I am so beyond thrilled to be writing this! I absolutely cannot believe I have a baby girl. I’m over the moon in some other wonderful universe right now!
I originally wrote this for Nora in her baby book, but I also wanted to share it because I personally LOVE reading birth stories. And I love reliving the day over and over, so even just writing this down is exciting.
My birth story starts back in December of 2021, even though Nora was born January 13th, 2022 at 3:36pm, weighing 7 lbs and 14 ounces. Around the 19th of December, I started to feel increased exhaustion, like I literally could not get up off the couch. I was tired because of work and taking care of my older child, but this was exhaustion I have never felt before! I’d drop Owen off at school and I would come back home and immediately would take a nap, and I’m not really a napper, even while pregnant. I also started throwing up more frequently. At the time, I completely assumed it was pregnancy related; fatigue + N/V are completely normal symptoms of pregnancy obviously. I went to work at the hospital day shift on Christmas Eve with no real symptoms, but by the end of my shift, I started to lose my voice. I remember giving report to the on coming RN and just feeling so crummy. I could barely speak. It wasn’t until my husband started getting sick the next morning (Christmas morning) and me getting a low-grade fever that we realized we should get tested for COVID. Derp! (Spend enough time as a COVID RN you just overlook things sometimes). We both came back positive and cue the horrible COVID cough! And it ended up lingering for months! (I got COVID again in December of 2022 and thankfully it was like a mild cold but this one while 37 weeks pregnant was rough!). I also had body aches and extreme fatigue that took more than a full week to get rid of. At the time, I was 37 weeks pregnant. I was so terrified of going into labor early, the effects of COVID and my placenta (clotting issues), not having my doula, or that I would feel incredibly fatigued during labor, that I would have to wear a mask while laboring, and that all of this was definitely going to ruin my chances of having a VBAC (Vaginal delivery after c-section). Luckily Nora waited a few days until we were out of quarantine 🙂 thanks girl!
Because of having COVID, my doctor’s office didn’t want to see me at the practice. This was in the winter of 2021, when everyone was literally getting COVID. We saw a huge spike in cases that month, so not surprised we all had it at home. So many RNs were out of the work at this point that the CDC was hella scared for staffing and changed their recommendations that staff could go back to work after 5 days (with some exceptions). At this point though, because they didn’t want to see me even though I could go back to work taking care of some sick patients, it had been like 4 weeks since I saw my OB doctor. I was definitely freaked out because I felt like I didn’t have any support gearing toward her birth. I didn’t have my GBS swab done and I still didn’t even know if baby girl was OK nor if she was still head down. My son was breeched my whole pregnancy and the little stinker refused to turn, he even wrapped around the cord a few times so it was absolutely necessary to deliver him via cesarean section. So not knowing if Nora would be the same, I had a lot of anxiety. It was odd because as a nurse, I was able to go back to work faster with COVID than I was able to get ROUTINE care at my OB. And I 100% think a lot of this contributed to Nora’s birth being pretty eventful!
On January 10th & 11th, 2022, I starting have prodromal labor and didn’t really know it at the time.
I had period-like cramps and tightening in my abdomen that I just figured were Braxton hicks, which I had throughout the end of my pregnancy.
On the evening of the 11th, I cuddled with my son and laid with him until he fell asleep. I went back downstairs to join my hubby on the couch after putting him to bed. My husband and I were on the last episode of a Netflix show called Midnight Mass. We were binging random show at this point because of recovering from COVID and also knowing things would change a bit when little bb came. After we finished the last episode in the show, I jumped on my yoga ball, ate my 6 dates that everyone swears helps them have a calm and peaceful delivery, and I drank my raspberry leaf tea with a scoop of honey before we headed to bed.
