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Tonya’s HBAC of Kaia

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.

Holly’s 2VBAC of Avery

Saturday, November 3rd , I was 2 days past my “due date” and ready to try and get things moving. When I was pregnant with my son I took castor oil and went into labor that night, so once again I plugged my nose and chugged down a glass of orange juice and that ever so lovely, thick, waxy castor oil. Sure enough, by that afternoon I was having some contractions, nothing too intense or close together but noticeable. Patrick, my husband, was convinced this was it, whereas I was a little more skeptical, but eventually we decided to call my mom (who lives an hour to the west) to come down and stay with the kids and we headed down to Bismarck (where my hospital is, over an hour away to the east) to get a Jacuzzi suite hotel and see what happened.

That night/Sunday morning, I woke up about 1:30 am with fairly intense contractions about 7 minutes apart. I couldn’t go back to sleep and really kind of needed to concentrate and breathe through each one, and finally started to believe this could be the real thing. By the time Patrick woke up at 7:00 they were down to 5 minutes apart, lasting a minute or longer and I was starting to think we might be heading in to the hospital relatively soon. I soaked in the Jacuzzi tub for a while and that seemed to slow my contractions down to about every 8-10 minutes, but then I’d get 2 or 3 contractions right on top of each other. We started packing up our stuff, and I said we should go get breakfast before we went to L&D.

Much to my dismay, once I got out of the tub my contractions slowed waaay down. By the time we got to the restaurant I was only having one maybe every 15-20 minutes or so. We went and walked around the mall to try and get things going again but nothing was working. Eventually we decided to go in to L&D just to get checked out and see if anything was happening, since we had already made the 90 mile trip. They monitored me for an hour, during which I only had one contraction, but the nurse said I was 2cm and 65% effaced, so I felt optimistic that all those contractions hadn’t been for nothing, since at my appointment on Friday I was high and closed. We came back home and sent my mom home.

Not 20 minutes after she left I started having contractions again. Patrick and I spent the evening with the kids, hanging out and listening to music and just enjoying what we thought would probably be our last night with just the four of us. Sure enough, that night around 1:00 I was once again woken with intense contractions that I had to breathe through. Eventually I got up because lying was too painful. By 4:30 contractions were consistently 7 minutes apart, and when I went to the bathroom I found I had lost my mucus plug all in one nasty bloody chunk. I decided I should text my mom, figuring that by the time she got ready and made the drive down it would be at least an hour and a half, plus then Patrick and I had over an hour drive to the hospital. I really REALLY thought this was it, since I hadn’t taken any more castor oil and with losing my mucus plug… It had to be!

Mom texted me about 6:00 am to say she was finally on her way. And not long after reading that text my contractions all but completely stopped. I literally went from contractions every 7 minutes to almost none, after working through them all night. I called my mom crying, telling her that if she wanted she could just turn around and go back home. She decided to just come down anyway since she was already almost half way there. I was super bummed for the rest of the day, but started having these odd pains low in my pelvis that were a little disconcerting, along with sporadic contractions that were really quite painful. This was Monday.

 Looking back now it seems silly, but I called my doctor and his nurse said we should come in and get checked, so we made the trek down to Bismarck again. Imagine my disappointment when the doctor checked me and said that not only was baby still high, but he wasn’t sure what the L&D nurse was talking about because I was barely 1 cm dilated and only about 40% effaced.  Feeling like the biggest hypocrite in the world, I asked him about maybe possibly inducing, as I really thought I just needed some help keeping contractions going. The doctor said he would be more than willing to try a low dose of pit if that’s what I wanted to do, especially since I was closing in on 41 weeks (though he was perfectly happy letting me go to 42 if that’s what I wanted) so we set up a tentative induction date of Thursday, November 8. I would be exactly 41 weeks. He assured me that if I changed my mind I could just not show up for the induction and instead come to my regular appointment that day. I left feeling utterly defeated and confused about what the best option was. I was fairly passionate about just letting nature take its course and ever since Emily’s birth had been very against elective induction, but here I was considering it because I just didn’t know how much longer I could take these super painful contractions (they honestly felt like pit contractions) combined with getting little to no sleep for the last few days. The stress of trying to figure out when to have my mom come down, while still leaving us time to get to the hospital, didn’t help.

On the way home Patrick and I discussed everything and decided that we would go ahead with the induction if nothing had happened by Thursday. My mom said she would just stay with us until then so that if I did go into labor or contractions started back up again I wouldn’t have the added stress of trying to decide if/when to call her.

Tuesday was much the same, woke up in the night with contractions that I couldn’t sleep through, but by  morning they were once again sporadic. When I did have one though they were painful enough that I had to stop what I was doing and breathe through them. It was another long, exhausting day.

That night I took two Tylenol PMs, determined not to even think about labor and just wanting a good nights sleep more than anything. No such luck. At midnight I woke up to contractions once again, and instead of trying to keep things moving, I immediately got into the bathtub where I dozed off and on between contractions until about 3:00, when my mom came down to tell me Emily (my 3 year old) had an ear infection. So then I was up for an hour or two trying to comfort her and help my mom keep her calm. Contractions tapered off again and I finally fell asleep at about 6:00, and slept fitfully for a few hours.

When I got up I began having contractions again. Very sporadic, but as always, very intense. Emily was starting to get a little worried I think at this point. During one particularly painful one she said “Mama, I’m sorry you’re having ‘constractions’”. So sweet! By this point my mom was starting to get anxious too, saying that something wasn’t right and that it shouldn’t be like this and she thought I should go back down to Bismarck (I think she wasn’t handling seeing me in pain any better than Emily!). I really didn’t want to as I felt like the boy who cried wolf, and didn’t want to be “that” patient who is in the office every day positive she’s in labor when clearly she isn’t. Finally contractions got back down to one every 7 minutes, and stayed that way for several hours so I gave in and called the doctor. I figured at the very least I was going to beg for something to take to help me sleep so that when I came in for the induction in the morning I wouldn’t be totally exhausted. The nurse told me to definitely come in, she was so nice about it. So I called Patrick and he came home, meanwhile my mom had to wrangle Emily and Isaac (my 16 month old) both to get them to town to take Emily to the doctor for her ear! What a stressful mess. Off we went to Bismarck, for the third time in almost as many days. We decided we would just spend the night since we had to be there first thing in the morning anyway. Patrick called and booked another Jacuzzi suite.

