Monday, December 6, 2010

On my VBAC Birth Story and Activism

I struggle with wanting to be a VBAC-tivist.

I really want to be one.

I loved my vbac. I want other women who might have had a scary or just plain dissatisfying c-section to have the same opportunity I did to reclaim some faith in thier body.

I want to help dispel the myths that VBACs are highly dangerous and selfish on the part of the mother.

But I fear that posting about it, or even mentioning it to other women is pushy.

So for today, I am just going to post my daughter's birth story. Hopefully it speaks for itself and maybe it will help inspire someone on the fence about VBAC to give it more thought.

So here we go:

Four days past my due date I woke up at 1:00 am to use the bathroom and as I got out of bed I felt a small gush. It didn’t really seem like enough to be my water breaking, but it seemed like too much to be much else. I decided to try to go back to bed, but I was having some light contractions and my mind was not able to shut down enough to sleep. I got up again and felt another gush. I decided to try to sleep on the couch. As I got up I heard my 22 month old playing with his train in his room. I said a little prayer that he would go back to sleep. I never did get any sleep on the couch and around 3:30 I went back to bed and kicked my husband out of bed so I could have more room to stretch out during contractions.

My son had other plans for me and started crying. He really wasn’t a bad sleeper at this age so I figured either I was keeping him awake or he knew something was coming. I woke up my husband to help me with our son and talk about what we wanted to do. My contractions were only 6-8 minutes apart and when I had them I would get small gushes. I didn’t want to rush anywhere, but I also wanted to make sure we had a babysitter when we had to leave.

By 5:30 my husband convinced me to call the midwife (Chris) to ask her what we should do. She said it sounded like my water had probably broken and that we should take our time and “mosey” over to the hospital eventually. We called our babysitter to have her come over and then our parents so that they could relieve her.

Once the babysitter arrived, maybe around 7:30, we left to go find somewhere to walk and get the contractions closer together. We ended up at Bradley park and walked around for a bit. I was having contractions about every 5 minutes. While we were there Chris called. She said that I should get checked out in L+D and if things were not moving fast enough and my water happened to still be intact I could go home.

So we showed up at the hospital around 8:30 for a NST and to see if my water actually had broken. If both were good and I wasn’t any more dilated then I had been the day before at my appt I was going to go home. At this point my husband called my doula to update and she said she would come by. My contractions had slowed to every 6-8 minutes now. I was pretty sure I had sounded all kinds of false alarms and told my husband we were idiots for coming in so early and calling our parents down.

It turns out my water had sort of broken. The nurse called it a high leak. So we were admitted around 10:30ish and taken to a room. I was a 3-4 and 75% effaced when we got to our room which was the same as I had been the day before at my prenatal appt with the midwife. Because I was attempting a VBAC I was required to have monitoring. Unfortunately the telemetric monitor was broken and the only other one was in use, so I had to be hooked up the old fashioned way for monitoring. I also got my saline lock put in.

Things were pretty slow at first. I was having contractions about every 6 minutes and sat on the birthing ball for a few hours. My doula had me do a couple of spinning baby positions on the bed to help bring the baby down. Chris came to check me and I was “only” a four-five (which seems funny to say since I only got to a 2 after 2 and a half days with my son.) I was kind of disappointed though since I had been going at this all morning. Chris then broke the rest of my water in hopes of getting the show on the road. I also had to start antibiotics since my water had been broken for 12 hours.

From here on out my time line gets fuzzy. As soon as the rest of the water was broken I started to have a more regular contraction pattern. They also felt stronger and more intense. I stayed on the birthing ball for a few more hours and my doula and my husband helped me breathe through them. I was having a very hard time relaxing though. I also started having a lot of doubts about my body’s ability to completely dilate and started to wade through a lot of guilt over my son’s birth. My doula kept reminding me that even if I wasn’t dilating each contraction was doing something and this really helped.

