Every woman has a notion of an ideal birth. My first pregnancy was a beautiful time and I educated myself about my labor options... my husband and I believed in natural birth and enrolled in a Bradley class, read extensively, exercised religiously, and were expecting a difficult but hopefully fulfilling birthing experience. Unfortunately after gestating 41 weeks, an almost 30 hour labor with no medication and reaching full dilation, due to my daughter's malpresentation I had an emergency cesarean birth under general anesthesia.

I was fortunate to be blessed with my second pregnancy almost exactly two years later. The first step I took was to choose a proven VBAC-friendly provider: Physicians and Midwives in Alexandria. I maintained the same pregnancy regime of yoga, walking, and eating well. I was also blessed to have my Bradley instructor from my first pregnancy agree to be my doula. Kelly also has a special interest in VBAC women since she has experiential knowledge of what it entails.

The day of my 39th week appointment I cleaned my freezer, prepared and froze several casseroles, and frantically organized the one remaining messy closet in my house. My husband looked on as I worked feverishly and kept telling me to finish tomorrow - my body had better knowledge of what was to come and I kept cleaning like a woman possessed. We finally went up to our bedroom around 11pm and as soon as I lay down I started feeling twinges of pain. I thought perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me or that I was just tired. However, after a short amount of time I felt the pain return and realized that my labor had started! I was very excited and decided not to wake my husband until the pain intensified. For the next three hours I kept trying to relax and rest, but that is easier said than done. By 2:30am I felt the pain intensify and the contractions coming closer together so I woke up Mahmoud and he immediately got into his "coach" mode. We called our doula, Kelly, as well as the midwife, Sue, to let her know that I was in labor. I knew my labor was going very fast because I started vomiting shortly afterwards which I also had with my daughter's delivery. That wore me out, and I had my moment of weakness and had a good cry at the foot of our bed. I also struggled to find a comfortable position during the contractions - nothing seemed to work! I was having labor in the front of my pelvis versus back labor and the pain was very sharp and concentrated. By 4:30 Kelly told Mahmoud to make sure I was lying down to preserve my energy for pushing. That was the best advice because I had not slept and was getting very drained. Somehow with him massaging my back and coaching me I was able to get a little rest even though my contractions were just minutes apart. Within an hour we were on the phone with Kelly and I felt extreme pressure... suddenly I felt a gush between my legs and realized my water broke. I suddenly felt the urge to push! Kelly agreed to meet us at the hospital and Mahmoud dragged me to the car and also got our daughter, Ziyan, who was oblivious to what was happening as she peacefully slept in her room. Mahmoud drove like a demon to get us to the hospital and Kelly kept coaching me over the phone to not bear down and blow over the head of the baby - but it was VERY difficult to resist. We pulled into the ER and they rushed me to the Labor unit where I quickly told the nurse I was ready to push. The midwife, Sue, came into the room and had me jump on the bed. It was 6:05am. I had three big pushes with excellent direction from her and Kelly (who had made it to the hospital) and our beautiful baby boy was born at 6:12am! It was a surprise for us since we did not find out the gender and the most profound moment of my life. I kept crying and thanking everyone. The nurses were all wonderful and many of them came up to me later to congratulate me on being a VBAC. I was so proud of myself, grateful to God for giving me a natural birth with a healthy baby, and in love with my husband for supporting me in the most difficult task I had ever faced.

I stayed in the hospital for a night and had my baby with me at all times except for the few tests he needed during which his father accompanied him. The other good fortune we had was that due to the speed of my delivery my daughter was able to attend my birth and it felt really natural and wonderful. When she saw her brother she immediately exclaimed "Baby!" My recovery was amazingly quick and I still can't believe that I finally got my natural birth. Though it was extremely painful and a true test of physical and mental strength, this birth was perfect in every way.

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