My VBAC Story by Keshia
Today I read an address from Dieter F. Utchdorf called “Continue In Patience.” As I read it, I fell in the love with the principle of patience…there is something very sanctifying about it. There are reasons why the Lord has us wait for things. Patience is a godly attribute that cultivates understanding and a willingness to accept God’s will. I hadn’t realized how selfish I was being by trying to make my baby come before the right time. He says in the article, “Sometimes it is in the waiting rather than the receiving that we grow the most.” I have thought about the things that I have gained and experienced in this past week that I wouldn’t have if my baby had come two weeks ago. President Utchdorf said that patience is not merely waiting, it is actively working toward something and enduring well by not getting disappointed when it doesn’t happen when you want it to.
Little did I know, I had a lot more patience to learn. That night after writing about patience, I started having contractions at about 1 a.m. I thought, “Wow, I guess the Lord thinks I learned what I needed to about patience and now its here!” What an ironic thought because, to make a long story short, I had contractions averaging ten minutes apart for the next two and half days. After 42 hours since the first contraction, I went into the hospital with contractions 4-5 minutes apart only to find that I was only dilated 1 cm. My midwife said that apparently I just have a really sensitive uterus. I was devastated…how could I have gone through all those contractions for almost two whole days and only be dilated 1 tiny cm!? I wrote about my whole labor for my own personal records and memory, but I think it will suffice here to say that those three days were a giant roller coaster of ups and downs and learning to endure to the end and try to endure well.
That night we stayed in a hotel in Rexburg because we didn’t want to make the hour drive back home physically or emotionally. The next day when I went in the be checked around noon and was at 5 cm, the only thing I could say was, “Finally!” The excitement returned as we went up to the hospital. After 4 hours and no progression in dilation we choose to have my water broke around 4 pm. Things went quickly from there. I decided after that to try out the Jacuzzi because my back was starting to really hurt and I wanted to get that feeling better before things got really intense. I wasn’t in the tub long before the contractions got stronger and I suddenly realized that I was going into “Laborland”…I was not conscious of the things around me and I felt like I was in a different world. That was when I knew that this was really happening. It was difficult getting out of the bath and back to the room because I did not have much time in between contractions anymore. I had referred pain in my upper thighs, not in my uterus area, which was odd and very uncomfortable. I had Juan on one side and my mom on the other, rubbing on my legs during contractions while I leaned on the side of the bed. This was the one time when I questioned out loud whether or I could do this. I didn’t mean it though. It was a pivotal time because I felt stupid questioning myself because I realized that I knew that I could do it and would do it the whole time. I just didn’t know what to do next. During this time, I found strength in just talking to my baby out loud. I begged him to come out so that I could hold him. I told him I loved him and that I knew that we could do this together. I said please, please, please, come out to me over and over again. This partnership that I built with him was very powerful and instrumental in getting me through.
I finally decided that my legs were very tired and that I should get in the bed and rest for a while. I had been pretty set on not getting in the bed and had wanted to give birth standing up or squatting. I think that refusing to get in the bed was symbolic of me being the one in control. I eventually got in the bed on my own terms though. It was only a few contractions later that I told Rachel that I wanted to push. I knew that when I was time that I would feel the urge to, but I didn’t really feel it, I just wanted to. Rachel said that she would need to check me first to make sure that I was fully dilated, which I resisted but she finally did. She said I was complete and that I could push if I felt the urge to. I was so surprised when she said this and I almost questioned whether or not I should push or not because I didn’t feel a strong urge. I wanted to so badly though so I just tried it and the urge started to come and it felt right. From this point on I was so happy that I was finally pushing and that my baby was going to come to me soon. I continued to talk to my baby throughout. Rachel had said earlier that because I was a first timer that I would probably be pushing for two and a half hours. There is no way I was going to let it go that long and I set out to do otherwise. I never felt so determined in my life! My husband’s encouragement meant the world to me during this part. He told me that he could see our baby’s hair and said, “You’re doing it,” “You’re almost there,” “Good job, Keshia.” I knew that he was proud of me. He has always been supportive me, and had challenged me beforehand as to whether I would really do it or “fold.” (Which didn’t bother me because his way of strengthening me has never been by babying me). He understood that it was up to me to decide that…and now I was doing it! I realized after that even though other people’s belief in me was important, their belief wasn’t that strong and the only real important thing was that I believed in myself. Even though it was hard throughout and there were times when I felt more down than up, I always knew inside of me that I would do it.
