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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.

Maria’s VBA2C

Like all VBAC stories, mine starts with the birth of my first child. My oldest was breech, from 19 weeks on to the end, the girl would not budge. We were in the midst of trying everything under the sun to flip her around, and look for an OB who would do a breech delivery, but at 37 weeks my water broke and the game was over. Contractions started pretty much right away, but knowing that she was breech, it didn’t make sense for me to sit around laboring at that point, so we went right in for the c-section. Aside from throwing up on my daughter the first time I held her, it went pretty well, my recover was smooth and relatively easy.  At the first mention of her being breech, and the possibility of a c-section I was already researching VBAC. Knowing that I could do a VBAC with my next really helped me accept my first c-section.
Just 9 short months later we found out we were expecting number 2. I went wild with VBAC research, and was excited to take on the challenge. The option of a rcs, never even crossed my mind. It was NOT an option for me. This way of thinking turned out to be a big mistake.
At a routine check up at 33 week, my blood pressure was elevated, and I had protein in my urine. It was bad, they sent me straight to L&D for 24 hour monitoring. By the time I got over to L&D though, the doctors were saying I would be staying there, on bed rest, until it was time to have the baby. That ended up not mattering, because less then 24 hours later, my nurse came in to tell me not to eat my breakfast, and not to eat or drink anything else. It’s amazing how “don’t eat your breakfast” can rip your heart out when you know what it means. Again the c-section went well, my son did as well as you would expect for a 33 weeker. While my c-section recovery was phenomenally easy. The preeclampsia recovery was slow and scary. I was stuck in my hospital bed for a week, with only one or two NICU visits a day. It gave me a lot of time to think about all the “would’ve, could’ve should’ve”, and by the time I left the hospital I had a small list of goals for my next pregnancy.
1) Stay healthy. Avoid getting pre-e again.
2) Make it to at least 38 weeks.
3) Labor. Even if I knew things would end in a c/s for whatever reason, I still wanted to labor for as long as I could.
4) VBA2C
It’s amazing how many nights I laid in bed unable to sleep, just dwelling on these goals. They consumed me long before we were even planning a third child. I knew that there were parts I didn’t really have any control over. I knew some obscure problem or abnormality could show up and I would be unable to prevent it, but I also knew that there were things I could control. Staying healthy was the most difficult for me, I’ve always had real grand ideas of how I want to eat, but the fact of the matter is I love junk. I love sugar (really, who doesn’t?).  I decided to try the brewers diet to avoid pre-e. I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t believe in it, but after looking it over, I couldn’t see how it could hurt to try. My goal for health didn’t stop there though. I wasn’t going to let any other conditions rain on my parade either, and because of my love of sugar I was particularly worried about gestational diabetes. To combat this, I cut all refined sugars out of my diet. This is not an easy task for a sugar craving pregnant momma, let me tell you! Making it to 38 weeks, was the one I felt like I had the least amount of control over. My water had broke at 37 weeks with my daughter, and it seemed like early babies might just be ‘my thing’. I didn’t want another early baby though, I wanted NORMAL, and normal is late. Aside from staying healthy, all I could think of to do to accomplish this goal was pray, and so pray I did.
On December 3rd 2011, I had accomplished my first two goals, I felt amazing! I also felt ready to have a baby, so prayed again “thank you Lord, for getting me here! I’ll take my baby now” Actually my main prayer from pre-conception through my pregnancy was for “normal” so I should not have been surprised that I didn’t go immediately into labor after that. Nope I prayed for normal and normal is exactly what I got. December 17th (my due date) came with no signs of labor, I truly had NOT expected to make it this far. In fact I often joked that going late would end up being my unforeseen path to another c/s.
