A Healing VBAC

Brittany, one of Blooming Tree Maternity's owners, shares her VBAC story:

I birthed my daughter vaginally and looking back, I've always considered her birth to be a good one. My son, however, was a different story. True, he was a vaginal birth and he was healthy and many would say that should have been enough. But it wasn't. I felt bullied, pressured, abused, and tricked by the hospital staff that I had with him and his birth didn't go ANYTHING like I had planned or hoped and frankly, I was damaged from it.

Fast forward about 4 years and I was pregnant with surrogate twins. I had discussed with my husband, my practitioners, and the Intended Parents (IPs) about my desire for a vaginal birth, and the instances when a cesarean would occur. Everyone was on board with a vaginal delivery as long as Baby A was head down. Wouldn't you know it, Baby A was head down the entire pregnancy!! That is, until two days before delivery. But even for a cesarean, it was straight forward, I healed quickly and nicely, and I was content with the birth.

A little over a year later and I was again pregnant with a surrogate baby. This time, just one. I was so lucky to have found an AMAZING provider who was completely on board with a VBAC and all natural labor and delivery, even though I'd be birthing in a hospital at my IP's request. The pregnancy was easy and perfect. I went into labor around 4am on my due date. Contractions were not painful but coming very fast so we decided to head into the hospital, which was an hour away, just to be safe. I was 3cm, 90% effaced, and extremely pliable (my cervix could be stretched to about 5cm).

They watched me for a little over an hour and even though my contractions had become more sporadic at every 5-7 minutes, I had dilated to a good 5-6 and I was admitted since I lived so far from the hospital. My doc and the nurses were on board with only doing a hep-lock for me just in case but otherwise left me be. I was able to label easily through the contractions and had my Hypnobabies and doulas when I needed a little more focus.

Because of the sporadic contraction pattern, I was "stuck" at 6.5-7cm all day, even with position changes and walking the hallways. Fortunately, my doctor didn't bat an eye and let me labor away. By 7:00pm, the contractions were getting little bit stronger and I was getting that defeated feeling, especially when I was still 7.5cm. My doctor suggested breaking my water but let me talk it over with my husband and doulas in private. We all agreed that it was the logical next step because there was a good chance that as soon as that happened, things would move quickly and I could be done and sleep instead of laboring into the night. My water was broke at 7:23pm.

Things did indeed escalate quickly! Contractions became so intense that it was hard for me to stay on top of them. I spent several contraction periods sitting on the toilet telling my doula that I couldn't do this anymore. She, of course, reassuring me that I COULD do it and I WAS doing it. We went back to the bed and the nurse asked if she could check me again since the contractions were clearly much stronger.

STILL 7.5cm. OMG, I was defeated and DONE! How could NOTHING have changed!?!?

I told my doula and the nurse that I didn't care anymore and wanted the drugs. I even used my code word that I had arranged with my doula to signal that I meant business and wasn't just arbitrarily calling out for pharmaceutical pain relief. The nurse informed me that if I did indeed want the epidural, she'd have to start IV fluids. I said I didn't care just as a SUPER intense contraction came on and I rolled back over to my side to deal with the pain. The next contraction, I remembered feeling like I was pooping and screamed, "Something's coming out! I'M PUSHING!!"

The nurse casually instructed me to roll over so that she could check me in case I needed to stop pushing. I could tell by her tone, though still pleasant, that she felt I might be acting a LITTLE over dramatic. However, when I spread my legs to allow her access to perform a vaginal check, everyone sort of gasped and the nurse scurried away. Next thing I remember was hearing her paging my doctor and basically telling him to RUN because I was starting to crown!!

I panted as much as I could but any woman who has had an unmedicated birth knows that your body takes over and there's nothing you can do....you're gonna push whether you want to or not!! My doctor walked in with just enough time to slip his gloved hands through the gown arms and place his hands in position as the head was born. One good push later and he was born at 8:32pm. After the baby was taken over to the warmer with the IPs, I looked at my doctor and asked, "What the f&@# just happened!?" He laughed and replied, "You just had a VBAC."

That birth was such a wonderful, relaxed, and supported birth and it helped to heal any unconscious trauma I may have had from the twins' cesarean, and certainly even all of the terrible trauma and anxiety from my son's birth. It was amazing and wonderful and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!

***All photographs by Simi Denson, Austin, TX.***


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