Rachel said to me a couple pushes before he was out, “Congratulations! You are going to have a successful VBAC because even if we have problems at this point he is low enough down that we would use the vacuum.” I think she expected me to be pushing for quite a bit longer. And then I heard them start talking about the baby’s heart rate not being good. They put an oxygen mask on me and then Rachel asked someone to go call the Doctor because they were going to need him to use the vacuum to get the baby out. No way was I going to let them vacuum out my baby, and I think I knew intuitively that it wouldn’t happen that way either. I didn’t want them taking away my job of pushing…I knew I had to get this baby out and so on the next few pushes I gave it my all. The doctor never made it with the vacuum. Feeling that “ring of fire” when I was pushing my baby’s head out was the most elated feeling. Although I know that logically it was the worst pain I ever felt in my life, my brain didn’t process it like that. I was just so happy that my baby was coming out to me. One more push and his body was out and then I was holding him on my stomach. I kept talking to him just as I had been for the past two hours and told him how happy I was that he was finally here. Corbin was born at 6:28 p.m., two and half hours after my water was broken. He weighed 6 pounds even, 18.5 inches in length.
Rather than pushing for two and a half hours like Rachel predicted, I only pushed for twenty minutes, and it even felt like less. I had two second-degree tears, one on my perineum and on my labia. Because I had pushed so hard, I also had very severe bruising and swelling. As I thought afterward, I realized that everything that I had read about controlled pushing had never even come to my mind. I definitely did some intense “purple pushing” (although not with the nurse’s or doctor’s direction to do so). I felt bad that I had gotten so hurried about getting him out that I didn’t take time to get in control and then maybe I wouldn’t have been in so much pain afterward and I wouldn’t have torn and bruised so badly. As I thought more about it though, I realized that I did what I felt I needed to do and couldn’t have done it in any other way. If I hadn’t pushed so hard and so fast, my baby may have had complications because of the low heart rate and loss of oxygen that he was experiencing and the vacuum would have most likely been used. Sometimes we question the way that things pan out, but if we take time to ponder and listen to the Spirit, the Lord will teach us that His hand is in all things and that there is a good reason for the things that happen when we trust in His lead.
Some people said, “Oh, this recovery must be so much easier because you didn’t have a cesarean.” Actually, this was comparable…either I had stitches on my stomach or stitches down low. With the cesarean I could at least sit down. But the main difference in recovery was in the first hours and day, where with the cesarean I was almost non-coherent in regards to anything that was going on, this time, I really got to experience my baby and what it was like to give birth. I was actually there and I did it! A cesarean was not easy and neither was a natural vaginal birth, and I am a different person because of both experiences.
Giving birth was amazing…and hard. Very hard. It all caused me to think about why I wanted this birth so bad…and I knew I did, deep inside of me. After that though, I said what they say women always do, “I am never doing that again! No more children!” And I really felt like I meant it. (Even after only a few days that has faded. My aunt said that Heavenly Father has a way of making you forget.) I even had the thought for a split second, “Maybe I should just go for the cesarean again,” which I never thought I would say after all I went through to have a VBAC and am almost ashamed that I thought. That’s the “natural man” though, always looking for the easy way out. Why is natural childbirth so worth it then? Why am I so glad that did it? Why would I put all the effort into doing it again? What do you gain by choosing the hard way rather than the easy way? These are questions that I am still trying to understand. I think that as human beings there is strength to be found in accomplishing hard things, in making choices, and in acting for ourselves. The key principle of our Heavenly Father is that we would have agency and act for ourselves. We learn by having our own experiences, and its usually the hard ones that teach us the most and result in the most joy.
I read somewhere about how it is important for a woman to go up against the biggest wall she has ever come to and conquer it, realizing that she is truly strong. And I do feel strong. I think that Heavenly Father knows that as women we need that…we need that reassurance that we are strong and able. My birthing experience is something that I will be able to look back on during other trials in life when I am wondering if I can really do it. I can. I did.
It took me a long time to be able to get out in words the way that I felt about my birthing experience. I have found that learning comes from pondering and thinking about experiences, not just the experiences themselves. I feel like I still have a lot to learn about it as I continue to ponder and as time progresses. I am grateful for this new little person in my life and new person I am becoming everyday as a result of the hard things that the Lord shows me I can conquer.