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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. 

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

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.

2
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.

3
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.

4
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.

The Healing Birth of Jackson {Natural Hospital VBAC}

The Healing Birth of Jackson {Natural Hospital VBAC}

The birth of our third baby has been so healing, in ways that words cannot fully describe. The heartache and pain of our losses, of our preemie experience and of the surgery that brought our premie into the world has been with me daily. Since delivering our third baby, those pains and the distress they brought have gone. This birth has been such a blessing, and I am amazed and overjoyed at what my body has accomplished. It is such a natural act, yet that is too often taken from us during our experiences of labour and birth. Delivering our son was the most empowering and awesome experience, more than I could have asked for. God has given us such a gift!

I am looking at our precious baby boy and all I can do is smile. The birth was perfect, absolutely amazing and unlike anything I could have imagined! To know just how beautiful this birth was, you have to know about my previous pregnancies and births.

Our daughter Caitlin Rose was delivered 5:09am 30th March 2009. The pregnancy was tough, I needed progesterone injections the whole way to maintain the pregnancy, I had hyperemesis gravidarum and I felt movement super early. We had not planned to have a baby, so it was a great adjustment for us after only 3 months of being together! (And me being told I was infertile…ha!) I had antenatal depression sparked by the shots, and an irritable uterus causing daily painful contractions. There were episodes of bleeding and mucous plug loss, and the whole pregnancy was rather less than enjoyable. I felt overwhelmed at being pregnant and the prospect of being a mum. But that changed the instant I held her in my arms!

The labour was 2 days, she was a posterior baby. Thankfully I laboured mainly at home (well, at the beach, then hosting dinner for my sister-in-laws at home) as I wasn’t convinced I was really in labour. My husband had to demand that I get into the car to drive me to hospital as I wanted to stay home longer. We allowed a student midwife that I had met previously to come to the hospital for the birth, and we had a midwife taking care of us. That was great! We did wind up with a lot of people in the room as our baby girl became distressed and she was stuck for a long time. The staff were being prepped to take me to theatre, thankfully with some hands on assistance (manual dilatation) my student midwife and midwife delivered her.

I had been labouring to my comfort, in the shower, hands and knees, swaying, squatting, however I felt I needed. And we had planned to deliver her in a good position. Unfortunately I was not in a favourable position for the delivery, but we avoided the caesarean so it was a small price to pay. Only 6 hours after arriving and she was in my arms. And she melted my heart! I finally felt right about being a mum, it was such a breathtaking moment for me to have her handed to me. Despite emergency surgery a week following her birth (due to retained placenta) I thought I had experienced a wonderful natural delivery. She was birthed without drugs, and it was a spontaneous vaginal delivery at 37 weeks.

We then conceived a baby shortly after her birth, but the pregnancy was lost. We conceived fraternal twins when our daughter was 5 months old. Sadly we also lost one of the twins, and had a lot of complications during the pregnancy. On top of the daily injections, there was severe hemorrhaging from subchorionic hematomas, PPROM at 18+5 (when we were assured we would lose our surviving baby, thank the Lord that He kept our son safe!) infection and placental abruption. Our boy Jacob Kenneth was delivered via emergency classical (vertical) caesarean at 6:10am on March 2nd 2010. He was just 25 weeks + 2 days. I was in hospital on bed rest from 23+6 until his delivery, as 24 weeks is considered viable here. There was just 3cm of fluid surrounding our son, and as he was breech, we opted for the caesarean. The labour was horrible thanks to hospital staff, and also being strapped to monitors, catheter in place and unable to move with IV lines. When I knew I would be delivering him I called my husband. (I knew as the contractions were quite surprisingly as painful as those of my first labour. The pressure was centred on the cervix but the intensity was the same). As he slept next to me, the doctors on call loudly discussed my situation and the fact that I had refused narcotics to stop the labour. I had already been informed that such drugs would not prevent birth when the mother was already labouring, but could prevent a labour from beginning. I knew I was in labour, so I declined. They insisted that I would cause an unnecessary caesarean and potentially the death of our baby by refusing the drugs. It was very distressing. Another doctor examined me soon after and I was rushed for the caesarean, as I was indeed in labour at 6cm dilated. Because our baby had not flipped, we knew the chance for survival was slightly higher with the caesarean. The surgery was awful, I felt a lot of pain throughout and we did not know if we would be welcoming a live baby or not. He was delivered, we were told he was a boy, then I was left alone as my husband went with our son (and was promptly asked to leave NICU, so our baby and myself were both alone. Hubby didn’t know his rights as a parent to stay with our son at that time). A further 15 weeks and a lot of preemie issues elapsed before I was able to finally take our son home.

So I had now experienced two very different labours and deliveries, and was quite convinced I did not want surgery again. What I did not realize is how different spontaneous vaginal labours could be. When we found out I was pregnant again, I began researching vaginal deliveries after classical caesareans. Months of studying went into this, and many discussions with medical staff. I found Jessica Tiderman’s site Special Scars which prompted us into further research. Between Jessica and another special scar mum, Katie Perez, I was given a lot of support and encouragement. My husband and I decided to try for a vaginal delivery, and conferred with our obstetrician to make this as safe as possible. Our obstetrician was fantastic, he took on our care against hospital policy, and had us sign a waiver after explaining the risks and benefits of a vaginal delivery in our situation. He was always respectful and encouraging while stating his concerns and helping us to create a birth plan. A great change from the experiences we had until he took us on! So we now had a birth plan in place for a vaginal delivery following classical caesarean. We also hired a beautiful doula, who we were hopeful would guide us through this birth.

At 1am on September 26th 2011 I was up walking around the house with contractions. They had been there for over a month, the same pain as my previous labours and could be timed 1-2 minutes apart, lasting 2 minutes. The joys of an irritable uterus! Our baby was beyond engaged and had been for a long time and I was getting around an hour sleep per night. And then my water broke. I had a quick panic when I thought I had peed myself, and then realized my waters had ruptured. So I called my Mum and asked her to come over to watch the kids. We knew they would be fine waking up to my Mum without us being there. Then I woke my husband to let him know it was time to head in. I would have laboured longer at home, but we had decided to head in early in the labour to have the cannula placed in case of complications. We called our doula to let her know we would be heading into hospital as my contractions were steady.

