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By Alyssa Ruiz
I thought that writing my birth story would be a breeze until I actually hit the computer and realized that there would be so much more to it. I HAVE to start from the beginning it order for all the pieces to fit. So here goes and I hope my story can give others hope and inspiration.
In February of 2007 at seventeen years old I found out I was pregnant, just a few months away from graduating high school. I had an almost simple pregnancy, no sickness or anything out of the usual. After a few ultrasounds my doctor was getting worried that the baby was growing to fast and getting too big. I was tested twice for gestational diabetes and was perfectly fine, both times!
I must have had an ultrasound every month during this pregnancy, maybe more. I didn’t do much research on having a vaginal delivery but I knew that there was no way I would have a C-Section, there was no way I was going to be like my mother who had four C-Sections.
At about 36-37weeks, I had another ultrasound, my daughter was “weighing” 9lbs and 9oz. At this point the big baby card was being played. I was told that the baby was too big and growing at a very fast pace and that if I went into labor I would end up with a C-Section so we should go ahead and plan for it instead. Not having done any research on induction and the possible outcomes I just suggested that I be induced. I mean, I’m being told here that im doomed to a CS any way so I figured I’d at least have a chance if I was induced.
I was induced on my estimated due date of October 23, 2007. I arrived at the hospital at 7:30am and was induced at about 10am. I was given Cervadil, which was attached to my cervix to help get the labor started. I was then transferred to the maternity unit to “wait” for labor to kick in. I almost immediately started having contractions, very strong contractions might I add! I asked the nurse how much longer I had to wait before it was time to go back into the other room, she stated that it could take anywhere between 6 and 12 hours before the cervadil kicked in. I was confused at this point because I knew something was happening. The nurse decided to get me on the monitor and check the contractions. She says “Oh, you are having contractions” my response, “No SHIT!!”.
At this point I am brought back to the Labor and Delivery room in hopes that everything would go well. I was not prepared at all for the labor I was just shot into. I ended up with the epidural very early in labor and after maybe two or three hours it had worn off and was feeling the contractions again. I was probably dilating 1cm every hour at this point and at about 8:30pm I was 8cms dilated. This is when my temperature was checked and it had risen to 100.8, (wish I knew that after a long period of time epidural makes your temperature rise) my doctor who was just as pregnant as I was came into my room and said “Im sorry, we have to do an emergency c-section because of the fever”. That’s when I felt there was nothing else to do, but cry. My husband who was just my boyfriend at the time was also left without a say, I mean to them we weren’t even adults. How could we go against medical advice.
As my husband was taken to get prepared for the OR, my father cried with me all the way to the OR until it was time to say goodbye for now. I don’t think I ever stopped crying during the whole process. So, now I'm tied down to this OR table, then was given an IV in my left arm, I remember screaming because it felt as if my arm was on fire with whatever they sent through the IV. Remember, the epidural had worn off a long time ago and now it was time to cut. I felt every single process and procedure throughout the entire C-Section. The worse part of the procedure wasn’t even feeling her slice me open it was when I was in such a state of panic and shock through all the machines and beeps, all I heard was one single flat line. I thought I was dead, all I did was scream “Im dead, Im dead”. While my husband was holding my hand the doctor laughed and said “If you are dead how are you talking to me” I then stated that I didn’t know but I knew I was dead. Throughout my whole pregnancy my biggest fear was that I was going to die during childbirth and that’s when my biggest fear to me was happening. They kept trying to calm me down but it wouldn’t work, finally when the pain was more distant I was able to focus on just my husband talking to me and relax. I wasn’t crying anymore, but then I heard my little girls cry for the first time when she was born at 9:30pm weighing just 8lbs 8oz. I started crying again because of the joy of hearing my baby and then I was knocked out. I guess they were tired of me crying already and decided to knock me out for the remainder of the procedure.
I woke up in the recovery room about an hour later and was shown a picture of my baby on a cell phone. My daughter was taken to the NICU because of the fever I had. When I woke up the next morning and asked to have my baby brought to me I was told If I wanted to see my child I would have to walk to the NICU! And that’s exactly what I did, I walked all the way to the NICU a couple hours after my C-Section, I was not going to let this cut keep me away!
