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Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

(Editor’s note: this birth experience was originally posted on August 23, 2011.)

To gain a little insight of why I had a C-section with my first born, I have it written down as a “vent” on my blog. It basically started out as one intervention cascading into a ball of interventions that led me to a transfer from a “Birth Center” birth to the hospital that ended in a non-emergency C-section for being stuck at 5cm for hours and hours. I did a lot of processing and mourned the birth and post par tum bond of my beautiful baby girl, Alana.

I did my research, got in touch with my local ICAN Chapter and soaked up as much info as I could. I also found a lovely CPM who takes VBAC’s as I knew the best chance of a successful VBAC would to be at home with the least intervention and the most support. I did all my own prenatal’s, skipped the ultrasound, listened and trusted my body to grow my baby and prepare for birth. I was on top of my nutrition and got monthly adjustments from my chiropractor and even got a wonderful massage at the end of my pregnancy.

My VBAC Baby Born at Home
Wow! Where do I begin? Ethan’s birth has so many emotions attached to it. So many hopes and dreams came true the night he was born, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. It’s hard for me to even write what I really want to write here. Whatever I write, it comes from a deep place in my soul.

First, I just have to give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father…for knowing the desires of my heart, for loving me through some hard challenges in my life and for allowing them to grow me. Our Creator is so good. While Ethan’s birth was hard work for me, I have no regrets. I guess I could say I “wish” things had gone differently, but really I’m grateful for how it was. This is his story.

I woke up Friday the 14th (9 days after my due date) still very pregnant and no end in sight. Then around 10am I went to the bathroom to find “bloody show”. It renewed my faith in my body that things were progressing and that I would be having this baby. I was really hoping that I would be holding my baby within 24 hours, but no. Bloody show came and went and Istill had my all day, every day braxton hicks that would always go away when I went to bed. There was no way I was willing to do anything to speed things along. I knew that in order to have the best possible chance at a VBAC, I would have to allow things to unfold completely unhindered. While it was hard and uncomfortable being so big, I was so at peace with where my body was at and what it needed to do. I continued to have bloody show all through the weekend.

Monday the 17th, I felt different. Lots more bloody show and my contractions were slightly stronger. So I did some massive “nesting” and Alana was my sidekick. It was truly a wonderful day spent with my daughter for the last time just the two of us. We made a pot roast in the crock pot, went to Trader Joe’s for some shopping, cleaned the house top to bottom and made cookies! It was such a beautiful, peaceful day. A day that I will remember forever. Matt was in and out of the house throughout the day working and it allowed Alana and I some time alone together.

Monday night, as we got ready for bed at 11:30pm, I noticed that my braxton hicks were still coming despite how late it was. Usually they had died down by now. So of course I wondered. Went to bed and as I lay there, I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were still coming. I got up to find my phone so that I could start timing them. They were coming every 3-6min. Very short though.

After an hour of this, I decided to get up to pee and I woke up Matt telling him I couldn’t sleep, that I may be in labor. I went pee and had a huge gob of bloody mucus, so I knew that this was the real deal. I told Matt I was going to shower and asked him to pump up the pool. Actually, I think I demanded him to.

I felt really calm, but part of me wanted things ready in case things went quick (wishful thinking). Took a shower and tried to check myself, but everything just felt like mush. I couldn’t tell or maybe I just couldn’t reach my cervix. Matt and I then made the bed up with a shower curtain and a sheet over it while the tub filled. I went downstairs and made some raspberry leaf and nettle tea and grabbed a water and set up my birth snacks on my dresser next to the tub. I told Matt I was happy to labor alone if he wanted to sleep downstairs on the couch. So he grabbed his pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. To help pass time, I blow dried my hair and did my makeup in between contractions.

I did some hip swaying to give room and even did some squats during the contractions. I made sure to empty my bladder every hour. I was drinking and eating to sustain energy. At 6:30 am, I text my girlfriend, Jessica, to give her the heads up that I had been in labor since 12 am. She was my birth photographer and has an almost 2 year old and knew she was up getting ready for work, so I wanted to give her time to plan for the birth and would keep her posted.

At around 7am Matt’s alarm went off, so I went downstairs to tell him he probably shouldn’t go to work. Matt then asked if I had called the midwife to give her a heads up. That kind of annoyed me because I felt like it was too early yet. Then Alana woke up and pretty much my contractions died at that point. Matt took Alana downstairs and told me to sleep for awhile. I was really distraught because I felt like things were progressing and then the moment Matt and Alana woke, it distracted me and labor had stopped. Ugh!

So I took some Rescue Remedy to help me calm down and I layed down and slept for a couple hours. Then I woke up and took a shower to freshen up. Matt and I had an “upset” so we worked that out (I was still mad over the comment her made about calling the midwife). Nothing like getting irritated at each other when you want to be laboring. Then we ate and decided to go for a walk around 3:30 pm. While walking, I timed my contractions and there were coming every 5 min. I had to stop and lean over something for every contraction or hang on to Matt, whatever I could grab first. I’m sure I was a sight to the passing drivers.

Contractions continued to come after walking and eating dinner. I called Jessica, my mom and sisters and let them know to head on over around 8pm. Even though I had planned to labor alone for the majority of labor, I was so ready for some support. They all showed up and my sister Callie announced that she was making brownies. Grrr. I really wanted some and I never got any. I called my midwife sometime after 8 pm to give her the heads up. She listened to me while I went through a couple contractions and said they are about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 sec. She was currently at another birth and I agreed to keep her posted.

I labored all through the night. Everyone found places to sleep and in the early hours, I want to say around 2am, things were  intense. I think I was pretty tired and my contractions were getting painful. I was in the birth tub for quite a while at this point, but I had been in and out and changing positions every hour. I called the midwife around 3:30 am and was ready for her to come. She and her assistant headed over. I remember about this time feeling intense energy and it was quite overwhelming. I was getting very vocal and loud.

When my midwife came in, she prayed over me and told me where to release the energy in an effective way by vocalizing in a low/deep tone. What a difference that made. I really wanted to scream the pain away, but with the direction from my midwife I was able to welcome the pain and release the intense energy in an effective way. That is what gets me through the rest of my labor.

I ended up moving to my bed to lay down and rest. Contractions spaced out to allow me to doze and get some sleep. I held on to my mom’s hand and squeezed for every contraction. After an hour or so, I was up and ready to get back to business. I labored all over my room and in the tub. Mom made me some breakfast-eggs and hash browns. I layed down again and was able to get a good sleep. I decided to not vocalize and just relax during my contractions. That was hard, but I needed the sleep.

Around 9am, I got up and decided I was ready for a check. I NEEDED to know at this point what progress had been made. My midwife said that I was about 7cm. Yay! To me, that was a good thing. I had only progressed to 6 cm with Alana, so I was happy to be past that hurdle. It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. My midwife needed to head out for a little while and so did my mom, sisters and Jessica. It allowed me to focus on getting busy with labor.

My mom and sister Kimberly came back around 1 pm and started timing my contractions. I was in the tub, on my knees, hanging over the side and contractions started getting closer, longer and more intense. I held on to my mom for every contraction. My almost 4 year old daughter pretty much stayed in my room. She was amazing. I rubbed my knees raw from staying in this position for so long. There was lots of pressure in my bottom and at the peak of my contractions, I wanted to push. It was so intense, its all I could do. We called the midwife and she was on her way.

About this time, it started to storm outside. It was really cool. I walked the hall, did some laboring on the toilet and would hang from mom’s neck. Midwife got there and I asked her to check me and she said I still have a rim of cervix (9cm) and that I would need to relax through contractions to melt it. “Yeah right!” is what I thought. She said another option was she could hold the cervix while I push the baby past it. I told her I would try “relaxing” to melt the cervix.

Well, an hour later, I hit my wall. I started having thoughts of going to the hospital. I just couldn’t go on. I was exhausted and there needed to be progress. So I yelled down the stairs to my midwife that I would like her to hold it back. She came upstairs and got prepped. She warned me that it would hurt. I didn’t care. What could hurt worse than those contractions? I got propped up in my bed with Callie and Jessica holding each of my legs, while my midwife massaged cervix in between contractions and held it up while I pushed during contractions. It was so hard finding the right place to push. Thank goodness I even had the urge to push. I pushed 4 times per contraction and pushed hard and at one point the assistant told me to hold my breath while pushing. I tried it once and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath in time for the next push so decided that wouldn’t work and I needed to blow air out while pushing.

During this time, I was fed yogurt and drinking Recharge and Emegen-C to keep me fueled. I think I even apologized for any toots I couldn’t hold in. LOL. Finally, the cervix was gone and his head was low enough that I was able to get into a different position.

I head straight for the toilet.  It’s amazing how intense the urge to push is. Our bodies our amazing in that it just takes over and you don’t have a choice. While sitting on the toilet, I was hugging the assistant and my mom and reaching for my midwife’s hand. I think I was reaching for help, for someone to just take the intensity away. For whatever reason, it made sense at the time. I really used some muscles in my body as I was hugging on them hard. I remember saying out loud “I can’t” and the assistant saying back to me, “but you are”. That was powerful and gave me the push to keep going (not like I had a choice, but I was able to rationalize it in my head to keep going).

Some of this is really hazy and I don’t remember much detail, but at this point I was sooo hot and sweaty. I asked for cool rags so the ladies started putting cold rags on me. Then I got in the tub in a reclining position and was still cooking so they brought in a fan and aimed it right at me. I pushed and pushed, then got onto my knees to hang over the side of the tub. I had Callie put counter pressure on my lower back and that was AMAZING relief. I could feel the head come down low during pushing and then suck back up in between contractions.

Midwives suggested moving into different pushing positions since its like trying to cork screw the baby out. So I said I wanted out of the water, but when it came time to move, I didn’t want to. The ladies said “lets go” and so I finally just did it. I really didn’t want to move in fear another contraction came while moving. I squatted on the floor at the foot of my bed and wrapped my arms over my mom and sister’s necks for support. There was a mirror on the floor so that I could see the progress. That was cool and kept me going! Then I decided I wanted to push in a reclining position on my bed. I really wanted to see the progress and my legs were tired so it was time to move.

Propped in reclining position and hanging on to my mom for dear life, I pushed and pushed. There is no pain like the ring of fire. I seriously dislike those ladies who’s babies come flying out and don’t feel the ring of fire. It’s so intense. I watched in the mirror the whole time and reached down and touched his head. It was incredible! I’m so thankful it was slow so that I could process the whole experience. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I just wanted to soak the experience in…the experience that I had longed for and what I missed with my daughter’s c-section. So even though it was painful, God knew that it needed to happen slowly. It was needed for my healing. I will never forget, I was the first one to touch my baby. I was in the moment and feeling totally connected to my unborn baby.

VBAC HBAC

My midwife suggested I grunt, to not push him out too fast and I did that to get his head out. Part of me just wanted to push hard and to get it done and over with. But I chose to ignore that thought since I really didn’t want to tear. Once his head was out (sweet relief!!), I reached down and started touching his face. I got a good minute of touching him and it was surreal. Then my last contraction came and out he came with some maneuvering by the midwives since there was a loose cord around his neck and wrapped around his body and then I reached down and pulled him up to my chest.

