For the Meat & Potatoes of my VBAC
How Olivia Came Into This World:
We decided to have another baby soon after moving into our first home. I became pregnant right away and I started doing TONS of research on having a VBAC. I came across videos of women having VBACS and Homebirths after cesareans and knew that it was possible after all.
I also came across I-CAN and found so many resources. Little did I know, I would be facing tons of resistance.
The search was very overwhelming. I cried so much the first month thinking I would have to either give up or travel out of state to have my baby. After countless interviews and consults with different hospitals, I found UIC to be the only hospital willing to let me try.
I was with the midwives the entire time and knew going in it that I would have to transfer over to the doctors after 35 weeks because I had more than one cesarean. Kathleen Harmon, my midwife, said it would be ok and that most likely the midwives would be able to co-manage the labor/delivery.
35 weeks came and my first appointment with one of the residents was terrible and she stated that most of the doctors would not feel comfortable letting me VBAC and I would have to get a repeat cesarean. She wasn't a very good people person. The second resident I saw was much better. She said it would depend on the attending on whether or not they would let me VBAC, but she was a lot more supportive.
4o Weeks Pregnant:
The day before my 40 week appointment, I was even feeling intense braxton hicks. When I went to my 40 week appointment on July 31st, they checked me and I was 1 cm 60% effaced. The resident then scheduled a c-section and told me if I didn't go into labor by 41 weeks, chances are I would never go into labor on my own... hmmmmm...I never knew you could be pregnant forever! :)
So the c-section was scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th at 7:30 in the morning. I tried buying some time by telling them I knew the date of conception and it didn't match up with my due date, tried getting them to do a Non-stress test or bio-physical profile, just so they could have piece of mind that my baby is fine. But she didn't want to budge. As I was exiting the door, she shook my hand and smiled and exitedly said, "See you next week for your section!" I looked at her and then she said, "or see you if you go into labor on your own."
Even after scheduling me, I felt completely confident in my VBAC. I would have one no matter what, and I truly believed I was going to have a successful VBAC. I believe that played a major part in having a successful VBAC, amongst other things. I also prepared for this birth using the home study hypnobabies course, which is childbirth hypnosis. I worked hard for the last two months of my pregnancy and I really felt hypnobabies would help me have a fast and comfortable birthing experience.
After my appointment on Friday, I did various natural induction techniques in hopes to get something started. While I was in the car I was pressing on various acupressure points and I even sang at the top of my lungs and cried a bit to relieve some of my pent up frustration with the doctors.
My Birthing Time:
At about 1 AM Saturday, I started to feel strong pressure waves (hypnobabies term for contractions). Things started progressing and I was having continuous pressure waves every 10 minutes for about 45 seconds. At one point I had pressure waves every 5 minutes for about 1 hour. I decided to call my mom around 3 to tell her I think she should come down to watch my children.
During all of this, I honestly forgot to listen to my hypnobabies tracks. But I was using the fingerdrop technique and was on "center" the entire time. (FIngerdrop and Center is another hypnobabies term and technique.) I was much too excited that this might be my birthing time and couldn't stop talking to my husband about different things we needed to do.
I didn't want to call my doula right away, but my pressure waves were feeling pretty intense. The pressure waves were still between 5-10 minutes apart, but I decided to call Becky, my doula, around 5:00 a.m. She arrived around 7:30 a.m in which I was finally listening to my hypnobabies tracks. I sat on my birthing ball as I laid against the bed with pillows supporting my chest and belly. I was alternating between Easy First Stage, Deepening and I think Hypnotic Childbirth #2.
A little background on my doula... I hired her as my doula because she had a lot of experience and assisted in a lot of homebirths... She was perfect for my situation... I wanted to stay home as long as possible and felt I needed someone here to monitor.
She didn't have any experience with hypnobabies or any other childbirth hypnosis program, but I was able to explain the process and passed on some good info for her to study. I also explained that the emotional signposts of a hypnomom are very different from most laboring women. Little did I know how important that info really was...
I must admit, I felt these pressure waves to be pretty intense/p-word, however hypnobabies helped me tremendously in relaxing through each one and breathing efficiently through the discomfort. There were times when I would actually dose off and feel like I was dreaming. The entire birthing time, my pressure waves felt like strong menstrual like cramps and tightening in my lower part of the belly. If at any time I started to lose focus, I would use the "peace" cue and breathe deeply and completely go limp.