About a year later I found out I was pregnant again, I started some research about having a vaginal delivery after a C-Section and spoke to my doctor about it. I didn’t do as much research as I thought I would need. My doctor was ready to schedule me for a 38wk CS, I refused right away and told him my plan of having a vaginal delivery he was very hesitant but said only if it happened on its own and I had to make sure my baby was not big or I would end up with another C-section.
Towards the end of the pregnancy my doctor said that my fluids were very low and that I should schedule my C-Section, I told him no and I would go in for an NST to show that baby was fine. And that I did. I started doing some more research about VBACing and found ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network). I reached out to my local chapter leader and was given some valuable information and advice. She told me that all I had to do was to drink tons of water and especially before my next ultrasound. So, before my next US I drank a bunch of water and sure enough my fluids had gone up. Even with this happening my doctor was still trying to convince me of having a RCS. At one point I agreed that he could schedule me for the next Thursday coming up, I would’ve been about 40wks then. After talking to the local ICAN leader again I learned that I could just say no and that whatever I said went, so I called the doctors office and told them I would not be attending the C-Section because I knew my body and I knew that something was going to happen. I had to go into the office and sign a refusal form stating that I knew the risks of going against medical advice, I signed that paper more then happily! The doctor kept stressing me out about the fact that the fluids were still low, so I then told him that he could schedule my CS for that Sunday May 31, 2009. I was confident in myself and I trusted my body. So, Friday night I was starting to have contractions that would wake me up, but I was still able to go back to sleep.
Its Saturday and my husband had to go to work in the NYC, he drove us there and I was going to drive back because I needed the car to go have an NST done at the hospital. On my way back I started having more noticeable contractions and when I got to my In-Laws house to drop off my first daughter I felt some leakage. I got really excited because I figured things were starting to happen. I called my doctor right away and he told me to go straight to the hospital. Once I got there I happily let him check me because he didn’t think anything would happen. After he checked me he said that it was my water that had broken but I was not dilated at all so I had to have a CS because I was not dilated at all and the baby would be under too much stress since my water had broken.
At this point I felt like I tried for as long as I could but there was nothing I could do, I didn’t know I could just leave and wait for labor to progress. It was hard for me because my husband had just started his shift in the city and there was nobody to go pick him up. Now its close to rush our and he’s trying to catch a cab back to the hospital from NYC, meanwhile they are trying to rush and prep me for the OR because the whole team was there anyway so they wanted to get me in ASAP. All I was asking for was for him to be able to be there with me, and they kept telling me that they would wait but they wanted to start the prepping. They had my best friend dress up for the OR and told us that once he got there they would let them switch places. Of course that was a load of crap because there was no way they were going to open up that OR once they started the procedure. So, baby girl number two was born May 30, 2009 at around 6pm weighing 5lbs 5oz. Imagine what she would have weighed if I consented to a 38week RCS. I was awake during everything and much calmer this time around, I got to the recovery room and met my husband there. I was fine but I was having a lot of itching in my face from the anesthesia I guess, they gave me some benadryl through my IV and all of a sudden I couldn’t speak to my dad who had just got there to see me. I was fighting my eyes but couldn’t anymore, the benadryl sent me straight to sleep! This recovery was a little better but still not what I wanted.
Now, about another year later I find out I am pregnant again! By this time we were already both 21 and legally married. We weren’t these young kids that doctors and nurses were talking about and treating badly. I was determined now more then ever to have this baby vaginally, my husband is 1 of 24 kids and I am the youngest or four, I knew I wanted to have a big family and what if this wasn’t a boy this time then our family size would not stop at 5, we would have to try again at some point in time. I became an ICAN sponge, there wasn’t a post or VBAC story that I didn’t read. I soaked it all up and I reached out to that same ICAN chapter leader who had helped me the last time. I found out about the monthly meetings and was told about a doctor about 45minutes from my home who was VBAC friendly. I never did go back to my old OB even once when I found out about my pregnancy. My first appointment was a consultation with this vbac friendly doctor and my husband when I was 14 weeks along. I asked questions and he answered them to my liking and he seemed like a very laid back doctor so I was content with continuing care with him and seeing how things would go.
