My VBAC story
***Warning: successful VBAC story of the healthy and safe delivery of my baby girl. However, I did experience a negative complication.
My pregnancy was wonderful. I was healthy and active. I had no complications or discomfort except for first trimester nausea.
My labor began spontaneously at 11 PM. My early labor at home was quite intense and quick. I labored at home until I was too uncomfortable.
VBAC friendly hospital
I was admitted to the hospital at 8 cm at almost 5 AM.
My hospital experience was mostly positive. I had a supportive nurse and doula. I was supported by a provider that believed in natural birth. I labored without any pain meds.
I also did not have any IVs. I did have a saline lock in place during my labor. But I ate and drank according to my body (which meant I mostly just drank electrolyte drinks).
My hospital labor lasted 10 hours and, according to my husband’s memory, included ~2 hours pushing. Being in a hospital does not make me feel safe, so my body was working to slow my labor down quite effectively. But I didn’t know that, I just thought it was taking forever. I was full of fear and fighting it. I remember vividly and actively trying to keep my body from opening.
The only part of my labor that I enjoyed even in some measure was when I was in the tub. It was soothing and even though most of my fears were coming out during that time, I remember a few moments of laughter and some sweet moments with my husband.
Time to push. Or was it?
I never felt the urge to push. The pressure of my daughter opening my pelvis was the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. Because my team believed that I was enough dilated for pushing to begin they encouraged me to try. I “tried” to push for 2 hours. As far as I was concerned, I was still only “trying” even moments before she was born.
Because I was only pretending to push, it wasn’t very effective. And since I wasn’t feeling the urge to push, it is possible my body wasn’t ready yet.
Regardless, my team believed it was time and decided to begin coached pushing (valsalva maneuver). Due to back-to-back contractions, holding my breath during pushing meant I never truly got a chance to breathe. I began to hyperventilate.
My team did the best they could with the information they had at the time but I really wish I would have been encouraged to wait until my body was ready to push. Because of this coached method, I believed something was wrong with me and because it made it impossible to breathe, it only increased my anxiety.
This next part is upsetting
My last memories of my labor were of me being terrified, feeling like I was going to suffocate, and feeling like I was moments from a c/s.
The last thing I remember hearing is my nurse telling me to push and counting to 10.
I had a seizure 6 minutes before my daughter was born. It lasted a couple of minutes and then I pushed her out.
Because I was not being monitored in any way (no tubes, no wires), there is no real way to know what caused the seizure.
Due to the seizure, I was not able to make permanent memories during this time but my husband tells me that my daughter cried and was fine immediately after birth.
I ended up having another seizure 2 hours after my daughter was born. Due to this second seizure, I had many medicines and procedures done. This resulted in a long stretch of time where I wasn’t myself.
I didn’t regain cognitive awareness for nearly 17 hours. Learning later that I only missed her birth by minutes was devastating.
However, despite this beginning, my postpartum experience was very good. Breastfeeding and bonding went incredibly well. And because it was a vaginal birth with no tearing, I felt physically great.
I was on a VBAC high for many months bonding and enjoying my baby. Eventually I had to face the loss of the memory of her birth and the acknowledgement that things had not gone well. Thankfully my doula encouraged me to seek a therapist specializing in EMDR.
Healing is a journey
I can’t tell you that this experience is healed. I don’t believe healing is something that you accomplish, it is a lifelong process. And healing from her birth interweaves with my healing from her brother’s birth (The birth of a mother).
I can tell you that EMDR and other therapy has helped immensely.
But ultimately what helped the most, was telling my story. Birth story processing works.