Contractions continued all the way there, and we got in to see the doctor without hardly a wait. My doctor is amazing, he never made me feel stupid or acted annoyed with me, and as usual completely put me at ease. He told me he’d love to check me and say that I’m 4 cm with a bulging bag of waters, but I think we all doubted very much that that would be the case. I was quite convinced that I would be caught in this prodromal labor limbo forever! After just a minute though he said “Well… Baby is definitely lower than she was the other day annnddd…. You are about 4-5 cm!” I literally started to cry when those words came out of his mouth and said “Are you serious?? Really?!” I was SO incredibly surprised to hear that, and relieved beyond words that something was FINALLY happening! He suggested that we go get something to eat, head back to the hotel, and take some Unisom. He was confident that if I could get 5 or 6 hours of good rest in that I would wake up in a good active labor pattern, and he would see us in the morning unless we decided we needed to head in earlier, in which case we could just go to labor and delivery whenever we felt like we needed to.

We left the office that day feeling a million times lighter. We were getting somewhere! Contractions had spaced back out to about every 10 minutes while at the doctor, but were still painful. We decided to do some errands and then go out to eat. After that I planned on going back to the hotel, taking a Unisom and trying to get some sleep. At Sam’s Club I quickly realized that there was no way I’d be able to sit and eat a meal at a restaurant. I had about 3 contractions while we were at the store and it was a little embarrassing since I had to stop and deep breathe through them. I was really getting uncomfortable in a hurry. We decided to just get take out and eat at the hotel. We stopped to get Patrick’s food and then to another restaurant for mine. As we were pulling up I said “I kind of think we should just go to the hospital now, I think we need to go!” Patrick asked if I was sure and I said yes so he called and cancelled our room before going in to pick up my food. When he came back out he said “Are you sure you want to go already? Remember that after you get there they’re going to hook you up to the IVs and monitors and everything”. (He was such a good ‘doula’!) “Well it’s too late now, we cancelled the room already”, I said. He just laughed and said he was pretty sure we could get it back again if I wanted. SO I decided to go back to plan A, he called the hotel back and we headed over. It was about 4:30 pm by now.

As soon we got into our room I started the Jacuzzi and got in. I ate some of my food in between contractions. By 5:00 they were coming much faster, about every 4 minutes and lasting well over a minute. I told Patrick again that I wanted to go in. He said “I think we should wait. Let’s wait an hour and see how you feel”. I was NOT happy with that answer, and after another contraction I said “I don’t think I can wait that long”. We finally agreed that we would wait another half hour and see how I felt then. Bless his heart for not giving in to my fears, he was definitely being my rock and helping me to achieve my goals when I had lost sight of them, although at the time I wanted to kill him. All of a sudden I started getting a familiar constant pain in my lower back. Both my previous babies were posterior and the back labor was unbearable. This is when I started to panic, and that along with three sudden contractions all on top of each other were my undoing. I started bawling and told Patrick we had to go RIGHT NOW, I couldn’t do this, I was dying. I managed to get out of the tub and get dressed, sobbing with each contraction. I only made it half way down the hallway of the hotel before another contraction hit, where I stood leaning against the wall, moaning and crying. It would have been a sight for anyone who happened upon us, I’m sure! Incredibly, my back labor let up as soon as I got out of the tub.

We got out to the car and I was terrified for the ride. Having to sit for contractions was absolute hell. But as soon as I got in, my contractions slowed down again. We got to the hospital and my contractions were only coming about every 8 minutes, but I was still crying through each one. We got up to labor and delivery and I climbed into the bed so the nurse could check me. 6 ½ cm, she said. I couldn’t believe it! I was sure that since the contractions had once again slowed down that I would still be between a 4 or 5. I was so proud of myself, and in shock, since when I had my first vbac I had already been in the hospital overnight before getting to even 4 cm, and gave in to the epidural shortly after reaching 4. Contractions were still spaced out 8-10 minutes apart, but the nurse said “well, they’re progressing you so we’ll take it!”

I still can’t believe how easy the rest of labor was, or how quickly it went. I got my IV and answered all their intake questions. Contractions when they hit were a beast, but they were spaced out so far that it really wasn’t too bad. The nurse asked what I was thinking as far as pain management, did I want the epi or no? I told her I had originally planned on not having one, but the closer my due date came I had been thinking about it and decided that since this was our last baby I wanted to really be able to relax and enjoy and remember every minute of it, so I wanted the epidural after all. She said okay and that she would let the anesthesiologist know but it would be a little bit before he could come up.  She checked me at that point and said I was a good 7-8 cm. Contractions still hadn’t gotten any closer together, but the next one I had was so intense that I started throwing up. The nurse came back and said that was a good sign, I was getting close. At this point I started wondering if the force of vomiting had broken my water. I felt “wet” down there, but nothing gushing out like I had experienced after having my water broke with my last two labors. I even asked Patrick to look, but he couldn’t really tell if it had or not.

Shortly after that the anesthesiologist arrived. After getting all my medical history and explaining the risks, he said “You’re 8 cm? You’re looking pretty good, are you really sure you want the epidural?” I couldn’t decide at this point (indecisiveness was my middle name throughout this whole experience!). In between contractions I felt like I could do it, but during contractions I felt like I was dying. Finally I said “Well, I guess I can try to go without it”. My nurse very nicely said “Are you sure? Remember, we haven’t broken your water yet and things get pretty intense after that”. Oh yeah, I had kind of forgotten about that… In the end, I decided to get the epi, but told the anesthesiologist that I wanted a very very light dose. And that is exactly what I got, it was just the right amount of pain relief that I could still easily move around and felt contractions, just not the pain. I was pretty sure I could have walked if I’d needed to. I was very happy with my decision.

Then the on call doctor came in (who just happened to be the same one who delivered Isaac!) and attempted to break my water. She was down there for a minute or two and then said “Well, I THINK I got it, but I’m not entirely sure.” Apparently baby was so low that not much fluid was coming out. I was between an 8 and a 9 at this point. Looking back, I am fairly certain my water had already broke when I started vomiting, and my nurse agreed that that is likely what had happened. She said she wasn’t going to be “more than 15 steps” from my room and she would be seeing me soon to have this baby! I told my nurse that I wanted to labor down this time, since I pushed for 3 hours with Isaac starting from the minute I was 10 cm, and ended up needing the vacuum to help get him out. I really wanted to avoid that this time. She told me that was perfectly fine, and to call her when I started feeling pressure in my bottom or the urge to push. Less than half an hour later I told Patrick that I was feeling pressure. He asked if he should get the nurse and I said “no, it’s not too bad yet, let’s wait a little longer”. Less than 5 minutes later I said “Okay, yep, definitely time to get the nurse!”