HBAC VBAC

He was born on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8:01pm. My sister Callie then saw his parts and announced “its a boy!” and we all squealed in delight! His apgars were 8 and 9 and he squawked when he was born and then it took him another 45 seconds or so to get out a good cry.

The “love cocktail” is real and I got to experience it with my beautiful son. I was instantly in love with him and I smelled, touched and kissed him within minutes of him being born. My daughter got to experience and watch the whole thing. She was right at my side within a minute of baby’s birth, talking and touching him. He knew who is sister was. When she talked, he looked for her and it was soothing to him. She has been so loving with him and I know that her being there for the birth, instantly bonded them. My husband had to walk out of the room because of the intensity, but I know that his heart was full and that he was happy with the outcome. And that he was a BOY!

HBAC VBAC

VBAC HBAC

HBAC VBAC

I had two small tears, one on each labia. I took the stitches in hopes of a quicker recovery. Baby boy weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz (major shock), 22in long and a 14.5in head! Big, happy and healthy boy milked his time in mama. He came at exactly 42 weeks with no pressure from anyone to have him before then. He chose his birthday! And it took us a little over a week to choose his name, Ethan Matthew Wright. He is simply amazing!

I am forever grateful for my “hands off” midwife who became “hands on” when I needed a little bit of help at the end to get that pesky lip of cervix to move and for her patience and trust in my ability to birth my baby!!!

I also have a picture video here.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Melissa. 

And Baby Makes 9 {HBA4C In Australia}

And Baby Makes 9 {HBA4C In Australia}

“I thought you might be interested in my HBA4C from last year. I have 9 children with 3 vaginal births, 4 cesareans, hospital VBA4C and a HBA4C. I’ve experienced many ups and downs during my labours and births. I am committed to sharing my birth stories to help give others strength and confidence that they CAN have control of their births.

My greatest achievements in life have been my 9 gorgeous children. Each of the journeys that delivered them to me has been unique. With each new pregnancy, my “risk” status grew in the eyes of healthcare providers and I became more determined each time to have the birth that I felt was not only mine by right, but what was best for myself, my baby and my family.

My birth history is quite extensive. I have had 8 hospital births. My first 3 were vaginal births (with interventions), the next 4 births were c/sections (after “failure to progress” diagnosis) 2 of those c/sections were attempted VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), 1 was a “forced” elective. My next birth was a successful VBA4C in hospital. This leads me to the birth story of my most recent little cherub.” – Gerri

This story starts during my 2nd trimester. I had booked into John Hunter Hospital for my 2nd VBA4C. I had birthed my 2 previous babies there with the last one being a VBAC. With this in mind, I expected to have my “risk” level lowered and not be subjected to the same old restrictions whilst in labour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. In fact more restrictions than ever were placed on me… continuous monitoring, NO shower/water, laying on the bed, epidural upon arrival… it was unacceptable that there was no room for negotiation. I began looking at my options.

I met my wonderful midwife at a VBAC support group when I was about 32wks. We got to talking all things birth and one of us mentioned homebirth. It was always something I admired but never thought possible with my history. Lisa was very supportive. We met up a few times and discussed the possibility of me home birthing in detail. My main obstacles, as I saw them, were the fact that 3 out of 4 of my vaginal births were assisted with ventouse (due to posterior positioning of bubs) and I had always been a huge fan of epidurals. A homebirth meant NO medical pain relief. My husband was against the idea as well, but being the independent person I am, told him that I would do it with or without him. After much toing and froing, research and discussion, I decided that a water homebirth would be the best option for another successful vbac.

5th August 2012 – 40+5wks. BAM!!! I’m woken by a particularly strong contraction. It’s 4am. I get up and go to the bathroom to investigate if I’d had a show. Another strong contraction. Wow, this is it; we’re having a baby today!!! 1st thought… remind Rob to get Jasmine to surfing and kids to footy. I wander around a bit with contractions coming strong and regular. 2nd thought… Damn, didn’t do groceries or fold the washing! At 5am I text midwife, Lisa, and doula, Emma, to let them know todays the day.

I get the birth ball out and try some rocking. After a while I feel a bit faint and have to lie down. I text Lisa again at 6am letting her know and ask if she can come over.

When Lisa and Emma arrived I was leaning over the bed. I had started to get the dreaded backache that generally goes with my posterior babies. The girls were both encouraging me to move around and also had a hot water bottle on my back. I just wanted to get in the birth pool. Hubby, Rob, and the kids were putting it up as I was thinking it.

I don’t know what the time was but finally the pool was ready. OMG it was heaven. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the water, but it really helped ease the pain of the contractions. Some of my little ferals popped their heads in at some point to check out what was going on. I could hear the kids on and off all day as they kept themselves amused.

I was so tired. After 5 or 6 hours, sometime around 10am I guess, I asked Lisa to examine me. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere and wanted to know how dilated I was. 8cm, waters bulging… this was good. 7cm had always been my hoodoo number where everything stopped. I could do this, it wouldn’t be much longer.

“Relax, release” I started thinking to myself. I was surrounded by lovely warm water. All I was missing was some drumming music and incense…lol.

Things appeared to be slowing so Lisa and Emma helped me out of the pool and tried some rebozo while I was head down, bum up on the floor. What an odd sensation and damn uncomfortable. Didn’t like it at all!!

Back into the pool. OMG, it still felt awesome! Very relaxing. I had no idea of the time. I had so much backache and pressure in my bum.

After what seemed like an eternity of contractions, I asked Lisa for another VE. I don’t think she was keen. Maybe it was for the best. I didn’t want to know if I wasn’t making progress. There was NO WAY I was transferring to hospital without it being an emergency. I could tough this out! I think I wonder aloud if the hospital would give me an epidural and let me leave? Hmmm… probably NOT!

Next thing I recall is lying in bed with the electric blanket on and a TENS machine attached to me. It was dark, where had the day gone? I felt like I had been labouring a long time, yet I was still surprised when I realised how quickly the time had passed. I was comfy in bed and was sleeping between contractions. The TENS machine kept stopping so I didn’t really use it much.

Random thought… I bet those kids didn’t clean the microwave like I asked!

Emma, my doula, was a constant presence. Whispering encouragement in my ear, getting me to drink her god awful labour concoction and just generally making sure I was as comfortable as could be.

Something was going on with Lisa and Emma. I asked what was happening but Emma assured me everything was fine. I later learnt that Lisa was sick and had to call in her backup midwife. I remember lying in bed and this stranger popped up and introduced herself as the backup. She’d scared the crap out of me… She explained that Lisa had reluctantly gone home and she would now be helping me. All I could think was “poor Lisa, I hope she’s ok, she’s guna be pissed she missed it”.

At some point Emma got me up to the toilet to help keep things moving. I was getting the urge to push with some contractions but it was excruciating. I had so much pressure on my back that I felt I would snap in 2. I tried to stay on the toilet to open my pelvis but had to stand and lean into Emma when a contraction came. I tried reciting the “relax, release” mantra in my head. Stuff that crap, it wasn’t helping!!!

I leant against the bed again with one leg up to open everything and help bub come down more. At some point I vomited in the shower. I had to get back in the pool. Finally the water was warm again and I got back in. Instant relief!

It was around 11pm and I remember thinking our baby wouldn’t arrive until Monday now.

Surely this can’t go on much longer. I was so tired and didn’t want to keep going. I asked the midwife for another VE. I was talking to bub, saying “come on baby it’s time now”. She examined me during a contraction while I pushed to see how far bub came down. The midwife said my waters broke, but I know she helped it happen, bless her. There’s no going back now. I tried pushing with contractions. I don’t know if it was helping. Sometimes it was involuntary and I could feel bubs move, other times it felt like nothing was happening. I was leaning over the edge of the pool on my knees. All of a sudden I felt bubs head come down almost with a whoosh! It seemed to happen so quickly. When he started to crown, I screamed. I had never felt the “ring of fire” quite like this. My contractions slowed and the pain was almost unbearable. This baby was going to rip me in two.

I tried pushing without the help of contractions but it didn’t work. Slowly bubs head made progress. “It’s breech” I heard the midwife’s surprised voice. What? “No, it’s ok. It’s just got big cheeks”. What did this baby look like if you could mistake its face for its bum…

It seemed like forever but finally his head was out. The midwife asked if I wanted to touch it. No, it was too distracting; I had other things going on. I could feel him moving inside trying to position his little body. It hurt like hell!

After a while the midwife’s voice became urgent. She told me to push harder. I was trying. Push… again… harder. “I am” I screamed. Emma and the midwife helped get me over the side of the pool to the floor. I had an enormous head between my legs and couldn’t manage on my own. What an odd sight that must have been.

I’m on all fours on the floor pushing as hard as I could. The midwife’s voice was more demanding and urgent. “Push harder! Baby’s turning blue!”

What was happening? She got me onto my back with my legs pushed back as far as possible. My hubby had called an ambulance but the midwife was still trying to get baby out.

Next thing I know, he’s out and she is talking to him, telling him to breathe. I keep asking if he’s alright. I hear a cry… THANK GOD!!!

It was 2am on Monday 6th August 2012. My brand new baby was put on my chest. I was asking if it was a boy or girl. I couldn’t lift bub high enough to see for myself. IT’S ANOTHER BOY!!! He was so very big and very pink! No wonder he got stuck. Everything seemed to be normal again. We were covered in a blanket. It was almost like there was no emergency. The midwife looked incredibly relieved.

In the meantime the ambo’s arrived. They gave bubs the once over and declared him perfectly healthy. They were only there for 10mins or so.

Someone woke the kids and all of a sudden we had an audience. They each had a little look at their new brother but couldn’t nurse him as he was still attached to the placenta. After a little while, they went back to bed. About an hour later I birthed the placenta but also some clots.

The midwife tied his cord with a string with beads and Rob cut it, “every baby should have beads” she was saying. We still hadn’t decided on a name for our boy. I gave him to Rob for a cuddle, and moved off the floor to the lounge. I complained to the midwife of having a sudden headache and began feeling faint. My vision went blurry and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The midwife and Emma tried getting me to eat and drink something but I just couldn’t be bothered. Rob called the ambo’s again. I heard them arrive but didn’t have the energy to respond. They gave me some fluids and oxygen and I started to come to life again. 2 hours after my homebirth we were off to Hospital, but that’s the beginning of a whole other story.

I have NO regrets about my homebirth. I am incredibly proud of myself and feel that I can achieve anything. I birthed a 12lb 4oz (5.56kg) baby after a 22hr labour without drugs and without tearing (thanks to the magical birth pool) after 4 previous c/sections. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to shower at home and curl up with my new baby in my own bed.

I feel complete. I finally had the birth that every woman should be able to experience.

