I am able to verbalize many things that at the moment were just notes that were stored away for later analysis. The basic need for understanding and support for the VBAC mother. Support and Care that is different than what other birthing mothers need. My personal story is one of vindication of a VBA3C mom. We are not broken. We are perfectly capable of birthing our babies without the surgeons knife. My story I hope will inspire those that were there- the OB Doctor, the L&D Nurses, my midwives- to realize that it IS possible. That it is something that can be achieved if only women are given the choice. I didn't have the "choice". I Demanded that they allow it. I didn't have their support, nor their understanding. I had to rely solely upon myself and my husband, knowing that if we wavered even for a moment- as we came so close to doing several times- we would be engulfed by the medical machine and processed as yet another number. Our birth is now a number, but one that is important: the first VBA3C to be born in Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and by the Cambridge midwives group. I hope that through my experience they will use that to open doors to more VBAC mothers. I hope that my story inspires others to make choices for themselves and to learn from my mistakes and my victories. We CAN do it. But we will have to fight for our Rights, and continue to fight to make the changes needed so that other women will Not have to fight the same battle.