At 3am we left the house and arrived at about 3:30am. A midwife took us through to the maternal and fetal assessment unit. I had to laugh when she insisted that a vaginal exam (which we declined) was necessary for her to let me know if I were in labour or not. I let her know that I would be birthing that day. She asked us about continual fetal monitoring, which we also declined, and a male staff member came in to insert the cannula. He was unable to get it in between the wrist and elbow, so the midwife sent us through to the labour suite where we would try again. I had dropped into a hands and knees position by now to deal with the contractions, and our doula set up the ground for me to be more comfortable. I had to get up and onto the bed to let the man attempt the cannula insertion again, so the bed was set up reclining and I was on my knees leaning against the bedhead.

The contractions were lasting only 45-60 seconds, but they were coming on top of each other. There was a great deal of pressure, which I had only experienced with our other babies when they were descending. This was so different, very intense and more painful, but it much more natural and therefore comforting than my other labours. I extended my arm between each one and gave permission for him to insert the cannula wherever he could find a good vein, as he looked rather panicked about not being able to get it in! The midwife we were assigned bandaged it for me and bloods were taken. The midwife then asked to check the baby with a Doppler, and I agreed.

On the next contraction, I needed to make my way to the shower to cope with the pain. I was surprised at just how painful I was feeling them, it felt like the end of my first labour in comparison and I looked to my doula and told her I wasn’t sure that I could actually get through it this time. I wasn’t stressed, or losing control, just quite aware of how painful they already were and I thought I would need some form of pain relief to get through the rest of the labour. She smiled and said I would do just fine.

Our doula continued with her encouragement and gentle reminders to relax my pelvis and breathe into my belly. Once we were in the shower I was able to focus on the contractions knowing our doula was between the medical staff and my husband and I. That was so important to us, it felt like our birth space was protected by a woman we trusted and felt comfortable with. Very soon I thought I felt the need to empty my bowels, so I asked everyone to leave. The midwife went to get a doppler and my doula asked if I were sure I needed the loo, or if the baby was coming. Both my husband and I thought we had many hours of labour to go, but she insisted I keep my hand close just in case. And she was right! Once my bowels were empty, I realized it was indeed our baby, I made my way back to the shower immediately after the contraction.

I called my husband into the bathroom and knelt down, one hand waiting for our baby, one hand on the floor supporting my weight. The force of the contractions was unbelievable, I finally know what the ejection reflex is! With our other babies, I could not control the pushing, but I could choose to bear down with them or not. This time, I had no control at all over the force. I was aware of how quickly the baby was descending yet I could not lessen the pushing. It was amazing! I delivered the head, which was rather blue just as my daughter’s had been, and I watched our baby turn slightly. It had taken a few pushes to get the head out, but one more forceful contraction and while still guiding the head I delivered the body with my other hand. I was able to bring our baby straight up onto my chest, and discovered that we had another son!

Our doula had notified our midwife of the imminent birth, and two midwives arrived after I had delivered him. One of them was a bit too quick to cut the cord (we had hoped for the benefits of delayed cord clamping) as our son was not yet breathing, despite being attached to the placenta and without any compromise. He cried within seconds of being pulled away from me and was promptly handed back. It was such a beautiful delivery, bringing my own baby up to my chest while my husband was by my side. This was the first birth he had actually witnessed, although he was present for all of them. That was just amazing and still brings tears to my eyes that he was able to watch his wife deliver his baby. It was so lovely to have our doula present also, she gave us both a lot of confidence and I believe having her present allowed my body to relax fully and experience a labour the way it is meant to be. What a wonderful difference to my previous labours!

VBAC

Our son Jackson Lucas was born at 5:08am, September 26th 2011. I was 39+4 weeks into the pregnancy, far further than anyone had expected us to make. We have been abundantly blessed with this birth. The Lord Jesus had such mercy to give us this perfect birth, which has been so healing for me. From a pregnancy that began with the specialists not wanting to prescribe progesterone as they believed I was miscarrying, to make it not just to viability, but to term, was such a relief and a fantastic thing to experience. There had been complications with the pregnancy again, and I was very sick too, but I cannot find a single thing that I would choose to change about the labour. It is surely how I was meant to birth. I needed surgery following the delivery due to retained products that were vascular, resulting in major hemorrhaging (one blood clot alone was 500mL!). I lost 1600mL by the time I was done in theatre. There was talk of a blood transfusion, and iron infusions. But thankfully the Lord saw us through without either as we had chosen to decline them unless I had another large loss. God blessed us greatly with the surgery, as we had our obstetrician take over my care and perform the surgery. My husband had requested him when I became upset at needing surgery, and I am so thankful! Our obstetrician did a wonderful job, and the theatre team were just lovely with me. They had me laughing, and the anesthetist even played music for me on his phone.

