“Can I have a vaginal birth in the future?”
That was the first question I asked my doctor after he came in to check on me after my very unexpected emergency c-section. She assured me that I would very likely be a good candidate, and I didnt need to worry about that right now. My first birth was in 2015, and was an uneventful, medicated (epidural) vaginal birth. I pushed for a few minutes, and she was born. When I got pregnant again, I expected the exact same birth- spontaneous labor, easy epidural, easy pushing. However, this time was different. Her heart rate started decreasing after they administered pitocin. It got worse after the epidural. I went from one midwife in the room to a team of doctors closely watching the monitor. In one second, the room went from calm to chaos, to a nurse riding on me while they sprinted me to the OR, to me passing out from pain, to me waking up the recovery room with no recollection of what happened. I knew right away…this was NOT the birth experience I wanted for my third baby.
I immediately started researching, and we planned for a baby 3 years after this one. Nature had other plans, and I got pregnant earlier than expected. The second I found out I was pregnant, I began interviewing doctors and found the one that seemed like a perfect fit. He was open to a VBAC, said there was “no reason” I couldnt be successful, and he supported unmedicated births (I was set on unmedicated since my second baby’s decels were a reaction to pitocin and the epidural). Then, at 20 weeks, I was handed a VBAC consent form with some pretty outrageous demands. He told me he would check my cervix at 38 weeks to determine if I’d have a successful VBAC. He told me an epidural was required. And he told me I was not “allowed” to go past 39 weeks. I asked him why his mind changed so much and he let me know that he was at a point in his career where he wanted “good outcomes” and this guaranteed a good outcome. That was it. I left that appointment and asked the front desk for a copy of my records and started the hunt for a new doctor. I posted that form in several birth groups and it ended up going viral, and with the support from thousands of strangers, I figured out what I REALLY needed in a new doctor- someone who was VBAC SUPPORTIVE, not just VBAC tolerant.
I interviewed three doctors and finally found the right match for me. This practice was very supportive of my wishes, and their only requirement was that I had to birth in the hospital instead of the birth center. I was ok with that. They also said we would “have a discussion” if I went to 41 weeks, but my other babies came at 39 weeks and 38 weeks, so I knew I wouldn’t make it that far.
However, this third baby ended up being my longest pregnancy, and I went into labor the night of my due date, right before midnight. Contractions were immediately five minutes apart, and I drove myself to the hospital because I didnt want to wake anyone up if it wasnt the real thing (very stupid decision, looking back). Upon checkin, I was 7cm and they told me to call my husband immediately because labor was happening! We got moved into a room and I got comfortable, experimenting a bit to find how I wanted to labor. I settled in on the labor ball and let things happen. My husband applied counter pressure on my back and hips, which helped significantly. I had also practiced hypnobirthing for my entire pregnancy and I honestly would not have made it through this birth without that practice. Learning that “pain is progress” kept me going through the birth and I never once considered asking for medication. The labor was fast, and pushing took no more than 30 second. When my beautiful daughter was born, my first words were “oh my god. I did it. We did it.” I will never be able to explain that feeling, and its something I will never forget. I was up and moving 2 minutes after the birth and felt good as new. It was the birth of my dreams and I wish all women could have that experience.