Monday, June 7, 2010

My VBA2C and yes, I claim it!

For some reason, it has taken me 4 years and 4 months to write this and my previous birth stories. I understand why I am doing it now. I am on the cusp of a new chapter and old chapters need closure before new ones can begin with full attention.....

Even after the debacle that was the cbac birth of my daughter and despite our previous experiences with infertility, I was hopeful that I would somehow find a way to birth another baby. One day I was walking through Costco and saw one of those mega packs of pregnancy tests. I looked at the package and thought "I'm pregnant". I went from there to see my hair "guy" but peed on the stick in the salon's bathroom. Yep, I was pregnant and I wasn't even late yet. Yeah! Even though I was of "advanced maternal age" at 39 at that time, I was quite certain of the outcome. I would carry the baby to term and deliver him/her vaginally and naturally. I knew this with every fiber of my being.

I began prenatal care with my OB/RE and didn't mention anything about wanting a vba2c. I knew he wouldn't go for it and it wasn't worth stressing either of us out over it. In the meantime I began to call OB offices in Chicago, found the national ICAN yahoo group (my lifesaver), and attended homebirth meetups to learn more about natural birth. None of the OBs I contacted would even consider a vba2c, neither would any of the home birth midwives or the one home birth OB in town. So many times I posted pathetic messages on the ICAN group like "All hope is gone" and "why am I being so stubborn". Thankfully my ICAN friends always brought me back to reality and reminded me that there are ALWAYs options, even when we don't think so. They helped me see that my hard labors might have been due to malposition. #1 had a compound presentation and I think #2 was anterior. I started to see a chiropractor to give myself an edge on positioning (plus I was still in pain from the dislocated sacrum from #2 labor). I exercised and was the healthiest I really had ever been. I spent hours reading birth stories, studying the research and understanding my fear of birth/pain. I ordered a hypnobirthing home study CD set and listened to it every night. I found a wonderful doula who was a vbac and hbac mom herself. I was increasingly strong, determined and unwilling to compromise. Family and friends "worried" about me but I was very clear that I was following my instinct and honoring my inner wisdom. Plus, I knew that I was growing within myself a stronger woman, a woman who "finishes what she starts". No more did I say things to myself like "I want a natural birth, but I won't be a martyr if I need an epidural or c/s". Now I told myself "no one knows YOUR body better than YOU, interventions are NOT an option. Period."

Finally, when literally all my options were exhausted, I decided to ask one of the midwives at the hospital where I work if they ever had cared for women who wanted vba2c. You can not believe how much courage this took! I work in the NICU as a developmental specialist and I'm always trying to balance what babies and families need for support against the realities of the medical team's emotional availability to be open to new concepts and paradigms so that I can gradually mold that availabilty for the benefit of babies/families. One of the most enlightening aspects of this journey for me was how relevant my road to vba2c was to my professional passions. Anyway, the midwife told me, as if this was not even a big deal, "yes, we support vba2c, in fact our chief is actively working to keep our primary and repeat c/s rates low." Wow. I was so surprised! Could I imagine giving birth just a few steps away from my office? I felt horribly vulnerable but that wasn't going to stop me. I'd found a supportive caregiver!!!

A few miscommunications later and a few VERY satisfying episodes of telling-off stupid residents by citing actual evidence, I officially switched providers at 32 weeks.

The night before my due date, I went to bed around 10pm with some early contractions. I slept for a little while but then woke up around 2 am and practiced breathing and using the relaxation techniques from the hypnobirthing CD. That worked for about an hour then I went downstairs and got out my birth ball and just rocked on it for awhile. Around 6 am I woke up my husband and told him that things were progressing. I fully expected this time that I might have the same quick, intense labor as I did before so I didn't panic when the contractions became difficult to manage. I had also arranged to have a TENS unit as an option for pain control so I stuck that on and continued to rock over the ball while my husband called our doula, Tama, and got the kids ready for school. Tama got to the house around 7:30 am and my husband took the kids to school. Tama encouraged me to squat but that made the contractions really intense. I remember thinking "you are resisting the process! just let go and let it happen!" When hubby got back we decided to try some time in the bathtub. Oh heavenly bathtub!!!! The contractions were still intense but I felt like I could stay "on top" of them while in the water. It was a sunny but bitterly cold January day and the hot water ran out early on. Hubby literally was boiling water and pouring it in the tub. I was so angry that he couldn't get the water warm enough! lol.
Tama was perfect. She simply sat next to the tub and calming interjected a few times to breathe. She somehow knew that what I really needed was her physical presence, without any undo distraction. I loved the tub and didn't ever want to get out. Oh why didn't I plan a UBA2C! I really wanted to stay at home at that point but I thought that probably wasn't fair to Tama to ask it of her. She finally coaxed me out of the tub. I remember being so afraid that my water would break if I walked across the living room to go out to the car. They finally got me in the car around 11am wearing only a sports bra and a towel wrapped around my waist. :-) Incredibly the contractions slowed and mellowed on the way to the hospital. I actually felt good, sensual and so in-control! I was totally into it, moaning and breathing, it was great. I got to the hospital and of course the ER wanted to ask me a whole bunch of stupid questions to which I gave them NOTHING. I didn't owe them anything. This birth was on my terms. In the elevator I was "vocalizing" and I heard someone say, "is that Jennifer"? Ugh, yes, giving birth at work is a bit, well, public. And there I was basically naked on an elevator full of colleagues.

One of my big fears from before was Triage. I had my husband call the unit to tell them we were coming and to make sure an actual room was available. My midwife friend (who wasn't allowed to deliver with me due to me being high-risk, puke) had everything smoothed over for me and we went right into a room. Of course right away an IV went in and they slapped a monitor on me. I was squirming around so much that it was hard to get a read on the monitor. They suggested an internal monitor to which I replied "NO"!!! Geez, the baby was going to be there any minute anyway. I did agree to let them rupture my membranes and that was a huge relief. I went from 8 cm to complete instantly. My only regret is the purple pushing position thing. But it wasn't horrible and I couldn't believe I was actually pushing! It was wonderful. I felt no pain at that time. I was doing this thing that I always knew I could do and had let so many things get in the way of. As soon as my baby was born I said, "I want to do that again"! I was on such a high. My son was placed on my chest and we started nursing. This is how a nursing relationship is supposed to start! What a difference.

I had a few stitches placed, I teared a little, at the time I thought the pinching sensation was the damn residents hands in the way. Maybe it was, I was really annoyed that she was doing anything down there.

Then I got up, went to the bathroom and walked around, holding my baby. When there was a mix up with the cord bili labs, I walked down to the nicu and greeted my coworkers so that I could support my baby during a blood draw. "you don't even look like you just gave birth" and "why are you walking around"? were typical comments. But I felt great!!! I begged the doctors to let me go home early. I was out of there 20 hours after walking through the door.

My little boy was born on his due date at 12:12 pm and so was I after a very, very long gestation.

Written with love on the 9th and 7th anniversaries of 2 c/s.


  1. I am just THRILLED by your post. You are an awesome momma and just to know that a VBA2C is possible... it gives me hope!

  2. Thanks Sarah! Hope and Knowledge are powerful partners. :-)
    (and thanks for my first ever comment - exciting!)