You can not have a VBAC without the glorious Caesarean
I guess my story starts 11 yrs ago when I gave birth to my son Garrett. I was only 18 and had no idea what was in store for me. I went to one birth preparation class and left at break time, it was not for me and I already knew I did not want to hear about cesarean sections. Vaginal birth was all I really knew about and thought that is how you have babies; C-sections were for EMERGENCIES ONLY. Well I was wrong… at my 38 week check up my OB offered to induce me and I excitedly agreed. So on March 27, 2001 at 6am I went to the hospital to meet my baby boy. I was signed in and strapped to a bed with pitocin going by 7 am. I was progressing so they offered the epidural and I took it (without knowing it would slow my progression) then sat there and waited. After lunch came and went they came to tell me I was not progressing so they needed to do a c-section. Tears ran down my face as I sat there in shock and asking WHY. They go on to explain I am too small and I can’t do it vaginally so the OB ordered a c-section. (by the way I am 5’0”, 98 lbs pre pregnancy, 145 final pregnancy weight and a healthy, active 18 yr old) I was devastated but at 4:00pm I found myself placed on the cold emergency room table. At 4:20pm my beautiful plump and tan baby boy was screaming and I was already IN LOVE, the c-section was out of my mind. After months of recovery I was feeling back to my normal self and believed all my births were going to be c-sections because that is what I was told.
I went on with my life meeting my amazing husband and we were a small little family. The thought of birth or more children had not entered my mind until we got pregnant in 2008. I at the time decided to challenge a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and searched for a midwife this time. First stop was a beautiful well know Birth center that we even had to sign up to tour it. After about an hour we got into a Q&A with all the other couples there and I asked about VBACs and the room went dead silent. The midwife rudely went on to say we don’t accept VBACs here and went on about her business like I did not exist. I was in tears and she was so cold and continued the Q&A. After we left I felt like my dreams were shattered and my husband was angry, but we are stubborn and did not stop there! We decided not settle for those snobs! We did our research and interviewed many other midwives who would accept my “broken body.” Once I fell in love with one little, strong minded English lady, I had a miscarriage. I then had to find an OB to confirm I lost our baby and ensure I was safe. Once we met our OB we really liked her and trusted her so once we recovered and It was time to try again we decided we would use her. Within a few months we were pregnant again and this time it was looking good. Our OB was supportive of our VBAC and plan to have an all natural birth. The only problem was she would only allow me to go 41 weeks. We decided we will cross that bridge when we get there. We were happy and felt safe with our decisions. At this time we were living in a 2 bedroom townhome and decided it was time to buy a home. We ended up moving from Dallas to Fort Worth while continuing to visit our Ob in Dallas. Things were going well and before I knew it we were at 41 weeks. I tried acupuncture, chiropractic and herbs, but nothing worked. Here I was faced with a hard decision. At my 41 week appointment we scheduled the c-section. The next night I remember taking a hot bath and crying because I did not want to go and felt if I waited another week I would have him natural. I was also scared if I decided not to go my OB would be really upset with me and decide not to care for me. What made this even harder is that she also was planning an induction 2 days after my scheduled c-section. What if I had a stranger cut me open? I was living in Fear! Against my dreams I went ahead and went to my appointment. Unlike last time I knew what I was getting into, but this time I had a supportive husband. Same ol’ same ol’. Paperwork, epidural, no food, and then on to the cold emergency room. On August 6th, 2010 we had our second son, whom of course is still the light of my life. He came out fighting and ready to eat and I was determined to breastfeed him. I can’t be too small for that right? He took to the breast the first time I laid him on my chest. This was the first time I had ever breastfed. I felt happy. I had accomplished something with this birthing thing since again I had failed to give birth naturally. That was a hard part to write. Now I am crying, Now I am angry.