My body, my baby, my birth.

vbac without fear

VBAC Despite Thrombocytopenia: The Birth of Elodie

VBAC Despite Thrombocytopenia: The Birth of Elodie

The birth of sweet little Elodie really begins with the birth of our son Huck. I had a normal and, dare I say, easy pregnancy with our first. Nothing was out of normal and I had no doubt I would be able to deliver this baby naturally until about 32 weeks when I was diagnosed with severe gestational thrombocytopenia. Basically my blood platelet levels were dropping rapidly, putting both me and the baby at risk for hemorrhaging during the delivery. At this time, we were living in Africa in a city where health care was limited and our doctor became so worried about my severe thrombocytopenia that she demanded a C-section at 36 weeks and 2 days. I ended up having a C-section under general anesthesia and didn’t even get to see my son until he was 3 hours old which left me feeling so removed from the whole birthing process. The whole experience was very traumatic for me and recovery from this C-section, which I never thought would happen, was harder than I ever thought possible. I almost didn’t want another baby until I started reading about VBACs.

When we found out we were pregnant with our second, I knew without a doubt that I wanted the opportunity to try for a VBAC. During this pregnancy we were living in another country overseas which was not the best place to try for a VBAC. After many conversations with my husband, we agreed we would temporarily move back to the States at the end of the pregnancy so I would have the best chance possible of delivering naturally. We emailed an OB/GYN who was a family friend and he was immediately on board and excited about helping me go for a VBAC.

Our pregnancy was pretty routine and easy like my first one but the whole time we questioned whether the thrombocytopenia would come back and what it would mean for my chances of a VBAC. Around my 30th week of pregnancy, we flew the long transatlantic flight back to America and settled into my in-laws’ house with our almost two year old to wait for baby girl’s arrival.

About the same time that we got to America, my platelets started dropping again which meant the thrombocytopenia of my first pregnancy had returned. Our OB/GYN was amazing and had many a long conversation with us about how my low platelets could lead to different outcomes including steroids, induction, and the inability to get an epidural in case of an emergency C-section. The whole time he never mentioned a repeat caesarian as an option for me and made us feel in control of our decisions which was such a different experience from our first pregnancy.

We were fortunate enough to be able to transfer our care to the midwives of his office while he still helped us navigate the thrombocytopenia. Still we were forced to wait to see what my platelets would do. Every week I had blood draws to check my platelet count and each week, from 30-35 weeks, they dropped more and more until they were around 90,000. At this number they are considered too low for epidural and were coming closer and closer to the number our doctor wanted to induce me at. I had many good cries about my platelets and about the idea of having to go on steroids and then have an induction as I had really wanted an intervention-free birth where I could labor at home as much as possible. There were moments I was convinced my dream of a VBAC was slipping away. I wanted so badly to avoid interventions or an induction. I had this overriding desire to see what my body could do because I felt like I was robbed of the chance of experiencing labor with my first. I knew my body could do it if only it was giving the chance but with the thrombocytopenia I was so scared I would not be given the opportunity to naturally labor. All this time, my husband was always there to encourage me to trust my body and believe that we could have the birth I wanted.

We asked all our friends to start praying for my platelets to miraculously go up, even though we were prepared for them to start drastically dropping as they did in my first pregnancy. We went in for my 36 week blood draw full of trepidation to see where my platelets had fallen to. My husband called for the results a few hours later and found out they had gone up to 105,000. That was the first time ever in either of my pregnancies that my platelets had gone up! Over the next two weeks they kept going up until they were at a really good level (121,000) when I entered my 38th week.

At this point I started knowing in my heart that this was the ideal time for baby girl to come as we didn’t know if and when my platelets would drop again. On Thursday we went to our chiropractor for an adjustment and then spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday walking a ton. Each night I told baby girl that then was a good time for her to come. Sunday night I went to bed asking God to bring baby girl in his timing but asking Him to allow me the natural VBAC we had worked so hard for.

Around 1:00am Monday morning (I was 38 weeks 4 days), I woke up for my nightly pee and noticed bloody show in the toilet. I got really excited and knew that this at least meant my body was getting ready. Almost immediately after that I started getting my first ever contractions (I never had one with my first pregnancy). My husband was sleeping in our two year old’s room because our son was sick with a cold and ear infection so I laid in bed timing my contractions. I ended up having contractions all night long every 5-7 minutes apart. In the morning they spread way out and my husband and I were both disappointed. I had contractions off and on all Monday then throughout the night again which left me exhausted by Tuesday. Tuesday we spent the day relaxing and napping as contractions came and went. I eventually told my husband I did not think I could do another night of these contractions and I really hoped active labor would start soon. My husband ran out Tuesday evening to get me some of my favorite soup for dinner while I bounced on my birthing ball and watched our two-year-old.

It was at this point that the contractions changed from being mildly annoying to being painful. I started having to concentrate on breathing more and really focus during them. My husband at this point didn’t realize that things were changing so he was going about doing dishes and laundry…at some point I snapped at him to stop leaving me alone because I needed him. He said it was at this moment he realized things were picking up. We sat together and watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy as contractions came every 7-10 minutes or so. It wasn’t until around 9pm that I think I really entered active labor. I moved into the shower and labored there as contractions started coming every 5 minutes or so. Eventually we ran out of hot water for the shower so I went into the bedroom. It was at this point the contractions became really intensely painful. My husband called our doula and she came by the house to check on us. It was about 11:15pm and she guessed I was probably 4.5-6 centimeters and said I should try to sleep between contractions as I was now on my third night without much sleep. She left around 11:45pm asking us to call her when we headed to the hospital, which she thought would be in about 2 or 3 hours. As soon as she left contractions picked up in both intensity and frequency. They started coming almost every 2 to 3 minutes and lasting almost a minute. I was a little shocked by how intense they got in such a short amount of time. I told my husband that we needed to head to the hospital then. He was hesitant to go to the hospital as the contractions had not been that consistent for a whole hour yet. After a few more minutes of me yelling about going to the hospital, he decided it was indeed time to go and we headed out. The drive to the hospital was only about 10 minutes but I was contracting every 2 to 3 minutes so it seemed much longer.

We got to the hospital around 12:20am and were checked around 12:30. The nurse said I was a stretchy 6.5 centimeters so I was immediately brought to a labor and delivery room. At this point I was exhausted and demanded some IV pain killers. I knew I didn’t want an epidural but I was beginning to panic between contractions and knew I needed something to calm down. The painkillers helped me relax and sleep a bit between contractions with me still waking up every 3 to 4 minutes to breathe, scream, and occasionally cuss through so wildly intense and painful contractions. All this time the nurses were struggling with monitors for fetal heart beat and contractions. I did not know what they were talking about but I kept hearing them say “the contractions aren’t being read on the monitor” which in my tired mind meant that they weren’t strong enough to be picked up yet. That totally freaked me out as I thought I must just be at the beginning of labor. I kept asking our doula and husband if all of this was just false labor, to which they kept assuring me that this was really labor and a baby was coming soon.

By around 1:45am the painkillers had worn off and I started asking (demanding) for an epidural during every contraction. Our doula knew in that moment that I would really regret that decision so she lovingly but strongly told me no. Our nurses were awesome in honoring our request that they not suggest or bring up epidural either. Our doula did suggest I get checked at 2:00am as a way to give me a goal. At 2:00am our midwife checked me and I was at 9cm and the baby was at a 0 station. It was then suggested by our doula, that our midwife should break my water to help speed things along. At 2:15am she broke my water and I immediately began to feel the baby moving down. After about 2 contractions where I felt baby moving down, I told everyone in the room that I was going to start pushing. Our midwife, thinking I was still at 9cm, told me to try not to push. I told her again I was pushing and pushed with the next contraction. She had me flip over onto my back (I had been on my knees up over the top of the bed the whole time) to check and saw that the baby was close. At that point she called the nurses in and told me that since pushing was working I should just keep going. At that point all I wanted in the world was to get that baby out. I started pushing at around 2:25am and baby was crowning after only 2 or 3 contractions. Even as the baby was crowning I was scared of messing up somehow and needing a repeat C-section. I think almost everyone in the room laughed as baby was crowning and I was asking if there was any way that I was still going to have a C-section and if I was really in labor. It all just happened so fast that I was in shock!

The moment I pushed my baby girl out was literally one of the best and most empowering moments of my life. Her head came out and the rest of her body followed immediately. Our midwife placed her right on my chest and that is where she stayed for over an hour. After having a general anesthesia C-section with our son, getting to spend the first hour of my daughter’s life just holding her was a gift that I could not possibly be more thankful for. It was only after my daughter’s arrival that our midwife told me that my platelets had indeed dropped again and were under the threshold for an epidural. My husband and I are both so thankful we did not know that going into the hospital as the fear of a general anesthesia C-section would have caused me to panic. We are just so thankful baby girl came right when she needed to and exactly how she needed to.

Overall, I felt like my husband and I really fought for this VBAC and it was so worth it. We felt educated, informed, and empowered during the whole pregnancy. Even when dealing with thrombocytopenia and the complications that came with that, we felt like all our providers were fighting alongside us for our VBAC. All I wanted was to give my body a chance to do what I knew it could do and what it was made for. Our amazing team never pushed any interventions on me and allowed me to labor how I wanted. Our midwife was absolutely amazing in completely following my lead and allowing me and my body to control the pace and feel of labor. One of my recovery nurses, while reading the notes on my labor and how fast it went, said, “It is just sad you ever had to have a C-section in the first place. It’s clear that your body was just made for this.” It was such a redemptive moment for me to once again believe in my body’s ability to birth.

Overall, God gifted us with a birth we only could have dreamed about with only 2 hours in the hospital from check-in to baby. We now are thrilled to have a beautiful, healthy baby girl that came into this world naturally, surrounded by a loving and supportive team.

Story and photographs submitted by Julia Van Scott. 

A Long-Awaited Natural Birth: My VBA2C

A Long-Awaited Natural Birth: My VBA2C

Michaela shares with us the story of her son’s birth. 

My husband and I had our first child in 2006, when we were 18 and 17 years old respectively. I had a healthy pregnancy with no complications, but my doctor suspected fetal macrosomia and said that I wasn’t progressing at 37 weeks, and subsequently insisted I have a c-section because he felt that would be for the best. I had planned to have a natural birth without medication, but I was young, scared, uninformed and pressured into a scheduled c-section; my body wasn’t even given the chance to go into labor. My daughter was born at 38 weeks gestation, weighing 8 lbs 6 oz; she was a healthy and beautiful baby. My recovery was horrible, though, and years later I learned that I had suffered from a staph infection, which my doctor failed to discover in the hospital. My uterus had so much scar tissue that I was told if it hadn’t been cleaned out via laparoscopy, I may never have been able to get pregnant again.

During my second pregnancy in 2009, I was seeing a different doctor and had planned a VBAC. He was very supportive of my VBAC goals until the end, when fetal macrosomia was suspected again in my otherwise complication-free pregnancy. My doctor used the common scare tactics regarding all the risks, and insisted I schedule a c-section. I was quite upset about it, but I didn’t want something bad to happen to one of us, so it was scheduled.

