Catie was breech and was born via C-section in 2004. When I got pregnant again, I decided I wanted to try for a VBAC and I found a supportive doctor. I prepared physically and mentally for the birth—I adopted a healthy diet and exercise routine, took prenatal yoga, read books, and kept a journal. I joined my local ICAN chapter, and hired a doula.
In order to feel more comfortable laboring in the hospital, I had custom hospital gowns made in beautiful fabrics. I prepared focal point posters and playlists for my MP3 player. I read everything I could find about VBACs, and discussed every possibility and option with my doctor, so we knew what to expect from each other.
At midnight on my due date, I awoke having contractions nine minutes apart. I took a bath to see if they would speed up and they became five minutes apart! We called my doctor and my doula, Serena, and headed to the hospital.
My doctor checked me and I was five centimeters. Because I was Group B strep positive, I had to have two doses of IV antibiotics before the birth. The IV made my arm freeze and burn at the same time, which was not a nice sensation.
My doctor checked me again and I was six centimeters, fully effaced, with a bulging bag of waters! When the antibiotics were done, they disconnected the IV and I was free to get up and move around.
My contractions were four minutes apart and very manageable. During the contractions I wanted to lean forward, sitting on the birth ball or the couch, and moan in a very low tone. In between them, we chatted, laughed, and listened to music. Serena told me I was doing a great job, and that I was very calm and happy for being so far along in labor.
An hour later, at eight centimeters, my doctor broke my water. Immediately the contractions got harder. I was moaning low through them but they were getting harder to take. I started to doubt myself, and got scared, and I knew this meant I was probably in transition.
Serena suggested the shower at this point. The water felt good on my lower back and belly, but I was cold above that, and I was annoyed that I couldn't take the shower head off. I got out, went through another few contractions sitting on the birthing ball while leaning over, and then crawled up into the bed. I started to feel weak and I just wanted to rest. Serena rubbed my feet with lavender oil which was heavenly.
My doctor checked me again and I was almost complete, with just a lip of cervix. He had me do some small pushes, which got me to complete, and I was ready to push my baby out. My husband held one leg, and Serena took the other, while my doctor sat on the bed with me, doing perineal massage and telling me when to push and when to breathe.
The contractions hurt so much that pushing against them felt good. Serena kept handing me cold wet washcloths, one after another. After pushing for a while, I was getting really discouraged. My doctor took my hand and put it where I could feel my baby's head! The nurse put up a mirror and I could see the head, but I didn't think it was ever coming out. I started pushing like crazy and all of a sudden I saw her whole head, and felt the ring of fire and I was like, "GET HER OUT OF ME!" My doctor was stretching the skin out and then suddenly her head was out, and I could see her eyes open! I pushed and the rest of her body came out and it was just amazing—the relief of the pain, and seeing her there, and feeling like "I DID IT!" The cord was around her neck and he unwrapped it, wiped her off, and I said, "Give her to me, give her to me!" My husband cut the cord, and they handed me my sweet baby girl, Emily.
Recovery from vaginal birth was so much easier. I was able to take care of Emily and my toddler, Catie, right away, and the endorphin rush lasted almost a week. With belief in my body, and a great supporting team, my VBAC was everything that I had imagined it could be. I can't wait to do it again!