VBAMC Stories: 

Vaginal Birth After 2 or More Cesareans

by KMom

Copyright © 2000-2009 KMom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved.

This FAQ last updated: June 2009

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your healthcare  provider.




Is trying for a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) a reasonable option after you've had 2 (or more) c-sections?  Most authors conclude that it is, but a few authors do not, and many OBs are reluctant to consider it, especially recently due to a VBAC backlash movement.  

Because many doctors have been reluctant to consider it, most medical literature and collections of VBAC stories have concentrated on VBAC after 1 cesarean.  There is an urgent need for information, analysis of medical literature, and stories of VBAC after multiple cesareans.  

This web section details personal stories of VBAC after Multiple Cesareans (VBAMC or VBA2+C).  It mostly contains personal VBAMC stories others have decided to share here, but it also has resources for finding these stories in books, videos, and online. There is another web section on this site that analyzes the medical literature on the subject, looks at the chances of success, evaluates the risk of rupture, and also examines emotional issues that may be involved, hints for healing, etc. (the VBA2C FAQ and Newest VBAMC Research). The two web sections are meant to be complementary and should be considered together. 

Readers are urged to do their own research in order to reasonably evaluate the various factors in VBAC vs. elective repeat c-section decisions.  There are many factors to consider in deciding.  Excellent VBAC information can be found online; readers are directed to the resources at www.childbirth.org/section/www.gentlebirth.org, www.ican-online.org, and the many medical journal abstracts available online at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/.  Be sure you understand what you are reading and the potential biases of the writers!  

Other valuable resources include the following books.  These books are a little older and are not updated with the latest VBAC information, but still contain a lot of helpful information and inspiring stories.

Further resources can be found in the References section of the other VBAMC FAQs, as well as in the FAQ on Great VBAC Resources on this site.



The purpose of these FAQs is not to convince you that VBAMC is the right option for you, or that VBAMC is not the right option for you.  It is simply to gather together in one place more information about the difficult-to-find subject of VBAMC, to explore its various issues, both medical and personal, and to share VBAMC personal stories and where to find them.   

However, it's important to remember that this is simply a sharing of information by and for health consumers.  Kmom is not a medical professional and does not offer medical advice, nor should any be inferred from this website.  Readers should always be very cautious about any health information they get online (or indeed, anywhere else!).  Remember, YOU are the one ultimately responsible for your own healthcare decisions.  Be thorough in your researching and explore all your options before making decisions.  Just because this was the right decision for these mothers does not necessarily mean it would be the right decision for you.

The focus in this web section is primarily on VBAC after 2 c-sections because few women have more than 2 or 3 kids these days, and because few women with more than 2 c-sections are given the opportunity to even try a VBAC.  However, that does not mean that VBAC after 3 or more c/s is inappropriate, impossible, or has never happened.  In fact, a number of women have had VBACs after multiple cesareans.  

Unfortunately, most of the stories in this FAQ so far deal with VBA2C but we have some higher order VBAC stories as well.  More VBA3+C stories do exist, but they are not always easy to find because most women are forced into automatic repeat cesareans after 2 or 3 cesareans.  If you want to find more VBA3+C stories, most of them are found in books like Silent Knife. 

You may note that many VBAMC stories below take place outside of the hospital.  Some medical professionals may find this alarming, since they are usually taught that birth outside the hospital is dangerous and tantamount to child abuse, and particularly so in the "high risk" scenario of VBAC.  

However, the prevalence of homebirth in these stories simply reflects the fact that many VBAC women have found that they have had to leave the mainstream medical model in order to have a natural, normal birth, especially now with the anti-VBAC climate sweeping the world.  

Because many hospitals have banned VBACs altogether, for many women the choice is between being forced into surgery against their will or choosing to birth outside the mainstream medical model.  For other women, VBAC in the hospital is still possible but comes with so much restriction and hassles that VBAC becomes nearly impossible.  This is why so many women are choosing to birth outside of the hospital, particularly in the VBAMC context. 

Please note that Kmom does not promote or condemn homebirth for VBAC moms; she simply reports on the experiences of VBAMC moms. Please also note that it is possible to have a VBAMC in the hospital, and there are a number of stories of hospital births in this FAQ.  However, more and more hospitals do not "allow" VBAMC anymore, and so more VBAMC women are choosing to birth outside the hospital, rather than be forced into surgery they do not want.  This FAQ simply reflects that trend.  No endorsement or condemnation of these practices should be inferred.

Finally, Kmom would particularly like to note that she strongly dislikes the terms, "Trial of Labor," the British alternative of "Trial of Scar," or "Attempted VBAC."  It implies being on trial, a pass-fail 'test', a judgment, a tentative attempt.  Kmom feels that a labor after previous cesarean should be viewed and treated virtually like any other labor. 

Kmom particularly dislikes the term "failed trial of labor."  This is NOT a failure.  However, this is the terminology used by the medical studies reviewed in this FAQ, and often even in VBAC books.  Alternative terminology (Cesarean Birth After Cesarean or CBAC) is not standard in the medical community, so Kmom has reluctantly utilized these other terms in this FAQ.  Readers should be aware that its usage herein does not constitute approval!  Words do matter, and obstetrics is full of misogynistic and condescending terms as it is.  We can use these terms for ease of use and because it is standard, but we should also be aware of the weaknesses and subtle underlying implications of it.


Terms and Abbreviations

Reading a Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ) about childbirth issues is often like negotiating a minefield full of unfamiliar terms and abbreviations.  Because it was not practical to write out each term each time, the following is a brief guide to the terms and abbreviations you might see in these particular FAQs.   


Support Groups

There are several resources that can help you if you are considering a VBA2+C.  The best of these are listed in Kmom's FAQ called "Great VBAC Resources" on this site.  Rather than repeat that information here, Kmom has included a link to that FAQ instead.  

However, there are two resources that should be highlighted.  The first is the International Cesarean Awareness Network, or ICAN.  Its URL is www.ican-online.org.  It contains many answers and helpful articles for those seeking support after a cesarean or who are considering a VBAC.  It also has an online email support group that many women find extremely helpful.  Information for joining can be found at the main ICAN website.  

There is also an ICAN-offshoot group specifically for VBA2C moms.  Here is the information for joining:

Are you a vaginal birth after 2 cesareans hopeful? Have you had a vaginal birth after 2 or more c-sections? Please join the VBA2C Yahoo Group and share experiences, hopes, questions and stresses. We can get through this together!  Click the link to join:    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/vba2c 


VBAMC Stories

Many women, including Kmom,  HAVE had vaginal births after 2 cesareans, and some after 3, 4, 5 or even more cesareans!  (We now have a VBA7C story on the website!!)  Kmom highly recommends reading as many VBAC stories as you can, both 'successful' and 'not',  for inspiration and understanding (whatever you decide about pursuing a VBAC).  You can find many of these stories in books, online, and from women in specialized groups such as ICAN.  

Kmom believes it is helpful to read both stories of VBACs that ended in repeat c/s as well as those that ended in vaginal birth.  Both can be illuminating.  However, a list of all types of VBAC Trials of Labor would be prohibitive. Readers can find stories of VBACs that ended in repeat c/s as well as those ending in vaginal birth in books such as VBAC Experience and Artemis Speaks.  The main purpose of this section is to list VBA2C stories that did end in vaginal birth.  

Here is a summary of the VBA2C stories Kmom found.  


VBA2C Stories in Books

You can find good VBA2C stories ('successful' and 'not') in Silent Knife by Nancy Wainer Cohen and Lois Estner, The VBAC Companion by Diana Korte, The Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Experience by Lynn Baptisti Richards, and Artemis Speaks: VBAC Stories & Natural Childbirth Information, written and compiled by Nan Koehler.  

Another particularly helpful book might be Natural Childbirth After Cesarean by Karis Crawford and Johanne Walters, two women who experienced Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans themselves, (two each, in fact!), including some under very unusual and complicated circumstances.  Johanne Walters had her first c/s after she broke her back in a car accident; her baby turned breech from months of braces and corsets and bed rest.  Her second c/s was a mandatory repeat c/s; at that time VBAC was truly a rarity.  For her third child, she opted out of being forced into another c/s and found a caregiver somewhat supportive of VBAC an hour away.  She had her first VBAC after a long difficult labor with a posterior baby and forceps delivery; although she was thrilled to have a VBAC the birth had a lot of intervention and was not easy.  She had her second VBAC with her fourth child in a new state; although this hospital also interfered with her labor and birth she managed to have the baby without drugs or forceps and it was much more satisfying.  

The other author's story is even more complicated and amazing; Karis Crawford had two VBA2Cs, despite a list of complications and risk factors that even today would have doctors running for the operating room.  Her first c/s was for a breech baby, but the baby was stillborn.  Her second c/s was a truly necessary one at 35 weeks for an abrupted placenta and baby in a transverse lie with a cord prolapse; fortunately her baby lived.  However, due to the circumstances, her doctor had to use both a horizontal and vertical incision (a "T" incision), which many doctors would rule out for a VBAC.  Also, the surgery revealed the source of all the problems; she had a bicornate uterus (the top third had a kind of partition, which made her placentas tend to bleed a lot due to difficulty attaching well, made the baby tend to assume breech or transverse positions because of space problems, and put the baby at risk for stillbirth).  This would probably tend to make all future pregnancies complex.

Incredibly, her OB was the one who suggested a VBAC!  However, in the interim, the couple struggled with the husband's infertility, and even when Karis did conceive eventually, the pregnancy was troubled by a great deal of bleeding and a breech presentation associated with the bicornate uterus.  However, she used visualization, prayer, gentle pressure, and a flashlight to get the baby into a head-down position.  Her waters broke 10 days before her due date; after 8 hours without labor, they called in an acupressure specialist, and labor started within a few hours.  She went on to labor naturally and without meds, and had her baby vaginally 12 hours after the acupressure treatment.  

Karis' fourth child (second VBA2C) was born a few years later, despite further struggles with infertility.  Once again the baby was breech, but she turned him again with gentle pressure, visualization, music, and a flashlight.  However, she went into labor at 33 weeks, and despite trying to stop it for several days, the decision was eventually made to let labor progress.  She had her baby after an 8-hour med-free and mostly mild labor; the baby needed resuscitation and extra care but did well (the labor probably helped his lungs prepare; he might not have done as well with an elective c/s, although it's impossible to know for sure).  

So this book contains the stories of 2 women who had VBA2C against all odds, and contains their thoughts about preparing for VBAC, both physically and emotionally.  It is an excellent book.  The authors are supportive both of women who have successful VBACs and those who end up with repeat cesareans after a trial of labor.  They state that "We know the grief associated with repeat cesarean, whether the surgery was medically necessary or not.  If you want more children, VBAC may still be a viable option for your next birth [as it was for them]...[But] for those of you who have completed your family...laboring for a VBAC, even if it ended in cesarean, was a noble work, by which you probably have come to a better definition of yourself as a person...You don't ever forfeit your dignity as a woman because of the way you have given birth." 

Here is a list of specific VBA2C stories to be found in various childbirth/VBAC preparation books.  For ease of reference, the page number and a brief summary of the story is listed, but be aware that different editions of a book may change this information.  Enjoy!

Silent Knife - Nancy and Lois report working with 24 women (as of 1983, when the book was published) with more than one previous c/s; 21/24 had VBACs (an 88% VBAC rate). One woman had a home VBAC after four previous c/s, and two other women had hospital VBACs after four previous c/s.  They also report of a woman who had her sixth baby by VBAC after 5 previous cesareans.  In their chapter called "Letter from VBAC Mothers", there are numerous stories of VBACs after multiple previous cesareans. 

Artemis Speaks - 4 VBA2+C stories 

Natural Childbirth After Cesarean -   Authors' stories, plus 3 other VBA2+C stories

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Experience - 6 VBA2+C stories


Online VBA2C Stories

There are any number of VBAC birth stories that can be found online.  www.childbirth.org/articles/stories/categories/vbacstories.html contains many VBAC stories of various types.  In particular, www.birthlove.com contains many stories of VBAC after multiple cesareans, including quite a few of VBAC after 3, 4 and more cesareans. Unfortunately, the Birth Love site is not free; there are free sections on the site, but full access to the site requires membership.  However, membership is not terribly expensive and is well worth the investment, especially for VBAC moms.  

Of the online VBAC stories out there, some are specifically about VBA2+C; the ones Kmom has found are listed below.  There are probably many more to be found; if you see one not on this list, please email Kmom with the information and URL.  We need as many stories as possible to inspire us on our journeys!


VBA2C Stories On Video

The video, "Gentle Birth Choices" (produced by Barbara Harper), has the videotaped story of a woman having a VBAC after 2 prior cesareans, both for "CPD."  She gives birth at home.  This video can be purchased from www.waterbirth.org

There are now a number of VBAC birth videos available on YouTube and on OneTrue Media.  Here are a few:


Personal VBA2C Stories

Kmom also requested VBA2C success stories from her ICAN online group (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and others.  The following are a few of the stories that were shared.  More stories will be added over time. 

If you want to add your story, please follow the format given below, add your birth story (no attachments please!), give permission to use the story, and email it to kmom at plus-size-pregnancy dog org. 

Unless specifically requested, all identifying information has been removed or changed to protect the privacy of the participants. In some cases, Kmom has edited the stories for clarity, brevity, grammar/spelling, and format, but most stories are told in the exact words of the mothers.  

All stories are copyrighted; none may be used elsewhere without specific written permission from both Kmom and the mother involved.

New stories are added about once a year, and currently Kmom is behind on getting these caught up.  Rest assured these are in process and will be added as time (and children) allow.  Keep checking back frequently to look for new stories.


Kathy's Story (c/s for distress/cpd/ftp, ERCS, VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   

Birth Story

My First Birth (1982):  I went 11 days past due.  At my checkup that morning I was still tightly closed and thick.  I suspect the doctor tried to mess with my cervix because I did have some spotting after the exam.  I started into labor that night with contractions immediately 5 minutes apart and painful.  I think we went to the hospital within an hour of the first contractions.  

I was the typical first-time mother---got to the hospital, wasn't dilated AT ALL but they decided to keep me for observation, because we lived 50 minutes from the hospital and "he wouldn't know when to tell me to come back, because the contractions were already 3-5 minutes apart."  I decided the contractions hurt too much after walking for about 1/2 hour.  I got into bed and tried doing the lamaze breathing.  I laid there, on the monitor, breathing for the next 5 hours.  I did dilate some, so they admitted me.  

After 10 hours I had gotten to 5 cm.  I couldn't imagine doing it for another 10 hours (no one told me that you can go from 5-10 much faster) so I got an epidural. Soon after that, they ruptured my membranes.  Within minutes, the baby went into distress---low fetal heart-tones---60s?  The room filled with people throwing me this way and that to try and stabilize the baby.  They were yelling for the doctors---who was in surgery.  (I think they were anticipating a crash c/s.)  Finally the Fetal Heart Tones (FHTs) stabilized and he came running in and did a blood check on the baby to see if the oxygen level was still okay.  It was.  

I continued to labor.  Had another short blip in FHTs which resolved quickly.  After 18 hours I was 7 cm (according to my records---I was never told that I had gotten past 6 cm).  It was 6 p.m. on a Friday night (wonder if the doctor had plans?).  He sat on my bed and told me that this just wasn't working.  I had been scared to death by the fetal distress (though the baby was fine now) but he recommended a c/s.  I said okay.  

It turns out that the baby's cord was 2x around the neck AND tied in a true knot (most likely the reason for the distress---they broke my membranes, he dropped, the knot tightened).  I believe that if left to labor without interventions we would have done fine, but I don't feel anger over the decision.  I was involved, and with what I knew at the time, the decision made sense.  Recovery was normal but painful.  Had a small baby boy---6 lbs. 11.5 oz.  

My Second Birth (1985):  I had heard that it may be possible to have a vaginal birth after cesarean, but didn't know anyone who had.  I talked with the doctors about it, and they agreed to let me try.  I was shocked when they told me that my c/s diagnosis was CPD and FTP.  I insisted that it was because of the cord.  They said no.  At 40 weeks, the baby was riding high, cervix thick and closed.  The doctor discussed VBAC with me.  Said he didn't see any positive signs of labor going differently.  Said that a scheduled c/s was easier than labor followed by a c/s and that some women think it is easier than a difficult labor.  Made some sense.  I felt pressure by my DH and mother to know when the baby was coming.  Easter was also coming and I was worried about leaving my firstborn unexpectedly in the night, and being away from home on Easter.  In addition, the anniversary of my miscarriage was later that same week.  I didn't want to labor on the same day.  All dumb reasons which made sense at the time.  I agreed with a heavy heart to schedule my c/s---as far past my due date (4 days past) as I could and still be home from a c/s by Easter.  April Fool's Day was the day chosen (a message there?).  

I cried all weekend.  I cried the whole drive to the hospital.  I cried for hours as they prepped me and I awaited the surgery.  I wasn't even sure why I was crying.  I just know that it didn't seem like that right way to have a baby.  I was very sick during the surgery---my blood pressure dropped to 70/50 and I was extremely nauseated.  I kept saying, "I'm going to pass out---I'm going to throw up" and couldn't enjoy the birth at all.  I was thrilled to learn that I had a baby girl.  She was 6 lbs. 12 oz.  I fell in love immediately and tried to put the birth behind me. But recovery was MORE painful and slower than the c/s after labor.  I felt cheated and somewhat betrayed.  

My Third Birth (1987):  Baby number three was a surprise--a happy one for me, I wanted a third child.  But I was so depressed about the thought of another SCHEDULED C/S.  That was my biggest issue.  I didn't want it to be scheduled.  By luck, I brought it up with the new young female OB.  Couldn't I wait until labor started to have the c/s?  And couldn't I be checked to see if things were different this time?  She said she couldn't see any reason why I couldn't have a trial of labor.  I was so overjoyed that I started to cry.  

After that, I realized that it was up TO ME to make it work.  I couldn't count on anyone else.  I found SILENT KNIFE at the library and my life changed after that.  It lived on my nightstand for the next four months.  I found a VBAC class which helped my husband more than me.  I found a CBE [childbirth educator] who knew my doctors and knew my hospital and could give me pointers on working with the system.  Whenever I was discouraged or worried or had a bad OB appointment, I got on the phone with one of them.  I'd get "recharged".  I was so thrilled to be "allowed" to  go into labor that I was really looking forward to it.  I wanted to do things differently this time.  I was determined to stay home longer, to walk, etc.

I had to agree to schedule the c/s for a week past my due date.  I pushed it to ten days past.  I was ready to try castor oil if I didn't start by the 9th day.  My c/s was scheduled for Tuesday after Labor Day.  On Saturday, I enlisted my DH's help (same way we started the baby).  By afternoon, intermittent contractions started.  Yea!  They continued through the night and all day Sunday.  Sometimes they would get to be 5 minutes apart for a couple hours and I would get my DH up and dressed for the hospital, then they would slow down.  I did this about 3 different times.  I walked and walked.  Soaked in the bath, ate light stuff, drank tons of water.  Took naps, read inspiring things.  

On Labor Day, it was the same thing.  We agreed that it was time to have the doctor check us out.  But I was emphatic that if I wasn't at least 4 cm, I would be going home.  I knew as soon as I got there (and the "wrong" doctor was on duty) that it wasn't "time".  He checked me and I was just a fingertip dilated---the same as I had been for 3 weeks!  I was a bit discouraged, but determined to get out of there.  I knew it would be a disaster to stay.  I told the doctor that I was going to leave since I obviously wasn't in active labor.  I agreed to stay and be monitored for an hour.  I was fine, the baby was fine, and I was outta there (had to sign a form to leave).  

I was so disgusted that I made my DH take me out for some real food.  We went to Ponderosa and I think I ate some of everything on the salad bar.  Then I went home, took a long bath and a nap (all the while still having intermittent contractions).  By evening, they started to feel a bit different---stronger, more regular.  I had to stop and lean on something and breathe slowly through each contraction.  By 9 p.m. I knew it was different and by midnight I was ready to go back.  One way or another, it was time to have this baby.  

I was upset to see the same doctor there---the one who didn't agree with my plans to have a VBAC after 2 c/s.  At 1 a.m. I was checked---4 cm dilated, baby as high up as they can measure (-4 station).  Hey, 4 cm is pretty good!  The doctor left and my nurse said that I could "call the shots".  I just laid there after the exam and my DH asked me if I wanted to walk (Walk? How can I? Oh yeah, I HAVE TO walk).  So I got up, and we walked and walked and rocked and walked.  I would stop with each contraction and hang on the railing having my DH slow breathe with me.  

Three hours later, I am still walking and my legs are trembling, and I'm sweating and cold.  I said, "I can't do this anymore.  I might have to get an epidural---I can't get an epidural---but I can't do this anymore."  My angel nurse said, "Well, let me check you and then you can decide."  She says, "You're 10 cm!  You can push!"

Oh my God, I AM doing this!!  I had her get out the squatting bar and started pushing in a squat.  My water broke in a pop---I got to have my water break by itself---Yea!  Pushing was incredible.  No mind involved---all body and instincts.  All power and grunting.  The nurse yells for the doctor---and calls for him 2 or 3 more times.  I'm pushing and pushing.  Who is going to catch this baby?  Oh the nurse can---that's fine.  She starts to get me ready for the conservative doctor---shoves in an IV, puts me back on the bed, legs in stirrups (my mind's saying "no", I'm saying nothing---good reason for a doula).  Baby's coming.  Doctor runs in, washes his hands and catches my VBAC baby barehanded.  20 minutes of pushing.  From 4 cm, -4 station to birth in 3 hours!  

There was no support on my perineum as I was instructed to PUSH, PUSH HARDER, so I did tear.  Doctor handed the baby to the nurse for all the junk they do---I got her about 10 minutes later.  This part wasn't perfect, but in the larger scope of things, a smaller disappointment.  I would do many things differently now.  Most of all what I know about birth, I learned after my VBAC.  I haven't ever been able to apply it to myself, but have used it with my childbirth education classes and my doulaing---all of which came about as the result of this empowering experience.  

I would never consider labor and birth without a doula again, and I would seriously consider planning a homebirth, but all in all, it was wonderful.  It changed my life.  I hope the same for you.


Jacki's Story (c/s for failed induction/ftp, ERCS, induced VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   Jacki's first c/s was for "failure to progress" after being induced for being 2 weeks overdue.  She never got past 2 cm but also never had any very effective contractions.  Her second c/s was a scheduled repeat c/s because her doctor convinced her that it was too risky to try a VBAC.  She says, "I was so uneducated about the whole thing and I assumed that Dr. knows best."

Her labor for this VBAC baby was also induced (at 41 weeks) because in her state you can't be attended by a midwife after 42 weeks of pregnancy and she was sure that if she had an OB she would end up with a c/s.  Jacki's baby was malpositioned; his head was cocked to one side, which is called 'asynclitic'.  This may well account for the difficulty in dilating that she had, as well as the intensity of pain that she had.  In the end, she felt that the induction was the right thing to do.  "We opted for the induction at 41 weeks.  It's a good thing we did because I KNOW I would have had another c/s if I had not."

Birth Story

Well, I had my baby boy.  What a beautiful boy, what a beautiful experience.  

I had gone to have gel put on my cervix and was sent home, then went back again the following Monday and was sent home again.  My midwives asked if I wanted to try low-dose pit, and I was very hesitant but after thinking and discussing it with my husband we decided to go for it, only because I was 3-4 cm and 80% effaced.  

So I went in Wednesday to be induced.  I started contracting very slowly; it was very low-dose.  It picked up a bit as they slowly turned it up.  It never really got horrible until about 10 hours after they had started it.  My midwives don't like to check you until they feel like you are showing signs of change physically.  Anyhow, they finally checked me and after being in labor all day I was only 4 cm and still 80%, though  I had changed from posterior cervix to anterior.  I was so devastated.  I couldn't believe I hadn't changed at all.  I cried so much.  My midwives said we should turn off the pit and let me sleep at the hospital and try again in the morning.  I love these women; any other doctor would have put me up on the cold hard table [for surgery]!!!  They said as long as the baby is okay we could wait. 

So I was started again on the pit on Thursday at 5 a.m. These contractions felt completely different than the ones the day before; they were low and man, did they hurt.  I had gone into this wanting no epidural.  Come to find out my platelets were so low that I couldn't get one anyhow.  That meant if I were to have a c/s, I would have to be under a general---that scared me so much.  I was starting to feel defeated.  Thank God for my doula and supportive husband and stepmom, they kept me going.  

My midwife came in a few hours after they started the pit to check me, still no change.  I was ready to scream at this point, I was so sure I was gonna end up cut.  She suggested we break my water which I didn't want to do at all.  But after thinking about it I decided I couldn't go through another day of labor.  This was the 4th day.  

So she broke my water.  The very next contraction was much more intense.  I was in so much pain.  I started losing track of time.  I kept my cool and stayed on top of them with the help of everyone.  A few hours later my midwife checked me; I was at 6 cm.  I was so happy to hear that, I thought maybe I can do this!  Man, did things get hard; Wow, I couldn't have imagined how hard labor was.  My doula kept me focused; I wanted out of my body.  They gave me some Nubain but it didn't really help at all.  My midwife came back an hour later to check on me and she saw how I was and said "I'm gonna check you, I think you're in transition."  So she checked and said I ahd gone from 6 to 9 in one hour!!!  If I hadn't been in so much pain, I would have been ecstatic!

She said we are gonna start pushing in a few minutes; half an hour later I started pushing.  It was so hard.  I found out later it was because the baby's head had cocked sideways against his shoulder.  They didn't say anything to me; they put me on my side and held my leg up and made me push.  This felt so much better.  I felt the urge to push; it felt so good to push.  I pushed for almost 2 hours and out came my beautiful son.  

It was the most awesome feeling once he came out.  I can't describe the joy in my heart that I had my VBAC. I was in shock that my body actually did work.  They put him on my chest and he looked at me with his blue eyes.  I was in love immediately.  What a beautiful experience it was.  Hard but wonderful.  The recovery was amazing; an hour later I was up taking a shower and walking, joking, feeling high!! What a difference from my 2 c/s.  I tore a little bit, not too bad. 

I want to praise God for the birth of my son, and thank all of you for your support.  And of course, my wonderful midwives whom I truly love and admire, and my doula and supportive family.  One more thing, I went in saying I wouldn't do pit or let them break my water, but sometimes you have to change your thinking.  I know that it made a difference in my labor; always keep an open mind.  Of course think long and hard, but make the best choice for you.  And once again Praise God for my wonderful experience and family.  


Pamela's Story (2 elective c/s for herpes, VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   Many women with herpes are sectioned unnecessarily.  Women with herpes need to carefully research the issue before making their decisions.  

Birth Story

I have 3 wonderful boys.  The first was born in 1993 by cesarean.  I have herpes, and was so afraid of what that disease would do to my babies.  Near the end of my pregnancy, my blood pressure went up, just slightly.  It was enough for the doctor to suggest a cesarean and give me a way out.  The epidural left me with a window, and I was drugged senseless.  I don't remember my first few days with my baby.  

My second son was born in 1995 by cesarean.  I wasn't so afraid of the herpes this time, but I was still worried.  I got sick at the end of the pregnancy, losing weight instead of gaining it.  Indigestion is not an indication for a cesarean, but the doctor suggested one.  I was supposed to get another epidural but instead received a spinal.  The anesthesiologist was new and didn't do it right.  I got a spinal headache and they did a blood patch to "fix it."  I laid there and cried.  I felt I was being punished---I had been in a relationship I shouldn't have been and now I was paying for it.  It had been seven years, and I was still paying a heavy price.  

When I got pregnant with my third baby, I realized I had been mistreated--once by a former boyfriend, and again by my OB.  My boyfriend should have told me I was at risk to get a disease when I was with him.  My OB should have told me the risks involved with the cesareans.  Neither did.  I realized I was fighting for more than a vaginal birth.  I was fighting to gain a sense of self-worth.  I was fighting to say "I can do this, in spite of you."  I was trying to get over my past.  

I had two babies and had never labored.  I was determined to have my baby, my way.  I brought up the subject of VBAC with my OB (the same OB all three pregnancies).  He said, "Sure, but your big problem was the herpes."  He was playing on my fear.  He is responsible for my suffering with this disease--as much or even more than the idiot who gave it to me is.  Never once did he suggest natural ways (such as L-lysine) to prevent an outbreak.  He did, during my third pregnancy, suggest the prescription drug, Zovirax.  He talked about measures they would have to take to monitor for a rupture.  When I asked about being more lenient on some of these things, he said, "You are lucky I am even letting you try to birth vaginally after two cesareans."  The jerk, he never said anything about this when he suggested the second cesarean.  He didn't tell me how hard I would have to fight to birth my baby the next time if I didn't even try to that time.  

I hired a doula.  I read books.  I worked for my VBA2C.  I got it without him.  At 36 weeks, I interviewed and began seeing a midwife with a doctor backup.  She would deliver at the hospital, and would care for me the entire labor.  She listened to my concerns.  She was understanding.  I felt relieved---I had found a supportive caregiver.  My water broke about eight Thursday night.  With my husband, doula, and midwife's support, I gave birth vaginally, naturally, even joyfully to a conehead baby.  My son N was born on Friday, five minutes before noon.  I was on a high for days.  The high was a natural one---not from drugs.  I had done it!  It truly was an empowering moment in my life.  My baby just turned a year old, and I am still breastfeeding him.  He is a content and happy baby.  

As for me, I have changed, grown.  I feel a burden of guilt has been released.  I am a better mom, wife, and woman.  I have completed a part of the circle of life that I had skipped before.  Doctors say it doesn't matter how your baby comes----that is a lie.  The difference is powerful, awesome, and life-changing.  I feel a responsibility to support other women who need encouragement.  I have started a chapter of International Cesarean Awareness Network in my state, and serve on the national board.  I am grateful to those who supported and encouraged me when others thought I was crazy.  I did it and it was worth it.  


Maddy's Story (breech c/s, 'failed' TOL c/s, hospital VBA2C, home VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   #3 is another posterior baby story.  She used a combination of patience, homeopathic remedies, rocking the hips, and the 'all-fours' position to turn the baby, plus a tub to help cope with the pain in the meantime.  Labor stalled at 6 cm, common with posteriors.  But because they were willing to wait things out and not force the issue with pitocin, their proactive measures did turn the baby and resulted in a VBAC; in most hospitals this would have turned into another c/s.  

Birth Story

Baby #1 was a 42-week planned c-section for breech. The doctor wasn't comfortable trying to deliver her, and couldn't turn her (the cord looked like it might be around her neck). No labor or cervical changes at all.

Baby #2 was also a 42-week baby, an attempted VBAC with "midwives." (Hah! I trusted in the "midwife" label, but they really knew next to nothing that could have helped me.) Spontaneous labor began the day before I was to be induced, but I was "only" progressing 1 cm every few hours, which wasn't fast enough. By the time 30 hours had passed, I was "stuck" at 6.5 cm, and had a beta-strep infection, so I consented to a c-section.  The hospital was horrid, and I vowed never to go back there, no matter how far I had to travel. Later, I learned that not eating, and being tied to the bed to "get a good reading on the monitor" had probably significantly contributed to my "failed" VBAC effort.

With Baby #3, I searched everywhere for a caregiver that would give me the benefit of trusting my body to do its job. I needed to move, I needed to eat, I needed to progress at my own pace. I called everywhere, and visited two local practices. One doctor took a look at my chart and told me, "You're overweight, you're out of shape, you failed at labor twice before, you don't progress, and you're going to end up being sectioned anyway. This is a waste of your time and mine." I picked up my jaw from the floor, and moved on...

I was ready to drive almost two hours to a midwifery practice, but one more doc was recommended to me, just across the state line (about 15 miles away). He was wonderful! He calls himself "a midwife in a doc suit," and it's *so* true. He truly believed I could do a VBAC, and was willing to work with me.

Because the first two babies were 9 pounders at 42 weeks, I consented to using a prostaglandin gel to see if we could coax a smaller baby to come at 40 weeks. For three days, I had three gel treatments a day, doses of castor oil, herbal tinctures, homeopathic remedies (pulsatilla and Kali Carb 30) to turn a posterior baby... I had decent labor during the day, went home at night--not too bad, except that by the third day, I was still only about 6 cm dilated--the same place I got stuck last time.

I consented to having my water broke, even though it was a bit earlier than I would have liked. My contractions completely stopped for almost six hours! They suddenly returned though, hard and heavy, at which point, I used a tub (what a lifesaver, especially in getting my own weight off of my back!), and a lot of hot compresses on my back. After three hours of hard back labor, the baby rotated around from her posterior position. Another two hours, and I had dilated the final 3 cm, and she was born!

It was the most wonderful, exhilarating experience of my life. I did it! I actually conquered the beast within, and my body worked as it should, to birth my baby. Funny thing was, even at 40 weeks, she was right at nine pounds anyway! But I did it, with no pain medication, no pit drip, no c-section!

My doc said, "You had the most functional dysfunctional labor I've seen... way to go!" I know I would have been sectioned eight times over anywhere else. The staff was so supportive, and no one made any of those horrible comments like the one nasty doctor had made. (I did want to take my baby and hold her in his face and say, "How's THAT for a waste of time?!?!")

Here I am, almost three years later, with a midwife (new to my area, and absolutely terrific!) who "doesn't see any reason whatsoever why I can't have a home birth." I'm still the same size, but I'm a different woman... I'm confident, I know my body can do it, and I'm looking forward to a great home birth!

Update: Maddy had her home VBA2C just recently!  She had another girl, and this baby was 9 lbs. 11 oz.  Below is her short version of the birth story.

I had labor off and on all week, so my midwife came Wednesday afternoon to see what we could do to get long and strong and steady labor.  I agreed for her to strip my membranes, and things kicked in quickly then.  From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., I dilated from 5 cm to 9-10 cm.  I would contract well for an hour or more, then they would slow down and I'd sleep for 45 minutes of so, with contractions spreading out to 5-10 minutes apart.  Then my friends would get me up and get me back to work again.  

I started pushing about 2 a.m., in the bathroom on all fours, then with one leg half on the toilet seat and me sort of crouching over, then standing....you name it, I tried it!!  She was moving down but would NOT crown!  My perineum is like vinyl, they said.  ;-)   She was "right there" for over an hour, and in spite of hot compresses and massage, she just wouldn't crown completely.  So my midwife snipped (her second episiotomy EVER!!!), a tiny, tiny little snip, and let me tear from there.  

I pushed her out slowly---her head stopped AFTER crowning, but before it was out, and I got a great look in the mirror, and FELT her head finish delivering!!! It was SOOOO cool!!! Then the rest of her came out, again with me feeling her descent and move out---one shoulder at a time...and then it was DONE!!!.....She nurses like a pro, and we're doing well.


Bonnie's Story (2 c/s, insulin-dependent VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  

Birth Story

I had the most powerful, beautiful, incredible experience of my life.  And it only took 4.5 hours from start to finish.  Not counting the nine months beforehand, of course.  

My first contraction started at 4 p.m. and our 3rd daughter was born at 8:27 p.m.  She weighed in at a bountiful 10 lbs., 2 oz.  So I guess God said to me, "My child, you have worked hard enough at this pregnancy.  You may have the blessing of a speedy labour."  Not to say that it was terribly easy.  In fact it hurt a whole heck of a lot.  Kind of surprised me, actually---don't know why.  

I seem to be starting at the end. Let me back up a bit.  We all decided that because Dr. M was on call this weekend and I had hit my due date we were going to actively pursue having this baby.  At 9 in the morning we went to the midwife's office where I had a quick internal exam and stretch & sweep.  I was still four centimeters dilated and 80% effaced.  We made a plan to try a castille soap enema, then a castor oil treatment.  If that didn't work we would try rupturing my membranes.  At any rate, the suitcase was in the car.  

We went out and finally found the enema kit, and trooped back to the midwife's office.  They had gone out to run errands and do a home visit for another client.  The first try didn't work, so the midwife siad to start the castor oil, and then to try the enema again.  I took the first dose of castor oil at 2:40 p.m., the enema about a half hour later, and then the second dose of castor oil a half hour after that.  

At 4 p.m. I started to feel some contractions along with a lot of cramping (uggghhh, not a pleasant experience, that!).  We called my friend to come and get my daughters because I was feeling distracted and needed to be able to focus.  At first I had wanted my children around me, but then I wanted them to go.  A was really anxious about the pain I was experiencing.  Good thing she left when she did.  T wanted to stay.  I made sure that she knew that things were probably going to get rough.  

By 5 p.m. the contractions were getting painful, and still less than 30 seconds duration, but they were only a few minutes apart.  I still wasn't totally sure that these weren't just more cramps.  DH paged the midwives around 5:25 p.m., and one spoke to me on the phone during a contraction to hear how I was coping.  I guess that what she heard reassured her, so she told me she would be right there.  DH called my doula at around the same time.  I was worried that we were doing all this too soon, but in retrospect I'm awfully glad we did.  The midwife arrived at 6 p.m., and not a moment too soon!  I was sitting in an office chair and she was kneeling beside me as I had a couple of contractions, and then, whoosh, my water broke at 6:10 p.m. What an incredible feeling!  The first thing I said was "I did it myself!"  (I guess I was really anxious about having AROM.)  What a neat feeling, and it actually relieved a lot of pressure.  Everyone commented on how clear the fluid was. (There is some controversy about meconium in the baby when a mom has a castor oil induction.)

At this point, things really started heating up (as if they weren't already!).  The contraction felt like they were just ripping my pelvic bones apart, and there was barely time to catch a breath between them.  I sat on the birthing ball, squeezing DH's fingers during every contraction---he tried to move his hand once and I almost freaked---I just *needed* his hand.  I leaned on the doula, she was just so comfortable and comforting.  She spoke to me so quietly, and she said everything I needed to hear.  I felt so much trust in her.  As I made noises that became high-pitched, she told me to "find my tone", and bring the noises down low.  She encouraged everything I did.  I felt like I was doing everything right.  Between contractions she made sure to help me relax my shoulders (she knows that's where I 'carry' my tension).  It was absolute perfection.  Looking back, I remember how quiet it was in the room while I was 'working'.  What an incredible amount of respect they showed for me.  

My daughter sat there quietly the whole time with huge round eyes.  She actually got a few minutes of contractions on video, for which I was later thankful.  

At around 7:30 p.m., the midwife checked me and I was 6-7 cm.  Shortly thereafter, someone suggested I try to get up and go pee.  I think that was the turning point.  Crashing pain jolted me along the short distance to and from the washroom.  I returned to the birthing ball, where the contractions just double-ended one after the other.  Around that point, I started asking for an epidural (sheepish grin).  The doula got firm with me then, looking closely into my eyes and reminding me of my wishes.  I kept saying that I was so tired, and just wanted to sleep for a few minutes, just take a little rest.  After a few more minutes of that, something changed.  

It didn't hurt as much, and then my body made me make a grunting noise.  The midwife asked me if I felt like I needed to push.  I said no---and then I grunted again.  8-)   She decided to check me again.  I remember clearly that she said, "I can't feel the cervix---she's fully!"  That sunk in through the pain, and I felt renewed strength.  C knelt down in front of me, looked me directly in the eyes and said, "That was transition."  Everyone started scurrying around packing things to go in the various cars.  It felt so surreal as I looked through the fog and watched all these preparations go on around me.  All I was required to do was to stand there.  DH was assigned the job of "helping" me get my shoes on.  I'm afraid I didn't assist him much, and I stepped on his fingers heavily.  Poor guy.

We headed down to the street, where, limelight-hogger that I am, I stood on the sidewalk in my pyjamas and had a very noisy contraction.  It was 8 p.m. on a Saturday night in downtown---there were quite a few people to witness the spectacle.  I made my way to where the van was, doors standing open.  During the 10 minute trip to the hospital, I kept making those grunting, pushing noises, and my doula kept firmly telling me to open my eyes and blow.  DH drove, white-knuckled, as quickly as possible, but I don't think he broke one traffic law!  

We pulled up to the hospital and walked in at about 8:10 p.m.  It was a short ride up to the 6th floor in the wheelchair.  I made sure I made lots of noise all the way, so people would hear me coming! ;-) Dr. M popped his head in for a moment, but didn't interfere in any way.  Nurses stepped in, too, to bring equipment, but left quickly.  I think C spoke to them in the hall and told them their presence wasn't needed.  

I still can't believe how undeniable the urge to push was.  After the midwives helped me turn on to my side, it was clear sailing (well, almost).  The doula moved my hand down as the baby's head crowned (will I ever forget that feeling?).  I told them I didn't want to push anymore after the baby's head was half out because I was too tired, and almost in unison they said, "You HAVE to push!"  It's a good thing I am so obedient (smirk).  The shoulders were slightly stuck, and C moved in to rotate the baby while the backup midwife pushed on my pelvic bone---quite the bruise I have there too, I might add.  It was the most amazing feeling as she slid the rest of the way out of me on to the bed.  

I was totally surprised as I looked around and saw everyone crying.  They put my baby on my chest and covered us with blankets. I was shouting---"I had a baby, I had a baby!"  I don't think I have ever been more proud of myself---or more happy.  It was the achievement of the biggest goal I had ever set for myself.  

We had been at the hospital for 20 minutes.  DH, in a choked voice, was the first to announce her sex, and he cut the umbilical cord.  I had her at my breast within 5 minutes of her birth.  

To my dismay, the midwives wanted me to push out the placenta---I didn't want anything to do with that because I was starting to feel pain after the adrenalin wore off.  I thought that was bad, until they wanted to check me for tearing. Oy!  I had a second degree tear, and needed 2 internal stitches, and 3 external---all in different places.  It was incredibly painful as they discussed the optimal number and placement of stitches and then proceeded to stitch me.  

The midwives took blood, and I figured this was a good time to check the baby's blood glucose.  I used my own glucometer because it was more accurate than their strips.  Her sugars were 3.3 (kmom note: 59 mg/dl), which isn't bad.  The pediatrician had told me they would recommend supplementation if the sugars got below 2.2 (~40 mg/dl).  

After about an hour and a half, it was over.  We were left alone in the room, with only DH's parents (who had arrived while I was being stitched and waited patiently in the hall while they overhead me complain about the pain of the stitches) and my other friend.  

The midwives asked us what we wanted to do next.  They didn't particularly want us to go home because of the distance if anything should go wrong.  Staying in the hospital, with a private room, would cost about $175 because we don't have private insurance.  We decided to take a room at one of the nicest hotels in the city.  Believe it or not, the rate was only $150!  After a total of 5.5 hours, we rolled out of the hospital.  

I was still euphoric as we walked (I rolled in a wheelchair) into the splendor of that hotel.  We got a room for DH's parents, and by chance the rest of us ended up with a suite.  It was incredible.  I sat in the living room of our suite, eating pizza from room service and nursing my baby until 5 a.m.  I didn't sleep much even after I went to bed, because I couldn't believe this was all real.  The baby slept between us in the queen-size bed.

When I called down to the desk to arrange for a late check-out, I spoke to the assistant manager.  i explained that I had just had a baby, and we had spent her first night there.  The woman was suitably impressed and gave us permission to stay till 3 p.m., with her congratulations.  A short while later, a knock came at the door.  It was a waiter with a lovely tray of fruit and candies.  There was also a card, addressed to the baby.  It said, "Dear baby xxxx, Thank you for spending your very first night with us here at xxxxx.  We hope you will come visit us again when you get older."  It was signed by all the staff at the desk.  I cried at the thoughtfulness of it.

Later in the morning, we ordered a room service breakfast for the family as we waited for the midwives to arrive for a pre-arranged 'home' visit.  The waiter arranged the white linen cloth, crystal, and fresh flowers on the oak dining table in our suite and set out the covered plates.  I sipped my fresh-squeezed orange juice and devoured the most delicious scrambled eggs, home fries, and sausage.  How much better than the hospital is this?  

The midwives check me and the baby.  We had check her sugars two more times and they were holding stable at 3.6 and 3.3.  (65 and 59 mg/dl)  She had also been nursing almost constantly. All was well.  

It is now a week later, and I think we have settled in nicely.  The two older girls both seem to love their little sister.  I could wish for more sleep, but in the end I am awed by the strength and alertness of a healthy, full-term baby, having never had one before.

I have had 2 previous cesareans.  I also had insulin-dependent Type II diabetes.  I am 5 ft. tall.  I worked very hard at normalizing this last pregnancy and I trained as if I was going into a marathon: good food, lots of exercise, saw all my caregivers regularly.  But do you know what I think the most important thing was?  I educated myself, and made all my own decisions.  It can be done.


Teresa's Story(2 prior cesareans due to malpositions, VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   A story of malpositions!  Her first probably had a malposition (postdates, distressed baby, water broke, terrible back labor, no descent of baby), and her second was stubbornly breech.

Her third probably also initially had a malposition (went overdue, water broke, back labor, labor too painful lying down, transition-like labor but stuck in early to mid-labor, baby not engaged, sudden change in labor probably indicating that baby had resolved its position, quick dilation and birth after that, baby had bruised forehead from where it was probably stuck for a while).  Since this malposition was able to resolve on its own, she went on to have a lovely VBAC.  

Birth Story

Baby #1 (cesarean): Water broke at 42 weeks with meconium, went to the hospital, shaved practically from the neck down, pitocin to start labor, HORRIBLE back labor, got the epidural that I swore I wouldn't get, could feel absolutely nothing, got to 10 cm and tried pushing for a couple of hours but couldn't feel anything so I'm sure it wasn't very effective.  After 2 hours of pushing had a c/s for 'failure to progress,' 'CPD,' and distressed baby.  (I was 20 and very naive--the doctor and hospital staff scared me into thinking the baby was in grave danger.)  Baby was perfect, 7 & 9 apgars, no complications with the surgery.  Had mild to moderate post partum depression for about a month.  I'm now convinced that she was probably malpositioned.  [Kmom note: She notes that she was not heavy for this pregnancy.]

Baby #2 (cesarean): I had divorced and remarried. Baby was breech from 32 weeks.  Tried everything including version and standing on my head to get her to turn, had c/s at 39 weeks.  Baby was perfect, 8 & 9 apgars.  Still stubborn as a mule! 

Baby #3 (VBAC): Even though my daughters' births were joyous occasions and resulted in two healthy and beautiful babies, I felt like I had missed something.  I had always wanted natural childbirth and for my third (and most likely last) birth, I wanted it desperately.  As crazy as it may sound, I longed to feel the pains of labor, to feel my baby emerge from my body, and to hold my baby while he was still warm and slippery with amniotic fluid, instead of hours later after a dozen or so people had laid hands on him.  So I did everything I could to attain that goal.  I read every book ever written on VBAC, scoured the internet for information and statistics on the safety of VBAC, went to Yoga class, made my husband read about natural childbirth, hired a doula, and generally drove everyone close to me a little crazy, including my wonderful and VERY patient husband. 

The last and probably most important step I took to ensure that I got the birth that I wanted was to change doctors at 34 weeks.  I didn't feel I was getting the support I needed from the doctor/midwife team I was seeing.  My office visits were with the midwives, but since I had had 2 cesareans I was considered 'high risk' and so the doctor (whom I never actually met) became involved in my care.  The 'rules and requirements' of my labor changed from visit to visit and became more and more conservative the farther I got along.  There seemed to be too many conflicting opinions on VBAC.  I felt that whoever ended up on call when I went into labor would determine the fate of my child's birth.  The emotional burden of that was too much for me to handle.  I needed to know that everyone around me wanted the same thing that I did and BELIEVED that I could get it. 

I found a wonderful and much smaller doctor/midwife team.  During our consultation visit the doctor explained all the risks of VBAC that I had heard many times before.  He asked me how I wanted to proceed and, after that initial visit, cesarean section was never mentioned to me again.  I was treated just like any other pregnant woman---not one who might expire at any moment.  I think the changing of doctors changed the odds of success in my favor----both emotionally and physically. 

For the first 6 months I developed severe allergies and asthma.  I couldn't get out of bed without being out of breath.  I coughed until I thought my eyes would pop out.  I was on about 5 medications, which worried me a LOT.  At about 7 months is just sort of went away relatively suddenly.  Very weird. 

My due date came and went.  I was becoming more and more depressed because of the possibilities of inducement, the baby being too big, etc.  Even though my providers hadn't mentioned these things yet, all the things that could sabotage my hopes for a natural birth were floating around in my mind.  One evening 8 dates after my due date, about 10:30 p.m., I felt a little pop and thought my water had broken.  About 10 minutes later came a little gush of fluid, but not even enough to wet the bed.  I got up and went to the bathroom but there was only a little trickle and I felt a little contraction.  I went to my husband and told him I thought my water had broken but I wasn't sure.

My DH got out his stop watch.  We walked around and I was having small contractions but nothing I couldn't walk and talk through.  I still had a slow trickle of fluid leaking so at around 11:30 we decided to call the midwife.  She said to try and get some rest and see if things picked up, but to come to the hospital around 6 a.m. regardless of what was happening since my water had broken.  We called the doula and the grandparents.  I kept having contractions; they seemed to be close together but they weren't very strong so I sort of dismissed them.  We tried to get a little sleep, but as soon as I laid down the contractions got harder and I had to start my yoga breathing.  We timed contractions but they didn't really have a pattern at all.  Around 1 a.m. I got too uncomfortable to lay down anymore so I got up and walked a little bit.  Things seemed to me to be speeding up so we called the doula.  She came and put us at ease right away.  She thought I was still in early labor and should try to get some more rest.  As soon as I lay down, I'd have to get back up---the theme of my labor.  I decided to get in the bathtub to try and pass some time and relax.  I told my DH to take a nap.  I filled the tub with water as warm as I dared and turned on the jets----ahhhh heaven!  I stayed in the tub for at least a couple of hours and just tried to control my breathing and relax, and I think I even dozed off at some point.  By the time I got out of the tub I was using yoga sound to get through my contractions. 

I waddled back to bed, had a contraction, and got back up.  Things started getting more serious.  A little while later we woke the doula.  She had me sit on the birthing ball and helped me through some contractions.  I was holding a lot of tension in my shoulders and she laid her hands on me there and was talking to me in her low, calm voice.  She made me some toast and juice but I only managed to drink a few sips of juice.  By this time it was around 5 a.m.  I really felt like things were getting faster and felt an urgency to get to the hospital.  I think my husband felt it too.  My doula said she thought I was around 4 cm dilated and I was satisfied I'd done enough work at home.  We prepared to go to the hospital, making all our phone calls, finishing packing our bag, etc.  The grandparents took my younger daughter, and the older one went to the hospital with the doula.  I expected the drive to be the worst part of my labor but it actually turned out to be one of the calmest moments I had during the entire labor.  It was dawn and there was a thick, heavy fog.  It felt like we were driving through a dream.  I had my eyes closed most of the time and just concentrated on my breath, relaxation, and humming along with my contractions on an "O" sound, and also with a closed mouth hum. 

We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 a.m. When I got there, the nurse told me I was fully effaced but only 2 cm dilated and the baby was at a -3 station.  My first thought was, "Where are the drugs?"  Needless to say, I didn't find the nurses' evaluation of my progress to be very encouraging.  Fortunately, my mind didn't have time to dwell on that information because my body went into overdrive.  Between the exam room and the L&D room, I had to stop for a half-dozen or so contractions and was making a considerable amount of noise.  My nice controlled "O-O-O-O" ended up sounding like a very loud "O-O-OUCH." 

We made it to the L&D room and the nurse wanted to hook me up for the 20 minute monitor strip and the heparin lock I had agreed to in case of emergency.  At this point I was leaning with my contractions---on my DH, the wall, the bed, the birthing ball.  It wasn't my intention to be difficult, but lying or sitting in bed was TOTALLY out of the question and the nurse was very anxious to get the monitor strip going.  The doula suggested I sit on the birthing ball for the monitor strip.  I tried that but couldn't really sit through the contractions.  I ended up leaning against the cabinet the monitor was sitting on for about 10 minutes and making a lot of noise.  I'm sure the nurse thought I was insane because I was only 2 cm dilated and all.  DH was taking his job of birth advocate very seriously, going over the birth plan with everyone who walked in the room. 

After about 10 minutes of ineffective monitoring and loud chanting of O-O-Os, I suddenly had an absolutely overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom.  I expressed this to everyone.  The nurse suggested I leave the monitor belt on and go use the bathroom.  I said NO, take it off, I need to go NOW.  The doula took my eldest daughter to the waiting room, as she wanted to be there but didn't want to see everything happen, and things were getting intense pretty quickly.  DH asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom by myself and I said yes so he left me there.  Everything unnecessary for giving birth to a baby came out of my body.

My yoga sounds started changing.  What started out as O-O-O was now ending up as a ferocious growl.  I had a tremendous urge to push and the contractions were coming one right after another.  I was still sitting on the toilet growling through my contractions, while DH was outside 'discussing' methods of IV insertion with the nurse.  I didn't care.  He checked on me to see if I was alright.  I told him I didn't think I could do this anymore.  He told me later that when I said this he was really happy because he knew that one of the signs of transition was self-doubt.  (I just knew that Bradley book would come in handy!)  He helped me back to the room where I ended up on the birthing ball again.  I think more than one person was telling me to quit pushing, to blow through it.  I couldn't have quit pushing if you had paid me a million dollars.  At this point the nurse brought in release forms because I guess she was convinced she wasn't going to get her 20-minute monitor strip or an IV.  I signed.  My doula whispered to me that it was okay, I definitely wasn't at 2 cm anymore.  Believe it or not, at this time we had only been at the hospital for about 1.5 hours.

My midwife arrived and said something like, "How are things going?"  I think I growled at her.  She smiled and told me I was doing fine.  She wanted me to get on the bed so she could check my progress.  I asked her if I could stay on my hands and knees and she said sure, we'll try it.  I ended up on my knees, leaning up against the propped back of the bed with my elbows.  This is where I stayed for the rest of the birth.  I had actually listened to a birth story in yoga class of a woman who used this position, but never thought I would end up using it.  In retrospect though, I think it kept me focused and uninhibited because I was totally oblivious to anyone else in the room besides Adam, Sabrina and Sara. 

The midwife checked me and not only was I completely dilated, the baby was now at +2 station.  It was really happening.  This registered with me and I think I said something like, “The baby’s really coming?”  I was too busy growling to really be all that excited about it.  The doula was talking to me even though I couldn’t tell you what she was saying.  DH was crying now and told me my how good I was doing. 

I was growling and pushing and growling and pushing.  The doula was soothing me and rubbing the top of my back.  The midwife was putting warm compresses and some sort of oil or gel on my bottom and rubbing the lower part of my back.  DH rubbed my feet a little and watched in amazement as the first glimpse of baby started to appear.  My midwife told me I was going to hurt my throat if I kept growling like that.  (Unfortunately, it was already too late for my throat.  I could barely talk for about a week after the baby came.)  She told me to bring it down.  Bring it down to the baby.  I tried to do that and then suddenly I could feel the baby moving down.  I could actually feel it – it was the wildest thing – all the sound went inward and I could feel the baby moving down.  When each contraction ended I would feel the baby move back up a little and I would think, “No – go down, go down.”  Then, as things progressed the midwife told me the baby was crowning.  She didn’t really need to tell me because I felt the RING OF FIRE, which you read about, but cannot truly appreciate until you have experienced it.  At that point I was thinking, “Go back up, go back up!”  But there was no turning back now, the baby was almost here.  All during this period the nurse was still trying to check the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler.  I can’t even imagine what we would have done if she couldn’t have found it.  I  wanted her to just leave me alone, but I was having to concentrate too hard and couldn’t really convey that message.

The midwife asked DH if he wanted to help deliver the baby.  He was the first to touch the baby.  My baby’s first experience with the outside world was his daddy touching his little head. With the position I was in (upright but leaning over), the baby came out with his face pointing up instead of down, and the first thing the baby saw when he came out with his eyes wide open was the same person who was touching him, his daddy.  After the head was delivered the rest of the baby came within one or two more pushes and it was amazing.  All the pain was instantly and totally gone.  My midwife announced, “It’s a boy!” and at 8:43 a.m. my son officially entered the world weighing in at 8 lbs 6 oz (bigger than either of my c-section babies). 

I turned around so I could see and hold my new son. DH  kissed me and told me how beautiful we were.  I was too shocked to even cry.  All I could do was look at the beautiful, naked little being that was still attached to my body and say, “We did it, little man.  We really did it.”  I think I said that to everyone. 

I held the baby and DH cut the cord.  I held my baby while they cleaned him up and checked him out.  His forehead was a little bruised from coming so fast, but otherwise he was perfect.  [Kmom note: The bruised forehead probably indicates the malposition!]  I tried to nurse him.  It didn’t take him long to catch on and I nursed him for a little while.  They brought me a warm blanket for the baby and we lay skin to skin covered in a nice warm blanket for a while.  My doula went to get my oldest daughter and tell her the good news.  The midwife checked me out and - can you believe it – NO tears, no stitches required.  She did think my cervix might have a little laceration, so she had the doctor check me out.  Luckily, it was only swollen.  Our nurse was quite impressed with us, I think, and let us have extra time in the labor/delivery room with the baby before they took him to weigh, measure and bathe him.  She was a good sport and was very happy and proud for us, even though I’m sure we were her nightmare patients.  Everyone, including us, was amazed that we had only been at the hospital just a little over two hours.  We were still signing release forms after it was all over with.  The midwife told me later that when she arrived at the hospital and heard me (I imagine the whole maternity ward could hear me) and checked my chart she told the nurse, “This is either really, really good – or it’s going to be a REALLY long day!”  It was really, really good.

I had a natural and pure birth.  No drugs, no IV, no monitor, no cutting of anything.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever done.  Was it easier than having a cesarean?  No – absolutely not.  But it was completely satisfying, and perfect, and exactly as God designed it.  I was a participant – not a spectator.  I did it.  With the help of three loving and wonderful people, I did it.  The recovery period was easier than a cesarean, no contest.  The birth was powerful and intense and that’s exactly how I felt when it was all over: powerful and energized.  After being awake all the previous night, it was almost 24 more hours before I slept. I went home the next day to be with my family. 

I had the most perfect birth I could have dreamed of.  It meant more to me than I can even put into words.  It was the difference between giving birth and having surgery.  But it was more than that.  I didn’t have a horrible experience with either of my c-sections, so it’s very difficult to explain the psychological impact that they had on me.  My quest for a natural birth was about being whole, instead of cut in half.  It was also as much about healing the scar on my belly as it was about bringing new life into the world.  It was about trusting myself and my body - and even God.

Honestly, I had expected to have a huge emotional response when the baby was handed to me right after delivery.  I fantasized about that moment almost daily while I was pregnant.  As it turned out, all I could do right after delivery was stare in amazement and shock at my baby.  The emotional response came a few weeks later when I got a note from my midwife thanking ME for letting HER be a part of the birth.  I had also gotten a call from my doula telling me how wonderful the birth was for her.  To know that the birth had touched other people made me realize just how amazing it truly was.  As I read my midwife’s note, all the tears of hope, joy, fear, and relief that I had been wishing and praying for during the last nine months washed over me.  I thanked God and I wept.


Julia's Story  (c/s for non-progress, distress; ERCS; VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  This mom is from the United Kingdom.  She says she was treated as if a VBA2C was unheard of and that she was expecting the unattainable.  Ha!

Birth Story

My first birth [was an] emergency c-section, 10 days before my due date.  After suffering with a severe headache for several hours, I called my midwife.  She arrived, and after taking my blood pressure, advised me to go into hospital immediately.   The starting of pre-eclampsia was mentioned.  I was induced with a suppository (can't remember the name of it) that evening.  After several hours of mild contractions, on a VERY VERY busy maternity ward, I was advised to take a sleeping tablet so that I would be rested for tomorrow, as it would all be happening then.  (In hindsight and now being less naive, I believe because the ward was SOOOO busy.)  

The next morning I was strapped up to a monitor and induced by pitocin.  After around 4 hours of contractions, I was checked and found to be about 1.5 cm dilated.  After a couple more hours my waters were then broken, to speed things up.  Then a couple more hours I was checked again.  At this point I disagree with what was recorded in my notes.  I'm SURE I was told, only 1.5 to 2 cms dilated.  Absolute horror.  I could not believe it.  I can remember thinking the labour will take 2 or 3 days, at this rate.  (My medical notes say that the second check I was 4 to 5 cms. dilated!!!)

I then asked for a C-Section.  (This was at the back of my mind all along, as I was uneducated in childbirth.  I am a dress size UK 10 and was afraid it would hurt too much.)  My wish was granted, after the medical staff quickly justified that the baby was slightly distressed too.  Or maybe because it was around 7 p.m. on a Friday night?  

I believe the medical notes say the baby was sunny-side up [posterior].  This may explain why there was apparently "slow progress.'  Recovered reasonably well after the operation.  

My second birth [was an elected C-Section].  Booked in for the ERCS at 1 week before due date.  I was advised to have a Trial of Labor.  But all the old fears were there, could I do it, still uneducated in childbirth, but also had the added complication that I had a dermoid cyst on my ovary that needed to be removed.  In my eyes the TOL could fail.  I didn't dilate very fast in the first birth, and would probably need another C-Section anyway, and I needed an operation to remove the cyst.  Seemed easier to have 2-for-1, remove baby and remove cyst at the same time.  (If I had known the pressure I would be against for a normal birth for baby number 3, rather than another C-Section, maybe I should have tried a bit harder for a normal birth for this baby.)

My waters broke on their own accord, one week before the planned c/s.  After contracting for several hours we went into the hospital.  I was asked again if I wanted a TOL, as I had dilated to 4-5 cms.  Oh, I didn't know I could do that.  I still said no.  Baby and cyst and ovary all removed at the same time.  Baby was in perfect position for delivery, i.e., not sunny-side-up.  The recovery after this operation took a lot longer this time.  Probably due to the cyst/ovary being removed, as well as an active 3.5 year old to look after. 

My third birth was my successful VBA2C.  I thought it would be for the best, physically and emotionally, to prove to myself that I was a 'normal' woman who could actually deliver a baby.  I educated myself on childbirth (at last) and decided to try for a VBAC.  Easy, I thought, they had offered me a TOL before, they should do it again.  

But after the first visit to see my midwife at 15 weeks, the midwife had stated along the lines, "Oh, the consultant won't allow a normal delivery, not after 2 c-sections.  But we could try."  I started reading up on VBAC and all the dangers (?).  For the whole of this pregnancy I felt I had to be one step in front of the consultants, and at times the midwives.  

I met my consultant at around 18 weeks.  Without even discussing the delivery with me, he read "2 previous c-sections" on my notes and started to write "ERCS" again.  I stopped him and said that I wanted to discuss my plans with him.  I told him I had read up VBAC extensively, and I was prepared to continue with my initial plan for a TOL.    He relented, but stated that the pregnancy and delivery had to be normal, with no complications.  He implied he would not agree to a breech birth, or if the baby was too large, went over-due, etc.  He planned to see both myself and my husband to further discuss the birth plan at 36 weeks.  

At 20 weeks I had a slight bleed.  A scan revealed a possibly low-lying placenta, with veins covering up the cervical Os, and that possibly one of these veins had burst.  After the initial worry that I was miscarrying, I tried to prepare myself mentally for the visit from my consultant.  The first thing my consultant said to me was along the lines, "Well, these complications throw your TOL out of the window!"  Having had a low-lying placenta with my second child, I knew that this could change significantly and correct itself in the later stage of pregnancy.  So I told him.

At this point I had stopped trusting the NHS [National Health Service].  So I had a private, more detailed scan at 25 weeks, in the hope this would reveal if I definitely had a low-lying placenta, and what had caused the slight bleed.  This private scan showed the nearest vein to my cervix was 6.5 cms away, that the low-lying placenta had indeed moved higher up, and that there was no complications.  Oh yeah, and we were expecting a girl.  

Expecting a confrontation at my 36 week check-up with my consultant, in a strange way I was slightly disappointed that he agreed I could have the TOL.  He did strongly recommend that once labour had been established that I was continuously monitored.  I wanted an active birth, and everything I had read had encouraged this to reduce the possibility of a repeat c/s.  I was a little non-committal about this and said I would think about it more.  Save that one for another day.  

Three and a half weeks before my due date I started having contractions.  Apparently these were only "ripening of the cervix" pains.  After two days of these pains, with very little sleep at night, I started having proper contractions.  After several hours we went into hospital.  Once there and settled into the labour room, I was checked after 4 hours.  I was 3 or 4 cms.  This was going well, not too much pain.  No drugs at all.  Then the discussion for  continuous monitoring was raised again, as I was in established labour.  I said I needed to think about it more, and needed to discuss it with my husband.  The midwife and assistant midwife came back after 30 minutes and because I still had not agreed to it, suggested the duty consultant have a word with me.  He turned up shortly after and tried to convince me.  I expressed my concern that if I was continuously monitored I could not walk around, and that if there was a slight problem with the baby's heartbeat, everyone would overreact and that I would immediately be taken for an emergency c/s.  (At this point I think I was unduly pressed into continuous monitoring, and the fear that I could be harming the baby was mentioned.)  I said I would still think about it, and would have an answer soon.  

The pains were starting to get really painful now, and I was checked again.  I was about 8 cm.  I had actually made it this far!! It was going well, but I now needed "gas and air" for the pain.  I agreed finally to the continuous monitoring.  I was duly strapped to the monitor, and because the monitor did not appear to be working very well if I was standing, it was easier to lie on the bed.  After about an hour, the midwife and assistant midwife became concerned with the baby's heartbeat.  Apparently she wasn't recovering very well after a contraction.  The consultant came in to examine me and could not determine how the baby was lying.  

After a quarter of an hour or so I was wheeled into the delivery room, where there was quite a large gathering of doctors and nurses.  The consultant tried to find out internally how the baby was lying.  It was excruciatingly painful.  It didn't appear to work because he still didn't know.  He then told me he needed to perform an episiotomy, which he then carried out.  He then said I was fully dilated, and that it was urgent to get the baby out as quickly as possible, and that he was going to use the suction cap [vacuum extractor].  I did hear him muttering to the others about checking the operating room was ready, just in case.  

Oh great, I've come all this way and now this.  When he told me to push, I really really pushed.  After two major contractions, with him pulling and me pushing, WOW, the proudest moment of my life, I delivered my little girl.  I had done it.  After a quick check she was passed to me.  My gorgeous girl.  

As the last stage of labour was so quick and with the force used with the suction cap [not to mention the episiotomy, which often extends into worse tearing---Kmom],  I did tear very badly.  When I asked the consultant how many stitches he was putting in, as he seemed to be taking a long time sewing, he said he had lost count (!).  I did also lose, if I remember correctly, half a pint of blood, and had to take those awful iron tablets for two weeks after the birth.  But the recovery was MUCH MUCH easier and quicker than a c/s.  

My daughter had an Apgar of 9 at one minute, and an Apgar of 10 at five minutes.  So why all the urgency to 'remove her immediately?'  I was minutes away from another c/s.  Did these 'professionals' overreact because of the continuous monitoring?  If I had not been monitored would I have ended up needing an episiotomy, or an assisted delivery?  I can only guess.  


Rachel's Story (2 prior cesareans for "big baby" and "unstable lie;" VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  Rachel is in the U.K. as well, in Wales.  She was also told that VBA2C was practically unheard of and really had to fight even to get a trial of labor.  

The United Kingdom has a different medical system and terms for its doctors.  According to Rachel, the Consultant is the consultant OB, the highest up.  Junior doctors make a progression through the following grades:  Pre-registration House Officer, Senior House Officer (SHO), Registrar, Senior Registrar, Specialist Registrar.  When reading the story, remember these unfamiliar terms refer to doctors of varying seniority and 'grades.'  

Birth Story

On Friday, 19th July, I was 2 weeks overdue by my dates, longer by the hospital's.  Having had 2 previous cesareans, I could not safely be induced and it was imperative I go into labour on my own.  Every day that passed piled on the pressure.  My midwives had to refer me for an appointment to speak to the consultant [OB], as I was getting "out of the realms of normal."  The appointment was set for Monday.  So this weekend was make or break time.  

There was little point trying 'natural' methods of induction, as we'd been trying them all for weeks.  And I mean all!...I really had no idea what labour was going to be like.  I had two children but had never given birth.  Never even had a contraction.  My eldest daughter was born by caesarean at 38 weeks, because a scan showed her abdominal circumference to be way over the 90th centile.  This was attributed to her multicystic displastic kidney, which had been discovered during an earlier scan.  There was fear that her abdomen would get stuck after her head and shoulder were delivered.  We were told she would die.  When she came out, though, we were told she would have been fine being born vaginally.  She weighed 8 lbs. 13 oz.  

My second child, my son, was also born by caesarean for absolutely stupid reasons.  He had been an unstable lie at 39 weeks---changing positions with alarming frequency.  After a brief spell in hospital, I was discharged when he finally engaged head down.  I had to return to hospital for daily monitoring and palpation, and was instructed to rush in the second I went into labour.  I did not go into labour.  I was "allowed" to go ten days over but was then cut, after threats of "dead baby, dead mother." Failure to wait.  Failure to fight.  Failure to know better.  I was told he would be very big.  He weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz.  

Because my two elder children were born, their birthdays are two of the most wonderful days of my life, but I am sad to say I did not give birth to them.  They were unnecessarily extracted from my abdomen.  I had no input into their births.  I was immobile, drugged, cut.  I didn't feel them coming out of my body.  My husband played no active part in their births.  We were onlookers in a medical circus.  I will always mourn their deliveries a little, even as I celebrate their births.  

Everything about this birth was different. 

On Friday, I had a lot of Braxton-Hicks.  They were strong, long and regular...I really had a feeling things might be starting, but I didn't want to jinx it.  I finished off my last piece of work.  My favourite midwife rang to tell me she was on call all weekend.  It all seemed almost too good to be true.  [But the contractions petered out eventually.  However, the next morning they started up again.]

Contractions had taken on a new tone. By 8:30 a.m. [Saturday] I was starting to believe that maybe this was it, but was surprised; I had always imagined labouring at night.  I also expected to be vomiting and have diarrhoea.  I thought I would have a show.  All these preconceptions were from listening to other people's birth stories, and mine was proving to be different.  I said to DH, "But I haven't had a show yet!!" then went to the toilet, and had a show.  Began to get excited....I would not let myself sit down, just kept moving and upright as much as possible.  

We had intended to stay at home as long as possible---till at least 7 cm dilated, and maybe longer, having an "accidentally on purpose" Home Birth After Cesarean---and part of the plan was not to tell the midwife anything was going on until much later.  Something told me, however, that I should call and just let her know.  I had felt a couple of movements that morning from the baby, but not a lot and certainly not what I was used to.  I had no idea whether babies slowed down during labour.  The only thing I really wanted checked was the baby's wellbeing.  The midwife sounded almost as excited as me on the phone.  She said she would call back in an hour, but I said no hurry.  We were going out for a walk...to post a couple of gifts and cards that I knew we would never get around to once the baby was here.  It's only a five minute walk, but I had to stop a couple of times to get through contractions.  I had my TENS machine on, and was trying really hard to keep the wires hidden so no one would work out I was in labour....