The day of my scheduled c-section, I awoke to clean myself with the iodine and I felt weird. I thought it was merely nerves for the upcoming surgery, but when I told my husband how I felt, he knew I was in labor. We had a 45-minute drive to the hospital, and had to drop our daughter off at my mother’s place. The contractions kicked in full-force our entire way there, continuing about every 2-3 minutes. When we arrived at the hospital, my husband told the staff I was in labor and was scheduled for a c-section in a couple hours. The staff had me signing paperwork through the pain, and nobody was particularly taking me seriously; but eventually I was taken back.

Once we were in our room, no one bothered to check me; they just slowly went about prepping me for the c-section – that is, until my water broke. Finally, the hateful nurse checked me, and in a panic, went to get the doctor. The doctor came in and discovered that I was 9 cm dilated; then for no medical reason, the nurse give me a shot to slow my labor and continued to prep me for the c-section. At the time, I was in too much pain to say “no”, and my husband, in the midst of the situation, didn’t know what to do either. So instead of being given the chance to have the natural birth I wanted, I had yet another c-section. Our son was born weighing 10 lbs 11.6 oz; he was a healthy little boy.

My recovery went extremely well, aside from suffering from postpartum depression, but I felt like I recovered better because my body was ready to give birth. I was upset I didn’t get my VBAC, but I was extremely happy that I got to experience labor, and that we had a beautiful son.

I didn’t think I would have more than two children, but I had this constant yearning to have another child. I still felt disappointed that I had never experienced the natural process of pushing my child into this world on my own; I wanted that natural birth. Then in January of 2015, I became pregnant with our second son. This pregnancy and birth, I told myself, was going to be different. I studied like a mad person and gathered all the information I could on the pros and cons and statistics for a VBA2C birth. I knew that after two previous c-sections, it was unlikely that I would find a supportive provider, but it didn’t matter; I had my mind made up and the knowledge to fight for it.

In the beginning, I went back to the same doctor who had delivered our son, but I soon became fed up with his negativity, rudeness and lack of support. I continued to go to the same office, but there were 15 other doctors and midwives that I could see. I chose a midwife, and at my first appointment, I was in tears from her positive attitude and encouragement for my VBA2C. She was wonderful, but I feared that she might not be the one to deliver when I showed up at the hospital, as I did not have the power to choose. However, I continued to see her because I needed that positivity in my life. My husband stood in place of a doula; he was my rock, and was ready to fight for my right to have a natural birth.

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As my pregnancy progressed, I grew larger and larger, despite my commitment of working out four or five days every week. I walked up to six miles in the beginning, and continued doing PiYo, T25, and prenatal yoga. At my 37-week checkup, I hadn’t progressed, and my midwife was starting to get nervous about his size, as she was guessing he was weighing around 9 lbs at that point; but she agreed to give me another week and then weigh out our options. I instantly felt overwhelmed and discouraged. I told my husband I wasn’t going back to the doctors, and instead I would just show up at the hospital when I was in labor. Talk about some foreshadowing – because one week later, on October 4th at around 2:30 a.m., I woke up feeling weird.

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My husband once again knew I was in labor and was ready since my last labor happened so quickly. I wasn’t sure though, and I didn’t want to be one of those women who shows up in false labor, so I debated taking a shower while walking around eating a bowl of cheerios; but one big contraction later, I decided maybe he was right. The entire hour-long ride to the hospital, I endured contractions every two to three minutes. I read my birth affirmation cards, which I totally laughed about because I was not “enjoying the moment”, and tried to deal with the pain as best I could while our son and daughter traveled with us in the backseat.

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When we arrived at the hospital and were heading in, I felt a trickle and I knew my water was breaking. My husband explained to the receptionist that I was in labor, which was pretty obvious by my appearance. As they continued to ask us a few questions, my water completely broke, leaving a huge puddle on their waiting room floor. This wasn’t just a small amount of water, either – this was like a movie scene puddle of water. The nurses came quickly and were guessing I was maybe dilated to 7 cm. My husband and our children followed behind shortly, noting my amniotic fluid trail on the way. The nurses looked at my chart and saw that I had had two previous c-sections, but my midwife had also included my birth plan, so they followed along with it.

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Once I was undressed and checked, they discovered that I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. Finally my husband was by my side, and our children were being taken care of by the sweet nursing staff in the opposite room. It was time to push, but I was so concerned that I wasn’t doing it right. I pushed as hard as I could – so much so that I broke blood vessels in my shoulders. I yelled out, “I can’t do this anymore!” and the staff yelled back, “Yes, you can!” I can still hear them saying that.

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The midwife told me to reach down and feel my baby’s hair; and a few pushes later, he was out. They placed him on my chest during the delayed cord clamping; my husband got to cut the cord for the very first time, and I was able to breastfeed him and snuggle him without being hooked up to any cords. He weighed 10 lbs 1 oz and was 22½” long.

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I did it. We did it. It was one of the most intense, painful and beautiful moments of my life, and it made me appreciate all three of my birth experiences. They were all unique and special, and it’s amazing that I got to experience giving birth both ways. My natural birth was everything I had dreamed of, and it was definitely worth the wait.

My VBAC Story

My VBAC Story

Sherry-Ann shares her beautiful VBAC birth story.

I always knew that I wanted to birth my kids the way nature intended – naturally. I had always said that if my mom was able to do it (and my mom has a very low pain tolerance), then I could, too.

When I was pregnant with Joshua, I only had a Plan A: a natural birth; and I made that very clear throughout my appointments with my gynecologist. At my 39-week check up on November 20, 2012, my then-gynecologist told me that my amniotic fluid was very low and I needed to go into hospital to have an non stress test done. This came back all clear and my husband and I went back home. The minute we got home, my gynecologist’s assistant called us back to the hospital saying that the doctor wanted to see us and that we should bring along our bags.

My husband and I were excited and overwhelmed at the same time, and I remember that we hugged and said a little prayer before heading off to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. When we got to the hospital, the doctor then said that I would be admitted and also induced in the early hours of the morning (take note: the NST was clear).

The nurses then came in with a ton of forms that needed to be completed, including a c-section consent form, which I refused to sign because I knew that there was only one way that my baby was to be birthed; but I was forced to sign it somehow.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day – the nurse then came to start the induction. Unfortunately nothing was happening although baby was fine; and 13 hours later the doctor came in and gave us one more hour to see if anything was going to happen. Nothing happened, and so the doctor came in to tell me that I was going to have a c-section. That was the most devastating news I had ever heard in my life. I remember crying like baby in my room while my husband tried to calm me down.

While hubby went to change into his scrubs, the pediatrician walked me to the surgery room; I was crying all the way there. I was then prepped for surgery, and a few minutes later I heard a loud scream. My baby boy was born at 7:52 p.m. on November 21, 2012, weighing 3,26kg. As much I knew I loved him since that very first cry, I also felt like I had already failed him as a mother.

As they were stitching me up, I was so emotional and I felt so helpless that I couldn’t take my crying baby and hold him in my arms immediately to calm him. It took a very long time for me to bond with my baby. I loved him from the first second, but it would take months before I really felt that bond between a mother and a child. The recovery process from a c-section is no fun at all. I couldn’t walk for the first night; and when I started walking the next day, it was the worst feeling ever. I was on pain meds for quite some time because I was in so much pain. Having to nurse a scar and a new baby was no fun at all.

Don’t get me wrong—I thank God for the wisdom that doctors have to perform caesarean sections, but only when it’s really necessary. Had I known better at the time, I would have never gone back to the hospital when the doctor called me; I would’ve waited.

Fast forward to June 25, 2015, when we found out we were expecting our new little bundle. From the word go I knew I was going to have my baby naturally. Soon after Josh was born I started researching VBACs; the pros, the cons, birthing centers and who the best midwives were for the job. That’s when I found out about Sue King: VBAC queen.

I had been following Sue for some time on Facebook and at a stage read that she had plans to emigrate during the month that my baby was due. My heart ached. In the meantime I went to see one of the backup gynecologists at Genesis Clinic, Dr. Maasdorp, and I told him my story. He then asked me who my midwife was, and I told him that I really wanted Sue King but she had plans to leave so I didn’t have one as yet and that I was still looking.

He then picked up his cell phone and made a phone call and asked the person on the other line to take me on. When he was done, he then told me that he had just spoken to Sue, and that she’d take me on. If I could, I would’ve jumped up and down right there and then. I was so happy. From that second, I knew God was in total control and that He was already busy working on my behalf to have this dream come true. Dr. Maasdorp then gave me Sue’s number to get in touch with her; and after explaining all the pros and cons of a VBAC, assured me that I was a good candidate for a VBAC. I left the doctor’s office the happiest girl that day. I then sent Sue a message setting up a time to meet with her.

Wednesday the 5th of August was my first meeting with Sue. I could immediately tell that she had an amazing spirit, and I connected well with her. I shared my story with her, and she reassured me that we were going to do this, and that she wouldn’t do anything without guidance from God. At our next appointment she told my husband the same thing, and he was happy and he supported right through this journey amidst his own concerns.

Fast forward to 12:38 a.m. on the 24th of February. I woke up with some light cramps, and ignored them until they started coming regularly. Luckily I remembered all the breathing techniques that I had been reading up on over the past nine months, and I started practicing them with each contraction. I was still not sure if it was helping though, since I still felt the pain.

After about an hour, I woke my hubby and told him what was happening. We monitored what I thought were contractions for some time, and then I asked him to message Sue. Within no time she replied and advised that the contractions were too close together and irregular, and then said I should get into a bath and take a Panado. She said that this was common after a c-section. I did exactly that, and the contractions started easing up a bit.

They were still coming, but very irregularly. I couldn’t get much sleep at all because I was excited and also in pain. I couldn’t stop thinking that if this was early labor, what the real thing would feel like. I had irregular contractions for most of the day, and then they eventually stopped for a while after 3 p.m. I finally managed to get some rest. I notified Sue and she advised that I rest and that she would see me soon.

The contractions started up again in the early evening and by 11 p.m. I told my husband that we should go to Genesis. I had a shower, with a few contractions in between, dressed, greeted Josh and my mum, and off we went. Sue arranged for one of the midwives to check that baby and I were okay. We got to Genesis just after 11 p.m., and met up with Elrika, the sweetest midwife ever. As soon as I got onto the bed for her to check baby and me, my water broke; just like that. She then tested to make sure that it was amniotic fluid, and lo and behold, it was. I wasn’t going anywhere else but my private room at Genesis. This baby was on her way.

My husband and I then went to our room, and Elrika gave me a light sedative so that I could get some rest. The sedative made me drowsy but I could hardly sleep as the contractions were still coming. I closed my eyes anyway, and made sure I rested in between each contraction.

Morning came, and I was so happy to see Sue. She checked me and I was only 1 cm dilated; she did a stretch and sweep while she checked, too. Even though I was 1 cm, I wasn’t disheartened because I knew my body would do what it needed to do when it needed to. Sue also gave me some homeopathic medication that would bring my contractions on much stronger, and she also arranged for me to see a reflexologist.

