Planned Home VBAC Turned Hospital Birth- An Story of Dissapointment and Triumph

This birth story is so beautifully written that you can feel the mother's every emotion.  I love it and I am so grateful that she shared it with us.  It is descriptive of so many things going on in obstetrics today- the struggle to VBAC, the decision to birth at home, the disappointment when that doesn't happen, and the treatment of women by their care providers and how deeply it impacts them.  

But lastly, and most importantly, it shows what a splendid experience it is to simply hold a healthy baby in your arms.  

 I know of nothing else that is so brief an experience but which has such a lasting impact on our lives.  

 And that is why I love birth.  


From, one of our amazingly talented readers.  Gosh I love her pictures.


Poeia's Birth Story, a home birth transfer and successful hospital VBAC

I had been planning a beautiful, healing home birth with a local, trusted midwife.  I had found and immersed myself in a whole new sub-culture of women, mothers, sisters, birthers.  I found solace in home birth, I found strength in my new-found belief that a woman's body is a powerful thing and that birth belongs enveloped by intimacy and love; just as it had begun so it was to end.  I was so looking forward to having my baby at home, in a birth tub, surrounded by my loving husband, best friend and sister, and my support team of women.

I had envisioned laboring in the night and my children waking up to their new baby, and all of us lying in bed together, happily ever after.  Oh yes, underneath the twinkling lights of Christmas no less.  I had cleaned and rearranged my bedroom, gathered my supplies and my darling, obliging husband practiced raising and lowering the tub.  That was at 37 weeks, my expected time of delivery based on previous pregnancies.  And we waited.  The longer we waited, the worse it got.

There was a tension in my home I couldn't explain.  I would contract for hours, lying awake praying for it not to happen, progressing till it eventually fizzled out in my sleep.  I was inexplicably frightened.  I was exhausted.  I was in tears when I next visited with my midwife.  I must make mention that my toddler had also been teething and screaming at me for a week and I was coming down with a cold.  I was not a happy pregnant woman, who was a week past her perceived time of delivery.  I don't typically do pregnancy well.

It has been a major struggle to fight my depression and lethargy and extreme emotions while pregnant; and venturing into something new like home birth with a fearful husband who was just barely coming along for the ride did not help matters any.  I was at the very end of my pregnant rope.  My midwife saw my defeated and emotive display of tears and risked me out of home birth at 38 weeks.  I can't speak for her, and I'll never agree with her decision or understand why she made it, so to say I was devastated would be an understatement.

My world was crushed.  I was terrified.  I felt abandoned.  I felt betrayed.  I felt confused.  I was fighting for life, tumbling in a huge wave of reality and emotion unable to determine which way was up, with a certain death drawing near.  A couple days of weeping and soul searching later, my beautiful husband took me in his arms and gently reminded me that it was babies I told him I wanted when we met, and it's a baby I'm going to have.

I had to get beyond my fear of that hospital and my last traumatic, violent birth just 20 months before, as well as my new determination to just stay pregnant forever and allow myself to labor.  One afternoon 3 days after my risk-out, that possible middle-of-the-night childcare had been sorted, my husband was on his way home, and one of my new friends from Birth Circle was going to be working the night shift at L&D.  Life was in order, it was now safe to labor; and so it began.

I called my midwife, Trinlie, who had offered to come be with me at the birth, about 9pm to tell her I thought this was the real deal and these weren't going anywhere.  I had been in touch with A, my "quasi-doula" as she coined, to let her know what was going on.  I had cleaned the baby's room and vacuumed the first floor and really wanted to get started on the kitchen floors, but I knew at that moment I should save my energy especially since I had awaken early that morning at 4am.

 Afraid that once again my contractions were fading away, I relaxed on the chaise with my friends from Scrubs (thank you, Netflix) and timed them for about an hour.  They were definitely progressing, and once I saw the numbers I had decided to try and get some rest.  I drifted off about 12:30am and woke to strong contractions at 1:20, just less than an hour after I last looked at the time.  That hardly qualifies as a nap, let alone sleep.  Oh, these were making me moan.  Strong and steady.  I needed to wake Jesse and start making my phone calls. 

I have a history of precipitous labor, my last being only 2 hours, so I was advised to not try and labor at home.  Oh, this sucks, this hurts.  I'm supposed to fill up my birth tub and climb inside.  I'm not supposed to have to figure out what to wear and climb into the car in the middle of a January night.  All night long I'm unsettled because I'm not where I had prepared to be, I'm not where I'm supposed to be.  It's all wrong.  It's like a bad trip.

