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Sheri's (Really) Big HBAC Story

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Guest post by Sheri Larralde

My first son was born via c-section after a failed induction. I had Pitocin for 12 hrs and got to 4 cm which apparently wasn’t fast enough for the doc. He weighed 10lbs, 11 oz and I am sure that I could have given birth to him if they would have never interfered with my pregnancy. This is my story of my HBAC

Friday, I got up and went to my monthly ICAN meeting at 9:30 am.  I was one day overdue and I really enjoyed the meeting because it reminded me that I was doing what was best for me and my baby. After the meeting, my mom, Jacob and I went grocery shopping. That took forever because I was having so much pain walking. Like the shooting pains in the vagina that stop you in your tracks. After 3 hrs of grocery shopping we came home and Jake took a nap. I laid down just from discomfort and then at 5 pm, we went to pick up Nick from work. Nick and Jake were getting haircuts that night. So they got their haircuts and the lady (Mitchi) who cuts their hair asked us if we wanted to go with them to Opportunity Village. I didn’t really want to go because my body was achy but I didn’t want to be rude so I said yes. IT was somewhere I had been wanting to take Jacob anyway so why not tonight.  So we walked all around the magical forest and looked at all the Christmas lights. We rode the magical train ride through all the lights and Jake and daddy went in the maze and down the super slide. They had a lot of fun. I was getting some Braxton-Hicks (BH) but they were just the tightening ones that I had been having. Nothing really new there but I hate that they made it hard to breathe. So I let Nick drive home and when we got home I went right to bed.

At 2:30 I woke up to BH. But these BH were different then the ones I had been having.  These ones tighten and gave me a cramp at the same time. Before then it was either one or the other. I knew THESE were real contractions. They say that when you’re in labor you will know and I knew that this was it. I couldn’t lie down through them so I got up and went in the living room and got on my birthing ball.  When I wasn’t on the ball I was in the bathroom shitting my insides out. At about 3 I decided to start timing them and the first 10 were about 7 mins apart. Then they went to 3-5 mins apart. At 3:30am my mom heard me “singing” through contractions and so she got up with me. I was able to laugh and joke between contractions. I don’t really remember what we were talking about. At 4:30 I told Nick to wake up that I was in labor. He didn’t seem very aware of what I was telling him. I think he thought that it would fizzle out. Once he realized I was serious he got to work setting up the pool. At about this time I was starting to get a lot more mucous when I went to the bathroom.

An hr later I had my mom call my sister and tell her to head on over. Thank god she had the day off. At 6 I decided that these contractions were getting stronger and longer so I called Margie. Jacque got there at 6:20 am. I was still on the ball and being vocal helped me deal with the contractions. I also had my mom applying counter pressure on my back.  We all just sat around and gossiped.  I was still in a relatively good mood. The contractions were picking up but I was handling them well but my ass was getting sore from the ball. Margie arrived at 7am. She just napped for a while on the couch.  She had offered to check me but I declined because I didn’t want to be focused on a silly number I would rather listen to my body to tell me where I was in labor.  I’m not quite sure what time I got in the pool. I would guess about 2-3 hrs after Margie got there. Jake had been asleep all the way up until this point, which was awesome. 

My contractions were getting more intense and my mom was applying a ton of counter-pressure to my back.  The tub was finally ready and I wanted to get in it. I wanted to get in it because I was tired of my ball. My butt was numb and walking around just wasn’t my thing while in labor. I knew though that if I got in it was going to be too soon. I didn’t want to get in too early. I tried being on my hands and knees on the floor I tried being in like a seated prayer pose which I liked a lot but couldn’t do for very long. I got tired of it though and said f*** it and got in the pool. The pool was great because it gave me so much more freedom in my movement. I don’t think that it made my contractions hurt less because they still hurt but it allowed me to be able to find other ways to deal with them.  Being in that prayer like pose on my knees leaning over the pool was good for me. I could still get someone to push on my back and I was able to labor a little more easily.  Maybe 5 mins after I got in the pool, Jake woke up. He was very happy. He came and stuck his hand in the water and looked around. Then he just went on about his day. My noises never scared him no matter how loud I got.  I got loud too. I could feel my body trying to go into transition but something was holding me back. I would get a really intense contractions get all shaky and feel nausea and I got really emotional. At one point I just started crying for no real reason other than it felt good to cry. I also kept getting this sensation that I need to pee like my bladder was full but I knew it wasn’t. 

I was starting to get frustrated because he wasn’t coming down any further. At 12 I got out of the pool and Margie checked me.  I was a 6 and she said his head was still really high. She suggested I try more upright positions. I thought maybe the shower would help. I tried that for a while but it wasn’t helping me.  Then I tried to sit on the toilet but backwards. That was a disaster because my belly would be right against the lid and if anyone put pressure on my back it would hurt my belly. So then Margie suggested maybe lying in bed on my side would help. Man did those contractions hurt like hell and there was nowhere for me to run. Trust me, I tried. They were definitely the most painful of all of them. I think at this point Margie checked me again after me telling her he wasn’t coming down.  I was really getting worried that his head wasn’t going to fit through my pelvis.  At 3:25 am, I was 7.5 cm and she suggested that we break my water because he still wasn’t coming down. I was very hesitant to agree because I was worried he would come down at a bad angle and get stuck. I thought about it for a while and I knew that it had to be done so at 3:50, I agreed to let her poke a hole in the bag. Problem was that she had to do it during a contractions and that was such a bitch. She poked a hole in the bag so he would come down slowly and everything went just right.  It felt so good I can’t even describe it. It relieved so much pressure. Not a lot of fluid came out but it was an ok amount but nothing like with Jacob.

