Monday, June 11, 2012

My Successful VBAC Birthing Story: Lexie's Arrival

They say having a princess in your life is one of the sweetest things that could ever happen to you.  And now that I have one in my arms right now, I couldn't agree more.

Our little girl was born on a beautiful spring day here in Dubai.  A few days prior to that, Easter Sunday to be exact, I lost my mucus plug.  I was at the office that day, a rare occasion since I am always on leave for every important Christian holiday.  In one of my frequent trips to the loo, I found myself getting excited over the sight of something red and gooey floating in the toilet bowl (I know, TMI!).  I called my OB's office and spoke to his nurse, Angie who advised me to monitor my contractions in case I feel any.

I was full of anticipation that I will deliver that day.  When I told my team mates about what just happened, they immediately sent me home (for fear that they might have to deal with a woman in labor, haha!).  However, no contractions came so I decided to report for work the following day (much to my team's horror!) and wrap up my hand over.  On April 10, I filed for my 16-week maternity leave, bid a temporary farewell to my colleagues and went home around midday.

While at home, that was when the antsy feeling started to kick in.  I was so hoping I would deliver because I didn't want my leave days to go to waste.  I knew that after the loss of my mucus plug, I can either deliver within the day or in the next coming weeks.  It was an agonizing wait, I tell you!  I went walking with my boys for an average of 2 kms per day by the corniche, talking to the baby in my belly to come out.

My next scheduled check up with my OB came around and by then, I was already crossing my fingers that the IE would be positive for me.  However, I was disappointed to learn that I was only 1 cm dilated (after all that walking, my goodness!!).  Nonetheless, I was ordered to do a CTG to make sure that we were not overlooking any real contractions as apparently, there are some cases where a pregnant woman is already in active labor but isn't aware of it.  Just as I expected, nothing was happening.  Jelly bean was still happily bopping in my hotel uterus and was killing us all with excitement.

Until finally, in the wee hours of the morning of April 17 at 5:10 am, almost exactly the same time as with Dade, I woke up with my water bag starting to leak with lots of bloody show.  It was bright red blood so I knew it was time to bring me to the hospital and get the bun out of the oven!  At last!!

I woke hubby up and then took a shower.  As soon as we've changed our clothes, we grabbed our hospital bags by the door and headed to The City Hospital, which was about 10 minutes away from our place.   Dade was in the meantime left with his nanny.

photo courtesy of

We were cheerfully welcomed by Cynthia, a lovely midwife who made me feel very much comfortable in the delivery suite # 4.  We wheeled in our stuff and gave my record from the clinic.  At around 7-ish, she handed me over to the next midwife in duty assigned to my room, a sweet South African midwife whose name escapes me.  As soon as I was settled in my delivery suite, we started texting and sending messages to friends and family via BBM.  I even managed to post my status on Facebook and Twitter ;-)

When I was IE'd, I was only about 2 cm that morning so I was told to head down to the cafeteria and have something light to nibble on while we wait.  After hubby had his breakfast and caffeine intake (he needed that major caffeine kick for what's about to come, you know!), we went upstairs to my delivery suite and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Until at some point, the midwife asked me to sit on the birthing ball, hoping that the bopping would help expedite my labor.  At around 9:30 am, I was hooked up to the fetal monitor, and by 10:00 am, I was finally given something to eat -- a piece of toast, scrambled egg, bran flakes and milk. Apparently, that was my last meal for the day.

bopping on the birthing ball -- all smiles pa!

puffy and hungry

The waiting game kept going on.  My cousin S and bestfriend B came at around noon to visit and show moral support.  The whole time, amidst the jokes, the contractions and the back-to-back-to-back episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E! (please don't judge me, I love them and Khloe is my favorite!),  I was praying and hoping for a successful delivery.  You see, part of my birth plan was to deliver via VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian), a decision I have discussed with my OB several times, and which, to my relief, he also supported.  Yes, you read that right -- 'he'.

I have a male OB-GYN and I'm not ashamed of it :) A German middle-aged chap who has the best bedside manners, Dr. Christian Jozsa was the same doctor who delivered my first born.  When I found out we were having baby # 2, I knew I had to find him.  With the power of Google, I was able to track him down.  From American Hospital Dubai, he moved to Health Bay Polyclinic, a private clinic in Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim (now don't you just love Google?).  Anyway, during one of my consultations with him, he raised the topic about my delivery options.  I knew in my heart I wanted to try for a normal delivery after that frustrating emergency CS I had with Dade. I was aware of the certain risks with VBAC, but I had faith in myself that I could do it.  The success rate, according to American Pregnancy Association, is 60-80% which is a promising rate.  Besides, it's been more than 2 years since I had given birth to Dade.  I had more than enough time to heal.  I know that I am a good candidate, and this was highly supported by Dr. Josza.  I trust that he knows his thing and that he will take care of me and my baby.  He encouraged my birth plan, and I know that he will not do so if he cannot help me go through it successfully.

