A VBAC Surrounded By Doubters- Go MAMA!

You have got to love a VBAC.  This mama has  great sense of  humor and stuns a hospital full of VBAC non-believers.  Go mama!  I love too how we get to read the doula's perspective on this birth.



The first portion is my side, my friend and doula also wrote the experience down from her point of view as well.


Saturday night I started having contractions before bed. I had them ALL night and was getting pretty pumped but as soon as I got up Sunday they disappeared. Sunday night, they started up again and I was pretty annoyed. I had already missed a ton of sleep and didn't want to deal with another night like Saturday. The contractions lasted all night but were manageable. When I got up on Monday they didn't go away so I was happy. I tried to stay busy, I cleaned some, walked some, and the contractions stuck with me. In the afternoon I decided to take a nap before taking Reghanne to choir and when I got up the contractions started going crazy. They went from 15 minutes to 3-4 minutes apart so we left the kids with my mom and headed to the hospital. We were so excited!

I had them ALL the way to the hospital, sat down on the bed with the monitor and they stopped. Like, almost completely. NONE, ZIP, NADA. The nurse told me about how to determine "real" labor. I wanted to punch her. So we went home around 10, and left the kids at my Mom's house for the night. The nurse at the hospital had declared me 3 cm and told me she figured they would see me back that night. But "people like me" usually like to labor at home as long as possible. (People like me being those looking for natural births). It didn't really matter when I went, the doctor I had fallen in love with as out all week for her boards, so there was NO chance she would be delivering my baby unless I managed to stay pregnant until Friday! (no thanks)

I had contractions all night but they were manageable. I could sleep for about an hour or so at a time. I got up around 1:30 and went back to bed about 4:00. I was in some pain but just relaxing helped me a lot. The contractions were about 15 minutes apart all night, give or take. Over the last few months I have been working in the ECCHO nursery with two great ladies who know TONS about birth and so when I got up on Tuesday, I contacted them and they stayed in close contact with me through out the day helping me along. Jessica suggested I get some breakfast and try to rest as long as possible. Maybe take a bath and see if I could doze a little there. So, I got up and made some toast and made Clint an omelet and then went and hopped in the tub.

I have always heard how great the tub is during labor. My friend Julie described it as a liquid epidural (something like that) just the other day. For me, the tub was AWFUL!!!! I have never experienced "back labor" but I definitely had it this time. The minute I sat in the tub the contractions got stronger. I could barely recover from one when it seemed another was creeping up on me. I stayed in the tub for a little while and got out. Tried to rest and couldn't so Clint and I decided we would go for a walk to see if we could decrease the time between contractions. I put on my butt toning tennis shoes and we headed out. Our driveway is about a mile if you go down and back so I made that my goal.

When we got to the end, my grandfather saw us and came out to say hello and see how things were. As soon as I had started walking, the contractions went to 4 minutes apart. I didn't want him to worry so I chatted with him through two contractions. Clint could tell I was dying, apparently I am not a great actress! :) So, we headed back to the house and when I got in and sat down they went to about 6 minutes apart. I called Tara and she was encouraging me and telling me how I awesome I was doing. Jessica told me that the point of rest was over, I needed to change positions every 3 or 4 contractions to keep them rolling. I laid on one side and then the other while we watched a couple of movies.

I was really starting to get uncomfortable. Both Tara and Jessica thought it as time to go. I was nervous, I didn't want to get there and find out nothing had changed or have them stop again. We decided we would go and when I got up to get my shoes on etc the contractions were rapid fire. I couldn't complete any task without having to breathe through one. I had been marking them on a paper all day and it was to the point where all I could say was "another one" and Clint was writing them down like crazy. He said "Now it's getting serious" and we hopped in the car to head to Mansfield. The drive was interesting. We got behind a TXDOT truck on the back roads to Midlothian and he was not afraid to drive 20 MPH! Clint tried to get around him by going a different direction. Then when we got to the main road it was school dismissal so we were behind every bus, through every school zone and at every red light between our house and the hospital. I thought we would NEVER get there.

