Birth Story of Brooke Elizabeth, born September 2, 2006 at 1:11am, weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Background My first was born in February 2005, at 32 weeks, by c-section due to complications relating to pre-eclampsia, a condition called HELLP Syndrome. Amber was in the NICU for a month before coming home to us on an apnea monitor for 2 more months. The whole experience was pretty stressful, though I don't feel it was an unnecessary c-section. Nevertheless I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC with my next pregnancy for many reasons, including that my husband and I want, ideally, 3 or 4 kids.

Pregnancy #2 Surprise! Sort of. 9 months later, in December 2005 I'm pregnant again. I stayed with the same practice, but signed up for a Bradley class, and attended my first ICAN meeting in April, and started reading all kinds of books, like Birthing from Within, Baby Catcher, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, etc. Everyone at the April ICAN meeting recommended that I consult with Dr. Tchabo but I didn't understand the importance of that yet. I wasn't willing to do a home birth, and I wasn't eligible for the birthing center because of the complications with my 1st pregnancy, so I planned a hospital birth.

As I go along with my appointments at my current practice I get increasingly concerned that they are not very supportive of VBAC; several doctors asked to schedule me for a c-section, gave me consent forms with wording bordered on the ridiculous re: risk of uterine rupture, told me labor "really hurts" (duh) and that even though they allowed doulas they thought that sometimes they interefered, and upon hearing I was taking a Bradley class told me I better not labor at home because with a VBAC they wanted me on a continuous monitor, etc. etc. etc

So after the recommendation from the ICAN group that I talk to Dr. Tchabo was seconded by both my Bradley instructor and the doula I hired, I made the switch, somewhat nervously, @ 35 weeks along, and also switched hospitals to Arlington. I am SO GLAD that I did! Everything went extremely well. I also rented an aqua doula tub, as recommended by my doula, and although I thought it would go unused, I was very wrong, it was great!

Labor Story The day before my water broke I felt exhausted and took 2 naps and finally went to a yoga class to maybe get things moving along. The very next morning, at 40 weeks and 5 days, I awoke at 8am to a balloon bursting noise in my stomach, I thought, could it be? YES! Seconds later my water broke with a huge gush, no mistaking it for something else. Contractions started very soon afterwards. I tried to ignore labor as much as possible, first I took a nice long shower, then my neighbor stopped by and made me breakfast, then I made cupcakes for the baby's birth-day, and then my doula showed up around noon.

My contractions started out quickly and had been 3 or 4 minutes apart since 9am, but not too painful. By 2pm, I couldn't talk through them, by 4pm I was in the aqua doula tub, and by 5pm I was saying "I don't want to do this anymore!" At 6:30pm I was checked and only 4 cm dilated (depressing), so although I was ready to pack up and go to the hospital my doula wisely told me I was not ready. First I tried a couple different positions and then I got back in the tub for maybe an hour. Oh I was miserable. And then around 8pm we made the decision to go to the hospital, though the doula and my husband purposely stalled getting everything together, while I crawled around the house on my hands and knees calling them idiots for not moving faster, I just needed a change of scenery! This was Sept. 1st, unfortunately the day Hurricane Ernesto moved into the area so I hadn't been able to go outside due to pouring rain all day, so that might have helped (if I'd been able to walk around a little).

Hospital Experience At 9pm we arrive at the hospital. The doctors read my birth plan and actually appear to pay attention to it, yeah! After resisting the ugly hospital gown a couple times, the nurse finally gives in and I am able to stay in my normal clothes, which unfortunately is a stark white tank top that covers nothing below my bellybutton. They put me on a intermittent monitor for just 20 minutes (not terrible), and the doctor checks me at 10:30pm and finds me to be only 6 cm dilated (really depressing). So I complain and make a half-hearted request for pain relief that my husband and doula wisely ignore. I lay in bed on my side and hang out in the bathroom, and wonder out loud why in the world women go through this more than once because my contractions are so awful, double-peaking and lasting 2 minutes, etc. I am not sweaty and not throwing up, but I'm probably in transition. The only thing that helps with the pain is when someone puts pressure on my lower back, and I grip something, anything! and focusing on breathing helps too.

Anyway, around midnight, after another 20 min. of monitoring, I start sleeping in between some really awful contractions. At 12:30pm I feel the urge to go the bathroom, and yeah! Its an urge to push. I'm SO relieved and definitely feel renewed. The doctors come back and I get on the bed and push for 20 min. in a couple different positions and out comes baby Brooke, a little bluish and with the cord around her neck but otherwise healthy and bright-eyed. She nursed for almost an hour soon after and I totally forgot all the yelling and screaming I did while pushing, including my request that the doctors "just pull her out, please!" I have no pictures until after the birth since my husband was fairly alarmed by the pushing phase :-) and was unable to collect himself to turn on the camera or videocamera until afterwards.

We are thrilled that the birth went as well as it did. We got our VBAC and managed to get through it without medication. The most important factors that made this a successful VBAC for me are - I changed care providers to Dr. Tchabo, I hired a doula, we rented an aquadoula tub, we took a Bradley class, I stayed active during the pregnancy, I read a lot of books so I knew most of what I was experiencing was normal, and finally - positive thinking! That is it. Hope this provides some insight for others that are considering a VBAC or are planning one. If we have a 3rd child I might consider a home birth, but we'll see. The hospital experience for me was fairly positive.

Lastly thanks to everyone at ICAN, what a great group of people!


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