My contractions weren't at all what I expected.  Don't know why, but I thought the pain would be around my scar area and cervix.  Instead I felt them in my lower back and across the front of my thighs.  This was a relief; at least I couldn't get worried that the pain was my old scars rupturing.  I felt no pain around my scar area throughout...each contraction was like this incredibly powerful surge, a building force inside me, like thunder brewing.  With each one, in these early stages, I was focusing on relaxing, thinning and opening.  Kept trying to visualise those beautiful orange lilies unfolding and hoping my cervix was doing the same.  I kept telling myself that each surge was bringing my baby closer to me.  Each one done was one less to be done.  

By 11:30 a.m. things seemed to be getting stronger, fast.  The midwife rang back and I initially said no, she didn't need to come out to us, but she assured me it really was no problem and she was on the road anyway.  I said I'd quite like the baby checked out, so she said she'd be over soon.  About 5 minutes after we spoke, I had a big contraction and my waters started to go.  I was stunned---I had half planned to have my baby born in the caul, and certainly never dreamt my waters would break so early on!  When I looked down, my heart sank.  I really thought at this point that my VBAC was scuppered; the waters were basically brown.  I knew straight away it was meconium, though DH thought it might be blood.  Luckily we knew the midwife was on the way...As soon as the midwife came into my room I showed her the mec.  She kept her voice very stead but I could tell she was worried in those few moments before she picked up the heart tones.  She told me not to panic.  The heartbeat was fine, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.  She advised us to go into the hospital straight away, though...I told our 4 year old daughter that her new brother or sister would be here that day.  One way or another, I knew it would be true.  She positively beamed.  

[As soon as our friends arrived to take care of our kids, we left for the hospital.]  I had thought the car journey would be awful, but it was great.  Just me and DH, driving through our beautiful Welsh countryside, listening to one of the tapes he had made for me to birth to.  We stopped for petrol and illicit snacks.  We took our time.  When we arrived at the hospital...I walked...up the stairs to the delivery suite---refused the lift, let alone a wheelchair.  Did have to stop 3 times en route though.  The delivery room was every bit as bleak as I remembered from the tour...Pretty soon I was assessed:  3 cms dilated but 100% effaced, baby at -3, high, ROT [Kmom note:  ROT = Right Occiput Transverse--the baby was facing sideways, not a good position for birth].  I was pleased, except for the ROT bit.  At least I had started dilating.  

The SHO who assessed me said she could feel some membranes in front of the baby's head, which she would remove.  It was only when she started unwrapping the hook that I realised she was planning to do AROM, which seemed odd as my waters had definitely gone.  I asked if there was a problem having these membranes.  She said yes, they could be stopping the baby's head dropping.  I said that I did NOT want her to remove them.  The midwife said, straight away, "Right, we won't do it then" and that was the end of that story.  I did agree, however, as per my birth plan, to have a cannula [heplock---Kmom] inserted.  It was one of those concessions I was willing to make.  Also had some blood taken so they could do a group and save, all of which seemed a bit melodramatic to me.  The SHO said she's be back in a couple of hours to see how we were doing. 

Over the next couple of hours, I tried hard to get things how I wanted, and to find a good position.  Because of the mec, I was strapped to monitors, but refused to lie down and kept going to the toilet and for walks---any excuse to get away from the machine that goes ping.  DH and I talked a lot about how you just end up watching the stupid monitor...My contractions kept strong and regular...I had some double peaks, and commented to the midwife how I had expected more of a rest between them.  She asked whether I wanted to try gas and air (entonox).  At first I hated it.  I felt like I was a bit drunk, and I didn't want to be out of control.  Five minutes later, however, I was asking to try it again!

When the SHO returned, I was hoping to be about 6 cm...The whole process of being examined was excruciatingly painful to me.  I hated lying down.  Everything seemed ten times more painful and somehow all wrong.  I kept saying to my DH, "Just don't let me get on this bed.  I hate it!"  This time, I was found to be 3-4 cm, and the baby was still high.  I was incredibly disappointed, as the contractions had been strong and regular.  I didn't feel like I was stalling.  The SHO asked me not to eat or drink as I was high risk...I said I disagreed.  A second midwife was around at this point and asked me to confirm that we were going against this advice, as she had to write it down.  I managed to discuss quite coherently the facts about aspiration during anaesthesia.  No one objected to our decision.  The SHO said we were not making enough progress, however.  She said she would "give us" a further two hours, but then we would need to "look at alternatives."  DH and I basically ignored this.

It was at this point I had my moment of doubt, my transition type phase.  I was really annoyed I had made no progress.  I knew I needed to relax, I knew the contractions needed to be more effective.  I knew all this, and yet what I wanted was to have an epidural.  I wanted to rest.  I tried to convince myself that perhaps if I could relax more, I would dilate more.  The logic was so warped, yet it seemed to make sense at the time.  Everything I knew about epidurals and the cascade of intervention didn't seem to matter.  I remembered reading that an epidural can sometimes be helpful in a VBAC.  I thought things were going to get a hell of a lot worse before the end.  I felt no disappointment with myself when I asked for an epidural; it really did seem to make sense.  Thank goodness for my DH and my midwife.  They said all the right things.  They pressed all the right buttons.  The midwife suggested gas and air for a bit longer, and leave it half an hour or more to see how we were doing.  DH basically said that if I had an epidural, I would not have my VBAC.  I wouldn't know when to push.  I would be working against gravity.  He reminded me about a woman we had seen on the hospital tour who had asked how quickly she could have the epidural---did I want to be like that?  That was really all it took to persuade me that I really didn't want one.  When the SHO returned to ask if I was waiting for an epidural, I quickly said no.  

From that point on, things went much better.  Like a long distance runner, you just find your rhythm.  I found a position perched on the edge of the bed which really worked for me.  I kept mobile, kept upright.  My waters, which had gone with a gush at home, seemed to just keep going---there were 3 or 4 more major gushes while I sat on the edge of the bed.  The midwife was amazed how much kept coming, she said my stomach looked half the size after!  Each gush brought more and more meconium, which DH and the midwife quickly cleared away in case one of the doctors came in and panicked.  DH and I had lots of cuddles and kisses, we listened to our music, I asked for the blinds to be shut, started to go more within myself.  During one intense contraction someone barged straight into the room and started talking to the midwife.  After that distraction, I asked for a sign to be put on the door, and after that we had no unexpected visitors.  Taking charge in small ways like this made a real difference to us.  Even just wearing my own clothes was important.  

The next time the SHO came in...I was 6 cm.  They said the baby was still high, still ROT, but it felt like real progress to me.  The doctors looked at the monitor and were concerned that there may be some late decels.  DH and Julie told them that these were not decels, but losses of contact from when I had changed position.  Poor Julie spent a lot of hours on her hands and knees trying to keep a good contact; there was no way I was lying down, and no way I was not moving.  She never asked me to.  She just persevered, trying to get the best trace possible.  We never had any doubts about the baby's heartbeat.  The doctors, of course, did.  They said they would have to call my OB.  

When he came he was unconcerned about the mec.  He was calm, happy with how I was doing, and very supportive----a far cry from his attitude antenatally.  He said that it was he who had been worrying about this for months, which got quite a few coughs around the room; he conceded that perhaps he wasn't the only one who had been worried.  When he returned some time later, he said he'd really like to be 100% sure that the baby was OK.  He wanted to put an internal scalp monitor on the baby.  I asked whether this would stop me moving; he quickly said no.  He asked if he could examine me and do this.  Once more onto the bed, once more writhing in agony.  I was very vocal at this point! My OB gave me the best news I could have.  The baby's head was now anterior, at spines, and I was 7 cms.  He said if I hadn't been making so much noise, he might even have spent more time and made it 8 cms! He was very relaxed.  The scalp electrode was attached without me even noticing.  The OB was totally positive; he said he thought "we were going to get away with this," that he felt the baby would fit through my pelvis, would come vaginally, I may need a bit of help but that was all.  When questioned further, he said he meant maybe forceps or ventouse, but only if the baby wasn't coming down.  I was on cloud nine and really did not care; I knew now that I could do this.  I was in transition, according to the textbooks, but feeling like I was flying through this.  The contractions were really manageable. Strong, regular, working.  The gas and air and TENS booster button gave me something else to focus on, to work with.  

About 9 p.m. I felt a bit pushy towards the end of each contraction.  My midwife noticed my uterus working and realised I was pushing involuntarily.  She asked if she could examine me and I was happy for her to.  She said I was about 9.5 cm with a tiny lip, so could I try not to push as we didn't want the lip to thicken.  I did try panting over the top of the contractions but really could not help pushing a bit at the end of each one.  Around this time I lost some blood.  Unfortunately this coincided with the baby's heart trace being lost temporarily.  I was too far within myself to be concerned, but registered DH and Julie talking about it.  They were both looking at the blood and deciding whether it was cause for alarm or not.  It never occurred to me that it could be rupture, but I realised that this is what they were thinking, after.  They kept asking how I felt.  I felt fine, but it made me realise just how far inside myself I had gone.  DH asked a couple of times if I was asleep---far from it!  

Just gone 10 p.m., the SHO confirmed what I already knew.  I was complete.  It was time to push.  

Still the doctors tried to give me time constraints.  I was told I had an hour to get the baby's head well down, after which they would call the consultant in.  Again, this didn't even bother me.  I asked for the lights to be dimmed as much as possible.  The bed was raised, and I stood facing it, leaned onto it, eyes closed, with my TENS and gas and air in front of me on the bed.  

There is no doubt I was reticent about pushing.  I found it hard to switch from trying NOT to push to trying to push, and two other things held me back:  First, everything I had read suggested that the most likely time I would rupture would be during second stage.  Not necessarily, but the most likely.  Secondly, my piles [hemorrhoids] were bad!  They were bad before labour, and I knew they would only get worse. I had visions of them somehow splitting, and joining up with any tear to make the entire area an open wound.  So my pushing started tentatively.  I wanted a gentle birth anyway, so wasn't too worried.  But as time went on, it became clear that I was going to have to do some work to help this baby out.  In my head, I kept hearing "down and out, down and out" where earlier my mind had been saying, "thin and open, thin and open."  

I began to get into it more, began to feel that shuddering power going through me.  I can't say I really loved pushing, but it's certainly a very powerful, animal act.  I was noisy; not screaming, but kind of bellowing, I suppose!  My noises seemed to change at different points in the contraction and I got nothing but encouragement from Julie and DH...I also asked him to support my rear end with a flannel.  This may seem odd, but it worked a dream.  I wasn't so worried then about splitting and it really gave me something to push against.  He said he was bracing against the bed and pushing against me really hard.  It meant he was right behind me, really close, and it was fantastic.  When Julie suggested I stop using gas and air, I thought, "What are you mad? I am totally relying on this!"  but again she was spot on.  I was sort of using it to ride and pant over the top of the contractions, rather than working with them to push the baby down.  When I found the courage to let the mouthpiece go, I made much more progress.  

The hour had passed and the doctors returned.  Julie showed them that the baby's head was moving down well---she said she could see about a 50 pence size bit of the baby's head.  The doctors went away, appeased...During the last 3/4 of an hour, I  pushed well.  I was dripping with sweat from the sheer exertion.  My body shuddered.  Another midwife joined us...she wiped my face with a flannel.  The 3 of them gave me every encouragement.  I was getting about 3 really great pushes from each contraction, but each time Julie kept saying, "Just one more!"  But once the contraction was passing I just could not force another push out.  I found it impossible to speak, so couldn't let them know this.  I heard everything but couldn't answer.  

The contractions seemed nicely spaced, with enough rest in between.  I felt my baby's head moving down, well down, until it felt like it was sitting in my bottom.  I knew we were so nearly there.  Julie quickly grabbed gloves, made a kind of nest on the floor, and called the paediatrician, who waited outside.  The resuscitaire was prepped.  Julie had told us our baby would need some suctioning on the perineum because of all the meconium; they did not want her to take that sharp first intake of breath and aspirate it.  Finally, I really felt my baby's head there.  I remember thinking, "So THIS is crowning!" I was waiting for the 'ring of fire' to get worse, but it didn't.  I felt everything stretching, as if I really would break, but managed to roar and push through it.  It took a couple more pushes, and the head was out.  Everyone said, "Look down!  The head is here!" but I really could not look down.  I was still focusing so hard on what I was doing.  Julie asked that I push really really hard with the next contraction.  I gave it everything, and her body was born.  This felt a lot harder to me than the head to get out.  I felt her shoulders coming.  And, suddenly, our child was here.  She was born.  

DH told me she was a girl, and finally I could look.  She looked like she was wearing desert camouflage; yellow, green, and brown all over.  DH cut the cord.  We had planned to wait until it stopped pulsating but we knew she needed attention.  The paediatrician was still suctioning her and he quickly took her to the resuscitaire.  For the first time, I could WALK over to be with her while this was done!  I was able to watch everything that happened.  I could stroke and comfort my child.  I looked down at the floor and was shocked to see the state of my waters---I had always imagined that inside my uterus would be a clear, wonderful place to be.  Instead it looked like a brown and red mess!  They took a lot of brown gunk out of our daughter's nose, mouth, throat and stomach, but she was fine---Apgars of 7 then 9.  She was my first baby born with dark hair.  She was calm, awake, beautiful. As a compromise, I had agreed to the ergometrine injection.  I knew the if I actually managed to achieve a vaginal birth, I wasn't going to care much how the placenta came.  After a couple of pushes, it was here.  For the first time, I had a good look at it.  

Then Jenna Lily was in my arms.  

I had a small second degree tear, which after some discussion we agreed to let heal naturally.  I lost about 300 mls of blood, compared with 750 mls with my first caesarean.  I felt wonderful.  Completely elated, and without any of those revolting drugs pumping round my body.  Jenna was weighed about an hour later, and despite having passed tons of meconium, she weighed 10 lbs. 2.5 oz, with a 36 cm head and is 54 cms long.  

I spent the night gazing at her, totally unable to sleep, in awe of what we had done.  


Syeda's Story (2 c/s for frank breech babies, VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  

Birth Story

Monday night, my BH [contractions] changed character; I had 2 before bed that actually hurt a  little, and I felt them in my back.  I hopefully told my DH that we might be wakened by labor that night.  I felt more contractions each time I woke for the bathroom, but woke in the morning still pregnant.  Tuesday I was full of hope and energy.  My kids were in preschool and daycare and I thought I could finish all those jobs that I needed to finish before going to the hospital.  I was looking forward to the jihad (struggle) of real labor finally starting.  My doula and I agreed that I would probably have the baby before Wednesday night.  I accomplished a lot that day---3 loads of laundry, cleaned the kids' room, checked their bags...for their stay at Auntie's house, a big pile of yucky dishes cleaned....

Early...Wednesday morning, I [woke to finish folding the laundry].  I woke DH at dawn when it was time for the early-morning prayer, then I went back to sleep until the kids woke up.  Sweet DH took the kids to work...all day as we  were sure it couldn't be much longer.  There was brownish goop on the t.p. all day and painful contractions in my back, but they never got regular or stronger.  By late afternoon I was getting tired and discouraged.  I tried nipple stimulation a couple of times.  It really got the contractions going, and maybe 3 min. apart, as long as I kept it up.  At that point I wasn't ready to do nipple stim until my labor became self-sustaining.  I also wasn't ready to tolerate the moaning contractions nipple stim caused.  I knew that if I had that kind of contractions without the nipple stim I could tolerate them, but the nipple stim was distracting to me.  Also, I knew I had a NST the next morning and I really hoped to deliver before that.  

Thursday morning a very, very tired me was still pregnant, still having painful irregular contractions, and feeling like time was running out.  I considered myself officially 42 weeks.  I wasn't really worried about the baby, I just wanted to pass my NST so I didn't have to think about the OB suggesting CS or induction, my greatest fears.  DH and I want more children and I know it would be difficult, at least, to find a dr. who would attend VBA3C paid by Medicaid.  

We 'passed' the NST but only after DH started talking to the baby.  One of the reasons I picked this hospital was the newborn hearing test.  Now the test was proved unnecessary because clearly baby could hear Baba just fine.  How about that---not even born yet and Baba is already 'the sun and the moon' to this one too. 

From curiosity I allowed an internal.  She thought I was 2 cm and 90%, but admits she may have stretched me a little, without asking or explaining (1.5 to 2 cm).  This must be why this was the MOST PAINFUL internal I have EVER had.  I could kick myself for shouting OW instead of STOP, esp. after hearing, "I'm going to make sure you go into labor today."  When the OB was finished I felt so violated and embarrassed to have let it happen.  Thank God my DH had gone to the waiting room, no telling what he would have done.  At home later, I wrote the ICAN support group online, thank you all very much for your support.  

Later, Thursday afternoon I realized that I had been feeling pressure against the inside of my right hip.  I assumed that it meant baby was malpresented, so I did some lunges hoping to knock baby loose.  I waited until after Friday worship before I tried blue cohosh; guess what, no contractions.  I quit the cohosh in the evening and the contractions stepped up to OOOOHHHH contractions.  I suppose this change should have alerted me to impending birth, but it didn't occur to me at all.  The contractions didn't feel any different.   Early Saturday afternoon more cohosh, but no contractions.  I took a nap late in the afternoon and slept through the next dose of cohosh.  SURPRISE, the contractions returned.  It never occurred to me that cohosh could stop my contractions.  I must have had the dose wrong.  DH called from work.  Someone had given him tickets for the 7 p.m. Shriner's Circus.  He and the boys would be home after.  I told him to enjoy himself, knowing that if I needed him I could call his cell phone.  I called my doula in the early evening and told her I was thinking of going to the hospital just to check and see if I had made any progress.  She offered to give me a ride when she heard some of those contractions.  I wanted to wait for DH and the boys to return.  I still doubted that the baby was imminent.  The boys returned around 9 p.m.  I told DH I wanted to go get checked.  I fully expected to return home later that night in spite of the contractions I was having, after all this had been going on for almost a week already.  

We parked as close to the ER entrance as we could.  OK, picture me, a 42 week/2 day Muslim woman, covered Saudi style.  I wished I was more comfortable with Unassisted Childbirth, especially after 9/11.  OK, prepare for the worst, but expect the best.  At the desk I showed my tummy and was reminded which elevators to take to L&D.  I looked at the wheel chairs as I walked past, thinking, "Oh, I don't need one of those."  My labor seemed to be on hold at this point.  

There were at least 4 nurses at the desk when we arrived at L&D.  I told them I was in labor and I just wanted to check and see if I had made any progress.  In triage, I answered "I don't know" to all the usual questions.  "When did this start?  How far apart are the contractions?  Water broken yet?"  After I had given my sample and changed to a hospital gown, the nurse checked me.  "You seem to be about 6 or 7 cm."  "YAAAAAH!  This will be over soon."  (Picture me dancing on the inside.)  We settled into a nice room across from the OR.  I didn't care, I knew I was going to deliver just fine.  This was about 10 p.m.  

I was hooked up to the monitor to give them their reassuring strip.  I called my doula to let her know we were staying.  Baby's [heart tones] were great but my contractions didn't show at all.  I leaned back to relax...When my doula showed up I had been on the monitor for about 45 minutes and was ready for a bathroom trip.  She got them to let me loose so we could try to speed up my contractions.  Labor seemed to still be stalling.  I think I wasn't quite settled in yet.  She and I walked down the hall and back, hey, just in time to be monitored AGAaaaaaAIN.  My bad luck, the only position they could get clear tones was laying down (protocol every 15 min).  My good luck, the MW from my OB's office was on call.  I really like her, she's very warm (guess whose b-day is the same as baby's).  

We watched Saturday Night Live as I labored.  My doula said she had never seen anyone as far along as I was and still laughing and joking.  Whoever was closer (doula or DH) applied pressure to my back when a contraction started.  I think I had been there 2 or 3 hours when I realized I was feeling pressure against my right hip again.  I did lunges to swing the baby more to the left; it seemed the right thing to do.  My OB, MW, and labor nurse were in and out, just watching.  

Somewhere, I assume between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., I was up trying to decide what I wanted to do next when I had a sudden urge to pee.  When I wiped myself I saw lime green on the paper.  I knew instantly my water had broken. I saw 'something' in the toilet when I stood up.  "There's merconium," I told the collected crowd as I exited the bathroom.  At 42 weeks 2 days I knew it was very possible, but I never really expected to see it and it scared me.  The nurse did a test for amniotic fluid, of course it was positive.  Nobody freaked out over the merconium, so I let it go.  

My contractions picked up at this point.  I became serious shortly thereafter.  My memory of this part is very fractured.  I am in the bathroom.  "This is transition, right, it's almost over," my doula agrees with me.  Walking from the bathroom I look at the TV as one of SNL's actors makes a joke; I laugh hysterically half-crying, thinking, "This is not THAT funny."  I have to look away to stop laughing as I notice a contraction building.  I try pushing in the bathroom without telling anyone, thinking, "Is it time to push yet?"  I remember a contraction where I put my face to DH's chest and just scream until it is over.  

"What do you want to do now?" the question comes through the air as I pace by the bed.  I'm lost.  "I don't know," I say.  I walk, I squat, I search for what I need.  I am back in bed, (monitoring?) I am on my left side having a contraction.  Dh is pushing on my back and the doula is pushing down on my hip.  DH's hand is in the wrong place.  I reach to move it and my elbow connects with his head.  "Sorry, move your hand HERE.  Better."  "Make du'aa (supplication), say "ya Allah," think of all the sins you're paying for, "ya Allah," "ya Allah," I breathe.  I feel better.

MW says, "You're almost there but you're more dilated on the left than the right."  A voice in my head says, "You heard her, roll over so you can dilate better on the other side," so I do.  I hear her as if from far away, "You're 9.5 with a lip."  I can see her hands 'down there' doing something.  "Oh well, it doesn't hurt."  I let it go.

3 a.m.  Doula asks, "Why don't you try hands and  knees?"  It sounds good so I try.  PAIN explodes in my rectum.  I fall onto the bed on my side.  "God it hurts," I think, then I'm pushing or trying to.  A voice in my head is saying, "Don't take too long to push or you may run out of energy."  I'm on my right side, someone lifts my leg.  My legs are out straight, someone is holding the top one up.  "This is not working, "I think, "What am I doing?  There should be pressure on my feet."  Between contractions I roll onto my back searching for somewhere to put my feet, something to push against.  My feet are guided into the stirrups and one of the leg supports is in place.  I'm trying to push; those #%$ stirrups are too far away.  I try to escape over the head of the bed during the next contraction.  I'm not really thinking, I'm just doing.  MW's voice from so far away, "No, you have to come this way, towards the foot of the bed."  My hands are pulled down to the handholds near the bottom of the bed; the other leg support is in place.  This is what I was looking for.  More disembodied words, "Curl in when you push.  Yes, that's the way."  Through a veil I hear how well I am doing.  With the next contraction I move my feet to the near edge of the leg supports.  I am 'squatting' on my back and PUSH, pulling with my hands.  I feel it working.  Doula takes my hand, "Here, feel the head."  My hand is moved to this spongy, wet, hair covered thing coming out of me.  "That's not what I thought it would feel like."  Another contraction.  I grab the handhold again and PUSH.  I know I'm almost there.

3:17 a.m.  PUSH, so slippery, oooohhh wow, the pressure is gone.  I melt with relief.  MW closely followed by DH announce, "It's a girl!"  There's a baby on my tummy.  "It's a girl?" I ask the air.  I hadn't let myself think this one might be a girl, I've wanted one for so long.  

My jihad complete, I want to move on to BF, but this new world is too interesting to Darling Daughter.  The nurse takes her.  MW suggests a push to deliver the placenta.  I push; there is a big gush.  "Well, that wasn't the placenta," I think.  A few minutes later it plops out with a small push.  I wait while the MW sews up my 2nd degree skid mark.  The early hour catches up with me, I'm getting sleepy.  DH asked, "What do you want to call her?"  "Huda," I reply firmly.  Huda, meaning guidance from Allah.  

If you had asked me immediately after the birth if I wanted to do that again, I would have said NO!  But by 2 weeks postpartum I was not only ready, but excited at the prospect, in spite of all the monitoring....

It was important to me to see how well my body could perform, given the chance.  I've seen I'm not broken, and it's beautiful.  


Pam K's Story (false gd diagnosis, induced for suspected macrosomia, c/s; postdates induction, c/s, home waterbirth VBA2C!)

Kmom's Notes: This is typical treatment for larger women in many ways.  Because bigger moms do have slightly larger babies as a group (and obesity is a risk factor for really big babies), doctors often estimate that their babies are going to be huge.  In the first story, the doctors kept raising the estimated birth weight; from 8 lbs., to 9 lbs., to 10 lbs., then to 11 lbs.  They tried to talk her into an elective cesarean, but when she refused they induced for suspected macrosomia.  As is so often the case, the induction ended in a cesarean, and the baby was not macrosomic after all. 

Despite having a really wonderful OB for her second pregnancy, Pam ended up induced for post-dates with baby #2.  Inductions of VBACs often end in cesarean, and hers did too.  As she discusses below, she had a difficult experience with a nasty spinal headache afterwards.  

With baby #3, Pam chose homebirth, with unofficial back-up from her wonderful OB.   She became very proactive about nutrition, and she occasionally monitored her blood sugar to be sure it was still normal (it was).  In this pregnancy she did not go "postdates" and feels that perhaps some nutritional changes were part of that, although we'll never know for sure.  Pam went on to have a VBA2C at home, in the water!  She chose a hands-and-knees position to push out her baby, which often is a good position for larger women.   

Pam is a doula who works to help support other women in their births, and is also a member of ICAN, the International Cesarean Awareness Network.   Choosing truly VBAC-supportive providers was a key part of her preparation for baby #3.  Had she seen a traditional OB, she almost certainly would have been told she had no chance at a VBAC, between being supersized and  her history of a "failed" trial of labor, possible GD status, borderline "big" babies, and tendency to go postdates.   Yet she went on to have a wonderful VBA2C anyhow.  It's important to remember that many women with one "failed" trial of labor do go on to have VBACs later on, and that women of all sizes can have VBACs.  

Birth Story

Birth #1:  My pregnancy as a whole was non-eventful until the end of my sixth month when I "failed" the GTT and was labeled a gestational diabetic. This of course skyrocketed me in to the high risk category and I spent the remaining 3 months testing my blood levels four times a day and  following an eating program that controlled my supposed GD quite nicely. (Subsequent review of my records revealed that I was indeed misdiagnosed. Also, despite the fact that I informed anyone who walked into my room that I was GD, my levels were never once tested over the entire time I was hospitalized.)

My OB practice was a two doctor partnership with a third back-up for emergency or unusual situations. The primary OB, a woman, was very accepting of my desire for a natural birth and though I know she did not agree with all my plans, did not overtly discourage or sabotage me. However, At 38 weeks she informed me she would be leaving town in two weeks for Easter and proceeded to do an unauthorized membrane strip. I responded not at all--not even a cramp--but she assured me I would deliver before she returned from her vacation. I made my next appointment with her partner who was not nearly as encouraging as she was and indeed seemed to be a bit hung up on my weight. However, my 39 week Bio Physical Profile was perfect, I had dilated to 2 cm and there was no reason to hurry things along. 

At 40w6 day I had another BPP, again perfect, but this time the perinatologist called my doctor and said I was "ready" as he estimated the baby to be over 11 pounds. (This man never ever spoke to me face to face. He would talk to my husband, to my doctor, and to the technician if no one else was there--all in my presence, but never to me) Each week, the estimated weight of the baby had crept up--at first it was "over 8 pounds at term", then "over 9", "over 10". Over 11 made me a bit nervous, and I agreed to an induction if my cervix had shown no signs of progressing. Surprisingly (not) I was still at 2 cm, so after a great dinner, my husband and I headed into the hospital the Thursday night before Easter for Cervadil. My doctor (the male) showed up and offered me a cesarean because of my size and GD diagnoses and estimated weight of baby. I was very surprised but refused graciously. I did not see him again until my daughter was delivered.

Friday morning, 41 weeks pregnant, I truly believed I would have this baby with no pain medication and be home in time for Easter dinner. The pitocin was started several hours later than they had told me, but I did manage to have a few mild contractions and had a fairly nice day visiting with out of town friends and hanging with my husband. My doula was in and out, finishing up errands so she would be available when I needed her. Finally, around 9 o'clock Friday night, with no change whatsoever, the pit was discontinued. Of course, I had not been fed all day and the nurses were not in the least bit concerned about that, so our friends ordered me a pizza and shared some birthday cake from my favorite bakery. I was then moved to a larger room. Sent everyone home around 11 or so , to rest up for phase two.  I was awakened about midnight by a resident who explained that my doctor had called from his car on the way home from the theater (and wasn't he so considerate, thinking of me while he was out on the town!) and suggested a Foley catheter to inflate my cervix. I agreed and was thrilled to be at 4 cm on Saturday morning!

Saturday we started the pit again. Cranked it up pretty high throughout the course of the day, but I tolerated contractions with ease. I did everything I could think of to help such as walking (the miles I put on that telemetry unit!!) nipple stimulation, even  sucking my thumb. [Kmom note:  There may be an acupressure spot on the roof of the mouth; some theorize that sucking the thumb can help stimulate labor sometimes.] Nothing seemed to help. Of course, I was sneaking the occasional peanut butter cracker and juice as I was NPO for the duration. [Kmom note: NPO is the abbreviation of the Latin words for nothing by mouth.] This time, they did not turn of the pitocin. We continued through the night and into Sunday--Easter Sunday when I expected to be holding my baby at Easter Dinner. The most memorable moment to me was receiving an Easter Lily from the Baptists women's guild. I was Catholic, delivering at a Jewish hospital. I was quite amused by the blending of beliefs and still have pictures of that beautiful lily.

Sunday I saw the back-up doctor for the first time. He suggested rupturing membranes and I agreed. (In retrospect, I should have walked out days ago, but I was naive.) He left, a resident did the deed and inserted internal monitors and I stood up and had a real contraction--I actually had to stop and breathe! I then proceeded to have what my doula described as "transition-like" contractions for the next twelve hours. It was obvious the staff was tired of me as they pretty much left us alone. I insisted on laboring in the shower, complete with telemetry and birth ball. After 12 hours with ruptured membranes, I was still at four cm and told I could either have my cesarean now or wait another 12 hours but it was no longer an option. I looked around the room--at my husband, so tired, so scared, yet so supportive, at my doula who had been with me for four days with only brief breaks and who had given up her Easter with her family for naught, at my mother who was due to leave for Florida within the week--I gave up. I won't go into the circus that ensued over the next few hours situating everything, but to illustrate the experience, my father showed up as I was being wheeled into the OR and I truly believed I was going to die. My father has a major aversion to hospitals and I honestly did not expect to see him until I was home.

And so , I finally saw "my" doctor, in the operating room, as he performed major abdominal surgery on a perfectly healthy mother and perfectly healthy baby. Neither one of us had shown any signs of distress, despite my not having had real food or drink for several days, despite the massive amounts of pitocin dripped into me, despite ruptured membranes. My daughter was delivered, by this man who was annoyed at his shortened lunch hour, while I lay on the table unable to feel myself breathe. My memories of that morning are interwoven with images of the Salem witch trials, where they would crush supposed witches with large cinder blocks. She weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces and had apgars of 9 and 10. He told me he had made the incision in a place that should not be aggravated by my "flap" and apologized for the size of the incision as he had anticipated a much larger baby. Then he was gone. He is still my mother's GYN and still encourages me (through her) to plan elective cesareans each time I am pregnant.

The story of my physical recovery is short, but the emotional healing has been slow. Nearly five years later, as I anticipate the birth of my third child, I am still haunted by those visions of being crushed while my child is cut from my body. And that is how I remember the so-called birth of my first-born.

Birth #2:  When my first child turned one year old, we decided it was time for our second and immediately conceived. I assumed I would have a natural birth this time, despite my prior cesarean, and found a caregiver who would support that. Dr. B was the ideal OB. He was a strong proponent of natural birth and truly supported me in every decision. My pregnancy was noneventful, except for the usual stressors of selling our house, quitting my job, buying a house, etc. Medically, things were perfect. 

When it came time to test for Gestational Diabetes, Dr. B examined my results from my first pregnancy, shared concern that I was misdiagnosed, and asked if I would be willing to forgo the one hour GTT for the three hour. Sure. Results were a bit odd, so I repeated it. All clear! One possible risk factor eliminated! He did not consider my weight an issue, other than contributing to my personal discomfort, and was even willing to allow me to weigh myself at another place to minimize my binge triggers. He frequently consulted with me concerning my pregnancy, making it clear he considered me a partner in this, not a patient.

As the end of pregnancy approached, I chose to allow vaginal exams as I needed some reassurance I was progressing. Imagine my thrill at 38 weeks when I was dilated to 2 cm! Then two weeks later I was at 4!! That was as far as I had progressed with my first four day induction. I began to believe I might really do this. Dr. B discussed some natural methods of induction with me, emphasizing it was totally up to me. I tried castor oil numerous times, intercourse, and even the cohoshes at his suggestion. I experienced a few mild contractions and some major diarrhea, but no real progress. 

At 43 weeks, Dr. B asked me to have a Bio Physical Profile. He assured me he would interpret the results himself, with me, and not let the "expert" at the U/S center influence him. He was very aware of my mistrust of that particular doctor. I agreed and we scheduled the BPP for Thursday, January 28th. This was my husband's 32nd birthday, his goddaughter's (who would be the godmother of our baby) 16th birthday, and ironically, Dr. B's anniversary. I had hoped that our baby would be born on this day, keeping up the family tradition.

My mom met us at the hospital for the U/S and we had our 21 month old daughter with us as well. The technician was one I had met several times in different capacities and was very comfortable with. There was no sign of Dr. S--my nemesis. The baby looked wonderful and responded well, BUT my fluid levels were virtually immeasurable and my placenta was rated as very deteriorated. OF course, we all focused on the distressing news instead of the positive--the baby was FINE!! So, a flurry of phone calls ensued and that was when we realized the mistake in selecting that day for the U/S.

Dr. B was out of town and his back-up was less than satisfactory. First, she refused to talk to me on the phone, instead sending orders through various nurses and secretaries. My mother had left by this time, and we were trying to deal with a toddler and figure out what we needed to do. Finally, I managed to get through to the receptionist who apparently was as annoyed as I was and had Dr. B call me on his cell--out of town, on his anniversary. After discussing the situation with him, we decided it was not an emergency, and I agreed to let his back-up examine me and agreed to an IV to see if we could increase fluids. My largest concern was that his back-up did not have privileges at the hospital I had chosen to birth at, due to a paperwork mix-up. I simply prayed that I would not go into labor until he was back in town that evening. By this time, my husband had left to take our daughter to his mother's and I called my doula to be with me. I agreed to an oxytocin challenge to see how my baby tolerated contractions, thinking perhaps I could actually jump start labor that way and by this time, I was coherent and sure my baby was fine. Interestingly enough, I did n ot even see my "doctor" until after all the tests, IVs etc and even then she was abrupt and unfriendly. All was well, so I dressed and left quickly, with instruction to call Dr B in the morning.

Managed a few contractions that night, but in the morning called Dr B and agreed that given the info at hand, we should probably induce. Dropped my daughter off, had a quick lunch and went to the hospital. Spoke with Dr. B who then said, "well, I'll stop by the desk and get things started and be back in a bit." Shortly after that, another doctor walked into the room, said he was there to get things started, proceeded to examine me and lecture me as to why I should not consider a vaginal birth. I was apparently a bit irate, especially when he reported I was at 1 cm and the nurse said "But Dr. B found her at 4." At that point, he stalked out of the room. Several minutes later he came in with a very distraught head nurse who apologized. They were very busy that day and she had handed him the wrong chart! I was not his patient. This was not reassuring, but reminded me to be vigilant throughout this birth. 

Shortly thereafter, we got the pitocin started and I began contracting. Within about 12 hours, I progressed to 7 cm. Twelve hours later, I was still at 7 cm. 3 hours after that, I was still at 7 cm. I had done everything I knew, with the help of my two doulas and my husband and my mother. I walked, I ate, I labored in the shower. Dr B was a great support--I found out later that he had to stay at the hospital throughout my entire labor as this particular hospital did not have residents or an OB on call at the time. He never gave any indication that he was impatient or would rather be doing anything except babysitting me for the weekend. 

27 hours after my induction started, Dr B came in and asked if we could discuss my options. He laid them out, simplest to most interventive. Continue as we were and see what happened. Increase the pitocin. Consider an epidural to see if that would relax me and allow me to dilate. Consider a cesarean. I asked his opinion. He said, "I think you are headed down that road."  I looked around the room at my "support" team and nobody met my eyes. Nobody told me I could do this, that I was fine and my baby was fine. They had lost faith and so did I. I said "Let's do it" and cried. Dr. B hugged me and said "Next time!" Everyone except my husband left and I cried and cried. (He told me later that he was very surprised I gave in. He did not expect that and had no idea I was so tired and discouraged as I had been handling labor quite well. I wish he had told me that at the time. It would have made all the difference.)

Preparing for the cesarean was a bit of an adventure. I had a great anesthetist--2 in fact, but they had a terrible time getting the spinal placed. (We had decided on a spinal as I reacted quite strongly to the epidural previously.) Eventually, they got me numb, and at Dr. B's request allowed my mother and both of my doulas in addition to my husband into the operating room. My mother and husband were at my head on one side, my doulas had a front row seat at the foot of my bed. I have to say that I was very disappointed with their interest in the surgery as opposed to ME, but as a doula, I also understand the unique opportunity they had. (In retrospect, I think one of the biggest problems was that everyone kept thinking of me as a doula and not as a laboring woman.) 

The surgery was noneventful, the baby was easily delivered, screaming all the way and promptly peed on everyone and everything. I was able to see him briefly and DH went with him to the side of the room where the warmer was. My mom went back and forth, so I was left alone a bit more than I would have appreciated during the repair. Fortunately, Mary, one of the anesthetists, was super and made sure the have DH bring the baby over as soon as possible. She had him hold D up to my cheek and I was able to stroke and cuddle him while he was still a bit messy and fresh. He was perfect--weighed nine pounds even and showed no signs of postmaturity, despite a severely calcified placenta (I saw it--it was pretty bad!) 

I was able to hold him on the way back to my room, but felt very woozy and out of it. In fact, once I was in the room, the nurses became very concerned and took the baby (who then pooped on everyone) and began working on me. I remember fading in and out and Mary apologizing as she inserted an IV without gloves on. Apparently my blood pressure dropped significantly and they were a mite worried. I recovered fairly quickly, and settled down to bond with my baby. DH called immediate family members, then I sent him home for sleep. D and I had a wonderful night napping and cuddling, and I swear he smiled at me. Interestingly enough, I didn't call anyone for several days. It was very difficult for me to integrate this birth. 

I developed a spinal headache which was far worse than anything I had ever experienced, and challenged our breastfeeding relationship, but I had good nurses and a great lactation consultant so was able to work through that. I also had my first experience with Therapeutic Touch, courtesy of the hospital. I stayed longer this time, but once the headache was under control, I was eager to get home and begin life as a mother of two. Recovery was relatively easy, as with my first cesarean, though not something I would choose to deal with when caring for a newborn and toddler.

In retrospect, this birth was much more difficult for me, because despite being educated and prepared, I still allowed others to influence my decisions. I cannot blame my choices on ignorance or naiveté. I simply  relied on people who did not see my needs, only strengths, and this was a fatal flaw. I learned a lot over the next three years. After about 10 months, I discovered ICAN online and have become very involved since. I have continued to search and to learn and to grow and heal. Now, my son is three years old, I am nearing the end of my third pregnancy, and I have realized the ultimate lesson for me: I cannot birth in a hospital. I am planning a homebirth and hope to have a third, triumphant story to share within a few months.

Birth #3:  I was "officially" due on April 16.   I began experiencing the dreaded nighttime prodromaling syndrome.  I was fortunate that it was mild----starting around midnight and ending with sunrise.  Each night was a bit more intense, and I was surprised at how much the contractions hurt.  I had expected to sail through "natural labor" after my experience with Pit, so I was a bit humbled, but fortunately was able to readjust and soon began celebrating the fact that my body was working on its own!!

Monday night, April 22, the contractions were strong and frequent---I was in the birth tub humming through them.  If I had been a first time mom, I would have been at the hospital!!  In fact, the continued into the morning and we decided to take the kids up to my SIL as I was unable to focus with my 3 yo around (he really wanted into the tub with me).  I called my friend Karen to come over as I did not feel comfortable being alone and sent DH off with the kids.  Of course, things slowed down significantly once we did all that!  My MW suggested I keep my OB appt. and agree to a vaginal exam so we could get an idea of progress.  Karen and I went to lunch, the to the appt. while DH tried to get a half day of work.  Contractions were about 10 minutes apart and manageable.  

At the OB's I discovered I was leaking something.  We still were uncertain as to whether it was amniotic fluid or simply very watery mucous.  It smelled like birth and I was concerned that the OB would notice.  Fortunately he did not.  He was very excited about the condition of my cervix and offered to strip my membranes.  I agreed and he immediately said I had progressed another cm.  (to 3 cm).  He told me to go home and keep contracting and that he would probably see me before my next appt.!  Karen and I went to the pool and swam and walked a bit, then she headed home to be with her family and I went to bed.  

Of course, laying down made it very difficult to deal with the contractions, so I popped in my imagery birthing tapes and was able to sleep a bit.  Finally, around 10 p.m. I found myself bolting from the bed with a contraction, so I headed to the tub, then the shower.  Soon I was needing someone with me, so called to my DH who was snoring away.  He did not hear me and I was mighty PO'd.  I managed to get myself out of the shower, to the toilet, and discovered a HUGE amount of mucous.  I have NEVER seen such copious mucous and was a bit disconcerted.  (Dh eventually was fishing it out of the birthing tub.)  Finally got his attention and decided to call Karen back over.  Moved back to the tub and continued to hum through the contractions.  Shortly after Karen arrived, I decided it was time to call the MW as she was 2 hours away.  Things got a bit hairy at this point because the MW did not think I could be very far along.  It was a bit of a circus with my trying to tell her I really was progressing and then throwing the phone to DH during contractions.  She finally suggested that we time the contractions for an hour---she wanted them 4 minutes apart and lasting a minute apiece.  

I was royally pissed off as I thought one of the benefits of home birth was not having to deal with the numbers game, but did not know how to get my message across.  Part of the problem was that we had anticipated DH being able to assess dilation a bit, but he was not experienced enough and I could not tolerate him hunting for my cervix at this point.  Anyhow, I moved from the toilet to the tub again and we began timing.  Within about 15 minutes I decided we had better prepare for transport as I was not going to have the baby without an attendant, so sent DH to wash the car seat cover (yes I was really prepared, LOL) and Karen continued to squeeze my hands as I moaned through the contractions----closer and closer together.  Shortly after that, I threw up and announced I was in transition.  Karen commented that I wasn't acting like it between contractions but I was certain and soon felt very pushy.  The odd thing was that I was totally calm and collected between them and was reassuring both DH and Karen that I was fine.  I remember Karen asking if I was pushing and telling her that I was not, but my body was a little bit.  

I announced that we were to call the MW and if she was not coming, we were leaving.  The good news was that she had left already.  I was most definitely pushing involuntarily at this point and probably could have delivered if I was willing to work with the contractions, but I could not STAND the sensation that accompanied any attempt to push.  It was the most intense tingle I have ever felt----very orgasmic and simply too much for me to cope with.  I spent the next two hours panting through my contractions while laying on the bed.  

The MW arrived, examined me, and told me I was 9 with a lip.  (I believe I was complete earlier but lying down and panting had raised the lip.)  She told me to start pushing and I refused.  I did eventually try to push side lying but I hated it, especially when she tried to hold the lip back.  I moved to the tub on a forward leaning kneeling position and this helped somewhat.  I had a bulging bag that the MW said seemed to be interfering with my progress so I agreed she could rupture it.  It was very difficult for me to allow her inside and it was very difficult to push through that tingling sensation.  My one "complaint" is that she was not more verbally supportive.  Instead she said things like, "Well, I just can't help you then," when I would tell her that I did not like having her fingers in me, etc.  I understood she was trying to help, but it was so hard-----positive encouragement would have gone a long way!  I eventually was able to give a few puny pushes and she noticed some meconium, so I upped the effort a bit.  She also ruptured the bag, which I did not notice at all.  (Later she said she had to really tear it---and the baby still brought it all out with her, even stripping the amnion from the cord----the kid was determined to be born in the caul!)  

Finally I was able to push past the tingle and as soon as I felt pain--the ring of fire---there was no stopping me.  THIS I was prepared for!  I remember saying, "Oh, the ring of fire, I can do THIS!" and two pushes and she was out.  It was so amazing to feel her crown and emerge, followed almost immediately by her body.  Good thing she was small--I could not have stopped for anything.

MW brought her right up onto my back and checked her over to make sure she had not swallowed any meconium. She was so alert and peaceful---just looking around.  I remember asking what we had, and DH saying nobody knew yet.  I told him to LOOK!  It was his baby!  And he tearfully announced it was a girl.    She was born 5:58 a.m. Wednesday, April 24th weighing 7 lbs. 14 oz.  

She responded well (Apgars 9 and 10) and soon I was climbing out of the tub, with my baby still attached to the cord and the placenta still inside---too weird!!  DH and I cuddled her on the bed for a bit, then I delivered the placenta.  I really did not have any contractions, so that was a bit of an effort and I did actually lose a fair amount of blood (4 cups), so my midwife did give me a Pit injection as we had discussed in advance.  I also did a lot of nipple stim. to help contract.  After the Pit, I had some wonderful afterpains and fortunately, the bleeding stopped without having to transfer. 

Approximately 2 hours later, DH cut the cord, I nursed, peed, and the MW finished the paperwork, the cleanup, fixed us breakfast.  She and Karen let themselves out while we slept in our own bed with our new baby.  I cannot imagine this birth happening any other way---I could never have done this at the hospital, even with my oh so supportive OB.  I can honestly say I feel complete now.  I have completed a chapter in my life.  I am eager to see what is next for me, but am also very content to simply be for a while---a feeling I never had after my first two babies.  I would do a few things differently next time, but would not change this birth for anything!  


Michele S's Story (FTP c/s, "failed" TOL c/s, hospital VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  This mom had a minor malposition with this baby; the baby had a hand up by her face.  This probably accounts for the slow labor progress at first, the premature "transition-like" contractions, and the premature urge to push.  Although the doctor had a legitimate concern about the baby's heartrate, breaking the mom's waters to put in an internal monitor may have cemented that compound position into place more thoroughly.  The hand by the baby's face was probably also part of why this mother ended up with a 4th degree tear during the birth, although please note that even though it was no piece of cake, the recovery from the 4th degree tear was easier than her recoveries from her cesareans.  

This mom had a hospital VBAC; it's good to remember that moms do have VBACs in hospitals too!  It's also good to note that this very petite mom had a VBAC; many very short and/or petite women are told that they can't birth vaginally.  Obviously, this mom proved them wrong!

Birth Story

A Brief History: My first daughter was born via emergency c/s...11 days before her due date.  I went to the hospital way too early in labor.  The OB broke my water at about 2 cm to "hurry things up."  The contractions came one on top of the other and by 6 cm, I was involuntarily pushing.  I got an epidural (which didn't take) and continued to push involuntarily.  My cervix swelled at 7-8 cm and I was given an emergency c/s for FTP, [Failure to Progress].

My second daughter was a planned vbac, but I really didn't educate myself about it.  I had a very unsupportive OB.  After a week of prodromal labor, he coerced me into a scheduled c/s on a Friday evening.  She was born via c/s, 11 days before her due date, just like her sister.  She is the one I feel like really didn't get to choose her birthday.  

Baby #3: With my third baby, I had contractions for the last month.  On March 7, my birthday, right before I was to go out to dinner, I had a few contractions that really got my attention.  I prayed that I would get through my birthday dinner.  I had a couple more, but then they went away and I had a great birthday evening.  I got hte same type of contractions starting at about 2 on Saturday afternoon, March 8.  They were 10-15 minutes apart for the longest time.  My DH had the girls outside playing, so I just walked in the house by  myself and rested.  I had planned to wait to go to the hospital until the last minute, so I knew I had a while to go yet.  The contractions started getting a little more serious, so I got in the bathtub at about 4.  It seemed to relax me.  DH kept asking if I thought I should call my mom (she lives 50 minutes away).  She was supposed to go to the hospital with us as support and my step dad was going to stay with my girls at my house.  I didn't think things were close enough to call her.  I finally called her at 6, when the contractions got a little closer together and asked her to stop and pick up some deli sandwiches on the way (I really wanted a BLT!!).  I told her not to rush.  

Pretty soon the contractions seemed really close together.  I would just lean on the bathroom counter and rock or get on all fours on the bed and rock through contractions.  The facing down and rocking, as well as vocalizing, were helping some.  I was making a lot of deep groaning noises, and I think that was scaring DH a little.  My mom was talking to him on the way to my house and I heard him say that the contractions were a minute or two apart.  I denied that, saying that they were 4-5 minutes apart.  I knew that they were lasting a minute or more each because I was timing their length.  I got back into the bathtub.  My mom told him to start timing them and he was right; they were about a minute or two apart and really strong.  There was really not much time between them---seconds, maybe.  I was starting to have a hard time staying on top of them.  DH wanted me to get out of the tub and get dressed so we could go to the hospital when my mom got there, but I was having trouble getting out with so little time between contractions.  I was sitting in the warm water with only candlelight, so it was pretty dark in there, but it was relaxing me as much as I could relax.  I could tell DH was getting a little upset with me for not getting out, but I told him he would just have to give me a minute.  

Pretty soon, my mom got there and I was just getting out.  She was very calm, which was good for DH's nerves, I think.  She helped me dry off a little and asked me where my pants were.  I couldn't remember at first, but then remembered they were on the couch.  She asked if there was anything she could do for me right that second and I said no.  She went into the living room and greeted my girls, hugged and kissed them and acted like everything was pretty normal.  She came back in the bathroom and helped me put on my pants between contractions.  DH was loading the car with bag, pillows, etc.  I walked into the dining room, kissed my 4 year old, and another contraction hit.  I walked back into the bathroom because I didn't want my girls to see me like that.  After that contraction, I went straight to the car and propped myself up on all fours against the pile of bags and pillows in the back seat, which was how I rode all the way to the hospital.  DH fed me a couple of bites of my BLT between contractions.  When we got to the hospital, it was about 8:15 p.m.  DH went in, got me checked in and sent a nurse with a wheelchair.  She was really great about letting me get through contractions as I got out of the car and she rushed me upstairs.  I was leaning over my pillow through contractions.  I think she thought the baby was coming any minute, and so did I.  

Anyhow, I got settled in L&D.  Another nurse, Judy, came in and asked if I was wanted my tubes tied this time.  I told her I wasn't having another c/s and she said, "Does your doctor know that?"  I said, "She's very aware of my plans."  I moved to the bed.  I had the back of the bed raised up with pillows stacked and was leaning on all fours again.  Judy and I had a little tiff as she kept telling me I had to get on my back, and I told her that she was going to have to give me time and that I was not going to stay on my back.  They insisted on the IV, which I tried to sign Against Medical Advice for.  This was the only thing I felt like I had no control over and I got the IV.  The nurse checked me and I was only dilated 3 cm.  I couldn't believe it because the contractions had not slowed down and they were pretty much one on top of the other and lasting for 1-1.5 minutes. 

They put the External Fetal Monitor (EFM) on, but I wouldn't stay still long enough for them to get a good reading.  They were concerned about the readings they were getting, but since I wouldn't stay still, they couldn't get one that they were comfortable with.  They put me on oxygen at that point.  I was okay with that, thought I took it off when it got too annoying.  My mom was sneaking me sips of water when the nurses would leave the room.  She kept reminding me that my body was doing what it was supposed to do and that I was doing really great.  It was very encouraging.  I had told her to say that when I needed to hear it, but it didn't seem like she was "just saying it," ya know?

DH was spending a lot of his time trying to keep the IV comfortable for me since I kept messing it up by not staying still.  They wound up blowing a vein and having to move it to the other hand.  My doctor got there and was worried about not being able to get a good reading on the baby.  She checked me and I was 5 cm and this was only a few minutes after I had been 3, so I was feeling a little better about my progress.  She talked to me about breaking my water and using an internal monitor.  I reminded her that she said she wouldn't break my water but she really insisted that she be able to make sure the baby was okay with the decel readings they had gotten.  She promised it would allow me to move however I needed to, so I agreed.  I was okay with it once I had more freedom to move (which I was doing anyway).  The doctor left for a short period and when she came back in to check me, Judy tried to make me get on my back but my doctor said she would just check me on all fours, and she did, which I appreciated.  I was at 7 cm.  Soon after that I started involuntarily pushing, but I was only at 7-8 so they didn't want me to push.  It was a flashback to my first daughter's birth.  I asked for an epidural, hoping it would keep me from pushing.  I was worried about my cervix swelling again.  When the anesthesiologist came in, he asked the nurse why I was up on all fours like that.  Nurse Judy said, "Because she likes to be like that."  He started lecturing me about how he couldn't do this by himself and I was going to have to help him.  My mom got annoyed and snapped at him, "This is her 3rd baby. Just tell her what you want her to do and she'll do it!"

So one epidural later, I was able to keep from pushing, even though I was still able to feel the contractions.  They had the lights turned down low at my request, which made things much nicer and calmer for me.  My OB told me to let her know when I felt like I needed to push again.  When I did, I told her.  They set the bed up so that I was sitting straight up (at my request).  They put the stirrups on the bed, but told me to use them if I needed them for leverage.  She checked me and I was almost 10 with a lip.  She held the lip back and told me to push when I felt like it and the pushing began.

She said, "OK, 4'10", size 5 shoe----you're going to prove them all wrong!  (She had a thing about small shoe = small pelvis).  She had me tell her when I wanted to push, but she would encourage me to push again during the contraction, which I did.  It felt right and I really didn't realize I was pushing as hard as I was.  The OB was helping me stretch as I pushed (she doesn't do episiotomies).  My mom and DH were right beside me.  DH was in awed silence the entire time and my mom kept telling me how great I was doing.  I could still feel the contractions and wasn't really numb, and I was glad the epidural wasn't keeping me from doing what I needed to.  My mom pointed to the baby warmer (right by the bed) that the nurses had gotten ready and said, "Look, they've got that ready---they know you're going to do this!"  That was sooooo encouraging!  The OB exclaimed, "She's got black hair!"  She then shone a light on a picture that was hanging on the wall to create a mirror so that I could see the baby crown.  It was awesome!  

I only pushed for 10 minutes and out came my daughter at 11:17 p.m.  It was only 3 hours after we arrived at the hospital, and 43 minutes before her due date!  I felt myself tear as she came out.  Her cord was very short, which caused the placenta to pretty much come right out with her.  They laid her up on my belly.  It was truly the greatest moment of my life.  

My mom and I were both emotional and DH was again in stunned silence.  My mom got some great pictures of the whole thing on my digital camera---even the placenta!!  DH cut the cord for one of his children for the first time out of 3 children.  The OB said that she thought she was bigger than my other girls, though she was estimated by ultrasound to be about 6 lbs 1 oz.  She wound up being 8 pounds 4 oz. and 20.5 inches long!! My biggest baby yet!

She wasn't breathing very well, so they took her to the nursery while I got stitched up.  DH went with her and my mom stayed with me.  I had 4th degree tears and getting stitched up was excruciating.  My OB gave me 2 shots to numb me and they gave me Demerol in my IV, but it was awful.  I couldn't keep my butt down on the table and I even grabbed the OB's hand once (which I really didn't mean to do).  The OB was really excited that I had VBAC'd and even told me that she hadn't had much faith.  I told her that I knew she didn't, but that I had enough faith for us all.  My mom kept telling me over and over again how proud she was of me. I do kind of wish I hadn't pushed quite so hard because maybe I wouldn't have torn so badly, but who knows?  I'd love to have one of those "I wasn't even sore" births.  

They wound up putting my daughter in the NICU with an IV and oxygen and told me that they may have to keep her all night, but that I could go be with her.  I kept trying to get up to go pee and go to NICU, but I was so nauseous that I couldn't stand up.  I started praying that she would be okay enough to come be with me.  An hour later, a physician's assistant came in and told me she was breathing fine now and they were getting ready to bring her to me.  I was so relieved, and they were great about no bottles, no vitamin K shot, and no eye ointment.  They wound up having to give me something for nausea and a catheter because I couldn't empty my bladder.  I was so sore the next day I could barely walk, literally.  Not only did I have the tears but she came out with her hand in front of her face, and the OB said that she was punching me in the rectum her whole way out----wasn't that sweet of her?  This caused my whole bottom to be one giant bruise.  That day was as bad pain-wise as my c/s but I didn't care.  I was still so happy I had done it.  The OB came to see me the next day and she seemed to feel just as victorious about it as I did.  She told me that I had pushed with the power of 16 men and that if it had been anyone else but me, they wouldn't have had a VBA2C, but that my determination allowed me to do it.  Nurse Judy even came down from L&D to see me!

I was very sore and swollen for over a week. My mom came up during the day and took care of us all.  Now at 2.5 weeks postpartum, I am still a little sore but pretty close to being back to myself.  My bleeding has almost stopped.  I bled for 5-6 weeks after both of my c/s.  Nursing is going great, too.  DH is in awe of the whole birth and says it was the most amazing experience of his life. He even tells his friends how amazing it was and I'm grateful that it touched him in this way. 

I'd like to end this by expressing this difference emotionally, spiritually, and mentally between my c/s and my VBAC.  After each of my c/s, my first time alone was my first shower at home.  I couldn't take a tub bath to relax as usual because my belly was all stapled up.  During each of the showers, I cried about how my children had been born, how traumatic it seemed (especially #1), and how much pain I was in.  After my VBAC, I relaxed in a hot bath (which felt good on my bottom) and cried for the joy I felt about my baby's birth in spite of the pain I was in.  If the VBAC were to take as long to heal from as a c/s (which is not the case), I still would be in awe and full of joy over it.  


Shannon's Story (home waterbirth VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  

Birth Story

Cody took 2.5 years to come into our life and it was well worth the wait.  I had plenty of time to get through many emotional barriers that I had from my two previous births.  It was perfect timing (God's timing).  

We started out going to a midwife at a birthing center but when we were 6 months along she announced that she was taking a medical leave and would not be attending the birth.  She also did not know who would be replacing her.  DH had not come to this prenatal visit so I came home and told him what was going on.  I gave him all our options including that we could talk to other midwives about a homebirth.  He said we could go talk to another midwife but he wasn't sure yet if he could do a homebirth. We chatted with a few over the phone and had an interview with one midwife.  Now the waiting began while DH stewed over his thoughts.  At the end of October we talked and he decided that he still wasn't sure about the homebirth but we could go ahead and plan one.  So we chose a midwife and started seeing her for our prenatals.  

I started seeing a psychologist to work through any last minute emotional barriers that might pop up.  She helped me work through the couple of months of changing care providers.  We did some relaxation techniques to help me through labor which helped a great deal. 

Well we were nearing our due date and I was ready for this baby to arrive.  On January 10th, we went shopping and on the way home I had an allergic reaction.  I was worried that I might have to go to the hospital because of the reaction but my body was able to fight it off on its own.  Contractions also started that night around 8 but petered out around 2 in the morning.  This was DH's last night of work and he was worried about leaving me alone.  But the contractions were not that bad so I told him to go.  Throughout the next 3 days I had contractions off and on but nothing too serious.  On Tuesday evening, things started to pick up around 10.  I really thought this was it.  I waited for a couple of hours and called one of my doulas to come over.  She helped me work through the contractions.  I had really not experienced contractions before so I had to get a handle on things and was able to do my focusing that I had practiced with the psychologist.  

Things slowed down in the wee hours of the morning so I sent the doula home and I went to bed to get some rest.  I had contractions throughout the day but went about my business and tried to ignore them.  We sent the girls to a friend's house because I was having a hard time having them there.  Wednesday night things picked up around the same time.  This time I called my doula and another friend who was going to help out at the birth.  I sat on the birth ball, got up and walked around, but things did not seem to be progressing. The contractions were very sporadic and were lasting only 45 seconds long.  I was getting very discouraged and tired.  At the urging of the doula I got into the tub to see if it would help pick things up but it started slowing down so around 4:30 I went them home again.  I was very disappointed at this point.  I thought for sure that I would have had the baby by then.  

DH decided that he wanted to call the midwife because I was not sure whether I was having a slow leak.  She came over at 12 p.m. on Wednesday.  We decided at that point to have her check me to see if I had been making any progress.  This was the first vaginal exam I had during this pregnancy.  I was very worried that I would be only  2-3 cms. dilated because the contractions had been sporadic and were not lasting very long.  We were all surprised to find out that I was a good 7 cm and she could stretch me to 8 cm.  The midwife said, "Well, I guess I will be staying."  We called back our two doulas and said it was time to have a baby.  At 2 the pool was set up and I was able to get in.  I was so relaxed in the pool that at times they made me get out because contractions would slow down.  So for the next 3 hours I labored some in the tub, on the toilet, and just walked around the house.  At around 5 p.m. the midwife asked if she could check me and I said that would be fine.  I was at 8 cm when she checked so not much further than when she checked me the first time.  This was very discouraging at this point.  I know the midwife could tell that I was getting tired as it had been two days of contractions.  We decided that I should go upstairs and try to rest.  She came upstairs with me and tucked me into bed. While rubbing my back she told me how well I was doing and that if there was anything that I needed to work through I should take this time to rest and work through those last emotional issues.  This was very special to me as I know I would not have received it if I had gone to a doctor.  

I don't think I rested too much.  Every time I lay down the contractions seemed to pick up and I couldn't deal with them when lying down.  At about 6:30 p.m. I decided that I needed to get things going so we called the midwife back and I asked her to check me.  She could stretch me to a 10 but my water was still intact. I asked her if she would break the water and she said if that is what I wanted she would do it.  

The next day she came over to check us (after the birth) and she let me know that she had made a decision not to tell me that there had been a small amount of meconium in the water.  She felt that it was such a small amount that it was nothing to worry about and chose not to tell us because she thought that I didn't need the extra worry. She felt afterward that she should tell me and she wanted to know if I felt she had made the right call. I believe that she made the right decision and have no hard feelings for her for making this decision.  

Anyways, back to the story.  My water was broken at 7 p.m. and things started to pick up after that.  Contractions were lasting longer and I couldn't talk through them anymore.  DH sat beside me at times holding my hand and letting me know that I was doing a great job.  He did make a comment to everybody that he couldn't believe how well I was doing because when we had M I couldn't cope with the contractions at all and I was only 2 cms.  The midwife and my doulas reprimanded him and said if he didn't watch out he was going to get kicked out.  I felt like I was in my own little world but yet I knew when he made this comment and I knew when people left the room.  This was a weird feeling for me.  

Shortly after 9 p.m. it was time to push. Throughout this whole time the midwife would check his heartbeat and he did great all through the labor.  I found the pushing to be very overpowering.  My body just took over and I couldn't help but push with the contractions.  When pushing started, DH chose to go watch as my son came out.  The midwife kept her hand down at my vagina so I would have something to push against.  At one point she got up and moved away and I was very distraught but she quickly came back.  I told her I felt like it was tearing but she said that it was just the baby's head coming out and I wasn't tearing.  I felt like I couldn't do it anymore and told them all that that was it, I wasn't pushing anymore.  The midwife told me that it was too late and the baby was coming whether I wanted it to or not.  I can't remember who told me that the head was out but they said, touch your baby. I shook my head and said no but the midwife grabbed my hand and had me touch Cody's head.  I am so glad she did because it was a wonderful experience to feel his head.  I felt that it really gave me a sense that, yes, I actually was birthing this baby.  

When he was pulled up to my chest I think I was in shock.  I just looked at him and he was so perfect.  We rubbed his back as he wasn't breathing right away but it didn't take long for him to let out a cry.  I put my head back on the pool, closed my eyes, and just held him, reveling in how good it felt to have my baby on my naked chest.  It was truly the best feeling in the world.  It is funny because I don't think I cried and I was sure that I would.  But as I write this story and think about it now, I start to cry and cannot see the computer to type.  

I got out of the pool and the first thing I said to the midwife is, "You are going to want me to lie down now, aren't you."  (All through the pregnancy I hated lying on my back.)  The midwife said, "I don't make you do anything you don't want to do."  I lay down anyway because she wanted to check to see if I had any tears.  DH held Cody for a long time and phoned people to let them know we had had the baby.  Everybody just could not believe that we had had him at home.  I sat on the couch just watching DH hold him and just could not believe that I actually had delivered him all on my own.  

After resting for a bit and having something to eat, it was my turn to hold him.  He latched on like a pro, another great experience as the other times I was so drugged up that I do not remember the first nursing experiences.  There were so many things that made this birth an awesome experience but the last one that day was when everybody left and DH and I went upstairs to our bed and gazed at our son for the next hour or so until we decided that we should get some sleep because we may not get any for a very long time.  

This was an incredible journey and it is not finished yet.  It is just beginning and I can't wait to watch Cody reach all of his milestones.   


Kirsten Taylor's Story (c/s for fetal distress; coerced c/s for post-dates and macrosomia, Home VBA2C)

Birth Story

Baby #1: [I had off and on prodromal labor for several days.  Finally we went to the hospital, way too early.] While I was waiting to be admitted, I went to use the restroom. As I stood up, I felt a gush and new my water had broken. I went out and told Scott. Finally, they came to take us up to our room. Once in, I was strapped to the EFM, all my vitals were taken. I was only dilated to a 1-2 when I was checked; that really surprised me, but looking back, I went to the hospital WAY too early. In the video I am there smiling and laughing at times. Once we got in the room, my labor sort of slowed down significantly, but then things did pick up within an hour. I had NOT been a woman in active labor when I went to the hospital, oh well, hindsight.  

The nurse said she felt hair, possibly dark but couldn't tell the color. We kept arguing how long did I have to keep this EFM on, they wanted it on for 15min. every 45 minutes. It was terrible. B/c of either my weight or baby's position, they could only pick up heart tones when I was on my back. I was having TERRIBLE back labor, and this was just the worst. I was also very frustrated, b/c I was trying to move with the contx, and every time I moved, more fluid was trickling down my leg. The nurse thought I was worried that I was losing so much, but NO! I was disgusted with the feeling like I was peeing myself every time I moved. It was embarrassing feeling and I was self conscious about pouring fluid everywhere. Silly, of course.  So, I started getting into a more serious labor pattern, and the last time they checked me was around 8:10pm. I was at 4 cm. I was so frustrated that I was only that far along. I was sitting in a chair rocking back and forth, desperately needing counter-pressure on my back. I remember at one point Scott and my mom were talking and I interrupted them yelling, "Help, contx." Afterwards I apologized for yelling. 

I guess it was around 9pm that Kelsey's heart rate started acting up. Things are all fuzzy after that point. They yelled at me to roll over, and I yelled back, "DEAR GOD! I'M  HAVING A CONTX!!!" They were having a hard time getting Kelsey's heart to register. They told me they were having trouble with my baby. I got very nervous. They called the ob. At some point there was meconium staining, they said very thick green like pea soup. I know there was an argument about using the internal fetal monitor, we didn't want that at all cost, b/c it screws into the baby's head and sounded terrible. Scott was arguing with the OB, finally I said, Scott, it's okay, just let them. My baby's heart rate kept dropping down to around 40-50 bpm during contx, but it went back up in between contx. The last time I was checked was around 8:10pm I think. Soon after, the OB made the decision to go ahead with a cesarean. 

I just remember everything around me fading until I could only see black, as if I was in a dark long tunnel. I was sort of blacking out; more emotionally than anything. I just felt it was all over. I was absolutely devastated. Part of me was so relieved that this pain was going to end soon; the contx and back labor. I then just absolutely HATED myself for thinking that; my nightmare was coming true! I just laid there memorizing the trip to the OR, so angry that my body was failing me. I didn't have the cesarean until 12:26pm. Looking back, I truly believe I was hitting transition when I was in the OR, not at all to the point of pushing, but maybe an 8 or 9. I will never know, of course, but I know I was nauseated and just feeling TERRIBLE. They tried for 30 minutes to give me an epidural. It was truly excruciating. I was in so much pain I thought I would vomit, and everyone was just busying themselves in the OR getting stuff ready. I kept asking if someone would just rub my back b/c of the terrible back labor. On top of everything else, I was freezing, so I was tense all over shivering. That made it worse. I remember the OB acknowledging me once, his warm hand on my arm, it was the best feeling. I thought I would DIE while I had to sit hunched forward for the epidural. The nurse kept getting short with me b/c she didn't think I was holding still; I was in labor. Something about the epidural was messing up, and making my thighs go crazy with pain, they were hitting some nerve. Finally, the anesth. said, we have been trying for almost 30 min, doc, do you want to use general? 

I didn't even understand. I had been having oxygen, I thought I was just getting more oxygen, but it was general. I just remember laying back with a mask on. Next thing I knew I woke up in a very dark place with a nurse busy around me. I didn't get to see Kelsey for over an hour after she was born. She was born at 12:26pm on July 15. I didn't get to see her until after 2am, so I didn't ever get to see her on her birthday. Scott went with her to the nursery, I was in recovery. It seemed as though there was blood everywhere, I woke up to a very nice nurse who was wiping me down, cleaning me up. I was soo out-of-it feeling, I asked if I had had the baby. Pathetically, I didn't even know. I was just in a dim room being cleaned up. Looking back, it probably wasn't even dim, that doesn't make sense, it was probably my dazed state. She smiled and said yes, I had the
baby. I asked if it was a girl, she said yes. I asked if she was ok, she said yes, she was just down in the nursery with Scott getting cleaned up.

My own mother got to see my baby before I did. Scott didn't let her hold her though. He thought I should get to hold her first. I was so drugged when I finally did see her, it was just surreal. I just could only say how beautiful she was. Scott told me she had been hungry, she gave up and went to sleep before I got there. My first breastfeeding experience, I laid there passively while the nurse held up my breast and held her to it, trying to get her to suck. I couldn't even keep both eyes open as this went on. How dignified I felt.