After lunch I still hadn’t progressed much. Sue then went to the room next door to do another birth; and as she left, she reassured me that I was going to have this baby naturally. I loved the boldness that she had when she made that statement. God was in control.

Sue then came back a few hours later and told my husband and I that she had a chat with Dr. Maasdorp. She explained to him that I was in labor but my contractions weren’t strong enough. She then asked him if she could give me something to help kick-start the contractions, and he obliged. I have to mention that with a VBAC you’re not allowed to be induced and you’re not allowed any pain medication. But God was in control.

Sue waited for the nightshift staff at Genesis to come to start the drip. While waiting, my husband and I prayed; we were excited for what was to come. Sue and Elrika put me on a drip just before 8 p.m. Sue also told us that there was a doula, Tertia, who was there, and that she was going to assist us with the birth as well. Tertia came in and turned the lights down in our room and there was an immediate sense of serenity. They had also set up the birthing pool and we were good to go.

The medication then kicked in, and I started feeling those contractions on a whole new level. I thought I was in pain before until I started feeling those strong contractions. They started getting closer, and at times I forgot to breathe.

It was then time to get into the pool, and I felt an immediate relief. The water was warm and it felt so good. But that feeling was very short-lived. Contractions were coming with hardly any time for me to even breathe. Sue then checked and I was about 4 or 5 cm dilated. She then left the room for a while. Tertia was a gem. She rubbed my back and made sure I was breathing through every contraction. There was a time that she briefly left the room too, and I told my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like crying because I was exhausted and in pain. He then gently spoke to me and managed to calm me down for a bit.

When Tertia came back I told her I was in pain and couldn’t do it. She also spoke to me and calmed me down. I don’t recall what happened next but I do remember Sue coming in and giving me something for pain in my drip. I felt a burning sensation in my chest and she told me it was from the meds. I immediately felt so relaxed. I laid back in the pool and I was focused again. I breathed through every contraction and I felt like I could do this. That was very short-lived too, but at least I managed to rest and save up some energy.

The meds wore off and I started feeling those contractions on a whole new level again. But after a couple of contractions, I felt an urge to push. I told Tertia and she told me to push whenever I felt that feeling. I did just that and it made the contractions a bit easier to manage knowing that I could do something when they came. Tertia then went to get Sue and when she checked me I was 10 cm dilated. I remember saying, “Thank you, Lord.”

My eyes were closed the entire time as I tried to stay focused on birthing my baby. Sue was checking baby after every push and she remained one happy little girl right through all the pushing. Sue and Tertia coached me through every push but eventually all the breathing techniques went out the window and I started screaming. Tertia and my hubby tried reminding me to breathe all the time but I just couldn’t. I’m sure I scared quite a few moms who were about to birth their babies.

I pushed for about 45 minutes before our beautiful angel arrived at 11:30 p.m. on the 25th of February 2016, on my dad’s birthday, weighing in at 3,9kg. I remember saying, “Thank you, Jesus” the second she was born. She was the most calm baby I had ever seen. She never made a sound but she was wide awake, eyes wide open and blowing little bubbles from her mouth. I looked at her and started crying. I was so emotional and I fell in love with her instantly. I had forgotten about the pain and I just enjoyed my little baby.

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My hubby prayed over her and we just sat there staring at her for a few minutes. Sue asked me to push one more time, and my placenta was delivered. My husband then cut the cord, which he wasn’t able to do with Josh, so I was very happy and he was excited too. Abigail was then passed on to him for some skin-to-skin bonding while I got out of the pool.

It was such a good feeling being able to stand up after birth, get out of the pool and walk to the bed. I felt liberated after birthing my baby. I was flooded with happy hormones from the moment she was born. I couldn’t stop smiling and I was so thankful to God, my husband, Sue, Tertia and Elrika. I felt like I conquered a huge mountain that day.

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Sue checked and weighed Abigail before handing her over to me to feed. Once Abigail was sleeping, I went to have a shower. I felt so good being able to do it all my own.

To this day I am still in awe of God and how he designed our amazing bodies. Women are strong!

I have learnt the power of prayer and confession through this journey. I’ve learnt that you can block out negativity from others by continuing to speak positively and by making bold declarations all the time.

God restored me that day. I bonded immediately with my baby and I even fell more in love with my son.

God is faithful.

HBA2C: Fox’s Birth Story

HBA2C: Fox’s Birth Story

This powerful mama shares the story of her son’s birth at home. 

After two c-sections, my husband and I had decided that we were done having children. My first child was born by emergency c-section at 33 weeks gestation, due to severe preeclampsia; and three years later, our second daughter was born via repeat c-section for “being breech,” which turned out to be wrong; she was head-down when they pulled her out. A little over a year later, we discovered I was pregnant once again – and this time, I was much more educated. I decided I wanted to try not only for a vaginal birth, but for a home birth. My husband stood behind whatever I wanted to do.

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We had met with the local midwife and she saw no problem with my wishes, so we went ahead with on our new adventure. I heard from every doctor I saw that VBACs – especially after multiple c-sections – weren’t allowed by them, which made my desire to birth at home even stronger. It solidified my choice that no one was going to tell me how to birth my baby.

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On March 8th, 2016 I had an appointment with an OB for a biophysical profile just to make sure baby was okay since my midwife had me down as 42 weeks and we still saw no signs of baby; I had a posterior cervix, and was barely effaced or dilated. I was called a “reckless, irresponsible parent” for denying a repeat c-section that very day. My health was in perfect condition as was the baby’s, so I left feeling very angry but comforted in knowing he just wasn’t ready to come yet.

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After a trip to the chiropractor and a support belt to keep everything aligned, I was hopeful that maybe something would happen soon. On March 16th, 2016, I woke up to a few contractions. They went on and off all day, although I was never able to time them. It wasn’t until they were strong enough that I couldn’t talk through them that we decided to head home from my in-laws’ house and call the midwife.

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It was 10 p.m. at that point, and my husband started filing up the birth pool as I worked through contractions in the shower. We put our kids to bed, and the midwife checked me – I was a loose 4cm and 75% effaced. I cried at such a small goal achieved. I lost my bloody show almost immediately afterward, and was at 6 cm not even two hours later. I labored in the pool for a few hours, breathing through each contraction and telling my body that we can do this, eventually getting out because the water wasn’t staying warm enough to comfort me any longer.
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As soon as I was out of the birth pool, transition hit and I was squatting in the shower trying to find any kind of relief. My husband helped me out so we could see where exactly I was at; and during that, my water broke. Within minutes, I was pushing and baby was crowning. It took five big pushes, and our sweet little Fox Odice was brought earthside. Weighing in at 9lbs 1oz and 22½ inches long, my sweet baby boy gave me the healing vaginal birth I so desperately wanted after two prior c-sections. His big sisters slept through the entire six-hour labor and were able to stumble into our room when they woke in the morning to meet their new brother. It was the most empowering and healing experience of my life.

A VBAC Story

A VBAC Story

Rita shares the story of her daughter’s birth – a healing VBAC.

My first baby was born via cesarean section. Like many women, I never imagined that I would need a C-section; I never thought that would happen to me. Imagine my surprise when after 24 hours of labor, my midwife announced to me that since my baby was in distress and I had not progressed past 8 cm in three hours, the next step would be a cesarean. I pulled my bed sheet over my head and cried out loud like a baby. I wasn’t physically, emotionally or spiritually prepared for this.

The C-section was due to failure to progress and non-reassuring fetal heart rate. I personally think (my non-medical opinion) that the cesarean was the result of all of the drugs that were administered to me during labor (with my consent) and the artificial rupturing of my membrane when the baby was still high up in the uterus in the occiput posterior position. Those drugs included Fentanyl, Epidural and Pitocin. I felt like my baby was drugged (again, my non-medical opinion). I also think that it was due to my ignorance. I didn’t educate myself about childbirth. I did not educate myself about the different pain medications that were available to me and their pros and cons. Heck, I didn’t even take a childbirth class. I was one of those patients who just let the nurses and doctors do whatever they felt necessary. I did not have a plan or even know what I wanted. The cesarean was definitely a wake-up call for me.

When my baby was about 6 months old, I learned I was pregnant with my second baby. The pregnancy was more than a surprise; it knocked the wind out of me. Eight weeks after my first baby was born, I had an IUD inserted to prevent another pregnancy until I was prepared for it, which would have been about 18 months after my first baby was born. I was told that this type of IUD usually lasts for 10yrs and that there is a .08% chance of getting pregnant while on it. I guess I was a part of the .08. I was very upset with the provider who inserted the IUD. I had so many questions that she couldn’t answer. Yes, I even thought about suing her… but that’s a whole other story.

After a few weeks of crying my eyes out and being frustrated, I decided to get with the program. This baby wasn’t going anywhere. I needed to take care of myself physically and emotionally in order to be able to care for my unborn child. Once I came to terms with the pregnancy, I made a promise to myself: the birth of this baby was going to be completely different from the birth of the first child—I was going to have a vaginal birth—and I was going to do everything I could to increase my chances of having one.

The first order of business was to find a VBAC-friendly hospital. All of my research led to one of the big hospitals in my hometown of Tacoma, WA; so I contacted the hospital’s midwifery department.

My first appointment was great. The midwife told me that since my last cesarean wasn’t due to any major medical reason, I should be able to at least try for a VBAC. After my first C-section, the doctor told me that because of the way she had sewed and positioned my uterus, I would have a greater chance of having a vaginal birth the next time around. She sewed my uterus twice. Also, since I was able to go into labor on my own and progressed to 8cm, this would work in my favor.

After finding the VBAC-friendly hospital, the second order of business was to find a doula. While on doulaMatch.net, I found two doulas in my area. One of them, surprisingly, had been my high school music teacher. If I had known that she was a doula, I would have used her for my first baby. I interviewed both of them, and ended up choosing my high school music teacher. There were so many reasons why I chose her. She had a C-section with her first baby and went on to have four vaginal births. She had 15+ years of doula experience. She had a very gentle and calm spirit, which I felt was important. She’s also a birth instructor for one of the big hospitals in our area. My husband and I took a birthing class with her, and she was great! She really knew a lot about birthing babies. During the class, we had to do an exercise that required partnership. One of the girls there did not have a partner. The instructor volunteered to be her partner. After the exercise, the girl said to her, “Wow that was great! You have a gentle, motherly touch.” That statement confirmed even more that she was the right doula for me. I needed that gentle, motherly touch during my labor and delivery.

As my pregnancy progressed, I decided to educate myself more on childbirth. I read two books and watched endless YouTube videos on natural childbirth and successful VBACs. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. I watched all episodes of the British TV show One Born Every Minute. I watched a movie called All My Babies: A Midwife’s Own Story. I must have watched this movie about a thousand times. It is also on YouTube. Of course, I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born.