Tanek was only a year old when I discovered and fell in love with birth photography. I begged and begged until I found someone who was willing to let me capture their birth. I got the call. As I sat behind the bed nervously seeing a baby born vaginally for the first time I was shaking and went into a small shock. It was so beautiful. I wanted that! I instantly got baby fever. After I photographed 3 births I became pregnant; It was unexpected but a happy surprise. This time was going to be different. This time I was having a non-medicated, all natural birth and no one was going to stop me. I automatically started with a group of amazing midwifes; I found a doula who was going to fight for me and started hypnobabies as my training into natural birthing. As a birth photographer I started using the births I attended as a school, I would take away knowledge to use in my own birth. Such as do’s and don’ts, repeated behaviors, birth support rolls, and my wants and NEEDS. (Thank you to all my teachers AKA birth mommas) I was planning on having a hospital birth with midwives, but being a VBAC I had to meet the head OB to ensure I was qualified and wanted a VBAC . In my hypnobabies training we are taught to create a bubble of peace.This hands down was one of the best tools of my training. This is a bubble you mentally create that only allows people who are supportive of your birth plan in. Mine started out very small consisting of my husband, my doula, my friend Rachel, and my chiropractor. I was not willing to accept anyone else in yet until I was comfortable. As the date came close to meeting with the OB I just did not feel willing to allow him in. Previously only having c-sections allowed me to give birth and become a mother, but disallowed me any knowledge of my what my own birth experience should be. This constantly caused me to have the fear of “what if” throughout my pregnancy. I was scared meeting the OB and taking the path of a hospital birth would not get me the VBAC I was fighting for. I did not want to think about a c section. I did not want to have a stressful birth. I deserved a peaceful, comfortable birth without any questionable doubts. At 28 weeks, I start to tether between changing to a birthing center or a home birth. I met Amanda with Beautiful Beginnings Birth Center. At that moment the fear left my mind. I felt safe and fully supported and comfortable letting her into my bubble of peace. Around 30 weeks Braxton hicks started. Most people hate them, but I loved them being that I’ve never experienced them before it meant progress for me. They did not go away, they just became stronger, and at times they were confusing but I just kept on keepin on. At 37 weeks I woke up at midnight with the weirdest feeling, back labor. YAHOOO this is it!!! … NOPE ! At my next appointment I decided to get checked. I was 50% effaced and dilated to a 1. cool I have never been effaced so I told the world thinking that must mean any day now. Again, at 39 weeks pre term labor tricked me. This time must stronger waves so I decided to get checked again. Bad idea. I was 85% effaced and only dilated to a one. Those powerful birthing waves did not do as much as I thought. I started to get nervous. I thought to myself if this was not the real deal how will I know? People say you JUST KNOW! Well I disagree. Dilation, effacing, mucus plug don’t mean you are going into labor. However all the good signs say it’s “somewhere” in the near future. I surrendered to it all, done thinking about when and how?? I just decided I was going to go into labor at 42 weeks and planned on that. 40 weeks came and passed. The following day at 4:00 pm on Monday the 2nd of July I lost my mucus plug. I was like, “oh yay that’s a great sign” and went on with my day. 1:30 am came around. This time my birthing waves were waking me up so I laid in bed timing them for an hour before I woke my husband. He did not believe me and told me to go back to sleep. I waited a bit longer and woke him again and this time I made him get up. We started timing them together and they were 4 minutes apart. THIS WAS IT! We called his mother to come watch our kiddos, called the midwife, my doula and photographer. My mother in law arrived around 3:30 am. At that time I decided to try to get a nap so I woke up again at 7 am Tuesday the 3rd and my birthing waves had changed from 4 min apart to 10-15 min apart. I was so tired. I tried to sleep some more, but with waves hitting every 10 minutes this was impossible to do. My hypnobabies became a necessity at this point; I would not have been able to nap between waves even if it was 2 min. They continue all day until 3pm when they jumped back up to 5 min, we went to the birthing center just to get checked… no progress. SERIOUSLY?? We went back home and watched some more TV and tried to rest. 4th of July came and I was