I love working as a doula and especially reading the stories written by the Mums after the birth. This is birth story of Alicia written by her Mum Jacquie. I was supporting Jacquie and Graham during their pregnancy and labour as their doula, and reading the story of Alicia's birth brings back such lovely memories. Jacquie is now planning to train as a doula herself and I am very excited both for her and for me (we need more doulas in Cork and I know she is going to be incredible). I have never met anyone as determined to get the birth she wanted. Jacquie put everything into getting her VBAC and her husband Graham was also an incredible support. Thanks to her for sharing this beautiful GentleBirth VBAC story one year on.
Gentlebirth VBAC: CUMH written by Jacquie
So on the morning on Tuesday 30th April I woke at 1am needing a wee. Got back into bed and felt a surge at 1.09am, didn't think much of it and snuggled back down to sleep. By 1.50am I was having strong surges every 5/6 mins and couldn't sleep through them so decided to text Mary (our doula) and have a cup of tea. I just knew that this was finally it, our baby was coming to meet us at long last! I texted my friend Tania who was going to keep some close friends informed of the goings on. Twenty mins later the surges were every 4/5 mins and I hadn't heard back from Mary so I rang her as it would take her an hour to get to our house. I had a few contractions while on the phone and she knew by the fact I couldn't talk through them things were definitely happening. My friend Tania said she would stay up and keep me company by text til Mary arrived as I was letting hubbie sleep on. I lit some incense and candles and knew that I didn't want the tv or laptop on so started some crochet. I didn't get much of it done as kept having to re-do it, but it helped me focus. I got hubbie up then to put on the tens machine as things were pretty intense and now every 3/4mins.
Just before Mary arrived I asked hubbie to get up to ring CUMH and his mum to let them know we'd need to go soon. I knew if I waited much longer I wouldn't be able for the car journey. When the surges were happening all I could do was breathe through them and tune everything out. I just kept repeating in my head "I can do anything for a minute" Mary arrived and then Graham's mum so we decided to go straight to CUMH. The pressure in the car was very intense and I hated being stuck in the one position. We got to CUMH at about 4.30am and went to the waiting room. They weren't massively busy but all staff occupied so we were in the waiting room for about 90mins, luckily just the three of us because at this stage during the surges I was kneeling on all fours on the floor and moaning. Mary plugged in her electric oil burner with a relaxing blend and was using counter pressure on my hips during the contractions which were every 2-3mins and it was such a help.
By 5.30am I watched the sun start to rise and felt it was a beautiful day to birth a baby! But the tens was starting to annoy the fuck out of me and I knew I needed some gas and air to help me through the surges. Finally got into triage at 6am and examined to be told was "just about 3-4cm dilated" I hated that midwife right then as it was what I was told on being admitted in labour with Charlotte. She wanted me on the ctg then and told me I would have to lie or stand, squatting on the floor was not an option. I hated her even more then as I knew there was no way I could lie on that bed for 20 mins. Anyway I said I'd stand, she put on the trace and Graham came in to me, he helped support me upright during the surges and reassured me I was doing an amazing job. We overheard the midwife ring through to labour ward and neither of us too impressed with what we heard or her attitude when she came back into us but we chose to ignore her as once we got to delivery we wouldn't have to see her again.
So after the trace we were waiting another while to go down as there was rooms free but no staff. I think we got downstairs at about 7am. Midwife we got was nice but said no to pool as it was against vbac protocol as I would need continuous trace. I said I would agree to this as long as it didn't stop me moving about as no way I could be lying in bed constantly. I knew that if that happened it would be end of my vbac. She was supportive of this and got me a gymball so I was on that with the Entenox on the trace and managing well.
8am and staff changeover happened. We got a midwife called Catherine, (which was the name we had agreed as a middle name if we had a girl as it's my sister's middle name) and a student midwife called Vicky (my middle name is Victoria) I took this as a sign these ladies were going help me have my vbac! Just after the changeover the cons and her team came in. The cons was a bitch. I hated her and she didn't like me much either as she wanted to have me examined sooner rather than later and if no progression wanted to rupture my waters. I straight out told her no and she then started to spout about uterine rupture, told her I knew the risks and how low the percentage was. Said again breaking of waters was not happening, to which she replied "so you're willing to risk you uterus rupturing as opposed to having your waters broken?" Yes says I! She made the other doc note on my chart I'd been informed blah blah blah. The last doc out was the doc who had seen me in A&E last week when I had the bleeding and as she left said "good luck" and gave me a big smile. Then had a good laugh with Catherine, Vicky & Mary about how I'd told the cons what's what and took no shit.