I became a member of our local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) on Facebook. I also became a member of a Facebook group designated for all cesarean moms who are looking to have VBAC (a very supportive group). I followed Birth Without Fear, improving birth.org Ob/Gyn & midwife associates, and many other childbirths groups on Facebook. My Facebook feed was 90% natural childbirth/VBAC related. Every day of my pregnancy, I read or watched something positive about natural childbirth or successful VBAC. I read almost all of the birthing stories posted on Birth Without Fear’s Facebook page. If others could do it, I could definitely do it, too. I was really encouraged by other women. I made up my mind that I wasn’t just going to try for a VBAC, I was going to have a VBAC. I asked Jesus every day to give me my heart’s desire.

During my second trimester, I started reading a lot about red raspberry leaf tea, which has many benefits. One major benefit is that it helps strengthen the uterus, which helps in preventing uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is a major concern when having a VBAC. I posted a question on our mamas’ group Facebook page; I asked if anyone had experience with drinking red raspberry leaf tea during their pregnancy, and I had a lot of good responses. Some women said that it helped them go into labor. I was a little nervous about that, as I was still early in my pregnancy. I spoke with my midwife regarding this. She said it was ok to drink two cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day, and three cups starting at about 34 or 36 weeks. I was 28 weeks pregnant at that time, so I started drinking two cups a day. I drank red raspberry leaf tea religiously until the day I was in labor. I also started seeing a chiropractor for weekly adjustments from 28 weeks until the week before my baby was born.

My pregnancy was going very well until I went in for my 35-week checkup. While examining my stomach, the midwife seemed a little concerned. She couldn’t tell if my baby’s head was down or not (I had a very large fibroid.) At the beginning of the exam, she thought the baby’s head was down, but by the end she thought that the baby had moved into a breech position. She recommended that I have an ultrasound done to be 100% sure that the baby’s head was down. I started to get very nervous.

I had an ultrasound done that week, and thank goodness, baby’s head was down. I was very happy and relieved. My first baby was breech throughout my whole pregnancy. My OB turned her around through external cephalic version. My 36- through 38-week checkups were fine. My midwife was sure that my baby’s head was down. At my 37-week checkup, I told my midwife that I was getting nervous about having a VBAC. I was afraid something terrible might happen—something worse than a repeat cesarean. She said if anything happened, they would do the best they could to help my baby and me. “However,” she said, “You have to trust yourself, your decision and your body. You had a cesarean. Your body is not broken. Your body is more than capable of birthing your baby.” That stuck with me. I repeated it about a hundred times a day. My body is not broken; my body is not broken. My body is more than capable of birthing my baby.

Things took a turn at 39 weeks! I went in for my 39-week checkup. While examining my stomach, my midwife seemed very concerned again. I remembered that look on her face from previous weeks. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She said, “I am 90% sure this baby is breech. “No way!” I exclaimed. “Please make an appointment to do an ultrasound as soon as possible, probably before the end of this week,” she said. This was on Monday, January 18th. My baby was due on Sunday, January 24th. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The rest of the appointment went downhill from there. I went to the receptionist’s desk and asked her to schedule me for the earliest ultrasound. She scheduled me for 8:00 a.m. the next morning (Monday, January 19th). I was very sad. Worry kept me awake that night. To be totally honest, from the movement of the baby, I knew something wasn’t right.

I went in for my ultrasound the next morning; and lo and behold, my baby was in a frank breech position. Head up, bottom down. I started crying. The ultrasound tech asked if I was okay. I said “No. I can’t believe my baby is breech this late in the pregnancy. Now they are not going to allow me to try for a VBAC.” I was very frustrated. She recommended that I meet with the midwife that same day. She asked me to go wait for her by the receptionist. As I sat by the front office, I really could not contain my sadness any longer. I started crying. The office worker and other pregnant women who were coming in for their appointments probably thought something was wrong with me or my baby. Lucky for me, the midwife was available that morning.

I don’t remember much of my meeting with the midwife that morning. I was just too sad and upset. She asked me to come in later that day at 3 p.m. The OB was available to perform an external cephalic version if I was interested in it; and of course I was. I made the appointment to go in later that day. When I left the midwife’s office, I got into my car and cried/prayed for about 10 minutes. I called my husband and told him the news. He assured me that everything would be ok. He later told me that he felt very sad because I sounded so sad over the phone. I called my doula and left her a message. She sent me a text saying, “Got your message and will be praying. Let me know if you want me to come with you.”

Before I continue with the rest of the story, I want to take a moment to acknowledge a woman in my life; I will refer to her as a birthing goddess. This woman has given birth to seven children. Five of them were probably homebirths. One was via cesarean, and the other was a VBAC. We were pregnant at the same time twice. She was pregnant with her last two kids and I was pregnant with my first two kids. She is very inspiring in lots of ways, but especially when it comes to birthing and raising kids. She has a gift! Now back to the story.

On my way home from my ultrasound/midwife visit, I felt like I needed to talk to someone; someone who would understand what I was going through. I decided to head over to this birthing goddess’s house. She had just had a successful, unmedicated and fast VBAC – just what I was hoping and praying for. As I pulled up into her driveway, I saw her through the window reading what looked like a Bible or a devotional book. My mind was somewhere else. I couldn’t tell. She swiftly came to the door and let me in with a hug. She knew something was wrong just by looking at my face. I told her what was going on. After I was done, she asked me, “Can I pray for you?” “Yes please,” I responded. She sat very close to me on the couch, put her arms around me, and prayed for me. After that prayer, I felt like a burden was lifted off of me. I had hope, trust and peace again.

We went to the hospital for my 3 o’clock visit. I was very nervous. The nurse was very nice. The OB and midwife came in to perform the EVC. You have to sign an agreement agreeing that if your baby becomes distressed after this procedure, an emergency cesarean would be performed. After all the talking/paperwork signing, the OB said to the midwife, “You grab the baby’s bottom, I will grab the head, and we will slowly turn her around!” It was very painful and uncomfortable, but I was very happy that it was successful after the first try. After this, I asked the midwife to sweep my membranes. That was also very uncomfortable, but I was going to do everything I could possibly do to prevent another cesarean. Per the midwife, I was 1 cm dilated.

I went in for my 39-week checkup on Thursday, January 21st at 4:30 p.m. The appointment went very well. My baby was still head-down. I asked my midwife to sweep my membrane again. She did, and I was still 1 cm dilated. I know everyone has different opinions about membrane sweeping, but this was my choice. On my way out of the midwife’s office, a gentleman walked up to me and said, “Ma’am you are very beautiful.” I said, “Aw thank you” with a smile. I thought he was just being nice. Then he said, “Do you have a husband or boyfriend?” “I have a husband,” I responded. “Oh, okay. Have a nice day,” he said, and walked away. I couldn’t believe he was asking me this. How did he think I got to be 39 weeks pregnant and wobbling to my car? That made my day, though.

The text messages between my doula and me explain what happened the next day….

January 22

8:34 a.m. me: good morning. I had my membrane swept yesterday. I have been up all night with something that feels like cramping and it is very uncomfortable. I am unable to tell if it is actual contractions. Sometimes it feels like it and sometimes it doesn’t. And very painful too

9:09 a.m. doula: comes and goes? Can you feel if your belly gets tight?

9:10 a.m. me: yes, comes and goes. Belly does get tight a little bit.

9:11 a.m. doula: keep drinking water. It could just be irritable but it could turn into something as well. Time how often you feel it. Sorry you were up.

9:13 a.m. me: I have been trying to time it but very irregular

9:14 a.m. doula: ok that’s alright. Just gives you an idea of what was and then you can compare if things change.

9:14 a.m. me: ok, will do.

9:15 a.m. doula: keep breathing slowly and keep me posted. Are you working today?

9:16 a.m. me: no, I called out today.

9:16 a.m. doula: smart. You should alternate rest with walking.

9:22 a.m. me: ok.

When my husband and I took our then-15-month-old daughter to her 15-month checkup, I was still having “contractions.”

5:10 p.m. doula: how did you do today? Did it settle down?

5:13 p.m. me: I was just about to text you. It has gotten worse. Starting to get a little more regular. Every 5 to 10 minutes between 30 and 45 seconds long.

5:20 p.m. doula: oh ok that’s good. Yes? Have you gotten some rest? And are you handling it ok?

5:23 p.m. me: it is good. Haven’t been able to nap yet. I am handling it ok so far.

5:27 p.m. doula: good, try to get some rest! You may be up again if you are going into labor! (Boy, was she right!)

8:35 p.m. doula: so any idea yet if tonight is the night???!

8:36 p.m. me: I think tonight is the night!! Just got out of the bathtub. Contractions are still coming.

8:38 p.m. doula: alright! What is your progress? Any changes from earlier? And that’s a good sign with the bath, because that will usually slow pre labor stuff.

8:42 p.m. me: (sent her a picture of what seems like a mucus plug) sorry if this is gross but I am also starting to poop a lot.

8:43 p.m. doula: oh yeah change is happening. Good hormones on board causing all that. How long are you wanting to wait at home with contractions? Your paperwork is in the car: as long as possible or more like 3-4 min apart?

8:47 p.m. me: probably 3 to 4 minutes. I am starting to need some help focusing.

8:55 p.m. doula: let me know whenever you want me to come – home first or when you go to the hospital.

8:56 p.m. me: ok.

9:31 p.m. me: contractions are pretty close together. Can you come to my house?

9:32 p.m. doula: sure. (Verified address, we had move into a new house). I am under half hour from it.

9:33 p.m. me: yes correct address

9:33 p.m. ok!

My doula got to my house about 15-20 minutes later. When she came in, I was leaning over the kitchen counter. At this time contractions were closer together, but still less than a minute long. When I had the next contraction, she asked me where I felt the pain. I pointed to my lower back, and she proceeded to give me a back massage. I said, “No, don’t touch, don’t touch!” She stopped massaging me. This was very weird because I love getting massages.

When my next contraction came, she very gently rubbed my back in a circular motion. That felt really good and calming. At this point my 15-month-old daughter knew something was wrong—mama was behaving very strangely. She followed me around the living room and even gave me a massage when I was on my hands and knees. My husband took a picture of her giving me a massage. She was very sweet.

An hour or so after my doula arrived at my house, I started having very intense contractions. They were very close together but still less than one minute long. My doula suggested that we head to the hospital before I got too uncomfortable to get in the car. We got in the car and headed for the hospital. I kept telling my husband not to hit any potholes. “I will try not to,” he responded.

We got to the hospital, which was 10 minutes from our house, at about 11 o’clock. We were in the emergency room for Lord knows how long. The receptionist was asking my husband all sorts of questions, while I was sitting in the wheelchair trying not to embarrass myself in front of everyone in the emergency room. I kept having very intense contractions, and my doula was there talking to me and rubbing my back.

On our way up to the triage, the nurse was pushing the wheelchair really quickly. I ask her to stop for a little bit because I had a very intense contraction. “I can’t,” she said,” because you could actually be having the baby right now.” Both my husband and doula said, “She’s not, just slow down please! She did not slow down. I was in too much pain to do or say anything.