She came in and asked me to try a couple practice pushes before she got the doctor. Patrick grabbed one leg and she grabbed the other and told me to push when the next contraction hit. I started pushing and just a few seconds into it she said “Alright, that’s gonna be the only push I have you do, I’m going to get the doctor!” and proceeded to practically run out of the room. I told Patrick that I couldn’t really keep myself from pushing a little, the pressure was super intense. The doctor came flying in, putting on her gown and getting ready. I asked for a mirror and the nurse seemed really excited that I wanted to watch and got it set up and angled so I had a good view. The doctor told me to push with the next contraction and I immediately could see her head coming down. One more push and she was crowning. I could feel it burning and knew enough to ease up pushing a little so I wouldn’t tear. Then her head was out. It was incredible! The doctor was sort of easing her back and forth to get her shoulder out and I asked if I should push. She said “nope, just let her come on her own” and sure enough just a second later she came sliding the rest of the way out! I hope I never forget what it was like to see her emerging from my body, it was so amazing! I could see there was meconium in the water, but baby girl started crying as soon as she was out. I heard the nurse ask if they needed to bring in the NICU, but the doctor said “nope, judging by her cry this baby is just fine!”. I was so relieved, as one of my fears with this delivery was that something would go wrong with the baby and they would take her away from me right away. Patrick cut the cord and they placed her on my chest. It was every bit as amazing as the first time with Isaac. After a few minutes they took her over to the warmer and wiped her off some, listened to her breathing, and weighed her. 6 lbs 13 oz, just one ounce smaller than Emily. Then they brought her back to me and she immediately latched on and started nursing, and didn’t stop for over 2 hours! She is still a great little nurser.

I didn’t think any labor experience could top my first vbac, but this time around was literally everything I could have hoped it would be. I was glad to have progressed all on my own, without the help of pitocin. I was proud that I made it to 8 cm before getting the epidural, since I was only half that when I got it for my first vbac. I was relieved to only push for 5 minutes, and ended up with only one single stitch that was more to be on the safe side than out of necessity. It was once again so fulfilling and satisfying, the perfect end to my child birth experiences, since this is our last baby.  With Isaac I was so happy just to have gotten my vbac, but there were a few things about the experience that I wished could have been different. With Avery there is nothing I regret, nothing I would change. It didn’t end up being the unmedicated, all natural, perfect birth you always hear about, but it was certainly the perfect birth for me.  It was truly an amazing experience.

Nikki’s VBAC of Joshua

So it all started the evening of November 6th!  As soon as my husband walked through the front door from work/school the contractions started! At first they weren’t very strong or consistent, but then I shortly realized that as time moved on I was having to breathe through them. I’m pretty terrible at timing contractions alone so I opened up the contraction master online and soon found they were all about 7 minutes apart and lasting for one minute!

I took a nice hot shower to see if they would die down, but it seemed the opposite happend! They became about two minutes apart!! That kind of freaked me out so I hopped out of the shower and they did slow down. I thought it would all dissipate shortly, so we did our nighttime routine with my son and my husband and I hopped in the bed.

Well, the contractions never stopped and I became too uncomfortable so I decided to go in the living room and watch some tv on the birthing ball. This is when I realized this just might be the real deal! But they were still about 7 minutes apart so I felt I still had a while before I’d need to go into L and D. This being my first time going through early labor alone I was second guessing myself on knowing when to go in. Everyone always says you’ll just knowso I decided to just trust my instincts. At this point the only thing helping me through the contractions was standing up and rocking backing and forth, then after I’d sit back down. After a while I realized that I was standing up, rocking, sitting back down, and repeat pretty darn frequently. So I said to myself it’s time.

I went to wake up my husband and went around the house tossing the remaining items in our hospial bag. Not even 5 minutes after my husband got up my water broke!! I couldn’t believe it! I hoping this wouldnt be a repeat labor with my son! (PROM) But lo and behold we finally get to the hospital and I’m 5cm dilated!! wow! My body was actually doing it! I was so happy!

Then the contractions ramped up… big time. It was getting harder and harder to breathe though them and I would keep trying to sit up through the pain, then they’d lose him on the monitor. They said that they had to keep baby’s HB on the monitor so I said well then I need something to help the pain. I did not want an epi so the nurse offered nubain to take the edge off. Although I could still feel the pain it surprisingly helped! I was even able to sleep again! It was about 4am at this point.

Then the hardest part of labor happened, I started pushing! BUT I was only 6.5 cms and they keep telling me to stop and just breathe through them, but my goodness it was impossible!! It really felt like when you feel like you really really need to go poop so you rush to the bathroom to go and your body pushes all on it’s own and you can’t help it! Sorry for the TMI but that’s exactly how it felt to me! They said I had to STOP or else my cervix would swell and I wouldn’t get a chance at a VBAC if it swelled too much! Anxiety City!

Thankfully my doctor showed up shortly after! She checked me and she said the most beautiful words! She said I was COMPLETE and it was time to PUSH and his head is RIGHT THERE! Oh man.. a heavenly chorus to my ears! So they prop my feet up and I get to push with my contractions finally! And now I finally see how women say it actually feels good to push! It felt so good and so right and I was pushing with all my might! I pushed right through the ring of fire! Then suddenly she says “look down here”! A few moments later my baby boy entered the world and it felt amazing!! I actually felt him leaving my body and it was such a great feeling! He came into the world perfectly healthy and I actually had a VBAC!! Everyone in the room was ecstatic! I still can’t believe it! I only pushed or 10 minutes!! (the previous nurse said that since I was practically a FTM I could count on pushing for 1 to 2 hours!)

So here I am in our hospital room. No IVs attached or catheter still inside me. No numbmess and immobility from the waist down. No antibiotics to take and I’m able to walk around as I please! No super groggy and lethargic newborn who has trouble nursing. Not to mention we are going home first thing in the morning!

The VBAC Board on BabyCenter was such a tremendous support! I truly don’t think I would have been able to do it without the vast knowledge found there and the supportive and encouraging board members! So thank you so much!!

Upcoming online support chat–October 26th!

Our next online support chat will be Oct 26th at 9pm EST. We will be using a text-based chat room to serve those who are unable to utilize the webinar software. This will be a free ICAN online support meeting! To join, register as a user on the home page. Then, on the night of the chat, go and log in. It’s as simple as that!

Jeanette’s (nearly) 12 pound VBAC of Quinn!

Quinn Keith Albright

Born September 28, 2012 at 4:25pm

11 pounds 15 ounces

22” long

15.25” head circumference, 15.75” chest


This birth was by me, for me.


This birth story is about me.  The mother of 4.  The wife of Aaron.  The woman of strength and self doubt.  Of determination and defeat.  Of love and broken heartedness.  My choices are my own based on knowledge and experience and instinct.
This birth story is NOT about me the birth worker, although I do know and understand the value that my births can offer others if needed.  I am an advocate for mothers and babies and the birth of their desire and my birthing experiences are beneficial in my teaching and educating however, I am not comfortable with words like Birth Warrior, Birth Goddess, Hero or Superwoman nor definitions like successful VBAC.  I am not a martyr.  I did not set out to try and impact the “system” or show the doctors I know best – I was just seeking the birth me and my baby wanted and needed.