On January 12th at around 0530, I felt like I had peed myself. Honestly this wasn’t anything new at this point, lol, I coughed so hard when I had COVID that I had to wear full on nighttime maxi pad to bed. This felt a little different though because I wasn’t peeing and I wasn’t moving and it was a larger quantity. I thought maybe my water had broken but I also thought I was crazy and peed myself. I had my 39 week appointment in a few hours that morning anyways so I figured I’d address it then. So that morning, Matthew and I dropped Owen off at school. I gave him an extra big hug and kiss too because I was thinking maybe this is it. Maybe I won’t see him again for awhile. I told him “remember, if daddy picks you up from school today, that means Nora is on her way!” (For those of you that don’t know, my son has a different father than Nora). I also texted my amazing doula, Hannah, to let her know what was going on. She said to make sure to let my doctor know and that they can quickly test for amniotic fluid at the office. I also spoke with my mom on the phone that morning about me debating on doing a membrane sweep or not. I was telling her how excited I was that I was less than 2 weeks away! I was also crossing my fingers that these mild contractions were real. And I was a little unsure about wanting my water to be broken because I wanted to be further along with my contractions and I did not want to be induced.
My husband and I left for our appointment a little bit after taking Owen to school. At my appointment, I told my doctor about the trickles of fluid that happened early that morning. I also figured since we were doing my GBS swab, I might as well have her do a cervical check. I was considering a member sweep (if my water didn’t break), but was leaning more towards not doing it. Well..my water did break. Some of it anyways. Which would explain why some people may be saying, “OF COURSE YOU WOULD KNOW IF YOUR WATER BROKE”. My doctor ended up doing a sweep to help me get further along. I was too excited to think logically and kind of regret this now. Also, it did not hurt like many people said it may. I remember my OB telling us “looks like you’re having a baby soon! Congrats!”. Matthew and I just stared at each other in complete disbelief that this was happening now! We both looked at each other with tears in our eyes and he goes “I can’t believe we’re having a baby!” I was so excited to be doing this with him! At the time, I was 3 cm dilated/70 effaced/-2 station. Nora’s head was well applied to my cervix and everything was looking really good for my VBAC!!!
My doctor suggested we go into the hospital that day. She also handed me my GBS swab to take with me since it takes a few days in the office. So the vag swab went in my purse and went with me lol. She also told us to take our time, wrap up things that we needed to, and then head to L&D. I really wanted to labor at home as long as I possibly could, but I knew with my water breaking prematurely (pretty much without strong contractions) that if I stayed and labored at home, I would eventually be risking infection and putting Nora in danger. And I was also worried about my blood pressure since that week it was higher than normal and that day it was elevated.
Hubby and I cried happy tears on the ride back home, calling all of our friends and family, screaming “it’s time! My water broke!” When we got home from our appointment, I took a quick shower while Matthew last minute packed his bag 🙂 I remember feeling some pretty good contractions in the shower. I did my deep breathing and relaxed under the warm water which really helped. We got everything ready and loaded up the car. Well Matthew did anyways. He treated me like a princess the whole pregnancy 🙂 Ladies, find yourself that man! I also made sure that my son’s dad would be able to come grab his stuffed animals and library book that he would need for school that were at my house. My husband made us yummy lunch and we ate together and chatted about how d excited we were. We were so nervous and excited that we would be coming back home with our baby. We made sure that the cats had a ton of extra food and water as well as my son’s gerbils. I bounced on my birthing ball for quite awhile at the suggestion of my doula. We wanted to keep baby progressing and movement is so important for that. Then my husband and I finally headed into L&D at around 1500. My doula Hannah and I made a game plan and she was going to meet us there when we were ready. I sent a quick text to my boss to let her know I was in labor and that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to my weekend shifts.
When we arrived at the hospital, we got settled into our room and we started discussing the plan. I agreed to low and slow Pitocin, though I never wanted that to be my plan. (Also, they never did low and slow. Lol. Basically cranked that shit up to whatever they wanted. And I was too in labor to realize). In the moment, so much changed. I just kind of was so excited to have my baby, I didn’t really feel I was thinking clearly or the best advocate for myself. I’m thankful my doula was there so we could reach a happy medium on what L&D wanted and what I wanted. My water ended up completely breaking when we got to the hospital. I knew I was kind of on a “time clock” with my water breaking at this point though, and we had to get this thing started. I didn’t want to risk getting an infection. They decided not to do any antibiotics even without a GBS+ swab because they didn’t feel I had any risk factors.
