We are overjoyed to share that our sweet baby girl is here! Blair Karmen was born on July 20, 2017 at 5:07 p.m after 18 hours of labor. I’ve always enjoyed reading birth stories, and now I want to share my own VBAC success story. Blair’s birth was exhausting, redemptive, and oh so amazing. Here is the story of Blair’s journey to the world.
My VBAC Success Story
Like most moms-to-be in the last weeks of pregnancy, I was trying everything I could think of to get this baby out! The main things that actually worked to bring on contractions were brisk walking and bouncing on my birth ball. I had prodromal labor for about a week before Blair was born. I finally knew it was the real deal at 11:00 p.m. the night before she was born. Oddly enough, I had “a feeling” earlier that day. I felt peace, and I knew my baby would be here soon. That night, the contractions started about 10 minutes apart and they hurt. Already. I tried to rest in between, but each time I started to fall asleep, another contraction would wake me up.
I wanted my husband to get some rest because I knew I would need his support during labor. So, I got out of bed and labored in our main living area for awhile. Then, I decided to take a shower to take my mind off the pain. My husband woke up at this point, and asked if I was okay. I told him, “I think I’m in labor.” We looked at each other and smiled. We both knew our baby girl would be here tomorrow, but we also knew we had a long road ahead of us. I kept having flashbacks of my c-section and thinking how badly I wanted to avoid going through that again. I wanted a VBAC success story so, so badly. But labor is unpredictable, as any mom knows.
After my shower, I decided to do my hair and makeup, again to keep my mind off the contractions. By this point, they had been about 3 minutes apart for a couple hours, so I knew it was time to head to the hospital. At 3:00 a.m., we called my parents to come over and watch Colton. My dad answered the phone and asked what I was up to! I thought, what do you think I’m up to if I’m calling you at 3:00 a.m. two days before my due date?!? They were at our house by 3:30 and the contractions were becoming much harder to deal with, so we left for the hospital.
Arriving at the Hospital
We arrived at the hospital at 4:00 a.m. and were taken to a triage room. The triage nurse asked how dilated I was during my last cervical check, and I told her that I hadn’t been checked yet. At this point, I was 39 weeks and 5 days. My doctor had offered to check me for my last couple of appointments, but I declined. Personally, I feel like vaginal exams are a mind game… if you’re not dilated, you get upset. And if you are, you think you’re going to go into labor immediately, then get upset when you don’t.
My doctor was fine with not checking me, but the triage nurse was visibly annoyed. She kept saying that it was going to be harder for her to do her job and tell if I’m truly in labor without knowing where I was before I came in. And I kept thinking, there’s nothing we can do to change this now, so why do you keep bringing it up? She said she would check me now and return in an hour to see if I had progressed. At that point, I was a 3.
The triage room was tiny and I was hooked up to the monitors, so I didn’t have much freedom of movement. Still, sitting on the bed was quite uncomfortable. I stood next to the bed for the next hour while my husband rubbed my back. We watched the early morning news on TV and I sipped on ice water. An hour passed and I was at a 4-5. Time to be officially admitted!
Getting to Labor + Delivery
Once we got upstairs to our labor and delivery room, I asked to be switched over to the wireless monitor so I could move around more. Because I was a VBAC, the doctor and hospital required continuous monitoring. There was apparently a shortage of wireless monitors at the hospital because some had been recalled! Thankfully, however, there was one available for my use. I wanted to take a shower to ease some of the pain, as the contractions were coming closer and stronger by this time. However, my blood pressure was a bit high, so the nurse did not want me to be in the shower. She agreed to let me sit in the tub, though, which still helped quite a bit. I just needed to be somewhere other than the bed. My husband sat with me and rubbed my back while I labored.
At 7:00, the nurses had a shift change and I got two new nurses. One was in training and I was her first VBAC and first attempting a natural birth. I think I scared her with all the noise I was making during contractions! But, I was making good progress and dilating about a centimeter every hour. At 8:00, I was a 7. By that time, I was standing in the labor room and walking around to deal with the contractions.
My doctor came in and offered to break my water if I wanted. Although my birth plan was to allow my water to break naturally, I agreed to let her break it since I was already pretty far into labor. I told her, “I need to get this baby OUT!” The contractions were becoming unbearable because I wasn’t getting much of a break in between. At 9:00, I was at an 8.
Since I had been progressing at a good pace, I had in my mind that Baby would be here before lunch. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I stalled at an 8 for quite awhile, and lunch came and went. The nurses were nice enough to bring my husband a sandwich and some snack foods so he wouldn’t be completely famished. By this time, I was starting to lose control. I could feel the contractions in my stomach, in my back, in my hips, and down my thighs. Everything HURT. I felt like I wasn’t getting a break. We tried getting back in the tub, walking around, laboring on the bed, hands and knees, leaning over the bed, but nothing worked.
