After months and months and months of hoping and praying, I am so thrilled to post my HBAC story.
First, though, just a little background (I am posting this because before I had the VBAC I used to read VBAC stories and wanted to know if anyone had a similar c-section story to mine).
I was sectioned in February 2006 for failure to progress. I went into labor on my own, got to the hospital and was admitted at 1cm. They gave me an epidural, broke my water, gave me pitocin, and let me labor for 10 hours. When I was checked, I was only 1 cm dilated. I was told that I needed a c-section. I was devastated. Literally devastated. The funny thing is that I had NO idea I would be devastated by the section until they actually started to cut me. I remember thinking “no way, this is not how birth is supposed to be.” As they were sewing me back up, I begged to be allowed to VBAC the next time around.
From 2 weeks post-partum, I began researching VBACs. Everyone on my online support group said that to have a successful VBAC, I needed to change care providers (something that proved to be so incredibly true). I was reluctant to do this because I loved the OBs in the practice — they were really very nice. Of course, nice doesn’t get you that VBAC. When I went for my 6 month post partum check, the doc told me that it was unlikely I could VBAC considering I went so long and only dilated to 1cm but we would give it “the old college try.” This terrified me. It just hit me that there is no way I would have a VBAC with this practice. So, I began my search for a different VBAC provider.
Originally, I had not intended to HBAC, but as I interviewed OBs and then hospital based midwives, it became clear to me that I was not comfortable with the restrictions placed on me as a VBACer (and man, did I HATE being labeled as a VBACer in a hospital setting — I felt so singled out!). All of a sudden I was now “higher risk” and was subject to the very interventions that doomed me the first time. I read everything I could get my hands on and felt comfortable pursuing alternate forms of care. This led me to find a homebirth midwife who would assist me. I knew that we needed to get to know each other and that it was imperative that she know how badly I wanted this. I finally did find someone who I thought might “get it” and could understand how badly I wanted to have a VBAC.
Ultimately, I ended up with a wonderful pregnancy – no problems. On August 5th, I began having very mild but regular contractions. By the 6th, they had intensified. Our midwife came over around midnight and checked me. At this point, I thought I must be in active labor and nearing transition because the contractions were coming on top of each other and they were just so painful. When she checked me, however, I was only 1cm dilated. I was having the exact same labor I experienced with my first dd. Thankfully, our midwife never told me that I was 1cm and simply said that I was progressing nicely. She knew that what I was experiencing was prodromal labor and so she convinced me to accept an IV and Stadol and to rest until morning. The combination worked and by morning, I woke up somewhat refreshed. (Our midwife stayed with us throughout this prodromal labor even though she knew it would be some time before I delivered. Had she left, I would have known something was up and would have figured out that I wasn’t progressing like I thought I was. My fear of a “failure to progress” would most certainly have reared its ugly head.)
The next morning, my doula, husband, and I went for a walk outside along the Hudson River. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, there was a slight breeze and every time I had a contraction, I remember sinking down into my knees and then rising up over the pain, I was following the rhythm set for me by the wind and the River. I do remember thinking how normal this all was — here was a healthy woman laboring outside being supported by the wind and water. I really could not have asked Mother Nature to be more supportive. When we came back, I was dilated to 4cm. Within a few hours, I was 10cm (the journey to 10cm was incredibly intense – it was indescribable, so, I won’t even attempt to describe it). Many, many, many times during that labor I hit a wall and really doubted whether I could do this. Even when I was 10cm, I just didn’t believe that the VBAC was going to happen. I remember that at some point during labor, someone said “you are surrounded by all those VBAC mama’s who went before you and you have their strength.” With those words, I just felt so connected to all the women who had previously taken this same journey. I still, however, doubted my own ability to complete this journey.
But then, at 6:37pm, our second daughter was born. On our bedroom floor. Surrounded by our wonderful midwife and supportive doula. My husband was holding me from behind and I was squatting in front. With these wonderful people around me, I pushed this baby out. It was, undoubtably the most amazing, intimate, and beautiful experience of my life.
The only screaming I did the entire labor was when I finally pushed this baby out. All the grief from the c-section and the joy of this moment and the realization of what had happened simply overwhelmed me. I just screamed and screamed and screamed (and cried) “I DID IT” “I DID IT” “I DID IT” over and over again as I clutched that little baby to my breast. It was the most powerful moment of my life.