Max - my sweet VBAC baby boy. You are my success story after working so hard to achieve a natural birth having had a C-section the first time. When I found out I was pregnant with you, I knew I had to do everything I could to ensure my chances in having a natural birth. I wanted this, not only for me but for you as I learned more and more about the things a baby gains from being born vaginally. I continued doing prenatal yoga like I did with Evie and I added in acupuncture and chiropractic care. I switched to a group of midwives who had great VBAC success rates and to a hospital that was supportive of VBACs. And lastly, we hired a doula to up my chances.
For four nights before you were born, I had strong contractions. I'd time time, I sat on the exercise ball, did the cat cow yoga pose, took hot bath, breathed loudly while your father snored next to me. But by 6am, the contractions would subside. The doula told me that there isn't really a way to know if these were productive contractions. EEK. I was so exhausted that I'd sleep during the day to save energy. One or two nights prior to having you, I lost my mucous plug - the doula told me that that's a pretty good sign that your arrival was near. On your due date, also your birth day, the contractions I was having the night before subsided slightly but stayed. I still wasn't sure but had a feeling. That day was also my check up with the midwives. I asked your dad to pack Evie's backpack with clothes in case we needed our good friends to pick her up from school. We brought our hospital bag with us to the check up at 3pm. By then my contractions were bothersome, so I sat in the backseat to get more comfortable. When we got to the midwives, they told me I was 4-6cm dilated and that we could head to the hospital! We got admitted around 5pm and the doula arrived. When we got there, the nurse asked what my pain goal was. I said I was hoping to have an unmedicated birth, so that would be a 0 and I would swear that she snickered at me. If you know anything about your mother is that that is fuel for me to prove someone wrong. Contractions got closer and stronger and the doula Sara was amazing at helping me manage the pain - massages, hot shower, swaying. Her and your dad would take turn helping me manage the pain while trying to keep that continuous fetal monitor on. (I hope that by the time you guys have kids that they'll invent something that actually stays on, it was insanely annoying). I was nervous but also was just so ready and determined to do this thing that I had been preparing for for 40 weeks. At some point, the midwife told me that your heart rate was really high and recommended that I get an IV to stay hydrated to keep it low. I got nervous around then.
After a few hours of contractions, I was getting pretty tired and wondered if this was going to happen or if I'm headed for a long labor. The doula was also starting to wonder why you weren't moving down the birth canal as fast as she would have thought given how close and strong my contractions were. She recommended I try a side lying position with the peanut ball, so you could rotate and make your way down. The second I got into that position, the contractions became absolutely unbearable. I got through two contractions and I asked to get back on all fours. And I thought about it and realized that she must have been right because it must have been so painful for a reason - it was working. After I got back to that position and endured a couple of contractions, I felt an intense need to push. The doula told me not to because the midwife wasn't there. Your dad tried to help me breath to avoid pushing but it wasn't really working. They midwife came running and pretty soon, I was standing and squatting facing the inclined hospital bed's back. Sara stepped behind it to hold my hand, your dad was on my left to hold my other hand. I think their hands must have been bruised that night because I squeezed it really really tightly. With the contractions, I focused really hard to figure out how to get you out more efficiently. I saw that it was 11PM and I wanted you to have a May 7th birthday instead of the 8th!!! Within 10 or so minutes of pushing, you were born! I didn't even fully understand that you were out and was just shocked that it was done and that you were safe! Your dad always says that the look on my face was priceless, I think I can imagine. The midwife handed me a screaming you from underneath me. I felt your semi-wet body and smelled the metallic smell. My initial urge to cry completely gave way to just feeling so so proud of myself. At that moment, I felt the world stood still with just you and I on top of a super super high mountain and I felt like a super hero. Max - all I can say is that I felt like a bad ass having that unmedicated VBAC. I've never felt anything like this and I'm not sure I ever will unless we have another baby- the natural rhythm of the contractions, the very primal experience listening to my body tell me all the things I needed to do - when to push, how to push, how to bring you into my arms. It was painful, yes, but also so raw, beautiful, natural, and empowering. I feel like I can do anything.
You two monkeys who drive me nuts often also gave me the life and experiences that I have always craved. Don't let it get to your head but I am who I am because of the two of you (and your father of course).
Your mama who love you fiercely and will protect you at all cost...but don't think I will take crap from you!
Follow the circle to see Kristen's letter to her baby boy this month.
*Po Chi Fung is a Washington DC and MD lifestyle and documentary family photographer serving Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville, and Potomac