I put on my beautiful robe that I had ordered for this special occasion. It was so soft and comfortable! I knew I didn’t want to labor in a hospital gown & I still needed something open and flexible. I wore mesh undies & I bought a few specific nursing bras to labor in. (I decided on a black nursing bra from Target). I asked for a birthing ball to bounce on because I wanted to continue getting baby girl into position. I bounced on the ball for awhile and facetime’d with my mother the best I could. At this time with COVID, only one support person was allowed in the room, as well as certified doula. They hung LR (aka Lactated Ringers) with the Pitocin. When my doula Hannah showed up, we got right to work! She was awesome! I started feeling some intense contractions. I definitely think they were so much worse because of the Pitocin. Hannah brought some essential oils to ease my nausea and to help me relax. She also brought muscle rub with essential oils that she massaged on my back. She put me in ALL the positions to get baby girl moving. We had music on then music off (because I couldn’t make up my mind!) and we kept breathing through the contractions together. Labor is weird haha. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a party in the room or like quiet to focus on my breathing with Hannah. Lol.
I was hanging out around 3cm for awhile when my blood pressure took a turn for the worst. Every time they checked it, it just kept creeping up. They were seriously stressing me the F out. My BP was anywhere from 150s to 190s and one time it was well over 200.
They immediately wanted to jump to magnesium (which prevents seizures and even death), so yeah, understandable. But this was at a time when my BP was fluctuating. It would be 120’s, then 130’s, they’d stress me out and then it’d go up to 160s. Because of the terrible side effects of a Mag gtt (aka drip), I wanted to try IV labetalol first, which decreases BP and was safe for me. Labetalol never seems to work though, at least from what I see a nurse. But I felt it was worth a shot over jumping straight to a mag gtt. I never have luck with it for my patients, so of course it didn’t work for me. Lol But I was going through contractions and couldn’t think. I also knew it was time to start the mag drip for my safety and baby’s safety so I agreed to it. I did not have a great experience through this with the providers and nurses though. They seemed angry because I wanted to have a few moments to think about things every time a new intervention was presented, it was extremely distressing. I like to weigh my options and just needed a moment to breath. Laboring at a hospital isn’t ideal to me but I personally, not ever in a million years, would do a home birth, especially not as a TOLAC/VBAC. Nothing felt natural of my experience, every minute of peace was constantly interrupted by residents and nurses who seemed annoyed, but I am so glad I was closely monitored and at the hospital because my BP ended up randomly turning into severe preeclampsia. My feet were all poofy and I was a hot mess!
After the magnesium drip started, everything felt like it went downhill. I immediately got a severe headache and I felt like I was hit by a bus. I was so nauseated too. I felt drunk and like I was back in my college days experimenting with god knows what! Lol.
While I was having my college throwbacks with the magnesium drip, the pain kept increasing. The nurse gave me some Raglan (for nausea) and Benadryl. I felt even more tired at that point. I labored as long as I could. I had no clue how far along I was because we tried to limit cervical checks, especially with my water being broken.
Late in the evening I decided to get an epidural. The Pitocin plan changed everything and I truly believe it brought on the contractions even harder and a more painful. Nothing felt natural about it at all. Every time they turned it up and down, my body would feel totally confused. I was around 7 or 8cm at this time. The epidural didn’t work very much. I could feel almost everything on my right side and some on my left. The anesthesiologist tried to come replace it but it didn’t work. It hurt SO much. At around 0200 Jan 13th, I really started feeling intense pressure with contractions. I started to stall for awhile though and everything was unchanged at 0457. Except Matthew, he was still asleep. Haha he did take a good nap but I honestly could care less because I was in my zone focusing on my breathing with Hannah. And it was almost 24 hours since labor had started! Baby girl kept hanging out at 0 station. The Pitocin kept going up and down in relation to how Nora was doing. It was like intense contractions and then normal contractions and then intense again. I didn’t get any sleep and only mild pain relief but it was definitely better than nothing.
During this whole entire time, for like almost 24 hours, my doula rocked and put me in EVERY position to ease the pain along with doing amazing counter pressure. With every contraction, her counter pressure helped SO much. She also helped me relax and breath. My amazing husband would hold my hand at every contraction. They’d offer lots of water, chapstick (my lips got SO dry) and lots of encouragement.