My husband and I met A in the parking lot, and my midwife and my friend J, her apprentice, met me a few minutes later in my room.  And, as I had hopefully anticipated, E was working and she was my nurse.  I made it.  I walked from ER down to L&D and did all those preliminary things.  "Can I get in the tub?" I refrained.  I had to wait for the doctor.  (I should pause here to mention that I live in a small town, we have one OB practice with 3 doctors and one hospital.  The chief of obstetrics at this hospital is one of those doctors, and he has some personal vendetta with home birth.  And guess who was on-call that night?  Trinlie had gone to their office on Monday to inform them that I had been risked out of home birth and due to come in to L&D at any time to VBAC.  It was now early Wednesday morning about 2 or 3am.)

Dr G walked through the door without acknowledging my husband, my team or myself.  I immediately asked for the tub and he immediately informed me that we needed to have a chat.  He proceeded to scold me for choosing to home birth as a VBAC, citing my misinformation and the "1% risk of uterine rupture".  I know that it's .03-.07% because I have spent the last 8/9 months doing nothing but research in the birthing community, but I say "ok".  He does a cervical check that I asked him not to, but he "needed" to asses my progress, so I said "ok".  After he shoves his hand inside of me as if I were livestock and twisted it around back and forth (that is some agonizing pain, my friends), he tells me no tub because I'm a VBAC, and they need to constantly be monitoring me.  By this point, I'm in a good amount of pain and dilating quickly.  That birthing tub was my only prepared form of pain management, the water and weightlessness was going to make my pain bearable.  Now what?

The next few hours are more of a blur.  There is a place inside of myself to which I retreated in order to handle that pain I thought I could not bear.  The pressure was incredible.  I kept asking for help because it was all the vocabulary I could muster.  I needed to know how to deal with the pain, but I couldn't verbalize it, so I didn't get any help.  But my faithful husband Jesse stayed by my side the entire time, and pressed hard on my back for hours.  I needed a strong, constant pressure that only he could provide and he never faltered.  That says a lot about the man I married; the man who thought he'd be of no use to me in labor, that he hadn't the capacity of a birth partner. 

At one point the doctor said, "get the hook".  I woke up and said "what? hook? no!".  And all the women said "it's ok", so, once again defeated, I laid down as my water was broken artificially.  I was so tired, so tired.  I hadn't the strength to use my arms or legs or even hold myself up.  They continued to painfully check my cervix, even though I asked for them not to.  And when I was at 10, they told me I could start pushing at any time.

Though I never felt the urge, I practiced a push or two.  Next thing I know I'm being cheered and encouraged and I'm pushing ineffectively.  I pushed with all my might for an hour and a half, most of that time with the doctor between my legs, his face scowling and smirking and telling me what a terrible job I was doing.  I tried everything I could, but I couldn't even hold myself up anymore.  I had then been awake for more than 24 hours.  He threatened me with a C-section or pitocin.  C-section??  Pitocin??

You don't pit a VBAC because of the uterine rupture risk.  Nice, doc, I see you've been misinformed about the risks of unnaturally augmenting labor in a VBAC, or don't you care?  Then he returned again and said he wouldn't use pitocin because my contractions were strong enough I just wasn't trying, and when I would start to actually try, I would then give up.  So he gave me two new inconceivable choices: C-section or vacuum.

He knew as HBAC transfer, I didn't want a C-section.  He was manipulating me to get what he wanted, and he wanted to get out of there.  He asked what my reservations were against the vacuum, and I cried that it would hurt the baby.  And that's when he spit out the 1% risk of brain hemorrhage as if it were not worth concern.  Yes, I caught that.  1% in your favor is no big deal, doc, I see.  But I think I got more "it's ok", and I allowed it.  Somewhere in there the doctor said "or we could just do this for the next 5 hours and not get anywhere.  Your choice."

It's a very hard place to be, trying your best to push against the pain when you haven't the strength to hold your head, all the while being discouraged and abused.  I'm thinking 'what's wrong with me' 'I can't do it', and I'm actually saying aloud, "what am I doing wrong?".  I know now that I was pushing before it was time, she wasn't ready.  And because of that, both of our experiences were tarnished.  I believed in leaving the body and baby to determine the time and place, however that's not how it was playing out in the hospital.  I wanted to try one more thing: turning around and pushing on my knees.  He said "you can try, but it's not going to work" as he walked out of the room.

To my dismay, he used the vacuum.  She started coming at that point, and my pushing was effective.  The pain was terrible, but it didn't matter because she was coming.  It was a good, terrible pain.  It was an effective, terrible pain.  It was a productive, terrible pain.  When moments before I thought the only alternative to the pain was death, it was now clear that the real alternative was life.  New life was being born and finally coming earthside.... new life that I was birthing.  I welcomed the ring of fire.  I started screaming "I did it!" with relief and exhilaration (and expletive) before she was even finished with her descent.  Then she was born. 

