My Birthing Journey

11 years ago, I delivered my first child via cesarean section at 3:02 pm. I had been in labor for 24 hours, but nothing particularly noteworthy until that morning at about 10:30 am. I had already been in the hospital for 5 hours and was going nowhere dilation-wise and beginning to be in serious pain. I was given an ultimatum–dilate by 1pm or begin prepping for a c-section. I was devastated.

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.

Thus began my quest to find a doctor to take me on. Thankfully, the search was short and close to home. A doctor in the town where I delivered my first child was reported to have an awesome VBAC rate. She was more than willing to let me try.

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.

Although I had really wanted to go med-free, I decided to take the epidural. I didn’t know what it would do, but I had to try something, anything to keep going. Amazingly, that began dilation. At 5:00 am, I pushed my baby daughter into this world! I was elated!

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.

I asked a lot of my doctor during this birth. I declined the induction which meant she was at the mercy of my labor since the new rules stated she had to stay in the hospital for the entire labor. The new rules also strongly encouraged induction. I had to sign papers stating I was doing something against the grain that could potentially kill me. The anesthesiologist also had to stay on site since the hospital was not large enough to have an anethesiologist there 24 hours a day.
Still desperately wanting to avoid meds, I tried to figure out why I did not dilate until the epidural was in place. I was stumped, but not deterred from trying once again. I had proven I could VBAC, now I wanted to prove I could do it med-free.

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.

A short 7 months later I was pregnant again. During this pregnancy, I lost my resolve to birth naturally. Still choosing to decline the induction, we watched my due date come and go. The morning after my due date, labor started in with my husband 3 1/2 hours away! Calm, cool, and collected man that he is, he decided to finish up what he was doing before making the trek back across the state to take little ole me to the hospital. Because of this, I learned how to birth med free.

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.

And he did! After only 3 hours in the hospital, I VBACed our 4th child med-free into the hands of my husband! Both my husband and my doctor were profoundly instrumental in my accomplishing this. And of course, I am forever indebted to my friend.

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 took me 8 years and 3 VBACs to heal from a 6 inch scar.

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.

When we got to Labor & Delivery, the nurse checked me and said, “I can’t feel the baby.” WHAT?! Those of you who know me personally know I don’t hide babies. I’m the size of a house…trust me, there’s a baby in there. But nonetheless, baby didn’t seem to be where she was supposed to be. My doctor confirmed via ultrasound that baby was transverse breech .

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.

Seven months later, rather than anticipating another pregnancy, we had to set our minds to mourning the loss of our little Emily.

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?

I told my doctor I had to FEEL this birth. I was so medicated during Emily’s birth that I felt nothing. I knew I needed to feel all the emotions and all the pain it would take to birth this child.

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.

But, this time it was different. I did not feel cheated. I did not feel angry. I had birthed 4 babies vaginally. I had had one fully med-free birth and another as far as I could humanly take it.

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.

Will I VBAC again? Can I manage to Vaginally Birth After TWO Cesareans (also known as VBA2C)? These are all questions without answers right now. Only time will tell where my birthing journey leads from here.
UPDATE РThese questions have now been answered!  Read My Birthing Journey, Part 2!

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25 thoughts on “My Birthing Journey

  1. I too had to fight for my VBAC but it was soooo worth it! Since I can’t have any more children naturally, I praise God for allowing me a wonderful textbook delivery. I was induced and had one dose of pethidon early on but when it wore off I went med free for the last two hours and all the pushing. My first words when it was over? ‘Can I do that again?’ !!!! Really, it was amazing! So happy for you that it all worked out. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I’ve heard the whole story, but I got sucked in and read the whole thing again! :) There’s just something about birth stories.You’ve had an interesting journey (as have I), but God’s ways – even when they aren’t ours, are always good and worthy.They are over-done, and of course I feel natural is always better if possible, but I think I must say that I’m thankful for this technology – one that can save momma’s and babies. C-Sections get a bad rap because they’re over used but for the times when they’re used out of necessity, they are a blessing! :)Lynnette< HREF="http://lynnettekraft.blogspot.com/" REL="nofollow">Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground<>

    • As a mother of 5 c sections I agree. I get asked this all the time by mothers “weren’t you sad?” My reaction now is ” are you nuts? Only a hundred years ago I would have been dead!”

