A Healing Surgical Birth

In 2009 (with my first pregnancy) I didn’t know how to navigate the system and advocate for myself. I knew I wanted a vaginal birth. And since everyone one of my family members have had successful pregnancies and deliveries I knew it was obvious I would too. So when I found myself very pregnant nearly 43 weeks with ruptured membranes and no contractions I felt confused and followed the system.

I was induced and meconium was present in my waters. Thirty-six hours later I was at 10 cm and pushing ineffectively. In the interest of keeping my story somewhat short… A c-section was called and I agreed. I was tired and baby was in a strange position (nurse could feel her ear) during the section the epidural (that was placed 12 hrs earlier) failed.

It was an awful experience for both myself and my husband. Another drug was administered that caused me to have issues breathing on my own. I remember vomiting while being strapped on my back, shaking and crying out uncontrollably. I didn’t get to see or hold my daughter until the next day. She was also diagnosed with craniosyntosis (where the scull is fused-no soft spot).

Fast forward to 2012. I’m pregnant and due to deliver a son in April. I’ve also lost 4 pregnancies and been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. I chose to VBAC because of my fear of a repeat section. I found a doula, used acupuncture and hypnobabies. I felt strong.

I went into labor on my own on my estimated due date. It was an amazing experience. Natural labor felt weirdly good. I was 7-8 cm when we arrived at the hospital.

Then the intervention started.

All part of “policy” I had to have an epidural (so it would be in place if a c-section was needed). They broke my waters to place the internal monitors. And I was on a bed. I made it to 10 cm with involuntary pushing. A catheter was placed and the epidural was turned on; I felt the bed swallow me.

And then they lost my sons heart rate. A code pink was called and we were rushed into a section under general anesthesia. That epidural was not needed. My son was was born within 5 min of the code being called in the delivery room. My bladder was damaged and my uterus had ruptured (I did not learn about the rupture until a subsequent pregnancy). My son was born with an APGAR of 1. I didn’t see him until the next day in the NICU flat on his back with lines and tubes.

Fast forward 3.5 years and 3 more pregnancy losses I’m faced with another section. And I’m terrified.

I had learned about the rupture while reviewing my surgical records with my OB. I know that a CBAC is the safest choice. I know that this is my last pregnancy and my last chance to be awake and aware for a delivery. But I’m terrified.

Will I find myself strapped to a bed choking on my vomit? Will I see that bloody hand over the drape? Will I feel like I’m dying? What will happen to my baby, will she be laying flat on her back with no one touching her? Will she live? What about my big kids, I need to be there for them. So many feelings!

October 14 I arrived at the hospital at 6:00 am. I didn’t sleep the night before. I fought off panic until 7:00 when I met with the anesthesiologist. I told him my experience and fears. He assured me he was the right person for the job. (And he really was!) I was allowed to have my hands free and he stayed with me until my husband was allowed in. He was calming, held my hand and talked me thru the panic.

The spinal was very effective. I couldn’t feel myself breathe but we worked thru it. He never once told me I was over reacting. He assured me I was able to breathe normally but it was okay to keep taking big breaths. He told me about his family and vacations. My husband was allowed in once they were ready to pull baby out.

nicole traverse 1

When they placed her on my chest, all was right in the world. I was the first to hold her and kiss her. When they were finished closing me up she went with my husband into the recovery room while they transferred me onto another bed. Then the 3 of us spent time together and I got to breastfeed right away.

nicole traverse 2

This planned section was so smooth. And recovery has been much easier even with a 6 & 3 year old at home. You CAN have a healing surgical birth!

{ Story and photos submitted by Nicole Traverse}


  • Jenn

    Thank you so much for this! I’m scheduled for my repeat c section in 4 short weeks. My daughter was born via emergency c section almost 2 years ago, so when I got pregnant I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC. As the pregnancy progressed I felt myself leaning more towards a repeat c section, so I told my midwife and she found an OB. Turned out to be the same gentleman who delivered my daughter!

    Knowing recovery is much easier is a huge relief! Thank you again, and what an adorable baby girl!

  • Michelle

    Thank you for sharing your story. You have had an incredible journey and it gives me a bit of confidence that our next birth/recovery can be a bit smoother!
    Beautiful photos 🙂

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