More importantly, this birth story is about God.  And a journey.  And faith.  And the power of prayer.  And patience.  And humility.


My pregnancy:

Aaron and I always talked about wanting four children.  We gave it more of an adjustment period between baby #3 and this one but when we were ready the Lord blessed us with another healthy pregnancy after one month of trying.  We announced it to our family and friends through a Valentine advertisement in our local newspaper.  When we told the kids, Ethan wasn’t too thrilled at first about another sibling but Grace was wide eyed excited for a “Grace baby” (she wanted a girl and to name it Grace – when she understood we couldn’t give it her name, she started a campaign of princess names).  Weston finally understood there was a baby in my belly when my lap started to disappear.  For all of our babies, we’ve never found out the gender.


Without a doubt, I knew my goal for this labor and delivery was to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).  My first 2 births were natural vaginal births and my third was an emergency cesarean due to a placental abruption.   I chose to stay with a hospital birth (my husband was a little leery of other options) and with the same care provider I’ve had with the other 3.  Even though I knew I could be facing some opposition to my VBAC goal and a more managed pregnancy and labor, my doctor had always honored my birthing desires and I was confident that we would be able to maintain a good relationship that would aid in me getting the birth I wanted.  Throughout the pregnancy, I continued to research and process the benefits versus risks of different scenarios for my situation and we were prepared with facts and documents that supported our decisions and we were confident in our choice.  To my surprise, I had to face some opposition from even family and friends to this path but I chose to make it an opportunity to educate and ask for support regardless and then I had to leave that aside so I could focus on a positive mental and emotional state to progress me towards my desires.


Using my last menstrual period, we had an estimated due date of September 11th.  My doc had me do an early ultrasound as I was measuring weeks ahead of that projection but when the ultrasound indicated a date within 2 weeks of my date, she left it as is.  Throughout the pregnancy, I had a feeling this baby would come sooner rather than later since it was my 4th and I was hopeful we wouldn’t be facing over due dates with the VBAC goal.  Of course, since all my other pregnancies carried up to 2 weeks over my estimated due date, I should’ve known better.

My pregnancy was challenged this time around by sciatica issues that affected my left leg and back.  I started under Webster chiropractic care at about 8 weeks and even though it was a long journey, I found relief from that pain at about week 30 of the pregnancy.  This was the first pregnancy where I got chiropractic care during pregnancy and I now am testimony of the wondrous things it does for good pelvic alignment and comfort that aid in your delivery.


Other than that, I was blessed to not be plagued with morning sickness (4 for 4) or heartburn.  I also only gained about 30 pounds this pregnancy (about 20 pounds less than all my others) and I carried this one so tight and up high which was different than any of the others.  I also experienced Braxton-Hicks regularly from about 23 weeks where I never had them with the other 3.


September 14th:

After my 40w due date came and went, I had some small bouts of prodromal labor which I welcomed since I knew they could be helping to bring my baby but it was frustrating that they would just fade away.  My check up that week was positive and my doc said we’d avoid talking about other options until my next appointment.

September 21st:

41 weeks came and went.  My doc called a day before my appointment, worried and nervous for me and wanted me to come in a day early to get checked over.  This was the only time I felt sort of betrayed by her lack of support.  There were some scare tactic statements that were unnecessary and could have been detrimental to my positive attitude of having a healthy VBAC.  I held firm to our originally scheduled appointment which yielded a good check up and the biophysical showed all was well with me and baby so my doc had no choice but to support us in not intervening with the natural course.  I did consent to a vaginal exam at this point and we learned I was 1cm, 50% effaced and baby was really high up at -2 station.  It is typical that a multipara does not drop until labor begins but my doc mentioned the big baby issue again and hinted again that she felt fit might be why baby is so high but then added in that she knows I’ve birthed a 10+ pound baby previously.  We did talk about some options in induction given my current cervical state.  My doc does not support the use of chemicals to augment a VBAC birth even though ACOG does not rule it out so her choices were mechanical methods (Foley catheter and/or AROM – artificial rupture of membranes).  I was okay with a Foley bulb but my 2nd option would have been low dose Pitocin over AROM.  Again, since me and the baby were okay, we walked out of there and I raised my arms high over my head and said “FREEDOM” to my husband.  I thanked the Lord again for a good report too as if there was anything amiss; it would’ve just opened the door for my doctor to want to do an intervention.


This is the week I really struggled with self doubt.  I really had thought the baby wasn’t going to go past dates and I was going to get my desired VBAC on its own accord so there was some self wallowing as well.  Even though I was concerned with some of the risks of going over as a VBAC, I was an emotional wreck about facing an induction the following week and told my husband the day before that I might still want to walk out of that next appointment.  I had mixed feelings of knowing that an induction meant my baby would likely arrive soon but also that I was giving into those naysayers as well as that I was abandoning the natural process.  I prayed continuously for God to give me guidance and direction and a labor, of course.  I knew though that I had to find peace with all of this and just let go and trust God so I changed my prayer to asking God to give us clear indications as to the choices we needed to make.  What a blessing that he did show us quite plainly soon enough!


September 27th:

At 42 weeks we went in prepared (well almost so) to go over to the hospital side to do the induction.  We had another good biophysical report and my vaginal exam showed almost a 2cm dilation, still 50% effaced and still -2 station for baby.  Doc said she could start the Foley that night or the following morning.  Not knowing whether the Foley might take a few hours or even longer, I didn’t want to chance laboring through the night on little or no sleep so we opted for Friday morning for the induction.   I felt immediate relief and it was amazing to walk out of that office again.  I had the doc do a membrane sweep and this way I had one more day of walking and trying to get labor to start on its own.


After the appointment, I was feeling mildly crampy so I went on a walk while Aaron fed the kids and put them down for naps.  The walk down our road was pretty slow going as I was feeling very loose in my pelvis and hips.  After 20+ minutes, I had had 5 contractions and felt very tired so I returned home to lay down for awhile and of course, the contractions stopped.  Since our induction was early that next morning, my mother in law was coming over that night to stay the night to be there for the kids.  It seemed within minutes of her arrival, I got some good strong contractions about 10 minutes apart.  It was late so I went to bed and called for Aaron about 30 minutes later to join me as the contractions were pretty intense and I wanted his help.  Praise the Lord, those 10 minute apart contractions continued all night long!


