For the last eight weeks or so, I’ve been trying to get Simon’s birth story written and posted, while it’s somewhat fresh in my mind. As it turns out, it’s hard to find time when you have a newborn *and* a potty-training toddler!
My pregnancy with Simon was challenging, to say the least. (I wrote about that in this post.) By third trimester, I was counting down to when it would be over, and definitely struggling.
I was nervous the whole time about ending up with another C-section, as that was something I really wanted to avoid. If I was attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), but had to have a C-section for a problem that arose, that would be fine, but I hated the idea of having to plan on another C-section. It is, after all, major surgery, and I didn’t want to think about trying to recover from it with a newborn and a toddler. With that in mind, I was thrilled when he managed to turn head-down (Xander never did) and stayed there!
On Wednesday night at the end of March, I went into labor. Although I had been contracting at a low but still uncomfortable level for nearly two weeks straight, this felt different. I knew it was real labor. Of course, I started active labor at midnight, after being awake all day. I let Andrew sleep, and moved around the house, breathing through contractions. I tried to catch a little more sleep, and after a mere 45 minute nap, I woke up to my water breaking.
At that point, I figured I should tell Andrew, and we got ready to go to the hospital. The next contractions after my water broke felt exponentially stronger, and I started to get the feeling this was going to happen fast. I actually got nervous about having the baby in the car! As it turns out, I was right. By the time I got to the hospital and they checked me, I was dilated to 7 cm.
In no time at all, I felt the urge to push. My midwife had me get on my hands and knees for a little while, so that Simon would turn a little into a more ideal position. I could hardly stand that, but they got the nitrous oxide set up and I was able to tolerate it better.
A very short time later, I was fully dilated and ready to push, so I pushed for about five contractions and he was out! Incredibly, Simon was born less than an hour after I arrived at the hospital and got into a bed.
To say the experience was overwhelming and indescribable is an understatement. The best way I found to describe it at the time was that I was on a runaway freight train, and while I had much more agency in the process than with my C-section, it still felt more like it was happening to me, than something I was doing. But I did do it! I still can’t believe that I gave birth naturally to an entire human child. I was blown away by the raw emotion and jumble of thoughts I experienced in that moment.
My inner monologue went something like, “Did that really just happen?” “What just happened to me?” “I can’t believe he’s here! I just had a baby!” “Oh my word, that hurt!!” “I have a new 10 for my 10/10 pain scale.” “That was incredible.” “Man, my throat hurts from all the moaning and groaning.” “Hey, I’m proud of myself! I managed to not swear or yell at anybody!”
This picture is the best way I can sum up the crazy mix of emotions in that moment. Pardon the 'freshness'. ;)
There was a lot about the birth process that I didn’t know about at all. Right after Simon’s birth, I got crazy strong shakes, apparently from adrenaline. Following that, I got a second wind on which I managed to function for the next six hours or so. I have stayed up for crazy long periods of time before, like 27 hours, but that day, I experienced a new level of “running on fumes”.
In the time after Simon was born, our parents brought Xander to meet his new brother. That was a precious time. He was so excited, and proud to be a big brother. It was amusing to watch his little mind grasp the concept when we explained that this baby was Baby Simon, the same baby who had been in Mommy’s belly. He seemed to think it was someone else’s baby.
As a VBAC, this birth was restorative in some ways. The agency I experienced was so different than the surgical experience of a C-section. I felt empowered, because as much as I felt like it was a crazy, overwhelming process that happened to me whether I wanted to or not, I still felt that, “I did that!” I certainly felt more connected to what was happening in the moments of birth as well. I was able to reach down in between contractions as he was crowning and actually feel what was going on.
Certainly, there are some advantages to a C-section; namely, using the bathroom was not terrifying like it was after this birth. Birthing a baby as quickly as I did is not easy on the body, to be sure. Yet, I was amazed that I was up and moving around without assistance by that same evening. A week after the birth, I was feeling close to normal. I think it was close to six weeks or more after my C-section until I felt that way. While I was nauseated all day after my C-section, I felt like I had run a marathon this time. By the next morning, I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know existed! After my C-section, I don’t think I took any pain medicine, only medicine for nausea. This time, I took ibuprofen for about 48 hours, for the whole-body achiness!
I’m really glad I was able to have a successful VBAC. I know not all providers are on board with them, but I am so grateful that my midwife group was supportive, and that the hospital was supportive of me doing it. Overall, I had a really good experience with the hospital and my midwife. Shout out to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth and the Acclaim Nurse Midwives (formerly UNT midwives)! They rock.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve managed to read all of my long pregnancy and birth stories, you’ve definitely earned this picture of an adorable baby Simon.