The triage was very nice. It was a large room with a birthing tub. I asked if I could get into the birthing tub. The nurse said no because they don’t do VBAC water births. Plus, they needed to monitor my baby’s heart rate until she was out of the womb. At my previous midwife appointment, I asked her if I could get the mobile fetal monitor. “Yes,” she said, and added that to my file. I asked her to add to my file that no one should mention or suggest any pain medication while I was in labor. She said, “Yes, I will put that in big bold letters.”

For the first half-hour that I was in triage, I was attached to the bed monitor while the nurse went to find the mobile monitor. This tells me that not too many people request or uses the mobile monitor. I think we were admitted around 12:00 a.m. The nurse checked me and said, “You are about 1 to 2 cm dilated.” She said she was going to be back in an hour to check my cervix again. I was so disappointed I couldn’t believe that after all the pain I was in, I was still only 1 to 2 cm dilated. Labor was worse when I was lying in the bed. I kept asking for the mobile monitor so I could move around.

I finally got the mobile monitor, and started walking around the room. I sat on the toilet for a little bit, but was too uncomfortable to sit for too long. While I was in the bathroom, my doula found a little stool – probably what women used to climb into the tub for water births. She asked me to put one leg up on the stool and do squats when I got my next contraction. She said it would help open up the cervix, and would help make labor go faster. At this point I would have done anything to make labor go faster! I did some squats.

While doing squats, the nurse came in and said, “Your midwife wants me to wait for another hour before I check your cervix, so I will be back at 2:00 a.m.” I was in too much pain to comprehend anything. I heard my doula say, “That’s good; they’re giving us more time to labor alone.” I felt like labor got about a thousand times harder after doing those squats. I told my doula that I thought I would need an epidural. I was too tired; I hadn’t really slept in over 24 hours. “Okay,” she said; “Let’s see how far you have progressed. If you are at 4 or 5 cm dilated then we can talk about getting an epidural.” She would have talked me out of getting an epidural if I had been 5 cm dilated. She would have said, “You are halfway there. Let’s wait a few more hours to see how far you’ve progressed.

At 2:00 a.m. the nurse came in to check my cervix. I was in so much pain I did not want to be touched at all. I kept saying to my doula, “Just kill me now please. Just kill me now.” Labor was very, very intense at this point. I wanted it to be done. I wanted the pain to stop. Contractions felt like they were a minute apart and a minute long. Between contractions, the nurse checked my cervix. “Wow,” she said, “the cervix is completely gone and I can touch the bulging bag of water.” I was so out of it, I said, “What? Where did the cervix go? Don’t we need the cervix?” She said, “Let me go get the midwife.” At this point my husband had left the room to go get coffee. I wasn’t happy with him about that.

A few minutes later, the midwife came, checked my cervix, and said, “You are 10 cm dilated and I can feel your bag of water.” “Well, can I get an epidural now?” I asked her. “No,” she said, “You are already 10 cm dilated and about to push this baby out.” “Wait, what? I am about to push the baby out?” “Yes,” she said. As she was talking, I felt the bed start to move. I heard, “Let’s take her to room whatever.” As we got into the room, before they could get the bed attached to the wall and get everything situated, I got on my hands and knees. I felt a VERY intense contraction with an involuntary push and my water broke! As soon as that happened, I felt the baby’s head slide into the birth canal. I thought to myself, Oh crap. There is no going back now. I am about to actually birth a baby through my vajayjay!

There was meconium in the water, so my midwife called the NICU and two NICU nurses came in the room. I felt like the room was a little crowed with the two NICU nurses, my nurse, midwife, husband and doula, but I didn’t care. I wanted the baby out! I started pushing. The baby’s head would come out a little bit and then slide back in. I said, “Oh, the baby is going back in.” The midwife said, it’s ok, it will happen for a while.” Apparently, this was normal. I didn’t know. I only pushed with contractions. I was so tired; I had no energy or willpower to push without the intense force of the contraction. Every 1 to 2 minutes, I would say, “Here comes another one,” and would start screaming—I sounded like an animal! I was VERY vocal!

Anytime I would scream, my doula would come close to my ear and say, “Rita, put all the energy down in your bottom.” She would say this as she gently rubbed my back in a circular motion. Her touch was very comforting. At one point I heard the midwife saying, “Soon you are going to feel the ring of fire; just push through it.” Boy, did I feel the ring of fire, and It HURT like none other!!

I pushed on my hands and knees for a long time, then the nurse suggested I lie on my back. I lay on my back, and with maybe 3 VERY hard pushes, my baby girl was OUT!! My midwife said “YOU GOT YOUR PERFECT VBAC!” I kept saying, “I did it. I did it.” I couldn’t believe I had done it. My labor was not in vain. I really believed that I could, and I did it. The placenta followed shortly after. The baby wasn’t crying right away, so the NICU nurses took her to suction her up. This was surprising to me, because the baby was literally kicking on her way out. I could feel her legs still kicking as I was pushing her out. I pushed for 45 mintues. She was born at 2:45 a.m.

While they were suctioning up my baby, the midwife was giving me a few stiches. After they were done they put her on my chest. Oh, that feeling of having your baby placed on your chest is the best feeling in the whole world! She was and is the most beautiful baby ever (she and her sister!). After an hour of being on my chest, they took her off to weigh her. She weighed 7lbs 11.2 ounces and was 21inches long, with an APGAR score of 8/9. My first baby was 7lbs 9.2 ounces, and 21 inches long – almost the same birth weight. We were out of the hospital within 24 hours.

Why did I decide to right this birth story? I was inspired by the other women who wrote their successful VBAC stories. My goal is to encourage other women who are planning to have a VBAC; it is possible. I hope my story is an encouragement to you.

Medication-Free Hospital VBAC

Medication-Free Hospital VBAC

Olivia shares her son Ethan’s birth story ­­– her own triumphant VBAC.

My daughter was born in 2008 via unnecessary cesarean at 40w4d; I never went into labor. I had a very hard time recovering physically and emotionally. I had a hard time bonding with her, and felt guilty for this reason. In the state that I was in, it was only pain. Ever since, I started to read everything I could about VBAC, stories and books, and I found ICAN – the webpage where it was a forum. That’s how I started to educate myself.

Fast forward to October 2015, when we found out we were expecting our second child: a little boy. We were super excited and I was very determined to have a natural, medication-free birth. I found a provider about an hour away from our house. Our local hospital has a VBAC ban; you have to arrive in pushing stage so they won’t make you have a cesarean. But this was a healthy pregnancy; happy mommy-to-be, happy family.

Everything went fine until one point, at 19 weeks, I was late to my doctor’s appointment; when I got there, I was panting and stressed out. For the first time, my blood pressure went high that day: 140/70. It was an isolated event so nobody paid to much attention to it. Then, at 26 weeks, I had another doctor’s appointment; again late, again high blood pressure. I told the nurse to give me a few minutes to calm down, but she took my BP as soon as I walked through that door, and again it was 140/70. And I had some sugar in urine – I had had cake right before I went in.

I was sent to do my 1-hour glucose test, which I failed with bright colors at 160! Automatically they sent me to do the 3-hour test plus the 24-hour urine test. The 3-hour glucose test results came back great, so no gestational diabetes. But I had a high value of protein in my urine: 540. They say over 300 is high, and combined with other symptoms, equals preeclampsia.

My blood pressure never went high again in my entire pregnancy. I previously had protein in my urine (I was a water diver and water polo player for 15 years, had lots of tests, and nobody ever figured out why I had protein in my urine). All other values remained normal, creatinine serum, liver enzymes, BUN value, etc., including my blood pressure. I was already labeled as a potential preeclampsia. I knew I was fine and didn’t have it.

Because of that, they kept a close eye on me, and I was living with constant fear that they would push for a cesarean. I had to have an ultrasound every week from week 36 until I gave birth. I must mention that I REFUSED completely any cervical check the entire pregnancy. We hired an amazing doula, who eventually became our close friend. And finally, the big day came.

I was two days overdue. I always knew somehow that I would go past 40 weeks. That day, I dropped my mother-in-law off at the mall and returned home. I took my daughter and two friends of hers to the pool. The kids were making fun of me, chasing me in the pool so that I would go into labor. They were telling other people that they have to make me swim so my labor will start because I am overdue. It was so much fun. I swam like crazy that day. My husband texted my at some point, telling me that he had a feeling that the baby would come that night.

I got home, took a hot bath, he cooked dinner and we went to bed. It was 10 p.m. At 11:43 p.m. I woke up feeling weird and restless. And I was CRAMPING! I was like, “OMG is this labor?” I couldn’t believe it. It was happening. I was waiting to feel that pain for eight-and-a-half years. Unbelievable. I started to see very light spotting on my underwear. It was my plug (never experienced that before). I texted my doula, and we talked for a while; I had contractions, but they felt like kidney pain or a UTI. I kept asking my doula if it was normal. Boy, I was so silly.

They became regular every 10 minutes, although not too strong. She told me to get some rest. I couldn’t, though, since I was so excited and anxious. She decided to come over. She arrived at 2:30 a.m., brought her kit with her, along with aromatherapy, some stress balls, oils and other stuff. My husband woke up eventually; I was making too much noise walking around, packing and talking on the phone. We sent him back to sleep since this was not going to be that easy and it would take time. My contractions were regular but not strong enough. I started to lose more and more of my plug. I couldn’t sleep at all. My doula took a nap, but I couldn’t. I was thinking that this is not such a big deal (I was so wrong).

The contractions remained constant – every 10 minutes for 45-50 seconds. They were getting more intense. At 10 a.m. I had breakfast and continued to labor on my birthing ball, on the couch, against the kitchen counter, over the sink… everywhere! I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early, because of their time frame regarding births.

At 12 p.m. we decided to go to the hospital, it is a one-hour drive, so we took off. We had a friend picking up our 8-year-old daughter. I had my husband, his mother and my doula with me the whole time.

We got to the hospital and it went very fast with the registration. I got to the triage room and as we waited to get seen by the nurse, my water broke. I was shocked! We were going to have a baby! The nurse came, I refused the cervical check, but she confirmed that my water broke and admitted us. My contractions came every five minutes after that.

We went up to the labor and delivery department. They wanted to start an IV; I refused and told them that I don’t want any intervention, nor anesthesia. I had a hep-lock, for “just in case”.

Because I was a VBAC mom, the hospital required that I was continuously monitored; so I had a wireless monitor so that I could move around. Everybody gave me space, and let my body do its job. The staff was coming to check if I needed anything, and to make sure we were fine. They were great the entire time. Nobody made any pressure; they respected our wishes and were very respectful and polite.

I was laboring on and on and on and on! I had my stress ball, which helped me through each contraction. I surrendered to the pain, embraced it and remained focused at all times. I had only horrible lower back pain (quite in my rectum area) – I never had front pain throughout the entire labor. It was very weird. We thought that the baby was posterior, but it wasn’t!

