It was 2 days before my due date and I was fixing dinner when my water broke. I was not happy. That was how my labor with my first child had started, and it was quickly followed by a trip to the hospital per my OB's instruction, 10 hours of pitocin, almost no progress (2-3 cm dilated), and a C-section for failure to progress. I had been taking alfalfa with this pregnancy and was very disappointed that my water had broken before contractions started. I told my husband who was working in the backyard, and I finished making dinner while crying and trying to comfort and discipline our 2-year-old, who had climbed on furniture and fell and busted his lip. My husband came inside to a crying kid and wife, both covered in blood from the busted lip. He calmed me down and I called my doula, who suggested we wait a while before calling Dr. Tchabo. After dinner, we put our son to bed and I spent some extra time cuddling with him because I knew we might be gone in the morning.

Around 9PM, 3 hours after my water had broken I started having contractions. I didn't want to get too excited, so I tried to relax and enjoy watching TV with my husband. During the next hour, I spent some time on my hands and knees rocking to encourage the baby to move from ROA to LOA. Around 10PM we decided to go to bed. At this point, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, but I could speak during them and they weren't causing too much discomfort. I called Berna who had offered to watch our son when I went to to labor and warned her that we might need her in the middle of the night. She told me not to get discouraged if things slowed down. Luckily, things did not slow down. I tried to lie down in bed but needed to be standing or on all fours for contractions and I quickly found that I could not sleep in between them, as they were coming closer together. By 11:30PM they were 2 minutes apart and 1 minute long, and I was beginning to have trouble talking through some of them. I called my doula again and she guessed that I was in early labor and asked if I wanted her to come over. I said that I thought that was a good idea and she told me it might take her a while to get to my house. I spent the next hour or so downstairs while my husband took a nap and my doula arrived around 1AM.

By this time, the contractions were fairly strong and I felt most comfortable on my hands and knees. My doula was great in helping me to relax, applying pressure to my back, and providing general encouragement. Quickly learning from the doula, my husband became an amazing support person. Around 1:30AM, we called Dr. Tchabo to let him know that I was in labor. Dr. Tchabo was not on call and Dr. Armstrong returned our call. I was disappointed, as I knew that my chance of a successful VBAC was much greater with Dr. Tchabo than another doctor. At this point, I was kicking myself for not researching Dr. Tchabo's backup doctors. We neglected to mention that my water had broken and Dr. Armstrong did not ask. He told us that I could labor at home as long as I was comfortable, which I took as a great sign. At 2:30AM I was 3-4 cm dilated according to my doula, though she had a difficult time determining that because the baby's head was very low. This explained the low pain I felt with contractions. She suggested that I spend some time in the shower, which felt great. I held onto the door and squatted during contractions and my doula kept reminding me to keep my muscles relaxed and open. After atleast 30 minutes, maybe longer, (thank you hot water heater!) I was ready to get out of the shower and sat on the toilet to try and pee. During this time I had a huge contraction and felt a lot of pressure. Both my husband and doula decided that we should head to the hospital and I happily agreed.

We called Berna at 3:20AM to come over and stay with our son, and quickly gathered our bags for the hospital. I realized as I was about to get in the car, that I could not be sitting or belted in. So I climbed in the backseat on all fours, holding onto the baby carseat (thankfully we only had one carseat in the back and it was on the side). We drove, or should I say flew, to Virginia Hospital Center. During this time, I was much more vocal during contractions, because they were much stronger and my doula was driving separately, so I had only my husband's vocal coaching to help me through them. We both thought I might have the baby in the car on several occasions but did not communicate this to each other at the time! We arrived at VHC in 10 minutes, about half the normal time, and left the car at the front door with the flashers on.

When we walked into the lobby, my husband told the receptionist that I was in labor as another huge contraction hit. Duh. They looked around and informed us that they needed to find another wheelchair. I emphatically told them that I did not want or need a wheelchair and we just needed to know where to go. We took the elevator to labor and delivery. We stopped at the check-in desk and I signed all the forms that I probably shouldn't have, but luckily it didn't turn out to be an issue. We proceeded to the labor and delivery room where I changed into the gown, got in the bed on all fours and was hooked up to the monitors and IVs. I had originally wanted to avoid the IV, but I had tested GBS positive in a urine culture, which meant I had a greater chance of passing GBS to the baby, so I wanted to receive some IV antibitotics. I was glad that the nurses worked with me and allowed me to labor on all fours. Dr. Armstrong was not at the hospital yet, so some other doctor (I have no recollection of what her name was, though I remember that she did introduce herself!) checked me and informed me that I was 8 cm (I was slightly discouraged as I had been feeling the urge to push), and she told me to fight the urge to push, which was pretty difficult. My doula arrived soon after this and continued to support me along with my husband. At some point, the doctor or nurses asked if I wanted anything to control the pain, and my husband, doula and I all answered "No!" I was checked a few more times during the next 30 minutes and quickly progressed to 9 cm, then just a lip, then 10cm. At this point, the doctor requested that I lie on my back to begin pushing. In hindsight I should have asked to be able to push in a different position, but at this point, I just wanted to get the baby out. I pushed for 2 contractions, and was able to feel my baby's head! After 2 more contractions, with coaching by the doctor and my doula on effective pushing, I delivered a healthy baby girl at 4:31AM, less than an hour after arriving at the hospital. I had thought it was a girl! She cried right away. She was placed on my chest and I was able to nurse her almost immediately.

Everything went well, except that I had a second degree tear. The doctor stitched it up and even though she had applied lidocaine, it was quite painful and I found myself saying "Ow!" several times. That was possibly the worst part of it! I began shaking uncontrollably after the birth, which I was told was due to the hormones, and I found that the shaking would subside if I cuddled my daughter or touched my husband which was amazing. Abigail Elizabeth weighed in at 7 lbs, 7oz and measured 21.5" long. I am so thankful to ICAN for the support and resources I needed to attempt a VBAC. I feel so blessed that I was able to experience a natural birth but most of all that it resulted in a healthy and happy mother and baby.

About ICAN

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Learn More About ICAN