I was so, so tired. After all, I hadn’t slept the night before since I had been laboring! I could feel my body tensing up with the contractions instead of relaxing like I needed to. I was also losing my mental focus due to being so tired. Plus, I kept thinking, even if I get to a 10, then I’ll have to push the baby out, then we have to take care of a newborn and I’ll never sleep again! I decided to get the epidural. My husband did his job that I had asked him to do and tried to talk me out of it! After I got it, though, he admitted that he was glad I did. He and I both knew we needed to rest.
The nurses said they would need to give me IV fluids for about 20 minutes, then the epidural would take effect about 20 minutes after it was placed. Being stuck in bed during active labor for the next 40 minutes sucked, but I knew relief was coming. Except… it didn’t. I waited and waited and kept pushing the little epidural button for extra medication, but I was still majorly feeling the contractions. The nurses called anesthesia back to re-dose me, but that didn’t work either. I don’t know how much time passed, but it felt like an eternity. Eventually, I was checked and I was at a 9. I was honestly tempted to tell them to forget the epidural and I would find a way to work through to a 10. But, I really, really needed to rest.
So, anesthesia came back and said they would remove the epidural and do a new one. Because they are trying to fit the medicine in such a small space in your spine, apparently it sometimes goes just a little outside of that small space and isn’t effective. I’m sure you can tell by that explanation that I am no medical professional! Anyway, the new epidural took effect almost immediately and it was glorious. I was immediately at peace with my decision. I’m very proud that I labored naturally to an 8 (or, arguably, a 9). That’s much further than I made it with my son! My nurses started some Pitocin to get me over the edge to a 10. I could still somewhat feel the contractions, but it was more like a pressure than pain. In my head, I was talking to Baby and telling her to work her way down and that we couldn’t wait to meet her. I was on my side with the peanut ball between my legs. The nurses came in to switch the side I was laying on every so often, but I mostly slept. It was definitely the reset my body needed.
Time to Push
Eventually, the lead nurse asked the trainee to check me. She got wide-eyed and whispered, “Um, I think your baby is riiight here.” I could tell she didn’t want to get me too excited in case she was wrong. But then the lead nurse confirmed! She put my legs in the stirrups and told me we would try a test push to see if Baby was ready to come out or if I should keep laboring a bit longer to push her down. I started to push and the nurse said, “Stop, stop!” Baby was ready. And so was I.
We waited maybe 5-10 minutes for my doctor to arrive and the delivery team to come into the room. I’d asked my husband to take a photo of me if I got to the pushing stage. I honestly didn’t let myself believe that my VBAC success story was going to happen until it was happening right then. So, my husband took my goofy, grinning photo. We talked about how big Baby would be and if she would have hair. The nurse said, “Oh yeah, she has a lot of hair!” I hadn’t realized until then exactly how close she was to actually coming out. Then, the nurse told my husband to stop making me talk and laugh because the baby was going to come right out!
Thankfully, my doctor arrived shortly! Then, my contractions stopped. Seriously. I had all these people staring at me and waiting for my body to go, and it. just. didn’t. After hours and hours and hours of contractions right on top of one another! Honestly, it was just so overwhelming that the moment I had wanted and hoped for so long was actually here. I closed my eyes and went inside myself, and my body started back up.
I started to push and my doctor told me to stop, then she maneuvered Baby’s shoulders and told me to do a gentle push for the shoulders. And she popped right out! Because of the epidural, I could hardly tell. The nurse had to tell me to open my eyes and look down! I could feel that she was coming out, but I didn’t realize she was already done. One and a half pushes!
Baby is Here!
My husband cut the cord and the medical team placed Baby on my chest while my doctor finished up “down there.” Having Blair placed on my chest right away was the most magical feeling. I just kept saying, “We love you!” and “We’re so glad you’re here!” She nursed about 30 minutes later and was a natural. It’s crazy to me how my babies have instinctively known how to breastfeed. Whether it’s biology or creation or mother nature, whatever you want to call it, that first latch is truly an awe-inspiring moment.
After an hour on my chest, she received her first bath in the delivery room. My husband was able to stand next to her and take some photos. My epidural hadn’t worn off yet, so I watched from bed. The nursery nurse wrapped Blair in a blanket and hat and handed her to my husband, saying, “Dad, it’s your turn!” It was such a precious moment seeing him hold his baby girl.
And that’s the story of how Blair Karmen entered the world. She was 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 21 inches of pure joy. At 5:07 p.m. on July 20, 2017, our family became complete.
Feeling inspired? Pin this VBAC Success Story for later!
Since this post is long enough, I’ll be writing a separate post with VBAC tips and what I learned along the way. Comment below with any questions you want answered!
Want to know more about my pregnancy? Here’s how we announced our pregnancy, our second baby gender reveal, how we personalized Baby Girl’s nursery, more monochrome nursery decor, and some of my favorite maternity clothes.