I Had Never Been So Excited to Have a Pelvic Exam: Part Three of My VBAC Journey
Four hours after my appointment with Dr. Palmer, I found myself sitting in Tampa General Hospital — that's about how well our talk went. He thought I needed to go to the hospital; I didn't. But in the end, I heeded his warnings. I'd trusted him for the last 10 months, and I needed to trust him now.
Before heading to the hospital, we dropped my daughter off with family and asked our neighbor to watch our dog. We packed some bags and drove an hour over a very long bridge in rush-hour traffic. And, oh yeah, my water broke. That happened.
At 41 weeks and 3 days, my water broke while I was literally driving to the hospital to be induced. Crazy.
So here I was, waiting for whoever was on call to show up and start the induction process. We were going to do a foley bulb, a non-chemical induction that I had discussed at length with Dr. Palmer in the months leading up to that very moment. I was nervous but confident, anxious to get the show on the road.
The OB who came in to do my induction was a complete stranger to me. This wasn't a shock, as my OB practice was huge (15 OBs and 8 midwives), but it was still a disappointment. I had managed to see 2/3 of the staff during my pregnancy, but she wasn't one of them.
Her name was Dr. Cox, and it didn't take long for me to form an opinion of her.
“The nurse told me your water broke on the way over?”
I nodded, not sure what she was getting at. It felt like it was a trick.
“I am afraid we are not going to be able to do your induction. Infection is just too big of a risk now.”
Yep. It was a trick.
“So we are going to wait for labor to start on its own?” I was more telling than asking.
She gave me a half smile and then completely ignored my question.
She pulled on some gloves. “Let's see what's going on in there.”
I had never been so excited to have a pelvic exam. I threw my legs up in the stirrups and pulled back my hospital gown. I was confident that the exam would end with high fives and reassurances that, yes, indeed, my water had broken and labor was not too far behind. She was going to tell me I was fully effaced and at least 5 cm dilated.
But that wasn't what happened. Instead, I got sucker punched.
“I am recommending we do a repeat c-section. I think it is the safest option for both the mom and baby. We are going to …”
She was talking more to the nurse than to me. I interrupted her.
“Wait, what?! What are you saying?” I was flustered. She caught me off guard.
“You are not even 1 cm dilated. It is tight in there. You are almost 42 weeks. I feel that a repeat c-section is your safest option.”
I slowed my breathing, gathering my thoughts.
“And if I refuse?” I looked her right in the eyes. I could feel a rage bubbling up inside of me.
“Listen, I am very pro VBAC. I really am. You can ask any of the nurses. But I have been doing this a long time, and there is no way you are going to give birth to your baby vaginally. I know it isn't what you wanted, but you need to be realistic. Think of your baby.”
I hated her. How dare she? Did she really think I was going to throw everything out the window after one pelvic exam?
I wasn't backing down, and she knew it.
She left the room without saying another word. I expected her to come back and check on me, but I never saw her again.
Finding ourselves finally alone in our hospital room, I lost it. I totally lost it. My worst nightmare was becoming a reality. I didn't know if I should fight or run or simply give up. I felt overwhelmed and largely alone.
My husband spoke up. “It's time to call Chrystin.”
I felt a glimmer of hope. He was totally right. We needed to bring out the big guns; we needed to call our doula.
Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of my VBAC story. It is full of surprises!
Missed Part One or Two? Start here.
Ready to see how it ends? Read here.