Wednesday December 21st , I had an appointment to see my midwife, at 4 days past my due date, and with my blood pressure starting to go up I couldn’t avoid the induction talk. Reluctantly we scheduled one for Tuesday the 27th, but I was going to do everything I could to avoid it……induction was NOT a part of my VBA2C birth plan. In a last ditch effort to ‘help things along’ i let my midwife strip my membranes. I honestly wasn’t holding my breath that it would work, but by the time we were on our way home, I could already see a difference in my contractions, and quickly realized that, I WAS going to have this baby on my own BEFORE the induction date (praise God!). The contractions continued to progress through the evening and into the night. I was SURE the baby was going to share a birthday with my best friend on the 22nd. Around 11pm we packed up, brought the kids to my brothers house, and headed to the hospital. Things kept up at about the same pace all night and into the morning. Not getting stronger, but not letting up, something needed to give. I either needed a break from the contractions, so I could get some sleep, or I needed to see some progress. As Thursday morning dawned, the contractions finally began to lighten up and space out. BUMMER! I was not happy to make to ‘walk of shame’ out of the hospital with no baby, but I knew I needed the break, and I also knew it wouldn’t be too long before we were back again. I had put a call into my mom that night so she was planning on coming up in the morning anyway and it was great she came, because after a completely sleepless night, I was able to rest/sleep on the couch ALL DAY.  I remember ‘coming to’ a couple times through out the day to eat, but mostly I was passed out resting up for a another long night…..
Thursday December 22 (40+5), in evening as we got the kids ready for bed, the contraction picked up again. They progressed quickly, and within a few hours were very regular at 3-4 minutes apart. I actually hadn’t been timing the contractions myself, but my mom had been listening to me breath from the other room, and like any good worried mother, came out to say  “they’re really close, are you sure you can make it to the hospital in time!” (we had an hour drive to the hospital). I felt like we had plenty of time, but this was my first time in labor, she had done it 6 times…Way to freak me out mom! ;) We made it to the hospital around 1:00am on Friday 23rd (40+6). Being a VBA2C, I had to be on continuous monitoring, and have a hep-lock placed, I had thought about refusing one or both, but decided to just let them be. In the end, neither bothered me at all, and I think it helped that the nurses had a little extra peace of mind. When first checked, I was at about 5cm and fully effaced. I was THRILLED, seeing as I was a tight 2cm and only %50 effaced just 24hours earlier. Everything was looking good and I was ready to start laboring in the tub. Unfortunately for me, we had to wait for my midwife to come check me out, AND they wanted to see a little more progress before letting me jump in. And so, I pressed on, finding no relief at all in the many techniques I had so look forward to trying. Somehow the nice squishy birth ball felt like I was sitting on pole, as did the birth stool. All I could do was stand and either hunch over or squat down with each contraction.
Finally my midwife arrives…I have no clue what time, it felt like forever, but looking back it could not have been that long. She checks me, and because the baby is still pretty high, she can’t get a good feel for how far along I am. The only way for her to tell is to try and check during a contraction. I really did try to let her, but as that contraction came on, and I was laying on my back being checked, I was suddenly not so cooperative. She still couldn’t tell for sure, but we were pretty sure I was complete…. Ok, I was sure I was complete, I don’t know what she thought. She also wasn’t sure at this point if my water had broke or not, which was part of why she was having a hard time checking dilation.  After what felt like hours (probably more like 30-40min) of contemplating how far along I was, I was finally let into the tub.
It. Was. Heavenly. My first contraction in the tub, and I felt myself pushing a little, and I couldn’t stop it. I felt like I always hear of people feeling like this hours before ‘real’ pushing begins, so I just let my body do it’s thing and I didn’t say anything. Second, and third contraction in the tub, and more unstoppable pushing. Fourth contraction in the tub, more pushing, and then I feel something coming out….
