VBAC in a Hotel

Our H(otel)BAC by Niki T.

Joey’s birth story began 21 months before his actual birth, during the cesarean birth of our second child. She had presented with both hands first (double nuchal hand presentation) during an AROM. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I can see each domino that landed me in that operating room fall in slow motion.

Fast forward to June of 2010 when we learned of our little surprise. The decision to Homebirth had already been made so we excitedly began our hunt for a midwife. We soon discovered that New Jersey had outlawed the presence of a midwife at a HBAC, Home Birth after Cesarean.

We continued our search but in the meantime scheduled a prenatal appointment with the OB practice that had delivered our daughter. I left that appointment having been told “Oh no hunny, you can’t do that (VBAC). Your uterus will rupture“. They scheduled a repeat section for Marche 4th.

We continued our search for a midwife. It is said that when you find your midwife there is a distinct “aha” moment and I couldn’t agree more. Jenn was referred to us by a mutual friend. She had a calming, down to earth spirit and our first meeting felt more like a coffee date with an old friend. However, while we were within her “two hour travel distance” NJ law still stood in our way of a legal homebirth. That mutual friend graciously offered us the opportunity to birth in her home but it was sadly too far from the nearest hospital capable of performing an emergency cesarean.

Not too long prior to this I read a birth story that took place in a hotel due to a power outage at the mother’s home. I suggest this to Jenn fully expecting her to question my sanity. She not only agreed, she knew of the birth story I spoke of. There truly are no accidents in the Lord’s plans. I could make this rather lengthy by telling you all of the way God provided for us I this journey but I will spare you.

However, I think it is necessary to mention, I was left doing parallel care between my OB and Jenn in order to have labs and such covered by insurance. At my final appointment with the OB, who knew nothing of our birth plan, I was handed every scare tactic imaginable when I mentioned again the thought of a VBAC. My faith in our choice was confirmed.

On the morning of Feb 6th, a day shy of 37 weeks I lost my plug. Of course, as with all things gory and pregnancy related I reported to my friend Renee. She predicted labor would start soon but I disagreed. I remember feeling off but of course didn’t realize it. Around dinnertime the nightly contraction attack began. Since Eddie was home to care for the kids I decided to just go to bed early, around 7, and avoid them. I didn’t sleep well and kept stirring but not fully waking with each contraction.

Around 10pm I could no longer sleep through them and lay awake in bed listening to the TV Eddie was watching. Unable to fall back asleep, but not on any real pain, I went downstairs and joined Eddie in the living room. I told him that I thought I may be in early labor but since I wasn’t in any pain I figured there was a long way to go. With DD my contractions began fast and furiously and felt similar to my transition with my first son. We had raced to the hospital only to have labor stall. Since these contractions felt only slightly more painful than the nightly ritual I had undergone for a few weeks at that point I refused to get my hopes up.

We decided to try and rest a bit in case we did in fact have a long night ahead of us. However, I just couldn’t sleep through the contractions. I went back downstairs and spent some time bouncing on the birth ball in the living room. We had our 37 week appointment with Jenn the next afternoon. I entertained the idea of heading up early in the morning and walking around the nearby outlet malls to keep us close in the event things picked up quickly.

As I bounced I noticed the contractions coming a bit more frequently, but the disappointment of a possible repeat stalled labor kept me in disbelief. It was now around 1am and I was hesitant to wake Jenn but decided to do so. She asked me how close the contractions were, oops now I remembered you were supposed to time them. 3ish minutes. I assured her they weren’t painful. I was told to get my butt in the car. I told her I would let her know how things were going once I got to the hotel since she was only 20 minutes away and there was no need to drag her out of bed if it was a false alarm or still very early.

Still playing doubting Thomas here I went upstairs and attempted to check myself. Unsure of what I was feeling for but hoping for validation that this was indeed the real thing before I woke Eddie. I found that validation when I immediately felt a bulging bag of water. I woke Eddie at 2 and told him it was baby time.

My mom arrived to watch the kids and we got in the car at 4am. About an hour later we arrived at the hotel to find Jen and her assistant Nicole already there. As we settled into our room we mused about what the clerk assumed was going on in room 222. The playful and excited mood was everything I hoped for.

My blood pressure and baby’s heart tones we’re checked and everyone settled in for a nap leaving me to do my thing. The contractions had slowed a bit from the car ride and change of location. I was still concerned about stalling and decided not to call any of our friends or family yet. I rotated between walking, bouncing on the ball and sitting on the toilet.

