I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WENT SO WELL!

Don't you love it when God befuddles the experts? The Lord introduced him in one of my greatest times of need. I was pregnant for the sixth time and developed an ovarian cyst that torqued (twisted round and round) and cut off circulation to my left ovary. Christmas night of 2000 I thought I was going to have a miscarriage and endured the pain as long as I could before going to the hospital. My entire left reproductive side was gangrenous. After having a 10" long vertical incision to go around the baby, a week later my precious son was in the arms of the Lord.

Two years later I carried a very active child in utero with an uneventful pregnancy until delivery time. The baby moved much less and the doctor convinced me to be induced after my due date passed. I spent all day in the hospital with a Pitocin drip with no luck. I begged them to let me go home and spend Thanksgiving the next day with my family. I would have had a Thanksgiving baby because I was fully dilated at 11:00 p.m. however, he was stuck! After his head presented for almost three hours with no further progress I consented to an emergency C-section.

Another two years, and I miscarried again. In 2006 I had surgery for an umbilical hernia. A few months later, came pregnancy #9. This particular doctor is very clinically minded and I knew that his policy was "once a C-section, always a C-section." One of my daughters was in college in Florida so we began chatting about setting up a delivery date around the time of her spring break. I went into an appointment with my plans and the doctor shocked me by suggesting I try a VBAC. "You're very healthy... I think you'd be a good candidate." God was telling me, "You think YOU"RE in control of this delivery? You're not in control of anything-- I am on the throne!"

He sent me to a large hospital in Maine that claimed they were the closest one except Boston that would perform a VBAC. I was frustrated after that first appointment. Once in labor I would be confined to the bed and if they decided, they would take the baby by C-section anyway, possibly weeks early. I left feeling very discouraged.

Soon after, I developed a yeast infection and returned to the office where I met the new nurse midwife.  I told her that I would just as soon have another C-section by my own doctor. She said that she came from a practice in Manchester, NH and that the hospital there did VBACS all the time. I called the Labor & Delivery Ward, obtained the names of several OB's and set up my appointment. They were great and after examining me the first doctor declared I was a great candidate. They would let me attempt it but if the baby showed distress, they could take him out in one minute. I was thrilled! One thing I was not pleased about was the big AMA they wrote on my chart: "Advanced Maternal Age." I was 41. Because of my age I had to go every week and have non-stress tests and ultrasounds. But it was worth it not to have to have my third abdominal surgery in 6 years.

Things went fine until about the last month. Everyone in my home came down with a terrible flu that lasted about 10 days. After that I developed severe itching all over my body--my palms, my face, my feet, everything itched. They ordered a fasting blood test.

A few days later I received a call saying "You have to come into the office today so we can talk about your options".  I was told that my bile acids were high and I had a condition called cholecystasis in pregnancy. This has little effect on the mother but a high rate of infant mortality. The physician I saw said that a few years ago he saw a patient on a Friday and on Monday he delivered a stillborn. "If you don't' deliver by Friday, then we will induce. You will be 39 weeks and the baby will be fine."

That night and the next day I walked and drank lots of raspberry tea but no labor. Friday came and I went in a 6:45 a.m. dreading another induction after the trouble before. The OB nurses very accommodating. They broke my water first to see if that would start labor but no luck. I wasn't surprised--my babies are always late and this was only the 39th week. Finally they started the Pitocin drip. "How much are you giving me?" I asked. "Oh, 2 mg." The nurse responded. "What's the range?" I asked. "Oh, usually 2-4 mg is all a woman needs to start labor" "What's the most you've given?" I persisted. "Oh, rarely more than that--although I do remember one woman who needed 20 mg!" Well, after 14 mg I started active labor. And I hated it - no break in-between contractions and the intensity ever increasing.

At 2:30 p.m. I was only 5 cm dilated! My husband wasn't feeling very well either so I paced the halls alone. I tried to relax in a whirlpool tub (something I'd never tried before in labor) but that was less than soothing. As I got out I said, "I'm 41 years old, what do I need to prove, I WANT AN EPIDURAL! "Okay," the nurse said, "Get on the bed and I'll check you." At that moment I knew it was time to push and at 3:15 p.m. Joshua entered the world!  He was so quiet. He never cried but just stared at all the activity around him. As a baby he would quietly sob whenever he did cry but that wasn't very often. He did seem less alert than my other children for about a month but he caught up quickly and is actually months ahead developmentally now.

God knew what I would need. For when Joshua was 10 days old my husband came down with an acute case of pancreatitis and was in the hospital for 17 days. In that time we had three major snowstorms and lost power and phone service. And I had to get out every day and visit my husband and get the other children to various sitters. Joshua needed to be quiet in a hospital setting and I couldn't have cared for everyone if I had been recovering from a C-section.

I followed up with the Manchester OB's but several months later I returned to my regular doctor. He said, "I don't know why I ever told you to try a VBAC. I NEVER recommend that procedure.  I can't believe it went so well."  The Lord above may be chuckling,

MARIA CHAMBERLAIN
Strafford, New Hampshire, USA
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