still having waves 10-15 min apart. I missed my boys and I wanted to swim so we went to my in-laws house. We arrived around 1pm and I jumped in the pool. AMAZING I tell you. Every wave I would just hold onto the edge of the pool and enter hypnosis. My sweet mother in law asked if I was timing them. I said “No, I give up. I’ve been timing for 3 days now.” She then starts to time them for me. I went from 10 min to 7min in a matter of 2 hrs. I was having a great time swimming and seeing my babies, which I think helped me relax. At one point, I was in such a serene moment I saw my third eye, which if you meditate means you are in a great state of hypnosis. I was like wow! That was cool. I look back now and realized that may have been a transition period for me, because within the hour my water broke. I felt a small amount of water leak, but I was not sure if it was my water breaking or just pool water. I did not mention it and continued my birthing waves in the pool. 30 min later I felt a small pop so I then said “Maybe my water broke, I think I should get out.” Went to the bathroom to check not expecting anything, but YEP, my water broke. A huge smile swept over my face as I called for my husband. We were so HAPPY! Called my doula, midwife, and photographer. It was Fourth of July so I was honestly scared to call anyone. I did not want to take them away from their family just yet, so I called my doula Kathy first. All I said was I need you now. She heard it in my voice ( I guess its because she has served over 1000 moms), but she knew I was ready. At this time my birthing waves changed to 3-4 min apart again. I decided it would be best to go home to continue my birthing time before heading to the Birth center. Now to make the ride home… It was a bumpy one (the line about the husband hitting every bump on the road is true.) Let’s just say I’m so thankful for the “oh crap” handles. As we pulled up to our home Kathy was there. I felt a huge relief. As I was walking up the stairs a wave hit, and Kathy decided to time it. I kept saying they were only a min long. It was 90 seconds! We finally made it in the door, went to the bathroom, tried a few positions, and took a bite of dinner. At this point birthing waves were lasting longer and they were definitely stronger, making it hard to move or concentrate on anything except preparing for the next wave. It was time to go to the Birthing center. My doula called my birth team, got them up to speed, and told them to start running the water. I heard that and got excited. We piled in our cars and headed over. My midwife has two students in training, Lisa and Kim, so they met us at the center. It was so nice to see their faces as we walked in. I jumped right in the tub as soon as I walked in. At this point it was 9:30pm. I continued to have birthing waves, longer, closer, and stronger. Bare with me, this part starts to become a blur. I know many women fear the pain of labor, but for me it was encouragement and I appreciated every wave, every break, every push. I’m pretty sure I owe much of this to my hypnobabies training. We are taught that there is no pain. Each wave brings us close to meeting our baby. I’m not saying there is no pain, I’m just saying it was all necessary, and just part of the process. I was not scared. I was in my own head, my own rhythm; I surrendered to my body at this point. I let my baby do what he needed to do and I stayed focus and peaceful. As I went into my birthing time I thought I would care if others were in my space. I only wanted my husband in my room with the rest of my birthing team being in and out. This did not matter once I was in my zone. I am grateful that they waited patiently with me. My Doula and Husband never left my side they were encouraging through every wave. I labored in the water for 4 hours. Half of that time I spent pushing. I felt I was very vocal throughout this process. I felt I was out of control because all my chanting, moaning, and breathing, yet everyone assures me I was peaceful. Around 2 am my midwife checked me (which I don’t remember). I was stuck at a 7 and my cervix was swelling. Now this is hardest part of my labor and why I am grateful my midwife’s were in the room with me the whole time. As I was pushing for the last few hours I was not progressing. At this point if I was in the hospital I most likely would have been pressured for a c-section, but with my midwife being well educated, she forced me out of the tub. I needed to change positions while trying not to push for awhile. I did not want out of the water but I did it anyway. We tried some belly lifts which I said NO WAY. We tried my birthing ball and some massage. That was ok but to tell me not to push, that was crazy and mostly what I remember. I needed to try really hard not to push so my cervix would relax and I could progress past a 7. This