At one point there was a lull in contractions and I felt the baby shift his/her position. One of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. Nicole, would wake every little while and check baby’s heart tones and how I was feeling. Otherwise I was given the privacy to labor in peace. Around 9am Jenn woke and we decided to check my cervix. While there was no urgency to do so we had friends and family waiting on “the call” and figured a time estimate would be helpful. I prepared myself for disappointment. You can imagine our surprise when there was no cervix to be found, only membranes. I was fully dilated and while I had felt the last few contractions in my bottom I had yet to feel any actual pain or discomfort.

I woke Eddie by asking him if he was ready to have a baby. The look on his face was priceless. He filled the jacuzzi and the water was heaven. I had a few more contractions, maybe 4 or 5, and my water broke. The next contraction I began feeling pressure, but not the overwhelming urge to push as I has with my first. Just pressure. LOTS of pressure. I could feel the crowning but there was no ring of fire. The best description I can offer is bone on bone. This was honestly the first bit of pain I had experienced thus far. I shouted something along the lines of “Ow this hurts”. Everyone gently chuckled and Jenn comforted me, reminding me that it was supposed to.

I pushed, but not because I felt the need to, simply because it was the means to an end. That first push brought his head. The second push brought his shoulders and body.

I had been on hands and knees so Jenn caught the baby. Once I changed position and baby was passed to me I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement I forgot about checking for gender. I just held that perfect little body and stared at it in disbelief. That was real. Someone reminded me to check. HE. He was real. He was amazing! THAT was amazing.

The cord was rather short so we decided to cut it. It had stopped pulsing and was completely white. Quite a fascinating thing to witness. The placenta followed shortly. It was noted that it was quite small and the umbilical cord was attached by a marginal insertion.

My mother arrived shortly thereafter with our older children. When the water cooled I headed into the shower and Daddy did the first diaper duty. When I was done Nicole performed the newborn exam and we spent the rest of the day snuggling and enjoying our perfect little boy. The healing began.


  • Jamie

    This story is everything I hope for in my next birth. I’m curious to hear the story of how her OB took the news that she VBAC with no rupture in a hotel!

  • Nicole

    That was a beautiful birth, Niki! Watching you and your amazing husband support and care for each other was an honor. (You making having a baby look easy, too!) Thank you for allowing me to share your special day!

  • Kiera

    Awesome! Beautiful birth story! I remember seeing your birth pics 🙂 Jenn is a GREAT midwife and we were also blessed to have her at our birth {http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/2011/08/17/hbac-home-birth-after-cesarean/}.

  • Niki

    Thank you everyone! It was more than I could have ever dreamed of and I am eternally grateful to Nicole and Jenn for the love and support the offered along the way. Every mom should be so lucky!

    We have not been back to the office since that final showdown with the OB. I will honestly say that I left in tears that day after being given a laundry list of reasons why I should not VBAC. Despite knowing the truth it shook me enough that I have no desire to show face there again. We did however send a birth announcement complete with some birth photos, a copy of ACOG’s statement on VBAC, and a little note celebrating our successful VBAC. We did not get anything in return.

    • Brie

      Good for you! It’s amazing how doctor’s lose site of the fact that a mother’s instinct is usually spot-on. To acknowledge your success would have been for him to admit wrongful judgement. You were right. You knew your body, your baby, and your options. You kept the power for yourself, and you did it! Congratulations MAMA!

    • Katy

      Good for you! I sent a message to my hospital OB/MW group to let them know I had a successful VBAC without monitors with the freedom to move as I pleased. A hotel birth was my original plan. <3

    • Lisa @ Fat Chick Fed Up

      Haha-that’s awesome! We are planning a hotel/hospital birth. I am a vba4c so finding support for a hba4c proved impossible for me. I do have the support of an OB, but seeing as there are 10 OBs in the practice, who knows what kind of resistence I will encounter once I walk through those hospital doors. I live an hour and a half from the hospital so the plan is to labor as long as possible at the hotel and go in pushing, but an “accidental” hotel birth is not out of the realm of possibility either! Congrats!

  • Rachel Lockwood

    Amazing! So happy for you. If I ever get pregnant again I pray for a VBAC, hopefully an HBAC. It’s so sad that you were forced to go to a hotel to have a baby because the law wouldn’t let you have it at home! How crazy is that?!

