03 Nov Mary-Ann
So as I sit down and begin putting my absolutely amazing VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) story into words I realize what a profound journey it has been!!!
I’d like to start off by saying that I personally don’t believe that any type of birth is “wrong” and believe that whichever way your baby ends up entering into this world is solely part of Gods awesome plan.
I do however believe that many women who desire to birth their babies naturally are being robbed of the opportunity by a system that has become all about the procedures and protocols and nothing about the needs of the mom and her unborn child. A system in which the mothers’ natural instincts are overridden and her voice is silenced… and that saddens me!
I also believe that a VBAC that ends in a C-section can be just as healing as a VBAC that ends in vaginal birth, primarily for the reason that throughout the journey of a VBAC, and a VBAC is truly an extremely personal journey, the mother is heard and the mothers natural instinct takes precedence, above all else!
To give you a true sense of how wonderful and healing my second birth was I need to shed some light on my first labour and birth.
To cut a very long story short, I went into labour naturally at 38 weeks… my labour was 6hrs from first contraction to pushing. Despite my quick labour doctor had ordered the nurses to put up a drip to increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions? (Only he would know why)
After being allowed 10-15mins of push time we were told that the baby is “stuck” and that we need to go for a C-section as baby is in distress. At this point doctor had already cut a routine episiotomy.
Wheeled away to theatre without my husband by my side, while still having contractions, I was afraid to say the very least.
Hubby had to get dressed into his scrubs and made it into the theatre just in time as our precious boy was being lifted over the surgical curtain.
Our baby was absolutely perfect and got 9/10 on his Apgar scores, hardly a baby that was in distress as the doctor had claimed.
Hubby and I both knew immediately that this was in actual fact not an emergency C-section but rather an unnecessary one.
Recovery was hard. I had a C-section cut as well as an episiotomy and a new-born to deal with. Hubby quickly took on his fatherly role and did almost everything for our little boy as I was just physically unable to do so.
Not the ideal birth but our perfect miracle was happy and healthy, and that’s what we stayed focused on.
Fast forward 2yrs and 21days, on December 24th 2015 we find out we are pregnant after only 3 cycles of trying WOW! What a shock! With our first pregnancy we struggled to conceive.
This is where our magical story begins.
As one does I immediately worked out what my due date would be…
4th September 2016.
At this point the birth didn’t even feature in my mind, but soon I realized that I would need to decide if I would settle for a repeat C-section or if I would consider doing a VBAC.
During my first pregnancy I had the privilege of attending antenatal classes with Sr Megan Whiley and she had made us aware of what a VBAC was and what it entailed. I knew that I was a good candidate and that it was a feasible option.
My husband and I both agreed that if I was managed differently in my first labour and birth that we would have had a successful vaginal birth.
We were also well aware that if we got as far as we did in the environment that we were in with the care providers we had, then nothing could stand in our way given the right environment and care providers.
Despite all these convincing points a part of me was still unsure. I knew that if I was going to have a successful VBAC I had to want it more than anything else.
I run my own business and am a super type A personality. There was temptation in the idea of choosing my baby’s birth date and planning maternity leave down to the day. There was a certain sense of excitement in the control I could have if I chose a repeat C-section, and on the other hand I had a great fear of giving up all control, changing to a midwife, giving up the security of my gynea, giving up the many scans and learning to “listen to my own body”. I was not sure I could trust my own body.
I also knew that finding the right care providers to support me with a VBAC could prove challenging and thought that maybe a repeat C-section wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
However the turning point came for me when my gynea announced that we would book my repeat csection for Tuesday the 16th August…. On the 16th of August I would’ve only been 37 weeks… in that moment it became clear to me that due to me going into labour at 38 weeks with my son the gynea was ensuring that he delivered this baby before I had any chance of going into natural labour. Once again it was all about him and his convenience at the blatant disregard of my own desires.
Hubby and I agreed in that pivotal moment that I needed to begin putting my VBAC birthing plan together.
I was extremely lucky to quickly learn of the “VBAC queen” Sue King and her team practicing from Genesis Maternity Clinic.
Sue, Elrika and I with hubby at my side clicked immediately.
We asked all the questions: Is it safe? Is it worth it? Can we do it?
There were still many times both hubby and I doubted our decision. There are many horror stories surrounding birth especially surrounding VBACs. At times it was hard to silence all the negativity and trust we had made the right decision.
Sue guided us like a lighthouse in the dark! Her complete faith in a woman’s body and in the process of birth is contagious.
It was under her tender care that I began to learn to listen to my own body and believe that we are built miraculously to birth. Sue silenced my fears on many occasions when people, even our closest of friends, questioned our decision to VBAC.
We had found the first members of our 3 fold VBAC dream team, our midwives.
At 28 weeks we met our back up gynea. Our gynea, that would support our decision to VBAC. At this point I discovered that, due to insurance implications, gyneas willing to back up VBAC’s are few and far between and that we were lucky to find one!
Last but certainly not least we found our 3rd member of our dream team… our fabulous Doula, Tertia Alkema. People often ask us “what is a doula” and my hubby explains it perfectly, he says a doula is a birth cheerleader. Tertia became my and hubby’s pillar of strength! Our soft place to fall, before, during and most importantly after the birth. Someone to listen, and I mean truly listen. Listen without judgement, listen without any preconceived ideas, just truly listen.
It’s said that “a doula is like a trail guide, familiar with the path, she keeps you hiking through the hard parts, knowing the view at the end is incredible.”
So…. In light of the above we prepared to welcome our second miracle into this world… but this time on our terms in Gods perfect timing.
