My vbac journey started immediately after the delivery of my first son, Shayne. Unfortunately, his birth went against how I wanted him to enter the world. My ob decided it would be best to induce me at 40.5 weeks because my baby was "getting big" and my body wasn't showing signs of getting ready for labor on my own. Unfortunately, I didn't know what I do now and I trusted my doctor. I labored for 16 hours until I reached 7 cm. I stayed there for a couple hours when my doctor suggested a csection would be best, I was exhausted and even though it wasn't what I wanted, my doctor convinced me some women couldn't birth vaginally. I was labeled
failure to wait "failure to progress". Shayne was delivered via csection January 25, 2011. He was perfect and he wasn't "too big", weighing in at 7#9oz. I was happy he was healthy but the way his birth happened really affected me. I regretted being induced and agreeing to a csection. I was scared I would never get the birthing experience I wanted.
I remember I started researching vbac friendly Drs., midwives and hospitals within months of Shayne being born once I became aware of what a vbac was and that I had another option other than a repeat c section. I absolutely was in love with Shayne but not his birth. As you all know, for any mother, the way their baby enters the world is a huge moment and meant to be full of happiness, not regret, and has a big role in bonding and healing. Don’t get me wrong, I was still extremely happy to finally be holding my sweet little boy, my first born son and I am lucky and grateful Shayne was healthy from day one but I knew things could have been different and I was going to make it right the next time.
Kyle and I found out we were expecting baby #2 in July of 2012. I found my ob, who practices with two midwives, online. I immediately loved the practice and what they told me. I grilled them to the best of my ability and found them to be the perfect fit.
My pregnancy was pretty uneventful besides the morning sickness and vomiting. The midwives did make it clear however that since I was technically “overweight”, if I wanted to increase my chances of successful vbac even more, that I would have to watch my weight gain. This I had no problem with as I had already changed up my diet and was beginning to eat a more plant based, whole food diet prior to getting pregnant.
Fast forward to 38 weeks, I go in for my appointment with the OB and he says he would like to see more progress than the 70% effaced and 2 cm dilated my cervix already was. In my mind, I thought he was crazy! To me, my body was actually doing what it was suppose to do! He really knew how to kill my excitement. He went on to tell me he would like to induce me the following week. I refused and told him I am going past my due date if I have to. This was the last appointment I would make with him. From there on out, I scheduled my appointments with one of the midwives. I didn’t need his negativity rubbing off on me!
At 39 weeks, I am told by the midwife, that my chance of successful vbac goes down everyday after 39 weeks. I am also told my amniotic fluid is on the low end of normal. They tell me they don’t want me going much past my due date. At this point, I felt defeated. I left my appointment that day crying because I felt like all my hard work was for nothing and my ob and midwives who had been so very supportive in the beginning were losing hope on me. But after talking to Kyle and researching more on whether or not using ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid was accurate, I felt the urge to fight for my right to vbac even more. How dare I basically be told my body is failing…again. Plus, I have always been one to take on a challenge. If they didn’t think I could do this, I would have to prove them wrong!
The Sunday evening before my 40 week appointment, twinges, pressure and cramping contractions started. I tried not to get excited as they weren’t regular and still bearable. I went to bed but they kept me up until 3:30am and I eventually drifted off to sleep. I woke up Monday morning feeling pretty good. I was still getting contractions, but they had spread out and were sporadic coming every 5 min, then 20 min, back to 7 min and so on. All Monday, I continued to get these contractions only hoping they were doing something and I would get news of progress at my appointment that afternoon. Hell, I was hoping I would just go into labor before my appointment so I wouldn’t have to face the midwives again wanting to talk about what the next step would be. But of course, that didn’t happen.