John yells to the nurse so I know now it’s not just in my head. My midwife was just walking in, apparently my bag of waters was bulging out, she grabs it and pops it. In hindsight this bothers me to no end. I’m trying really hard to not let it get to me because in the big picture it’s such a small detail, but she didn’t even ask….I had seriously dreamt of having a baby born in the caul, and if she hadn’t done that I may have…. *sigh* move on. Anyway, just like that I can feel baby slide back UP. Not a good feeling. Turns out, my midwife had just come in to get me out of the tub. Baby’s heart rest was not doing well at all, and they need to get a better monitor on him. They whisked me, ‘kicking and screaming’, out of the tub, and back to the bed. Since I began planning an unmedicated birth 5 years and three kids ago, I had planned for many different options (water, birth stool, squatting bar…) but not ONCE did I imagine I would be in bed, pushing from my back. This was all wrong, and I just knew I couldn’t do it this way. My *picture perfect* birth was gone, and I suddenly felt like everyone was doing whatever they wanted to me, and I didn’t like it. I felt myself becoming very uncooperative, and even more pessimistic about seeing this birth through (which I guess is normal in this stage of labor regardless of the situation). A couple minutes later, baby had an internal monitor screwed into his head, and I was told to push. I couldn’t though. Pushing felt all wrong in bed. The position just seemed like it was totally conflicting with what my body was trying to do. In this moment of feeling completely out of control, I remembered my birth plan. Once again I took to prayer. I reminded myself that I alone, did not have the strength to do this, but I did have a God who could give me the strength. About two or three contractions later when my mind started to clear a little. I started to see the concern on the nurses face,  and I started actually listening to my midwife, and as I began to listen, I could hear my midwife telling me, we needed to get baby out ASAP, he wasn’t doing well, and we needed to hurry. I heard as a nurse left the room to call in my back up OB in case they needed to use the vacuum.
I had heard enough, and got my focus.
I had already lost the water birth, there was NO WAY they were going to use that vacuum. Baby need to come out, and I was the only one who could make that happen. Once I was able to set my mind to it, it was only about 5 more contractions before he was out. Ahh, the indescribable feeling of a baby slip sliding it’s way out. That moment when the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. That moment you realize you actually did it! That moment when simply holding your baby is more important then finding out if you have a son or daughter. That moment! Wow, it’s been almost 8 months now, and thinking back to that moment is intense. Looking back at that moment, seeing how much emotion was jam packed into it. THAT moment is what was missing from my c-section babies. Sure the first time I held them it was special and amazing, but that moment was not there.  I got to hold him for a second, but he wasn’t crying, and because his heart rate had been so low, he was quickly taken from me again. As they took him from my arms I quick looked to see if baby was a girl or boy…..It’s a BOY! (I knew it!) I watched as they looked him over, still no crying, but also, no concern on the doctors face. A few more minutes passed, and still no crying. Finally they handed my quiet little baby back to me, perfectly pink and healthy, just quiet.
Born at 4:54 am, on December 23rd.
(40 weeks 6 days)
Weighing in at 8lbs 14oz (seriously can’t I just say 9lbs?)
It wasn’t exactly  what I had dreamed, but it was perfect, and beautiful.
I had done the impossible

Amy’s 2 VBAC Birth Stories

The VBAC Birth of Katherine Elizabeth (10/22/2008)
My first child was born by unnecessary c-section.  Partly due to my own ignorance on what happened in hospitals and what necessitated a c-section.  And a lot to do with my doctor withholding information, lying to me about what was happening, and wanting to get back to his clinic patients.  My water had broken without contractions and I was too inconvenient to wait around for so he sliced me open instead. 


After a ton of self-education and talking to local people, I was ready for another child and I was bound and determined that I would NOT have another surgery.  I found out I was pregnant on Valentine’s Day 2008 and began my journey to my VBAC.  I interviewed many doctors until I found the right one, hired a doula, and we traveled an hour away to the hospital that was most likely to give me the best chance of getting my VBAC.  After a wonderful pregnancy I was anxious for my little girl to finally arrive.  

It all started on Tuesday October 21st (my due date lol) at 4am. I woke up to some contractions and when I couldn’t go back to sleep I decided to take a bath to calm them down. It worked a little and I was able to get back to sleep around 6am.  Ioke up again at 9am and took another bath to calm the contractions again before my son woke up. They weren’t bad and I could do things through them but they had a bit of a bite to them. I continued my day like normal doing dishes, folding clothes, cooking, etc. I wasn’t sure it was the “real thing” or not because the previous Friday I had had 14+ hours of contractions that fizzled away. I wasn’t about to get all excited in case this wasn’t it.
