Now here comes the part in which being a VBACer had a major, major advantage. Apparently, in my neck of the woods, when a woman comes into the hospital, in labor, attempting a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, there have to be two things in place: 1) an operating room prepped and ready to go, and 2) an anesthesiologist ready to knock the woman out at a half a moment's notice.
So when I started screaming, as dramatically as I possibly could, to GET THE ANESTHESIOLOGIST! and GET HIM NOWWWWW! and NEVER MIND, JUST HURL ME OUT OF THIS WINDOW!, he responded pretty quickly. I'd say twenty minutes--give or take a few.
During those twenty minutes, however, I made a lot of progress. I went from a six to just about an eight--and rather than convincing myself that I could hold out, swallow the pain, and do it all naturally, I prayed and prayed and prayed that Dr. Smith would have me all numbed up before transition really set it.
Hey now, I've never claimed to be a hero.
As I waited for Dr. Smith, I continued to loose my noodle during contractions and apologize profusely in between. As soon as I'd get a break I'd turn to my OB and be like, "Oh gosh, I'm so sorry for all this drama. I'm not usually like this. I'm usually pretty fun to be around. Especially while riding a bike..." Remember, at that point I was still trying to preserve my reputation to the degree that I'd score an invite to my doctor's triathlon training group.
Thankfully, that's precisely when the very classy woman across the hall piped up. As soon as my contractions would end, hers would start and she'd be like, "Oh F*&#! F*&^! F*&#! F&^% ME! F&^% MEEEEE!!!!!" Except she was using the real word.
And that's when I stopped apologizing.
So Dr. Smith, that sweet, blessed angel of a man, appeared in my room about twenty minutes later, placed the epidural right where it needed to be--and just in the nick of time, too. As soon as the pain faded down, the contraction monitor went crazy. Transition. We beat that bastard, oh yes we did.
High fives all around.
I closed my eyes and caught my breath, and the woman across the hall? Well she just kept on going with her loud, persistent, and creative use of the F word--and I wasn't about to fault her for it.
So here's where I'd like to take a little aside, and talk about the epidural for a minute or two--and remember, this is only my experience and my interpretation. Just to be clear: THIS ANALYSIS APPLIES TO NO ONE BUT ME.
In preparation for this delivery, I read a ton of books, watched movie after movie, and listened to a zillion podcasts all about natural childbirth. Obviously, I learned a lot of very valuable things from those sources, but I also convinced myself of some additional little treats:
1) That I would feel like a loser if I took any kind of pain medication.
2) That an epidural would ruin my chances for a VBAC.
3) That the use of pain meds would leave me feeling like less of a woman.
4) That an epidural would make me lose all feeling and all use of my legs.
5) That my initial bonding with my baby would be minimized because of the use of medication.
In response to those assumptions, I'd like to say wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.
For me (and again, this is only my experience), the epidural was an excellent choice. Not only could I feel my legs, wiggle my toes, feel a manageable amount of pain with each contraction, and change position easily (even to my hands and knees), but the epidural helped me enjoy the final hours of my labor by letting me feel awake, aware, and completely in control of everything. Loved it.
So, back to the story. Jared and I made small talk for an hour or so, and soon enough I was ready to push.
Now let me just put it out there: pushing is no joke. If there's any part of childbirth that can be compared to marathon running, it's definitely pushing. In fact, I pushed my brains out for an hour and forty-five minutes. Which is funny because my half-marathon PR? Yup, that's right, one hour and forty-five minutes.
At least when you're running a half-marathon you get cowbells, and cheering squads, and water stops, and Power Bars. When you're pushing out a baby you don't get much--just a mirror showing you the most unflattering view of your hoo-haa that the universe could possible muster up. Now apparently, it's very common to poop yourself during either of those events, which I'd like to clear the air here and now, I have never done. Really.
So, after almost two hours of major pushing, when I was least expecting it, Maggie popped out and was immediately placed on my chest.
I know that seems like just another sentence up there, but make no mistake about it--it was, by far, the most powerful, unbelievable, life changing moment of my entire life. I fell in love with my little girl immediately, and sobbed my eyes out to prove it.
Now I've known James for four-and-a-half years and believe you me, I've grown to love that boy with an intensity that's so strong it hurts. The crazy thing is, I grew to love Maggie with that very same intensity in about four tenths of a second. Honestly, my love for my children is a gift from God that I'll never understand.
With the exception of Jared, everyone left the room almost instantly. Maggie stayed in my arms, naked and new, for two hours and the whole time, all I can remember is a whole lot of tears and saying, "Look at her! Just look at her!" over and over and over again.
In conclusion, I'd like to highlight a few random points...
1) If you'd like to have a VBAC, definitely come to my hospital in Maine. Never, not once, during my entire nine months did a doctor or nurse say, "Oh, so you're trying for a VBAC?" It was more along the lines of, "Oh, a VBAC! That's excellent. You shouldn't have any problems at all." And guess what? During my labor, I only heard the term "VBAC" one time, and that was when they were checking me in.
2) Acupunture. It's the real deal.
3) Never let someone break your water.
4) Any woman who has a drug-free, natural childbirth should wear a crown everywhere she goes for the rest of her life.
5) In the end, a healthy baby and mom are indisputably the most important thing. As a mom who's had a c-section and a vaginal delivery, I'll freely admit that they both have their advantages. Woman who've had a natural childbirth can say, "I had a baby without drugs, I can obviously kick your ass." Woman who've had drugs can say, "I had all the experience and none of the pain." And woman who go the c-section route can say, "I've got a pocketbook full of pain-killers and a vajango that's perfectly in tact!"
See? They're all good things. Babies can't help but be good!
Oh, and that invitation to the training group? I'm still waiting.