At around 1030, I had so much pressure and that’s when I knew I was ready to push. Either that or I was going to shit myself. I wanted to wait though a little to make sure she was getting in position. We checked and sure enough I was fully dilated. The pain on my right side was unbearable at this point. Baby girl wasn’t getting into +1 station though either, but I was beyond ready to push. I pushed for about 4 hours in every position, with my husband, my doula, amazing supportive nurses and doctors at my side. I got lucky because the nurses and doctors on shift while I pushed were amazing! They all wanted me to have my VBAC. They had all different nurses come in to try and help and see if we could come up with any different ideas to get baby girl to go down just ever so slightly. Through all of the time I was pushing, we did every single thing we could to get her to come out. They motivated me when we could see her head and her hair by bringing a mirror in. I pushed and pushed and pushed for four hours. I was absolutely exhausted from the lack of sleep, how much I had labored, the pain, getting into every position, and the mag drip. Let me tell you, I would have kept going forever if Nora had a chance to come out vaginally, but four hours was getting to the max they were comfortably with. I did not want to deal with a c-section recovery for the second time though and not just that, it’s major major surgery and comes with a lot of risks! But at that point, it was arrest of descent. Baby girl couldn’t move much with my water breaking early the day before, and it was almost 3 pm the next day at this point.
I had been planning for months, pretty much years, for a VBAC. I had my heart and soul set on it. C sections are difficult. The recovery is harsh & it’s just difficult given the nature of the surgery. But I remember looking at the doctor, and as a nurse, you just know their looks, Nora was just not coming out. Meconium was present too, so the NICU would be in the room and on standby anyways, so everything was getting risky as is. I agreed to have a repeat c section. I was bawling. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard in my life. lol. Nothing worse than laboring for a day and now to go enjoy them cutting all the layers of your stomach opened – yay! Let’s go!
When my doctor was in front of me telling me all the risks to the surgery, it was weird because I was bawling and the only thing I could do to ease the pain was to keep pushing through contractions. So, I would have a contraction and then be like brb to the doctor and then come back from my zen like “and what other risks did you say?” I did this all while they prepped me for surgery. It was definitely painful mentally to push while knowing it was for nothing too.
Because the epidural was not working, we obviously had to do a spinal block. I felt like I was overdosed from everything and had a hard time breathing at one point. Everything was so different than my first c section. It was chaotic in the room and not a pleasant experience. I remember feeling super sad too. I got so nauseated from all the medications, I was only able to half side tilt my head into a tiny dish next to my husband and throw up a bunch of water. My amazing husband stayed at my side and helped calm me down. Then out of nowhere I got a reaction from who knows what and I started to have extreme itching all on my chest, arms, and neck. They then gave me IV Benadryl and at this point, I felt like I was dead. Between laboring and pushing, the horrible effects of the magnesium drip, the epidural not working fully, and my blood pressure, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I was as pale as I could have been because I was losing and lost a lot of blood.
Nora was born on January 13th, 2022 at 3:36 pm weighing 7 lbs and 14 ounces. I didn’t get to see or touch her right away because they took her over to the NICU team to check her out. She did have a little trouble breathing. The decision was then made for her to get an X-ray of her chest and take her to the NICU for observation. They came over to me and I finally got to meet her like 15 minutes after she was born. I gave her kisses and rubbed her face next to mine. Her cry was so beautiful and healthy! Matthew went with her to the NICU. That was always the plan. But it still suck to be left alone. my baby was gone and I felt so exposed being stitched up on the OR table at this point alone. I was mentally exhausted and a little disoriented. It felt so isolating. They wheeled me in a bed into the NICU to see Nora before I had to go PACU to be monitored post surgery. I had to continue the Mag drip for 24 hours after she was born too, bummer!!! Because guess what? You can’t go to the NICU without a RN if you are on a mag drip.
I remember sitting all alone in the PACU without anyone with me and I felt pretty weird. I had this incredible little life growing inside of me for last 9 months and just like that she was gone and I couldn’t even hold her or cuddle her. It was an awful feeling. I was texting Matthew though and he kept me updated on Nora and sent me photos. I was so ready to hold my baby girl! Im so glad Matthew got to be with her. I wouldn’t have changed that at all.