Soon after I got home, I wrote an email to a friend of mine. I was still so uneducated about cesareans and what had gone on in my situation. Looking back, I am certain with the proper birth support, I could have birthed my daughter. I reread the email I sent to a friend occasionally. It is from a person who is filled with sadness and disappointment, and who wants desperately to believe what she has been told by the doctors. That is not the person I am now. I do not trust doctors now; I do not like them. Here is the email I sent describing my birth to my friend:

It is pretty hard to get around right now. I am not sure what Scott told you, but as for being in the hospital still, the main reason was because of the pain. Kelsey was already engaged when they performed the c section according to the doctor, so the he really had to tug to get her out of my pelvis. I had to be under general anesthetic. That, on top of just being in labor for about 24 hours and getting a c section was enough to cause me to be very sore.  They have already removed the staples, now I just have stitches that will dissolve on their own.

Supposedly I will be feeling my old self (minus the new bowling ball weight boobs - haha) in about 2 weeks. I am very anxious to be able to walk around, hold my baby comfortably, stand up without a huge ordeal, lay down in bed in any comfortable position, be able to GET up from bed without my husband to help pull me up. I think they may have broken me!! This is just terrible!

As for Kelsey's complications, they were all immediate dangers that corrected themselves right after delivery. I think my being in labor for so long and her being positioned posterior (face up rather than face down) made for the distress and subsequent drop in heart rate. I was only vaguely aware of how serious the situation was while it was going on - due to the labor itself, my comprehension level was not at it's highest... But I am kinda glad of that. I panicked anyway when they said there was a problem, I don't know what I would have done had I known her heart rate had dropped to 49 bps, but I am certain it wouldn't have been beneficial to either of us. Her heart stabilized just fine after she was born. She also had swallowed very thick meconium - a lot of it according to the pediatrician, so they had to really suction her out well. It was so bad they were even flushing my uterus with water while she was still inside me to help prevent her ingesting even more, but after she was delivered and cleaned up, she was and is fine. 

She is a beautiful, healthy girl. I couldn't be more in love with her. I am so glad she is here. I just can't wait until I can stand up straight and walk around holding her. I think it is just a matter of days away. I am still too weak to hold her while standing right now, but I definitely can while sitting. I can't even hold myself up all the way, and by nighttime each day, I am totally bent over and struggling to walk. Unfortunately, I have to take pain medication to help alleviate some of that - because I have to be able to move around in order to heal better... So I have to take the medication and it is slightly passed on to her when I breastfeed. I was devastated at that thought, but the doctor assured me that it will not have any negative effects on her, and that I must take it in order to heal and be able to provide for her. He says it is still better than formula feeding.

Anyway, I just thought i would write and let ya know that I am home and all is well. Now I just have to get over the initial panic of "Oh my god, I have a baby" and start living!!!

Baby #2:  Unfortunately, my second daughter was also born via cesarean. I had a fairly pro-VBAC OB, perhaps the most open-minded in the area (the same as for my first daughter). When it got to the end, there were some due date issues, but the biggest issue was that my daughter measured over 10 lbs in a u/s. Even the technician who did the u/s said this was a VERY rough estimate, b/c she was hunched over inside me, making her abdomen seem larger, and they couldn't get another accurate measure; they needed to get a better estimate. But, the results were, she was measuring past 43 weeks and over 10 lbs.

I still planned on having a VBAC, but my OB called me following the results and told me of the dangers to myself and the baby. He said every day that went by was just putting her more and more at risk. Even though I knew he was wrong, I still succumbed to his scare tactics. I scheduled the cesarean for the next day. My husband had just taken my 16 month old daughter on a walk down the street when I got the call. I still remember the walk to catch up with them and tell them. I was sobbing and crying, I felt as though the world was ending. I had a good friend as my doula, and I knew it would disappoint her. I was scared even to tell her, b/c I was so disappointed in myself, I couldn't bear to have her disappointed in me, as well. 

My doula came over and tried to pressured me to try herbal induction. I was so afraid that is what caused Kelsey to go into fetal distress that I had caused it myself messing with herbs. I refused, and she totally understood. She just knew how much I wanted a VBAC, but she also wanted me to know that I could cancel that c/s appt, or not show up. It was so difficult, b/c with all my being I didn't want a c/s. I had totally convinced myself that I was not going into labor b/c I was so afraid. Like the Birthing From Within talks about a mother threatened in the wild will stall labor to get to a safe place. I thought my fear of another cesarean caused me to NOT go into labor. I totally and completely blamed myself, and didn't know the way out. I thought there was just no other choice. I was so devastated. I regretted in the moment ever hiring my friend as a doula, only b/c I had to face her with the decision I made. At that time, I just wanted it to be about me and my husband. 

I made the appt, and we went in the following morning. When they were prepping me for the surgery, there was a terrible nurse who was so callous and rough. She did not understand the big deal of a cesarean. She reassured me that it would be fine, but no, I didn't feel at all like it would. I just laid there going back and forth between visiting with my doula and husband, and crying and sobbing, I couldn't stop. The nurse thought I was hurting or scared. When she catheterized me, before anesthetic or anything (standard procedure that I later found out I could have changed) I still remember the pain. I felt as though she had ripped my urethra. I cried and cried, she said it shouldn't hurt. It did. What did she know? Finally my doula nicely told her off; that I was just crying b/c I was hoping for a VBAC and didn't want this. 

At least I was able to walk into the OR. I felt like I recognized the doorway to it, I definitely recognized the freezing temperature of the room. I was SOOO scared of the anesthetic. That had been so traumatizing with Kelsey, they tried for 30 minutes to put the epidural catheter in my back, never succeeding. I was alone without support this time when I got my spinal. I was crying and nervous, no one seemed too concerned about it. They did try to reassure me some. When it did finally hit, I think I realized how tense I had been. I had not ever felt so relaxed. My husband came in, and I told him I wanted one of these to go. He thought I had been drugged, but no, I was just relaxed, and completely resigned to the surgery. 

The OB and the anesthesiologist argued back and forth about what time this cesarean was supposed to start. I felt invisible. I was just an appt to them, but for me, this was terrible, tragic, and life-altering. I didn't really feel like it mattered whether they wanted to rip out my heart at 12noon or 12:30pm. The OB tried to get the anesthesiologist to allow my Doula to be there with me, but she said it was against hospital policy. At least the OB tried, he really argued with her over this. They all cracked a few jokes about my baby's size; the anesthesiologist, upon seeing my baby, said, "Dr. X, I sure hope you had your Wheaties today! You are sure going to need those Wheaties to help lift that huge baby out of there." I politely chuckled, and it was sort of funny, but inside, I was sooo sad. My OB said, "Please let this be a big baby. Please don't let me pull out a seven pound baby or mom is going to kill me." The anesthesiologist said he got his wish. 

Olivia was screaming before they got her all the way out. She was pretty big, 9lbs 15oz, but NOT OVER 10 LBS like the U/S said; not even 10 lbs!! Ugh. Even if she had been, I could have had her naturally. The OB lifted her up for me to see, but all I saw was a foot. I tried to move the curtain so I could see, and they made a stink about me contaminating the field. Ugh.  I had no idea; I just wanted to see my baby!!!

Olivia went directly with me into recovery. We were more knowledgeable and comfortable refusing the bath and everything so that I could have her immediately. The OB gave me a shot of morphine. I think as a result of it, I broke out into a terrible itching fit that was unlike anything I had experienced. It was just terrible. I itched over every ounce of my being! They offered a shot for that, but I was sooo paranoid about Olivia getting all these drugs, that I refused. 

Olivia nursed like a pro from the start, and she showed no signs at all of breathing problems as a result of the cesarean. Nor did she show any post-maturity. She also had the worst acne I had seen. I was shocked when I saw her the first time, b/c she was all wrapped up in a blanket, only her little head showing, and it was SOO round and so covered in pimples. I just thought she really is Olivia with that big round o-shaped face. I thought she was just ADORABLE!! She was soo cute.

I did handle this cesarean much better physically. Even mentally at first. I was just so happy to have my baby, and she was such a peaceful, sweet baby. It took a while before the sadness and disappointment over the birth really set in. But it did come. I truly blamed my failed VBAC on my fear. I know from the Birthing From Within book that an animal who feels threatened will not go into labor until they find safety. I totally thought this was why my body failed go into labor. That which I feared the most ultimately caused me to NOT give birth vaginally. I don't know that I really feel that way now. I think there was something holding me back, but I also think if I had just given myself a few more days, it would have happened naturally. 

Baby #3:  Finally, here is my third daughter's birth story; my HBA2C. 

My husband and I hadn't planned on having any more children, at least not for several years. It was a surprise the following October when I found out I was pregnant again. It was then that I became absolutely OBSESSED with everything VBAC. I was so saddened b/c all the doctors said there was ABSOLUTELY no way I was going to have a VBA2C. The hospital near where we now live wasn't set up in case of emergency, so I felt uncomfortable with homebirth. It was the women of ICAN who mentioned a home-away-from-homebirth, and my doula volunteered her home without me even asking. She said, "The doctors won't let you? Fine, come to my house. Have your baby there!" 

After finding a midwife (I interviewed and hired the first one I met), I did plan and have a beautiful, empowering HBA2C at my doula's house. I am forever changed by the experience. It is so empowering, so amazing. I relive my daughter's birth in my head all the time. What a beautiful memory it is.

I was due on June 17, and my midwife was fairly nervous about continuing on past 41 weeks. I thought we had some wiggle room, but in the end, she got pretty uptight. She had told me that come Friday, June 27, she would want me to contact my former OB and she would discontinue my care. I was absolutely SHOCKED. I thought we would discuss things at that point, not just be let go. Well, she called me to apologize; she said she didn't mean there was nothing we could do between now and then. She urged me to let her try to strip my membranes. I did so, and ended up down a crazy path of trying to get my body to go into labor. I did want to trust my body to go into labor naturally, when it was ready, but I felt cornered and desperate. She did end up giving me until Monday, which was all the time I would need. With her support, as well as my doula's, I tried all the subtle and not-so-subtle induction alternatives we could think of:  miles and miles of walking every day, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal, homeopathic, so much sex that even my husband wanted a break (and wa-a-a-ay more than any pregnant-and-due-any-minute woman would EVER want!!! haha) and finally two days of castor oil. I had had steady BH
contractions on and off for days. The induction stuff did seem to pick things up, but it would always taper off. Then, Friday, my body just STOPPED!! I had 3 contx all day. Well, Friday night, as I was lying down with my older two daughters putting them to bed around 10pm, things started again. I was having strong but totally manageable contx that were really felt in my back. I FINALLY got my girls to sleep, then went and told my husband. I asked, just in case, what was the alternative plan to take my MIL to the airport the following day if we were busy having our baby... They were shrugging it off, saying it wasn't an issue, but I persisted. I somehow just felt different this time--though I honestly had thought this earlier in the week, too, so they didn't take me too seriously.  Anyway, they finally said my MIL would just have to change her flight if that happened. 

Well, the contx. quickly picked up, and by 11:20pm, they were about 2-4 minutes apart, lasting for 30-45 seconds, and I was needing my husband to apply counter-pressure to my back. During one contx felt a pop inside, and thought maybe the baby had her head caught in my pelvis oddly and that it rotated - nope, I took one step and had a small gush of water. I had been nagging at my husband that this was definitely it, and we needed to go to the grocery store as we were supposed to provide snacks for everyone at the birth (midwives, doula, ourselves, etc.) He thought I was insane to even want to go to the store, b/c the contx were strong enough that I was totally needing counter pressure, and not really in a condition to go shopping. I was just worried that the midwife and everyone would just starve to death if this labor took too long. Once my water broke, I swore it was green with meconium, and I got slightly hysterical for a few minutes - I knew that was a risk with some of the induction stuff, and was why my first daughter was c-sectioned to begin with, so I just KNEW it was meconium and that we were doomed. My husband called our doula, and I demanded that we were on our way b/c I wanted the baby's heart rate checked ASAP... The idea of shopping at the grocery store went out the window with my water breaking. At least I had sense enough then! Well, I had a few more gushes of amniotic fluid that were clear as can be, so I calmed down. But, we were NOT going to the grocery store as my contx were picking up and I didn't want to be any further in labor as we drove for 30 minutes to my doula's house. The drive was surprisingly manageable, but not at all pleasant. They were doing road construction, and it was SO bumpy down the usually smooth highway. I remember thinking how thoughtful of them to tear up the highway right before I went into labor. haha. My contx started coming at 2-3 minutes apart and lasting for about 50 seconds. Once I got to our doula's, they quickly settled into 2 minutes apart and lasting for 1 minute. The doula called the midwife as soon as we arrived, and she came soon after. 

I was so frustrated b/c I had had a recent u/s that said the baby was in the perfect position, yet I was still having terrible back labor. I just couldn't get strong enough counter-pressure. I began to get very frustrated with how quickly the contx were coming. I complained once that I thought I was supposed to get a break to rest in between. I had been standing and bending over the bed and rocking and swaying to handle the contx. I was sooo tired, I was worried that this was going to be a 36 hour labor like this. I also laid in bed some, on my side, and enjoyed the ability to rest in between, but was not as successful at managing the contx in bed. My husband suggested that I try standing with one leg on a step stool, b/c he remembered from Bradley classes that it could help turn a malpositioned baby. I told him no, then my midwife told me I should do it, so I did (which he later chuckled that it irked him a bit that I listened to her and not him). 

I desperately wanted to get into the birth tub we had rented and had set up, but the midwife wanted to make sure I was in very active labor (around a 7 dilation; I didn't know this was her policy before we decided to rent the tub.. grrr) before letting me. I started wanting to find out how far along I was soon after that, b/c the water sounded GREAT!! Finally, around 4am I demanded that the midwife check me, and she did, warning me that she really didn't want to with my water broken. I insisted, thinking I would hear that I was at a 7 or 8 and it would help me continue. She checked and I was at a 4. She was thrilled, she said my cervix was completely melting away and had thinned out. I was devastated, and started to get really upset again, that a 4 just wasn't enough. I had reached a 5 when I was last checked with my first daughter, so I felt I was so far from that, I really wanted to hear that I had made it past that critical mark this time.  I knew this was going to take at least 6 more hours according to the traditional 1 cm an hour estimate. She tried to reassure me that this was AWESOME progress.

About 20 minutes later, I suddenly felt the baby had turned (still using the stool for one leg to help the baby be able to turn). The contx suddenly left my back and were full strength in my abdomen and cervix. I was happy, until I realized that there was NO counter-pressure that could take this away - they just were STRONG. I was noticing that I was more able to stay on top of them and moan and breath through them. Then I needed to go pee, and had a bad contx while sitting down, then two more suddenly when I stood up. I suddenly heard and felt my body shift and just start the most primal, guttural sound as I grunted and began pushing. I literally get chills thinking again at how amazing that felt.

I have heard that pushing is SUCH a relief, and oh my GOSH was it!! I yelled, "I'm pushing, the baby is COMING!" as I felt her just descend  straight through my pelvis. The bulge and pressure on my whole bottom end was SURREAL!! (This is the first time I EVER got this far in labor!!!) My midwife jumped up (she had been resting in a walk-in closet while my husband and doula helped me and with a VERY panicked voice said, "Kirsten, STOP PUSHING!!! Do you hear me!! STOP!!" I told her through the grunts that I couldn't - they were all blowing "sho-sho-sho" noises in my face and grabbing me by the shoulders telling me NOT to push. I was trying, and copying their breathing but simply COULDN'T stop!!! My midwife called her back-up and said to get here NOW, I wanted to push. Then I lay down and yelled at her to check me. 

The walk over to the bed was HELL b/c I was literally pushing this baby out and they were all yelling at me to stop!! She was trying to explain that if I pushed through a not fully dilated cervix it would cause it to swell. I knew this, but KNEW there was no cervix in the way, not with this feeling. She quickly checked, then calmly with a surprised look said, "You're complete. We're going to have this baby now." She stayed right with me, but called the back-up again and said, "She is having the baby, get here now." 

I'm not sure how many pushes it took, but I laid there on my side with my husband spooning behind me and holding one leg, and my midwife ready to catch and trying to apply counter-pressure to my perineum. At one point, I know now it was when the baby was crowning, I thought she was doing something, and I started screaming at her, "Your hurting me, your hurting me!!" My doula said, no, it's the baby, she's not touching you. I pushed again and the head was out. The midwife started urging me to quickly push more, to get the shoulders out. It was NO problem. I pushed again and out she came!!!!

They immediately moved her onto my belly and I started BAWLING, "Oh my g*d I did it!! We really did it!!! Oh, HELLO beautiful baby!!!"  Then I tried to calm myself down, b/c I remembered I really wanted to welcome her into a quiet peaceful place - oh well... haha She didn't cry immediately, she just laid there looking around, and I kept asking if she was okay. I told her, "I don't WANT you to have to cry, but it is sort of my indication that you are okay." She started squeaking a bit, so I calmed down.. Everyone was assuring me that she was WONDERFUL!!! She was sooo tiny to me. I was thrilled with that b/c the midwives kept telling me she was really getting big - probably over 9 lbs. I lifted my bra and she immediately opened her eyes and her mouth and started rooting around; that was also amazing!! SOOO ALERT!! She started nursing immediately!!! IT was soo great!!

While I was trying to breastfeed Maya, I was having bad contractions trying to deliver the placenta. It was so painful; I had to have my husband hold Maya while I tried to deliver the placenta. I tried several times to push it out, but it wasn't working. Finally, I rolled over onto all fours and pushed and out it came. I laid back down as they weighed Maya and did the standard apgar tests, etc. I began shaking like crazy; I could not get warm and was just shivering like I never did before. The midwife said this was normal following labor. They covered me with blankets and watched me for a while. They were a little concerned that I was losing too much blood. The midwife massaged my stomach to help my uterus clamp down. It was so painful. I was feeling very light-headed. The back-up midwife was talking to me face to face telling me to stay with her. Finally, I started calming down and feeling more under control. Once I started feeling stronger again, I took Maya back and sat up and breastfed her. It was amazing to just give birth and sit up so soon afterwards feeling so wonderful and energetic and feed her. I loved being an active participant in the whole experience!

The worst part of the whole VBAC experience was being sewn up following the 2nd degree tear. It was stressful and excruciatingly painful. My back-up midwife sewed me up and kept apologizing for hurting me. They did use local anesthetic, but in places it didn't seem to work well at all. It was MISERABLE. Finally, they gave me another anesthetic injection that seemed to help. My midwife was SOOO slow at sewing me up. She apologized but said she hadn't done this a whole lot and was slow and meticulous about it. I just wanted it to be done so I could have my baby back! My husband held Maya and began calling our family while they began the stitching. It was such a bizarre experience; I screamed and tried to hold still while they carefully stitched me up. I was also an emotional mess; it was a wonderful feeling. I had such a flood of thoughts in my brain. I was laughing, crying, then laughing again. I was laughing about how quickly everything went, and how they all scrambled when I began pushing. How amazing the experience was. Then I thanked them all so much for everything they did to help us achieve this HBA2C. Then I became SOOO sad when I thought of a woman I had read about in ICAN who was so strong, so persistent, and amazing in her strength and determination to have a VBAC, but ultimately ended up with a repeat cesarean. After just experiencing the VBA2C myself, my heart just hurt for her. I wanted her to have this experience so much. Then I became sad when I thought about how hard I fought for this experience, and what it meant to me. I was sad because if I tell someone that I had a HBA2C, most people will NEVER know or understand what that means to me personally, how hard I struggled, or what an AMAZING experience it was. They will just take it for granted and probably wonder why I would even do something like that. I was not sad about them not understanding me so much as I was sad that they would never have such an emotionally charged and amazing birth experience that I had. 

Anyway, it felt like forever while they stitched me up, then they finally finished and my doula helped me shower and clean up. I had such a heavy, hollow empty feeling in my stomach. It was so weird feeling. It felt so soft again, after feeling so hard and full with my baby inside. I started feeling a little weak and clumsy in the shower, so I finished quickly and went to sit back down.

Everyone left and gave me and my husband some time alone with our new daughter. My husband was absolutely exhausted, so he fell asleep very quickly, snoring very loudly. I finished the oatmeal my doula had prepared for me, stared in amazement at my new little daughter, and called my family to tell them all the wonderful news. I was so proud of my daughter's beautiful round head. My mother had actually told me that if I had to have a cesarean, one good thing would be that my baby would have a beautiful round head, rather than a cone head; as if that even mattered to me. I was quietly proud that my daughter had this so-called perfect head even in SPITE of the VBAC, though I would have been thrilled if it was as pointy and long as anything!!!

After it was all over, I started thinking; oh my gosh, everyone cried when Maya was born but me! I specifically remembered my husband, midwife, doula all crying. I was horrified (as if it would have mattered anyway) that I DIDN'T cry!! The first thing I wanted to do when my husband, baby and I were alone was watch the video of the birth. My husband got out the camera and we watched it through the little screen; I thought it was hilarious---I was sobbing like CRAZY, saying, "Oh my god, you're so beautiful!! We did it!! We really did it!! Oh my god, you're here!"  I most certainly DID cry; again, not that it mattered, it was just funny. When I told my midwife, she was SHOCKED that I had already watched the birth video. She said some of her clients could NOT watch the video for weeks, and here I was watching it a few hours later (and again when I got home that day).  I didn't realize that might have been an issue for others, for me, it was such a beautiful thing to see; all the months and even years of stress building to that one beautiful scene!

We stayed at my doula's house and rested for a few hours. Her 3 year old daughter and roommate came by to see our baby. I apologized to the roommate, smiling, for all the noise I had made while giving birth. The woman said she didn't hear a thing, just woke up this morning to the amazing news that a new life had been born in her home last night. She was so happy for us. The midwives came in to tell us goodbye. They would come the following day for a check-up at our house. My awesome doula and her husband threw all our messy clothes into the laundry. They busied themselves cleaning up the birth mess around us; sheets, plastic tarps on the floor, draining the unused birth tub.

Anyway, Maya Abigayle Taylor was born Saturday, June 28, 2003 at 4:48am. She weighed 8lbs 2oz, was 20 inches long, with a 14 inch head. She is SOO beautiful and wonderful!! She is nursing like a pro. I had a 2nd degree tear, but was sewn up with little problem compared to any cesarean pain I experienced with my other daughters. 

I was in labor from 10:30pm-4:48am. I went from a 4 to pushing in 20 or so minutes then pushed for 12 Minutes (well, tried to NOT push for about 6 minutes, then freely pushed for 6. My back-up midwife and friend who was to film the birth didn't make it in time (luckily my awesome doula grabbed the camera and got the pushing, so that was good). My midwife was SOOO shocked at how quickly it went. She was planning on calling the back-up around 6am, then figured I would have the baby around 10am - Maya had other plans.

My husband and I came home around 12:30pm. I was SOO high on adrenaline; I could NOT sleep all day, as hard as I tried. So I was up for over 24 hours.. Pretty delirious but THRILLED by that night. It was amazing to introduce our new daughter to her older sisters. They were so excited to meet her. My older daughter kept asking what the stuff on Maya's head was. We explained that it was some dried blood b/c we had not yet given Maya a bath from when she was born. Kelsey said she wanted to hold Maya, but only after we gave her a bath to wash off the blood. It was soo cute. Olivia pointed out all Maya's features and proceeded to kiss her. They both brought her all the toys they could find; too cute. Wonderful Maya slept beside me and slept great so I was able to rest. It is so amazing to be able to get around as well as I am (as opposed to with c/s), though I am still sore, naturally. My MIL took a flight out first thing the next morning. I think she was irked at our homebirth (we told her afterwards) but I don't really care. I did what was right. My family was THRILLED for me - though they all think I am insane. A title I wear proudly.. hahaha.


Chel's Story (2 VBA2Cs, 1 in hospital, 1 home waterbirth)

Kmom's Notes:   

Birth Story

My quick history [is that] I have 3 other sons.  The first 2 were c/s for FTP, my 3rd son was a hospital VBAC and now a homebirth VBAC [with #4].  It was incredibly awesome and I can honestly say that there isn't anything I'd change about this birth----not ONE single thing!  Here is my birth story---which I am still in awe of!

My contractions started around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday night.  They were about 10-15 minutes apart but I wasn't sure they were the "real thing" because I'd already had a couple of false alarms.  They were pretty much only in my stomach but fairly intense.  I went to bed around 10 to try to rest in case it was really time.  They hurt worse and I couldn't sleep but rested for a short bit.  I then decided that my husband should start setting the tub up, just in case!  Sadly, we had not done a "dry run" and the tub would not fit in the bedroom so we had to move it to the living room (insert cussing husband here!).  

We called the midwife around this time to just put her on "alert."  She didn't seem too convinced that this was the real thing; she had seen me on Monday and her gut told her it would be a week or so (not that she claims to be right all the time!). Anyways, by 1 a.m. the contractions had jumped to about every 5 minutes apart, then suddenly to every two.  At 2 a.m. I felt like I was losing some control as they seemed REALLY intense but only in the lower part of my belly.  I wanted the midwife here so my husband called her.  She asked for timing----being the man that he is he told her they were every 2 minutes or so, which was correct.  But he told her they were only lasting 30 seconds or so.  She told him that she thought it might still be early yet but she would be on her way as soon as she was dressed.  We also called our support person who was going to be helping with our kids and anything else we needed.  Both arrived right around 2:30 and during that half hour my husband had been trying to set the tub up but I needed him desperately during each contraction.  He was pushing on my back while I leaned on the couch or kitchen chair.  As soon as my midwife got there she was quite impressed with how things looked and she and the doula got busy setting the tub up.  I was filling and I asked to get in.  I had to wait about 15 minutes because it was just too hot!

I was feeling out of control and when I stepped into the tub-----OMIGOSH!!  It was awesome.  The pain does not disappear but it takes the edge off and allowed me to regroup.  My midwife asked to check me to see how far along I was.  I was hesitant because the numbers always defeated me in the past but I trusted her.  (I learned later that the moment I sat down quite a bit of blood spread through the water and she wanted to be sure that all was well.)    She got a huge smile and told me that I was a 6, she could stretch me to a 7, head was very low and I had a bulging bag of water.  I was shocked that I was so far along but knew we had some more work to do.  

I labored on my back, sort of floating in the water.  They periodically added a warm pot of water and I'd move to that spot every time!  I tried on my hands and knees a few times but that just didn't feel good; it wasn't enough support on my belly which is where I was feeling the contractions.  I started to push---well, my body did, I was not trying to at all.  I was concerned that I should be [pushing] and my midwife smiled and said, "Don't worry, if your body is sneaking them in, it knows what it's doing."  She is so awesome.  

I remember feeling a bit panicky as I suddenly felt that incredibly strong and painful urge to push and poop at the same time.  I was sure my butt was about to explode!  I then felt a pop which was my water breaking--that was at 4:08 a.m.  I looked at her and said, "I feel like I'm going to poop" and got another smile!  The very next contraction I looked at her and said, "It's coming out."  She told me to flip over.  His head was partway out and she told the doula to get our other boys so they could see.  I had 3 more contractions and pushed him out.  I felt EVERY single part of it; I felt his nose, head, and body slide right out.  I couldn't see anything at all but the feelings I got to experience was just amazing.  I can't even explain the euphoria I felt when I knew he was out.  I was "with it" and knew what was happening, which was so different from all my other births.

My son came out with the cord wrapped very tightly around his neck; he was very floppy.  She laid him on my back, had to deep suction him, and he finally started to pink up and cry.  (I knew none of this until much later.)  I then flipped over, he was laid on my chest and I got to see that another beautiful baby boy had joined our family.  We sat there for about 30 minutes.  I had NEVER seen a cord before and was fascinated that he was attached to his and on my chest.  

I passed a blood clot and a few minutes later said "Ewwww" as a funny feeling thing came out (we thought it was another blood clot).  My midwife asked if I was feeling crampy or anything but I wasn't.  I then moved my leg and felt something and my placenta had already been delivered!!  She was surprised as it was SO easy and unnoticeable!  We sat there for just a few more minutes and then Daddy got to hold him while I sat up in the water and ate a little.  Then we passed baby to the doula and my husband and midwife helped me out into bed, and there I stayed. 

My son and I were reunited, husband and I sat and talked for a bit while midwife stayed with me.  My doula busted her butt getting my house back in order---totally blew us all away.  2 hours after the birth, no one would have guessed we'd had a homebirth.  

I feel awesome.  My hemorrhoids are the only thing that give it away that I even had a baby.  Well, except for my jello belly and beautiful son!  He was 7 lbs. 2 ounces and about 19.5 inches.  He is a wonderful addition to our family and I just can't believe I did a homebirth and that it was as awesome as it was!!


Amy C's Story  (c/s for placenta previa; c/s for twins; VBA2C)

Birth Story

Here's my birth history leading up to the VBAC: c/s for placenta previa with Lyndsay at 37 weeks-7.5 lbs baby (12-31-97-what a great b-day!!). I was told when my staples came out that I could VBAC the next baby. Then we conceived twins and I didn't know any better than to schedule a c/s-again at 37 weeks. (Mallory-6lbs 10 oz and Chelsea-6 lbs 8 oz on 9-8-00) Now the rest of the story.

With this pregnancy, we started down the same road as the others but early on my husband and I started asking and thinking about a VBAC. I started talking with people and reading. I talked to a homebirth midwife early on who suggested finding an ICAN group. (That's how I found this group.) We were not comfortable with homebirth so we kept talking with our  OB (I'd been with her for 7 years). She agreed to the VBAC but every appointment when I'd talk about it with her she kept adding things to the list like I'd have to deliver by 41 weeks, internal monitoring, etc. We weren't really comfortable with what she was saying would happen but we didn't know what else to do. 

In January (my due date was May), I went to a local ICAN meeting to hear an OB discuss hospital VBAC. At the meeting I met several doulas and midwives and also learned some things from the doctor. Then we started interviewing doulas and we went to see the doctor who had spoken at ICAN.  We wanted to see if he'd take me as a patient.  He said many of the things that we wanted to hear, including that he did not normally use a backup doctor. He did warn us that he would be unavailable the weekend of May 17-18 and would have someone covering for him but he said, "You'll have the baby before then." So, after hearing from our original OB that 2 of her 4 backups would not do a VBAC, we decided that we needed to change. I was about 33 weeks at the time. And we finally hired a doula. 

The pregnancy was going really well. I did test positive for strep B but my doula found some natural treatments online that I did. Everything was going well and then I went past my due date. The doctor was fine with it but I found it amazing the number of people (including complete strangers) who would ask me if I was going to be induced on my due date. The next week (May 9th) at my appointment he asked if I'd come a day early the next week so I could get a NST and we could make some decisions. He mentioned that he'd gotten a young female doctor to cover for him on the weekend that he'd be gone. I asked him if he'd talked with her about me and he said, "No-you were supposed to have already had this baby." 

On Friday night, at a Mexican food restaurant, after a long Walmart trip with 3 children that morning, I finally started having some contractions. I'd been having some menstrual cramp feelings on and off for a week or so before that. And I'd started walking every night after dinner. (I was beginning to try all the things people recommend to get labor going.) The contractions continued on and off through the weekend but they'd peter out after awhile. On Sunday (Mother's Day), some friends brought me Chinese food because that always put his wife in to labor. It was delicious, but it didn't help me.

On Monday, I called the backup doctor's office to make an appointment to meet her and discuss my birth plan while I was in the building on that Wednesday. Did I mention that the new doctor was a 45 minute drive instead of 10? Her office called back on Tuesday morning to tell me that "Dr. N--- doesn't do VBACs." Yes, I started to panic a little at this point. I knew that we'd come too far to give up at this point. 

So on Tuesday afternoon a wonderful friend (mother of 10-8 of those born at home) picked up my 3 children so my husband and I could work on getting labor started. We had dinner out (Italian this time) then drove up and down a bumpy road. We went home and did many OFP exercises and used the breast pump. We did get some contractions going but nothing that I couldn't sleep through.

The next morning, we went to see the doctor. He walked in and saw the baby moving like crazy and said the NST would not be necessary because the baby was so active. When he checked me (my first vaginal exam), he said I was 1 cm but could stretch to a 3. He said we needed to do something because no other doctor there would do a VBAC. He suggested that I come the next morning for an "induction." He would call it that to get me on the L&D schedule and then he would break my water and hope that I would go in to labor. My husband and I left his office and went for lunch and to talk about our options. All this time my contractions were continuing-just not strong. 

After lunch, we called our doula and asked her to meet us at our house to try some more things to get labor going. At this point I knew that I was willing to try anything to avoid having my water broken the next morning. So I drank 1 oz of castor oil (in orange juice with baking soda) around 2:00pm. Our doula arrived around 3:30 and we started with some homeopathy, then aromatherapy and acupressure. I started feeling stronger and more regular contractions but I was handling them and felt confident that I would be able to continue to breathe through them, etc. All 3 of us felt that this was going to be a long labor because I hadn't labored at all ever before and I had only been at 1 cm that morning. So around 5:30 the doula left to keep her dinner plans. Within 30 minutes or so of her leaving, I began to not be able to handle the contractions. I wanted to lie down and rest and keep my eyes closed but I wasn't able to. I also felt like I needed to sit on the toilet and poop. Of course I thought it was because of the castor oil but I didn't feel any intestinal discomfort. At this point my mucous plug started coming out. I was encouraged by that. However, I continued having the out of control feeling and kept having the urge to push. (Which I knew was wrong because I had read about getting a lip when pushing too early.) I was screaming, etc. a lot but I was unable to tell my husband what I was feeling. He didn't understand what was happening and neither did I. I thought that I was still early in labor. 

Fortunately, the doula called when she got home to check on me. My husband told her things were getting worse and that I wasn't handling it well. He asked her to come back. She called from the car on her way back and asked him if I was irrational. When he said "yes" she told him to get me in the car and meet her at the hospital. So we headed out the door. I thought we were going to the hospital where I would ask for an epidural and she would try to talk me out of one. I wondered how she would be able to do that because the pain was so intense and I just knew that I was probably only 4 cm or so.

My husband used the lights and sirens on his emergency vehicle to get us quickly to the hospital. The hospital is normally about 45 minutes away. We left our house around 8:30 (I think) and we arrived there about 20 minutes later. On the way he called L&D to tell them that we were coming and that they needed to call our doctor. He was told that they would check me when I got there and they would call the doctor then. We pulled up and he grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me to the elevator (leaving my shoes in the car). We wheeled in to L&D and the nurse checked me and told me that I was complete. They took me into a delivery room, put me in a gown and asked me to urinate in a cup. I said that I couldn't. The whole time I was telling them that I needed to push. (I was probably screaming at them.) They were all telling me to wait. By this time I had 5 L&D nurses doing things to me and telling me not to push. One was putting the antibiotic in me (for the strep B). One was holding the monitor belts on my stomach. One was asking me questions and entering the information into the computer. (What was the date of your last menstrual period? How many pregnancies have you had and what were the dates of them?) And one was quite helpful and supportive-she'd had 3 natural births herself.

The doula got there followed by the doctor. Then I FINALLY got to push my baby out-2 contractions-and she was born at 9:17pm weighing 7 lbs 14oz and measuring 20 inches. They put her on my stomach and wiped her off there. The placenta came out. Then all the pain stopped. They suctioned her a little then I got to nurse her!! It was truly the most amazing and wonderful thing that I've experienced. Then they took out all the needles and put me in a wheel chair and took me to a post-partum room and asked me to urinate again. I was on my feet within 2 hours of giving birth!!

Many of you know what I'm talking about. Many of you are planning a VBAC. I want to encourage those of you who are planning a VBAC not to give up. Find the people who will support and help you. Read and research things as they come up. Then do it!!


Brandy's Story (c/s for "CPD"; c/s for failed induction; postdates home VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes: The fat-phobic doctor Brandy sees in the beginning of this pregnancy thought she "would be lucky" to get to 37 weeks because of her size.  This is ironic since Brandy actually had the opposite issue; she went "overdue" instead and was almost forced into a repeat c/s because she went "late."  This is a common issue for women of size; studies show our pregnancies tend to go longer, probably because our cycles tend to be longer too.  But most "due dates" do not take our longer cycles into account.

Brandy gave birth past 42 weeks; imagine how badly her baby would have been affected if she had had a repeat c/s at 37 weeks like the doctor wanted.  The baby would have been 5 weeks too early!!  But of course, any problems they would have then encountered would probably have been blamed on her size.  

Women can give birth just fine even well past their due date.  Although there are some risks to consider when going "overdue," there are also risks involved in inducing or doing a c/s instead, though doctors tend to discount those risks.  Many women gestate longer than average and their babies are just fine, but it's important to find a caretaker who is truly comfortable with letting a baby arrive on its own timetable as long as it seems to be doing well.  

Birth Story

My husband and I have always wanted to have a bigger family. However, although we love our children dearly, their births were very traumatic. If you can imagine going into what should be one of the most exciting times of your life with fear of what the hospital bureaucracy was going to do to you, then you can know where we are coming from. We were left fearing the very people that are suppose to take care of us. N had spent one useless week in NICU because of “policies and procedures,” and we spent our entire time at the hospital with both children feeling like prisoners desperate to escape. 

We began talking about having another child when my daughter turned one. DH was so excited and eager. Several days before I could test he gave me a very special gift. I have the same baby book for both N and I, but it was discontinued. He began looking for a copy of it in April, and he kept it to give to me when I was pregnant. I cried because I could not believe what an incredible gift it was. It was not something I had discussed with him, just something he noticed. DH is like that though. He is very romantic and always paying attention to details like that.

Since I have a history of ectopic pregnancy that left me with only one tube and ovary, I need to have an ultrasound at the beginning of the pregnancy to be sure that the baby is in the right place. I made an appointment with an OB/Gyn who marked herself as “natural childbirth friendly.”  All was well.  What happened next blew me away. 

The doctor, Dr. B., wanted to do a pap smear. I would normally not object, but I had one just two months prior to that exam in her office. It seemed pretty useless. I was told the pap was required. Then there were extra swabs out, and I asked what they were testing for, to which I was informed yeast infection. I explained that I did not want that test. I was told it was policy, and I could not decline the test. (I later learned that I was lied to, since that is a test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. No wonder insurance premiums are high… I have no need for that type of test.) Although I was irritated, I complied.

Dr. B comes in the room, and I mention that I want to have a natural childbirth. She immediately begins talking down to me as if I was an idiot, and explains that it is way too dangerous, not to mention all my problems that I bring to the table. You see, I am overweight. I guess she thought I was not aware of that when I came in to see her, so she took every opportunity to point it out to me. I have never in my life been treated as disrespectfully or as much as a moron as I was in that visit. Dr. B was convinced that I was a liar about the ectopic drama, that I was unable to walk a block, and despite my protests that I was neither she was convinced that I was a gestational diabetic and had problems with PIH (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension). She looked at me like I was nuts when I said that I thought my large babies were caused by having a large father, and that they continued to be big once out of the womb as well. She discussed setting up my c-section for 37 weeks; because there was no way that someone my size could go beyond that mark, and “we would be lucky” to make it that long in the pregnancy. 

I spent the next several hours crying. I did not make a follow up appointment, but I figured that regardless of what decision I made, this was probably as good as it was going to get. I knew that if that was my option, I was not going to be seeing a doctor. I had full confidence that I could walk into any ER and get a c-section if I wanted one. The same could not be said for a vaginal birth, which seemed like a distant dream.

I am now thankful to the Lord for that horrible appointment. I had wanted to try a midwife or do some alternative to the traditional system, but it did not seem possible. Now that I knew I could not continue to go the other route, it was much more possible. My husband also became much more interested in the alternative, after seeing how badly I felt after that appointment. 

I had a very dear friend named Delilah who talked to me after that horrible visit, and told me about a midwife who was a friend of hers who would take VBACs. I had contacted one midwife prior to the Dr. B visit, and she did not take VBA2Cs. I had assumed that was how it would go with all midwives, but she directed me to someone who could help. Her name was M, and she had a birth center. DH and I immediately thought she was great. She was not worried about me trying for a VBA2C, or that I was overweight. She thought we would do great. Her optimism really brought a part of the excitement of the birth process back to us, because she offered us some hope that we could do this. We just loved her, the center, and the idea that we actually had a chance to do things differently. M wrote us the sweetest note about how she knew we would have a great delivery, and was the first person to find Sarah’s heartbeat.

Tragedy struck, and M was killed in a car accident. Although we did not know her well, she had already worked her way into our hearts. She had given us hope that we could have a normal delivery, and the Lord had used her mightily in our lives. We could not imagine what her family was going through, and our hearts just broke for them.

M’s partner J took us as one of her patients, for which we were very thankful. It was so hard to think of someone so young and beautiful with a family passing away, and then we were sad that we might be back to where we started as well. (Although we were much more upset for her family’s loss, as we had faith that the Lord would provide a way for us.) J began seeing us when we were about 18 weeks pregnant. 

At 20 weeks we had the standard sonogram appointment. The lady who did the sono was not very friendly.  She saw a fibroid that was keeping the placenta from attaching properly to the uterine wall, and was on top of my prior c-section scars no less. We were so scared. We did not know, until we began to research at home that this was a danger of having a section. We also did not realize that with every section the chance of this condition (known as Placenta Accreta) increases. That was an eye-opening experience. We were never told the dangers of having sections. We asked, but we were not told that this was yet another side effect. The doctor, who did my first two sections, first for CPD, and the second for failed induction, knew we wanted a larger family, but said that he personally had done 5 sections on one person, so we did not think that having them was dangerous. Not true. The danger of placenta accreta increases dramatically with each incision. Furthermore, we learned after the first section that ectopic pregnancy is a danger as well. We learned that after a miscarriage and subsequent removal of my left tube and ovary. 

At first we were both just so scared and so upset. It did not seem possible that we were having yet another side effect from having a section. After a day or two I really began to have no fear. None. I really felt in my heart that everything would be fine, and I could not explain it but I felt it was the Lord granting me the peace. 

The day of our level two [sonogram], Delilah went with us to the appointment. DH and I were afraid we might be emotional and not think through all of our questions properly. Delilah is one of the most detailed and knowledgeable people I know. She is also one of the most compassionate and caring believers that I have met. Delilah prayed for us, and we shared a few laughs before getting started. 

The girl came in to do the sono and asked if we had any questions. We told her we were hoping to see if we were having a boy or a girl. She saw almost immediately and said, "It’s a girl!! DH and I looked at each other and at the same time, said, it’s Sarah! As she was scanning, we were able to see so much detail. I cried at seeing her heart beating because it was so clear and so beautiful. Watching her move around was such a gift. We asked if she saw any problems and she said no, but the doctor will be here soon. 

The doctor came in, and was so much nicer than I expected. We also had a laugh with him early in his visit, because I asked him about his published works in the Journal of Perinatology. He was very surprised I knew about that, and I told him I look up all my providers. He thought that was pretty funny, and said I was the first patient who had ever said that. He reviewed the images that the sonographer had taken, and then went to scanning on his own. After he was finished he said, your placenta is nowhere near your scar site, and you do not have a fibroid. We were stunned. We still had the last sono on tape, and you could see the growth under the placenta. The doctor said it could have been a weird contraction of the uterus, but it should not have lasted the entire sono. He had no explanation at all that was adequate. I choose to take it as a miracle. We left there praising God, and thanking Him for His graciousness, and provision. Delilah, when she prayed for us, told us to pray boldly. It’s safe to say none of us expected that answer though!

Our next big pregnancy milestone was taking childbirth classes in January. We learned how making one choice often means making other decisions inadvertently. Such as getting an epidural means consenting to pitocin, a bladder catheter, and a fetal scalp [monitor]. We had not really thought of that before. 

In February, at the request of J, I began seeing a chiropractor to help get Sarah into a proper position. I cannot stress how skeptical I was at going this route. I was convinced it was a waste of money, but I thought, I will do it, since it was requested of me, and I don’t believe it will hurt anything. I met the doctor, and she was really sweet, and I felt convinced that she believed in what she was doing. She ran a few tests, and it showed a few things that were not correct, and then told me I should come three times a week. It was going to be expensive!! But we had the medical care account so I thought okay, I will do this. 

Boy, was I surprised when I told her about my tailbone, which had hurt since N was born, and she believed she could correct the problem. She explained that usually the bone doesn’t break in labor (what I had been told); rather, it gets bent out of shape and causes pain. She said that had it been broken it would have healed, and then I would not be in pain, but being bent out of shape, it could cause pain indefinitely. So, she pushed my tailbone back where it belonged. I have not had pain in my butt since!! DH asked me afterwards if it was worth the over $500 we were going to pay out of pocket to go to the chiro, and I explained that I would have paid much more than that to have my butt fixed! He laughed and agreed. I am now a big fan of chiropractics. Oh, and when Sarah was transverse, she flipped head down within a week of getting my adjustments. I felt like my lesson here was that maybe the Lord was teaching me to be more open-minded. I hope it is a lesson learned.

In March, DH and I ended up having an off-handed conversation about birth, where I told him that I thought I would like to have a home birth. He is so amazing! DH told me that he had felt that way for some time, and was going to discuss it. I was so amazed that I married such a wonderful guy, and so excited that we were on the same page and going to have Sarah at home! 

The next big surprise for March came toward the end of the month… I was given a surprise shower. I was so emotional, because no one had ever done anything so nice for me before. I was surrounded by people that I just loved so much…. All these amazing friends that I had made, and I had the best time. After the shower, DH gave me a special letter that he had written with a prayer. He never counts it enough to write them, he always reads his letters to me too. What a gift. I will treasure these memories for all my life. And I praise God for giving me such a wonderful husband and beautiful friends!

One of the other issues we were having was with our midwife. I started to feel like we were making her nervous. It was not something I could really pin down, but I thought maybe because we were a VBA2C. However that seemed unlikely because she was once in our shoes. I don’t really know what started to cause these doubts to creep up in my mind, but they were there. DH was getting less content and more nervous as our due date approached, because he felt like we were going to have to grapple somewhat with our care provider. She is a loving and wonderful woman, but she seemed to vacillate between 'everything is great' to 'this pregnancy is not going so well.' 

I had no complications with the pregnancy. My glucose was wonderful, my blood pressures were great, I had gained a relatively small amount of weight, and I was doing what I was told. However, one of the herbs that I was asked to take, on one occasion, made my blood pressure go up and caused some swelling. I am not a big pill taker, herb or not, so I was not too concerned, since I knew it must be the cause of the elevated BP. Immediately after quitting the herb, I returned to normal. This did not seem to go over well, and I started feeling like I was reassuring my care provider that all would be well on one visit, and then she would be happy the next visit. It was very odd. 

Luckily she had a student C (who was about to graduate) working with her, and I always felt like she was on my side. She was always very upbeat, and when we asked about doing a home birth, she was clearly so excited that you could not wipe the smile off her face. She always made me feel better, and I always felt like she was listening when I spoke. C was also so sweet because she so badly wanted to be at our birth. We were so excited to have her there too!

As my LMP due date approached and went, I was not worried. The ultrasound due date (4-27) came and went, and she still wasn’t here. That was okay. However, this is when the questions start coming. “When are you going to have that baby?” “You’re STILL pregnant?” Those questions… booming from friends and people who check you out at the store. At this point, I was taking Evening Primrose Oil orally and vaginally, as well as taking the herb that originally raised my BP in order to start labor. I was walking, sitting on my birth ball, going to the chiro, eating  spicy foods, and doing just about every thing you could think of. Every night I was going to bed thinking this could be the night that I wake DH up to tell him I am in labor. 

At 40 weeks 3 days I allowed the only check I would have before labor. J checked me and I had a very anterior cervix that was mushy. I was dilated to a two. YES! I was making progress and I was working. Although I consented to this check, I was so grateful to not be getting checked all that time. I really liked not having to take my clothes off and go through the whole checking process. It was so freeing just to say no. I thought it would be hard not knowing, but it really was for the best. When I did get checked it was to confirm what I already knew, and to give my midwife a chance to see where I was. Although admittedly this check was just a check and really meant nothing in the whole scheme of time, it was good mentally for me to have this one done.

On the day that I turned 41 (by sono) weeks, I lost my mucus plug. I was also having prodromal labor. I would contract every 15-20 minutes and it would go most all day and end at night. The contractions were never that bad, and they did not bother me, other than they never seemed to bring on labor!  I started having bloody show two days later, so I knew that my cervix was changing then too! Now, if I would just go into labor…I went through the weekend with no labor.

Monday, May 8th 

J was not worried when we went past the 4-27 date. (I lied about my LMP to give myself an extra week.) In fact, she said that she would let me go past the 42 week mark. However, when we hit the 41 week mark with no baby, she started to get concerned. The biophysical profile test that she had said I would need after 42 weeks she wanted at 41 weeks. I took the first BPP at 41 and 3 days. Everything was great. Sarah was doing really well, she scored a 6 out of 8, which we were told was a great score. 

We took the results to the office, and J was not impressed. In fact, it seemed to really build her concerns. In a move that seemed really unusual for J, she and her partner started getting onto me in the open front office. We were the only clients there, but I was really unnerved by this. I felt like I was being tag-teamed. When we arrived at the office, I was contracting and having bloody show. By the time we left, both had stopped completely. 

J was very concerned that I had not gone into labor, and told me that I needed to do something to bring it on. This language somewhat surprised me because I thought that labor was not in my hands. She told me that the sono I had was not as good as having a radiologist-read scan so I would have to go back and do one the next day, and then maybe even the day after that, as long as the results were good. But that I would have to have the baby before I turned 42 weeks. I was told that I needed to take castor oil, have sex, continue the EPO, and let her strip my membranes. I told them I would think about these things, and let them know. 

There was so much pressure at this visit. I never dreamed I would feel the pressure of the clock before I ever went into labor, and that is exactly what I was feeling. (This was one of my big labor fears, that I would have to have the baby by a certain time or I would be sent to the hospital for a section.) I cannot write down how scared and uncertain I felt after this visit. When I called Delilah, I was in tears. I did not know what to think or do still, but eventually I knew that things would be okay. I felt very lifted up by prayer, and I was weak and bruised, but far from beaten. I told Delilah to please keep having her prayer warriors lift me up. 

We went to bed that night with a few decisions made. One, I would not have my membranes stripped. I had Group B Strep, and I did not want antibiotics which might or might not spare Sarah the infection. We would think about the castor oil later, and we were not doing it before we went to bed or the next morning. 

Tuesday, May 9th

The funny thing about the 9th of May is that this was the day that C returned from her graduation from midwifery school. So, she could be at our labor after all, which if I had to go later that seemed like a great thing to hold out for! We knew that the phone was going to be ringing asking us to make a decision, and DH without my knowing called up J and told her we would not make any decisions that day. We were going to the zoo and spend time together as a family; we were not going to do the BPP. He felt we were justified in the decision since the first BPP was so good. 

We had a great time at the zoo. J called [afterwards] and was really upset that we did not do the BPP. After that, DH took the phones off of the hook. I think every ounce of strength I had was gone by the end of Tuesday. I cried, DH cried, and we both prayed. This was the hardest day of the entire pregnancy. 

I was asked a question by someone unexpected, and it hit me very hard. The question was when was I going to give up? When was the magic date? The answer was simple, I had no clue, but I could not take many more days like Tuesday. I was going to lose my mind if I did. I was beginning to think that maybe I was going too far, but I always came back to the BPP from the day before… how could she be so healthy, and then not be? She was moving around, and I knew in my heart that she was fine. At this point I was required to take fetal movements three times a day. I did them more like five times a day, and she was always hitting her number of movements within 30 seconds. These were not the signs of a baby in trouble. DH and I just held on, and decided that we would pray and take things one day at a time. We were both so exhausted that we just went to bed.

As an interesting side note, there was a girl online  who had been fighting being induced and although she lived in New Zealand where the midwife standard of care is used, she was well past her due date and getting frustrated. She kept insisting on not being induced, but finally went in for induction and ended up with a c-section. I was really sad for her; I think I was identifying with her. She and I were the last on the board of April Moms that I knew of. I guess you could say, then there was one.

Wednesday, May 10th

What a difference a day makes! When I got out of bed, I felt really good. I felt so strong, almost like I could fly. DH was very beaten down, and it was clear on his face, but I kept telling him all would be okay, and that we would have this baby very, very soon. I could feel it. I told him that all the prayers people were praying were lifting me up. My optimism even spread to DH.

We went and did a second BPP in the middle of the day. This turned out to be a blessing. Our scanner for the day was so nervous about doing this scan and doing it correctly that he took measurements multiple times! The good news was that I was fine and so was Sarah. She had great fluid levels, he saw fetal breathing motions, and all her parts were accounted for and functioning great. She had an estimated weight of 9lbs 12 oz. The scan had taken about an hour and a half because he was working so hard at doing a good job… When I got up to leave I had a contraction, and he said, "We were all afraid you would go into labor and have your baby here." I laughed!! I said if that was all it took, I would have come here weeks ago!

Delilah and her apprentice/daughter V came over later that afternoon, which was great. We all knew that on Friday I was going to exceed my midwife’s protocols. So, if I did not have Sarah by then, I was going to have to do something else. The conversation about options went on for quite some time, and it was good to get all the cards laid out on the table. 

That night DH and I went to bed feeling good, but knowing that we had one day to go into labor. I had a feeling we were not going to do that, but I was optimistic that everything would be fine.

Thursday, May 11th

When I woke up on Thursday, I did not feel as high as I did on Wednesday, but I knew I was still lifted up. I knew I would not go into labor. I knew that Sarah was going to come in the Lord’s timing. I had quit taking the herbs, and I was not doing anything artificial to bring on labor. 

That morning I spoke with J and she had to lay her cards out on the table, and I felt bad, but I know that she was disappointed in me that I would not take the advice of castor oil, herbs, stripping, etc. I did not think that making myself as sick as a dog was the way to go into labor. What if I had a long labor, and nothing left to give because I was so sick? What if it had an effect on Sarah and or put us both in danger? What if it wasn’t time for her to be born yet? I thought N’s induction might have worked had he been in a better position and ready to be born. I had dilated quickly, but he was in an awful position. J’s point was that I was headed to a section the next day if I did not have her and was it worth it to put all my eggs in those baskets. I knew that I would not willingly lay on the table at that point. Not with Sarah doing so well.

Really, wasn’t that the question…When would I give up? I can’t tell you how many times I was asked this question in various forms. When will you end this, Why won’t you just have a section, A section's not that bad…and my favorite, Why won’t you put your baby first? I was frequently made to feel like I was so selfish for holding out, which is ridiculous. Sarah was doing great. I felt like I was being made out to be a bad mother for waiting. I think it is important to say until I felt that the Lord was leading me on that path, and as long as all the tests said that Sarah was fine, I was not going to willingly lay myself down and have my body violated at my own request. If Sarah was ever in any danger, I would have been the happiest section patient ever operated on. I really believe that holding off was in Sarah’s best interest. C-sections are a wonderful option for women and babies in danger, but not for a perfectly healthy baby and mother. 

After talking to J, I was very upset. I knew what she would say, and I knew she was in a difficult position. Her protocols required her to give my care over. I understood, and I knew it was coming. I went to the chiropractor for an adjustment, and Dr. M did some additional pressure points. Her husband Dr. P did acupuncture. On my prior acupuncture visits the whole procedure was pretty pain free; this time that was not the case. He was determined to bring on contractions, and he kept upping the TENS unit (adding electrical stimulation to the acupuncture needles); I was very uncomfortable…but I was having contractions. I was at the office for about two hours. Poor DH and Delilah were worried, and DH even called the office to see if I was okay. Everyone knew I was upset. 

When I came home Delilah told me about a midwife she called and asked about me hypothetically. The midwife, M, had already called her back and asked why the hypothetical client hadn’t called her. Before I could get off the phone with Delilah, J called, and I could sense her disappointment in me, as well as at the situation that we were in. I called Delilah back, had a good cry over the situation, yet again, and we agreed that I would get off the phone, refresh, pray and call M.

M was such a pleasure to talk to. I said, “Hi, I am the hypothetical patient that Delilah told you about!” To which she replied that she had been waiting on my call. We both laughed.  She was not at all concerned about my having had two prior sections, as long as I realized what the risks were, and she was not worried at all that I was starting my (ahem) 42nd week. (Again, I was not telling that by LMP I was 43 weeks.) The first thing that she said that made me take a huge deep breath was after I made a comment of falling out of the norms by going late. She immediately corrected me and said, you fell out of the averages, not out of normal. I don’t know how I did not fall out of my chair when she said that. Tears of joy came to my eyes, and I told her, you are so right. We spoke for quite some time, and agreed to meet in her office the next afternoon. 

After we spoke, I called DH and told him I really, really liked her, and that I was confident that we had a care provider. Then I called Delilah, who upon hearing my voice, said I can hear your relief. She was right. I was so relieved. I had a back-up plan, and I knew that I could go ahead and gestate in peace now. It was like having a huge burden taken off of my back. I felt like it was okay to go into labor. However, that was the first night that DH and I went to bed and I told him tonight would not be the night. I knew I needed the rest, because Friday was going to be another hard day. 

Friday, May 12th

Friday was the day that I needed to meet with J in order to get my discharge from her practice. I knew it was coming, and I was outside her protocols.  I knew the Lord would give me the strength to do what I needed to do and the grace to handle J with love and mercy… like I expected her to treat me too. 

When I arrived I was surprised to see C there. Friday was not a day she worked, and I knew she was there out of support for me. What an amazing gesture, and she will never know how the Lord blessed me through her. I brought up that I knew J was here to discharge my care, and I told her that I understood. She asked me if I was going to go to an OB or hospital to have a section. I said no. She explained that she thought that I was making a mistake. I said I know that you do, but I don’t believe that I am making a mistake. 

She then asked me the million dollar question…When will you give up? I gave my truthful and usual answer, “I don’t know.” She explained that every day I was past due increased the chances of bad things happening. I explained that I had read up on post-maturity syndrome, and that I was aware of the dangers. J went on to share information that did not necessarily correspond with what I had read completely. I then said, “Well, no one is pregnant forever, and I know my body will go into labor when it is time.” (Immediately Isaiah 66:9 came to mind,"Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God.) J’s answer to this was surprising. She said that not everyone goes into labor, and that I could be one of them. She had seen it many times. 

At this point I realized that we had a core philosophy difference. I did believe that given time my body would work. I had no idea why I had not gone into labor like the averages said I should, but I did not think it was my time yet. She thought that my body had failed. The big problem that I had here was that she had experience, and I was going on theory. That is one of the things that made C’s being there so special. It was okay for me to stand up and make this stance because I was not alone, operating on theory. There was someone else there who was standing up with me; someone with experience and ability, and who shared my philosophy. I was able to stand firm, and lovingly disagree with J. 

Finally J had me sign a document to absolve her of any poor decisions that I made from that point forward. I knew that the language would be strong, but I did not agree with the paper that I signed, and I felt like it was scare tactics. However, I signed my name. I did it quickly and quietly, and just wanted to leave then. I only signed that form for J’s peace of mind. If anyone else had requested that of me, I would have refused. I did give J a hug, promised to bring Sarah to see her, and thanked her for all the help and care up to that point. It was clear that we both disagreed with the other’s decisions that day, but I know to the core of my being that that visit was not easy for J, and that she was giving me the best care she could.  C and I said quick goodbyes in the parking lot, and I verified that she would be willing to work with M on my birth. Her smile was amazing!

At this point I was off to go meet M. We spoke to each other for almost two hours. She shared birth stories with us that made me cry.  She explained that going 42 weeks wasn’t abnormal, and that she herself went almost 44 weeks with her daughter, and that her mother went beyond 44 weeks. She told us how much she loves doing VBACs because women appreciate so much more the gift of natural birth when they have had the alternative. We just loved M, and DH was so relaxed with her. They were joking together and I thought wow, this is great. We were completely at ease with her. 

Toward the end of the visit, she wanted to check heart tones and gave us a heart monitor in case my water broke at home. This way we could monitor for problems such as prolapse right after. I asked her if she wanted to check me and she said nope, not if you are strep b positive. I was so excited! Another thing we were on the same page about. When M checked Sarah’s heart rate, she had to place the monitor very, very low. She asked if this is where it was normally heard and I said no. She said she is into your pelvis if the heartbeat is gotten that low. She did not think that CPD would be a problem. This was not something I could fully register with more than a giggle right then. From this point forward there were a lot of things that I couldn’t fully understand or appreciate until hindsight.

As we were leaving, DH handed over the credit card for our down payment, and I ran to the bathroom. M was actually going to do our birth. I was so calm and so excited. I felt like I could dance. Amazingly enough, the bloody show returned. Maybe we would be calling M in the middle of the night….

Saturday, May 13th

The next morning I woke up, and almost immediately began having contractions. This was nothing new. In fact it had been going on during my waking hours for at least 10 days.

I called Delilah to vent my frustration. She assured me that it was normal to do this, and told me the story of the Little Engine that Could. Each time I did this, I was getting somewhere, and to keep thinking I can. Eventually I would get over the hill and all the children would cheer because I had the candy and toys. The visualization made me laugh, and for whatever reason stuck with me. 

After [a birthday party], Delilah called and asked how I was doing. I explained that I still thought this wasn’t labor, but the contractions were getting much closer together, like 5-7 minutes apart. [When  Delilah arrived], I asked if she would help wash the table off. DH teased Delilah about our getting the platinum doula services. She was cleaning our house… would she mind mowing the yard? Delilah laughed, and declined to provide the mowing services. She thought we might need her help today and she did not want to smell bad. 

I still disagreed about being in labor, but gosh those contractions were coming quickly, every 3 minutes. D thought I should call M to give her a heads-up.  But I had thought so many times this might be labor and every time I was wrong. I did not want to embarrass myself in front of this new midwife. Finally Delilah said, “Do you mind if I call her?” I agreed. I nearly cried even then because I just knew I was making too much of this. But I was having a hard time controlling my emotions, and I was on the verge of tears. 

When Delilah called M, she asked her if she had her birth supplies. It never dawned on me that she might need extra supplies and more of a warning. Luckily M was close by with her student and she had all her supplies. She was surprised that I was having contractions since she had talked to me earlier and I said nothing about them.

M and her student arrived. M had a huge smile on her face and asked me if I thought we might have a baby today. I told her, I don’t know. I wondered if she would check me and tell me if I was in labor or if this was more of the prodromal labor-ish stuff. She said sure, and that while she was at it, she would do a pelvic assessment. When she checked me on the bed, she said, “No need to do a pelvic assessment, your pelvis is perfect fine since your baby is already down, you are dilated to a four, fully effaced, and have a bulgy bag.” I immediately began to cry. MY BODY WAS WORKING! I WENT INTO LABOR ON MY OWN!!!! I had not done anything to bring on labor, but the time was at hand. PRAISE GOD!!! 

Delilah called C, and she was on her way to assist with M! YEAH! Things were starting to move right along. M took my blood pressure and it was 104/60. I was so relaxed! It’s great being at home! Don’t get me wrong, the contractions were causing me to take notice and breathe. But I was so excited and riding so high.

I decided to take a shower. I asked M if it was okay, and DH said, "Brandy, this is your house, and your decision. If you want to take a shower, then take one." While in the shower, the contractions really kicked it up a notch. They were almost unbearable. I felt nauseous, weak, and like I could not keep doing this. What a huge change! The water felt great on my back, and the cold of the shower wall felt great on my forehead, but the contractions had really gotten so close together it felt like they were on top of each other. Standing had always made the contractions worse, but wow. This was really intense! I got out of the shower and asked if I could be checked again. I thought it’s time for this baby to come out now!! M checked me and I was a 5. DH was really pumped, and I was like what??? Only a five?? I had a miniature panic in my head thinking, "I can’t do this."

When I laid down, the contractions were still coming, but were more bearable. DH had the big fan going, and he cuddled me, Delilah was offering verbal comfort, and making sure I was comfortable. C was there answering too and rubbing my legs. I was really afraid I was going to blow this opportunity. But as I laid down, closed my eyes and things got quiet, the only person I was aware of being there was DH. Things were quiet, and I felt like I was regaining strength. The contractions were coming, but laying down on my left side they were less intense. This break really helped me get my thoughts back together, and I prayed for strength and wisdom. I opened my eyes and I was so surprised to see Delilah still there. I had really phased out, and only knew DH was there with me. She was sitting on the floor reading the Bible, and she read to us a Psalm that she was reading and praying for us. It was a beautiful moment. 

After she finished, I asked if I could have my birth ball, since I wanted to sit rather than lay down and slow things down. I was under much more control by God’s Grace and it was time to get down to business. Delilah and C came in the room, and DH helped me get on the ball. Periodically throughout all of this they would come in and take the fetal heart tones, but I don’t know how often. Time was pretty meaningless. I remember thinking as the contractions were on top of each other on the birth ball that I could not do this for another 12 hours. The contractions had gotten to where they were just on top of each other. They were not impossible to ride through, but some really were so painful. I was thinking in between how different this was than pitocin contractions. Pitocin had the contractions right together, but the pain with the pit was so different, and so much larger than these contractions. It was helping me deal with the contractions I was having to think about that.

I suddenly felt a popping sensation, and I thought my water must have broken. Turns out I was wrong, but Delilah said you should get up and go to the bathroom. I had been having trouble getting urine out, and it had been a while since I went to the bathroom. I agreed, but when I stood up, I started pushing!!!

The sensation for me was very overwhelming. I wasn’t sure I could move, and I was amazed at the power going through my body. M came in to check me, and told me I was complete except for a cervical lip. She said she could break my water to help the lip disappear and I all but begged her to break my water. She told me to get up on the bed...M broke the bag of water. DH stood next to me, and Delilah got on the other side of the bed to help comfort me. Delilah also got cool rags, and made sure the pillows were in the right spot for me to be as comfortable as possible. I looked at the clock for the first time and took in the time. It was 8:10pm.

I had said that I did not want to be told when to push or how to push, unless it would keep me from tearing. M and C were great. They told me that I should avoid pushing unless I could not help it since I still had the cervical lip. They said that the lip was disappearing with little pushes. Once the lip was gone, they told me to push, but take my time about it.

Once I began pushing, M and C were putting warm compresses on the perineal area. THAT FELT SO GOOD. It made it so much easier for me to calmly push, and felt so good in between the pushes. As I continued to push the feeling became less overwhelming and much more empowering. I could hear DH praying for me, and everyone assured me I was doing great. I was having a hard time believing she was coming out though. I kept asking DH over and over if she was really coming.  I was sweating like I have never sweated in my life, and I felt like I was grunting so loud with each push. I was sure I was scaring my kids! I am told that I was not that loud, but in my brain I was really, really loud. I continued to pray in between contractions, and even once “yelled” for the Lord to help me. He certainly did.

I continued to ask DH repeatedly if she was really coming. I was afraid that I was not doing things right. Finally, Delilah tells me that they can see her head, and M invites me to feel her head. I was sure I did not have the ability and strength to do that, but I asked DH to look. He said he could see her head, and it gave me renewed energy to draw from. I was actually pushing out my baby. I started to enjoy the pushing as much as a person can when they are at that stage. M would tell me when to stop to avoid tearing, and I started to recognize the sensation and stop before she said to. She would point to different areas on my perineal area, and tell me to relax/melt that part. I have no idea how, but when she touched it, I was able to relax that area. (Later she told me that she had read that from a famous midwife’s book, and she did not know how it worked either, but it did.) 

Finally they tell DH come down here to catch your daughter. I was so excited, and I just could not believe that my husband was about to catch our baby. Her head was totally out, and I needed to push out her shoulders and body. She had not made a noise yet, and I was told there was quite a bit of meconium. I finally gave a last push, and I felt her body come out of my body. 

I JUST DELIVERED OUR BABY. I could not believe it. DH was laughing that Sarah had more of a controlled fall, and was kissing me and telling me how beautiful she was. I kept waiting for her to cry though. I was getting scared, and M told me that she was great, she just wasn’t ready to cry yet. She was still getting the cord blood and was going to be fine, but we would not be able to harvest the cells because she needed them. Since we had the meconium it was ideal that she start breathing on her own, rather than suck in the fluid. M and C got out the syringe and asked Sarah to please not make them do that to her. She immediately began crying. What an amazing noise!! 

I started to cry and said, “CPD my ass!!!” (What an incredibly crass thing to come from my mouth at such a beautiful moment!) I could not believe that I had just given birth to our daughter. The tears were just flowing. I also made mention of the Little Engine that Could and told Delilah that that children were cheering. 

I wanted to see Sarah and I needed to flip over. Since she was still attached, this was going to be a little tricky, combined with the fact that there was meconium all over. As I was flipping over, the placenta came out. I apologized! I had never felt another contraction and was not aware it was coming! I was appalled that I could be so unaware of the placenta coming out! 

Sarah was so beautiful, and reminded me so much of N. She looked so much like him when he was born. DH cut Sarah’s cord, and she began to nurse. It was so awesome! I was so thankful to everyone for being there, and for making her birth so beautiful. I was so humbled, and amazed, and just felt so much disbelief that I had just had our daughter. We called our moms to let them know.

I took an herbal bath. DH took Sarah to meet N and I. They were a little surprised but very excited by their little sister. M did a quick check on me. My bleeding was great, so there was no need for any kind of pitocin shot. My uterus was feeling like it should, and was shrinking like it needed to. But the best news of all was that I did not have any kind of tear or even a skid mark. I was so amazed. M did not think I did, but the exam conclusively showed she was right. I was sure I didn’t tear as well since I was not in pain, and when I went to the bathroom there was not any burning. Amazing!

After that, it was time for Sarah to get the newborn exam. Delilah went around asking how much everyone thought she weighed. I thought she was in the seven pound range. She seemed so small to me. M laughed out loud when I gave that guess. DH guessed 9 lbs 12oz, and it was my understanding that almost everyone else was thinking over 10lbs. She was 9lbs, 8oz., 20 inches long, and had a 14.25 inch head circumference. 

She was healthy as could be, and it was great fun to be able to watch and ask questions while the exam was going on. No one was taking Sarah out of my sight without asking me first. I was just amazed. After the exam, I got Sarah in her first diaper, and got her dressed. I was in a state of disbelief. My baby was right there, and I was STANDING, laughing, and getting my daughter dressed. 

After the exam, I was told I had to eat before they left. I had pizza and juice. It was really good. They finished up paperwork, and sure enough, they were all gone. I sat there with my older children asleep, DH fading fast, and little Sarah crashed out. I was so wide awake and I felt like dancing. I knew I needed to sleep, but I had to sit and take in my life. What an amazing gift this day had been. 

I am still so thankful to the Lord for the Grace I was shown. I had the most amazing birth that ever occurred. I really believe that, and I praise God!


Jaci's Story (Hospital Transfer, VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   

Birth Story

Friday, February 21st:
Dh and I and the kids went to the mall to do a little walking. Definitely got things started and contractions started about 8 p.m. Could certainly tell they were not braxton-hicks, but they were not regular at all. They continued on through the night--I remember some of them waking me up and Dh says that I didn’t sleep much. 

