I started typing this post in the wee hours of the morning (4:37 AM, to be precise) of my induction with Sophie. At 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my little rainbow baby, I woke up long before the sun to head to my induction. For those who aren’t aware, I attempted what is called a VBAC — vaginal birth after caesarean — since Jordan was born via emergency C-section.
And, I am pleased to report, my VBAC was a smashing success! In this post, I want to take the time to put Sophie’s birth story down in words.
This pregnancy was leaps and bounds different from my pregnancy with Jordan. While I had subchorionic hemorrhages with both Jordan and Sophie, that’s about where the similarities stop. With Jordan I threw up virtually every day of the first trimester — often multiple times a day. With Sophie I was quite nauseated and averse to eating, but otherwise didn’t throw up at all (until I caught a stomach bug around 30 weeks!). With Jordan my hemorrhage was pretty severe; we were given a 50/50 chance of losing him. This led to me being on partial bedrest for much of my first trimester. With Sophie the hemorrhage was quite minor; I think I maybe was told to take it easy for a week, but we were never in fear of losing her, and the bleeding was so minor compared to that with Jordan.
As for the second trimester and onward, with Jordan my pregnancy was rife with problems. Sure, I aced my glucose test with flying colors, and I never once developed high blood pressure, but he gave us so many scares with pre-term contractions and frequent drops in movement. I can’t even count the number of non-stress tests (NSTs) I had with him, not to mention a number of bio-physical profiles (BPPs) and ER visits.
So, despite having a small hemorrhage, my pregnancy with Sophie was arguably a cake walk in comparison! I feel incredibly lucky to have felt physically fantastic throughout this pregnancy. I was able to continue running up until the third trimester, at which point I happily switched to daily elliptical training. Plus my placenta with Sophie was posterior, compared to it being anterior with Jordan, which meant that I was able to feel her movements much more easily than I was with his. Also, while I carried both of my children quite low (you couldn’t tell I was pregnant on all those quarantine Zoom calls!), Jordan must have sat funny or something, because from about 28 weeks onward with him, I had awful nerve pain in my hips that made sleeping very difficult. I expected the same with Sophie but was very pleasantly surprised to have none.
On the morning of December 7th, 2020, I checked into the hospital bright and early at 6:30 AM. After a few minutes spent signing paperwork and getting insurance cards scanned, a nurse came and got me from the L&D waiting room. Her name was Shannon, and she was an absolute rock star! Shannon reminded me that my plan to attempt a VBAC came with both benefits and risks (namely, uterine scar rupture, which can be deadly). We did copious amounts of research going into this pregnancy, and with my OB’s full support, I felt confident in my decision to attempt a VBAC.
It was around 7:15 by the time Shannon had my IV hooked up and my OB had come to do a cervical check. I was 3cm dilated, 0 station, and 90% effaced (which are pretty decent stats for starting an induction!). Shannon started me on a very, very low dose of Pitocin (all other induction medications are contraindicated for VBACs). I had heard that Pitocin contractions are truly heinous, but to be honest they were not bad at all for the first couple of hours.
At 9:15 my OB came by to check on me and to break my waters manually. A crochet hook type device is used to do this, and I promise it is not nearly as barbaric or horrifying as it sounds. (Believe me, I am a wimp and was SCARED to have this done without pain meds, but it was easy peasy). Something about having my waters broken triggered labor to really kick into high gear, because literally immediately my contractions became unbearable.
I went into the induction process undecided on whether or not to get an epidural, but at this point (maybe around 10:15?) I just couldn’t tolerate the pain. Shannon called the anesthesiologist, and he was a rock star too. We laughed and chatted and bonded over the marathons we’ve each run, and before I knew it I had my epidural, around 10:40 AM.
At 11:45, my OB came by to check on me. I was still only 3cm dilated — bummer! Shortly after that, at noon, Shannon had me switch to my side and use a peanut ball between my knees. She also gave me some cherry jello, which I ate in approximately 2.5 spoonfuls, as I was starving by this point!
Something about the jello and peanut ball must’ve helped, because by 1 o’clock I was already 5cm! However, baby’s heart rate dropped occasionally during contractions, so my OB decided to place what’s called an IUPC in my uterus. The purpose of this was to make sure my contractions weren’t too strong that they would risk rupturing my scar (or too weak that they wouldn’t dilate me).
By 2 o’clock, I was 6cm, which was fantastic progress. However, I was seriously stressing out about baby’s occasional heart rate decelerations. My sweet OB reassured me that she was monitoring everything and that these sorts of decelerations during contractions were fairly common during this stage of labor.
My body was making quick progress with labor, as I was 8cm dilated by 3:15 PM. Baby was also tolerating labor much better now that I switch to laying on my left side permanently. She was also descending and now +1 station!
Mentally I felt so much better since baby’s decelerations had stopped, but physically this is when I started feeling pretty awful. I began to feel very, very cold and shaky. I physically couldn’t hold still, and I began feeling nauseated. It turns out my blood pressure was dropping due to the epidural, which was causing me to feel very unwell. I threw up and felt as though I might have fainted (which I very nearly did — my BP dropped to 80/50 at one point). Shannon, being a rock star, was on hand to give me a quick dose of meds to raise my blood pressure each time I felt ill.
By 4:30, I was fully dilated (hooray!), and it was time to start pushing. This was it. The finish line was visible. I was anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours away from meeting my precious rainbow baby.
Shannon coached me through how to push. I had been concerned that I wouldn’t know what to do when told to push, but really, it does come naturally. I pushed 3x per contraction, and slowly but surely, baby Sophie began her descent.
My OB was called in around 5:45 or 6 o’clock, and she took over the push coaching. Towards the end, she had me pushing 4x per contraction. Before I knew it, my OB told the nurse to call in the nursery staff, while she stepped away to put on a disposable gown. I knew this meant it was time!
The next thing I knew, nurses from the nurses swept into the room and prepared the little bed they use to examine the baby, and my doctor came back in wearing her scrubs. I can’t recall how many contractions were left at this point — maybe two or three? Despite the epidural, I could totally feel it when Sophie slid down the birth canal (doing a 180 turn as she did so!).
And so, at 6:33 PM, Sophie was born!
Immediately they placed Sophie on my chest, in all of her screaming newborn glory. It was love at first sight, and let me tell you, I had truly forgotten just how TINY newborns are! Miss Sophie weighed in at 7lb2oz and was 19 3/4 inches long. In other words, absolutely perfect 🙂
I was fortunate to only have minor tearing, which my OB stitched up while I snuggled in with my baby. I think that on a loop in my head was the following: “OMG, she’s here,” “She’s so tiny and perfect,” and “I did it! I had my VBAC!” Given that the odds were stacked against me succeeding with a VBAC (since I went past 40 weeks and needed an induction), I feel inordinately overjoyed to have achieved this VBAC, and with zero complications too.
I’m only 8 days postpartum at this point, but physically I can honestly say that I feel 100% back to normal. My stitches and tear don’t bother me at all, and I haven’t needed Tylenol in days. That’s a far cry from where I was physically 8 days after my C-section with Jordan, which was a huge reason why I wanted this VBAC so badly. Plus, I’ve already been able to lift my 30-pound toddler and drive my car, from day one of getting home from the hospital. Compared to recovery from major abdominal surgery, that’s huge.
If any moms-to-be reading this post are considering a VBAC (particularly one via induction after 40 weeks!), I want to invite you to please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I am happy to talk about my experience. I must’ve Googled “VBAC induction after 40 weeks” a zillion times in the days leading up to my own induction, and the stories out there are sparse. So I wanted to do my part to add one more story and give hope to anyone out there hoping for a VBAC.