It was then I noticed the other people in the room.  I saw my midwife look on at my new baby and myself with a purity that could only be described as childlike wonder.  Her eyes were filled with tears and love.  It was a defining moment for me.  I knew at the core of my being, that it was she who should have been bringing this new precious life.  Her passion for midwifery was about love and babies and birthing.  That doctor was unnecessary and hurtful, as was the environment, and the monitoring that led to the interventions.  That is not how birth should be done.  My baby should have been born in a safe, loving environment into the arms of those who already loved her for the powerful, although tiny, being that she already was.  Instead, she was completely disregarded as a little human being by the doctor who was between my legs.  He wouldn't give her to me immediately as I requested, and when he finally did, he lifted her by her head, her poor little head that had experienced all the trauma of the vacuum he pushed upon us. 

But there she finally was, on my chest and all ours'.  Nobody would take her again.  It kept occurring to me that I never had to give her back.  My husband and I had once again created a little piece of our love for the whole world to know.  And I was high.  We did it!  Through all the adversity and agony, Jesse and I did it; we were once more complete with another baby girl.  And she was beautiful.

Poeia Soleil was born at 7:46am and 7.9 lbs.  She was born with no drugs in her system, via vaginal birth after cesarean.  Six and a half hours of active labor including push time, and just in time for the "good doctor" to get to work.


Cherith Melody said…
Oh that doctor made me angry!!! You did really well!
Veronica said…
Oh my goodness this made me cry. I been through the unsupportive enviroment. Sadly I dropped the wanting a VBAC all together. GREAT JOB MOMMA
There are no words. I cannot believe you were treated that way. I am completely and totally shocked. I am sad and angry that no one advocated for you and that your daughter's birth was so harsh. I am so happy you had a healthy baby. That is an immeasurable gift.

But damn, you are a superwoman for withstanding that sort of treatment. That is some of the worst I've ever heard.
Anonymous said…
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happy.mama said…
The tone of this may be angry, because I *am* angry. And grateful. And bewildered.

I wasn't "mean" to the doctor. I was busy in labor and very quiet, partly due to the fear of retaliation. That man had a lot of power there, between my legs.

I feel there were 2 goals: mine was to be left alone entirely, and the other was to vbac successfully. I feel the women that were behind me were helping me through to vbac, but it doesn't go without feeling defeated. I also failed to give out my birth plan, I just figured we were all on the same page, and I was too busy in labor to think of getting it out of my bag.

I've learned a lot from this experience. And I'm sorry if my "research in the birthing community" seems dumb-played as "birth circle research", but it's not. I've been through medical journal articles, studies, personal accounts.

I think that birthing in the environment is certainly not for me. I did not feel safe or relaxed. I think by the doctor checking my cervix, it put me on the clock: the countdown to cesarean. And that is why we had to allow so many interventions, out of fear of the cesarean. If I had been at home as planned, I would not have had the same stress; my water would have broken naturally, I would've been in my precious birthtub, and I wouldn't have had that mean, scowling man discouragingg me the entire way... and nobody would have been staring into my vagina wanting to speed things up.

My midwife is trusted; that doesn't mean I have to agree with what happened.

I am not the only one who has been affected by the behavior of that man who calls himself doctor. And I suppose because M.D. isn't behind my name, I don't know how to read just as well as he can?

I'm not going to be quiet about this. If that makes me a "petulant toddler" then so be it.
Mama Birth said…
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Leonie M said…
I am so sorry that you were not given the dignity, respect and love that every woman deserves. I feel your hurt. x

I think you did an incredible job. You were so strong and you did do it - you birthed your baby - a drug free VBAC! I hope you will always be able to find positives to be proud of and these will help you to feel like the strong woman and mother you are.
Michelle said…
The title of disappointment and triumph seems so perfect! You did it mama!!! You naturally delivered your vbac!!! And, and, and!!!!! Even with a doctor that tried their hardest to stop you! You were being set up over and over again for failure, but you didn't, you pressed on and did it!! But, it's just so heartbreaking hearing a provider start a relationship with so much judgement and discouragement. And to be so unsupportive as you pushed...just wow!!

Sending hugs mixed with many congrats!
Beautiful story. Beautifully written, too! Thanks for sharing with the world. ;)
Melissa Pate said…
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. It mirrors so many of the feelings I experienced through my planned hba2c turned hospital fiasco. The one difference is I did end up with another c-section. I have often wondered, if I had gotten my vbac would I have pushed all of the horrible mistreatment under the rug and just been happy to have finally birthed my baby vaginally. I will never know, but your story makes me cry. Someday I will triumph too... not sure how or when but I will. Thank you.
Emily said…
This story is going to help so many, mama. It it well written, and I am o glad you shared it. You are strong and brave, and despite the extremely difficult circumstances, you did it!
Natalie said…
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm planning a first time home birth and it is so helpful for me to read all types of birth stories: the "perfect" ones and the ones where we can all learn something from. I appreciate hOw you put your heart out there and congratulations on your New babe! I hope you feel the support of mothers all Over. ( sorry for typos - iPod).
Anonymous said…
What an amazing story, I was infuriated and inspired at the same time. That doctor was an ass. Way to go for doing it and trusting your baby and your body!
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happy.mama said…
I really appreciate the kind words and support, ladies. Thank you so much.