I wanted the loo so Catherine took me off the trace. I sat on the loo for a while, but then decided to chance asking Catherine could I have a bath, as she seemed really supportive of our birth preferences and a hands off approach from her. She ran the bath and we sneaked over as doc has said explicitly no to pool and bath due to continuous trace. In the bath for a while, sucking on Entenox, moaning through the surges but felt I was starting to panic a bit and needed something more. Really didn't want pethidine as felt this was where my labour had slowed the last time and DEF didn't want epi. So chatted with Graham, Mary and Catherine about options. Decided Catherine would do exam and then we'd form a plan. I was terrified of another exam and being told "only 4cm" I was so afraid I wouldn't get past the point things stalled on Charlotte. I think if I had heard that I would have just said "take me to theatre so!" Such a relief when Catherine said I was "a loose 8cm" I seriously cannot explain how elated I felt, that my body had done this and knew that there was no way this was going to be a section! I was getting my vbac.
So my waters were bulging A LOT and Catherine said that was what was contributing to the amount of pressure down below. My options were for her to release them to relieve some of the pressure or for me to have pethidine to take the edge off things and wait for them to release themselves. I felt strongly I wanted my membranes to release themselves and at this point felt pethidine wouldn't slow things down, so opted for that. Think that was about 10am. Timings are a bit off in my head. So after that I was on the ball again, then on the toilet for a while but I couldn't settle and decided the shower might be nice. Hopped in with the hot spray directed onto my lower back, Entenox in my mouth and was there for a while. Pethidine def took the edge off but was feeling serious pressure between my legs, reached down and could feel something, but knew waters still in tact so said I thought Catherine should check me again. She did and said that there was a big cervical lip and if she pushed it back I was 10cm, but it was slipping back over baby's head. She said she felt it was preventing waters releasing themselves. So we agreed she'd break them. She also felt the membranes were very strong and so wouldn't rupture themselves, as it took her a couple of goes to do it. So only for the lip Alicia may have been born in the caul like her mama was! The relief from the waters releasing was unreal!! That was at about 11am I think.
Catherine then wanted to do a ctg, I only found out after Alicia was born it was because there was meconium in the waters. I was on the gymball and poor Vicky was having to hold the ctg in place the whole time. So after a while I was unsettled again and got on the bed, kneeling over the back of it. felt major pressure and asked Catherine to check me as I could feel something between my legs. She checked and told me we'd hit double digits! I was so pleased with myself and knew we'd soon meet our beautiful baby. So I was standing beside the bed when I felt Alicia start to descend. I stayed in this position for a while with legs spread and could feel her slowly making her way further down with each surge. It was surreal and amazing. But I wouldn't settle so got into the kneeling on the bed again. Graham was standing beside me holding my hand and telling me how fab I was doing, Mary was behind me taking pictures as our daughter's head emerged. A couple more surges and some intense pressure and our daughter slid out onto the bed between my legs in a gush of fluids. She let out a big roar of indignation and I reached down and lifted her up to my chest. I saw we had another girl and looked over to Graham to tell him. He was crying and shaking and I have never loved him so much. I announced to everyone we had another beautiful girl and turned to sit with her in my arms.
Within about 15 mins Alicia started to nurse all by herself pretty much. We wanted delayed cord clamping so really at this point it was waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. I'm not sure how long this took, but think it was about 30mins, the cord was completely white when Graham cut it. Then he had cuddles with Alicia while Catherine cleaned me up and she said I'd need a stitch due to second degree tear. We rang family and text close friends to inform them Alicia was here. Vicky got us all tea and toast which was amazing! Even though I'd had smoothies and snacks during the whole labour I was starving!! Catherine went out & wrote "delivered" in big red marker on the board outside the room as a kick in the bum to the cons ;) The doc who had said good luck came in a bit later to say congratulations and I found out her name was also Catherine! Mary left a bit after that and then midwife Catherine went on her lunch break so we were left just the three of us til about 4/4.30pm when we transferred upstairs to the ward.