Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 4:47PM
My HBAC Story
My daughter, Willow, was born by cesarean section after a much wanted attempt at a home birth. Shortly after she was born, when I asked my doctor if I would be able to have another baby, he assured me I could have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC); but heavens, don't try to do it at home! In my new-found reverence for him, after a long and trying labor and birth, there was no question in my mind that I would ever consider a home birth again.
It didn't take long before that changed.
When Willow was still a babe in arms, I attended a c-section/VBAC support group where I first shared my story amongst those who shared similar feelings towards their birth histories. My desires to become more involved with birth were also first articulated there. A couple of months later I became a doula and got myself good and informed about VBAC. Clients planning VBACs often went to me for support, and I ended up taking over the support group and adding it to the large umbrella of ICAN Canada Through this group and many other means, I found myself attending almost a majority of my clients in VBAC plans. This really helped me to understand technical dynamics of VBAC in the hospital, as well as the emotional needs that women who've had a cesarean section have.
When I got pregnant the second time, I worried about who my care providers would be. Would I be hung up on a repeat of the first time if I had the same midwives? I didnt know if they would even help with a home birth, so I contacted them (and almost every other practice in the province) to find out who would "allow" me an out of hospital VBAC. Response was low, let me tell you. My previous midwives, Caring Hands Midwifery Services in Alliston; and Midwives Nottawasaga in Collingwood were, however, both happy to accomodate me. The decision to move to Midwives Nottawasaga was so hard for me. It's not that I didn't like my first midwives; they were lovely. But they were in a state of transition - their senior midwife was retiring and a new one was coming on near the end of my prengancy and I worried about not knowing someone who may be influential in my care. I also worried that having the same faces would set me into a spiral in a direction that I didn't want to go again. Lynne-Marie and Diane had just started up their practice and I just loved them. I can't say enough about them, really! I could go on and on. They were so supportive, so honest. They pulled out their guidelines to tell me that they didn't have to 'make' me consult an OB for VBAC when I was already very well informed. They treated my pregnancy as though they would have treated any other second time mother. Normally!
|Me - 40 weeks with baby #2, surrounded by
affirmations given to me at my blessingway
My mom and step father came to pick Willow up mid-morning and Jamie and I sauntered through our day in early labor. Such lovely memories we have from this time. I was 3-4cm dilated before I went into labor and I hadn't felt too much change in my cervix when I checked, but I knew we were approaching the real thing and just enjoying our (rare) time alone together while we waited. We went on a couple of beautiful slow winter walks about the lovely forest we call home, pausing for contractions along the way. We ate three big meals that day, knowing at some point there'd be no time or interest in food. We even played cribbage, while I sat through contractions. By the evening, I couldn't sit through the games and chit chat anymore. I decided to lay down in bed and try to get some sleep because I knew it was going to kick into high gear soon. We kept in touch witih my mom through the day and she sounded worried that the midwives weren't there yet; but we had close contact with the midwives and our doula. We just didn't need any help at this point.
But once I laid down in bed, instead of letting up, the contractions intensified. I even started to get a bit shaky. There was clearly a change and I was ready for someone to be there, so I asked Jamie to do the honors. Doing his best to remember what he had learned from all of my birth talk, he told Melissa (our doula) that he thought I was in transition (because of the shakes). I heard it just as he got off the phone and I told him I was definitely NOT in transition, so he called her back so that she didn't panic and run out in the snow in her slippers! Then we called Di, our midwife. Melissa arrived first, and around 10:30pm Di arrived.
When Di checked my cervix, I was 3-4cm and 75% effaced. I had guessed I was around there (although of course I hoped I was further), since the contractions hadn't really lengthened or increased in frequency, only intensity.We decided to start taking caulophyllum and cimicifuga (sp?) alternately every 15 minutes to try and help establish a closer contraction pattern and get well established into active labor - which came soon after.I am quite sure active labor would have come at this time, anyway, though - I could feel the change in intensity.
|Our midwife, Diane, checking heart tones.
Note the slippers. And the lack of modesty.
It only gets better.
I had been laying on my side for the first little while, and as things got stronger, my contractions moved into the back of my legs, closer to my butt. The butt pain actually got much worse than the contractions themselves. I didnt like that I wasn't relaxing through my contractions as I had done so well with during my first labor. I was discouraged because the contractions weren't coming frequently enough, weren't strong enough, that I wasn't handling them the way I wanted them to be. In short - my doula brain got in my way a bit.
|My hand was always trying to put pressure on the butt pain|
When I got up to go to the washroom,out of desperation to relieve the butt pain, I lifted my leg high and stomped it down on the floor. A millisecond of relief! And so, for the next few hours, I stomped, kicked, and danced my way through every contraction, rather rhythmically so I'm told. Let me tell you, I felt so much more powerful standing and stomping so late in labor than I had before laying down! I didn't need help getting up to eat/drink/go to the washroom. I was in control of what was around me, because I was vertical. That is such a nice memory (although I was much too distracted to appreciate it at the time).
|The stomping - complete with
heart tones and fan!
