For months and months I have dreamt of this moment. The moment when my daughter would be here and I would be able to say that I did it. I had my home birth after cesarean. I imagined what my birth story would contain and couldn’t wait to write it. And now that the time is finally here I find myself having a hard time putting into words everything that I am thinking and feeling. So, instead of a carefully planned story I’m just going to write and see what happens.
Most vbac stories start with the details of the prior C-section. But when I tried to write that out I realized that the details of my C-section aren’t important. The simple facts are… it happened. It gave me a beautiful, healthy son. I will probably never fully recover from the disappointment of having it. And, it changed the way I look at birth indefinitely. If it hadn’t been for that C-section I probably never would have realized that I could have a different experience. That I could actually have control over the choices made for me, my baby and my body.
From the moment I found out I was expecting I began to research vbacs and natural birthing options. I researched hospital vbacs, birthing centers and home births. The pros and cons of using a doctor or a midwife. Whether or not to have a doula. And every other decision I could possibly want to make. And I’m so thankful that I took the time to learn my options. I had the most empowering and healing birthing experience with a birth team that could not have supported me more.
My due date was November 14th which came and went. Day after day we waited as patiently as we could for our girl to decide she was ready to join us. Despite my best attempts at walking, squatting, bouncing on my birth ball and a handful of other natural induction techniques my girl was quite comfortable and showed no signs of budging. I started to get checked by my midwife fairly regularly at 40 weeks and although there was always progress it was very slow and steady. So it was no surprise that my labor began the same way. On November 25th at 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant I started to have regular contractions that were clearly different than the braxton hicks I had been having. I sent my husband and my son off to watch football and I started to time my contractions to see what they did. They were almost immediately 4 minutes apart and lasting 50-60 seconds. I timed them for a couple hours to see what they did and was pleasantly surprised when they stayed consistent. I called my husband and asked him to come home to help me get some things in order around the house in preparation for the birth “just in case.” By the time he got home my contractions were only about 3 minutes apart. They still weren’t super painful just annoying enough to slow me down. My husband decided he wanted my midwife to come check me and see what the status was. He also pulled out the birth pool so that he could set it up if I wanted him to. But wouldn’t you know… as soon as I saw the birth pool everything slowed way down. I told my husband it just felt like too much pressure and at this point I still wasn’t completely convinced that it was the real thing. My midwife came and checked me and there was some change but not much. I was still dilated to 3 cm as I had been for several days but I was more effaced than I had previously been. We all realized then that I needed to labor alone as much as I could. My midwife left and my husband and son spent the day upstairs playing and watching movies. I parked myself in the living room alternating between walking, squatting, bouncing and resting as much as I could. The contractions stayed consistent all day long. I tried to sleep that night but had a hard time getting much rest since my contractions actually became more painful when I was laying down. Around 2 a.m. I got up and started to rock and sway through them again. I realized that at this point they had spaced out quite a bit and were actually about 8 minutes apart. But they were lasting 1 1/2 minutes each. The day continued the same as before. I worked through each of my contractions on my own as much as I could. My midwife came again at about 12:00 p.m. at our request and much to my disappointment after 25 hours of consistent contractions I was still only dilated to 3 cm. Thankfully at this point I was fully effaced so I focused on the positive and went back to work getting through one contraction at a time. Around 1:00 p.m. I started having my husband apply heat packs to my back during every contraction since the back pain was getting more and more intense. We worked through contractions this way for about 2 1/2 hours. Around 3:30 I realized I was starting to need a lot more help to get through each contraction so I decided it was time to call in my team. By 4:30 p.m. my friend Jinna had arrived to keep my son occupied, my doula and midwife had both arrived and my sweet husband was setting up the birth pool. I decided to be checked one last time to make sure that getting in the pool wouldn’t slow down my labor. At 5:45 p.m. I was found to be only 4 cm. I was so disappointed. 31 hours of labor and I had only dilated to a 4. My midwife explained to me over and over that dilating to 4 was going to be one of the hardest things to do in my labor and that it was not uncommon for it to take the longest to go from 3 – 4 cm and that now I had reached 4 cm it was very likely that the rest of my labor would go at a much more typical pace. I remember saying, “How do I do this for at least another 6 hours?” And my midwifes response, “You don’t think about it in hours. You just do it one contraction at a time.” We went downstairs and at 6:00 p.m. I finally got into the birth pool. My contractions stayed consistent and with the help of my midwife, my doula and my husband I worked through one contraction at a time by reminding myself that I was doing exactly what my body had been designed to do and somehow I was able to completely relax and rest in between which is saying a lot since my contractions at that point were lasting 1 1/2 minutes a piece, double peaking at times and only giving me about 3 minutes of rest. I was even hand fed grapes and given sips of water between contractions (as all laboring women should be!) After about 3 hours in the pool my midwife said she wanted to check me after my next contraction. Little did I know my breathing had changed hinting to my doula and midwife that I may be getting close. During the next contraction I felt a gush, my hind waters had broken. I got out of the pool and before I knew what was happening I was in the middle of another contraction and literally hanging off of my husband to get through it. My midwife checked me at 9:00 p.m. and I was 7 cm. Then while being checked my water broke – what a relief! It was at this moment I professed my undying love for my midwife. She then uttered the only words I wanted to hear, “Oh wait you’re a 9. Wait, now you’re complete! Back in the pool, you can push whenever you feel the need.” I pushed for 40 minutes in the pool in several positions but because my girl was positioned just a little crooked it made pushing a challenge. So out I went to try another position. About 10 minutes later she was here!
After 35 hours of labor my girl was born at 10:01 p.m. She was immediately handed up to me. We had done it! All of the preparation, worry, pain and impatience were gone. All that mattered was that she was here. She stayed with me except for one short period in which she did some skin to skin with her Daddy. She latched 20 minutes after she arrived and nursed for almost 40 minutes. She was quiet, calm and very alert. Immediately recognizing her Daddy’s voice as he told her how beautiful she was. When we finally got around to weighing and measuring my girl weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long with a giant 14 1/2 inch head! Sadly that large noggin caused a 2nd degree tear but what a small small price to pay for such a wonderful experience. I am so thankful that I was able to do this and so grateful for the support provided by my incredible birth team.