SHOW / EPISODE

Episode 303 Kristen's 2VBAC Stories with Preeclampsia

54m | May 27, 2024

Kristen joins us today to share her tough C-section and two beautiful VBAC stories! After a 41-week elective induction that turned into a C-section and a 2.5-week NICU stay due to meconium and heart decelerations, Kristen was very nervous about giving birth again. She found The VBAC Link Podcast and found hope. Through her VBAC research, she gained the determination and confidence she needed to try again. 


When she was showing symptoms of preeclampsia, Kristen accepted the reality of a medically necessary induction. She was nervous but knew things would be different. She labored well and had moments of discouragement, but she used the tools available and achieved her VBAC. 


Kristen also had some preeclampsia symptoms but was able to avoid induction, labored almost completely at home, and caught her baby in a wheelchair at the hospital waiting for the elevator!


How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full Transcript under Episode Details 


01:11 Review of the Week

04:23 Kristen’s first pregnancy

06:20 Agreeing to induction

08:27 Emergency C-section and NICU stay

12:55 Gaining confidence to VBAC and getting pregnant again

17:28 39-week induction

21:18 Feeling discouraged

27:15 Getting the epidural and pushing for less than an hour

30:58 Third pregnancy

34:41 Forced to find a new provider at 36 weeks

40:45 Labor begins

46:11 Rushing to the hospital

48:06 Delivering her own baby in a wheelchair

51:27 Preeclampsia article and calibrating your blood pressure cuff


Meagan: Hey everybody, welcome to the show. We have our friend, Kristen with us today. Hello, Kristen. 


Kristen: Hi. 


Meagan: We have her and her little baby as well so you can hear those little cute coos in the background. You can just smile. I love when we have little babies on the podcast or kids. The other day, we had a little toddler. It was so fun. It makes my heart so happy. How old is your little baby now? 


Kristen: She is over a month. Just over a month. 


Meagan: Just little little. This is a VBAC baby. 


Kristen: Yes, she is. 


Meagan: We were just talking before we got recording. Kristen had a C-section and then a VBAC and with that VBAC, she had preeclampsia. We are going to talk a little bit more of what that looked like, but that has definitely been one of the themes that our listeners have been asking about. Is VBAC possible with lab-positive preeclampsia? The answer is yes. It is. We will talk a little bit more about that and then she has a surprise. 


01:11 Review of the Week


Meagan: We are going to read a review and then we are going to dive into her stories. 


This review was left in March 2023 by mcgrace and it says, “Must-listen For Every Mom”. It says, “This podcast is a must-listen not just for a mom preparing for a VBAC, but for anyone who gives birth and has given birth or plans to give birth in the U.S. Meagan wonderfully walks through personal stories while prepping for helping for helpful advocacy tips and a solid dose of empowerment in each episode. If you want to hear people discussing their plan to VBAC, if you are curious about what giving birth in the U.S. is like, and if you are wanting to have tips on how to mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare yourself for the best birth, this is the podcast to listen to.”


I love that. Thank you so much and I agree. This is such a great place for everybody, anyone preparing for birth to listen. I think with crazy-high Cesarean rates, we’ve talked about this before. We have to talk about why they are happening and this podcast literally shares a lot of why Cesareans are happening. It is such a great podcast for anyone including first-time moms or even fifth-time moms who haven’t had a Cesarean. 


As always, if you wouldn’t mind leaving us a review, you can head over to Apple Podcasts or Google or Spotify or wherever you are listening and drop us a review. You can even email us at info@thevbaclink.com.


04:23 Kristen’s first pregnancy


Meagan: Okay, Kristen. Welcome. Welcome, welcome and thank you so much for booking this. We are so excited that you were willing to come on. 


Kristen: I am so excited to be here. I have heard so many stories and been encouraged by so much so it is so awesome to share mine. 


Meagan: Yes. Well, I would love to turn the time over to you. 


Kristen: Okay, so I got pregnant pretty young. I was 20 at the time and I was in college so when I got pregnant, it was a little bit of a surprise. It was a little bit of a crazy pregnancy moving and figuring all of that out, but I got to move home to my big, crazy family. I had a lot of support. 


I had a really normal pregnancy. I was pretty young and a lot of my sisters had had babies, so I felt like I knew a little bit about birth and I really didn’t put any effort into looking any deeper into it. I felt like my mom had six kids naturally and I just thought, Okay. This is just what we do. 


I had midwives. I had a super normal pregnancy and then I got to the end and I was very done being pregnant. I was just ready to meet my little baby and have my baby. I was offered a 41-week induction. I think it was just offered to me and I was like, “Meet my baby on Friday? Sounds great.” 


