I’m excited to bring you a trans-Atlantic perspective on the VBAC from the lovely Tarynn, who lives in Seattle, and is a stay-at-home ‘mom’ to her three year old daughter, and her son who is one. Tarynn started writing down her experiences with her little ones to document her children’s development but has found it to also be great therapy.
Many of you will identify with Tarynn’s VBAC experience and the feelings she talks about will be familiar to those who have been through the same dilemma of whether to ‘try’ for a vaginal birth after caesarean.
Tarynn blogs at www.mamabyfire.com
Before my daughter was born, I had a birth plan. As well as a certain expectation. She would be born, drug-free, and we would be smitten from the moment our eyes met.
After 17 hours of hard back labour, I broke down and got an epidural. Five hours after that, I was taken in for an emergency c-section.
I was devastated and disappointed. I also felt robbed of the immediate connection I had been looking forward to. It took months for me to feel a genuine attachment to my lovely little lady.
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I began to mentally prepare myself for another surgery. Then I heard about the possibility of having a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC). I decided to find out what I could. I did plenty of research online, which was encouraging with success stories, but also riddled with not so successful stories.
So, a little tentative, I asked my midwife what she thought. She was helpful in that she gave me information and statistics, but she didn’t suggest I do one or the other.
I met with the OB that did my caesarean to see if he could give me any direction. He explained why I had to have the surgery in the first place (the cord was wrapped around her neck) and that it wasn’t likely to happen again. So I was considered a “good candidate” to “try” for a VBAC. (They say “try” for a VBAC, because if anything doesn’t go their way, you’re straight into surgery.)
It was nerve-wracking, but I decided to go for it.
Once I made the decision, I was surrounded by support.
At the hospital, during labour and delivery, you are always monitored no matter your circumstance. But with a VBAC, they monitor a bit more, and if you have a midwife, like me, there has to be an OB on call at all times. This is why they wanted to know ahead of time my intentions for this birth – so they can be prepared.
My due date was on the Fourth of July, and I was miserable. I could barely walk, had to pee every half hour, and I had the impending labour/delivery looming over my head.
I started having contractions the next day. It was a Friday and they were intermittent throughout the day. I wasn’t sure how to tell when I needed to go in because the first time around, my waters broke at home. That’s pretty much a no-brainer.
This time, I just waited through the contractions. By 9 pm, we finally went in because they were pretty close together.
I was only 4cm dilated, but they decided to keep me because the contractions were so consistent.
I always thought I had a high tolerance for pain. My first labour proved me otherwise, so this time, I planned on getting the epidural. I waited as long as I could, but got it a few hours in.
Unfortunately for me, the anaesthesiologist wasn’t successful the first time. Not entirely his fault – I have a severe curve in my spine, 96 degrees to be exact. So I can imagine he had his work cut out for him. Luckily, the second try took like a charm and I was able to get some rest.
At 5 am, I got to start pushing. I was surprised at how much work it was! It was difficult to tell if I was doing any pushing at all because of the epidural, but I had encouraging midwifery staff rooting me on.
My husband was there the entire time as well. It’s a humbling experience when your husband and a few strangers are staring at your nether regions for five hours.
That’s how long I had to push. Five hours. Every time I had a contraction, I would push and he would start to crown….then back in. Out a little, then right back in. The midwife offered me a mirror to see, and I politely (I hope) declined. I know it was an amazing miracle that was taking place, but I was a wreck and I didn’t want to add to that by seeing what my husband had been staring at for hours.
My midwife played it cool, but I think she was a little concerned at how long it was taking. She finally sought out the on-call OB. He played a very important role in the birth of my son. A few roles, actually.
There is no other feeling like it. The intense bond, the incredible love. It was overwhelming.
His right hand was on his left cheek the entire time I was in labour, which is why it took so long. He was also 9lbs 15oz. One tiny ounce away from being 10lbs. If they had known he was that big, they would not have let me “try” for my VBAC.
This leads me to the other major role the doctor played. It took him over an hour to stitch me up. I kept my eye on the clock because I was impatiently waiting to hold my son again. So different from my first birth. I loved my daughter with everything I had, but I did not want to hold her after she was born.
This birth was empowering. I had no control the first time, my body was out of my hands. This time, I felt I had regained a part of myself that I had lost.
Don’t get me wrong. I love c-sections. Surgery saved my daughter and me, and they save thousands of others daily. If it was necessary for me to get another one, I would have.
But I didn’t have to, and for that, I am grateful.
Follow Tarynn on Twitter @mamabyfire