Saturday, February 22nd:
Got up early and decided that we would call my parents to come and get the kids. They arrived early afternoon and were very nervous (wasn’t helping me at all!). Though we hadn’t told them we were planning to homebirth they had figured it out on their own and my Mom was absolutely dying to stay. They stayed for a couple hours and then took our two younger ones home with them. Was still having contractions but still nothing regular, but they were “uncomfortable”. We decided to call the midwife. We both just love her, but she insisted that we not call her that--she is an apprentice midwife. Didn’t bother us a bit--in fact, on our first visit with her (at 38 weeks) she told me more about my baby than the sOB had in all the visits I’d had with him. Terribly sad what so many women don’t know they are missing. Midwife arrived about 9:00 p.m. Contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting about 50 seconds. FHR 140s. According to midwife’s notes I was happy and talkative between contractions. 

Sunday, February 23rd:
Contractions continue about 4-5 minutes apart. I get in and out of pool a few times. It feels great, but the pool we got was way too big and it is very hard to keep the water warm. About 6 a.m. midwife asks if I want to be checked and I say yes. I am 6 cm. I take a short nap and then get up and eat. Really don’t (and haven’t so far) feel like eating, but Dh and midwife insist. Contractions continue, but then start to space way apart around about noon. It starts to really snow hard outside and then we hear thunder. Thunder snow--how neat! I again try resting and contractions then start up again. 8 p.m. and I am feeling rested because of a few short naps. I get checked again about 9 p.m. and am 8 cm. This gets me excited (at least I think I remember it doing so!).  FHR still in 140s. Contractions continue on through  the night about 6 minutes apart. Have been doing the “ohhhh” sound for what feels like forever! :-)

Monday, February 24th:
Contractions start picking up and I am checked about 6 a.m. Am still 8 cm. and this was a little disappointing I must say. Contractions continue 4 minutes apart (and so does the snow which makes it look like we are snowed in something fierce-we live out in the “boonies”) and my water breaks about 1 p.m. It is not a big gush--just some trickling. There is slight meconium. Midwife checks me and I am 9 cm.  FHR still in 140s but midwife is getting concerned that I am soooo tired. I was supposed to go the sOBs this morning for my 40 week appt. but we didn’t go obviously because we were going to homebirth. I had been having trouble with this doc wanting to do section (had actually told me that if nothing was happening by today he would schedule the 28th!). I stayed with him on recommendation of midwife and others who said I should since he was VBAC friendly just in case I had to transfer. Terrible thing is, he is not very VBAC friendly, but is the VBAC friendliest doc in town! Did that make any sense? :-) Dh had called and said we were snowed in. sOBs office calls several times, leaving messages on the answering machine, saying that he needs to talk with me etc. I honestly don’t remember much past this point, but Dh had been napping and midwife went to wake him up and we started to discuss transporting. Dh was furious!!!!! He felt we had made this decision without him and oh was he mad. We did leave for the hospital about 4:30 p.m. We get to the hospital about 5:30 (we made it without getting stuck!). I was admitted, brought to the L&D room and told to put on a gown which I just hated. The nurse came in and started asking me all kinds of questions and then left the room. She came back in to put in an IV and I told her that I told doc that I wanted a heplock and that he said it was ok. Well, she just literally went off on me! Got right in my face and yelled that I was vbacing after 2 sections and did I know how dangerous that was? I needed special care and she didn’t see any birth plan and then went off on me that I was lying to her on some question she had asked me. Whoa! Here I’ve been in labor for how long, I am soo tired and this nurse is literally screaming at me. Dh was not in the room at the time (he says she was lucky he was not because he would have punched her!) and I don’t honestly remember what I did. 

She proceeds to put the IV in and blows the vein in my left arm. She tries the right arm and blows the vein in that arm!  There is literally blood running down my arm and onto the bed and I’m thinking oh my God who is this woman.  She finally gets someone else to do it and then when she is putting the line in, she is dropping stuff and scaring the hell out of me. It finally works and I make it through! Then she checks me and says that I am 4 c.m.! Oh, that just shoots me way down! sOB comes in and asks if I still want to VBAC (oh for pity’s sake-he has asked this at the last 10 visits!)  I say yes and then he says he has to go over the risks and does so and the only risk of a ERCS is that it takes longer to recuperate!!!!!! Whatever. Then he says do I realize that if my uterus ruptures that people are going to start running all over the place and going crazy? Uh, yeah, I guess. He finally leaves and I go to the bathroom. While in there I have the most horrible thought. I feel like it is not going to happen--they won’t let it and maybe I should just tell them to do a section on me now and get it over with. I don’t know what came over me--I felt so awful. When I came out of the bathroom, I wasn’t going to say anything, but did tell Dh and the midwife (who became our doula as soon as we walked in the hospital) what I had been thinking. And you know, I can’t remember what they said but it must have worked!

Then, wonderful news, at 7 p.m. there was a shift change and we got the most wonderful nurse! I really think that if the other nurse had stayed I wouldn’t have been able to do it she was sooo awful. Anyway, I really wanted to walk and asked the new nurse if this would be ok. She said sure and so all three of ustook off down the hall and walked and I think that it really helped. We walked for about 40 minutes--it sure didn’t seem that long. Then we came back to the room and got hooked to the monitor and everything fine. I believe that I was checked then and I was 7 c.m. Nurse said that the other nurse surely was wrong--I’m pretty sure she was--she was horribly rough and had huge hands! At this point, I don’t know what came over me, but I was very tired and the pain seemed to be getting so much worse. I asked for something for the pain. I really had not wanted to do it, but I just don’t know what came over me. They did give me a shot of something and the midwife seems to think that is what got me over the edge. I was having a horrible time relaxing during the contractions--just kept tensing up and I know that does not help. The medication lasted about half an hour and then, BAM, the pain was full strength again. BUT, I don’t know the time frame, finally I was 10 cm. and they were getting the “vaginal birth cart” ready. That really helped my frame of mind. I don’t remember having an “urge to push”, but once I did, WOW! Amazing the pressure that was taken off my back! It was amazing--and I really can’t believe how hard the pushing was. I remember pushing with what I thought was everything I had and everyone kept yelling, “Push, Push” and I’m thinking, What? I am! sOB kept coming in on and off and saying things like oh, this isn’t going well, or baby doesn’t like that, etc.  Stupid fool--I think I’d have pushed her out sooner if not for his idiot comments. I pushed in so many positions--we started pushing in a sitting up position (midwife’s notes said lithotomy, but I was almost sitting straight up so I don’t like to call it that--felt much better than lithotomy), then squatting, then back to sitting up. And the FHR monitor kept sliding off and we had to reposition it all the time which was a real pain. Stormy’s heart rate started to go down a little bit just as sOB was coming in the room and he started yelling something to the nurse. She said something to him that he had to get our approval first and he told her to forget and and get what he needed. Turns out he put in one of those nasty scalp monitors. Her heart rate went right up again. Then after he left the room, midwife suggested that I go on the hands and knees position and her heart rate was super all through that pushing stage also. Eventually, I switched back to the sitting position and stayed that way through the rest of the pushing stage--it seemed like I could feel more of what was going on this way. I remember as I was pushing I kept looking in the mirror that nurse had set up and seeing her head start to come out and then when I was done pushing it would go right back in. I was so scared that she wouldn’t come out! Isn’t that crazy? Midwife kept saying that is how it goes and not to worry, but I still did! 

sOB finally came in as she was crowning and what an awesome feeling when I felt her head start to come out--I just cannot describe it! sOB said that there was no way baby’s head would fit through and that he was going to make a small cut. Well, he did and I did not know it, but I also tore as her head was coming out. As her shoulders were coming out, doc started to yell at me to reach down and grab her. I reached down and grabbed her under the arms and he yelled at me to push and pull her out. I pushed one last time and out she came and I pulled her out myself and put her on my chest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fact that he did this still blows my mind, but I am grateful nonetheless! That was so incredibly amazing! She was on my chest for 2 or 3 minutes before anyone thought to ask what sex she was! Everyone was just so excited. She was so beautiful, I was so tired, it was soo amazing! She was born at 1:37 a.m. after 2+ hours of pushing, weighing 8.8 pounds and 22 inches. They let me hold her for a while and then took her away (right next to my bed) and rubbed her down a little bit and gave her a little oxygen and then she started to cry! 

At this point, the sOB says, “Well, you tore after I cut you so now I’m going to have to figure out how to put you back together.” Then he says that I’d better not squirm and wiggle to try and get out of the way because it wouldn’t do any good! Geez! Anyway, Daddy held Stormy (still unnamed at the time) while he sewed me up. We got to be with her for about two hours. I nursed her before they took her away for her bath. I was brought to maternity and she was brought to my room pretty fast--I was impressed. Before I was brought to maternity, a bunch of the nurses came to my room and exclaimed how proud they were of me and that I would show the doctors how short women could vaginally birth! Guess, I’d never heard that short women couldn’t vaginally birth! I wish now that I had made a birth plan to give to the doc, but we were so confident that we wouldn’t be going to the hospital. 

I still can’t believe I did it. I can’t believe that I actually labored that long at home, but I know that if I hadn’t, I never would have gotten my VBAC. I would not trade this for anything! I remember thinking the day after that I felt like a truck had hit me--sore muscles I didn’t know I had and sore bottom from the tear, BUT it was nothing like the truck that hit me with my 2 sections. This was wonderful! Don’t really know how badly I tore-midwife said it looked to her like a 3rd degree, but when we asked sOB he actually said, “Oh, I don’t know”! Dh asked him again and he said, “Oh, medium, I guess”. ? 

Well, there it is--Stormy’s birth story--77 hours of  labor!--I know there are things I’ve forgotten, but  wanted to get it down as soon as I could before I
forgot more!   Jaci

From Jaci's Husband:

I’ll just add my short two cents worth and in no way want to take away from Jaci’s wonderful birth story. I still am so amazed at how my wife showed me her true strength and beauty during this birth. She so casually wrote about her labor, but to have witnessed HOW she labored was incredible !!! I mean my God , no sleep , no food (unless me or the midwife forced her) it was like she was on some divine mission to do this right . Awesome !!! I really can’t say enough about how wonderful our midwife-doula was . Even after transporting she was THERE for Jaci and I really wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t been. A very wonderful woman and she just provided Jaci with advice and encouragement when I wasn’t able to or when I got P.O.. While on that subject , I think I was more pissed off at the thought of transporting than Jaci was. Ever since we decided to homebirth , unassisted or not , I took it as my job to protect her and help her make judgments when she became weak or tired and it felt like I had failed her when the decision was made to go to the hospital. I know she had gotten so very tired after 3 days of laboring and yes she did have a small amount of meconium in her fluid, but after reading an article on here just a few days before that about suctioning , I felt that this was no concern . I truly believe Jaci just got too tired to walk around or try the pool again and when the midwife said she was still at 8cm after days of contractions that just did her willpower in. 

As Jaci stated above, I knew something was wrong after I had parked the van and came back in to the L&D room but she never told me until later how the nurse was yelling at her and I could tell that the nurse was SO nervous when I came in and the OB showed up . I have never hit a woman but if I had been there when she was screaming in my wife’s face, I may have. The god, oops I mean, ego tripping health care provider, seemed to be doing everything in his power to dash Jaci’s confidence in herself but I think he actually fueled her to overcome her tiredness and doubts about her ability to VBAC .I don’t believe that was his intention. He was not gentle and almost seemed to try and inflict as much pain on her as he could during the VE’s . I’m not sure but the midwife had told us earlier that Jaci was fully effaced except for a “lip” on the back of Stormy’s head and the OB may have forcibly pushed it over her head. I truly hated the way we just had to sit back and let all this happen. It’s like when you walk in those doors-----you know the story. I think that is another reason I was so pissed about transporting , It was so nice and comfortable at home, and then the stark difference when we got THERE. I could just imagine HIM coming in at some point and saying, “Well, I GAVE you the opportunity , but it’s just not going to happen, PREP HER .“ Unfortunately he got his revenge the next day and got to induce 3 women.  

OK , so thank God for our next nurse. A young woman who has not had any children but seemed to be both supportive and eager to help Jaci in ANY way she wanted or needed help. As long as the doctor was out of the room WE were a TEAM---our midwife turned doula, the nurse, my Wonderful wife, and myself. When push came to shove we lost some battles, but between us we won some too. And my wife got her VBAC!!!! I was and am still so proud of HER!!!! SHE DID IT!!!! Put that one in your stats, ACOG! 

A few things I’ve learned:


Lisa's Birth Story (breech c/s; hospital VBAC; TOL c/s due to doctor panic; hospital VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes on Pregnancy:  A good demonstration of why choosing your provider carefully is SOO important!  

Lisa had c/s for a breech baby, then an easy hospital VBAC with her usual doctor's partner.  She went back to her usual doctor for baby #3, not realizing how VBAC-unfriendly HE was.  He forced her to stay in bed, forced internal monitors and an epidural, then started pitocin.  She began feeling pain because her epidural wasn't working anymore; he panicked and assumed that meant she was rupturing and rushed her off to the O.R.  There was no rupture.  She was sectioned again, for no good reason other than the doctor's poor judgment and fears. 

When she became pregnant with the next baby, he told her she had to have repeat cesareans from now on. Fortunately, she didn't accept that and eventually found another provider, an OB resident who had worked with midwives in Europe and was more comfortable with VBAC.  Lisa kept the faith through weeks of prodromal labor and several "false alarms" at the hospital, deciding to leave rather than stay when she wasn't in true active labor yet.  Then, as is often the case with VBAC moms, when she finally went into active labor and got to the hospital, she had the baby very quickly and easily.

Interestingly, she had a kind of "rebirthing" experience afterwards for her son, the second (and unnecessary) c-section, during an operation she had for tubal ligation.  She was able to finally emotionally finish that birth that had been stolen from her.  It gave her some closure on the experience, finally.

Birth Story

Coda Satori: "The final passage to Enlightenment"

Coda's name means the above. To fully understand our journey to enlightenment, and her story, you have to know her siblings' births, too.

My first son, Gunner, was born in Nov 1994. I was 19, young, and scared of birth. All I had ever heard about birth was that it was painful, horrible, and you'd "never be the same down there." So, imagine my relief when he turned breech at 37 weeks and two attempts at a version failed. Whew. Now I won't feel a thing, I'd have a spinal block, and all would be great. Boy, was I mistaken! I didn't realize that no pain in labor meant months of pain and recovery after a cesarean section, not to mention battles I would have ahead for any other potential children to birth them any other way than surgically.

In 2001, I found myself pregnant with my second child. She was truly a gift. Fresh out of nursing school, my head had been filled with the medical model of birth and interventions, and I did not question them at all, ever. After a lot of research, and some fear, I decided to attempt a trial of labor for a VBAC. My OB wasn't on call that January morning of 02 when my labor began--and until Coda I didn't realize how lucky I was that he WASN'T there. His partner was way more VBAC-friendly than he was, but I didn't know that at the time. I was a good girl and got my epidural when I was told--as it was "standard procedure" for a TOL in VBAC, just in case you had to have a section. Isabella was born into this world after 16 hours of labor. My bonding with her was instant, overwhelming and beautiful. I had never known that with my first, but never questioned it, as I didn't have anything to compare it to. Recovery was a breeze, and from then on, I understood the importance of staying away from a cesarean if at all possible.

Birth was so wonderful with Bella that I didn't hesitate to want a VBAC with my third child, born in December of 03. I figured since I did it once, it would be old hat and no big deal to my provider. I carried on with my same OB provider, trusting him fully to take care of me and my baby and our desire for a vaginal birth. Well, he surprised us with a scheduled induction more than a week before my due date. No reason for it medically, just did it because Christmas was coming, and who wants to catch a baby on Christmas? The day before my induction was scheduled, my contractions began. I dutifully called my OB after 1 hour of contractions; after all, I'm still "high risk" for uterine rupture even though my scar was "proven." 

I went to the hospital at 10am, and boy, was the environment different. My OB, the one I trusted, was no longer the laid back doctor in the office, rather he was terrified of a uterine rupture. He put me in the bed, I wasn't allowed up as I was with my first VBAC to walk, assume different positions. Then, the internal monitors came, "just in case" he said. Then the epidural. Oh yes, that was lovely. It killed all contractions I had had. Pitocin was next on his list; after all, it's dinnertime now, and we can't be waiting on baby all night. The pitocin was started, and the pain crept in my lower left quadrant of my belly. I told the nurse I could feel, it was slight now, but increasing. It was with my contractions that printed out on the screen next to me. Instead of checking my epidural that my husband had said was "unhooked," they called my OB. From then on, we took a nasty turn down a dark road that I am still trying to find my way out of. 

Blocking the monitor, the OB said, "Your pain means your uterus is rupturing. We have to get your baby out now or he's going to die. We can't even find his heartrate." (LIE as my medical records showed later.) From that instant, I had more people on me than I could believe. I was devastated. Crying. My husband asked "Are you SURE this is necessary?" Of course, they said, as they ran me down the hall. I begged the doctors to leave me awake. I wanted to be present during my son's birth, at least hear his cry. Once in the room, they put my husband in a waiting room. "No time for you to come in, sorry." I was put on the table. Cold and sterile. Green everywhere. The lights, the sounds. I'm crying uncontrollably. Then, the injection. I feel the meds going in my arm. Tied down, trying to get loose to sever the IV connection so I wouldn't go to sleep. I begged them over and over, "Please, please don't put me to sleep. Please, give it ( the epidural) just a minute. Please." The last words I heard was, "I'm sorry, it'll be over in a moment." 

Mason entered that cold sterile room without his mother or father present. Dad met him later on while they were putting me back together.

Then I woke up. In a room, my doctor standing over me. "There was no rupture. Your uterus was fine, your epidural stopped working. But, thank god we did the section when we did, you just don't know what would have happened. Your baby is healthy, that's all that matters." 

Yes, the famous words. I didn't see my baby for over 8 hours. I didn't touch him or hear his cry. My armband had "female" on it, crossed out and "male" written above it. I didn't even know the gender of my baby. Then they bring him to me, a screaming ball of fury---"Good luck with this one, he's going to be difficult to console," and he was. And still is, nearly 3 years later. I spiraled into a deep depression over his birth. I mourned for him, for me. for our family. I swore off ever having more children. I didn't want to relive that ever again.

Then a surprise. Exactly 2 years after my son's surgical removal, a baby was conceived against the odds. When the pregnancy was confirmed, I asked, "Can I VBAC this baby?" With a jaw dropped open, and a furious shake of his head he said, "No, not after last time, no way, I'm sorry. You'll have a c-section no later than 38 weeks."

I was crushed. Then I started researching. Again. This time, I found ICAN and TONS of studies on VBAMC and rupture rates. I worked through them, day and night. And, at about 16 weeks, I approached my husband with the thought of fighting for a VBAC. To my surprise, he was FULLY supportive of it, feeling exactly as I did with our son's birth. It was tragic for him, too. 

Our path during pregnancy was long and winding. I visited many OBs. None would take my case---"Too high risk" is what they would say. My OB, the one who cut me, said, "My malpractice insurance won't allow it, they don't even like us to do VBAC at all." With that, I asked if he would be my backup surgeon if I did a homebirth with a midwife. "Sure," he said, "as long as you know the risk." Then, 2 months later, he drops me on the same basis of planning a homebirth. My homebirth MW dropped me, too, because she "feared VBAC ruptures." Devastated again, I researched Unassisted Childbirth. At the same time, I contacted our OB residency here, at the teaching hospital. I pleaded my case with the third-year resident. Luckily, he had worked in Europe with Midwives and where VBAC was more accepted, and agreed to take me on. 

Quietly, in those last few weeks, I prepared myself, my husband and children for the possibility of birthing our baby at home, unassisted. All were comfortable with the idea, thankfully. I was no longer trusting of anyone with MD after their name. After all the lies my old OB told, and reading my medical records of my son's labor and birth, I felt raped by the medical profession. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially being a nurse. I felt I couldn't trust any of them to do right by me, I was afraid. afraid of unnecessary interventions that would lead me to another section. Afraid for them to touch me.

At 35 weeks, contractions began. I was admitted, and I dilated to 4 cm, and 100% effaced. With that admit, I got really afraid. I signed myself out AMA [against medical advice], and said I'd be back if they got closer, or my water broke. I was terrified of an early baby, of them intervening to make her early, afraid of being cut. 

By 36 weeks, I was 6-7 cm dilated, 100% effaced. The next round of contractions came steady at 39 weeks. "You're having your baby today," claimed the doctor. Me, terrified again, knowing my contractions weren't close enough to warrant active labor said "I'm VBAC'ing this baby, no interventions." Tears streamed down my face. The OB was surprised, but said it was my choice. Then, he had a RN waiting to escort me to L&D---mind you, this is the SAME resident I had signed out AMA with a few weeks earlier. "I've got to get my other children settled with their grandparents. Then I'll come right back."

With that, I ran. Out the door, into my car, shaking. crying. I went home. the phone rang 3 times that day from the OBs at the hospital. And the resident called the next 2, begging me to come in and be checked. I never did.

With that, I hung out for another week. Late on Sept. 12, I laid down with the same ole contractions that I had been having for 5 weeks. Finally, after very little rest, I decided to play with them for a bit, to see what would happen. Now it was past 1 am. I got back up, and sat on my yoga ball. I rolled hula hoop style. I bounced. I wiggled. I leaned forward, and said, "If these are going to stay like this, then I'm getting some SLEEP!." At 3am, I stood up. I felt my baby rotate around, and "Plop!" she hit the pelvic floor. I had the longest most intense contraction at that moment. I knew it was on. This was it. I paced the house for a bit, then woke my husband. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get myself comfortable with letting go at home, and birthing my baby alone. I still had some fears, and heaven above had some more lessons for me to learn. 

My DH puttered around the house for what seemed like forever. He lined the van with plastic, grabbed his handy emergency birthing kit, and his emergency childbirth book that had been his bible. I was pacing the floors between contractions saying "I've got ONE minute. One minute to rest. One minute rest." It got me through, and relaxed me during my break; oh how I LOVED the breaks! My MIL arrived around 3:40 am, and we were off.

In the van, Dh said it was cold. I was sweating buckets, hands and knees in the back of the van, face buried in a bucket, throwing up the entire way. I jokingly asked him if he remembered how to catch, and he said it felt like we were in "one of those movies." He was right, the feeling was strange. I was laughing between contractions, joking with him, and throwing up during them. We arrived to the hospital a little after 4 am, and couldn't get to the door without contractions hitting. Up to triage we went, and the RN on duty said "Why, Lisa, we've been waiting over a WEEK for you to arrive. This is the exact crew that was supposed to care for you last week." 

I saw my bed. I stripped as I walked into the door. I just plain didn't care who saw what at that point. Laborland was surrounding me. Faces were faded. Time stood still. I tried to be good and sit in the bed. One check for admitting--"You've got ONE MINUTE to check," I said, during a contraction. They were 2 minutes apart, and she had one minute in my break. "Still 6 and 100%" she said. Then I flipped back over, hands and knees as they tried to attach the monitor. "Now Lisa, I am all for you pushing this baby out, but I've got to monitor her." I said "Yes, I am here so you can monitor her. I can birth her on my own, but can't surrender to labor and monitor at the same time." A bit stunned, she agreed. I stood up, with dh fussing, "Get in the bed, so they can monitor." I snapped back, "She can monitor me FINE right here. I have to stand. I have to." They all agreed, and held the monitor in place as I stood by the bed, leaning over it. 

Off to my L&D room we went, 3 doors down. That walk was the longest walk of my life. During that walk, I tried to strip off the houserobe they threw over me multiple times. The poor nurses kept trying to keep my modesty, but I was HOT and didn't care who saw me. They laughed and said I was a riot, and tomorrow I would care. I went from 6-just a lip. I saw the bathroom, and tried to get in there, "I've GOT to go!" I said. "Oh, no, we are not fishing your baby out of the toilet," the RN said. I got to the bed, and said, "I think I'll have the narcotic now, thank you, no epidural." Famous transitioning words, I know, and knew it then, too, so the gesture was sort of half hearted. One last check--"just a lip and plus 3, you're having her your way, all natural, no time for meds." "Oh, OK, then," was all I could say. I wasn't upset with that thought at all. 

The room, went into a manic state of activity. 13 people--residents, attendings, nurses, etc, all standing back and watching. My resident was Dr. P. She was a dream, a midwife in MD clothing. "Lisa, I can catch this baby any way you need to push her out. Tell me how you want to push, and I'll catch." I think I told her I LOVED her at that moment, and I did. A few more contractions, and the nursery nurses arrived. "OK, now, we're not ready, but everyone is here. I can break your water now if you want." I said "NO, I'm having a contraction." With that, she stood up. My water broke all on its own. Bed still intact, me in my tank top ( I'd stripped off my bottoms upon entry) no IV, I felt the strongest urge to push. I shouted "I've got to push!" and they of course, said "No, let me check... Oh, there she goes, too late now! She's crowning!" Seems I pushed anyway. 

Then, my contractions fell silent. For what felt like an eternity to me. I remember clinging on to DH's hands and his neck, saying over and over, "I'm afraid. I'm afraid." Of what, I don't really know. DH said "You're doing wonderfully. And, if anything should go wrong, and it won't, you're in the best place for that to happen. It's OK." Then, the resident said, "Lisa, we've got to think about really pushing this baby out, her heartrate is really low right now." I remember making DH check the monitor, too, because, let's face it, I still just didn't trust them to tell me the truth. He confirmed what the Resident had stated. "OK, next contraction, I will." With that, a contraction finally welled up, and I pushed with all I had. No counting. No telling me how, no interference. I shouted "Ring of fire, oh my God, she's crowning" and the OB looked surprised and said, "Yes, that's it!" I pushed more, same contraction. I felt the entire pelvic cavity open wide, it was the strangest feeling in the world. I felt head (pop!), shoulder, shoulder, body (plop!), and there she was. Perfect. Peaceful, looking at me, I got to touch her first, dry her off. No tears for her, just quiet and alert, perfect and peaceful.

I cried. And cried. "Thank you. thank you so much. You have NO IDEA how HARD I had to fight for her, for her birth." The resident who caught her said, "Sweetie, you just fought all of ACOG and WON!" I sobbed more....forever it seemed. I said, " I birthed my daughter. I did it my way," over and over. The crowd cheered for us, and gave us congrats, as they walked out the door for our bonding.

A few hours later, we were transferred to the postpartum floor. Here I met with the resident I ran from (TWICE) and he said they were waiting in the OB O.R. just in case something went wrong. I was surprised to learn this, but also glad that they didn't tell me beforehand, nor ever let on that they would do that, and glad that they did have my interests at heart, not just their own or their risk manager's. Later on, the Attending OB on call the week prior came to meet me, it seems my birth was a "big deal" in the hospital, one not seen very often, with such determination, or so I was told. She said that she was one waiting on me over a week ago, and that I DID make the right call by not going in. She said, "You obviously knew your body, and knew you weren't in active labor, and not coming in protected your choice of an intervention-free birth. We were all very worried about you, and are proud to finally meet you. Congrats on your birth." The day was filled with meetings like these, big grins with shocked looks of "Wow, she actually did it." I couldn't have been happier.

I had decided a long time ago that Coda would be our finale. She is our last baby. So, I stayed over in the hospital one more day to have a tubal ligation to be sure. In the OR, I met the same resident who caught Coda, as well as her attending and a few more residents I had met along the way. My triage nurse down there told me of HER amazing VBAC story~ it was 30 years ago, her first was born from a classical incision. Her second, chose her own day, somewhat early. She birthed her baby naturally, without complication, with her doctors staring dumbfounded---because with a classical incision her risk of rupture was higher. I asked her if she regretted it at all, and her response was "Not a chance, never a moment." And a big grin came over her face.

As I was wheeled into the OR, a strange thing began to happen. I had not set foot into an OR since the surgical birth of Mason. Suddenly, memories came flooding back to me. The medication went into my arm to make me sleepy, and I began to sob again, uncontrollably. In a drunken but very much awake state, I begged them not to put me under, not to cut me. I cried and cried more. I wanted to birth my baby, my son. According to the doctor, I begged them to let me push! Please, let me push. And, so, someone (a man, 
can't remember his face, but remember him) sat me up on the table. He dried my eyes, and told me it was OK. They told me I could push. I remember pushing. I know I peed everywhere when I pushed. And when I awoke, I was looking for my baby. Not my new daughter, but Mason. The doctors came back to me. They didn't have a dry eye and were very subdued. They asked me if I was OK, and I said "No." "Are you confused?" "Yes. I want my baby." 

Somewhere, after that, I realized where I was, and what I was doing. Then I realized, I was given a chance to relive a terrible moment in my life, and given the chance to push, instead of being cut. For me, this was the hardest thing to deal with, the unexpected emotions. My mind and heart trying to regain something that was stolen, in a moment that was full of peace from a successful natural birth of one, closed the circle on the sad birth of her brother.

In the end, all of the blood, sweat, tears and fears led me to Coda, and my Satori, my enlightenment. Her birth healed me in ways no one else on this earth ever could, helped me heal my heart, and bond even more with my son. The path was long, it was hard, and full of unknowns, fears and faith. I had to surrender all of myself to a higher power, and have faith that she would come into the world naturally, peacefully, and gently. I had prayed that I could do it unassisted, on faith alone, but, heaven had another lesson for me, and another shot at healing, and I think that is what lead me to the hospital. I regained some faith in the upcoming OBs in treating a patient as an individual, with feelings and needs, and not just a potential malpractice suit. I didn't trust them, not one bit, but, in the end, they stood back and provided me with support that I wanted, without bullying me into their will. I think there are still good OBs out there, and until this I felt that all were bad. I believe I also had something to teach them, and I feel like they did learn; I prayed every day that the end would be SO quick there would be no backing out, no getting meds, no room for intervention. That is exactly what I got, and I am thankful. 

Megan's Story (failed induction, c/s; ERCS; PROM, induction, hospital VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:  Megan planned a very non-interventive 3rd birth, but after her water broke and 30 hours had passed without labor, she and her providers chose to induce labor in the hospital.  However, despite a change of plans from what she had most wanted for her birth, she persevered in making all her choices herself from an informed and empowered place, and was still able to have a VBA2C, despite less than ideal circumstances.  This just goes to show that even unexpected occurrences don't have to "doom" a VBAC or keep a person from being empowered during her labor and birth.  

Birth Story

In 1996 I had my first c/s after two days of cervidil, much frustration, disappointment and fear. I was about 41 weeks, it was a holiday weekend  coming up and I hadn't yet grown a spine enough to stand up for myself. I  cried after almost every prenatal visit as the dr. looked at and spoke to my  husband instead of me. I thought that was normal, just to be endured. After  my c/s I remember a woman giving me the phone number of a woman who  had also had a cesarean "in case I wanted to talk" -- it was all I could do to not  throw up on her. I was FINE, thank you very much. Talk about ingratitude to  quibble about how the baby came out when one is blessed with the miracle of  all miracles. Oh, how things changed....

When I got pg again I figured if I changed drs I would be fine. A woman OB seemed to be the answer. I wanted a VBAC and she agreed to let me (?) try  to labor. However as it got closer to the due date she backed further and  further away from our original understanding. She even said at one point that  my cervix "only accepted business one way" and was incapable of opening  and passing a baby. I had no social support for a VBAC. My husband was  frightened beyond belief after the first experience and my mother is a nurse. I  relented at 39 weeks and had an ERCS. This is quite possibly one of  the monumental turning points of my life. 

During the c/s my OB without my  permission gave me a complimentary tummy tuck taking off four inches of  sagging skin and repeatedly asked me (although we had already covered this  in prior visits) if I didn't want to change my mind and have my tubes tied. My  sweet baby supposedly aspirated amniotic fluid and was confined to the  nursery. It was only after I got up out of bed (six hours post-op) and  threatened to WALK to the nursery that they brought a wheelchair for me. I  did not see my newborn (save that brief glimpse in the OR) until he was seven  hours old. I did not hold him until he was over twelve hours old and he was  only permitted (?) to come out of the nursery when I threatened the next day to  pack my clothes and take my baby home AMA (yeah for the growth of the  spine!!!). The hospital pediatrician NEVER came to see me or tell me about  the status of my baby. My newborn never developed any complications  except the PTSD of having been abandoned, poked and denied food.

As fate would have it my SIL got pg and decided to birth with midwives at a birth center [the next year]. She took me to a few prenatals and invited me and my boys to be at the birth. My whole life changed. The midwives became my friends, the birth was miraculous in its simplicity and I was on fire. When I became pg again I sought out every midwife and birth center in my area. I was sooo depressed. There was NO ONE with whom I felt comfortable. And so I did the logical thing. I had shadow care with OB #2 and drove 6 hours each direction to have prenatals with the midwives my SIL used. Luckily for me we moved closer to the midwives (and far from the OBs) and my life got a little simpler. Because I was a VBAC I had to see their back-up dr. I told him right off the bat that I really didn't like his profession one bit (the spine strikes again) and would always use my midwives as help in my decision making process. 

At 43 weeks pregnant my water broke and after 30 hours of no contractions I was induced. It was not the birth I had planned (as were none of the others) but it was perfect. I was part of every decision, I was accountable for my own experience, I stood up for myself (even when the on-call dr took my husband out of the room and told him that it was un-husbandly of him to let me continue). I had an amnio-infusion, I had an epidural (on the counsel of my midwife) and I also had a VBA2C. Twelve hours later I left the hospital, drove two hours home and slept in my own bed with my new baby right beside me. 

I now teach those kinds of childbirth classes I could never find and was loathe to take. My message to my moms is this-- you can have all the plans and expectations you want BUT if you do not put into place the mechanisms to achieve those plans (doulas, education, exercise, nutrition, relaxation, midwives, social support...the list goes on) there is little chance of getting what you want. Of the moms I have had in my classes very few (one so far) has had a c/s. The problem I am encountering is that many of the women who NEED my class don't take it. They remind me of myself before my first c/s, thinking that knowledge would get me through. Consequently, I hear their horror stories afterward. Now, I would like to offer them some sort of place for talk and support.


Jer's Story (footling breech, c/s; induction for macrosomia, fetal distress, "failed" TOL c/s; Unassisted VBA2C)

Birth Story

Like all VBACs, this journey began long before this pregnancy. My first child, my daughter, Rhiannon, was a c/s due to her position: double footling breech with triple nuchal cord. My second child, my son Gareth, was a CBAC-- a c/s after a long, hard struggle to VBAC. I was abandoned at 41 weeks by my "midwife" (I hate to dignify her with that title); I was induced with pitocin, labored hard and hellishly for 17 hours (12 unmedicated), and finally ended up with a c/s under general anesthesia for iatrogenic fetal distress.

Both my babies were "macrosomic"-- Rhiannon weighed 9 lbs 5 oz, and Gareth was exactly one pound larger. The midwife who betrayed me panicked because of my son's predicted size-- she convinced herself, and me, that I couldn't possible birth such a "monster." I'm proud to report that I can indeed-- and did!

The birth was unbelievable. It was AMAZING! We planned a homebirth to avoid all the crap we'd been put through in hospital with Gareth. I wouldn't trust an OB as far as I could throw one, and these days I feel pretty much the same about midwives. So we decided to do it ourselves. Unassisted pregnancy and birth isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't choose anything different now.

It was great. I did my own prenatal care-- monitored my blood pressure, measured my growth, really watched my diet (since nutrition is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of growing a healthy baby). No one to bug me about useless tests that I would refuse anyway. No cups to pee in and carry around (how degrading!). No one demanding I schedule another c-section!

I was a healthy as a horse-- something I couldn't help but be smug about when the 18-year-old I worked with who was also pg, but having traditional OB care, ended up on bed rest and then had to go to the hospital for possible pre-eclampsia (she's fine now, delivered a healthy boy in hospital-- medicated vaginal birth). I worked (at a library) right up until the day I went into labor-- Wed Sept 7, 2005.

I left work at 2 pm, went to my mom's apartment for some quiet time, then headed home at 5. I stopped to get some gas-- reached down to "pop" my fuel lid-- and felt something else pop instead! I stood up and immediately confirmed it: yup, my water had broken!

I got back into the car and drove straight home. I had a couple contractions-- nothing bad-- but I was good and soaked when I finally parked in my driveway. I went into the kitchen and found my husband, John, washing dishes. "I need you to go get some gas," I told him. "My water broke."

John jumped immediately into freak-out mode. I got him calmed down and convinced him that he wasn't going to have to catch the baby right there in the kitchen. Rupture of membranes doesn't automatically mean labor, after all-- most women go into labor within 24-48 hours after their waters release, but it could still be days.

Nothing much happened after that for several hours. The leaking was annoying-- Rowan wasn't engaged, so his head didn't stop the flood. He did move down a little, so it was a bare trickle rather than Niagara Falls. I had a few contractions, but still nothing to indicate I was going to give birth anytime soon. I went about my life-- ate some supper, watched TV, got the kids fed and bathed and tucked in. John and I went to bed at 10-- but I didn't stay there long.

My contractions suddenly picked up noticeably. Lying down-- even sitting-- was uncomfortable. I wanted to be up doing pelvic tilts-- that felt better. Hmm. This might really be labor, then....

At 10:30, I woke John up. "I need you to fill the pool," I said. "I'm getting in the shower." We had a kid's "fishy pool" (inflatable wading pool, about 2 1/4 feet deep and 5' across) set up in the living room. It already had some water in it, but I needed hot water-- as it happened, HOT water!

Water is *wonderful* to labor in. It's not called "the midwives' epidural" for nothing! Once it was half full or so, I climbed in-- bliss! Floating through contractions was so much easier than standing through them-- although I ended up standing up through most of my labor, I think because Rowan's position and descent demanded it. I got into a pattern-- stand for two or three surges, then float through a couple, then stand again. Get out occasionally to go to the bathroom or get into the shower-- the high-pressure hot water on my back felt good. Mostly I stayed in my pool, though-- and John added some more boiling (!) water every once in awhile.

I had no concept of time. I'd made John turn the clock so I couldn't see it-- I didn't want to stare at it all night. I'd jokingly said, early on, "Wouldn't it be great if the kids could wake up in the morning and meet their new baby? And I could call Mama and tell her to just stop by on the way to work?" (I hadn't told my mom and sister I was in labor-- I know them; they'd be up worrying all night.) I was expecting to be there for the long haul-- my labor with Gareth lasted 17 hours. I figured I had a long way to go.

John set up a camp bed in the living room and slept as much as he could, so I spent most of the night laboring alone in the dark, like a cat. It was marvelous. Not easy-- it's hard work; that's why it's called LABOR. ;) It was intense. Not painful-- I can't call it painful. But it's... inevitable. Inescapable. Uncontrollable. You can't get away. I kept thinking of that kids' game, "Going on a bear hunt"-----"Can't go over it, can't go around it, have to go through it!"

At some point-- John says it was around 1 or 1:30 am-- I realized I was starting to push with each contraction. "Can't be," I told myself. "It's too soon! I'll swell my cervix shut!" But I couldn't help it-- I was pushing. Rather, my body was pushing, with me along for the ride!

I got up and went to the bathroom. Believe it or not, the toilet is one of the best places to labor, because we're already so used to "opening up and letting go" there. ;) I spent a few contractions sitting there, then went back to the pool. By now I was roaring through each contraction-- howling like a mama wolf! It's wonder I didn't wake the kids up!

Surge. Roar. PUSH! Breathe. Again. And again. And again... and again... again...

On and on and on. How much can a person take? This is silly-- I didn't have to do this! But then I remembered what a former yoga teacher once told me: "The mind gives up before the body." And on I went.

I didn't feel I was making any progress (although it looked much different from John's point of view, he tells me!). I started crying. "I can't," I wailed. "No more. I can't do it anymore."

"Yes, you can," he said firmly. "You can. You ARE. You're almost there."

With the next contraction, I felt some burning-- ring of fire? That's a sign that baby is crowning, that the head is almost out. Oh, surely not...

I reached down-- and stared at John. "There's a head there! Right there!!" And there was-- a hard, smooshy, wrinkly, wet head. Rowan was crowning-- I was about to give birth!! John felt it too, and his expression was awestruck. "You're almost done!"

With the next surge, I pushed-- and the head was out to the ears. Then I waited. And waited. The next contraction seemed a month away! That was the only truly painful moment of my entire labor-- having a head halfway out of your body STINGS!!

Finally-- contraction. PUSH!! And-- I had a baby in my arms!!!!! Rowan was born, and I caught him, with John assisting!! WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John checked his watch: 4:33 am. I couldn't believe it. 5 1/2 hours from the time hard labor hit, I was holding my baby. INCREDIBLE!!!!!

At 6:30 we woke the kids up. "Come meet your new baby brother!" They were amazed-- talk about the Stork arriving in the night and leaving a little stranger! Then John called my mom: "You might want to stop by on your way to work and meet someone..." My mother and sister came at 7:15 or so, with a box of Krispy Kremes. Just as I had dreamed!

We took Rowan to the pediatrician when he was 6 hours old, where he was pronounced "perfect"-- all 10 pounds, 5 ounces of him!! Exactly the same size as my "impossible-to-deliver monster." We even went to Walmart that afternoon. That was fun: "Aww, look, a baby! How old?" "Um... 8 hours." "WHAT??!?!?!??!?" It was hilarious... and empowering!

I did have one complication-- when I delivered the placenta, it came out in pieces-- and it didn't all come out. I wound up with an infection and had to have a D&C on Sat, then spent a couple days in hospital getting IV antibiotics. That wouldn't have happened if I'd transported right away, but I just kept hoping it would resolve on its own. But all's well that ends well-- it's a terribly rare complication, and it was probably caused by my previous c-sections. It certainly won't stop me from freebirthing again, if I should be blessed with another pregnancy! And Rowan wasn't admitted, so I kept him with me and nursed him, so we avoided formula too. Yay! :D

It was amazing, truly. I'm so glad we stayed home. I got up and took a shower 20 minutes after the birth. I could pick up not only my infant but my toddler afterward without worrying that my guts might fall out. Sure, I was a little sore-- but it was NOTHING next to recovering from major abdominal surgery.

Don't EVER let anyone tell you that c-sections are "the easy way." I wouldn't trade my unmedicated birth for all the anesthesia on the planet. It was phenomenal!!

All in all, it was a fabulous experience-- it took lots of reading, soul-searching, researching, learning, thinking, and praying, but it was the right choice for me. I'm so glad I did it. Till now I felt like I'd had two kids without ever giving birth-- sometimes I wondered if I was a babysitter, and Rhiannon and Gareth's "real mom" would show up someday to claim them. Now I know for certain that Rowan is mine-- I'm that real mom now. And I can wear my button with pride: I'm a VBAMC Mama!


Lisa W's Story (FTP c/s; "failed" TOL c/s; two home VBA2Cs)

Birth Story

My kids are older now; my first c-sec was in 1987 (boy, 8 lbs 2 oz-now 17 years old and how the heck did that happen?). 

I thought that I did everything right but still got fed into the hospital medical system and ended up with FTP [failure to progress]. My Family Doctor was very supportive of VBAC even at the moment of the first c/s. 

But when I was in labour again 15 months later, I found myself fighting the nurses and the docs even though I thought I had negotiated myself out of restrictions like continuous external fetal monitoring, IV, and NPO [nothing by mouth]. One thing I hadn't realized, VBAC women had to be done in 24 hours or they got another c/s. I got to 6 cm, I was fine and the baby was fine, but the policy said...I tried to fight it but you just can't fight in labour...So I had another section (girl, 7 lbs 14 oz-now 16 years old). I was very sad but more importantly, I was mad. I knew that I could have had my little girl vaginally, with support. So I don't birth quickly; we were FINE, a few more hours and she would have come out just fine. 

I had started attending a c-section support group after my 1st- I thought that I was going crazy and needed support coping. I took over the facilitation of the group not too long after that and we switched our focus to include VBAC support as well as c-section recovery and support. Then I discovered midwives; they weren't regulated but my local midwife did agree to support me and I found a General Practitioner about 45 minutes away who opened my eyes to Home Birth. 

So, 2 1/2 years later, my second beautiful daughter was born vaginally, at home after about 48 hours of labour, 24 of them what I would call hard work. She was 7 lbs and is starting high school next week. By this time I had started attending births to support other women and started teaching prenatal classes.  

My last baby we jokingly call our freebie, because midwives (in Canada) were regulated in 94 and so when he was born in June 94, we didn't have to pay for our midwives. He was 9 lbs and the labour was 24 hours. He was also posterior and I had 5 hours with a premature urge to push that was really frightening. That baby turned 10 this year.

In 1998, I entered MW school and in 2004, I graduated as an Registered Midwife. I am still passionate about VBAC and about supporting women's choices. It has been a long hard journey to get to where I can support women as I am drawn to, but this July I received funding for a new midwifery practice in my hometown just east of Toronto, Ontario, and we have created a new model with serious consumer support and input.

I welcome any woman who is serious about having a vbac and who can to come. If we just have to keep having VBACs one at a time, so be it. But we will see women's choices for gentle, respectful births fulfilled.


Bethany's Story  (cord prolapse, emergency c/s; ERCS; hospital VBA2C)

Birth Story

Below is my VBA2C birth story. Even though nearly six weeks have passed, I feel like I'm still processing it all. My first section was for cord prolapse (I got to five centimeters when the cord slipped); my second was an ERCS because I was too scared to try labor again.

On Wednesday at 4:30 AM (the day before my due date), I woke up and realized that I was having some fairly strong and consistent contractions. I got up and started timing them. They were, on average, five minutes apart. They were strong, but manageable. I logged into my email, tied up some loose ends at work, etc. As I started to move around the house, I noticed them getting stronger--I had to stop a few times to let them pass and concentrate on working through them. The strangest thing was that I would feel a vibration in my uterus before actually feeling the pain of the contraction. Mentally, I was ready for labor. I had felt apprehension about going into labor for several weeks, but when it actually happened, I felt like I was ready.

I fixed myself some scrambled eggs for breakfast, took a shower, got the kids ready to go to my in-laws house. The contractions continued to get stronger and were three to five minutes apart. I didn't want to go to the hospital too soon and would have stayed home all morning, only we were expecting a huge snow/ice storm and I didn't want to get stuck at home with a very nervous dh. So, I told him we'd head downtown and kill some time by going to the library and walking around. The car ride was difficult as I had a hard time getting on top of the contractions. Fortunately, the roads were still clear and the traffic was light. The library is across the street from the hospital. As soon as I got there, the contractions became very strong and I had to stop and really work at getting through them. We were at the library for only a minute or two when I knew it was time to head across the street.

I got to the hospital around 11AM and as I was peeing, my plug gave way and then my water broke. Not a huge gush, but a steady stream of amniotic fluid mixed with the plug. The fluid looked brownish, but I couldn't tell if it was blood from the mucus plug or meconium (turns out it wasn't mec). I finished getting my gown on and went back to the nurse. She got me hooked up to the monitors. Being on my back was terribly painful. I could hardly stand the contractions and had to wiggle my hips side to side to get through them. I was checked and relieved to hear that I was at 4 centimeters. The baby was still high. He was floating and had not yet dropped. I wasn't surprised to hear this because he still felt high to me. Throughout my pregnancy, the baby was persistently ROA.

The nurse took my history and when I told her I had two previous sections, she asked if I was going to have a repeat and I said, "no, I'm having a VBAC." She looked at me like I was crazy. Later, another nurse told me that the hospital used to see a lot of VBAC patients, but they rarely have them anymore because the "doctors are afraid of getting sued." By the time I got to my Labor and Delivery room, they wanted me in bed and on monitors. I said that I needed to stand up. There was no way I could be on my back. As soon as they got my IV in (it took the nurse THREE very painful tries to get it in correctly) and got my antibiotic going (I was GBS positive), I stood up next to the bed. This is where I spent most of my labor--standing or leaning over the side of the bed.

To get through the contractions, I would sway my entire body side to side, move my hips from side to side or do a "hula dance" type of movement. My goal was to have a med-free natural labor. I was told several times to let the nurses know when I was ready for my epidural. I just politely told them that I wasn't ready for it yet. But, boy was I tempted!! My pain was so intense and unrelenting that I kept thinking how the epi would have made it all go away. I kept thinking, one call and this would be so much better. I kept reminding myself that if I gave into the epi, my VBAC chances would be over and that I would very likely put myself on the road to another C-section. It turned out that I couldn't have had one even if I did ask for it. When my OB examined me, he said that due to the baby's high station, he wanted to hold off on the epi so the baby could come down some more. But that still didn't stop me from thinking about that epi!

I remember the contractions coming so quickly. They were long and intense and I started to get very vocal. I don't remember many VEs, but I did get internal monitors and that was very, very painful. The external monitors kept loosing the contractions and heartbeat so they wanted to place an internal uterine monitor and one on the baby. My nurse had trouble getting the uterine monitor on and I could barely get through the contractions (of course, I was flat on my back while she put them in). I became very vocal and tried to moan through the contractions. But, really, nothing helped. Only when I stood back up could I work through them. I also thought the uterine monitor was very painful once it was in place. I think it made my labor harder because now I had to deal with that pain as well as the contractions.

It seemed like an eternity passed while I labored next to the bed, swaying my hips and working through each contraction. In reality, it was less than an hour. But, I broke down and asked for a shot of Nubain. I didn't know at the time that I was transitioning and I honestly thought I was going to loose my mind. I lost all confidence in myself. The pain was just so intense and my contractions were constant. I would barely catch my breath and another one would be on top of me. I feel bad about getting that shot. (Just think, if I had held out for only 15 more minutes or so, I would have done it without any drugs.)

Suddenly, I was pushing!!! It was completely beyond my control and I couldn't have stopped it even if I tried. I gave three good pushes and it felt good. I worked through a few more contractions and there it was again--I was pushing. I gave another three good pushes. The nurse got me back in bed for a VE and everyone was surprised to discover that I was complete.

One thing I didn't expect to do during labor was keep my eyes closed. It was terribly distracting to me when I opened my eyes, so I kept them closed almost the entire time. At one point, my dh told me to open my eyes and look out the window--it was snowing.

Soon after getting back in bed, I started pushing. I was on my back, and my dh and the nurse were holding up my legs. I was having lots of trouble pushing this way. First of all, I was just drenched in sweat--even the palms of my hands were sweaty and I couldn't get a good grip on my legs to provide enough traction. Also, being on my back was very uncomfortable. I flipped over and tried getting on all fours. But, it was a modified all fours because I was leaning over the raised top section of the bed. This felt comfortable and I pushed for over an hour this way. I could tell that I was making progress. I felt the baby coming down, but then I began to think, why isn't he coming down anymore? It was like I couldn't get him to move down any farther.

So, I flipped back over and tried on my back again without much success. I pushed with all my might and couldn't get the baby to move down. At this point, I should have gotten out of the bed and tried squatting or at least standing up. But, to be honest, I just didn't have the strength anymore. I really agonize over this because I just *know* that I could have done it if I has just gotten out of the damn bed. Instead, my doctor came in and examined me and watched me push though some contractions and said that the baby was stuck behind my pelvic bone and the he wanted to try the vacuum.

I was quickly becoming disappointed with the way things were turning out. I also began to panic a little and thought that the baby would never come out. Those kind of irrational thoughts kept going through my mind. I also kept thinking, just say you want the section and get this over with. It was like a little voice was telling me, you can do the section, you've done them before and know what to expect. This is new and scary and who knows what is going to happen, so call it all off and ask for the surgery.

I somehow managed to get a grip on myself and focus. I had been preparing and thinking about this moment since the second I had my ERCS three years ago and I wasn't about to give up. God knows where I found the strength, but somehow it was there when I needed it most. I remember pushing with all my might while they were getting ready for the vacuum. I thought maybe I could get him out on my own after all. But, he wouldn't budge.

So, everything was set up and, even with the vacuum, it took several contractions before he crowned. It seemed like he was coming out so slowly. I would push and make a little progress. Then, we'd all wait until another contraction and I'd push some more. I thought he would come out all at once, so I was surprised when first the top part of his head came, and then a few minutes later came the next part of his head, then several more minutes and several more pushes came the rest of his head. I just remember pushing so hard to get him out. I tore badly as he came out and I think I felt every tear. But, what a relief when he was born!! It was incredible. I opened my eyes and there he was!! Holden was born at 2:52 pm.

I had several second degree tears and it took my doctor about 45 minutes to do the stitches. I was glad that I had torn instead of getting cut. I remember telling my OB a couple times to just let me tear and that I didn't want an episiotomy. It's a good thing that I didn't get cut--I would have torn anyway (in the opposite direction of the episiotomy, according to my OB).

Looking back, I have mixed emotions about the birth. I am overjoyed that I went into labor on my own, had a vaginal birth, didn't get an epidural even when I wanted it, and pushed my son out into the world. I am also proud of myself for facing my fears, insisting on the VBAC and not scheduling the ERCS (which is what my friends and family all wanted me to do). I spent my entire pregnancy planning and educating myself for this birth.

On the other hand, I am sad about the vacuum. I had wanted to do it all on my own.

I knew that by going to the hospital that I would be facing lots of interventions and that it would be difficult for me to avoid them. Things like the antibiotic for the GBS, the monitors, the IV,--I was ok with all of that. But, I wasn't prepared for the vacuum. In my mind, it was going to be all or nothing--a natural birth or a section. I didn't prepare myself for something in between. Towards the end, I kept thinking, well, at least the vacuum is better than the section, at least they aren't prepping the OR. But still. If I had only gotten out of bed, I'm sure I could have done it on my own.

Even with regrets, I am very happy with my VBAC and would do it again. It's been easier recovering from the vaginal than the sections, but I was surprised at how sore I felt after delivery. Every muscle in my entire body ached. And those afterpains!Holy cow, did they hurt. Also, the stitches took longer to heal than I expected and were very painful. Even six weeks after the birth, I still feel some pain and discomfort. However, my overall recovery has been much faster compared to the sections.

Well, that's it--the good (the VBAC), the bad (the Nubain) and the ugly (the vacuum). Thanks for listening to my story.


Kristin's Story (post-term induction, malposition, c/s; crashed during ERCS; hospital VBA2C)

Birth Story

Baby #1: My first baby was 2 weeks overdue and I agreed to induction. With admittance into the hospital, I told them very precisely that, although I had not done this before, I knew that this baby had not turned and dropped into my pelvis. He was big and I could feel him in my throat (kidding, of course!). They told me not to worry, that would happen with induction. Perhaps, if they had allowed me to move about! They hooked me up to IV and monitors and I was confined to bed for the duration of induction!

They used pitocin and I progressed beautifully, without an epidural, throughout the day and into the evening. I got 'stuck' at 9 or 9.5 cm...for how long? I don't know. They increased the pitocin and railroaded me into an epidural. I did not want an epidural because I did not want it to interfere with my ability to push. It didn't take long until I was fully dilated, then they started me pushing. They cut me off from the pain management because it was 'interfering with my ability to push.' (I had choice words for them at this point.) As pushing began, I could tell them that something was not right. The baby had not moved, rotated or descended. It was intensely painful. Not that I thought there wouldn't be pain. I can handle pain. Something wasn't right, and I knew it. I did everything they told me to do for 3.5 hours. They had internal monitoring on the baby. At that point, I said, "cut me." The nurses agreed that it was time. They said baby was stressed. The entire ordeal lasted 19+ hours from start to finish.

It turned out that the baby was at an angle...the doctor said, "He was (oblique) transverse and facing my left thigh. He wasn't going to come out." My 10.5 pound, otherwise-should-have-been-perfectly-healthy baby had a huge, swollen head with a gigantic sore on it from me doing everything they told me to. My 10.5 pound, otherwise-should-have-been-perfectly-healthy baby boy had a fever and was put on IV antibiotics without our consent. My 10.5 pound, otherwise-should-have-been-perfectly-healthy baby was kept in the level II nursery away from me, being bottle-fed due to lack of suck reflex, as I pumped furiously and in pain, alone in my hospital room. I fisted the bottles containing drops of colostrum and limped all the way to the nursery, dragging my left leg behind me (it was paralyzed for 6 weeks), feeling like some Quasimodo and sad excuse for a mother, spewing venomous disdain for the joyful mothers, wheeling their healthy newborns, whom I passed in the hospital's halls.

I fully believed women can and do birth big babies all the time. I fully believed I would be one of them. Nobody talked to me about optimal fetal positioning, the significance of chiropractic care, or anything else that may be significant to maximize chances for a natural and successful vaginal birth. My mother had two cesareans (her first baby was a placenta previa). My grandmother said she never expected me to vaginally birth because of that. My mother dreaded that I would experience the 'worst of both worlds' and end up with exactly what happened. I, personally, am grateful to have experienced the labor. It gave me confidence in my body. I now had a stronger faith that my body could do exactly what it was designed to do. I successfully labored to 9.5 cm, on pitocin, with no pain management. I knew I could labor.

The recovery was long and painful. I experienced post-traumatic stress, with flashbacks and inability to sleep. I literally jumped and jolted awake as I began drifting off to sleep, with vivid imagery and sensations of the experience. I had post-partum depression, with episodes bordering on psychotic. It took weeks for me and my baby to establish nursing, and, as a result of the cesarean (I now believe), he experienced respiratory problems. It took 6 weeks for the feeling to return to my left leg. For me at the time, the definition of childbirth contained elements bordering on tragic. That's just what it was to me. While it was difficult to go through, the experience was all mine and gave me much to learn from. While some people experience the opposite, the hardship of it all allowed for me to bond intensely with my first baby and for that, I am grateful.

Baby #2:  My second baby was an elective repeat cesarean at 39 weeks. I went in with no fears, believing it was perfectly safe.

The nursing staff got me admitted and did all the preliminary work. I received a spinal (as opposed to epidural as I had with my first cesarean) in the OR. They laid me back and prepared to scrub. Soon after they laid me back, I began to feel lightheaded and had difficulty catching my breath. I told the anesthesiologists, thinking it was just because of my position and the heavy baby pressing down on my vessels, etc. Then I felt tightness in my chest. I continued to communicate with the anesthesiologists, thinking it was my duty to communicate to them how I was feeling. It turns out that this gave them better indication of what was happening than the monitors. My blood pressure had dropped severely and I was not responding to their medications which combat the effect. They said it is not uncommon for there to be a dip in blood pressure after receiving a spinal.

They struggled for some time (it seemed like forever) to correct my blood pressure. I would begin to feel a little better, and then it would plummet again, over and over again. Words cannot describe what I was experiencing. I had tightness in my chest, tingling fingers and limbs, difficulty breathing and an overall sense of panic and doom. I heard them call for the crash cart. I began to pray out loud, then realized I could not be dying.I could not leave my husband with two babies! My children needed me. It was all so terrible. My husband saw the whole thing (he was sitting near my head) and says he noticed the monitors and asked, "Is that what I think it is?" He says I flat-lined on the table. Well, my blood pressure did anyway! I never blacked out or anything like that. Anyway, it all happened over a short period of time, because the whole thing only took 45 minutes or so. They were able to stabilize me after some time. I was puking my guts out, as usual, during surgery. The OB just kept doing his thing---get the baby out and close me up.

The anesthesiologist came to my room later to see how I was because he knew how traumatized I was by all this. He said that with a drop in pressure like that, it is said that patients experience a 'sense of impending doom.' Textbook case, apparently. I told him those were choice words, because that is exactly how I felt. My doc says I wouldn't have died because they would have just hung me upside down. O.K., then.

It was awful and obviously brought to light for me the risks of surgery. My recovery was long and hard, as any c-section might be. My blood pressure continued to be low, setting off their alarms in the recovery room. They told me it wouldn't necessarily happen again with an epidural or a spinal. Well, I didn't want to do it again, that's for sure!

Baby #3:  

My particular group of care providers does not currently have any policies which do not allow VBAC or VBAMC. I switched doctors within the group more than halfway through my pregnancy, just to have someone on my side that was most supportive of VBA2C. He ended up calling me knowledgeable and opinionated, but said he liked that about me. Said I was more likely to get what I want that way!

Although we had discussed VBA2C, my first doctor was uncomfortable with it and clearly had me pegged for surgery all along. I later learned that she had written on my chart, "schedule elective repeat cesarean," when I had not done so or even consented to such a thing. When I discussed a trial of labor with her, she indicated that if I 'showed up at the hospital and was 9 cm dilated and progressing nicely', she wouldn't make me have a cesarean <in an ideal situation!> She said things like, "Well, we will discuss it more as your due date approaches." She even went so far as to say once that, "Perhaps your baby will be breech, and your decision will be made for you!" <OH, PLEASE!>

Anyway, when the new ACOG guidelines & recommendations came out, I put in a call to both her and another OB within the same group of doctors, whom I had seen before, to discuss their position on VBA2C and the hospital environment in regards to VBA2C. The other guy was actually doing more administrative work and oversees that whole group of doctors. She left a nasty message on my machine that said the appropriate time and place to discuss this is at my next appointment. (There never was a next appointment with her.) The other guy, whom I switched to, spent 10-15 minutes on the phone with me during his lunch discussing my concerns. He said I was not crazy to want a vaginal birth, emphasizing 'informed consent.' He wisely and willingly acknowledged the risks of surgery and the benefits of vaginal birthing. He said they would support me with spirit in my choice to maximize my chances for a successful vaginal birth. He acknowledged the other doc was a bit out of line, but mostly defended her with the informed consent thing.

Truth is I could run into any one of them, including several other docs belonging to that group, upon admittance into the hospital. I did know, though, that if this guy was my primary OB - they would follow his lead on our plan to vaginal birth. So, I had found my guy more than halfway through my pregnancy. At my last appointment with her, that other doc was still looking at me with a blank stare saying, "You mean a vaginal birth?" and her nurse discarded my labor and delivery card with the phone number on it saying, "You won't be needing that." <Yikes.> She seemed to think they wouldn't allow me to try for VBAC. I believe that the first doc would have worked on me to schedule the cesarean, or her fears would have led me in that direction with interventions, etc. She told me that if I were at 40 weeks, she would start pressing me for the surgery.

This guy gave me the support I needed up until delivery. He said, "If I delivered you vaginally today, I'd forget about it tomorrow because your circumstances just aren't that unique. I've delivered women at higher risk than you." Obviously, he had more experience than the other doc, and he was not fearful whatsoever. Another doctor from within that group of doctors delivered the baby without incident/intervention. The nurses only once and momentarily expressed concern with a tone of urgency that, "She's a VBAC!" Otherwise, everything was fine.

I liked his choice of words and I think they would be good, non-offensive words to use with a care provider..."What can we do to maximize my chances for a successful vaginal birth?"

As fate would have it, my original doctor was on rounds at the hospital the morning after I delivered. She did a double take then said, "You did it." (She hadn't seen me for some time as I never went back to her without explanation.)

"Yeah, I did it!" is what I responded, holding my beautiful prize, my vaginally-birthed daughter. There was nothing more to say. Hopefully, she will gain experience from this and not be so fearful in the future for her other patients.

The VBA2C Birth Story:  

Exactly two weeks prior to my due date, the doctor reported that I was one cm dilated. One week prior to my due date, he found me to be 80% effaced and three cm dilated. On October 1st , my actual due date, I was the same. I had contractions periodically over the course of two weeks-----nothing organized and nothing to write home about.

On the evening of October 2nd, I felt the baby position herself low in my pelvis. I recall sitting in my chair, relaxed and watching TV with my husband. The baby continued to move and squirm around. There were no contractions associated with this; it seemed to be strictly positional. When I stood up to move about, I experienced significant downward pressure and symmetrical pelvic and groin discomfort....she had engaged in my pelvis! This was significant as I had not experienced this with either of my other pregnancies. Even with induction, Jack was wedged at an angle with his head butting up against my pelvic bone.

October 3rd, I went to see my chiropractor for a much-needed adjustment. I had been sick with a cold for one week and had missed my routine appointment. I sensed that I desperately needed it. On my way home, I cranked up the radio (alone in the car) and rocked out to a heavy metal tune, purging some late-term pregnancy anger and frustration, eliciting tears. It was kind of a strange and out-of-character (hormonal?) experience as I do not even listen to that stuff anymore! I got home and washed the car with the boys. It was a nice day; breezy, but warm and sunny. It was our 5th wedding anniversary and I hired the neighbor girl to watch the boys so Bob and I could go out for dinner. After a disagreement of sorts, we finally left for dinner. We stayed close to home. 

During dinner, I started to have pretty severe lower abdominal cramping. I thought to myself, "I'll be damned if I am leaving now for this to be a false alarm." It was our anniversary and we rarely get out together. We had the sitter at home and I had a dinner to eat! I said nothing and silently worked through the cramping right there at the table. Bob took his time getting us home, driving through some nearby housing developments. It was in the truck that things got to be worth mentioning. I told him about a couple of hard contractions on the way home, but expressed no urgency. I wrote it off; thinking that these contractions (like the others) would subside, too. We arrived home. I paid the sitter and sent her out the door by telling her that the boys just might be coming over tonight. Bob asked if I was having contractions----yes! All the way through dinner and if they keep coming like this, we are going somewhere soon! Now they were coming hard every three minutes. I made a few calls (on my hands and knees), told Bob to load the truck, made a few preparations and we left the house. We settled the boys with the next door neighbors and went on our way.

It is a thirty minute drive to the hospital and the contractions came hard every two minutes the whole way there. I tried not to push, but did a few times because I just couldn't help it...and it felt like the right thing to do! We arrived and Bob parked the truck in the ER zone, fetched a wheelchair and wheeled me through the hospital to admitting (thank God for preadmission forms) and on up to the birthing unit. They wanted to do some preliminary work (yeah, right, a urine specimen? I don't think so, lady!) and to get me undressed. It was difficult to manage this; my husband helped me as I wanted nothing to do with it. I instinctively wanted to work through my contractions on my hands and knees. She checked me and announced, "She's fully dilated to ten centimeters." They scrambled to get me to the delivery room. My water broke when they transferred me from one bed to the next. They noticed meconium in the fluid. They were concerned about this. A nurse called for the doctor. "Is Dr. Shold in-house? She's a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)!"  Oh mercy, here we go, I began to think.  I summoned the ability to dismiss the hospital staff's anxiety about the meconium and my VBAC status....after all, I had a job to do. 

I pushed for fifteen to twenty minutes. The doctor arrived just in time to deliver the baby. He introduced himself to me when it was done. (Our doula missed it! She arrived in time to support me through the birth of the placenta and the suturing. She held my hand while DH gazed upon our daughter as they did the newborn procedures.) I birthed her head, which was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life (now I know what the ring of fire is). I seized a moment of clarity to engage in some positive self-talk, "My body can do this. I have faith in my God-given ability to do this." Then she emerged rather gracefully. She was in perfect position and despite a fast and furious labor, she arrived peacefully. 

They placed my wet and slippery newborn on my belly and Bob cut her cord. It was truly a victorious moment. I did it! I marveled at how fast it all happened. We had checked in to the birthing unit at 9:16 p.m. and she was here at 9:51 p.m.! She was almost born in the truck! No drugs, no interventions, no struggles or difficulty. I had a slight natural tear where an episiotomy would have been. Everything went just right. We named her Victoria Elizabeth. She lay in the warmer next to me, not flailing or wailing, just quietly taking things in. It was amazing.

It was weeks later, at home, that my husband and I finally had an intimate moment to reflect upon the experience together. He praised me and told me what an amazing woman he thinks I am for trusting in myself and my body. "You did it, honey," he said with tears in his eyes. "Next time we could do it anywhere!"

This birthing experience, like the others, is a defining moment in my life as a mother and as a woman. I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. After having two cesarean sections, it was my goal to achieve a natural and vaginal birth. Something told me that the birth of this baby, my daughter, would change everything for me. And it did. (Thank you, Jenny of ICAN-online, for my adopted mantra: Next time, universal forces willing, I think the baby will come flying out. Seriously. My instinct tells me so.

This commitment to attempt a vaginal birth after two previous cesareans involved dedication, hard work and perseverance to stay the course.  I thank God for the wisdom, guidance, and faith that I needed to receive His blessings.  I express sincere gratitude to all who have supported me along the way; Bob (husband), Allison Caudill (doula), Angie (my online E-pal who is also attempting VBA2C), Dr. Lais (Ob-Gyn for supporting me in VBA2C), Dr. Shold and the labor and delivery team at Mercy Hospital, Drs. Cynthia and Brian Opp (chiropractors at  www.oppfamilychiropractic.com, for the Webster technique and optimal fetal positioning exercises with a birthing ball), www.spinningbabies.com, Beth Knudtsen-Spears (Homeopath), all the people at the International Cesarean Awareness Network (for your personal stories, support, advice and inspiration), and to all of my family and friends who offered their support and encouragement.


Lani's Story (c/s for breech; "failed" TOL c/s for FTP and large baby; VBA2C)

Birth Story

My First Birth (00): I went to my OB for my 37 week appointment and promptly asked if my baby was still head down. During the past week I had a sneaking suspicion she was turning transverse. After a quick check, my doctor assured me she was still head down and that being this late in my pregnancy, I was probably just feeling normal movement...not position adjustments. However, my very next appointment at 38 weeks found that my daughter had turned breech. It wasn't until then that I had ever considered the possibility of needing a c-section. It was quite a blow. Definitely not what I had in mind for my "ideal" birth experience.

My 39 week appointment showed her to still be breech and engaged in my pelvis which eliminated the option of trying to turn her around. Also, I was running a fever and starting to dilate. This prompted my c-section to be scheduled for the same day. My daughter was born at a healthy 8 lbs. 13oz., but I had a very rough recovery. Up until my c-section I had never been hospitalized for any reason. I have never had any broken bones, stitches, or even an IV up until then. So my recovery was long, slow, and very painful.

My Second Birth (01): With my second pregnancy, I returned to my previous doctor who was supportive of VBACs. After attending a childbirth class, I thought I knew what to expect. However, I was thrown a curve ball when I began experiencing a lot of false labor at 36 weeks and on. It wasn't until 4 days after my due date that I lost my mucus plug and felt my contractions getting stronger and closer. I immediately left for the hospital (mainly hoping my contractions wouldn't stop...again) where they found me to be a whole fingertip dilated; however, because I was already overdue they kept me (which was a mistake in hindsight).

I was immediately hooked up to monitors and after receiving an IV my contractions went very irregular. The doctor didn't exactly jump out of bed at 3 AM to run down to the hospital with me being a fingertip dilated. So, I spent the rest of the night wide awake and very uncomfortable. My doctor showed up around 9 AM and found me to be a whole 1cm dilated, and he immediately put me on Pitocin (another mistake in hindsight). It wasn't until 3 PM that I was dilated to 3cm and allowed an epidural (which I wasn't against getting).