I didn’t think anything of it. My mom had all of her babies naturally and she did seem a little wary to me, but I just was thinking I am huge. I get you are wary, but I want to do this. I want to meet my baby. 


06:20 Agreeing to induction


Kristen: I had a Foley placed the night before my induction date so I had a Foley placed and I was going to go home. When she placed the Foley, she told me— I can’t remember exactly when they fall out, but I was only a centimeter below. I think I was 3 centimeters. She was like, “Oh wow. You really stretched when I put this in. I might see you before your induction.” I was like, “Great.” 


I went home and then we got there in the morning. I wasn’t feeling anything. I was induced and it was just the natural cascade of things. I got Pitocin and then I had GBS so I had to get the antibiotics, but I thought I was allergic to them because I had a reaction as a kid so they had to give me something else. I don’t know whatever else antibiotic they had to give me, but it was something different. 


It made me feel super, super sick. I just wanted to lay in bed. I was like, I feel sick and I don’t want to stand up. I’m in labor and I don’t feel good. So I just laid there pretty much. 


Then I got an epidural and I got to a 10. I pushed for 3 hours but his head never came. He was having some decals so all of a sudden, I just heard the word “C-section” and I was so shocked. It didn’t come into my brain at all before they said it. I don’t know why. It was a long day. I had started at 5:00 AM and by the end of my pushing, it was 12:00 PM. I didn’t think of a C-section before that. 


Meagan: I think a lot of us don’t. It’s not really something that we plan for or even think about. 

Kristen: Yes. So it’s really jarring when you hear it. 


08:27 Emergency C-section and NICU stay


Kristen: Then we had to go down for the emergency C-section because my water had broken and there was meconium and he was deceling quite a bit all day. We went in for my C-section. I was pretty scared. My husband was really scared and we just went in. I was super shaky and I was terrified. I don’t do well with that kind of stuff, so I say the worst part of giving birth is the IVs. I was super nervous and then they needed to get him out so they told me, “You have to try to calm down and try to stop shaking so much” because they needed to get to him. 


I don’t remember exactly what happened. I just remember laying there and the anesthesiologist was just like, “She needs to calm down. Do you want me to give her something?” I just remember looking up at who was doing my C-section and who was somebody completely new because my midwife couldn’t do it. 

I remember them shaking their head and right after that, he must have put something in to try to calm me down. I calmed down, but all of a sudden, I felt like I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t speak. I was just lying there. I was so scared. 


I felt my son being pulled out. I felt them wiggling him out of my body and then I didn’t hear him cry. I just remember looking at my husband and I was mad at him almost. I was like, “He’s out and he’s not crying. I can’t say anything. You need to say something.” He didn’t know he was out, but I felt like he should know he was out. 


So then my son had to go to the NICU because he aspirated meconium. I just remember them lifting him up and the NICU nurses showing him over the drape as they were running out and they were like, “Here, mama,” and showed me him. I just remember feeling like such a bad mom. Everybody says, “Oh, when you see your baby and when you feel your baby, it’s just this overwhelming sense of something you’ll never feel again,” and I didn’t feel that. I felt nothing. 


I couldn’t talk. I just felt nothing and I was so scared and just numb at that point. 


My husband went with my son and everybody had told us all day that Dad gets to stay with baby if something bad were to happen so I was just assuming, Okay, at least my baby is not alone. My husband is with him. Then they started to sew me up, but I don’t know exactly what happened. I just remember them saying, “There’s blood where there shouldn’t be.” They said something about how they nicked my bladder. 


They were sewing me up and then they had to go back in and do something, but my poor husband at the time, there was a traveling NICU that didn’t know dads got to stay in there with baby so he kicked my husband out of the NICU at that point and then he said when he came out, he was in the hallway in between the OR and the NICU and he just said, “I just saw a bunch of people rushing back into your OR and rushing back in there,” and then he said somebody just put him in there like, “What are you doing?” 

He was like, “I don’t know,” so they put him in a maintenance closet. 


Meagan: Oh my goodness. 


Kristen: Yes, so he was like, “I just was in the closet thinking you guys were both not okay and I didn’t know what to do.” So that was a little crazy and then my baby was in the NICU for 2.5 weeks. That was a very long, very difficult process for us because I just wanted my baby to be home and my baby to be healthy. 


Kristen: We had some really amazing nurses and then we had some not amazing nurses and nurses are such a big thing. They really change your whole day. They change everything about your hospital experience when you have a good nurse and when you have one who is just not very supportive. 

That was a really difficult experience.

 

12:55 Gaining confidence to VBAC and getting pregnant again


Kristen: Then when we got home, I didn’t really think about another baby for a while because I was so scared. Once I did, I just remember saying, “You know what? If I go in and the doctor tells me I have to have another C-section because that’s what is best for my baby, then that’s okay. I’ll get through it and that will be okay. My baby will be healthy.” 


