I’m not sure how it’s possible but it has almost been a year since we welcomed our second baby boy into the world. As we make plans for Owen’s first birthday I can’t help but reflect on the magical day he arrived into the world and joined our growing family. From the minute they said “c-section” during Kaiden’s birth I was planning my future VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). So when we found out we were pregnant with our second baby when Kaiden was 18 months I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC. My OB was 100% supportive and saw no reason I wouldn’t have a successful one. I had another healthy, uneventful (well as uneventful as growing a baby in your body can be) pregnancy.
Owen’s due date was December 1, 2016. The closer we got to that day the greater my desire to have a VBAC grew. I had by this point accepted that there was a reason Kaiden’s birth ended in a c-section. All that mattered was that he was here and he was healthy. That aside it definitely changed my birth experience and it wasn’t what I always pictured. Every appointment those last few weeks I would anticipate her telling my I was progressing and things were looking good for my VBAC birth plan. And it did! I was about a week out from our due date, dilated to 3 cm and about 75% effaced. It seemed like any day I would be having this baby and we couldn’t wait.
I had a routine OB check on November 28, 2016 at 9:00 in the morning. By mid-afternoon I was having occasional but relatively strong contractions. These were more than the Braxton Hicks I had been having over the past few weeks. It was finally happening. I was so excited to be going into labor naturally as opposed to induced with Kaiden. Truthfully I always imagined having that “the baby is coming” rush to the hospital moment like the movies. Labor starting on its own was one of the signs we wanted for a successful VBAC. The contractions were becoming more and more regular and closer together. Taylor and I were debating if we should put Kaiden to sleep when bedtime rolled around unsure of when/if we would be heading to the hospital. I refused to be the woman who went to the hospital just to be sent back home. We decided to stick with his routine and then headed to bed as well around 7:45pm. I managed to fall asleep but it was a very light sleep and around 10:30 I woke up and really started to think it was time to head in. The contractions were much stronger and were about 4-5 minutes apart. We grabbed our bags and put Kaiden in his car seat to head to GraGra’s (my mom’s).
I was delivering at Theda up in Neenah so knowing Kaiden was just about 10 minutes away and safe and happy at my mom’s meant the world to me. The moment I had been waiting so long for was here. Suddenly I felt a wave of anxiety come over me. It was different this time. It wasn’t just going to have a baby, it was dropping my first baby off unsure of how long it would be before I would see him again. What if something went wrong? We’ve all read those horror stories. What if he needed me? So many what if’s. But what I knew was he would be loved, taken care of and 100% happy with my mom. Still, leaving him that night was one of the hardest things ever. We arrived at my moms and I insisted on setting up the pack n play, sound machine, everything. I had to put my first baby back to sleep before I was ready to go welcome our second baby. I would pause during contractions but truthfully I was so distracted by making sure Kaiden was content and able to peacefully fall back asleep I barely felt them. I gave Kaiden one last huge hug and more kisses than I could count. And with tears running down my face headed to the hospital. It wasn’t that I wasn’t extremely excited to be finally meeting this new baby, it was just in all that anticipation I never realized how hard it would be to be away from Kaiden during that time.
We arrived at the hospital around 11:45pm and instantly remembered the instructions we were given on where to go during our hospital tour. They put me into the initial “see if it’s really time” room, hooked me up to monitors, and checked my progress. I was 5cm dilated and close to fully effaced. My contractions were now consistently 3 minutes apart. My doctor came in and told me it was definitely baby time. I was moved into my delivery room and put on a hospital gown. By this point it was around one in the morning. My pain was manageable and all was looking well. The nurse would occasionally come in to check on my progress and monitor the baby. Taylor and I walked around the room and through the halls anxiously awaiting it to be time to push. I had made it to 8cm by the time it was 3:30 in the morning. The nurse came to check my progress and as she did the pressure caused my water to break. Contractions before and after your water breaks are night and day. The intensity doubled and I knew this was when things would really started getting intense. I knew I didn’t want pain medication or an epidural if I could avoid it. I was truly planning and wanting a 100% natural childbirth (just like I wished for with Kaiden). As the pain increased I asked the nurse to fill the bathtub in the room and decided to relax in the water, knowing the extreme soothing qualities the warm water had on me during my labor with Kaiden. It did help with the pain but it was still extremely intense after about thirty minutes in the tub and back to back contractions about a minute apart, I headed back to the bed to get pain medication through an IV.
