When I was pregnant with Holden, Mr.B and I took a twelve week class (The Bradley Method) that taught you how to have a natural birth. I found a Doctor that promoted natural birthing and was even planning to deliver at a hospital a half hour away because it had a lower rate of c-sections than the one closer to us. I wrote an intricate, multiple paged birth plan that was basically just a long laundry list of everything that I didn't want the nurses to do and I spent the weeks leading up to my due date visualizing the birth I wanted. I read every birthing book I could find and watched numerous natural birthing videos on youtube. At 37 weeks, my Doctor confirmed, that despite all of the above, Holden was in fact breech (something I had a suspicion about the entire pregnancy) and there would be no natural birth or even vaginal birth with an epidural...I would be having a planned c-section. I was completely devastated.
Still, I did not give in to the idea of c-section. I googled how to turn a breech baby naturally and did every single one: I tried acupuncture, I did specific exercises where I hung off the side of the couch, I spent every day doing somersaults in the pool, I recorded and then played my voice near the bottom of my tummy to entice Holden to move his head down there; and still he remained hiccuping in my ribs. When that didn't work, I went and had my doctor try to turn him manually. I used the methods the Bradley Method taught me to relax and when my Doctor told me that Holden wasn't flipping, I told him to keep going, something he said he had never heard anyone say in his entire career.
In the end, I resigned myself to the idea that I was having a c-section. We scheduled Holden's birthday and in the days leading up to the birth, I tried to tell myself (and anyone else that asked) that it didn't how my baby boy arrived in this world as long as he was healthy.
But Holden's birth was the exact opposite of what I had envisioned for over 9 months and it was hard for me to be happy about it. As thrilled as I was for my sweet baby boy to enter into this world, I didn't really enjoy the birthing experience.
When I became pregnant with Gray, I knew that I wanted to try for a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarian). My friend, pregnant at the same time and also trying for a vbac, recommended a Doctor in Encinitas that was supposed to be one of the only (and the best) Doctors in San Diego that supported vbacs.
This time, I didn't have any preconceived ideas on how the birth would go. I didn't take any birthing classes or read any birthing methods. I didn't write a birth plan, I didn't decide that I was going to have a vaginal birth or a c-section. I didn't vow to have a natural birth or get an epidural. I said that what happened would happen and I believed it. I was going to try for a vaginal birth, but if it didn't happen, I was ok with that too...all I wanted was a healthy baby arriving in this world. And this time, I truly meant those words.
Going into the hospital, the only thing I was adamant about was that I had a wireless monitor. For vbacs, they require continuous monitoring and I didn't want to be tied down to the bed (which I believe could very possibly result in my having another c-section).
I stayed at home as long as possible, per recommendation of my Doctor and when I went in, they checked me and I still wasn't very far along. We got a wireless monitor and we walked up and down the halls, I rolled on the exercise ball, we watched a television show on the iphone (although I remember absolutely none of it).
My doctor let me do my thing. He didn't have time limits, he didn't have expectations, he didn't check my progress (something I felt would affect me mentally).
My Bradley method classes helped me more than anything....I stayed completely limp and relaxed in every muscle of my body as contractions took over it. I remember thinking before hand that I would run the halls between contractions, but I guess I forgot and ended up spending the first couple of hours taking it easy.
After a few hours, my Doctor came in and said, "It's go time! Put on music, dance. You need to get up and get moving." And so we did. We put on dance music...like club music...and I danced like crazy in between every single contraction..and after a short period of dancing, my water broke. At that point, everything got very intense. I was exhausted from being up for the past three nights with contractions and at that point, I could feel that I was unable to relax my body anymore...something I felt was very important for my body in the birthing process. It was then that I decided to get an epidural.
With the epidural, my body relaxed and on the monitor we could see the contractions were one on top of the other. I fell asleep for thirty minutes and when I woke up, Gray's head was out! The nurses wanted to wait for the Doctor to come because they said he would be upset if he missed the delivery so they called him at home and told him to come in to deliver my baby. We waited for him to arrive before I started pushing (so I sat there for about five minutes with the top of Gray's head out while we waited for the Doctor to arrive at the hospital). My mom and in-laws happened to arrive during the time we were waiting for the Doctor with Holden and they peeked in to say hello, not realizing that Gray would be arriving any minute. They went back into the waiting room, trying to keep Holden awake a little longer so he could meet his baby brother.
The Doctor arrived and a few short pushes later, Gray was out and on my chest.
Holden came in a minute or two after Gray was born to meet his baby brother and they rested there together on my chest with Daddy looking over and all was right in the world.
It was seriously the best experience of my life. It was everything I could have dreamed it to be and more. I can be honest when I say I would have another baby JUST to be able to give birth again.
If any of you are considering a vbac and have any questions, please feel free to email me! I'd be happy to talk about my experience more!
I also wanted to share these words that my midwife said to me because they helped me come to peace with my unwanted cesarian. Birth is such a personal experience, that these words might not mean anything to you, but just in the chances that they help you too, I want to share them....
Still quite disheartened about having to have a c-section the first time around, I was talking about my experience with the midwife at one of the appointments and how I tried everything that I could to turn him, but he just wouldn't budge. She looked at me and said, "Holden has his own mind. He is his own person. You can not control another person. You can't make another person do anything." For some reason, those words completely shifted my thinking about the entire thing. Perhaps in the back of my mind, I felt as though I had failed or my body had failed me because I couldn't make it do what I wanted. And yet, it was nothing I did or didn't do (despite how hard I tried). I couldn't force Holden, an entirely different person than myself, to do something that he didn't want to do and it was evident he did not want to move from where he was. Maybe he thought it was cozy right there or maybe he just didn't want to leave. Regardless, it wasn't my decision to make and her words helped me to accept what had happened.