Then I started doing a little research and I found The VBAC Link. I think I binged for a full 24 hours. I don’t think I slept. After that, after 24 hours, I was like, Nobody can tell me that I can’t do this. I can do this. From then on, this was a couple of years before I was pregnant. I listened. I did research. I had called and met with doulas and home birth midwives and everyone before I was even pregnant. 


They would be like, “What is your due date?” I was always like, “Well, I don’t have one. I’m not pregnant yet.” They would always be like, “Okay.” But it was great and I felt a lot more prepared with my second. 

I did feel like I was going hands up a little bit. I felt like I was ready to fight when I needed to fight. 


I got pregnant again. She was born in 2022 so I got pregnant in 2021. I got pregnant again. It was an easy pregnancy. I was super sick at the beginning, but it was a pretty easy pregnancy. I started getting Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks which is very different than my previous pregnancy. I had them all my pregnancy every night for all of my pregnancy which was very crazy. 


Meagan: Whoa. 


Kristen: Yeah, but I had switched providers so I started with a provider because I wanted to go with a different hospital initially. When I went to this provider, he told me all about uterine rupture in the first appointment. I had statistics written in my phone because I knew when I went in there, he was going to scare me and I knew I just needed to look at my statistics to feel better. 


That’s kind of what happened, but he did push back a lot on things. He wanted me to get a test epidural. 


Meagan: Mhmm, the just-in-case. 


Kristen: Yes and to be honest, the best way I handled things was, I feel like it’s really difficult to talk to a provider in an appointment. I just feel like the power feels all theirs and when they are saying things, it really does sound scary whether or not. I knew so much information and it would still sound scary. 


They would be saying something and I felt like I was there and my baby was deckling and I did need the C-section. I would get scared in my appointments, then I would go home and I would do more research and I felt really secure in my decision. 


I went back to him and I told him that I would not be getting that. I told him, I just let him know that if it was that much of an emergency, I would be under anesthesia either way so I didn’t understand why I needed a needle in my back. 


He kind of giggled and he was like, “Well, you’re right. You’ve researched, so okay.” 


Meagan: Stop it. No way. Oh my gosh. 


Kristen: Yeah. I ended up switching providers at 20 weeks after I met my doula because I told her just a few things that I didn’t feel as supported with him and she let me know a midwife who I had never heard about. 


I met with this midwife around 20 weeks. I gave her a really long list. I gave her a very long list of papers to tell her exactly what I wanted and she was very, very apt to doing everything. She would say things before I even would talk about them.


I would ask her about an epidural and she would say, “No, you don’t need one and to be doing this, you need to be eating before.” I would ask about all of these things so I felt really secure going with her. 


17:28 39-week induction


Kristen: At 38 weeks, I got to my appointment and I had high blood pressure. It was pretty high and she just was like, “I’m going to do a urine test for preeclampsia.” I really had never heard of preeclampsia. I had heard of it. I just had never done any research on it. I didn’t understand what it was. 

I did the urine test and I really was thinking it was just going to come back fine. I felt absolutely fine. I had no symptoms. 


It seemed that it was going to be okay and then it wasn’t. She told me that I was going to need to be induced. I was very, very nervous. I really wanted to avoid an induction because my first was induced and I felt like that was leading up to my C-section so I was super nervous about a VBAC being induced. 

But she was very supportive of me. She really understood that I was very, very nervous and she was very respectful with that. 


So we ended up being induced at 39 weeks and I went in. I had a Foley bulb placed and then I just rested the rest of the night. You don’t sleep in the hospital, but I pretend-rested for the rest of the night. 


Then in the morning, I got up and they were like, “Yeah, you seem to be progressing.” They started me on a low dose of Pitocin. I just told them I wanted really low and slow so we did that. I had quite a bit of Braxton Hicks or prodromal labor. I don’t exactly know which. I had quite a bit of that beforehand. 


I was at a 5 and pretty actively contracting. They were like, “Honey, you don’t feel anything?” I was like, “No, I feel something. I just feel what I feel at home all of the time.” So I was like, “This is very similar.” I got pretty discouraged because I felt like nothing was happening. It was 2:00 or 3:00 PM the next day so I had been in the hospital for 20 hours at that point. I just felt really discouraged because I felt like nothing was happening and I just emotionally broke down to my husband and told him, “What if we do this and everything happens the same? I worked this hard and I fought this hard for this and I’m just going to go in and I’m going to have another C-section.”


I knew that having another emergency C-section was going to be worse for this baby than if I just had a regular C-section. I was so upset. I had my emotional breakdown, then after that, I kept going. I was doing everything. 