My labor (First Stage):


The contractions continued to be very strong and intense and I had a lot of loose bowels and some bloody show.  In my mind, I thought “yeah, early labor signs” but I was also nervous that the contractions would just fall away again and being that they were 10 minutes apart, technically I wasn’t “in labor”.  I prayed to God and thanked him for the contractions (probably the only woman praying that that night) and asked Him to keep them going.  I was able to sleep a few minutes after each contraction but I would wake with every one of them.  I did a lot of groaning and had my husband rub my low back during them.  I drank lots of water and ate a pear.  Some contractions did get near 8 minutes but mostly they stayed around 10 minutes.  I remember telling Aaron that bloody show during labor occurs around 4cm (which is the number the Foley usually dilates you to) so when we were getting close to the time to go in for the induction we were debating if we should stay at home and continue to labor until the contractions got closer or if we should still show up to the induction.  Since we also noticed that the kids seem to be a distraction for me, we opted to go to the hospital and see if we progressed any and perhaps labor there.


We were put into a triage room on the OB floor and our nurse Natalie (super great support) came in and right away said she had already read my birth plan and asked us some questions about it.  She told us to let her know if we want to be left alone or want support from her – she was really laid back and we felt she was a great fit with our birthing goals.  I asked if my doctor was there yet and told Natalie to tell her that I had had contractions all night long so she said she would check me before she got anything out and prepped.  During the vaginal exam, she said “Jeanette, we aren’t going to need the Foley bulb – you are a 5.”  I cried tears of joy.  I couldn’t believe it.  Finally!  17 days overdue from my LMP and I was in labor, my body was doing what it needed to do and I did not have to have that intervention.  The baby’s head was at -2 station.  This was around 7am on Friday, September 28th.


I prayed and thanked God again for the progress and we were moved to a labor, delivery and recovery suite.  Our nurse Natalie asked if we minded that a shadow nurse, Sarah would be following her all day.  She said she had an interest in natural birth so I was totally fine with her being present.  I sat on the birth ball and moved and bounced in between contractions.  I ordered a light breakfast and continued to drink lots of water and have more loose bowels and bloody show.  My contractions would be 8 minutes apart for an hour and then 3 minutes apart for an hour.  It was definitely not text book.  With the baby’s head still being up so high earlier we wanted to see if labor and gravity had helped to get the baby engaged so I had another vaginal exam around 10am.  We were closer to a 6 at that time, more effaced but baby was still at -2 station.

I then got up and walked the halls for awhile and we saw the husband of one my natural childbirth class couples who had had their baby the day before.  It was during the walking that the contractions picked up even more intensity and stayed closer together so it wasn’t long before I wanted to lay down and labor.  Around noon, I consented again to be checked (who would’ve thought I would’ve wanted so many exams) again and now I was 8cm, 100% effaced but the baby was STILL -2 station.  I was told there was a bulging bag of waters that was down in front of the head so we were hopeful that it would soon break and that would drop the head into the pelvis more.


Just a half an hour later, I felt some rectal pressure but I thought maybe it was just a wishful urge to be complete as it was likely the bag of waters being intact still causing that.  Thankfully, around 1:30pm the waters finally broke to such a relief from me.  Of course that made for some more intense contractions and I could not get relaxed or comfortable.  We later discovered too that the waters breaking was only my forewaters and there was still a bag in front of the baby’s head!


At 2:15pm, I was 9cm dilated and feeling more urges to push and there was a bit of movement down with the baby to -1 station.  At this time though, there were some decels with the baby so we consented to a bolus of fluids being hung and that made the baby’s heart rate stabilize again.  Of course though, this prompted the fit issue discussion again from my doctor and her suggesting strongly that we opt for a cesarean before there is an emergency situation.  Aaron and I exchanged looks.   Both the nurse and doc said things like “we know this is not what you want” and then the dreaded “healthy mom and healthy baby” card came out.  I snapped and said something to the effect that it is so much more than they could understand.  My doc and the nurse left the room and Aaron and I talked a bit.  I didn’t feel comfortable going straight to cesarean and I reminded Aaron that fit issues cannot be “diagnosed” until sufficient pushing time in second stage.  Since we weren’t there yet, I wasn’t comfortable going that route since there was no medical indication to do so.  I asked our nurse off the record, knowing that my doc trends toward being conservative, what was her take on the situation and I recall it being something positive about keeping on track with what I was doing.  Upon coming back in, my doc is the one who actually gave me the energy to fight and keep going when she said that with the fluids in, the baby looked good.  I am so grateful for that because we may have made a different choice otherwise.


Unbelievably though, an anesthesiologist and nurse came in to meet with us, “just in case”.  They said there was an emergency earlier (I had heard alarms) and if they come see me now and get prepared, then they wouldn’t be needed.  *Eyeroll* from me but I answered their questions and then got back to getting my baby out without them.  When they left, Aaron said there was a team outside the door just waiting to start the cesarean and our doctor shooed them away. 


So onward laboring we go.  Again, there were more prayers to God to give us a clear sign if we needed to make a different decision. 


“I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No: I won’t give up

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, still looking up.

I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up



The next hour was the hardest yet with contraction intensity and it’s a blur of what happened when so forgive the confusion.  I wanted to push at times yet wasn’t quite complete.  One time I was over the toilet and my body just pushed.  I grunted, “I’m pushing” as I stood up and Natalie ran in and said “Oh no you’re not – you will not be having a toilet baby.”  I said, “it’s not like it’s going to come out in one push” and her reply was that I’m a 4th time mom and anything can happen so we went back to the bed.  I was in such misery that I consented to my doc breaking my bag of waters hoping that would bring the head down.  This was around 3:30pm.  Again, it was still up so high.  It was so defeating but I wasn’t giving up.  We did a modified Walcher’s position or as the nurse called it – I was sitting on my throne.  I was at the end of the bed, the bottom was dropped, my knees were up and there was a towel behind my back to bring my pelvis forward.  Wow, was that painful but again, I was game for anything to get baby engaged.  After about an hour of this, my legs were shaky and I needed a rest.  The nurse talked me into 15 more minutes and then she told me to roll to a side if I wanted a break.
Immediately upon going to my left, I felt this HUGE movement, I yelled “I have to push” and Natalie said, “go ahead”, so I did.  AND THE BABY CROWNED!  Wahoo.  From -1 station to crowning.  Finally!  I was in second stage – it was so incredible.  And then it got real chaotic.


