A Long Hospital VBAC: A Learning Experience

I just adore this mama. Brianna wanted a VBAC so bad and was willing to work with the hospital to have one. As you read through her birth story, she made choices that felt right at the time, but realized had outcomes she did not like. It’s great she shares this as other women can learn from her experience. I know what it’s like to birth a baby facing sideways. She is a rockstar! Thank you Brianna for your great sense of humor and being so honest in sharing the details of Callen’s birth! ~Mrs. BWF

The Birth of Callen Rhys Barker

Well, lets see… Aidan had come 6 weeks early, so when I surpassed that and was still going strong, I felt like a ticking time bomb.  I never thought I would make it to my due date!  But that’s what I get for thinking, isn’t it?  I had been 90% effaced for weeks and dilated to a 1.  I had been trying to speed things along with any and everything I could think of.  Walking, squatting, curb walking, walking,  yoga, spicy food, walking,  Labor cookies, evening primrose oil, etc  Did I mention walking?!

I was walking the perimeter of my driveway a billion times while Aidan played outside on his bicycle and scooter.  I had contractions… oh yes, oodles of them, but they wouldn’t kick it up a notch. they weren’t consistent and weren’t increasing in frequency or intensity.

FINALLY on the day before my due day on 10-8-10 I felt a shift.  I could tell that things were getting really consistent and started to get more painful, though nothing detrimental and  not as close together as I’d hoped.  So, I tried to walk them up.  It worked OK, but as it got later I just didn’t think I was far enough along to go to the hospital. I tried to settle in and get some rest.

I contracted through the night, but could rest through most of them, only being awakened by a couple.  The next day I continued to get everything ready, and still walked.  Then Kirk (husband) got home and we went to the mall to walk some more.  I power-huffed it for 2+ hours and my contractions started to get closer together… 3-4minutes.  I was happy, but so scared to stop walking!  I was afraid they’d slow back down to the 8-10 minutes I’d been stuck at.  So I didn’t!!!

When we got home I walked and worked and packed, and paced. Went outside and walked back and forth on my porch like a mad woman. I called my people to tell them this may be it!  I’m sure my neighbors got a kick out of the huge preggo walking in circles.  They were getting close to 2-3 minutes apart at that point, so we decided it was time to go.  In retrospect, I definitely should have waited longer at home.

So at about 11 p.m. we headed to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob’s house to drop Aidan off with his little backpack.  He was very excited, but also very sleepy!  Then we were off to Huntsville Hospital.  We got checked in, and I met my first nurse, who was very very nice!  She checked me, and I was only a 2…. OH I wanted to cry!  But then she said “There, I just stretched you to a 4!”  I was confused, but happy with that.  She said that I had bands of fibrous scar tissue in my cervix.  I told her I had a LEEP procedure done years ago and that must be what it’s from.  I never thought about it causing me problems in my birth!  I’d even asked my OB if it would cause problems. They mentioned the possibility of incompetent cervix, but nothing about scar tissue hindering dilation!

Aidan was born c-section (breech), and I was attempting a natural VBAC with Callen.  I had my 3 page birth plan and all my gadgets and gizmos… heating pads, rice sock, back massager, iHome… I was serious!  They got me hooked up to the monitors (WIRELESS telemetry that I requested), which was awesome, because I could still move around while I labored!  I got up and walked some more around my room, sat on the ball and listened to music. My mom and her church friend Sherri got there in the next few hours, rushing like they were going to miss something.  Poor things should have waited.


So, hours and hours pass, probably 6 or 7 and I’m still at a 4. Ohhhh it’s disappointing and I get scared of the scary c-section that seems to loom over my head!  I find out my doctor is not on call, but Dr. McMitchens is. He finally comes to see me around 9. “He’s not a morning person,” the nurse tells me… lol.  Great.  He wants to see if we break my water if that will speed things up.  I mentioned something about my birth plan, and I can tell he doesn’t like me… or my plan.  I told him I needed to think about it, which I did and discussed with my family for a while, and then decided to go ahead and let him break my water.

The contractions definitely feel different after your water’s broken!  I was trying to stay on top of the pain, prepare for it and ride the contractions out.  I ended up closing my eyes and kind of humming through them. It wasn’t a planned technique, really more instinctual.  I needed someone with me and someone touching me during contractions. It really got hard to speak.