When they put me in that room before the nurses came in to even meet me, I was doing Spinning Babies. I was doing everything I possibly could to get this baby out. The nurses would even comment and say, “Wow. You just don’t stop moving, do you?” I just felt like a little geriatric patient with all of my little tubes attached to me and I was just walking around. 


21:18 Feeling discouraged


Kristen: Yeah, so then at that point, things started to progress a tiny bit. I was progressing, but nothing a ton was happening so my midwife came in and let me know that the only thing she could do besides Pitocin was break my water. 

I was really in my head at this point in labor. I felt like I really needed to advocate for myself. My doula was helping me and texting me the whole time telling me what I could do. She just let me know that once things really progressed, then she would come in. 


I at that point was really just trying to play the risk of what Pitocin I wanted. Do I want to stay low and slow? I just really didn’t want my cervix to tire out so I let them push it up a little bit more. I just was really in my head about trying to make the best decision which is silly because I couldn’t have control of everything but I felt like I needed to to have my VBAC. 


Things kept progressing and at 10:00, they asked me to break my water because that was the next step. I had been on Pitocin all day so I was a little bit worried about my cervix getting tired. I told them I was fine with that. 


The contraction after they broke my water, I was like, Oh my goodness. Here is the pain that everyone talks about. 


Meagan: And I feel it. I feel it. 


Kristen: Yes. I was like, Oh my goodness. Then it felt like I was actually in labor. My doula came at that point. She was doing some rebozo on me and shaking apples. 


Meagan: Yep, shaking the apples. 


Kristen: Yes. That was great. She brought out the TENS unit which was amazing. Oh my goodness. It helped so much. They put it on my back and it was just amazing. 


I was standing up moving my hips. I had the TENS unit on and I was really working through things and I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I started to get hot and cold. I would have a contraction then in the middle of a break for a second, I had told her in the middle of a contraction, “I think I’m going to throw up.” Then I looked at her after and I was like, “I think I’m going to throw up.” I was so excited because I was like—


Meagan: This is it. 


Kristen: Yes. I was like, “I think I might be in or nearing transition at this point.” I had amazing nurses the whole process. I just had amazing nurses. I had asked for nurses the whole time who agreed with HypnoBirthing or who were trained in HypnoBirthing. I had not done that, but I just wanted them who were a little more holistic and a little more natural. 


One of my nurses actually said, “You’re not doing HypnoBirthing.” I said, “I know.” She was like, “You just want somebody who’s going to let you do what you want, huh?” I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” She said, “Okay. I have the perfect nurse for you next time.”


I had amazing nurses the whole time. They were so encouraging. 


Meagan: Oh good. 


Kristen: But my nurse must have been doing something so another nurse came in to check me at this point and she was not as nice and amazing. She told me that she needed to check me. I was about to get on the bed and I had another contraction so I stopped right outside of the bed and put my hands on there. 

She told me, “Get on the bed. I need to check you.” I couldn’t speak because I was in a contraction, but I was thinking, Oh my goodness. I finally ended up getting on the bed. She looked at me and told me I was a 6. 


In my head, I was not a 6. The whole room changed for me at that moment. I was very discouraged. 

When she told me I was a 6, my doula’s face was right behind her shaking her head no. She just was looking at me shaking her head and she was like, “No you are not,” but I don’t know. I was exhausted and I just broke mentally in that moment when she told me I was a 6. I just heard I can’t do it. I can’t do this. This is too much. I can’t believe I’m at a 6, because at that point, when I got into bed, I felt pushy. I felt really pushy. During my contraction, I was bearing down a little bit. 


I just thought, Okay, if I’m pushing at 6, baby is in a bad position. I just was so nervous. 


I got up. I went to the bathroom. My doula actually told me, “You need to get up. We’re going to the bathroom,” so she just took me to the bathroom alone just her and I. She looked at me and she said, “Do you think you’re a 6?” I was crying at this point. I was like, “No, I don’t. I don’t think I am.” She was like, “I do not think you are a 6 at all. I think you know where you are.” I was like, “I know, but what if I really am? If she says I am, I am.”


I broke emotionally and I just was like, “I’m so tired.” I was so tired. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours at that point and I was just so exhausted and upset. I told her, “I want an epidural.” She knew that was not my plan so she really tried to encourage me against it and told me I was doing such a good job. I couldn’t hear it at that point. All I could hear was the doubt. 


27:15 Getting the epidural and pushing for less than an hour


Kristen: I just told her, “No, I want an epidural.” At that point, she shifted gears and was like, “Okay, then we’re getting an epidural and this is going to be great and you’re going to get some rest.” I was a little discouraged, but I ended up getting the epidural at 3:00 AM at this point. I got the epidural and I actually got an hour of rest which was really amazing because I was exhausted but when they had given me the epidural, they checked me at some point after this and I was a 9.5. 