  • Laurie

    Grateful for your painless(almost) experience and humbled is what I’m feeling right now.

    Can you tell me how you came to have a near pain-free labor and delivery? Did you pray a lot? Or something else? Was your first labor painful?

    My son’s labor and birth was like having surgery without anesthesia. I feel broken, unloved by God, hated by Him even, and shaken to my core after his birth. Traumatized is a good adjective for the effects of that day.

    It would give me hope to learn more about your experience, especially since we likely share the same faith.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Jenna

      Some births are just more difficult or easier than others. My first was *very* difficult and my second was so easy I kept waiting for the pain to finally begin. it was like I wasn’t even in labor. I had a difficult 15 minutes at the very end, but that’s it. Maybe your next birth will be a whole different experience than your first.

    • Jamie

      I also think that fear/discomfort/anxiety/etc play into the birth experience a lot. On a physiological level, stress hormones counter the process of labor–stalling it, stopping it, or making it feel more painful. Mama was so supported and believed in her body, which likely impacted the outcome of her birth. Also, like Jenna said, every birth is different. I hope you can find some peace about your son’s birth and approach future birth’s with an open heart. If you hold on to fear that you will have the same birth experience, that may have a big negative impact. I obviously don’t know the details of your birth, but your words are powerful. However, you *did* survive that birth. It clearly tested you, but you ultimately were not broken–because you’re here, reading this blog, believing that it could be different in the future. (And I posit a belief that you are a wonderful mother to your son, another indication that you were not broken!) You are strong!

    • Niki

      Laurie I am so sorry to hear you had such a difficult time. I do have a very high pain tolerance and I can’t say that any of my labors were incredibly painful. My first two labors were induced/augmented with pitocin, stuck in a bed, and I hadn’t had an epidural for either. As I said I didn’t find them TERRIBLY painful, but not pleasant by any means. I believe it was the contrast of natural contractions vs pitocin contractions that made Joey’s birth that much less painful. There are other psychological factors that I believe played a role, but I think my high pain tolerance was key.

  • ilka

    This is an inspiring and awesome story! It makes mu chuckle to think about the hotel staff. How did they react to having a baby born there I wonder? Prego lady goes in, she leaves the next day or two with a baby… 🙂

    • Niki

      The hotel staff actually never saw me. My husband went in with the midwives to get our room key, (Which resulted in a story even more comical than a lady birthing in a hotel Jacuzzi) and the rooms had outdoor entrances. I don’t believe they had/have any idea what took place that day.

  • Jamie

    What a beautiful story! I’m so touched that you got to have such a magical, wondrous birth after the trauma of your previous birth! It reinforces my decision to become a midwife all the more!

  • Amanda

    What a beautiful birth story! I never get tired of reading about empowering, peaceful births.

    I happened upon your blog post via Jen, whom I’ve been (virtual) friends with for years, and as I was reading along, I thought, “Could she possibly be referencing my hotel birth? I think she is!” I’m Amanda, the Texan mom who gave birth to Hendrix in a hotel after a power outage at our house, one hot and stormy June night. So, if it *is* my story that you’re referencing, how on earth did you stumble upon it?

    • Niki

      Hi Amanda!

      Yes! That was your story!!! I had read it on CDN. I am still amazed at how God used a little power outage to change our lives <3 Thank you for sparking the idea.

  • Rebecca

    I am from NJ too. I was wondering if you would mind sharing info on your midwife. I am TTC#4 and this will be my third VBAC, I am too chicken to go UC and would love to have a hotel birth… I too was inspired by Amand’s story and yours!!!!! Your story actually sold my husband on the idea! If you could email me info that would be great. bhughesphotog@gmail.com

    Thank you so much!!!

  • Abbie

    Hi!! This is such an inspiring story! I’m from NJ too and will be trying for a VBAC this summer, due June 3rd. I hadn’t even thought of this as an option. I’ve been wanting a home water birth but was too scared to look into it because the nearest hospital from my house is about a 20-30 min drive. I also feel like my area (Southern Jersey) is so non-VBAC supportive, its very frustrating!! Any information you could send my way as well would be very much appreciated!! ab33arch@gmail.com

  • Samantha

    This story brought me to tears! How beautiful. I am so happy you were able to have your healing hbac. I’m in NJ too and currently pregnant with my 2nd. My first was a cesarean and I am exploring my hbac options. Do you think you could email me some information? It would be very very greatly appreciated! My email is samanthapagan@yahoo.com

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