Fast forward to about 6pm- I’m tired and these things have been happening all day now. A tiny bit stronger but not too bad. I made supper and afterward my son was exhausted so we let him take a 30 min nap. I tried to take one, but after lying down I just couldn’t sleep. The contractions were too intense for me to sleep through so I just got up and started timing them to see what they were doing. At this point I had been having about 15 hours of contractions and they were still all over the place. 5 mins here, then 7, down to 6, and up to 8. Blah!! Frustrated the crap out of me!  I got my son in bed and was totally exhausted so I tried (yet again in vain) to lie down and rest around 9pm. Nope. Just wasn’t happening. My husband was getting ready for work since he had to be there in an hour. I called him in the bedroom and said “Hey do you really need to go in?” At this point I was like, “Man this is getting intense… he may need to stay home!” After seeing me through a few contractions he decided to call in. We called our doula to give her a heads up that we would probably be calling her later on. I called my mom and told her to come get my son and she did.
By the time my mom left with our son (shortly after midnight) I could NOT get comfortable anymore. I tried lying on my side (nope), on hands & knees (uh-uh), rocking on birth ball (forget it), leaning over my bed (nah), lying on my back (OH HELL NO!), and finally I decided that I wanted in the tub. So I hauled myself into the shower… OMG! That felt so awesome! I had the shower just pummeling my back for a while and then soaked in the tub for what seemed like forever. My husband called my doula and she headed over and got to the house around 1:30am or so. At this point I was lowly moaning through all of my contractions and felt this intense urge to lean back during each one. It took a LOT of focus but it wasn’t too bad. I just had to reach that peak and as soon as it was over I was happy again. Not painful, just intense. My contractions never got regular, but they did get closer.  2mins, then 4, then 3, then a few more 2’s. It made us a little hesitant to go to the hospital because we didn’t want to get there too early, but at the same time we didn’t want to get there too late either. At about 3:30am we decided that we better go ahead and head out.
I hit the transition stage in the car (oh, what fun that was, lol). My husband was so great and was talking me through it… telling me how great I was doing, that I could do this, to just breathe, that I was so strong, and that we’d soon have our baby girl. I started moaning really loudly and started to feel a bit out of control. I got a little freaked out that things were happening too fast so I made it a point to focus on everything around me to try and slow the labor down. And it worked… the contractions got a little less intense and paced out just a little bit longer. Then we made it to the hospital shortly after 4:30am.  I literally could not sit down in the wheelchair that was brought out for me. It wouldn’t recline and I had been needing to move my body backwards for hours at this point during contractions.  So I had to travel across a LONG sky bridge, down another LONG hallway, go up and elevator, and then take my laboring self all the way to the Labor & Delivery department. I swear a man built that hospital because no woman in her right mind would torture a woman in labor like that, lol. All the way to L&D I was leaning back against the walls, partially squatting backwards against whatever was there. I scared a poor janitor who was mopping the floor. I felt so sorry for the man.