Kyle and I arrived at my appointment. I was prepared to fight to not have a repeat csection or induction scheduled. Unfortunately, once again I was told my fluid dropped even lower. However, my cervix was showing signs of being ready for labor. I was 100% effaced and 3 cm dilated! The midwife even said my bag of water was bulging. After discussion with the midwives, we decided to wait it out. I was so relieved that I was finally getting my point across to them that I wouldn’t budge on a repeat csection or induction. My birth plan this time consisted of having a natural, drug free, augment free vaginal birth and I was going to get most if not all of my birth plan followed this time! They wanted to continue monitoring me and wanted me to come back the next day for a NST. I told them as I was leaving, hopefully I won’t be making it to my next appointment and that the next time I see them, I will be in labor!
On the way home from my appointment, I felt like something was happening. By 430pm, contractions picked up. I did hip rocks, squats and bounced on my yoga ball. I diffused lavender essential oil in the house to keep myself relaxed. Of course being 40 weeks pregnant I had to take a pee break. Then I went back out to the living room to resume all my exercises. As I was standing there, I suddenly felt a gush of liquid that made me jump. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was “Ah crap I just peed myself”. But I just had returned from the bathroom, so there is no way that’s what it was. I looked up to Kyle as he asked what was wrong. I told him I either just peed myself or my water just broke. I went in the bathroom and checked and I couldn’t control the flow confirming, my water broke!
Immediately, I called my mom to come to our house. Of course it was raining and rush hour so we spent the next hour finishing packing the hospital bag as I walked around with a towel between my legs. When my mom arrived, I was having contractions every 4-6 minutes. They were bearable. My mom just looked at me in awe as I explained that I had prepared dinner for Shayne and there were leftovers if she wanted some. She asked me if I was still having contractions because she couldn’t believe how calm I was explaining things to her and just taking my time to leave for the hospital. I told her I need to stay relaxed and I had no idea how I was doing it too! I kissed my little boy good bye. This was going to be the first night I would spend away from him!
Once we got onto the main roads, we were pretty much at a standstill because of the weather and traffic. I didn’t mind though. Contractions were bearable still and not exactly regular. I figured the more time, the better chance of me not being offered any augmenting to get them regular once I arrived at the hospital. It also gave me time to get in the right mindset. I was ready to do this and I was calm which is weird for me. I have always been a worrier about everything! I took it as a sign though that I really could do this and I was meant to birth my baby the way nature intended.
By the time we arrived to the hospital and were checked into our room, it was 7:30pm and almost 3 hours had passed since my water broke. The nurse checked me and I was still only 3cm, I will admit, it was kind of discouraging but I also knew my contractions still weren’t perfect so I didn’t dwell on it. She called my ob and midwife, since I was a vbac, the ob would have to be at the hospital as well. They decided that they wouldn’t be in until the morning since I was only 3cm and not having regular contractions. If by morning, my contractions weren’t efficient, they would want to administer pitocin. That was discouraging to hear, but at the same time, I was happy I wouldn’t have to have them coming into my room while I labored. The labor and delivery nurse I had was awesome! She was completely supportive of my birth plan, went over it with me and on the whiteboard on the wall in my room wrote “to have a vaginal delivery” under the section that said “Today’s goal:” That made me smile and at that moment I felt at ease about being in a hospital setting yet again for the birth of my second child. I was so happy I had a nurse who wanted to help me reach my goal!
For the next 4 hours, I labored, I visualized my cervix opening up like a flower and contractions began to get stronger but I could still handle them. My husband was awesome, as he always is. He would remind me to not tense my jaw and instruct me to let out moans during contractions. It was a wonderful surprise knowing he listened every time I would tell him all these facts about how to manage contractions. They were finally getting regular. I rocked, bounced, swayed, stood, sat, laid down, anything I could to move my baby down. By this point I was getting terrible back labor that no positions were helping.
