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  • Writer's pictureLisa Grossman, RN, IBCLC

My Unplanned, Unmedicated 16 Minute VBAC!

It happened 8 weeks ago and I think I am still in shock!

My first birth was an induction. The baby was measuring big and we scheduled an induction at 39 weeks in hopes that I would be able to deliver vaginally. To spare the details, a quick summary of my birth experience entails an induction with an epidural that did not work, at 22 hours I was complete at 10/100/+3 (my cervix was completely dilated & effaced and baby's head was crowning), I pushed for 4 hours and doctor called CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion - baby's head was too big to fit) and I ended up in the OR with a c-section. Yay (totally sarcastic)!

My second birth was a scheduled c-section per discussion with my OB. It was a breeze compared to my first birth experience. They told me what day and time to arrive. I knew what to expect after my first c-section (I also had experience recovering moms post c-section at the hospital because I was working as an in-patient postpartum nurse at the time). Pre-op was very relaxed, I was prepped for the surgery, baby was born and that is my second birth story.

My third birth, well, I was supposed to have another scheduled c-section at 39 weeks on February 8th. As you already know, this did not happen.

The night of January 25th I woke up in the middle of the night around 2:00am to use the restroom and went back to bed. Moments later I felt a pressure change and I knew that my water had broken. I woke my husband up and called my parents to come over to take care of our two kids. I was having some cramping and sensations of bathroom-related urgency but I figured it was just nerves. I took my time. I showered. My hospital bag was mostly packed but not completely (I was 37 weeks and I was in the middle of writing my blog post about what to pack in the hospital bag). I took some time to cross reference and make sure I had what I needed. My husband hadn't packed yet so we needed to take care of that. We also needed to install carseats for my kids in my parents car. My older son was starting distance learning with a new teacher that morning (I had pulled him from the hybrid class model due to the COVID case numbers) and I was orienting my mom on how to log him into all of his Zoom classes, school apps, etc.). Needless to say, I was not rushing nor did I think I needed to. Before we left for the hospital I started to have more cramping but it was sporadic, short, inconsistent and tolerable.

We left for the hospital a bit after 3:30am (maybe it was 3:40am, I can't quite remember). We hit EVERY light when we got off of the freeway. I started to feel the cramping intensify. Notice I am using the word cramping not contracting. These did not feel like real labor contractions (which I had experienced with my first). At one of the stop lights a cop was next to us and I jokingly told my husband to roll down the window and tell him that we are going to run all of the upcoming red lights because I am in labor. We laughed. I mean, I was in labor, but I didn't think I had progressed much at all. I called the hospital and told them that I was scheduled for a c-section in a couple of weeks but my water broke so I was coming in, just to give them a heads up. Maybe they wanted to start prepping the OR for me?

We arrive to the hospital and as my husband was parking I could feel everything intensifying. He walked into the ER to ask where I should go (the case numbers were really high at this time and we didn't know what the ER was going to be like so we thought it was best if I stayed in the car since the "cramping" was increasing). They told him to send me in. I arrived to the ER and they were asking me some questions for registration purposes and I now found myself having contractions and I could not speak when they were happening. The ER staff rushed me up to L&D in a wheelchair and I couldn't really sit. I told them I felt like I needed to use the restroom and they went faster and told me to try my best to sit for safety reasons.

They wheeled me up to L&D and the nicest nurse named Erin admitted me. The time was 4:13am. Instantly she told me to get undressed so she could check me. I kept feeling like I needed to use the bathroom and I could feel the contractions intensifying more. I asked if I should keep my Depends on since I would be going to the OR and I wasn't sure if I was still leaking fluid. She pretty much told me no and to hurry up in the nicest way possible. She checks me. She then tells me, "Ya, you're complete. You're having this baby now." I was so confused. How is this possible? I asked, "Are you going to take me to the OR now?" At this point there were a couple other nurses in the room and they all just kind of looked at me and one of them said, "There's no time, you are going to push this baby out, now." I didn't even know what to think at that point and I blurted out, "Can I have an epidural?!" I already knew the answer, I am not sure why I even tried asking. I think it was the pain talking.

