Wallace Harold: A Birth Story
As I sit here and type, my one week old son is snoozing peacefully beside me in his Moses basket. We have been home a little over a week and have even began finding a sense of routine and our new normal. Now that we are getting our wits about us (although, I am still on pain meds…thank you Jesus for pain meds), I thought I’d share the story of Wally’s birth, a vastly different story than that of my daughter’s (which you can read, here).
After having an emergency c-sections with Flora, it took us a while to decide what we wanted this birth to look like. We had a much better understanding that even the best laid plans can go awry, but we wanted a plan as a starting point. Something we could hold to, but not cling to.
After prayer and discussions with my doctor, Daniel and I felt confident moving forward with a drug-free VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). With Flora we had studied the Bradley method of childbirth and we wanted to use those same techniques with Wally, but this time planning on going to the hospital much earlier to be monitored due to the risks involved in a VBAC.
Friday, June 24th, 2016
- 3:30am: As usual, I was getting up to pee for the 3rd time that night when I felt what I was sure was a contraction. A low burning in my uterus that had a definite starting and stopping point. The pain was dull but very present. I went back to bed, not waking Daniel yet until I was certain.
- 4:00am: I let Daniel know I thought we were in labor. We counted a few contractions but kept resting in bed to get as much sleep as possible, knowing it was a long road ahead.
- 4:15am: Not able to sleep, I got up and took a bath to try to stay relaxed. I had started my ‘low moan’ technique through each contraction. This helped me greatly with Flora and it was my ‘trick’ this time as well. By keeping a very relaxed face and turning your head downward, you make a low moaning sound as you feel your contraction start. You continue to moan deep into your tummy, almost pushing the pain down, never letting your body tense up. In this way you ‘relax’ through each contraction and focus all pain down down down…the direction the baby is moving.
- 6:30am: Both mothers were called and began getting ready to head over. My mom was my labor coach alongside Daniel. Kathy, my mother-in-law, was ‘on-call’ to come get Flora at a moment’s notice. We knew once Flora woke up I would have a harder time concentrating on what my body was doing. At this point I had moved to the exercise ball, we had the lights low in our room. We lit a candle and I had ocean sounds playing on my phone. The atmosphere was calm and relaxing. For the next few hours I labored at home. Contractions were consistent but I felt no urge to push or need to get the hospital just yet. Daniel and I took a few walks around our cul-de-sac to help me change positions and keep moving this baby lower and lower. I had several snacks between contractions knowing once we got the hospital, they wouldn’t let me eat.
- 9:30am: We gathered up all of our ‘go bags’, tidied the house a bit (wouldn’t you know…I was planning on doing some deep cleaning on Friday so the house would be clean for baby’s arrival), then headed to Wesley hospital. We arrived, got all checked in, I had several contractions in the waiting room (pretty sure that freaked a few people out), then followed our sweet nurse into the room I would deliver in.
- 10am-2pm: For the next few hours I labored at the hospital. For the most part it was pretty peaceful. There were a lot of random people who came in to ask questions, verify information, and try to hook me up to the IV. With the help of my mom, Daniel, and our nurse, we were able to communicate that I wanted a drug-free delivery.
I have to say our nurse was just the best. She had never had a patient deliver without pain meds before. This made me nervous at first, but she was super cool about it all and really open to whatever we wanted to do. She even copied our Bradley Method documents so she could take time to read it while I labored. I thought that was so awesome. We did go ahead and get the hep-lock put in my arm so that way if there was a need for IV or other meds in case of an emergency, we were ready.
I labored off and on the monitors changing positions from the bed, to an exercise ball, to walking up and down the halls. Things progressed nicely at this time, I came into the hospital at 5cm and moved to 8cm by 2pm. All this time my water hadn’t broken (again…soooo different with Flora) so after talking with my doctor we decided to go ahead and have him break it once I had been at an 8 for some time.
- 2:00pm: Dr. Jensen broke my water. He said it would probably help things progress a bit more and make my contractions more productive since the bag of waters was shielding things from moving downward as quickly. We debated whether to do this, but he felt like it was safe and might not wear me out as badly.
After the breaking of the water, my contractions were much more intense, just how I remembered with Flora. Before this they were easier to focus through and didn’t feel quite so deep and burning. Pretty quickly I was feeling the urge to push. I tried to fight it off for a while, but soon it took over.