She looked at me and gave me an eye like, Yes, you were not a 6. It was nice. I got an hour of rest and then they came in and told me that I was ready. This sweet, sweet nurse came in and told me that I was ready to start practice-pushing or something like that. I was like, “Okay.”


I was a little nervous about the pushing part just because I pushed with my son for so long and his head never showed so I was like, Once we get past a head, I will be there.


I pushed in one position on my side and then the nurse looked at me and she was like, “You know, we’re going to try tug-of-war.” She put the squat bar up and I did a tug-of-war push and right when I did that, her eyes got big and she ran over and got on the phone. I just remember her saying something like, “When she pushes in some position, I see something about baby’s head.” I just remember her saying, “Baby’s head.” I, in the bed, was like, “You said baby’s head?” I was so excited. I was like, “They saw baby’s head.” 


I pushed for a little less than an hour and she was there. It was everything. Everything went away for me at that point. I was just so happy and excited and it was the best feeling in the world. I just felt like all of my work, I actually did it. I did it. 


But I forgot to mention, my midwife got off shift during this so another OB was on and she came in. They actually were asking me to stop pushing to wait for her to come in. I giggled. I was not going to do that, but she was not as kind and helpful. 


She let me know right after, despite knowing my birth plan that delayed cord clamping wasn’t safe. 


Meagan: What?


Kristen: Yeah, and that I needed to cut the cord. To be honest, I was in complete baby land at that point. I was so happy that my baby was there that I didn’t fight it. Looking back, I’m honestly glad that I didn’t because I know that it would have taken me out of where I was able to be and the joy that I was in. 


I didn’t fight it. I just let her do it and it was silly, but it was okay. I got to have my sweet baby and it was an amazing postpartum experience. I remember being wheeled out with her because I didn’t get my little boy after my C-section so I remember being wheeled out with her. I was just holding her in my arms and I was so happy she was in my arms. 


I looked at a janitor while I was being wheeled to mother and baby. I lifted her up and I smiled so big at him. He just was like, “Okay.” 


Meagan: “Congratulations”. 


Kristen: I just was so happy. But yeah, that was my second and my VBAC which was amazing. 


30:58 Third pregnancy


Kristen: When my little girl was 6 months, I got pregnant again. It was an amazing pregnancy. I felt great the whole time. I totally thought she was a boy because I wasn’t sick, but it was a girl which I was super surprised by. 


I had no Braxton Hicks. I really didn’t have a ton until the end which was crazy to me because I had them so much with my previous. 


Meagan: Yeah, a lot. 


Kristen: Yes. That was pretty crazy. I went back to my provider who I had gone to with my second baby. I went back to her. 


Things felt a little different with her. She was still really supportive, but it just felt a little different, then at 16-17 weeks in my pregnancy, I did an initial test for preeclampsia and my numbers were already above. The protein in my urine was already above where it needed to be.

 

She just told me in an appointment very casually, but I was super nervous. I didn’t know a ton. During this pregnancy, I did a ton of research about preeclampsia, so the one thing I did to my diet was I ate so much protein. I ate. I tracked especially in that first trimester. I tried to eat 100g or more a day. I really focused more in that first trimester. That was the only thing I felt like I could do so that’s what I did. 


She told me my protein was already really high which I didn’t understand and it made me really nervous. I asked a few questions during the appointment, but I felt like I had a ton of questions after. I called and I felt very dismissed. I felt like she just kept trying to tell me, “Don’t get in your head. Everything will be okay.” 


She was being very sweet, but I just felt like I needed a doctor at that point. I didn’t need a friend. I needed her to give me information instead of trying to encourage me. It was really sweet, but we only had 5 minutes and I didn’t want encouragement. I needed information that I just felt like I wasn’t being given.

 

I actually ended up switching again to another OB. I just was interviewing them so I actually had appointments with my midwife and an OB. He actually came back into town. I had heard really good things about him but he moved and then he came back. I interviewed him initially and actually, I left my appointment and I kind of drilled him a little bit. I really asked him a lot of questions. I left my appointment. I called my sister and I said, “Yes. I don’t believe it.”


He said everything I wanted to hear and that feels too bait-and-switch to me. There’s no way he’s this good. Then I had a few friends through church who he was with and he followed through on everything. 

My doula told me, “I think he’s just that good.”


I was super surprised because I could not believe that he was that receptive of me, but I went to another appointment and talked about my initial labs with him and he sat there with me for a whole hour and explained what he knew about preeclampsia and explained what he could to me. 


It was really, really helpful and I felt very heard. So at that moment, I chose to go with him. 


