On to J.P.’s birth. Egina talked to a lot of people about the possibilities of having a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC). The obgyn they had for their first delivery did not really allow them to plan for and deliver the baby the way they had dreamed. They had gone along with the doctor’s recommendations and lost control of the process. They did not want that to happen again.
The interpreter they had worked with during their first delivery (and subsequently their second) had had a baby after theirs and had used a midwife. Everything about that process was exactly what Egina wanted to have happen for her as well. When they got pregnant the second time (this time it was planned), Jimmy supported the idea of using a midwife. There were 4 midwives affiliated with the hospital who worked on a rotation so that they might not know who their midwife would be when it came time to deliver the baby. All of them turned about to be good – there was one who was not used to working with Deaf people, but right away Egina had a better experience. While the first appointments with the doctor were just a quick check, the midwife was willing to hear about everything the Beldons wanted. She was very supportive of the birth plan they originally made outlining how they wanted to do the first delivery.
With this baby, Egina knew what to expect. She was ready for the labor pains; they didn’t go to Lamaze class and were very excited about going through the birth process. Egina made clear to the midwife she did not want to be induced again. The midwife said that would be fine as long as the baby came before 42 weeks. After that, the hospital physicians would be the ones managing the delivery. The Beldons did not want that and thought a lot about their options. The midwife told them about some herbs and natural medicines that might help start labor (which they couldn’t use as part of their hospital care because of liability issues).
The midwife offered to “strip” Egina’s membranes. That’s a process where the midwife uses her hand to irritate the inside of the cervix. The process does not break the woman’s water, but it can trigger the hormonal shifts necessary to start labor. Egina agreed. At that time they were living in Ohio but Jimmy was commuting to Indiana to teach and was out of town. They agreed on doing the procedure and he would arrive that night. By this time Egina was at 42 weeks and overdue.
She took the herbs, had the stripping and waited. At last labor began. Jimmy’s sister had flown in and his parents were coming to take care of the baby while they went to the hospital. Egina’s labor progressed and she and Jimmy went to the hospital. The contractions were pretty strong, but they told her she wasn’t ready yet and to go back home. Egina was tired, irritated and wanted to get going so she could have the natural birth she’d planned. But they went on back home. Jimmy remembers how they’d read not to leave for the hospital until the mother really feels “ready” for delivery. Although Egina had felt pretty ready, apparently there was more to come.
Once they got home, Egina tried to sleep while the contractions continued. They both laugh about the fact that during the first labor and delivery, Jimmy was right by Egina’s side every moment. This time, he came in to support her for short periods and spent the rest of the time on the computer playing games. Finally, Egina couldn’t stand it any more and they went back to the hospital but she still was not dilated at all. This time they decided to stay at the hospital until the delivery.
Well, all that night, the next day and into the next night Egina’s contractions continued. It was almost 30 hours. They had her sit in a warm bath, which didn’t help. They gave her some Pitocin to help the contractions get stronger (although they felt pretty strong already to Egina). Finally the pain got to be too much and Egina had an epidural. When at last she was at 10 cm, she started to push. She pushed for 2 hours – it was incredibly hard. She thinks maybe because it was her first vaginal birth her body wasn’t used to pushing a baby through the cervix. She was totally dilated, but the baby just wouldn’t come. The doctor prepared to use suction to help with the delivery. Jimmy remembers a friend telling him that a baby delivered with suction would have a misshapen head. He didn’t want a pointy-headed baby so was hoping that they didn’t use suction.
At last the baby came and this time it was a son. Jimmy was thrilled – he had a son and now they had one son and one daughter. With their first baby, they didn’t know which they would have and even though they had a good idea this one would be a boy from the ultrasound; they still had to actually see him to be sure.
The labor and delivery had taken so long that Jimmy’s parents and sister had actually left. When the baby came, the nurse looked him over, specifically at his skin, and said he looked like he was 38 weeks old, not 42. That explains why Egina’s body was not ready to give birth and why they had to force the process along so much. So, Egina got her vaginal birth, but still not a natural one.