As I labored on through the day, it was getting harder and harder, and with each cervical check I was getting very discouraged!  These scar tissue bands were not letting my cervix dilate!  Finally, with my 2nd nurse I was at a 5… ugh.  This was getting later on into the evening now of 10-10-10.  So they check me again and I’m still a 5… this is my 3rd nurse, and boy is she a gem.  I think if it weren’t for her, things wouldn’t have gone so well for me.  She really had my back, even called my room after Callen and I moved to a different floor!

She tells me that she can feel this band of tissue, and if she could just break through it, I could dilate more. But that it would really hurt and she didn’t want to do it because I didn’t have an epidural. (Although this nurse was great, I wish she had stuck to my birth plan and not suggested any of this.) I decided to get a little narcotic pain medicine so I could rest knowing how much further I had to go and how exhausted I was. There wasn’t much hope of me lasting.

breech cesarean

I regret all of that walking, I felt these contraction in my HIPS sooo badly and shooting down into my legs, which were all so exhausted and in pain from the walking, I know that didn’t help.  So they gave me the meds and I drifted off to sleep, only to be awoken by the searing pain. It scared the @$#% out of me!  I would be so deeply asleep and out of it that when the contraction hit, I wouldn’t know where I was, or what was going on… just the PAIN.  By that time I couldn’t get “on top of it.”  I couldn’t handle it, and ride it out, or breath. or hum. All I could do was cry.

I don’t remember it all very well, but it was scary.  I wish I hadn’t gotten the narcotics, lets just say that.  So as I was wigging out, I told Kirk I wanted the epidural.  I wonder how things would have gone if I never got the narcotics, but as long of a labor as I ended up having… I’m not sure if I would have had the energy to push him out if I hadn’t gotten some rest.

So, I got the epidural at about midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning. I had been laboring at the hospital for 24 hours.  Also she broke through another set of scar tissue bands. I got some rest, thank GOD.  Then I started approaching the 24 hrs with my water broken timeline.  The nurse asked the doc on call (still jerk dude) if I could have some antibiotics just in case… and he refused.  She told me he didn’t like it when people came in and were in charge of their own care like I was, and that most of the nurses didn’t like him. Pretty much…he sucked.

The epidural slowed my contractions down some, which is what I was afraid of.  So I tried as many different positions as I could to get him to move on down and me to dilate. I labored all through Sunday, had to change nurses AGAIN, my awesome nurse had to go home. I was so sad.

Monday, I had a pregnant nurse!  She was sweet too.  And LOW and behold, my doctor was on call!  THANK YOU LORD!  He came in to see me, and because I had now gotten a fever, (thanks jerk doctor), he started me on antibiotics. We talked about pitocin, and how if we could just hold out a little bit more and see what happens, he’d love to avoid it, but in a couple of hours if I hadn’t progressed we’d have to maybe push a little pitocin.

Well, I started feeling some pressure. They checked me and I was 9cm.  I was so happy! I could see my VBAC in site now!  They started flipping me from side to side, making him come on down!  And then I felt the infamous “feel like I have to poop” feeling, and I knew it was time.  They got everything set up, I kicked everyone out but me and Kirk.  And about noon Monday 10-11-10 I started to push, and continued to do so for an hour and 45 minutes.

breech cesarean

I remember when he crowned… oh the pain!  I couldn’t get him out and had to wait for 2 more contraction to come They had slowed way down at that point, so those final moments of waiting were like OH MY GAH ouch.  But then he was out!  1:45p.m. 7 lbs 2 oz 19.5 inches.   He was delivered facing my right leg, Left Occiput Anterior, and was also Asyclitic meaning his head was cocked sideways. That’s why the doctor said it took so long to push him out. He said that if he’d been facing down I’d have had him out in 15 minutes, and that this made it like pushing out a 9 ½ lb baby.

breech cesarean

vaginal birth after cesarean and breech cesarean

breech vbac birth

They put my sweet baby boy right up on my chest… I tell you… there is nothing like that.  He was so worth every minute of the 39 hours I was in labor!  The VBAC was amazing!  They took him to clean him up, though he was slick as a button, and he had a bit of trouble with a little gaspy sound he was making. They suctioned out a big chunk of mucous and he was fine.  Breastfed immediately. He knew exactly what he was doing, it was amazing!  He pooped 3 times before we left the delivery suite!  That made me so thankful he didn’t pass meconium in utero!  I am so happy I got my VBAC!

hospital birth

The recovery has been wonderful, even with a 2nd degree tear compared to a c-section recovery!  I could hold my baby immediately, breastfeed him, get out of bed and care for him and myself, walk to the nursery window when the doctor had to check him. It was all amazing and Callen is a wonderful baby!  He is so good and happy!  We are already thinking about when our next one will be!


