I cannot believe how fast this month has flown by. I don’t know if it’s because Rory’s first week was in the NICU, so we’ve really only had 3 weeks at home with him? But, either way, it’s gone fast. Rory has already gained so much weight and is doing amazing! He was born so tiny – 6 lbs 3 oz and is already 8 lbs 6 oz. The boy can E A T. And we’ve had absolutely NO apnea episodes since coming home. We feel so lucky to have a growing healthy boy.
I have been waiting for a moment to write this story for you guys… and well, I have a toddler and a newborn… So here we are a month later and still no post. I know y’all understand 😉 But, as so many of you walked through Knox’s birth with me and then now as I have been open about my desire for a VBAC with Rory, I want to share this story and celebrate with you. And, if you are also looking to have a VBAC, hopefully encourage you! It can be scary when you hear the potential issues of a VBAC and have “the talk” about the risks if you tear during labor. We really weighed the options and discussed a scheduled c-section or VBAC quite a bit. Both would get us our boy, which is the end goal no matter what! But, there was a deep desire in me to delivery vaginally. I wanted that experience if my body would allow it. So, we decided with our team of doctors early on in my pregnancy that we wanted a VBAC but were completely open-handed to whatever they felt was necessary throughout the process.
Fast forward to 36 weeks:
At 36 weeks, I started having very painful contractions. I was actually fully convinced I was having this baby early. For weeks, I was having preterm labor. And having been through 30 hours of labor before, I knew these contractions were getting high on the pain scale. But, after weeks of laying awake with no sleep and timing my contractions, I was still pregnant and getting real angry about it. And freaking exhausted. Finally at one of my appointments I brought up honestly how painful my “braxton hicks” were and my midwife suggested we do a UTI test. At this point, I had not mentioned ANYTHING to her. I know… I am silly. I just have a fear of being told nothing is wrong and being embarrassed by that. It’s a deep issue… a long story of my childhood before I got diagnosed with food allergies lol. No need to go into that today. But, I definitely carry a fear of doctors telling me I am exaggerating or making stuff up. Thus, I end up with UTIs for 3 weeks, pregnancy tumors the size of China for 3 months before having to have it surgically removed, and … well, a lot of other stories of me not being honest with doctors and having a way worse situation than if I had just told them the truth.
Finally, my last week of pregnancy, I had antibiotics and was no longer having contractions AT ALL. It was sorta a bummer and sorta a relief since it allowed me some time to catch up on my weeks of no sleep. Second, my due date was a little bit of a toss up since we weren’t 100% certain when my last cycle was. I had been tracking ovulation on an app before I got pregnant and had the 13th, which is what I also measured as for the due date my first sono. But, according to what I guessed was my last cycle, it landed me at the 18th. I am irregular and couldn’t for the life of me remember my last start date. So, I was either 5 days late or delivered ON my due date.
I went to bed the 17th, discouraged like all the other nights I went to bed still pregnant, and praying God would PLEASE get this baby out of me. I woke up at 6 AM the 18th and felt crampy, but I wasn’t certain if it was UTI stuff or labor. I had already lost my plug over a week before and knew I should be going into labor any moment, but I was so convinced it wasn’t happening. Ever. (Ok, that’s dramatic.) Anyways, about 30 minutes later it became very clear to Paul these were labor pains. Yes, I said Paul. I was still not convinced… as I am pacing up and down our bathroom and having to sway during contractions. Like I said, I have a fear of being told nothing is wrong… lol. I did NOT want to go up to the hospital and go through all the COVID screening and testing to be told I wasn’t in labor. The more Paul told me it was time, the more fearful I got of having to be in the hospital and do the COVID stuff, wear masks while I tried to breath during the hardest workout of your life, etc. I started to bawl. I told him I didn’t want to go and wanted to deliver at home… hahaha. Not even an option as a high-risk VBAC. So, well, that got nixed real fast.
I turned on my worship and began laboring in the mindset that it was in fact labor. I calmed myself, began breathing in rhythm, and got focused. If you’ve ever been in labor, you know that half the battle for a successful delivery is your mindset. So much of labor is mental. Then at 8 AM it was definitely time for us to go. I couldn’t believe how quickly we seemingly progressed. My birth plans for both boys were to labor from home for as long as possible. And, in my defense, I honestly had labored from home for 3 weeks.. lol. But on the day of birth, it was just an hour and a half before we had to hit the road! We arrived at the hospital and pulled up to the ER, which is the only entrance allowed right now to the hospital. The nurses rolled up a wheelchair asking why we were there… and I think I was a few words I won’t say when it seemed rather obvious to me why the heck we were at the hospital. They had to screen me before rolling me to a triage room to confirm I was, in fact, in labor. So they took my temperature and asked me a bunch of questions in between contractions and murmurings under my breath (lol), and they rolled me to the next room for more questions and more vitals. Again, a little nervous they would tell me to go home. Then, when they felt I was in fact in labor, they called the L&D to come get me. It was not long at all for them to see I was having contractions every two minutes… Being a “COVID mom” is just so weird. It was such an odd experience trying to get to L&D.
From here, it was honestly a dream! They got me in my gown and checked me to tell me I was already over a 4. I was shocked. When I arrived in active labor with Knox, I was not even a 1… and they ALMOST sent me home. *omggggggg, it was awful* So to be told I was already a 4.5+ was an answered prayer. I was progressing and felt like this VBAC might actually freaking happen. My body seemed to be doing exactly what it was supposed to! I labored in the bed while they got me in the system, which took FOREVER, and before we knew it I was a 7. Legit like an hour or so later. Once I got to just shy of an 8 they had the epidural come in. My birth plan with Knox was non-medicated in a hospital, and after 9 hours of labor I had to get the epidural because I did not progress at all and my body was starting to struggle way too much (amidst 8 minute contractions and Knox’s heart rate dropping significantly each one). Once I got the epidural with Knox, my body progressed. Although, if you know Knox’s story, my body never went past a 6 because he was just not gonna come vaginally. You can read his story, here.