Then suddenly, at a little after midnight, I had Kyle call the nurse in because I felt like I had to either push or go to the bathroom. I also asked her to check my cervix as it had been a few hours since the first time she checked. She did the exam and told me I was 4cm… Once again, I was disappointed considering I had been getting pretty painful, regular contractions for a few hours. Once again though I didn’t dwell on it and I proceeded to the bathroom where I had a very hard and painful contraction. It still felt like I had to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t go no matter how much I tried. The nurse came into the bathroom as I sat on the toilet and I had another strong contraction. She helped me breathe through it. Once it was over I returned to the hospital bed where she hooked me up to the monitors to check baby. I had another hard contraction where I told her I felt like I needed to push and I was fighting the urge not to. I agreed to let her check me again as she could sense in the way I was acting now that something was happening. She said I was now 5 cm! Wow! I couldn’t believe it. It only took me a matter of 10 minutes to go from 4-5cm. Once again another strong wave came over me. With every surge now I was insisting I had to push. I had two more of these contractions and I was yelling I need to push. She checked me again and I was 6cm. At this point another few minutes had gone by, she decided to call my midwife and ob. The pain was unbearable and she asked me if I wanted to stick to my plan of no pain meds. My head was telling me to go for the epidural but I quickly erased the thought from my mind. I told her I didn’t want anything and that she just needed to get my midwife here because I had to push! I started telling myself the birth affirmation “the power and intensity of my surges cannot be stronger than me because they are me!” I repeated this quietly over and over to myself as each wave got stronger and stronger!
The nurse returned to the room telling me the ob and midwife were on their way. At this point, with each contraction the urge to push was unbearable. Waiting for the midwife and OB to arrive seemed like forever… I got extremely nauseas as I went into transition and started throwing up between contractions. Once my stomach was empty, I felt better but the pressure and urge to push was still unbearable. My body actually started doing involuntary pushes. The nurse checked me again, she told me I was 7cm! A few more contractions and I was now 8cm.. Another contraction and at that point she stopped telling me where I was and I knew I was almost there! She told me there was just a tiny amount of cervix and to push against it would be bad. But she did say I could do small pushes to ease the urge.
Finally my midwife arrived. She checked me and instructed the nurse to let me start pushing. I remember opening my eyes and looking at the room around me. Nurses rushing in and out of the room, getting things set up for delivery. A rush ran through me as I knew this was it! I was going to get my vbac! I felt so calm and in control which was the best feeling I could have felt at that moment. I started pushing with contractions at my own pace and with each one the pressure was worse and worse. The nurse called the midwife over because they could finally see the baby’s head moving in and out with each contraction. I started pushing more efficiently now. I knew my baby was coming. I could feel everything and I loved it. I wasn’t feeling the pain anymore, I was feeling the progress each push made. I could feel my baby coming closer and closer to being born. After a few minutes of pushing, the midwife told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. It is so hard to describe the feeling I felt being able to touch my baby finally. That only made me work harder. A few more pushes and my baby was just about there! The midwife told me to reach down and I assisted in the delivery. I brought my baby up to my chest and I was hysterical yelling “I DID IT!” Baby immediately started crying and I checked between our baby’s legs and looked over to Kyle and said “it’s a boy!” Our baby boy stayed right on my chest, where we were still connected for a several minutes. Then it was time for daddy to cut the cord, something Kyle missed out on doing with Shayne’s birth.
Braydon was delivered as our vbac baby on April 16, 2013 at 1:19am weighing 7#6 oz.
I felt a sense of peace after Braydon was born. This was the birth I so longed for. Braydon’s birth truly healed me. It feels so good knowing in a time where many women are told they can’t birth their babies naturally or where many women are treated like they aren’t capable of making decisions on how their babies will be born, I got the birth I wanted and deserved and I now know my body is not broken and it is NOT a failure… Even a year after my vbac, I can remember every bit of that day. I look at both of my beautiful boys who I birthed in two very different ways. I only wish I was more aware that I did have options with Shayne’s birth but at the same time, had it not happened the way it did, I would not be this new version of myself. Because of everything that happened with both of my boy’s births, I became a woman who will fight and try to empower other women to do the same to reclaim their bodies and births by sharing my story! We need to believe that our bodies are capable of birthing our babies and that birth is a beautiful thing. Pregnancy is not meant to be treated as an illness in itself and no woman should ever be told she is a failure regardless of how her baby is born.
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