Brooklyn Mae-Ann Johnson is a completely opposite experience than what I had with my first child, although it was still a roller coaster. Every day I prayed and begged God to allow me to have a VBAC. Something in me just wanted that whole “labor” experience that I didn’t get with my first. I never had any natural on-set contractions with Mitchell, just a drug-induced labor. Well, boy, oh boy, did I get what I asked for! This baby had a completely different agenda and my Heavenly Father answered my prayers to a T! He even gave her dark hair like her daddy’s, which is something I put in the suggestion box.
I’d had Braxton Hicks for about two weeks. They came and went, here and there. Nothing regular. Then on Monday night, August 12, I started having contractions that felt a little different than the Braxton Hicks. They were about every seven minutes. I tried to go to sleep, but I was too uncomfortable and the contractions were painful. I took a bath, watched TV and just worked through the contractions for a while. I was nervous because around 2:00 a.m. they were still only seven minutes apart, even though they were getting pretty intense.
I decided to wake up Chris at 3:00 a.m. and call my mom to come over. It was then that my labor took off. They were getting to be five minutes apart. Chris took a shower and I put some make up on. By this time my contractions were two to three minutes apart. My mom got there around 3:30 a.m. and we checked into the hospital shortly after. In triage, I was dilated to a five. They asked what method of pain management I wanted and I said an epidural without hesitation. I had planned and thought about trying to go natural, but that was NOT happening anymore.
We got into my birthing and recovery room, and by then I was in a LOT of pain and you could tell. My midwife said, “I’m going to check you because by the sound of it, you might be pretty far along.” I was at a nine. A nine?!?!?! Excuse me? In like an hour? She said that I could get an epidural, but by the time it kicked in, I would probably be kissing the top of my baby’s head. Oh boy! Natural it is then.
I got an IV put in, answered some questions, bounced on an exercise ball for a little while until it felt like I needed to push and with that, I climbed onto the bed. Through a really rough contraction I remember screaming and saying I couldn’t do this and that I wanted the epidural. Everyone (the nurses and midwife and Chris) were all really supportive and kept telling me that I was doing a good job. Kristin, my midwife, told me it was okay and that I could do this. I was going to be done soon. I said a prayer and remembered a book I read that said I should remind myself that soon I’d be holding my baby and it would all be over quickly. I prayed to my Heavenly Father and felt like I was told that I could do it. I remember saying out loud, “Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay.” I pushed with everything I had. At a couple points, the nurses and midwife told me to stop pushing and to breathe. I just shook my head no. I wanted to get her out!
I had to have an oxygen mask to help me breathe. Kristin said, “Oh, look at her dark hair! Do you want to feel her head?” I just shook my head no because I was so focused on getting her out! I could feel her in my bones and my bones being expanded to make room for her. I felt the “ring of fire” as she was almost out. I tore a little and had to get a few stitches.
After about 15 minutes of pushing, my sweet baby was born and placed on my chest. They left her with me and didn’t take her away for measurements or anything and I loved that! I just got to enjoy her with my husband, Chris. As soon as she was born, all I could say was, “I did it!! Chris, I did it!! Kristin, I did it!” That was one of the best feelings. I was so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this little girl born VBAC. She was 7 lbs 1 oz and 20 inches long.
I am so grateful to a doctor and midwives that were willing to give my VBAC a chance in a medical community that is not very open to it. They were able to counsel me on eating habits and the lifestyle that I was leading that would allow me to have a smaller baby. Dr. Cavallo was familiar with research that showed women who had babies larger than nine pounds (like my first) usually had an insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. It made sense as both my husband and I have diabetes in our family history. Without that knowledge and action on my part, I’m sure my little peanut would have been another oversized baby.
All in all, I absolutely love both experiences. I love everything I learned and the actual experiences as well. With my first, it was a hardship and a “refiner’s fire” as I dealt with the feelings of both accomplishment and failure at the same time that allowed me to grow in understanding and strength. The second was a complete triumph of empowerment and fulfillment. Either way, I’m overjoyed with both outcomes, Mitchell and Brooklyn.
Many thanks to Amanda Johnson for sharing her story. Be sure to also read her first birth story “Birth Story #1: The Roller Coaster Ride That I Wouldn’t Change.”
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