So, I decided early on in my pregnancy with Rory that in an attempt for a VBAC, I wanted an epidural to give my body every chance of progressing on its own to successfully deliver. I was super pumped that I had labored to an 8 on my own, though. It felt like sweet redemption in a lot of ways. My body COULD do this.
After my epidural I stalled out for a couple hours at an 8, and then before we knew it I was a ten and it was time to start pushing. I was at a 9.5 and my midwife did something where she turned and flipped Rory a bit and it was go-time. It’s actually all a blur from here because it was so fast. We thought they were joking when they started scrubbing. It felt so chill haha. Here’s where things got a little scary… There were moments throughout my labor where Rory’s heart rate dropped but then went right back up, so they weren’t concerned. But, it did make them watch him closely. Then, when it came time to push Rory’s heart rate dropped instantly and never came back up. We went from chill and laughing to tense in .2 seconds in the delivery room. After a few minutes and a big push, my midwife was clearly concerned and started saying she needed the hospitalist immediately. I knew something was wrong. She looked at me and said, “Okay, Hannah. I know this is weird, but I need you to give me everything you’ve got in this push or we have to do a c-section.” I was so confused!!! EVERYTHING had gone so smooth and so perfectly up to this point. And all of a sudden I was maybe going to have to have a c-section? I was so taken aback. So, I freaking pushed with everything I had in me. And… 13 minutes from start to finish, Rory was born. I pushed 5 times total – a vacuum to aid me on the final two. They told me I did in 13 minutes what most women do in two hours. I pushed so hard my eyes were swollen afterward… BUT RORY CAME! My whole labor time was just a little over 8 hours – a far different story than my 30 with Knox.
That moment they first passed my baby to me on my chest was the most incredible feeling. I DID IT. I didn’t have a c-section and my baby was crying and responding just as he was supposed to. I had successfully delivered a VBAC.
From there, you know things got tough for us if you follow me on IG. In short, everything was seemingly perfect, but because Rory was so tiny, he was technically “underweight” for his length. So protocol for a small baby is to test glucose levels every 3 hours. Rory was testing low and initially was taken to the NICU for glucose levels. But they assured us it was nothing and they would just do a sugar saline to boost his levels and he should level out. We were a little concerned, but other than the disappointment of my baby being taken from me night 1, we felt like things were totally okay. Then, we found out that once Rory was taken to the NICU… his glucose levels were literally perfect. Like… in the 60s but for 12 hours before that he was in the 20s. It made no sense. Before he even had the IV set up or anything, he was testing perfectly. The NICU nurses apparently were even asking and trying to confirm Rory was supposed to be there. It made no sense. But, since there had been 12 hours of incredibly low levels… he had to stay.
And, thank God for that.
The next morning as I was getting dressed and prepared for us to all be discharged I heard somebody walk in and ask to speak to Rory’s mom and dad. All I could hear was “Rory stopped breathing.” I literally was half dressed and ran out frantically to find the Nurse Practitioner for the NICU in our room. He explained to us that a nurse happened to be in the room with Rory watching his glucose levels again (which were perfect) and he stopped breathing, turned blue, and had to be resuscitated. I was horrified and began to weep. Immediately, all the perfect things that had happened and felt like were closing a chapter I so desperately wanted to move on from in our life were all of a sudden tossed in my face and rubbed in with salt. WHY, GOD? This MUST be a joke. Surely this isn’t happening. Surely I am dreaming.
Rory was having apnea episodes that are fairly common for NICU babies who are preterm. However, I had a full term baby and it made no sense at all. There were multiple times I held Rory and he turned gray blue in my arms. It was absolutely horrifying. The doctor said he was actually baffled by Rory, because everything was seemingly perfect about him. He had “no guide for how to navigate this situation.” Awesome… every parent wants to hear that.
So, for a week, we tried everything. We tested for everything. We prayed hard. Cried a lot. Screamed in the car. And begged God to let us bring home Rory. We also happened to have an underlying stress that our insurance was ending at the end of the month… So not only was I concerned about my child but I was starting to worry about the timeframe they were preparing us for and the potential we could be in the NICU without insurance. I was so overwhelmed. But, I clung to the truth God didn’t bring us through the wilderness the last 6 months to hurt us. He had been our defender this far, and he wasn’t going to stop.
Eventually, Rory’s episodes grew further in between and for shorter timespans. Every morning at 5 AM, or really whatever un-Godly hour of the morning we woke up, we would call the NICU asking if Rory went without an episode. “No, he had one at “x” time and then another at “y.” Every morning we called was a punch to our gut.
Then, we called one morning and they said, “No episodes over night!” We were thrilled. Now we had to go 24 hours without one and we could hopefully bring him home. Obviously, we made it the 24 hours because we got to go home with our beautiful baby boy on his 1 week birthday, and we haven’t had an episode since. They still have no explanation for why they happened, but I do believe with everything in me God had his glucose levels drop to get him in the NICU so that a nurse would see him stop breathing. I will never understand the mysteries and intricacies of God, but I do know He makes all things work together for our good. It was GOOD that Rory was taken from us night 1 with an odd case of seemingly perfect glucose levels.
So, we have Rory Liam at home. He is perfect. Knox loves him deeply. We love him so overwhelmingly. And, we are moving forward in our life with a greater understanding of God, our protector king through our son.