At my 36 week appointment with Maasdorp I got an all clear to deliver naturally at Genesis under the care of Sue King and Elrika Knoetze as my midwives and Tertia Alkema as my doula. Baby was engaged and in a “perfect birthing position”
The dream of my VBAC was becoming more and more of a reality.
At our 38 week appointment all was perfect and it all became about just waiting for our little missy to make her royal appearance.
At 39 weeks I start having “contractions” during the night but wake up in the morning as though nothing ever happened. (Disappointed)
At our 39 week appointment baby had turned completely posterior (naughty little thing) Backache goes up a notch and “fake” contractions become a normal occurrence… Not to mention the kicks behind my belly button (I’m sure she thought my belly button was the exit 😋)
I booked a reflexology session for Wednesday morning and googled “how to turn a posterior baby”, determined to get everything just right for my perfect VBAC.
This is truly where my birth story actually begins.
Wednesday 31st August 2016 :
07h00 – my toddler wakes up with pink eyes… (Best way to start a day)
08h30 – little ones eyes look better so I decide it’s off to school we go…. Car won’t start (Wow this day just gets better and better)
09h00 – manage to get car push started
10h00 – as we about to start my reflexology session Joshua’s school teacher phones and asks that we please fetch him as his eyes have worsened… I organize for him to be fetched and continue with my reflexology appointment. Very interesting! We book another session and discuss reflex for natural induction.
By this point I’d been having a relatively challenging day (to say the least) and I’m not holding out much hope that I’ll EVER go into labour……. I do however tell hubby that I think missy might have turned back into the right position….
Im tired by this stage and start doubting myself and the process. I decide to pray a prayer of complete surrender.
“I CHOOSE :
God I choose to believe in your perfect timing….
I choose to trust the process….
I choose to find perfect peace in complete surrender….
I choose to allow myself to go in over my head….
In these last days when my strength wavers and my faith falters I pray that you will carry me…
I pray that you will keep my eyes above the waves….
I pray that you will remind me that you’ve never failed and that you won’t start now…”
Fast fwd to 13h30…..
While taking a nap I begin feeling what seems to be contractions… (Keeping in mind I had had false contractions often)
I start timing them… They seem pretty regular but are only about 20-30sec. I mention it to my mom and tell her to not get to excited as they could go away again.
I phone hubby and tell him what’s going on as he is over 170km away.
I also message my doula to keep her in the loop.
We decide I should take 2 panados and a bath and reassess the situation.
Contractions are coming quick now about 5mins apart and lasting 1min and are pretty intense.
The time cuts to 3mins apart… And then 2mins apart in the matter of 40mins 😳(during which time I’m straightening my hair and stopping to breathe through contractions – for some strange reason I felt I couldn’t labour with a huge bush of curly hair! Hahaha. I also believe at a stage that not all the contractions are as intense so maybe they not all “real”… Toooo funny!! – the things we convince ourselves of in labour!)
Tertia and I agree that I should head out to Genesis and try miss the peak hour traffic.
Hubby arranges for my sister In-law to come fetch me and take me. My toddler stays with ouma at home.
Contractions are now fast and hard and coming quickly… We leave for Genesis at around 16h15.
The car journey is intense but do-able and my sis In-law does her best to console me.
We arrive at Genesis at about 17h00… (Approximately 3hrs 30mins since the first contraction I timed) By this point I just want my hubby!!!! He is about 20mins away.
I’m met by my “dream team.” They are very chilled and I just keep moaning that “these things” are getting really sore now.
They set me up to monitor baby and contractions and all is well…. Hubby arrives and Tertia coaches me through my contractions (a true angel!!)
Elrika sets me up to do an internal…. I’m thinking to myself “Lord please let me be well dilated, I can’t take this pain for the next 12hrs”
She announces that I am 9cm if not fully dilated already. (SAY WHAT?????)
Tertia and Elrika scatter to set up my birthing pool up……
The contractions are hectic at this stage and hubby does a FABULOUS job at cheerleading me through it all (despite me being a little mean at times 😋)
We manage to get me into the bath before I get the intense urge to push…. A desire so so natural and a feeling one can’t really explain!!! 5 contractions later and my perfect VBAC angel was in my arms…. A round and healthy 3.94kgs and 51cm….. I caught my own baby completely instinctually… Hubby cut the cord and the moment was just amazingly magical….
I had trusted my body and trusted the process. Without anyone teaching me anything I had birthed my own baby.
The following day we got a special visit from Sue (despite her having gone for major surgery just the week before) an exceptionally inspirational woman! Our lighthouse in what was a dark journey at times…. never once losing faith in me, in the human body and in the perfect process! I stay eternally grateful!
Without as much as one stitch today, 3 weeks later and I’m still on cloud 9…. So so in love with this little missy!!!
Thank you to my dream team!!! Each and every one of you played a vitally important role in this journey, in my healing, in my hubby’s healing and in the magical birth of our second miracle!
For anyone considering going on this journey I can tell you that with the correct birthing team, in the right environment, with the right mind set and a lot of faith you can’t go wrong!!!! Find the team that wants a natural delivery as much as you do!!! It is an intensely personal journey and wonderfully healing! I am truly forever changed!! I have learnt the peace that comes from complete surrender, I have learnt to trust people again and most importantly to listen to and trust my own body.
As my hubby would say…
“YOU GIRLS WERE BUILT TO DO THIS!!”
There is nothing in this world more natural than natural birth!!!!
I’ve always hoped that my birth story can inspire others. Whether this is your first birthing experience or your second birthing experience after a c-section don’t be afraid to fight for the birth you want and the birth you and your baby deserved!! Stand against the system run by insurance costs, procedures and protocols!! Stand up for yourself and your unborn child!!