The pressure waves continued every 6-10 minutes for 30-60 seconds for several hours after Becky arrived. She sat next to me on the floor. We would either talk for a bit or she would read as I concentrated on my pressure waves. After each pressure wave, I would look over to her for any feedback or suggestions on what to do, but I guess I was doing beautifully and I was only in the early stages. It appeared to be early labor, but I definitely felt like I was further along, even though the pressure waves were far apart.
At about 10:30 or so, we went downstairs to have some breakfast. My husband made me some eggs and toast. Soon after, my husband went to my daughters room to nap for a bit. I didn't feel like I needed him there at the time and was completely ok with him resting.
The pressure waves seemed to get stronger, but still between 6-10 minutes apart. At about 2 pm, Becky suggested we change the scenery and take a walk around the block. I really didn't want to as the pressure waves seemed to intensify when I was standing up or walking around. But wasn't that the point I asked myself? I finally agreed and we started our walk around the block. Within 5 minutes, my pressure waves intensified and I was feeling them every 3-4 minutes for close to 60 seconds long.
I've never been in true labor before, so these sensations I was feeling were all new, however I really felt like I was pretty far along. My doula, Becky, told me I was probably still in early labor. When I heard that, I thought to myself, "What?!!!" How can I still be in early labor when everything felt sooo intense? How was active labor going to feel?!!! :)
We continued walking for about 30 minutes all the while I was leaning against her or on fences through each pressure wave. This is when I felt I needed my husband, but I forgot my phone at home and couldn't call him. I'm glad that Becky was there for me to lean on. :) My knees/legs would turn inwards as I tried to relax through the waves.
Since Becky said I was still in early labor, I felt like I would be in labor for many more hours. We headed back home...
Food seemed like the best thing for the long night ahead. Little did I know, I was probably in transformation (transition...7-8 cm dilated) at that point. I managed to make Becky and myself some veggie burgers. This was at about 3:00pm. As I prepared our burgers, I had a few intense pressure waves where I was gripping the edges of the counter top. Burgers were done and I was able to sit down and take one bite before the next pressure wave. They were more intense sitting down. I managed to put everything away and told her I wanted to go upstairs in the shower or tub.
When I got upstairs, I resumed the position of sitting on the birthing ball while leaning against the bed. At this point, I was moaning loudly as I gripped the sheets on the bed. I had to remind myself to use the "peace" cue which helped me relax my body. I had the headphones on for about an hour and Becky told me later on that she thought I was sleeping the whole time. This was around 4:00. As I write this birth story, I now realize how fast things flew for me. An hour seems like a long time when it comes to feeling pressure waves, but when you're listening to the tracks and you're focused, time sure flies by.
It was probably around 4:30 when things got really intense and I asked her if she thought it was ok to go in the bathtub or shower. She said that it should be ok. She left the bathroom after I got into the shower... I didn't want to wait for the tub to fill up. I had a pressure wave in the shower and I had the hot water run on the lowest part of my belly. Almost immediately, I felt a different sensation below and some warmth. I reached below and found that my mucus plug came out! I called Becky and told her. She had a surprised look on her face and said something like, "Wow, that hot water seemed to get things started." I thought to myself, "What?!!" Could I barely be entering Active Labor?"
When I first met Becky, I mentioned my strong desire to have a homebirth but couldn't find a midwife and probably could not afford it. At one point I really believed I was further along and she was going to "accidentally" let me have my homebirth. I felt comfortable with that idea as she had experience and attended many homebirths and assisted in "catching" tons of babies. I was getting excited at this point.
I started to run the hot water to clean most of the mucus plug...more came out with the next pressure wave. I reached down and something told me I should perform a self internal exam. I inserted two inches of my fingers and felt my baby daughter's head! I called Becky over again and told her and she looked at me like it wasn't possible! She told me to get out so she can check me. It took me awhile to get to the bed because I had what seemed like pressure wave after pressure wave. I slowly got on the bed and Becky checked me. She wasn't too sure at first, but then a look of panic came across her face and she said,"We have to go, NOW!" She said I was complete and that's when I started to freak out. There was no way we would be able to make it to my hospital (UIC). I moaned loudly through the next few pressure waves as she tried to get me to get dressed. I told her I felt like pushing and I honestly couldn't move as I felt like my baby would slip out. I started imagining the paramedics and fireman surrounding us in the bedroom.
