My Second Surrogacy – A VBAC Birth Story

Monday morning, at 39 weeks and two days gestation, I woke up to some bloody show, lots of cramping, and some sporadic contractions. But nothing came of it. Went to bed around 11 pm, and woke up Tuesday morning around 1:30 am to more bloody show and heavy cramping. Started getting contractions soon after and within an hour they were coming every 3-4 minutes and getting more intense. So we decided to head to the hospital to make sure the dads and my doula were with us. But by the time we got to the hospital the contractions spaced out.

Within an hour at the hospital they were almost non existent. Prodromal labor, perhaps. I really believe that mentally I was not prepared for having another hospital birth, and having two other men in the laboring space probably threw me off some too. With my twin surrogacy journey (almost three years ago), we had a scheduled cesarean section, so I didn’t even labor. Before that, I had my last two kids at home in the water with a midwife. Which was a serene 180 degrees from my two previous hospital births before that. This time around, because it was a surrogacy birth, our insurance doesn’t cover out-of-hospital births in Utah, and I was going for a VBAC with an IVF pregnancy, it was just best to go to the hospital. However, birth is very much as mental as physical.

In all honesty, at that point I should have made the decision to go home. But mentally, I also just wanted to be finished with this pregnancy, and really wanted to give the dads their baby finally.

I did decide to get checked when we got to the hospital around 4am, and was 3cm and 70% effaced, with baby at a -2 station. Again, not even in active labor, and those damn sporadic contractions I had even stopped.

I really had an amazing L&D nurse. She didn’t rush me to do anything, and even encouraged me to decide if I wanted to go home or not. If it had been “our baby” and a normal situation, I would have. Heck, I’d actually still be at home, with a midwife, planning a home birth. But I think because of the situation, and everyone already there, and wanting to be finished with this journey, even more of me wanted to stay and see if we could get things going now.

Patience is HARD at the end of pregnancy, I get that as much as the next pregnant woman.

It wasn’t until around 9:30 am, after just hanging out and trying to get contractions going again, that I finally said screw it and decided to go the induction route. This wasn’t something I rushed into, it took me some time and even still at this point I was also very hesitant. Everyone was encouraging me to have my water broken as a first step. So the doctor on call (my OB came in for a bit before this point and offered to break it before he left, but was now at another hospital doing clinic work) came in a little after, about 10am, and broke my amniotic sac. Best case, that would bring him down some and start contractions again, and really get labor going. Being this is my 6th pregnancy, maybe my body would react quickly, right? Worst case, nothing happens.

Which of course is exactly what happened.

This was actually the first time I’ve had my water broken (AROM) by a provider. It was super uncomfortable (similar to a cervical exam), and likely made what was to follow just more intense for the baby and me.

At this point, about an hour and a half or so after waiting to see if things were going to start again, trying different positions, and only getting a few random contractions still, I asked to start pitocin.

I honestly knew that was going to happen from the start. But I still felt frustrated that I had gotten to this point.

The brightside though? It didn’t take long, only about 30 minutes or so, before contractions were coming consistently. Actually, they came fast and hard after that. We only needed my pitocin at “4”, which is considered a low dose still, and I labored for a few hours after that.

My amazing doula, Joleen, and my husband, were absolutely amazing. I moved in so many different positions. Joleen massaged me, used counter pressure, and essential oils! They reminded me to drink water, eat food, and use the restroom. Even with everything I know as a doula and educator, when in that laboring brain, it’s so hard to remember to do all these things.

Contractions were so intense and were coming every 2-3 minutes before too long.

I already knew going into this, if I had to use pitocin, I would be way more influenced to get an epidural. I’ve had pitocin before, and like I tell my clients or students pitocin contractions are not the same as your body’s regular contractions. They are the damn devil to me and my body. And trying to cope through them is much more work than with an unmedicated birth.

Not going to lie, I am super proud of myself for going as long as I did. But I also don’t regret finally asking for an epidural. By that point in labor I was absolutely exhausted from not sleeping more than a couple of hours the night before, and moving around so much, that I truly needed to rest. I could no longer find ways to “relax” because of how on top of one another they were coming.

The nurse asked if I wanted to have my cervix checked at that point. I said yes, because it wasn’t going to change my mind either way. This was around 3p. I was 7 cm and baby was at a 0 station. While I knew that was great progress, I really just wanted to rest, even take a nap, and gain some energy before pushing.

Of course that didn’t happen. Birth is truly unpredictable!

It felt like forever before the anesthesiologist finally came in. I remember saying, “Please just hurry up!” One of the hardest moments of the birth was having an intense and powerful contraction, while having to hold super still through it, so he could poke me with the numbing needle. And then having a few more contractions after that while he finished. He was super fast, I’m grateful for that.

I was so excited to get some relief at this point.

However, after a few more contractions and laying down, the baby shifted down and even with the epidural in and working to ease the contractions, my body started to push! It was crazy! No rest. No nap. Just extreme pressure and uncontrollable urges to push. The nurse checked me again, and yup within those mere few contractions I was complete and she could feel baby’s head.

I remember laying there shaking and Nick asking me if I was cold. Nope. Just a mixture of epidural shakes, adrenaline, and being in transition.

It’s crazy how an epidural works so different on every person, and even different in each birth. I truly believe there’s a time and place for epidurals (or any interventions!), and sometimes it’s just what your body needs to relax enough to finish dilating.

At this point, My doctor was 30 minutes away at another hospital, and they called him immediately. The hospitalist came in, just in case the doctor didn’t make it. I continued to lay there resting as much as I could, but still pushing with what felt like every few contractions. After waiting what felt like forever, the doctor arrived and I really went into pushing.

I loved that there was no coached pushing involved. And because I could still pretty much tell when I started having a contraction, I listened to my body to tell me when to push. It was so helpful!

However, this baby made me work for him.

I pushed laying on my right side, on my back, then on hands and knees (yes, even with an epidural!!), and then on my left side. He was having a really hard time coming under my pelvis. I do remember the doctor mentioning the vacuum at one point, but he sounded good throughout the pushing phase, so we kept going.

More than anything, I just didn’t want to go through all that work and end up in an emergency c-section. Definitely the hardest I’ve had to work with any of my babies. I’m thankful I had that epidural, and that it was actually light enough that I could still move around and also feel everything enough to push.

Look at that head molding!

Baby boy, Mayeul, was finally born at 4:56pm on February 15th, 2022. 8lbs, 15 oz and 21″. The first thing everyone said was how big he and his nogen is. 😆 Immediately after he came out Didier held him while Jean-Jacques cut his cord. And they were able to do skin-to-skin.

I ended up with a second degree tear, but in the same spot as a previous tear from my first two births. Definitely feeling more sore in my rectum this time.

The placenta and amniotic sac showed signs of a previous bleed (the dark spots!) that I had at 14 weeks.

Overall, I’m so so happy for my IPs (intended parents)! I’m so grateful I was able to do a second journey, and for how smoothly everything went this time around too. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect relationship with them.

My husband and I already plan to travel to France (where they are from!) one day, to visit all of them! If you’re interested in surrogacy, I HIGHLY recommend going through Heart to Hands Surrogacy. They have been phenomenal to work with for both my journeys. I can officially say, my uterus is retired! No more babies for me.

Photos captured by my doula Joleen Cullens at The Healing Tree.

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