I am so happy to feature this story by Danielle Gregory for a few different reasons. One, I was hoping someone would write their story about their experience with a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean); two, I so enjoyed having Danielle guest post for me in the past (Breastfeeding and Cloth Diapering Times Two); and three, because I've known Danielle since she was a youngster at my church. I watched as she and her now husband and she pined away after each other during their teen years. I thought she was one of the prettiest teens I'd ever seen. And she's still beautiful as she nears the end of another pregnancy with son #4.
Birth story- A successful VBAC
My first pregnancy ended with a successful birth of two beautiful boys, Joshua and James, born via C-Section. I was a young mom, and my husband and I were elated to find out we were being blessed with a "two for one" deal, and thought we would be ready to have a natural birth, even though there was much resistance from doctors and friends, thinking there is no way you could deliver two babies without drugs! It turns out that, with my limited knowledge of natural birthing, the fact that my water broke at 36 1/2 weeks, and the pitocin I needed to actually get my labor started, I was not in an ideal place to deliver these two guys without an epidural, and eventually, after 4 hours of pushing, a C-Section.
While I was extremely happy to have them in my arms, that they were healthy, and never in any danger during the birthing process, I was very disappointed in myself that I couldn't do it how I'd planned. I felt like a failure. I am so thankful for my wonderful husband who brought it back to mind that we had a successful delivery, and that we will work hard for a VBAC next time. Tandem nursing twins also brought back a great deal of confidence for me.
I could share much more about the twins' birth, but I just wanted to give a bit of background for my second birthing story -- my successful VBAC.
Two years later, we were so happy our boys were going to become big brothers! We were in unknown territory for a while there, wondering if we were having multiples again, but the Lord, knowing better than anyone, gave us just one sweet little boy -- Elijah. We were thrilled to be having another boy, and decided we were going to do a ton of research for this delivery. After checking our options, we decided to go with the Bradley method, and read as much as we could on it. I was excited for my husband, George, to be my coach, which is a very important part of the birthing process. He was really interested in doing what was best for both baby and me. We practiced counter pressure, which came in VERY handy, and also just relaxing my entire body to let my biggest muscle do its job, as well as making sure to eat well and exercise. The pregnancy went well with no health problems, and I was able to exercise pretty much up to the end. I felt confident.
A week before my due date, I could tell things were starting to change. I was having contractions, very far apart, but I just knew it wouldn't be long before Elijah was here. I really thought he was coming that weekend. Well...it took a few more days than I thought, some red raspberry leaf tea, walking through the park a few times, and some intimate time with my husband before things really started to progress.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had mild contractions and was pretty uncomfortable. We sent the twins off to my in-laws, thinking I was going to have the baby that night. (I bawled like a baby when my husband drove off with them! This was the last time we were going to be a family of four!) I decided to get some sleep that night, figuring I was going to need my strength. When I laid down, I was having sporadic contractions, and then they died off through the night. I was SO bummed, but I kept up with my tea, and kept walking through the park near our house the following day. We had to make the decision that evening if we were going to pick up the twins, so my mother-in-law wouldn't have to take another day off work for nothing. We decided that, if he wasn't born that night, George would go early in the morning to pick them up before my in-laws had to go to work.
My husband, who was in seminary at the time, was working on a paper, and I decided I would try to get some more rest while I still could! The contractions started getting more than just uncomfortable around 7 p.m. I asked George to come upstairs, and work on some counter pressure/massage. He was amazing, totally focused on doing his best to help make labor as positive as he could for me. I had times when I thought I wanted to get up, but then quickly realized I wanted to lie down. However, the bed was too soft. So we went down to the living room floor with a pillow, which ended up being my favorite place to labor. I ate an orange and drank some water during part of that time, but mostly just laid there and relaxed my body.
My wonderful husband was doing a great job listening and applying counter pressure the entire time. My contractions were steady at 30 seconds long, 2 minutes apart. I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could, so we kept an eye on it, and were glad we weren't more than a five minute drive from the hospital. By 3 a.m., we were both exhausted, but knew we were headed into the final stretch. Amazingly, my contractions went from 30 seconds long and 1-2 minutes apart, to 60 seconds long and 30 seconds apart. After that happened twice, George said it was time to go! Things slowed down a little when I started moving around, but it was still very uncomfortable, and I knew the baby was coming! Apparently, Pittsburgh had 200 potholes from our house to the hospital, and I was convinced my husband hit each and every one; and 15 miles per hour was entirely too fast! Thankfully we were the only ones on the road :-)
When we arrived, the nurses took us straight up to the room, and I was grateful to get into bed. They checked me, and I was 8 cm dilated and fully effaced. I was thrilled! Our doula got there shortly after we did, and was very sweet, letting George do all the counter pressure, and just offering support if we needed it. There was more poking and prodding than I would have liked -- "We have to put in an IV ... take your blood ... and your blood pressure ..." I just wanted to relax as best I could, have a fan blowing on me, and let my body push out my sweet boy! The hospital staff was quite nice, but I was surprised to find out NONE of the nurses had ever been a part of an epidural free delivery. Wow. Well, I was their first, and hopefully the groaning, and sometimes louder noises I made didn't freak them out too much.
My water broke, and they put a towel down and said the doctor would be there soon. I really felt the urge to push, but they kept telling me to hold on. I am convinced Elijah would have been born at least 20 minutes earlier had the doctor come in when I asked. That doctor, out of the seven possible in that practice, was exactly who I needed to see. She was totally on board with my VBAC from the beginning, and was excited for me that I made it without any drugs. It was actually pretty funny when she said, "Okay, do you want to squat? Alright, get the squatting bar ... oh, wait no ... there is his head. You just go ahead and push this little guy out." In one push his head was out. Two more, and there he was, on my chest, more beautiful than I could have pictured. The love I felt for him in the womb magnified 100x as he looked up at me with his beautiful eyes and perfect little face. I was able to hold him and nurse him immediately, and held him until they were done sewing up the few minor tears. We had an amazing bond immediately. He just stared at me, totally content to be with his mommy.
We had done it! A successful VBAC with a healthy baby, and healthy mom! My recovery was much easier than it was with the C-Section, and my boys were elated to be big brothers. We celebrated our homecoming with a birthday cake for Elijah, which was the twins' idea, and they were excited to show off their toys, too.
That was nearly two years ago, and we are counting down to the birth of our next baby boy! Lord willing, we will have a smooth delivery like Elijah's. Maybe just a bit shorter??