vaginal birth after cesearean

When I came out of surgery, I was met with our now qualified midwife who was our student midwife with my first birth. She is a beautiful young woman and it was an absolute pleasure to find her as my nurse. She was also on call the following morning, so she was there to book us out of hospital. It was great to see her and let her see our other children again. Given that the surgery was necessary, I could not have asked for better than to have both our obstetrician and our (ex student) midwife caring for me. And I was able to leave the morning following the birth. It was awesome to walk out of the hospital with my husband and all three of our children. And with my health. My scar was very thin, we saw this on the ultrasound that was performed to confirm the retained products. And my endometrium was presenting unusually. We know we are not willing to have any more children now, as we believe the risks are too high after discussion with our obstetrician. Which makes it so much more meaningful that I was able to experience such a perfect birth. I had asked the Lord for a positive birthing experience for my husband and I. There could have been nothing better than the experience He gave us! No unwanted interventions, no fetal monitoring, no invasive vaginal exams, no managed third stage, and the joy of discovering we had another son for ourselves. Just a birth, completely natural and unassisted. Despite the surgery, and initially needing to express breastmilk again (I had to pump exclusively for both our other children due to tongue tie and prematurity) until our son’s tongue tie was snipped, I am still so thrilled with the delivery. It was painful, it was intense, and it was perfect. There is not a moment of the whole labour I would change. It felt so natural, and to deliver our son into my arms the way I was able to was so beautiful, I wish that every woman could have this kind of experience in childbirth. I am sitting here with my son right now, our other children are in our room sleeping, and the way I feel is amazing. I have no signs of postnatal depression, which I developed very quickly after delivering our other babies. Our son feeds well now and actually sleeps well too, which is a first for us. A nice first! I love wearing him in the sling and sleeping next to him (as we all sleep in our room). He loves it too. I finally understand the term ‘babymoon’ now. I was very scared becoming a mum to our daughter, and the NICU experience was extremely challenging with our son. To have another baby at term, healthy, and thriving is just lovely. And the birth, I will never forget how amazing that felt. The Lord certainly blessed us with His great mercy and kindness!

natural hospital birth

Simple Home Water Birth VBAC

Simple Home Water Birth VBAC

Miranda’s birth story has to start with some background information and a bit of her big brother’s story. We had planned an all-natural, drug-free hospital birth and had taken Bradley Classes when I was pregnant with Dustin. Unfortunately, the hospital staff didn’t like how slow my labor progressed and coerced us into interventions we never wanted. Because of all this, I ended up with a C-section after 28 hours of labor. The recovery was rough, I had a hard time breastfeeding, and I ended up in a really bad spot for a while. I was eventually diagnosed with postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. We had always talked about having 2 kids, but after all this, we weren’t so sure. When we did get back to thinking about a second child, we knew we would do things very differently!

Henna2

Before I even got pregnant this time, I started researching my options and sending preliminary e-mails to local midwives and birth centers. Being a VBAC patient, I knew my choices might be limited. I got plenty of responses saying that they could not take me as a client or that they had extra regulations because of being a VBAC. I was lucky to find a couple midwives (one being a VBAC mom herself) close to my house and we set up an initial consultation soon after we found out I was pregnant. We liked them a lot after the first meeting and decided to definitely go with them after an amazing review from a friend who saw them for her VBAC.

Just like when I was pregnant with Dustin, I had a smooth pregnancy with no complications. The care and prenatal appointments were so much better with midwives, though. They actually got to know us and answered questions and truly listened. We were given options and choices about testing and procedures instead of just being told what things will be done when. The reactions I got from people when the topic of a homebirth and/or VBAC came up ranged from “you guys are crazy!” and “is that really safe?” to “I wish I would have done that!” and “that sounds amazing!”

My due date (August 19) came and went with no signs of anything happening. I was really hoping since this was my second baby she would come earlier, but she had other plans. There was never talk of inductions or anything being “wrong.” We all just waited. The day I hit 41 weeks, we went out for a big breakfast and a small hike. I wanted out of the house and I was really hoping I could get something happening. Still nothing! Early the next morning (August 27, around 2:00), I got up to pee, got back in bed, and felt a gush. This was something new for me; my water didn’t break on its own last time. I wasn’t having any contractions so I grabbed a towel and went back to sleep.

Henna1

Around 3:30am, I got up to get a clean towel and Johnny woke up. He asked how I was doing (he meant sleep-wise since I hadn’t been sleeping well most nights) and I told him about my water breaking. The sound of shock in his voice was great! I still wasn’t having contractions so we both tried getting some more rest. At 4:00 am my contractions started. They were coming every 10 minutes and just after 4:30am, I decided to get up and start getting some things ready. I asked Johnny to start getting the birth tub set up and then all the sudden the contractions were right on top of each other and I wasn’t getting any breaks. I got in the shower for a bit, but it wasn’t helping. I came out to call our midwives, but couldn’t even talk. I handed the phone over to Johnny and went back to the bathroom. It was now 5:15 am. I was moaning through contractions and wondering why they were so strong already. Our midwives showed up one by one between 5:30 and 5:45 am. At this point my body was pushing and I was thinking something was wrong; there’s no way I was actually ready to push, I must be doing something wrong, and this wasn’t going to end well. After a quick check on baby’s heart rate and such, they got me up and helped me to the tub (5:55 am). I got my first cervical check of my pregnancy to find out I was completely dilated with her head right there! I couldn’t believe it! I continued to push on my knees with my upper body resting on the edge of the tub. I kept reaching down to feel the progress of her coming out and it was such an odd but amazing feeling. She was born at 6:32 am and I couldn’t help but to break down crying! I had done it! I got my VBAC and it was the best feeling in the world to be the first to hold my brand new baby!

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We stayed in the tub for a while cuddling and nursing (she latched on within the first 10 min or so). Dustin had slept through all this and had just then woken up. Johnny went and got him and told him what was going on. The look on his face when he saw me in the tub with Miranda was priceless! I delivered the placenta at 7:05 am and Johnny got to cut the cord. At this point Dustin was wandering around with his breakfast, way too distracted to eat. I was helped out of the tub and got into my bed for more snuggle time. We got to spend our first bit of time together as a family of 4 totally relaxed in our own home. Eventually our midwives did Miranda’s first check-up; she was 8 lb, 4 oz and 19 ½ inches (shorter but heavier than Dustin was). I got checked out around the same time and it was confirmed that I had a pretty good tear (I had felt it happen, which in a way was pretty cool since I was so aware of my body and everything that was happening). Our midwives cleaned up, started some laundry, packed up their stuff and after a few final checks, left us to get some rest and start the new piece of our lives.