They wheeled me into a labor room and it all happened so fast. There were 3 nurses there, I think more possibly but I remember Erin, Mia and Riley all being there and they were amazing. There were also a couple of doctors in the room. I was screaming and they were all telling me what to do to help push the baby out. They put the tocometer on and I remember them saying that the baby's heart rate was in the 90's, which I knew wasn't good. Then the baby's heart rate fell off of the monitor and I was freaking out in my head. I knew she needed to be delivered ASAP. They were discussing whether they should take me to the OR or not. I guess there was another patient who had just been rushed in there for an emergency c-section and someone had commented that there wasn't enough time to discuss and my baby needed to be born right away. The nurses guided me through pushing, telling me to put my chin to my chest and how to breathe through it. I had pushed a couple of times at this point and all of a sudden I felt this insane burning, painful sensation. At first I thought it was the ring of fire. Nope. Episiotomy. Unmedicated. Ouch. I pushed one final time and she was born! I didn't hear crying right away and it scared me since I knew there wasn't a reading on the monitor. It felt like minutes until I heard her cry, my husband said it was a few seconds but it felt like forever to me.

At 4:29am, 16 minutes after arrival, she was born! If I had taken any more time at home I could have had her in the car!

Unmedicated VBAC shared by South Bay Baby Care

They placed her on my chest and we did skin to skin (my favorite, The Golden Hour). I couldn't believe what had happened but I was happy that she was here and healthy. We continued doing skin to skin and then it was brought to my attention that my placenta really liked being where it was and did not want to detach. I knew what was coming next and I was just really hoping that I could deliver it without complication. No. It couldn't be that easy. Not for me. Skin to skin no more. My husband had to take her while the stubborn placenta was dealt with (I definitely would have lost hold of her with the pain that I was about to endure).

One doctor tried to manually remove the placenta a couple of times (I'll let you Google that one) and it didn't budge. They then had to insert 10 doses of Cytotec (in a place I never want medication to go ever again) one at a time. Ouch. Another doctor came in and explained that if the placenta didn't come out they were going to have to take me to the OR for a D&C. She gave it one last try and ohhhmyyy geeezzzz... birth was nothing compared to this. I mean, manual removal after birth with an episiotomy and NO pain medication... and now this is happening in the same location?! Unmedicated?! But she did it! The placenta was no longer attached.

You're probably thinking that I got to rest after this, right? No. The episiotomy needed to be sutured. Eh. They gave me a dose of Fentanyl at some point to help take the edge off. My body felt like it had endured some type of scene from GOT. The suturing took quite awhile but luckily the local Lidocaine injection helped with the pain. I recall the doctor asking the nurse for "another suture kit" quite a few times. I finally asked her, "How many sutures are you putting in?" And she very kindly answered, "One. One realllly long one."

After the suturing was done I finally was able to hold my baby girl skin to skin and breastfeed uninterrupted. It was amazing. It made me forget what I had just been through (kind of). It was later brought to my attention that I had hemorrhaged (+500 mL blood loss) and also acquired a new "H" friend from the crazy pushing... but I was okay! I didn't need a blood transfusion so all was good. As for the "H" friend... whatever. It's like a battle wound :).

My OB, Dr. Marshall, who is amazing, came to see me the next morning. There was no way she could have made it in time to my birth. All I wanted to know was when I could get back on my Peloton. She told me that I "Pelotoned" the baby out because I went on it every day while I was pregnant! But I did need to wait until my 4 week appointment before even considering going back on. Then I thought about what I had been through and figured I probably wouldn't want to go back on before then anyway :).

If you made it to the end, thanks for taking the time to read this! I think I've had almost every type of birth you could probably imagine... induction ending in an emergency c-section, scheduled c-section and an unmedicated VBAC. Feel free to reach out with any questions, I probably have some personal insight to share, ha!


Lisa Grossman

South Bay Baby Care Nursing Services, Inc.


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