UIC was close to 30 minutes away. There was no way I could hold my baby in for another 30 minutes. I would start to push a little and then close my legs and tense up. She ran into my daughters room to wake up my husband..."Jason, we have to go now!" What a way to wake up. He ran into the room with a frantic look on his face. They helped me get dressed. Between pressure waves, I managed to tell him to get my bag and to get my birth plan papers. Out of all things, I forgot to tell him to bring our cameras. :(
I managed to walk downstairs between one of my pressure waves. We got to the car and I kept yelling, "I have to push!!!" Becky told me to look at her eyes and listen to her through the next pressure wave. I sure was glad that she was there in the back seat with me because I would have pushed my baby out right there. At this point, I wasn't listening to the tracks, but Becky kept me focused on my breathing and told me I was doing beautifully. We decided to go to the nearest hospital. We left my house at 5:00 and arrived at Resurrection Hospital which was less than 5 minutes away.
My husband brought me to the Emergency Room Entrance. He asked for a wheel chair and the security guard wheeled it over slowly. When he saw I was clearly in labor, he ran over and wheeled me in. All the while, I kept yelling, "I'm pushing!" The ER nurse wheeled me through and told me to breathe and not to have my baby in the elevator.
We finally got to the delivery room where a ton of nurses and a resident and doctor were ready and waiting. They immediately got me on the bed and strapped a monitor on me and hooked me up to an IV. Since this was not my hospital, they started asking me all these questions about my pregnancy and medical history. At this point I was kinda delirious and actually felt like I had drugs in me. My husband was still parking the car and I was yelling for him. I looked over to Becky and I told her I could not hold it any longer. She told me, "I know, it's ok to push." So I did. I immediately felt something warm and smooth slowly slip out. I actually thought it was my baby (wishful thinking), but it was my water bag. Finally Jason got there and they told me to push. I remembered hypnobabies at this point and completely focused and breathed out as I pushed.
Even though I was delirious at times, I still managed to vocally express my birth plan wishes in which I was ignored. I wanted to push on my side or on all fours, but I was on my back already and with my feet in the stirrups. I don't remember this, but my husband says even after they told me "no", I was still trying to change positions. I also kept repeating, "Don't cut me, I want to tear if it comes down to it." I'm usually not outspoken, but this was my birthing time and everyone looked at me like I was crazy. My husband also said I kept asking what they were doing, in between pressure waves. He told me they're preparing their tools, and I yelled out, "No tools! No tools!" I thought that was kinda funny.
But I completely surrendered after the first push and realized that this baby was going to come out easily, even if I was on my back. Pushing felt so good to do. On the fourth push, I let out a primal scream that my husband keeps imitating and reenacting for friends and family... On that fourth push, my daughter Olivia Grace was born. I couldn't believe how fast she came. We got there a little after 5 and she was born at 5:30 pm. They had no idea that I had 2 cesareans. Becky kept whispering in my ear, "I can't believe they didn't see your scar!" I had my successful VBAC after 2 unnecessary csections and it was beautiful. Even more amazing was that she came out weighing 8lbs 3 oz. My first two were both right under 7 lbs.
Becky just kept telling me she has such respect for hypnobabies and that I completely fooled her. She couldn't understand how calm I was during my pressure waves and that is why she thought I was still in early labor. She raved about it for a few hours. Go Hypnobabies!!!
A few hours later my nurse came in to ask me all the registration questions that should have been asked before the birth. Had me sign consent forms, etc. Then the dreaded question came, "Have you had any surgeries?" I knew they would have to get my medical records transferred from UIC, so I didn't want to lie... I said, "I've had er, um... 2 c-sections." My nurse stopped writing and looked up and said, "What!" She was visibly upset and asked why I didn't say anything and said they had the right to know. I told her that UIC was ok with me trying and everything went so fast and I couldn't think. She dropped it and didn't bring it up the rest of the time. The doctor came in the following day and said everything went well despite me keeping the fact that I had 2 csections. He didn't seem too upset about it, but told me that it would've been helpful for them to know I had two previous c-sections in the event of an emergency. I'm planning on sending them a nice thank you letter in hopes to bring some light to the possibility of VBAC's.
Things I Would Change About My Birthing Time:
I wouldn't change very much of my birthing experience except for maybe paying attention and speaking up when I felt like I was further along than Becky thought I was. I would have also started walking a lot sooner to get things moving along. Becky tried getting me to walk a few times, but I admit I was scared of progressing.
There's no doubt in my mind that if I didn't have hypnobabies, I would've been completely tense. I felt completely in control with hypnobabies. If I ever have any more children, I will definitely use hypnobabies again and will have a homebirth. :)
Thanks to all the hypnomoms and ICAN members who have posted their stories. It definitely helped keep me positive during my pregnancy. I couldn't have done it without your help. :) Thanks!!
Mommy to Benjamin c-section (9-11-04), Amelia c-section(2-23-06)
& Olivia VBAC Hypnobaby!!! (8-1-09)