I was so disappointed in myself for giving in when I was already so far. The pain medication eased the pain but also slowed my labor. Looking back I truly wish I never received the pain medication as I think it may have impacted my ability to have a successful VBAC but in that moment it was what I wanted. Things started to intensify again and I was completely exhausted. Around five in the morning I was 9 cm and I received an epidural. Shortly after that I fell asleep. I was woken by Taylor around 5:45am saying the doctor was noticing slight drops in the baby’s heart rate. I knew that my chance of a successful VBAC was close to over. I could see it in her face. She knew how bad I wanted this and gently told me she would recommend a repeat c-section at this point.
Here I was again. I went through the hard labor, everything seemed to be going perfectly and then yet again my body never made it to that full 10cm or gave me the urge to push. I held Taylor’s hand as more disappointment flooded my body than ever before. Why did this keep happening? Why was my body broken? I wanted so badly to experience a natural vaginal delivery and yet it never happens. I hate being confined to my bed to recover. I hate the sterile feeling of the operating room. I hate the extra day stay in the hospital. I hate the unrealistic (but needed) lifting restrictions that meant not being able to hold Kaiden right away when he said “mama hold me”. I hated knowing that failure most likely meant the rest of our babies will be planned c-sections. I hated that failure meant having to spread out future pregnancies more than we had wanted. All of it. But through the disappointment of having failed my plan of having a VBAC, I was so incredibly proud of myself for at least trying. I wouldn’t go back and change that even if I could, c-section or not. Although I felt my body had failed me it also has given us two beautiful, healthy pregnancies and two beautiful, healthy babies. How they entered the world doesn’t change that or make it any less amazing. It is too easy focus on things that didn’t go your way but it is so important to instead focus on how blessed you are and all the things that went so incredibly right. I always need to remind myself to remember that.
I was wheeled off into the operating room. I hate this part, as it is when Taylor remains in the labor and delivery room to get his scrubs on and they prep me for surgery. Those 10/15 minutes apart feel like an eternity. Once everything was ready to go the operating room doors opened and in walked my husband in full scrubs. He came in, sat next to me and took my hand. It’s a different feeling the second time around. We knew what to expect and about how long it would take. It was time to meet our baby. That is what I would focus on. Not the disappointment or the frustration but the fact that after nine months of anticipation we would soon meet and hold our second baby boy.
They began at 6:44am and at 6:50am on November 29th, 7lb 6oz and 20.5 inch long Owen Kenneth was laid on my chest. He was beautiful. He looked so much like his big brother. He was perfect. Once again how he got here didn’t matter, he was here and he was completely healthy. He was instantly returned to my chest after quickly being weighed and measured where he snuggled into me and nursed as I was closed back up. I wasn’t even aware of what they were doing. I was just in absolute awe with my husband by my side and our baby in my arms. The only thing missing was big brother. We returned to our room, rested for awhile and anxiously awaited the call from my mom that Kaiden was awake and ready to come meet his baby brother.
That morning Taylor went and picked Kaiden up and as they walked back into the hospital room it was as though Kaiden has grown up overnight. He was no longer the baby, he was the big brother. I couldn’t have felt more proud. Daddy helped him climb up into bed with me and he gave me one of the sweetest hugs I have ever received and a big kiss. His attention then turned to the new baby. Where the most beautiful introduction took place. I knew in that very moment that love wasn’t divided by adding to our family it was multiplied. There we all were. Our beautiful family of four. Together and so overwhelmingly and blissfully happy. ♡
Owen Kenneth Potratz
November 29, 2016 at 6:50am
7lbs 6oz and 20.5 inches