34:41 Forced to find a new provider at 36 weeks


Kristen: I finished with him through the rest of my pregnancy. My sister was actually pregnant too and she was going with him. It was really cool. 


Meagan: How fun.


Kristen: She had her baby. I got to be there for some of her birth. She was due a month and a half before I was due so I got to be there with her and watch her amazing birth then she told me, “I’m having a lot of pressure. Can you just look down there?” She was crowning and I was like, “Oh, you’ve got to go to the hospital.”


Meagan: Oh my gosh. 


Kristen: She went to the hospital and we had that amazing experience and that was her first VBAC so it was really awesome.


Then my provider called me and told me that they were shutting down their office when I was 39 weeks pregnant. This was at 36 or 35 weeks. I was then scrambling to find another provider. It was very, very difficult. Everyone I talked to just told me that they didn’t take VBACs past 35 weeks and that I even would have my paperwork switched and then they were like, “Oh, you’re VBAC and preeclampsia. We won’t take you.” There were 3 weeks of me just honestly trying to find a provider who would take me, not even a supportive provider, just having a doctor take me was very difficult. 


I finally found a provider who would take me, but they told me there was another provider in the office who was very unsupportive. He actually was there during my sister’s birth when she came in and was totally crowning. He sat back with his arms and legs crossed and she was crowning, hopping on the bed ready to push and he sat there with his arms and legs crossed and told her how unsafe VBACs were. 


Meagan: Oh my gosh. 


Kristen: He told her that he didn’t know who approved her chart, but this was not okay. Thank goodness, the provider who was amazing came in and saved the day. But he was awful and he was actually one of the three providers in this office that would take me. I was really nervous about the on-call schedule and if he was going to end up being on-call when I was going into labor. 


There was a lot of back and forth there, but I ended up meeting with this provider and I met with him when I was 40 weeks and a day so I met with him the day after my due date and this was our first time meeting. I gave him my birth plan. He looked at how far I was and he was like, “Oh, awesome. You’re almost done.” 


I felt like he was perfect. “Let’s just get you out of here.” He was doing it as a favor to the other provider. I felt like a check in his box from the start of being there. I was really nervous about my blood pressure. I kept telling everyone, I had no symptoms with my previous preeclampsia. I had no symptoms and all of my labs are positive so I just want to be really on it. 


I didn’t have a provider for 2 weeks and at the end of my pregnancy so I just got a blood pressure cuff and I monitored myself as much as I could. It was stressful. I ended up going into triage once because my blood pressure was high and I didn’t have anyone to call. I didn’t know what to do, so I went into triage and they just were not very awesome with me. 


But that was okay and my blood pressure was fine so I ended up getting to go home. I was with my provider. He just was not, he really wanted to induce me. He told me all about my placenta dying at 41 weeks and he was so scared about me going past 41 weeks. 


I asked him if this was just something he did with just VBAC patients and he said, “No, I do this with everyone.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” I was like, “Perfect. I’m even less worried now. I was thinking you had more information about VBAC and my placenta, so I’m less worried now.”


Meagan: Less concerned. 


Kristen: I told him, “I don’t want to be induced at 41 weeks.”


He kept telling me, “Oh, I know. You do your research. You do your research.” He did not like that I was very informed on things. 


I ended up having to go into triage at the end of my pregnancy three separate times because of my blood pressure readings at home, but every time I went into triage, they were fine there so I kept telling people, “I don’t know what my blood pressure reading is doing at home, but is there something else I can do?” 


Everyone would look at my blood pressure cuff and say, “Yeah, that’s great. That’s the one I recommend.”


I was like, Well, why is my blood pressure so high at home? I need some help. This has to not be working. At one point, I brought my blood pressure cuff in with me and they were reading differently at the hospital versus the cuff. I was like, Mine is not working, so I don’t know how to check myself at home. 


It was really difficult. My husband started to be a nervous wreck about all of this anyway so everyone was pushing me to get induced and every time he heard the word “induction”, he was like, “Let’s just do it. It worked for us with the last VBAC. Let’s just do it.” Every time they told me I was okay, I just was like, “No. I’m going home. If I’m okay, I am going to have this baby naturally.” 


It was a really emotional experience because we were all very back and forth. it felt like everyone was going through it with me, but I was the one pregnant and fighting to stay pregnant if my baby was okay. It was really difficult, but I ended up getting through it. 


40:45 Labor begins


Kristen: I ended up having some prodromal labor at the end is what I felt like it was. 41 and a couple of days was my next appointment and I told everyone, my husband and my sister, I was like, “He’s just going to want to induce me and push it so much at my next appointment.” I was so worried so I told my doula that I was thinking about trying castor oil. 


