Birth Story: Successful Birth Center VBAC

I am thrilled to offer this unedited birth story on my blog.  Many thanks to the fearless mama for sharing it with me and anyone else reading.  I am thankful that my community, and in particular this CNM, is making strides to reacquaint themselves with natural, normal birth. ~ labortrials

History: 2 1/2 years ago I had a scheduled c-section with Naomi. I had something called “placenta previa,” which is a “chance” thing that can happen in a pregnancy where the placenta covers the cervix, thus making labor dangerous and a normal vaginal delivery impossible. Because placentas move during pregnancy as the uterus grows, the doctors weren’t sure until we moved back to the U.S. that I had placenta previa. I was put on bed rest to prevent labor at 34 weeks and then advised to plan our c-section for the beginning of my 37th week. Naomi’s birth wasn’t traumatic for me, but I longed to be able to experience a “normal” birth…or at least be given the chance! Even though my c-section was absolutely necessary, I soon learned that many c-sections are not truly necessary, and that many doctors nowadays are absolutely mortified to attend to vaginal births after caesarians (VBACs), due mostly to fear of lawsuits if something goes wrong (the big one being a uterine rupture at the c-section scar). As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Elijah, I began reading everything I could about VBACs so I could do my best to prepare my body for birth and minimize any risk (which, by the way, is only .5% for a uterine rupture – much less than many other “normal” complications women have in first births!). In my research, I was shocked how unnecessary many routine interventions are done in hospitals and how this might affect any woman’s labor. I was determined to not have to go to the hospital, where I would automatically tethered to an I.V. and continuous fetal monitor. So I went the other way and found a CNM (certified nurse midwife) who had just opened a birth center in town and was willing to let me experience labor. If anything were to go wrong, the birth center is only a 5 minute (or less) drive to the hospital, so we felt very secure in our decision and Jeanne’s (my midwife, pronounced “Jean-ie) experience and expertise.

My Birth Story

I was putting Naomi to bed at 7:30 on Saturday night May 8th when all of a sudden I felt a little “pop” inside me. Pregnancy brings about all kinds of weird feelings, so I wasn’t sure what this was at first, but then when it felt like I had just peed my pants, I had an idea.

I freaked out. My due date was May 21st, so this was 13 days before my due date. Of course I was saying I was “ready” for this baby to be due…but was I really READY to do it now?! I checked the fluid – clear. Good sign. It kept coming. I called Jon (who was getting off work at 8). I called my midwife to find out if the fluid could be anything else at all. Nope. My water had broken 13 days before my due date and I had 24 hours to safely have my baby (more than that after the bag of water breaks and you have to start worrying about infection). Wow. This is crazy.

I had not felt a single contraction until this point in my pregnancy. Here we go!

I was told I could start contractions right away or not until much later, even Sunday afternoon – since we didn’t know what to expect, we called my mother-in-law and asked her to take Naomi for the night, just in case. She came by, her and two of my sisters-in-law prayed for me and baby before leaving (I was still in a bit of disbelief at this point), and they took Naomi to sleep at their house.

Jon and I started to watch a movie and relax and rest. I had a meal so I could have some energy if labor started. Light contractions started at 9:00, about 5 minutes apart. I went to bed at 9:30 so we could try and get some rest. Jon slept. I tried but didn’t do a very good job. Contractions stayed at 5 minutes apart but gradually got stronger and stronger. We called our doula Ali (whom we had only met with once before! Our next meeting was to be the following monday!) and midwife Jeanne around 11:45 after they moved to 4 minutes apart and I knew I was going to have to come in within hours. Jeanne told me to call again when contractions became 2-3 minutes apart. Okay. Around 3 A.M. I asked Jon to call Ali over and we called Jeanne. Jeanne told us to meet her at the Birth Center at 3:45.

Ali arrived at our house around 3:15 and immediately started helping Jon and I through my contractions. By this time they had become strong enough for me to need to focus intently through each one. I had started moaning through them to help with  the pain, too. I had read in several books that this was a good thing to do during labor because of the relaxing, opening  effect that open, low tones have on the body. What I later found interesting was that I didn’t really think about doing this as I was doing it…it just seemed like something that was natural and that I should do! And I definitely believe it helped.

We left for the birth center around 3:45. We live a mile away from this so I was VERY grateful not to have to be in a car too long. I had one contraction in the car and did not find it very fun.  Anyway, we got settled in to the room in the Birth Center room. I was so worried that I would only be at 5 cm dilated or another low number and have quite a way to go. Jeanne checked me. 7 cm. dilated! YES! We’re getting close and I’m almost to transition! Okay, I can do this!