So I got back in the tub and tried to keep my back straight instead of flat so that he would come down. That was really hard. The really painful contractions had come back. I could deal with the back pain but when the pain was in the front it was hell. I literally tried to climb up Nick to get the pain to stop. It was so sharp. Later on, I was feeling that same full bladder kind of feeling and I was feeling like he wasn’t coming down again. I thought maybe there was a second bag so I stuck my hand up there to see if I could feel anything and I could feel something that felt like a full balloon. I had been feeling a little pushy before this and would try and see if it would help but it didn’t.  I called Margie back in to check me because I was sure there was something in my way again. She checked me in the pool and said I was 9.5 cm with a cervical lip that was a little swollen. She wanted to hold it out of my way and see if I could push past it. That was the most painful horrible part of my entire labor. It hurt so bad I wanted to turn around and slap her. Finally after about 5 pushes or so she thought it had moved and let me go. I continued to labor in the pool but my body was once again telling me that I needed to get out of the pool that I couldn’t push in there. I didn’t want to get out though because I knew once I did that things were going to get very intense.

I got out of the tub at 5:28. Margie suggested I get on my back so I did. I was propped up on pillows and was fairly comfortable. I still had a bit of cervix in the way. So she held it again and by 5:35 it was gone. I really struggled with pushing. With him coming down there was a lot of constant pressure. So with that pain it made it hard for me to tell when a contraction was starting, which made it hard to know when to push.  I could only get 2 good pushes out of a contractions and it always felt like I need one more to be able to do something.  Slowly I got him to crowning.  When I stuck my hand down there it was the most amazing shocking thing I had ever felt!!!!!! He was right there !!! I remember the surge of energy that gave me. His head was so warm and wrinkled and wet.  I could feel the progress my pushes were making.  I still had no idea when a contraction was coming so I would touch my stomach and wait for it to get hard. Him crowning wasn’t too painful. I could feel one spot though that was a little tight. Margie was using lots of oil and was stretching me out. It was good because it gave me a point to focus and push at. I got to a point where I knew that pushing gently wasn’t going to get his head out, but I didn’t want to push to hard and tear. I had to decide to just go for it and push past that point.

I pushed as long and hard as I could. The ring of fire is definitely appropriately named. And after that push his head was out. The relief I felt after that was phenomenal.  I didn’t know anything could feel so good. I took a few breaths and Margie told me to start pushing. I could feel him trying to take his first breaths. That was such a weird but cool feeling. I’m not sure I was having a contractions but I pushed anyway. I could tell by her body language that this part was going to be a little tough.  I started pushing and he wasn’t really budging.  I pushed again and still not coming out. I could see at this time Margie getting very serious.  With my next push she reached in and grabbed his arm out. He slid right out then and so she check him over really quick and put him right on my chest.  My whole stomach deflated when she pulled him out and it exploded with a gallon of fluid and blood. (Apparently Logan was never stuck. With Logan, his head didn’t come out facing straight down like normal and then turn. Logan came out with his head facing my left leg. That told Margie that he was in the birth canal cockeyed. The other problem was that my bed is really soft so my butt was in a hole basically which made it hard for her to get down ward traction on him to come out. So she says she just assisted me and that his shoulder was right there in my butt. Had I been squatting on the side of the road he would have came out just fine. She told me this at my 48 hour appt).

When he was on my chest he didn’t even cry. He just grunted. His umbilical cord was so long and heavy. Margie says she thinks it was 40 in long! We took our sweet time clamping the cord probably a good ten minutes. In the meantime we rubbed him a little and put his blanket and hat on.  Nick cut the cord. Then my placenta slowly made its way out.  I just laid there and loved my baby. Margie was taking care of the mess. I don’t know how to describe what I was feeling. It was almost like a dream. He was so big and so warm that I couldn’t believe it. We got him latched on and that took a couple of tries. He didn’t have a very strong latch but he ate for a good 30 minutes, I would say. After he ate Margie weighed him. He was a whopping 12 lbs, 4 oz and 23 in long. His head circumference was 16 ¼ and his chest was 16 ½. I have two tiny skid marks and didn’t require any stitches. The name Brutus came to my mind. Lol, I feel like after that journey we deserve really cool warrior names.