She came over and she gave me electrolytes and she gave me a recipe with castor oil that was very, very small. I had gotten a few recipes and it was next to nothing. There was no castor oil in it basically. She told me, “It sounds like you are in early labor so I’m going to have you try this,” and I did one dose every 4 hours. 


She was like, “It sounds like you are in early labor, so I’m going to have you try this.” I honestly was even grumpy about that. I was like, “No, I want more. If I’m going to try this, I want it to do something.”


I tried that at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Friday. I did a couple of doses and then my mom called me and told me that she was in town and asked if I wanted her to come hang out with my kids. I had done two doses and I was like, “No. Nothing is happening. I’m never going into labor.” I was super grumpy. “I’m never going into labor.” 


I got off the phone with her. I started crying because I was super emotional and my husband told me to just go back in the room for a second. 


So I went back there and I don’t know. I must have known in my head that something was going on because I called my mom right back and I was like, “Yeah, maybe come over.” She was like, “Okay.” So she ended up coming over and hanging out with us and then we put the kids to sleep and I was feeling contractions and everything that I had normally felt throughout the week. 


I just was like, “I don’t think a ton is happening.” I ended up putting my little boy to sleep at 8:00 and I had finished my doses of what I was doing. At that point, I was breathing through them a little bit, but I kept telling everyone, “I am not in labor. If this is it, it’s very, very early. It is not happening.”


My mom was like, “Okay, that’s fine, but why don’t you just go back? You need to get some rest because if it is going to happen, you need to get some rest.” I told her, “Okay.” 


I went back to go get some rest and I don’t know why in my head I didn’t realize that I had been able to rest through all of them before in the week, but suddenly, I could not lay in bed. I just told my husband, “No. It’s really, really early if it’s happening.” 


I just sat on my ball. I rocked around on my ball for a little bit then I was getting pretty uncomfortable but I didn’t want to say it because I didn’t want it to be fake. I said, “You know what? I’m going to take a shower. I can’t stay in the shower for very long because I don’t want it to slow things down if it is picking up.” 


My husband asked, “Do you want me to come in there with you?” I said, “No. No, no. It’s early. I’m going to take a shower. I’m going to get clean. I’m going to come out and do some more on my ball and do Spinning Babies.” 


He said, “Okay.” 


I went in the shower and I couldn’t even really find a time. I probably got in the shower at 9:00. I couldn’t find a time to wash my body or wash my hair, so I thought, “You know what? Maybe this isn’t as early as I thought.” I went back in the room and it was very relaxing. I went to just go grab my phone and my husband was like, “What are you doing?” I was like, “I think I should just time them.” 


He was like, “Okay, I’m coming in there with you.” He went in there and he told me, I think at that point they were 3 minutes apart and he was like, “They are pretty close. I think you are farther than you are thinking.” 


I just was like, “No, no, no. This happened way too fast.” I was like, “No. I’m not. I’m going to keep being in the shower.” 


So I stayed in the shower and I just relaxed in there. it was great to be in there and then my sister came over at about 10:30 and at this point, they were a minute apart. My husband had called my doula and she told us to leave the house at 11:00. She had given him an hour timeframe. “If it stays at this for an hour, you should leave at 11:20 or something.” 


I was in the shower. My sister came over. I don’t really remember her coming over. I was just breathing through everything. She said she walked in and she was like, “I felt like it was the wrong house. It was very calm. I didn’t know anyone was in labor. I just walked in and you were breathing. You weren’t talking.” 


My sister finally came in and she told me at one point, “You’re doing it. You’re laboring at home. This is what you wanted for this labor.” That was the one time I remember her being there and I was like, “I am doing this. I am laboring at home.” I was so excited. 


46:11 Rushing to the hospital


Kristen: Everything was going really well. I was able to breathe through everything. My husband was getting the truck ready for us to leave and then I heard a pop, a visceral pop. It was crazy. It sounded like a water balloon popping and all of my water broke. My sister had just told me before this probably two contractions before, she was like, “Sis, they are really, really close. Are you sure you don’t want to leave right now?” 


I told her, “Yeah, I don’t feel like I’m getting a break, but she is not down. She is not engaged.” I had no pressure and I was like, “I know what that pressure feels like. I don’t have the pressure. It’s okay.” 


So then I felt a pop and my water broke and then I felt all of the pressure, absolutely all of the pressure. I looked at her and that was the first time that I had really made a sound. I think I grunted or I moaned and I was like, “Okay, we need to leave. We need to leave right now.” I felt like I could have her at that moment. 


Meagan: Yeah. 


Kristen: So then I got out of the shower and I put some clothes on. I was still buttoning my dress to even walk out of the door because I was like, “If we don’t leave right now, we will not make it.” I actually asked my sister to get me a towel. She asked me later why I asked her to get me a towel and I was like, “I really didn’t know if we were going to make it so I needed something to wrap the baby in if we didn’t.” 