- 3-5:43pm: I began to push with every contraction. At first I had no idea what I was doing. The relaxing technique was out the window…I just couldn’t fight them off anymore. Honestly it was a horrible feeling. My body felt overcome by this urge and it was SO exhausting. For the next 2hrs and 45mins I pushed, each contraction getting more intense. Daniel and my mom were on either side of me helping me hold my knees to my chest and pressing against my feet each time I pushed. Jennifer, the nurse, would have me breath in and out as the contraction started, then breath in one deep breath before I pushed as hard as I could for 8 seconds. Oh lawd…the longest 8 seconds of my life. For each contraction I was supposed to push 3 times. THREE TIMES! Y’all, that was the worst. For the first bit, I could only get 2 pushes in each contraction. I just couldn’t find my breath to do a third. But eventually I found my determination and with the help of my husband and mother, we started getting three good pushes with each contraction. I was so hopeful when they said the could start to see the head. Even so, it took a while longer, but then….
(I had just done the hardest work of my entire life. I was so exhausted and so relieved.)
(My sweet mother holding my hand as they stitched me up.)
- 5:44pm: My Wallace Harold White entered the world! After pushing out the head then his body a contraction or 2 later, my son was placed immediately on my chest. The extreme pain and burning of the last few contractions subsided. They wiped him off as I held him and saw his chunky little face for the first time. As I was catching my breath, trying to soak in my son, I delivered the placenta and I noticed a lot of nurses in the room as well as my doctor and the 3rd year resident who had checked in on us throughout labor. They informed me that I had torn quite a bit and they had some work to do on me.
- 6-7:15pm: After 3 hours of pushing in the same position with my legs up in the air I had to stay in that same position (hello world…here is my ripped up nether-regions) for another hour and 15 minutes. My legs were shaking the whole time…I was so exhausted.
Sweet Wally was a bit of a big fella at 8 lbs 7oz and his head was large. Because of this he tore me up pretty good on the way out, including a very important muscle that they had to put back together. They informed me that I had internal as well as external tearing going in different directions and had lost a lot of blood. Not exactly sure what all that means…not exactly sure I want to know. But finally after a very long hour of stitching (they didn’t have me quite numb eep!)…I was DONE! I was finally able to hold my boy and close my friggin legs.
For the next several hours we remained in the labor and delivery room. I had lost over twice as much blood as a typical vaginal birth and they had to monitor my hemoglobin levels. At one point they tried to get me up to clean me off and move me upstairs to recover, but I fainted back onto the bed. They had me rest a few more hours and gave me more fluids. At 11pm we were finally able to move to recovery where a very sleepy Wally, mama, and daddy spent our first night together. We had done it, we were on the mend!
They continued to assess me and decided to keep us one more night which I was grateful for. My hemoglobin had dropped to an 8 which is pretty low, so they wanted to keep an eye on things as well as get Wally nursing a little better. He hasn’t been the ‘natural’ that Flora was, but he continues to get better and better.
By Sunday evening we were in our own home. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such peace. No more poking, prodding, pushing on my uterus, stitches, or blood…just me and my family home together!
I can’t tell you how vastly different the vaginal birth was from an emergency c-section. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. There was chaos and disappointment with the c-section and a long road of physical and emotional recovery. With the VBAC, it was intense and painful, and although I still have a fair bit of recovery ahead of me, I already feel more ‘me’ than I did months and months after the c-section. I can see why God designed us to have vaginal births and I’m beyond grateful for the chance to have had one.
I am already on my feet, I could help change Wally’s diaper within a day of his birth, I could nurse him without having to be cautious of my incision. I can bend over, twist, pick things up, get in and out of the car, help clean the house, and just so much more. I feel a sense of happiness, of a deep joy that wells up in me, that I don’t remember feeling after Flora’s birth. I don’t feel weighed down by the birth or held back like I did before. There is a sense of hope and confidence I have in myself and my abilities as a wife and mother. How much of all of this is just being a 2nd time mom, I really don’t know. But I do know that I’m very glad we tried for a VBAC. It isn’t something that is wise for everyone to try for, but for us it was what we needed and what was right. It wasn’t a fairy tale birth (who has those anyway?), but it is Wally’s unique story that I am happy to share.
After thinking we lost this baby at the beginning of our pregnancy (read that story, here), I have no words to express how thankful and humbled we are to be holding our healthy baby boy. To breath him in, to hear his cry, to smell his newborn goodness when we were certain he was gone…it is overwhelming to me. God’s grace and goodness has been poured out overflowing with our gift of Wallace Harold. To God be the glory and praise for creating and sustaining his life.
If any of you want to chat further about our decision for a VBAC, feel free to message me!
Thanks for reading our story. ❤
Star, Daniel, Flora, & Wallace