The difference in recovery has been amazing! Sure, I was pretty sore (mostly from the tear that I later had stitched) and worn out the first few weeks but it was nothing compared to my previous delivery. After my C-section I felt totally broken and defeated; after my VBAC I felt triumphant and, for a lack of better words, bad-ass. I still get excited thinking about how everything happened. On one hand, it’s sad because I know now exactly what I missed out on when Dustin was born, but at the same time this was such a healing experience! I want to tell anyone who will listen my story and convince every pregnant woman to do her research and question everything

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 Blooming Lotus Henna (http://bloominglotushenna.com/), Midwives (http://www.motherseedmidwifery.com/)

A Healing HypnoBirth {Natural Hospital VBAC In Australia}

A Healing HypnoBirth {Natural Hospital VBAC In Australia}

The pregnancy

My birthing journey started long before my labour. In fact, it started before my pregnancy. My first daughter, ‘Moosh’, was born via emergency cesarean after a long labour and traumatic set of circumstances. My grandfather (who I lived with for 15 years) passed away three days before my ‘due’ date, and surges started almost instantly. Six hours later my membranes released, and my daughter was born 42 hours later via emergency cesarean after a huge spiral of intervention: Syntocin, gas, epidural, attempted vacuum before losing her heartbeat and rushing in for a cesarean…  and for almost four years I relived the labour and birth with fear, regret and disappointment, and worked my way through motherhood clouded by birth trauma and post-natal depression. So much so that I thought I wouldn’t be able to face the idea of birthing again, and my partner, Michelle, agreed to birth the next baby – we tried to conceive for a few months in 2011 but after a lot of heartache from both of us we knew it wasn’t what we wanted. She didn’t want to birth, and I desperately wanted to.

So we took a break, and started again in 2012. It was meant to be, and we were pregnant first go! WOW! And OMG! And … what have I done? Now I’ll have to birth. What would I do? My options as I saw them were – scheduled cesarean or VBAC. Initially, I told Michelle I thought I wanted a repeat cesarean  I wanted some control. I thought that a cesarean scheduled by me, planned and orchestrated exactly as I wanted it to be, would be my healing birth. Could I really face the prospect of the same labour as Moosh and then just have it end in another cesarean? Could I deal with that disappointment again?

I knew a VBAC was what I wanted though. But I was so fearful. I was so fearful that I would try and fail, like the first time I tried so hard for the perfect natural birth I wanted to have for myself and Moosh and failed. I tried so hard to justify my choice of a scheduled cesarean to Michelle, who saw right through me and knew it was not what I wanted. It was not what she wanted either; last time, my recovery was long and my depression was deep. I have a lot of friends who have had a VBAC, and so did my mum, and with their support I began planning my VBAC…

I spent a lot of time online, researching the guidelines surrounding VBAC in hospitals in Queensland, Australia. I consulted a private midwife who gave me independent advice, and I also read almost every VBAC story possible on the BWF webapge and also on Birthtalk, a Brisbane support group for mums with birth trauma.

A friend (Cass, who would become my birth support and awesome birth photographer!) had done HypnoBirthing for her two VBAC’s, and that’s where my journey really began. I rang the instructor, Leanne Jackson (www.hypnobirthing.net.au), often with my fears and she eventually (and probably with some frustration and concern that I could truly hold so many fears about birth!) told me that I needed attend the first class NOW, at 20 weeks, because I would not be able to properly plan my calm birth experience until I let go of my first birth. We attended the class and came out of it energised. I felt an instant connection with Leanne and our beliefs aligned perfectly so she was able to talk me through my first birth and explain it in such a way that I felt infinitely better. We continued with the classes two months later, and Michelle and I worked together on the exercises and meditations. The classes were in Beachmere, right on the water, and it felt very peaceful – like my fears could be washed away by the salty breeze and I would be left cleansed. I listened to the birth affirmations often. We were able to be open with each other about our fears and it brought us closer. My birth expectations moved from ‘VBAC’ to ‘calm birth’, and I released my fear of another cesarean  because holding that fear would be silly since it was always a possibility with any birth, although I unfortunately held my fear of not being able to birth. The affirmation I felt strongly drawn to was the one I struggled with the most – ‘I trust my body to know what to do’. How could I trust in this body, that couldn’t even dilate past 4cm without drugs last time…?

My pregnancy was not without a little bit of unwelcome excitement. I got to visit the birth suite multiple times through 2nd and 3rd trimester. I had a small leak of fluid at 24 weeks, which the Ob attributed to an infection, and was told all the worst case scenarios, like pPROM or a uterine infection. I had another fluid loss at 28 weeks. And a bleed at 34 weeks. I had the support of the hospital for my VBAC until 28 weeks, when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and they decided that I probably had undiagnosed GD last time. And then when they saw the weight of my first baby (8lb 6oz – 3790g) they started talking about probable macrosomia and that they would want me to birth by 38/39 weeks. When I went on insulin at 32 weeks, they sent me for a scan and mentioned “delivery around 37/38 weeks”. I worried about the scan, knowing how notoriously inaccurate they are in the third trimester. The whole saga of infection, fluid loss and diabetes made it really difficult for me to embrace my affirmations and trust that my body knew what to do… I mean, quite clearly my body was struggling with the pregnancy. Would it know how to birth when the time came…?

Maternity photo shoot on Bribie Island – 33 weeks
Photos by Jane Gilbey Photography
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My family of three, soon to be four
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But my body was not defective – the 34 week scan worked in my favour, showing a perfectly healthy and average baby on the 63rd percentile. I was tested and had no infections at 34 weeks. After 4 weeks on insulin and weekly acupuncture, my body got its act together and at 36 weeks I was able to come off the insulin, just in the nick of time too! The Obs were happy with it all after that and were generally easily placated at appointments, and I just kept travelling in the direction of my VBAC. I was also having some really good pre-labour that allowed me to practice my HypnoBirthing breathing and meditations.