We left and live 5 minutes from the hospital so we drove to the hospital and I had by the grace of God, one contraction in the truck. I was laying down in the truck and I had one contraction. I really was able to hold it pretty well. It wasn’t as intense as my contraction before so that was nice. 


48:06 Delivering her own baby in a wheelchair


Kristen: We got there and we parked. I started walking in. I had one contraction in the parking lot. I just remember being by a dumpster and I actually got mad at that point. I was like, “I will not have this baby in the parking lot by a dumpster.” 


I would have this baby in the truck or in the hospital, but I’m not doing it by the dumpster. I tried to walk through that contraction because I was like, No. I am not having this baby here. 


He kept telling me that I guess I kept saying, “She’s here. She’s here.” I was just holding myself, but we walked in and I got backward. The security guard brought over a wheelchair. I got backwards on my knees and I was sitting up. He pushed me through and I got to right outside the elevator and they were pressing the elevator doors. The elevator just was not coming and I had one contraction and I was like, “Okay.” I did not push. I think it was the fetal ejection reflex. I don’t know what it was, but I did not push. 

She just— 


Meagan: Came. 


Kristen: Yes. My husband said I was just pushing the butt in and he said, “I heard, ‘Here’s the head. Okay, here’s the shoulders. All right, she’s here. She’s here.” He was like, “You were just talking us all through it.” I just felt her and I was like, “All right, she’s here.” 


I pulled her up and this poor security guard was pushing my wheelchair so then everything came out, everything so he just got, the poor guy, he did not sign up for that. 


Meagan: Oh my gosh, what a ride for him. 


Kristen: Yeah, then we got into the elevator and my poor husband had to push. We had a family leave the elevator, he was like, “Sorry, guys. You’ve got to get out.” We got in and that elevator, I guess, wasn’t working so it took us down to the basement then it went back up to the first floor and back up to the second.


I was just holding my baby and trying to make her cry a ton because she had cried a little bit, but she was really quiet and calm. I was like, “Nope, scream. I want you to scream.”


We got up to the floor finally and then there was one nurse there. She was like, “Okay, she’s here. Baby is here.” We just ran back through and it ended up that they did awesome. I got to deliver my baby and it was great because all of the doctors were super stressed about everything and about my VBAC and induction and I felt like God was like, “Well, honey, you’re going to worry about this so much and then you are going to deliver your own baby.” 


Meagan: You’re going to do this. 


Kristen: And it will be fine. 


Meagan: Oh my gosh, what a shock. What a ride. I’m sure everybody around will never forget that day ever. Oh my word. Congratulations on all three of your sweet babies who I have been able to see throughout the episode. That is so fun.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your stories. 


Gosh, you went through a lot with switching and all of the things then catching your own baby. Oh my gosh. 


51:27 Preeclampsia article and calibrating your blood pressure cuff


Meagan: Okay, so there is an article essentially, a small review that is called Risk Factors and Maternal/Fetal Outcomes Complicated by Preeclampsia Following Cesarean After a Trial of Vaginal Birth. We’re not going to dive too much into it and even at the bottom, it says that they acknowledge that this is not a cohort study and therefore the evidence is not as strong as a randomized, clinical trial but the consistency of the data alongside evidence from the other larger published studies is reassuring. 

It says that they recommend a trial of labor for all pregnant with severe preeclampsia unless it is excluded for other indications. So just right there, I mean, again like I said, this right here is not as strong. They have some links and we are going to make sure that it is in the show notes for you to go read over. 

But again, if you have preeclampsia, if your numbers are showing preeclampsia, it is possible to have a VBAC. I encourage you to explore your options and then I wanted to touch on Kristen’s comment of how she brought her cuff in and it was so different. 


It really is something that a lot of people actually don’t know so I wanted to bring this up. But it’s really important to get it checked and calibrated by a professional lab or someone who takes blood pressure because often, it can be wrong. A lot of our preeclamptic moms are getting cuffs and then they are not calibrated, so we are having really high readings or really low readings and it’s the opposite. It’s not matching up. 


If you have a blood pressure cuff at home and you are feeling like something is off or you are getting weird readings and it’s not consistent with your hospital readings, don’t hesitate to go get it calibrated because that can definitely, definitely help. 


It’s supposed to be calibrated every 6 months so if you get one for one pregnancy and then two years later or one year later or whenever you are having your baby and you are using it again for whatever reason, know that you may need to have it calibrated because it has been a while. 


I just needed to throw that in there and thank you once again for being here with us today and congratulations again. 


Kristen: Thank you so much. 


Closing


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