Sunday, October 16, 2011

Waves of Childbirth: The Afterglow of a VBAC

The longer I live,
the more I realize
there really aren't such things called
not when it comes to relationships.

I've been "on call" the past couple of weeks--
keeping my cell phone on my person
waiting for the one call that would beg my
immediate attention--
that sweet golden-locked Mama C. was in labor.

Her due date came and went,
still no baby.
And while I knew that was stressful to her,
as we all know--
nine months is a long marathon
and when nature  moves the goal line,
we mommas don't take it lightly--
for whatever reason,
I just felt like she was going to have the baby
on Wednesday of the next week.

I had lunch with Mama C. and her Arizona-tanned mother, L.
Wednesday--two days before she was due--
I didn't want to be presumptious and tell Mama C that
I got the feeling her due date would come and go
without a birth,
'cuz that would just be mean,
so I kept that feeling to myself.
Hoping I was wrong.
Ready to go,
at any moment.

A planned induction was scheduled.
This new plan was not a total celebration though--
it meant the Birth Plan would be altered:
no laboring in the comforts of home,
no moving freely at the hospital even.
The new plan had strings attached
to protect both baby and Mama C.,
and you know this:
Good Mothers Adapt.
Yes, they do.

So Wednesday morning,
I left the house headed towards the hospital
and there was a blanket of clouds over Colorado Springs--
it was 58o degrees and overcast.
There was a stillness that set the tone for the day--
it would be a mild, calm day.
The radio was tuned to my favorite classical station
as I focused on what I was about to do:
witness the miracle and strength of

Entering the room,
there sat Mama C.--
eyes closed, head back on the upright bed,
breathing rhythmically--
Papa D. smiled casually as I came around--
"she started having them as soon as they broke her water." he explains.

I nodded and put my doula bag quietly
on the floor next to the sofa.
I stood still and waited.

The contraction wave gone,
Mama C.'s eyes opened and she smiled.
She spoke softly and quickly to catch me up,
before another wave came to shore
in the next two minutes.
Her eyes closed,
head back on the pillows,
mouth purposefully blowing those waves away...

Granma L. arrived shortly after I did,
and her excitement bubbled over into the room--
she admitted her love of the monitors:
watching the waves rollout across the screen
helped her in her own labor,
and as Mama C.'s labor progressed over the day,
Granma L. would offer
"it's going down..."
"you had a nice break with that one"
"that was a good one!"
"that one was very productive!"

Sucha great cheerleader.

Papa D. was composed.
He was there to do whatever was asked,
no questions, no delay,
and very much needed.

Because this was a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean),
once it was established that Mama C. was in "active labor",
our attending nurse informed that Mama C.
would be bound to the monitors
until delivery.
So, while she was allowed,
Mama C. and Papa D.
walked the halls of the L&D floor.

Before we knew it tho,
her body kicked into gear and
we had to work around the monitor cords
to try a variety of positions to ease the waves
and keep Mama C. comfortable.

On the ball,
at the edge of the bed...
she kept blowing away those waves...
shoulders relaxed? check.
jaw relaxed? check.
deep cleansing breaths--
one for Mama
one for Baby
check. check.

When the waves became more intense,
I got out my favorite scented lotion--
Bath and Body Work's Eucalyptus and Spearmint
and asked if I could rub her feet
thru the waves--
and that's where I stayed thru much of her active labor,
as she welcomed the distract and comforting massage.

Every two minutes we rode the waves together--
Mama, Papa, Granma and me...
some waves barely came to the shoreline,
while others washed over us completely--
leaving us little time to catch our breath
yet knowing
each wave brought us closer to the goal line.

In the midst of transition,
Mama C. wondered outloud if she could do this--
if she could continue to meet the intensity of the waves,
one after another--
and I whispered into her ear,
for now I was at her side,
breathing each breath with her,
"I want you to say,:
'I can do this.' 
Say it with me.
Say it outloud.
'I can do this.'"

"I can do this." she repeated.
"I can do this."
and again...
"I can do this."

There's power in words.
We all know this.
Hearing our own voices encourages us
and distracts us...
Make sure the words you say to yourself are
empowering and you will feel the difference

In one hour, Mama C went from 6-8 cms...
we're in the home stretch,
the goal line is within arm's reach...
just a few more waves and her dilation would be complete-
she got to 9cms when it was discovered
that she had a little cervical lip that needed to move aside
before she could be complete...
that meant not pushing,
even though her body was demanding it,
for fear of bruising and swelling her own cervix,
which in turn,
would delay the delivery.

Let me tell you,
as a woman who has had that same exact experience--
to not be able to push when your body is
yelling at you to
is beyond hard.
It's frustrating and painful.
But not impossible.
So Mama C and I locked eyes
and she held onto me,
and I onto her,
and we breathed thru each wave with more determination
than ever before...
and finally,
the new on-call doctor came in
asked for a quick assessment,
and I asked her if she could check to see if that lip was gone--
and if not,
could she give it just a little help during the next wave?
She obliged us,
and I was praying that Mama C.'s body cooperated--
which it did!
Ten cms with no lip!!

The pushing part of delivery began...
it took Mama C just a couple of waves before she got that down
she pushed with her whole heart,
past all of the pain,
with her husband and
a circle of women around her--
Granma L., the doctor, the nurses, and me--
praising her efforts,
cheering her strength,
excited by her progress,
reassuring her that each push made a difference,
even when she asked,
"Is this baby ever coming out?!!"
"Come On!", she demanded of her body and her baby.

"One more good one." the doctor encouraged.

And that was that.
One more good one
and Baby Boy was out!

"You got out!" Mama C. rejoiced,
as her son was laid on her tummy.

The final wave brought joy and laughter,
love and hugs and tears
to each of us in the room,
as a gift for riding the tides so strongly.
And then the waves receded,
while the ripples are still coming.

Mama C. had the birth she had planned and prepared for--
a completely natural VBAC...
even tho' she had limits she could not control,
her inner strength abided with her,
and her prayers were answered.

To be true in sharing,
she did have some measurable amount of tearing,
and needed to have that repaired
with some intensity--
and she is still recovering from that--
but if you were to lay your own eyes on her,
you would see an incredibly strong woman
whose smile is genuine in self-satisfaction
and gratitude for a healthy, beautiful,
dark-haired baby boy who looks like his father.

As Granma L. and I were waiting in the recovery room,
she shared her observation that left a profound impression on my heart.
She said,
that meeting me through this little blog,
close to two years ago,
had basically set in motion
an answer to their family's prayers
that they hadn't even begun to ask--
(and I'm assuming that she meant for her daughter 
to have a natural birth after her 
unplanned, emergency c-section)--
but that Heavenly Father knew those prayers
and He was already answering them
by introducing Granma L. and me.

That's a very interesting thought,
isn't it?
Thinking about it,
makes me feel like I'm part of a bigger plan--
and I'm useful to Him and His children.
That's just what I always hoped for...

Childbirth does indeed bring us into the
realm of the Noble and Great.
Women are so much stronger than we admit...
the waves of childbirth show us that...

As Mama C. was enveloped in the
afterglow of childbirth,
she said,
loud enough for anyone who was in the room to hear:
" I love you, Dawn."
I love you, too, Mama C.

Then she declared for the world to hear:

Here comes another ripple...


  1. What an amazing story! I also LOVE that Eucalyptus Spearmint lotion! I have the massage oil in that scent, too.


Feeling something you wanna say outloud? I'd love to hear it!