Every visit we discussed the plan and made sure we were on the same page. The one thing that was most important to me and feeling like I was always in control was when I asked him up until what point in the pregnancy would he feel comfortable going to as far as the time past my due date. He said that he was comfortable up to 41 weeks, I said and then what. His response was that we would discuss the options, at that point I said you tell me I should consider a CS and I would refuse and say see ya next visit, he laughed and said exactly! I knew then that this was my birth, my body and my decision. I created a birth plan and he was very eager to go over it. Out of all the do’s and don’ts on my birth plan the ONLY thing that he said he could not do because it was hospital policy was agree to letting me videotape the birth and even then he still said I could try asking the nurse. So here it is, the most amazing story I will ever tell, the story of my amazing third daughters birth.
It was Wednesday May 25, 2011 when my husband took off of work so we could go to the park and the track for some walking. After doing some laps at the track we went over to my brother n-laws house and hung around the backyard playing dominoes. I was having contractions the whole time but no pattern. We headed home and everybody went to bed, except me. I was probably up until 2am with contractions, and then they stopped and I was finally able to sleep. The next day I had no contractions all day but something told me it was going to hit me that night. At 8:30pm my husband and I were laying in bed watching TV and that’s when it started, the more intense contractions. After everyone fell asleep again I was the only one left again, I was kind of hoping that they would stop again like the night before so I could get some rest. That did not happen and I was up all night dealing with the contractions. I finally decided to text my doula and let her know that it was definitely getting more intense. That was probably around midnight but I told her I would try to rest up again and get back to her. I was still up when it was time for my husband to get up for work at 4am, when he was getting ready he saw that I had sent my doula a text and that’s when I think he thought this could be it. He asked if I wanted him to stay home and I said not to worry, he got more anxious when my doula replied and asked if she should meet me at the hospital or at my house. He asked me again if he should stay and I angrily replied “ NO, just go!!”.
So my doula was on route to pick me up and I had to wake up my other two to drop them off to my best friend so I could head to the hospital about 45minutes away. So after my doula and I dropped off the girls we headed to the hospital. Its was very hard to stay rocking and moving during a contraction in the front seat of a car while on the highway! When we got to the hospital at about 7am my doctor was already there, ironically he had a woman scheduled for a 10am first time elective C-Section!!! We did an internal exam to check my progress and sadly I was only 1cm dilated, I called my husband and told him not to hurry because it was going to be a long process. My doula suggested we do some walking in hopes of some action and that’s what we did. We walked around for some time and then rocked through some contractions. It was now about 2.5hrs later and the doctor was getting ready for his procedure and before he went in he asked if I wanted to be checked again, I really didn’t want too because it hurt to get checked but I agreed and im glad I did! I was now 5cms, I couldn’t believe it, I was definitely not expecting that and it gave me such motivation. I called my husband again and with tears in my eyes I told him we were 5cm and he should come as soon as possible because we were progressing fast.
Now I was allowed into the Jacuzzi and that was simply heaven, my doula never left my side and for every contraction she rubbed and massaged my back, I think that’s what got me through those contractions. After about 45minutes it was time to get out and monitor the baby for a little bit, and plus doctor was coming out of the section so we could check for progress again. Before the doctor got back my husband had arrived and started helping with the contractions. Him and my doula must have said “in through your nose and out through your mouth” well over a hundred times. Now I do some more walking and rocking and I was now at 6-7cms, I was hoping for more but I continued on. After getting into the Jacuzzi again and more walking I was now 7cm. It was getting so intense I really couldn’t take the pain anymore. I started asking my doula and husband to let me have some pain meds, they of course refused every time. I had already warned them when we all went over my birth plan to not let me take it no matter how much I asked, I never asked the nurses or doctor because I really didn’t want it in the long run. And because my doctor knew I wanted NO pain meds as did the nurses , they never once offered them to me.
