The Power of a Woman wanting a VBAC
from a Dad’s point of view….
A VBAC story
This is the story of the birth of my second daughter Hana. I am not a doctor or medical professional just a dad.
These opinions are my own and are hazy at best!
The short version is how my wife really did the unthinkable.
Beat the odds given by most doctors re: VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean).
Without risking the health of her daughter, she carefully increasing her chances of actually having a child by VBAC.
Step by step, this story is pretty powerful.
To be honest, as a guy, husband, dad, I wasn’t fully onboard to Karen’s yearning for a natural birth delivery at first. “Why?” I thought, “Why go through those grueling, painful hours when you can have a C-Section and get the same result?”
And really I still can’t fully understand, even after the amazing story below, because I’m not a woman.
I did get onboard for her sake and I’m glad I did.
Read on for Full Story…
Last fertility try…
Our first daughter (now 4 ½) was a small baby who was conceived through fertility treatments using IUI. She was delivered by C-Section due to stopped growth and fluctuating heart rate at 37 weeks.
We used the same fertility treatments this time, though, our first 2 attempts failed and we were on the third and final chance (before having to go to a different city, use a different technique and spend a lot more money).
To me, this was the First Real Power of Mama’s Will to conceive and started the ultimate goal of a VBAC birth.
The 3rd attempt took with baby due on June 25!
Baby’s small, again…1st Dr. wanting C-section…
Being monitored by regular ultrasounds throughout pregnancy, we knew this baby girl was small and she wasn’t growing as expected. Up to this point it was like déjà vu to our first baby, small with slowed growth.
At week 37, the Dr. reviewed the numbers and calculations and sent Karen for another ultrasound that day. He didn’t come right out and say it but we knew he was thinking C-Section. Baby went from the 10th to the 3rd Percentile for growth and they sent us to the hospital for more observation.
I knew the time had come and
Here We Go!
Nurse #1 a savior…2nd Dr. wanting C-section…
At the hospital, baby was hooked up for Non-Stress-Test (NST) that monitors heart rate and fetal movements. Everything suggested that the baby was doing fine, that is, no drops or dips on their graph.
Enter our first nurse at the hospital…Anyone who’s had children knows that there are many nurses and Dr’s that come in and out during the stay and some are rude, cold or unfriendly, some are like a ray of sunshine and are immediately trustworthy and helpful.
This nurse was the latter.
Having a doula (more about doulas in a moment) and discussing/researching about VBAC births, we were well aware of most Doctors’ reluctance and lack of support for a natural delivery. We were ready for any and all Dr’s questions and persuasions towards un-warranted C-Sections.
Nurse #1 came in with great words of encouragement and an important warning of the on-duty Doctor who was to soon visit. I think the words used to describe the Dr were “very direct” and “abrasive”. This little pep talk prepared us to focus on our game plan to VBAC.
I should note here that we would never compromise the health of our new daughter, that is, if the risks of trying to VBAC outweighed the many benefits, we would opt for C-Section.
So the Doctor gave us all the horrible possibilities of not delivering the baby now, including death. Though, because there were no signs of struggle and there wasn’t an emergency, if we chose we could wait until morning to discuss when our trusted Dr. arrived.
Thanks to our first nurse and
Small hope…3rd Dr. wanting C-section…
Our Dr. came in and laid out our options. He too leaned towards a C-Section delivery, though, because the baby seemed in great shape besides being very small, there was an option of mechanical induction (Foley catheter). The Foley Balloon thing has two balloons that are injected with saline to hopefully persuade a woman’s body to go into labor more naturally. A chemical induction was not alternative due to factors…No harm to baby for trying Foley, though we were told a 100% chance it would not work.
This Dr. didn’t know the stubbornness rather determination of my wife!
If the Dr. on call that day was willing to insert the catheter we had the go ahead to try.
So we waited…
4th Dr. holds C-section…11:30pm
Fortunately, the next on-duty Dr. was very familiar with the using this technique and was optimistic that it may work!
The process went smoothly and I don’t remember the exact times but as the cervix began to dilate, more fluid would be injected to keep the progress going and with any luck a natural labor.
Our Birth Team comes together… Coach Stacy, star player Karen,
So, now a brief word about our doula.
Stacy is a doula that happens to be a friend of Karen’s from high school. Though Karen and I’ve been married for almost 11 years, I only met her once as we sat down and talked about all of our hopes and thoughts on this pregnancy. I’m so thankful that she came into my life here because this birth story would’ve been extremely different if she wasn’t included.
A great person who knows her stuff and happened to be a friend, Stacy really eased tension and relaxed Karen and I for the first part of labor.
Karen’s main drive purpose for wanting a VBAC is because she did not experience a “real” birth, due to an emergency C-section with our first daughter. She says, ever since that first pregnancy her body craved the need to push a child out naturally.
“I didn’t even feel a contraction with the first one,” she says.
Well the contractions started and her first wish came true.
Karen’s tough and at first she didn’t know if the contractions were real at all and even after many hours of these first stages of labor she was a rock.