Then I noticed myself grunting at the peak of my contractions. At my last check, I was 7cm. That's when the blocks started coming up in my head. When I was in labor with Willow, my progress stalled twice - the first time, when I was 7cm and had pushing urges. As soon as the feelings came, I became worried that they were in my head - that I was making them up. Or that worse, I wasn't fully dilated again. The feeling of needing to push ~SO~ bad and not being able to is a feeling to dread, indeed. Enduring it for as many hours as I did with Willow is about the worst pain I have yet faced in this life. So since I had been 7cm at my last check, and I was feeling these pushing urges, I got worried. I was so worried that I was unconciously sabotaging myself...that I would have to go back to the hospital for the same reasons as last time. From all of my work with VBAC Moms, I knew to expect these fears - but they were so real. My contractions spaced out; eased up. I knew this was often a sign that women reached full dilation but I was afraid because I didn't *know*. I kneeled on the floor with my head on the bed, and Di asked me if I was alright. I told her I was worried, because I was feeling pushy and I was worried that I wasn't fully dilated.
Even though they encouraged me to push if I needed to, I just couldn't do it without knowing. So I asked Di to check me again. When she checked, she said I was fully dilated but for a lip of cervix, and my waters were bulging but still intact. I asked (actually, I demanded) that she break them. I was really, really happy that I was fully dilated and I wanted to be done as soon as possible. I was about to encounter my next road block though - the second time my first labor stopped progressing with Willow (pushing).
Once my waters were broken I flipped onto my hands and knees and started pushing with all my might. I had always imagined I'd give birth in this position. At some point, our second midwife, Lynne Marie, joined us. After a while (half an hour or so) with no progress, I needed to flip things up. I hated pushing. I was so done with labor. The butt pain was steady, relentless. The only thing that kept me going was Melissa's voice in my ears saying - "The butt pain will go away when you get the baby out". And oh, I would do anything to get rid of that butt pain, so I kept on pushing!
Jamie was behind me, and I flipped onto my right side and put my head in his lap. I pushed with every grain in me. I was still convinced it wasn't going to work; that I was going to find myself in the hospital with another c-section. But I was pushing beyond pushing. Pushing my brain into another dimension. Pushing until I had red spots and swelling all over my face. Pushing until my eyes were bloodshot. And at some point in this position, I figured out HOW to push. I never figured that out with Willow, because I was numb when I was actually allowed to push. It was a hard spot to get into, but I felt an awful burning feeling, and they told me that I "got it". It was hard to get into in that position though, so I moved onto my back. Melissa tossed me her rebozo and held on to one end while I pulled on the other end, for leverage. Amazingly, she managed to take photos while she was pulling; I don't know how, because I don't think I've hauled on anything else in my entire life the way I hauled on that rebozo. It is a wonder it is still in one piece. Despite the effort, I still thought I wasn't making any progress.
|Boy, am I sure glad I was wrong on that one!|
When they pulled up a mirror and showed me my baby's head, I couldn't believe it. I looked around at everyone and said "Am I actually going to do this??!" and htey hollered back "Yes!!". Really??! I was in disbelief! I had renewed energy. Then I asked them if I could get the baby out on the next push, and they said yes!!! And on the next push, his head came out.
|Almost there! Still beyond words in my efforts. (and scaring the crap out of Jamie with the look on my face!)|
|Sweet, sweet, sweet relief!!!|
Jamie and I were in pieces. I think we both cried, sobbed, for an hour. I just could not believe I had done it!! I was ***SO*** happy. I looked up at my midwives and doula, with tears streaming down my face, and said "I have this beautiful baby and nobody cut it out of me!".
After a couple of minutes, we thought to find out if we had a son or a daughter. I lifted up the towel that was over us to find we have a son - who promptly emptied the contents of his bowels upon introduction to cold air. But really, I was covered up and down with blood and amniotic fluid anyway, and NOTHING was killing my birth high!! We just sat together and cried, and cried.
I was so overwhelmed with relief, emotion, I was just completely dazed. Now I understand the "hormone bath" phenomenon of natural birth! WOW! Our baby boy - whom we quickly named Robin - stayed on my chest for a couple of hours, and didn't come off until *I* decided to let Dad have a turn so I could get cleaned up.
Lo and behold, our "little" Robin was 9lb 5oz! The same size as his sister - who was "too big" to fit through my pelvis!
Robin's birth was absolutely amazing. I rode on the confidence I gained from his birth for a long time. Although I wouldn't have told you in the minutes and hours after he was born (for at that time I was sure I'd never want to be reminded of that pain again), I quickly came to understand that his birth brought me the healing I needed to be fully present with the women that I support, instead of fearing that their outcomes might look like my own.
Willow's birth laid the stone work for the path I now walk on, and Robin's carved the stone so there would not be a shadow of doubt.
Could I get any more lucky?!
|The big little guy, on his big day.|
|Willow (almost 6) and Robin (2.5) this weekend.|
Learning the Midwifery Way
Tags: home birth, home birth after ceserean, HBAC, vaginal birth after ceserean, VBAC, positive birth stories, birth stories with pictures, home birth stories with pictures, natural birth stories, inspirational birth stories, homebirth, midwife