was an impossible task. I’m even getting chills now. I found a comfortable place on the bed and tried my hardest. I was breathing, grunting, and holding in the urge to push. By the end of each wave I failed to do this. I had to push! Finally with my exhausted Husband holding me and my Doula in front of my face pushing me through each wave with each urge to push, we did it. It was the longest hour of my life, but we did it and the swelling went down. I jumped back into the water where I planned to birth my baby. A few more hours of laboring in the tub and I had to get out again. This time our baby boy was malpositioned and we needed to get him under my pelvic bone. So back to the bed I went. With 3 midwives, my doula, and my husband all supporting me, we pushed for 2 hours (looking back I don’t know how they did this, THEY AMAZE ME). Finally after 3 months of Braxton hicks, 2 pre term labor calls, 3 days of active labor, 16 hours of stage 2 labor, 6 hours of pushing my husband looks at me and says “I see his head!” I was crowning! At this point, I am at the point where I don’t believe him, but I mentally prepare and bare down and push with all my might. A few minutes later my baby boy made his way into this world. He was instantly placed on my chest and I felt complete. He was having a hard time breathing so they took him to drain his throat and nose. As soon as they did this my placenta decided to deliver itself and I wanted to pass out from exhaustion. Once I realized Kei was safe I tried to hold him but did not have the energy to keep my arms up. My vision was blurry and my body was giving out. I Remember them getting me out of the bed to clean it up and take me to the bathroom. Next thing I know, I woke up on the floor with my husband at my head. I had passed out without knowing it. When I woke up all I could do was worry about starting to breastfeed Kei. I was so scared he was hungry so I offered to call my friend Kayla to come feed my baby! They assured me Lynsey was taking care of him and we needed to get me feeling better. I agreed we had to focus on me. I was honestly pretty scared but did not want to say anything. 13 hours and 3 IV’s later I was able to open my eyes, walk and talk again. My oldest son Garrett was concerned the whole day so we decided to have them come see us and meet Kei. My mother-in-law and father-in-law brought them; It was a sweet moment that I will never forget. My Father-in-law’s mom went into labor with his brother, Owen, July 4 1945 and Owen was born the 5th of July. Unfortunately Owen passed away last year with cancer. He was a sweet man and now we will always have a way to honor him. My father in law cried when he held Kei and I’m sure I know why. We thankfully went home around 7pm that night. Momma and baby were safe and happily bonded. Kei has fit into our family perfectly and I am so happy I got my VBAC. I was asked a day after my labor if it was worth it … I said check back with me. Well you know what, it was! Since I was so exhausted I did not get to experience beauty of the birth nor the feeling of his triumph, but days later my body and mind gathered and I experienced it for the first time. It was amazing.
I can not express how thankful I am of my birth team. I know if one of them were not in my birth story this would have ended so differently.
Andrew: without your eyes to keep me together and make me feel at home I would be lost
Kathy: you have to be the most amazing woman I have ever encountered. You have a big personality and an even bigger heart. I have learned so much from you over the last few months that I will keep with me a lifetime.
Amanda: You are so calm and collected during births, its pretty amazing. I have seen your knowledge and wisdom work first hand. You go girl. Most importantly thank you for having faith in me and my body. With you this was possible. WE DID IT
Kim: You are definitely in great hands with Amanda. I can already tell you are going to do great things as a midwife. Thank you for holding my hand as I gave birth to Kei, thank you for letting me borrow any energy you had left that morning.
Lisa: I was not expecting to see you at my birth only meeting you once before. I am so lucky you were there. Your encouragement and sweet heart is what I cherish about our time together. Thank you for playing tug of war with me for 2 hours. You are going to be a powerful midwife.
Lynsey: I am honored to call you a friend. You have become so much more than a photographer to me. You are a sweet person and strong woman. I adore you and LOVE all my birth photos. You rock!
Anna: Thank you for helping me during recovery. I was not your client but you made me one. Your thoughtfulness and kind words were very healing in a time of need.
Thank you all for taking care of sweet baby boy while I was not able to he means the world to me.
my birth video