  3. Your blog has touched my heart so many times now-we too have a daughter named Emily,born Feb 12th,whom we very nearly lost at the age of 12 mts.However,just wanted to say that I had two C-sections before trying vbac,and have since successfully given birth vag. to 3 babies.So shd the situation arise in the future of needing to decide whether to try another vbac it is still possibly after two sections.In Christ,Anna

  4. LOL, Deedee! I did the same thing! That labor and delivery was actually fun!I, too, am glad the Lord allowed you that experience.

  5. I’m just getting around to commenting, but i’ve been following your blog for awhile. you are such an encouragement to me in so many ways. i feel like i can really relate to you (and we both have baby Micah’s!) i had an emergency c-section with him after 9 months of planning/working toward a completely natural delivery w/ midwives, birth center, and all. (his birth story is the first post on my blog) i want so badly to have a VBAC next time around – his delivery was so traumatic for me. thank you for your encouraging and honest posts. so refreshing, and i look forward to continuing to follow your blog. you have a beautiful family – God has truly blessed you! your ability to share about your grief so openly and honestly speaks volumes about your strength – and about your reliance on God. Thank you for that!

  6. What a wonderful story!!!! I love hearing birth stories! Why won’t your OB deliver any more of your babies? Maybe I missed that in the story. I’ll go reread it in case its there. God Bless!

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. I, too, ended up in cesarean for the birth of my first child. (I just recently posted that birth story on my blog at http://angela.eternaloutlook.com/2009/03/abels-birth-day.html.) My second birth was a successful VBAC–a truly amazing experience that, like you, I couldn’t wait to repeat–and I am now pregnant with twins and deeply desiring another VBAC despite the odds. I have given my desire over to the Lord, and I take great comfort in knowing that He is not bound by my circumstances–His purpose will prevail!

  8. Not sure how I found your blog, but I have been enjoying it for a week or so now. My first birth was also a section, followed by 3 VBACs and then a section for the last (living) baby. I am a mom to 5 children here, and 5 in heaven. I resonated with much of what you shared…the feelings about the first one as well as the last one and the VBACs in between. Thanks for sharing.

  9. My doctor is giving up the OB side of her practice for many reasons. She has a large family herself, and she also is very excited about new advances in gynecological medicine. She is awesome at what she does and very progressive in how she handles her practice. I’m sad for me, but happy for her. It’s an end of an era.

  10. I’ve been following your blog and shed tears of sadness and joy with you. My dd is 13 months, born by emerg. c-section, a far cry from my thoughtfully planned natural water-birth plans. The labour was traumatic but a truly thankful, happy outcome and I never had the feeling of being cheated by the cs. I often think to myself, could I do a VBAC the 2nd time round if we are so blessed? I’m not sure I could, my age being one reason and the issue of PIHT I had with my dd, but reading your story makes me thinking of exploring the VBAC option should the opportunity arise. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!God bless, Heather

  11. Oh I pray you can have another VBAC! I enjoyed reading your birth stories.

    I am considering trying for a natural birth. I really believe God has equipped me for it but I have been gripped with fear.

    My contractions are hardly felt. With my first, I never even felt a contraction. I was dialated to 10 by the time I got to the hospital and they found out my daughter was breech. I got a spinal and had a c-section. Never felt a contraction.
    I have noticed I don’t begin feeling contractions strongly until they put me on pitocin (because I think the epidural stops my labor at 7cm).
    Anyways, I’ve prayed for my labors since day one and I know God has blessed them and had His hand in all of them — even though I used meds. But how much more of a blessing could it be if I gave Him full control and birthed naturally? Or at least tried to?