 At 37+5 the Obs at the hospital wanted to do vaginal exams and strip my membranes. I declined, but consented at 38+5, mostly because I was curious as to whether or not all my pre-labour had amounted to cervical changes. I still had not embraced the trust I needed to have. I was more than a little disappointed with my ‘Modified Bishop Score’ of 1… The strip did nothing, not even any cramping. Little Jellybean was very comfortable. I had another exam at 39+5, my score this time was 3 however my cervix was so high and posterior that this doctor couldn’t even do a stretch and sweep – she could barely do the exam. Ugh! I resigned myself to being pregnant forever, which was unnecessarily dramatic considering I wasn’t even ‘due’ yet… lol

My mum came up the next day – 39+6 – she had taken 5 days off work to come keep me sane. I had asked her, back in April, if she would be one of my support people. Not only because she was my mum, but because she had a successful VBAC in 2001 and having people around me who knew that VBAC was possible was important. She had taken on a lot of work in November and we all worried she wouldn’t be able to be up for the birth, the only time she could get off was these five days… not only that, but my other birth support, Cass, was unavailable at 40+1-40+3… so I had the smallest and most unlikely window of opportunity to birth this baby with both of my support people around me…

My body had sent me lots of signals that I needed to trust that it knew what to do. It grew a perfectly healthy baby, kept the diabetes under control, my blood pressure and weight gain was perfect throughout the whole pregnancy… and at midnight right on 40 weeks my body went into spontaneous labour – only 12 hours after my mum arrived! It’s like my body was saying “HEY, TRUST ME, I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”

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Labouring at home

I had felt some niggles the evening before (39+6), starting at around 8pm. They felt slightly different to the pre-labour I’d been having, but nothing worth getting excited about. We were watching Finding Nemo with Moosh when I said to mum that I felt a bit funny, and she said I was probably dehydrated and that I should have a big drink of water and go to bed. I joked that I was going to wake her up really early and pretend I was in labour, and she said she wouldn’t get up if I did that… I went to bed exhausted (having mowed the lawn that morning, haha!) and slept through what was probably a little bit of early labour until just before midnight when my first intense surge woke me up. I laid in bed, breathing through it, a little shocked to be woken. After another one, I decided to watch the clock for a bit and I had 6 over the course of an hour – 10 minutes apart, all consistently 40 seconds long and a very deep squeezing and pulling sensation that I knew was *it*.

At around 1-2am it was getting uncomfortable to stay in bed so I got up, and messaged Cass because I was excited (although I probably should have just let her sleep!). I woke Michelle up to let her know and she got up with me until 3am, when I sent her back to bed. I sat outside with our gorgeous Labrador Sasha, who sat with me through each surge. It was so peaceful on my rocking chair with my iPod on repeat and my dog-doula at my side. I watched the sun come up and took myself down into a meditation and tried to harness the energy of the new day. Once the sun came up at around 4.30-5am Sasha started to get a bit sooky and whiney and protective, and wanted to sit ON me through the surges, so I went back inside, tried to lay down in bed to rest for a bit but it was quite uncomfortable. Michelle got up with me and we had some ‘together’ time, just hugging and smiling and she massaged my back. The surges were getting a little closer together, coming around 8-9 minutes apart at 6am. I could breathe through them easily without any support or cues, although they were taking a little more effort to focus on the breath rather than the sensations. When I felt one building I felt restless, and I would seek out a quiet spot, a wall or a corner, and close my eyes and go into myself. I remember thinking that I was acting like a labouring cow – literally! – who was trying to find the most isolated and safest part of the paddock to birth in.

At 6am I messaged Cass again, and Michelle and I made pancakes. I woke my mum up, telling her I was in early labour and that there were pancakes if she was hungry. She opened one eye, said “yeah right”, and rolled back over. HAHA! I said “no, mum, I’m serious…”, but she wasn’t convinced. I heard Michelle laughing in the kitchen, and I called out “I don’t know what I can do to make her believe me… maybe if I just have the baby right now…?!”. Mum eventually got up after my next surge, still not fully convinced! We ate pancakes between surges, and Michelle called her sister to get her to come and take Moosh.

Things frustratingly slowed down when Moosh got up, and then again when Michelle’s sister arrived to take Moosh at around 7-8am. I needed them out of the house, and Michelle could sense this, so she sent them away quickly. Things stayed around 10-15 minutes apart for an hour or two. I got cranky and had a cry, thinking it was all just pre-labour, doubting my body again. I walked around the garden, and then had a nap. Michelle sneakily messaged Cass and told her we needed her to come, even though I kept saying that I wasn’t ready to have anyone else here. Things picked back up around 10am(ish) when I got on the treadmill and did a slow walk for 30 minutes. The surges were getting more intense and I needed the physical cue of someone’s hand on my neck – my HypnoBirthing cue to relax and breathe. Michelle or my mum would jump in as soon as they noticed a surge coming on and keep their hand on my neck until I was ready for them to let go.

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Cass arrived and things were getting faster again. Michelle, mum and Cass made spinach and fetta pie for lunch and things were going quickly at this stage. Cass kept saying that we might need to go before lunch was ready, which made me excited to think I might be close to birthing. Things were getting more intense but not difficult to work through. I remember being like a restless cow during this stage again, and retreated to various parts of the house during a surge. Cass had her camera and was taking photos; during a surge I was oblivious to the sound of the camera, but if I was coming out of one and I heard the shutter I would have a little giggle and feel self-conscious.

Lunch time, and me in awe of the changes my body was going through
– as labour progressed, the top of my belly got squishier and squishier as my baby moved down
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Mum supporting me through a surge as Shel looks on
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We were still home when the pie was done, and I ate even though I wasn’t overly hungry, knowing it was important to keep my energy up. Things slowed down again. I was worried about the position of the baby – it felt like she was pushing down on the front of my pelvis and I worried she was stuck at the top. It reminded me of my labour with Moosh. I chucked a little tanty, and had a cry because I thought maybe my body wasn’t going to let my baby move down and out. I got cranky, then Cass got cranky that I kept comparing this labour to my last labour. I had another little nap, cranky and frustrated. Not a long nap, because I’d told everyone that I needed them to make me stay upright and active.

Things picked up very quickly after my nap. I vaguely recall vomiting a few times and moving around the house a lot, between midday and 4pm, and at around 4pm-ish I had ate again. Things got really intense from there and I didn’t have much of a concept of time, as I stayed inside myself. I was quite vocal, and found that focusing and visualising the sound moving down and out through my cervix helped get through each surge. I used an affirmation card that a friend made for me as a focus point, and that helped a lot.

