Fox Logan Edward
After months of planning for a VBAC, an emergency C-section becomes necessary due to concerns about the baby's heart rate.
For a little background, I will tell you that my first baby, a girl, was born by Cesarean section in May of 1998. She had been in a breech position when my water broke, one week before my due date. At some point about two years after her birth, I decided that I wanted to make every attempt to have my next baby's birth a VBAC. I researched extensively on the best options to take with such a goal in mind. Any recommendation you may ever come across on how to best approach a VBAC is a recommendation that I followed; I was a student of VBAC!
Our new baby, Fox Logan Edward, was born on Wednesday, May 16, 2001, but really, the story started on the previous day. That day, I had a routine doctor's appointment where everything checked out fine. I was nine days overdue, however, and so I requested a biophysical profile test for my own peace of mind. A biophysical profile test is an extensive ultrasound exam that gives the baby a score relative to their apparent well-being. Later that afternoon, I went to the test with my Mom and my daughter, Rachel, and was thrilled to see my little boy. The ultrasound technician said almost nothing. This was normal, though, and didn't concern me. Fox looked just absolutely perfect to us.
The next morning, I called the doctor's office asking for the results of the test. My doctor himself then got on the phone and said that the results weren't great. The test results scored a 6 out of 10 (later I found out he scored poorly on aspiration and tone). He said I needed further testing (an NST) to get a clearer perspective of the baby's condition. Naturally, I was worried!!
At 1:00 p.m. on the 16th, I went to the NST with my Mom. My husband, Ed, was at work, and I didn't think there was cause for him to go to the test with me. The baby was monitored with an External Fetal Monitor for a while as I laid on my back, and everything looked good. Then they had me lay on my side, and something very strange happened. The baby had a sudden flurry of activity, and then his heart rate went from the 140s to only 85!! To make matters worse, it stayed that way for several minutes! It was a very scary few minutes. His heart rate went back up when I changed position, and then my doctor was called. The nurses were telling the doctor about the situation and that they believed a c-section was indicated. To them, the situation seemed extremely tenuous. My mother and I were scared and pretty emotional considering all of the planning I had done for a natural VBAC. My doctor's words to the nurses assured me, and we began to collect ourselves. He had said "If the baby's heart rate is fine right now, we'll wait. We'll monitor for another four hours, and if nothing like that happens again, we'll send her home and bring her back tomorrow for an induction. If it does happen again, however, we'll have to take the baby then by c-section."
I was grateful for this news. The fact that my doctor didn't rush into a c-section right then told me that he knew where my heart was and that I really wanted to try to do this vaginally as long as the baby was okay.
For two hours, the baby was monitored and everything was fine. Our spirits improved, and the staff said I could go home right after I had some dinner. Just as my nurse was bringing in a dinner for me, however, Fox's heart rate fell again. It was worse this time, though, and it starting fluctuating outrageously. It was pretty obvious that something about his position and/or movements was compromising his cord from time to time.
My doctor came in very soon after this happened and said very sympathetically that we needed to get him out as soon as possible. By this time, I was in total agreement. I was so scared for my little boy!! We called Ed to come quickly (he had to come from work). He was terrified because last he knew everything was as fine as could be expected and now all of a sudden I was being rushed for a c-section! The prep-work was begun, and my dinner sat untouched.
In the meantime, Fox's heart rate went back to a good, steady rate. The anesthesiologist came and started talking about general anesthesia for the surgery. Let me tell you, I did not want to be knocked out!!! The nurse actually reprimanded him, though, and I will remember her forever, as I believe she saved me from having general anesthesia. She said, "This girl planned for a natural birth for a year and even took a 10-week childbirth class. We can't put her to sleep for this!!" She convinced him that if once they put me on the OR table and everything was still okay with his heart rate, that we had time to administer an epidural. I was placed on that table with the monitors, and Fox's heart rate was still good. The anesthesiologist agreed to administer an epidural. I was so glad. I think the angels were with us!
It was time for the surgery, and Ed wasn't there yet. So my Mom suited up and she came in. I handled the surgery very well. I used every relaxation and visualization technique I could think of to keep calm. It was hard not to let worrying cause panic. After all, the staff considered this enough of an emergency that they couldn't wait for my husband to arrive!
Several minutes after the surgery had begun, the anesthesiologist told my Mom to stand up so that she could watch little Fox as he was lifted out of me. She hesitated because the anesthesiologist had just finished telling her how important it was that she stay behind the drape. She did stand up, though, and it was the highlight of her day. She saw him being lifted out. He was very red-faced and screaming just as his sister had done. For good measure, he stated his opinion about the whole situation by peeing all over everything!
At about that time, Ed arrived. He came in and stood with the baby as they examined him. He was perfectly alright. His Apgar scores were 9/9! He weighed 8 lbs. 15 oz. (he would have weighed an even 9 pounds if he hadn't peed), and measured at 20.5 inches long. Ed, the very proud daddy, got to carry him around for a long time, and then he took him up to the nursery.
I went to recovery, and here's where the coolest stuff happened. With my daughter, in recovery I was *totally* alone for what seemed like hours. When I went into the recovery room this time, I had my Mom, my sister with her baby, my doula, and later my husband. After about 20 minutes, my doula called the nursery to have Fox brought down (he otherwise would have stayed in the nursery until well after I was moved to my postpartum room). He was quickly brought down, and I was able to nurse him right there in recovery!! This alone felt like such a huge victory for me. I was a new mother and needed to nurse my new baby. I wasn't treated like just another patient as I had been when Rachel was born; I was treated like a mother. He nursed for a little more than half an hour, and then he was taken back up again while I was transferred to my postpartum room.
I settled into my room, and I had two wonderful friends with me rubbing my shoulders; Sally, my doula, and Debbie, my childbirth teacher. It was so nice having them there. Those two had gone through much with me over the previous months, and their support meant more than I can express. They also helped to make sure that Fox came back again from the nursery to stay. You see, shortly after I arrived in the room, I called the nursery, and the staff said that he had to stay there for observation for four hours! I was devastated! It made no sense to me because he was perfectly healthy and had been roaming around the halls with his Daddy already. I was so grateful for Sally and Debbie. Sally quietly left the room as I recall, and did "I-don't-know-what", but within a few minutes Ed came in with our son!
So I didn't get my VBAC, but I did what was needed for the safety and health of my sweet little Fox. Did my year's worth of planning and preparation (much of it done with the support of ICANers of ICAN, the International Cesarean Awareness Network) go to waste? Absolutely not! If it weren't for that planning, I would not have secured such an understanding OB or my doula, and I wouldn't have sought out such a soul-searching childbirth class. Without all of those I surely would have had general anesthesia, wouldn't have been able to nurse in recovery, and wouldn't have gotten Fox back with me so soon. You know, I told my husband all along as I planned for a VBAC that a second c-section would not devastate me as long as I had decision-making contributions to the birth experience, and I knew that the baby was truly in danger.
I have learned to have faith in my body, but I also have faith in God. I went to those tests for a reason , , , without those tests we would not have known about Fox's possible cord problem, and I might have lost him with a vaginal birth due to "cord accident." I'm grateful for medical technology and cesarean surgery as long as it is used judiciously and with true medical necessity (I believe that all too often, this is not the case). For me and for Fox, I believe that we had some angels in our corner and they made sure that Fox arrived safe and sound with the help of my OB and the staff at the hospital.