  12. I know you wrote this quite some time ago, but THANK YOU!

    My son is 11 months old (born via c-section at 35 weeks). And I am currently 6 months pregnant with my second…another boy! I am so excited to grow our family and that God has blessed us with these precious ones, but so scared that this birth with mirror my last. I want a VBAC, found a dr that will let me try, and have hope in the new ACOG statements that I really will get a fair shot. Reading your story gives me much more hope! It has been difficult to let go of my notions for what my birth will look like and to try and really let God be in control completely!

    I found your blog only a short time ago and have been devouring your writing! Being in the mind set of a large family while our family is small is causing us to make some changes in how we look at things and it has been wonderful!

    By the way…I’m sure you’ve seen the new ACOG statement on VBAC and I hope that it gives you hope in having choices with your next birth :).

    • Brianah,
      Thanks so much for the encouragement and kind words! I did see the ACOG statement, and have been blessed to know one of the new doctors sitting on that board helping to turn the tide! It is my prayer this new little one will arrive safe and sound via VBAC! I pray that for you also…my VBACs have been such a blessing.

  13. Love your website….most of the VBACs that are done around here are at home…would you consider homebirth? We’ve done births for VBA3Cs, and most Certified Professional Midwives do breech and twins. As you get older, the chances for twins increase. I am so sorry about your loss of Emily, as well. How awful.May you keep blogging, and have many more babies(preferably at home! ;) )Blessings, Cathi

  14. I’m curious, did you ever VBAC again?

    I’ve had 2 c-sections, 18 months apart. My youngest is 1 year old and we are hoping to get pregnant again in the near future. I’m interested in VBAC b/c I feel that having c-sections limits the number of children I can have, but I don’t know if I have any other option. According to my dr (who is supposed to be one of if not the best in the area), I don’t really have a choice. Mine weren’t due to non-progressing labor, both of mine were scheduled due to the fact that I have had 6 previous surgeries, all of which took out small portions of my cervices (I have 2), and therefore leave me in danger of an incompetent cervix. Both pregnancies went full term w/ no big problems, so now I’m curious at the possibilities. I don’t want the dr to determine how many children I can have…but I know God is in control either way. A close friend just had a successful VBAC which renewed my interest, but I don’t know anyone who has done a VBA2C.

      • Thanks for sharing! The dr had originally said that due to my previous surgeries, he didn’t even think my uterus would contract. It never did during my 1st pregnancy, but I went into early labor w/ my 2nd (which led to doses of Turbutaline and bed rest). Thus proving that my uterus could in fact contract. So w/ the next pregnancy, I will broach the issue w/ the dr again and find out ALL the risks. If I’m not satisfied w/ his response and advice, I may contact the dr of my close friend who recently had a VBAC. Although, I’m a little scared myself at taking that risk, considering my history AND the 2 c-sections having only been 18 months apart – the last one being 1 year ago (though I’m not pregnant yet). I guess I need to do lots of praying :)

      • Could you point me to any good resources you found about VBAC? I’m really trying to research it. I really want to find some information on how to increase the possibility of a successful VBAC pre-pregnancy and pre-labor.

  15. Good for you for trusting the Lord for this! It can be done! My first and fourth children were c-section and the other three were vbac. It can be done!

  16. Your story touched me so much. I found your blog after searching “large families” and I was interested because I am also a VBAC momma. I had a c-section with my first and have had 4 VBACs since. When I saw you mention that you lost your little girl, I clicked on her story. I can’t imagine the grief you felt then, and the grief you must still feel now. I am glad you have faith in God. That can always pull us through our darkest days. God bless you and your whole family.

  17. Yes, you can! I just had a vaginal on my birthday/Mother’s day (May 12, 2013) after 3 c-sections. My first son was the only other vaginal I had and he only weighed 5lb 14 oz. This baby weighed 9lb 10.7 oz. I had a great doctor, staff, husband and of course Jesus was right there with me. He gave me the greatest birthday and mother’s day gift I could have ever have. A beautiful baby and a beautiful birth.

    • Congratulations! I should probably update this post! This past January I had my 2nd VBA2C since writing that post. Both have gone incredibly well! My OB even checked the scar internally and said if I hadn’t told her I’d had 2 CS, she would never have known!