  • Elizabeth

    This is such an inspiring story!! Thank you for sharing!! I will be trying for a vbac in April. You have made me feel much more confident!! 🙂

  • LaurynBrook Johnson

    Bri, you know how I feel about you and you know I think you are a ROCKSTAR! Sure there are things you would do differently but at the time, in the moment you did what you felt was right, and you held out for the VBAC you knew you could have and that you deserved! You’ve help in my in TTC journey just about more than anyone else. Thank you for always being so ready to share wisdom as well as an encouraging word! I know when Barker baby 3 gets here it will be just as empowering and amazing as this birth! <3 you so much!

  • Paige Martin

    You are amazing and a wonderful mom!! Aidan and Callen are two very lucky children to have you and Kirk! I am so proud of all of you!

    So much love,

    Aunt Paige

  • Alyssa

    I am so proud to call you one of my bestest best friends ever!! I love you & couldn’t be more proud of the mother that you are!! I love you & those precious boys & the precious babies to come!!!

  • Jessica

    Which hospital did she go to? I would love to know exactly what kind of wireless fetal monitoring system they used. Is this something I could get for myself?

    • Brianna

      I was at Huntsville Hospital. The wireless telemetry was available at request because not all rooms were wired for it. It was just like normal monitoring with 2 bands on my belly holding the two circular devices on. One for measuring contractions and one for fetal heart rate. The only difference was it transmitted the information wirelessly to the machine in the room so I could walk around and move. They do have a battery life though… Mine died about 24hrs in FYI.

  • Kelly

    Oh my goodness !!! Thankyou ever so much for sharing this amazing story hun.
    I met an amazing person via a mummy forum who went for the VBAC herself and it made me want to go for one (hopefully) for our future bub.
    This was an amazing story to share and brought tears to my eyes.

    Definitely love the idea of the wireless part.

  • Mandy

    I love the wireless monitor! 🙂 I’m in Huntsville, and trying to find out a little bit about what options they have for delivery. I had my first there nine years ago! With this one, I have a much better idea of what I’d like!

  • Diana

    Hi! This is such an inspiring story! I want to have a VBAC so bad! I’ve had 3 csections and I’m pregnant with my fourth. I’m in Huntsville! I hope I can pull it off! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sofia

    My VBAC (homebirth) took 47h from start to finish (almost 2 days). The water only broke a few hours before she came out. Pain is definitely stronger without waters, I would have never made it like that for too long, the only thing I took during 47h was two Tylenol extra-strength to be able to sleep a couple hours. I think allowing to break the waters is a big mistake, don’t let them!! My midwife informed me that laboring a VBAC can take a long time, it’s a natural response from the body to the damaged tissues from c-section, to prevent rupture.

  • sara

    May i say that made me cry like i have never cried before! you story is sooo inspirational i had a c section with my first and i hated it. i could not breastfeed i couldnt take care of him i felt useless. but this has made up my mind with my child i am going to try for a vbac

  • Ashley

    I truly enjoyed reading your vbac story! I am from Huntsville as well, and I am glad to hear that you had such a good experience at HH. I am not pregnant yet, but look to be within the next year. I plan to vbac with my next child :). I’m hoping to find a good OB, and a doula, that will be very supportive in the process.

  • Brenda

    I absolutely loved reading your VBAC success story!! These stories are reasons I have hope! I am from Huntsville Alabama as well. I am currenty in my 9th month at 39 weeks. I had a cesearean 4+ years ago and felt like a useless mom not able to nurse or hold my own child from the emergency spinal I was given. I was curious how far along you were that you went Into labor your own. Also how far your doctor was going to let you carry the baby before an induction/repeat cesearean? Please reply. Thank you!!

  • Kristian

    You seem so informed about VBAC, and I was wondering if you maybe knew a list of doctors in Huntsville that would be willing to work with me when I decide to have another baby. I would really like to be informed of my options before getting pregnant. Thanks so much!

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