With Stacy there, we reminisced old times, and all held hands as Karen breathed out each contraction. We continued on as the hours built but after every contraction ended, we were right back to talking and Karen was a champ.
The Doc checked a few hours later and she’d dilated to 3cm!
“We’re VBACing” Karen says, “Yes we are” Stacy confirms.
Yay team! Keep it goin’.
I was very proud of Karen at this moment as the odds were against her getting to this point.
The Peppermint incident…
As the catheter fluid was increased, the balloon got bigger and did its job. About an hour before the Foley would have to be removed, the dilation improved and eventually it fell out by itself! This was a great sign and after inspection we had dilated to 6cm!
Up to here, our great progress had really inspired us, but at about 4:30am things changed.
A short time before, the contractions were getting more difficult and painful. Note, Karen’s sleep had been virtually nonexistent for about 48 hours due to being admitted in the hospital 2 days ago, having repeated nurse visits and her insomnia. She was incredibly tired, had fought hard but she was running out of gas.
Her cervix had actually closed to 5cm and was beginning to swell from the stress and strain. We had tried several positions and techniques to keep the progress going i.e.
- Exercise Ball
- Hospital Bed Positions
Karen’s legs had no strength and all options were running out, so she resorted to knees down leaning on the lowered hospital bed, crying.
Stacy asked if it was ok to apply some lotion to Karen’s calves to help with circulation etc.
Initially, there was no problem, the room filled with a fragrance of peppermint.
It was nice, but shortly after, Karen lost control.
Writhing in pain (mainly from the leg pain) and unable to get into a comfortable position, she opted for the epidural.
This was by no means a failure and very necessary to continuing.
A little sleep…5th Dr. wanting C-section…
After the epidural kicked in, Karen finally relaxed and we were all able to turn out the lights and get a tiny nap. I was becoming groggy and wobbly from lack of sleep and food.
I’m totally amazed at how women do this!
We waited in hopes that her body would continue contracting to further the dilation and keep the VBAC alive.
By 6am there was no change. 9am no change and baby’s head hadn’t lowered at all. We had lost some confidence but we hadn’t regressed so we again reviewed our options. We discussed giving in and doing the C-Section though the baby’s vitals were solid as a rock.
New Doc on duty had told Karen at a previous appointment that if the baby were to come early he would not induce her and he would only perform a C-section .
Needless to say he was pretty surprised to see how far we’d advanced and was even a bit encouraging.
Our last option was to inject oxytocin, which is basically more of the natural hormone to again help dilation. Doc said it probably wouldn’t work although we could try it but if after 2 hours nothing happens he’ll have to do the C-Section. We agreed because it had been a long haul and Karen couldn’t continue much longer.
Last chance…Get it together Daddy…
So Karen, Stacy and I had all had our times throughout the labor where we lost complete track of time. I had been on a tough go the last hour or so. I hadn’t eaten and very little sleep. I was not very steady so I lay on the couch waiting for the nausea to pass. It didn’t and I got woozier and so pale that everyone including the nurse said I didn’t look good.
It was about this point when the Doc said Karen had dilated to 8cm and the head had lowered!
Holy crap, the VBAC’s on again!
We’re on the home stretch but here’s daddy on the toilet, getting sick from both ends! “Gotta get it together Clint,” I told myself.
Meet Nurse Linda…
A short time earlier, a senior nurse named Linda came in to introduce herself after reading/hearing our story. She had an immediate warmness and Stacy pipes up and says, “It’s you!”.
Linda looks in wonder as Stacy tells the story of how nine years ago she delivered her baby in the same hospital and how great she was. Linda told us about the courses she’d taken and how she fully supports VBACs etc.
It’s funny how things happen and whether we knew it then or not, Linda was the newest member of our team.
Boom, the Big Push…
Things were really progressing now, by the minute not the hour. I managed to pull myself together and went for a quick walk to regroup for the big push.
Our other favorite Dr. was a resident who was very encouraging, excited and likable. She said the baby’s ready to be born and we reviewed the plan in order to push the baby into the world.
Stacy and the nurses asked if I was ok and ready. I said yes but really wasn’t. As we prepared and began the big pushes, nurse Linda appeared and informed us that all the doctors were presently in surgeries and that she’d be delivering the baby. We were more at ease and pleased that she was in charge.
The next 14 minutes were unfamiliar to a man.
Emotions that I never new I had, presented themselves as this baby appeared and entered into my life!
Happiness of course, for the birth of Hana, but more for the strength, determination and will of my wife to have this child vaginally, after C-Section.
In total, it was about 25 hours on a roller coaster of excitement, hope, fear and joy.
Call it a miracle or what you like but to me, this truly was a story of the Power of a Woman or the Power of a Mother.
Please share with friends, family, mothers and fathers who may enjoy…
I’d be delighted to hear any thoughts, stories of your own and stories of others you know…. (Especially moms wanting a VBAC)
Also, don’t hesitate to email me directly for more details, advice or support.