We arrived at the same time as Tara. After Monday night, I knew I needed someone there with experience or I would not make it. This junk hurt and it would be all too easy to give in to pain meds. Tara was kind enough to give up time with her family and call in to work to be there for me. They took me to observation and checked me, said I was 7-8 cm and quickly got me in to a Labor and Delivery room. It was right around 3:30.

This is when we apparently started scaring the living hell out of nurses :) They called me a "trial of labor" because I was there for a VBAC. Apparently they have no hope for people like me. They made me get an IV port "just in case" things went South, told me I couldn't have any food, drinks, or even ice chips and then pretty much checked out. Tara snuck me some coconut water (rebel). And I sat down on the weeble wobble ball. The contractions continued but again, were totally manageable. Tara was pushing on my back during them which helped the back labor immensely. I am so cloudy about most of this, I think I might have to get her to write it all down for me!

The contractions were getting more difficult to breathe through and I was really starting to dread them. I just felt like the "finish line" was never going to come. Tara suggested I try something new so I put the back of the bed all the way up and kneeled there with my arms over the back of it. About that time my nurse came in and, with a very quizzical look, said "What are you doing???" I said "Trying something new." and that was about the last thing I said in a normal voice for the next 10 minutes or so.

The next contraction I felt "something". So I told her that and she checked me and said I was an 8. I was NOT HAPPY about that and vaguely remember rolling my eyes as the next contraction came. Suddenly, my Mom walked in the room, I asked her what she was doing there, told her I was in a really bad place, and another contraction came. This time, I was more clear and screamed "I FEEEL SOMETHING DIFFEREEENNTT!!!!!" Then all hell broke loose, pardon my french but that is the only way I can describe it. My nurse told me I needed to turn around and lay down. All I could hear was sneakers on tile running like mad. By the time I managed to turn around there were about 10 people looking at me. She checked me and said I was complete, the bed started moving. I felt like the chick from the exorcist. I wanted to run out of the room.

They told me the doctor was there and was going to get dressed. I asked "WHICH ONE??" because I didn't know what the doctor looked like (which is kind of comical). For the next few minutes I didn't open my eyes. I have NO CLUE what happened except that I was screaming like a maniac, ripping the skin off people's hands, and thinking that if I could get up and run I would... It couldn't have been very long. I have no CLUE how long I was like that... in between contractions I felt like I would just barely regain "consciousness" and it would all go crazy again.

I started to cry and say I didn't want this anymore. Someone said just reach down and touch your baby. I opened my eyes and looked and I could see his head, I felt his warm little noggin' and all the sudden, just knowing it was almost over, I knew I could do it and felt calm. Then he was born at 6:24 and I was amazed. I think at some point I was like "OMG there was a baby in there!" My mom asked, "What is his name?" I looked at him and said "Michael". (We still hadn't completely decided up to that point.)

He got a chance to nurse before they put him in the incubator to clean him up. Shortly after the big kids came and we all got to watch him get his bath while I ate the SWEET steak dinner the hospital brought me! (It had a bottled Coke so I was pretty darn happy!) I felt like a million bucks. The nurses couldn't believe I was walking around and carrying my two year old all over the delivery room. After a bit, we all walked down to the other room, baby Michael in tow!

What a blessing!!! When Denton as born, I barely saw his face before they whisked him away. It was only by God's grace that I even saw him the day he was born. This experience was SO much better and our family is absolutely blessed by this little baby boy.


I met Heather at our local homeschool co-op.  We volunteered in the nursery together.  For months we’ve been talking about her upcoming birth and just generally sharing about our past birth experiences and ideal birth situations, etc.  Toward the end of her pregnancy, Heather made it pretty clear that she was afraid she would not have much support in the labor room.  I kept waiting for someone to step up and help, since we volunteer with other very qualified people, but it seemed like Heather and I clicked.

October 28th I was invited to the birth of a baby whose mommy was in my Childbirth & Beyond class.  I had never attended a labor/delivery as a doula and it was a very electrifying, emotional experience.  When I went back to co-op, I talked about it and again, it seemed like Heather would appreciate another form of support.  I offered to be there for her if she would like me to be, but I didn’t really expect her to take me seriously, because who am I, really?  

