A VBAC, a premature birth, and a perfect baby girl: here’s Quinn’s birth story.
Several days before Quinn was born, J and I stood in the kitchen as I told him, “I feel like I’m going to have the baby soon.” I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I felt that way but, even though I was five weeks from my due date, I did.
J and I attended a professional development workshop on Tuesday, June 28. I thought I was going into labor on the way there. My contractions were regular and fairly intense, but once we parked and walked in, they subsided and we went about our day.
On Thursday, June 30, I had a regularly-scheduled OB appointment. I got ready for my 10:30 appointment, all the while suspecting my water had broken. There wasn’t a big gush of fluid like I experienced with G and B, but I thought there was leaking. I brushed that intuition aside, though, convincing myself it was just another layer of the paranoia and anxiety I’d experienced throughout the pregnancy.
There must have been a small part of my brain that understood what was happening, though, because I took a few minutes to toss some last minute toiletries and clothes in my bag that was packed and sitting in the bedroom, waiting for the we needed it.
I knew there was no “maybe” about it as I took off my clothes in the exam room at my OB’s office; my water had broken. Fluid ran down my legs, so I cleaned it up, put the gown on, and took a seat on the exam table to wait for the nurse. She came in and confirmed what I already knew, and then she checked me and found I was dilated 1-2 centimeters.
I called J as I put my clothes back on. I opened with, “I’m not even kidding. My water broke and I’m headed to the hospital.” He’d attended nearly all of my prenatal appointments, but we’d decided I’d go to this one alone because we were expecting a few different repair people at our house that morning. After several reassurances that I was, in fact, having the baby, I hung up with a promise to keep him updated. I hastily signed the VBAC consent form and headed to the hospital around 11:30.
J arrived not long after I got settled in a room. We had a few pressing questions: How big a deal is it that she’s one month early? (It shouldn’t be a big deal, they said, and girls typically do better than boys when born premature.) Would a vaginal delivery be more risky because the baby was early? (No. In fact, the way the baby is squeezed through the birth canal, we were told, can actually help expel fluid from her lungs.)
We settled in, both of us dozing a little as we watched my contractions grow stronger. I asked for the epidural around 5 cm (interesting fact: I was told I had to have an epidural because, due to risks associated with a VBAC, I had to be ready for an emergency C-section). My other labors progressed quickly from that point and I didn’t want to be caught without one. The process of receiving the epidural was different from the others I’ve had; I was used to laying on my side, but this doctor had me sit on the side of the bed. Also, J had to leave the room, which I wasn’t happy about.
We expected my progress to slow after the epidural, and it did. Actually, it pretty much halted for a few hours. At 7:00 pm we learned two things: First, the baby was face up. We really needed her to turn. Second, I was still only 5 cm. The nurses, along with the midwife, informed me they were going to change my position to one that, in the past, had proved highly effective in getting baby to turn and labor to progress.
I laid on my left side with my right leg up on the stirrup for thirty minutes; no change. At 7:30, they moved me to my right side and put my left leg up. I was feeling a little discouraged because the position wasn’t working, and I was beginning to psych myself up for a C-section.
Then it was 8:00 and things moved quickly. The midwife came in to check my progress and proclaimed, “She’s complete.” My mind went blank for a minute and I couldn’t process what that meant. My brain began working again at the same time the activity level in the room picked up. It meant we were having this baby!
The nurse mentioned the baby’s hair almost immediately after I began pushing. J and I looked at each other and laughed because, “Our babies don’t have hair.” She insisted the baby did, though, and we were all the more anxious to meet her.
I started feeling nauseated about ten minutes into pushing. I’d never vomited during labor before, but I did this time. The nurse got really excited when I mentioned my nausea; apparently the act of vomiting can create some great pushes. Thankfully, I threw up a few times and then felt fine throughout the rest of labor.
Because I pushed for three hours with G- and ended up having a C-section- and for nearly three hours with B, I was just getting settled in to the rhythm of pushing when the midwife announced Q was almost out. I was shocked and I figured I’d be pushing quite a bit longer. When Q fully emerged a few minutes later, I couldn’t believe it had only taken a total of 40 minutes.
Despite our fears surrounding her prematurity, Q could not have been healthier. She didn’t spend any time in the NICU and, aside from spending her first several weeks sleeping nearly around the clock as if trying to pretend she was still in the womb, you’d never know that our little six pound nugget was a month early.