After that my doctor broke my water, and I jumped from 3cm to 5cm. Well 7 PM and 8 PM rolled by with no change, and my doctor started putting on pressure for a c-section stating, "At this point we are just waiting for a problem." In other words there were no problems or reasons for a c-section, he just wanted to be done for the day. The nurse checked me and said my cervix had changed a little, and he would walk in the room 10 sec. later and tell me there had been no change. However, by this time I was exhausted, hungry, and frustrated; so, I gave in. At 8:30 PM, my son (who was only supposed to be 7lbs) was born weighing in at 9 lbs. 4oz.

The biggest difference between my two c-sections was by far my recovery. My past experience taught me exactly what NOT to do. Instead of trying to lay perfectly still (like with my first), I forced myself to move around...not too much. The difference was instead of hobbling into my doctor's office to have my staples removed (like my first), I walked in with a normal stride.

My Third Birth (03): With my third pregnancy, I quickly discovered the challenge I was up against in trying to VBA2C. My husband and I had moved to a new city, and I was forced to find a new OB (not that I missed the old one). The first doctor I went to immediately began telling how the likelihood of a true rupture was 10% (which isn't backed up by any research anywhere). He said I would definitely need a repeat c-section, and he would have to recommend that I have no more children. I didn't fight his opinion; I only listened. However, once I left his office that day, I never went back.

I tried my luck with a group practice and got very lucky. The very first doctor (an older man) I saw in the practice told me he used to do VBA2C on a regular basis. He was okay with me having a TOL, but he also told me that none of the other doctors in the practice would support it. There were some restrictions that came with his support as well. The biggest one being he wouldn't let me go overdue which led me to believe he was not as supportive as he let on. Anyhow, in this particular practice which ever doctor is on call when you go into labor is the one you get. My odds of getting him weren't very good; so I knew my delivery could be tricky (which was an understatement).

So 5 days before my due date I started feeling contractions. Slow and irregular, they seemed to fade once the sun came out. Then 4 days before, I was having contractions from 5 to 45 minutes apart. They continued like that for the next 2 days. I don't recommend this to everyone, but I was not going to go to the hospital until I was close to 5cm dilated. I knew once I got to the hospital they would be pushing for a c-section every step of the way. However, I did a lot of research into ruptures, and I knew the threat was real. So, I definitely wanted to be in a hospital for the most intense part of my labor. So, the only way to know how dilated I was...was to check. I figured it didn't take a medical degree to feel whether or not my cervix was opening. I purchased sterile latex gloves and checked for progress every 12 hours of my false and early labor (usually right after showering). Finally, just before midnight 2 days before my due date, I was convinced I was close to 5cm. So, after having a large snack, I set off for the hospital. That is when the battle began.

Immediately after arriving at the hospital they pulled up my record and started talking like they would be preparing me for surgery. I immediately told them I was trying to VBAC, and it didn't go over well. Then to make matters worse, the doctor on call from the practice was one I had never even seen before. She stood next to my bed for nearly minutes with her arms folded in front of her and used every scare tactic in the book. Since I had done a lot of research on the web about studies and statistics, I wasn't afraid. I didn't do much talking. She is a doctor, and I do respect that she has had to go through a lot to be where she is. So I wasn't about to debate her. I just kept repeating, "I have done a lot of research on the matter, and I'm fully aware of the risks." After minutes of lectures my husband walked in the room, and he received another 10 minutes worth. Finally she gave up, threw her hands in the air, and left the room. I turned to my husband and said, "You do realize that right now our baby is healthy, but if I did rupture he could die. Are we ready to take that risk?" He immediately replied that the odds are very much in our favor of taking home our healthy baby after a vaginal birth. We were in it together to the end.

They found me to be 4cm dilated upon arrival and 4.5cm an hour later. The nurses had a rough time finding my veins (which has never been a problem for other nurses), and I did receive an extremely painful epidural. So 3 AM came and went with no further change. About 5 AM my not-so-favorite doctor came in to break my water. It was right about this time that my mouth started feeling really dry, and I remembered that while laboring with my first son the nurses brought me ice chips. So, I rang for the nurse and asked for some. She gave me a half smile and told me they didn't have any. I would have to do without. Shortly after that she returned with a catheter kit saying since I had an epidural, she would need to place a catheter. I couldn't help but think, "Great, so when it comes time for my c-section I'll already have it in place." I was suspicious because I had already proven I could empty my bladder even with the epidural.

Then 7 AM approaches along a shift change for my doctor. The new doctor on duty still wasn't the supportive one, but at least she was one I really liked. She came on duty and explained to me that their had been no change in my cervix since 2 AM, I was having regular contractions without pitocin, my water had already been broken, and they did expect change in the next hour or they would really suspect a problem and recommend a c-section. My heart fell to the floor. Instead of being stuck at 5cm, I was stuck at 4.5cm. I just had to accept that maybe there was a reason my cervix couldn't dilate. So 8:30 AM the doctor returns, and to my delight and surprise, I'm now dilated to 5.5cm. Once again I had to do a complete 180 in my way of thinking. I am a woman! My body could do this!

It was right at this time that my epidural started to wear off on one side. Now I could feel the full effect of my labor...on one side. It was also right at this time that the contractions kicked into high gear. The nurse came back in the room at 9:30 AM to grab some supplies and saw my discomfort. She asked if I was feeling pain or pressure. At this point I could barely squeak out the word "BOTH." She checked to find me now dialated to 9cm, and said she would call the doctor right away. I was concentrating so hard on my breathing that I didn't realize at the time that the doctor didn't show up to check me for another hour. It was no surprise that by then I was at 10cm. The nurses spent another half hour preparing the room as I panted away the urge to push.

Finally, at 11 AM they let me try my hand at pushing, and what a wonderful release it was to give in to that urge. I pushed about 4 times when the nurse told me to pant through a few contractions while they found the doctor again (it was like asking my heart not to beat for a minute). The doctor stepped in the room and they had me push one more time to show her just how close I was to delivering. She darted out to get dressed for the delivery, and the nurse thought it would be ok to let me push one more time while she was gone. Except halfway through the push she told me to stop so that she wouldn't have to catch the baby. By this time, I was gettting annoyed. The doctor steps in dressed and ready, the room is ready, I'm ready, and my baby was ready. We just needed one more contraction....just one more...any minute now!

It took a little while, but one contraction later at 11:26 AM, I gave birth vaginally to a healthy baby boy weighing 9lbs. 1oz. When they handed me my son still attached to me via his umbilical cord, it was the most amazing moment of my life. I never would have guessed in a million years that having a baby could be that kind of experience. After cleaning him off and doing a couple checks, they handed him back to me so that I could nurse him. They turned down the lights and I held him to my chest feeling like I was in a wonderful dream.

The nurse returned with a warm blanket and a cup FULL of ice chips. She explained that she didn't have the heart to tell me that my doctor told them not to give me anything to drink because she was planning on me having a c-section. Then she smiled (the first time her face looked friendly since I arrived) and told me that there is a big difference between the undetermined and determined women trying to VBAC. She patted my son and told me I did a good job. I felt great and took my son home just 31 hours later. There is no comparison between the recovery of a vaginal birth and a c-section. Now I can honestly say that giving birth is a true miracle!


Lisa H's Story (elective cs for macrosomia; "failed" TOL c/s; insulin-dep GD, hospital VBA2C)

Birth Story

This vba2c was a long time coming, and I worked so hard to achieve it. Therefore, much of this story actually took place way before I ever went into labor.

Baby #1 - Born January 2000

With my first pregnancy, I was “measuring big” at the end, so after an ultrasound predicted an 11 lb baby, my CNM & the consulting OB recommended that I have a scheduled cesarean. They told me about the risks of birthing a big baby (shoulder dystocia, tearing, etc.) and that an induction probably wouldn’t work anyway. My 9 lb, 10 oz daughter was born at 39 weeks by scheduled cesarean section. I never labored, and no one told me the serious risks to me, to the baby, and to future pregnancies. My daughter had some breathing issues and extremely low blood sugar, which I now think were the result of her being born too early. She spent 4 days in the NICU. Quite honestly, I wasn’t that upset about the cesarean. I trusted that it was the best thing for us, and I was a bit relieved to be able to avoid the “pain of labor.” I was in pain for awhile after the surgery, but I recovered relatively quickly.

Baby #2 – Born September 2004

During my next pregnancy, I found ICAN and learned a lot about vbac and normal birth (and that’s when I started to get upset about my first birth!), and I hired a doula. I traveled to another town to get midwifery care from a CNM (since I couldn’t find a midwife here who would take me as a patient), and I planned a hospital vbac. I fully expected to have a vaginal birth this time. I thought that if given the chance, my body would know just what to do. Once I got close to my “due date,” the consulting OB strongly recommended another scheduled cesarean because of my insulin-dependent gestational diabetes and my age (I was 36). I declined.

At 40 wks & 1 day, my water broke. 30 hrs later, I was only dilated to 2 cm, exhausted, and in serious pain. I allowed myself to be coerced into a cbac by Dr. Evil. My perfectly healthy 7 lb, 13 oz son was born at 40 wks & 2 days, also by cesarean. Based on the pain I was having, my lack of progress, and the marks on his face when he was born, I’m guessing that he was malpositioned during labor. I am still angry (I’m sure I always will be) about how I was treated by Dr. Evil and disappointed about the cbac, but I was happy to have worked so hard and to have given this baby the gift of labor. I had no regrets about having pursued a vbac, even though it ended in another cesarean. But sadly, I felt slightly “broken.” My recovery from the surgery was harder than the first time, but I didn’t have any unusual problems.

Baby #3 – Born January 2007

When I got pregnant with my 3rd baby in 2006, I assumed I would try for another vbac. My research told me that a vbac was just as safe or safer than a repeat cesarean, and I did not want to be recovering from surgery while taking care of 3 kids, including a newborn. I just didn’t think I could voluntarily get up on that operating table again unless it was a dire emergency. The challenging search for a health care provider began!

I would have preferred midwifery care, but I could not find a midwife to attend the birth because of the previous 2 cesareans plus the gestational diabetes. I interviewed and/or called every single OB practice in town plus several family practice doctors. Some practices wouldn’t even schedule me an interview without me actually transferring my care to them. Several OB offices just said no over the phone because they “don’t do vbacs after multiple cesareans.” I tried to meet with the one OB in town with a smaller practice, but he wouldn’t see me even to give me a second opinion.

When I could get interviews/consultations, I took in my own research summary of why I felt a vba2c was safe (including a lengthy bibliography) and a copy of the Landon 2006 study concluding that vbac after multiple cesareans should remain an option. Some OBs were nice, but still said they couldn’t help me. Some were rude and demeaning and lied about the risks. A family practice doctor said he wanted to help me, but without a previous vaginal birth, his OB consultants “would never allow it.” One OB said yes in our meeting, but then called me later that day to tell me no. I was shot down over and over again. I even considered signing up for a repeat cesarean with one of these OBs. I was so discouraged and emotional, and I just didn’t know if I was capable of continuing this fight.

At this point (about 20 wks along), I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Reasonable from my previous midwife/OB practice. They had already told me no over the phone, but an ICAN friend had used this same OB for her vbac and highly recommended her. I figured that I had nothing to lose. This doctor understood my desire to vbac and said that she would be willing to take me as a patient! Of course, she still wanted to put some ridiculous limitations on me during labor because of the vbac, but I figured that I could deal with those things when the time came. (And I knew that I would stay at home for as long as possible during labor.) I transferred my care to her immediately.

The rest of my pregnancy was relatively uneventful. I got to see Dr. Reasonable for every prenatal visit, which not all practices around here “allow.” (Most practices make you rotate through all the different doctors in the office.) I feel that it helped me emotionally to see someone every time who actually believed I could do this. I did have insulin-dependent gestational diabetes again, but my blood sugars were very well-controlled with diet and insulin shots. My endocrinologist believed that with well-controlled blood sugars, there was no additional risk to the baby. The baby was measuring “the right size,” and I was Group B Strep negative. I declined ultrasounds to check the baby’s size, and I declined vaginal exams. I took a Hypnobirthing class to prepare for labor and to deal with my birth baggage and my fears. I went to the chiropractor for regular adjustments. We hired the same doula that we had last time. I read positive birth stories and surrounded myself with supportive people.

On a Friday (38 wks & 3 days), my water broke at 12:30pm (standing in a fast food restaurant… lovely!). Over the next 24 hours, we tried many to things to get labor started… acupuncture, rest, massage, walking, chiropractic, eggplant parmesan, Hypnobirthing, and a nasty mineral oil concoction recommended by my Hypnobirthing instructor. It was “against the rules” to stay away from the hospital this long once my water had broken, but I was completely comfortable with it. I didn’t have a fever, I was Group B Strep negative, but most importantly, no one was sticking their hands in me to do vaginal exams. I knew the risk of infection was low. As time went on, I felt like I would never actually go into labor. About 26 hours after my water broke, I pulled out the big guns and drank castor oil. I drank it from a measuring cup in the Walgreen’s parking lot, which was about the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done in my life. I still get nauseous just looking at that particular measuring cup. After that, we walked some more, and then went home to wait.

I spent some unpleasant, but brief, time on the toilet, and then around 5pm on Saturday, I had a contraction. Within 15 minutes, I knew I was in labor. I went from no-labor to full-blown-can’t-talk-through-them contractions in about 45 minutes. I tried to use my Hypnobirthing to relax, but it was really hard. (I remember thinking, “Screw Hypnobirthing! This isn’t working!” But in retrospect, I think it was VERY helpful.) Within a few hours, I begged my husband to take me to the hospital so I could get an epidural. I assumed that I wasn’t dilated very much since this hadn’t been going very long, and there was no way I could do this for another 10, 15, or 20+ hours. (I know now that this is a normal reaction when nearing transition.) When our doula arrived, she agreed that it was time to go to the hospital because she noticed that I was doing some involuntary pushing. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but I was happy to head to the hospital because I thought I’d be getting that epidural. We spent 45 miserable minutes driving to the hospital then got checked in.

The good news.....I was checked by a nurse at 10pm, and I was dilated to 7cm! I was thrilled that I was this far along. It didn’t even occur to me to ask for pain medication, and the nurses were respectful of my birth plan and didn’t suggest it. The bad news....The on-call OB was none other than Dr. Evil. I asked for another doctor or a midwife instead, but there was no one else. I decided to just deal with him the best I could (it’s not like he spent much time in our hospital room). I received a hep-lock and was hooked up to the fetal monitor, but that late in the game I was okay with it. I tried to walk around the hospital room, but I felt most comfortable laboring in bed. At 11pm, Dr. Evil checked me, and I was dilated to 9cm. (This is when he suggested a cesarean or an epidural, but I had no problem yelling, "No!”) At 11:45pm, I was complete!

Pushing felt great. The pain lessened, and it felt like I was accomplishing something. After an hour of pushing, I started to get a little worried. After 2 hours of pushing, I was terrified that the doctor would suggest forceps or vacuum or cesarean, but I kept pushing. This part was REALLY hard; I was so tired, but I could also tell that the baby was moving down. At one point I could reach down and feel his head, so I knew he was almost out! Around 2:00am, Dr. Evil wanted to cut an episiotomy because he “could get the baby out faster,” which I declined. At 38 weeks & 5 days gestation and after 38 hours with broken water and 2 and a half hours of pushing, I delivered my 7lb, 5 oz son Gavin! We did it! Holding that wet, slimy baby on my chest is a memory I will always cherish. I don’t love my other children any less, but I will always mourn that their first minutes of life were not spent the exact same way.

During the delivery, I sustained a 3rd - 4th degree tear. I suspect that the tear had something to do with the way Dr. Evil stuck his hands up in me to grab the baby. And then he had the gall to give me the I-told-you-so lecture about how an episiotomy would have prevented the tear. Lunatic. The fact that I was able to delivery vaginally with that particular doctor felt like such a victory. He had bullied me during my 2nd birth, but this time I stood up to him, and it was so empowering. I was nervous that he would be the one at the birth, but that turned out to be part of my healing process.

The recovery from my vba2c was easy. It’s difficult to express the huge difference between my cesarean recoveries and my vaginal birth recovery. With a vaginal birth, I felt connected with my baby and with other birthing women and had a “vbac high.” I was the best, proudest, happiest version of my real self with a sore bottom and a few stitches. With my cesareans, my entire body felt injured. It took ages to physically feel like myself again.

I think many things contributed to my ability to have a vaginal birth this time. I was more educated and more determined. The Hypnobirthing class and the chiropractic care were so helpful. I had a great support system in my ICAN friends, my husband, and our doula. It was valuable for me to see the same supportive OB at every prenatal appointment even though I didn’t know what doctor would be there at the time of delivery. Arriving at the hospital so late in labor was beneficial too. If I had gone in soon after my water broke, this story most likely would have had a very different ending. And of course, luck played into it as well. I gave birth 9 days before my “due date.” If I had been “overdue,” there would have been lots of pressure to have another cesarean. But most of all, I had more trust in how my body works. Apparently, my water breaks a few days before I give birth. That’s what is normal for ME.

My baby is now seven months old, and I have been completely healed from my tear for months & months. I am so grateful that I was able to experience a vaginal birth. I think it was the healthiest thing physically and emotionally for me and my baby. This birth has helped me heal a great deal from the births of my first 2 children. Some of the healing was because of the vba2c, but a large part of it was because of the journey. I worked as hard as I possibly could to do what I knew was best for me and for my family. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard for anything in my entire life, and I feel great about that.


Nancy T's Story (Induction, FTP c/s; Induction, TOL c/s; weight loss surgery; home VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes: Nancy lost 150 lbs. through gastric bypass Weight-Loss Surgery (WLS) 4 years before this pregnancy. Because some WLS moms have been told that they cannot have a VBAC after WLS, she was asked to address whether this was an issue for her and what her WLS doctor told her about it. Also, because nutritional deficits (especially folic acid, anemia, B12, and calcium) are very common in WLS patients a few years post-surgery, she was asked to address whether this was an issue for her at all in this pregnancy. 

It is important to point out that Kmom is not a fan of WLS and has great concerns about pregnancies after WLS, but the reality is that many women are doing this now and it is important to document their stories too. It is especially important to document that it *is* possible for WLS patients to have VBACs (and VBAMC) too!

Birth Story

About the WLS surgery aspect of this story: I spoke early on to my surgeon (practically a pioneer in the field of WLS-has been doing versions of it for over 30 years) about how WLS would affect pregnancy. His main concern was that I take my vitamins so I wouldn't be deficient and the baby would essentially be a "parasite" and would take what it needs from my body. So if I didn't get enough nutrition that it would mainly affect me. 

I was nervous about getting pregnant too soon afterward. I was strict with my WLS diet and lost all of my 150 lbs in 1 year. I don't think I could have eaten enough prior to that to have maintained a pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant when I was about 3 years and 6 months out from my WLS. 

I had a hard time gaining weight with this pregnancy--mainly because I had strong food aversions which were more severe with this (my 3rd) pregnancy--not sure if it was due to pregnancy hormones or in part to WLS. Many of those aversions were to meat so I had to struggle to eat enough protein. [Kmom note: This seems to be common to many WLS patients after several years and can be a problem because of the importance of protein in helping the baby grow properly and in helping the mother's blood volume expand enough.]

I found out in my second trimester that I was B12 deficient--my own fault--I hadn't taken my B12 tablets in a while--thought I was getting enough from just prenatal multi-vitamins. Luckily my baby did not have any complications due to this. (I had many cravings also early in my pregnancy--mostly for certain fruits--sour, citrus--which ironically are high in B12--coincidence? Maybe.) My iron level was at the low end of normal in my third trimester--otherwise, everything else was normal. Bottom line--post WLS--take ALL your vitamins! I was given B12 injections weekly for a month to boost my levels and afterward I simply continued taking B12 supplements.

Early in my pregnancy my OB expressed concerns about my VBACing due to "all" of my previous history- including my WLS- like I could rupture something pushing. I spoke to my WLS surgeon about this concern and he said not to let them make the WLS an issue--that in his opinion there was no reason for concern. He did however relate a story to me of a patient of his who had a freak complication during pushing where she (supposedly) pushed so hard she cut off circulation to a part of her intestine and ended up having a part of her intestine die which required emergency surgery. (There was more to it than that, I just don't remember exactly what.) He did mention that he thought she had other complications that precipitated this and didn't think this was entirely due to her pushing during labor. He had only seen something like this happen once in his 30+ years as a WLS surgeon. In other words, something like this would probably more rare than getting struck by lightening--and definitely not something to be concerned with when planning whether to have a vaginal birth. So, I don't know if my OB had heard about this or something similar which made her concerned about VBAC for me. However, I had so many previous issues that I doubt that was the only reason.

Baby #1:   Nancy's first baby was born by cesarean, "post induction for Failure to Progress." 

Baby #2:  Nancy's second baby was born by a cesarean after a trial of labor (CBAC), "post induction for FTP: posterior."  

Baby #3:  On Sunday April 23rd- my due date I just didn't feel right. I felt ill. I had about 2 episodes of really bad diarrhea early that afternoon and I took a nap until about dinnertime. I couldn't quite put a finger on it, though. I just felt tired, achy--just wanted to sleep. About 6 pm I started to notice that menstrual-like crampiness starting back up. I had already taken about 9 calcium that day- so I took 3 more to try and head it off in case it was more prodromal labor. I tried to eat dinner, but I just couldn't eat much. Food didn't really taste good for some reason. 

Later that evening DH and I sit down to watch TV--this was probably about 9 pm. I told him about the crampiness when he asked what I was doing with the timer--I told him and he was very skeptical. He asked if it had just started- I told him no- it started about 3 hours before. It didn't really start to bother me until about 10:30- and I told DH I was done watching TV and wanted to go upstairs and take a bath, have a glass of wine and go to bed. So I did--and took more calcium too. 

I got in bed about 11 and laid there for about an hour before I realized I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get up--and get DH up too. I had him start coaching me through the contractions. They were getting really strong. By 12:15 I tried more calcium. I didn't help- and at that point I realized this was the "real" thing. I held off calling my midwife though. I knew things were going to get stronger still. I held off calling until about 1:30 am. The contractions were about 4 minutes apart and 40-45 seconds long. She told me to call her back when they were around a minute long- she had just come off about 2 full days of being awake with only a few hours sleep and delivering at least two other babies- and she was exhausted. 

I thought, Good Lord! What if they don't! So after talking to her and feeling utterly helpless and scared and worried about ending up going unassisted, I leaned on DH. It was getting bad. I was already starting to have doubts. He was so wonderful, though; he encouraged me and kept me going. 

At right around 2 am I got back in the bathtub, and no sooner than I did my water broke! It was like a water balloon went off in my crotch! Thank goodness I was in the tub! I was in the middle of a contraction when it happened and I shot up out of the water- standing there- yelling at DH (who was standing right there next to the tub) and the contraction stopped instantly when I did that, which freaked me out a little. The water was cloudy- I couldn't tell if there was meconium in it; I later found out there was just a *little*. 

We called my midwife, J, back right away. She was also waiting on another first time mom and she was wondering who would go first. So, she sent her assistant back out to see if she could check me and to labor-sit until she could get there. The assistant mw got there about 2:30- which is why my mw sent her, since she is so close, and J is so far away (2 hours). She called J back a little before 3 and told J to come out, that things were really going this time. I was very relieved to have her on the way! DH thought maybe I was holding out for her; he said I as well as I did that I did even better once J got here. 

J arrived at about 5 am. She checked me as soon as she got here--7 cm. It really freaked me out- I thought- OH NO! I was sure that as hard as it had been getting through that I would be 10 cm by now! Plus, it definitely registered in my head that I was probably in transition now and it scared me because of the horror stories I had heard about really long transitions and so forth. I couldn't get comfortable- I was all over the place--on hands and knees--standing, squatting, leaning over the bed or DH's lap. I couldn't get comfortable at ALL. I won't sugarcoat it for those yet to experience it--it was agony. But something kept me going. I was sweating like CRAZY- it really did feel like the marathon they describe in the "Bradley Method" book. 

I started to wonder "WHY the heck did I EVER confuse Prodromal Labor with THIS????" Was I crazy? Prodromal was NOTHING compared to the REAL thing--to real dilating contractions, that is! All the stuff I had before had been a walk in the park compared to what I was experiencing in that moment. It was a real test. And I was MEAN! They tried everything to make me comfortable--warm towels on my back--OH NO, get it off!! I didn't want anything touching me! 

At a little after 6:20 am J checked me again--only a little lip of cervix was left! It was right at the top. J asked me if I felt the urge to push. I wasn't sure, so I guess not. She told me that once the lip was gone the contractions would no longer "hurt" or be as "sharp" of a pain but feel more like pressure. And she was right! Pushing contractions are sooo much different than dilating contractions! She asked me if I wanted her to hold back the lip while I tried to push and see what the baby did--if he moved down any and could make the lip go away so I could begin the real work of pushing. 

I agreed; it really hurt, but it worked! Within 1 or 2 pushes the lip was gone and he was moving down. I was in a semi-sit at first, then moved to hands and knees. The pressure was terrible; it really did feel like he was coming out my rear end. J pointed out to DH while I was on hands and knees the "bulge" in my lower back that was the baby's head as he was coming down! I ended up back in a semi-sit and that's where I stayed--I was too tired to get into any other positions. Luckily, the baby was moving down with every push. 

Finally he got to the outlet. I remember them telling me to reach down and touch his head. I put my hand down there and recoiled--I just couldn't do it. It felt too weird. My eyes were clamped shut. I groaned through each contraction; my voice was killing me. I reached up and grabbed the headboard of my bed and put everything I had into the last few pushes. I used it as leverage. It was so hard to breathe- I could barely catch my breath before I had to push again. My body really did take over. I felt like I was just along for the ride. 

Finally he crowned and the whole "ring of fire" description really took on meaning for me! J applied counterpressure to my perineum through the last few pushes and I didn't tear--at least not my perineum. I think I may have had some skid marks up higher. I was pretty sore and had a lot of stinging when I peed for about a week or so. Thank goodness for the peri bottle! 

Anyway, his head just "popped" out, then DH said it just started to rotate and I pushed again and he just slid out. He said he always thought the shoulders were the hardest part to get out, but his just came right out! Immediate relief! 

J put Noah right up on me. I was completely naked and didn't care; neither did I care that the assistant had been taking digital pictures of the whole process (I am actually quite grateful that she did as I didn't even open my eyes until he was put on me). 

I could hardly believe it- I didn't know what to do with him! He was squirming and screaming his head off! This red, bloody, slimy little body was on my chest- I could hardly believe what I had done! I just laid there- unable to move and just staring at him. I checked to make sure it was a boy; it was of course, but I had to be sure. We toweled him and I off and we just laid there. 

Not 5 seconds after he came out my 7-year-old son was at the door. Someone went and got my 5-year-old daughter. Both kids were amazed at the baby and probably a little concerned. My son told me that I had kept him awake for a while; apparently he heard me moaning and occasionally hollering out. DH told me that I didn't holler too much that I really seemed to have good control over it; I didn't feel that way at the time, though! It took everything I had to keep my voice low-pitched and moan rather than get too shrill and scream out. My son had heard me though. He seemed okay about it; he didn't act like he was afraid. I was very happy that the kids were asleep during the whole process. That worked out great. They got to be there almost as soon as Noah came out and didn't have to watch mommy in too much pain. 

The kids were there when I pushed out the placenta- which I took my time doing. I really was not in the mood to push any more after all of that. I pushed the baby out in 33 minutes and I waited 47 minutes before I got the placenta out! LOL! I had never seen one before so it was very interesting. J gave all of us an anatomy lesson with it. I always wondered what happened to the amniotic sac after it broke! 
Anyway, N was born Monday April 24th--one day past my due date--at 6:54 am. He weighed about 7 lbs 8 oz and was about 20 1/4 inches. What matters is that he's very healthy- even the jaundice that all of my kids have had (last one before this one at 38 weeks ended up in the hospital with it) hasn't been nearly as bad this time around. Doesn't need lights or anything. It's actually just about gone now. 

He's nursing great and gaining weight and sleeping wonderfully! I have to force myself out of bed or else he would already be sleeping through the night! He loves to be swaddled--puts him right out! Unfortunately my milk supply won't allow me to indulge in a full night yet! 

I'm so thankful that things worked out for me the way they did. I'm so thankful for this little guy I have to cuddle now. Even DH has told me that he thinks maybe we'll have another- this from a man who only wanted 2 kids in the beginning! He's very proud of me. I think this birth has been healing for both of us. It has really helped me realize what I'm capable of and that I'm not broken the way I thought I was after the last c/s (a CBAC). 


Mandy's Story (c/s with posterior baby; c/s for placenta previa; VBA2C)

Birth Story

Well, I did it!

I was starting to wonder if I ever would because I'd gone to 41 weeks and my doctors were pushing for induction. I had a non-stress test on the 3rd, a Thursday, which was great. The midwife and I talked about the fact that I was 41 weeks already, and how she lost her own baby at 41 weeks. I was angry that she shared that with me. My baby and I were thriving; her test just proved it! She wanted me to come back on Monday for another non-stress test, then a biophysical profile on Wednesday. Then she wanted to schedule an induction for the next Thursday, when I would be 42 weeks. I asked her to strip

my membranes, and I was a very stretchy 3 centimeters and baby was very low. I told her I would probably cancel the induction if my biophysical on Wednesday looked good. She told me that those tests aren't always accurate, which only left me frustrated and wondering why she was recommending one at all.

After our visit, when I was leaving, DH and I were pulled into the office administrator's office. There we were berated and questioned about our decision to refuse induction. I presented evidence from memory, telling them I felt that induction for me at that time presented more risk than benefit, and that I'd prefer to take the pregnancy to 42 weeks, per the ACOG's definition of post-dates, unless a medical indication presented. It was hell. I signed waiver after waiver, consent form after consent form, and left in tears. It wasn't the forms that bothered me. I knew evidence was on my side, and I was confident in my decision. What hurt was the guilt trip, and the sudden realization that my doctors had been simply humoring me the entire nine months. They never respected me; they only held a carrot in front of my nose, hoping to lead me off the cliff when they felt appropriate. I cried the whole drive home. I felt totally abandoned, and forgot that I had a wonderful support team: DH and our doula, S, to lean on.

On Friday I woke up totally pumped and more adamant than ever. DH and I spent two hours walking at the mall and did some light yard work when we got home. Contractions were sporadic all day. I knew my body was ready for labor, and had been for weeks. Baby was very low, and I had intense pubic pain. And, my vaginal exam the day before had been promising as well. I took homeopathic Caulophyllum (Blue Cohosh) hourly to stimulate the contractions and homeopathic Gelsemium (for apprehension) and did acupressure every 20 minutes. By 6:30 pm I started paying attention and found the contractions to be regular, about 20 minutes apart and lasting 30 to 40 seconds. They continued to get closer together, longer in duration, and at midnight were more intense so I called S and my mom to let them know they'd probably get "the call" early in the morning.

I went to bed and was unable to sleep through the contractions, but I did dose between them. Around 3am I drew a warm bath, and labored alone for about an hour. Then, I called DH in, and he took over timing them. They were about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 60 seconds. I was moaning softly through them at this point. I got out of the tub and tried to poop. Nothing much happened, and I thought this was a good sign that there wasn't much in my system. We gathered the toiletries that hadn't been packed yet, and headed downstairs. I called S and my mom at 5:30 to let them know they should head on over. By the time they got there I was well into active labor and really "opera moaning" to help my cervix relax and open. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and about 90 seconds long. We called the doctor and headed for the hospital.

I was a little apprehensive, because the doctor on call was the only one in my practice that I did not want to attend. The doctor who had agreed to be paged in this situation was delivering another woman at another hospital. We arrived at 8:00 am. I was 5 centimeters, and they monitored the baby for a while and put in a heparin-lock. All the nurses were really sweet, but told me straight out that they were a little intimidated by my birth plan. They told me that if they hadn't met me before reading it, they would have thought I was a real meanie. DH says I signed a bunch of waiver forms, because I didn't want an I.V. or routine interventions, but I don't even remember doing it. My doctor was already there with another laboring woman. She was very supportive and kind, so I guess I shouldn't have worried about having her attending.

My water still hadn't broken, and I felt tremendous pressure because I really needed to move my bowels. I guess I had been wrong about not having anything in my system at home. However, every time I went to the bathroom, I would have strong contractions and my bowels just wouldn't move. It was hard enough just to empty my bladder. DH and S were so wonderful. I sat on the birth ball, and DH and I embraced each other through contractions while S rubbed my back. My dad was there, and so was DH's dad. My mom had stayed at our house with our two older boys. I was glad my dad brought the video camera.

I labored beautifully for some time until the pressure from the water and the baby and my bowels all started fighting each other and at this point I started to lose my focus. I could no longer breathe properly through the contractions and just sobbed and yelled. I tried to use the toilet again, and it felt like the baby was going to fall out. The pressure was tremendous, but more like a weight on my bottom, not the natural pushy feeling I was expecting. I told S the baby was coming out, and she looked. She told me there was a lot of mucous, but that I probably wasn't completely dilated yet. I was getting really frustrated! Finally, at about 7 centimeters, I felt I would try to go to the bathroom again, and once I got in the door, my body said "now or never" so I just put my arms around DH's neck, relaxed, and pooped right then and there! S, God bless her, must have anticipated this because she threw a chux pad onto the floor just in time! The whole time I was totally dangling from around DH's neck, and he could hardly hold me. My good friend, Karen, had also arrived, and helped him support me. I couldn't believe I had just had a bowel movement in front of my father-in-law! And I didn't even care!

After I got that "obstruction" out of the way, my contractions picked up, but in a much more natural way. These were the primal, intense, manageable contractions that I knew would get the job done. I went back to the bed and transitioned. I went into kind of a trance. The contractions were good and effective, and I breathed deeply through them, and zoned out in between. One of the nurses came in and asked if I'd been given morphine. S said, "No, she's just in labor-land." (Later, I remembered a sort of vision that I'd had during this period. I was walking along a forest path, following a huge bird. With each contraction, this bird would lift me up over the treetops for the duration, then set me gently back down on the path. As a Christian, this kind of out-of-body thing has always rubbed me wrong, but this was not something I did on purpose. It was a totally un-induced coping mechanism, and like nothing I've ever experienced before.)

At one point, while breathing through a contraction, I involuntarily bore down. I asked that they check my cervix to make sure I was ready. I was 9 centimeters, and my bag of waters was bulging through. I asked the doctor to break my water, and it was clear. I immediately felt another contraction coming on, and shouted to be sat up again. That one was really intense. It was like I could feel my cervix completely open; it was incredible. With the next one I involuntarily bore down again, and felt the baby's head drop into my birth canal. It was like a balloon instantly inflating in my vagina, and I snapped out of my trance-like state and started insisting that the baby was coming NOW!

Everyone just kind of looked at me. I snapped at my dad to get the video camera running. DH was sort of standing next to me, trying to decide if he should be paying attention to my head or my bottom. S was telling me to just breathe. Poor S. This was the second time I had told her with certainty that the baby was coming out; how could she know? I looked at her and said, "S, I know I've never done this before, but there is a baby's head in my vagina and he's not waiting around for me to argue with any of you!" The nurse obligingly came over and looked under the sheet, and the next moment she was running for the door shouting for the doc, "Doctor, the baby is coming!"

With the next push, baby's head pushed through my labia. I had told the nurse not to tell me when or how long to push. I wanted to work with my body. The urges were there, and I pushed with them, but not long. The nurse told me if I didn't hold my pushes longer she would start counting, so with the next contraction, against my better judgment, I pushed without the urge and counted to myself. This brought the baby to crowning. DH was crying and saying, "Oh God, Mandy, he's almost here! You're doing it!" Then I felt that ring of fire and wanted to blow through the rest so the baby wouldn't come out too fast and cause too much injury. I'd requested no episiotomy and my doctor was applying counter-pressure. I didn't have the control to blow, but I knew that screaming would make pushing very ineffective, so I figured, screw it! I put my head back and let out a shrill scream. Everyone thought I was panicking, but I knew what I was doing.

The next thing I knew, Uilliam Steven shot out of my body like a torpedo! 1:07 pm. Only 7 minutes of pushing! I will never forget that feeling. My doctor didn't even catch him, it was so fast! He just landed on the bed! I sat up and grabbed his warm slippery little body and put him on my chest. I was bawling and thanking Uilliam and God for the gift of his non-surgical birth. I was a whole person! He was crying a little and looked a little stunned, but went straight to the breast like a pro. His eyes never left mine. What a gift!

I asked my doctor not to cut the cord. I wanted Uilliam to get all the oxygen and nutrients he had coming to him. He immediately began to nurse, and when the cord stopped pulsing and turned white, we went ahead and clamped it, then DH cut it. Uilliam gurgled a little, so we suctioned him out. He cried a little cry then, and went back to the breast. My doctor asked if I wanted pitocin to birth the placenta, but I refused. I knew by Uilliam's vigorous sucking and the response of my uterus that I wouldn't need help, and it came on its own after about 15 minutes.

I feel so blessed to have had this experience. I feel like a first-time mom. Everything went exactly as it was supposed to, except for the ultra-fast pushing stage, but I'm not complaining! I will ignore the nurses next time, if there is a next time, and push when I darn well please! 7 minutes! What in the world were they in such a hurry for?

I'm so proud of myself. I accomplished the all-natural VBAC I wanted, but was never sure I would get. I will relive it every day for a long time, I think.

Recovery has been fairly easy. Much easier than a cesarean, but different because of where my injury is. I suffered a 2nd degree tear, probably because he crowned so fast, due to my holding my breath and counting. He was my biggest baby yet (8 lbs, 9 oz) and the first I'd delivered vaginally, and his head didn't even mold; it was perfectly round. His apgars were 9 and 9. He had almost no vernix at all, and his skin was really wrinkled. Over the next few days, it chapped and peeled a lot, but didn't seem to bother him at all. I'm glad I was able to go into labor on my own when I did; He was obviously ready!

I feel I've completed a rite of passage. I want everyone on Earth to know what I did, and how their lives will change when they do it, too. I know that this womanly art is something every healthy woman can achieve. I've decided to become a doula. I feel an inescapable pull to assist women in accomplishing the births they deserve. I believe that birth is God's exclusive gift to womankind, and I want to inspire other women to accept that gift without fear. Uilliam, my little selkie-baby, what have you started?


Desirre's Story (c/s; VBAC; "failed" TOL c/s; hospital VBA2C)

Birth Story

This story begins on April 7, 2000 while I am on the table being repaired after my second unexpected cesarean (second VBAC attempt - had a VBAC with son #2). The sadness and anger raged through me, I had arrived at 7 cms with a posterior baby and upon vaginal exam the nurse AROMed me without consent leading to my son being stuck and unable to rotate (yes I moved, used every position, no IV, no drugs). After nearly 4 hours of pushing - I was back on that %$%^&^&* table with a doc who hated her job and an anesthesiologist who hated women who didn't get epidurals in labor.

Now the good part comes - as I was being sewn up - I asked the doc if I could have another vaginal birth - I wanted more children - remarkably her answer was yes of course you can. WOW, even this lying hateful doc believed in VBAMC. I am sharing this because the other day I remembered this moment as if it had just occurred. From the depths of my soul I knew my body wasn't broken, I knew I would go for another vaginal birth, I knew I was meant to do so and not submit to surgery unnecessarily, I knew it wasn't for the sake of a do-over. To me that is a miracle that I was already planning my next baby while on the table..... and could take solace in what this awful doc had said.

So I became pregnant with my 4th son in March 2001. I immediately panicked and went through a period of freak-out. I had suffered tremendous PTSD and did not realize it at the time so it wasn't treated. I didn't know of ICAN. I DID know that this was my body and my decision. My dh deferred as he believed if I could conceive another baby, I could birth another baby. He trusted me to know best as the mother, something that still endears me to him. After 15 hours of phone calls to every practice, hospital in town (I didn't know about the homebirth community), I found ONE practice that would consider me---a CNM and OB husband and wife team. I also found one about an hour south of here who has an awesome VBAC rate and VBAMC rate. I interviewed the doc with a long list of questions. He said, "Yep, my wife is perfect for you. No reason you cannot have another vbac." So I signed on with them and had an uneventful pleasurable pregnancy. Never ONCE tried to scare me. Kind and considerate and believed in me as much as I did.

Well I knew this baby was coming 10 days before 40 weeks I had circled and initialed it on my calendar a couple of months before. However, on December 17th I started contracting regularly (I do not have Braxton -Hicks at all). So phoned my MW to be ready and we both fell asleep our couches LOL. Went in for an appt. WOW I asked for a VE, I was 5 cms dilated. I laughed. Huh, so prodromal labor doesn't change a cervix, huh!

December 18th. Same darn thing. Made my MW sleep in her clothes on the couch. So I stopped in the office and said check me. She didn't want to - I said come on. She did; I was 6 cms. Again I walked out roaring with laughter. December 19th - I went to the hospital thinking this has to be labor. Just a practice run. Contractions petered out again. So I did opt for an Ambien from exhaustion and went home. But I was 7 cms.... A multip going for a VBA2C being sent home at 7 cms. The nurses thought she was nuts, my MW.

The night of the 20th something was different. I started contracting about 9 pm. Hmm, maybe another night of practice? So I decide a bit later around 945 to take a hot shower to see if they slowed or sped up. Well I had 5 contractions while in the shower. They were strong, but I didn't have pain. (Yep, go ahead, curse at me now. I had a pain-free labor, all prodromal, and even at this point no pain, just stronger and stronger tightening. I had decided that labor was one of my SUPER POWERS LOL.) I was sure I was in the shower for a half an hour. Turns out I was in less than 20 minutes. I was contracting about every 2 minutes, lasting a minute-thirty. So my dh says. "NOW, can we go?" I said, "Soon." I got dressed, called my friend who was doulaing me, and told her to meet us at the hospital. She lived down the block and beat us by 10 minutes cause I couldn't get in the car.

I got there, walked into triage and sure enough, darn contractions of course had gotten back down to 3-4 minutes apart. My MW said I am not coming in if she isn't a solid 2-3 minutes apart and long contractions. Told the triage nurse she was to send me home if they stayed spaced apart. The nurse turned white because i was now 8 cms dilated. If I could have a picture of her face to share... So I went for a walk to get things organized. As soon as the adrenaline dropped my contractions picked up again. Yes, he was coming soon. So MW came in shortly after.

I got into my room - I agreed to a hep lock only and hand held Doppler. No monitors on my belly. Hell no. I handed the nurse a big box of pricey chocolates and my birth plan before my MW arrived saying, "I could be a bag of snakes. I could have the most normal uneventful VBAC or end up pushing for 4 hours and having another cesarean. You willing to do this with me?" Of course two contractions came in this time. She couldn't believe I was nearing birth standing there talking to her. She said yes, she wanted to come along for the ride and she was on my side from that moment on. No one asked if I wanted drugs. No one made me stay in bed. I just did my thing.

My mw arrived and listened while I was in the bathroom. I decided on getting in the shower; she went to get her waterproof doppler. For some reason NO ONE was in the room with me. I got in the shower and it was freezing Colorado cold water (45ish degrees). Well there I am, buck naked and screaming at this point - Cold cold cold cold cold cold - that is all I could say. Those couple of contractions hurt while the hot blankets were being wrapped around me. Damn shower. Right after that the contractions got fiercely strong - for some reason no one was in the room again - (can you imagine that happening now a VBA2C being left alone unmonitored) - so I ended up on my hands and knees on the hospital floor - yep no towel under me, no chux pad, nothing just bare me on the bare floor (ICK ICK ICK).

So the nurse comes in and apologizes I think and helps me up. I make it over to the bed and lean over it while standing. My MW asks if she can check me. I say ok - I have a very bulgy bag and am just about complete. I allow her to break my water - baby was in good position and zero station so he wasn't going to get stuck funky. I told her unless she knew his position no way. Within about 10 minutes I get this surge to push that was ferocious. I had been in my room for about an hour and a half.

I pushed on my side. Took me a while to make progress. This was the only time I got scared and it HURT. It hurt SO much. My fear of pushing and pushing started to service. I almost panicked but she assured me I could do it. The pain went away. The urge stayed and I went for it like all the other times but without fear. I pushed for about 45 minutes. Yes. a long time for a multip, not a long time for me. Then the one sad thing happened. I looked at her and said am I going to have another cesarean? She said reach down, WHAT the hell why I thought, REACH down - OMG I was almost there, my son was almost here. NO FREAKING WAY.

My husband said all tension, stress and fear from that question melted away and I had the most angelic peaceful look he had ever seen ever. My son's head was out to his ears. The pain I felt was the perineum stretching (bic lighter burning). A softness that is indescribable. The burning took hold. I told her to get him out in a low growl. She chuckled and say push past it. I growled louder, "GET him out, Cathy." She said, "YOU get him out." I pushed again and there was his whole head. She gently suctioned his nose, mouth and said, ["What] a very big unmolded head you have." As he turned she said he looked just like our son Logan (he did). One more gentle push and there on my belly was my 4th son, Declan Joseph.

I was stunned and just touched and touched him. I was totally naked with my new son on me and I swear I heard the heavens open up. I had never held any of my babies at birth. Never got to inspect and put to breast and and and. My husband and I cried. My friend cried and took pictures. The nurse cried. My MW cried. And her OB husband finally came in (he was at the nurses station the whole time) to chart for his wife. He said I KNEW you would do it. Congratulations. The hep lock was gone.

I did take an [intramuscular shot] of pitocin because I am a very heavy bleeder postpartum. I grow super sized placentas and clot tremendously.

For 5 hours I stayed in my room with my new son. Left in total peace. Occasionally, a BP check and bleeding check. The nurse thanked me for allowing her to witness a natural birth, a normal birth. She said it was amazing for her. It made her beleive in birth again.

No continuous monitoring, no IV, no drugs, no episiotomy, no tearing--just a skidmark, immediate breast feeding, minimal invasiveness by nursery staff. I growled and groaned, I cried, I laughed, I feared some but believed more. I birthed the way my body was meant to. Only my dh, FIL and MW team believed in me like I did. Everyone else in my world told me to schedule an ERCS. Nope, felt wrong. I was willing to push for another 4 hours and end up in the OR so my baby could pick his birthday, my placenta would know it was time to leave, my milk would know it was time to come in... I know it isn't possible to have a homebirth in the hospital but I came as close as one can with his birth.

I was the last VBA2C at that hospital because my MW is getting her doctorate in Midwifery. Her husband retired.

Please be encouraged! Follow your mommy heart where fear cannot survive in the vast love. Listen to your baby and body. Oh BTW, my son had a 14.5 inch unmolded head that came through a pelvis that had failed two heads that were almost an inch smaller. Big beautiful redemptive head. My MW said there is definitely nothing wrong with your pelvis.


Christie's Story (septate uterus, 2 c/s for breech or transverse babies; home breech VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes: 

Birth Story

Baby #1: My first birth, in 2001, was a planned c/s I was hoping to avoid for breech/transverse. I worked diligently with all methods I knew of to turn him, and had successfully turned him (albeit to transverse) by the time my water broke and I went into labor. I am ever grateful for the days of pre-labor and the hours of early labor that my son and I shared, but will always mourn the loss of bonding caused by the hours of separation in the hospital for routine procedures. I believe it still affects his attachment to me to this day.

Baby #2: My second birth, though it is hard for me to call it that, was a planned VBAC. I had researched more about turning babies and hired a doula, again doing everything I knew to avoid a c/s. She also remained breech/oblique, despite the addition of techniques such as moxibustion (an acupuncture technique). The GD diagnosis really threw me psychologically, and I think also contributed to my acceptance of defeat when the OB offered no other solutions to turning her, other than a version at *39* weeks and the agreement for an immediate c/s if that did not work. For what it's worth, I question the GD diagnosis to this day, given that my glucose levels were quite good during both my second and third pregnancies.

Baby #3: Despite three external versions (one of which was successful), moxibustion, Webster Chiropractic care, ice packs, music, breech tilts, hypnosis etc, my little boy was breech when labor began at approximately 39 weeks. 

I never felt like I had given birth to either of my [prior] children and absolutely hated the surgeries. Being tied down, and paralyzed from the spinal were absolutely terrifying to me and triggered the feelings of helplessness I had felt when I had been sexually abused as a child. Moreover, even after my daughter was born, though overjoyed to have my son and daughter, I was devastated to not have achieved what I considered to be a rite of passage for women. I had always pictured myself giving birth naturally, medication-free, to my children. So many women take that opportunity for granted. I found it amazing that I had been criticized on many an occasion for wanting to give birth vaginally, when cesareans were “so much easier.” 

The comfort with and skill level of attending breech vaginal births were one of the first questions I asked prospective midwives [when planning for the birth of my 3rd child]. I was blessed to find a midwife who is a former ICAN leader, with over 20 years experience and comfortable and experienced with breech vaginal deliveries. I also had another midwife, her partner, in attendance. The four of us (they along with my husband, Andy, and I), had agreed to proceed with a breech home birth as long as I continued to show progress and the baby was doing well as assessed by FHTs {kmom note: fetal heart tones]. This was based on research that indicated that when labor in a breech birth was not progressing, it was indicative of a problem that would necessitate a cesarean.

On Saturday, March 11, I began feeling heaving abdominal and cervical sensations. I also had the distinct feeling that my water could break at any moment. Sure enough, I woke up early Sunday morning (1 a.m.) lying in a puddle of amniotic fluid and vernix. I was excited and called the midwife and then tried to rest. Contractions began at about 2 a.m. and were about 6-8 minutes apart and very manageable. 

Contractions began to pick up around 9 a.m.—they were consistently 3 minutes apart and starting to get my attention, though still quite manageable. S, one of the midwives, came and checked me, and forgot we had agreed for me not to know how dilated I was (I was 3 cm). Andy and my son set up the birth tub. I got in, but didn’t stay long, as it wasn’t comfortable and it was quite a production to change from wet to dry clothes. 

At this point, having the kids around was a welcome distraction, and I was still able to be amongst everyone and manage the contractions (still 3 minutes apart). The worst part was actually shoulder and upper back pain that must have been from tensing up during contractions. By late afternoon/early evening, I began feeling the need to pace/circle my house during contractions (had been managing them sitting up, just pausing during my conversation). I started getting frustrated when the kids and/or their toys would get in my way while circling/pacing and was ready for everyone to leave. Instead, Andy and I went upstairs to lie down and listen to the CD I had made of music that inspired/relaxed me. I treasure these moments. It was a wonderful time to connect with the man who has supported me all of these years and given me the gift of (now) three wonderful children. 

The midwives checked me and I was “on the edge of transition” (later they told me I was 6.5 cms and completely effaced). So, I was making progress, just a lot slower than we all thought would be the case. I hopped in the shower, and that helped immensely. 

At this point, I decided to listen to the Hypno-birthing Affirmations Tape. This was very reassuring. I was still feeling somewhat discouraged by the length of labor, though, so my wonderful husband, pulled me into our office, sat me in a recliner and began reading my Blessingway emails from my ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) friends. It was just what I needed, to be reminded of all the love and strength supporting me from all over the world. 

We stayed in that room to labor, as I was as comfortable as one can be “on the edge of transition.” We both dozed on and off as my contractions and noticeable moaning allowed. The midwives told me later, that my contractions spaced back out to 6-8 minutes apart during the night, allowing me to get some much needed rest. 

My daughter called for Daddy at 1 am. Andy went upstairs and fell asleep, so I was left to labor alone. After awhile, remembering that the midwives had expected a relatively short labor, I began to get discouraged that it was already over 24 hours. I remember thinking that I had accomplished enough by laboring as long as I had and even had passing thoughts of transferring, but as soon as I realized this would mean a c/s, I quickly found the strength to continue! 

I decided I would feel better being near the midwives, so I went into the room where they were sleeping to labor there. They continued to check on me hourly, which at least gave some comfort. My son’s heart rate was consistently in the 130s, like the ECVs, he seemed to have no problem dealing with labor. This was of course, very reassuring. 

After the kids got up and out of the house (my son to preschool, my daughter to my mother’s), the midwives suggested I get in the pool, but I wanted none of it. I got into the shower instead. Aiming the warm water on my belly really helped the contractions be more manageable. When Andy came back, he accompanied me on my laps around the house, which was so nice. I also walked up and down the stairs as much as I could to help the baby drop down.

I tried the exercise ball, and while there, asked the midwives how I will know when to push. I was very discouraged that I wasn’t feeling the urge, even though, earlier, the midwives had implied I was completely dilated. It was especially nerve-wracking because I know how important it is to push a breech baby out quickly. Interestingly enough, although it was always a concern of mine in pregnancy, the thought of Uterine Rupture only occurred to me in passing when I would feel some twinges of adhesion pain. But, from the research I had done, I knew that’s what it was, b/c they were minor, associated with movement and would pass. 

We went upstairs at 12 pm. The midwives checked me and told me that I could try “practice pushing” if I wanted to. While I did, J pushed on my son externally to help get him more centered, as he had again drifted to an almost diagonal position. I tried various positions, hands and knees, birth stool, semi-sitting, etc. and nothing was comfortable. 

Pushing was a great fear of mine, because I have always had trouble communicating to my body what I want it to do, and again, I knew it was of the utmost importance to push the breech baby out quickly. Intellectually, I know that I am a large-framed person and I doubted that head entrapment would really be an issue, but it still worried me some. 

At one point, my midwife, S said, “You aren’t going to get the baby out pushing that way” (taking breaks during a contraction). She didn’t mean for it to, but this really played into my fears of not being able to push correctly. At this point, my wonderful husband said to me, "Think about the email you will get to compose to ICAN; start writing it in your head.” He knew just what to say to give me hope! I told them I was worried and getting frustrated, so they suggested I shower and then rest with Andy. 

The contractions were much stronger at this point, and the shower didn’t even take the edge off. I was still very frustrated with pushing and not feeling the urge, so S and J suggested that Andy and I lay down together again to rest. Later, S told me that I always progressed when Andy and I spent time lying together. I thought this a wonderful testament to our relationship. 

The contractions were hard to handle lying down, but I was somehow able to doze between them. After only a few minutes, I had a monster contraction and literally jumped out of bed. When this would happen, I always headed straight for the bathroom, where I would usually have contractions one on top of the other. I heard S say to Andy in her mother tone, “I thought she was resting.” Both midwives were downstairs at this point. I asked him to ask them if I should push if I felt like it (and I did) and they said “Sure.” I reached down and felt into my vagina and felt something, which I guessed to be a foot. 

Andy went and got the mirror and flashlight and sure enough, a foot was emerging. I could see the wrinkles on the sole of his feet—so exciting! I began grunting and involuntarily pushing at this point and suddenly, heard the midwives rush up the stairs. The sound of their feet stomping up those stairs is one I will never forget! It was really getting exciting! I was going to do this! 

The midwives quickly set up the birth stool and moved me from the toilet to it (figuring I didn’t want to have him on the toilet). By the time I stood up to move, his foot was hanging down. Just a few pushes (and about 7 minutes) later, and our little Ryan joined our family! It was absolutely amazing!!!!!!!! I had been worried my body wouldn’t know how to push, but it knew exactly what to do!!!! 

As soon as he was out, I began bleeding quite heavily, and the midwives very calmly moved me to the floor. They kept asking me if I was there with them, and I was getting annoyed, and told them of course I was. Later they told me that I had lost all the blood I was “allowed” to lose and they were worried I would lose consciousness. I was just elated with my baby, the birth and my body and annoyed to be lying on the uncomfortable hardwood floor!

I do feel some sadness when I think of the way my other two children entered this world, especially my daughter, who was in almost the exact position that her brother was in (almost diagonal). I have slightly more peace with my son’s birth, given that he was transverse and my water had broken, making a version unsafe according to my research. But, again, I didn’t know then what I know now and I don’t think I would have appreciated Ryan’s birth nearly as much if it weren’t for the first two births. 

It is amazing to me how far-reaching the impact of this beautiful birth has been. I truly feel like a different person; more at peace than I was before. I look at life with a lot more joy. And, I feel much more “whole” as a mom. I think a part of me didn’t feel right even giving myself that title before, since I hadn’t really given birth to them. Sad, but true. 

I can’t thank the women of ICAN enough and I plan to do what I can to give back as an ICAN Chapter Leader. 


Sara Ryan's Story (c/s at full dilation; "failed" TOL c/s; VBA2C at birth center)

Kmom's Notes:

Birth Story

My sweet Elena Clair was born on July 11th, 2005 at 6:10pm after 39 amazing hours of labor.

This story actually starts 4 1/2 years ago, after my first c-section. My labor went beautifully, and I stayed home until I was 9 cm. dilated. I thought I waited long enough, but I was wrong. Soon after arriving at the hospital, my family doctor broke my water and my labor went from progressing beautifully, to going nowhere. I was stuck at 9.5cm for 7 hours and was talked into pitocin and an epidural to "move things along". I managed to progress to 10cm, but with the epidural, had no urge to push. I pushed for 3 hours and was told she was "never coming out this way". Off I went to the operating room. I felt so angry and cheated after her birth. I just couldn't understand how things could have been going so well if she was never meant to be born vaginally. My anger and negative feelings, however, led me to a positive place, where I sought out information about normal birth, and explored my own feelings and fears about birth and my body. I looked forward to my next chance to "prove my pelvis" and get my next birth right!

My second baby died at 18 weeks gestation. He was born vaginally, in a hospital. Since he had died, very few people wanted to come into our room, probably for lack of things to say to us. This actually was quite wonderful, as my husband and I were primarily alone, in a darkened room. When my water broke and Charlie's birth was imminent, my family doctor came in, and everyone was very quiet and respectful as I pushed my son out. There was no cheering or counting to 10 as I was urged to push with all of my might. No one spoke. I just gave birth. As devastating as Charlie's birth and death was, the experience taught my husband and I a great deal about normal birth, and how peaceful birth can be when moms are left alone to do what they instinctively know how to do.

So when I was pregnant again, we thought we had it all figured out. We desired to birth at home, but lack of medical backup was preventing us from doing so with a homebirth midwife. So we planned to go to the hospital very late in labor, with our midwife with us as labor support. This plan did not work as we had hoped.

Even though we didn't go to the hospital until I was already pushing, and could feel Noah's head with a push, I still failed at this VBAC, and ended up with a second c-section. When we arrived at the hospital, the environment was far from peaceful and relaxing. The OB on call was rude and abusive, and clear about the fact that he would be waiting for the call that I was ready for surgery. My family doctor was under such pressure, and just a nervous wreck, chasing me around with a fetal monitor. It was just a horrible environment to try to birth in....I couldn't do it. I now believe that I was simply unable to let Noah out into such a toxic environment. I didn't feel safe.

The outcome of Noah's birth was even more devastating to me, since this time, I REALLY felt like I had done my homework, and had prepared so extensively......I thought nothing could possibly go wrong!! But it did. I attempted to birth in an environment that was not supportive of normal birth, surrounded by hospital staff who were fearful, and a doctor who was hateful. I knew in my heart that this was not the place for me to birth, but I didn't know how to go about changing it late in my pregnancy, so I pressed on, hoping for the best.....and got the worst.

So shortly after Noah's birth, my husband and I began exploring other options, since I knew I would never return to our hospital birthing center again. We found and interviewed Paula, a CPM who runs a birth center 2 hours away from our home. We knew instantly that she would attend our next birth. She was so calm, and so obviously believed in birth. She even appeared to believe in MY ability to birth. My husband and I both felt very confident that this was where we were meant to birth our next child.

So when we became pregnant about 8 months later, I began prenatal care with Paula. I looked forward to every appointment! I always felt so relaxed, and so NORMAL! Paula never treated me differently, having had two previous c-sections. I was a normal, healthy pregnant woman....it was wonderful! My pregnancy progressed beautifully, and I felt great. I also had regular chiropractic care this pregnancy, and I would never do it any other way again! I truly believe that it greatly contributed to my level of comfort all throughout the pregnancy.

Two days after my due date, I noticed that my contractions, which had been sporadic for weeks, seemed more organized. They were still painless and short, but they seemed to be coming at regular intervals. I had a prenatal appointment this day and I mentioned this, but I was sure this only meant we were in the last week. I just didn't feel any different. So I went home, and decided I would save my laundry for the next day......bad idea! At 3:00am on Sunday July 10th, I awoke with a contraction that was much more uncomfortable. They continued to keep me awake, so I decided to get up and begin getting things together to go to the birth center. I awoke my husband at about 4:00, just to let him know that this was the day, but told him to go back to sleep for now...I'd wake him closer to the time we should leave. So I got things packed and took a shower. My husband then got up and we woke the kids, dressed and fed them, and all loaded up in the car, our dog included. We were on the road by about 7:00am. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart, and uncomfortable, but very manageable. The drive wasn't bad at all.

We arrived at the birth center around 9:30am, and got unpacked and settled in. My husband took the kids outside to play and I laid down to try to rest. Things were just so putsy all day on Sunday. I continued to contract, but they actually spread out some in the afternoon. Paula and I decided that I may be better off leaving the center for a while and hanging out at the hotel with my children, who were now being cared for by my wonderful friend, Zara, and her husband, Randy. So I did just that. We had dinner with them at the hotel, and just hung out. Things started to pick up, so I called Paula and told her we would meet her back at the birth center at around 9:00pm.

I labored pretty hard all night long, and at 5:30am on Monday morning, Paula checked my progress, and I was fully dilated, but had no urge to push. Elena's head was not in an ideal position, so Paula explained that we needed to do some things to settle her into my pelvis in a better position. Paula and Karen, her assistant, taught me a pelvic tilt/belly lift, and suggested that I shower and get dressed so that Winston and I could go for a walk outside before it became too hot. I did all of this, contracting all the while. Winston and I actually had a very nice walk, and we both commented on how wonderful it was to be able to be walking to the park while fully dilated. We even had someone stop and ask (with a VERY concerned look on his face!), "Do you guys need some help??!!". We just laughed and said, "Nope....we're fine. Just having a baby!" He looked totally freaked, but said OK, and drove away.

When we got back to the center, things were really picking up. I tried to lay down on the bed to rest some, but the contractions were very hard to handle in that position, so I really didn't rest. Shortly after I assumed this position, my water broke at the peak of a contraction. There was meconium, and this really stressed me out, since Noah aspirated meconium and spent a week in the NICU. Paula was very reassuring, and just closely monitored the baby, who was doing great. The urge to push followed, so I got into the birth pool and began to go with the urge. Around 30 minutes later, though, when Paula checked my progress again, I was found to have a swollen cervix. I was going backwards!! This was the worst point for me. When I was told to resist the urge to push, I just didn't feel like I could go on. Suddenly the pain and the urge were more than I could take, and I wanted to throw in the towel. I was done.......so I thought. My awesome team wasn't about to let me quit. I realized that I was stuck. The only way out of this was to push my baby out, so I figured I'd better find a way to get a grip and continue.

I got back into the birth pool, and got into a groove. I began to whistle through the contractions. It was soothing to me somehow. And I also liked to watch how my blowing made the water ripple. Thankfully I had no concept of time, because 4 hours passed like this. Everyone decided that laboring the baby down without using up all of my energy pushing was a good idea, so they let me continue.

Finally, though, the urge got so intense, that I was really having a difficult time resisting it. I was also getting very few breaks between contractions. I got up to use the rest room, and Paula checked me. I was again fully dilated, and the baby was at +1 station. She said that if I really felt like I had to push to go ahead, but if I could breathe through any of the contractions, to try to do so.

It was now around 4:30pm on Monday. I was pushing with most of the contractions, but if one was less intense, I tried to blow through it, just to give myself a break. I didn't feel like the baby was making any progress.....frankly, I was feeling quite hopeless and exhausted, but wasn't saying anything. I was just trying to push in earnest and get my baby out. I remembered a couple of the stories that I'd read from fellow ICANers, where women spoke of lying flat on their backs and lifting their hips to help their babies get past their pubic bones. So since I was in the birth pool, I did a couple of back floats, lifting my hips, figuring it couldn't hurt, but may help. I then started doing a sort of tug-of-war thing with my midwife. I really pulled that rope hard! It felt great!

People started commenting on how my perineum was bulging, so I assumed this meant that they thought I was making progress. I, on the other hand, still was not believing that this was going to happen. I got out of the tub to use the restroom again. When I came out of the bathroom, my birth team set up a little station, and told me they wanted me to try to push in a new position. They had my husband sitting on a little stool, and had me straddle his legs, so that I was essentially squatting, but not using any energy to maintain the squat. During a contraction, my husband would bring his arms around and help me open my legs wide. I grabbed his arms and pushed with all of my might!! This position made me feel very powerful! During one of my pushes, Elena came out far enough to cause me to feel a slight burn. I paused and looked up at everyone, exclaiming, "I felt a burn!!". I was so thrilled!! I finally believed that this was going to happen!!

This gave me a new burst of energy, and I think by the next push, I had her crowning. I felt her little head....WOW!! I was doing it!! The next push, her head was all the way out. I caressed her little head while we waited for her body......THIS IS SO AMAZING!! Then I pushed her the rest of the way out, and Paula helped me bring her to my chest....I DID IT!!!!! I pushed my sweet baby out of my body by my own power!! I was the first to hold her, and the first to lift her leg and discover she was a girl!! She was so beautiful and warm and slimy!! I was in complete bliss! I just screamed, "I DID IT! THANK YOU GOD!! THANK YOU EVERYONE!!" I cried, I laughed, I just couldn't believe it. I could hear my husband either crying or laughing behind me...it was hard to tell. But he was so thrilled. He later told me that he really couldn't see much from where he was, but that he felt her come out of me, since I was on his lap....how cool is that?!

I bled more than usual, but it was all calmly handled while I held my sweet daughter. Everything turned out great.....my tired uterus clamped down just fine. I birthed the placenta about 15 minutes after Elena was born. I had a tear on the lateral wall of my vagina that required a few stitches.

Once we were all taken care of, Zara and Randy brought the rest of my family to the center to meet Elena. Emma, Noah and Hannah (my step-daughter) were all thrilled to meet her, as were Zara, Randy, and their daughter, Lauren. After we spent a little family time, my husband took everyone to get an ice cream, while Elena and I took an herbal bath together. That felt heavenly!!

My step-daughter, Hannah, was downstairs in the kitchen baking brownies. She and Emma then decorated them and we lit a birthday candle and sang Happy Birthday to Elena. The kids enjoyed brownies and ice cream....how fun to celebrate Elena's very first birthday just hours after she was born!! We really had a great time!

Six hours after she was born, we took Elena and the rest of the kids back to the hotel to get some very needed rest. It was so much fun to leave with such a new little baby! The lady at the front desk of the hotel was so shocked that we had just had this little one. She looked right at me and said, "Shouldn't you be at the hospital!". I just smiled and said, "That's the beautiful thing!! I don't need to be!" It was awesome.

All of us slept so good that night. We hung out at the hotel the next day, until Paula came by to check us out at the 24 hour mark. We were all doing great! I couldn't believe how great I felt, and Elena was just awesome. So we left the hotel and headed home at about 9:00pm on Tuesday. We got home around 11:00, and were just completely thrilled to be in our own beds.

Elena continues to just do wonderfully. She LOVES to nurse, and at 1 1/2 weeks old, had already added 9 ounces to her birth weight. The transition has been very easy for all of us. I think it really helped the other kids to have been so involved so soon after she was born.

I really feel that the key to my success this time was birthing in an environment where I felt safe and supported, and being surrounded by loving people who strongly believed in my ability to give birth. My husband was my amazing rock. He didn't give up on me when I gave up on myself. That was exactly what I needed. He told me that I was strong and that I was doing it, and I just needed to keep going. I may not have wanted to hear that at that point, but he was right! And I did it!!

Birthing Elena was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and the most empowering and wonderful thing I've ever experienced. I would do it 100 more times!!


Linda's Story (c/s for fetal distress; c/s for fetal distress; long VBA2C; fast VBA2C)

Birth Story

First birth was an emergency cesarean for heart tones in the 50s during early labor, during contractions.

Second birth was a c-section at 10 cm for heart tones in the 80s during contractions (midwife said this one was probably unnecessary). Both times, distress was caused by a cord around the neck.

Third birth was a long labor VBAC with no meds.

Fourth birth (this story) was a fast VBAC with no meds, needles, or Vaginal Exams (VE) during labor.

Around 5:30 I started having some cramps but didn't think much of it as I had false labor the week before and I still wasn't due for 4 days. Around 6:30 the contractions turned into a better pattern. I was thinking instead of eating out maybe we should get the other kids ready to go to Grandma's but I tend to have long labors so we thought we would go ahead and eat out. I was able to eat my meal but they were getting more painful so I finished and waited in the truck for the rest of them to finish up. It was now at 7:30 and now I was sure this was the real thing.

I went home and wanted to get in the shower and lay down to make sure they wouldn't stop. They didn't but instead started coming faster. I told dh to call my mom but he was busy packing for the kids, remaining very calm. I was in so much pain I was moaning thru contractions. After asking dh twice to call my mom, I went in crying saying you HAVE to get my mom here now. He didn't think I was in that much pain. Since my other labors were so long, he thought we had plenty of time as I had said I didn't want to go to the hospital until 7 or 8 cms. So he was trying to stay calm so that maybe it would help me. At that point he called her right away and realized we had to go.

It took my mom 40 minutes to get here. (40 miles away) At this point my contractions are like 30 seconds apart. I tried to time them but I was in too much pain; there were just no breaks. Finally we had everything ready and left for the 25 minute drive.

About half way their I felt an urge to push but I thought, "No way can I be that far along," so I didn't say anything to dh. We went straight to the emergency entrance (9:30 pm) and they could tell I was in hard labor and took me right away in a wheel chair up to my room.

I went in to change and my water broke and I yelled, "I have to push." She helped me dress and got me to the bed; sure enough the baby was crowning. They told me to not to push and called up the ER doctor. I asked right away, "Can I push now?" and they still wanted me to wait.

The doctor got suited up and they got the other stuff ready. After he was all ready he still wanted me to wait; I was in so much pain trying to not push. He asked how long until the midwife got there and she was about 5 minutes away. At this point he finally decided to let me push. Baby came out with three half pushes to prevent tearing at 9:40.

This baby was almost born in the car. It all happened so fast, no one even thought to check the sex. Finally after a couple of minutes the nurse asked and my husband looked and said it's a boy.

My only regret is I really wish my midwife would have been there. But she really didn't miss much as the ER doctor didn't really do anything but catch as I didn't need any labor support. My husband could have done it. This could have so easily turned into a home birth.


