In the nearly two years since my VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), I have had the pleasure of bearing witness to a plethora of other VBAC stories through my connection to the birth community. Many mothers know they want a VBAC, but they may not be clear on what steps to take to get there. Over the next few days I want to share some tips on how you can have your own beautiful VBAC story, but first I want to share my story.
My labor began just moments after I arrived for my last scheduled day of work before maternity leave. I felt a hard contraction, then my mucous plug came, and intense, steady surges followed. Things seemed to be moving quickly, so as soon as my husband got into work, we turned around and headed for labor and delivery. I wanted to labor at home because I felt that it would increase my chances of having an intervention-free birth. However, since we took the train to work, I would have had to labor on the train to get home. The hospital was just a cab ride away.
We were checked into labor and delivery where we met out doula. I hired her at 37 weeks pregnant after it became clear that my doctor was no longer being as supportive of my VBAC plans as he had been originally. There was no medical indication for his shift, he simply did not like my birth plan. I wanted someone at my birth to help support my informed choice to avoid interventions unless medically indicated. Though I handed out bound copies of my birth plan to everyone I came into contact with at the hospital, the staff was not honoring my wishes to labor in the birth tub. I tried sitting in the shower, but the hot water was broken in my room. I had planned to go natural, but requested the epidural when I felt my pain relief options were being limited to that.
Just as it had the first time, the epidural slowed my labor. My first son’s birth ended in a cesarean after my obstetrician chose to induce me for being 5 days past my due date. My body was not ready, and I only made it to five centimeters in that birth. I started to get worried the same thing would happen again.
At the end of the workday, the doctor said he wanted to go home and told me I needed a cesarean. He said it was a “failure to progress” and I told him it was a “failure to wait.” I sent him home and kept laboring. By the next morning I made more progress, but it did not satisfy him. He then told me I had no choice to but consent to surgery, and I told him I was not consenting until I felt like it was the only option. He spent the next few hours trying to coerce me into it; telling me my uterus “just might not work” and that I was asking for my baby to be born with “cerebral palsy”. My baby’s heart tones were fine, there was no sign of infection, and my only major issue was the stress the staff was putting me under. The doctor did not see it that way, however.
After hours of fighting, my husband finally took my doctor into the hall and explained that I would not be consenting to unnecessary surgery. My doula showed us a trick to get my labor moving again, which included shutting off the epidural. By the time the sun set on the second day of my labor, I was finally in transition. At 10:01 pm, 38 hours after my labor began at work, my son Jules was born vaginally after only five pushes. He weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces and was as healthy as any baby could be.
What’s your birth story? Are you facing a birth after an earlier cesarean? I’d love to hear from you.