At about 8cm baby’s heart rate went down a little and my doctor suggested we get some saline going, along with an oxygen mask. I was fine with this except I was more confined to the bed at this point so it was harder to get through the contractions. Baby’s heart rate came back up right away after the IV and oxygen and I was able to stand up again and get through more contractions. It felt like my doctor never left my side, as if I was his only patient and nothing else was important. This was a great feeling, my husband and I are amazed by his care. Come to find out he had called his office and past off all his appointments to his partner because he was not going to leave me. I actually had an appointment that day at 11:30am.
Once I was checked at 9cm, we found that I had a cervical lip. The closer I got to wanting to push he suggested that I push during a contraction while he pushed back the lip. We did this for about two contractions. This actually started at about 7pm, after he had pushed it back and I was a complete 10cm we waited a little longer until I had the urge to push. At one point I think before we were pushing the lip back my husband came to my ear and said look baby they are putting on the light in the baby area and everybody is getting ready. This was his way of helping me continue through it. Once I looked up and they had the baby lamp on it was all within my reach. Then, I felt like I had to poop and I couldn’t hold it anymore, so I told my husband and he was loudly announcing that I felt like I had to poop, so the doctor came right over and when the next contraction came I bared down and gave it all I could. All I could hear was my doctor telling me how amazing I was doing and that she was coming. With every “good job”, “perfect” and “just like that” I felt like I was on top of the world. My husband says I see her hair, its right there! I was determined to get her out within the next push, I was afraid of being in the pushing stage for hours and never progressing so I had to do this. I got to the third push of the last contraction and out came her head, I could feel my contraction ending and I gave one last good push and Swoosh, like a worm she came squirming out!!
My doctor followed my most important wish and he place this bloody and warm baby right on top of my chest and all I could do was yell “My baby, my baby!!! WE did it!!!” She was born at 7:13pm, just a couple of minutes after starting to push, weighing 7lbs 5.4oz. I looked at my husband and he was crying as he cut the umbilical cord something that was taken from him but too many times and it was the most spectacular moment in our lives.
My doula had never attended a VBAC and had been just has excited as I was and I found her crying by my side to. Everybody crying but this peaceful little angel who did such a wonderful job helping me bring her into this world. I could not have done this without my amazing husband, who I had to convince that a VBAC was not selfish it was my right. I filled him like a sponge with all the knowledge I had and it was no time before he was completely on board and asking to join our ICAN meetings. He was owed this experience just as much as I was and I am glad we both were able to get it. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my doula, Melissa. This woman was truly a blessing from above and she will forever have a piece of my heart and a place in my life. She never gave up on me and even if her arms were in pain because of the amount of pressure she was putting on my back during contractions, she never let me go. She never let my water bottle go empty, she never let me go on to the next contraction without drinking more water. She is an angel in disguise. And most importantly I would have not been able to do it if I didn’t have the most supporting, kind and amazing doctor, Dr Dennis Mcgroary. He allowed what so many doctors go against and tell women we are crazy for doing. He never had doubt and he was always positive. He followed my every wish and never did he do anything or make any decision without making it my decision, he made me feel in control and the only one that mattered.
I will always be an advocate for VBACS and ICAN especially. ICAN has played such a huge role in my life within the past couple of months that I will never forget. Women need to know that we are in control and we call the shots. I am twenty one years old and I finally feel like a woman, I finally don’t feel like nobodies listening to me because of my age, I am empowered and ready to spread the word. Because at my age I've gone through hell and made it back to tell my story, and I will tell it with pride and joy for the rest of my life. I will tell it as many times as I need to and to as many people that want to hear it! I will never look back with hurt or pain from my previous c-sections because those experiences wouldn’t have brought me here today. I will never love one child more then the other because each one is special in her own way. Thank you for reading.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is for educational purposes and is intended to motivate you to make your own informed choices based on your research, along with your partnership with your OB or Midwife. Please always talk to your care provider when making any decisions about your pregnancy and birth.