My labor, continued (Second Stage):


With just Natalie and her shadow, Sarah in the room, Natalie placed a hand on the baby’s head and told Sarah to get some people in the room.  My doc enters and said, “yep, that is a head” and asked why I was on my side.  Tee hee.  Nice Natalie gave me a break from my throne position and that very thing is what helped the baby to come down!  What followed was a lot of calm directions to get things set up from the doctor (no one could figure out the new beds).  My urge to push was so strong, I was screaming during the pushes.  I had forgone all my training and went full force into getting that baby out – there was no control.  They were trying to move me to the end of the bed so the doc could get at the baby but I didn’t want to move.  Everyone had to help pick me up and scoot me down.  When I did have a break in a contraction, they tried to line a mirror up for me to see as I had stated in my birth plan but it was so small and the nurse couldn’t take direction well that I only got one quick glimpse of some dark hair.  Another push or two and the head was out.  Then the doc had the confirmation that it indeed was a large baby and she immediately directed everyone into pulling my legs back and trying to avoid a dystocia issue while getting the shoulders and chest out.  Scissors were handed to Aaron and I reminded everyone we wanted to wait out the cord pulsing before cutting.  Doc said she didn’t like the dip in the heart tones and told me I had to get the baby out (Aaron told me later he saw the rate dip into the 80s a few times and as low as 60 but it would go back up over 100 as well).  I was pushing without contractions, screaming as I did.  I heard a popping noise and I thought I broke my tailbone or dislocated a hip bone (we learned later it was the baby) and I heard her say the chest was out and he could get a breath now.  I still had to give another push though (for the butt?) and then I felt the warmth of him being put on my belly and everyone was rubbing him and I announced he was a boy.  He was quickly whisked away though so they could work on him.


“Be Still”by The Fray

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name


If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I am


We heard a nurse say, “good heart tones, good heart tones” and another one say “breathe baby, breathe”.  It was excruciating to watch.  We were saying “c’mon baby, c’mon” and then we heard some muffled cries.  Doc asked for a baby update and we were told he scored a 2 on his APGAR at the one minute mark and then a 9 at the 5 minute.  I leaned back and just kept repeating through my tears “he’s here, he’s here, he’s here.”  Aaron had to lean in to hear what I was saying probably because my voice was so hoarse from screaming.  They then put him on the scale and everyone exclaimed and gasped when a nurse said 5400-something grams.  I said “what is that?” and finally they announced his weight at 11 pounds 15 ounces.  I was amazed.  I knew it was likely a big baby but who knew it’d be that big!


He was then placed on me and we did skin to skin and tried to get him to breastfeed.  It took a few tries and some time before he was ready for that but it was so incredible to finally just hold him and kiss him!  He was safe and sound in my arms.


I have no recollection of my participation in third stage (I suspect doc used cord traction as my placenta encapsulist indicated it looked like the cord may have broke and there was a tear at the base? – can’t remember her technical terms for it) but Aaron was on top of retrieving our placenta immediately upon doc giving it a once over.  He said he couldn’t believe how pink and good it looked.  I didn’t need pitocin for bleeding and I only had a small tear into my previous tear and I opted for no stitches.




When the baby was placed on my belly, we noticed right away that he had a cleft lip.  After consulting with our pediatrician and a lactation consultant, we had positive feedback that it was very minor, wouldn’t effect breastfeeding and would hardly even be noticed after correction.  What a relief.  We also had confirmation that the popping noise I felt and heard was Quinn’s left clavicle breaking which is a common side effect of shoulder dystocia.  It will heal on its own and quickly.  We had to have a few other tests done due to his size and some results found in his biophysical exams in utero but all those turned out fine.  The day we were leaving, Quinn did have some yellowing of jaundice but it was low enough that some sun and breastfeeding was all that was required.  Quinn’s discharge weight was 11 pounds 3 ounces and 5 days later at his pediatrician appointment, he was back to his birth weight.

“Home” by Phillip Phillips

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home




I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful support I received while at our county’s community hospital.  They followed my birth plan with no opposition (including refusal of their typical procedures) and there were some very nice improvements (such as lactation cookies on the menu and a birth day cake for the family) since the last time we had used the facilities.  The shadow nurse, Sarah’s shift ended at 3pm and she stayed with us until the end of our birth because she was so vested in it and she thanked us for letting her witness it and be a part of it (turns out she ended up helping with a leg even since Aaron told her to but she was supposed to be hands off).  Our nurse Natalie returned after her shift in her plainclothes just to say good bye and congratulations.  Also, the head OB nurse (who is a lactation specialist) came in on her day off just for us and our cleft lip concerns.  We do feel such compassion towards our doctor as well as we know for certain, had it been any other within this medical community, our birth would not have progressed in this manner.  She really had to carry a burden of concern for me and the baby and we feel for her and respect her for still doing her best to support me how I needed.

Even though we pushed the boundaries of our doctor’s comfort level with this birth, I stand behind every decision we made.  Without clear medical indications, we made our choices based on the intent of allowing God to take control and that He was in charge and He would watch over us.


I feel so blessed to have had this birthing experience.  The Lord answered our prayers while still teaching me a thing or two.  We got the birth He decided we needed, all we had to do was be faithful.  Quinn has completed our family and his birth completed me.  Thank you to all who encouraged me and supported me on this journey with love and compassion.  God is so good!

October Online Support Meetings

Mark your calendars for two upcoming online support meetings hosted by ICAN Education Director Krista Cornish Scott.  The first will be October 12 at 9 PM EST using the Meetingburner Audio webinar support chat.  The second will be held on October 26, also at 9 PM EST using the Board chatroom visual support chat system.

These meetings are a great way for you to get nationwide support if you can’t make a local meeting or if there isn’t one in your area.  We look forward to meeting you there!

Carol’s VBAC of Joanna Noelle

Joanna Noelle’s Birth Story
September 26, 2012
5:51 PM
8lbs, 14oz. 21 ½ Inches, 15 inch head circumference

In May of 2007 I gave birth to my first daughter Melanie Beth via C-section after a failed induction (failure to wait) at 40 weeks 2 days gestation. I was induced at 2 cm and with very unfavorable conditions and after a series of interventions including Pitocin, Epidural, etc. my cervix began to swell shut, therefore making it impossible for her to be born vaginally. Thus necessitating my C-section. After Melanie’s birth I felt robbed of the labor experience and at only 19, felt that my body had been treated like a number to the medical practice in whom I trusted. I just couldn’t understand how the baby I had grown could be “too big” to be born. My daughter was 8lbs., 13 oz. 19 inches long

It was only after finding the women of ICAN Orlando that I soon learned that my story, unfortunately, was very common, and when my husband and I decided to conceive our second child, I knew I wanted, needed, a different birth experience, on my own terms.

