In 2000, when I became pregnant with our 2nd child, I began scouring the internet for resources on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) and came across the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). I was desperate to birth the way women had been birthing for centuries. Finding ICAN was vindication.
For my first VBAC I did opt to be induced early. I know many would question this, but at the time I was willing to try anything and going from an 8# 15oz boy to a 7# 7oz girl was worth the risk of pitocin. However, dilation stalled out at 2 cm once again. This time no one gave me an ultimatum.
It was nearly 4 years before I would get the opportunity to VBAC again. In that amount of time, VBAC rules became stringent and rates fell. My doctor and her partner were the only doctors in that hospital willing to continue VBACing.
My unpreparedness and a sunny-side-up 9# 14oz baby girl kept that from happening. But, I did have yet another VBAC under my belt.
No, it wasn’t because he didn’t make it on time; although, I did begin to wonder. It was because a friend of mine came to pick me up and take me to her house for a massage while I waited. She had had 2 Bradley births and as she massaged my back and belly through contractions, she gave me a crash course in relaxation techniques. The contractions picked up and I was still under control. However, once in the car on the way to the hospital, I was not so sure I could continue without the meds. Between contractions (now coming every 3 mins), I told my husband how my friend had rubbed my belly with each contraction and how it had kept my pain under control. “Can you do that??” I begged. He affirmed that he could.
My doctor, my husband and myself were all on Cloud 9 following baby’s birth. My OB gave us a tour of the placenta at our request and came back the next day to reminisce with us. It was an amazing experience and finally, I felt whole again.
It was only a short time later, I discovered I was pregnant again…Baby #5. After my experience with #4, I just assumed I would do it just like that. WRONG. Baby was stubborn about dropping into position. She flipped constantly, but finally landed head down the day before I went into labor. However, as labored started, I felt something was very wrong. My sides hurt tremendously. I could hardly move. And I didn’t feel as though I was dilating. I finally decided we needed to go in.
Knowing my passion for VBACing, my OB offered two options: 1) C-section or 2)A version in the operating room under a full epidural. We took the second option and prayerfully and tearfully headed to the OR. While my OB leaned against my side, my husband prayed out loud right there in the OR that baby would turn. When we opened our eyes, my doctor said, “Something looks different. Get the sono machine!” Sure enough, there was baby Emily, head down. Doctor quickly broke my water to keep her in place and after some observation, we headed back to my labor suite. My doctor gave me the option of letting the epidural run out, but as I began to feel pain again, I did not think I could take it lying down, so to speak. The epidural and the stress had left me exhausted and numb. I had them keep the epidural in place and I proceeded to sleep through my entire labor. For the first time ever, I pushed without being able to tell I was pushing. But, it was all worth it as I VBACed for the 4th time a precious baby girl.
Amidst our grief, came a positive pregnancy test. We spent the next 9 months rejoicing and grieving simultaneously. And I wondered…my heart was broken…was my body?
However, this pregnancy began to mirror Emily’s. Baby did not want to stay head down. Finally, after going a week past my due date with no decent contractions and no success at keeping baby in the head down position, we opted to do a version and induce the morning of New Year’s Eve. The rest of this long, drawn out story can be found HERE. But, suffice it to say, I did feel 17 hours worth of pain, but I did not push my little Micah into his daddy’s hands and into this world. On New Year’s Day at 12:18 am (yes, he was the first New Year’s Baby in town!), my beloved OB reopened my 11 year old scar and pulled my 10# 6oz son from my womb.
That day I began a new journey. Baby Micah is the last child of ours my doctor will ever deliver. That thought makes me heart sick (although I secretly hope she’ll come visit us in the hospital when and if the Lord blesses us again.) Finding a doctor willing to VBAC in this day and age is a difficult task. We were blessed with an OB who not only took on the challenge, but became my biggest champion. We’ll call her if another positive pregnancy test is in our future and she’ll help us search out a doctor.