FINALLY made it to L&D about 4:45am where they rushed me into a room because I was just moaning like crazy, lmao. They had me get into a gown and got me into a bed to start the 20min fetal monitoring strip that was “necessary” right when a patient was admitted. They had to lie me all the way down to check and see how far I was dilated… OUCH! Whoever thinks that a laboring woman should be on her back is WRONG!!!!!! But anywho, I was dilated to a 9 and my bag of waters was bulging. Everything started getting sooo intense and each contraction was taking me to a new place. I remember it finally actually hurting with the nurse messing up my concentration when she touched me but at the same time it was so… what’s the word… I can’t even find the words for it, but it felt so right. The pain wasn’t even a factor. I was in my own world just taking this wonderful and crazy ride. I was having a hard time breathing right through the contractions (thanks nurses for bugging me and not just leaving me alone) so the baby’s heart rate started going down a little and they hooked me up to an oxygen mask as needed, coached me a little on breathing (because I almost started hyperventilating), and they hooked me up to IV fluids.  The next thing I knew, I started to push. They checked and I was dilated all the way to a 10 so they told me to go ahead and push if I needed to…  Like I could have stopped if I wanted to! Suddenly my water *WHOOSH* broke all over the place and I went back down to a 9 since I no longer had the added pressure of the water bag keeping me at 10cm.  There was a moderate amount of meconium in the water so that got the nurses concerned a little and they told me that they would have to suction her out right after she was born to make sure she didn’t swallow anything. But I still had to push and could not stop myself. I quickly went back to a 10 (in about a minute) and my OB walked in…
He was gowned up and ready to go in a flash. He got situated and started talking me through things. I, at that point, was lying back, but wasn’t flat. I guess you’d say I was in a semi-reclining position. It was the only thing that felt good to me and I couldn’t do anything else even if I tried (and try I did). They kept telling me to pull my legs back to open up my pelvis more but I literally couldn’t. So 2 people (I can’t even remember who) helped to push my legs back so that I could… God the urge to push was sooo intense!!! I kept letting out high pitched noises. So with a little encouragement from my OB and a few other people I started groaning and grunting while pushing. OH MY GOD THAT FELT SO GOOD! The next thing I knew, my husband was saying “There’s the head!” I rested for a minute and then BOOM! I started pushing, pushing, pushing, and then suddenly I felt relief. I had her head out!!!! They suctioned her mouth and nose out and then I pushed the rest of her body out. Because of the meconium, I didn’t hold her right away like I wanted to but that was just fine by me. I did it. After a little over 25 hours of labor and about 5 minutes of pushing I gave birth to my daughter. And it was amazing.
Katherine Elizabeth was born at 5:14am on October 22nd weighing in at 7lbs, 14oz and was 20.5 inches long.
They cut the cord and suctioned her out the rest of the way while I was watching. She was so beautiful. She started crying and I swear that was the most glorious sound ever on earth. They got her cleaned up while my OB stitched me up (I just had a minor tear that took 2-3 stitches) and told me what to expect as I came down from the adrenaline high from the delivery. I was shaking all over the place and was freezing cold. It was crazy, lol. A couple of minutes later they placed my baby girl in my arms and I was in heaven. She was staring at me like she knew exactly who I was. I waited to stop shaking before trying to breastfeed her so my husband held her. I was afraid of dropping her with all of my shaking, lol.  I finally stopped and as soon as she saw that nipple she latched on for dear life and started nursing like she had been doing it for years.

After that things just went great. We stayed at the hospital (which had an amazing post-natal staff) and tried to rest as much as we could. Other than being tender from my tear, I was feeling great. Katherine got a clean bill of health and the pediatrician who looked her over said that she was just perfect.
We got released the next day at 2pm much to our pleasure. She slept through the whole ride home and we got settled in. We had that 1st nights to ourselves to catch up on some much needed rest and her big brother came home from Grandma’s house the next day. He gave her lots of kisses and wanted to hold her. He absolutely loved her and would often come over to pat her head or try to share some of what he had, lol.  With her, our family was one step closer to being complete <3


I am Momma, hear me Roar- The HBAC of Matthew Evan (9/28/2011)


My first child was born my an unnecessary c-section in 2006 and we had had a successful natural VBAC birth at the hospital in 2008.  We moved shortly afterward to an area with VBAC bans at all of their local hospitals.  I was not willing to consent to another c-section without medical necessity and the drive to our previous hospital was now too far away for me to personally consider.  It didn’t help that I had been fantasizing about having a homebirth for years at this point, so the decision was easy for us.  I had wanted one with my first VBAC but wasn’t able to find a midwife who was able to take me on at that point.  But I was lucky and found an AMAZING midwife this time and we started our journey to our second VBAC and my first homebirth.