My Pregnancy:

In January of 2012 my husband and I discovered we had finally conceived our second child after 9 months of actively trying, and we were both so excited! Having been involved in my ICAN chapter I knew that the next 9 months were all about preparation, and that started with finding the correct pre-natal care that would respect my wishes for a TOLAC (Trial of Labor after C-section). I knew that even though our success rate would be higher if we had decided to have a home birth with a local midwife that financially, we would need to pick an in-network OB through the insurance we had from my husband’s job, and so we did.

Over the next nine months I did everything I could to ensure that my body and mind would be ready to have this baby, my husband and I hired a doula, I began regular chiropractic care, I switched the couch for a birth ball, read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and studied the Hypnobirthing home course. Due to having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my prior pregnancy, I was not surprised to find out that I had it again, and so I became even more diligent in making sure my sugar levels remained under control with diet alone, however, my OB nonetheless labeled this pregnancy “high risk”.

As the pregnancy went on, I was able to keep my weight well under control, but do to my “high risk” label my OB scheduled me for many ultrasounds and towards the end of my pregnancy, twice weekly NST’s (non-stress tests) to monitor the babies heart rate, each time they found nothing out of the ordinary, my body was growing a perfectly healthy baby. While these procedures were annoying, I personally felt as if each one was a confirmation that I was doing the right thing by insisting on having my TOLAC.

Labor Day:

On Tuesday, September 25, 2012 I went to my OB’s office for another ultrasound, I was 40 weeks 3 days and my OB wanted to check my fluid levels and estimate baby’s weight. After the ultrasound he took me to his office and began to give me the C-section scare lecture, which caught be by surprise considering up until this point he had always been supportive and confident in my ability to have a VBAC.

Our conversation went something like this:
OB: Well, according to the ultrasound you have a lot of excess fluid and baby is measuring very large   (9lbs, 5 oz.). I really don’t feel comfortable allowing you to continue this pregnancy and would like to schedule you for a C-section tomorrow. But it’s your body, your choice and you know I’ll let you decide whatever.
Me: I respect that, but I will not consent to a C-section and won’t discuss a C-section until 41 weeks.
OB: Alright, well, I’ll note that you’re refusing in your chart.

Then we left his office and headed to the reception area. When we reached the nurses, he said:
OB: Okay, well let’s schedule Carol for an NST on Friday to check up on baby and then schedule her C-section for Saturday afternoon, she’ll be exactly 41 weeks.

At that point I was in such shock that I just stood there as the nurse called and scheduled the OR for Saturday morning and my pre-op appointment for Friday afternoon.

As soon as I left the office I called my doula, Heather, upset by the conversation that just happened. Heather really helped calm me down and pointed out what I already knew, appointments made could easily be cancelled and there was NO reason why I had to show up for that C-section.

Heather told me to go home, relax, drink lots of red raspberry leaf tea, and call her if I needed anything further.

That night, right before dinner, I went to the bathroom and saw the most beautiful sight, bloody show! I called Heather right away and she told me to take it easy, have an early dinner, go to bed early and hopefully my body would begin the labor process soon, most likely while I was sleeping.

That night I slept fitfully, sporadic surges and my own excitement made getting sleep difficult. I was very glad I had told my husband not to go to work (he works graveyard shift) because it was nice having him there, even if he couldn’t do anything for me.

After a night full of ups and downs, I woke up for the day around 5am and got on my birth ball to watch TV. I called Heather around 6:30 am to check in, and she told me to start timing the surges and call her when they became closer together. At this time, I woke my husband to bring our older daughter to my parent’s house.

By the time Thomas returned home my surges were about 2 mins. apart and 1 ½ minutes long. I had Thomas call Heather and she arrived around 9 am.

From the time Heather got there to the time we left for the hospital, everything became a blur. I labored in several different parts of the house, was able to watch TV or read Facebook during contractions and loved the ability to do what my body needed to do when it needed to do it. Unhampered by IV’s or monitors, I was able to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom as I saw fit.

At one point I was on my hands and knees in my bedroom and with each surge Heather would massage my back while my husband stood watch. At the end of a surge we all heard an audible pop as my bag of waters broke, all over the floor, the pillows I was on and right at Heather. None of us could help but laugh! She told me later she’s never seen so much fluid come from one person, LOL.

After my water broke my body seemed to give me a break, and I was able to take an hour nap on my bedroom floor and it was heavenly. Then my body picked right back up and I can say that this next half was much more intense than the first. Unlike before, where the surges ebbed and flowed and I could kind of catch my breath between them, now it seemed as if they were one on top of the other. Heather offered a lot of words of affirmation to me, reminding me over and over that I could do this; I was strong, to breath for two, etc. When I thought the surge would be stronger than I was, she kept me focus on the overall goal, a healthy baby in my arms. 

When I was nearing transition Heather suggested I get into the bath tub to help relieve some of the pressure I was having, and when I did, BOOM, into transition I went. The shakes were the most difficult part of the labor process for me, because it seemed as if the surges would overtake me, and at this point I knew there was no going back, one way or another my little girl would be born, I had faced all my fears of labor in the face, and now my body was going to take over and do what it was meant to do. The thought of that was both terrifying and awe inspiring.

As I was laying there I became aware that both Heather and my husband Thomas were doing stuff, later I found out they were getting Heather’s van ready to transport me to the hospital to deliver. The last phase of our plan was in motion.

Moving from the tub to the van felt like forever because of how I was working through the rushes, pushing was now completely involuntary, I HAD to push! I got into the van and as we backed out of my driveway Heather said, “I’m going to apologize in advance; this is going to be the worst ride of your life.” Let me just say, she wasn’t kidding; the ride to the hospital was 40 minutes and an eternity all at once. I pushed throughout. Thomas told me later that he really thought I might deliver in the van and he was scared.

I also remember acutely what Heather said as we approached the hospital, “Okay, remember, you’re too far along for drugs.” It’s so funny that she said that because in my head I had been thinking, well, when we get there maybe they can give me something to take the edge off while I push. It’s like she was so in tune with me, I can’t help but laugh now, because obviously she knew what I wasn’t ready to admit, I was 10 centimeters and almost ready to meet my girl.

When we got to the hospital what happened next reminded me of nothing short of a scene from a comedy. Heather rolled me into triage, telling the nurses I was complete and ready to push and it’s like they didn’t even hear her, they asked me to fill out a form and wait in the waiting area. No sooner had I stopped in the waiting area that I started moaning, and I’m assuming loudly, because a nurse came out quick to take me into the back to get checked.