I walked, danced and bent any way that I could. My doula was putting pressure against my back, while my mother-in-law was putting cold compresses on my forehead as I leaned over my husband. I was for sure in labor land! My body was there, but my mind was in a trance. I was moaning every once in a while. I had my own breathing pattern, which worked great with the contractions.

At 11 p.m. the doctor insisted that she check me, as she wanted to know where I was at. She really insisted, and I had to pick up which fight to fight. So I agreed. After 24 hours of labor, was 4 centimeters! “Good Lord, what I’m going to go through,” I thought! The contractions got stronger and stronger. At 4 a.m. I was checked again and I was at 7-8 centimeters. That was great, but I didn’t really care too much; I was in pain, and I knew that I would make it!

I was so tired the entire time, but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat, either; I had food hidden in my bag, but was not into it. I had a great time chewing ice chips. I had horrible heartburn so I asked for the nurse for some Tums. The morning came; my doula never took her hands of me; she talked to me and helped me relax. I would have not made it without her. My husband and his mother took a nap and I was so jealous of them. I was imagining myself sleeping.

Around 8 a.m., things got way too far and my doula called for the nurse, telling her that she thought I was ready. She could tell that by watching me during contractions. My contractions were so close together that actually I thought it was just one long contraction! It was incredibly long and painful. I kept switching positions, and I used the squatting bar too. The nurse, midwife and a bunch of other staff came in. There was a training midwife, too.

I got checked and I was complete and ready to push. I just didn’t want to push; I wanted to wait for the urge to push (which, by the way, never came). So they told me that I had to since I had been in active labor for 34 hours; I had to get it done. The doctor came; she was an ex-military doctor – a very tough woman, which at the beginning scared the soul out of me. (She was nice, but she was looking very intimidating to me at that stage). She respected all my wishes and was very professional, and she made it happen!

Because of that, my contractions stopped! I couldn’t believe it! After 35 hours! With the baby’s head visible! I had to regroup myself and stop being scared.

She said that I needed a little Pitocin for my contractions to pick up. That was the devil to me. I started to yell that I would not be able to manage the Pitocin without the epidural, and I didn’t want that. I was scared that would stress the baby; and then, after 35 hours of labor, to end up with the cesarean. Well, I had to agree because my contractions stopped completely.

So the Pitocin drip started, but my hep-lock was not properly inserted and nothing actually went into my veins (they figured it out after I gave birth). My doula did nipple stimulation. That’s when my contractions came back again, and I got back on track. I was pushing on my back with my chin tucked in, and holding my thighs. That’s the only position that worked for me. I had a mirror, and was able to see everything while it was happening.

Not a single time had I thought about my scar; I never had pain during labor, and I never had been worried. They offered the oxygen mask, which gladly I took. The head was almost out when I heard the doctor saying, “We have a hand!” His left hand was on his head, just a little bit over the left ear. The head came out and the doctor told me to stop; but I just couldn’t and pushed like my life depended on it. That’s when he came out very quickly, giving me a third-degree tear.

I pushed for two hours, and at 10:18 a.m. on June 22, 2016, baby Ethan was born; at 40w4d, after 36 hours of intense pain and a medication-free labor. He was 8 lbs and 11 oz and 21 inches long. He was right on my chest, purple and full of blood, and he started to cry immediately. The cord stopped pulsing and my husband cut it. Right away the placenta came out.

I started to heavily bleed and the doctor was pressing with one hand on my belly, and with the other one she was cleaning me inside. That’s when I started screaming. That pain was horrible; but she had to. I lost more than 500 ml of blood. She gave me a shot of Pitocin and a rectal Cytotec suppository to cramp the uterus and stop the bleeding. In about seven minutes I was fine; the bleeding had stopped and she started to stitch me up.

It was quite scary for them (I always felt that I was fine); the room was filled with staff, including ICU for my son, but things turned out fine and he nursed right away. My family from Romania (that’s where I’m from) watched the last two hours via FaceTime, so they saw my son coming into this world. Altogether, it was the most amazing experience I had. It was hard work and I had an incredible pain tolerance; I had no idea I was capable of something as huge as Ethan’s birth.

I had my VBAC, I had my healing and victorious birth, and I was so proud of myself. Everybody was cheering and my husband was crying like a baby. I could not have done it without my amazing doula. She was my rock, my shoulder and my mind when I lost my own.

VBAC Birth Story

VBAC Birth Story

Here’s some background about my first labor/birth that ended in a Caesarean:

I planned to deliver at the local birth center. At 41 weeks and 5 days we started induction, with a foley only. I dilated to 8cm before labor stalled. We transferred to the hospital with plans of doing a Pitocin induction, but that never happened – my baby’s heart rate dropped into the 40s and did not come back up. I was on my hands and knees in the bed, and watched the nurse push the code blue button. As a nurse myself, its incredibly surreal hearing a code called and realizing that this time you are the patient. I was rushed to the OR, where I begged for a spinal, and my wish was granted. I got to hear my baby’s first cry, hear what gender HE was, and kiss his sweet face before they took him to the NICU. My 7lb 4oz, 21″ long baby boy was born at 41 weeks and 6 days, after 44 hours of labor, and spent 2 days in the NICU. It was about eight hours until I was able to hold him as I had to wait for the anesthesia to wear off before I could get out of bed. The hardest part was not being able to see my long awaited baby. I had to greet my family without a baby in my arms; I didn’t even know what he looked like.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy.

I was determined to have a different outcome, and found a practice that was extremely supportive of VBACs. I went post dates again and was miserable, terrified that I would never go into labor on my own because I hadn’t with my first. I was emotionally spent. I couldn’t deal with waking up another morning pregnant and going to bed STILL pregnant. At my last appointment I convinced my provider to induce me at 40 weeks and 5 days. I did not feel comfortable going past 41 weeks given my first experience.

Contractions started Friday night (40+3)—maybe every 10-15 minutes. I told my husband to get some sleep, and that I’d be on the couch and would wake him up if things got serious. Contractions were long—at least a minute—which I found encouraging compared to my first labor, where they were only about 45-50 seconds apiece. I had the TV on all night, but I wasn’t paying attention. I had to be upright during contractions and couldn’t tolerate sitting – too much pelvic pressure. I was listening to Hypnobabies “baby come out” for awhile.

I finally forced myself to lie down and sleep when contractions were happening about every 20 minutes or so. When daylight came, nothing was happening, except I was exhausted. This was a familiar experience since the same thing had happened with my son. My husband took our toddler grocery shopping so I could rest. I hardly did anything on Saturday; maybe had a contraction here or there. At 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, I called the hospital to confirm induction and they said it was game on. This is when I’m saying labor truly started (although I didn’t believe it).

I called my mother-in-law and told her to come to our house around 5:15 p.m. When she arrived, I was having contractions that made her and my husband tell me we needed to get to the hospital. I thought they were crazy; contractions were uncomfortable, but I didn’t think it was serious labor. Saying goodbye to my toddler wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be—probably because I was so uncomfortable. When we got near the hospital, my husband asked if we could stop at McDonald’s; I said that was fine, since my contractions were happening every 4-6 minutes.

When we got to the hospital, we parked and I waddled slowly to the lobby. We were early and I was worried they wouldn’t take me because of it. The woman at the desk took one look at me and said, “Let’s get you to your room; you look like you’re in labor. You’re the scheduled induction, right?” I probably looked at her like she was crazy. I was thinking, “Why does everyone think I’m in labor? I’m not!”

I was delighted to see we got a nice labor suite; but the only downside was it had a shower, not a tub. I wasn’t sure if they used the nicer rooms for VBACs or not. The nurses came in and tried to start an IV. She blew my vein after not listening to me as to where to put it. I have good veins. The bruises from that lasted for a few weeks after. The midwife George came in and asked to check me. I was not feeling optimistic. He said, “Well, you’re at a 6 and seem to be contracting well; I don’t see a need for induction.” I was floored and expressed my disbelief. I was still fully expecting to be on Pitocin. George told me he never jokes about a woman’s vagina. I couldn’t believe it. I was 6cm and still didn’t think I was in serious labor! I asked to get in the shower. I labored there on my knees, bent over a bench. The floor was hard so I was kneeling on a towel. This is where my husband asked me if I wanted more kids after this.

I kept shifting positions, and baby was falling off the monitor. I kept asking how baby was, and baby was always perfect. My knees finally got too sore, so I went to the bed. My midwife came in and wanted to check me. I was standing upright and needed something to brace myself on, and he was the nearest sturdy object – so I hugged him tight. He checked me, and I was a 7. That’s when things got serious.

I got in bed and was half kneeling and had the back of the bed completely upright. I couldn’t tolerate being in any other position. Awhile later, the nurses came in and I was struggling. I wanted to climb the walls and pound on the bed. A  nurse offered me pain relief and after discussing it with my husband and my mom, I decided for a Nubain IV. It worked quickly and I started feeling a bit drunk. The nurse asked me to sit down since I was kneeling. I remember thinking, like when you’re drunk, “She knows!” And I asked if I looked that loopy but promised I wouldn’t fall backward.

The Nubain was a godsend. It made things more tolerable, as contractions were on top of each other. I was thinking, “This HAS to be transition…” because I wanted to die—or at least escape from my body. An hour after the Nubain, since I knew it was fairly short-acting, I asked if I could have more when it wore off. The nurse told me that generally it’s a one-time dose; so I decided I wanted an epidural. I was putting it off because I knew I needed a fluid bolus over 30-60 minutes and I was hoping I would run out of time.

I started having doubts like I did with my son, about how I could push a baby out when I could barely think about surviving the contraction. The epidural was administered at 10:30, when I was 8cm. It brought sweet relief. Contractions felt only like Braxton Hicks and I was able to rest. I believe that’s when they broke my water. My husband even took a short nap.

Around 1:45, a bunch of nurses rushed in and started asking me to change positions because baby’s heart rate was down. I had a flashback to my son’s birth and thought, “Well, we tried. I’m going to have another C-section.” My midwife came in, checked me, and said I was complete. I said, “NO WAY, you’re kidding.” He said, “We have been through this before and you need to start believing me!” I laughed then turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “We get to actually have a baby!!”

So pushing began. My mom was holding a leg, and my husband held my head. All too quickly I heard George say that I only need small pushes. I thought, “What?! That means baby is almost here and I’ve hardly even begun to push.” I could also tell from how excited my mom was sounding. So I asked to touch the head and felt her soft, wet hair. I leaned as far forward as I could to see her come out. She was purple and slimy, and A GIRL! I got to announce her gender to the room. She was on my chest immediately. I couldn’t believe it. I got my VBAC and my baby girl. I had a front-zip bra on so I was able to pop my breasts out immediately. She snuggled on my chest for a little, taking in the world. Then she started to crawl towards my left nipple and latched herself right on.

Labor was 9 hours and 42 minutes. I pushed for 16 minutes.

Charlotte was born on Sunday, August 14th at 2:12 a.m., at 40 weeks and 5 days, 7lbs, 3.5oz and 20″ long.

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