Going back to the D-Day, I was sitting on my bed for 7 hours already, chatting and exchanging jokes with my companions, complaining about my hunger and was still laughing despite the contractions.  At the back of my head, I was saying "wow, this is easy peasy!"  Hubby asked me a couple of times on what my pain management plan was but I kept brushing him off.  I was almost sure I could deliver without epidural (it wasn't covered by my insurance, by the way, so I was hoping I wouldn't need it)  That was until the Arab midwife came at around 4:45 pm and artificially burst my amniotic sac.  At half past 5 in the afternoon, my smiles and giggles started to fade away.  The contractions became stronger.  It felt like there was a wild horse kicking my lower back when it gallops.  I was asked to use the oxygen mask to breathe in but I felt that the effort only exacerbated the pain.  Plus my labor coach (dear husband) and my bestfriend were messing with my poor state.  I seriously had to snap for them to knock it off!

goofing with the husband

inhale all you want

At the eleventh hour, I gave in and asked for an epi.  I wasn't wailing nor screaming in pain, but I was desperately asking for help.  The anesthesiologist came, and with the help of the South African midwife (who just came by my room to wish me well because she was already off duty then), I was able to get some relief.  Looking back, I couldn't stop laughing at the sight of me embracing the neck of the midwife and earnestly begging, "please help me" over and over while the anesthesiologist was inserting that big of a needle down my spine.  That is what you get when you're too stubborn to make a proper pain management plan ahead of time.

40 minutes after the epidural shot, Cynthia, the soft-spoken night duty midwife who welcomed us that morning came back and IE'd me. Lo and behold, I was finally 10 cm dilated and fully effaced! Turned out the epidural anesthesia helped progress my labor but seemed to have also lead to a fetal distress. However calm and collected Cynthia was, I sensed something was wrong.

After she walked out of the room to consult with my OB over the phone, everything happened so fleetly.  Dr. Josza suddenly appeared in the delivery suite with Cynthia, while another midwife came on board as she was called in to catch the baby.  Before I knew it, my legs were already being propped up.  I was asked to take a deep breath while counting 1-10 in my head.  And then, i heard the magic word: PUSH!!  With my hubby's hand on my right, I pushed with all my might, despite feeling numb since I wasn't feeling the contractions.  I owe it a lot to Cynthia and the other midwife because they were the ones coaching me on when to take in that deep breath and when to push.  The more they tell me about my baby's head coming out, the more I was motivated to push amidst the weariness.

getting some support from dear hubby while i PUSH!

At 8:43 pm, Dr. Josza pulled out a beautiful baby and put her on top of my belly.  weighing 3295 grams and measuring 50 cm long, our darling daughter Lexie, with APGAR scores of 6/10 on the first minute and 9/10 on the fifth minute, has arrived!

and she's out!

After our wee one was cleaned, measured, weighed and checked by the pediatrician, Lexie was brought back to me for more almost an hour of very early skin-to-skin contact.

first bonding experience with my pretty princess

Oh, and did I tell you that my cousin S and bessie B were both in the delivery suite with us the whole time?  Cousin S waited by the other side of the curtain with the pediatrician while bessie B took pictures.  That's why I have these photographs while delivering our bundle of joy :) And yes, she saw everything.

I learned later on that Dr. Josza had to make it a quick delivery so he made it an assisted childbirth with the use of a forceps and kiwi omni-cup vacuum.  Because of the fetal distress, he had to swiftly bring the baby out, add the fact that I was losing a lot of blood and my blood pressure was critically down.  I stayed for almost 3 hours in my delivery suite before I was wheeled in to my suite because they were closely monitoring my blood pressure.  I had blood in my pee, as well, so they had to wait until it cleared up a bit before they could move me to the maternity ward one floor above the labor ward.  My pee was strawberry colored, like that of a Kool-Aid juice! :P

Before the day finally ended, baby Lexie and I moved up to our suite and saw this sweet surprise from S & B :)

all tucked in and comfy at our spruced up maternity suite 

happy to be together

When we finally settled in, the night duty nurse came to see if Lexie's already nursing to get the precious colostrum from Mommy.  Little girl couldn't latch properly yet so the nurse had to help me by hand expressing 3ml of colostrum from both my breasts.  During the first few squeezes, I quietly yelped in pain but decided to ignore the discomfort for my baby's sake.  In my mind, I was screaming "sh*t, I forgot how painful this is!  Waaahhh!!" Lol.

In the morning, hubby fetched Dade so he could meet his little sister.  The first time he laid his eyes on her, it was love at first sight.  When he heard her whimper, he said "it's ok, don't cry."  It was an "aaawww" moment!

Mom's little angels

Lexie had a present for her big brother Dade, which he opened quite excitedly.  Dade also made sure his little sister felt welcome so he also brought a gift which we picked out the day before I went into labor.

Kuya Dade's new garage -- dream come true!

gift from big bro to little sis

We were supposed to leave the next day but was told to stay for another night because Lexie's bilirubin level was slightly higher than normal.  She had to stay under the bililights for a phototherapy session, and thankfully, her bilirubin level stabilized so we were sent home the next day.  But Lexie's jaundice is a different story altogether which deserves a separate blog post.

We thank the Lord for keeping me and Lexie healthy and well.  Despite a few minor challenges during labor, we're extremely grateful for a safe and successful VBAC delivery.  We're also thankful to the people who have prayed for us and who kept us in their thoughts.

the de Gracia family (please pardon the Mommy's disheveled hair)

Wow, it feels great to now be called a family of four!  :)