Trigger Warning: before I start I’d like to add a disclaimer that there will be mention of prior birth trauma and medical intervention
July 5, 2021 – the day my second son was born. The day I lived a healing and redemptive birth experience.
If you remember my first birth story you will remember it was a traumatic experience for me as a first time mother. It was long, my concerns were dismissed, & I ended up having to be put to sleep during my c-section which meant I did not hear my son’s first cries.
Because of this I was determined to do things differently this time around. I educated myself and learned about a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I learned once a c-section does not mean you have to always have repeat c-section. I dedicated my pregnancy to doing what I could to achieve this goal.
Preparing for a VBAC
In preparation for a VBAC, first I took virtual informative classes to learn more about the process and if I thought it was right for me. I had a lot of my feelings validated from my first birth, and started to take things seriously.
I tried to stay as active as I could. I attended weekly pre-natal yoga (thank you Karma & The Nesting Place LI) I also went to weekly appointments with a chiropractor who specialized in pre and postnatal care.
I joined groups on Facebook and Instagram related to VBAC to stay informed and see the success stories of other women in similar positions to mine.
One of the most important things I did was hire a doula. A doula provides an invaluable service to mother and her partner and I would recommend for any and every birth! I wanted one as a first time mom and I believe I would have had a different experience if I did. My doula, Kaitlin, is an Angel. She is a VBAC mom herself and runs Be Her Village which provides a support registry so other birthing people can access things like doulas, pre and postnatal education, lactation consultants and more!
July 4th, 2021
Was it the fireworks? The weather? All the food I ate at the bbq? Who knows, but my little boy decided to start to let me know he was ready! At 8 pm I started to feel contractions that were about 30 seconds long and 5-6 minutes apart. I called my doula at 9 and we made a plan to touch base by 11.
Well by 9:45 they were getting stronger. We planned to labor at home so I called her and she was on her way. By 10 I told her to meet us at the hospital because they were just too strong!
We got to the hospital by 10:30 and I really thought I was going to push him out in triage! I started screaming for an epidural and even a repeat cesarean! The pain was so intense, I give major props to people who decide to give birth naturally. You are warriors!
They did a cervical check and I was 6cm! Once I got my epidural around 11 I was able to calm down and think clearly. I wanted to try to VBAC (also known as a TOLAC – trial of labor after cesarean) my midwife and doula fully supported me. It was now a waiting game for my body to work its magic. Maybe 2-3 hours later I got checked again and was 9cm and fully effaced, my water had even broken naturally and I hadn’t realized! Then we just waited for my body to labor down and prepare to push.
By 3:45 that happened and we got into position. I was so calm during this process it almost scared me. I was ready, I breathed into each contraction and pushed as best as I could. I let the process happen without worry or distraction, just listening to my body and the Hamilton soundtrack in the background.
During each push I had my husband and doula cheer me on and support me. I tried a few different positions to try and get baby to descend. By 5 am, I started to get tired and lose energy. I remembered my first labor where I pushed for 3 hours and how exhausted I was. I decided I didn’t want that when meeting my son. I decided on a repeat cesarean….
A repeat cesarean was not a decision I took lightly. However, I felt confident and calm in my decision. You may ask, even after all the hard work for a VBAC? Yes, especially because of all the hard work! At the end of the day I was fighting for an empowered birth where I was in control. I listened to my body and it saved my life.
Unlike my first birth where I had to wait hours, I was wheeled into prep for my cesarean right away. My husband was able to be there by my side and hold my hand. And I got the greatest gift, the thing I dreamed of that I didn’t experience with my first birth
I heard my son’s first cries
That is a moment I will never forget and forever cherish. My goal for this birth was to be awake to meet my son and I accomplished that goal. It is one of the highlights of my life. My healthy, 10 pound baby boy was here!
Remember when I said listening to my body potentially saved my life? Well not everything went so smoothly. A little bit after they pulled my son out, things got scary.
Things took a turn…
Things were taking a bit longer than expected. Turns out, I began to hemorrhage on the operating table. As scary as this was, I did my best to stay calm especially because my husband was right next to me and I didn’t want him to worry. Eventually, they did remove him from the room to continue working on me.
What normally takes 30 mins ended up with me on the operating table for two hours. Overall I needed 5 blood transfusions because my uterus was not contracting. Thank goodness this happened on the operating table where they could act quickly, who knows what my story could have been otherwise. After all my body went through, I just have soreness in my abdomen and a beautiful baby boy.
A healing experience
When I say this birth was healing, you may look at me like I am out of my mind. Yes, while what happened was scary it doesn’t define my birth. What does define my birth was that I made my own decisions every step of the way. My body worked hard, my mind stayed calm, and my dream of hearing my son’s first cries came true. It healed me from how powerless I felt during my first birth. It healed my heart and mind. This birth showed me my strength.
This birth was a redemptive experience. I am incredibly happy and at peace with my second birth. Just because I did not VBAC does not mean my body failed. I will continue to advocate for vbacs and I think it’s important that women know they have options and can make informed decisions.
My body went into labor naturally, fought through contractions, and labored. My mind stayed calm and my heart was open to meeting my son safely.
I really want to say thank you to everyone who followed along during my VBAC journey. To those who messaged me on instagram with their positive thoughts and well wishes. To all the moms-to-be fighting for their VBACs and waiting for my story, I believe in you! Our bodies are incredible vessels that carry and bring forth life, however that may be. I hope that every birthing person can experience the birth they desire and dream of. I finally did.