I had my 41w induction-turned-cesarean 19 mos ago at INOVA ALX. When I found out I was pregnant this past August, I knew I wanted a totally different experience for this labor. I quickly reached out the Midwives at GW and they were encouraging about my chances of VBAC and took me on as a patient. By fall, I had enlisted the help of doula + midwife Ryann Morales to act as my birth doula. I began to make plans and absorb as much information as I could to prepare my mind and my body for a vaginal birth.
By 26 weeks, I started seeing a webster certified chiropractor (specifically - Dr Andrino!) regularly and by 35 weeks, I began seeing him weekly. He was an integral part of my pregnancy, making me feel encouraged and capable of VBAC while helping to prep and position baby for labor.
My due date was Monday, May 13th. In the days prior, prodromal labor began. Lots of steady, irregular contractions night and day that grew in intensity with each passing day. I saw my chiropractor twice that week and had acupuncture done that Friday. I saw my midwife Friday as well, and she confirmed I was 2cm and thinning. She also swelt my membranes. That afternoon, my contractions picked up in severity. The contractions reminded me of early labor contractions. Painful, but manageable. The contractions continued to grow over the weekend until this past Sunday night, where I got no sleep due to the painful and recurring contractions.
I texted my doula Monday morning (41w), telling her I felt like “today was the day.” I called the on call midwife at the hospital that morning, crying that I was running on no sleep and couldn’t do prodromal labor for much longer. She encouraged me and told me to come in for my prenatal checkup early that day. I arrived and had an NST then had an appointment with the midwife Whitney. Whitney hugged me as soon as she came in the room and let me cry on her shoulder. I was so so tired. She checked my cervix quietly, just feeling around. When she was done, she said: “Okay. You’re 5cm and mostly thinned out with a bulging bag. I want you to go outside, get a smoothie or a snack, walk around a while but stay closeby because you’re going to L&D tonight.”
I, of course, started crying again because I was so afraid my body would not go into labor on it’s own. BUT IT DID. Whitney gave me a quick and final membrane sweep, a big big hug, gave me some encouraging words, and sent me on my laboring way.
Luckily, I had my husband join me for this appointment. We were not expecting a baby that day, but we brought our bags as a ‘just in case.’ Ryann met us in the city and walked around GW campus with us, timing my contractions and keeping an eye on any changes. We got frozen yogurt, talked a lot, and just let my body do its thing. My contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart. I knew I wanted to be in a more private space if and when my water broke, so we headed to L&D.
We checked into the hospital around 5:30. By 7/7:30, my water had broken and contractions picked up in severity. We moved to the shower where I stayed for about 25-30 minutes, laboring and feeling baby descend into my pelvis as transition approached. I left the shower and went back to standing at the bedside as transition was in full swing. I remember feeling so many times like I had made a mistake. “Why didn’t I just schedule a c-section?” popped up in my head many times. I tried so hard to remember the pain wasn’t happening TO me, it was me and it was a part of bringing my baby into the world. My birth team encouraged me in ways I needed to hear.
Truthfully, I felt a lot of scar pain after transition. I had to apply a lot of counter pressure to my incision with each contraction. After trying several different pelvic opening positions and laboring positions while pushing, I ended up squatting using a squat bar at the end of the bed. Before I knew it, my midwife was putting on her coat and gloves, and I knew I had done it. I was close. Everyone could tell me they “saw her.” I felt her head crowning and it gave me a burst of hope. Continuing to apply counter pressure to my scar and holding myself up on the squat bar, I pushed and pushed for easily 20 minutes. The position was wearing me out, so I laid back. With the help of my doula, my friend, my husband, and my nurse who all held my legs back, I was able to focus on getting my baby out and into the world. After about 10-15 more contractions, I pushed her out and she was laid on my tummy. I had one small tear requiring one stitch, but otherwise, every other pain disappeared the moment she came.
After about a total of 6.5 hours of labor (with atleast two of those hours just pushing), my baby is here. I am so grateful to the midwives at GW, my doula Ryann, this group, and so many others for inspiring me to VBAC. With 19 mos between surgery and TOLAC, I never felt fear. I had heard so many reassuring stories in this group and the main ICAN group and I am so thankful for all who shared their insights and stories. You help inspire so many to VBAC and beyond.