Michelle J's Story (c/s for breech; c/s for "failed" TOL; home waterbirth VBA2C)

Birth Story

My first pregnancy was uncomplicated and healthy.  I was under the care of a Family Practitioner, and had a detailed birth plan for a natural birth which included the desire for a vaginal birth in the unlikely event of breech.  At 40 week 3 days, an ultrasound revealed "low fluid" and breech position (surprise!).  Because of my son's incomplete breech position, the resident OB was unwilling to try a version.  I was scheduled for c/s that day.   I had no labour, and an uncomplicated surgery and recovery.  My son and husband roomed-in with me for my 4-day stay, and breastfeeding was relatively easy.  But I was disappointed and angry at myself and the system for the c/s.  

My second pregnancy again was uncomplicated and healthy.  I chose midwives for my care, and they agreed to attend a Homebirth After Cesarean, but because of provincial regulations I had to agree to be part of the homebirth study (British Columbia).  Labour started naturally at 41 weeks, and seemed to be progressing nicely.  After a number of hours, contractions got very painful and were erratic.  It seemed, from my emotions, that I was going through transition.  A Vaginal Exam showed I was only 3 cm with my cervix swelling on one side---indicating asynclitic presentation.  We chose to transfer to hospital for pain relief.  Ended up with augmentation, epidural, fever, and finally c/s 36 hours after labour started.  My son was removed to NICU because of fever and low glucose.  I was separated from him and sent to recover in the antepartum ward.  We were finally, after a battle, reunited in a private room.  Recovery was again uncomplicated.  Emotionally, I had a much tougher time, especially since my son was somewhat "high needs."

I have always agreed with/supported the midwifery model of care, but couldn't afford a midwife for my first birth, and was too timid to try a homebirth.  Second birth, midwives were covered by provincial healthcare (B.C.) and had hospital privileges, so it was an easy choice.  My most recent birth was in Alberta, and was paid for out-of-pocket.  I believe that I had a bit more say in my care because of this....and it proved to be the best money I've ever spent.  

Olivia's birth story (my HWBA2C)

I started my pregnancy with a bit of worry. How will adding another baby to our family affect the dynamic? How will I cope if I have another baby that is high needs? I've become used to caring for two kids...how will I care for one more? Is this the right time to have another baby? How would I feel if I had another c/s?

At one point, before conception, we had toyed with the idea of not having another baby at all. In that case, I would have to work through my lingering emotions of failure for having two c/s. The first c/s was for breech presentation (with no labour). I was confident I could HBAC after that c/s because I had a diagnosis that didn't label my body as defective. But after my second c/s I was labeled with FTP & CPD...two new labels to add to breech.

But I knew deep down that I could do it. I would try for HBAC again. And my new baby was due right about the time we planned...and hopefully a girl as we "planned"...a petite girl with a good sense of direction (as my dh joked). ;-)

I worked really hard to be prepared for this birth. I found midwives who were genuinely interested in supporting me for HBA2C. I switched to a new family practitioner (FP) who was very supportive of my choice for HBAC, and for natural birth in general. She recommended I take yoga, attend a Birthing From Within Class (I was planning to anyway), and work with a therapist to prepare myself for the birth.

In the BFW class I met like-minded couples, and another woman who had a similar history to mine. It was great to be able to openly share my story, fears and emotions...and to work to tame the "paper tigers" that were holding me back. I hired my BFW instructor as my doula.

I visited a chiropractor to work with me to ensure my pelvis was well-aligned, and to help alleviate pain in my lower back. Throughout the pregnancy baby was active. Towards the end baby was vertex and was usually LOA.

A close friend of mine held a blessingway for me. A small, intimate gathering that really touched my heart. This friend shared with me how proud she was of the work I was doing. I knew she supported me 100% and it made me feel so good that I had people I know & love supporting the choices I made for this birth.

Since early pregnancy I had been having BH contractions. Towards the end of pregnancy I was swelling a bit, especially through at very hot July. By August I was at the end of the pregnancy and, thankfully, the weather cooled down considerably...finally a break from the unbearable heat and swelling...and our house cooled off quite a bit too.

August 7th was my EDD and it came and went without sign of labour. But I was not surprised or disappointed. The same happened with my previous two pregnancies. August 14th (41 weeks) I finally had some good contractions. I thought that maybe labour would start that day (as it had with my second pregnancy) and was tempted to cancel my midwife appointment. But I went anyway, and the contractions had stopped. The midwife mentioned that I may want to consider doing a BPP by the end of the week if labour didn't start. The thought of doing a BPP upset me for the rest of the day...it really sent me into a panic. It was during a BPP (US and NST) that we discovered my first son was breech and had "low fluid". I had little trust in the tests...I trusted my intuition way more, and I knew that baby was fine. That evening I paged the midwives and told them that I couldn't do a BPP until I reached at least 42 weeks...and they were fine with that. I breathed a sigh of relief, and was able to relax a bit.

I had two more days of early labour. I would have contractions about every 20 minutes throughout the day & evening, and they would taper off late at night. I was still able to get a good night's sleep. We had my mom, kids and In-Laws at my house, and we were sure their presence was hampering my labour. Dh and I took a long walk. During that time, my doula (Karen) showed up at the house and suggested everyone leave to give me and dh space. That evening, my parents checked into a hotel, and my ILs (and my kids) stayed in their motorhome just outside the house.

Finally, labour started to become more regular...until I got a phone call from my youngest brother. He had come to town with his girlfriend (whom I had met briefly once before) and wanted to visit. I asked him where he was and he said "outside the house." I told him I was in labour and not taking visitors and hung up. That phone call stopped my labour. What's with my family, anyway?

That night (Aug 16th), at about midnight, labour really started to kick in. This time, I couldn't sleep through the contractions. They became more painful and more regular. I tried taking a bath and then a shower...contractions didn't stop...and seemed to get progressively stronger. At about 5am, we called my doula (Karen) to come to our house for support. Shortly after, I paged the midwives. Karen and Gwen (her backup doula) came over. At this point I was still chatting fairly easily through contractions. Karen helped me through the tougher ones and suggested I try some lunges (I found out later that she thought baby was probably posterior...she also suspected this positioning during my three days of prodromal labour). Karen was due to leave on vacation that day, and wouldn't be able to stay for much longer. Diane (the lead midwife that night) came over at about 7ish. Labour seemed to be in full swing. Karen left at about 7:30am, Gwen stayed to help.

When Diane arrived she did a VE: 3cm, 90% effaced, O station. At least some progress. ;-) Baby was LOA. I was feeling a little nauseated so was given some homeopathics to help...and I took homeopathics throughout labour to settle the nausea, reduce swelling, stimulate contractions, etc. I couldn't keep solid food down, but drank a lot of water and Gatorade to keep up fluids and sugars/electrolytes. ;-) Tried a number of positions for labour: birth ball, hands and knees, squatting.

By 9:30am I was given the go ahead to get in the pool. It was absolute heaven! By far the most comfortable place to labour and where I spend most of my time. I kneeled and leaned on the side of the pool, holding hands with Gwen and Doug (dh) for support while they poured warm water over my back during contractions. I was very vocal during contractions...trying to keep my tones low and "open"...and Gwen would remind me to change my tone when my pitch went higher. I talked to baby, letting her/him know it was time to come...and used the words "open" and "out" a lot. In between contractions I would relax and let my body float.

About 8 hours later Diane did another VE: 8cm, 100% effaced, O station, bulging membranes. Progress and I was further along than I had gotten with my second birth! It was wonderful to hear. But baby was now OT. Diane mentioned the option of AROM, but I declined, choosing to wait to see how things progressed. At this point I had been in labour for about 15 hours, approx. 7 of which is was in "active" labour. I was pretty tired and started nodding off in between contractions.

The second midwife (Bobbie) arrived at about 4:30 pm. At some point another doula (Helen) arrived too (time was a blur for me! ;-) Bobbie had me get out of the pool to try contractions on hands and knees, supported by pillows. I slept a bit in between contractions. I didn't know at the time, but Bobbie suspected baby was now OP since my contractions had become a little more spaced out and irregular...I also couldn't tolerate labour on my side our back. We tried contractions on the birth ball. And then Bobbie made me do lunges on the stairs. Three stairs at a time...a contraction would hit while I lunged and wouldn't stop until I moved. It was excruciating, and I was really mad at Bobbie for making me go through it. At one point I said "Now I can understand why a woman who's gone through a difficult labour and birth would choose c/s the next time!" I was starting to ask for help...drugs, transfer, whatever...to take the pain away and give me a chance to rest. I did as few lunges as possible from the bottom of the flight of stairs to the top. (Looking back, I believe the lunges were important for getting baby back into the right position and getting labour back on track.) After the lunges, it was back to hands and knees on the bed, propped up with pillows. Bobbie gave counter pressure on my back and/or a heating pad...I preferred the heating pad. I was asking for "something to take the edge off so I could sleep" without realizing I *was* sleeping in between contractions.

Baby was still tolerating labour really well. S/he was moving a lot and the heart rate was reassuring. Next VE was at 7:30pm: 7-8 cm. SROM happened during that exam (Bobbie was very apologetic...she wasn't intending on breaking the water...the bag was bulging). After SROM, I was 6-7 cm. :-( But contractions picked up at that point. I was back in the pool at about 8 pm...and very happy to be there. ;-)

Finally, at 9:30ish, about 13.5 hours of active labour later I was pushing involuntarily. 10 minutes later it was confirmed I was fully dilated. ;-) Diane was back after a rest. I was ecstatic to be pushing. It was amazing how powerful the pushing urge was. I'd feel two pushing urges per contraction and couldn't do anything but work with them. It was amazing to feel the baby moving through my body. It was hard to hold back through the "ring of fire" to allow my body to stretch. The water provided comfortable support, and I believe helped ease the pain for me a bit.

With the support of Doug, my two doulas and two midwives, I pushed for about 2.5 hours. Doug caught baby's head as it emerged. I could feel a slight tear occur as the head was being born, but oddly, it wasn't painful. Doug was surprised at what the head felt like when he held it. And that's when Diane said "We have a compound presentation!" Baby's right hand/fist was along side the right cheek. Then she told me to get ready to catch baby as the body was born. I reached down and with the next push I was lifting baby out of the water. 12:24 am on August 18th, 2002. I cuddled baby as we were covered with a blanket and a hat was put on baby's head. Baby looked up at me as s/he took the first breathes. So calm. But I worried a little bit that the breaths sounded raspy, and asked Bobbie to clear some of the mucous out of baby's mouth. At first I thought baby was a boy (by feel - I was expecting baby was a boy)...and then I took a look: A baby girl! Doug cried with the news. Not only did I finally have my vaginal birth, but she was a girl (Olivia Grace)...the icing on the cake!

The midwives were a little worried about the amount of blood in the pool, and wanted to make sure the placenta was out quickly and that my uterus started to contract down. 15 minutes later I pushed out the placenta. During 3rd stage, Doug held Olivia up to our second story bedroom window. Outside was his parents' motorhome...and they were happy to see Olivia was here. Helen (doula #2) went out to tell them the happy news. MIL gave Helen a big hug. 

Olivia was checked and measured: Apgars 9 & 10, 9lbs 12oz, 14 inch head (not including her hand!), 21.5 inches long. She had lots of dark hair, and was very bright eyed. The midwives checked me too...only two little tears, no stitches necessary. But there was some concern about my uterus not contracting well enough...so I was given a shot of oxytocin & then ergot (sp?) to help.

After all the excitement, Olivia and I snuggled into bed for our first nursing session. ;-) Helen brought me some toast and juice (I wasn't really hungry for much else). Olivia got to meet her ecstatic grandparents about a half hour later. And after Olivia, Doug and I had a good 6 hour sleep, she met her big brothers first thing in the morning. It was love at first sight. Later that day, she met her other grandparents. Finally, a baby girl to dote on. ;-)

Recovery has been much easier than with my previous c/s. I'm so pleased with  how everything played out...and proud of my hard work and determination. My support team was invaluable...their support made this such a different birth than previous. I'm in no hurry to do it again, and likely will be happy with a family of 5...but never say never...we don't know what the future holds.


SanQ's Story (HBA2C)

Birth Story

Mountain Summit-My HBA2C story 

Where should I start? My first two sons were born via cesarean section, induced with pitocin. For my first birth, I trusted that my doctor and the  hospital knew what was best. I had planned on a natural birth, and took  Lamaze. I went overdue (42 wks) and was induced. The contractions were quick & on top of each other, I labored this way all day & around 7 pm that  night he was born via c-section, and rushed off to the NICU in a helicopter across town. He was in about 2 weeks, with a collapsed lung, heart murmur &  meconium pneumonia. They told my husband that he might not live 24 hours,  and if he did he would have to be transported to yet another hospital for  surgery. I also had some problems (anesthesia does not work well for me-I  became fully awake as I was being sewed up) and needed to be given blood. I  remember being left in a recovery room alone and freezing, no blanket or  anything to cover me. I called for what seemed hours for my mother, as I was coherent enough to know that my husband had left with my son. We were blessed that night, his murmur closed fully & he was getting better. Rarely  has he been sick since. I truly believe now that his not being ready to be  born, added to the pitocin induction, did this to him. 

For my second birth, I did a little research, and was exposed to the book Spiritual Midwifery for the first time. Wow-they still birth at home? I  picked a female ob gyn that had had a vbac herself, and had midwives in her  practice. I saw the midwives & I saw her. I picked a hospital again  because at the time I felt it was safest. Again I planned on a natural  birth. This time while walking on the beach, I fell on my bottom on some  slippery rocks, and went into labor by myself, again at 42 weeks. Went to  the hospital and was induced again to speed things up. Luckily he was born,  although via c-section again, without any problems, just a bit jaundiced. At this point I did not want any more children, and considered tubal ligation.  My ob talked me out of it, and put in an IUD.

A couple years pass, we moved to the pacific NW and I met quite a few women  who had their babies at home. I just thought this was the neatest thing  ever, but still was adamant about not wanting any more myself. I became close friends with a woman (S.) who had both her children at home, and was  expecting her third. I learned more about homebirth from her, and then  finally looking around on the internet, and reading quite a few books. Last summer I felt a presence, a soul that wanted to come into our lives. I  had not had this feeling before with my boys, and it was too strong to  ignore. I got my IUD removed and we started trying right away. I still wasn't sure about the whole homebirth thing, for me anyway; too risky. I don't remember just where I first learned about HBAC, and trying after 2 c-sections, but I still was nervous. All the what ifs really came into my head. 

Well, I got pregnant fairly soon after having my IUD removed, and was worried about how far along I was (I am a bigger woman) so I went to  an OB. Large, huge mistake. I was high risk when I walked in the door. I  told OB of plans to homebirth, as him being my backup (I had 2 midwives to  interview that did hbacs) and whoa that was a mistake. I had high blood  pressure that first day. (also had with my 2nd) I weighed 268 lbs-another risk. All I can say about that day is I have never felt so broken. In  tears I called S. told her what happened, she told me to take a warm bath, calm down, light a candle, etc. Dh and I also talked quite a bit this day, I finally calmed down enough to decide not to go back. I interviewed both  midwives, and again picked someone who had also had a cesarean, and then gone on to birth her other 4 children at home. From the beginning, I felt  completely at ease with her. Every blood pressure reading from then on, (done at my home) was normal. Imagine that.

I exercised, ate well, saw a chiropractor and a prenatal massage therapist,  took some supplements & drank a prenatal tea that tasted like dirt daily. I  read tons, joined the ICAN email list, and a few other homebirth-oriented  lists. A few issues came up for me (from the c-sections) and every time, I had support unimagined in my previous pregnancies. I read many, many, birth stories, imagined what mine would be like, and did some birth art.  Also, this pregnancy we went on hikes quite a bit, and I began to associate this pregnancy & birth like a mountain, with many paths leading up.  My midwives, C. & G. & S., my friend (& other support person) and my dh were  incredible. They had such faith in me, and were so empowering. I felt so strong.

The last week of my pregnancy, I was feeling worried about going over again, even knowing that my midwives were not the intervening type. Thursday I lost my mucous plug, and Friday after feeling a couple times like I was  leaking something while on the phone with S. telling her I needed to go to the store to get a fishy net for the birth tub, my water broke! It was classic, down the legs and all that jazz. I couldn't believe it! I told dh, called S. back & told her, and then called C. She told me to take some  vitamin C and garlic caps, and drink lots of water, and she would bring me  some herbs. At this point, I was having mild contractions, but they were  way far apart. In fact, that night I ended up sleeping fairly normal,  although after 12 am I kept waking up during my contractions. Even then they were about 15 min apart.

Around 7 am the next day (Saturday), I called C. and told her what was happening. I told her that while they still were  pretty far apart, and irregular, they were getting stronger. She told me  she would be there in a little while, and so would G. My friend/support S.  said she would be there around 12-1 pm which I was fine with, because things  were going so slow. My boys were still at the house, and beginning to irritate me. (I previously thought I wanted them there) They left with friends around 12 or so. Dh was there,  cleaning, making lunch for all of us, bringing in the tub, he was taking  care of everything. He was also in charge of the music, which actually  ended up being only 3 CFs, playing over & over. One was Indian sitar,  another was ambient, and Krishna Das, and Mermaid (song) by Sade. That song  just makes me think I am swimming in the ocean. He was amazing.

The rest of the (hot!) day passed, G. & I took a walk around the neighborhood, I drank more water & watered down Recharge than I ever had in  my life to this point. When I was at home, I paced around a lot, bounced on  my birth ball, and sat in a hard chair. It was so peaceful, I really enjoyed the company, and we talked & laughed a lot. It was really one of the best days ever. S. & I took another walk (this time backyard) and then we all sat down on  the shady side of the house. I kept contracting, I had a pillow on the  grass, and another on the chair, and I would kneel there with my head in my  hands. Dh later told me this time was the most at peace he has ever felt. I moved back into the house, because I kept needing to go to the bathroom, and hung out in the living room for a while. One of my favorite laboring  positions was dancing with my dh, I would hold on to him and sway my hips, he felt so sturdy and it was very loving. Even with the midwives & my  friend there it was very intimate, and we felt OK kissing & just generally  loving each other. 

I should mention that I called my family back east when my water broke (they did not know my plans to homebirth) and they kept calling, wondering what  was going on. I ended up telling them that I was sent home because labor  stopped. That pretty much stopped the calls, but then my dad called around  4-5 pm. After this things kicked up a notch. Funny, eh? Also I told S. my worries about holding everyone up. I kept feeling like nothing was happening, and that I should tell them to go. She said things were happening, and for me to relax. I told S. to put in the Rainbow meditation (hypnobirthing) tape so I could rest a bit, as I was getting tired (It was time for my daily nap, ha ha ha) I was able to relax a little, but had 2 contractions I couldn't ignore (I think I waited too late to use my meditations) and decided to get up again. We did use the affirmations, my dh told me lots of the script he made up (involving the ocean waves) and the breathing (4-8 & J breathing).  

At this  point I also asked if we could fill the tub, as things were getting intense. After all this, things got mindless for me. I think subconsciously, or  consciously I wanted to feel every bit of this birth. S. had brought a fabric painting of Sheila-Na-Gig! and it was by the birth  tub in my dining room. I have a wood rail all the way around and made a  miniature altar (I already had a bigger altar in my living room that had  been there since the beginning of my pregnancy). I also read my tarot cards  a couple weeks prior to the birth and pulled the Ace of Pentacles-Pure contentment, attainment, prosperity, bright prospects-both material and  spiritual. Wow. I had on the rail a small wooden Akua, African Goddess of  birth, pregnant women & children, my Grandmother's locket, and a small  wooden mermaid nursing a baby mermaid. I had so many things on my other altar, but these meant the most to me, as focal points. My youngest son had also picked me some flowers, among them being a wide open pink rose, which  also took my attention.

Ah! The tub was filled! My midwives, C & G, S., and my dh were in a circle  around me by the tub, I would get bits of things they would say to me-incredible, empowering, loving words that helped between mindless  contracting. I felt my body opening, I felt my baby moving down-what a marvelous feeling,  and totally new to me. My contractions were on top of each other pretty much at this point, I kept  shifting in the tub, sometimes holding on to my dh while in the tub  (dancing). Normally I am a fairly inhibited person, but all that went out the  door at this point, I got really loud too! I live in a historic district, the houses are pretty close together, and  before the birth I worried about being loud--this evaporated too! Ha ha! Then C suggested I sit on the toilet again, to get baby further down-that  was rough, moving from the tub into my bathroom-I had to walk (when I  could-the contrax were happening all the time now) with my legs spread way  out-crablike. I sat on the pot, did a contraction/push then during a break stand up,  hold on to dh then squat & push again. 

At some point, I moved to the bed-don't ask when-I just ended up there! I was propped with pillows behind, so MW could check to see where baby was,  a few pushes later she was crowning! She told me to touch the head-I was in  complete disbelief!! No way!! But I reached down and sure enough, it was  there, wet & full of hair! I really hated being like that in the bed-the whole time pushing it was best  when I could get my legs spread far apart, usually on hands & knees or  squatting. So I moved onto my hands & knees, way far apart, kinda like a frog. Not too long after this her head came out all the way, but then her  shoulders got stuck! It continuously burned! Wow! C. did some maneuvering, I pushed a few more times (my contrax slowed down  then-grr--but I kept pushing anyway) and felt the rest of her body slip  out-felt like a big fish!

I don't remember who said it was a girl-but I just couldn't even speak. My  dh started crying at this point (I never did, I just remember complete  elation & surprise) and telling me it was a girl. Had a bit of getting her going with some oxygen, talking to her, rubbing her  feet, then finally a cry! After all this she latched right on, nursing like she always had! There was a short cord, and a large heart shaped placenta. It came out pretty quick after, then I bled a bit, C gave me some herbs, and  some Chinese herbs that I sucked through a straw that were rather nasty. I  did end up tearing, in two places, I did not really notice. 6 stitches is a tiny thing for this incredible healing experience.

I never once during labor worried about my scar or rupture. My midwives didn't check my blood pressure once during labor, there were no  interventions. I feel reborn, and completely high on birth, still. I did it, I finally reached my summit.

Kmom's Story ("CPD" c/s after induction; "CPD' c/s after 'failed' TOL; VBA2C; home waterbirth VBA2C)

Kmom's Notes:   This is a summary of my VBA2C story.  More details on it can be found above, and slightly different versions of it can be found in the various BBW Birth Stories FAQs, found elsewhere on this website.  A really long and excruciatingly complete version of all of my birth stories can also be found on my website under "Kmom's Birth Stories."

Birth Story

Baby #1: Induction, horrific cesarean

My first baby was born by a horrific c/s after a very medicalized pregnancy and a difficult induction.  The anesthesia didn't work and I felt the surgery intensely.  My baby and I were separated for quite a while, we had difficulties getting nursing started, and I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including flashbacks and nightmares about the surgery for quite a while afterwards.  

Baby #2: Natural labor, "failed" VBAC

My horrific c/s provided a very strong motivation (!) for me to pursue VBAC in my second pregnancy.  However, I had limited resources for VBAC preparation and still had not fully grieved or processed the trauma of the first birth, which definitely influenced my second birth.  Despite laboring naturally with #2, we ended up with another c/s.  The baby was in an undiagnosed posterior position and became 'stuck', so despite dilating easily, we pushed for almost 5 hours and still ended up with a 'failed' trial of labor.  Fortunately, this time we used 'spinal' anesthesia, and this c/s was a good experience, if not my desired birth.  In fact, I wonder if maybe I needed to have a 'good' c/s in order to start healing from the first awful experience.  Still, it was very disappointing to have another c/s, and there was a lot to process emotionally. I had done everything "right" and still ended up with a cesarean.  I doubted I could ever birth normally, but I didn't want more cesareans.

Baby #3: Induced labor at 38 weeks, VBA2C despite the induction

Although we definitely wanted 3 children at least, I found it difficult to make the decision to start a 3rd pregnancy because I felt extremely limited by the provider/birthing choices that seemed to be available to me, and I had lost all confidence that my body would ever be able to birth normally.  I felt boxed in and without choices, so I delayed trying to conceive.  In the meantime, I found out about Nancy Wainer Cohen's workshops on Healing and Grieving for birth experiences, and I went to one.  That was the start of the breakthrough for me.  Although I personally did not experience an epiphany of healing during that weekend, I began the difficult process of opening the wounds and processing the grief, and much of the groundwork for my later healing was laid during that weekend.  Within a few months, I felt far enough along in the process that I was mentally ready to try to conceive again.  I began interviewing caregivers, and entered the pregnancy with hope and optimism, although that optimism wavered at times during the pregnancy!

I continued the healing process by taking several workshops/classes with Birth Works (a childbirth preparation course), and these really furthered the healing process.  In particular, they had me relive the horrific experience of feeling the surgery in my first c/s, and although that was very difficult, it helped reduce the power that experience had over me.  It also clarified for me the nature of that fear, how it related to my other personal issues, and why it resonated so strongly in my life.  So while I was terribly afraid of re-experiencing that awful event, in the long run it was greatly freeing to do so, and allowed me to release the emotional bondage from the experience.  I mention these things prominently because I'm convinced that for me, VBAC preparation was not simply a matter of physical preparation and education about birthing choices.  For me, emotional preparation was also KEY to achieving a better birth experience.  

There were two main differences between my second birth (my 'failed' VBAC) and my third birth (my 'successful' VBAC).  First, I learned a great deal more about baby positions and their influence on labor and birth, something that had been a problem for me twice previously but had gone undiagnosed and discounted as a cause for problems.  I actively sought out information about preventing or changing malpositions, carefully used a number of these techniques, and selected providers that were extremely familiar with the problem and ways to help fix it.  

Second, I actively sought to emotionally process my previous births and overall issues in my life.  This meant taking several workshops, reading any VBAC book I could get my hands on, doing some hypnotherapy to help me deal with fears and visualize a better birth, journaling to help my emotional processing, and even doing some therapy sessions with a counselor to help continue to heal the abuse and body trust issues from my past.  I don't think that my VBAC would have happened without the intense concentration I gave to this emotional preparation.  For some women, VBAC is solely about physical issues, but for many of us it relates to the underlying issues basic to our lives, and represents a beautiful opportunity for healing in our lives.  VBAC actually becomes the vehicle for emotional growth and healing.

As far as the actual pregnancy goes, it was fairly unremarkable.  Although I had never seriously considered homebirth for me, I researched it to represent it fairly on my website, and wound up being impressed by the research stats on it!   I ended up choosing it for me, which is a huge turnaround from the way I viewed birth in my first pregnancy.  We chose carefully the tests and procedures that seemed reasonable to us while declining others, and were very proactive about diet, exercise, and stress.  Because of my age and a history of mild gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, we chose to monitor my blood sugar daily with a home glucometer and to take the gd screening test to be sure all was well.  As in my second pregnancy, I once again tested negative for gd, but we still treated me as possibly borderline gd and were very careful with diet, etc.  In addition, I walked one or two miles most every day, and also did water aerobics/swimming and pregnancy yoga several times a week. 

Given my history, I also researched ways to prevent/treat malpositions.  One of these included the "Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique", a chiropractic treatment that was reputed to be very effective in turning breech babies.  A variation was also was rumored to be effective for posterior babies, so I searched for a chiropractor in my area familiar with the technique.  I was unsuccessful in finding one until the pregnancy was almost done (almost 36 weeks).  I had had a great deal of sacro-iliac pain, some sciatica, and lots of pelvic discomfort, but after one treatment with the Webster Technique, I felt like a new woman!  

The chiropractor said that my pelvis/sacrum was badly out of alignment and that sometimes this can cause the soft tissues (ligaments etc.) to twist the uterus or cause uneven tension in it, which then can cause the baby to assume unusual contortions in order to fit comfortably inside.   My pain significantly lessened after the treatment, and 2 follow-up treatments also helped my body to re-align itself properly.   This pain had been with me for nearly 5 years since my first pregnancy, and every doctor (and 3 other chiropractors) I had seen in the interim had failed to even take the problem seriously, yet this chiropractor had resolved the problem quickly, and I am convinced it also physically helped me towards a VBAC as well.  I would encourage any woman who has had a problem with baby malposition in the past to look into this technique (see other parts of my website for further info).  

As far as labor goes, my midwife decided to encourage the baby to come at 38 weeks.  Although induction usually LESSENS your chances at VBAC (and this is clearly borne out by research), some midwives feel it can be helpful in a few select cases.  After a great deal of discussion, my midwives decided that this might be one of those unusual cases and opted for it.  This was a difficult decision to make since I am against inductions in general, but ultimately at that time I felt it was the only decision I could make.  In retrospect, I strongly disagree with this and feel I had my VBAC in spite of the induction, not because of it.  

Had I listened to my inner intuition better, I would not have chosen a midwife who advocated inducing early like this, and I certainly would not have induced at 38 weeks, which I think was very hard on the baby.   And I would never have induced labor at home, which is not a very safe place to induce labor at all.  But at that time, the research showing that inducing VBACs was more dangerous was not yet really out and I simply felt like I had no real choice but to try this.  I thought my problems with birth might have been related to baby size as well as baby position, and that inducing early might be my only shot at a VBAC. My next VBAC showed that was totally untrue, but at the time, I doubted my ability to birth a big baby and was convinced by my midwife that inducing early was the best option. 

The first part of labor was intense but not overly hard; it was nice to spend it at home and not rushing to the hospital. As labor intensified, we got into my tub (which had really speeded up my second labor but didn't seem to help as much this time).  Between the tough contractions, we did manage to relax some, and we even sang through part of labor ("Come Unto Him All Ye That Labor" from The Messiah and "Dona Nobis Pacem"----very fitting!).  I have great memories of this part of labor.

However, despite very intense contractions and having started the labor already dilated to 3+ cm, dilation stalled at around 5-6 cm, even after hours of contractions.  This is often a sign of baby malposition, but the midwife said the baby was clearly anterior.  I began to get discouraged.  She  decided to break the waters to bring the baby's head down more fully onto the cervix.  This was another decision that in hindsight was very poor, but at the time seemed like the right thing to do.  I now really wish I had not let them break my water but hindsight is always 20/20.

Afterwards, labor became EXTREMELY intense, and was VERY difficult indeed to cope with.  A recheck after a few hours showed little progress being made despite the tremendously hard contractions.  I began to question staying at home, since labor was SO painful and no progress was being made; I also had an inner feeling that something was 'wrong' somehow (my second labor had been relatively easy and quick despite the baby's posterior position---all the pain and lack of progress this time made me very uneasy).  I also felt like my midwife should be doing more monitoring of the baby, since I knew that lack of progress over time was a risk factor for uterine rupture.  But she brushed off my concerns totally, or rolled her eyes and did a little monitoring just to reassure me that all was well with the baby (it was).  I felt like she really ignored my concerns and seemed to me to be practicing unsafely by not doing more monitoring in the face of so little progress. She also began to become very unpleasant to me.

I became very emotionally upset, started wondering about a repeat c/s, and at the very least wanted to transfer to a hospital for more constant monitoring and an epidural to help with the pain.  But when I mentioned this to the head midwife, she became very dismissive of my pain levels and feelings, and totally derisive of the idea of transferring.  She became really mean. To make a long story short (it was more involved than this), I became frustrated and angry that she discounted my feelings, was derisive of my perceptions, and totally dismissive of the terrible pain I was in. I felt bullied and 'unlistened to.'  This was MY baby and MY body and MY labor, but I felt pushed around and bullied.  This was not what a home midwife should be like! 

To be fair, she felt that I must have scar tissue on my cervix from having previous c/s at full dilation, and wondered if this might be preventing dilation.  She wanted to manually stretch the cervix through the adhesions, and I did not want her to do this, so she was frustrated.   Mind, this was not stretching the cervix over an anterior lip; it would have been manually dilating the cervix from 5-6 cm to 10 cm!!  I was very concerned that she might really damage me internally. At one point, she did a vaginal exam and told me (not asked me, told me) that she was going to manually stretch the cervix.  I said NO.  She refused to remove her hand, which really made me angry and which felt very invasive and threatening.  Not something to do to a woman with a history of abuse, which she knew about and ignored. I was furious.  We argued for a while and I eventually got her to remove her hand without stretching the cervix.  I never let her do another vaginal exam after that.   

Because of her attitude and derisiveness, over time I lost all trust in her and refused to let her try that manual dilation---it just didn't feel 'right' to let her do this, plus I was already in so much pain I couldn't contemplate adding in the pain of something like that!  My other midwife was very supportive emotionally (despite feeling that I should try the manual dilation) and I greatly appreciated her support, but the head midwife was really becoming emotionally abusive at this point.  I felt like I needed to leave but I was concerned about what would happen if I transferred to a hospital. They talked me into staying a while longer.

As a compromise, I got back in the tub and labored another 2 hours, despite very intense pain levels and a strongly increasing sense of disquiet.  Finally, I told my first midwife I was transferring to the hospital no matter what she thought.  It's not that I felt safer at the hospital (I didn't), but that something told me I needed to go.  By then I was also very upset with the first midwife and NEEDED to leave. I just knew I couldn't give birth with her around.  I didn't feel safe around her.

I got up out of the tub, announced I was leaving no matter what they said, had the backup midwife call the hospital to tell them I was coming, and got dressed.  All the while the midwife alternately yelled at me and tried to talk me out of going.  I told my husband to get the suitcase, then I got in the car and waited for him to show up.  He was unsure whether this was the right thing to do but he had no choice but to follow me. I couldn't be dissuaded;  I knew I had to go. 

I think in hindsight the main midwife's actions and attitude seemed too abusive to me, and given my past history of abuse I just needed to stand up to it and get away this time.  I basically fired my caregiver in the middle of labor, got up, and went elsewhere to give birth.  I felt internally like it was the right thing to do, and for once I just *needed* to follow and honor that inner intuition.  In hindsight, I do think it was the right decision.  I think it prevented another c-section, and it may even have prevented a rupture from non-progressive labor, or a bad outcome with baby from fetal distress. It was a hard leap of faith to make, firing my caregiver in the middle of labor and leaving my intended place of birth, but I just knew inside that it was the right thing to do.  And fortunately, all turned out well. Leaving was the right thing to do, I am firmly convinced. 

I initially was tempted to just have a c/s and get it over with, but after considering carefully, I elected to try an epidural first as a last-chance effort towards a VBAC.  Even though the hospital was only 5 minutes from my house, that was a very loooooong trip to the maternity ward, let me tell you!  Very painful and emotionally very tumultuous.  We left the midwife I was upset with at home, and took the midwife we were happy with to the hospital for moral support.  

At 4:30 a.m. or so, we arrived at the maternity ward and started setting up for the epidural.  I had TREMENDOUS back labor by then and needed very intense counterpressure on my back.  Although we will never know for sure, it is quite likely that the baby once again was malpositioned, although he was still "officially" anterior.  My guess in retrospective is that he was in a compound presentation (with his hand or arm by his head, probably with his elbow over his face, which puts tremendous pressure on the sacrum and causes nasty back labor).  I got a little bit of IV drugs to help me cope with this bad back labor while we got ready for the epidural.  

The hospital bed had a section that drops for deliveries, and this was accidentally in an uneven (not level) position.  As they had me scoot into position for the epidural, my hips shifted unevenly on this, and suddenly I had a tremendous urge to push.  I could NOT sit still for the rest of the epidural, so they could not complete the process.  The needle was in my back and everything (ick), but I never had the chance to get any drugs because suddenly I was pushing. What probably happened was that the particular hip movement I made on the uneven bed caused the baby's arm to drop away from his head, and with his position resolved, he moved quickly down into my pelvis.  

At this point, we gave up on the epidural.  (I was really bummed at the time, considering the pain! But in retrospective I am glad we didn't end up with one.)  I was checked and found to be nearly dilated, but with a stubborn cervical lip all around.  The OB on call had not arrived yet, so the nurse offered to manually move the lip over the baby's head. Since I was so close to fully dilated, I agreed to that. It just felt like a totally different situation than earlier, with the nasty midwife.  It did hurt like heck but was quick.  After this we were fully dilated and pushing.  

The baby's head momentarily stopped descending well; the midwife that came with me thinks his head hit my pubic bone and stopped progressing.  Against the nurse's wishes, she lowered my bed so that I was more flat and could arch my back to help the baby move under my pubic bone; for me this seemed to have been the key to getting the baby through the pelvis and out.  After the nurse saw that it helped and that my midwife knew what she was doing, the nurse stopped fighting us, despite my midwife not having privileges at that hospital.  If the nurse had continued insisting on a  rounded back/neck-to-chest ("C") position, I don't know if the baby would have been able to get out.  It was just the WRONG position for my particular pelvic shape, I think. 

I vividly remember the midwife telling me to touch my baby's head as he crowned (this was one of my greatest desires and I am so grateful she remembered), but I kept telling her I couldn't!  My hands were supporting my hips and bottom off of the bed as I arched my back and I couldn't take them away during a contraction.  As soon as we could, we found a way between contractions for me to move my hand briefly down there and feel the baby's head as it came out where it was supposed to!  That was a GREAT feeling, very magical and so special.  I didn't have long to enjoy it (since I needed to put my hand back to help get in the best position), but it was an amazing feeling I will always remember.  I am so grateful my midwife helped me remember to do this!

The baby was born within a 12 minutes or so of starting to push.  Because he was born so quickly, it was not fun to get him out, and my bladder got pretty bruised along the way.  Also, at the very end, the baby's heart tones began to drop a bit, so they had me push very forcefully.  They even had me push between contractions in order to get him out quickly.  In retrospect this was probably a mistake because his shoulders had not  yet restituted (turned) inside.  As a result, his shoulders tried to stick a little bit coming out at first, but did not end up getting stuck and resolved themselves just fine once I arched my back even more to give him the room he needed to finish turning.  With a great scream from me (it was VERY intense!), out popped my baby, and I had a VBAC!  

The baby was indeed just fine, and although I didn't get my fantasy birth of delivering him into my arms or underwater, I did get to hold him shortly after he came out, while still attached to me.  That certainly never happened after my c/s; IT FELT WONDERFUL and was worth every minute of pain.  My husband declined to cut the cord, so I got the great symbolic privilege of cutting the cord myself, which I loved.  

This was the first time in 3 births that I actually got to SEE my baby right after birth, to hold him while still naked and goopy from baby juices, to see the cord and the placenta etc., to nurse the baby right away there on the bed, to be the first to hold my baby and bond with him, to look into his eyes right after birth and connect with him immediately.  It was an AMAZING feeling.  It's hard to describe just how much it meant to me.  I'll never forget the feeling of looking into his eyes while he was still connected to me, to feel him all warm and goopy from my body, to feel our souls meet and recognize.  It was a moment frozen in time that I will always treasure.

The on-call doctor did not arrive in time for the birth; she was about 2 minutes too late!  Although she was great about handling an unexpected homebirth transfer, I was just as glad she wasn't there for the actual birth.  Because we pushed the baby out so fast, I did tear slightly, and needed 3 small stitches.  That wasn't a lot of fun, but let me tell you, 3 small stitches (even 'down there'!) were a heck of a lot better than several layers of stitches from a c/s!  I  had significant bruising and swelling of my bladder area from the quickness of the birth, so I ended up having trouble peeing after the birth and needed a catheter for days afterwards.  That was a major drag, but so many other things were better about the VBAC that I put up with it, and everything did end up returning to normal.  

So although this VBAC birth was not a very easy one and the catheter part was a pain, I still absolutely feel that the VBAC was FAR better than a c/s.  I had a lot of fun in the first couple of weeks, noticing all the ways in which recovering from a VBAC was easier and vastly superior to recovering from a c/s. ("Look, I can sleep on my stomach already!", "Look, I can cough and laugh without pain!", "Look, I can lift my other kids and snuggle them right away!", "Look, I can get out of bed easily!", etc.)  My husband got a kick out of my delight in those minor but so-telling details.  

In the end, even after all our care to avoid a baby malposition, we did end up with a compound presentation of some kind (I had fallen twice the day of the labor; perhaps this knocked my sacrum out of alignment somewhat?).  But at least this was a type of position that was more easily resolved (compared to a posterior).  Once the baby's hand/arm was moved down, he was born very quickly (12 minutes!), a great relief after pushing for 2 hours with the first baby and 5 hours with the second!  And what a joy it was to know that my body had actually 'worked right' after all, and to have those intensely precious memories of holding my baby right away in my arms.  

If I had had to have another c/s, I would have been very sad and disappointed, but I think I really would have been okay in the long run. I didn't see this birth as a "pass/fail" activity. For me, the baby and the JOURNEY towards his birth was the most important part.  Getting a VBAC was the bonus----a really wonderful and enjoyable bonus, mind!---but not the main part. VBAC is not the right choice for every woman, but it can be a path of tremendous personal growth, even after a disappointment.  I am so glad I didn't give up after my first 'failed' VBAC, and I would encourage other women who are so inclined to persevere also.  I feel I am a much healthier person as a result of this journey, and I have taken many steps on the path of healing.  And I have a sweet, precious little bundle to boot!  

Baby #4:  2nd VBA2C

After much indecision because of my age and life circumstances, I decided I really wanted to have one more baby.  Since I'd already had a VBAC, I knew my chances this time around were good, but that doesn't mean I felt totally confident.  Because my VBAC last time had been a bit of a close thing (all that non-progressing labor would have caused a c/s had I been in the hospital all along), I certainly didn't go in feeling like a VBAC was a sure thing.  

I also felt burned by the negative experience I'd had with the midwife last time around, and while I still felt that a homebirth was the right choice for me, I felt it was VERY important to find a midwife whose was non-interventive, emotionally supportive, and who would treat me like a partner in my own care, not a servant to be dictated to.   I really was VERY careful who I hired, and found a partnership that was just right for me.  These midwives, fortunately, were just great.  Very healing after last time!

I still had a lot of fear around going through labor again.  The labor induction last time was VERY intense and EXTREMELY painful, yet until the very end, I did it without any medication.  That was very hard.  Induced labor contractions are MUCH harder than normal labor contractions, and then when you add in how much the pain increased after they broke my water, plus my back labor and the fact that baby was malpositioned a bit-----well, it adds up to one REALLY painful labor.   I had no fear about giving birth vaginally, but I was afraid of going through that level of labor pain again.  I'm a total pain wuss and I'm not into suffering.  My main hope was that labor would not be so painful again because this time we would NOT be inducing labor. 

The pregnancy was mostly uneventful.  I was careful about my nutrition again, but I tried not to be so rigid this time around. I did exercise some this pregnancy, but due to time limitations, I just couldn't do the same amount of exercising I did last time, so I wasn't in as good of shape this time.  That did worry me some, but I felt I'd be okay anyway. I was.

I was very careful about what interventions I chose to use or decline this pregnancy.  I refused the glucola test this time but  I used my glucometer to make sure my blood sugar stayed normal.  I refused most prenatal testing, despite being 42 years old.  I did choose to have an ultrasound to be sure the placenta was well-placed and not near the cervix or my scar; I felt knowing that was important if I was choosing to have a homebirth.   It was fine, which was a relief. I chose not to be weighed this pregnancy (though I kept track at home out of curiosity) and I also refused all vaginal exams.  It was sooo freeing to be able to decline all this unnecessary stuff.  I really thought carefully and picked and chose which interventions felt reasonable to me (GBS testing, an ultrasound to check placental placement, Rhogam at birth, BP checks and home glucometer monitoring) and which did not (most prenatal testing, mid-pregnancy Rhogam, vaginal exams, weighing, etc.).  

I really expected this baby to come near my due date or a tad earlier, so I was quite surprised when she took her time showing up!! My first baby had been induced at 40 weeks and my third had been induced at 38 weeks, but my second labor was 'spontaneous' and it had happened at just before 40 weeks, so I expected #4 to be like that too. However, I forgot that #2 was actually induced in a way too-----the CNM had stripped my membranes aggressively the day before and my water broke later that night. So in a way, I was induced for that labor too, and I had never had a truly spontaneous labor.

So at 39 weeks, expecting labor to come soon, I cleared my schedule and assumed baby would be coming any day. Nope. Plenty of Braxton-Hicks contractions that didn't go anywhere, but no real labor. I was bummed. My due date passed. I was HUGE and walking anywhere was mighty uncomfortable. I hadn't been this uncomfortable with any of my other pregnancies so I was even more bummed. And every few days I'd have Braxton-Hicks labor with painful contractions that went nowhere. It was hard to be patient.

So I devoted myself to getting some last-minute enjoyable stuff done. I took picture portraits with my children. I did birth art. I wrote in a journal and took long baths. I went to dinner with my DH. One of my favorite things was going into the back yard with my kids and letting them paint my belly to their heart's delight. We took lots of pictures and it's one of my favorite memories now!!

Time passed. By LMP, I was now approaching 43 weeks. By my ultrasound due date, I was almost 42 weeks. By the due date my midwives had figured up (using Woods' dating formula), I was almost 41 weeks. The midwives' figures turned out to be the most accurate, fortunately. But had I been in the hospital, they would have forced me into a c-section because I would have been almost 43 weeks by their reckoning.

Anyhow, at almost 43 weeks LMP (and ~41 weeks, adjusted due date), labor began on a Monday morning while I was sleeping. I remember being woken up by a pretty strong contraction and looking at the clock and it was about 5:30 a.m. Had them every 5-10 minutes or so but was able to sleep between them somewhat, so I stayed in bed till about 7 a.m. I'd had contractions in the night that fizzled out upon waking for weeks so I didn't want to wake anyone for these and figured I should get as much sleep as I could.

By 7 a.m. it was apparent that this was more serious and it wasn't backing off. Contractions every 5 minutes. So I got DH up and arranged to have the kids taken to the grandparents' while we labored. Getting them all up and dressed and out the door made the contractions space out a bit to every 5-10 minutes. Still they were strong, so we called the doula to have her come over, and the midwives to let them know our early labor status.

I spent some time nesting. I cleaned house. I'm not particularly domestic, but I figured it would be a good distraction during early labor, plus I can't concentrate in a really dirty house. It felt good to have the place clean.  I went about my business till I couldn't anymore. My surges spaced out a bit more, like every 10-15 minutes. 

We ate some lunch and things got very puttery. I was wondering if it was going to disappear completely or not. The doula and I decided I should take a nap while the opportunity availed us. I am **NOT** a morning person and I was pretty tired (having been dealing with labor since 5:30 a.m.). I figured a nap would be a smart thing to do so we gave it a shot. My doula was an acupuncturist too, so she gave me a treatment to help me rest for a while. Although I had a few contractions, I managed to get in an hour or so of napping. That was WONDERFUL and really helped later.

At about 2 or 2:30 or so, I woke up and had some strong contractions. Labor really picked up then and came on like a freight train!! I was glad I'd taken a nap. I went into the living room and started getting really vocal. I had made a nice "birth nest" in the living room----birth tub, all kinds of candles and music, all my birth art up on the wall, all my gifts from my blessingway, and a nice dark and private space staked out and ready to go. Sure enough, that's where I wanted to labor.

I had my doula do some acupuncture for pain relief because at that point labor started getting hard. She also had a TENS machine (uses mild electricity to help provide some pain relief) so we tried that. We connected the TENS unit to the needles in my ears for pain relief. I could turn the current up or down as needed during contractions to help distract myself and interrupt the pain sensations. It really wasn't all that good as pain relief---things were still very painful----but I think it did help distract me during the worst of things and did kind of interrupt the pain input on the toughest contractions. But it wasn't as good as I'd hoped it might be!  Darn.

My midwives arrived in the middle of this. They hugged me and were very excited to see me in such strong labor, and they were very positive in everything they said and did. What a lovely change from my last midwife!!! We decided it was time to fill the tub because I was in very heavy labor at this point. As soon as it was ready, I got in because I couldn't wait for the pain relief of that nice hot water. It felt HEAVENLY. (Obviously we turned off the TENS unit when we got into the water! However, we did leave in the ear needles for good measure.)

Even in the lovely hot water, labor was hard. I have to be honest: I don't like pain and I don't deal with it easily. I was heavy into transition now, so I took a lot of support from everyone. At the most painful part, I felt like I really needed to bite down HARD on something. Luckily, I remembered just in time not to bite the hands of my doula (which were right in front of my face)!! So I bit the edge of the birth tub instead. [There are probably gnaw marks on there to this day!]  Some far-off part of me thought it was very strange that I wanted to bite down so hard; I'd never felt this urge in any of my other labors.  And part of me was amused at the effort it took NOT to bite my doula's hands.  But the rest of me was highly unamused at the level of pain there was, even in an uninduced labor.  That was a bummer!  I had really been hoping for an easy labor. Oh well!! I did it anyhow.

Shortly after this I had the uncontrollable urge to push. That HURT. Sometimes pushing feels really great, but this time it hurt a lot. So I decided I needed to push like heck in order to get this over with that much sooner!!! I pushed HARD. I could feel baby moving down through my pelvis-----a very freaky feeling------and I could feel my pelvis kind of coming apart at the joints as baby moved down. Very strange.

I felt like I had been pushing a long time but in reality it was only a few minutes. Pretty soon the baby's head started to crown. And crown. And crown. Her head was coming out but it wasn't coming OUT. And then she did a very strange thing. Her body spun (restituted) while her head was still partly inside me. And then I started feeling these bizarre thumps from inside. It felt like someone was knocking on my pelvis from the inside!! It was the baby, trying to move around and adjust her position.

Usually the head comes out and then the baby turns to the side so the shoulders can come through the widest part of the pelvis. But instead, the baby turned before she was fully out, and then she tried to maneuver around inside. That alerted the midwives that something funky was going on. They started watching for a shoulder dystocia.

And indeed the shoulders did not come at first. The baby's head did eventually come out completely but the shoulders did not follow right away. We waited for two contractions because babies fix their position better with contractions than between them. But no baby finished coming out. However, her head was perfectly pink and her heart tones were excellent, so the midwives weren't too worried. They were concerned but knew that baby was okay for now.

I shifted into all fours position (best as I could in the water). No progress. My body told me to shift back, leaning back against the tub wall, and arch my back. I did that. Made a little progress but not enough. My midwife decided to go inside and see what the baby was doing and what the holdup was. I was fine with that. She put her hands in without any problem at all-----it certainly was not a tight fit. That wasn't the problem. She felt around before trying any maneuvers so she could figure out what the best maneuver was for the situation.

By feeling around, she was able to determine that the baby's arm was in a bad position. It seemed to be behind her back. The midwife went for the baby's arm, and carefully maneuvered it to the front, then down and out. Once the arm was out of the way, the baby slid out very easily without any more maneuvers and we lifted her to the surface of the water quickly. I finally got to hold my baby in my arms!!!

I was totally exhausted by this point. I had been pushing so hard to get her out when her arm was stuck in the way, I pulled some abdominal muscles and ligaments at the very least. Oh, how my abdomen hurt!! But I was thrilled to finally be holding my baby in my arms. It was again such an incredibly special feeling to get to see her right away, to see her all goopy and warm from my body, to hold her before anyone else got to.  Although I was exhausted from all that pushing, it was a moment that stretched out in time for me, and which I will always remember.  

The midwife thought the baby might need some resuscitation or at least a little blow-by oxygen so she had those ready, but baby started breathing just fine on her own and didn't even need the blow-by oxygen. She had remained pink and healthy through the whole thing, which was why my midwives didn't panic or rush the process any sooner. She was completely fine!!  Thank God.

I was so tired, all I could do was hold my sweet baby at first. We covered her with some blankets in the pool to help keep her body temperature up, so I had this soggy little bundle in my arms to talk to, but to me she was the most beautiful thing in the whole world. I didn't care at all about finding out if she was a boy or a girl, I was just happy to have her finally here and out and well. I got to look in her eyes and be the first to hold her, and that meant so much to me. The moment seemed to stretch out for the longest time.  Then, my birth music tape played a lovely lullaby, and I gently rocked her and sang the lullaby to her as a welcome.  I got to sing the lullaby and Happy Birthday to her without someone trying to rush us with various hospital procedures, and I got to take my time getting to know her on my OWN timeline. It was truly wonderful. It's hard to convey just how special this time is.

Eventually, we did look to see if she was a boy or a girl, and it was a girl!!! We had been so hoping for another girl, and I had felt all along that she was a girl, but it was so lovely to know that we were right! After some time, the cord had mostly stopped pulsing and I needed to start working on the placenta, so I cut the cord. DH took the baby and called all the relatives while I worked on the placenta. It took a while to come. The midwives finally gave me some herbal tinctures to help it along, and eventually it came too. I think I was a bit in the physical condition of "shock" at that point, and it was hard for me to push it out but eventually I did. My bleeding was very minimal but I was pretty shaky.

We eventually got me out of the pool and into a recliner, wrapped up snug and warm with the baby. She and I made faces at each other and cooed to each other; she kept imitating the faces I made at her. It was SO cute. My doula got lots of pictures of this and they are the sweetest pictures!! I love that she was so incredibly alert, so soon after the birth; much different than my cesarean babies. I nursed the baby for the first time, and they fed me a little bit. We had some celebratory ice cream too. It was a sweet aftermath.

Postpartum was rougher than I expected it to be. I really had injured something inside, some muscles and ligaments or something, and I was in a lot of pain in time. The midwives eventually helped me upstairs and tried to settle me into bed, but I couldn't lie down. I was really shaking too, so the doula did some more acupuncture on me to help me settle down, and they fed me some protein and good food to give me more energy. They eventually left when I started feeling better. However, I soon started feeling uncomfortable in bed, so my husband helped me down the stairs to the recliner I'd left earlier. I slept there for the first several days; it was more comfortable than being in bed.

My biggest disappointment in this birth was that my abdomen hurt so badly afterwards for several days, and that I wasn't able to pee on my own without a catheter again. That sucked. However, we managed to get through it and eventually I did pee on my own again just fine. I had a LOT of swelling after this birth too, and that was distressing and puzzling (we never did figure out why), but it eventually went away too.

On the good side, I had no tearing from the birth, not even when the midwife had to put her hands inside and help the baby's arm out. That's a remarkable thing and says a lot about her skill as a midwife. Had I been in the hospital, they probably would have done a GIANT episiotomy from stem to stern (standard in a shoulder dystocia) and I probably would have torn even further. But despite all the maneuvering the midwife did, I had an intact perineum because I was at home and with skilled midwives, and I ended up with only one very tiny skidmark near the top. Another reason I was glad to have had the baby at home.

The fact that we had a shoulder dystocia was disappointing too, to be honest; I really wanted a birth without a hitch of ANY kind---a nice, peaceful, EASY birth like some women get!!. But the shoulder dystocia we had, while it was  potentially serious, did not really turn out to be that serious because baby was fine and well-oxygenated throughout, and because my midwives handled it perfectly. Had I had a shoulder dystocia like that in the hospital, I don't know that the outcome would have been as good because of the way some hospitals panic over these things.

Instead of panicking, my midwives gave it time to resolve on its own and when they needed to help out, they stopped to figure out what was wrong before applying any special maneuvers. Most hospital personnel just start applying maneuvers in whatever order they were taught to do so, and applying the wrong maneuver could have made things worse or hurt the baby. Ours was a unique shoulder dystocia; it wasn't caused because of her size or my size, but because her arm was in a funky position for birth that got in the way. Fortunately, my midwife figured this out before doing anything so she went right to the maneuver that was most appropriate for getting her out.

Now, most OBs would look at my story and say "Shoulder dystocia?? See, her pelvis was too small and baby was too big! She really did have CPD!" So postpartum, I had the midwife do a pelvimetry on me to see if my pelvis was "too small," and I told her to give me an honest answer, even if it was one I didn't want to hear. She checked things out thoroughly, and she told me frankly that there was NO problem with the size of my pelvis. She said the only reason there was a shoulder dystocia was because baby had had a funky arm position. She said she'd had PLENTY of room to put her hands inside me and around the baby, and if it had been a tight fit that wouldn't have been true. She said that if it had been a tight fit, the baby would have had a lot of molding, and she had almost NO molding at all. She said that my pelvis was plenty big and that if baby had had her arm in the right position, I would have had her without any problem at all, all 10 and a half pounds of her. 

I truly believe that this was true and that she was not just telling me what I wanted to hear. The baby really didn't have any molding, she didn't look squished at all, and she came right out easily once that arm was out of the way.  In all, we only pushed for 24 minutes; a true tight fit would have taken longer. If she'd had her arm tucked where it was supposed to be, I think she would have flown out.  I wish that that is what would have happened, but it didn't, and we dealt with it anyway and were all fine.  

Interestingly, this baby was almost 10 and half pounds.  (Yes, I had excellent blood sugar throughout; her size was not from GD.) She was a pound bigger than my two "CPD" cesarean babes---but she came out vaginally because she was anterior and they were not.  My first VBAC baby was 7 and a half pounds (2 pounds smaller than my c/s babies); even though I was thrilled to have VBAC'd, in my mind his size raised at least a few doubts that maybe I had him vaginally because he was smaller than the others.  Yet my second VBAC baby was THREE POUNDS bigger than my first VBAC baby.  If her arm had been in the right place she would have flown out despite her size.  So I think this helped me put to rest the idea that baby size or pelvis size was really an issue for me.  Baby POSITION is the most important issue for most women.  Women still give birth to babies in less-than-optimal positions, but it's a heck of a lot easier when the baby's position is optimal, and sometimes less-than-optimally-positioned babies do get stuck.  So position is MUCH more important than size, and we should do everything we can do to give the baby the best possible chance at good position. 

I felt like my VBACs were an interesting ending to my birthing journey. With my first child, I was induced and ended with a c/s. With my third child, I was induced but ended with a VBAC (despite the induction). With my second child, I had a big baby and he was posterior and got stuck for five hours of pushing. With my fourth child, I had a big baby and spontaneous labor, but because she was anterior, she was able to come out. We had to work on her arm a little bit to do that, but we got it taken care of without any harm to her or to me. It's like my first VBAC finished the birth I should have had with my first baby; and it's like my second VBAC finished the birth that I should have had with my second baby.  Very interesting, coming full circle like that.

We don't plan to have any more children, but if there was an "oops," I would not hesitate to plan another VBAC again. There are medical circumstances under which I might birth at a hospital or even have another cesarean, but barring something exceptional like that, I absolutely would VBAC again, despite the pain of labor, and preferably at home. An interesting change considering I was adamantly against homebirth in the beginning!  

I did learn along the way that it's very important to be careful who you hire, regardless of whether you are at home or in the hospital, and that where you practice doesn't make you a "good" or "bad" provider automatically.  Some "midwives" (even home midwives) are wolves in sheep's clothing.  But where you are is less important than WHO you are with and how they are with you in labor, and of course, in the end it all comes down to YOU as the laboring mom anyhow, wherever you are.  

With a really good midwife this time, I honestly felt fine being at home.  Hospitals just are not very good at being "okay" with the births of big moms, big babies, "overdue" pregnancies, or VBACs.  Combine them all and I knew I'd have a hard time getting a fair shake at birth there.  On the other hand, in my 3rd birth, home became a place not to be because of the people who were there, and the hospital became the right place to be instead.  So birthing "answers" can very from situation to situation, and there's no one "right" answer.  But because I had a good situation at home with my fourth baby, a healthy mom and healthy baby, a good back-up plan, and superbly-trained midwives who knew what to do if a problem occurred, I felt like home was a reasonable choice for me.   


Personal VBA3C Stories

Michelle B's Story  (3 prior cesareans, VBA3C)

Kmom's Notes:  

Birth Story

On Monday, June 25, I had visited my midwife who was concerned that I hadn't yet gone into labor. At that point, I was nine days "overdue." She never made me feel bad about being overdue; rather, I understood her position. If I went two weeks over, she would have a difficult time keeping me in her care. She would be compelled to hand me over to the OBs and the birth center would want to press continuous EFM and IV, etc. We both wanted to avoid those possibilities. She stripped my membranes a little (for the second time), and urged me just to try castor oil that night. I agreed. 

That evening, after a good walk, my doula (who is a lay midwife) called to instruct me on the castor oil. She had me take make a "cocktail" of 2 oz. vodka, 2 oz. orange juice, 2 oz. castor oil, and 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream. I made the shake and drank it quickly in the shower. It was awful! I was to repeat the procedure 2 more times over the next 2 hours. I did not want to. I told my husband about the alcohol amount as I thought it was a bit much and I was already feeling woozy. He calculated the amount and said that three 2 oz. shots of Vodka would equal nearly 1 entire bottle of wine. I decided that there was no way that could be good for the baby. I had avoided alcohol my entire pregnancy and did not feel right about ingesting so much alcohol. Besides, who wants to be in labor, have diarrhea, and be drunk at the same time? What would the staff at the birthing center think? I decided not to do any more castor oil.

The first contraction hit about an hour and half later while I was reading my ICAN mail. I think that the one dose of castor oil had nothing to do with my labor starting as I read that it takes about 4-6 hours before castor oil will "start" anything. The contractions were not really organized, but quick and sharp. I called my doula to let her know. She asked about the castor oil and I told her I wouldn't take any more. She really encouraged me to take all three doses, but I was resolved. She asked to come over, I agreed. She arrived at around 11:30 or midnight. I was having steady, hard contractions but was handling them well. We went for a long walk in the neighborhood. This really intensified the contractions. Back at the house, my doula suggested a hot shower. I stayed in for about 45 minutes- it did feel good. I was drinking lots of water, and my doula kept urging me to eat. Contractions were strong, but still quite manageable. Everything seemed to be going well at this point.

Then I made the mistake of allowing my doula to check my dilation. She told me that I was at 5 centimeters. I was delighted and so proud that I was handling everything so well. We called our neighbor to so that Tyler could go over to their house. My doula then tried to reach my midwife, but the phone was busy. At this point, I had my husband go and lie down. I was handling the contractions well and he had been up and on his feet all day and half the night. My doula was not happy that my husband was asleep. She kept asking me if I wanted her to wake him up. I really didn't mind that he was resting. I decided to lie down, too. So I lay next to my husband and had steady, strong contractions every three minutes or so for about an hour. I had closed the door to my room and my doula had fallen asleep on the sofa in the living room. I really enjoyed having my husband wake with me for a contraction. He was stroking my back gently, and we were both able to rest between. It was very beautiful.

Later, my doula checked me and said that I was only at 2 cm. I was quite upset with her for being wrong the first time. She tried to bully me into drinking me castor oil and I flat out refused. She insinuated that I wasn't progressing because I refused the castor oil. I heartily disagreed and was getting very angry. At this point I wanted her to leave, but didn't say anything. She was still trying to reach my midwife, whose phone had been busy for hours. I showered some more and went to lay down with my husband.  I got up later to eat some cereal (and to poop- the castor oil had made me feel pretty ill-no diarrhea, just stomach cramps). My doula woke up and saw me and said that I wasn't in labor any longer. I was annoyed with her because I had been having contractions the entire time she was sleeping. I wanted to walk, so she came with me, but I didn't really want her there. I felt like she was judging me- that she felt like I was faking my contractions or that I was a wimp. I was in pain, but was beginning to really doubt myself. I thought that maybe these contractions were "in my head," that I wasn't in labor, that I was a wimp. I was becoming a bit depressed. The walk soon kicked my "contractions" into high gear and I was in considerable pain. It was morning by then and I wanted my midwife! We went back and called her. She advised us to come into the birth center around 9:00 am. We got everything ready and left.

Once there, we met my midwife and she hooked me up for a 20 minute EFM that we had earlier agreed to. I was so upset at this point as my doula had me convinced I wasn't really in labor. Lo and behold, the monitor started registering really intense contractions- coming every 30 seconds and lasting for a minute to 90 seconds. I didn't believe what I was seeing and kept asking my midwife if I was really in labor. She was laughing and saying, "Of course you are! And you're having really strong contractions, too." It took me about 1/2 hour before I believed her--or myself.

But I was still only 2 cm dilated. It seemed that while I was 100% effaced and at zero station, my cervix was not cooperating. My midwife suggested Cervidil. I agreed on the condition she not leave my side for a moment. She was good to her word. She inserted the Cervidil at about 10:30 and we waited. My contractions were still strong and I was moaning through them, but still on top of the pain. I felt strong. I took a long, long shower and went back to the bed for a while. Then, in an instant, my water broke and I began puking violently. I felt my baby's head slam down on my cervix. It was very painful and I panicked for a minute. I asked if the amniotic fluid was clear, and was relieved to hear that yes, it was clear. The birthing pool was now full and I was urged to get into it. The pool felt wonderful for about 1 minute and then my contractions went into serious overdrive. Soon, I was in a world of pain and struggling to keep up with the contractions. I was rocking on my hands and knees in the pool, my doula on one end, pushing my hipbones in (that felt good) and my husband on the other, stroking my cheek. I was not a happy girl and was trying to escape from the pain. My doula forced me to sit into the pain and not crawl away. In hindsight, I see that this was good advice.

Finally, I was begging for relief. I thought about an epidural, but the thought of having to be still to allow a needle into my spin was even worse than what I was going through. I wanted someone to come and knock me out.  I knew I couldn't take the pain much longer. My midwife then asked me to come out of the water to be checked. This would be only the third time she checked me. Right before I went into the water I was still 2 cm. This time, only 40 minutes later, I was complete and ready to push. So I had been in transition!!! She obviously knew it, but we were all astounded that I dilated so quickly. 

I started to push right away. I tapped into my deepest reserves and was determined to birth my child. I pushed on the bed with my knees up, I push on my hands and knees, and I pushed on my side. My midwife massaged my perineum with glycerol (ouch). Then I announced I had to go to the bathroom. I squatted on the toilet and was grunting. My midwife came in and went down on her hands and knees to check my progress. I was crowning. Soon there was a great flurry of activity. Someone set up a birthing stool and I went straight for it. I squatted and felt like I had great control. My husband was situated in a chair right behind me and I clutched onto his legs for support. Soon, I felt the "ring of fire" and her little head was out! Being the big girl that she was, her shoulders were a bit stuck and my midwife had to "corkscrew" her body out. I saw my midwife place my baby on the blanket right in front of me. I jumped up and looked down and exclaimed: "It's a girl!!! I can see it's a girl!!! I did it!! And with no drugs!! I did it!!" I was elated. I had only pushed for about 30 minutes.

But I could see that she was not as pink as she should be. Because she had been stuck a bit, her face and hands were quite blue and she was limp. My midwife quickly cut the cord (much to my dismay) and my baby girl was sent to be suctioned and ventilated. Her 1 minute Apgar was only 4. But at 5 minutes, she was up to 9. I was led to the bed were we awaited the placenta. I was so happy and all my pain had receded. My little girl was placed naked on my chest and I held her for some time. My husband was there and we were crying with joy and relief.

I was annoyed with the placenta and decided to push it out. I asked my midwife if that was okay and she said, "go for it." I pushed it out and was allowed to have a really good look at it. It was really very large, but I could see that there were quite a lot of blood clots in the bowl with it. I asked my midwife if I had torn and she said, " a little bit." She went about sewing me up, but it was soon apparent that something wasn't right. She was down there for a long time and had been sewing for over a half hour. I then was given a two shots of pitocin. I didn't know it then, but she was worried that I was bleeding inside my uterus. All the suturing she did wasn't stopping the blood flow. I could see a small mountain of blood-saturated gauze piling up on the table. I didn't see the pool of blood I was laying in, although everyone else in the room did. Nobody said anything. I guess they didn't want me to be worried. 

Soon, the atmosphere was quite tense and serious. My midwife informed me that she had to check my scar. I was really upset about this because we had agreed not to do an internal exam. She insisted and I was in another "world of pain." My doula and husband had to lean on my legs to keep them open and I was screaming. I tried so hard to cooperate and relax, but I was terribly upset with everyone. I wanted to be left alone! Soon, my midwife had to tell me that I was bleeding very, very badly and that she'd called her backup OB. He came in and sewed inside my vagina for another hour or so. Still, I kept bleeding. I was angry at the OB because he wouldn't answer my questions. I wanted to know what was happening. He wasn't being mean, I think he was concentrating and I was distracting him. I had no idea how bad my situation was.

Finally, I was informed that I had to have surgery. I was in denial!!! I kept asking if it was really necessary. I was told I'd have to have and epidural and I was angry! I was prepped and wheeled into the OR. The anesthesiologist asked if I wanted a spinal or general. I opted for the general; I had no desire for any needles in my spine!

I awoke in recovery an hour or so later. My little girl was brought right to me and I nursed her. My husband had been with her the whole time. He even refused to allow the nursing staff to take her to the nursery. Good for him! He's my hero. The OB came in and told me that I had a torn cervix in three placed and that he had repaired it well. I also had lacerations in my vagina. I was taken to my room and my husband and I celebrated our little girl.

That night, I had to keep the catheter in, but I didn't mind too much. The next day I got up and went to the bathroom and almost fainted. I had managed to grab a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was shocked to see my incredibly pale face. My lips were solid white. Still, I was in good spirits and was falling fast in love with our daughter. My husband never left us and slept in the empty bed in the room. 

That evening the other midwife in the practice came to see me at around 9:00 pm. She (in a very cold manner) showed us my hemoglobin numbers from the last 36 hours. I had gone from 11 to 5.5. 5.5, I learned, is considered critical. I was not doing too well. She scared the hell out of me by telling me that I might end up with this or that disease, or that I could die, and certainly wouldn't be able to nurse my baby. I started sobbing right away. I was truly hysterical. She thought I was upset because I had to have a blood transfusion. That was simply not the truth. I was upset because I thought I was going to die!!! My husband calmed me down (I had never before seen him be so calm, so reassuring) and helped me deal with the transfusion. He wouldn't sleep just so he could make sure I was okay. I continued to nurse our baby without any problems. I had the transfusion on Wednesday, and I was allowed to leave for home on Friday. My hemoglobin, at last count, was up to 7.3. Not great, but not critical.

By the time we were settled in at home, my milk had come in, and Christine was doing great. She is a wonderful baby and sleeps well at night. We are co-sleeping for now, and I'm happy with it. We think she is too. My husband really bonded with his daughter- he is an adoring father and I'm so happy he could be there for her when I couldn't. I'm mending, and feel okay but for my vagina. I think I will be sore for some time to come. I saw my midwife and she told me that another vaginal birth is not out of question, but due to the trauma on my cervix, I might have an incompetent cervix. I'm not sure if we'll have another so I'm not going to worry about this now. She said that I tore so badly because I went from 2 to 10 cm in less than 40 minutes. I had no time to stretch. Who knows if it was the Cervidil that caused this, I guess it's impossible to know.

Looking back on my experience, I feel that I had experienced the best and the worst of things. I was positively ecstatic to have my VBA3C. I will forever cherish the experience. I'm not too happy about my doula and certainly feel that she did not earn her $1000.00 fee.  She was a great help in the L&D suite, but her error and bullying nearly had me totally unsure of myself. I found out later that she had offended the L&D nurse so badly, she left the room in tears. My midwife was wonderful and I am deeply grateful to her. She never left me and even had to cancel all of her appointments to be with me. She real went above and beyond for us. All in all, I am proud of what I did. I really feel a little reborn myself.  I had to overcome some obstacles to get what I wanted, but in the end I persevered and pushed through the doubt and the pain. I can't believe the difference a vaginal birth makes, even with all my complications. I can walk and twist; I don't have the searing, burning pain. I feel battered and bruised, but as from a battle- a battle that I won.