That is how I look at this whole experience… as a journey. It started with the unjust c-section I received with my son and it led me down a path to the truth and to many woman who were just like me and who had been through the same thing I had. I wasn’t crazy for wanting something better the next time and I wasn’t alone. There were times in my labor where I tried to run from the pain. There were times where I thought about the girls from Baby Gaga and ICAN and Pinkpeas moms who had been there before me and came through the other side.  Thinking about all of them and knowing they made it through the pain gave me strength.  My support team was great. My mom was my rock through the whole thing she didn’t take anything I said to heart she was just there to help me however she could and without her I surely would have failed. My sister was awesome, too. She took care of my son and videotaped the birth. I don’t know how she did it because I saw some of those pics and they are pretty gross but she held it together and I am so proud of her. Nick took care of the manual stuff, which was good because I’m not sure someone else could have physically done it. My son was great too he napped through the birth, lol. I never thought that I couldn’t do it. I may have started to investigate some things but I knew that I could handle it. Never once did I ever think about my scar. I just listened to my body and just did whatever it was I needed to do. I think that was key for me. I did think that the women who have 6+ kids and keep doing this are crazy, lol!!

Looking back now at my two births I think that home birth is a gentler transition into parenthood.  There is no separation; the baby is born into the home and with the family that will be there their entire life. There is no one there to interfere. It has helped make me a better mother for sure. I am not in pain so I can focus all of my attention and love on my family instead of my wound. I missed out on a lot of bonding with my first son because my body was falling apart. I was in so much pain that there was no room for any other emotion. I loved him just the same and I think I had more emotions when he came out then I did with Logan. With Jake I cried and get the swelling feeling of emotion that my son was here. I’m not sure why I didn’t get that with Logan it was like once he was out I was in mommy mode checking him over and making sure he was ok and I wanted to take care of him. I had the primal urge to just be alone with him and be his mom. We have our special moments at night while breast feeding. It’s really great. I have so much more patience now. I hope they stick around. I haven’t been alone yet with just the two of them yet so I don’t know how that is going to go.  I also have not had any real emotional roller coaster either. I have stayed pretty average. But sometimes I feel like its going to sneak up on me any minute. Other than these tears that I wish would heal faster I feel great! No real soreness down there.



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Reader Comments (34)

Wow! What a wonderful story!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAugusta

Awesome! I can relate to your c/s, sounds like what happened to me. This story is inspirational for so many reasons. Congrats!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMychel

OMG!!! He is a BIG boy...way to go mamma! You definitely deserve a warrior name!!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpamela

Oh my gosh, look at your beautiful Buddha baby!! You are a wonderful inspiration to ANYONE that will be giving birth. I will have you in mind when I give birth to #3. Reading your story made me laugh and tear up. I couldn't help but draw some parallels between some of your experiences and my own with #2. My son was a quick drug-free hospital birth but the pain was incredibly intense and I completely understand what it's like to just want to escape from the pain. No matter where one gives birth your story is a reminder of how important a support structure is to the mom. For some reason that bit of common knowledge has been lost over the past 150 years. You are just awesome!!
Oh, try not to worry about losing the strength you find that you have. I worried about the same thing. I had a great deal of energy after I had my son and that didn't go away after my husband went back to work. My emotions were even. I handled postpartum very well. I'm hoping for the same strength after I have #3.

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMOI

MOI, that was a really lovely comment. No matter where the birth or how the birth, supporting the mother through the process is crucial.

December 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

That is a juicy baby giant. So beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story, and congratulations on your HBAC!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate

What a lovely story! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm sure that your local ICAN group will be excited to hear your story! I'm glad you were able to find a group and get information and inspiration from them.

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMissMari

Beautiful story! Congratulations. Was supposed to be christmas shopping but got off task reading your lovely birth story. I have just had a vba3c so I know where you are coming from exactly. One thing that I could really relate to and which in a way I was so relieved to read is your emotions after your vbac. When my little boy (Logan : ) was born by caeserean I felt that huge swell of emotions when he came out and cried. I felt exactly the same swell (great description of yours) after the other two caesereans. But when I had my vbac I didn't feel that same intensity of emotions - I have no idea why. It was still magical and wonderful but it was more of a plateau with a protective instinct, just needing to hold him and love him. Not sure why it felt different. Don't know if anyone else knows what we mean? Congratulations!!!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervonnie

Inspiring story!!!! Thank you for sharing. My attempt at HBAC ended with another c-section which was necessary because of some complications and malposition. After a long time, my midwife transferred me to the hospital where I gave it my best shot for another 7 hours before it was obvious I would need a c-section. My baby was big too 11lbs. 22in. The nurse said her placenta was so large it didn't fit in her bucket. I wish I had seen it. Since then, I've thought over and over about how I could grow a smaller baby, so my chances at VBAC/HBAC would be as good as possible. Genetics is not on my side there. Your story helps me to know that I just focus on proper nutrition. My healthy body won't grow a baby it can't birth.

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

From a fellow HBAC mama, I LOVE THIS STORY!!!! It is SO refreshing to read a birth story that isn't afraid to get down to the nitty gritty sometimes scary details. And what an AMAZING birth! I have only heard of a few 12 lbers in my life, my grandma was one of them. GOOD JOB! You are a warrior goddess!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill P.
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