A few hours after Chris broke my water, the nurse checked me and I was only about a 5-6 (I think she always added the extra number to make me feel better.) I was really nauseous, but didn’t feel like I was able to throw up. I went back to the birthing ball for a bit and then something in my head kind of snapped and I started begging for drugs. I was tired and pretty sure I was going to fail and just wanted to stop being in pain. I was afraid of getting an epidural, but the promise of rest and no pain was a pretty strong. We decided to get the neumorphine (sp?) first and then see if I still wanted the epidural.

As the nurse was giving me the neumorphine I threw up and felt a little bit better. I started to feel very out of it and disconnected, but I also was able to relax a bit and let go. I still felt everything very strongly, I just didn’t care as much. The nurse said the anesthesiologist would be a while because she had just started with another woman. I am not sure how much time passed, but a little while later they came in to check me again and put in the internal monitor and I was a 7-8. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and my husband and my doula had to leave the room. It seemed like it took forever to get the epidural in, but once she did, I must say despite my desire to have a drug free birth, it was nice. I could still feel when I was having contractions; I just didn’t have pain associated with them, just pressure. It let me shut my brain down and just let my body do its job. It did make me shake a bit, but not nearly as bad as with my son’s birth. Warm blankets seemed to help.

Not too long after I got the epidural I started feeling kind of pushy. The nurse checked and said I had just a lip left and that she was going to call Chris. I asked my doula what that meant and she said I was almost there and we would start pushing soon. It seemed kind of surreal to me that I had made it to the pushing phase, but despite the drugs I was able to stay in the moment pretty well and mentally prepare.

The next thing I knew Chris was there and all the lights in the room were turned on. Chris checked me and the head had moved way down. At first Chris was telling me when to push, but my epidural was good enough that I could feel when I needed to start. I expected the pushing to last a while, but about 25 minutes into it I was able to birth her head. Chris told me to stop pushing and I really did try, but a contraction kind of took over and the body shot out without any real effort.

My daughter was placed on my chest and we got to cuddle for a while, but the nurses were kind of freaking out because she was blue so she got rubbed down on my chest. The fast birth left some tearing and Chris had to stitch me up for about the next 45 minutes, This was actually more uncomfortable then the birth itself.

Once she was done my daughter got to come back over to me and we nursed and cuddled. The recovery was actually a bit harder then I expected because of the tearing, but it was no where near as bad as my c-section recovery. I was able to room in with her by myself and get up out of bed by a few hours post birth versus not being able to walk for a few days with my son.

It might not have gone exactly as my birth plan called for, but I am totally happy with how everything went.

I will probably post my son's birth story some other time for comparison. There will also likely be a post or two about the myths surrounding VBACs and who can and can't have them.

Stay tuned!


  1. I think you strike a good balance of communicating that VBACs are possible by sharing your great experience, yet not saying that everybody else *must* do it too. Lots of women just want to have a c-section again, and I think you are respectful of that.

  2. lots of thanks! good experience
    yhanks sharing ;-)

  3. What a lovely birth! Such a difference.

  4. I along with my doc and my husband chose a repeat c section over a vbac for various reasons, a few medical issues, gut feelings and preference. I do agree however that in most situations where there is no real medical issues, vbac risks are way too low to be overly worried about. I do however absolutely support anyone who wants a vbac and would stand up for and fight for those who have to fight for it themselves. I didn't feel offended or anything by your story at all, it was just simply telling us your birth story and how you preferred it to a section and encouraging mothers to not be afraid of vbac, which is a good message really. Must say though your story did sound a bit scary to me, with the stitches and all lol. Cos my repeat section had absolutely no pain at all and was walking fine the next day so for me I was glad to go through no pain with my section rather than what you described with the vbac lol. At the end of the day I felt you were respectful to all women, including myself- a proud c section mummy. That in itself makes me respect you and support what you are trying to do- help mothers properly understand that vbac is for most women really not as dangerous as made out to be.