Finally we went up to the maternity floor and got settled in our room. Matthew met me there so he could help me and we could get situated. I wasn’t allowed to go to the NICU without a RN chaperone due to the Mag drip and it’s side effects. My vision was blurry and I felt off so it was probably for the best though. But at the time I was super annoyed. My husband is a nurse too so I felt safe going with him. Plus, I had to wait for the nurse to find time out of her shift to take me down to the NICU, so it sucked!
At around 8pm, I was blurry-eyed, disorganized and exhausted as I was wheeled downstairs to the NICU to finally hold my baby girl in my arms. I was so nervous to hold her. I hadn’t done this in almost 7 years. She was so beautiful. She had this little grumpy nose too. I had so many emotions ripping through me. There’s nothing better than holding your baby for the first time. I got to spend about an hour with Nora and Matthew and then I got wheeled back upstairs. For the remainder of the night, I’d set my alarm for every two hours and I would wake up to pump colostrum and Matthew would bring it down to the NICU. We did this until the next day when I was 24 hours on the magnesium drip and could be taken off it. From there, Matthew would wheel me down until I could slowly walk from the maternity unit to the NICU. We did this every 2-3 hours for a full week at the hospital. I didn’t get discharged as early as expected because I ended up losing a lot of blood and required a blood transfusion and more monitoring of my blood pressure. I had to take BP and iron supplements for awhile too.
Nora wasn’t in critical condition, but the NICU team, pulmonologist, and surgery team had some concerns for her pneumomediamstinum and a very small pneumothorax. She was asymptomatic for the most part except in the beginning after birth (she required minimal supplemental oxygenation). They had a lot of questions and unknowns around Nora’s chest X-ray (CXR) & CT scan. Before we left, they got second opinions from John Hopkin’s & Penn State Hershey Medical Center. We had a lot of appointments set up outpatient that as soon as we left the hospital we were back into another one.
Nora was exactly a week old when we got to take her home! It was the best day ever when they told us we could FINALLY go home! Before then, we were completely in the unknown as they worked through what to do. They were also comfortable with us taking her home because we are both nurses so we are able to easily spot the signs and symptoms of anything funky going on.
I was starving on the car ride home so we stopped and got Chick-fil-A 🙂 I parked my booty on the couch as soon as we got home. I ate my yummy food and watched Horrible Bosses 2 while I cuddled my new baby girl. Owen stayed at his dad’s house that evening (and was with him the whole time we were in the hospital) to let us get adjusted at home for the first night. Nora was breastfeeding like a champ, but it was absolutely not without its challenges. I cried a few times but we worked through it. I ended up needing a lactation consultant for my heavy let-down.
Nora’s big brother was so nervous and excited to meet her, and for the most part, didn’t know what to do. He rubbed her head like she was a China glass doll. He loves his baby sister so much! We’ve really nestled into our life as a family, and a blended one, and we couldn’t be more in love and happy. This is the story I’ll tell Nora. This is the story that’ll be written in her baby book.
My beautiful sweet Nora, you’re a piece of me I didn’t even know I was missing.
Even though Nora’s birth was filled with quite a lot of events, I would change a single thing! The only things I would have reconsidered would have been less interventions from the hospital. I felt like it made a cascade of more interventions. I honestly still plan on attempting a VBA2C with the next baby, but I know it will be difficult in the area I live in to find a supportive provider. It really is split about vaginal delivery after 2 c sections. I have studied this very deeply and Matthew and I are comfortable with attempting another one, and that the uterine rupture risk is still very low. many doctors find c sections easier for schedules, more profit, and less liability, so it’s no wonder the rate is so high. ACOG recommends the c section rate should be 10-15% and it is literally over 30% in United States right now. There is nothing wrong with c sections and inductions, I just believe we should be given all the information and not coerced into doing what’s easiest. Many woman are induced just because it’s easier and for no clinical indication , and it has been studied that being induced increases your chances of a c section. My whole pregnancy we talked about the very slim rare chance of my uterus rupturing, and very slim chance of it being catastrophic if it did indeed, yet never, not once, did any go over the risks of a repeat c section during my pregnancy. I am just a strong believer in education and woman getting to decide what is best for their body and baby!
So, I’d you have any questions on VBACs, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Or if you have questions in general 🙂 this is such a passionate topic of mine!