The first time I was checked was in triage at the hospital, and surprise surprise, I was 10 centimeters, with a small anterior lip. They told me to stop pushing (yea RIGHT!) and rushed me up to the last labor room available. We go up to the room and then they ask me to move from the gurney to the labor bed, all the while I’m STILL pushing. The nurses seemed a bit clueless. I did move the labor bed, but the only way that felt comfortable was to flip onto it on all fours, at which point I kept pushing. They then started asking my husband even more questions until the midwife came in and checked me again, this time I was 10 cm + 2. I think this is really when it sunk in that I was having a baby and nothing they were saying or doing was going to make me stop. They urgently asked me to flip over, which I did, and then I just kept pushing.

Suddenly, there she was, my baby girl, being placed on my chest. From the time we got to the hospital to the time she was born was around 10 minute’s total!

Total Labor Time: Approx. 12 hours, came out with a 2nd degree tear

Last Notes:
-The “ring of fire” is real, or at least it was for me, but by the time I hit that fire, it was more of a relief and I just wanted to see my baby.
- My doula was my savior, and every laboring women should have one. When I thought I couldn’t make it, she was there, when I forgot to breath, she was there to remind me. She trusted in my body when I didn’t, and for that I am forever in her debt.
- Knowing I had a network of supportive women and family who were praying for me and sending out good labor vibes really did help me get through each contraction. As a woman preparing for birth, make sure you surround yourself with those who will build you up, not question your decisions.

ICANers at Improving Birth rallies across the country!!!

brookeNichole (St Charles co-leader), Ruthie (St Louis co-leader) and Brooke (St Louis member) in St. Louis


Emily & her HBAC baby in Rockford, Illinois


Christie in Tampa Bay, FL and her HBAC baby after a + cesaran scar.  Christie says, “After my cesarean, I found ICAN and the support and wisdom I gained from the women in this organization helped me come to peace with what happened at the birth of my first son.  Then I found Special Scars~Special Womwn.  I found women who had similar scars to me, unusual cesarean scars.  And they had gone on to have successful VBACs.  This gave me so much hope and strength and lifted my up.  I joined this group and volunteered to help out.  I was able to have my own HBAC after a + cesarean scar in April 2012.

The Improving Birth rally was a great opportunity to get this message out and to speak the truth about BIRTH.  The fact that VBAC is possible and it’s important to let our community and expecting Moms to know that they can succeed.”


Sarah and her 2nd HBAC baby Stella in Bloomington, Illinois


ICAN of OC in Laguna Hills, California


Mandy and Susie, Urbana, Illinois


Leslee, LeAnn and baby Ava in Tallahassee, Florida


Natasha, Christa and Heather in Portland, Oregon


Jennifer and Emily, co-leaders ICAN of Bowling Green, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  They were also featured in their local newspaper!


ICAN of Greater Essex County in New Jersey



Bozeman, MT rally




ICAN of coastal Georgia at the Savannah, GA rally.  Pictured are Rachel, Kasey, Angela, Abby, Christine, Kagan, Kelly, Shannon, Dana, Wildy, Allie, and Stacy.  News coverage of this rally here! All interviewees are members of ICAN of coastal Georgia.


Angela, Lisa, Michelle and Melody in Orlando, Florida

Freedom for Birth: a documentary

We want to share with you our excitement about a new documentary that
reframes childbirth as the most pressing global Human Rights issue

There are 1000 planned screenings premiers, in 51 countries,
in 17 languages to launch the movie all over the globe on the same
day–Thursday 20th September 2012 . It it our hope that our members,
chapter leaders, and the larger ICAN comminty will join in those
events accross the United States and internationally as an opportunity
to bring awareness and educate our commnities about the importance of
this subject and our work in ICAN.

If anyone wants to host a screening on Sept 20th, the producers will
send the DVD by Airsure so it should take 5 working days to arrive in
the US. So all you need to do is to click STEP 3 on the website – the
screening DVD costs $50.00

Or for a more expensive but guaranteed to arrive option, they can
courier the DVD for an extra $60.00 by FedEx that will take 3 working
days to arrive. For this, please e-mail so they can
send a Paypal invoice. As soon as we receive payment, we will dispatch
the DVDs and we will email the screening kit!!

But if this date is too soon, then anyone can have a screening after
the launch date of 20th September.

More about the movie:

Freedom For Birth is a 60 minute campaigning documentary featuring a
Who’s Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rights
lawyers all calling for radical change to the world’s maternity

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the recent Human
Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlands says,
“the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around the
world is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed
into hospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject
to unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their
care providers openly admit to imposing on them for reasons of finance
and convenience. Women around the world are waking up to the fact that
childbirth doesn’t have to be like this and it shouldn’t. Disrespect
and abuse are not the necessary price of safety”.

Made by British filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Freedom For
Birth film tells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who has
been jailed for supporting women giving birth at home. One of the home
birth mothers supported by Ms Gereb decided to take a stand.

When pregnant with her second child, Anna Ternovsky took her country
to the European Court of Human Rights and won a landmark case that has
major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the Ternovsky vs Hungary
ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that now in
Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and
how she gives birth. And across the world, it means that if a woman
feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth
choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the
law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”,
we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so
our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care
across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers’

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM),
says: “A safe childbirth should be a fundamental human right for
women. Sadly, for many, many millions of women and their babies across
the world this is not the case. The world is desperately short of the
people who can help to ensure and deliver this human right; midwives.
There is a real need for leaders of nations to invest in midwifery
care in their countries. I hope that the making of this film which the
RCM is supporting with a screening will go a long way to help make
skilled maternity care a reality for those women who currently do not
have access to it.”

Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives adds, “Too
many women across the world are dying or suffering terribly because of
a lack of skilled maternity care. This is unacceptable and I call on
all Governments across the world to give women the right and access to
safe care in pregnancy and childbirth.”

Ms. Hayes-Klein concludes, “Freedom For Birth” holds the answer to
changing the system. Birth will change when women realise they have a
right to meaningful support for childbirth and claim that right. Birth
will change when women stand up against the abuses that are currently
suffered in such high numbers and say, No More.”

ICAN Supports The National Rally For Change!

On Labor Day, September 3, 2012, over 100 cities across all 50 states will host rallies to show support for improving birth practices in the United States. These rallies, hosted by, have quickly gained widespread viral support and the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) is proud to support our members’ and chapter leaders’ participation in their local events. The intention of the event is to bring awareness to the alarmingly high rates of unnecessary cesarean sections and labor inductions. The campaign seeks to educate and empower women with evidence-based information in order to make truly informed choices regarding their maternity care.

ICAN is an organization dedicated to supporting women who have had a cesarean section, providing education about evidence-based maternity care and options, and advocating for the availability of VBAC. In 2010, the latest year for which we have data, 32.8% of all American births were via cesarean section. ICAN seeks to lower this number, through education and advocacy, to within the healthy levels established by the World Health Organization of 10-15%.   ICAN is hopeful that the National Rally for Change will work towards these goals as well.