Nearly 10 months to the day after Isaac was born, I found out that I was expecting again. I had just gotten my cycle back one month earlier (yeah breastfeeding!) and we decided we'd just see what happened. Well, what happened is that we were going to have another baby!! The OB that I had in San Luis Obispo had recommended that I not try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) with my next child because she said that I was too small anyway to deliver a baby normally (like that helped my defective complex). However, my new doctor told me that he didn't see anything wrong with me going for a normal delivery. I was elated. Just the idea of trying for a vaginal birth gave me something to look forward to and prepare for.
I'm not really one to do things half-way so I took all of his advice to heart and jumped feet first into my second pregnancy with hope and anticipation. I buried myself in books as well. I read, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer and read VBAC birth stories on-line to help myself see that other women had gone before me and done it. I watched my diet. I exercised and we hired a doula. The doula that we hired is also a home-birth midwife and so we knew that she knew everything and would have the skills to get us through our birth safely. I familiarized myself as best as I could with birth itself and then my husband and I just prayed for a healthy delivery. We prayed for the doctor who would be on-call, for the nurses and for our baby.
Everything went well until I hit 34 weeks and the baby went breech. He had been head-down ever since 28 weeks but for some reason he turned around. I now know that I have an oddly shaped uterus (a birth defect) that makes the area of my uterus smaller than it's supposed to be, causing my babies to turn in an effort to find the most room to grow. But at the time, we didn't have that knowledge and it was surprising. Only 3-4% of babies end up breech at term so I thought we'd just gotten unlucky the last time and that chances are that we'd be okay this time. However, it wasn't so.
I consulted with my doula and did everything she told me to do...exercises, exercises and more exercises. Time was of the essence since the longer a baby stays breech the bigger they get and the harder it gets to turn. I did all that I could do and then had to leave the rest in the Lord's hands. Within a couple of days, I felt that the baby had turned back. I was right. After that I wore a girdle to help keep that little flipper turned the right way. I didn't take it off (except to shower) until I was past due.
My due date came and went like the wind. Nothing happened. I knew that it was my first labor so I expected to go late but nothing can prepare you for going overdue. It is so difficult to be patient during those last few days. However, I knew that it was best for me to just bide my time. I'd made it this far, I could wait a few more days. The midwife suggested a bit of castor oil and of course I tried it. The memory of that nasty stuff is still very vivid in my mind. It didn't put me into labor but it did cause me to have some pre-labor contractions that definitely succeeded in dilating and effacing me a bit more. I was moving closer but I didn't know how long my doctor would let me go. If you're a VBAC, you aren't allowed to have any sort of labor induction due to already having a compromised uterus. Therefore, I needed to go into labor naturally on my own and I needed it to happen soon.
It was Presidents' Day weekend and my husband had four days off. We made ourselves as busy as possible to ensure we wouldn't be thinking about the baby. I had contractions off and on but they never regulated and didn't last for longer than an hour or so at a time. At one time I thought my water might be leaking so we headed into the hospital. However, it wasn't so and we were still waiting. Monday hit and I knew that my husband was headed back into work the next day and that I was headed back to the doctor to be officially 41 weeks. So I pulled out the castor oil one more time and gave it a try. It made me so sick that time and didn't put me into labor but more of a sputtering of contractions as the day went on. I spent most of that day in the bathtub while my husband watched our then 18-month-old. Steve would periodically bring in hot water from the stove to replenish my bath (our water heater was pretty lame and didn't heat water after five minutes).
That evening a friend of ours was coming into town and Steve went out with him for a few hours. I told him to bring me back the biggest Diet Coke he'd ever seen. I hadn't had any diet sodas my whole pregnancy but I was exhausted, cranky, uncomfortable and needed some caffeine. I was having contractions but they weren't regular at all so I ignored them and chased my little toddler around. Later, I pounded that Diet Coke and climbed back into the bathtub where I had a little chat with a dear friend. After awhile she said, "Ummm...Nikki, those contractions are pretty close together. Are you sure you're not in labor?" I responded that of course I wasn't in labor because I'd been having contractions for days and they weren't doing anything and kept stopping!!! However, after I got off the phone with her, we started timing. They were five minutes apart and regular. We headed to the hospital.
I thought they'd send me home again but when I showed up, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was at 8 cm. I was in transition! My water broke and labor got much more intense. The Watermark song, "Glory of Your Name" played continuously in my mind while I was in transition and I was reminded again that it was all about God's glory. Little Caleb Michael, which means "Brave Soldier" was born about two hours later after the nurse pushed a stubborn cervical lip aside. I cannot describe the healing that happened in my heart the moment they laid him on my chest. I got to hold him, nurse him, talk to him and be with him. I got to watch him get weighed and bathed for the first time. I got to be there. I even asked for a sandwich because I was so starving. It was unlike anything I'd experienced the time before. I wanted to get up and walk to my postpartum room just because I had the energy and ability to (of course they didn't let me). I couldn't stop smiling. It was amazing. I was so thankful.
Caleb, which means "Brave", was named Caleb because we had to take a step out and be brave to try the VBAC. We didn't know where it was all going to go or what would happen but we knew we wanted to try. We also knew that we had a God who had gotten us through before and would take care of us again. We'd learned that the first time. God, in His kindness, gave that birth to me. He didn't have to and I knew it but He just did. Everything went so smoothly and quickly. It was like a dream. And I was now the mommy of two precious little boys. Isaac...who had started me on this journey and Caleb who helped me get there.