Sarah made this affirmation card for me from a photo she took
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birth affirmation

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I had planned to stay quiet and calm, because last time when I got vocal I actually ended up hysterical and losing it emotionally, but it was different this time – vocalising felt like a natural response to the surges and making the low ‘ahhhhhhhhh’ moans made me feel more grounded and connected, so I just went with it. I needed a lot of touch and cues to breathe, relax, shoulders down. Cass said I was like an octopus, and they knew I was having a surge when I threw my arms around trying to reach for someone. I felt like I was in a safe bubble when I was near Michelle, and burying my head in her shoulder during a surge was where I felt safe and relaxed. I think at one point everyone thought I’d have the baby at home, and Cass actually whispered to me “do you plan on having the baby at home” and I laughed although I’m sure it was a totally serious question. I didn’t plan on it, although she knew I wouldn’t have minded!

My mum behind me with hands on my shoulders (HypnoBirthing cue to relax)
and Michelle in front of me holding my hands and my iPod
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Safety in my partner’s arms
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There came a point, around 8-9pm where I went through my ‘crisis point’. I was convinced I wasn’t in ‘real’ labour. Hilariously, I also decided that I had had enough of being in labour, because it was too hard. Transition is very funny in hindsight! The surges were tight, and stretchy, and pully, and lots of pressure. I felt movement down, and fullness. I lost it for a bit, vomited a few times, cried, and decided I wasn’t in labour, that if I went to the hospital they’d say that nothing was happening. I had a split second where I was squatting next to my bed in between surges and I contemplated just going to the hospital to have another caesarean because I didn’t want to do this anymore. I remember saying that I was going to crawl under the bed and hide. Then I wanted to hide in my walk-in wardrobe. It seemed totally logical to me that I could just run away and hide from it all in a dark corner!

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A few surges were painful as I battled the thoughts in my head and let fear and tension take over. I dreaded each of those surges and fought the build up instead of relaxing and breathing. I am grateful that I was able to use the Hypnobirthing techniques and my whole labour wasn’t like that!!! Except for the few times when I resisted a surge and tensed up, the rest of my labour was very intense and pully and crampy, but not painful.

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I’m not sure how long that lasted, maybe an hour or two, but once I had recomposed myself I remember knowing that now was it. I knew I needed to be in the place where I was going to birth. I was ready to get in the car and go to the hospital. In fact, I said I was ready to go, and then I was sitting in the car with mum wondering why Michelle and Cass were taking so long. Luckily they didn’t tell me why they were taking their time – Michelle had rung the hospital and the midwife said since my surges weren’t very close together then it was probably a bit early to go to the hospital. That would have definitely shattered my confidence and Michelle knew it.

Labouring in the hospital

The drive to the hospital was bliss. I was expecting an excruciating ride but with my iPod and holding my mum’s hand I enjoyed the bumps and turns and used them to focus on instead of the power of each surge. The drive was so easy I was worried that maybe it really was just pre-labour, or at most early labour, and I contemplated telling Michelle to just drive around for a bit as I was so comfortable. We arrived at the hospital and I had a surge at the car, and another in the lift. I stood in the lift as someone held the door open until I was done.

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We got to the birth suite at about 10.30pm, and I felt nervous. I smiled at the midwife and felt suddenly very self-conscious that I wasn’t wearing a bra! Bit silly considering how much she would see eventually… The midwife showed us to the birth suite, and had a quick chat between another surge. She stood and watched a surge, and I felt ‘watched’ and quite uncomfortable… where was my dark corner!?! Last time I could barely find a midwife when I needed one, and this midwife was in the room, sitting and watching us, more often than she was out of the room! She took my birth intentions sheet, and told us she’d be back in a bit. She read it, and it was evident in everything that she did. After the birth another midwife on the ward told me I had “hit the jackpot” with that midwife, apparently she was a bit of a VBAC queen and had no fear of the Obs, and it showed! It was around 10.30-11pm when she did an exam. We had on our birth intentions sheet that Michelle would be the only one to tell me the results of any exams, so they went out of the room and then came back in and they both had massive smiles on their faces so I knew something was right! I cried when Michelle told me I was 8cm, that her head was “right there”, and that there was a lot of pressure and my membranes would probably rupture very soon. MY BODY WAS WORKING! I felt renewed strength, pride and a bit of awe at the amazing work my body and baby had done. And the emotional work I had done to get that far.

Relaxed at the hospital @ 8-9cm
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Initial monitoring showed a happy baby, and the midwife was happy to allow me to be off the monitoring and go to the toilet. The monitoring didn’t bother me like I worried that it would – I didn’t even notice it and the sound of the heartbeat was a good focal point – and they were happy for me to stand and move so I agreed to go back on. I didn’t really want to move around, I just wanted to be up and off the bed, and the midwife brought the birth stool over and I had a lovely little corner set up for me.

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My waters released a little bit after and there was meconium in there, so the midwife told me that there might have to be a slight change of plans. I waited for her to say that I would need a caesarean, but she just said that the baby would need suctioning at birth by the paediatrician, but that she would just be across the room and she would be brought back to me straight away. I worried for a bit about if she would be ok, but both mum and Cass were quick to reassure Michelle and I that it wasn’t all bad, and that both of them had dealt with VBAC bubs born through meconium liquor, and all had turned out ok. The midwife also mentioned that the monitors showed that she was still happy inside so we were right to keep going for the VBAC. I felt a bit better after that – knowing she was ok on the monitors and knowing that the midwife was really working with me to help me achieve my VBAC.

A short time later the midwife noticed that the baby was having decelerations after each contraction had finished, which is a sign of distress. The midwife told me that she unfortunately had to inform the Obs about the decelerations (I think she actually used the words unfortunately – she was a pretty awesome midwife!). I was on the (space age) birth stool which was quite comfortable, but she encouraged me to change positions which seemed to help a little so it seemed bub hated the birth stool. With the position change the decelerations seemed to go away, and I remember hearing the midwife say that to the Ob, and I think they were a bit happier knowing that.