I had a great pregnancy.  I was in pretty good shape, eating healthy, and just feeling wonderful.  We found out that we were having another boy!  Two boys and a girl for my family!!  I had calculated out two different due dates- September 29th based off of ovulation or October 3rd based off of my LMP.  I had no expectations of when labor would come and I just gave myself over to nature to do whatever she wanted with me. 


I went to work on the 27th of September and was working from 12:15 noon until 6pm.  Around 2pm I started getting nauseated and noticed some menstrual cramp feelings.  One of my coworkers/besties who was due 6 days after me made a joke that maybe I was in labor and we laughed all day about it since we were both having contractions.  Slowly over the rest of my shift they got stronger and when I left for work they felt somewhat steady. When I got home and started timing them.  5-6 mins apart.  Okay- No big deal.  We did this 2 days ago and the contractions stopped.  Let’s just see where this goes and not get our hopes up in the meantime.  So we continue on with our evening and they are getting progressively uncomfortable.  Nothing that was unmanageable, but it def felt like stronger menstrual cramps.  My husband’s best friend came over and we were just hanging out for a couple of hours.  Towards the end of his visit my husband went ahead and called the midwives to see what they thought.  (from this point on let’s refer to them as M [midwife] and A [assistant midwife]).  They both told me to get some rest and to call if anything changed.  So around 10pm I went to bed after they slowed down a bit (7-8mins apart).  Our friend left and my husband went to work shortly before 11pm.
I wake up and it’s 11:30.  I can’t sleep through these.  It’s really uncomfortable.  I’m rocking through them and timing them.  3-4mins apart.  I take a bath which seems to relax me and go back to bed around 12:30 midnight.  I wake up again around 2am, piddle around on the computer for about 30mins, drink some water, and go back to bed.  Wake up again at 4:30.  OMG…  I just can’t sleep.  What little sleep I AM getting between these contractions is very short and interrupted.  For every 2hrs of sleep, I got maybe 30-45mins of actual rest.  Another bath and I lie back down.   Back to sleep and the alarm goes off at 6:45am. I get up, get my son dressed, my husband takes him to school, and I call M.  I tell M that I just can’t sleep and that these ctx won’t go away.  M is concerned that my lack of sleep is stopping things from progressing.  She tells me to take something to help me sleep and just rest.  My mom agrees to take my daughter after M tells me that I NEED to get someone to take her or I won’t get enough rest.  I’m frustrated.  I don’t know if she’s taking me seriously or not or if I’m just being silly.  I’m tired and emotional.  It’s been 17 hours at this point and I just want to SLEEP.  I started crying.  My husband gets me something to help me sleep and I go lie down around 9am.  My husband comes to bed about 10am and we both sleep.
I’m up again at 10:30am.  Something has changed.  I’m moaning through these.  I can’t stay quiet.  Each peak brings a soft “Ooh” from my lips.  I struggle through them for about 15-20mins and then come to the living room so I don’t wake my husband up.  I’m on the couch sleeping between the contractions, which are about 4-5mins apart.  Just as I doze off, another one hits me and I’m writhing, rocking, moaning.  I call M again.  “I’m moaning through these.  I can’t get comfortable.  Something is different.”  We had a prenatal appt for 1pm that day but canceled it for me to get some sleep, but she went ahead and said she’d come over.  She calls A and they both start driving over.  Waiting for them, I’m yet again sleeping through the contractions, getting what little sleep I can.
