We invite all ICAN of Northern Virginia subscribers to share their birth stories on our website. Current subscribers may login to add your story to this list. We welcome you to browse through the emotional and powerful words of our subscribers, past and present, and to be inspired by their strength and courage.
My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years and have four children. When I was pregnant with my first son, I had a desire for natural childbirth, however, when I was about a week past my due date my OB suggested I get induced. Because of the intensity of the contractions that I felt with the pitocin induction, I gave up on my desire for natural birth and took a narcotic and then and epidural. My son was born vaginally, whisked to the baby warmer, and wrapped up like a burrito. Not my dream birth, but I had a beautiful baby boy. Just over a year later, I was ready to give birth to our 2nd son. Again I was late and again the OB suggested induction. I opted for the epidural right away, got to 9 cm dilation, and then my baby went into distress and the Doctors called for a C-Section. It was a scary experience, and because of that, my husband and I decided not to have ANY more children.
Fast-forward 3 years. I was suddenly blessed to be pregnant again. I knew that I needed some skills and I needed them fast. I did good research and found and took The Bradley Method. Happily, I went into labor just a week past my due date, and my husband and I had our third son, which was an uninterventive, unmedicated, hospital VBAC after just 3 1/2 hours of labor. It was such a great experience for us. It really healed the psychological scars of our 2nd birth. We needed to see how birth could be. How it doesn't have to be some scary terrible event. It can be joyous. Powerful.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, I decided that I had a lot of learning to do. I have had two c-sections in the past and this time I wanted to have a VBAC. I started by looking for a Dr practice other than the one I had my first 2 babies with. I looked for recommendations from other moms. The first Dr. I met with, his first words were "so you want to schedule your c-section?" Nope - after meeting too many that could deliver me even though midwives were a part of the practice I had an uneasy feeling and started looking again. About half way through my pregnancy I started going to ICAN. I was directed to some VBAC friendly Dr.'s in my area who at 30 weeks I switched to upon their recommendation.
I have been working toward this birth since my first pregnancy. I had hoped for a natural low-intervention birth with my son, Hiro, but I was naive and scared, which ultimately lead to my c-section. Before I was discharged from the hospital with Hiro, I knew I did not want to have another c-section. Josh and I both wanted more kids, but there had to be a better way than an elective repeat c-section. Once we knew everything was OK with Hiro's health, I started to do some research into VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Around this time, my sister-in-law, Rachel, had a successful homebirth with her daughter Eva. This was my first introduction to a homebirth. Even though Rachel had a long hard posterior labor, just like I did, she had a skilled midwife who helped turn the baby so she could be born vaginally. I truly appreciated the difference a midwife can make in a birth after hearing her story. This was the better way I was looking for.
What an experience - laboring and birthing . . . something that I hadn't completely had the opportunity to experience until this day. Not the picture perfect HBAC that I had dreamed about, but I wouldn't have done it any other way!!
Around 12:30am on June 30th, I awoke to a contraction. Several minutes later, another contraction. Could this be it? Could this be the day that I've been waiting for for over nine months? The contractions were mild, coming about every 6-8 minutes probably, though I was hesitant to time them knowing it didn't mean much. The feelings: excitement, worry, peace, calm, joy . . . all mixed together in my being. Excitement that I would actually have a fair opportunity to birth my baby the way God intended, which I had never previously had. Worry as to what the road ahead of me would bring. Peace that I would trust my instincts, my body, my supporters, and birth my baby! Calm that I was remaining at home for this sacred day. Joy that I would soon birth my baby and meet this joy that I had nurtured and loved for over nine months.
Our son Luke was born at home on April 23rd at 12:55am after seven hours of active labor. But really, the labor started about a week before that. On April 15th, I had a very busy day and at the days end I started to contract regularly. I realized that I needed to rest and put my feet up, which was exactly what I needed. Then on Wednesday April 20th, I had another couple hours of contractions, but this time it was in the wee hours of the morning and I couldn't go back to sleep. My body was preparing for labor, but in small spurts!
My labor started at 10:00 a.m. on February 22, 2007, very slowly. I felt some mild crampiness in my lower abdomen that felt like menstrual cramps. This was exactly how my labor had started with my son Eli. The cramps came irregularly, sometimes every half hour, sometimes with longer intervals. They did not cause me to stop my regular activities. I decided to rest quietly in bed for awhile and to listen to a CD on optimal fetal positioning that my doula had given me. I took this opportunity to talk to my baby, to tell her that I love her and that I would like to work together as a team to make her birth as safe and gentle as possible. I told her that I looked forward to meeting her, and I tried to visualize her in an optimal position for passage through my pelvis and the birth canal. I felt very relaxed after listening to the CD.
My first child was born by cesarean in 2003. It was unexpected but not an emergency, and I was determined to have a VBAC for my next child. I realized that my passive approach to birth the first time was partly responsible for the outcome - I put a lot of trust in my doctor and the medical model of care without understanding my own needs at birth. This time, I took a more active role in my pregnancy and looked at all my options for birthing. After much soul searching and research, we planned for a home birth with a midwife. I continued to see an OB for my medical needs, and also in case the birth required transfer to a hospital. The OB had set a due date of November 27th, but the midwife and I felt that December 2nd was more likely, based on my menstrual charting.