I got in the jacuzzi tub next and this felt SO GOOD! With Ali on one side and Jon behind me, I spent an hour in there, where things really became intense. Jeanne had been quietly preparing this whole time, candles were lit, the room was so calm and peaceful. Jeanne also checked the baby’s heart rate every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure baby was doing well (a sudden drop could mean a uterine rupture or other complication). Heart rate was perfect every time. Awesome. I had brought a bag of snacks and drinks to eat/sip during labor and then, ironically, all I wanted was ice cubes throughout the hardest part of this labor! They were heaven in my mouth – truly. After about an hour, Ali suggested I get out for a little bit to change positions again. At the same time I felt it was a good idea, I went through another contraction and OH! TIME TO PUSH! I had spent my entire transition (dilating from 8-10 cm) in the tub. Perfect! We slowly made it over to the bed, Jeanne checked me to confirm we were there (at least I think she did…things kind of got fuzzy around now). Okay, it’s go time.

Pushing was hard, and since this was my first birth, it was definitely 2 steps forward one step back. I was holding on to Ali and Jon’s hands really hard. Pushing was the most intuitive thing I have probably ever experienced. My body was working, doing what it needed to do, and it didn’t seem as if there was any other option than to just let it push. It wasn’t my decision – it was simply time to push! No stopping this train!

I’m not exactly sure how long I pushed – 45 minutes to an hour, possibly. I had no concept of time at this point. At times Jenny the nurse would put a mirror down so we could see Elijah’s head as he slowly emerged. I didn’t want to look at first but it ended up really helping me focus. My baby was coming, and I was ready to meet him! Elijah David King was born at 6:29 in the morning. Jeanne immediately put him on my chest; he started crying and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. We had done it! I had had no drugs whatsoever, felt every sensation, and was constantly in the moment, aware of my baby and the sheer power of my body doing what God intended it to do. Elijah was messy, beautiful and alert. Just amazing! I can’t describe it. Nothing had gone wrong and I feel so extremely blessed. I got my VBAC! I trusted my body and our first son was born without complication with him or me (or Jonathan’s hand…poor guy, I was gripping so hard there at the end).

I pushed out the placenta (piece of cake!) then Jeanne spent some time stitching me up (I had a 2nd degree tear…not too bad. Still a little sore as I write this, though). Jonathan, Elijah, and I laid there in the bed for quite a while, bonding and admiring each other (me still in a little bit of disbelief that I had pushed that head out of me…so amazing what the human body can do!). At least 30 minutes later, we were ready for them to clean up Elijah, so Jenny took him and weighed him (8 lbs even!) and cleaned him off and gave him back to us. We tried nursing and he immediately latched on – I had so many problems nursing Naomi so this was such a relief. I got some ibuprofen to help with my sore bottom and the strong uterine contractions (still having those a few days later as it takes 2 weeks for the uterus to return to normal size). My mother-in-law, Naomi, and a few of my sisters-in-law came and visited us a little later, bringing blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fruit. It was wonderful. Jon took a nap (figures…wimp!) but I couldn’t sleep yet. Jonathan and Ali were amazing – they supported me and cheered me on through the entire labor, moaning with me, breathing with me, telling me I was doing a good job, etc. It seems so simple, but helps so incredibly much. Who knows how much longer my labor might have been without the wonderful positive support!

We left the Birth Center around 11:45 in the morning to go home, only five hours after Elijah was born. I walked to my car, feeling sore but wonderful, still on a natural high from giving birth naturally! Elijah’s birth was the very first VBAC at this birth center!

Now, two days later, I’m still getting reacquainted with nursing, still a little sore and tired, but feeling great. Elijah’s doing so well, too, and we are completely in love with our new baby. Naomi seems to be taking well to baby brother too! She likes to come kiss him and gets concerned when he cries or she thinks he doesn’t have enough blankets. I love our little family and we feel so blessed to welcome our new, incredible miracle.

2 responses to “Birth Story: Successful Birth Center VBAC

  1. How brave of this mother, I’ve known two other mothers who were determined to have VBAC and it is great to see them trust their bodies and their intuitive nature to have normal births and normal happy babies. She seems clear and content to have written her story so well after just a few days post-partum, and I love how she mentioned the moaning and pushing, those intuitive rites of passage that come so naturally. This reminds me of my first birth and now that I am on my second, I am really appreciative of you and the mother sharing her inspirational story. :::Sending positive baby-bonding thoughts her way:::

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