M walks in the door 15 minutes after 1.  Just moments after she walks in another contraction hits- “OOOOH!” I moan.  She tells me that I’m sounding beautiful and that it looks good.  She watches me through a few and times them.  After about 30mins or so, I agree to a palpation and vaginal exam to get an idea of a what’s going on.  Something just felt “off.”  She knows I wanted a hands off labor, but with my lack of sleep and my personal feelings of something not quite right we feel okay with going ahead.  She tells me his body is in a good position and then she checks me (1st vaginal exam in my pregnancy).  I’m 2cm and about 30-40% effaced.  She can’t feel suture lines on his head and thinks his head isn’t in a good position.  23hrs into labor and I’m 2cm.  *sigh of slight disappointment*  I remind myself that it’s okay, but I can’t help but be discouraged.  A shows up and they talk for a minute.  We’re going to try some knee/chest for 20mins to get him off my cervix and then try to reposition him with 20mins of squatting.  OWW- Knee/chest and these ccontractions are REALLY uncomfortable.  We wake my husband up shortly after 2pm so he can get the heating pad for my back from the bedroom where he’s sleeping.  He’s tired after only 4hrs of sleep. He helps hold the heating pad on my lower back, providing wonderful counter pressure, while I’m squatting on the birth ball.  My 20mins is almost up so he gets me something to eat.  I’m still singing my birth song through every contraction.  Loud “OOOHs” permeate the room.  This makes eating my bowl of cereal very interesting as I’m rocking through each contraction and moaning loudly.  Moan, rock, take a bite, rinse & repeat.  He turns on soft new age music that is very relaxing hoping that it will help- it does.  It’s so soothing.  I get off the ball and onto the couch.
It’s time to go get my son from school so my husband leaves to do that.  He decides to go get my daughter and my mom and bring them back as well.  During this time, the MW’s turn the lights down low and leave me alone to do my thing.  I start to sleep between the ctx once again.  My moans get louder.  They become more primal.  I agree to one more check to see how the knee/chest and squats worked, although a little hesitant.  They tell me that I can decline, but I tell them to go ahead.  I need something more than 2cm.  Anything.  I’m 3cm and 70-80% effaced.  It’s something and that makes me happy.  But I’m just tired.  I just want to rest.  I just want to hold Matthew.  It’s been 26hrs.  M & A think that the introduction of the kids and my mom might change the atmosphere.  As I’m making the call to try and hold them off, they pull up.  My daughter’s asleep so we they lie her down in her bed.  My son hears my moaning about 2mins after he walks in and my mom takes him to his room to talk to him about what’s going on.  He’s excited.  The moan scared him at first, but my mom and husband told him that that’s what all mommas do when they have babies and it was okay.  Now he comes up to me, holds my hand, and tells me hi.  I can see from the smile on his face that he’s okay and that makes me feel better that I’m not scaring him.  He hangs out with my mom in his room and they do his homework.
I decide to go off into my bedroom shortly after everyone arrived at home.  The living room no longer feels right.  The pool is waiting, but unfilled.  I pile pillows on the bed and try to lie down to see if I can rest.  Nope.  Not happening.  So instead, I squat over the side of the bed with pillows supporting my upper body as I sway my hips and squat deeper down during each contraction, moaning loudly into the pillow.  I want the pool.  I’m afraid to get in too early, but I want the pool.  I NEED the pool.  Things are getting pretty intense and I can’t relax well enough.  My husband starts to fill it while boiling more water on the stove.  It’s 5pm and M & A decide to go get something to eat since I’m only 3cm.  They tell my husband to call if anything changes and they leave.   The pool is finally ready.  I step in and the warmth feels sooo good.  The ctx slow down, but I don’t care.  For about 10 minutes I get some rest.  Not completely, but I have about 2 ctx where my moans are quieter, where it’s a little less overpowering.
I’m leaning over the side of the tub and suddenly a contraction comes on that took me by surprise.  I get loud.  Really loud.  Something is different, but I can’t place what it is.  Another one hits.  I scream.  My moan turns high pitched and my husband comes in there.  I tell him that I’m feeling it more.  Another one comes on.  I scream again.  I hear my son in the background and he starts crying.  My mom takes him outside and I can hear her saying “It’s okay.”  I have a weak contraction and no noise comes through my mouth.  The next one comes and it’s like it took all the intensity from the previous contraction and doubled it into this one.  I scream louder than before, making my throat hurt.  I ask for a cough drop to help soothe my throat.  He goes off, brings me one back, and then I can hear him dialing numbers on the phone in the background.  While he’s gone I feel pressure after the next contraction.  It confused me.  I had been feeling downward pressure for hours at this point, but this was different.  I ignored it.  The next contraction brought on the same sensation…  I was involuntarily bearing down but I was still confused.  I reach down out of curiosity but can’t feel anything- I think it’s all in my head.  No way could I be pushing.  I was JUST 3cm.
