I had an appointment on Wednesday, and even after a week with contractions, I hadn’t made any progress since my appointment a few days before. I wasn’t quite 38 weeks yet, so I felt like this baby was content to stay put for a while.
So on Thursday, we had some friends come over for a play date and then Caleb, Isla and I walked down to the new Zaitounay Bay for burgers. Caleb planned to head up the next morning to Shabibi camp, since it seemed like not much was happening baby-wise. That night, I was up a lot just feeling weird. But I mostly blamed it on the burger.
I woke up at about 6, and still wasn’t sure if I was in labor or it was the burger, but by 7am, I was pretty sure I was having regular contractions. We started timing them, and they were super consistent. 4 minutes apart and each lasting about a minute (actually 1:07… yes, I was very aware of each of those extra seven seconds!). They were very manageable, bad cramps but not painful, so I took a shower, started some laundry and got things organized a bit around the house.
A few hours later they started getting pretty painful and we started talking about when we should head to the hospital. The plan was to labor at home as long as possible, because even though we had a birth plan, we weren’t sure how things would actually pan out once we were admitted. Isla watched Barney, I bounced on the yoga ball, and Caleb started packing our bags.
At about 11:30 we decided to call a few friends to see who would be available to help watch Isla. And then I decided that I wanted to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW. I can’t explain why, or how I was feeling, just that I wanted to be at the hospital two minutes ago.
Thank God it was a holiday – Good Friday – because the road was completely open. On a normal weekday at noon, it can take upwards of 45 minutes to drive the 15 minute walk from our house to the hospital because of traffic. But it was a holiday, so we arrived in just a few minutes.
I got checked and was at 10cm and ready to push!
Both Paula and Mona arrived just as we did, so Paula took Isla home for lunch and a nap, and Mona came up to be with me while Caleb did the paperwork.
Because it was a VBAC, my doctor wanted me to be on continuous fetal monitoring. Normally this would require me to be on my back in bed, but I was allowed to stay up and moving… at least as far as the cord on the monitor would let me! :) The residents seemed hesitant about it, but didn’t fight me. They didn’t even offer pain meds and were continually asking permission for different things they wanted to try. My water broke like in the movies, a huge gush all over the place, including poor Mona’s shoes! I started pushing pretty soon after Caleb finished the paperwork… some while standing, some while in the bed so the doctor could check the baby’s progress.
My doctor arrived at about 2pm just as the baby was crowning and ready to be born. At this point, they take you into the delivery room. It’s basically a big operating room… table in the middle of the room with stirrups and big bright lights shining down. My doctor was amazing, rattling off the different points of my birth plan to all the nurses and making sure they understood the plan.
She wanted to do an episiotomy right away, but let me push three more times, and then had to make a small cut for baby’s head to come out. At this point I just wanted that baby out of me! Head came out, then shoulders. Thankfully I was a numbed a bit for the episiotomy because baby’s shoulders were quite broad and I ripped a bit.
Ruby Elizabeth was born at 2:35 pm, weighing 3.8 kilos – bigger than Isla but just as bald! :) As soon as she was born they put her on my chest – which the nurses all thought was bizarre – and Caleb cut the cord after a few minutes.
One-day old Ruby getting some sun… ribbon courtesy of Isla :)
She stayed with me until I was all stitched up and then they took her to the nursery to do a few tests. My doctor was insistent that Caleb stay with Ruby, even though that’s totally against hospital policy. So he followed her to the nursery while she got her Apgars and I don’t know what else done. The nurses had lots of comments about it – not sure if they realized how well he could understand them :) – but they tolerated him being there, and I think hurried up with all the procedures to get him out quickly. :) Apparently, news had spread that this baby “actually breastfed on the table!”
After about 45 minutes, Ruby and Caleb were back in the room with me, and she rarely left my side, except for a few times to get a bath, and to be examined by the pediatrician.
I felt amazing. There is not even a comparison to how I felt after my C-section with Isla vs. Ruby’s all-natural birth. I was pretty sore from the stitches, but besides that, I didn’t even really feel like I had given birth. A bit tired, but mostly completely normal… no drugs in my system, I could get up and walk around right away… it was everything that I was hoping for from recovery.
24 hours later, I was discharged and we were just waiting on the pediatrician to sign Ruby’s discharge papers so that we could go home!
She came by and told us she was a bit concerned about Ruby’s bilirubin levels – meaning she was a bit jaundiced – and she wanted us to stay in the hospital so that we could re-test her levels in the morning. It seemed a little extreme to us to stay there just waiting for a test, so we decided to go home and come back the next morning for the blood test. We had to sign a waiver because we were “going against medical advice” even though the only medical advice we were going against was where we would sleep between then and the blood test.
So we headed home for our first night together as a family of four! Isla couldn’t be more thrilled with her baby sister. She wanted to take her around the whole house showing her every room, every toy. She’s always bringing her toys and drawing her pictures and just absolutely loves her to death. It’s the sweetest thing in the world to hear her tell her sister, “I loves you, baby Ruby!” She is doing amazing.
I can’t even begin to thank you all for your prayers and support. While there were a few small things that frustrated Caleb with the way the whole delivery went, I feel really satisfied and happy with how well things went. Can’t believe I actually delivered a VBAC baby totally naturally. It’s not something I ever thought I would do, or even really wanted to do, but I am so glad we did!