I wanted to share this because I am the unfortunate 1 in 4 whom does not have a successful VBAC. Although baby ends up fine (as far as we know), and mom is (slowly) recovering, it is a bit of an emotionally difficult story to tell.
I did all the research. I studied online classes, I wrote my husband a 1.5 page cheat sheet. I couldn’t afford a doula (at least I thought I couldn’t, but in hindsight I could have). I had a good estimated chance of success… 75% according to the MFM calculators. I exercised 2.5 hours a day right up to the day before I went in to labor. I watched my diet and weight gain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t change doctors because of crappy insurance and I was “too busy” and tired to get it done and by the time I found someone else, I was too far in the pregnancy for their practice to accept me.
I went into labor at 4am. I had been 2cm at that point. Contractions were quickly 2 mins apart, one minute each, and I went to the hospital at 6am and was 4cm with a low baby, good FHR and no decelerations. Pain was there, but standing helped me cope.
At 7am they kept putting me in bed, asking questions, and I started to get stressed out. FHR was still good, but by 7:30, after a lecture from the on call doctor, my own doctor calling in to lecture me, and the anesthesiologist… I agreed to an epidural because I was basically scared into it. I was 5cm when I ended up bed bound.
My BP dropped from 139 to 105 after the epidural, and cue the excessive fluid loading. Baby stopped tolerating most positions and I ended up stuck sitting in the high fowlers position. Her decelerations were into the 80s. My dilation slowed down. At 9 I had gone only 1cm more to a total of 6cm. At 11 I was at 7-8 but with a lip. The nurse was not very helpful with re-positioning. She was nice, but obviously has poor understanding of labor and positioning to avoid a cervical lip or swelling. My husband tried to be supportive but didn’t know how to help either, in all honesty. I was getting text messages from family because my mother (against my wishes) had told the entire family I was at the hospital. I was being given ultimatums and phone calls from my physicians. I wasn’t being allowed to try the “all fours” position I kept asking for. I was experiencing SEVERE pain from the site of the epidural. My labor stalled at 8cm (would be 9, but the lip caused narrowing), and then I developed cervical swelling and regressed to a 7. The baby’s HR started dropping into the 50s, and I had been stuck at 7, with the baby now back up at -1 position, from 1pm to 5:30pm.
My doctor showed up and at this point I didn’t think that my labor could recover and they basically “held the baby’s health hostage” to get me to consent to a repeat cesarean. I though it was because of the HR, at least that’s what they told me. They ended up saying it was “failure to progress” on the official paperwork. Go figure
Yet again I got bullied. I’m a nurse. And I know better. And it happened again.
My recovery has been a nightmare physically and emotionally. I did not want this difficult recovery again. I worry everyday that the prolonged labor with a decreased FHR and poor placental perfusion secondary to the epidural, might have caused injury to my daughter (they deny this, obviously). I want more kids more than everything but I don’t know if I can go through the disappointment again. I absolutely hate myself.
It’s ironic that I got the epidural because I was in pain and was concerned that this could be impacting the baby… and yet the epidural that I was given for this reason was in-fact the thing that caused the HR changes and (I believe, in review) led to a repeat cesearean for me. It is amazing how once I felt scared and unsupported, how much more difficulty I had handling the pain and thinking clearly.
I would not be upset if I believed the cesearean was necessary. I am upset because I believe this RCS was avoidable, and I let myself down, and again I had a pushed cesearean under the guise that it is for the baby… when in fact it conveniently meant she was delivered just before shift change, and within an hour of my MD showing up at the hospital.
During the surgery, it was discovered that the prior CS was very poorly done, and I was on the table almost an extra hour fixing issues from this.
I’m 32 now, and by the time it would be safe for me to get pregnant again, I will be considered “high risk” by the office for a VBAC… over 35, two prior cesareans after failed labor, with a small pelvis and history of larger babies (about 8.5 pounds each). I know it’s silly but I feel like my dreams of a big family are over. I would never get pregnant and plan for a cesarean, given how my prior experiences went (although I know not everyone’s is like that), and I would never consent to an epidural again – but will have trouble finding an office near here that will allow a VBAC attempt without one.
At the end of it all… my daughter was born at 6:30PM kicking and screaming (but with a little fluid in her lungs), at 8lbs 9 oz, 20.5 inches long. She was too sleepy from the meds to nurse right away, but did not require supplementation as my milk supply came in quickly, and she did not need any advanced care and as able to stay in my room.
It is a roller coaster… vacillating between grief and frustration over a repeat negative birth experience and anger at myself, and happiness at the fact that I have a healthy newborn (despite the negative effects of impaired placental perfusion during labor, due to the epidural… and the fluid in the lungs from the cesarean section).
I’m involved in a FB CBAC support group, and hopefully when it has been 2 years and I can make the decision between continuing to grow our family versus stopping at 2 children, I will have come to peace with this and will be able to make a decision.