I stood for a while and then my body felt very, very pushy about two hours in, and with each surge I could feel myself bear down with a force that was almost unstoppable. It felt good, and right, and seemed to work with the intensity of each surge so I went with it. I remember the pressure, and my legs going shaky. I really wanted to be on the birth stool, so a close second was having someone behind me supporting my weight under my arms while my body took over to try and get this baby out. It was two hours after my initial exam and the midwife asked to do another exam, which I let her do, and she took Michelle outside and told Michelle that I was only 9cm and if I kept pushing my cervix might swell and stop dilating. Michelle came back in the room and just said “you have to stop pushing”.

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HOLY CRAP? Are you serious? Stop pushing. I don’t think I have ever done anything so difficult in all my life. Everyone coached me through breathing away the pushing feeling. Cass was across the room for one surge where I found the pushing instinct almost impossible to stop, and she yelled at me “LEASH! BREATHE!” and it echoed in my head, it was all I could hear. I screamed back at her “I’M TRYING!”. That seemed to help actually, as I forced the energy up and away with my voice instead of down and out.  Oh my goodness I was trying. I was trying to focus on my breath, and I was repeating over and over “Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.”  It felt like hours and hours, but apparently it was barely 20 minutes before the Ob came on the check me.

The  Ob did the exam… I remember screaming at her to stop about a million times. I considered kicking her away. Then I seriously considered kicking her very hard in the head. Whatever she was doing HURT. I growled “affirmations. AFFIRMATIONS!!!”; Michelle turned on my HypnoBirthing affirmations and I focused on the voice coming through the iPod and tuned out everything else… I didn’t know at the time, but she thought she felt an ear presenting, and so that warranted an exam that felt like she was poking me with a million red hot irons for hours. I’m glad I didn’t know that she thought it was an ear, because the caesarean birth was the result of asynclitic presentation, and I didn’t need that kind of déjà vu. In reality, the exam probably only took a minute, but it seriously HURT. But the good news was that I was 10cm, and it WASN’T an ear presenting, and we were good to go.

The midwife told me that even though she knew I wanted to birth gently and use Hypnobirthing techniques to breathe the baby down in our own time, that the Obs were starting to get antsy and were putting us on a time limit of an hour. I had one hour to push her out. She said “I want you to really push. You will push this baby out”. To be honest, I was happy to push, my body really wanted to push, and I wanted this baby coming out of my vagina. We had an hour. “Tell me what to do.” I said. And so we began…

The birth

1.20am, 40w1d, I started to push out my baby girl. It felt awesome, and terrifying! The midwife watched the surges, reminding me to breathe, to push down and out not up and away, not to use my voice.  I could feel my baby inside moving down, making teeny tiny progress with each wave. The midwife said “pushing is like two steps forward and one step back” which frustrated me because I felt like I was giving it everything but only making tiny steps, and then hearing that afterwards it was going BACKWARDS! Ugh! I was still also only have surges every 4-5 minutes, and I was pushing from very high, which apparently was going to make it a bit more challenging, plus the fact that we were on a time limit. I remember Lyn mentioning the ‘2 in 10’ surges, although another midwife just said “I’ve seen that done before”, and it made me feel better and it wasn’t mentioned again. I decided to merge the coached pushing with Hypnobirthing, in between surges I relaxed and focused my energy at keeping her where she was so I didn’t feel like I was starting back at square one every time I started pushing. It seemed to work because the surge after I started doing that Lyn got excited and told everyone to look, and there was a head.

Pushing, while listening to affirmations
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Resting between surges, using Hypnobirthing breathing to try and keep the baby from going back upIMG_7048RBW

Lyn told me to reach down, and I touched her head. It felt familiar; as I reached down to touch the smooth hard bones of her skull, something in me knew what it would feel like. It was exactly like a dream I had during pregnancy: of a VBAC, where I had reached down and was the first one to touch my baby. In between a surge the midwife ran out and came back with a mirror, and I saw the weirdest sight I’ve ever seen. There was a tiny flash of white emerging, the head I had touched a moment ago. It was white, covered in vernix, and pointy, which in hindsight was obviously her skull overlapping to fit down. I told everyone that it looked wrong, and I asked if the baby was ok – she was fine, of course.  Lyn looked at me and said “no going back now, this baby is coming out of your vagina!” and I don’t know if I smiled at the time but on the inside I was wearing the biggest grin in my life! I reached down and touched her head, it was smooth and hard, and again I felt renewed energy. A VBAC! My VBAC! I was going to birth my baby! She said the exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time.

Michelle whispering “you’re going to do it, you can do it, you’re going to have a VBAC”
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The Obs were getting itchy fingers around now I think, but it felt like the midwife had built a wall around me, to protect my birthing space. She said to me very seriously “Alisia, I need you to look at me, I need you to hear what I’m saying.” She told me she wanted to do an episiotomy. On my birth plan I specifically stated that under no circumstances could they cut me without good reason and my explicit permission. She explained what she was seeing as I pushed, a colour change which indicated that I would likely tear. She also said that I had been pushing for a while (I think around an hour), the Obs would come in soon and they would want to use the vacuum to pull her out. I shut my eyes and thought. I could feel I was being held back, there was something I couldn’t push past and this time it was a physical barrier not a mental one. I trusted her judgement; everything she had done was with respect and with reference to my birthing intentions. I felt like she wouldn’t have done anything that wasn’t necessary for me to have this VBAC… she said “Alisia, I need you to tell me what to do.” I answered: “Ok. Yes, ok.”