We instant messaged on the computer a lot about what to expect from a natural hospital birth and natural labor starts for the next few days and I assured her that I would be more than happy to be there as her support.  She gave me an inch saying she might be interested and I hounded her until she said she would definitely call when she went into labor. 

On Monday we talked and she told me she’d been having lots of contractions.  We talked about relaxation techniques and about getting into the tub to labor for a while.  That night she went to the hospital, but they sent her home at a 3.  I expected to get called that night, so I suggested a warm bath, relaxation and to call me as soon as she felt that she “had to go.”  I got as much rest as I could and woke up several times in the night with excitement about the impending birth.  I prayed each time I awoke that Heather was getting rest and that she would have a successful natural VBAC delivery.

When we talked the next morning, I could tell things were happening, but I could also tell Heather was very tired.  I sent my husband off to work with strict orders to stay close so I could take off whenever necessary.  She talked to me and another woman from co-op, Jessica, too.  Jessica is a professional doula and kept in touch with both of us, giving us tips.  Heather took a mile long walk with Clint and then relaxed through a movie, switching laboring positions. 

Around 1:00pm we talked Heather into going to the hospital.  She was scared they would tell her to go back home, but I assured her they would not!  I promised to meet her there. 

When I got to the hospital, Clint and Heather were just checking in.  The nurses would not let me back and I was very nervous, since the hospital staff had made it clear that they were not thrilled with the idea of a natural VBAC delivery.  While I waited in the lobby, I prayed and alerted some friends to pray, as well.  Finally, Clint came out to get me.  When I went into the room, they were finishing placing the hep lock in Heather’s hand and said she was at a 5-6.   

Heather was very peaceful between contractions and very in control, even during them.  They were lasting about a minute, but only coming every 3-4 minutes.  She particularly enjoyed being on the birth ball and since she was not hooked up to IV’s, she was able to move around (within range of the monitors) and go to the bathroom as necessary.  The hospital would not allow her to have food or drink, but when the nurses would leave, I would sneak her drinks of coconut water to help her keep her strength and hydration up.
It seemed like the nurses were all very curious about what Heather and Clint hoped for from their birth experience, so we got a lot of questions.  There were a lot of jokes made, since serious answers didn’t seem to be satisfactory.

Such as…”You’re declining erythromycin?  May I ask why?” 

“We’ve had all the tests and they are negative and we just don’t feel there is any risk for him, so we’d prefer him to not have the drops in his eyes.”

“But the vagina is FULL OF BACTERIA!”
“You’re right, but it’s really about aesthetics.  We just don’t like the way the drops look in the newborn pictures.”

Clint and Heather are a very funny couple and I really enjoyed the time between contractions with them.  We discussed the craziness of being called a “Trial of Labor,” the fact that Clint is a nervous laughter and the generally ridiculous looks the nurses would give us all when they came in to see how everything was coming along.

At one point, Clint informed me that they were hoping to not cut the baby’s cord until it stopped pulsating.  When a nurse came in and there was calm between contractions, I suggested they talk to the nurse about it then.  There was complete disbelief on her end and it was very obvious she had never heard of that before.  She could not quite wrap her head around the idea, but said she would convey their wishes to the doctor.
During contractions, Heather really responded to pressure on her lower back.  She stayed in complete control and as she got closer to time, she began to vocalize well.  The vocalizations were deep and productive, allowing the baby to come down and work with her.  

I do recall being told that I was not to look at her crotch, even if a baby was coming out of it, or she would be able to look at mine.  (No worries, Heather, I didn’t look at your crotch! And if I did see it, I will not be telling you about it!) :P

At about 6:00pm, things were speeding up a bit, so Heather went to the bathroom and I moved the back of the bed straight up.  She hung over the back of it and had a few contractions up there.  When the nurse came in she asked, “WHAT are you DOING?”  Heather said, “trying something new.” And about that moment she groaned and said something felt VERY different.  The nurse checked her while in that position and announced that Heather was an 8.   

Heather seemed very disappointed in this, and the nurse walked out.