My husband came in and told me that the MW’s were coming back and should be here soon.  Next thing I know, I’m pushing down on the side of the pool with all my strength, lifting my body up out of the water while keeping my pelvis in the water, and throwing my head back as I ROAR.  I spilled some water over the side with the downward force I put on the pool so my husband told me to use him instead.  I pushed again and screamed out “HE’S COMING!”  My husband keeps encouraging me, telling me to do what feels best.  I leaned down and bit into his shoulder, yelling out as I felt Matthew’s head come down.  I kept instinctively lifting my body up and roaring him down.  My mom comes in with my son and I hear the MW’s walk into the room.  I feel this intensity and yell out “There’s his head!”  M grabbed the flashlight to look and I roared out once more and his head came out all the way.  It felt so amazing and I cried out “His head!  Oh my god, that feels great!”  I stopped for a minute, my body giving me a small break.  They mentioned that he was still in the caul.  I angled my pelvis forward, trying to see and started to reach down when another contraction came.  I wanted to catch him but my body didn’t like the angle I was at.  I reached up for my husband only to find that he had hopped in the pool behind me.  I bore down on the side of the pool, once again lifting my body up and angled to toward the back.
SWEET RELIEF!  His body shot out and my husband grabbed him as the water sac broke open and he lifted him out of the water.  M & A stood there watching, letting us do everything, never once touching any of us.  My mom was in the corner by the pool crying and my son was in her arms with a huge smile on his face.  My baby cried as my husband held him in his arms.
Matthew Evan was here.  After 28 long and intense hours, he was here- born into Daddy’s arms at 6:08pm on Sept 28th.

I turned around, finally sitting and carefully avoiding the cord.  Once I sat down and got comfortable, my husband handed him to me.  There was nothing but silence and the sweet sounds of his voice & joyful crying from everyone in the room.  My daughter somehow slept through it all so my mom went and got her and we introduced her to Matthew.  She was confused at first, not knowing what had happened, but soon got excited and was trying to hop in the pool and love on “Baby Maffew.”  We finally got the camera- OOPS!  That’s why I have no pictures of the actual birth- everything just went too fast!  3cm to 10cm in just over an hour.

We sat in that pool a good hour, just enjoying everything.  No rush.  He pinked up right away, was nursing, and we looked great.  After that hour we decided to try and get the placenta out, thinking the counter pressure from the water might be delaying it.  The cord had long since quit pulsating and was limp & white.  So we clamped it off and my husband cut the cord.  Nothing there- Matthew had gotten everything he needed.  My husband takes him into the living room.  I get up and deliver it and we all check it to make sure it was whole.  Matthew wants to nurse again so my husband brings him back to me and we just relax in the bed while A gets my herbal bath ready.  We decide to do the newborn exam… 2 hours after the birth, lol.  The MW’s are happy to finally get to hold him.  He’s perfect.  And we’re all shocked when he’s weighed and comes out to 7lbs & 13oz.  He looks sooo tiny and was all swore he was smaller than my son, who was 7lbs & 9oz.  Nope- just had a MUCH smaller head than his sister’s whopping 15cm head, making him look tiny in comparison.  They check me now and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had not a single tear, skidmark, stress point, OR hemorrhoid!  Not one!  I have a super vagina!  In fact, M told me it was beautiful, he he.  I take my herbal bath and get cleaned up.  I’m feeling fabulous.  Tired but fabulous.  M & A leave, giving me instructions on how to take care of myself and what to look out for.  The kids go to bed and I got on the computer to announce Matthew’s birth to friends since family had been notified.  We just hang out and bask in the glory of what had just happened a few hours before, all of us in awe.  My mom was about to go home so I go lie down in bed, snuggling with this perfect little person. Everyone leaves and I fall asleep, holding my beautiful new baby boy in my arms.
Happy Birthday, Matthew.  Welcome.