I have to have reconstructive surgery on my vagina as a result of the trauma I suffered during and mostly after, Christine's birth. Medical negligence caused improper healing. Basically, I was sewn back together wrong and it couldn't heal correctly. What a pain!

But our little girl!!! What a beautiful, incredible joy she is! It was all worth it.


Dori's Story (3 prior cesareans, VBA3C)

Kmom's Notes: Dori is a very petite woman, who was either a size 3 or size 6 in all her pregnancies.  Many docs believe that very petite women cannot birth naturally and push them into cesareans, as happened here.  

Birth Story

With my first baby, I gained 60 lbs.  He weighed 10 lbs., 6 oz. and was born by c/s.  The OB, believe it or not, told me at only 5 months I would have to have a c/s because I was 'so small.'  UGH.  I was only 19 at the time and didn't know any better, so I allowed this to happen.  It was an ordeal, and the doc was disbarred a year later.  

With my second baby, I gained 40 lbs.  I had a repeat cesarean with her at 38 weeks because that's what the dumb OB wanted. He didn't give me any options! Also, he told me my uterine scar was vertical (which it WAS NOT), and it was too dangerous to try and attempt a vaginal delivery.  She weighed 7 lbs., 3 oz. at 2 weeks early.

With my third baby, I gained 28 lbs.  He was 7 lbs. 7 oz., born also at 38 weeks.  He was born by elective repeat cesarean due to the fact that I didn't have my records because I was told the office had lost them!!  We had moved and I had a great new group of docs who were willing to let me 'try' but only if I had my records.  I tried for months to retrieve my records only to hear that they had been "LOST!!"  So I ended up with another section, but after this birth my female OB told me the incision on the uterus was low transverse, and she couldn't see any reason why I had all the sections.  I was FURIOUS!!!!!

My fourth baby (my VBAC) I gained 20 lbs with. She was 7 lbs., 8 oz., born 7 days early ON HER OWN!!!  She was a VBA3C.  I had been pregnant with identical twins but lost one due to velamentous insertion of the cord.  My midwife told me she had never seen any mom and/or baby survive this in her 20 years, so she was a true miracle!  I feel VERY blessed to have her in my life!! I really think that Molly (the princess we lost) was her guardian angel and helped see us through this!  Here's her birth story. 

I planned my fourth very carefully, over the period of a year. Got healthy, took prenatals, folic acid, etc. etc. and YES!! I finally did get my records after going up there personally and all but threatening them!!  Then I was lucky enough to find my "wonder midwife" Vicky.  She was so fabulous!  I went to a group of midwives who worked with OBs in case of emergency, but all along Vicky told me I wouldn't have to see them.  She really supported me, and kept telling me, "You can do this!"  Without all of her positive support, I don't know what I would have done.  

I had her strip my membranes at about 38 weeks.  At this point I was 70% effaced and a fingertip dilated.  She said she could do it again in a week if I'd like.  We were afraid if I went over my due date the baby would be too large and possibly cause delivery problems.  My first was 10 lbs. 6 oz. and I am kinda small, so you can imagine how HUGE I was---and loved every minute of it.

The next day I shopped at the mall all day.  I felt so great, except for the fact I felt like the baby would drop out any second.  I could feel that she was very low.  Lots of pressure!  I came home that night, laid out my daughter's clothes for her soccer game the next day, and went to bed.  

I woke about 6 a.m. with really strong pains (I didn't realize they were contractions at first). Then when I really 'woke up' I sat up and my water broke all over the place!!!  Then it hit me.  WOW!  THIS IS IT!!  I was soooooo excited.  My contractions were very strong and close together right from the beginning, UNTIL I got to the hospital.  It's amazing how much they slowed down when I walked through the door!  All I could think of was what I had been through before.

So they got me all hooked up (ugh) and the contractions had spaced out, so I got pitocin.  Soon after they stopped it as mine picked up really well.  The nurse kept offering me an epidural, which I refused--I wanted to feel every little thing!  Each time I got a contraction, I remember smiling although it hurt like h***.  I knew each one was bringing me closer!!  I was checked for dilation and found to be only at 4 cm, so I decided I needed to do something different.  After the nurses left I was up squatting on the bed---what a sight I am sure!  When the nurse came back in she wanted me to lie back down (she was afraid I'd FALL).  So, I laid on my left side.

A few minutes later I felt this huge urge to push, but I knew she told me, "One centimeter an hour for first babies" so I figured I just had to go to the bathroom.  About that time Vicky, my midwife, walked in.  She asked to check me for the heck of it (this was 45 minutes after they found me at 4 cm).  I asked her not to, but she said I was making 'grunting' noises, so she begged me to let her check me, so I did.  Lo and behold I WAS FULLY DILATED and she could see the baby's head!!!

She wanted me to push to see what kind of pusher I was, so I instinctively laid on my left side and pushed.  She said "WHOA!! Hold on a minute, don't push again."  The baby's head was almost delivered, they had to get the cart for delivery in there!  2 more pushes and she was here!  I couldn't believe it!  Even when she said she could see the head, I kept asking, "Am I going to be able to birth this baby?"  She just laughed and said, "Yes ma'am, you are!"  

It was the most incredible experience!  They put her on my chest and I just sobbed!! I waited for the cord to stop pulsing before I cut it.  She was just so incredibly beautiful!  They had to suction her quite a bit because I didn't have any of the second stage pushing to squeeze the fluid out of her lungs.  But she was a healthy 7 lb. 8 oz. princess!  Her head was perfect too.  Not a touch of molding--I was amazed by that!  She looked like a section baby.  And I had no episiotomy, no nothing.  I was on a cloud for the rest of the day!  

After they cleaned me up and she slept, I was sitting there playing cards when my Mom got there.  She said, "What are you doing?"  I said, "Look over here, Mom, she is already here.  It was awesome!  My body actually WORKED!!"  I hope my next, which will be at home, goes as smoothly!


Annette's Story (3 previous cesareans, VBA3C)

Kmom's Notes:   Usually most OBs will refuse a trial of labor to women whose LUS was noted to be 'thin' because they are afraid it might be more prone to rupture.  Obviously, that did not happen here.  The mother educated herself carefully as to the possible risks and benefits of labor and chose to go ahead.  She had to search to find a doctor comfortable with this but kept searching until she found one who would back her up in her choices and whose birthing philosophies and personality she was comfortable with.  

Annette also had a history of babies that were posterior, which often leads to cesareans for fetal distress and/or 'failure to progress'/CPD.  So she educated herself carefully about preventing or turning posterior babies, and was very careful about her posture etc. in order to help avoid a recurrence.  This was probably very important, too.

Also note the misleading statements and poor choices her previous doctors made.  It's distressingly common for doctors to lie to patients to scare them into a repeat cesarean (she was told her bone structure made vaginal birth impossible, obviously not true since she did have a vaginal birth eventually!).  It's very common for moms wanting a VBAC to be pressured into a repeat cesarean by scare tactics near the end ("the baby is too big" or "the baby hasn't engaged yet so there's very little chance for VBAC" or "if you don't have this baby by 39 weeks there's very little chance for a VBAC", etc.).

Many doctors (and some midwives!) also show a lack of understanding of baby malpositions like posteriors.  In Annette's first and third baby, classic signs of a malpositioned baby were present (fetal distress, dilation stalling out, back labor, etc.) but it went unrecognized.  And in fact, the doctors made it worse with baby #3 by breaking the waters (when baby was unengaged, no less!), which made it nearly impossible for baby to turn and made fetal distress more likely.   Many cases of "CPD" or "FTP" cesareans are actually due to baby malposition, and the standard treatment of slow or stalled labor (breaking the water, pitocin, epidural, etc.) only tend to make the situation worse.

After this VBA3C, Annette went on to have 2 unattended homebirth VBA3Cs (see addendum).  

Birth Story

Baby #1: I planned and prepared (but not very well) for a drug-free natural birth.  Since we lived 35 miles from the hospital we went too early due to a fear of birthing en route.  We did not get a Labor and Delivery Room (LDR).  We were shocked at being left alone so much in the labor room.  Our fetal monitor didn't work properly.  I labored flat on my back in the bed with the straps on for 5 hours.  I dilated to 5 the first hour, then stayed at 5 cm with back labor between contractions and 60-second contractions 2 minutes apart for 4 hours.  I was on oxygen near the end.  The doctor said the only way he could tell for sure whether there was fetal distress was to open me up.  I argued for half an hour or more, but finally consented to an emergency c/s with general anesthesia.  Baby was posterior with the cord compressed between my belly and his face.  No oxygen deprivation.

Baby #2: I planned a VBAC.  My OB was out of town when we went to the hospital in 'false' labor.  I met his back-up, who lied to us about my bone structure making vaginal birth impossible because he was afraid the lower abdominal pain I was having was placental abruption or rupture of my prior uterine scar.  We scheduled an elective repeat cesarean.  I went into labor the next day, and the hospital staff insisted on stopping my contractions and prepping for an emergency c/s with epidural.  Abruption and rupture were ruled out.  I had postpartum depression for 6 or 7 months.

Baby #3:  I planned a VBAC even though my family doctor told me I was crazy.  My new OBs first encouraged me, then discouraged me after getting the operative report saying my Lower Uterine Segment (LUS) had been thin.  When I arrived at the hospital in labor, I was put on the External Fetal Monitor (EFM) flat on my back in bed.  I dilated from 3 to 7 in under an hour, but there was concern about the baby's heart rate.  Although the head was not engaged, the doctor broke my water to try to move labor along before they could be fetal distress.  I was also given oxygen.  In a few more minutes, however, the doctor frightened me into consenting to an emergency c/s with general anesthesia.  The baby was right posterior, and a loop of cord had been compressed between the head and my pelvis, but there was no sign of oxygen deprivation.  

Baby #4: I was determined to have a VBAC as I had been learning things all along and had concluded that all 3 of my c/s were fundamentally unnecessary and that it was in my best interests and the best interests of any future babies to get out of the repeat c/s cycle and start having natural, intervention-free births.  I interviewed many, many OBs and midwives and finally chose an OB at 36 weeks of pregnancy!  I read some 25 books on birth, took an 8-week independent birth preparation course, drastically modified my diet to be optimum in pregnancy, and exercised somewhat more than usual.  

I learned how to diagnose and treat posterior presentation, studied the statistics on the risk of rupture of the prior uterine scar in VBAC, VBA2C, VBA3C, with a thin LUS, over age 35, in a 6th pregnancy (I had had two ectopics after baby #3), etc.  We filed a birth plan with our doctor and hospital and hired a doula, and when we arrived at the hospital I was at 3 cm and labor was well-established.  

I refused the wheelchair and hospital gown, refused many interventions in writing, and insisted that EFM be intermittent rather than continuous, with my choice of positions while hooked up to the monitor.  (Continuous is recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  I had a 20-minute strip about every 90 minutes.)  I refused IV but consented to a saline lock.  My baby was anterior and I had no back labor between contractions.  After about 4 hours I had dilated to 5 or 6 cm and started to feel some urge to push.  

In about 6 more contractions, my cervix was gone and from that point on I pushed about every 5 minutes for 2 hours----a reasonable length of time for a first vaginal birth.  I had oxygen during the pushing stage.  My baby was born in an intact sac with her left hand alongside her face (compound presentation).  I had a small second-degree tear.  The doctor explored my uterus manually and found no sign of either thinning or rupture.  My 3 older children came in for an hour as soon as the doctor finished stitching me.  

My baby and I stayed overnight in the hospital because the pediatrician there----not our family doctor---was concerned about blood-type incompatibility jaundice.  The test in the morning showed bilirubin levels going down appropriately and we were both discharged with a clean bill of health.  I walked out of the hospital carrying her in my arms, 29 hours old.  

The education and determination I got this time were vital, as were the willing OB, the doula and my husband's prepared support, and my written birth plan.

Baby #5:  [Kmom notes] This was Annette's 8th pregnancy, 5th term pregnancy.  She feels that all the medical signs and symptoms of uterine rupture are unreliable and only the mother's inner feelings tend to be correct in the clinical research.  So she felt safer relying on herself and her faith than trusting medical supervision of this pregnancy and labor.  Also since the labor was so fast, she was glad this was a planned unassisted birth----planning kept it from being an emergency, because it would have been an unassisted homebirth in any case.

Annette was 37 at this birth, gained about 20-25 lbs. during the pregnancy, and did have some occasional pre-term labor from about 24 weeks to about 34 weeks, which was relieved by drinking plenty of water.  The baby was a girl, and was about 7 lbs. and 21 inches long.  

The story in Annette's words:  I was unwilling to plan another hospital birth as that seemed too medicalized, even for my VBAC.  The 3 birth centers within reasonable distance of my house refused to take me because I'd had 3 c/s, even though I'd had a VBAC.  The nearest homebirth midwives are 2 hours from me and not legal here, and I decided to look into Unassisted Childbirth (UC).  I'd always been interested in solo birth, and when I started to serious consider it I saw the OB who had attended my VBAC and told him I intended to stay home unless or until something came up that I couldn't deal with on my own at home.  I read books, joined support groups, bought supplies, and prepared my husband and kids.  I also compiled a list of friends who were both well-qualified and willing to help, who I could call when I was in labor if I felt the need.  

After about 5 days of prodromal labor, the contractions continued for hours, though still erratic, short, and far apart.  I went to bed at 11:30 p.m. and dozed between contractions until 2 a.m.  By then it seemed like they were getting closer together and lasting longer.  I timed them and they were 3-4 minutes apart, 60 seconds or more.  I was having loose bowel movements, feeling too hot and too cold at the same time, very queasy, and I couldn't relax.  I was only comfortable on all fours with my head resting on (burrowing into) a stack of pillows.  I found myself doing Lamaze-style breathing and swaying from side to side to keep my sweaty skin from sticking together where my belly touched my legs.  I felt like I couldn't possibly keep going on.  I woke my husband and told him I was either in transition or very early in a long posterior labor.  

Meanwhile the baby was very active, moving, wiggling limbs, and changing positions.  My husband timed contractions and they stayed about the same.  We kept going back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom.  At about 3:30 a.m. I felt very "pushy" and sat on the toilet and started moaning, groaning, and roaring.  I felt for my cervix and found what seemed to be a head, but since I'd never felt one in the birth canal before, I wasn't sure.

I kept my hand on it, and as I pushed it came down steadily.  Only then was I sure this was "it."  My water broke with a gush into the toilet.  The baby was born into my hands about 5 minutes later.  Neither one of us noticed what position it was in.  The cord was draped around its neck like an athlete's towel, so I slipped it off.  Then I turned the baby over and discovered she is a girl.  

I started nursing her and the placenta was born into my free hand in a few minutes.  The older children, who had been awakened by my loud birth noises, came in and we all smiled and laughed and cooed over her.  At about 40 minutes of age she turned blue and limp and we resuscitated her quickly by rubbing and bulb suction.  The other kids went back to bed and at 1-2 hours of age I clamped and cut her cord.  (The stump fell off one week later after we left it alone---no alcohol or anything.)  

I have a small tear that I have not treated in any way.  It seems to be healing just fine.  A friend who is a nurse came to check the placenta for me about 6 hours after the birth.  She declared the placenta, the baby and me all fine and healthy. 

Since this baby came so fast, I'm very glad I planned for a solo homebirth by learning how to do all the things I had to do and getting all the supplies that I used.  

Baby #6:  Another Unassisted Birth.

At age 39 I had my 6th baby--my third VBA3C, and my 2nd unassisted homebirth. He was our 2nd son, and probably our smallest baby yet--weighing about 6 1/2 lbs. I had no professional assistance for the entire pregnancy.

When active labor began on Thursday morning he was a bit asynclitic with his head off to the left of my cervix/pelvic opening, so the contractions soon slowed down and spaced out. I tried lying on my side when I could as I went throughout the day, doing normal things with my husband and 5 older kids, ranging in age from 14 down to 2. But I was lying on the wrong side, because the baby's buttocks were on my right side so I didn't realize that his head was to my left.

In the late afternoon an experienced HBAC'ing friend called to see if I'd had the baby yet. I told her I was in labor and the little girls were getting on my nerves. She came to get them for a little while, and while she was here we figured out that the baby was positioned diagonally, across my midline, so I should lie on my right side and try a few exercises. I did that and the contractions immediately picked up.

I skipped supper and lay on my side on the couch, laboring with my hip up on my very firm nursing pillow. I talked on the phone, watched TV, and told all my kids goodnight. At the end of the late news I thought I'd go to bed but when I stood up a very strong contraction literally brought me to my knees. After that I went straight to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, always my favorite place to labor.

The baby was born about 45 minutes later. He had no problems or complications or any kind.


Laura's Story (induced c/s, "failed TOL" c/s, ERCS, home VBA3C)

Birth Story

Just a little bit of history to start the story.  I have had 3 c/s.  The first was in 1998--I was induced 2 weeks early due to mild PIH.  2 days of pitocin, broke water on day 3, no progress past 5cm, C-section for FTP.  The second was in 2002--attempted VBAC.  Induced on due date (per request of OB), got to 10, pushed on my back for 2 hours, C-section for failure to descend.  The third was in 2003—ERCS (didn't know I had a choice).

The birth of Miriam: A VBA3C Success Story!!!

Monday, May the 9th, I woke up feeling crampy and crabby!  I just felt ick.  I didn't think much of it until later in the day when I started feeling pretty distinct contractions.  That evening I went to a Mother/Daughter banquet at church and felt pretty solid contractions there.  I wasn't timing them or anything, though.

When I got home and laid down in bed, they really started showing a pattern.  I got up and walked around the house from 11pm until 1am and Steve timed them.  They were coming every 5 minutes and were lasting from 45-90 seconds long.  These were not very strong contractions, though.  I was able to walk and talk through them.  Not a big deal.

So, at 1am we decided to call my midwife, Molly.  She just happened to be at another homebirth.  Her advice was to lie down and see what happened to the contractions.  I laid down and they spaced out to 8 minutes apart, but never let up completely.  We decided that we'd rest through the night and go on down to see Molly in the morning.  I slept between the contractions and Steve went to bed!

Tuesday morning, the 10th--my DUE DATE!--Steve and I got up.  I called my mom.  Grandma Helen was in town, too, and so they came and got the 3 boys and took them to my mom's house.  Steve and I headed to Dallas at about 9am.  It's a good 3 hour drive, but we stopped every hour for me to use the restroom (midwife's advice).  I'm glad we did.

The entire drive down there I was having contractions EXACTLY at 8 minutes apart.  I was able to doze between them, which was VERY good!  Many people were worried for me and the drive down, but really it was no big deal.  I sat in the passenger's seat up front, partially reclined and the trip was over before we knew it.  We arrived at Molly's house at 12:30pm. 

Let me back up here just a tad.  I had originally planned to birth at the birthing center there in Grand Prairie.  But we had also talked about using Molly's birthing pool, which couldn't be set up at the birthing center due to its size.  We hadn't fully made the decision to use the pool, but since I was coming down and liked the idea of the pool, we decided to go straight to Molly's house.  It turned out to be a very good thing.

When we got to Molly's she decided to check me.  She was thinking I'd be at 1 or 2cm.  Well when she checked she acted a bit surprised, a good surprised, and said, "you're a good 3 to a stretchy 4, +1 station and 95% effaced."  Hurrah!!!  We weren't going home.  We were going to have a baby!

Our next order of business was to eat lunch.  Steve and I decided we'd go out and grab a bite to eat at Subway.  I was pretty uncomfortable the entire time we were there.  Contractions were still very regular and were a tad uncomfortable when I wasn't up walking around.  We also ran to the grocery store to pick up a finger nail clipper because my finger nails were bugging me.

It was becoming pretty difficult for me to walk around and just as we were getting to the car I felt a strange sensation.  I didn't notice any kind of pop or any gush or anything, but I did notice that it felt like I had peed in my pants!  Well, sure enough, my water had broken!

We returned to Molly's house and it was time to just hang around and move through labor.  From 2pm until about 10pm, I walked through contractions.  I also spent some time "dancing" with Steve, sitting in a recliner from time to time, and spent some time in the birthing pool which they had finally gotten assembled and filled with water.  During this time the contractions were very bearable and I felt really good.

At 10pm Molly checked me again and found that I was at 8cm.  Hurrah, again!  This was exciting.  But here's where things really started going.  I got into the tub again and they turned on the whirlpool jets to get contractions moving along some more and BOY, they got going.  At this point I really felt like I was in LABOR!  I had to moan and groan through the contractions.  And there started to be a very painful sensation in my hips.  It was a cramping type of pain.  A very powerful and intense cramping pain and it made me feel just absolutely miserable.  I think back, and I truly believe that if my hips had not caused me so much grief that the rest of labor and delivery could have been so much more bearable!

Well, I had to get out of the tub.  The contractions were too intense.  I ended up in the shower some and the contractions and the hip pain continued.  At some point I felt a slight urge to push.  I guess at that point, around 11pm, Molly decided to check again.  I was at a 10!!

So for a good while I tried pushing, but my hips just killed me!  I couldn't effectively push because of the terrible pain I felt in my hips!  URGH.  It was so frustrating.  But the head continued to descend which was a good thing.  (At the time I didn't believe anything anyone told me!  Every time someone tried to tell me that the head was moving down, or that they could see more of the head, I'd cry out, "No, that's not enough" or "That's not good enough" and they'd all say, "Yes, it is!"  By the way, there was another midwife and two midwifery students at my labor and delivery.  They were ALL GREAT!!)

At 12:30am on May 11th, more progress was made and I was found to be at a +3 station and I eventually was able to push a little more effectively.  I remember the whole time I just couldn't believe what was happening.  I think I remember wanting the pain to end, but not knowing how to make it stop.  I remember sweating a whole lot and crying a whole lot.  I remember towards the end really feeling like I wasn't even in my body.  I remember saying out loud a few times, "It feels like I'm not even here" "I'm not here..."  And I know every other statement out of my mouth was very pessimistic.  A lot of "I can't" and "I can't believe this" and "My hips hurt SO bad".  And, bless her heart, Molly was trying so hard to get me to try different things and when she would suggest that I try doing something or getting into a certain position, I would just flatly respond, "NO".

For roughly the next 2 hours, I continued to push.  I spent some time on the toilet (it seemed to really help me push!).  I spent some time squatting beside the bed, leaning over the bed, leaning over a birthing ball, and on all fours. 

At about close to 2am I finally ended up on the bed.  Molly was trying to encourage me to get on my back, but I stayed tilted on my right hip for some time pushing there.  Eventually, though, I was on my back and really pushing hard.  At some point in here, my hips stopped hurting SO intensely (maybe because the baby had gotten past a certain point?) and I remember being able to push a little bit more effectively—still not the best efforts, though.  They did get out a mirror to show me what was happening when I was pushing (I still kept yelling out, "This isn't working" "It's not enough" "She's sliding back up" "I CAN'T"...) and it really did help me focus and realize that what I was doing was really getting the baby down! 

Steve also got right up close in my face and talked to me.  He said that we had come this far and that there was nothing we could do but move forward and have this baby girl.  Of course, I just shook my head and said, "I can't".  (Bless all their tender, loving hearts for putting up with me!)

It was also during this time that Molly actually mentioned the "C" word.  She wasn't saying that that was what was going to happen.  I really don't even remember what she said.  I just remember thinking that a c-section just wasn't an option.  I wasn't going to do that.  For crying out loud, how in the WORLD was I going to travel to the hospital in this condition?  I WAS NOT going to get in the car like THIS!  Molly was not suggesting a c-section at all.  I think she was just trying to make me think about what the other alternative was, and that it was so much less desirable than what I was trying to attain.  And I agreed (even though my comments at the time made it sound to the contrary).

At 2:22am I finally pushed the baby's head out.  I was SO amazed at this point.  I couldn't believe I was really experiencing this.  It was very awesome.  They encouraged me to touch the head, and I reluctantly reached down.  That was another amazing moment.  Steve was making jokes at this point (well, he kind of made jokes the whole time).  He said something about how "weird" this scene was and that if anyone walked in at this moment and saw this [the head sticking out like it was] they'd be in for a surprise.  (I've seen the video since then and I have to agree.  Seeing a big chunky-cheeked baby's head sticking out like that from a woman's body is an interesting sight!)

Anyway, my expectation at this point was that the body would just come "sliding out" so nice and neat with the next contraction.  That's what I've always seen in those birthing television shows.  Well, that's not what happened.  First of all, I never felt another contraction, and so never felt the need to push any further.  But eventually the midwives encouraged me to push some and they began to tug on the baby.  The cord was wrapped around the neck once.  Not a big deal.  Just needed to slip it off and they could proceed.

But boy they had to tug and pull to get her out.  This is NOT what I had expected and it hurt some and so I yelled out, "GET HER OUT!!"  I was just so frustrated.  I expected that nice little gush of the body slipping out!

Well, needless to say, it wasn't longer than probably 30 seconds and she was out.  Steve was there to "catch" her and he placed her on my chest and stomach.  OH MY!  What a feeling.  Part of me was still saying that it wasn't real.  But it was!  It was awesome.  I remember saying numerous times, "I did it" "We did it" "Wow" "Oh my".

Eventually baby Miriam let out a loud cry and all was well with the world.  Her apgars were 9/9/9.  She weighed 10lbs. 2oz. and is just amazing!!  It's been a week now and she is absolutely the calmest, most relaxed and easy-going baby I can imagine (and I thought all 3 of my boys were laid-back and easy-going as babies!).

And now that a week has passed I can say I become more and more amazed at what happened and how it happened!  It was a fantastic journey.  And even though much of my pregnancy was spent worrying about having a VBAC and the "risks," never once was that a factor in the labor and birth.   Never once did the "fears" of any supposed "risk" enter my mind during the labor and birth.  It all just seemed so natural, so normal!  Molly even made mention after it was all over how wonderfully my scarred uterus had performed.  It performed its job perfectly—just as it should!

I can remember distinctly two things that I purposefully chose NOT to say during those intense few hours of pain and pushing.  I remember thinking "I can't say THAT aloud, even though I'm thinking it at the moment, because I'll regret it and I know I don't really mean it."  One of those things that I chose not to say was "Never again."  Because even though at the time I couldn't imagine doing it again, I would never want to say "never."  Children are too awesome of a blessing for me to say never again!  And if we are blessed with another pregnancy, I know I'll make a choice for another vaginal birth.

And the other thing that I chose not to say aloud was "I can't believe I wanted to do this."  In my attempt NOT to say that I did say the shortened versions of "I can't" and "I can't believe this."  But I knew that eventually, when all was said and done, I'd look back and be SO grateful that I made the choice to VBAC.  And as it turns out--I AM so grateful!


Amy's Story (vaginal stillbirth, 3 c/s, VBA3C at home)

Kmom's Notes: 

Birth Story

My first birth was a hospital vaginal, with all their fancy bells and whistles.  It was a little past my due date when I noticed he had not moved in a while so I went to get checked out and found he was already gone.  I was induced and managed to leave with an intact belly. 

My next son was induced at 38 weeks because of high blood pressure and a non-reactive NST (Non-Stress Test).  My body was NOT ready.  They tried the gel, then pit, and 4 days later when I was finally at 9 cm his heartrate monitor went off -- he was in distress.  They wheeled me into the OR and the new monitor showed him to be fine but the pit was gone and so was my labor.  At this point I just wanted him out alive and agreed to the section.  

My next two boys were born by elective sections.  I was so scared of birth and felt like my body had failed me the first two times---why risk it?

When we decided we wanted one more child, I knew I couldn't do another surgery.  I remembered the midwife I had met while pregnant with my other one and began researching a VBAC.  I wanted a doctor who would let me do things my way.  No pit, no constant monitoring, no interventions.  Well, they all laughed at me.  One even told me I would kill my baby----VBACs after 3 sections just are NOT done, he said.  I then tried a midwife in a hospital but they risked me out.  

So I found a lay midwife and my homebirth plans began.  It was hard.  I had spend all my pregnancies thinking I was high risk---lots of dr. visits, ultrasounds, NSTs, you name it.  This one was, well, NORMAL, and that was hard for me.  I struggled with the fear of what the OBs had told me--I would never go into labor on my own and my cervix was just not made for birthing. 

At 36 weeks, I had my home visit with my midwife and things just felt WRONG for both of us.  Within a week we had a fight online and I fired her.  I did end up finding another midwife who took me on.  I had prodromal labor for DAYS and was discouraged and scared.  Just before my due date, contractions began Monday afternoon around 1 p.m.  I ignored them thinking they were more of the annoying "fake" ones.  I had thought all week that this was "IT" only to have the contractions stop after staying up half the night.  I had never labored on my own, I didn't know what to expect.  They were there all day but I refused to acknowledge them until after dinner.  

By 8 p.m. I was beginning to wonder if maybe this was it.  By 10 p.m. they were regular and about 5 minutes apart.  I was having to concentrate through them now and they were getting stronger.  At 11 p.m. I called the midwife to let her know what was going on and we sent the older 3 boys to my Mom's "just in case."  

We walked and walked outside.  They were getting more intense and I needed Rob to get through them now.  They were 5 minutes apart and about a minute long.  At 12:30 we called the midwife's assistant as she lived an hour away.  During that hour we got the house ready and made the bed.  I was checked and found to be 4 cm and was pleased!  Beth went on the couch to get some sleep and we headed back outside.  It was a beautiful night and we just walked and talked and stopped during a contraction.  It was great!!  I was very close to my neighbor; she had taught me all about gardening and I stared at her beautiful garden during my labor.  Her Daylilies were in full bloom and I remember looking at them and visualizing my cervix opening like the flower.  I still get fond memories of my birth when those daylillies bloom.  I took some from that patch and they are my most precious flower.  

I was so excited to be in labor and was not scared at all.  I was so fine in between contractions.  I kept wondering if this was real.  I ahd expected to get scared and for it to be harder to handle.  We kept active all night long working at the contractions and just enjoying it!!  I tried to lay down but the contractions were overwhelming and I had no control when I was laying down, so we stayed upright.  I have no clue how I would have done a hospital birth, the thought of the bed was terrifying.  I wanted control and was not getting it on the bed.  I think a lot of this was remembering my hospital labors.  

I did get a few minutes peace once when I laid down.  I was able to cat-nap between a few contractions.  However, they began spacing out and I knew rest won't birth a baby so we got back up.  Even though I was in active labor, my water had broke and it was REAL.  I feared they would stop if I rested.  I felt recharged and ready for more.  Beth dozed on the couch and told us to wake her every hour.  We went about every 2 hours and she did a quick check on baby and we chatted, then she went back to doze and me to labor outside. 

By morning Rob was getting tired so I called my friend Sherry who was planning on attending the birth.  She arrived at 6:30 a.m. and I was dilated to 6 cm and still coping but it was getting rough.  Rob went for a nap and Sherry and I walked outside and things got real then.  The contractions were getting stronger and closer together.  I was doing well but was tired and started to get weepy.  Rob woke up just in time!!  The heat of the day was already starting to hit so I headed inside to my nicely air conditioned room.  

It got real intense, real quick after that.  they got to be so strong and close.  I knew I was in transition and did get a little scared.  I was still able to stay on top of most of the contractions by leaning on Rob while Sherry rubbed my back and looking Beth in the eyes.  I also had this strange feeling of tapping on the wall in a rhythm during a contraction.  The tapping turned to pounding as the morning wore on!  I kept saying I knew I could do this, I just didn't WANT to anymore!

I knew I was in transition and was so curious how far dilated I was, but was scared to find out.  I was scared of having to do this for many more hours.  I did end up asking for a check and was found to be almost 8 cm and was not pleased!!!  I cried so hard.  I thought I had hours and hours of this to go yet.  Everyone tried telling me it would go quicker now but I was so tired, I didn't believe them.  

We went back outside and I regained some control.  After a while I could feel the baby moving down.  There was such a unique feeling now in my bottom.  I had saved the bath for this part.  I longed for the relief I got in the bathtub all my life; whenever I was hurt or stressed I would head for a nice warm bath. We turned the tub on and all there was was a TRICKLE! I called my Mom who lived down the street and she had no water either.  There was a water main break and so I settled on a trickle of a shower.  The contractions started getting REALLY intense, having double and triple peaks.  I wasn't scared, I was tired but the contractions took so much focus I didn't have time to be scared. The head midwife  Linda came sometime during this.  

We were in my room and I was so tired and not handling the contractions at all.  All of a sudden, I got this high feeling, like from a drug.  The contractions seemed to slow down and I just sat there zoned out and loving it!!!  It felt so good.  I swear it felt like a drug.  I had quite a few minutes of this.  My body knew I needed a break and gave me one!  I needed that; I was able to handle labor once again.  A little while later I was losing it.  They were so intense!!  I was still leaning on Rob and poor Sherry was rubbing my back so hard but it was never hard enough.

Looking Linda and Beth in the eyes helped me stay as focused as I could.  Linda asked to check on baby's heart rate so I had to lay on the dreaded bed.  once there I realized I was in no less control on the bed and decided to stay for a while.  It was so uncomfortable but I was so out of it I couldn't speak my needs.  A few contractions later I felt a funny feeling, like a pop.  They said it was time to push.  I didn't believe them and asked to be checked.  I was fully dilated and he was coming!

I was in a terrible position and tried to move, but he was coming and I couldn't move.  Pushing hurt and the urge to push was not real strong.  I fought the contractions and had my butt and legs so tense while pushing.  They all tried to explain what I was doing but I just couldn't help it.  

I started to feel like I was going to tear up top (I did tear before he even crowned but nobody told me).  I panicked, getting more tense and making it worse!!  They shut the air and fans off and it was almost 100 degrees that day (he was born just before noon).  I really needed to move, this position was just so wrong and the one thing I didn't want.  I was so tired and so zoned out, I couldn't get up.  He came pretty quick despite me fighting it.  I only "pushed" for 23 minutes total.  I actually never pushed---it hurt to push, my body did it all on its own.  

Just before his head was crowning Sherry told me to feel his head and I wouldn't.  She took my hand and made me feel his head.  I got some strength from that.  Rob and Sherry had been using a cold wash cloth for my forehead but I wanted so much cold water.  Sherry had a bowl with ice water at the side of the bed and they ended up pouring the water all over me. That felt soooo good!!  

His head crowned and it didn't burn as bad as I thought it would.  Once his head was out, I was reaching down saying, "Give him to me," but his shoulders weren't even out yet.  I was so happy, I didn't want to wait!!!  :-)

His shoulders were out and I brought him to my belly with some help from the midwife.  I cried over and over, "I DID IT!!!"  He was awake but not crying. I had no idea how good that would feel to reach down and carry my child from my vagina onto my chest.  He was slippery and warm and beautiful!!  What I felt when I grabbed my baby was unreal!!  My body birthed a baby!!  No pitocin, no drugs or surgery was needed for me to have a baby.  I DID IT!!!


Barbara's Story (3 prior c/s, home waterbirth VBA3C)

Birth Story

Note: Barbara's first 3 babies were all born by cesarean. Her fourth baby was a VBAC.

My first c/s was "failure to progress." I only dilated to 2cm after 7 hours of labor, then they said I had to have a c/s because something could go wrong at any minute and my water had been broken for 24 hours. 

My second child was a c/s because the OB thought that she was too big. He wouldn't even let me go into labor, and told me that it was too late to change providers. 

My third child was a vbac gone wrong. I was secretly planning to go to the hospital in labor and dilated 9cm...but my baby had other plans. At 35 weeks I went into labor, and after 5 hours of labor I went to the hospital (fearing a preemie) and I was dilated to 2cm. 9 more hours later I was still 2cm and they took her by c/s because I also had a gigantic cyst engulfing my left ovary, which required the removal of the entire ovary. So I never progressed past 2cm.

I was determined to figure out a way to have a vaginal birth even after 3 c/s. I spoke to doctors and hospitals and they all said it was possible, but no hospital in my area would touch me. I knew in my heart this is what I wanted, a vaginal birth, and I knew I'd get it. But I was frustrated that the hospitals wouldn't help me out, even though some of the doctors I spoke with said they supported VBACs. I decided one way or another, I was having this child vaginally. I didn't care if I was going to be alone doing it, I would make sure I was safe. I began to look into unassisted birth...but this was something that I would do if I couldn't find like-minded women to assist me. I called up some midwives, and one actually yelled at me saying that if I was going to have a hba3c, that midwife who assists me is practicing bad midwifery and I will surely die. I'm emailing her very soon with my success story!!

I found a midwife who believed in me, and I began telling her I didn't want her to do anything when I was birthing my baby---that I could do it myself, but I just wanted women who had good energy and knowledge of what to do in case something arises around me...so we worked together not knowing if she would actually assist me. In the end, she said she would, and if I would allow two other midwives to come...so I met with them and they were awesome. I said yes. Meanwhile, I got ready emotionally and physically. I went to counseling to get rid of some "mom" issues I had, and talked a lot about having this baby at home. I was never scared, I was excited, but I did have some fears, which were rupture, hemorrhage, and the baby not breathing. I ruled out other fears such as high b/p, placenta previa and accreta and gestational diabetes. I had a sonogram to rule out the placenta problems, and there were none. My blood pressure had been high, so I began to eat right and drink tea with good herbs in it. My b/p went down with proper nutrition and meditation. I walked, I swam, and I kept extremely active.

And I knew I would have this baby vaginally, but I kept asking my husband, "Do you think this is really going to happen?" and he said he knew in his heart it would happen. I had many many dreams that it was happening. I cried and prayed every day that it would happen, that it HAS to happen. I worked hard during my pregnancy to ensure that I could physically do it, and emotionally I learned why my previous births went the way they did. I learned that there was nothing wrong with me or my babies, it was just impatience on the doctors' part. I also learned that my mother had dilated to 10 cm while birthing me (she has had 3 c/s) and was pushing me out when I went into distress and she had an emergency c/s. I had always thought the doctors wouldn't let her labor long and decided to get me out. I never ever knew she dilated and was pushing. With my first second and third babies, I never dilated past 2 cm, and in my labors I would always think, well my mom never dilated either. I think learning this important fact has helped me have the mindset to do this. Healing during the pregnancy is very helpful to be in the mindset to trust birth--trusting that babies know how to get out and moms know how to get them out.

I went into labor at 39 weeks, but I had been dilating and effacing since 36 weeks and lost what I thought was my mucous plug. When I went into labor at 39 weeks I had 14 hours of hard labor, some back labor and the contractions were every minute for 6 contractions and then a 1 min break. I got in the pool (I had the Aqua Doula) and lit the fire and had some nice music. My doula was there and my husband, midwife and her apprentice. I was doing well and really thought this would be it. 14 hours later, it stopped slowly. I was so mad! I started to get mad at my body thinking it wouldn't ever know how to go into labor again. About a week later, after being depressed and angry, I spoke to a woman who let me rent the Aqua Doula from her and she guided me through this wonderful meditation on the phone. I was to ask the baby and myself and a higher power what do I need to do next for the next step. My answer was simple: let go. Let go of trying to go into labor everyday and let go of my fears. So I wrote down my fears on paper that night and burned them under the full moon with my husband. I let a higher power take over my fears, I wasn't going to worry about them. I was letting what was meant to be just be. I felt a weight being lifted. The next day I wasn't in labor but I felt much better.

That night I started having mild contractions a few minutes apart, but I didn't pay attention to them much. When I'd get one, I'd say ok, now I'm having this feeling in this moment....I was just paying attention to the moment I was in, not what was going to happen in the future (i.e. labor not progressing again). (One note here: if I had been in the hospital the first time I went into labor, I probably would have had a c/s again for failure to progress....if I had not been a VBACer, I'd have been induced.) I played a computer game to keep my mind off them and after a while it got harder to concentrate and I just wanted to go to bed. So I did. My husband thought I was in labor but I said, "No, it's just some contractions." He said, "Well, that's what labor is." So I went to bed around 11 and woke at 2:30 to some strong contractions. I gave them some thought and then went back to bed. What will be will be. I woke at 4 and couldn't sleep through them, they were getting more painful, about every 3 minutes apart. My husband took the kids to school around 8 and I said it was ok if I was alone with our 3 year-old for a while. I was really having some strong ones, but I was on the birthing ball and doing ok. I love that birthing ball.

When my husband got back, I said we should call my doula, so I did and couldn't really leave a message through a contraction. She got to our house by 9, I think. I didn't think we should call the midwife yet because what if it was false labor again, and I felt ok. I also had the Doppler to check the heartrate and was comfortable having my doula check it for me. Heartrate was fine, I felt fine and the contractions were getting stronger. We filled up the pool and I got in and I had my husband call the midwife to come check on me. She came and my doula was making sure I drank tea and ate a little. I told her I was ok for a while if she wanted to go and do some errands so she did; I didn't want to have her sitting staring at me laboring. There wasn't much she had to do for me. I don't remember when she came back, I was really in labor now and trying to get comfortable through the contractions. My parents came to pick up our 3 year-old and picked up the kids from school; they had a half day. I don't remember much except the contractions were very very strong, and every time my midwife would tell me "These are strong contractions that are going to get the baby out," I'd feel very strong. Not in a bad way, but the contractions really had strength.

At one point I started to cry and my legs started shaking, and I knew I was in transition, but I was so caught up with thinking that at any minute the labor would stop. I also knew I was in transition because I became VERY vocal! All of a sudden my voice got very clear and loud and I said, "I'M NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE! I'M DONE!" Of course I knew what I was saying wasn't true, but I didn't know what else to say to express myself. I kept shaking my head, shouting "NO! NO! NO! NO!" and my doula kept saying "YES YES YES!" but I couldn't form the word yes, it felt better to say no. I don't know why, but I never doubted that I could do it, my mouth just wanted to form the O part in NO. I kept shaking my head too, going "STUPID STUPID STUPID" for some reason and everyone was laughing....including me when I'd have a break, I'd be like what the hell am I saying?? Then I kept saying to myself, how much longer, and my midwife would say, "Well I can check you," and I said "No way!" I didn't want to be checked. I wanted to do this myself and I'd know when I was 10cm when I began pushing. As tempting as it sounded to be checked to see my progress, I didn't want to be disappointed if I was only 5 cm. So I was never checked. I let my body tell me where I was.

Then I felt like I had to pass gas and so I tried and pop! my water broke. I was really happy at that point, because there was a baby coming! The water was clear, no meconium which was great. Baby's heartrate was fine, her heartrate never really varied too much. Never went lower than 130s. So I kept going, and those contractions are hard to deal with at times. I yelled and moaned and shook the sides of the pool, I bit the side of the pool and pounded with my fists on the pool. It seemed to help. LOL.

Then for some reason I needed to just look at something and zone out, and no matter what I looked at, it wouldn't relax me, except for this fake rose on the fireplace I had in a floral arrangement. So I stared at the rose and let myself be absorbed into the contractions. That helped a bit, just letting myself zone out and let the contraction ride over my body. Just letting it be and observing what it was. Sometime by 4pm my other midwife and apprentice showed up. I started pushing shortly after that....only I didn't know what it was. I kept saying I have to go to the bathroom! And they would say, "It's ok, just go in the water" (because I didn't want to get out). At first I was holding back a bit because I didn't want to go in the pool, but I couldn't hold back any longer and let it take over my body. But I didn't have to go. My body would kind of lurch forward and I felt like throwing up while my bottom would be pushing. I felt like a gigantic basketball was being pushed out of my butt. We all laughed when I had a break from pushing and I said that.

I had good breaks in between, I think a minute or two apart. I kept pushing like that for an hour and a half, I guess.....halfway through pushing I realized, oh I'm pushing! Then I kept saying, "I don't want to push anymore!" I was getting tired of having my body do something that I was not controlling. But at the same time I did want this. I wanted all the pushing, I just never realized that you don't have to consciously push like you see in the movies, your body just does it! And there's no stopping it, it's really awesome. It made me feel awesome that my body actually knew what to do. All of a sudden I felt some burning upon a push and felt a flaring of the vaginal muscles. I put my hand down and looked at my doula and went, "I FEEL SOMETHING! I feel BURNING! YAY!" We all laughed and they said my eyes brightened up and I was smiling in between contractions now.

After that I was really pushing in a different way. I felt her little head coming down and then it would slip back up and in between I'd be like oh her head slipped back up and they would reassure me that was normal. I had been on my knees squatting during all of this and when I felt her head crown I turned around to face my husband (who had gotten in the water) and put my feet on his knees. It was instinct because I didn't know exactly when she was going to be born.

Then pushing really began and her head came out....I was watching with a mirror and feeling when her head came out, it was the best. I could really focus now on her coming out, even though it was hurting. I could still smile and talk while trying to get her out. By this time though, I really wanted her in my arms, so I told myself with the next contraction I'm going to work with it instead of letting it ride over me....I would help push. So I did and her whole head popped out....and I felt myself tear in two places, one up, and one down. It felt like I was splitting in half lengthwise. But I didn't care. The next contraction I pushed really hard and for some reason I let out an ear-piercing scream...I don't know why...I guess I wasn't prepared for the sharp pain around my urethra. Then when I was on a break from pushing, I said, "When is the rest of him going to get out??" (I called the baby 'him' through my pregnancy, I really thought the baby was a boy). With the next contraction I pushed and didn't care how much it hurt....and all of a sudden the baby shot out, flipped herself over and floated to the top, where my husband said she skimmed over his outstretched hands and then I promptly scooped up the baby, saying, "My baby! My baby!"

I remember thinking back when the baby started to crown, that wow, I really am dilating! The baby really can get through the bones! When she popped out, I was concerned that her shoulders wouldn't fit, but she popped right out! So I sat there holding my baby, putting her right to my chest while the midwives got towels to put over her and a hat. I just sat there staring into her open eyes, she was looking all around. She didn't breathe right away but I knew the placenta was still attached so it was ok. A minute later she was snorting and making little noises so I knew she was breathing and the placenta was starting to detach. Sure enough the pool was filled with bloody water so it must have detached. I was crying and couldn't believe I'd done it! With no medication either! And I didn't rupture! It wasn't what I expected (from what you see in the movies and lamaze videos....it doesn't happen like that. You don't have to have someone tell you when to push, you just do.) Because your body just takes over, you don't have to have someone constantly checking you and telling you when to push, if you trust your own body, you will do it all on your own. So anyway, I was sitting there and I said, "I don't even know what I have!" So my midwife goes, "Well, check!" So I lifted the towel and saw girl parts...and I exclaimed, "Oh My God, I have a GIRL!" Everyone laughed so hard because I had really thought she was a boy and had a bad habit of saying "he" during the pregnancy.

I got out of the water to get the placenta out and nurse the baby...I sat in my rocking chair and amazed myself because I was able to get up minutes after giving birth! Amazing. My midwife wanted to try to pull the cord (after my husband cut the cord) and get the placenta out and I said, "No, don't do that!"....Finally after a few times of her saying that, she goes, "What are you afraid of?" I said, "It's still attached." She goes, "No it's not, it's just sitting in your vagina." I was like, OH well then, pull away! LOL. So I pulled and then she did and it came right out. I was just sitting in there. I was having contractions that hurt, but I couldn't push any more. I wasn't getting that sensation anymore. We looked at it and examined it and I thought it was wonderful. I didn't realize a placenta is so large coming out! But it wasn't as hard as getting the baby out because it was floppy and no bones.

I relaxed and laid down on the couch bed with my new baby nursing and taking pictures. It was awesome and I'm so grateful I trusted myself enough to get this baby out. And everything was fine! I'm another great statistic in favor of VBA3C!

Kmom note: You can view a video montage of this birth at the following link. It's well worth seeing!  Very inspiring.



Tammy's Story (unmedicated hospital VBA3C)

Kmom's Notes:   An unmedicated hospital VBA3C story.  Her doctor was opposed to her trying a VBA3C but went along when she insisted on it anyhow.  The baby was also probably transverse the night before but went head-down for labor.  

Birth Story

My first daughter was born in May of '99.  [My prepregnancy weight was 96 lbs.  I gained 60 lbs.]  I pushed for 4.5 hours, ran a fever of 103, and then delivered her via c-section.  It was a horrible first birth experience. The doctor told me afterwards that I could have delivered vaginally, but I didn't push hard enough.  A real jerk!!!  I did have an epidural with her and was kept flat on my back during the whole labor.  She weighed 8 lbs. 4 ounces.

My second daughter was born in Sept. of 2000.  She was a scheduled c-section.  [I gained 80 lbs. with her.] I went into labor with her the morning of the scheduled section, but we went with the plan to do a repeat section.  She weighed 10 lbs. 7 oz!!

My first boy was born in May of 2002.  I went into labor with him the morning before my scheduled section!  Concerned with the safety of trying for a VBAC, we decided to do the repeat section again.  I didn't have the info I got with this last pregnancy or I would have tried for a VBAC with him.  He weighed 9 lbs.  

On Sunday evening, I had some pretty good contractions.  We thought they were just the "false labor" contractions.  They were strong but nothing consistent.  I went to bed and got woke up about every hour with a contraction.  At 5 a.m. I got up and went to the bathroom.  I noticed that I was having contractions more frequently and decided to time them.  They were about 4-5 minutes apart.  I put a load of laundry in the washer, seeing I hadn't packed any bags yet!!  Started to clean up the house and decided that I needed to call my mom to come take care of my 3 children.  I tried to call my husband at work also, but he works in a factory and I couldn't get ahold of him personally.  The office didn't open until 8 a.m., so I left a message on his supervisor's voice mail.  

I tried to get in touch with my doula, but she wasn't answering her phone.  She had been gone the week prior and I was under the impression she was going to be home that week.  After trying her cell phone and still getting no answer, I called her back-up person.  My husband called back an hour later and I told him that the contractions were now about 2 minutes apart.  He said he wasn't able to leave work yet.  He had put some parts under heat/pressure and the cycle couldn't be disrupted.  He said it would be at least an hour before he could leave. I called my brother to help out with the kids until my mom got there and in case my husband couldn't make it to the birth.

At 8:30 my doula (the back-up) showed up.  We called my husband and told him that my contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and that we needed to go to the hospital.  I told him to just meet us there.  

At 9 a.m. we arrived at the hospital.  They hooked me up to the monitors.  The baby's heart was only detected in the upper part of my belly.  The doctor said he wanted to do an ultrasound to see the position.  I thought the baby was transverse the night before and had a long talk with him to go head down.  The doctor did an internal and said I was 4-5 cm and that he was pretty sure he felt the head down.  We then discussed my birth plan.  He told me that he wasn't comfortable with doing a VBAC after 3 cesareans.  He also said that his wife had a VBAC, but he wanted to let me know how he felt.  I told him thank you, but that this was what I wanted and I wanted to at least try.  He was great from that point on!! My husband arrived while I was sticking to my guns about the VBAC.

We moved into the LDR.  I walked down the hall to my room and tried to urinate when I got there.  I had an incredible full bladder feeling, but couldn't go.  Contractions got stronger at this point.  I started to yell my way through each one.  At 10:45  (or somewhere around there), the doctor asked to check me again.  He said I was at 7-8 cm.  I knew I was getting to the end.  In the room behind me, I could hear another woman yelling through her contractions.  I felt better knowing I wasn't the only one yelling.  I spend most of my time standing next to the bed and marching and yelling through each contraction.  

A few minutes after being checked, I told my doula that I was starting to feel the urge to push.  The doctor checked me again and said I was complete and that there was just a tiny little bit of cervix on one side, but that I could start pushing whenever I wanted. That was all I needed!  He also said that the baby was still a little high, so we had a little ways to go.  I didn't want to hear that!!!  He walked out of the room and my doula looked at me and asked if I wanted to stand up.  I said, YES!!!!!

The bottom of the bed lowered almost to the floor.  I stood on the end of the bed, grabbed the front of my husband's shirt, buried my face in his chest and pushed.  I felt the baby drop in my pelvis and then I felt burning.  I knew the baby was crowning!!

In the room behind us, I hear a cheer and clapping.  I knew the girl had her baby, now it was my turn!!  I yelled at the nurse that I was burning but she didn't respond.  I yelled it again and my doula came up behind me.  She had gone to wet a washcloth for me.  I suddenly hear her yelling at me to stop pushing----they needed me to sit down!  I half squatted/laid on the end of the bed. The nurse came over and kept yelling at me to stop pushing.  She called the nurse's station and told them that she needed the nursery there, "NOW!!!!"  They asked where the doctor was and she told them that he had just left and someone needed to find him because she was going to have to deliver the baby and it was going to cause a lot of paperwork for her.  I wasn't about to stop pushing at that point!!!

The doctor walked in and put his gloves on.  I felt myself tearing up on top and felt a little bit of panic from that.  He said I was beginning to tear in 3 different place and asked if he could do an episiotomy.  He tried to let the perineum stretch, but I couldn't stop pushing and it was causing me to tear.  I gave him permission to do the episiotomy. Within seconds, the head was born.  I was still being yelled at to stop pushing.  Suddenly, I felt a whole body emerge from mine!!!  I think my first words were, "That feels so much better!!"  

Then I suddenly realized....I DID IT!!!  I had a vaginal birth.  I used no medication to get through it at all.  My body did what it was supposed to do. For the first time in my life, I felt complete pride.  I DID IT!!!!!!!  I set my mind to it.  I prepared for months with yoga, deep relaxation, watching my diet, drinking red raspberry life tea and reading everything I could get my hands on about VBACs and natural childbirth.  It all paid off.  I did what I had so many people telling me not to even attempt.  

My other 3 children were born by c-section.  I honestly believe that was the way they were meant to be born.  This one was born vaginally...the way he was meant to be born!!!


Connie's Story (c/s; 2 "failed" TOL c/s; Home VBA3C)

Kmom's Notes:   Never say never.  Connie had 2 prior "failed" trials of labor that resulted in cesareans after hours of labor.  Yet she still went on to have a beautiful homebirth VBAC with her fourth baby.  Kmom salutes the courage and perseverance and faith of this dedicated and strong mom.  

Birth Story

After a long labour, Breanna was born at home, in our kitchen.  Daddy held Mommy in a supported squat as Cathy Harness caught her.  Terri, Connie's sister, took still pictures while Breanna's oldest brother Eric captured the moments on video.  Connie is still in amazement, having accomplished her VBA3C!  Connie and Allan are thrilled to finally meet their first daughter after 3 sons and loving every moment of being a family.  

Story:  I had an on/off labour the entire day before, but not strong or demanding so I worked on CDA (Canadian Doula Association) projects, read Special Delivery and the CAPPA Quarterly and rested.  Brendan had been up until 1 a.m. the night before so I was a bit tired.  Allan and I went to bed with the boys at 9:30 that night.  

I awoke at 3 a.m. to strong surges and decided a bit later to go into the tub to relax.  That worked great and I stayed there until the water was cool. Brendan woke when I was planning on getting out and he didn't want Allan so I curled him up around my big belly in our easy chair and rocked him to sleep....the last time he would be my official 'baby' in my lap.  I tucked him in and headed to bed myself to doze until morning as my surges had lessened with the adrenaline of Brendan's waking.

My labour progressed slowly, becoming stronger and more demanding as the day wore on.  I changed positions regularly, we found every half hour was a good time to change.  I moved from side-lying on our bed to the tub, to the chair, to the toilet, and different variations of that all day.  Baby was always in ROA (her back to my right front).  By dinner time I was quite tired and Cathy, our midwife (who had arrived earlier but had a nap), and I agreed on a cervical check.  I knew I was dilating as I had checked twice during the day for baby station and found my cervix opening beautifully.  I just couldn't check actual dilation because my belly made it so I couldn't reach the center of my cervix.  

I was 5 cm and -1 [station], great info given a thick, posterior cervix and that she was floating prior to labour.  yet it was tough information to take given my fatigue and the intensity of contractions at that moment.  I remember Brendan's labour being this intense when I was 8 cm! I seriously thought about my options at this point and was truly ready to transfer for that blissful epidural I knew awaited my arrival...what a carrot to dangle in front of any labouring mother.  Yet I also know transferring from a homebirth as a thrice-sectioned mother without a caregiver with admitting privileges could easily spell disaster, so we continued working and changing positions.  

All of my labours involved intense back labour from the onset, so I was prepared for this, but the intensity of this labour was different.  I knew my placenta was attached in the upper left quadrant where baby's butt should be optimally, but what a difference when baby is moving into my pelvis from the right side.  [Kmom note: Babies often face their placentas, for whatever reason.]

We decided to call our doula Erin Walker to come to help spell Allan so he could focus on the boys and later called Terri to be with the boys so Allan could be with me. My water broke sometime in there while I was on the bed and it was everywhere!  I have always had lots of amniotic fluid, but it still amazes me each time my water breaks as to how much there is, and continues to be, as surges keep expelling more.  I braced myself for the inevitable increase in intensity of pain, but surprisingly there wasn't a huge difference.  All the while I worked through contractions, staying relaxed as possible, using open positions, and working with my sacrum to help Breanna move down.  I cannot tell you the difference in knowing my internal pelvis and how to move my sacrum did with this labour!

Now I am going to step back for a moment and tell you of a very strong intuition I had during Brendan's pregnancy.  It was that I would VBAC in my kitchen and in a supported squat where Allan would be sitting on the counter with his feet on two kitchen chairs with me between his legs with my arms over his thighs.  With Brendan's labour we never went into the kitchen as the pool was set up in the living room (I had wanted it in the kitchen) and we just moved from there to the bathroom floor to our bedroom and back.  I never told anyone this.....

I was in the tub, left there to refocus (which I desperately needed) and my sister Terri came in.  She sat by the tub and talked me through each contraction, talking me through the intense sacral pressure and pain.  The water cooled and I needed a change.  Both Allan and Cathy knew I was close so she explained to Allan how to do a supported squat and we moved to that position from the bathtub.  It HURT because gravity was playing a huge part now yet the sacral pain was still incredible.  I had so thought it would let up when she moved down.  That was really discouraging. I had been anticipating the blissful pushing urges I had felt with Brendan, but they didn't come.  Instead it was intense, intense sacral pain ending with slight urges to push with each surge.  I would walk around our island between each contraction and would slide into the squat with each surge.  I tired quickly and though Breanna was moving down, it was taking a long time and progression was slow.  We decided to try a reclining position on the bed with Allan behind me.  It was blissful between contractions to relax into Allan, but the sacral pressure made me arch off the bed and not focus on pushing.  We tried side-lying which was worse; my legs were cramping with each surge. Yet I was finally starting to get a strong pushing urge during the contractions.  

Then as I was side-lying on the bed, I could feel 'something' move down into my pelvis.  Not big enough to be a head, but something.  I told everyone of this and that it would disappear after the surge was over.  Because of the cramping we moved again to the kitchen to assume the squat.  As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I was immediately hit with a huge surge...and I felt "it" move down....and out. I had yelled at someone to catch me as I couldn't stand through the contraction; thankfully Allan was right behind me.  It turned out to be a big balloon of water.  I grabbed it with my hand thinking it was baby's head, yet wondering why it didn't hurt as it had moved down.  It was smooth and grippy, but I couldn't see it.  Cathy explained it was a balloon of water and not baby's head.  She broke it and I as disappointed that baby's head wasn't right behind.  She was still up a ways.  

So we moved over and I again squatted, this time pushing well with each surge; I had no choice, my body demanded it of me.  I felt her head as she opened me up; what an incredible feeling to touch her head as she moved down.  I felt her move down quickly now and she was crowning...I felt my labia go as I tried to breathe her out and couldn't help but push.  What relief to have her head out.  I braced myself for her body to pass through with the next contraction and pushed hard.  Out she came in a rain of amniotic fluid into the waiting hands of Cathy.  I sat down immediately on one of the chairs Allan had his foot on and she handed her to me.  My precious little baby, I couldn't believe I had done it.  

She looked up quietly at me, checking everything out in that wise baby babies have.  The quiet, patient soul who had been a part of me for nine months was not in my arms.  I just gazed at her...then I suddenly thought to look to see if we had a boy or girl...to my amazement---a girl!  I had to check twice.  I had thought she was a boy even though I had not had the "boy" dreams I had with Eric, Ryan and Brendan.  Then I felt my cord lengthen...not even 5 minutes after she was out.  That surprised me given the precautionary concerns of several of my friends given my 3 prior cesareans of retained placenta and hemorrhage. 

Eric had run to get our second-born, Ryan, who came in drowsy from sleep and he was the first to hug his new sister, just as he had asked.  He went right back to bed and when he woke the next morning he thought it had been a dream until he watched the video.  Brendan, our third son, slept through it all and though Allan expressed his wishing he could meet his new sister right away, we both knew it was best if he got his sleep.  He would be up early enough the next morning.  

Time once again returned and I realized it was after 1 a.m.  She had been born at 1:04 on April 9th, 2003.  About 15 minutes after she was born her cord was completely limp so Cathy tied it with strong string and Eric cut the cord. He was so proud!  I gave her to her proud Daddy and I moved to our bed where I pushed out her beautiful healthy placenta onto a pad.  We showed it to Eric and explained what a placenta was (an organ like his heart that provided all baby's nutrients and oxygen while growing in Mom).  He had helped me make many cloth placentas for Mother Care and now was able to see a real one. He was a sponge through it all, absorbing everything in the most calm way, like this was his hundredth birth he had been at.  

Allan, Eric, and Breanna went to the living room while Cathy carefully inspected my bottom, finding what I knew---labial tearing which were thankfully only "skid marks" or stretching breaks of the skin and a second degree perineal tear.  I chose to have her stitch me up rather than leaving it to mend together on its own simply because I knew I would not be able to rest as it would need [in order] to mend properly while chasing after three busy boys.  Cathy carefully sutured the tear and Allan came in shortly afterwards with a hungry little Breanna.  

I laid her across my chest and she couldn't quite lift her head high enough to self attach (given my being flat on my back), so I helped her up and she latched on like a pro and nursed well.  After Cathy was done, Breanna and I had a wonderful bath while she swam and looked around at everything, the most content baby on the earth.  What a peaceful way to conclude our night, after which we crawled into bed and both slept until morning.  

Homeopathics for Labour and Birth:  I wanted to touch on homeopathics as I have found them incredibly helpful during labour and in general for our family's health.  I have studied them informally thus far and plan to do further, formal study in the future because of the benefits we have experienced in using them.  For my last labour I relied on my midwives to know what remedies and potency to give.  This time I studied several books, articles, and talked to several homeopaths and birth professionals about remedies, indications, dosages, etc.  

I compiled a cheat sheet that I referred to, as did my support team, during Breanna's labour.  I cannot tell you how beneficial they were!  During the last half of my labour I used several remedies, starting with Kali Carb and Belladonna.  Incredible help with back labour; though it doesn't take the pain away, it makes it more manageable.  Close to the end I moved to Chamomilla and Arnica because of the intensity and bruised abdomen feeling I was experiencing, especially my round ligaments.  I continued with Arnica through postpartum because of the involution and perineal pain and healing.  I also took Hypericum for the suturing as it is specific to puncture or needle wounds. 

For pictures to go along with this birth story (and to see the Homepathics for Labour and Birth Cheat Sheet that Connie compiled, go to Connie's website at www.mother-care.ca/birth_announce.htm. )


Leslie's Story (3 prior cesareans, VBA3C with 13 pound baby)

Kmom's Notes:   Some doctors will tell women they'll never VBAC if the baby is too big. This woman had a VBA3C with a 13 lb. baby!  She had a "CPD" VBAC with a 12 lb. baby (baby #3) but went on to VBAC with an even larger baby--and no shoulder dystocia.  So much for "CPD"!  And she had a VBAC after not one but TWO 'failed' trials of labor!

Her first cesarean was an elective cesarean for breech after a failed external version.  Her second cesarean was after a trial of labor (27 hours, all unmedicated) that was found to be a surprise breech.  Her third cesarean was a year later (another 'failed' trial of labor), this one with the 12 lb. baby. She had labored at home ending in transport, this time after 30 hours of unmedicated labor (including 5 hours at 9 cm).  It's impossible to say for sure, but given the malpresentations (breech) she'd had with the first two babies, and the 3rd labor stalling before completion, it's quite possible she might have had a malposition (posterior or asynclitic or compound) with the third baby.  

In her fourth pregnancy, she actually found a doctor willing to 'let' her VBAC 'even' after 3 prior cesareans, 'even' after a prior very large baby, and 'even' in the face of significant pre-eclampsia.  It was not an easy birth, yet despite a number of complications that seemed to make her dream of VBAC impossible, she kept trying and ultimately had the VBAC.  When asked why she chose VBAC, she said, "I chose VBAC because I've always believed in doing everything as naturally as possible, and I wanted to experience vaginal birth."   

Birth Story

Friday morning I went in for my first appointment in almost 2 weeks.  My BP was up (160/110) and I had protein in my urine.  The doctor told me to go home and rest, do a 24-hour urine sample, and return to the hospital the next day for a BP check.   Saturday at the hospital my BP was 170/111 but went down to normal as long as I was resting.  They called my OB and he said I could go home but was on absolute bedrest until my Monday morning appointment.  

By Sunday I was starting to freak out because I kept hearing toxemia horror stories from people.  So I called my doctor.  He said that if I were someone else he would have sent me in to be induced on Friday, but he knew that I would stay in bed and he knew that I really didn't want to be induced.  He said he would have been happier inducing me but wanted to give me a few extra days to go into labor on my own (since I had told him it would be Sunday).  He said that he had planned to tell me on Monday that I had until Wednesday to go into labor naturally.  He also told me that due to the high BP I would have to stay in bed during labor which really upset me as all my plans for VBACing and avoiding pain meds involved walking and being upright.  

DH was at a birthday party with the kids at the time so I told the OB that when he got home we would talk over possibly going ahead with the induction.  Well, I went into labor at 4:30, shortly before DH and the kids arrived.  The doctor called to check on me around 5:30 and said he wanted me in the hospital right away so he could monitor the BP.  So there went another part of my birth plan---staying home as long as possible---out the window.  I ate some eggs and milk and yogurt before I left because I figured they would starve me at the hospital, and we went on, arriving there around 6:30 p.m.

They checked me and found no dilation at all and a very posterior cervix.  My water had also broken and my contractions were hard and difficult to manage almost immediately.  I had to be hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, a contraction monitor, a BP cuff, and an IV for fluid and antibiotics for Group B Strep.  All I could do was lie on my side.  I was panicky and could not cope with the pain at all. After 7 hours of what certainly felt like hard labor to me, I had made NO PROGRESS at all.  And due to the ruptured membranes, GBS, and high BP, the OB had said that if I wasn't progressing by that point I would need pitocin augmentation.  

I have had 2 long and completely unmedicated labors before, and was able to cope with them by walking, changing positions, etc.  When I had to get up to go to the bathroom I could see that I would have been much more comfortable upright.  But lying down, I couldn't cope with the pain, and I couldn't imagine coping with the added pain of pit contractions.  Also, everything was going so wrong that I felt sure I was all set for another c/s anyway.  I thought to myself that it was ridiculous to suffer for 12 more hours only to end up with a c/s anyway.  Also, my ideal birth had been so completely messed up by this point that an epidural didn't seem like much.  So I said that if I had to have pit I was having an epidural too.  

Bless my husband's heart, he was trying to do the right thing.  I said, "I can't DO this anymore," and he said, "That's what the Bradley book said you would say.  That's normal."  I said it was normal when you hit the self-doubt signpost at transition but not at 1 cm.  I said I was serious!  And then he suggested I just try some pit contractions, but I was afraid that I would be in agony for hours if I had to wait until after the pit for the epidural.  So I got the epidural first, then the pit.  This was all hooked up shortly after 1 a.m. and then we rested for a while  

2 hours later when I was checked I was at 7 cm.  I truly believe this was one of the situations where the epidural was beneficial, since it enabled me to relax.  By 5 a.m. I was at 9, and at 7 a.m. the OB said I could push.  However, he also told me that my baby's head was big and that it was well behind the pubic bones.  He said that all he could feel was bone and that the head would have to mold incredibly to fit through.  Then he left the room and told the nurses (he told me this himself later) that I could push but to be ready to do a c-section at noon!

I myself did not believe I would be having a VBAC at this point, but I had a very supportive labor nurse.  Of course, just to add to everything else, I had to push semi-sitting----they wouldn't let me get upright because of the BP.  I had counted on squatting so I really did think that was going to be the last straw.  Anyway, she held one leg and DH the other.  We got in at least 3 pushes for every contraction.  I was able to push effectively despite the epidural, or I would have had it turned off.  I had no trouble feeling where to push.  

For a long time his head did not move.  She turned me on my side between contractions so the head could descend through the available space.  There was very little resting time between contractions and pushing was very hard work!  Finally, she had people come in and start setting up for delivery.  When the OB came in he said, "I love it when I'm wrong."  I still did not believe it would happen.  But getting his head through the pelvis was the hard part, apparently.  The next thing I knew, his head was out and I started to cry because I knew it was really going to happen.  The rest of him was born really quickly---what a strange feeling!!

I had an episiotomy and 3 tears---one in the sphincter, one inside, and one near the urethra.  The sphincter is the main place I have felt discomfort.  I really did not realize a vaginal birth would be so painful afterwards!  It does seem to get better faster [than a c/s], though.

The baby ingested a lot of meconium, so it was nearly an hour before I could hold him, although I could see him the whole time.  And of course we were all dying to hear the weight, since baby #3 was 12 lbs.  The neonatologist said he was sure that it would be more than 12 pounds.  He was born at 9:01 a.m. on Monday, at 24.75 inches, with a 16 inch head, and at 13 lbs., 5 ounces!!!!!

My milk came in last night and he is an enthusiastic nurser.  He's a sweet baby, very alert, talks a lot but rarely cries.  He is already much-loved by his siblings.


Personal VBA4C Stories

Vyckie's Stories (4 prior cesareans including a "failed" TOL, home VBA4C, hospital VBA4C)

Kmom's Notes:   Vyckie is another mother who had a "failed" VBAC yet went on to have VBACs in spite of this.  It is not unusual for women to have a "failed" VBAC and go on to have a VBAC later on.  

Other notes on these birth stories are contained within the text below.

Birth Story

[Kmom note:  This is Kmom's summary of Vyckie's longer versions of her VBA4C stories.  These can be found online at:

[Brackets] indicate Kmom's words, summarizing much longer text sections, but in Vyckie's "voice" for clarity.  Ellipses (...) represent Vyckie's exact words, edited down.  My thanks to Vyckie for agreeing to share her stories here in an abbreviated form.  ---Kmom]

Babies #1-3 (elective cesareans): If someone would have told me 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my firstborn that she was only the first of [many] children that I would bear, I might have put a little more effort into educating myself about the birth process and preparing for a natural delivery.  I did take the hospital Lamaze class where I learned a lot of complicated breathing patterns that I never practiced.  But at 19 years old, I was so terrified at the thought of labor that I just tried not to think about it.  I was sure that once I got to the hospital, somehow "they" would get the baby out.  I just hoped it wouldn't hurt too badly.  