Almost that same moment, Heather’s mom walked in and Heather looked back at the sound of her voice and said, “WHAT are you DOING here!?”  Her mom said that she just had to come and see how she was doing and Clint asked where the kids were.  She said she had left them with Kara and she wouldn’t stay long, she just wanted to see how Heather was doing.  As she and Clint dialogues a bit, I was concerned that the stress of it would cause Heather’s contractions to slow down.  I watched Heather’s face and tried to be as calm and still as possible, so that she might have a focal point of calm to keep things going.   

Her mom approached the bed and Heather groaned, “I’m just in a really bad place right now, Mom.  I can’t really talk to you right now.”  This was repeated a couple of times and then Heather let out a slightly panicked groan and said “IT’S BURNING!  IT’S BURNING!!”  I knew this meant the baby was crowning (ring of fire) so I looked at Clint and told him, “we need the nurse NOW!”  He ran out and they all came running in very quickly.  We had to wait for Heather to get through a pretty heavy duty contraction before she could turn over.  Once they turned her over and checked, she was announced complete-literally only 5 minutes after the nurse had said “8.”

The nurses announced that the doctor was there and even in her feeling of helplessness and being “out of control” Heather’s sense of humor shined through, introducing herself to the delivery doctor who she had not met before then.  Clint stood next to Heather, with his hand on her shoulder and I held her hand while her mom held her other hand.  I coached her through some contractions where she felt pushy and she “breathed the baby down.”  She would let out a little shriek here or there, but she was very good about focusing and making the breath work for her.  She was also very good about curling into a C while pushing as I coached her.  

At one point she said, “I can’t do this.” 
And I gave her my favorite mantra, “You ARE doing this, RIGHT NOW.”  

She found more strength.  As the baby’s head was coming out, Heather seemed to lose just a bit of her edge and wanted to back out, curling away from the pain, letting out a scream and squeezing our hands.  I told her that during the next contraction I wanted her to reach down and feel her baby.  When the next contraction came, I made her look into my face, grabbed her hand and moved it downward so that she could touch his head.  I said, “Feel the baby’s head.”  When she touched it, her eyes opened wide and she had a brand new determination and she never pulled away from the pain again…she just pushed until her son was born at 6:24pm on November 8th.   

She took one look at him and said, “he is Michael Emmett.”
They placed him on her chest right away and everyone worked to get things cleaned up and finished.  They immediately cut the cord, and later said it was because it was “calcified” and they wanted it taken to pathology.  They also hooked Heather up to the pitocin drip as soon as Michael was out.  In the delirium of Michael’s arrival, no one minded.  

Heather kept looking at her mom and at me and at Clint and saying, “I can’t believe he’s here!  I can’t believe I did it!”  I’m not sure there was a prouder room, ever!  The nurses were even impressed with her determination and her ease of delivery.  Heather was also very apologetic, which she didn’t need to be…she did a fantastic job.  Even when she “hit the wall” she let her body work and kept it together.  

I am so grateful that I got to be a part of this birth.  Words cannot express how glad I am for Heather and Clint that they finally got the labor and delivery they had hoped for.   I feel that the birth of Michael Emmett has healed their hearts and given them both a bigger trust in body and birth.  The pure joy of watching Heather nurse Michael confidently and Clint telling everyone how Heather had survived her “Trial of Labor” without any drugs at all was more than worth it.  

Heather hopped up off the bed so fast when Reghanne and Denton showed up.  She showed all of those nurses the natural high a woman can experience after a fully normal labor and delivery.  I feel that she also healed something inside of some of them…proving that it is possible and even DESIRABLE to have a birth that has no interventions.

I am so very proud of this little family and glad to have been a part of Michael’s birth-day!


CopiousGypsy said…
I'm quite curious as to why they hooked her up to Pitocin AFTER the baby was already born.
Birthkeeper said…
To "unknown": this is called active management of the third stage. Many practitioners do this routinely. It is thought to decrease the risk of a postpartum hemorrhage. It also hastens the delivery of the placenta, so no one has to waste valuable time actually waiting for something to happen...

I often see the best of birth plans completely derailed after the baby is out--in the adrenaline excitement and shift of focus, hospital routines carry on and informed consent for routine procedures is seldom obtained.