I felt relief after the cut, and I knew it was right. Cass got a photo of it, fascinating but cringe-worthy. The Obs came in and asked how long I had been pushing for, and the midwife said to me “this contraction Alisia, she is coming out in this contraction, use the pain and push her out”. I pushed so hard, and made some good progress, but she wasn’t coming out in this one. I opened my eyes and said “sorry, I’m trying!” and then I saw the Ob holding the vacuum. The midwife said “THIS ONE! Alisia! Do it! Don’t let the doctors steal your thunder! We’re having a baby right now! Do it!”. I gave the biggest push I’d ever given, with power I didn’t even know I had, and I felt her move quickly down and at the time I was sure they were using the vacuum because I didn’t think I had that much power in me to move her so quickly. The midwife told me to stop pushing and breathe like I was blowing out candles. And then I felt it. I stretched. I was fairly sure I was splitting in half in all directions. The midwife supported my baby, and I felt her turn – I think the midwife helped her turn – and then heard her say “another big push now”, and I did and I felt suddenly empty, and an intense rush of relief and exhaustion and exhilaration. I breathed and sighed, and I knew it was over.

And then I heard it. Her cry. And I looked down, and there was a baby, laying there on the bed. A beautiful bloody vernix covered little mess, arms out, fists clenched, eyes closed, practically bald, and making the most beautiful sound in the world. And it hit me. I did it. A baby! Look what I did! I did it! And I birthed her! I pushed her out! No vacuum! No pain relief! No drugs! Just me, and my body! And there she is! My baby! Making the most amazing sound in the world! I did it. She just came out of me! I got her out. I JUST HAD A VBAC! Nothing else existed, and it felt like hours that I stared at her, but it was a matter of seconds. They quickly moved her away to suction her, and all of a sudden I had everyone on me, hugging me, and all I could hear was her little newborn cry and everyone around me saying “you did it!”. I could feel Michelle’s hand on my head, I felt her kissing my forehead, tears in her eyes. I heard my mum cry and say “Leash, you did it, look what you did!”.

The moment I saw my baby for the first time
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I came back to reality as I heard Lyn tell someone else not to give me the Syntocin injection because I wanted a physiological third stage (as per my birth intentions). She looked slightly concerned. “Do you think I need it?” I asked her. She said yes. I sensed some sort of commotion, and told her to do what she needed to do. I looked for my baby, thinking the commotion was for her and I felt sick thinking that something was wrong, but there she was across the room, looking amazing and crying perfectly on the resuscitation table. It was a few seconds before I realised the commotion was surrounding me. I was bleeding, a lot, and it wasn’t slowing down. I was told later that the Ob was scooping blood off the bed with her hands and into a bowl, there was quite a bit. They gave me the injection, and worked at getting the placenta out; it was difficult to get out. There was a rush to get it out because apparently the bleeding would stop or at least slow once it had fully separated and been birthed.

And they brought my baby back quickly, and we had skin-to-skin. She was there, on me, and it felt amazing and awkward. She was calm, so calm, with her eyes wide open. I wanted to hold her forever but I told them I needed someone to take the baby because I felt dizzy. Apparently that created panic stations, and people jumped out of cupboards (not really, but it seemed like people came from everywhere). I had lost a lot of blood and the placenta still wasn’t coming. They hooked up a bag of oxytocin to a cannula in one arm, someone putting another line into my other arm and hooking up something else. There was pushing on my stomach. The Ob was being a bitch again and sticking things in awkward places to stop the bleeding, and I protested half-heartedly by crying out “OW” every time she came near me. I think she apologised, but I’m sure she enjoyed torturing me. I lost 800mL of blood but the haemorrhage eventually stopped and the room was calm again. I started to feel better, and they brought my baby back to me.

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The Ob told me I had tore a little beyond the cut and that it was now considered a third degree tear and they wanted to repair it in surgery under spinal anaesthetic. She was going to repair the tear herself, and I remember thinking that she probably would have preferred to do it without any anaesthetic because at this stage I was fairly certain she was an extreme sadist…

I breastfed as they did their preparations for surgery. She latched on so perfectly one of the midwives told me they could use her lips in an ad for Special K. I felt proud that she had got it so right first go. They asked a million questions getting things ready for surgery, things that I honestly couldn’t have cared less about. Yes, knowing if I have ever had a reaction under anaesthetic is important, but didn’t they know I just had a baby? Half the time all I could hear was noise coming out of their mouth and I just nodded as I stared at my wonderful baby and enjoyed the moment with Michelle. I couldn’t believe how much she looked like Moosh, except that she seemed so much smaller! They said they were ready and Michelle took the baby, unnamed at this stage but very much loved already. The wheeled me in, and gave me the spinal. I kept doing my HypnoBirthing breathing, and it helped during the surgery. They thought I was asleep and were talking about whether my stats reflected that I was asleep – it surprised them when I opened my eyes and said, “no, I’m just doing my HypnoBirthing breathing” and closed my eyes again.

I stayed in recovery for 20 minutes, and they brought me back to the room. I could hear my baby crying as I was wheeled up the hall and I had tears in my eyes hearing her cry, and the intense need to hold her was overwhelming. It was almost 5am, and I could see the sun was already coming up. What a beautiful day! I was wheeled past the visitor area where Michelle and mum were waiting, and into the next room. They followed in after, and the midwife gave me my baby and all was right in my world again. Michelle told me that she was born at 2.34am, 4 hours after arriving at the hospital, and was a gorgeous 7lb 9oz (3438g).

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Michelle with our baby while I was in surgery
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Moosh meeting her little sisterJandC

I’m so thankful for the HypnoBirthing, which helped me stay calm and in control, even when unexpected twists and turns popped up. People ask how the birth was and I just say “perfect”. I was respected, I was supported, and I was safe. I had a support team who were responsive and knew exactly what I needed at every step, I had a midwife who respected us and worked with us through the different turns birthing took. I had a body that worked perfectly. I worked so hard for so long to prepare for this calm birth experience. I am so happy. I am so proud. I am healed.

My family, now complete
beach maternity Jane Gilbey Photography
siblings

Maternity and newborn photos were taken by Jane Gilbey Photography

Labour and birth photos were taken by my great friend and birth support person, Cassandra Hoffmann.

Article written by Alisia Cameron, wife and mum of two.

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