I arrived at the hospital about 10 in the morning after staying awake all night with "contractions" [that were] not at all painful but very regular...I was one cm.  After the doctor broke the bag of waters the "contractions" stopped completely.  Next I was taken to X-ray to determine if the baby could fit out.  I am not very tall (5') and only weighed 119 lbs. at full term.  The doctor informed me that there was not room for the baby to fit through my pelvis and said I would need a c-section.  

At the time, he also mentioned a large bone spur which he saw on the x-ray.  I inherited these benign tumors from my father and assumed that the reason my baby wouldn't fit through my pelvis was because the tumor was blocking the passage. 

I was relieved to hear that I would not have to "do labor" and asked to be put to sleep since I'd already been awake all night.  I also did not want to be awake when they cut me open.  When I awoke...the nurse informed me that I had a baby girl.  She weighed 6 lbs. 2 oz.   The recovery from my first c/s was not really so bad, mainly because I was young and healed quickly.

When I became pregnant again 6 years later, I told my new OB...that I had a bone spur in my pelvic area and because of it I would have to have another c/s....The recovery from this c/s was difficult and I did have some postpartum depression.  

When she was only 4 months old I became pregnant again.  Since the c/s was still pretty fresh in my mind I cried at the thought of having to go through that again. At the same time I was happy that I would be having another baby because they are so precious and lovable!  Our third girl was born [by c/s].  This time the c/s was much easier since it was so soon after the last one---I could remember all the mistakes I'd made before (such as not getting up to walk right away) and avoided them this time.   A few days after I came home from the hospital, I broke out in hives.  The doctor prescribed some Benadryl for the swelling (which was mostly in my eyes).  [Because my thinking was muddled from my pain pills, I left the meds within reach and one of my daughters got into them.  We had to go to the emergency room.] I was so drugged up that I barely knew what I was doing, my face was all red and my eyes were swollen shut from the hives---and I was thinking, "I can't go through this anymore!  This is too much!" After that, my husband...had a vasectomy to make sure I wouldn't have to go through any more c/s.  

Baby #4 ("failed trial of labor") 2 years later, we changed our minds...DH had reversal surgery, and I got pregnant [within a few months].  I [had checked] with my doctors and discovered that the bone spur which the first doctor had seen on the x-ray was nowhere near my pelvic area and was not obstructing the passageway.  In other words, there was really no physical reason for my first 3 c/s!  I was really angry, of course, but I was also glad to know that I could attempt a VBAC.  

I asked my OB-GYN if it was possible to have a VBAC after 3 c/s---his answer was, "Well, we can let you try."  Then he went on to explain all the conditions (only permitted 24 hours of labor, epidural already in place, surgical staff on standby in case my uterus ruptured and I needed an emergency c/s and hysterectomy).  Afterwards I heard him laughing about it in the hall with his nurse!...Well, I decided that I would not go back to that doctor!  

I read Silent Knife and decided that this was something that I could do (VBAC) but I felt that I would not have a very good chance of a successful VBAC if I went to the hospital.  So I found a lay midwife who was willing to assist and decided to try a homebirth...[I had a very big weight gain compared to my other pregnancies. I also needed to eat literally every 2 hours or else I would get shaky, a terrible headache, cold sweats, etc., symptoms of low blood sugar.  My uterus was growing faster than usual, we thought we might have twins but I decided against an ultrasound.  I was spilling sugar in my urine but every time we did a glucose test it registered LOW blood sugar so my midwife felt I did not have gestational diabetes.  I did have a lot of preterm labor, but did not dilate.]

[Then I got the flu very badly, shortly before term.  After six days of flu and finally getting down some soup, my water broke.  I was very weak and fatigued and labored in and out of the bathtub all day and night.  I never made it past 6 cm.  Eventually, my midwife noticed meconium in the amniotic fluid.  She consulted other midwives and decided we needed to transport.]

At the hospital the doctors did not even give me a chance to try for a VBAC any longer.  It is their "policy" to only let a woman labor for 24 hours, which I had done...I wanted everything to be over with so badly that I insisted on general anesthesia---just to get it over with.  When the doctor put the oxygen mask over my face, I couldn't feel myself breathing anymore (because I was already numb) so I started really struggling to get away from the mask.  I had read enough books...to know that c/s were not altogether safe and that women have actually died from the surgery.  I thought that was what was happening to me---something had gone terribly wrong and I was about to meet Jesus.  

Instead I woke up in the recovery room and someone told me I had a baby girl.  One girl, not twins, although she did weight 8 lbs. 14 oz (previously my biggest baby had been 6 lbs 7 oz.).  The doctor who did my c/s said he thinks I had gestational diabetes.  Also he said the baby was posterior which is why my labor was not too effective.  He did say that if I had not had the flu and if the baby had not been posterior, I probably could have had a VBAC.

I really had a miserable time in recovery since I had the flu to begin with.  I was in the hospital for 6 days and had to have an NG tube stuck down my nose and into my stomach to pump everything out and get my bowels working again.  The nurses all knew that I had tried to have a homebirth and they were especially nasty to me because of it.  Two of them had delivered their babies by c/s and could not understand why I would want to have a vaginal birth.  I asked them how many children they wanted---only one or two.  I told them I wanted lots of children, but I didn't want lots of c-sections.  The postpartum depression lasted nearly a year....

Baby #5 (home VBA4C):  Although I was very excited to learn that I was pregnant again when our youngest was 19 months old, I was also filled with dread at the thought of another delivery.  I was not too excited about attempting a vaginal delivery again considering the trauma I experienced during the previous delivery.  On the other hand, I still had a strong desire to avoid another cesarean--knowing that this probably would not be my last pregnant, I felt that I should at least give it a try.  

I was very hesitant about seeing the same lay midwife who was with me during my attempted homebirth.  After thinking back on the prenatal care I'd received during that pregnancy, I decided that I would have been better off to seek some medical assistance rather than shunning the obstetricians altogether as I had done...in spite of these doubts I began seeing that midwife when I was about 6 weeks along although I was very doubtful I would have a homebirth.  

There was now a CNM working at the OB clinic.  I decided to see her also for my prenatal visits and probably deliver in the hospital in case I needed some medical intervention during the delivery.  I was very encouraged that [she] seemed quite supportive of my home VBAC plans.  This pregnancy went so smoothly...at the lay midwife's suggestion I took GTF chromium which helped regulate my blood sugar so that I did not need to eat excessively.  In the end I gained a little less than 40 lbs....

At 8 months along I had another ultrasound performed by a perinatologist.  The ultrasound showed [the baby] was average-sized and was in a posterior position...The doctor discussed with me my previous birthing...experiences and was very encouraging about my chances of having a VBAC this time.  He warned me that if I were to allow my labor to be induced the likelihood of success would be less than 30%.  

Although I had very positive feelings about this pregnancy and felt very confident that I would have a VBAC, I was worried about the baby being posterior since that was part of the reason why my previous attempt at VBAC was unsuccessful.  I did lots of pelvic rocks, knee-chest exercises, etc. but [he] insisted on facing forward until just a few days before his birthday.  

During the last 6 weeks I took [various herbs to get things going.  My due date came and went.  I finally came to a point where I felt content to wait for God's timing for the labor to start and declined the CNM's offer to "sweep the membranes" in order to induce labor.  I began to feel hesitant about delivering in the hospital.  The CNM had agreed to most of my birth plan but little by little I found the most important parts were not going to be allowed.]

On June 19th...I felt a "pop" down low near my cervix and [I started leaking a little bit of water.  Called the lay midwife, and had my mother come pick up DH and the kids. I had decided early on that I only wanted the lay midwife and my friend (who had had 2 home VBACs) at my birth.  We did a lot of walking that day, and they gave me counterpressure on my back.  Climbing the stairs seemed to relieve the back pain.  I eventually got in the tub and my friend gave me a wonderful foot rub that was so relaxing that the contractions stopped completely and I was able to sleep about 25 minutes.]

[Early the next morning, about 5 a.m., I felt a very strong conviction that my baby would be born vaginally---my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do, albeit very slowly.  There would be no complications and yes, I was going to give birth to this baby.  I called my sister over to be present for the birth.  Then I started feeling very strange.  All of a sudden, I started crying and shaking.  I couldn't decide what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to be.  I was thinking, "This seems a lot like transition, but I think I'm only about 7 cm dilated."  I told the midwife that I wanted to crawl into the bathroom sink and go to sleep in there!  The midwife got set up for birth.  I told her I didn't want to be checked because I was pretty sure that I was only dilated to 7 cm and I didn't want to be disappointed.  Suddenly my body settled down and I felt "normal" again.]

[The midwife did an exam, sure enough I was only at 7 cm.  She applied Evening Primrose Oil to my cervix, which was very painful as she had to do it during a contraction.  I continued to have mild contractions all morning.  About 11 a.m. I got a back massage which again relaxed me so much the contractions stopped and I slept.  I kept laboring after that, confident that everything was going just as it should be. It did not bother me that I was dilating so slowly.  In fact, I was sure that the Lord was giving me just the kind of labor that MY body needed---slow but sure!  I was so sure of this that I got out the suitcase I had packed "just in case" I needed to go to the hospital and unpacked everything.  I was eating, we were all getting some rest, so I felt like we could keep going.]

[About 6 p.m. I started in with the 'transition' feelings again---shaking, very emotional, crying, feeling like I couldn't go on anymore.  I was still at 7 cm.  The midwife asked permission to hold the cervix forward during the next contraction to see if that would help speed things up.  I consented for ONE contraction only.  During that contraction I dilated to 9 cm!  Judy did it again even though I protested.  I was fully dilated but she still needed to hold the cervix over the baby's head during a contraction to keep a "lip" from forming.  It was very painful to be in that lying down position for contractions and I began screaming.  I convinced her to let me up, and then I really became emotional, telling the midwife I was going to call the police.  The midwife felt I had a cervical lip and was basically stuck in transition.  I was infuriated that I could not call the police to come and take her away because I needed her to help me have the baby!]

[Eventually I got in the tub and the midwife helped explain what she felt she had to do to hold back the cervical lip while I pushed.  They set up the birthing stool, she held back the cervix and I pushed.  Wow!  My body seemed to know what to do!  I could feel the baby moving down.  I was surprised when I had to keep pushing.  For some reason, in all the reading I'd done in preparation for my VBAC, I had always skipped over the part about the pushing stage----I was more concerned about dilating.  After a couple more pushes my water broke with a huge splash.  I began grunting, "Get him out!" and it became a chant which I repeated over and over.  The midwife suggested a mirror so I could see the baby's head coming out, but I wouldn't let my friend move.  I needed the physical support.  My friend wanted me to feel the baby's head and even though I told her I did not want to, she took my hand and placed it on the baby's fuzzy little head.  I am glad now that she did, but at the time I was so scared. I just wanted to get it over with---no time for sentimental stuff---just get him out and make sure he's alive!]

[All of a sudden the baby shot out of my body!  It happened so quickly and forcefully that I am amazed the midwife was able to catch him.  She put him up to my breast immediately and started suctioning him.  His little body was so slippery and goopy, not at all like my other babies who were all bathed and dressed before I ever held them.  He didn't seem too interested in nursing right away, but the midwife seemed to think he needed to so I worked at getting him to suckle.  He was born shortly before 11 p.m., though no one was really watching the clock.  The midwife cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and about 11:25 p.m. I pushed the placenta out.  

I felt very weak immediately following the birth.  I had to be helped into the bathtub and afterwards I went to bed and did not feel like I even had the strength to lift my head.  The midwife spent quite a bit of time getting the baby to latch on and nurse.  After he finally nursed for a little while I fell fast asleep and did not wake up at all until about 7 a.m.

The baby weighed 7 lbs 11 oz and was 20.5 inches long.  The midwife told me that his hand and shoulder were born with his head, which is why it took so long for him to be born after crowning.  The midwife said she'd never seen a baby come out that way before---and in all of that I didn't even tear!  My recovery was quite a bit slower than I had expected----but it was nothing to compared to the long, difficult recovery of a cesarean!  No postpartum depression at all--glory be to God!  

Baby #6 (hospital VBA4C):  [Kmom note: Vyckie had had some health concerns this pregnancy, and felt that she should be in the hospital for this VBAC because of that.]

Friday morning, [my water broke].  I was a bit worried about cord prolapse, so called the doctor's office and...the nurse told me that I should go to the hospital right away.  "What for?" I asked.  "Because you're going to have a baby!" was her reply.  "But I haven't had any contractions yet," I told her...I realized that she didn't really have much reason other than "doctor's policy" for wanting me at the hospital.  I consulted my Bradley book and read that sometimes contractions don't start for 24-48 hours after the water breaks.  I knew that if I went to the hospital they would want to do a vaginal exam, which would start me on a time limit due to risk of infection.  So I decided I could wait at home for a while.  

I called my neighbor [who had agreed to be with me during labor.  We went for a walk.  She went home, and I lay down for a nap.  I eventually started getting contractions, and was surprised they were so strong so soon, unlike my previous labor. I called my neighbor and told her I was ready to go to the hospital. I was not exactly in "pain" yet--but these contractions were so strong that I definitely felt like this was really serious labor and I didn't want to be at home anymore.]

[We went to the hospital.  The nurse called my doctor.  I asked her if I was allowed to have food since I was in natural labor with no IV.  She said she'd ask the doctor if that was okay.  "Tell him," I said, "that if he doesn't give me permission to eat, I'll eat without his permission.  This is hard work and I get really weak and shaky without food."  The doctor consented but requested I have a heplock and a Vaginal Exam (VE).  I consented to both.  The VE showed I was dilated to 4 cm.  My mother arrived soon after.]

[I had special help from an RN from the OB department.  It was her night off but] she had agreed to be my labor support since I was somewhat apprehensive about having a hospital birth. [She] had had her first baby by c/s and then two homebirths--so I knew she would understand my desires to have as natural a delivery as possible and would be a good advocate for me.  Since the nurses were very busy that night and short-handed, she was able to clock in (so she got paid to do this) and assign herself to the baby----that way she could ensure that the baby did not leave my room and at the same time, be my labor support.  [I also had another wonderful nurse assigned to me on the next shift.]

[By that night I was feeling rather strange.  My RN suggested I take a shower, but after awhile I was feeling quite yucky---shaky, irritable, gassy, etc. I didn't want to be a wimp but I was really not feeling so great and wondered about getting some Stadol (narcotic pain med).  My nurse friend told me it was okay but that I'd have to have a vaginal exam, get in bed, and having continuous monitoring.  I was 5 cm.  She brought the medication and injected it into my heplock.  Within minutes, I felt completely drugged---no pain at all from the contractions.  I couldn't believe how comfortable I felt!  I decided to try to rest while I could.  I asked my neighbor to sit by me while I took a nap.] She was such an inspiration to me during my labor because I knew she'd had 4 really horrible hospital birth experiences--and lived through them all.  I would look at her---standing so upright and looking so comfortable--and think to myself that eventually I would feel just fine---this labor would not last forever and I'd be okay.  

[Once I started the Stadol, I wanted more doses.  I had been quite spoiled by the pain relief and really liked the thought of going through the rest of my labor while sleeping. But the contractions were getting stronger and the Stadol was not helping any longer.  I got up to use the bathroom, had another VE, and was still at 5 cm.]  This would have really bothered me except that I knew I was going to get some more pain medication and then I'd be comfortable again---I felt perfectly happy to stay at 5 cm all night long so long as I wouldn't have to feel the contractions.  I feel a little guilty looking back, because I realize that I never gave one thought to whether the medication would harm the baby---I was entirely concerned with my own comfort.

The second dose of Stadol had absolutely no effect for me.  The contractions were getting much stronger and laying in bed hooked to the monitor was not making them any easier to handle.  I was thinking that there was no way I could deal with these contractions for the many hours that it would take for me to finish dilating since I was only at 5 cm so I started asking about getting an epidural. [My mother knew I hadn't wanted an epidural, so they were reluctant to encourage it.] I got panicky because these contractions were starting to really hurt and I was in no mood to try to convince them that I really wasn't all that set on having a "natural" labor---I really wanted pain relief RIGHT NOW!!  [We had a conflict over whether or not to get the epidural.  I started to bypass my support people and kept pushing the nurses' call button for the epidural man.  They convinced me they needed to do a VE before an epidural.  I was at 6 cm.  I felt I couldn't last without an epidural.  My RN was wavering between wanting to get me some pain relief and wondering if I would later regret having the epidural.  But I was very insistent.  She said I could have the epidural as soon as had enough IV fluids, which would take about 20 minutes.]  

That was not good enough for me!  I wanted her to call the anesthesiologist NOW so he'd be ready and waiting the minute I could get the epidural because I didn't want to endure this pain one minute longer than I absolutely had to.  The few minutes of comfort I got from the Stadol made me completely unwilling to tolerate the contractions---I wasn't making any effort at all to relax and breathe through them---all I could think of was getting that pain relief and getting it fast!  

I went to the bathroom and afterwards had a horrendous contraction...while...arguing about how I really could not care less about having a natural delivery.  "This HURTS!! I can't handle it!  I have to have an epidural!"  As I was yelling, I started pushing, but I didn't really comprehend what was happening because I was too intent on persuading Mom.  The RN came into he room with the IV to start the fluids, but she still hadn't called the anesthesiologist and I just knew she never would.  [I decided to bypass them all and called my husband at home.] I screamed, "Husband!  I have to have an epidural! Nobody will let me have one and this HURTS!!  I'm in PAIN!!"  Just then I got another contraction and it felt as though my uterus would explode!  I screamed and at the same time pushed.  Blood went all over the floor where I was standing. 

All at once, they realized that I was getting ready to push the baby out onto the floor and they both sprang into action.  Mom grabbed the phone and hung it up (poor husband!) and the nurse told me that she really needed to check me and urged me to get up on the bed.  Instead I leaned over the bed as another contraction hit me and cried out...I was pushing again and I honestly don't remember getting up on the bed, but [the nurse] was checking me and said, "Vyckie, you're completely dilated and the baby's head is right there!"  It had only been 12 minutes since the last VE when she had said I was at 6 cm---but those 12 minutes seemed like a very long time!

[Kmom note:  Probably what happened was that the baby had been slightly malpositioned and when Vyckie went to the bathroom, all the moving around and shifting of her body to get up and go etc. helped the baby get repositioned.  Witness the 'horrendous' contraction afterwards and then the start of involuntary pushing immediately afterwards.  Once the baby is repositioned properly, often the labor can progress extremely quickly, as Vyckie's did.]

"What do you mean, 'right there'?" I snapped.  I remembered that during my previous labor the midwife had told me that his head was "right there" and I still had to push for another 45 minutes---I was sure I could never handle this for more than about two more minutes---my insides were coming apart!  [They quickly called the doctor and asked me not to push too hard so the right doctor could get there in time.  I didn't understand why it was hurting to push this time.  The doctor got there in time for the last 3 pushes.  Apparently, I was sitting straight up and was actually on top of the baby's head which is why the pushing was painful and ineffective.  The dr. told me I would need to scoot down.  I refused.  He picked me up and put me where he wanted me.  I yelled at him not to cut me and said I'd rather tear than have an episiotomy.  He assured me that he didn't even have any scissors and immediately started doing perineal massage to prevent tearing.]

I pushed the baby out at 12:37 a.m.  When I first saw [her in the doctor's hands], she was curled up in a ball and I thought she looked like a fat rat.  She was limp and not breathing so he cut the cord and took her over to another table to work on her.  I started praying aloud that the Lord would let her start breathing and soon the RN told me that she was breathing and doing well.   Afterwards, the dr. told me that the reason she didn't breathe right away was because of the pain medicine but my RN helper insisted that it had nothing to do with the Stadol--she thought it was probably the "precipitous labor" that caused her to need resuscitation.  However, I had neither drugs nor precipitous labor with my prior son and he did not breathe right away either, so I don't have an opinion either way---I'm just thankful that eventually they both did breathe!

[Kmom note: Narcotic pain meds like Stadol are well-known to depress the respiratory systems of newborns, esp. if the dose was within a couple hours of birth.  It's possible that in this situation, however, both a quick birth and the pain meds contributed to this baby's slow start. 

Many midwives question the practice of cutting the cord quickly on a baby that is slow to start, noting that babies continue to receive important oxygen through the cord while they transition to breathing, and this can give "slow to start" babies extra protection when they most need it.  Many newborn stimulation and resuscitation procedures can be performed while a baby is on its mother's tummy or near her legs; they usually don't have to have the cord cut immediately and taken elsewhere in order to be worked on.  Unfortunately, that's not standard procedure at most hospitals yet.]

The doctor returned and seemed very anxious to get the placenta delivered. [He did uterine massage and some cord traction while I yelled at him not to pull it out.  After a couple of pushes the placenta was delivered and I was given my baby.]  She was looking right at me with her perfect little face! [I had a couple of tears which the doctor stitched, and he jokingly bragged about his skill in preventing tears.  I thought it was pretty odd that this doctor who had given me 3 c/s was now interested  in the preservation of my perineum!]

It occurred to me that this had not been a very difficult labor (talk about quick forgetfulness---only minutes earlier I had been screaming in pain!)...I really am embarrassed now that I was so cranky and screeching at everyone, but at the time I was too intoxicated with the idea of a pain-free labor.  I think if I wouldn't have had that one dose of Stadol, I would have had it in my mind to relax and I would have been much calmer and handled the contractions much better.

Just before she went home, Mom got in a really silly mood (she was really tired) and started joking about how my voice had changed and gotten really deep when I was pushing---she said I sounded just like the demon-possessed girl on The Exorcist.  "Well, if I would have spun my head around I bet nobody would have argued with me about that epidural!"  We both were laughing so hard!

This baby is a wonderful baby---she's nursing well and getting fat already.  She looks exactly like my oldest looked when she was a baby.  It is so weird to watch [my 14-year old] holding [the baby]---it's like seeing her hold herself.  

This had been a great labor, I thought.  I couldn't believe how fast it went at the last----from 6 cm to completely delivered in 29 minutes.  I never would have believed that I could have such a quick delivery, but it kind of makes me nervous to think of what might happen next time.  Well, knowing that the pain is not going to last for 40 hours, I think I'll be better prepared and hopefully more willing to cope with the contractions.


Carmen's Story (SROM, induction, c/s; 3 ERCS; home waterbirth VBA4C!)

Kmom's Notes:   

Birth Story

Baby #1:  I became an RN at the tender age of 19, deeply indoctrinated into the standard AMA [American Medical Association] way of doing things.  I had been taught to believe that Doctors know best, and the best was what was best for me.  

When I was pregnant with my first child, my OB told me that my pelvimetry was "marginal," because I was so tall that it might make it difficult for me to give birth vaginally.  (I'm 6'3" and wear a size 14 slack to cover my 'tiny' hips when I'm really really skinny.)  Anyway, my water broke a couple of weeks early, and back then (1983) I was given 24 hours to give birth or it would be an automatic c/s to "prevent infection."  No pressure there, huh?

I was put on pitocin and internal fetal monitor, Foley catheter, etc. I was almost completely dilated when my son started having decelerated heart rate.  Well, my uterus was in a full contraction for a prolonged period of time [because of the induction], so he wasn't getting much blood supply from the placenta.  Because I'm so big, they had turned the pitocin dose higher than normal, and when my uterus went into tetany, forgot to turn it down to acceptable standards.  

I was so indoctrinated into the AMA way of thinking that I believed my OB when he said that my CPD was the cause of the emergency c-section and I could NEVER have a baby vaginally.  I was told that I "would have died" if I hadn't had the c-section!  

Baby #2 (1990):  repeat c/s, never went into labor

Baby #3 (1992): repeat c/s, never went into labor

Baby #4 (1996): repeat c/s, never went into labor.  Decided that even though we'd really like some more children, I just couldn't handle more c-sections.  Tubal ligation done during surgery, a decision that I regretted, made with my head and not with my heart.

June 2001 - Flew from the Pacific NW to Tennessee to have a tubal reversal done

Jan 2002 - X-rays show that only my right tube is open---the left tube is blocked.  Ultrasounds mid-cycle show that I'm not ovulating.  We start dealing with this emotionally.

August 2002 - I get pregnant while on vacation in Yellowstone!  God has seen fit for me to have another child!  I'm 42, DH is 51.  I have only one working tube and rarely ovulate.  A definite miracle!!  Due date: May 14, 2003.

Baby #5 (Lauren):  I begin reading all the supportive books I can, work on my learning curve.  Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth, Spiritual Midwifery, Birthing From Within, etc.  I also join supportive egroups and lurk a lot, getting a lot of emotional support just from reading the posts.

I searched the entire state I live in for an OB that would "allow" me a "Trial of Labor."  Disgusting terminology!  It's my body, and I could choose to abort the baby but I couldn't choose to give birth how I wanted???  Trial of Labor is also an insult!  It assumes that it's just a trial and not the real and final thing.  Do women having their first baby have a "trial of labor"?

I finally found a wonderful midwife that would not only accept me with my history (and age factor) but she was enthusiastic and delighted for me!  No fear!! She was also very laid back----didn't push when I said no, offered suggestions, etc.

The emotional key for me was control.  I didn't want fear-based people around me. I avoided friends that were nurses that were always throwing the words "ruptured uterus" around me.  I only wanted positive emotional support.  I knew that I was coming from the back of the pack....and in order to "win" this race I needed the right mind-set.

I'd been having prodromal labor since mid-April.  Drinking a bit of white wine when the contractions get 4 minutes apart and regular.  Lost my mucous plug on April 10th.  When I finally hit the 38 week mark, my prodromal labor screeched to a halt.  I'd contract, but never regularly, or progressively.  Contractions usually stopped about 2 a.m. and I'd finally get a few hours sleep.

May 5th, 10:30 p.m. Laying in bed, reading.  Kids all down for the night.  Wishing DH would hurry up and finish in the office and join me---I don't sleep well if he's not there with me, so I don't usually try.  Water breaks (deja-vu ---- I'm 9 days early, and my water breaks, like with my first birth all over again.)

I call my midwife, drink a glass of juice cause I haven't felt baby move since waters broke.  Good movement within a few minutes. Once I realize contractions are not going away and this is the "real thing," I go do a colonic.  I don't want a mess in the birthing pool, and I'm inhibited enough to let it bother me unless I take care of it now.  

We call the midwife again, letting her know this is the real thing.  Contractions are picking up.  DH is getting things ready and puttering about.  I finally tell him to wake [my daughter]  to help; I need him in the tub NOW.  

My awesome birthing team:  DH (Tim), my 13 year old daughter April (my doula!), my midwife Cindra, and her assistant.  

My perception of time is lost....things seem to last forever and drag, but when I look at the clock, lots of time has gone by.  

Contractions are really really painful.  They hurt as much as I remember when I was on pitocin with my first.  There is no control---they come when they choose and go away when they choose.  What works: only working with one contraction at a time---getting thru it before thinking about the next one.  I'm rocking, holding onto Tim in the pool.  He later tells me that he felt like a jungle gym---I'd use his legs or ankles to hold onto to control my rocking.  I felt like I left little finger bruise prints all over his legs.  In between contractions, I'd often lean against him and snooze---so lots of endorphins were there to relax me and take the edge off the contractions, but they were still pretty awful.  April tells me I snored a bit sometimes.

I start having a bit of bloody show, and Cindra is scooping clots out of the pool.  About 3 a.m. (?), Cindra checks me (first time in labor) and my cervix is dilated about 6.  I notice that I'm kinda grunting during contractions and start a bit of pushing intentionally.  My, that feels better!  Baby was very high, but comes down a lot with pushing, without the cervix swelling.  I'm also bleeding a bit more than usual.  We have 3 candles lit, and the room is dark---my birth music plays all night.  I hear it when I need it.  April later tells me it drove everyone else nuts.  

Cindra is getting concerned about the quantity of blood being lost---she checks me again.  I'm still at 6 but baby has dropped a lot, everything is different inside.  She wasn't me to not push during contractions for a while, let my cervix open.  She tries to check to see if a bit of the placenta is right by the cervix----that would explain the quantity of blood being lost.  I can't stay on my back during a contraction, so hop up and go back to the pool.  Contractions much more painful when I can't push with them.  I also notice that when I push, the contractions feel much shorter.  Cindra later says that my contractions were lasting only about 30 seconds each----very unusual, but they were very powerful and functional.  

Later, not sure how much later, between contractions Cindra and the assistant midwife come in and turn on the lights---they want to see how much blood in reality is being lost.  The birthing pool looks kinda like cherry Kool-Aid.  Cindra very calmly tells me I can stay here or go to the hospital.  She doesn't have much problems with this because she thinks delivery will occur shortly.  I know if I go to the hospital, it will be an AUTOMATIC c-section (4 previous c/s, I'm 42).  Up to this point, my BP is rock steady --- (if I was 'shocky' or losing too much blood too quickly, my BP would be dropping).  Also Fetal Heart Tones are very steady up to this point.  The third factor I consider is that I'm losing [blood] at a slow steady rate---we haven't seen gushes of blood except when I get out of the tub to empty my bladder.  I opt to stay, and Cindra doesn't appear to have any problems with that.  

I can start feeling the baby moving down---Cindra sets up for delivery.  Baby's head moves thru the sit bones, and I'm kinda keeping a running commentary up on what I'm feeling.  (I'm being prompted by Cindra asking me questions, too.)  No, I don't feel any pressure at all back by my bottom.  The pressure is all in the front, by my clitoris.  Weird, huh?

Suddenly, without conscious thought, my body "snaps" into this weird position---I'm kneeling on my right knee, with my left foot planted out to the left.  I reach down to support the perineum from the front, where it hurts.  Cindra (I think) is supporting from the back.  "Who is to catch the baby?" is asked.  "Whom ever," I reply.  

I thought the actual birth would be the most painful part of giving birth.  It wasn't.  I think this is because I had so much control, whereas with the contractions, I was a silent passenger that simply had to endure.  No way did any of the Bradley exercises help.  I could relax around the uterus, but my entire body was moving, rocking, grunting, etc. to enable me to do this.  

I could feel the top of baby's head, and with the next contraction, pushed until the top of the baby's head was about 1.5 inches out---this should stretch me without tearing me.  Rest between contractions, top of baby's head stays about 1 inch out.  Next contraction, I push briefly and entire head and one hand is also out. (Came out saluting?)  Next contraction and an even smaller push, and baby is somewhere on the floor of the pool, LOL!!  3 sets of hands grab her and bring her up to my chest------Tim's, Cindra's, and mine.  She starts breathing on her own immediately.  It's 6:46 a.m. and the light outside the window is still dim with the soft early morning light.

Someone covers her with a blanket and she's up against me, too.  I move the blanket and discover that we have a daughter!  We wait about 10 minutes (?) for the cord to stop pulsing.  Tim doesn't care to cut the umbilical cord, so April gets the honors.

Time finally gets out of the birthing tub to take a shower---bless him, he'd been in there since midnight---he never once got out, for the entire labor!  He has to shower, there is so much blood in the water.

I finally pass Lauren off to April, and she take Lauren out of the room, and I hear the boys (11 and 6) are also up, just in time to greet their new sister.  I get out of the tub, and end up in my bed trying to push the stubborn placenta out.  I realize that I just don't push well while on my back, the position I was in when trying to push out my eldest child and ended up with the original section. I finally kneel beside the bed and pushing out the placenta is a breeze.  My turn for the shower!

Lauren Elisabeth is 9 lbs., 14 oz.----just 2 oz. off of 10 lbs.  She came out with a hand up, and yet I didn't tear and I had no episiotomy.  This is probably due to several factors---support to the perineum during final pushing stage, position of choice for me, and I controlled pushing in a way that I hoped would help me not tear---i.e. partial delivery of head, then wait for next contraction to complete delivery of head. 

It took about 3 days for the elation to set in.  Too many endorphins in place made me groggy and emotionally numb?  I'm not sure, but it took those days for me to finally realize that I'd given birth the way God intended me to.  I also realize that without my fantastic birthing team, it wouldn't ever have happened.  Cindra, who patiently let me do what I felt was right and NEVER trumped with the 'dead baby' card.  She also was remarkable in that I never felt a sense of fear or alarm from her, even when she gave me the option of going to the hospital.  Tim, who knew I really wanted him with me and never left the pool, but always had a supportive arm, hand, leg, or shoulder for me.  April, who "Mothered" everyone, and kept us in Dr. Pepper, popsicles, carmex, cold washcloths, adjusted the music for me, etc.  She stood by and watched and never interfered with the process or bothered me-----she was a quiet, willing, and untiring worker the entire night.  The assistant midwife, whose calmness and quietness kept her so far in the background, she barely made any impression or impact on me.  

I strongly feel the 2 most important factors in this successful birth were:  

  1. My mindset and intensive emotional and intellectual preparation (e.groups dealing with VBAC and multiple birthing books read)
  2. My perfectly supportive birth team.  It was small enough to feel safe, big enough to provide for all my needs.  Each member of the team hand-picked and perfect for my needs.  If any member of the team didn't "fit" me perfectly, I don't think the results would have been the same.


Jackie H's Birth Story (necessary cesarean; "failed" TOL c/s; 2 planned c/s; VBA4C)

Name: "Jackie H" Age: 35
Prepregnancy weight or dress size: 155
Amount of wt gained during pregnancy: 50 lbs
Baby stats: girl, 8 lbs, 11 oz 20"
Any infertility issues? not the last two conceptions/pregnancies, but 1st three were by Clomid...
Any complications? Was GBS+ this time
Type of birth: VBA4C
Place of birth: hospital     Provider: OB
Breastfeeding? yes
Any special notes on pregnancy? I tried to eat very healthy....wasn't always successful....had chiropractic care this time....took Red Raspberry Leaf tablets and many essential oils....

Kmom's Notes on Story:  This shows that although it is difficult to find support for higher-order VBAMC in the hospital, it CAN happen.  The second OB in this story was a model of patience and help under difficult circumstances.  And of course, so was the mom, who endured a long labor with a posterior baby and still had a VBAC!

Birth Story

This birth was definitely medicalized....not my first choice. Because of my 4 previous c-sections, our options were limited and/or there was more fear/unknowns. My husband was not at all comfortable with a homebirth and I needed his support in this birth. But, know that every decision I made was empowered- I took nothing lightly- my doctor was not up on a pedestal. 

The shortened version of my birth history: 

-First section was an emergency and I believe it was necessary. They tested the blood in his cord and it had not been circulating.

-2nd section was after a trial of labor (a CBAC) and ended up being 'Failure to Progress', or as we know it "Failure for Doctor to be patient." I wish I could go back in time to change this decision...

-3rd and 4th sections were scheduled. I went in to my first pre-natal appt when pregnant with my third all ready to try a VBAC and basically got laughed at. I wish I had done then all the research/soul-searching I've done this time.

This pregnancy:

So, after 4 children, we thought we were done....my hubby because he was just done and me because I didn't think I could deal with any more c-sections. After the last section, I kept saying, "I can't do this anymore...." But, in my heart, I knew that I was not done having children...there were more 'out there' for me. I began looking into adoption and fostering, but didn't have hubby's total support there, either. Finally, after almost 4 years...we let go of it all and put it in God's hands. We would let Him give us more children. And then, if He gave us the child, then He could deliver this child the way He made me to....vaginally. Believe me, its been one long walk of faith!!

We got pregnant right away after that decision, but that started the turmoil for me. I so wanted to gestate in peace, but that really didn't happen. I immediately contacted several midwives in my area, only to be turned down by all of them. One was really nice and spent a ton of time with me on the phone and gave me lots of advice. But, she said even though she believed I could VBAC, she didn't want her fears to affect me. So, I was 'stuck' with my OB. (About halfway through my pregnancy, I 'met' online a traveling midwife who was willing to attend me. Well, after all this, my hubby tells me he's adamantly opposed to spending that much money on a midwife (and we really didn't have the money- It would have meant taking out a loan). Nice he should tell me that then. We fought about that for much of the rest of the pregnancy. Our insurance doesn't cover midwives, but totally covers OB/hospital births. (Next pregnancy, I'm saving up for a midwife!)

I continued with OB care, being a "good little patient", pretending that I was having a 5th section. My plan for most of the pregnancy was to stay home as long as possible in labor and show up ready to push and refuse a section. Or if things were feeling comfortable, to stay home and deliver baby. 

Of course, they scheduled my section for a week before my due date....I stated that I wanted to go into labor on my own and then show up for the surgery....we had several confrontations about scheduling with my doc. I couldn't deal with the stress anymore and just wanted to quit going to the doc for the last few weeks. Well, my hubby, being the honest person that he is, wanted to tell my OB the truth about our plans. I knew very well what his reaction would be, but that was what we did. At 38 weeks, we told my OB (of 12 years) that we were planning to VBAC and not planning on having another section. He flipped, of course. I basically got yelled at for 15 minutes...called selfish, stupid, irresponsible...told I could die, baby could die, I had a 15% chance of rupture...on and on. [Kmom note: This figure is total conjecture on his part.  There is no data to substantiate it.] I hate confrontation, had been sick to my stomach for days, dreading this encounter....but it was done. He dropped me from his care...although he knew he had to care for me for 30 days.

I had been given the name of a doctor at the beginning of my pregnancy, who I was told was supportive of VBACs. Well, I hadn't called him earlier because he's further away, and connected to a much smaller hospital and I figured he'd be supportive of a VBAC after 1 section, but no way after 4 sections. Well, now I had nothing to lose, so I gave him a call. I had to fight my way around the receptionist and his nurse, who both said I was too far along for him to take me. I begged them to just run it by him, have him call me, talk to him directly. They did and he agreed to see me on his day off, no less! He says, "I figure you're an adult and can make this decision (to VBAC)." I'm thinkin' "Yes! That's what I'm talking about!" So, he agreed to attend me (at the big hospital nearer to me where he has priveleges). We got along great, but at our 2nd appt had a few disagreements. We agreed on: he doesn't like to break womens bag of waters, he rarely does episiotomies, and he told me several times to stay home in labor as long as possible-that he didn't want to see me until I was at least dilated to 5 and I'm liking him a lot. But, then, he says that Pitocin is safe for VBAC - yikes! And he is all for epidurals....hmmph....well, I guess he can't be perfect, huh?

The labor and birth:

I had weeks of contractions every night, wondering if they were for real....but then finally on Monday, Oct 16, they started for real. (I was a week overdue.) I had a NST in the morning, which I really didn't want to go to, but was trying to cooperate with him, since he was working with me. She reamed on my tummy to wake up baby 3 times and I wonder if that's what made my water break just a couple hours later. Contractions started that afternoon, but sporadic. Continued all night, but not super close together - just close enough to keep me awake all night. 

Tuesday morning, we decided to have hubby stay home from work because I was having to breathe thru the contractions and they were hurting. We got the kids all 'farmed out' that afternoon. From noon until about 7:30, the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and quite intense. DH filled the birth pool and I got in it around 5:00. Well, after eating a huge piece of pizza and being in the pool for a couple hours, the contractions petered out again. Argghh! (We had called the doc just to let him know we were in labor, but were going to stay home awhile.) The contractions were sporadic the rest of the evening, but just enough to keep me awake most of the night. I would lay in bed, but while laying down, the contractions were excruciating, so when I would have one, I would roll out of bed into a kneeling position, breathe through it, then get up to go to the bathroom and then back to bed...all night long, about every 15 minutes. 

Wednesday morning, we got up around 5:00 a.m. because we were sick of not being able to sleep and wanted to get things going....so I tried walking around the house for awhile and doing nipple stimulation...this would keep the contractions coming. The doctor called around 7:30 a.m. and says, "How ya doin'?" He wanted me to come to his office to see if it really was my water that broke and not other discharge and to check my progress. He was really hoping that it wasn't my water because he truly wanted to leave me alone. 
I liked that idea more than going to the hospital, which my hubby was pushing by this point. So, we went to his office. Yes, it was my water that had broken (which I was quite certain of) and I was only dilated to 2....ugh.... He sent us back home and said, "Let's meet at the hospital at 10:00 tonight, if things don't pick up by then" to get me started on antibiotics. I had tested positive for Group B Strep and the dangers of infection rise when the water breaks. I wanted to refuse the antibiotics, but found out the hospital would test/treat my baby as if infected if I refused. And the doc was being pretty cool considering my water had been broken for more than 48 hours by that night. After leaving his office, I contracted quite regularly for several hours and was excited that it might really be happening....but once again, the contractions petered out. I was able to rest a little Wednesday afternoon between contractions. I found that standing was the most comfortable. For some reason, contractions were excruciating when laying on my side and a little better if I was kneeling. I had my hubby start squeezing my hips during them.

Finally, Wed night arrived and we went to the hospital to meet my doc and get my antibiotics going. We were sent to OB triage. The first nurse there that I had was the only one to give me a hard time about VBACing. She was quite surprised that any doctor would 'let' me VBAC. But, from then on out, all my nurses were super supportive and no one gave me a hard time about VBACing. I don't know if my doc had told everyone to leave me alone or what, but I was pretty much left alone. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, my doctor recommended starting on a low dose of Pitocin. (Because of my water being broken for so long and laboring for so long.) I didn't want it to come to this....my doctor and I had had the Pit discussion in his office. He believes that the smallest dose would not increase the risk of rupture. (His belief is that cervical gels are much more dangerous than Pit.) He said at that point the risk of infection in baby was much greater than my risk of rupture. I asked for a few minutes to talk with my hubby to make a decision. I broke down and cried...I didn't want any interventions....but we decided to start a Pitocin drip. He started it very very low- 1 unit (whatever measure they use- I don't know.). I have a friend that was a L & D nurse there with me later in labor and she was very happy to see how low he kept the Pit....she said she would be closely watching my IV because there were "Pitocin Monsters" posing as nurses and doctors out there. She said some women get all the way up to 30 units. I was never given more than 2 units. 

The contractions started up immediately...my body was very ready, obviously. I labored from 11:00 p.m. till 7:00 a.m. with the Pit only increased to 1.5. When they increased it to 2, the contractions were too close together, giving me and my uterus no time to rest, so they lowered it. I was handling the contractions okay. My mom was there, along with this friend and my hubby. Around 4:00 a.m., my SIL came. They all took turns holding my hips during contractions. I was hooked up to the monitors the whole time, but I had agreed to that, so long as I could be in any position I chose. My friend was so surprised that the monitors were picking up the heartrate with all the moving I was doing. God was answering my prayers, that was for sure. My hubby even asked if we could walk the halls for a while and the nurse said "Sure, after I get 20 minutes." I was so surprised. Ends up, I didn't feel like walking because the contractions were intense enough. We did unhook the monitors quite often to use the bathroom. The baby's heartrate was doing splendidly during contractions.... we were all so glad to see she was tolerating labor so well.

The hardest part was that I was only comfortable standing. I had so much pressure in my bottom that I couldn't sit. And it still was horribly painful to be laying down. So...for 8 hours, I stood on that hard hospital floor. We had the bed raised way up so I could lean my upper body on it during contractions. Between contractions, I swayed, walked, peed, etc. They finally made a pile of bed pads to cushion my feet. 

At this point, I finally decided to get checked. (No one had pressured me to be checked up to that point.) After 8 hours of very good contractions, I was only dilated to 4. Oh my gosh, I was so upset. I thought for sure I was in transition because I had begun shaking and saying "I can't do this!!" and I felt like I had a bowling ball between my legs!! I starting bawling. That is that point where I decided to get an epidural, even though I hadn't wanted one. (I was trying to do everything to be as safe as possible for my scarred uterus. And I knew by getting an epidural, I'd no longer be able to feel if anything was wrong.) But, I was SO tired. I hadn't slept since Sunday night and it was now Thursday morning. I know I could have kept going if I wasn't to tired. And I was physically tired from standing for so long- I just wanted to lay down.

So, the epidural was put in..I was able to rest! Awhile later, maybe 9:00 ish, her heartrate started dropping to the 60s and 70s during contractions. You know how doctors usually just come in to catch baby, well my doc came into our room (he was in the hospital the whole time I was laboring because he is from further away) and hung out with us for several hours, watching the baby/monitor. He said, "We need to get her out quite soon." He knew how badly I wanted a VBAC and he worked with us. Any other doc would have sectioned me because of the decels, the water broken for so long, etc. He kept checking me, saying I needed to be complete soon, so he could get her out. He told me it would be a forceps delivery. We were able to talk about it for a bit...how experienced he is with forceps, etc. He only mentioned surgery once....but I knew it was always on his mind and ours. (The decels were a major flashback to our first labor/section.) Once I was dilated to 8, he basically stayed at my bottom to 'encourage' me to dilate.... I think he was manually dilating me. He then said that he wanted me to try pushing on the next contractions. I think I was dilated to 8, but hubby thinks I was 9. 

Anyways, around 10:00, I started pushing. The doctor was trying to turn her also, because she was posterior. Ugh...just one more thing 'against' me. She was not descending, that was the major problem, he kept saying. He couldn't use the forceps until she was lower and she just wasn't dropping. I volunteered to get on my knees, but he didn't think that would help. I couldn't do anything else because of the epidural. I asked about letting the epi wear off, so I could get up, to get her to drop, but he said "You don't want me doing the forceps without the epi." She finally was low enough and he had turned her enough to get her out with forceps. Just before she was born, I hemorrhaged a ton. I lost a lot of blood. (My hemoglobin was 6.3 the next day, which is dangerously low.) 

He was worried that it was my uterus rupturing or the placenta abrupting, but it was neither. It was pretty intense and scary for those few hours. Hubby and doc were worried about me (I didn't know I was bleeding out) and I was worried about baby. I kept saying, "Come on baby" between pushing...that's all I could think. Well, finally, at 12:35 p.m. on Thursday, Oct 19, after years, months, days and hours of fighting, our beautiful daughter was born vaginally!! She was 8 pounds, 11 ounces, 20 inches.

And she came out screaming- praise the Lord! (The cord was up by her head, getting squeezed during the contractions. That's why we had the heart rate decels.) For the first time in 5 births, my baby was placed up on my chest immediately after birth- what an awesome thing!!

I then starting feeling faint after she was out. I spent the next hour or so on oxygen and flat on my back and/or side. I was so weak from losing the blood. I was able to nurse her and hold her for just a bit. And hubby cut the cord. But, the first hours weren't ideal because of my faintness.

I ended up only having 2nd degree tear(s), which I was quite pleased with after all the trauma. And he didn't have to do an episiotomy. 

She was born 10 days after my 'due date' and 17 days after the original scheduled c-section. (She would have been a tiny baby, maybe with breathing problems.)

I hesitate to give an OB so much credit, but my doctor really made my VBAC successful. Any other doc would have sectioned me several times over in those few hours. He worked with us because he knew how much it meant to us. I feel powerful that I did all I could do and worked very hard! I was able to joke after the epidural was in, for someone to take a picture of me hooked up to every known intervention that I didn't want! Unfortunately, with all the events that took place, the interventions happened.....water breaking 3 days earlier, GBS+, labor stalling, cord up by her head, posterior position, no sleep for 3 nights, etc, etc. But, none of that was because of being a VBAC, so I'm encouraged for the next time. I'm so glad my uterus stayed intact!!

Now, I'm finally feeling a bit better. My tailbone/rectal area is very bruised and so I haven't been able to sit for the last 13 days. I also have hemorrhoids and now an UTI...ugh! And it took a few days to build my hemoglobin back up. Its day 13 and I'm starting to feel more normal. Its been frustrating because the recovery seemed almost as bad as after my sections, but I knew it would be better quicker and now I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I was reamed on and had a very traumatic birth and a very physical, posterior labor, so I know that's why the amount of pain.

I am very glad we went for the VBAC- I don't regret it. I'm encouraged that my uterus stayed intact and that I now have a 'proven' pelvis. I think this will open up my options for a midwife and homebirth next time. And hopefully, all the things that happened this time won't happen the next time around. (I want to know how to have like a 6 hour labor, with 2 pushes and baby's out!)


Ruth's Story (SROM, induction, c/s; induction,"failed" TOL c/s; 2 ERCS; miscarriage; two VBA4C!)

Kmom's Notes:   Ruth's birth story can be found at:  http://www.vba4c.blogspot.com 

Birth Story

Baby #1: My water broke 3 days before he was due. I was 20 years old, and figured that I would just birth babies, no problem. Things didn't start right away, so Dr. gave me pit and I never did feel like pushing. I was dilated to 10 and all, but they just told me he never "came down." The Dr. never told me there was a bone in the way.... told me that on my second failed [vaginal birth.]

Baby #2: 2nd baby was a week late. So they set induction... broke my water and pitocin. Man, I was really a sucker...Dilated to 10, had the cervical lip problem again, but she came down well. She was almost out.... She seemed to be stuck. Dr. came in said things weren't progressing and we went down to do forceps. They turned her from the LOT position to LOA and then said that the forceps "clinked" against my bone. "Sorry, c-section again. You can't have kids naturally, would have to have tiny tiny head. Next one we will schedule... " And we did schedule the next 2.

Baby #3: 3rd c-section was awesome. I went home the next day.

Baby #4: 4th c-section was awful. I was full of scar tissue. Took them 45 minutes to even get to baby. Dr. took a long time cleaning/scraping me out. I lost lots of blood and had a really tough recovery.

Baby #5: No heartbeat at 16 weeks. Induced delivery. Miscarriage/stillbirth.

Baby #6: Home VBA4C!!

I went into Labor on Feb. 15, around supper time (5:30 pm). I knew they were different contractions and hurt. But I really didn't say anything to anyone... afraid they would just peter out. It was bedtime and I looked at hubby and said: "Do you know how to get your body to go into labor?" He looked at me with that "look." I said: "Tell yourself there is no way in heck you will go in labor with the bad cold and cough that you have." (I had been hacking and felt so miserable for the last 3 days.)

So he got all excited and said there was no way he could sleep. I lied to him and said they weren't bad and that *I* was going to sleep. I wanted him to get some rest, and I wonted to work with the contracts on my own for awhile. As soon as he was out, I snuck out of bed and did some rocking thru the contractions, then I laid on my ottoman (the footstool for my glider) and worked thru them. That ottoman was one of the best tools I had during this labor.

11:45 pm - My water broke. I decided to wake hubby and get the midwife here. She lives 2 hours away. My other attendant (a friend and chiro) was to get back home at 12 mid-night. So we called her too, but were unable to get ahold of her.

Labor was a lot of work. Especially when so many fears and people's words come back to you. I have heard so many: "You can NEVER have a child naturally." My 2nd daughter got "stuck" pretty far down, so that I was so scared that I would get stuck there again. This fear didn't come out until I was pushing.  I was so afraid that everyone was telling me baby was coming, but they were lying to me somehow.  

I had a cervical lip that was giving us problems. So my midwife applied GLA (like evening primrose) to my cervix and my chiro explained over the phone a pelvic pressure (pelvic press) that would help open the cervix up. With these two things, baby was soon past the cervical lip.

We did get ahold of my friend/chiro at 5:30 am and she came into the house and started making noises and "dancing" with me. IT was really great to have someone that did the "song and dance" with me and she gave me energy when I was so tired. She helped me know what noises helped baby come down.  The midwife would tell me to breathe, and my friend would breathe, helping me to "get" what the midwife was saying. 

I got to a point when I felt like giving up, like things were not progressing.  My midwife must have felt this.  She asked if I felt like I was progressing.  I looked at her and said, "NO."  Both of my labor supports looked worried at this (knowing that your mind can do some wild things).  So my midwife told me to feel baby's head inside of me as I was pushing, and I would feel his head come down.  So I did. And he was moving!!!!!  This was my motivation.  

I rubbed his head as he crowned. Oh, such an awesome and inspiring thing! As soon as he was born, the midwife passed him between my legs (I was leaned forward) and I got to check out all his little parts. I got to hold, kiss, and love him FIRST!!! He wasn't sucking, and the midwife said that one lip had come out first and then his jaw (like his mouth was open). My friend the chiro did some cranial sacral on him and soon he was nursing like a champ!!

Oh yes, his name is Isaac Jaben (meaning: Laughter, God has created). He was my BIGGEST baby so far: 8 lbs., 8 oz, 21.5 inches long. Born Feb 16th at 10:06 am. Lots of black beautiful hair (I could feel it as he was crowning! I didn't rip at all, he came soooo Slow! Almost excruciatingly slow). His big blue eyes are looking at me this very moment. He seems so alert, such a beautiful color, so calm. Wow!

We had told NOBODY that we were doing a homebirth, and have had SOOO much positive response. My mom, who I thought was against homebirth, was thrilled!! She said that she was so proud that I could go out and do what I wanted. My 92 yr old grandpa was thrilled. He had been so mad at the Drs. for not letting me even try.

I do have to say that I think I would have been a failure if I had been at the hospital. I needed all the cheerleading I could get, and I had it at home, but if anyone would have given me any negative feedback, I think I would have listened to that more.

They took so much time with me at home. I found that even though I *thought* I could do it on my own, I needed the support of the two women that just kept telling me it was going to happen. I could do it. I found it very encouraging to look over at my midwife throughout the labor and find her praying....

My 4 kids got to watch their brother come into the world. My DH even said that 3 of them got down on their bellies so they could have a bird's eye view. I have never seen kids bond to a baby so quickly.  That night DH held his newborn and rocked in the glider, and said there was nothing better in the world....

For those of you that don't know my story, I had 4 c/s because of a "prominent sacral". I found out that I did have a tailbone that was very tucked in when I was pregnant with baby #5. She passed away at 16 weeks, and I went and got an x-ray. Found out that my sacral had been broken when I was a little girl. One chiro said he didn't think it would be possible for me ever to have a natural birth with that pelvis, so I went looking somewhere else. I found a chiro that said she thought I could. She did cranial sacral, kinesthesiology (sp?), and the Thomas method (drop table method) on my tailbone. and got it to come out to a better position. I also did one hour session of myofascial massage around my c-section scar.  The massage therapist said this released the tailbone too.  

I did have a lot of pain as my sacral and tailbone moved, and they are sore today, but nothing compared to a c/s!!!

I feel so free, so thankful, and so very blessed.

Baby #7: 2nd VBA4C

I was due May 26 (the 40 week chart said I was due May 19). Everyone told me how "HUGE" I was, and that I was going to have a "HUGE" baby. Scary enough for me, since Drs. told me I could never have a baby naturally... That still floats around in my head, even though I had birthed my son naturally and he was 8 lbs 8 ozs.

Well May 28 I woke up feeling weepy. Everytime I would think of the baby inside, I would almost break into tears. I was having a few "lousy contractions", but didn't say much to dh. We went to Menards and when I sat down the contractions hurt a little more, but they still weren't anything promising.

We got home and ate lunch. I had heard that a pizza loaded with everything would put you into labor, so we had bought a Papa Murphy's Chicago pizza and I had a couple of pieces. The contractions were definately there, but I still considered them "weak". At around 1pm, I went to lay down with my two year-old. I was hoping for a nap before labor picked up. As we layed together, my water broke.... all over my son's bed! :) I went into the tub and my two year-old watched the water leaking out. He asked me, "Are you done yet?". He thought I was peeing! :-D

There went my plan on a nap and getting the garden in... I sloshed around the house and told the kids what was going on. They were happy to help me get the house clean. I called the midwife at 2:30 pm, told her my water broke, but that labor was weak and weird. I told her I would call her in an hour, and she said she would take a nap. At 3:30 pm, I called mw.... told her that it was starting to hurt. She was on her way (she lives 2 hours away plus Memorial Day traffic).

My sister and her new hubby showed up and I had two contractions while they were there, but I didn't tell them and they didn't figure it out. I did a good cover-up. My family had been really worried about me having the baby at home, so I just didn't tell any of them.

After my sister left, I decided to crawl into the tub. I couldn't handle the water dripping all over and the contractions were getting hard. A friend stopped by and we had a "bathside" conversation. :-D She is really into birth stuff.

After awhile the tub was uncomfortable, I think baby moved positions. I got out and laid on the bed on my side. I got a little cat nap and then the midwife showed up. Baby's heartbeat was good. I was 8 cm when she showed up. She said baby was coming soon. I told her that baby wasn't coming that soon. Oh, by the way, my 5 kids (ages 10-2 years old) were all watching the action now. As the midwife asked for things, the kids would run off and get them for her.

Soon I had a weird contraction and I did a "slinky" type manuever, after that my lower back hurt the rest of labor. I figure that is when baby's head started down farther. Hubby came close and I pulled him in and started making out with him. This is totally strange to me... usually I don't want him anywhere near me.

Then I got on my footstool from my glider. I rocked back and forth with it. My body started pushing, but I thought it was too soon, mw said it wasn't and let my body do what it needed to do. It felt so good to push, things didn't hurt so much. Mw again said baby was coming soon. I assured her baby was not coming that soon.

Now baby was starting to crown. The kids thought it was really cool. Dh was doing an awesome job of coaching me....and got "moochied" as my two year-old says, again.

Baby kept going in and out... mw said if I sat up a little more, baby would come down with gravity.

So I [got] in the squatting position, leaned against our bed. Next contraction baby's head came bulging out. The burning ring of fire!! I kept saying how it hurt. My dh said, "Don't you see that?" We have a full length mirror in our room and once my son got my glasses I could see our beautiful baby's head! My comment was, "That's Cool!" It was so cool and it made the pain go away. Next contraction baby came out. Her hips/legs got stuck.... it felt like her legs were folded up indian style in me. I stood up and she released her legs. She was born with her hand on her cheek!

Our beautiful "little" girl was 8 lbs 14 ozs, 20 1/2 inches long, and had a 14 inch head..... not bad for a woman that is unable to have babies naturally, huh? All glory given to God!

Sage (wise) Hannah (gracious) was born after about 6 hours of labor. (My first vbac was 16 hours of labor.) No tearing.

Oh yes, my 10 year-old son had wanted to cut the cord, and he proudly did so!

The kids didn't pay too much attention to me until the mw showed up. I asked them why.... they said it gets exciting when the mw shows up!! I thought that was pretty funny!


Kimmi's VBA4C Story (induction, posterior, c/s; posterior, trial of labor c/s; 2 RCS, "thin" uterus, VBA4C)

Birth Story

My first was a c/s in 1998. He was posterior and deemed FTP/Fetal distress (induced due to low amniotic fluid on his due date, AROM, pitocin, HARD back labor, continuous monitoring, etc etc). They cut his head getting him out. It was a tough recovery. 

My second was 13 months later, 1999. I had a Trial of Labor, which was going QUITE well despite slight meconium staining of the waters. I was pushing and felt really good about it all. But she too was posterior and I was an "inexperienced pusher" and it was Friday night and the OB had tickets to the hockey game (Stanley cup playoffs) and suddenly they decided I needed a c/s. I was VERY upset because I KNEW in my bones I could have pushed her out. The epidural didn't work. I felt everything. I had bruises on my wrists and ankles from where I was strapped to the table as I tried to leap off the table. AFTER they cut her out they gassed me [general anesthesia]. I wanted to die, it all hurt so bad, and I still agonize over the fact that as she was pulled out ALL I thought about was "Please please kill me now," nothing about my baby. I healed faster after that birth though. Until my uterine infection landed me back in the hospital for 5 days and threatened a hysterectomy it was so bad. But we got through that too.

For my 3rd pg I sought out the only midwife I could find in the area. She worked under a team of OBs and couldn't take me b/c of the 2 c/s previous. So I was scheduled for a repeat c/s. In 2002 I had my 3rd c/s. He came almost 2 weeks before his scheduled c/s though. They sectioned once I came in with regular contractions. He 37 weeks and spent 3 days in the special care nursery.

In 2005 I had my 4th, another repeat c/s. He too came early. I labored all night (they gave me drugs to try to stop it) and then in the morning the doc came in and wheeled me off to the OR. This doc was the on-call doc and she felt that 4 was too many kids anyway. Her tone was negative from the beginning. She said my uterus was a single cell layer and I would die if I ever got pg again. She strongly recommended immediate sterilization. I went to the OB I liked who sent me to 2 perinatologists before she'd give us info on sterilization. Both said it was safe to get pg again. (This child was transferred to another hospital for a NICU stay)

Birth Story #5:

I had 2 Estimated Due Dates, 2/20 and 2/28. My last 2 kids were born at 37 and 36 weeks and both had some early problems and needed support. So I REALLY wanted to make it to Valentines Day. Every day after that seemed like I was "overdue". On Feb 27th I had contractions. They were regular and they hurt. I called my doc and she came over. She was a midwife for over 20 years and is now a D.O. with a family practice and does a few births still. After 4 hours of labor I had gone from "around 3" to "almost 4" so she went home to nap and I sent my kids to a friends house so I could nap. Either I would wake up MORE in labor--or less. I woke up less :-( I continued to contract through the day, but overnight everything stopped.

[She had been breech on and off throughout the pregnancy.] My doctor was NOT scared of a breech birth at all. In fact, she said she'd take breech over posterior ANY day! I did knee-chest [position] and didn't lean back in my chair from 33 weeks on to try and keep her from being breech. [By this point she was head-down but posterior and I started taking pulsatilla.]

My husband was really opposed to a home birth. He said he would take the 2 year old and 4 year old to his sister's house--and then meet us at the hospital when I transported there for my emergency section. I was fine with that plan. I didn't need his negativity, and honestly? He kind of sucks during labor. He has many skills and redeeming qualities, but labor support just isn't his thing. I had a friend slotted to hang out with my 2 oldest (8 and 7 years old), to meet their needs and keep them busy and answer questions. They were going to come in at crowning, see the birth (if they still wanted to when the time came) and my 7yr-old daughter was planning to clamp the cord and my 8 yr-old son planned to cut it--IF they decided it was still a good idea when they saw it all. I had another friend slotted to come over and be my labor support person. I had a lot of women ready to come to a "pot luck birth." Best Laid Plans and all.

At 2:25 AM on Friday I was sleeping. My youngest (2 year-old with health problems) had had an infusion Thursday and was now snuggled into my bed smelling of baby wash and antiseptic. At 2:26 AM on Friday something happened. The baby rolled over HARD and maybe head-butted my pubic bone? It was an Internal Earthquake. I looked at the clock. 2 minutes later came a big contraction. Afterwards I got up. I wanted to set up the crock pot, and I needed to plug in the heating pad and wrap towels around it. I had things to do before labor really started. I decided to pee first. On the way there was a slight trickle. Hmmm, did I wet myself? Or did my membranes leak? In the bathroom another contraction and bloody show. I brushed my teeth, another contractions and hmmm some bright red blood drops. I was afraid of the blood. There wasn't a lot, but it was red and it had dripped and then a small clot and I was afraid something was wrong.

Out to the living room, contractions. I MEANT to time things for an hour and then call my doc. But I grabbed the phone and called her. "Hi! You wanted to do this in the middle of the night, right? The contractions just started but they're HARD and close together and there's a lot of bloody show and I don't know if my water broke?" and she says she'll come see what's going on. I had a towel under me because of the blood. I could only crawl around. Standing up SUCKED. I circled the towel like a cat, squatted over it, contracted and GUSHED fluid. I had grabbed a light colored towel on purpose and was SO relieved that the fluid was clear! I sent out an email. A SHORT one. I just checked my "sent items" folder and this is literally my email "Water broke, clear fluid, contractions HURT" sent at 2:57AM.

Later my Dr would say that she looked at her clock when she started her car and that was at 3:13 AM. It was an icy, windy, stormy night. It took her about 45 minutes to drive over. My husband was asleep on the couch and woke up. I asked him to set up my crock pot and towels and things before he left. He said he'd wait until the kids woke up to go anywhere. The contractions were so close and so hard. I was just hanging on, just waiting for the Dr to come and tell me if the bleeding was ok---which I quickly forgot about, instead waiting for her to come SAVE ME. I had planned these lovely visualizations, this nice water birth, these great coping techniques. I had candles to light! I had CDs to get from my van and play! I had pictures to look at!

But instead I just kept looking for a way to get comfortable. Everything was "nope, not it." I decided to go to the bathroom again. The contractions in the hallway dropped me to the floor. I made it to the toilet. Hated it there too. I heard Dr K arrive. When that contraction released me, I got up. I thought it was rude to make her come visit me in the loo! I got to the hall, dropped to my knees, rode out another contraction, got up, she was there. "My water broke. The fluid's clear. It's ok" She wanted me to stand up for contractions, but I just couldn't do it. She said I wanted the baby's head to push on my cervix so I would dilate. Nice idea but the contractions just knocked me over. We struggled to the bedroom so she could check me. I was only at 5!! Impossible! But the blood was just [from] my cervix, everything was fine, fetal heart tones were perfect. Great--now get me OFF this bed!

She suggested I try a contraction or 2 laying on my side. But no WAY! Halfway through I rolled off the bed to my hands and knees. I stood for a few contractions, but I could NOT lie down. I was moaning now, and ok ok, swearing too. I wanted to go pee. I fought my way to the bathroom. I sat. Dr Kathy squeezed my hands--pressure points during contraction--and only because of that relief did I survive the next few contractions.

At some point she asked me to come to bed. I think she wanted to check heart tones again? I made it to the bed but it was no small feat. At the end of that contraction I pushed a little bit. But we all ignored it as an impossibility. Next contraction I was PUSHING! I didn't mean to. Dr K said, "Oh honey I think you're pushing," and I said, "Me too and I can't stop." She checked and there was just a lip, so I started to PUSH.

Eleven minutes later she was on my chest. Pink and warm and slippery and perfect. I had been at 5cm just 20 minutes earlier. It was 4:34 AM. 2 hours and 8 minutes of perfect primal laboring madness and a beautiful baby girl!! She was 8lbs 15.5 oz and had a 14.5" head! She was only 18.5" long.. My butterball baby :-) It took us a few days to name her. But she is here, beautiful, perfect, healthy, delightful.

The "earthquake" that started my labor was her rolling posterior to anterior. She was born anterior.


Personal VBA7C Stories

Kiny's Story  (emergency c/s; ERCS, induced VBA2C; induced TOL c/s: 4 ERCS; induced hospital VBA7C; home VBA7C)

Birth Story

My name is Kiny and I was asked to write a bit about my family.

I have ten children, 9 living, in the ages of 22 to 5. When I got pregnant with our first we were in a lot of transition (having to move back from Europe to the States because of serious illness of my father-in-law) and were very short of finances. We had hoped to have a homebirth and were in touch with some midwives who were willing to do a homebirth for me. However, we ended up not using their services as we plainly did not have the money, and a nurse friend who was interested in midwifery said she would help us.

When I got pregnant with my first I started finding out about homebirth. It seemed just right for us. However, my son decided not to come till several weeks late, my birth attendant was not as knowledgeable as we had been made to think, and some mistakes were made that caused me to have an emergency c-section.

The doctor that we had for my second birth was an older man who would not even consider a vbac. So my daughter was born by elective c-section.

The third pregnancy was when we were in Germany, working with a British obstetrician, and he said he would be happy to give me a vbac. However, standards in Europe were different than what we have here and for a day and a half I was on a pitocin drip which gave me much more pit than would be acceptable in the States. My body does not respond to synthetic pitocin, and so finally he decided to brake my waters and if still nothing happened they would do a c-section. However, breaking the water caused my contractions to become very strong and my daughter's heart beat went way down. She was born eventually, but it was a pretty hard birth, definitely not what you would term 'natural".

With my fourth baby we were back in the States and the hospital that we were using then made a special ruling that I would be able to attempt a vbac, as I had had a vbac last. They also put me on the pit, but again no real contractions. After a day of that they decided they would have to do a c-section after all.

By that time I was so emotionally drained from getting my hopes up to have a natural birth, that when I got pregnant with number 5 I did not even want to try for it anymore. So she again was a repeat elective c-section.

My next three babies were born in China, where we had no option but c-section, so by this time I had had 7 c-sections.

We came back to the States and I found I was pregnant again. We went to the same hospital where I had had most of my others and from the beginning there was no question about it. This was again going to be a c-section. I gave it to the Lord and felt I was not going to fight for a natural birth. I wanted the birth God wanted and trusted Him if He had the doctors refuse to give me a vbac, that it would be best. So everything went according to plan (except that by now I had been learning a lot about birth from some midwives, understood it a lot better, and had learned some midwifery "tricks").

The day came for me to have my pre-operative appointment. I went and it turned out I had a doctor I had not seen yet (we were using a clinic where you would be seen by a number of doctors). We went through the regular proceedings, and then it came to signing the informed consent forms. He went through all the risks involved in having so many c-sections etc. and I felt prompted to comment, "Yes, it seems that whichever way you go, c-section or vbac, it is very dangerous". He agreed with me and then I suggested since both were equally dangerous by this point, if I could try a vbac. He was positive, and in the end they did allow me another try.

Of course it still was not a natural birth, They still wanted to hook me up to everything in sight, give me pitocin, etc. But by now I had learned. I had for several weeks taken EPO [Kmom: Evening Primrose Oil] internally to get things ready and as they were delayed starting the iv, started doing nipple stimulation. This gave me good contractions. Of course the nurses were not very happy when they found out. They hooked me up to the iv and started me on pit even though I told them I don't respond to pit. So I thought, ok, if they want it their way, let's see what the pit does. I stopped the nipple stim and of course the contractions slowed down significantly (and since I was hooked up to the monitor it was plain to see.) When the doctor came back to check on me he noticed it, was worried and I explained to him why the contractions had gone down. He then told the nurses to let me do it my way, and they did.

My son was born a few hours later.  This birth was the closest I had ever come to a natural birth, but I still was longing for a real natural birth.

We moved to another state and I started studying under a midwife and attending births with her. And I got pregnant again. My midwife said that if there were no complications she would be willing to do a homebirth, and we went for it. I did the same preparations as I had done for my vbac baby and prayed a lot for God to give me wisdom and to help me be in tune with my body. Up till now I had never gone into labor spontaneously, would I this time? Once when I tried to do a vbac I had taken castor oil, and although it gave me some contractions, it had not lasted. Should I try castor oil again?

In the end I decided to. I had my castor oil some time in the morning with some orange juice and when contractions started went downstairs in the basement and asked everyone to stay out. I had a wonderful time relaxing and doing nipple stim and I felt the castor oil was doing something. I danced around the basement and really enjoyed the contractions. I did not think the contractions were strong enough to bring the baby, but I felt there still was a lot going on, and decided to ask my midwife if I could take castor oil again the next day.

However, when I was on the phone to her my water broke and the contractions suddenly became very strong. She said she would be right over and put down the phone. As it was, she lived an hour away and barely made it in time. I was ready to push by the time she arrived and we had a wonderful little boy.

I am so thankful to God for giving me this homebirth. It was a wonderful experience and I was able to just relax and enjoy it.




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