I'm so saddened to find there are many of us who have had similar experiences. It just shouldn't be this way.

I wanted to share my story because I believe in midwifery over obstetrics, I believe in home vs. hospital (medically permitting), and I just wanted to give a voice to one facet of this last birth experience that perhaps could perhaps find another woman's muted mouth.

I'd like to add that my midwife made a decision that she stood by based on what she deemed to cause enough. I don't agree with it because it was not medically based. I don't agree with it because I so badly wanted to be at home and had no good reason to go back to that place and with only 3 days to prepare! I don't understand it, but I don't fault her for making a hard decision. She didn't feel comfortable proceeding at home, and I believe in intuition as our guide; perhaps both of our intuition was guiding us away from the home...

But we'll never know... I just hope I get the chance to do it again, my way.

And @anonymous: I can assure you my assessment is factual. Even my husband who, opposing me, believes in hospitals for babies, is angry and would choose our home and our midwife over putting his wife and child in Dr G's hands again. His exact words were: I wonder if he was as cold and uncompassionate with his own wife as he was with mine.

But again, I thank you ladies for YOUR compassion as I share mine with those of you who have had to endure similar situations.

And thank you, Mama Birth, for allowing these stories to be told. And I have to share, every time I talk to someone with an OB and they're sharing a story, I think to myself "that's obstetrical lie #1098..." :)
melissa v. said…
Way to go, momma. What a difficult path to traverse. I'm appalled at your treatment in hospital, but not surprised. I'm mystified that physicians will treat women that way and then wonder why we will sometimes choose to birth at home? With a compassionate and skilled woman at our side? Sheesh.

I'm a 2 time hospital VBAC momma, myself, and I know that you absolutely did an amazing job in the face of much adversity. You also write beautifully. I'm so sorry the journey was difficult. The Feminist Breeder has a similar VBAC story. Gar.

And anonymous? Go to hell.
Rachel said…
Ohhh, what a jerk!!!! What a wonderful story! I hope your VBAC was empowering, even as the interventions and doctor seemed to try to rob you of that. Doctor's are not God. Somehow, they sometimes don't seem to realize that. I'm so glad you were able to safely push your dear daughter out. Your next will be even better! And now you know, if you can VBAC under those atrocious conditions, you can VBAC anywhere!!!
Jo said…
a beautiful job momma! i have to agree that i am FLOORED that any physician can throw that attitude on someone in such a vulnerable place no matter what they believe. hats off to you.
Funny Pharm said…
That was hard for me to read so I can only imagine how hard it was for you to experience.

I don't understand how we are so kind to the care providers who mistreat us.

Why don't we "Name and Shame" those in our birth stories.

It may help to provide feedback to the obstetric community and ??change their practises.
Brandy said…
You give me courage to VBAC with my next baby! I for months after having my first baby c-section have been researching Vbac's! Thanks so much for sharing this!
Anonymous said…
You did so amazingly. I am so truly sorry for how you were treated, it brought tears to my eyes. You are a strong woman, and had the courage to bring to light so many problems in the ob community. god bless you.
No "doctors", thanks said…
You were "mean". Lol. Hardly. Most OB's are given waaaaaay too much credit for not doing jack. This doctor is a sicko and a sadist who would not keep his hands out of your vagina when you said "no". Hope you share his name so that the rest of us can steer clear.
Unknown said…
I'm fuming in reaction to your story. There is NO WAY that kind of behavior and speech is okay. No doctor should speak to their patient like that. That (insert awful bad word) doctor would have been cursed at and physically removed by my husband, if I hadn't clawed his eyes out first. For other women reading who have not given birth, if someone is making you uncomfortable during your labor, you absolutely have the right to ask them to leave, even if they are the doctor. The doctors are usually only required by the hospital to attend the delivery or if something goes wrong, so if you're laboring, GET THEM OUT!
Chera said…
Wow. I am baffled. I felt a lot of different things while reading this, mainly anger. It is so sad that he definitely had an agenda to let you know home birth was bad. This also gives me a little relief because I am still working with my OB since I am known to go early and I can't have a VBAC at the only hospital around. When I told her I was still planning a home birth she was not vindictive at all, but very understanding actually. Thanks for sharing.